Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Writing with Rose Colored Glasses

There seems to be a new trend for articles to criticize moms for using blogs and social networks to create a false, overly positive, inflated picture of their family life (if you need evidence, just google "Moms use Facebook to brag"). While I have certainly been on the "I wish I had it all together like she seems to" end of things, I've noticed that I also emphasize the positive moments from our month in my writing. 

Things are not sunshine and rainbows all the time here. There are days I hand Caleb over to David the minute he gets home and go lay down for half an hour because I'm so exhausted, touched-out and ready for a break. Sometimes I yell. Sometimes I'm selfish. Sometimes I'm lazy.

So why don't I write about that? Sometimes I do. But, for me, those times are not a defining moment in our week, month or even the day. I feel like those difficulties should be assumed in motherhood, and that it's not necessary to use ink to dwell on them in every single post. The people I see on a day-to-day basis are certainly well-versed in stories of me falling down and getting back up again in this parenting journey.

It makes me sad to think that by choosing not to write detailed descriptions of those hard moments, I might make another mom feel less-than. I try to only write about what I want to remember 20 years from now; about things that build up my joy in motherhood. Not surprisingly, this doesn't include the time I yelled at my toddler to JUST. WALK. UP. THE. STAIRS.

So please, can I make an appeal? Give the mom friends in your life the benefit of the doubt. Assume their job is hard, that they do fail, and give them the freedom to rejoice over the beautiful moments without accusing them of deliberately trying to present a false impression of themselves or their children.

My sad boy woke up too early from his nap. I want him to watch TV so I can keep resting. He is not impressed with my suggestion.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

July 2012

What's in a name? Now that Caleb is officially 2 years old, I began wondering how to title these monthly updates. Would I just keep counting months and eventually be writing the post Caleb: 72 Months Old? What if, by God's grace, we have more children? Would I then be writing blogs entitled Caleb and Child X: 72 and 31 Months Old? So, I decided that this month, I'd switch to writing a monthly update about our entire family, titled with the month and year.

This is the same system I used to update the family back in the Pre-Caleb Days. Times have changed however, and we know who the real celebrity of this blog is. So fear not, despite the name change, we will keep the details of our boring adult lives to a minimum : ) So, without further ado, here is the scoop on what life is like as a 2.1 year old...

Just after Caleb's 2nd birthday, my college room mate Corali came up for a visit.Caleb loved having a new reading buddy and showing her around Gettysburg. I loved getting to "talk teacher" and catch each other up on all the news in our lives.
Lunch at Dobbin House (circa 1776) in Gettysburg
Caleb is loving his new pal

A bubble pops on his nose

Caleb's speech continues to develop at it's "slowly but surely" pace. This month he added the words "dip" (aka ketchup!) and "gun" (as in a water gun) to his vocabulary. Of all the 40 words child decides to pick up easily, one of them is "gun". He is such a boy!

This month he also picked up the word and concept of "both". He loves to inform David and I that we are both brushing our teeth or both using a fork. Best of all is when Caleb and Daddy are both doing the same thing : ) His face lights up like the sun as he shows how he can vacuum or sweep just like daddy.

 Another popular word this month was "hide". We've had lots of storms and Caleb calls thunder "hide" since he can't see the source of the sound. This led to what I think is the coolest story (and new word) of the month:

One night, we were putting Caleb to bed during a bad thunderstorm. He's not afraid of lighting per say, but he does need to talk about it...alot. He says, "hide!?" "hide!?" and "BIG!"as he points to the window. We nod and reassure him that this is all normal.
This particular evening, he was talking to us about the thunder and I was reminding him that God controls the thunder and lightning and that God loves him very much. Then, David prayed over him as he does each night. He finished his prayer by saying, "In Jesus name, Amen. Caleb then looked up and said "Je-Juh!" with so much joy. It was beautiful to hear those little lips say that name for the first time.
 I should have probably put that story at the end, because everything else pales in comparison! Here are some more mini-highlights from our month:

Caleb knows the difference between "big" and "little". During play-doh time he had a blast putting big and little "eggs" in the "nest".

He's learned that Target gives out a sticker to tots in the checkout line and points to his chest to remind me each visit. He also says a great "thank you" that makes mama so proud :  )

At the end of Moo, Baa, Lalala the author asks, What does baby say? Caleb now answers, "No!" Yup, that about sums it up : )

We made a special trip to the  library because Caleb asked for the same book (Blue Hat, Green Hat) 3 days in a row by pointing to it's picture and exclaiming "BryBry". How can I refuse that kind of request?

Caleb "read" his first page from a story this month from Blue Hat, Green Hat. On the page with the shoes, he said "Two, two, two, OOP!" Adorable!

Mr. Big Boy had two major "growing up" milestones. He got his first trim and ate his first PBJ.

Hair before. I trimmed a little off the back earlier in the month, but the top and sides had never been cut!

Caleb is helping out, of course.

Hair after. Still plenty of curls, but short enough to stay out of his face.

