Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Jumping Like a Frog, Chitchatting Over the Weather, and More at 25 Months

This month Micah:

  • talks in pretty complete sentences now. "Micah scampered away from Mommy". For a while he was using the correct pronouns like "I do it" or "you do it". 
  • plays around with the way words sound like chemistry and capitalism.
  • says, "It's funny mommy" lots, but rarely actually laughs.
  • runs around the kitchen island. and around. and around. and around.
  • pretends to be an alligator. Alligatoring Daddy! Alligatoring!
  • used the kitchen tongs for a few days to pick up little finger puppets and other items lying around.
  • practiced jumping and hopping over and over again. He can now pretty comfortably jump off a small retaining wall without assistance! He likes to pretend to be a frog.
  • been cutting at least one two year old molar.
  • Got a few more bumps and bruises.
  • had his first true fever and cold (fever up to 104 one night!).
  • just last week began not minding mommy again.
  • has had fun at preschool and has been able to explain to me a few things he did at school when I ask later that night. "Micah painted. train table. cut the food. kids." etc.
  • likes to wear accessories like various hats and helmets and eye masks and goggles and necklaces and more. 
  • helps Gramma do the dishes.
  • is starting to interact more with other kids. At the sandbox one day he looked at a kid and said, "It's windy." Such a small talker already, huh? Ha! He is fascinated with the moon and the weather and the dark.
  • is not even scared of Halloween decorations. We have been enjoying our neighborhood walks more now that we get to spot all the spider webs (real and pretend) and ghosts and monsters and pumpkins.
  • continues to be unpredictable with food. Guacamole, avocados, chicken, and more seem to be hit or miss. The only true staples so far are bananas (one to three a day), tortilla chips, nuts, and cheerios or granola and yogurt or milk. 
  • stayed local for the first month in a long time! We did a zoo trip, lots of neighborhood walks, a first birthday party for our friend's daughter Natalie Rose at a fun drop in and play center, little interactions with our cute little neighbor Fiona (one of his favorite words), had a fun playdate with Isaac and family, a trip to Snoqualmie falls, and more. Being sick sort of slowed our family down a bit this month, but not too much!

helping Gramma do dishes

going to bed with the new baseball glove from Nathan

playing at Isaac's gravel pit

hanging with Dax (almost 6) at the zoo

chips and guar are a healthy dinner, right mom?

testing out eating at the kitchen island

Yom Kippur services

playing at the birthday party

with our friend Kaiden

Trying to mend our sickness with fresh Puget Sound air on Alki

Checking out the excavators at the soon to be new elementary school 

this photo makes me think he's leading a cooking show on tv. 

we live in such a gorgeous place!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Flying with a Toddler: A Narrative Snapshot

Missed nap time.
Fragile toddler.
Two hour delay.
Oh shit.
Time to pull out all the mommy stops.
Attempts to return him to dreamland prove futile. Even the back and forth on the moving walk ways don't tire him. There are too many exciting new things to stare at. People and places and art exhibits deck the airport out. 
I love when people sympathize with me and recognize my plight.
A pilot walks by and smiles,
"Is this the new drive them in the car until they fall asleep?" he chuckles.
"I wish" I exhale back with a smile.
Up and down, back and forth, lugging a heavy "baby", the diaper backpack and my purse with camera all at once.
"This is why people bring strollers," I think.
I give up on the nap.
Two hour delay. It's cool. Bathroom pit stop, art exhibit wandering, plane watching, lunch eating, daddy phone calls, what else?
Remind me not to pack Hummus as an airplane snack again. A gentleman gets up from a nearby seat. "You're doing a great job!" With that he says, "I've been there" and "No one cares if you have hummus all over your pants" kind of smile.

FInally it's our turn to board. I stop tears and cries with upside down lifts and flips and mid air somersaults. Tears thankfully turn to giggles.

On the flight, we have another two hours to combat. My precious baby is not going to nap and we are entering new napless territory. I scan the people nearby slightly wary of unfriendly passengers. The couple next to us don't scowl at the sight of a toddler, which is a good sign. We slide in next to them filling and spilling over the entire seat next to the window. My claustrophobia is being seriously confronted with no leg room and a child with no where to go, but my lap.

