Thursday, December 30, 2010

File this under, "Pandora's Box"

We only put Ben in time out for throwing toys and hitting. But this morning he was in time out four times before 8:00am. So between that and the fact that he's been gorging on sweets for the last couple weeks, when the manager of Subway gave us two free cookies (because Ben's just so cute and charming) I slipped them into the diaper bag before he could notice.

After lunch we stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things and about halfway through the store he started yelling because he wanted M&M's. This happened last time we were there, too, so I'm afraid we might be starting a pattern. I told him we weren't going to buy M&M's, but if he was quiet until we got back to the car he could have a cookie. And as if we were bathed in heavenly light, that kid was practically silent the rest of the trip. Bribing works, apparently.

But that's one of those things I swore I wouldn't do when I was a mother. I don't want to fall back on it too often... But it worked so well. Now it's going to be in the back of my head, "Just tell him he can have a cookie. Just tell him he can have a cookie. Just tell him he can have a cookie." I've given the devil on my shoulder extra ammunition.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010


Potential careers for Ben:

Professional Door Closer - Suddenly it's imperative that every door in our house be closed all the time, by Ben, AND BEN ONLY. Choruses of, "Ben can do it!" ring through the halls if I ever try to touch a door knob.

Motivational Life Coach - When I get up with Ben in the morning we usually let Heath sleep until about 7:30. By that time Ben's eaten breakfast and I can distract him from whining about watching Dinosaur Train by saying, "Let's go wake up Daddy!" He rushes up the stairs and climbs into bed with Heath. But only for a second, because after a quick hug Ben says, "Daddy get up and take a shower!" and he won't stop until Heath is in the bathroom. Then after the shower it's, "Daddy get dressed. Go to work."

Personal Trainer - The layout of our main floor is perfect for toddlers, because you can run a lap through all four rooms. And that's one of Ben's favorite games. He always makes us go in front of him and if we stop he says, "Run, run!" The kid is relentless.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ben can do it!

We've reached the "independence" phase of Ben's toddler-hood, which is sort of an oxymoron because he's never been a very independent kid. And really he still isn't. He pretty much always wants one of us to play with him, or at least be in the room near him when he's playing. When he's playing trains my role mostly consists of fixing destroyed track and voicing Sir Topham Hatt.

But, his newest motto is the subject line. If I try to help him put on his boots, or buckle his booster seat or close a door he yells, "Ben can do it!" Yesterday we were at a friend's 2nd birthday party and Ben wanted more grapes. So I put more on his little plate and carried it back to the couch. He threw a fit and I had no idea why. Finally between all the whining and crying I figured out he wanted to carry the plate himself. So I handed him the plate and he was immediately happy.

I guess I should be glad he wants to do things himself, and I am, but it's just another whining, crying minefield to navigate.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas dorks

 Last year we didn't set up our big Christmas tree because Ben was in Super Destructive Toddler Mode. We knew it wouldn't survive. But this year he's out of the must-knock-down-everything-in-my-path phase, so on Wednesday night we decorated the tree.

It was nice. I love Christmas decorations and though Heath hates the idea of putting all this stuff up and having to take it down only weeks later, I can't imagine this time of year without a tree. It's nice to have that tradition, and even better now that we can do it as a family.

However, this is what happens when we try to take a decent shot of all three of us:

Either Heath looks deranged, I look like a hillbilly and Ben's blurry, or...

My face is covered and Ben's blurry, or...

Ben and I look nice (though he's still slightly blurry), but Heath's still deranged.

There were three others we took that all looked similarly bad. Here's the best one. Ben's not smiling, but at least we're all in focus and looking sane.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Happiness is...

...saying, "I love you, Ben," and hearing, "I love you, Mommy. I love you, I love you, I love you."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Oh *&%#!

Considering the frequency with which Heath spouts obscenities, it's a wonder Ben hasn't picked up on any yet. Until Monday night.

