Thursday, June 19, 2008

Can you tell me how to get there?

I wanted to take Noah to Sesame Place. Everyone I spoke to who had been raved about the water park rides. And he was SO into amusement parks last year I knew he’d love it. But when I checked out the website I was appalled at the price. It was over $50 a person for anyone over two. Insane. Of course they sell you on the “bargain” of getting a passport to come back a second time or even a season pass. But the prices are outrageous. Then I saw a banner advertising group discounts for Sesame Place. If you bought 15 tickets the price was nearly half. So I picked a date and sent out an email to all my friends with families to see if anyone was interested in making a group excursion – the price was lower and it would be fun bumping into friends all day at the park. And it worked.

Yesterday was the big day – we had a group of 8 preschoolers, 7 moms, 3 dads, 3 infants, 2 grandmas and a nanny! The weather was a little cool for water park weather and we had a few little thunderstorms but as a result the park was pretty empty which was really ideal. It seems everyone had a blast. My mom accompanied me and the boys and we alternated taking Noah on stuff. It was great to have another set of hands and it was nice watching Noah enjoy hanging out with Grandma. I didn’t even get jealous when he preferred her for most of the rides. And Ray was a champ. After only a one hour nap he was awake from 10:30 am to nearly 7:30 pm – and not even grumpy. He was just taking it all in. (Actually it isn’t too uncommon for Ray to go long periods of time without a nap. He is the second child after all and amazingly resilient.) It really was a fantastic day. And spending time with different friends throughout the day made it all the better. All of the kids were utterly ecstatic. I hope to do some other group outings, if not for a discount just for the companionship.

My favorite memories of the day were seeing Noah beam with joy and pride after riding an inner tube water rapid ride all by himself, Noah's fear and yet utter fascination with the roller coaster, Ray pointing at every costumed character, and Ray SO exhausted from the day that he got incredibly clumsy and proceeded to flop happily all over the padded toddler zone.

And now a few notes about Sesame Place: Bring insane amounts of money. Though we got discounted admission and discounted lunch vouchers – the $13 parking set the tone for the day. They don’t allow coolers but I did bring an insulated lunch box with snacks, fruit and veggies so we didn’t spend any additional cash on food until an evening soft pretzel purchase. See the parade and a show or two to break up the day. Both Noah and Ray really loved them. And wear water shoes if you have them, the ground is killer on bare feat. Take photos – unfortunately I had my hands full with Ray and didn’t really take any so I have to wait for others to share them some with me.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Daddy dearest

This weekend I was discussing babies with a father-to-be. He confessed that he was a bit jealous of his wife’s pregnancy. Everything was changing for her and yet for him it was still all the same. At this point it was all about her. I responded by essentially telling him “Get use to it.” For a man who wants to be an equal partner in the raising of his children the hardest part of being a father is not being the mother. It’s probably mostly biology that causes children to be so often clamoring for Mama. I’m often feeling so bad for Mark when he’s essentially begging Noah to let him help with something meanwhile Noah just whines for me. And though some of that has to do with me being the primary around the clock caretaker – that isn’t all of it. I was quite surprised when one of our neighbors who is a stay-at-home Dad confessed that the moment his wife steps in the door from work that the kids want nothing but her. So not only are Dads giving and sacrificing – but often they don’t get the same cooperation, recognition and lavish affection that Moms get. It must be hard.

Mark is a fabulous husband and father. He is appreciative, interested, committed, and loving. He is a great support for me – always wanting to know what he can do to help and how he can make me happier and ease some of my stress. He focuses not only on how to parent children but how to raise well rounded adults. And as with everything he does, he doesn’t give himself enough credit. But anyone who knows Mark or even just reads about Mark on this blog knows that he doesn’t just deserve a card or even a round of applause – that he deserves some sort of medal. But in absence of that a nice breakfast, some cards, kiddie drawings, Tshirts, photos and Reeses peanut butter cups will have to make do. Oh and this – I love you, Mark. Thank you.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ahoy Matey.

