June 30, 2011

post-nap shenanigans

Judging from all the stories I've heard, he definitely takes after his old man ...

It's no wonder we spend most of our days laughing!

June 29, 2011

winding down

Instead of taking two e-learning graduate classes and finishing up my degree this summer (as I wrote about here), I opted to make my life a little bit easier ... And withdrew from one of my classes.

It has worked out extremely well.

Better than I could have anticipated, actually.

Over the past six weeks, I've had to be "in my office" for my virtual school anyway (and after finals the first week of June and grades being due the week after that), let's just say I've had lots of time to spare. This extra time spent at home has given me ample opportunity to complete my weekly discussions and various research-related projects (like journal reviews and PowerPoint presentations), as well as take the time to do fun things that I (or Malcolm) want to do.

In many ways, this has been the most painless graduate class that I have ever had to take.

It's almost as if I'm not taking a class at all.

No textbooks.

No written exams.

No 10-page papers.

No leaving my house.

And, probably best of all, tuition reimbursement from my employer! So, it's like this course doesn't even exist financially ...

It has truly been wonderful and I'm almost sad to see it end once the calendar flips to July.

With one class of my own choosing (and the comprehensive test) left to go, I am well on my way to getting that Masters degree in Education ... A good five years in the making. I may not have wrapped everything up this summer as I originally intended, but I'm okay with that.

Sure, my life will continue to get crazier as Malcolm becomes more of a handful (and siblings are added to the mix?) ... But I definitely have enough presence of mind and support from my husband and other family members to achieve my goals.

It's not a question of "if" I will do it, but rather a question of "when."

So, in the meantime, I will let life take me where it will ... Enjoy what's left of my education this summer and spend many precious moments with the son (and family) I love.

And, really, what could be better?

I can't think of a single thing.

June 28, 2011

son-day funday

I guess just about every day in our house could be described as a "son-day" because every day is all about Malcolm.

Since this weekend brought with it some beautiful mild-yet-sunny weather, we were able to take advantage and head outdoors ... Finally!

Keeping it simple (since the husband was out golfing for most of the day), Malcolm and I spent a lot of time just hanging around the front porch and yard, overseeing the neighborhood in typical lazy Sunday fashion.

Intently watching the cars (and motorcycles!) buzz down the street was fun for a while ...

Tee-shirt: Cherokee ($1.50 from Target sale rack)
Shorts: The Kid Source (Hand-me-down gift)
Sandals: Arizona Jean Company (thrifted for $2.00)

Then Malcolm decided to stop and smell (then destroy) the flowers ...

As summer unfolds before us, I can see many more "son-days" just like this ... And that is fine with me!

June 24, 2011

one step at a time

Malcolm turned twenty-one months old yesterday.

He is only three months away from being a full-blown two-year-old.

While he hasn't shown too many "terrible two" type behaviors, he has gradually become more and more independent with each passing day. Through the use of his two words ("Mama" and "Dada"), the handful of signs he has picked up, and his expert use of pointing and body language, Malcolm is pretty good and communicating what he wants to do. He lets me know when it is time to read, to eat, to play outside, to watch a particular DVD, or even (sometimes) when it is time to take a nap.

In addition to these communicative skills, Malcolm is becoming quite good at physical tasks as well. He likes to build with his blocks, assemble puzzles, throw balls, swing (plastic) golf clubs, climb on the furniture, slide down his slide in the backyard, and, just recently, walk down the stairs ...

By himself.

Yes, it's been a process. We've been "working on" this skill little by little (when I decided I was getting tired of carrying him up and down all the time). I've shown him how to use one hand to steady himself along the wall, to carefully slide one foot at a time, to move slowly and cautiously ... But it's easy to see he's catching on.

He has surprised me on multiple occasions by choosing to play quietly in his room and then, moments later, returning to the living room all by himself.

Proudly walking down the stairs.

What happened to the baby that was just starting to crawl (at this same time last year)?

Before I know it, he won't need me at all.

Dramatic motherly statements aside, I couldn't be happier with the little boy that Malcolm is quickly becoming. He has such an energetic spirit, a good heart, and an upbeat personality. He is easily adaptable, playing rambunctiously one minute and then quietly reading the next. He's sweet and affectionate and quick to give hugs and/or kisses to anyone who asks. He's laughably goofy (and he knows it).

There is hardly a negative thing that could be said about him ...

As much as I'd like to take credit for everything (I contributed half of his genes, after all), in many ways his little quirks are all Malcolm.

He is his own person.

He is uniquely himself.

But, even so, growing independence aside, Malcolm will always be my little baby.

I will never forget the moment I learned he was residing in my womb. Or the day I learned the "heel" that kept digging into my rib cage was actually his pointy baby butt. Or the twenty-three hours of labor before he decided to arrive ("sunny side up"). Or the way he fit perfectly in my arms on that early September morning ...

Those days may be behind us now, but like individual steps on a staircase, they are still part of the big picture.

Our big picture.

Important parts of our journey from baby to toddler to boy (and beyond!).

