Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"The garage door is open."

Have I mentioned how often I hear this phrase...every day? Or, better yet, how many times I hear just the words, "garage door" (which actually comes out as, "garagey door")?

No? Well, let me tell you.

Two days ago, I decided to count how many times those words (that is, "garagey door") escaped Owen's lips for the duration of an entire day. My guess was 100.

I gave up at about 10:30 a.m., mid-way through grocery shopping, because I could no longer simultaneously concentrate on my grocery list, keep track of what count I left off on, and remember to pick out all the random occurrences of "garage door" smattered throughout O's constant yammering. I decided to just call it right then and there.

Any guesses?

The correct answer is — wait for it — 80. Eighty! That's in only three waking hours. Mind you, when he says one of his beloved phrases, such as, "the garagey door is open," he typically repeats it no fewer than 10 times, presumably waiting for me (or anyone, really) to acknowledge that "yes, in fact, the garage door is open. Great observation, buddy!" Only after you've affirmatively repeated it back to him will he stop his repetitive declaration.

Here he is watching from our back door as the neighbor's garage door opens...and then closes. Fascinating stuff!

It's cute. Don't get me wrong. He's a smart boy and he can identify which garage doors are open and which ones are closed as you pass them by (either on foot or in the car). And, if asked, he will tell you what color a given garage door is. However, outside of those two things (and possibly the shapes — i.e., square vs. rectangle), I just can't think of anything else to say about garage doors. In the meantime, he doesn't seem to mind. Garage doors are fascinating...simply fascinating to this 2-year-old.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

7 Links Challenge

Today, I was invited by my friend and fellow blogger, Abby at R is for Ronnebeck to participate in something called the 7 Links Challenge. After clicking back through the chain of blogs that led her to this challenge, I learned that it was created (I'm still not sure by whom) to connect bloggers from all over the world to share old and forgotten posts that deserve recognition. I thought I'd give it a whirl.

The rules are this:

  1. The blogger who is nominated (me, in this case) must publish 7 links from his/her own blog; one for each of the categories below.
  2. The blogger then nominates 5-7 more bloggers to take part, and the beat goes on...
Are you ready? Get set! Here I go...

1. Most Beautiful Post
Of course, it has to be the blog announcement of my precious baby boy, Welcome to the world, Owen! Probably my most favorite picture of all time lies on this page (albeit in a much too small collage of other memory-inducing photos). Here, I'll let you gaze at it again, this time bigger. Ah-mazing!

2. Most Popular Post
This one was easy. I just went through my post stats and found the one with the most comments. This Disney "Dream" Vacation post was the big winner at a whopping 6 comments! I'm so popular.

3. Most Controversial Post
Just a few weeks ago, I wrote this post, Highs and Lows, which sparked quite a bit more discussion (and controversy?) than I ever anticipated. It began as a mere journal of how emotionally draining it can be when you get so personally invested in your child's achievements — both positive and negative not-so-positive. But by the end of it, I was going on about all my "worry/guilt/doubt/fear" issues, which, evidently, struck a chord with some other moms out there. I always appreciate feedback, and — even though my original intention for this post got misconstrued somewhere along the line — I am so blessed to have such supportive family and friends.

4. Most Helpful Post
For me, the most "helpful" post I can recall writing was this one, titled 37 weeks (5:00 a.m.) Nearing the end of my pregnancy (and little did I know just how near I was to the end — I delivered Owen only 4 days later!), I recall waking in the wee hours of the morning in a sheer panic. Even during my pregnancy, when sleep could be disruptive, I have never been the type of person to have such trouble sleeping that I actually get out of bed. (My bed and I have always been dear, dear friends, you see.) But on this day, I was on extreme red alert and, fortunately, jotting down my thoughts in this post helped me to feel a little more at ease. I followed it up with another post a few hours later — after going back to bed, of course — where I recorded feeling "a bit less overwhelmed." Whew!

5. Most Surprisingly Successful Post
Perhaps this one, 18 Months (warning: long post), which, sadly, was given a wildly inappropriate title considering its fairly heavy content that was so difficult for me to share. In it, I discussed a somewhat life-altering episode for this relatively new parent, providing the details of Owen's fall down the stairs and the immense guilt and shame that I dealt with in the days and weeks following it. I didn't even really go into just how harrowing an experience that was for me and how desperately inadequate I felt as a mother. (Let's just say, it was a very rough time for me.) But the comments I received as feedback on this post helped me to heal. One comment by my sweet brother, in fact, made me tear up even as I re-read it now. Touching. And I have moved on, of course. But it was definitely life-altering.

