Monday, September 24, 2012

A Day In The Life

Below is a recap of our day today. It's not written well, but it's intended to give a snapshot of a day in our life, and be a little funny in spots too. We do have days where everything goes perfectly and I wish I could hold on to them forever. But something tells me these are the days I will remember and cherish the most when I look back. Some of this is personal, but only family and close friends follow this blog so nothing should surprise anyone. Anywho, hope you enjoy.

5:37 am and Mason is crying. What? He ALWAYS wakes at 7:15 and I DON'T do well with diversions. Besides, doesn't he know it's Monday? Let's start this week off right, buddy. He goes in and out of sleeping & crying until 7:00 and then I have Sean bring him to me in bed before he hops in the shower. We watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while I repeat "no, no, we don't jump on the bed", and "yes, we can listen and dance to music while the TV is on". Peaceful morning. Sean is out of the shower and ready to take Mason and Hazel on their morning walk so I can shower and get things moving for the day. I pause to see how the Mickey episode ends instead of switching to the news, what is wrong with me? I throw a  load of laundry in and take a quick shower and before I know it they are back from their walk - I'm of course not ready. I'm getting dressed and Mason points to my biggest regret in life, my "butt"erfly tattoo and asks "Da?". "Well Mason, that's a butterfly, also known as Mommy's mistake". Moving on. I scramble some eggs for Mason and pour some cereal for Sean and I while keeping an eye on the red hair zooming all around the house. "Mason, want to come eat breakfast?". Oh yeah, I'm not supposed to ask him questions, I'm supposed to tell him what's next. Try again. "Mason, it's time for breakfast! (said with a smile) You have some yummy blueberries, raspberries and eggs!". Still takes 10 minutes to get him to the table. Deep breath. We're finally all sitting and eating. Kerri Walsh is on the Today Show announcing her pregnancy. I force a smile while shedding a tear inside. I'm happy for her, but if I hear of another spring baby, when our baby was due, I may burst. Sean finishes getting ready for work while I clean the kitchen and yell at Hazel for licking Mason's highchair when my back is turned. Then I hear Mason scream "dog! no!". Great, I've taught my son to yell at the dog. I lean down and apologize to Hazel and tell Mason she's a sweet girl and we love her. Mason is not in the mood for his daily pack 'n play music/toy time, but I have to finish getting things ready for our day so I put him in. He cries for one minute then happily plays while I rush around. Of course he doesn't want to get out when it's time to go, so he hits me. Off to time out we go. A minute and a half later I'm in his room and ask him to tell me he's sorry. He hits me again. Time out again. Where is my sweet boy? I have tears stinging in my eyes and am thinking that all our efforts to raise a good boy are going down the drain. I realize now that I'm being dramatic, but at the time that's all I could think. We struggle through a dirty diaper change, get him dressed and brush his hair. Finally, we're heading out the door. "Treat!", says Mason. Ah yes, he always remembers to give Hazel a treat before we leave. We march to the back of the house, grab a treat, slowly give it to Hazel and then we head to the car. It's 9:11 and we're out of the house.

I circle the parking lot of the Y looking for a place to park, finally grabbing one at the back of the lot (I realize I'm there to work out and shouldn't be complaining about a long walk to get in). I sign in for one of the last spots in the Glide 'N Sculpt class (of course all that's left is near the front - embarrassing), and get my hand stamped to prove I've actually claimed a spot. Mason has charmed all the people behind the desk so he gets stamped too. Thankfully he loves childcare at the Y and I get to enjoy a good work-out with some of my friends who were also lucky enough to get spots. Amanda, Caroline, Carrie and I have decided in advance that we're going to head to the Arboretum after class with our kiddos. After the morning Mason and I had, I said I was going to back out so Mason could have some down-time, but then reconsidered after thinking about how much fun we'd both have. Class ends, I pick up Mason and rush home to fix him a picnic lunch before driving off to the Arboretum. We arrive at 11:15ish and all goes well here. He eats a good lunch, plays hard with his friends, sits in the pumpkins, and pets animals in the petting zoo. Around 12:45 I realize it's getting dangerously close to his 1:30 nap time so we say our quick good-byes and speed out of there.