And with each step of the way, I have to pinch myself.

I still can't believe how lucky I am.

June 21, 2011

a walk in the park

With my school year just about over (I'm required to be "available" in my home office through the end of the month), Malcolm and I have had more time to get out of the house and explore some of the parks in our neighborhood.

Living in Cleveland, we are lucky to have multiple entrances to the Cleveland Metroparks within ten minutes of our house ...

And with summer stretched out before us, we will certainly take advantage of them!

Sesame Street tee shirt: Old Navy ($7.50)
Sweat pants: Old Navy (thrifted for $1.00)
Socks: Circo ($1.00)
Shoes: Wonderkids (thrifted for $2.00)

June 20, 2011

making cute babies since 2009

I like to joke with my husband and tell him that I only hung on to him during our "Tumultuous College Years" because I knew he'd make cute babies.

While there certainly is some truth to it (he was an adorable little boy ... I'll have to scan some baby pictures one of these days), I have to admit that I also hung on to him because I knew he'd be great once the genes had shuffled ...

In other words, I knew that he'd be a great dad.

From our early dating years, it was evident that he was an easygoing guy. While he was never too keen on change, he was one to "roll with the punches" and take things as they came. He was funny and animated, two qualities that kids typically go for ... My younger cousins (who now, aren't so young anymore), adored him and he was a natural in dealing with them.

Yes, the deck was stacked in his favor ...

This Father's Day, while I'm not surprised, I'm in awe at how far he's come.

I remember so vividly, his fear of being someone's father.

The whole summer leading up to Malcolm's birth, he was so full of questions ... Lots and lots of "what ifs" found their way out of his mouth and to my ear ...

What if this baby cried all night?

What if he didn't know what to do in a given situation?

What if our parents didn't agree with how we wanted to do things?

What if, when this kid became a teenager, he/she starts hanging out with the wrong crowd?

What if becoming parents would negatively affect other aspects of our marriage?

He wanted to have all the answers (which in many ways was so unlike him) ... He wanted to be as prepared as possible so that there would be no surprises.

But, as is often the case with children, many (pleasant) surprises came, and continue to come, each and every day. He "rolled with the punches," as I knew he would and fell into the role of "dad" so effortlessly.

There is no better feeling to see Malcolm's face light up when he hears the rattle of the back screen door ... Dad is home! Or to hear the "Da! Da! Da!" as he barrels through the room, running full force to greet his dad.

There is no better feeling watching my husband scoop our son in his arms. Or to listen from outside the doorway as they play together or read stories before bedtime.

Sure, there are the un-fun parenting moments, too ... The crabby crying. The bumps on the head. The messy meals (where more ends up on the floor than in the stomach) ... But somehow, things have had a way of working out.

We're loving every moment we get to spend with Malcolm and seriously contemplating Baby #2 ...

The way I see it, it would be a shame not to make more, since they have a more-than-decent chance of being pretty darn cute.

Happy Father's Day, Dearest!

Coming on two years under your belt and you're getting better every day!

June 17, 2011

signs of genius

When Malcolm was four months old, I started using American Sign Language with words I said a lot throughout the day: Mom, Dad, water, milk, hungry, more, diaper, cat ... With little enthusiasm from the rest of my family, and such limited knowledge myself, it eventually fell by the wayside.

My son, it seemed, was just too little.

His main goal in life was to chew on his hands, not use them to sign!

Today, since he has all but boycotted speaking (he loves to jabber on and on, but only says a handful of real words up to this point, the most important one being "Mama"), I thought it might be a good idea to give signing another try.

Inspiration really hit when I saw a video on one of my favorite blogs ... I figured, if her kid could do it (at fourteen months!), so could mine ... And, after reading through the comments, I had a video series that I could use to get started. I made it my mission to locate as many "Signing Time" DVDs as I possibly could (luckily the library carried them so I didn't have to spend any money) and hoped that Malcolm would be agreeable enough to allow them into his Sesame Street rotation.

Luckily for me, he totally did.

In fact, on most days, he now prefers to watch "Signing Time!" He is fascinated with all the different children that appear on screen ... So much so that, half of the time, I don't think he pays much attention to the signs at all.

While he hasn't turned into a massive communicator overnight (I didn't think he would), I am noticing a bit of progress. Every now and then, Malcolm will confidently flash a sign. "Ball" is probably the most common (of course he chooses something that really doesn't unlock any of the secrets inside his head) ... Followed by things like "hat," "food/hungry," "cookie," and "more." These fleeting moments of signing are a far cry from the point and grunt method he's used up until this point ... Although that remains the old standby when he wants something right now ...

I don't know why I'm surprised, but he really seems to be catching on ...

I've said it before and I'll continue to say it ... Malcolm is a little smarty pants!

And he knows it, too.

He may not have committed to talking yet, but I'm convinced that's all by his choosing. There are so many words that he recognizes ... Sometimes I'm simultaneously amazed and worried by his receptive vocabulary.

We will be in so much trouble when he does decide to talk and repeat our every word!