6. Post That Didn't Get the Attention It Deserved
I was a bit surprised that the post titled, What once was lost, but now is found didn't receive a single comment. I know it's not earth-shattering news or anything, but I thought it was pretty remarkable that my missing pair of glasses turned up the after getting a new pair (and that was after waiting months for them to turn up.) I mean, that's odd, right? And I think the word that I was looking for in this post to describe this scenario was maybe irony?

7. Post That I Am Most Proud Of
Hmmmm...this one was a little tough. But after reviewing a few options, I have to go with this one, A few thoughts on the past year. Documenting my thoughts on my first year of motherhood was good for my soul. So was going back and re-reading it just now.

On that note, here are the 5-7 bloggers that I am nominating to pay this challenge forward. I won't be offended if you choose not to participate. It is a little narcissistic to bloviate about your own past posts, after all. (Yes, I did just channel my inner Bill O'Reilly.) But who among us doesn't like to go back and revisit our own personal history?

1. Jackie — My baby sister and author of P's And Their Pod. I love this woman like crazy and am so impressed by her newfound talent in photography. Lucky for her she has the most photogenic and adorable baby on the planet as her muse. Watch out for this local up-and-comer!

2. Rachel — My next-in-line sister and author of She is such a strong, giving, and charismatic woman and I am proud to love her! I can't wait to see what the future holds for her as she embarks on a new life journey. Of all the people I know, this tough lady can do whatever she puts her mind to!

3. Mary — My former Muscatine soul-mate and author of Blessed in the Midwest. I was shocked when I discovered how much younger she is than me because I kind of tend to look up to her as a mom who seems like she knows what she's doing (a lot more than me, anyway). I miss having her closer, but look forward to reading her blog and catching up when we can.

4. Rebecca — Another local momma that inspires me by what she can manage on top of having two more kids than me. I love reading her blog, A Beautiful Life and always get a giggle out of her charming way of sharing those all-to-familiar mommy moments.

5. Chuck — Who I know will not be participating, as he is anticipating the arrival of his first child in a few short weeks. Plus, he hasn't posted anything on his blog, Made in Texas, since Memorial Day, so I know what to expect here. Still, I love this guy and am so impressed by who he has become. His wife Randi has had such a tremendous impact on him — their joy for life is evident!

Ah, well I would have liked to have continued the "7" theme going on here, but alas, those are all the bloggers I know personally, so there you have it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Little Leaky Lion

The absolute, most very favorite toy in this house has a name, and it is "lion."

Owen LOVES lion. Lion is his lovie. He sleeps with him every night (and at nap time) and occasionally carries him around with him during the day, too. There was a time when he had two lovies — "lion and Mickey" (Mickey being a stuffed Mickey Mouse that we bought him during our Disney trip). But really truly, lion has always been his main squeeze.

Oddly, the best part about lion seems to be his paws — specifically chewing and sucking on his paws.

It's gross. It's unsanitary, I'm sure. But there's not much I can do about it. It must be a comfort thing. I wash him at least once a week and just hope for the best. But the really unfortunate thing is that all that chewing has led to little lion "leaking." A few weeks ago, I started noticing these little plastic white beads in Owen's room.

Eventually, I realized that they were coming from lion's crinkly little paws. I identified the tiny hole in his paw and did my best to sew him back up.

But every couple days or so, a new little hole gets created. I can't even count how many holes I've sewn up now.

Since this seems to be a problem with no foreseeable conclusion, I decided to see how O would do if I just got rid of lion for a night. We put him to bed without lion and he actually fell right to sleep. (He was pretty tired the night that we attempted this.) But about 12:30 a.m., I woke up to my little man crying out, "LION! LION!" so I raced in there and reunited him with his friend. He immediately nestled right back to dreamy sleep.

I've considered draining all those beads from each of lion's paws as an alternate solution, but that just seems like it would take an awfully long time. Plus, I have a feeling that the reason Owen loves chewing on his bestie's feet is because of the way those little beads feel and sound when crunched on.

Since I can't stand the thought of the O-man having to part ways with such a treasured pal, I guess I'll just commit to stitching him up as often as is necessary. After all, that's what moms are for, right?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Banana Pops

Lately, I have been having some trouble getting Owen to eat foods that he used to gobble up. He will hardly touch a vegetable anymore, which I suppose is pretty typical for a toddler. But now even fruit, which he used to love, is receiving the cold shoulder from him, too, including bananas. There was a time when he was consuming an entire banana a day. I had to start buying bigger bunches just to keep up with him, in fact.