I make every attempt in the car on the way home from the Arboretum to keep Mason awake. Music, nursery rhymes, can you find a fire truck?, let's call Daddy, you name it. If he falls asleep for even a minute, he will consider that his nap and not go down at home. Well, what do you think happened? Despite my efforts, he fell asleep literally three minutes before we got home. I cautiously began to retrieve him from his carseat with the idea of carrying his sleeping body to his crib when bing!, his eyes opened and he started asking for Hazel. Oy Vey. I proceed with our naptime routine of changing into comfy clothes, reading books, and sining lullabies, all the while knowing he won't go back down (It should be noted that I placed him in his crib at exactly 1:30, but I hadn't factored in the early wake-up so everything was thrown off). I put him in his crib and even though I know he won't sleep, he's happy, so I go about my business. I rush to clean up around the house, take another quick shower (this time washing my hair) and put away three loads of laundry. He's lost his patience at this point and is crying for me. I still need time - I'm used to 2 1/2 hour naps. He woke up 1 1/2 hours early and took a nap that was 2 hours and 27 minutes shorter than usual. I have no idea what kind of creature he will turn into for the afternoon. I go in his room, hand him his favorite books and puzzles, and he entertains himself for another 15 minutes while I finish my chores.

It's 3:00. My Dad's mom (my grandma and Mason's great-grandma), and my Uncle Philip (my dad's brother), are in town and staying at my parents house for the night. My goal is to leave our home around 3:30 and arrive to my parents around 4:00. I have no idea where the time goes sometimes, but we don't get out the door until 4:00, and we're headed in the same direction as rush hour traffic. After I pass the dry cleaners, I realize I'd promised Sean I'd pick his clothes up, so we make a U-turn and grab his dry cleaning. At this point I'm thinking Mason might take a cat nap in the car on the way and I might catch time for a short break. I even contemplated stopping at Sonic for a Cherry Limeade. Then my mom texted me and said she hoped I didn't hit traffic. Mother knows best - I skipped Sonic and just hit the road. Not only did Mason not fall asleep, but the second we hit the surprisingly traffic-free highway, he threw the book he was reading out of his carseat and started crying for it. Not much I can do at this point other than turn the music up. He eventually calmed down and we had 10 minutes of much needed peace. I know my boy well, and when he's around a room of people that love him, he puts on a show. He was sweet and wonderful at my parents house, and I was able to enjoy a beer while he played with Grandma and Uncle Philip.

Due to Mason's lack of sleep, I debated joining my parents, Grandma and Uncle Philip for a dinner out - I didn't want to ruin a good time for anyone. But we don't get to see them much and couldn't say no. Plus, we were headed to a patio at a Mexican food restaurant - I'll say yes to that any day of the week. There was a Yankee Pot Roast cooking in the crock pot at home, so Sean was set for dinner. Earlier in the day at the Arboretum Mason had covered the bottom of his shoes in poo from the petting zoo so I left them in the garage. Well wouldn't you know I forgot to bring shoes entirely when we left the house in the afternoon. Thankfully we were seated in the back corner of the patio and my hillbilly son wasn't a disturbance. Mason was a shockingly great dinner guest and we were able to carry on adult conversations in between our sessions of doting on him. I was really proud of the way he acted after the tiring day he had. After about an hour he was ready to get out of his highchair, so my little shoeless baby made circles around the table getting love from every stop. It's 7:00, Mason's bedtime, and past time to head home. I call Sean on the way and he's home, ready to give Mason his bath. Boy was I thankful for that - I was exhausted and not sure I could've taken that on. Baby boy was beyond tired on the way home and only seemed to be happy if Katy Perry was on the radio. Sean took over the second I walked in the door. My last view of my little cherub was him playing at his work bench in nothing but a diaper and a polo while Sean filled the bath. Mason really pulled through today and once again I'm going to bed loving him even more now than I did in the morning.  I had some emails to send off for the early childhood PTA group I'm involved in, packed Mason's bag for school tomorrow, and tended to a glass of wine after Mason was asleep. I sat with Sean while he enjoyed his dinner and we're watching MNF now. Whew, this was a long, but memorable day.

