August 31, 2011

he may have called me a bad word

It's as if my post about Malcolm starting to "talk" was tempting fate ...

Last night, after the usual bedtime stories, my husband put Malcolm in the crib and turned out the light.

"Call your Mom," he encouraged. "Yell for 'mama' so she can say good night to you!"

I could hear some shuffling from inside the darkened room (most likely Malcolm happily rolling around in his crib) as I stood just outside of the doorway.

"Do it, Malcolm," my husband continued. "Call your Mom."

There was a beat of silence and then I swore I heard a gleeful "Bitch!" in my little boy's sweet voice.

"Did he just swear at me?" I whispered to my husband from outside the door.

He could only laugh.

Although I'm happy that this kid is experimenting with letter sounds, I hope he sticks to more pleasing combinations when calling out for me!

August 30, 2011

c is for chatterbox

It's been a while since it's gotten any mention on here, even though it is a huge part of our day, every day.




What can I say? We are a loud family. We like to debate and discuss and just connect after our respective days at work (or home-work, in my case) ... And while Malcolm isn't jumping right in just yet, I do feel like he is (finally!?) moving in that direction ...

In an effort to "let things run their course" and to simply "happen" I have made a very conscious effort to just let Malcolm be Malcolm. I haven't been pushing him in any particular direction in regards to his communicative capabilities ... And while he still enjoys watching his Signing Time DVDs (and, holy cow, does that boy like his signs! We're up to about fifty that he uses frequently), I haven't been introducing any new episodes to the mix as of lately.

Since I am able to meet his needs and wants based on the signs he already knows (usually these needs and wants consist of "crackers" or "cookies" or "milk"), I figured the lack of new signs might promote the use of new (verbal) words ... And while that seems to be happening, little by little, it could all just be a "timing" thing, too. I was reading some language development literature and found that many boys do not even utter a first word until about 22 months of age ...

This puts Malcolm ahead of that curve.

Go figure.

But, whether or not that is norm for boys, this whole "talking" thing has made for is really a fun roller coaster ride ...

It's fun as a parent to see your child learn, to pick up new material in front of your eyes ... Which has definitely been the case with Malcolm's signing. Not only does he seem to have an aptitude for it (sometimes he'll randomly throw out a sign that we haven't seen on the videos in ages ... His memory seems to be pretty good), you can tell that he enjoys it. Just ask him to sign any collection of words and he'll quickly move his little hands into position.

It's also fun to hear words, as jumbled and mispronounced as they may be, coming to the forefront as well. We've been hearing "Mama" and "Dada" for months now, but new things like "owl" or "duck" and phrases like "Oh, no!" are a welcome change.

A cute story to elaborate (and it won't hurt to put it in writing, either) ...

Pieces from an alphabet puzzle have gone missing recently and, just yesterday, Malcolm was wandering around the living room with a flashlight muttering "ay-bee" to himself as he searched under the furniture. He kept saying it, "ay-bee, ay-bee, ay-bee" over and over ... It was obviously more than just random syllables. Finally, once he had given up on his search and moved to some other activity, I figured out that his would-be babbling was actually a reference to the missing letters (or "ABCs," as we often call them) ...

He was looking for the "ay-bees."

(I'm not sure why he's neglecting the "c.")

As always, it is so thrilling for me to see those wheels turning ... To know that my son's brain is actively working, thinking about something, and putting it into (albeit partial) words.

It really is only a matter of time before the dam breaks and we can't get him to shut up ...

So, while he probably won't have the twenty words the doctor is looking for at his 2-year appointment, he will have some progress to speak of ... And as much as my husband likes to joke about Malcolm "being headed for the speech van," he might just surprise us.

He usually does.

August 25, 2011

neighborhood watch

Based on the way the kid reacts to being outside, you'd think I keep him locked in a cage all day (which I do not despite what my own mother might think).

Lucky for him, the weather has been cool (almost fall-like!) in the evenings this week, so we've been spending more time outside after dinner has been put away.

And it looks a little something like this ...

Taking his first steps into the great outdoors (equals pure excitement) ...

Keeping an eye on the neighbors ... Just what are they hiding under their front porch?

Making his way down the driveway and to the backyard ... And assessing the mulch situation along the way.

A little light climbing ...

Long-sleeved tee: Old Navy (thrifted for $0.50)
Shorts: Honors (hand-me-down gift)
Socks: Circo ($1.00)
Shoes: Starter (thrifted for $1.50)

Taking refuge under his climbing toy ...

Of course I haven't included the many, many blurry photos where he was running so fast I couldn't keep up with him ...