These days, however, I am typically stuck with at least one — often more — banana from the bunch at the end of every week. Never one to throw away perfectly (albeit a bit brown) food, I usually just pop them in my freezer for some rainy day down the road when I'm in the mood to bake a batch of banana bread.

But since my freezer stock is getting a little outrageous, I've started trying something new. Something I'm calling, banana pops. I was first inspired to try them after seeing them in a Parents magazine.

I guess this is pretty much the same recipe that I've been following, but I've also seen some others recently, like here and here. Anyway, here's how I did it.

What you need:
  • Bananas
  • Popsicle sticks (or I used candy sticks that I had leftover from the Peeps Pops I made at Easter)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil

First, you cut your bananas in half (I actually cut them in thirds this time because half a banana was too much for me the first time I tried it) with the peel still intact. 

Stick the popsicle sticks in the center of each one and peel away the peel.

Place in the freezer for at least an hour, until hardened.

Next, combine chocolate chips and oil in a bowl (I used a glass measuring cup) and microwave for 10-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted. Place whatever coating you prefer (I happened to have on hand some Rice Krispies and granola) on a dish.

Remove bananas from freezer and quickly dunk in melted chocolate, and then roll in coating. Place back on the dish and return to the freezer just until completely hardened (which should only take a minute or two).


I would love to say that this is how I've managed to get Owen to eat bananas again, but sadly, despite calling it "ice cream" in his presence, he's figured out how to munch on all the chocolate and cereal and, once that's gone, he abandons the frozen banana on a stick. Stinker.

Oh well, more for me I guess!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars

Oh. My. Word! Before leaving for my afore-mentioned retreat (in t-minus-15 minutes and counting), I cut the dessert I volunteered to bring into bars and I just have to tell you how amazing they are.

Feast your eyes on this!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars. Um-hmmm. YUM! Found via Pinterest (a re-pin from my pal, Rebecca), here is the full recipe. These were surprisingly easy to make — I actually did it while Owen was awake (which I try never to do). I die! And I highly recommend.

Summertime randomness

I leave for a MOPS leader retreat in a couple hours and am excited to have a sleep-over with some fun girlfriends, disguised as in addition to a time of planning and fellowship. Good stuff.

In the meantime, I really wanted to get another post up since I've obviously done some redesigning on the whole look of the blog. But, alas, there's not really anything interesting to blog about at the moment. So instead, I will share some summertime randomness.

The past several weeks here have been H-O-T! Like, steamy, sweat as soon as you step outside, stuck inside, HOT! Here's poor O, dripping with sweat after one brave attempt at the park last week.

Our electric bill is 37% higher this month than last. (Word of warning, I suck [SUCK!] at math, so I may have totally figured that wrong. I took the difference in price from last month to this month and then divided that by this month's bill. Is that right?) I just called them to find out what the heck is going on with that and the lady said, "You are not alone. This past month has just been so hot, that everyone's A/C has been running really hard just to keep things comfortable." (Ok, so that's probably not an exact quote, but close enough for quotation marks, I say.)

Check it out — even our windows were sweating!

However...this week has been awesome! Highs in the low 80s, even a light breeze one day. I actually shut off the A/C for a day and a half and opened up all the windows. Fresh air! It was amazing! Owen and I celebrated by going to the park every single day. Some days, we went to two! He is at such a great age now where I can finally just let him climb around without having to follow directly behind him like a weirdo. Of course, I still stay nearby (i.e., directly under him, whenever possible), but it's nice not to be the crazy safety Mom at the playground anymore.

Also, he's recently decided to like swings again. When he was little, he loved the swing at my parents' house. Remember this video, or the photo below?

One of my favorites!

But then he went for a long time where he wanted nothing to do with them. If you put him in one, he'd let you push him once or twice and then demand to get out. But now, apparently they're fun again, and I really enjoy pushing the little bugger back and forth!

And now, let the randomness continue...

Trying on Daddy's hat.

Attempting to get a fun Mommy & Me self-portrait.

A perfect afternoon. Note the freshly snapped green beans and open windows. 

My failed attempt at capturing a shot of Owen actually enjoying the swing.

Backyard pool fun!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Creature Feature

There have been some freaky weird critters hanging around our place recently. If you follow me on facebook, you may recall the totally random turkey-sighting of this past winter. Here's a reminder for you.