Mason is typically on a very successful schedule that I plan to blog about soon. We usually run a well-oiled household around here and I want to document those days as well. But days like today deserve their own post. At the end of all the craziness I still have my sweet, solid family snoozing under the same roof and I am very thankful for all I have. I feel very lucky and take time out of every day to count my blessings.

My Pumpkin

Petting Zoo. Instead of saying the animal names, he makes their noises. It's so cute.

From L to R: Uncle Philip, Mason, BeBe, Grandma, Papa

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Crab Boil

Last weekend Sean and I had our good friends Pete and Dorrie over for a crab boil. In our part of the country it's more common to host a crawfish boil, but Sean found an offer on an online deal site for Maryland Blue Crabs delivered straight to your door and couldn't pass up the opportunity. They came already cooked, all we did was steam them with some corn and potatoes and served with melted butter and Old Bay seasoning. Boy was it good. We definitely had enough to feed a small village but there was no way we were letting any go to waste so we sat there for TWO HOURS working on our dinner. You have to work for every bite but  it is so worth it. Pete and Dorrie enjoy food as much as we do and lived in Maryland for a couple of years so when we started thinking about the evening we knew just who to invite. Hope they had as good of a time as we did!

You can't tell in the picture but Dorrie's skirt was the same color as the orange in my shirt - totally not planned! Pete brought raw oysters for an appetizer, yum-o!

That's a lotta crab

We set up outside with folding chairs and a  newspaper-lined table. Keeping things classy over here.
I made everyone take a picture before we dug in - we were all salivating!

Left picture is half way through Round 1. Upper right is Round 2. Lower right is Round 3. This is why dinner took two hours!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Last week Mason and I started taking a weekly, 30 minute PlayWisely class for the fall semester. As defined on their website, PlayWisely is the "fun, new innovative way to play while engaging your child's natural learning and movement ability". When I started researching the class, I learned just how important of a role "stimulating experiences play in developing a child's brain during the critical wiring period from birth through preschool". We signed up for this class with my friend Shelly and her son Hutcheson. There is one other boy in the class, Lucas, which is perfect because 3-4 kids/class is the ideal number to ensure each child receives the maximum benefit. It might be hard to believe that a weekly 30-minute session would be effective, but they stress that the intensity of these classes is the key. The child can accomplish so much in these brief sessions because of the pace and focus of the interactions.

Mason is enrolled in the Toddler 2 class (for ages 18-36 months and runner/jumper). Concepts at this level include age appropriate skills for attention recognition and memory as well as math, reading, language and communication skills. Age appropriate physical activities are also introduced for visual motor, gross motor and fine motor skills. Each class has a combination of flash cards and gravity-based physical activity. These aren't your typical flash card or physical activities. The flash cards go at a quick pace and have simple, but effective images requiring varying responses from the child on them. He's asked to use his right foot/left foot or right hand/left hand when he needs to identify an image. He surprisingly knows which is which - I think in his mind right hand/foot = the dominant one, and left hand/foot = the other one.  The physical activities are very focused on one element that will change each week. So far the first week was kicking and today was strength. There are stations set up so each child has their own to work at, and then they rotate. The class begins and ends with the flash cards and the physical activity is in the middle.

After the first visit I was very frustrated. I had never attempted such an intense activity that required so much focus from Mason and he didn't understand why he couldn't just play. Of course this challenged me to keep coming back so we can work on this and after just the second visit I can already see remarkable improvements. He now knows what to expect and seems to really enjoy this style of learning. It also teaches patience. Most of the flash card sessions are 1:1 with the instructor so two children have to wait their turn while watching another child partake in the activity.

