Monday, December 22, 2008

The Negotiator and Blind Santa

Fintan likes to negotiate. One of the first phrases he ever spoke, was: "Five more minutes?" Lately, though, "five" has given way to "three". I'll say something like, "you have one more minute to play and then we have to leave," and Fintan will counter with "Three more minutes!" Or I'll say, "You can have a cookie after lunch" and Fintan will come back with "Three cookies!" But he hasn't really mastered the finer points of negotiation yet...or, it would seem, of numbers. Tonight I whispered in his ear: "Only two more nights before Santa will come down our chimney" and Fintan whispered back: "Three more nights."

And if anyone needs a laugh....and don't we all....here is a video* that might do the trick:

*Only one person was slightly hurt in the making of this video


video

Oh, my little nursling

My sweet Coen is growing up so fast--even faster than his big brother did. With Fintan it seemed ages before he was old enough to eat solid foods, but with Coen it feels like it's taken no time at all. And now on Christmas Eve--his six-month birthday--he will enjoy his first meal from a spoon. I don't know why the thought brings me to tears. With Fintan I never understood the sadness that came with milestones. I only rejoiced in them. But this time it's different.

Is it that this will likely be my last natural-born baby? My last nursling? Yes, it must be, because my heart just broke a bit typing that. I won't go into why it is so--there are many reasons. For now I just want to write about, and relish, my last days as sole provider of nutrition to my baby boy.

I love nursing my babies. Unless you've done it yourself it may be hard to understand why. Even if you have done it yourself not everyone feels the same way. But I love everything about it. When my boys were tiny I loved the searching. The figuring each other out without turning on the light at night. The finally making the connection and relaxing to let my baby eat and feel his breath on my skin. As they got older it's the increasing solidness of their little bodies. And the knowledge that I did that for them. Put the rolls on their legs and the curve in their cheeks. It's also the fact that where Coen once only cried from the discomfort of feeling hunger, a discomfort he didn't understand, he now demands his milk with purposeful bellows and fake coughs from across the room, or with lip-smacking and huffing when in my arms. He knows exactly what he wants and he wants it now. It always makes me laugh, no matter how sad I might feel, when he tells me he's ready to nurse.

I love his concentration while he fills his belly and then, even more, when he pauses to give me a milky smile and says "ohhh, ohhh" like he's sighing with pleasure. His brother used to do the same sort of thing, and my heart will always melt at the memory of it. And often when Coen is cooing, as he did with Fintan, his Daddy will lean over my shoulder to say, in a funny voice, "Drink your milk. You go drink your milk." It's all just achingly sweet to me.

I know it isn't over yet. We have many months still to go. But I'm mourning the end of certain parts of the experience: the nonsmelly breastmilk-only poo, the no teeth for biting, the I-have-nothing-better-to-do-because-I can-barely-get-around-yet phase. The teeny-tiny body snuggling time. He's already not so tiny anymore.

Of course I will also celebrate all of the new experiences (except for the biting--ouch!). I can hardly wait to take pictures of Coen's first solid meal, or to see his first tooth pop through his little gums. I can't wait to see him proceed from rolling to his destinations to scooting and crawling.

I don't know how it's possible to look at the very same milestones with such eagerness and yet such agony. But such is the life of a Mama.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Make a wish for good weather!

I know everyone dreams of a white Christmas, but please join me in begging the Universe for clear skies and dry roads in the days immediately afterwards. If the weather cooperates, Dawn and her family may be going to meet Dante! So I'm putting in my request now for a safe trip for my friend and her family. I'll be sending along big hugs for Dante and his Mama and Daddy, too.

Visiting Santa

The boys and I saw Santa on Friday afternoon. Fintan finally got his official request in, so I think he's now covered for Christmas morning. All Coen asked for, and his wish was granted only moments after this picture was taken, was a healthy chunk of Santa's chin whiskers to add to his scalp belt which is coming along very nicely lately. (Here, wanna hold him?)


Gosh, I love those boys of mine.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Still praying for a miracle

Dante's mom sent out a message last night saying that his final cancer treatment was unsuccessful. The neuroblastoma has returned and there is nothing more they can do. She just wants him home to enjoy his family for Christmas without pain. Please send your good thoughts and prayers to this family that they will have the Christmas they need and deserve.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wake up, coyotes, It's Christmas!

We have coyotes living in our chimney. Sleepy coyotes. Luckily we have just the toddler to wake them up:

video

And soothe the savage beasts with a song:


video

And warn them, musically, that they'd better shape up pronto. They'll be sharing the chimney with the Jolly Old Elf himself in a couple of weeks:


video

(Note how Fintan never forgot his audience---what coyote wouldn't want a bit of "grandma's steak"?)

So Fintan is ready for Santa. The coyotes are ready for Santa. All that's left is to send a message to the North Pole (and maybe copy an exterminator?) so that Santa is ready for THEM.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bad bucket

This morning Fintan was really cranky. Nothing made him happy. He was demanding and whiney and bossy and had one meltdown after another. Finally I took him into my lap and said, "Fintan, I don't understand. What's wrong? Why are you so sad?"

He sat quietly in my lap for a moment then lifted his hand and pointed. "That bucket is making me sad."

Monday, December 8, 2008

Feedin' Fintan funnies

Fintan has been a crack-up lately while eating.

The other day Pat was trying to encourage Fintan to eat the last of his soy corn-dog after Fintan told him he was "all done!" Pat asked "Wouldn't you like to dip it in ketchup and take another big bite?" And Fintan said, "not exactly".

This morning after Fintan told me he was "all done!" I looked at his tray and said "you should eat some of your grits. You haven't even touched them!" And Fintan said "yes I have," then stuck his finger in the bowl and held it up, "see?"

Then at lunchtime today he was eating his pasta and corn and he stopped and looked around for a moment and announced, "I need a bowl full of mush!" and I said "Oh you do, do you? And what about a quiet old lady whispering hush?" He nodded and gave me a toothy smile.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thirteen stairs

So, the evening started out well. Fintan and Coen were both happy. Fintan was eating his dinner (grilled fish, crackers, and sliced tomatoes) and Coen was watching him and not crying. So I felt industrious all of the sudden and decided to make Irish brown bread for Pat. It's a "quick" bread so you just have to mix it up and bake it for 50 minutes. No kneading. No problem. I could whip it up in 10 minutes and then put it in to bake just before taking the boys up to have their bath--which I could surely do in 50 minutes.

