Summer: Unplugged

My son loves to throw rocks.  Specifically, he likes to throw rocks into water.  Into the ocean, lakes, streams, puddles - you name it.  He also loves to run.  All the time.  He thinks running is the most fun when you are doing it with him.  He also likes to build train tracks and play catch and drive cars and paint and draw and cook and do laundry and brush his teeth and turn the fan (which he calls "the machine") on and off for as long as you'll let him.  And bubbles - don't even get me started on the bubble machine.

Today was a stressful day for me.  I've had a lot on my mind and after work I decided we could all use some time at the park. So, we loaded the kids in the stroller and walked to the park.  The nearest park also has a small beach which is where we spent most of our time.  Will wanted to throw rocks into the water and into the small tide pools left behind in the rocks.  I mentally prepared myself to just enjoy the rock throwing as long as he wanted.  Sometimes this is hard for me.  Rock after rock goes into the water and he squeals with delight, hunts for more and then repeats.  After 5 or 10 rocks, I'm done.  I've lost interest.

But, not tonight.  Tonight I was caught up in his joy.  Caught up in how fascinating it is to him that some rocks are black and some are brown.  Caught up in how he delighted in the big splashes.  Caught up in the excitement of finding a new pool of water or a waterfall.  He found so much joy in the whole experience and I was lucky to get to be invited to participate.

A couple of times as I was watching him I felt my hand wander to my phone, ready to peek at whatever inane information the internet had waiting for me.  Each time this happened I made a conscious effort to remind myself to stay present in the moment.  To remind myself that nothing on my phone couldn't wait an hour.  And you know what?  It was great.  I had so much fun throwing rocks and laughing with my boy.

For Christmas, my mom gave us a very cool old-school box called a "Phone Minder."  It was used in hotels in the past to remind users that they had a limited amount of time available to use the phone.  But, she encouraged us to use it to hold our phones during dinner time so that we weren't looking at our phones during this critical time of day with our family.  She said to us, "I didn't have these kinds of distractions when I had young kids.  I know that those times I spent with you guys were so special - and you'll never regret any time you spend with your kids without your phone or other devices."

Ever since Will was born, I've tried to keep my phone or computer away when we are together and I've done alright for the most part - but this summer I've got a new resolve to put away my phone after work each day until the kids go to bed.  I want to look back on these times and remember running and hopping and popping bubbles and dancing and laughing and even throwing rocks.  I want to foster my son's love of play and exploring outside and learning.  And, mostly, I want to be patient.  We live in such a fast-paced world that it's hard to focus on one task for too long, but I don't ever want my kids to feel like I wasn't interested about the things that make them excited.

So, here's to a summer (and beyond) of long, warm nights - unplugged.


4 Months

Well, my little gal is over 4 months old now.  I'd like to make sure I document a bit during this short infant time.  I know it sounds like a cliche, but I don't know where the time has gone.  She's growing so fast!
Newly born
She had her four month checkup with the doctor last week and weighed in at 12 pounds 12 ounces and measured 26 inches.  That puts her in the 10th-25th percentile for weight and the 90th-95th percentile for height.  This has made clothing sizes a little hard because she's too long for 3 month clothes, but doesn't fill out 6 month clothes very well.  But, she's got so many cute clothes (thanks to the generous hand-me-downs from friends and family) that it's an okay problem to have!  (For anyone interested and because I think everything is interesting, her brother was 12 pounds 15 ounces and 24 inches - between 5th and 10th percentile for both).

One month old
She is very good with her hands and likes to grab onto everything within her reach.  If she doesn't have a toy within reach, her hands will be in her mouth.  She likes her pacifier, but find her hands to be almost as good of an option if the paci isn't around.

2 months
She is happiest when you are looking her in the eye and playing with her.  She likes to smile and "chat" and only really gets fussy when no one is paying attention to her.  If she's being held, she's happy.  In fact, as I type this, she is sitting on my lap looking at the computer screen and holding my arms - happy as a clam.
3 months
She's totally enamored with her brother and loves to watch him do everything.  He often tells me that "baby needs a car" and will carefully select the car she needs from his basket and put it in her hand.  Usually after about three seconds he takes it away to get her a new one.  They both think this is a fun game.

She rolled from belly to back Thursday for the first time (that I've seen, Geoff informed me that he's see her do it before I didn't tell me!!).  She's been rolling back to front for a few weeks.  She doesn't have the most impressive head control, but her tummy time continues to improve every day.
4 months
The doctor, in an effort to encourage me to help her gain some more weight before her next check-up, suggested I start her on solids, but she's not ready.  We started Will around 4.5 months, but he was much more ready physically for solids.  I'll want Audrey's head control to improve more before we'll do that.

Overall she's just been a happy and welcome addition to our little family and we love watching her grow!

And, seriously, that hair.


What do you do in the Summertime?

Summer is upon us!

This is our second summer in California (and our first that I'm not also pregnant), so we are excited to make the most of this beautiful place that we live.  Our budget is small this year, so we can't do anything big, but there is a LOT to do for little to no money (and the beauty of a toddler is that everything is big - playing outside on the driveway is big stuff to him).

So [inspired by this Pinterest find], Monday night for family night, we went to the dollar store and got all the supplies we needed to make our own Summer Fun To Do List.

Now, mine isn't even half as cute as the pinned one, but Will had SO much fun decorating it with sponges and paint and stickers that it's worth the eye sore that it became.  It's now hanging on our wall as a reminder of all the fun we can have when we are sitting around on a warm summer evening or a slow moving Saturday.

Every time that Will sees it, he proceeds to tell me all about the parts that he painted and the car stickers he put on it.  It's going to be a great summer!


Mother Nurture

It's been really fun - and interesting - to get to know Audrey over the past 4 months.  She is smart and discerning and is more sensitive to sound than her brother was at this age.  She wants to move much more than her little body is capable of and gets frustrated if she's left in one position too long.  She's very alert and attentive and not much of a fusser.  She's happiest when someone is giving her 100% of their attention and staring into her big blue eyes.

It got me to thinking about nature versus nurture.  I think both are extremely important, but I thought back to this little video of my boy taking his first steps on his 1st birthday.

Adorable, right?  But, did you see what happened at about 3-4 seconds in?  He stumbled a bit and I caught him.  I was helping him to stand back up again when he did something so characteristically Will that it makes me smile still.  He pulled his hands away as if to say - I don't need help!  Let me do it.

And now, at 2 1/2, that is one of the most common phrases my little man says, "No, mama.  Will do it." He's very independent and, although he's willing to ask for help when he can't do something, he always prefers to do it himself if he can.  And, that was evident from a very early age.

Knowing that makes watching my little girl grow into herself that much more interesting.  I see so much in her already.  She's SO different from her brother in so many ways: her physical appearance, her mannerisms, her "milestone" achievements, her likes and dislikes, even how she nurses. But she's smart and fun and fantastic in her own ways.  So much of that personality does seem to be there right from the start.

As a mom, I feel like it's my responsibility to nurture those (natural) strengths that I see in my little ones, even from this young age.  I think sometimes that can be hard if your child's strengths are dramatically different from your own (like if you are an outgoing parent and your child is more introverted), but I still think it's vital that, as parents, we work to understand each of our kids as individuals so we can nurture their strengths without making them feel compared to another child's strengths.  My kids may both be great athletes, or one may trip over their own feet (like their mama), or neither may like sports at all, but no matter what they are talented at or how their personalities manifest I will encourage each to be their own best self - whatever that may entail.  And, I'm so excited to watch my little ones grow into the [undoubtedly awesome] people that they will become.