As many mothers of boys (and girls, too) have told me, it's only a matter of time before he starts talking and won't shut up! And while I do appreciate the quiet (when he's not shouting out random syllables), I can't wait for that little baby voice to start speaking with more frequency.

But I've got to admit, watching his little hands "say" words is pretty cute, too.

June 15, 2011

the campaign trail

So, have you voted for Malcolm today?

Take one look at that face and tell me he isn't cover material!

June 14, 2011

it's a nice day for a white wedding

One of my childhood friends got married over the weekend ... Giving Malcolm the opportunity to attend his first wedding ceremony inside of a church (he attended a wedding last summer that was held outside on a golf course). As usual, he was very well behaved and did a nice job of sitting still and calmly looking through the books that we had brought to occupy him.

Even so, he was very excited to be back outside after the ceremony (it was the perfect weather for a wedding ... A very good thing since the reception was held entirely outside, right along the shores of Lake Erie!) as we watched the Bride and Groom run to their waiting limo bus.

Dress shirt: Cherokee ($7.00)
Tee-shirt: Old Navy ($2.00)
Cargo pants: Genuine Baby (gift)
Socks: Circo (gift)
Shoes: Stride Rite (thrifted for $2.50)

Best of luck (and lots of love) to the Bride and Groom!

June 9, 2011

wednesday night fever

When he fell asleep on the living room floor at five 'o clock we thought: "How cute! He really tired himself out today!"

When he fell asleep on the couch (maybe half an hour after waking up on the living room floor) we thought: "He must not be feeling well."

When all we could do to keep him happy was let him lay in our bed, in our air-conditioned room, watching Sesame Street videos on my work laptop, we thought: "Poor little guy ... It's going to be a long night!"

But that's what parenting is all about.

I wouldn't want it any other way.

June 8, 2011

just in time for the nba finals

Malcolm is a pretty eager-to-please kind of kid.

He (for the most part) follows directions quite well and does what you ask of him.

When he's in a good mood and really excited over something, you can even get him to jump.

Sort of.

He crouches down really low, then springs upward, his arms flailing and his mouth open ...

He thinks he's jumping, but his feet never leave the floor.

There goes any future career in basketball (even if he does grow to be six feet five inches tall like one of his Grandpas) ...

June 7, 2011

kicking off the summer

Malcolm got to experience his first real cook-out over the weekend. Rather than just our little family/extended family group, he got to mingle with some new people (and kids), none of which were even related to him.

To say he had a good time would be putting it mildly.

From the moment we stepped out of the house and into the backyard, Malcolm took off as if he didn't even know us.

He chased after the other kids that were there ... Running circles around them and trying to get the soccer ball that they were kicking around.

He showed off his belly button and tried to show everyone that his dad had one, too.

He climbed on cornhole boards, using them as his own personal (albeit very flat) slide ... Then reached through the hole to retrieve some beanbags with his favorite friend of the day, a two-and-a-half year old girl (I wish I had some photos of them, but I was busy playing a game of cornhole myself ... The husband and I won!).

He tasted his first "snow cone" (in a cup) ... He was tentative at first, but gradually warmed up to it. He also made a pretty big mess of himself in the process.

Tee-shirt: Faded Glory (thrifted for $1.00)
Shorts: Baby Gap (thrifted for $2.00)
Shoes: Sketchers (thrifted for $0.50)

All in all, it was a pretty good way to spend the afternoon/evening.

And he was down for the count the moment his head hit the mattress in his crib ... What more could a parent ask for?

June 3, 2011

sweet and innocent

This is the look I get when he's up to no good ...

June 2, 2011

a matter of taste

Although mealtime can be a challenge (sometimes Malcolm does NOT want to sit still, even if it is to fill his face with food), I am often amazed at the variety of foods my son is willing to consume.

My husband and I have laughed that Malcolm has been able to eat things at 20-months-old, that we didn't get to try until somewhat recently.

Take, for example, avocados.

I never touched (let alone considered eating) an avocado until I was well into my 20's. Guacamole and all its deliciousness was lost on me ... That is, until my family's holiday trip to Mexico where all I did was add guacamole to my meals. On my tacos, tostadas, with chips or tortillas ... Yum!

I'm certainly sold on guacamole (or just plain old avocados) today ...

And so is Malcolm.

Throw a little leftover guacamole on some corn tortillas and you'd think the kid hadn't eaten in years. That's how fast he shoves it into his mouth. And if the avocado has browned slightly? He doesn't even notice. He's like a little avocado garbage disposal.

All that to say, our son is a pretty good eater ...

So, I find it rather humorous that Malcolm will not touch hotdogs.

I mean, what kid doesn't like a HOTDOG?

This past Memorial Day weekend, while hanging at the lake, I tried on two separate occasions to sneak a bite of hotdog into his delicate palate.


Both times, he was on to me and promptly ejected the errant dog.

Maybe he prefers a grilled hotdog (instead of a boiled one)? Or one overflowing with condiments? Or a chili-cheese dog? Who knows?

I guess, from now on, I'll forget about the hotdogs and stick with what works ... Guacamole.