The bread came together fairly quickly--except that I didn't have enough buttermilk. The ingredients stated 1 3/4 cup so I thought I had plenty, but I hadn't read the recipe carefully enough and it said to continue adding buttermilk until it was the consistency of thick brownie batter that you would then pour into a loaf pan. Mine was the consistency of chunky peanut butter. Great. But the recipe also said that you could limit the amount of buttermilk and make a "free form" loaf. Perfect! So I free-formed it and put it in the oven. As I was setting the timer I realized that with less buttermilk the bread would probably need less time to cook so I set the timer for 35 minutes. The boys would just have to have a quick bath.

As soon as something needs to be done quickly everything slows down. I kept forgetting things (like, um, jammies and diapers....towels) but eventually everything was ready. I put Fintan in the tub first and then undressed Coen. I picked up that cute little nekkid boy and gave him a big ol' kiss on his round cheek. He's so irresistable! Then as I lifted him a bit higher to transfer him into his little tub inside the big tub, I heard "tttthhhhhbt" coming from the general direction of his bottom....and a warm sensation spread slowly across my thighs.

Breastmilk poo. Ew. And then some more....and then some more...and then just a little bit more.

Okay. I remained calm. I couldn't leave the room because Fintan was already in the tub, and we were dripping poo as well. But that's okay, I had wipes, everything was okay. I grabbed one wipe after another and cleaned my baby's tiny bottom and his legs, and his feet, and his back and his...just kidding, that's all. Then I put him into his little bathtub. Then I got up to survey the personal damage. It was bad. I stripped off my jeans and wrapped them up in the bath mat that had taken its fair share of the of the mess and shoved them both in the washer (which is within arm's reach of the bathtub). I cleaned my legs up with baby wipes and then, of course, I bathed the boys in my skivvies because I couldn't leave the room to get fresh pants. Fine.

By this point I'd forgotten about the bread in the oven....but it hadn't forgotten about me. The boys had both been thoroughly cleaned, but were still in the tub, when I heard the timer go off. I quickly, but carefully got Coen out of the tub, dried him, diapered him, jammied him, and moved him aside to start on Fintan. Every 10 seconds the timer went off. I pictured my brown bread shriveling up in the oven and bursting into flames. I g0t Fintan dried and jammied quickly and then scooped up Coen and we started to head downstairs at the achingly slow pace of two-year-old Fintan Patrick.

You might think that knowing my house was lit gloriously from within would give me pause in heading downstairs pantsless on a dark night with curtainless windows. But it didn't. My bread was burning, people! We headed down the stairs. Fintan scooting down on his bottom and Coen and I walking ahead, as usual, in case he took a tumble. Now, the underwear I happened to be wearing was, ahem, (pardon me for saying) a g-string that was held together in back by a small circle of metal. Fintan happens to LOVE little circles of metal (think, coins which he calls "caps"). So the whole way down the stairs I heard:

"What's that on your bottom, Mama?" thump
"What's that on your bottom, Mama?" thump
"What's that on your bottom, Mama? thump

For thirteen stairs he asked me that. And for thirteen stairs I answered:

"They're called panties, sweetie."
"They're called panties, sweetie."
"It's part of my panties, sweetie."

Then I laid Coen down on the rug in the living room and raced to the kitchen with Fintan padding after me in his footies. I stood in front of the picture window and checked the bread. It was brown and poofy and sounded hollow when I thumped it. Perfect. The bread was saved. My PRIDE however may never be.

And what's the deal with all the poo and the underwear-at-the-window events happening at my house? I think we're developing a theme here.

I guess the moral of the story is: Cover your eyes when you turn up my driveway. A call ahead might be prudent. And if you pinch your nose when you walk through the door, I won't be offended. I'll just offer you a clothespin.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My little optimist

About two hours after I took this video Coen and I headed to the doctor's office where he was diagnosed with bronchitis and started on antibiotics. Also, he only slept for 15 minutes total today. What a guy, no?

video

Monday, December 1, 2008

Milestone

Coen rolled from his back to his belly for the first time today! Fintan was sitting in his chair, eating, and again he was the only one to see him do it. I saw him only after he'd finished rolling. So Coen only likes to show off for his big brother and why wouldn't he? I overheard Fintan saying this to him earlier in the day:

"Do you love your big brother, Coen? Do you love your big brother? Well he loves you, too."

Awwwwwww.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Slides and a snowman

This was a week of slides. New slides. BIG slides. Starting with the slide at the indoor playground in a nearby church and continuing on to the Children's Museum where Fintan and I conquered every slide in the place. Often, on the biggest slides, Fintan made terrified whimpering sounds the whole way down. Then the first word out of his mouth at the bottom was always: "Again"! We couldn't stop laughing.

At the children's museum, we caught one of the sliding experiences on tape. Here I avoid taking out one toddler only to take out my own:

video

And today was another day of fun. We woke up to the first snowfall of the year and while Coen took a little nap, the rest of us built a snowman with sticky, perfect snowman snow:

video

Then, this afternoon Pat took Fintan to see "Bolt", the first movie he's been to since he was a tiny baby. Here he was back then, seeing "Flicka" right before Halloween 2006:

Fintan's first halloween 087

I wish Pat had taken the camera today. Fintan sat in his own seat (part of the time) and held his own popcorn container between his legs. Pat said his hand could hardly make the journey from the container to his mouth he was so enthralled by the big screen. And the first word out of his mouth when the credits rolled?

You guessed it:

"Again!"

Hopefully we will have another week like this "Again!" soon.

(Poor little Coen wasn't feeling his best this week due to a persistent cough and very little sleep, so we will feature him in his own special blog post soon, when he's *hopefully* feeling all better. Here's what he has to say about that:)

And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, let me give thanks for my family, my friends and my life as a whole. I'm a lucky gal.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A conversation

I was telling Pat about an old lady who lived across the street from my family when I was a little girl. She had a lamp with a bowl attached that was always filled with candy and she made little stockings full of treats to give to us when we came to sing Christmas carols for her. Her name was Bee.