Thank god for stickers! Stickers on my face, on his leg, in his hair. Trucks, trains, whales, and fish thankfully fill seat 36C with giggles and glee. Amusement conquers tired eyes. With books and goldfishies and ice we manage to laugh and entertain the flight away.  Piggies mommy, Piggies! An otherwise anti-screen time mamma gladly unleashes a bit of iPad video time with an un-AAP approved strategy to get us that much closer to home and Daddy and Charlie and Gramma and rain without a tantrum or pure meltdown.

We watch out the window as the wheels hit the pavement and our plane reminds us of gravities true force. We made it without losing it! We managed to keep smiles on our faces and our fellow travelers remain impressed. Time to get this poor overtired kiddo home. Another successful Mommy and Micah trip. Phew!

*This flight was back in May and we have had much better flight experiences before and after. Each time flying with Micah has been very different, but overall we have managed to keep him pretty content. I've also flown with him quiet a bit when he was a baby, which was much easier than flying with him as a toddler!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Noonday Collection: A Gorgeous Jewelry Company On a Mission To Do Good!

So I've never really been one for jewelry parties since I am never really in the market for any and I always feel so cheap/stingy/embarrassed when I leave the party after eating and drinking yummy food and visiting with friends and not contributing to the consumerism of the day.  I have found the most amazing and wonderful company that has completely changed my mind about jewelry parties! Actually they found me. My good friend Erin invited me over to her house this summer for a Noonday mimosa gathering and clothing swap. I think the clothing swap was Erin's idea and I'm so grateful since I totally scored! I brought a few things I was tired of and a few super cute dresses that reminded me too much of being super pregnant and I ended up with like seven new pieces of absolutely cute clothes! 

Dannie, Erin, and I with some of our great Noonday Collection necklaces! Photo courtesy of the fabulous Tristan Wit! He must learn from his amazing wife (of Abeille Photography)

The minute my mom and I arrived at Erin's and glanced at the jewelry, was the minute I knew I had a problem! I pined over almost every piece on the table! There we were greeted by Mackenzie Ellis, a fabulous Noonday ambassador. Mackenzie had us watch a video and gave us insight into the amazing and unique story of the origins of the company. The company began as a way for one family to fund their international adoption and has grown into a company that not only continues to assist other families in funding their adoptions with portions of proceeds, but it has also grown into a company that truly empowers small artisan groups, often women in dire or bleak situations,  to make a better life for themselves and their families. A group of women in one small village, whom had been sent to die of AIDS on a mountain, now have built a business through Noonday that gives them the finances to get the medications they need to almost rid themselves of the virus and thus bring their children back to live with them. This is just one of the many inspiring Noonday stories. Another one is that of a community where farmers collect old artillery shells in their fields and pass them off to a group of women who then turn the artillery into beautiful pieces of jewelry. Noonday is uplifting many communities like this across the world. They have expanded to groups in Uganda, Ethiopia, India, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Nepal, Guatemala, Vietnam, Haiti, Bali, Rwanda, and even refugees in the US.

My only wondering about their ethical practices is the use of bone in some pieces. Of course they are all from animals that died of natural causes and nothing is black market or anything, but I wonder if even the safely found pieces with bone or ivory create more fuel for the black market and thus further endangering animals. Just my own personal reservation. 

In the end, I still walked away with an order of three fabulous necklaces. My girlfriends, Dannie and Erin and I all ended up with the same great ombre necklace. It's no wonder we get along great! I fell in lust with the paper beads and seeds and my mom got one of the armor necklaces that was so simple yet stunning.

If I had more time to explore other career options I would totally be convinced in becoming a Noonday ambassador.  If you are into stylish, chic, sustainable, empowering, jewelry with two great causes, check out Mackenzies site to get some of the most fabulous, conversation starting jewelry pieces you will ever own! Also, if you are in the process of adopting children internationally or even domestically, look into this company and I am certain someone will reach out to help you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hosting a Low Key, Thrifty, and Fun Toddler Birthday Party

I try to celebrate my little guy with lots of friends and family without all the stress that usually surrounds hosting birthday parties.

