Friday, June 27, 2014

Route Plum

Owen loves cars right now:  he loves to line them up in long traffic jams all over our first floor, he likes to drive them off the coffee table so that they fall and dent the floor below, sigh, and he likes to drive them over the back and arms of our couches.  Unfortunately, Plum also likes to use the backs of our couches, but as a prime lounging spot, not as a busy road.

So you can imagine what happens.  Owen starts driving his vehicles on Plum, and soon Plum becomes part of the road and finds matchbox cars and buses traversing his torso.  Or even worse, he becomes the subject of an anatomy lesson as Owen points to his eyes, nose, ears, mouth, whiskers, paws, etc.

Plum finds toddler Owen rather alarming, and, sad for Plum, I think it will probably get worse before it gets better.

Plum thinking, there are no words to describe this situation....
at least none fit for a blog.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Angry Owen

In general, Owen is a happy little fellow and like most kids his age, he is very earnest.  But he does have temper tantrums that are not unlike a flash flood:  you are ankle deep in mad toddler before you even realized it was raining.

For a while when Owen got mad he would bite us.  As you can imagine, this did not go over very well—the boy has sharp teeth!  So we of course would get all stern with him and give him a scolding and tell him that under no circumstances should the biting ever occur again.  We only bite food, etc.  Owen listened to our scolding and modified his behavior somewhat, so that now when he gets angry (usually it is because we are telling him “no” to something), he puts his own knuckle in his mouth and makes as if to bite down.

Um, okay.  Knock yourself out there, kid!  Bite away on your own finger and see how that works for you!

The other thing he started doing to Sean when he got angry was to rumple Sean’s beard.  He takes his two hands and uses them as if they were salad forks and Sean’s beard the salad.  Toss!  Rumple!  And the funny thing is that he will do it to me, too, even though – trust me – I do not have a beard.  He attacks my chin with vigor.

We can usually distract him from his anger, both by ignoring it and getting him interested in something else, and it does tend to blow over pretty quickly.  I do admit to having to hide my laughter on occasion because, let’s face it, the wrath of a toddler can be quite funny.

 Owen thinking, hmmm, let's see what she does
when I laugh when she's angry....

Friday, June 20, 2014

Mini Us

In general, when people see Owen they think he looks like a mix between Sean and me, which is nice, since he is our only child.  And I do see both of us in him.  I think Owen looks a lot like me as a kid, especially around the eyes, and he has my hands, yet his nose and mouth and blue eyes and mole on his back and feet are all Sean.  He has the same shape head and blue eyes as Sean’s mother, and he still will frequently make an expression that reminds me a lot of my Aunt Joyce.

I find the genetics of it all very interesting.  And not that I think it is so wonderful to look like me, but I don’t look like my sisters or my parents, so I find it pleasing to see myself in Owen.  (Apparently I might look like my grandmother’s beloved Tante Thora from Norway, but we don’t have many pictures of her to compare).

Anyway, here are a few pictures so you can decide for yourself.  Here is me at 1.5 with my older sister Meredith:

And then here is Owen at the same age making the same face in February when we were staying at the hotel.

Here is a picture of Sean, perhaps about 6 or 7, looking suave in his Sears Leisure Suit.  (Doesn’t he look like Opie?!)

And here are some pictures of Owen (albeit much younger):

Hmmmmm…..  What do you think?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


I am aware that sleep issues are as boring for you to read about as they are wretched for us to experience, so I don’t plan to go into great detail here.  But first of all I’d like to say that the powers that be need to do a better job of letting people know that there is a good chance they won’t sleep much for a good two or so years after first becoming parents.  I mean, I certainly knew that I wouldn’t get much sleep the first few months of Owen’s life.  And I also knew that it was possible I’d get a bad sleeper and have recurring sleep problems.  But I’m pretty sure that no one told me that once my child was allegedly “sleeping through the night,” he would only be doing so for about four days out of seven, say.  And that those wouldn’t be consecutive days:  there seems to always be something disrupting Owen’s sleep.

