The National Zoo and a Backpack Harness (Toddler on a Leash)

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Recently, while searching the internet for ideas for a fun new afternoon adventure for Roman I discovered that I had never made it to the two most kid friendly features of the National Zoo. I had taken Roman to the zoo half a dozen times without heading down the American Trail and stumbling upon the sea lion exhibit and its tidal pool splash park, or around to the children’s farm petting zoo! I’m always so worn out by the end that I just skip the last trails without a clue as to what we were missing. So this trip we skipped all the early trails and headed straight to the water fun and petting zoo. The best part? I thought, “Hey, maybe Roman is ready to try out his Animal Planet backpack leash and walk the zoo himself a little!” HE LOVED IT! This child hates getting dressed, immediately throws off hats and sunglasses, I thought getting him in this thing would be torture… wrong! He seemed to think he was pretty cool with a stuffed white tiger on his back and a tail on his butt. He looked a little confused about me holding onto the tail… but never complained. He was just so thrilled to be walking around the zoo on his own two feet, “FREEDOM!” He didn’t spend the whole day this way of course, the walk is honestly a bit much for me these days with my grown up sized body. I loved their little splash park, though it was a bit crowded which seemed to overwhelm Roman a bit. Out of all the animals we saw that day, this donkey was by far his favorite. He was crazy excited about the llamas too, but they weren’t being as friendly… he attempted with all he had in him to climb over the fence into their yard to pet them, they just wouldn’t come over and say hello.

Sadly my body isn’t holding up as well this pregnancy, the walk uphill in the heat to get out of the zoo was a little more than I could handle. It feels so strange after the level activity I was accustomed to during my first pregnancy. I don’t think we’ll be making it back there until the weather cools off a bit… poor Roman is already dealing with the consequences of having a little sibling!

On Mothering A Son

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Every so often my Facebook feed draws my attention to a list or essay someone has written and someone has liked or shared about what it means to have a son, to be some boys mother. Sometimes their sentiments are sweet, sometimes downright frustrating (i.e. things to teach our sons: how to identify a skank so he never brings one home. Really ladies? We really want to teach future generations of men to slut shame and disrespect women? No thank you.)

My husband and I went to see Boyhood recently, and one scene in particular epitomized my basic fears about having a boy. Basically, he’s a young teen, hanging out with his peers and a couple of older boys, all of whom are sharing their disgusting views on women and sex, pressuring him to drink beer and engage in a juvenile competition of machismo. Drinking and partying doesn’t scare me. The behavioral effects of being in a group of boys scares me. There seem to be more general fears about daughters for most parents… I think I feel more frightened by the things my son could do, then the things that could be done to my future daughter. I feel such an intense sense of responsibility in raising this boy to be a kind, sensitive, respectful, feminist male member of the species. It scares me, but mostly I find it all very exciting.

I remember my mother, a woman with two daughters, telling stories of how shocked she so often was by the nonchalantness of mothers of boys, as theirs sons ran wild, fighting and falling and behaving in an overall barbaric manner. I don’t think this bothered my mother as much as it left her something more like awestruck. Recently I realized that I can catch myself already, being one of those mothers. Roman isn’t barbaric just yet, but he is quite the curious little explorer, and I in no way hinder that exploration unless he finds himself in an actually dangerous situation.  I never think anything of my leniency until one of his grandparents is trying to take something away from him that I permit, or the other day when the doctor had to ask me to find some other way to entertain him while he was making his way around the office touching the equipment… oops!  Sometimes I wonder if I’m just taking a lazy approach, and then I’m cleaning up stacks of papers or books he threw all over the ground, or goldfish snacks he dumped out… and I realize, no, my choices aren’t lazy, they are out of genuine support for his “experimentation” with the world. I indulge his curiosity, support his risk taking and I don’t worry about things that don’t pose an actual health or safety hazard.  Of course I will handle my daughter the same way, I am just so curious to see if she behaves in the same “tear the world apart to see how it works” manner that my son does. (Though I will try my darndest not to correlate everything with their gender difference!)