Considering we do not (to my knowledge) live near a turkey farm or anywhere that wild turkeys might hang out, I found that pretty strange indeed.

Fast forward to yesterday, when I discovered this guy hanging out on our screened porch (on the outside of the screen, thankfully!)

This photo doesn't really do justice to the size of this insect. It had to be like 4-inches long or something. Perhaps the pictures below will give you some better scale.

Ryan tells me it's a praying mantis. I just prayed that he (or she?) would leave.

And then this evening, as I was pulling into our driveway, I noticed a crazy swarm of birds swooping all around our front yard. I took some video because it totally freaked me (and Owen) out.

I was so mesmerized by this display that I watched it for a good while after I finally pulled the car into the garage and I noticed that, what at first appeared to be just a very large flock of very small birds, was actually a combination of giant dragonflies and small birds. I don't know if the birds were trying to prey on the dragonflies. (They were just little birds...maybe swallows? And why didn't the dragonflies just beat it out of there if they were under attack?) Or maybe it was just some fanciful dance number that these little creatures were enjoying with one another. Whatever it was, it freaked me out, and then fascinated me, and then it was over. Very odd.

Finally, as I'm typing this post, I'm staring at the dead fly that has been trapped in my bedroom blinds for the past few days (I just haven't bothered to fish it out) and, although it's not exactly an unusual creature, I thought it's placement was rather odd, so I figured I may as well throw that in there, too — for good measure.

Anyway, who knew there was such crazy wildlife to be seen in small-town suburban Iowa? Not this girl.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Loving this stage

Yesterday afternoon, Owen threw a bit of a tantrum when I took his daddy's guitar away from him, out of fear that he would destroy it. He protested by throwing his body on the ground and kicking his legs wildly. The tantrum didn't last long and I responded to it by not responding — I just walked away and ignored it. But it occurred to me in that moment that he really doesn't throw tantrums like that very often anymore. And that, my friends, is a fabulous thing! You'll recall in this post, only 3 and a half short months ago, that I feared my sweet little toddler might be gone for good, replaced by a terrible tantrum monster with a very short fuse.

Since yesterday's a-ha moment, I've started paying more attention to all the wonderful qualities Owen does currently possess and thought I'd take a moment to document them here. I like to use this blog as a diary of sorts to record certain milestones as they occur in Owen's life (I can't tell you how many times my sister Jackie and I have referred back to old posts to remind ourselves what Owen was doing at her baby, Brody's age). Plus, I am just so over the moon about how FUN Owen is these days that I thought I'd brag on him a little bit.

Despite my intense fear of stairs, we have started teaching Owen to "walk" up and down them instead of insisting that he always crawl. Remarkably, he's taken to this very well. He seems to understand that he needs to hold on to the railing or someone's hand in order to feel steady enough to proceed, so so far, he's remained fairly cautious and has had tremendous success. I am still quite nervous about this new practice, though, and — whereas I allowed him to freely go up and down our newly carpeted basement steps on his own when he was crawling them — I now insist on one of us supervising the process. But, so far, so good.

His vocabulary, which has always been fairly remarkable for his age, is pretty solid now. He's gotten very good at communicating his needs to us on his own (which probably has something to do with the reduction in tantrums!) One phrase that just cracks me up whenever he says it is, "I take a nap." Sometimes it's because he's telling me he's tired, but more often, I think he just pays attention to what's happening around him and if something happens that is typical of his pre-nap routine (like the rolling of credits at the end of Yo Gabba Gabba, or even changing his diaper), he assumes that it must mean it's nap time.

He's also much calmer when changing his diaper these days. Where he used to get upset and flail around (hitting and kicking had become a major problem for a while), he seems to understand that it's just part of life and there's no reason to fight it. I've also started changing him on the living room floor (I keep a towel handy in there for easy access) instead of always taking him to the changing table in his room. Not making him leave the room where other people are or where he was having fun playing or watching TV seems to have helped in that respect, too. Incidentally, for those wondering, we have not done much else as far as potty training because I'm pretty certain he's just not ready yet (despite my high hopes in this post). But I'm not too concerned; all in good time!