"She was ninety-two and her husband was ninety-one," I said.

"Wow, that's cool."

"Isn't it? I hope that's us someday. Except you'll be a hundred."

"Yeah. But I won't look a day over ninety."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cheap date

Fintan gives me the same answer every time I ask him what he would like Santa Claus to bring him for Christmas this year:

A candy cane!

I think Santa can totally do that.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Things to remember....things I will miss.

Playing "spot the Coen" with Fintan when I carry him down the stairs in the morning or after naptime.

Holding Coen's warm, squishy body close and breathing him in (after which he might lean over and begin sucking noisily on my cheek).

Bossy Coen. Not sad Coen, I hate it when he's really sad, but bossy Coen cracks me up. I love when he fake coughs to get his point across and when he bellows. Oh! I could bottle his bellows.

Two little fuzzy, round boy heads side by side, snuggled close when Fintan loves on his brother. Neither of my boys have a full head of hair yet and it just makes me choke up to think it won't always be so.

Coen's gummy smile. I miss Fintan's already.

Fintan singing. Any song. I wish he would do it for the camera. I will miss that little voice so much. I believe there will be pining in the future for just one song in his toddler voice.

Both boys' sturdy little bodies. Round and firm in Fintan's case, rolly and squishy in Coen's, but strong and proud in both.

How I will miss these teeny tiny men when they grow up.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A momentous day for Coen

Coen has discovered that he has nethers! Actually he found both his wee wee and his left foot today. His right foot is yet to be discovered, but you can only cover so much territory with teeny tiny hands.

Way to go little man!

Now where are my 10,000 men?

This morning Fintan put on his bicycle helmet and announced, "I'm the Grand Old Duke of York".

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

From a tree

Tonight while both boys were having a bath and I was shampooing Coen's hair, I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, that Fintan was holding something small and brown in one hand. Afraid of what it might be I immediately stopped soaping and turned toward him to have a closer look.

Me: Fintan what is that?
Fintan: It's a hickory dickory nut.
Me: (Taking it and seeing that it is, indeed, a hickory nut hull) Well where did that come from?
Fintan: From a tree.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Star phone

Tonight while changing Fintan's diaper in preparation for bedtime he grabbed a large silver star that Pat brought home from work and held it up to his ear.

Fintan: "I hear something."
Me: "What do you hear?"
Fintan: "Santa Claus!"

Saturday, November 15, 2008

New blog

Well, I'm so bloggy now that I went ahead and started a new one. I wanted a place to store odds and ends: activities, recipes, tips, tricks, and flops. Most of it is going to be fairly obvious to everyone but me. That's why I needed to have a more concrete place to store the stuff than the seive I call my brain. If you'd like to check it out, here it is.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Magic

After Fintan finished his dinner tonight I left him strapped in his booster seat and ran upstairs to quickly get things ready for bath time (lay out the towels, get the baby bath in the tub, grab pajamas for both boys and start the water warming). When I came back down just minutes later to get them both I noticed that Fintan had somehow managed to move himself, his booster and the chair it's attached to two feet to the right and turn it sideways.

I asked "How did you do that?!"

His answer: "Magic."

I looked at Coen next, but he wasn't telling. Boys.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Keep praying

Just wanted to share with those offering prayers: Dante started his treatment today! So that's good news. The bad news is that a doctor who is a bigwig in the Neuroblastoma world basically told his mom that Dante isn't the ideal candidate for the therapy and gave her a hard time about doing it. He made her feel like it would be unsuccessful and possibly painful. But her only other alternative is to take her baby home and stop fighting.... :(

"Trooper" Dante, is very strong and his own doctor, (who has a heart and) who knows him best, still recommends the therapy for him.


So they're going forward with it and right now Dante could use your prayers more than ever. If any of you are churchgoers and could pass the word on to your congregations for prayers I would be very grateful.

Potato head

Fintan has a hand-me-down Mr. Potato Head that has been sitting in a closet awaiting a time when we needed a distraction. Today we definitely needed one. I dumped out all of the pieces and let him go to work on his own. Right away he gathered up all of the arms he could find and started sticking them in random holes. I had to fight the urge to show him how to do it "properly" and just let him do what he liked, after all it was "distraction time" not "learning time". But after he had the head studded with a variety of arms he held it up to show it to me and said: "It's the itsy bitsy spider potato head". Ha! I guess it WAS learning time. For Mommy anyway.

I just adore that boy.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Just saying

Fintan is sick again. :( I'm grateful. I'm grateful. I'm grateful that he just has a cold. And diarrhea. I really am. But darn it.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A plea for prayers

I have mentioned to some of you that there is a little boy that's Fintan's age who has been fighting Neuroblastoma for about a year now. His name is Dante. He is such a special kid. A funny kid. A kid that is so loved by his parents and by so many of us. For a while there it looked liked he'd beaten the cancer, he is so strong. But now it's back and it's everywhere. One of the bones in his back just broke because of it. His left eye is swollen shut because of a tumor behind it. But the kid just keeps smiling. Right now Dante has one last chance for treatment, it's called MiBG therapy. But his lungs aren't working properly and his doctors aren't sure if it is pneumonia or the cancer that is causing the problem. If his lungs grow any worse in the next four days then they can't treat him at all. They will be out of options.

He's barely two years old, Mamas. :(

Please pray for him. Even if you don't ever pray, please, please pray for him.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

This video makes me laugh

It's better without sound. Be patient.

video

Are you superstitious?

Do you believe in Fate? Karma? Jinxes? Bad luck? I've almost got Pat convinced that all those things are real. How else do you explain it when you make a comment like: "Wow, Coen went down so easily tonight! He hasn't woken up once!" And before you can even draw your breath from speaking those words you hear "WAAAAAH!"?

Or how do you explain the fact that if I rave about how wonderful life is I know I'd better pull out an umbrella real quick because, darn tootin', the sh#% is just about to hit the fan...or the rug...or the roller coaster.