I guess that's what I get for keeping him inside all day!

August 24, 2011

taming the terrible twos

As I mentioned a little while back, someone is well on his way to becoming a two-year-old (less than a month to go, actually!).

So, I figured it was time for the husband and me to discuss how we'll go about disciplining Malcolm when he inevitably stretches his toddler muscles. We both decided that using "time outs" (a la Super Nanny) will be our discipline method of choice ... Because, seriously, what's worse than sitting still if you are a always-ready-to-go-go-go boy? And what's better (for a mom) than getting that "I'm sorry" hug at the end?

We've already used the technique to pretty promising results ... Surprise of surprises Malcolm actually sits still for his allotted minute (and the act of doing so seems to deter whatever bad behavior he was in for). In an effort to bring this "time out" option with us wherever we go (so that it would have similar impact outside of our home), I wanted to make a physical spot that can travel with us, but yet be used at home, too.

Hence the "Naughty Spot" (if said in a British accent like Super Nanny, it is so much better!) was born.

Here's how I made it ...

Supplies came from a local craft store and my personal supply (junk drawer?) and included: Sheets of durable "Foamy" paper in different sizes and colors, glitter glue, sticky letters, permanent markers, scissors, etc.

Because I wanted a literal "spot," I cut the large foamy sheet into a circle (using a 10-inch skillet lid as a template).

Then I created the phrase "The Naughty Spot" and other embellishments with my other supplies, being sure not to make it too happy or pleasant-looking ...

It is a punishment, after all.

August 22, 2011

on heads and hearts

A haiku (because I haven't done one in a while) ...

Baby's soft spot shrinks
While his mother's soft spot grows.
Funny how that works!

August 19, 2011

the start of another school year

I'd usually have a post up by now (I've been keeping my at least "three per week" routine since the beginning of this blog), but things have been gearing up for the school year, stretching my time a bit thinner than usual.

As much as I love and appreciate the opportunity to work from home and raise my son at the very same time, it's not without its difficulties. For example, yesterday I had a full-day meeting to attend (in Columbus), which meant finding childcare, for the day, for Malcolm. I'm extremely lucky to have family nearby and I know working parents do this all the time (and it is nothing new or noteworthy), but I marvel at the fact that children can be successfully shuffled off to daycare at all. Waking a kid up before they do so naturally, having all their stuff packed and ready to go, making sure that you, the parent, make the drop-off and arrive at work on time, too ... It's all enough to make your head spin!

And I only have to get one child out the door!

I can't imagine dealing with more than one ...

Or going through this routine every day ...

It's easy to see that I am most definitely spoiled with my work situation.

Even so, I'm pretty sure that, at some point, I will need more quiet time during my day to get all of my work obligations done ... Which will mean part time daycare (or preschool?!) for my boy. It's crazy to think that, when this job began almost a year ago, I still had two daytime naps to work with and a sister home from college, but not yet working a "real job," to jump in at a moments' notice ...

And back then I couldn't believe how busy things were!

It's funny how perceptions of "what's busy" change over time ... I guess, as I've commented before, life has a way of picking up the pace as soon as you feel like you've established a comfortable routine. It definitely keeps you on your toes (and keeps things interesting to boot) ... But it humbles you at the same time.

As much as I like to think I'm "Superwoman" (and as much as I like others to think the same thing!), I know that am not.

And (as I keep having to remind myself) that's okay ... It comes with the territory of being a work-from-home mom!

Experience shows me that I can only continue to push through, taking my two full-time jobs (of teacher and mother) seriously and doing my best at both.

Here's to hoping this school year will be just as productive as the last!

(And that we all make it through in one piece!)

August 18, 2011

my little lake monster

We went back to Conneaut Lake again last weekend.

So, naturally, Malcolm was in his element.

He spent countless hours (and boundless amounts of energy) feeding the fish and ducks ...

Sleeveless tee-shirt:
Circo ($1.75 from the sale rack at Target)
Cotton shorts: Circo ($0.75 from the sale rack at Target)
Shoes: Crocs (gift)

Swinging in the beach-side hammock ...

And generally going crazy (or, in other words, being his usual, goofy self) ...

While I'm sad to see these last few weeks of summer pass us by, I'm also ready to make the transition to fall ...

With Malcolm's second birthday just around the corner, it's hard to truly absorb how far we've come over this past year. I will certainly remember this summer as one that was unusually laid back (with no big vacation plans to speak of, which is really unlike us), yet packed full of fun and fond memories.

Hopefully, Malcolm agrees!