Our ceilings are about nine feet tall and so it's a little tricky to change the bulbs in the light fixtures. Heath was doing just that and almost dropped part of it, saying in the process, "Oh, crap!" Certainly about the tamest cuss word there is, but still not something I want Ben saying out in public. But, the next thing we know out come the words from his mouth: "Oh, crap! Oh, crap! Oh, crap!" And this morning as I was putting on his shoes, "Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap!"

I didn't react to it either time, so perhaps it won't surface too often. I actually don't have a problem with him saying cuss words, once he can understand the appropriate (and inappropriate) times to say them. But at 2 he definitely lacks that understanding.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Conversations with a Toddler - Part 5

Scene: Driving in the car...

Ben: Going to Science Center to meet friends.

Me: Yeah, we're going to the Science Center to meet our friends.

Ben: Good idea.

Monday, November 29, 2010


As a reward for reading about Thanksgiving and puking in the same post:

Happy Pukesgiving!

Our Thanksgiving was lovely. Wednesday night we ate a wonderful vegetarian dinner at Heath's parents' house with them, his brother Todd and Todd's girlfriend Sarah. Some family friends came over afterward for dessert, as is tradition. Ben was completely enamored with the plastic train/car set Nancy bought for him and spent most of the evening playing with that (it ranked above eating mac & cheese, which is really saying something). I even got to share my deviled eggs with the family for the first time, since I found mayonnaise made with free-range chicken eggs, which are the only kind Don will eat. It was a good time.

Then on Thursday we headed to my parents' house. We ate all the traditional things, including my favorite - wild rice stuffing. Yummy. After Ben went to bed Heath and I introduced my family to Shadows Over Camelot which is a complex, but really fun board game. After getting the hang of the rules I think everyone had fun. I went to bed around 11pm full and happy. Little did I know...

At 1am I heard Ben wake up. Then I heard the undeniable sound of vomiting. I jumped out of bed and sure enough, there was Ben's Thanksgiving dinner all over his pack-n-play. I patted myself on the back for bringing the sheet for it, otherwise it would've been a lot worse. Ben was actually very calm about the whole thing. He just kept talking about how he "spit." Luckily he hadn't really gotten any on his pajamas, so I cleaned him up, gave him a drink of water and brushed his teeth. Then he climbed into bed with Heath (which was a feat, since we were sleeping in two twin beds).

For the rest of the night Ben threw up about once an hour. I called the nurse line and she said there's a stomach virus going around right now, so I guess he picked it up somewhere. Obviously it wasn't a restful night for anyone. We spent the rest of the weekend sitting on the couch watching Dinosaur Train and Thomas and Friends. He's fine now.

The thing that amazes me about parenthood is how much instinct is involved. When Ben was throwing up all night I wasn't thinking about how disgusting it was or how much I wanted to be sleeping. I just did what had to be done. I cleaned up, I comforted my son. In between I dozed. Simple.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

At least he's self-aware

Yesterday morning Ben took a massive poop and it was super smelly. One of the worst in recent memory. So when I said, "Ok, let's go change your diaper," Ben replied, "Ben stinky!"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

No door is closed to you

My wonderful husband has taught our son to open doors with knobs. Heath says he'd rather have Ben know how to do something and tell him not to, than not have him know how. That's easy to say when he's not the one in the house all day telling Ben not to do it.

It backfired deliciously, though. Last Friday Heath stayed home from work sick. While I was in the shower Ben took it upon himself to open our bedroom door and wake up Daddy! I must admit I felt some schadenfreude at that.

So far Ben has been very responsible with the knowledge. He's only opened the back door when we're leaving. But it worries me. We live on a fairly busy street and now it would be very easy for him to get outside and run down the driveway. Given his personality it seems unlikely he would do that, at least right now. He still has separation anxiety, obviously from Heath but from me, too, when I'm the only parent available. Even in the house he doesn't like to be in different rooms for too long. So I don't see him running outside by himself for a while, but still... The possibility is there.