I took the boys to The Franklin Institute today. It was our second visit. The museum is really intended for much older children but there are a few hands on exhibits that really can captivate smaller children. Noah has consistently been asking to walk through the large human heart since our last visit. Today we walked through it twice, learned about the heart, the brain and bones – then learned about The Sky Tonight in the planetarium. It was our first planetarium visit and Noah was really in awe of it. Next we rode the train, sat in the fighter plane and then headed to the special exhibit. When we got to the museum Noah was immediately intrigued by the current special exhibit on pirates. I wasn’t planning on going to it since it was an additional fee but since we got in to the rest of the museum for free I figured why the hell not. And I’m so glad I did – it was pretty breathtaking and Noah really enjoyed the drama of it. It really was on the scary side – there were moments I was even creeped out by the music, the lighting, the pirate mannequins. But Noah is in a stage now where he likes to be a bit scared. I picked up the pace a bit when we got to the part where you walk through a recreation of the ship because Noah was obviously a bit scared but about halfway through he asked to go back to the beginning again. He really enjoyed it. Some of the subject matter of the exhibit was too adult for him – about slavery, drowning and death sentences – but I was able to just sort of whisk him past those parts and tell him what I wanted him to know. I got him a tube of plastic pirate figures to spur on his imagination. Tonight before bed he and Mark were doing a story where the pirates were getting on and off of the trolley to look for their treasure. I had another great day with him. I really love watching Noah soak up new things and I’m always really impressed by what a great student/audience member he is. If you put any person in front of a group or on a stage he will become instantly engrossed no matter the subject matter. He is just a natural learner and I hope that always stays with him.

As you can probably guess Noah has bounced back from his week of darkness. It really seemed to be a product of being overtired after being sick. The other day I thanked him for helping me put away the groceries and he said “I am SO nice.” And I said “Yes, you are.” To which he said “Not like those other days… those were SO BAD.” I was sort of taken aback for a second – I didn’t want to dwell on it or make him feel any more guilty. So I said “You were having a grumpy patch. It happens.” And then we went back to the groceries.

And Ray? He is really mastering this walking thing. He’s also a crazy climber – always trying to haul himself up on things. He’s trouble for sure. But also amazingly fun and adorable. Just thinking about him makes me break into a bemused smile. What a funny little dude.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Day at the Beach

Today we took a day trip to Ocean City. I’d never taken a day trip to the beach with Noah before, despite it only being an hour away. I was always daunted by the idea of being incredibly sandy with no place to clean off before going home. And that is what happened today – I now really need to vacuum out the van. But today was really a fantastic day so I see more in our future. All it took was one friend saying “Hey, you free on Tuesday? We’re thinking of taking the kids to the beach?” And then we asked another friend and the result was four adults and six kids frolicking in the sand and surf. It was Ray’s first beach day. He was intimidated by the ocean – the cold water and the crashing of the waves – but he adores the sand. We dug a wading pool that the ocean filled up for the babies to hang out in. Ray could have stayed in there all day. Meanwhile Noah is in love with the ocean. He just couldn’t get enough. He didn’t even seem to care that the amusement pier was closed. And we got to share it all with friends, friends covered in sand. It was a perfect day. With sand.

Monday, June 09, 2008

In the midst of a feast

The boys. Forced to be affectionate and mug for the camera while trying to consume snacks during one of Noah's pretend picnics.

Check em out yo!

Just a few of my favorite recent photos. The boys at the zoo, hanging in the living room, Master Noah and Mistress Bella and Eggerts men watering our tree on a very hot summer city day.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Just Travelin Man

If Noah didn't keep jumping in front of Ray he might be in Mexico by now.
And the waving? Not sure if that is a balance or an exceitment thing but it must be typical since Ray's little friend Ivan does it too, but with both hands.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

It's growing and growing.

So much. So much.