So those are my random, scattered thoughts of the moment on being a young boys mother…. and now, I can’t wait to see how it feels to be responsible for raising a girl! I am just so grateful that I will have the experience of both a mother-son, mother-daughter relationship.

Confession: My All Time Favorite Movies… With Rotten Ratings…

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So this revelation is the result of the Robin Williams marathon now happening in my home, an impulse I couldn’t resist with the saddening news of late, a walk down memory lane into a nostalgic haze with Hook, Dead Poets Society, Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, What Dreams May Come, Good Will Hunting, The Birdcage…

I started with Hook, a movie I have seen so many times it is indivisibly interwoven into the fabric of my childhood.  (I was obsessed with all things Peter Pan.)

Then I went on to Rotten Tomatoes to decide which flick to watch next, and dun, dun, dun… Hook had a whopping 31% rating. I realize that as a child and young adult my taste was perhaps not up to par with that of the leading critics… but I can admit, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Hook yesterday, and I plan to watch it with my children plenty more times in years to come. (I was relieved to see my other favorites: Pollyanna, The Secret Garden, and A Little Princess were all very fresh. Okay, maybe I just had an obsession with orphans…)

So I started searching, and as it turns out, I really shouldn’t be relying so heavily on this website to determine which films I watch on Netflix, rent on iTunes, or check out in theater…

I shouldn’t say these are all “favorite movies” but some have been on that list at different points in my life, some I have just enjoyed watching over and over again (and would still) some I even own (and I don’t own many movies)…

So with no further preamble… My not-so-guilty, apparently “guilty pleasure” movies:

My Girl 50% (This was a childhood favorite, for sure.)

Hocus Pocus 33% (It isn’t Halloween until I’ve seen Hocus Pocus)

What Dreams May Come 54%

Step Mom 44%

Cruel Intentions 49% (Every teenager loved this move didn’t they?!)

The First Wives Club 39% (“doooon’t tell me what to doooo… and doooon’t tell me what to saaaay!”)

Life As a House 47% (I fell in love with Hayden Christensen…)

Pearl Harbor 25% (…and then I thought I was destined to marry Josh Hartnett.)

How To Lose a Gay in 10 Days 42%

The Holiday 47% 

The Family Stone 51%

Across the Universe 53%

Mona Lisa Smile 35 %

Marie Antoinette 55% (I love everything by Sofia Coppola.)

He’s Just Not That Into You 40%

Should I be embarrassed?!?! (Because I’m not.)

(Side note: If you’re judging me, here’s what I would call my list of “favorite movies”… in no particular order: Almost Famous, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Annie Hall, When Harry Met Sally, American Beauty, Chocolat, Good Will Hunting…maybe 10 Things I Hate About You, Ever After, Clueless, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Midnight in Paris, Her…I’m sure I’m forgetting some…)

Roman Popped Back Up On Apartment Therapy!

Apartment Therapy compiled a list of “stylish boy’s names” from the past year… and Roman and his “nursery nook” are on it! (Right between Rhys and Ryder, I just love our generation of creative baby namers!)

From Aiden to Zeb: A Year of Stylish Boys’ Names

(Also, my DIY letters that show off his “stylish” name so nicely.)

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Roman: The One Year Update

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So Roman has been a whole year old for almost a whole month now. (I have been seriously slacking with the updates, eh, its summer!)

He had a truly wonderful weekend birthday celebration with our friends and family in NJ. Party at my parents house on Saturday and my in laws house on Sunday… lots of cake and playtime and toys and presents! He really enjoyed himself! His actual birthday was on Monday and we spent the morning at the beach… he played in the ocean and on the shore with the mud (he seems to love them equally.) Then he ate lots of watermelon and was just SUPER happy.

We stayed in NJ for the whole week and following weekend… and we were there visiting again this past weekend. We really try to get lots of family (and beach) time in during these summer months.

Here’s a little glimpse of Roman at one year…

He is SO SILLY. He laughs all the time… not just as a reflex anymore but purposefully as if to say “aren’t I funny” and “isn’t this fun” and “we’re just having the greatest time!”