As I said in my previous post, Fintan's antibiotic has really wreaked havoc with his bowels. Well, this morning, while I was getting our stuff together to go to the Indianapolis Museum of Art with the boys, I guess he had an explosion up his back. Fintan reached around and, of course, found it. I was actually in the kitchen right about then with these thoughts running through my mind: "Wow, this "no show" thing is really working out well! I mean, not a peep out of him. He's playing so well by himself and hasn't even ASKED to watch one. All it took was a little creativity on my part... (yes, THAT thought is, I believe, the thought that thwapped Fate upside the head and made her decide to put this smug little Mama in her place)...and a little preparation and blah blah blah. Well, it turned out that his fun had nothing to do with MY creativity and everything to do with HIS. He took what he found on his back and decorated the house with it. There were dollops on the wood floor, smears on the roller coaster, skid marks on the rug, fingerprints on his pants... and, oh, what a surprise when mommy was ready to go!

Yes, I do believe in jinxes, bad luck, karma and most of all, I believe in my dear friend Fate. Oh, yes, and the Universe too. I did call the Universe's attention to myself in my last post, after all. But I hearby absolve you of any wrongdoing, oh Universe. Please forget I exist now, okay? And I mean that in a GOOD way, please.



Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My two at the zoo

The boys and I went to the zoo this afternoon. This gorgeous weather has been such a gift! That gift and Coen's recent pacifier acceptance are what made this post possible. :)

First we stopped to pet the sharks, but they weren't in the mood to be petted so we just made some ripples. (I can't believe Fintan can reach the water all by himself now!):


Then we saw a walrus do several tricks and get rewarded with fish. That was a highlight.


Later we saw a curly horned thingamabob up close for the first time:


And then we saw elephants. (Well, I saw elephants more than they did, because I had to turn them away from the elephants in order to take their picture).


Fintan was thrilled to be at the zoo and Coen was just a happy little guy the whole time. Not even a peep out of him, even though he was long overdue for a nap. Then, this happened:

And I had one of those feelings, like, "I can do this. I can be a mom of two!"

It was another perfect day from start to finish. And, I'm thrilled to add, not one single show was shown in our house today.

All that silver lining had me just waiting for the cloud to appear. (I know, I'm SUCH a pessimist) Well, appear it did on the way home. Fintan's antibiotic for his ear infection has...let's say...loosened things up in his nethers. And those things came out in the car on the way home. No diaper could contain them. His new carseat is soiled. His pants have seen much better days. But with all those yards of silver lining just waiting around that cloud was eclipsed before it ever appeared. THANK YOU UNIVERSE!!!

The evidence

He did it!

Today Fintan was eating lunch and Coen was on the floor in front of him doing tummy time. I was fixing my own lunch and Fintan said "I want Coen to do tummy time".

I said "he is doing tummy time, sweetie."

Fintan said, "I want Coen to do tummy time right now!"

I said "Did he roll over?"

And Fintan said "yes!"

So I came running over, and he HAD, so we had a celebration. He's now done it several times both ways! :)

I think his lucky socks made the difference:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Operation No Show

I don't know how many times a day I hear the phrase "I want to watch a show, Mommy!", but it's a LOT! Since Coen was born, shows have been distraction numero uno at our house and Fintan has watched WAY too many of them. Hours a day is not an overstatement. I've been too brain-fried to think of other activities to occupy the time that I spend nursing Coen and bouncing Coen and trying to put Coen down for naps and so I've turned on shows to limit the scream fests that result from less mommy time. But not today! I'm implementing "Operation No Show" at my house.

Last night before bed I looked through two books "The Toddler Busy Book" and "Baby Play" and took notes to get ideas for easy things to distract Fintan in a good way and interact more with Coen. A lot of the ideas in the toddler book were simple things I'd always planned to do or had done before but not for a long time. It was great reminder of how easy fun can be. The baby book, I was happy to see, just reinforced a lot of the things I was already doing with Coen (singing, nursery rhymes, dancing with him, etc.) so that made me feel good, too. But I want to do more of it!

So, first thing this morning I took the two orange chairs we have in our great room and set them back to back a few feet from each other and draped a sheet over them. Fintan immediately came running to see what was up. It was so adorable. He crawled right in and started playing. Then a few minutes later he reached out and dragged one of his baskets of books under there with him and began to "read" to himself. He played there until we were all ready to head out to the park this morning and then when we got home he played in there while I made his lunch (something that lately has required a show every time). When he finished his lunch and Coen needed attention I found Fintan a few of his "tools" and told him that his secret club house looked like it needed a bit of work. That occupied him until I could put Coen down and read Fintan his naptime books.

Later we went outside to play for a few hours and when we came back in to make dinner he "worked" on his clubhouse some more! The appeal lasted all day. The few times it waned I tried another trick that was a variation on one I read in the toddler book. The author talked about having "busy boxes" with special things inside. I didn't have one of those, but I had a small, empty plastic spice container that I'd saved, thinking that Fintan might like to add it to his play kitchen items.


Well, when he started whining to me about shows I said that I had a special treat for him. I put one of his candy kisses from his Halloween bucket into the spice container and put the lid back on. Then I gave it to Fintan and told him to take it into his secret clubhouse to open it. He did that and then ate the treat while reading one of his books. It worked way better than just handing him a treat would have. I did that twice today and both times he ate the treat and then continued playing.

So a bedsheet and two pieces of Halloween candy got us through the day! Fintan watched only one 15 minute show all day. I consider that a success!

I do want to add that I don't think that letting kids watch tv is a sign of bad parenting. But I think that I was coming to rely on it too much and I wanted to nip the habit in the bud before it became too ingrained. The only reason I'm calling it "Operation No Show" is that I have a thing for rhyme and "Operation fewer shows" doesn't scan well. :) I know with the cooler weather arriving and not being able to go outside as much, we may have to pull out the "shows" more often, but I want to have a good list of fun activities on hand to try to keep it under control.

As for tomorrow, I think I'll try a new configuration of the clubhouse and see if that will renew the fun for another few hours. I also have a few other tricks up my sleeve.

I know that some of my friends who read this blog have new babies as well or second babies on the way, so maybe these ideas will help you ladies avoid the "too many shows trap", too! So I'll continue to post ideas as I try them and let you know how they go. Please share any fun, easy toddler activities that you've tried as well!