Here's a few quick tips on how to host a low key, budget friendly toddler party:

  • Schedule the event for a while after nap time so that your kiddo is refreshed and ready to party
Micah with his brand new high interest birthday present
  • Plan the party in between meal times (instantly you've erased half the stress of cooking and an added bonus is the cost) and just provide snacks and drinks. There are so many easy ways to corral your snacks in ways that fit the party theme like my veggie trains out of warming trays and toy trains. Or you might even grab a cookie cutter that goes with your theme and use it in unexpected places like my cheese trains (I attempted to use it for my no bake peanut butter balls too, but they were too crumbly).
Chew Chew, Chew up a veggie train or cheese train! ;-)

  • Skip the booze Shop at Costco (skipping booze is sooo not us, but we did try to go light by just buying beer and wine. This was important to me since we were also celebrating my dear hubby's birthday and good beer is pretty much synonymous with Phil, right?)
gift time

  • Delegate! Delegate! Delegate! If you fly in town to be a guest then you might as well help clean and craft! My mom helped with train table decorations, my sister-in-law crafted a last minute birthday crossing sign, and my husband helped with the pre-party clean up. The biggest delegation celebration (you like that rhyme?!) was having my amazingly talented mother-in-law bake a train themed fondant cake, Cake Boss style! 
So this photo makes our Birthday Crossing sign look like more of a pinterest fail than it really was, but even poorly executed decorations still make things more fun and festive.

my sister-in-law Cassie adding the final touches to the amazing cake her mother made

The final product along with our party favor table
  • Make a go-to party decoration that can be used every year and slightly updated. My mom made this fantastic felt pennant banner last year for Micah's Oh-Fishally One Birthday Party. I just rehung the banner and printed out one photo from each of the last twelve months and clipped them up with clothes pins. 
Interchangeable reusable birthday banner
  • Use what you already have! I dragged Micah's easel out the front yard to tie balloons to and to welcome guests. 
even the little train stenciled on our welcome sign adds to the theme

  • Take your own photos or ask a talented friend to help too.
my parents, Micah, and cousin Julien

Micah's Great Gramma Jacquie and our cousin Johanne

So much fun to have great friends and lots of little ones!

Susan and Cassie, who's help was all greatly appreciated!

Everyone should invite twins to a party! Anna and her beautiful baby boys. Talk about making it all look easy…!

My photographer friend Dannie @ Abeille Photography snapped this one for us! Check her out! She's amazing!
  • Skip the preplanned and organized games and activities for kids. Toddlers just want to run around and explore a new environment and especially play with someone else's toys. 
Free play for the kids is fun!

toddlers don't need organized games

  • Have the birthday boy open one gift the morning of the party in order to use it as a shared experience for kids. In our case the new train table was perfect, but something as simple as new blocks or legos could work too.
Don't stress about too many toys out or all over. With great guests, most will try to help clean up before they leave.

  • Strategically display books that tie to the parties theme around the room or on tables outside. Best case scenario, they provide entertainment to children and get read, worst case scenario, they act as cute decorations.
My little reader sat himself down to read one of the display books before guests arrived!
  •  Repurpose old party supplies. It's ok to break out mismatching napkins and solo cups over fancy glass wear. If you've invited the right people (you know, the fun kind that like to hang out with you and enjoy watching kids play…), then they shouldn't care about anything except good beer company anyway! 
Our cousin Mark had to be the oldest train conductor in attendance at the toddler party, but he wore the hat well!

  • Amazon is your friend! Order some fun little kid take home gift that says, "your parents are going to be so ticked they sent you to a party that gave out loud train whistles" "thank you for coming to my party" and don't worry about wrapping or bagging them. 
Have tables that serve multiple purposes like this Goody bag, book display, and games table.

  • Set out some of your child's games or toys that match the theme to provide decoration and/or entertainment.
these train themed dominoes added a little extra fun while people sat and chatted
  • Expect that people will cancel. When you have a party for a toddler and invite other parents and young children, expect that someone will get sick or have a hard time getting out the door on time. 
Proof that people had a good, relaxing time.

