Happy Birthday Silas

Silas turned one last Thursday. We're having a combined party for he and Henry in mid-April, so additional celebration is forthcoming, but we had a little family party for him after school on Thursday evening. Henry was extremely accommodating at opening all of Silas' gifts and was even kind enough to test them all out for Silas. Silas was a bit fussy that night (did i mention he's finally getting some choppers) and after initially grabbing a big glob of cupcake icing and throwing it on the ground-- he decided that this cake/icing stuff was worth temporarily curtailing his screams for.

We have his one-year appointment on Thursday, so we'll see what they have to tell us about his growth and development.

The only concern i really have is that he's babbling away but has no words at this point. I think that's a bit "behind" the curve but probably not enough to worry about yet. We'll see what Dr. P says though.


Easter Recap

Although JT was away, the boys and I managed to really wring lots of enjoyment out of Easter. Henry's memory is now developed enough that he actually remembers hunting for Easter eggs last year and although some of the finer points of the holiday were new to him (and prompted lots of questions), the easter eggs were tons of fun. Last year my parents were visiting the week before Easter and they filled easter eggs with coins so that he could "practice" his egg-hunting skills. This year he put himself in charge of filling all the eggs with the coins i amassed for him. He was very good at parceling the coins out amongst the various eggs with none left over.

Saturday we dyed easter eggs with Corey, Troy and Kerala-- although Silas and Kerala didn't get involved too much in the dying. When we started Henry was talking about using sprinkles on the eggs, but luckily he was assuaged with the glitter that came in our egg kit. Henry's technique turned out to be "just keep putting them into different colors over and over and over." I have to say he turned out some beautiful eggs.

As we were dealing with 30 degrees and snow-covered ground, the Easter bunny visited the upstairs of our house and left an Easter basket for Henry and Silas at the end of the egg trail. Corey, Troy and Kerala all came over and Silas and Kerala brought up the year and had a lot of fun gnawing on the contents of the boys' Easter baskets. The Smerry's graciously invited us all over for Easter dinner at their house later in the afternoon apres naps. The ham was delicious, and it was a raucous time combining lots of little ones, candied sweet potatoes and all kinds of Easter goodies.


I think it drives my Dad nuts, but one of the coolest thing about parenting Henry so far has been watching how he "innovates" with his toys. Not only is he often not interested in playing with them the "right" way but it clearly just doesn't occur to him that he's doing anything unusual.

Some of his recent experiments involve "tangling" all the Thomas trains in his basketball hoop

and hooking the very pastel and pretty easter eggs on his dinosaurs-- a new passion by the way:

I don't have pictures, but he's also invented "bowling" with his easter eggs which essentially involves throwing his eggs one by one out of his basket using the motion you use to throw a bowling ball. It's tons of fun-- until one is coerced, cajoled and threatened into picking them all up.


Birthday Countdown

Silas has good hair. Although it's wilder on some days than others, backlighting brings out it's true glory. We're rolling through a single parent weekend here and although it snowed another couple inches last night (on top of about 7 the day before) the sun has come out and it's at least melting off the cars and the cleared sidewalks. We made a quick trip to the library this morning, but our outing to the donut shop was curtailed due to uncleared inches of snow. If you've ever tried to push a stroller and hold a toddler's hand while tromping through snow, you'll know why we skipped that one.

I've tried to plan a lot of activity into our weekend to keep the kids from going stir crazy and me from feeling like the unscheduled hours are just stretching on. After naps today Corey and Troy and Kerala are coming over to help us dye Easter eggs. I think we're all going to order dinner together and then Troy's going to take Kerala home when it's time for bed. Corey and i have a date with Atonement on DVD. We tried to get to the theatre to see it ever since it came out and failed miserably. So, at last we will have a girls' night viewing

Tomorrow we're doing an easter egg hunt and baskets at our house in the morning with the Smerry's and then we're heading over to their house for Easter dinner after naps. Should be a fun day and if it actually warms up mid-week as it's predicted i'll even believe it's spring.


11 Months, 2 Weeks/ 2 Years, 11 Months

As we're nearing our boys' birthdays, thought i'd catch you up on what everyone has been doing lately. I think we're all *finally* well. I can only hope that's the last of the viruses for the winter but i'd appreciate any healthy thoughts you could throw our way. Silas seemed to get worse after he started getting better so we took him in last Friday and it turns out he had an ear infection. I should have guessed that that was what led to the terrible nights-- but it had been so long since he did have an ear infection that i forgot the pattern. Plus, he never does the whole ear pulling thing so it's hard to remember.

One thing about our boys-- they take their medicine with no complaint. It's actually a little scary with Henry because he seems to regard medicine as something akin to a treat. Even the liquid cough medicine he now takes from one of those little cups that smells horrible gives him a big smile. I'm not planning to dampen his enthusiasm, but we're also really careful to keep medicine out of reach and to talk about always having an adult give medicine to children. Silas just takes his medicine and moves on-- no great enthusiasm but nothing like disdain either.