Monday, November 3, 2008

The most wonderful weekend

What a weekend! The weather was perfect, the kids were happy, we spent time with dear friends and all of us were in bed by 8:15 last night. Ahhhh! So we're all feeling refreshed after the sickness and grumpyness of last week.

I thought Halloween was going to be a bust this year. We were sad to miss a Halloween party on Thursday afternoon and another with our friends on Friday morning when we headed to the doctor's office (or as Fintan would say: doctors "offtist") instead. The doctor recommended no close contact with other toddlers (so no trick or treating with Zayden and Ivy) but said he didn't think us going trick-or-treating and being outside as a family would be a problem. And thank goodness because I can't remember ever experiencing a more lovely Halloween in my life.

Fintan had a blast. He would march right up to the doors to knock....


say "trick or treat" and then walk right inside when people opened their doors.


He'd even bypass the candy bowl. But then he tried candy corn for the first time...


When Daddy managed....
to open the package.
Ahhhh.....
a taste....
Yum!
Then he'd skip to the next house with a mouthful of candycorn. What could be better?


Coen spent most of the evening like this:


But then he woke up:
and then he REALLY woke up:


But by then we were almost back to the car. Next year will be YOUR year, Coen.

Saturday morning we went to breakfast (or. as Fintan would say, "breftast") with Alex, Jen and their daughter Sadie, and Ben and Jenny. The boys were SO good. Fintan just tucked into his meal (and mine...and Pat's too) after a long week with no appetite and Coen slept almost the entire time. It was the most pleasant breakfast we've had in months. Then we went to the park to play. Of course, we forgot the camera that morning.

Sunday afternoon our good friends Terry and Laura and their kids, Madison and Jacob--two of our favorite kids in the world, came to visit from Southern Indiana. Madison, who used to call Pat "your boy, Pat" to her daddy, is now almost as tall as I am! She and I just finished reading the same book series (Twilight) and had fun comparing notes on that. And Jacob, who used to do flips on his daddy's legs when he was Fintan's age (what feels like three weeks ago) is now a giant hockey player and a real sweetheart who played with Fintan the whole time they were here.

I only took a few pictures of the fun because my camera battery died, but this one was my favorite. They were decorating some pumpkin muffins I made (thanks for the recipe, Emily!) with orange drizzle and Fintan was "helping". We told them all to smile for the camera and this was what we got:



Let's get a little closer. Here's Jacob:
Here's Madison:


And here's Fintan:
A few minutes later he leaned over and without even picking it up, took a giant bite off of another muffin on Madison's plate. That's my boy!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sick

Well, poor Fintan has been sick since Monday. Cold. Fever. Now an ear infection. So far Coen is still well (knocking SO hard on wood), but with his up-down-up routine Pat and I have been playing musical babies all evening. I'd post more, but like Mom always said, if you can't post something nice, don't post anything at all.....or something like that.

Monday, October 27, 2008

He's a biggun'...

Coen had his four month well-visit this morning. He is 16 lbs 4 1/2 oz. and is 26 inches tall. Fintan was 16 lbs. 6 oz. and 24 1/2 inches tall at his four month well visit. So it looks like Coen is shaping up to be a regular giant. Maybe we'll nickname him Hagrid and start draping him in furs. And I guess we'll stop working on "gay rights" and move on to "fee fi fo fum--I need more milk in my tum tum!"

Friday, October 24, 2008

The scene just a moment ago:

Fintan, in his booster seat, held out slimy, post-lunch hands to his baby brother who was sitting on my lap and said sweetly, "C'mere, Coen".

Beating a dead horse

I just can't leave it alone. I always tell myself I won't bring it up anymore. I won't bore people with my obsession. I won't ask "How do your kids sleep?" after the first handshake when I meet someone new. But I can't help myself.

Do any of you know that old folk tale where the hero has a naked old man with a long white beard riding his shoulders and he can't get him off? The old man drives him on and on mercilessly. He has no control over his own life and is driven to exhaustion. Leah, Tara? What's that story called? Anyway, sometimes I feel like I have two not-so-old men on my shoulders cracking the whip.

I've kept this blog positive and complaint free so far and I want to keep it that way. But I also want to document a bit of what life is like right now so that later I can look back on this and thank GOD that things (and by things I mostly mean sleep) will (hopefully) have drastically improved. I also plan to dust this information off when the boys are both teenagers and have hormones raging like every other boy. I'll use this post to scare them straight. Teenagers should simply NEVER EVER have kids. Teenagers should be required to shadow a mom of an infant for a month, 24-7, as a part of their sex education. And not just watch her but mimic her every move day and night. Seriously. Anyone with me?

Last night, Fintan fell asleep at around 8:30 which is pretty good for him. Coen was up and down and up and down and up and down (the downs lasted approximately 5 minutes each and the ups about a half hour) until 10:30. He then woke up to nurse several times throughout the night (2 times? 3?) and then Fintan was up before six and Coen by 6:30. Ouch. But that's fairly normal. Their naps are usually very short or don't happen at all and very rarely overlap. My life is not my own by any stretch. Have I scared you straight, yet, teenagers of the future? Have I mentioned shadowing a new mom 24-7? I may just set that up for you, teenagers of the future, if you give me any reason! Do you hear me up there? Have I mentioned how little sleep you will get if you have babies? Have I mentioned the sleep thing yet?!

Honestly, if sleep were something that people left lying carelessly around in locked cars or kept in gleaming piles in bank vaults I would acquire a jimmy and a ski mask and go on a crime spree.

Now please excuse me, teenagers of the future, while I go tend to the two not-so-old men on my shoulders.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The preparation paradox

With a toddler there is a fine line between too much preparation for a new activity and too little. For example if you tell your toddler that you're going to do something fun, say, in a few hours, you can expect gnashing of teeth and floods of tears that it's not happening RIGHT NOW! But if you DON'T explain the new activity carefully enough before you get there, then you may end up with a very confused and nervous toddler who gnashes his teeth and produces floods of tears.....and the new and fun activity won't end up being quite as fun as you'd hoped. It's a paradox.

Yesterday at 3:15 I told Fintan we were going to a Halloween parade at a nursing home. "Won't that be fun?" I asked. "Yes!" Fintan said, "I want to put my costume on RIGHT NOW!"