He still goes down great both at nap time and bed time. Thankfully, the days of 1-2 hours worth of chatting to himself before settling to sleep seem to be over for now. But the duration of naps has been reduced a bit. I used to be able to count on 1 1/2 hours at a minimum, but up to a 3-hour break in my day. Lately, he's been pretty consistently only napping for his former minimum, 1 1/2 hours. Just so long as he doesn't start going even less than this (or dropping naps entirely...gasp!), I can deal. And he's still in his crib (we don't even own a toddler bed yet) because he has yet to make any legitimate attempts at climbing out and he actually seems to really enjoy the confines of his cozy little space. So who are we to fight that? I'll let him stay in the crib as long as he wants I think, though I'd like to have a bed picked out (if not purchased) soon so that in the event that we need to make the switch quickly (i.e., he channels his inner monkey and figures out some way to climb out), we will be prepared.

And finally, the most exciting thing in my life right now (yes, I'm that lame) is the fact that O is starting to show more and more signs of focused play. By that, I mean that he will actually focus on and play with certain things for a much longer duration than he ever has in the past. Up until now, he's been like a crazy pinball, ping-ponging from one toy/book/drawer/electric device/sharp object to another. (Side note: I recently heard about a comedian that made the claim that toddlers spend their days looking for death and I'm here to tell you, that is the sad truth!) Of course, he still does this — his attention span is that of a 2-year-old, after all. But more and more, he is beginning to get interested in actually playing with toys as they are intended to be played with. Here's a couple of videos to show you what I mean.

Ok, so he's using his sippy cup instead of cars, but the fact that he's sitting here intently playing with this thing is actually pretty huge. (And he does use cars, too, on occasion.)

I don't know why my voice sounds so obnoxious in this video (I guess because it was taken on my crummy cell phone?), but it was SO fun seeing him scoot his trucks around after I showed him how to do it. We called the bar stools "bridges" that the trucks had to drive under, which he thought was pretty clever.

Ok, so these videos are not all that exciting, but if you only knew how I've longed for the days when I could have two (TWO!) moments to myself where I don't have to worry about him hurting himself, you would understand and appreciate how momentous this is!

Someone told me once that the half-years (i.e., age 1 1/2, age 2 1/2, etc.) are actually harder than the beginning and end of the years (i.e., age 2, age 3, etc.) So far, that seems to be pretty accurate. 18-months was tough. So far, 2-years-old is shaping up to be SUPER fun!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What the {blog} is going on???

UPDATED UPDATE: Yay! Success! Both of the below-mentioned issues have now been corrected (thanks to some kind, anonymous, helpful folks on the message boards. Many thanks!) So, if you are so inclined, you can now go back and browse ALL previous blog posts, dating back to 2008.

UPDATE: After tossing my question out there into Blogger message board land, I received a solution to my main problem (with duplicate posts) that worked! It involved editing some HTML code, which made me feel incredibly techie, but was actually very simple. I am still trying to figure out how to get back all my missing archives, but may possibly have a solution to that problem soon, too. I will be sure to let you all know (because you're waiting on bated breath, I'm sure) if/when that gets corrected.

Ok fellow bloggers, I need some help. Obviously, I changed the look of my blog a bit (although this template is not likely to stay for long, once I get some things figured out.) Anyway, I was messing around with other templates last night and in the process, ended up with a problem. (Warning: If you are not on Blogger, the following will probably not make any sense.)

Under Design — Page Elements, I now have the "Blog Posts" section (the main meat of the blog) listed twice.

So now, all my blog posts are repeating at the bottom of the screen. Scroll on down now and see for yourself.

For other widgets, you can just click on them and then "remove" them at the bottom of the screen (like this).

But I do not get the "Remove" option for the Page Elements block (probably because it's not a widget, it's the content of the whole darn blog.)

I have no idea how this happened and I cannot seem to get rid of it. Aaahhh! What do I do?

Also, while I'm at it, ever since I switched over from to, I lost about half of my archived posts. On here, it only gives me archives through August 2010. What happened to all the ones from before that (dating back to November 2008)??? They are still available on the old site (which is the main reason why I haven't completely deactivated that one), but I haven't figured out why they didn't transfer over with the rest of them and how to get them to.

Anyone out there that can help me with this?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pre-nap workout

Guess what Owen spent something like 30 minutes playing with before nap time today? (Seriously! He never spends that length of time doing any one thing besides sleeping. Ever!)

Answer: A half-dozen 2-liter bottles of pop that I just picked up at the store. He was having so much fun with them, he was even all sweaty when I finally pried him away from them so he could take a nap (all the while, crying, "Pop! Pop!") I promised him they'd still be there when he got up and he could play with them then. Check out the little man flexing his muscles.

And while I'm posting video, here's another hilarious one of a new game Ryan and Owen came up with last week. His giggling is so contagious!