I feel like I can't fully do this class justice. If you're interested in learning more, click here to visit their website or read this feature article published in a recent Dallas Child magazine.

Here are some pics from today!

Lucas in a 1:1 session and Hutcheson waiting patiently

Hutcheson and Shelly

Hutcheson identifying where the ladybug is on the patterned paper

The image starts in the center of a white page so the child can identify it, then gets harder to find as the cards progress.

Using his left hand. Although it looks like I'm doing it for him, I'm merely just assisting. He does all the work!

Today was strength, so he was pushing a weighted ball up a wedge towards me

Another pushing up the wedge exercise

In this activity there were different sized balls to carry up a wedge - this particular one was 5 lbs.!

All the boys at the end of the physical session

The class ends with alphabet and number cards in a group session. She goes through the alphabet quickly, then the sounds of the letters (which I realized I don't even know them all!), then counting with animals and other fun techniques.

Today's agenda

Monday, September 10, 2012

California Love

We squeezed in one last summer trip to Los Angeles over Labor Day last weekend! Sean spent his high school, college and early career years living in the South Bay area of Los Angeles (Torrance and Redondo Beach), and still has many friends that live out there. We used to visit up to four times a year for weddings, work or just to see friends, but having a little one can slow down the travel a bit! Several friends have had children that we hadn't met or seen in a couple of years, and most of his friends had not met Mason. Sean's buddy Matt and his wife Katy (the Sorenson's) graciously offered us a place to stay. They have a little girl, Casey, who just turned one so it was great for Mason to have a buddy to play with (not to mention a fresh batch of toys to check out).

We made it to the beach every day we were there, had great meals out, played hard with the other kiddos, enjoyed a beautiful sunset, partied with all of Sean's buddies and their families at a BBQ at the Sorenson's  (I learned that only Texans call them cook-outs), and my favorite, took a bike ride along the strand while enjoying perfect beach weather, watching beach volleyball and observing the SoCal locals. Mason loved the water and thought it was hilarious to watch Sean body surf. He would just sit there staring out into the ocean - almost like he knew you were supposed to soak it in. Then when the water came up too close he'd crack up as I'd whisk him up then set him back down right as it was going back in. We love that little boy so much and are so happy he enjoyed something so special to Sean.

The only downside to the trip was the fact that Mason is just not an easy traveler. He is busy, busy, busy on the plane - never really crying but needing to be constantly amused, which is hard to do for three hours in a tight space. He never really caught up on his sleep and had a hard time napping at the Sorenson's, likely because he knew there was always a party going on downstairs. The few naps he did catch were bits and pieces in his carseat which I don't really count. When he was distracted, he was great, but otherwise there was a lot of whining and 'momma, momma, momma's!' coming from his sweet little mouth. We had a blast, but man was it nice to sit down when we got home and take a rest from our vacation!

If anyone is interested, here are links to our favorite restaurants in the area. All casual and delicious!

Martha's 22nd Street Grill in Hermosa Beach for breakfast. Always yummy and just steps from the beach. Sean's parents are fans of this place too.
El Burrito Jr (or El B J) in Redondo Beach for a quick lunch. The best Mexican fast food there is. Special C is the way to go - two bean and cheese burritos, chips/salsa, medium drink for $5.50!
Mama D's Italian Kitchen in Manhattan Beach for dinner - the pink sauce is a must try!
Riviera Mexican Grill in Redondo Beach for brunch, lunch or dinner. We always head there with a big group and enjoy the fantastic margaritas!

Below are some pics from the trip. Somehow we always forget to bring the camera out when we're with big groups - that or we're all busy wrangling our kids - so there's not too many shots of the adults. Hope you enjoy them almost as much as we enjoyed taking them! ;)

First time on the beach! We were so excited we went straight from the airport and didn't bother to change clothes!