So I put his costume on RIGHT NOW and I put Coen's costume on RIGHT NOW and I was patting myself on the back that I was going to make it on time. I shoved my camera in my back pocket and we headed out the door.

We pulled into the parking lot five minutes early and I wrapped Coen onto me and we walked inside along with the other early birds. Fintan looked at the other costumes with appreciation at first and seemed happy enough. More people were showing up. The entrance became quite crowded with little Spidermen and fairy princesses. Then a man walked by, threading his through the crowd in a white jacket. Fintan's eyes widened and I could see his little brain working: "Wait a second, what exactly IS a Halloween parade?"

I'm not sure of the exact conclusion he came to, but it was probably something like this: Halloween parade=white jacket=doctor=shots. Floods of tears immediately made their appearance and it was too late for explanations. The Halloween Parade wasn't happening for us.

We went outside and he gnashed his teeth on a muffin instead.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The more we get together

Recent Fintan funnies:

Last Friday I found Fintan sitting on his train-table singing to his shadow on the wall: "....'cause your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends. The more we get together the happier we'll be!" I caught a quick pic of it before he stopped.



This morning Fintan was sitting on the potty (aren't 93% of his funnies happening on the toilet lately?) and he started singing "Oh where oh where has my little boy gone? Oh where oh where can he be? He's poo-pooing on the PO--O--TTY!"

Here are some pics from this weekend:

Love this expression


Hangin' with Luna at the mulch pile:


Walking with Nini:


Happy little bunny-man


And here's a short video since Lalove asked for one. :)


Friday, October 17, 2008

One in a million

My husband is the best man in the world. I can say that without the slightest bit of irony. He really is. Sometimes I don't treat him like he is, but he always treats me like I treat him like he is. And I love him. Things have been rough at the Klein house for a while now. I mentioned in my last post that we have sore backs, knees, hips, feet, etc. because Coen requires a great deal of intervention to get to sleep. Pat is never above taking over with our littlest guy as soon as he walks in the door at the end of a long workday, either. He washes his hands and immediately takes him. Every day. His nice shirts always end up smelling like baby puke, but he's not above that. And I'm not at all above allowing him to hold him for hours on end either. I should be, but I'm not. Sometimes in the middle of the night, after I nurse him, Coen won't go back to sleep. Pat gets up and takes over. He never complains. Sometimes he's in there with him for hours, jiggling him the whole time. So there are more deposits of baby puke racked up during the midnight shift. And still he leaves for work with a smile on his face and a kiss for all of us on the way out. He worries about me during the day when I'm home alone and I know he wants to be here to help. He checks up on me. He rarely goes anywhere without us because he knows how much we miss him and how the together time seems so rare and precious, even when I give him a hard time for every little thing because I'm just being me.

Yesterday was my birthday. Pat surprised me by taking the day off work. He took over most of the Coen duties except when it was time to nurse him. Fintan and I went out and picked up doughnuts and a pumpkin spice latte, and ice water, and headed to the park in the morning. Then when Fintan went down for his nap, and after I nursed Coen, I got to leave the house to do whatever I wanted. I got a haircut. And I went to the grocery store and the drug store and the library all by myself. I enjoyed every moment of it.

Then we all went to dinner as a family and Pat held Coen so I could eat and then I nursed Coen so he could eat. I had a wonderful day. I do realize how lucky I am, even if I sometimes lose sight of it and forget to let him know. I'm really going to do my best to stop being so "me" and try my darnedest to treat him like he treats me like I treat him. He so deserves it.

I love you, Pat! More than you know.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sleep

Pat made a joke recently (this morning? Yesterday? Five days ago? It's all such a blur) about Fintan and his sleep schedule. He said that maybe Fintan's going to make a really good doctor someday because he can get by on so little sleep. Or that maybe he'll start sleeping a lot when he's a teenager. Can you imagine? He asked, saying: "Fintan get out of bed you lazy sacka...don't you know what time it is?! GET UP!" He had me laughing pretty hard. And now Coen's a boy after his brother's heart. He sleeps longer when he does sleep but the process of getting him to sleep is going to be the death of his parents. Pat says we're going to take our feet, back and knee transplant costs out of his college fund. Sounds fair, no?

Monday, October 13, 2008

The milk takes the cheese

Yet another Fintan funny, from tonight after his jammies were on and it was time to read books:

Me: "I'm going to get the milk."

Fintan (singing): "We're going to get the milk! We're going to get the milk! Hi ho the derry oh, we're going to get the milk. (I start laughing so he continues) "The milk takes the cheese! The milk takes the cheese! Hi Ho the derry oh the milk takes the cheese."

Truly I think Fintan takes the cheese.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Baking in the bathtub

Tonight in the bath:

Fintan: "I need three cups of water (pours it from his inverted drum into his hair-rinsing scoop) one, two, three, four! That's just enough. Now I'll stir it all up. I'm stirring it all up, Mommy!"

Me: "Good job! You're doing a great job stirring, sweetie."

Fintan: "Just a little more water. There now it's full, Mommy. Now I stir it all up. Stir it all up."

Me: "Oh, that looks really good, Fintan! What are you making?"

Fintan: "Toast."

Friday, October 10, 2008

An itsy bitsy bit stuck

Today's funnies:

Fintan: "Mommy's drying the shower walls."

Me: "Yes, Mommy is drying the shower walls."

Fintan: "Cool."

Later from Fintan while sitting on the toilet, complete with appropriate hand motions:

"The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout,
down came the rain and washed the spider out!
out came the sun and dried up all the rain
and the itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout
down came the rain and washed the spider out!
out came the sun and dried up all the rain
and the itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout
down came the rain..."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hear ye

Coen, for the first time in his young life, fell asleep in his infant seat in the car while driving home this evening. He is still in his seat, not screaming, but sleeping. Let me say that again: sleeping.

Holy canoli.

Natural mommy?