Henry and Silas had two birthday parties to attend this weekend. Silas' peer Kerala (sh's 10 days older than he) had her birthday party on Saturday. Henry and Silas had a great time playing with all of her new toys and the other pint-sized guests, even though Henry had to protect his food from Kerala. On Sunday Henry went to Cary's 5th birthday party. It was led by Carys' dance teacher, and although it took Henry awhile to warm up, he ultimately had a great time dancing with scarves, going around the obstacle course and playing with the parachute.

Silas has gotten a little crazy lately what with all his exploring. He's scooting and actually crawling all over the house now and he pulls up on anything and everything he can (and some things he can't which has led to some tears.) He also puts EVERYTHING in his mouth which is something a little new for us. Henry would mouth toys when he was a baby but i don't remember him trying to eat rock salt. I attempted to sit on the porch with Silas the other day and it turned out to not be all that enjoyable. He was either trying to walk down the stairs, eat the leaves and dirt and leftover salt on the steps, or pull-up on the railing slats which need some new screws to be stable. So, we stayed just long enough to get some fresh air and headed back inside.

I'm looking forward to being outside with the boys doing gardening this spring, but it's become apparent we either need to get an exersaucer to keep Silas in or i'm going to have to pull out the pack-n-play.


Making Choices about Food

I recently finished reading "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollen. I found it a powerful book (although the last section could have used some additional editing in my opinion,) and it's been generating learning and discussion in our household in myriad ways.

The first section of the book lays out the path of our food system's industrialization from the 20s/30s to the present day. Key turning points and decisions along the way, such as crop subsidies, monocultures, and engineering cattle to eat grain instead of grass help you understand how things used to work and how they actually operate today.

Section two considers what he refers to as the "industrial organic" food system, i.e. whole foods. Pollen is an adept writer and is amazing at taking say, the history of corn and making it a page-turner. The conclusion i drew from the book can be boiled down to: the most important thing is to buy our food locally-- from farmers that we can "inspect" and have a relationship with. This cuts down on the petroleum fueled costs of transporting food across country, circumvents the industrial system of divorcing cattle from grazing and instead moving them to feed lots, and supports farmers that are farming in an environmentally sane way, i.e. merging animals back into the land so that animals fertilize the land and the land feeds the animals. Notice i didn't say organic anywhere in here. Of course a local farmer that isn't using pesticides if even better, but the chapter on industrial organic, or the large-scale organic food producers supplying whole foods-- was an eye-opener on how large-scale organic foods are as wholesome or logical as they might seem.

The book has been producing discussion and stimulating explorations of new skills in our household in a way i deem possible because of the rise of things like Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), local farmers' markets, numerous blogs and other Internet resources devoted to people trying to implement the same principles in their life. In other words, you don't read something that speaks to you and then feel like you have to "go off the grid" in order to implement your ideals.

It seems imminently doable to remain in our house in the city where we don't drive much and have access to public transport-- source our food from local farms (meat, dairy and produce), make as much of the other stuff as we can (i think my new interest for the summer is soap-making), grow some of our own vegetables and use native and perennial plantings in our flower garden (gone is our sorry looking lawn), keep using our cloth diapers and dry as much as possible on the line outside.

I'm not planning on quitting my job or not using electricity, and i'm happy to run my dishwasher when it's full thank you very much, but there are lots of things that help our budget, make us feel better about the food we're eating and nourishing our kids with, and show our support for the alternative suppliers to the industrial supermarkets. It doesn't hurt that it's spring and we get to start working on some of these projects!

At the end of the month we have a day-trip planned to a huge natural plant nursery in St. Charles, IL. I'll be meeting with a garden designer who will help me plan a very small prairie for our front yard. The nursery is an extensive supplier of native plants for the region and hard-picks their seed stock from plants within 20 miles. Other day-trips this spring include a visit to the farm we ultimately pick to buy shares of and source of meat, dairy and produce from.


Yucky Bunny's Adventures

So, we're slowly returning to the land of the living. Yucky bunny came home and the sun came out and warmed the earth above 40 degrees in our part of the world. That's enough to offset the cold i'm now hacking through and the slight return of sickness that Silas seems to be struggling with. I'd be terrible at living in the land of the midnight sun during the no sun months. Even if it's still largely too cold to really go outside, it makes a difference not having to wear your parka. So, with a little spring in my step and a hack in my throat i'll catch you up on our comings and goings.

The primary drama of course is that Yucky Bunny was found and i didn't even have to resort to putting up the posters i made. Just as i was finishing sealing my posters in plastic to keep them safe from the rain, i got a call from Brenda that a deep-clean had turned up the bunny. He had fallen between Silas' crib and the wall. Neither i nor Brenda remember me giving her the bunny, but that's where he was and he made it home safe and sound. I'll definitely be sticking those posters in our scrap book.