Now we're in our appropriate beach gear. Mason loved soaking it all in from the swing.

We borrowed bikes from Sean's friend that has two girls. Doesn't Mason look cute in his pink helmet? And I'm a huge fan of his seat - so cool!

There was a festival going on in Hermosa where we all stopped to enjoy Sno-Cones!

The scene of the BBQ. There were kids and toys everywhere! Katy admits she may have a problem when it comes to buying toys. :)

Katelyn and Lauren with Mason on the left. Casey and Mason playing in the right pictures. Yes, Mason is wearing regular clothes in the water - Daddy was in charge here!

The weather was perfect in the shade. The bottom pic is Chris with his son Michael (Katelyn and Lauren's little brother!)

Enjoying the waves with Daddy then watching him body surf from the beach.

We drove up to Palos Verdes to watch the sunset - it was SO gorgeous.
Enjoying dinner and a walk while watching the sunset. He's not nearly as close to the edge as he looks!

Sweet boy on a beautiful night

My new favorite picture

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kiki's All-Stars

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to school we go!

I absolutely can't believe that my baby is now a little student. He started Mother's Day Out/Pre-School  this week and it's been going great! His teacher, Miss Kiki (who we all absolutely adore), said that she has never had a student do so well on the first day/week. There was no crying from him at all and he laughs, smiles, participates, plays and does what he is told! I need to schedule a meeting with Miss Kiki to figure out what her secret is. :) Mason had three events prior to the school year to meet his teacher and fellow classmates, which I think really helped with his comfort. Sean and I were with him at all of these and he must have picked up on the fact that we were happy and comfortable, so he was too. I can only hope that the year goes as smoothly as the first week has!

Most of the kids in our weekly playgroup were starting or returning to their school programs so we held a little Back to School party for them at our house. All the moms contributed a back to school themed snack and Amanda brought some cute printable decorations. Amanda has a friend that is starting a photography business so she offered to come snap some pics of the event and in exchange learned how challenging it can be to take pictures of toddlers!

Adorable decorations and yummy treats

Mommies with the kiddos and a rare picture of just the moms! (who was watching the kids?!?)

Who needs utensils, or hands for that matter? 

The Friday before school started Mason had a meet the teacher day at school. Sean and I were there too and it was so cute to watch him wander to all the areas of his classroom. He actually spent more time in the young 2's room (he's in the 18-24 month class), which connects to his through a door. He will be spending a good amount of time in both rooms so it's good that he loves them both!

Discovering all there is to play with

Hank and Mason, aka the defensive line, and Mason with Miss Kiki
When the big day arrived on Tuesday we fed Mason a big breakfast, dressed him in his green polo (we plan to take a first day picture of him in a green or navy polo for every first day of school - so long as he lets us at least!), packed his backpack and headed off to see Ka-Kee (Miss Kiki). We're so pleased with every part of his school, including the other parents, his classmates, classroom and teacher. It's located right behind our house in a Methodist church so it's a super convenient location that offers a secure and loving Christian environment.

He literally posed for us. I'd say 'turn to the side' or 'show me your back' and he complied! 

So excited! I love Miss Kiki's reaction in the lower right picture.

His schedule includes music/movement, playground, snack, arts & crafts, and free play. One day a week he stays for "lunch bunch" which includes lunch and quiet time. That starts next week and I'm anxious to see if he actually rests on a nap mat or not! They have a color and shape that they focus on each month and all of their art activities center around that. This month the color is red and the shape is circle. I'm going to have to resist the temptation to frame all his "art" around the house as I'm sure I'll find it all adorable!

This time last year Mason had just started crawling, was taking three naps a day, eating baby food, taking a bottle, and not communicating verbally. I can't believe that just one year later he is literally running to a classroom with a backpack and lunchbox and using small words to talk to me about his day (this is of course prompted by me asking him about exactly what I know he did that day)! I love our little boy so much and look forward to his many years as a student.