I admit it. Being the mommy of an infant does not come naturally to me. I try hard. I do. But I only have two real weapons in my arsenal (see, does that turn of phrase sound like it came from a natural nurturer to you?) the boob and the clean diaper. If those don't work then I'm out. I bounce, I sway, I sing, but Coen feels my head spinning loose from my neck and it just doesn't work. Pat can manage to soothe him with bouncing, but even for him it's difficult. I've heard him chanting "you are killing daddy's back, you are killing daddy's back... but do I go and relieve him? No because the boob and diaper didn't work and like I said, I'm out of ideas.

Today I took the boys to Fintan's storytime. Coen was already tired when we got there, but he wouldn't sleep on me. I tried bouncing, swaying, the boob, nothing was working. I was managing to keep it down to mild fussing, but couldn't get to silence and came nowhere near contentment. After storytime Fintan went to play with the toys as usual and after a few minutes of bouncing with my head spinning loose I told Fintan we had five more minutes, the countdown went fairly quickly and when I got to one more minute I asked a friend of mine if she could hold Coen for a minute so I could get Fintan's jacket on him. I apologized for the fact that he was fussing and she totally brushed it off. Now this particular friend has been trying for baby number two for some time now and has been having fertility treatments. I know she wants a baby more than anything and her eyes lit up when she took him from me. It was so sweet. And almost with the same breath Coen stopped fussing. He breathed in her mommyness and was peaceful.

Was I jealous? Maybe a tiny bit. But more than anything I was just in awe of it. Sure she's soft and warm and smells good (as his own mommy often doesn't), but more than anything I really believe that some people are just naturals with babies. and babies sense it. I wish I could bottle some of what she has and take it home with me.

Now I'm not saying I'm not cut out to be a mom completely. Raising a toddler comes much more naturally to me than tending to a baby does. But I think my ideal mommy range is going to fall between the ages of 6-12. And I think the teen years will come easier for me than the first year does. Teen angst is a fairly sharp memory for me. Just like my friend calming Coen at the library by her presence I've always seemed to have a strange cosmic affinity for kids between about six and 10. I can't even tell you how many times I've been taken by the hand soon after meeting a child and invited into a clubhouse that I'm way too big for but crammed myself into anyway. Or led into a darkened bathroom to play lite brite, etc. I've actually always found it a bit unnerving even as it's fun because I don't know exactly what I did right and I'm afraid to mess it up! But there really is something there. So I look forward to those years even as I enjoy these more challenging ones.

Do you have an age range that you think will be your natural one as a mommy? Does it all come naturally to you? Don't be afraid to share. Even if its all easy for you. I won't throw stones at you...pebbles maybe, but no stones.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tintan like fish

This morning we went to an indoor playground near our house. Fintan made a new friend. As usual he wasn't interested in making friends with other toddlers, he usually likes to choose a big guy or barring that an older woman to befriend, and then he likes to show off for them.

Today it was a grandmother who had brought her two grandkids to play. Fintan was showing off like mad for her, not allowing her to pay attention to anyone but him. He ran across the room and came back with a ball and said "here's a purple ball" then he ran and picked up another one. "Here's a blue ball" he said. Then he pulled a piece of his playfood out of his pocket. "Here's a yellow french fry".

Then when she started oohing and ahhing over his abilities (she said her three year old grandson didn't know all of that) he started getting really into it. He ran to the light that cast a glow on the carpet and pointed to the shape it made and said "this is a diamond". Then he ran to the other one and said "this is a diamond, too!" Then he started doing crazy tricks and counting and singing songs and just laughing his head off. It was adorable.

When she asked him what his name was he said "Tintan Patrick". She called him Vincent the rest of the time but he didn't mind at all.

When we were driving home afterwards I asked "What is your name, sweetie?" Of course, he didn't answer me because he's suspicious of direct questions, even from mommy, and only likes to talk on his own terms, no coercion allowed. But I continued, "Can you say Fintan like "fish", sweetie? With an "f" sound?

And for once Fintan decided to humor me. "Tintan like fish", he said.

Pics from the weekend

We had a busy weekend. Saturday we went to the pumpkin patch:


Where Fintan milked a cow:


And rode a pony:


And drove the cool cars with Zayden:


Sunday we had fun at the park:


And bought a very used truck to replace the Land Rover we sold last week:


This is what it says on the side:



Pat says we should remove the "an" to better illustrate the quality of our work. Wanna hire us?

Friday, October 3, 2008

A two way tie

Well, the finger crossing worked! Thanks all. Coen is now officially the sleep champion of the world in the 3 month old division. Hooray! The night before last he had two good stretches of about 5 and 4 hours and then last night he slept, amazingly, from 6:30 pm until 4:45 am. Then he was up until about 5:45 when he fell back asleep until 8:40. I KNOW! I didn't believe babies existed that could do this and I would never believe in a million years that I was a person who could produce one. Especially given Fintan's track record.

But, here's the deal, for once in their young lives, rather than conspiring against me, my boys conspired for me and BOTH took it into their heads to sleep well. Fintan slept from 8pm, until 8 am last night! This is the kid who has rarely gotten more than 10 hours of sleep in a whole day in his entire life. So even with losing a few points for going without a nap today, Fintan is officially the 2 year old sleep champion of the world. He deserves it.

Yay for my boys!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ode to an ice cube tray

There is not a single item in my kitchen that comes in more handy, when it comes to feeding my toddler, than an ice cube tray. Really. These are the trays that I have. They're sturdy and the lid fits very securely. I originally bought them to freeze pureed fruits and veggies for Fintan when he first began eating solid foods, but as he grew I just kept finding more and more uses for them.

One thing I use them for is to freeze leftovers like casseroles and soups, so that rather than having a big solid chunk of something that you'd have to defrost all together to serve it, you can just pull a few cubes out of a freezer bag for a toddler meal and maybe even a few more cubes for your own lunch.

In addition to leftovers, I also use ice cube trays to freeze things like homemade cheese sauce and spaghetti sauce for fast and easy pasta lunches (cheese sauce also makes a good dip for whole grain crackers and breads, too). And I don't just use them for homemade sauces. They're also great for freezing toddler-sized portions of our favorite store-bought sauces. Pasta sauce is a good bet for most toddlers--I often melt two cubes for Fintan to dip his ravioli in. But I'll also freeze more unusual ones like Tikka Masala sauce for example. Then, since I have a handy stock of little toddler-sized portions of frozen chicken strips (as I described my previous food post) I can just pop a packet in the microwave for 30 seconds, poach the chicken in a bit of water in a frying pan for a few minutes over medium heat, remove any leftover water when fully-cooked, and add a defrosted cube of Tikka Masala sauce to the pan. Yum.