I think i mentioned Henry has been going through a renewed "testing" phase. He has been getting time-outs fairly regularly both at home and at school for not listening and calling people mean names. Not to say we accept any of this behavior, but it's so interesting to see how all of sudden he's a total little boy. A lot of the mean things he says are related to fighting "i'm going to bust you up" or "you want a piece of me?" On the one hand sometimes it's hard not to laugh but on the other hand we definitely don't want to reinforce this behavior. I'm trying to channel it towards story-telling which he's getting really into.

Most mornings in the car on the way to school he'll give me a subject (usually a dinosaur or a lion) and a few objects to put into the story. So far it's up to me to weave the drama into things. If you ask him to tell you a story he won't but he often recounts very exciting dreams that are clearly stories. His favorite one to tell right now is about how Jesse Bear (a sweet bear character from one of his books) and a fox were trying to chase him so he had to bust out the window THREE TIMES!

Beyond the interest in busting people up and making these pretend sounds and gestures i can only describe as things little boys do, his favorite activity is to go upstairs after dinner with JT and i and "wrestle." It actually seems to help wear him out for bed and he and Silas have been co-existing very nicely during the night without chattering until all hours.

Silas has been really struggling to get completely well, but otherwise he's moving along physically. He's cruising all over the place now-- moves from one piece of furniture to the other and he also likes to try to push things around while walking. He hasn't quite got the hang of his actual push toy (it moves pretty fast), but he loves to push the chairs around the kitchen while holding on.

We're looking forward to a weekend filled with two of Henry and Silas' friends birthday parties. Kerala has her 1-year party on Saturday and Carys is having her 5 year (!) dance birthday party on Sunday.


Yucky Bunny Come Home!

Everyone knows that Henry has a stuffed pal named Ralph (or Ralphie) and that he's been pretty special since Henry was about a year old. Well, Silas has formed an affiliation even earlier with a little stuffed bunny that we affectionately call yucky bunny. You haven't seen much of yucky bunny because he primarily stays in the crib, and in fact i can't find any pictures of Silas with yucky bunny, but he plays a big part in helping Silas fall asleep and get back to sleep on his own.

Well yesterday he went missing. I'm at a total loss. I think it's possible i put him in my coat pocket yesterday to give to Brenda since Silas had been sick over the weekend and i wanted to ease his day. I don't remember giving it to Brenda and Brenda doesn't remember getting it, but the bunny is nowhere to be found. Last night i was looking in the gutters on our street, Brenda's street, and at the Doctor's office thinking that maybe it fell out of my coat when i was getting in and out of the car yesterday. Nothing. I've absolutely searched the house and just don't have any other ideas on where to look. Silas did okay during the night given the circumstances but he had a hard time falling asleep and when he woke up at 6:15 he couldn't get back to sleep.

I figure at this point i've covered almost all my bases, so i'm putting up flyers just in case someone picked him up. I know i'm a crazy mom at this point but i just want my baby to have his bunny back and to make nighttime pleasant again.


One could ask...

What else could go w***g, but that would be foolish. So instead, i'll count my blessings that we're about on our way to recovery. When i posted my quick update a few days ago we were all struggling with mild illnesses, expect JT, who's been layed-out with a bad chest cold all week. Unfortunately mine developed into full-blown stomach flu and if the viral attack wasn't enough i also wound up with an infection too. Fun, Fun. On top of all this my computer died and i've been comically trying to work on an 8 year-old laptop while a) a back-up computer was sent to me and b) the Dell guy gets out here to replace my motherboard. It's been nuts-- and not in a good way.

On top of all of this Henry has been having a bit of a hard time of it lately. He's clearly testing new boundaries and is having a renaissance with the word no as well as sometimes getting pouty suddenly, without warning and saying things like "no one's going to be my friend! I don't want to do nothing!" It seems like after he gets to be sufficiently grumpy something will spark his interest and he goes back to being his old little excited self.

Last night he just had a total meltdown and it took every effort in the book to pull him out of it. I talked with Brenda today to find out if anything had happened at school yesterday that i wasn't aware of. After talking awhile i think it was shear exhaustion. He hasn't been napping particularly week at daycare lately but yesterday was the worst with only 10 minutes or so laying down. I think he was just too tired to exercise any self-control once the meltdown started. It was a mix of heart-breaking, frustrating and slightly amusing-- but thankfully the Chinese food delivery man arrived at just the right time. Fortune cookies can be a strong enticement.

We're hoping to have a fun weekend now that everyone is on the mend and hopefully after 6 today my computer will be working again and i'll be able to access some new photos.


Mind the Intent

Per the name i gave this blog when i started it-- right now my good intentions are just going to have to carry things. Work is absolutely nuts for me right now and we're all kind of struggling with some mild sicknesses-- except JT who is firmly lodged in the guest bed until he starts feeling better.

So, no new post to speak of-- about the kiddos or the prairie garden i'm planning for the front yard ;) I'll fill you all in once we're back up to speed.

p.s. Henry doesn't really have glasses, he was just fooling around with JT's