In the end, everyone will be happier with a stress free and relaxed hostess than with a pristine, perfectly executed, or expensive party…especially the birthday boy (or girl!)!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Terrific Two! Two Years Old is Fun!

loves to eat salmon!

This month Micah:
  • Continued to speak in sentences. He has new vocabulary every day!
  • spent a few days saying "Shabbat Shalom" "Shalom Shabbat" to everyone. He picked it up from listening to one of our Elana Jagoda cd's in the car. 
  • practiced hopping and jumping every day
  • climbed up our step stool to help with everything on the kitchen counters. He helped Gramma with dishes, with baking, and more.
  • Spent days with Gramma Susan again since Mommy went back to work and Daddy was busy studying Spanish all day.
  • went to Alki Beach with Mommy, the Tacoma Childrens Museum with Mommy and Daddy (played at the water table with the toy animals the whole time), and to Edmonds for a day trip on Labor Day Weekend with Mommy, Daddy, and Gramma. 
  • went on a hike and saw lots of slugs!
  • spent a few days with his Great Gramma Lilly when she came to stay with us after a fall on her fishing boat in Alaska. (she's doing better and back home in Port Angeles). It was so sweet to hear her sing old diddies and interact with Micah. 
  • went to the his first fair! We took him to Puyallup for the Washington State Fair and he loved looking at all the animals and watching the Mutton Busting. Only two more years before he can enter! :-)
  • visited with our friends Jeff and Stephanie and met their weeks old baby Jenna!
  • played with old friends Ella, Liam, and Fin while the adults got back to watching football on tv!
  • went from showing lots of red on his chiropractic exams to being totally clear last check up!
  • Took one last plane trip to the Bay Area as a lap child (a.k.a. free seat!). He explored the S.F. Botanical Gardens, played at Nana and Papa's house, hung out with Nana while Mommy and Daddy and Papa went to the worst Giants game ever (17-0 Dodgers!), and then got to spend lots of time playing with his second cousins! 
  • has become more interested in being sung to (he requests Ba Ba Black Sheep lots). He likes dancing too (spinning around and around).
  • goes without anything at all for dinner many nights. Breakfast is his big meal of the day and loves daily cereal or granola and yogurt and whole bananas. He often snacks on bread or nuts later in the day and occasionally will eat something more substantial at lunch. Overall he eats a variety of foods and we aren't worried about it. 
  • started having night terrors where he wakes up around the same time each night and seems awake, but is inconsolable and actually still asleep. It has taken us about half an hour before each episode is over. I've done some research and they are likely hereditary (Phil had them too as a kid) and could be brought on by stress and unfamiliar situations (this last week has been super busy with school and lots of family and his birthday)
  • still loves trains and loved having a train themed second birthday party. We first had a family dinner for Phil's birthday, which is the day before Micah's and then had a fun birthday party at home with amazingly hot and sunny weather! 
  • Update: Just had his "well baby" checkup and he is 30 lbs and an inch and 1/4 short of 3 ft. tall! Everything else is doing great!
Mommy and Micah time on Alki Beach

exploring animals and water at the Tacoma Childrens Museum

this is what hiking looks like with a toddler

Got a few family dinners with Great Gramma Lilly

Time with Papa in Golden Gate Park

Exploring the S.F. Botanical Gardens with Nana

An early birthday celebration with Nana, Auntie Jen, Uncle Alan, and cousin Sarah

Playing with cousins (photo doesn't have Micah, but it was too cute not to share!)

Micah and cousin Lulu at brunch

cousins that sweep together stay together

Cutest Second cousins (sadly smiting three): Josie, Thomas, Ellie, Lulu, William, and Micah

Cheers with homemade popsicles 

visiting with cousin Sarah and Auntie Jen

I have quiet the silly boy

this big boy showers himself now

Big birthday present! A Train table!!!

Eating raisins at Kiddush club

playing soccer ball at Ercolini on his real birthday

fun at the fair

watching Mutton Bustin!

Loves hanging with baby friends! We got to meet little Jenna Morrison!

Love that I find him just reading to himself lots!