I’ll start with Ray. In the last week he’s gone from taking his first official steps to spanning impressive distances. He’s also saying “Mama,” moving his head back and forth crazily ala Stevie Wonder when he’s happy and eating almost entirely table food and no baby food. He’s still really “world oriented” and by that I mean that he’d rather explore, move, interact and take things apart rather than play with toys. And he picks up skills amazingly fast – he took to drinking out of cups overnight, both in a tip-back sippy and with a straw. I find that particularly amazing since he hadn’t drank from anything other than when he nursed. Like Noah he was never been bottle fed and yet was like “GIVE ME THAT CUP.” It took Noah quite awhile to be in to the whole cup thing. Ray’s also doing a good job of picking up the baby sign language. In the last week he started doing the sign for “No” which I do when I tell him not to do something. And he’s using it a lot – to talk back by saying “No” to me after I’ve said it to him, to ask me if something is okay by signing “No” while touching something and giving me a quizzical look, and just to voice unhappiness by signing it while crying. He’s doing so well with the few signs I’ve used that I really need to add more so he can express himself better. So Ray is really blooming.

Noah however is having a tough time. He’s physically recovered from the pink eye and the days of feverishness but he’s exhausted. His body needs extra sleep but he’s fighting it. He doesn’t nap and he’s getting up at 6 am every morning – despite being a zombie. And his behavior had really been trying. I really was at the end of the rope with him yesterday. He was being so defiant, so stubborn, so difficult, so emotional – and I’m not accustomed to having to deal with that. Over a month ago he went through like a week or so of being really difficult but then it turned around and he was back to being fairly reasonable and angelic for a 3 year old. So hopefully the evilness of the last few days will turn around quickly once he gets some more rest. He’s also on a break from school since his school year ended in mid-May and he doesn’t start the summer program until July – and I think the loss of that structure, socialization time and accountability to other authority figures has something to do with it. Friends have also commented that he seems to have gotten a lot taller and more slender in the last few weeks so maybe a growth spurt is also in the mix. Whatever the reason – things best get back to normal soon. On the upside he’s more into his music now more than ever. Constantly asking me to put on something specific and asking me to turn it up or be quiet so he can hear a certain part. He wants to share his favorites with everyone and feels disappointed when they aren’t as taken with them as he is. After his love of the drama of the Disney ride music I figured he’d like movie soundtrack music so we took a few out of the library. At the moment he is loving the soundtrack to Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. I also recently bought him a used Ipod Mini on Ebay and a docking station for his room (It’s amazing what great deals you can get on outdated technology) – all of his music was taking all the space up on the used Ipod Mini that I bought for myself last year. And he just loves having his own Ipod. On his own he also decided that we should have a fair schedule for music selection so he decided he got to pick breakfast music, I got lunch and Daddy got dinner. Unless of course if we have lunch guests and then he got to pick the music if he has something he wanted them to hear.

And what is new with me? A lot of food stuff. I’m on a quick diet for the next few weeks to see if I can drop a few more pounds before we go to the beach. I hate dieting. I’m hungry and grumpy – but since I have an end date I can just aim for the light at the end of the tunnel. On a more positive note I finally put together that gas grill that we bought about two months ago. Did I mention that? It was supposed to take 30 minutes to assemble but after three hours I shoved it in a closet for two months. Ahem… well I finished assembling it on Sunday and we’ve been grilling, grilling, grilling. Also we’re high on greens. We joined the Greensgrow CSA again this year and our shares started two weeks ago. This year we got a vegetarian share because I’m weird about certain kinds of meat and there was just too much last year that I wasn’t really interested in cooking. I think we still have two kinds of sausage and a kind of stew meat in our freezer. Plus I was jealous of the vegetarians last year “HEY! They get three other veggies/fruits and all I got was this damn whole chicken.” Anyway – I love the CSA experience. I love that it’s local. I love that it’s good for the planet and our neighborhood. I love that we are trying new veggies and exposing Noah to such a wide variety of garden food. And I love just having to be a bit imaginative in what I’m serving for dinner. It’s not the same handful of things I always cook – it’s like “What am I going to do with collard greens and turnips?” But it’s not all just weird stuff. Tomorrow I pick up strawberries, tomatoes, asparagus, kale, extra sharp cheddar cheese, spring salad mix, mushrooms, spring onions, yogurt, and herbs. YUM. I totally encourage anyone to try out a CSA in the future or at the very least to seek out local farmers markets.

Okay. I am late for watching part one of the Top Chef finale.