I've definitely found it easier to broaden my little one's food horizons on a regular basis having these trays handy. The possibilities really are endless with a good ice cube tray!

I'd love to hear your toddler-feeding tips if you have any. Or ideas of other things to freeze in ice cube trays. I still have lots of freezer bags to fill...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A night of sleep

Well, I have to commemorate a certain event. Coen did a big thing last night. He slept for almost 10 hours straight. He has come nowhere near that amount before. He doesn't often get that much sleep in one day. I am almost certain we will not have a repeat performance any time soon, so I want this date to go down in history.

If you're the finger-crossing type, please cross a few for us.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Food for a toddler

I thought I'd share a few ideas for good, healthy, and most of all easy toddler meals. I figure everyone can use ideas and I know at least a couple of people with toddlers are reading this blog, so what the hey?

I like to make a variety of food to feed Fintan, and yet I can't make things from scratch every single day, so I have some tricks I use to keep feeding him homemade meals as often as I possibly can. Tonight's dinner: oven fried chicken and zucchini:

This meal is so easy because I've done some prep in advance. I buy "extra tender" chicken breasts at the grocery store and slice it into strips. Extra tender chicken really is much more tender than your average chicken breast which is great for toddlers. The alternative would be to get regular chicken breasts and pound them with a meat mallet a bit before slicing them. Either way I slice them up and then I wrap the pieces in saran wrap one at a time, rolling the wrap to keep a layer of plastic between each piece. I do this with 4 or 5 strips in each little packet I make so it will be a toddler sized portion. Then I put all of these little packets in a freezer bag. When I'm ready to make a meal for Fintan I just pull out one little packet, put it in the microwave for 30 seconds and it's soft enough to work with. I use this chicken for all kinds of easy meals!

To make the oven-fried chicken I first made a crumb coating. This can be a cereal coating like cornflakes, or it can be dried bread crumbs, stuffing mix, crackers, croutons, anything you'd like that's dry and flavorful. If the crumbs are not already flavored, then I just add some salt, pepper and seasonings. I like adding a bit of thyme (rubbed between my hands to crush it). I prefer to choose a healthy coating if possible, something with whole grains preferably, but it isn't necessary of course. Just crush a small handful onto a plate or cutting board. I often use a potato masher, but a rolling pin works too.

Then scoop a small amount of light mayonnaise into a small dish, just enough that you can put a thin coating onto the chicken strips. I do this part with my fingers. I dip the chicken strip into the mayonnaise and rub it in, you don't need much, and then roll it in the crumb mixture to coat it. Then I put the chicken onto a cooling rack (it makes the chicken crispy all the way around) and put the cooling rack on a cookie sheet and bake it in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending upon how thick your chicken strips are cut so be sure to cut through a strip to check for doneness.

While the chicken is baking I cut and cook the zucchini. Target sells individually wrapped zucchini which keeps it fresh much longer so I try to buy that (I had seeds to plant but my baby-belly got in the way of planting them this year. Next year we'll pick our zucchini from the garden). I like to cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and then cut that into long triangle shapes. I cook them in a skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil (a healthy fat) and a little salt and pepper. I cook them until the fleshy sides are browned and then slide them onto a plate to cool.

A simple, fast, healthy and tasty meal--says Fintan, anyway,

Snuggle buggle

Muffets, anyone?

Having a second child has necessitated the introduction of many new distractions into our lives. Namely for Fintan, and namely a butt-load of movies.

I don't really like the amount of time he spends in front of the television these days but I do adore the names he has come up with for a couple of his movies:

"The Muppets Take Manhattan" is now "The Muffets Take My Hat", and was previously "The Muffins".

And also:

"The Surmousimoles" (though this one is "broken" because we didn't think the amount of hitting portrayed was good for our little hitter) is what he calls "The Incredibles".

Cracks me up.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ahhhh, Autumn!

I love this time of year. I know, it's EVERYONE'S favorite time of year, but holy guacamole, there's a good reason for that. We had a good day at our house. It's surprising because one of our own is sick--AGAIN. He caught the cold I picked up at his two year old well-visit. His nose is running like a faucet. But with this weather who could be upset? Especially when you can start the day off right: in jams and wellies with a trusty kitty by your side and a (spider) web-collecting stick in your hand. Then later in the day Fintan went out with his daddy to play. He loves going on "nature walks". He'll ask in his high pitched "good boy" voice, if you'd like to go for a nature walk. Then he leads you on the same course every time. Back to the playground, bypassing the toys. Through the garden where he usually says "Mommy pick tomatoes for the road". I'll pick a handful of cherry tomatoes to take along while he waits at the end of the row for me to help him jump the pumpkin vines. Then we follow the path that he helped his daddy mow through the field and head over to the mulch pile, his very favorite place. (Folks, save your money. Don't buy expensive and fabulous playground equipment for your toddler. Just call your local tree-trimming company and ask them to dump a pile of wood chips somewhere on your property.)
Anyway, Fintan took his daddy on a nature walk to the mulch pile today and while they were out there they were lucky enough to find a really cool bug: a praying mantis! Fintan used to do a whole-body shudder at the very mention of the word "bug". But now look at him!
Three cheers for Fintan! Hip hip hooray!

Now, as it is appropriate, I will end this post with a poem that I wrote a few years ago.

Praying Mantis


The Mantis bows his head to pray:
Oh let me catch a bug today.
A juicy bug that's plump and fresh,
And full of yummy, tasty flesh.
I want to eat it for my lunch,
So make it crisp and sweet to munch.
I don't care if its striped or spotted,
Red or green or polka-dotted.
Let one insect fly my way,
And I'll be good for one whole day.
Or you could send me three or four,
I'll do good deeds forevermore.
But if you can, please send me ten.
That's all I ask, thank you, amen.

Copyright: Alina B. Klein

Now go out and enjoy the season, folks, it's fleeting!