August 16, 2011

scavenger hunts used to be fun

I've spent some time lately looking for good (non-thrift) deals on clothes for Malcolm. With "Back to School" items taking over most of the places we shop, I figured I could score some summer clothes to use on our upcoming Jamaica trip (in November) and/or to put away for next summer.

Unfortunately, the "deals" I was hoping to find have been few and far between ... And my luck has been quite poor.

I'm not sure if I'm shopping too late to grab up the last of summer's goodies, but one thing is blatantly obvious ... Boys do not get nearly as many choices as girls when it comes to clothing!

Here are a couple examples from my most recent trip where sales are concerned ...

In one store, there was an entire rack of girl's swimsuits but only two (TWO!) individual swimming trunks for boys ... Not to mention the other girls' sales racks outnumbered the boys' ones by about four to one.

In another store, the girls' clearance items took up the length of an entire wall, top to bottom, whereas the boys' section was a mere four feet (or less?) across.

Seriously ... What gives?

As the (proud) mother of a boy, I want my son to look good!

I want variety!

I want choices!

(And I definitely want more than just "Cars" themed clothing!)

Give me plaids.

Give me patterns.

Give me anything remotely science-related.

Give me something, though. Anything would almost be better than the nothing I've been contending with ...

Sure, my son may not care about what he is wearing from day to day ... But I certainly do! And, really (if we're being honest here), at this stage of the game, it is more about what I want than what he wants ... Although I do oblige him with a Sesame Street character every now and then!

I guess I'm just surprised that multiple retailers seem to overlook this "Mother Factor," the teeny tiny little fact that the mothers are the ones with the jobs, that make the money, that is actually spent on the clothing (not that fathers don't contribute in regards to kids' clothing, I know I've spent plenty of my husband's money on items for Malcolm, too) ... I mean, it certainly isn't the toddler whipping out his baby-sized wallet to make the purchase!

If that was the case, Malcolm wouldn't be spending any of his money on clothes anyway ... He'd go straight for food. Graham crackers and milk ... Maybe strawberries ...

But, I digress ...

Is it too much to want a little boy that is dressed somewhat fashionably? Or that gets compliments for having "cute (science-themed, of course) shirts?"

Would that really be so out of the question?



I know that I can't be the only mother that strives to have a well-dressed son on a budget!

August 12, 2011


As the conversation about a second child continues, I find myself thinking a lot about my first child ... My heart is so filled with love for him, that I wonder if I will be able to as fully and fiercely love another baby when the time comes.

I know it sounds terrible (Really, what type of person is worried about loving her own baby?), but it's hard for me to comprehend.

In fact, when I stop to think about it, I'm not at all worried about the forty (give or take) weeks spent growing and then releasing the second child into the world ... Or how a second child will change the dynamic and day-to-day routine in our household ... Or how I'll manage getting up in the middle of the night and then keeping myself together the following day ... Or how we'll fit into our current house (if it still refuses to sell) ... Or any other logistical issues that might arise ...

Instead, I'm more worried if I will feel the same feelings I did when Malcolm entered our world ... If my heart will have enough room for the newbie.

I'm pretty sure that it will ... That nine months of gestation will forge the beginnings of a bond and things will progress naturally from there. But I still have that little nagging question mark in the back of my mind.

I guess it's because, in many ways, Malcolm is enough.


I always thought I wanted "lots of kids" and never considered having a singleton, but I honestly couldn't be happier with our current situation. Malcolm brings me so much joy that I often find myself feeling like I don't deserve it ... He is the perfect kid for me, for our family, and I don't need anyone but him. So, if we failed to conceive a second time (for whatever reason) or lost a baby through miscarriage and it just wasn't going to work out, I know I'd be okay.

Like I said, he is enough.

Sure, when I look at the three of us together, heading somewhere in the car or crammed around the kitchen table, I feel in my gut that we aren't a full family yet. I do believe that there are more of us waiting to be added ... But if the "more" in my mind failed to join us, I'd still be happy.

I'd be content and so, so thankful for the one I have.

The one that will be turning two in just over a month.

The one that loves to dance in the living room.

The one that brings me to tears (from laughter) with his crazy antics.

The one that is still holding out on saying multiple words (but signs like a pro).

The one that made me feel complete in the first place when I didn't realize that anything had been missing.

Malcolm is enough.

Yet the proverbial biological clock continues to tick and I want to take the chance ... Let's roll the dice again and see what happens. If we were so lucky the first time, why not the second? Maybe baby 2.0 will be an upgrade from the first (if that is even possible?!) ...

And surely, like the old Grinch in the popular children's story, my heart will grow in size.