His first word was “Pup”! My parents have two small dogs and on his birthday visit he fell in love with them. He chased them around the whole time, pointing and saying “pup pup” and trying to pet (or sometimes slap) them.

I think he now also says “ball” and “bubble”. He LOVES bubbles. In fact his light up bubble gun is the one and only toy he has yet to behave territorially about. At the playground when other children try to use it, he bursts into tears!

He will sit and read book after book after book with us. I am amazed at his focus. He will play with his ring stacker or shape sorter bucket for the longest time in full concentration. For such an active, rambunctious child I find this surprising and adorable.

He is practically running.

He spins in circles! We have no idea what inspired this favorite of dance moves, but sometimes he’ll just start spinning in circles and laughing and laughing.

He LOVES children’s songs and he LOVES to dance. If we’re ever watching something and someone starts to sing or dance he starts to clap and bounce and bob his head.

Sometimes he just walks up to us and rests his head on our chests, and gives us hugs… there is nothing sweeter.

He doesn’t need a bottle at night anymore! (finally!) He wakes up once around 4am and a pacifier does the trick! Our new nighttime ritual is to lay in bed with him until he wrestles himself to sleep. This can take over an hour…. and he can get VERY silly. (Its really much more entertaining than any of the television shows we would be watching instead.)

He has entered the “isn’t it so great to throw food off of my tray and watch it hit the floor” phase of toddlerhood.

He LOVES helping us cook. If someone is in the kitchen there is no where else he will tolerate being. He wants you to hold him right over the pan or pot or cutting board so he can see exactly what you’re doing. Then he wants to hold the spatula and “help” and he will push the food around and then look over at you with the biggest smile on his face every few seconds and it is just the cutest thing.

He prefers eating with utensils. Not kid utensils, the ones we have in our hands. And he is SO good at it!

He is still a peek a boo  world champion.

I love having a toddler. A silly, fun loving little boy whose main concerns in life are learning to do everything we do, and laughing and having a REALLY great time!

Roman’s First Wedding!

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We spent the last weekend in June on Keuka Lake in Finger Lakes, NY celebrating the marital union of our dear, bright, beautiful friends Meredith and Adam. (Also, for this group of college friends, wedding weekends double as extra special reunions.) Being that it was out of town, and my parents were in Alaska, and my sister and in laws work weekends… Roman came with us! (I really wouldn’t have wanted it any other way… except maybe to have a babysitter for the actual wedding…)  We rented a house across from the lake with friends who also had to bring their baby to the wedding (Roman’s date), and our old roommate from Seattle whom we rarely get to see. (Obviously the whole weekend was full of magical quality time <3)

I have a few things to say about bringing a baby to a wedding:

First off: If the baby is a girl, shopping for her outfit will be a lovely experience full of seemingly infinite beautiful options. If the baby is a boy, shopping for his dress clothes will be full of disappointment. Seriously baby clothes designers, we like to dress our boys up too.

Also, don’t rent a house with four flights of sketchy outdoor stairs you must climb to reach it. A lake “treehouse” is not as charming as it may sound.

We really didn’t know what to expect as far as Roman’s behavior and sleep schedule for the event. He’s on a pretty regular routine lately of being awake for three hours at a time, and going down for the night between 7:30 and 8:30. He’s walking, so we imagined we’d be chasing him around all night, but the big crowd had him insisting on being held for the most part. We brought his KidCo PeaPod (which we used as his travel crib all weekend, I seriously love that thing. We originally bought it for the beach, but it works so well on trips too, he can nap anywhere!). The plan was to stroll him to sleep like we always do, and put him down in his PeaPod somewhere safe… which turned out to be under our table. We weren’t sure if the music would work as white noise or a disturbance… he woke up after about 45 mins… long enough to leave him in a good mood until the end of the wedding! We carried him around the dance floor for the rest of the night! He was in something of a sleepy trance, but he was perfectly happy and so were we. (I was a little disappointed when he fell asleep before the dancing began. For months I had been imagining bouncing with him on the dance floor… so I was secretly… or maybe not so secretly… pleased when he woke up so quickly <3)