What was left of his first PBJ. He ate the entire jelly side : )
As most of you saw on facebook, this month was also the first time Caleb crawled out of his crib. In case you missed it, here is the verbatim status update I posted 10 minutes afterwards
Well, it finally happened. Caleb released himself from crib-captivity after nap. I always imagined it would happen with a loud thud, followed by tears and a gentle, but firm reminder not to climb from myself or David. Instead, it was silent, my only warning was the click of a door knob turning seconds before Caleb flew into the room and wrapped himself around my legs, joyously, apparently unaware anything unusual had taken place.
Two year olds are learning machines! While it certainly has it's challenges, I find the teacher inside of me coming alive as Caleb begins to remember and assimilate more and more information each day. I'm amazed at all the mini-lessons that fit into one brief morning.

After breakfast, Caleb might work on his gross motor skills in the sandbox as he scoops and dumps dirt. He'll hone fine motor skills while coloring or in his play kitchen as he "cuts" food. Later he'll practice identifying his new favorite number (TWO!) as we read a book (two shoes! two cats! two, two, two!),  and receive a brief road safety lesson as we walk to the mail box. It's incredible how much he soaks up each day.

Why yes, that is yogurt he is finger painting with. Notice the lovely wall decoration as well? : )
He's also sharpening his skills in the "entertaining his parents" category : )

I know I tend to sum up all these monthly updates by saying how blessed I feel, but it's true! I don't think I will ever cease being thankful for each day we're given with him and the joy we have in being his parents.

Oh...and since I said these were going to become family updates from now on...I guess I should mention I turned 26 this month : ) My boys made sure I had a special day, starting with Caleb (and thus me!) sleeping in and David cooking me breakfast. Thanks guys!!!
Caleb helping me ready my card.

Clearly enjoying mommy's birthday breakfast!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Visiting the M Family: June Edition

We just spent a wonderful weekend visiting with the M family at our house, so I thought it was about time I finally finished the draft on our trip to their house earlier this summer. Not only did we have a blast hanging out with them, but Dave and Christine made sure to plan in some special adventures that made it feel like a real summer get-away. 

We arrived the Friday before Caleb's 2nd birthday party. It was Caleb's first long distance ride alone in the back seat. He was a champ all 3 hours and didn't need mommy to go back even once! Dave and Christine welcomed us with an amazing grilled salmon and shrimp dinner. Yum!

Saturday morning, Caleb decided to wake at 5:15am. It was every bit as painful as it sounds. It made me thankful that we're all old parents now and had gone to bed around 10p the night before. Despite the early wake up call, we still didn't get everyone ready to leave for strawberry picking until around 8:45. That's toddler time for you : )

Caleb wants Elias to open his belated birthday present, but decides he needs a little help. Elias does not amused by this intrusion.

The farm where we went picking grew several different types of strawberries. After taste-testing, the "Early Glow" variety were the clear winners. Their season was almost over so we did a lot of picking through rotted ones to find the ripe ones, but it was worth it. Caleb was even able to help!

So. Grown. Up.

Daddy's helper

Elias getting a taste of a very fresh strawberry.

Our final adventure at the farm, bee extraction. Great teamwork guys!

We brought the boys back for naps and they were both snoozing by 11. After they awoke, Dave and Christine took us to an Italian deli/grocery to pick up subs (which were incredible!). We ate picnic-style at a nearby park and the boys wore themselves out.

What's a family photo without a dinosaur in the mix?

Elias looking too cool in his shades.

We came back to the boarding school where Dave and Christine live (yes, they live in a school, how awesome is that???) and let the boys cool off in the pool. Needless to say, they went to bed early, completely exhausted. We didn't waste those evening hours of course. David and Dave bonded by beating Super Mario Brothers together and Christine taught me how to do a perl stitch in knitting.

Splashing in the pool.
Another great way too cool down. Some of the strawberries we picked may have ended up in Dave and Christine's ice cream maker.

Sunday morning, Caleb slept in slightly more, and woke at 5:45. David got up, while I finished sleeping. I woke up around 7:30 and remembered it was Father's Day (face palm moment...). I gave David his card and promised I'd make it up to him next weekend (which I did). Being the amazing husband and father he is, he wasn't upset at all and told me he was only "doing what you do everyday". *Swoon*

We all headed to protestant service a little bit later. Afterward, David, Caleb and I explored some neat looking shops in the area. We took Caleb into one of those hands-on kids' places. Apparently little ones under 2 get in free! Caleb had a blast playing in a firetruck, riding in a toy helicopter (which he wanted to go "up, up!") and splashing his hands in a rubber-ducky lazy river. On the way back to the car, we found a neat coffee shop and bought a bag of beans as a souvenir.

After Dave and Christine got home from Mass, we put the boys down for naps and ate lunch (which involved Sonny's Sweet Sauce, so you know it was amazing). Our little guys didn't sleep long so we took them over to a pond on the school's campus and let them throw rocks in the water, which they were infinitely amused by.

After a little more visiting time, we packed up the car and headed home. Caleb was so worn out from his fun weekend, he slept most of the way. We made a lot of wonderful summer memories. Thanks Dave and Christine!