Things will work themselves out and all of my premature worrying will be for nothing.

August 11, 2011

crab apple prevention

Coming off of two consecutive vacations, Malcolm was suddenly unhappy with spending the usual amounts of time at home. Used to the feel and flexibility that being away from home can bring (and the mass amounts of time spent running around by the lake), the same old day-to-day routine just wasn't cutting it.

To keep him from becoming a crabby apple, our little family made an impromptu trip out to Mapleside Farms this past weekend.

While there weren't any apples in season (yet!), there was plenty to see and do ...

Tee-shirt: Circo ($1.75 from the sale rack at Target)
Shorts: The Kid Source (Hand-me-down gift)
Socks: Circo ($1.00)
Shoes: Stride Rite (thrifted for $2.00)

And the slight change of pace was good for all of us!

August 8, 2011

August 5, 2011

house(selling)wife's lament

Selling a house sucks.

Well, actually, if there was even a hint of selling taking place, it probably wouldn't be so bad (and I certainly wouldn't have anything to complain about) ... It is really the sitting on the market and not selling that is slowly beginning to wither away my sanity.

It's not that I've been keeping the house extra clean and therefore stressing myself out from all the dusting and vacuuming and floor cleaning and bathroom scrubbing ...


(Who has time for all of that?)

The house is pretty much as it always is, as it always was before even finding its way onto the market ... Messy and cluttered with Malcolm's toys during much of the week and somewhat clean on Saturday when I hit all the problem areas.

But that doesn't change the fact that the whole process is starting to feel old.

When this grand adventure all began, I was optimistic that we'd be one of the lucky ones (since the market is so unbelievably crappy right now) ... I wholeheartedly believed that our house would sell, sending us on our way to larger digs with some room to grow. Unfortunately, after just under six months of market time (which, amusingly enough, doesn't sound that bad now that I've typed it), I don't feel any closer to moving than I did before our home was actually up for sale.

I have to keep reminding myself that it only takes one interested party ... Just one person/family to fall in love with our house.

And it's not that our house is a hole-in-the-wall or anything. It's a great house! Full of character and charm, a warm and inviting color scheme, and many other really great qualities. It just happens to be built in the City of Cleveland, where hundreds of foreclosures can be swooped up for about half of our asking price.

While I still try and remain optimistic about moving, I more regularly find myself thinking up ways to make our house more livable for years to come, if we have to stay longer than anticipated and eventually pull it from the market. We should add a dishwasher in the kitchen (since my husband won't be sold with the house) ... Repaint the "finished" part of the basement and install new flooring there ... Find more ways to store my husband's vast DVD/movie collection (so they don't gradually take over every room of the house) ... Rework the third bedroom should it need to hold another child (or home office space for my stay-at-home teaching gig) ...

I guess it's good to know that we do have options in this house, that it isn't too small yet (the family before us raised four kids in it!), but it doesn't make the process or the uncertainty that comes with it any easier. Despite my desire to complain about the whole situation, I really do have to trust that "what is meant to be, will be" and continue to enjoy each moment that we spend together in our first home.

It really is a nice house.

And ...

We already are lucky regardless of our house-selling circumstances.

August 4, 2011

much to our amusement

We are lucky that both sides of the family go up to Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania in the summer ... So we just returned from a second trip (this time, a long weekend) there.

Unlike last time, we got to spend a bit of time at the old amusement park and many of the rides were actually running when we visited ... Giving Malcolm the opportunity to experience some of them firsthand!

It took some careful scrutiny and deliberation ...

Tee-shirt: T. K. S. Basics (thrifted for $0.50)
Jean shorts: Garanimals (thrifted for $1.00)
Sandals: Baby Gap (thrifted for $2.00)

But, eventually, Malcolm made some selections ...

Then we ended the night by watching the fireworks from across the lake on our rental cottage's dock.

Not a bad way to spend the dwindling days of summer ...

August 1, 2011

bedtime rituals

It's pretty obvious that I love both of these boys so much ... But sometimes I can't get enough of how much they love each other:

While I have read Malcolm his bedtime story (or, more typically, stories) on many nights, I can tell that it just isn't the same as when his father reads to him. I don't think my husband does anything dramatically different (we both are privy to character voices and general theatrics when we read), and yet, Malcolm sits more patiently and intently when he snuggles up with his dad.

He must enjoy the "boy time" after spending much of the day with me ...

Which is fine!

It only serves as another reminder as to how lucky I am to be part of this little family. I love seeing these simple rituals and traditions forming that (I hope!) will stick with Malcolm long after he starts putting himself to bed!