I just think a heads up would have been helpful.  Although come to think of it, my sister’s third child was a bad sleeper, and I remember Martha complaining about it to me on the phone, so it is probably just one of those things that unless and until you experience it, you don’t comprehend its agony.  (And I also don’t remember being warned about what the sound of the crying of your child waking up in the middle of the night does to your nerves and your emotions, and hey, even your bowels.  And that after a sleepless night, I can hear the sound of Owen crying in the hum of the air conditioner at work, and it gives me a jolt.  Or am I sounding too crazy now?!...)

At any rate, to be concise, Owen had been sleeping quite well (and again, by “well” I mean, let’s say, 3 or 4 nights of the week).  Then he got a cold and then there was a two-week or so interval at the end of which we realized that he had completely un-sleep trained us, or rather, he had trained us to again jump up and run to him at every twitch, and then not leave until he was deep in a REM sleep, and that this was hell for all in the family who are not Owen.  So we had to re-do the sleep training, and for the most part let him cry it out, which we did by Sean going into the sunroom and putting on headphones, and me downstairs watching the Good Wife on dvd and timing his crying with crazy-eyed glancing at the clock.

Then all was well for a week until last Friday Owen caught another cold, which led to Monday night’s non-sleep of about two non-consecutive hours for me and Sean.  To throw us off our game – as sleep terrorists like Owen are wont to do – he then slept beautifully last night and didn’t wake up once.  (I got eight hours of sleep people!  That’s the holy grail of sleep!!)

Who knows what will happen tonight?  Which is part of what makes it difficult for me.  If someone could tell me:  you will sleep from 10-12, then be dealing with a fussy Owen from 12-1:30, then sleep for another two hours, etc., I’d be much more relaxed about the whole thing.  For some reason it is the unknown element that makes it wretched, since I tend to be a pessimist in the wee small hours of the morning and will convince myself that neither Owen nor I will ever sleep again. 

So wish us luck.  Or wish me to stop talking about this – take your pick.  J

Owen looking bright-eyed and bushy-tailed 
no matter how wretched the night:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Fashion Complaint

Now that it has reached the nineties here in Pennsylvania, I have been outfitting Owen in shorts and t-shirts and polos (no more onesies! sniffle).  (Actually I should say my mother has been outfitting Owen in shorts, as all of his shorts have been found by her in Reny’s or outlets nearby -- thanks, Mom!). 

The other day on my lunch break, I went to The Gap to get Owen some pajamas, and checked out the shorts while I was there.  We’ve been getting Owen knit shorts, because they seem so much more comfortable than the jeans or cargo or khaki shorts, which are stiff around the waist (they have adjustable waists, so the size isn’t the problem, and Owen actually is more slender than chubby, but all the pockets and hardware and waistbands end up making them inflexible and hard to pull on over a diaper.)

Anyway, to make a long story short, I looked at the cargo shorts, since Owen didn’t have any and since Sean wears them, and I thought they could be twinsies.  J  But whereas the knit shorts that he wears in 2T easily go down to his knees, the cargo shorts were even longer.  When I held up a pair and imagined them on Owen, I was pretty sure they would look like manpris.  Why so long, Gap?  It’s not like Owen is overly stumpy in the stems, either! 

Cargo shorts long enough for mini Kevin Federlines:

And then I caught a glimpse of the shorts for girls on the opposite wall, and they were all daisy dukes!!  Seriously!  Shorts for toddlers that would barely cover their diapers.  Why?  They looked very uncomfortable.

Daisy dukes for mini Jessica Simpsons:

My sister, Martha, has had this problem buying shorts for her 11 and 9 year-old daughters, too.  The shorts for girls are all short short SHORT cut-offs.  She’s been buying her girls longer shorts from the boy departments, but probably won’t be able to do this, style-wise (and daughter awareness-wise) for much longer.  I’m no prude, but I just don’t see the point of shorts that tiny on children (or on adults, but that’s another issue).