My favorite story of the night was cake time. Mike and I each enjoyed a slice while Roman stared intently. We thought “eh, he’s okay, he doesn’t know what he’s missing.” Then when we were finished he pulled out his pacifier, rubbed it the frosting left on Mike’s plate, and popped it back in his mouth. We felt so bad that we got him his own piece, which we fed him a few bites of before he grabbed the fork and began feeding himself the icing (using utensils is a brand new thing, we were shocked.) Then probably due to the icing, he did not fall asleep on the way home as we expected, but arrived at the rental house hyper and happy until he finally drank a bottle and passed out until 9 am!!! A miracle!

Would I recommend bringing your baby to a wedding? No, I would not. Is it possible? It most certainly is, and it can be enjoyable too!

Also, the Finger Lakes were an absolutely beautiful place to have a wedding. And little destination weddings like this are so wonderful… one night is just not enough when it comes to people whose company you love and crave…. I sure do love wedding weekends  <3

A Few Things That Have Been Making Life Easier Lately…

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First: my new So Young Charlie Diaper Bag

I loved my old Ika Diaper Bag, but as Roman has gotten bigger and the days have gotten longer, I found I couldn’t fit everything I needed for the day in the bag without it over flowing. First I looked for backpacks to replace it (because it was also getting heavy) and then at super organized more traditional diaper bags and “weekender bags”. I loved Danzo’s options, but the price was a little high for my budget. Then I stumbled upon So Young’s new Charlie bags and I was quickly sold for these reasons: it works as a back pack or messenger, it has a large built in insulated pouch for storing sippy cups, bottles and snacks (saved me my next purchase of a lunch bag), and is full of pouches and separate areas for superior organization. I can fit SO much in this bag with zero problem finding things. I hang it off the stroller most of the time, or wear it as a backpack. I use the cooler pouch every day. I love it. (I also love that its “unisex” because my husband spends lots of time carrying it around as well.)

Second: Big Baggu Shopping (beach/everything) bag:

I was looking for a big giant beach tote when I came across the baggu bags and decided that the “big baggu” would be perfect. Its huge, easy to clean, fine to get wet, can hold up to 50 lbs, super durable etc. Then I just started hanging it off the stroller at all times and now I use it for everything. When we go grocery shopping (which is basically every day) I use it as the grocery cart and then the grocery bag of course. I throw extra toys or rain gear in there some days… and of course, its perfect for the pool or beach. Oh, and it only cost $12!!!!

Third: Super Why:

So I know people aren’t real into letting their children watch tv these days. But we don’t actually have a tv, we have a desktop and an ipad and Netflix. We also have one wild rebel child who can quickly become fussy and clingy and make it impossible to get everything together to get out of the house and to the playground or wherever our outing is that day… until we discovered Super Why! So when Roman is no longer willing to entertain himself, I put on Super Why and he puts on a smile. He makes responsive sounds when they ask him questions, and laughs and gets excited along with his fellow “super readers” while I get us ready to go. I’m partly pleased to see his ability to focus growing. Also, Super Why came to the rescue for road trips, once fraught with tears, we were able to travel 6 hours in the car with a happy baby thanks to the occasional distraction of his favorite cartoon on the ipad! So thank you PBS, for making an entertaining, educational show that makes us feel not too super guilty about letting him “watch tv”.

Lastly: Chia Pudding:

Easiest. Snack/Breakfast. Ever. There are lots of fancy things you could do to make a delicious chia pudding, but that would defeat my purpose here. All we do is shake up 1/2 cup of chia seeds with 2 cups of coconut milk in a mason jar and store it the fridge until it solidifies into that yummy pudding texture (at least 2 hours, we do it before bed and it is ready in the morning!) It is delicious just like that or with some fresh fruit. It is really so refreshing, just perfect for the summer (and according to the internet, super healthy!)