Can’t at least the length of the toddler shorts for boys and girls fall somewhere in the middle of where they are currently?  Don’t make me get out my sewing machine, Gap!

Owen in knit shorts, looking natty.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Owen at Twenty-Two Months

Owen turned 22 months on the 8th and it is really a fun age.  He has tantrums, which are tiring, and he’s been torturing us with a sleep regression, but on the whole he is just so enthusiastic and excited and earnest.  He talks non-stop, although not in language an outsider would really recognize, but I feel like he will be speaking in sentences quite soon.

He’s also very aware of sounds that he hears; we can hear a train whistle from our house, and whenever he hears the whistle he will start chugga chugga choo-chooing.  He wants to know what everything is and what we are doing.  Nothing excites him more than if we are out in the yard and Sean starts doing a yard project.  He then will want to know every step of the project and what he can do to help.  Sean was pruning our various trees and bushes in the back yard the other day (we have an ivy and an invasive clinging weed that we have long been trying to rid the yard of.  It is slow going.  Sean clipped a tendril that had been strangling part of our elderberry bushes and we witnessed the bushes sighing in relief).  Anyway, Owen was helping by picking up all the branches and sticks and putting them in the collection bag, and loving every minute of it.  It was also something he could do that was actually helpful, although we did have to make sure that he didn’t put all of Dorothy’s yard toys in the bag….

He also seems to have inherited his father’s sense of humor.  We have tiny ants which appear in our windowsills and then work as a team to try to steal our sugar, and Owen will point at them and say buh for bug.  Now he will do that with my freckles too—point at them and say buh.  I say “I certainly hope not!” and he thinks that’s funny.  He will point at a freckle, say “bug,” and then say “not a bug,” and crack himself up.

Owen is still an extremely picky eater, and we generally do what all the books say and put foods on his tray in the hope that one day he will eat them.  And sometimes he does, but I’ve stopped getting excited about it, as he usually then won’t eat them the next time they are offered.  He is a big fan of corn on the cob now, although he doesn’t understand how to eat it off the cob himself – he keeps sticking the stem end in his mouth and then making a face.  He loves dessert, of course, and can say “cake” quite clearly.  That’s my boy.

Here he is buzzing like a bee:

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Meadow at Bulldogge Manor

One of the previous owners of our house was a gardener, and had arranged the front yard so that one half of it was all flowering plants and no grass whatsoever.  When you look at our house, the left side is a beautiful old (I think flowering cherry?) tree, and the right side is the side of flowers.  I think she was going for a kind of wild meadow/English garden look, but either she didn’t quite succeed, or the stroke that she had in her last few years in the house made her unable to get the garden into the shape she had envisioned. 

Here's the house from the front with branches flowering:

Here's plants that grow underneath the tree:

So the side that is all flowers is pretty, but it is also a bit of a mess.  My father the master gardener has confirmed that her design has problems, to put it nicely.  It basically looks like a bomb went off in a smorgasbord:  there will be flowers of one variety scattered all over with no rhyme or reason, and then one lily, say, in the middle of a patch of bleeding hearts.  Then of course choking all the flowers is a tangle of weeds and ivy, and since Sean and I have little time to garden (and I have yet to learn how to do so), as of late the weeds seem to be winning.

Here you can see the right side with flowers and plants and weeds in a muddle:

Now I should make two disclosures here:  the first is that when we got the house, I had agreed to be in charge of the front yard garden.  And I was excited about that!  I’ve never gardened, but I enjoy other peoples’ efforts, and I always thought it would be something I’d like to learn someday.  Well, that someday is still in the future.  For when we moved into the house I was seven months pregnant and since then, I haven’t had time to spend on the hobbies I already enjoyed, yet alone learn new ones.  My second disclosure is that my garden slothdom, such as it is, isn’t shared by Sean, who works hard every weekend on the numerous yard tasks that accrue during the week.

Of course, while he is doing so, I am watching Owen, so there is a reason I’m not gardening in the front.  But all this is to say that our front yard garden – messy to begin with – became even more so last summer due to neglect.  At one point we had someone come in and give us a quote to see how much it would cost for them to turn the right side back into a yard and move a lot of the flowers into contained beds by the front porch.  And doctor our beautiful tree a bit.  But the quote was about three times as high as we had expected, so there went that idea.

Sean thus decided that this spring and summer he would start to organize the yard himself.  He’s moved a lot of the flowers from the front yard to the back; made endless trips to pick up free community mulch; moved some of the flowers to a new bed by the porch; gotten rid of a pebbled path that wound its way through the plants, and has also tried to keep the weeds and ivy at bay.  It’s going to take all season, and perhaps two, but eventually we hope to have a patch of lawn where the weeds currently are, and a bit of space where once there was meadow.  Here are some pictures of what we are dealing with:

This is a pretty yellow flowering bush of some sort that grows up intertwined
with an evergreen tree.  It looks nice, so we will leave it alone:

So that is that.  We have some work to do, but there is not really any huge rush.  I forgot to mention that also underneath the tree on the left side is a nice azalea pathway that leads to our house.  Here it is in bloom:

It is fun seeing what comes up where.  This year, we had a beautiful purple flower that I hadn't noticed last year.  I took a picture of it to show my boss, who is also a good gardener, and she tells me it is spiderwort.  It sounds so nicely witchy!  We shall definitely keep this one, but might move it to a different, less central, locale (it's smack in the middle of the yard at the moment).

Friday, June 6, 2014

A New Sand Table

Owen’s Granny and Grandfather gave him an early birthday gift so that he could enjoy it over the next few months:  a sand and water table.  You are supposed to put sand on one side of it and water on the other and let the playing begin.  (We did this, although I had to keep my OCD in check when Owen of course wanted to just dump all the sand into the water side and vice versa, ending up with two sides of muck.)

Here he is enjoying the table (the color of the accompanying umbrella makes it look like our house has a big splotch of mold on it; this is not the case.)

However, the next morning when I opened the cover (which also has a track for cars!), the water from the right had somehow drained into the sand on the left.  I have no idea how this was possible, but nonetheless, the water was mostly gone and the sand was damp.  So I decided to just put sand on the right side too and have both sides be sand—at least for now.  I figure we can always change it back.

Owen likes his sand table very much, and has already had a few meltdowns when I made him come in because the mosquitoes were attacking.  I spend a good amount of time when I am watching him use it telling him to stop dumping the sand out of the box, but it is mostly to no avail:  apparently dumping sand out of a sandbox causes paroxysms of pleasure, mess be damned.

Sand pie anyone?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Holiday Weekend

We took Owen to the Philadelphia Zoo for the first time on Memorial Day weekend.  We ended up getting a yearly membership, since supposedly if you go more than twice a year you pay more than the membership costs, so it seemed like a good deal.  Plus it is really quite a fine city zoo, and very child-oriented, as the hordes (and hordes and hordes—really, if you are pedophobic, don’t come to this zoo) of toddlers and their parents can attest.

Zoo pictures by Sean:

It was a little hard to tell just how much Owen enjoyed it – a lot of the animals are of course towards the back of their enclosures, so I wasn’t always sure if Owen was seeing them or not.  For example, he was very excited to see the giraffes, but then I realized he was staring at some giraffe statues outside of the pen and not the three giraffes eating leaves in the back.

He enjoyed a few monkeys, the polar bear, a camel, and a rhinoceros, but his favorite was definitely a statue of a bear that had water coming out of his mouth.  He played with the water for a long time before I carried him off all liquid-boned and in major hissy fit mode.

Owen actually seemed most excited when we said it was time to go.  Then as we pushed him in the stroller on our way out he said goodbye to everyone he saw.  Perhaps he was overwhelmed by the crowds?  At any rate, I think he will enjoy his second visit more.

The next day we went to a wee Memorial Day parade in a nearby town and Owen liked that very much, especially the marching band and the marching bagpipe band.  Here he is looking patriotic:

Owen is all about cars and trucks right now, so he was also excited when the fire trucks went by....