The one decent point Heath had was that if I ever lock myself out of the house while Ben's still inside, he could let me back in. That has the potential to come in handy. As well as this morning when I had to wake up Heath for work. I sent Ben upstairs to wake him while I cleaned up the remains of breakfast. That was nice. But the second I find Ben outside by himself I'll be cursing Heath's name. :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Babies vs. Toddlers

I hear a lot of mothers say in wistful, sentimental voices that they wish their kids were still babies. To that I say: Are you crazy?! (Obviously I say that in my head, or on my blog, because it'd be pretty rude to say to someone's face.) To me, having a toddler is leaps and bounds better than having a baby. Honestly, babies kind of suck. Sure, when it's someone else's baby they're totally cute and fun to hold. But the day to day upkeep of a baby, especially an older infant who's starting to become mobile but still has no sense in their head, is no fun at all.

Yes, toddlers have their moments of terror (for example, waking up at 5AM this morning). But there are so many advantages to having an older kid. He can tell me what he wants, for the most part. He can climb stairs, so I don't have to follow him around all the time. He can entertain himself while I take a shower. Plus, all the fun stuff like being able to run and play and sing and say funny, weird things that make me laugh. The older Ben gets, the more I enjoy him.

Heath and I want at least one more kid and I always thought that by now I'd have another one, or another one on the way. Having cancer is just so darn inconvenient, because the farther away I get from pregnancy and babyhood, the less I want to return. The sleepless nights, the crying, the non-communication. Not to mention 9+ months of being uncomfortable, labor and delivery. It's like this gauntlet I have to survive to get the family I want. And now I know what I'm getting myself into. That first time you think you know, but you're actually clueless. Having a second baby really takes courage.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Parenting: Not for the Squeamish

Earlier this morning Ben told me he had to use the potty. I get excited when he actually tells me (yes, that's something that excites me these days *sigh*), so we rushed into the bathroom. We took off his pants and when I stripped his diaper off I noticed that there were some poop stains on it. I figured he'd just started pooping and maybe we could get some in the potty. Excitement #2 (ha, ha, #2)! However, then I noticed the fist-sized glob of poop that had fallen on the floor.

"Poop on the floor," Ben said, pointing helpfully.

Yes, yes there is.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fall Fun!

Daddy and Ben at Eckert's

Apple picking

Playing on the fort

A rare family portrait

In the maze at the pumpkin patch

Ben's new favorite place: the hay tunnel
(He seriously spent about 20 minutes in there)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Grab bag

We've been fighting colds for about a week and a half now in the Borders household. I think Ben has it worst of all. Heath and I don't feel too well upon waking, but we're making it through the days okay. Ben, however, has been a snot faucet and coughing at night wakes him up. The good news is that he's finally getting the idea about blowing his nose! No more battles over the aspirator. Snot bubbles are copious, but maybe we won't end up in Ear Infection Land quite so often. One can dream.

The other interesting thing that's been happening relates to an earlier post about manipulation. Though Ben's speech is becoming increasingly more understandable and complex, there are still those moments when we just don't get it. So it's become a habit that even when we do understand what he's saying, we repeat it, to make sure we really did understand. Ben uses this to his advantage. So if he says, "Have snack?" and I say, "You want to have a snack?" he says, "Ok," and his inflection is such that it seems like it was my idea all along and he's just agreeing to it. "Oh a snack, Mother? I hadn't even thought of that, but now that you bring it up - Ok." It's both hilarious and worrying.

Another cool thing is that he's starting to memorize songs and sing them. That just started a few weeks ago. We sing the "Three Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" song and he chimes in at the end with, "No more monkeys jumping on the bed!" He and Heath sing songs from Dinosaur Train. And yesterday morning I could tell he was singing a song, but I couldn't tell what it was. Finally that afternoon I realized it was "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," which I've been singing to him before naps and bed since he was born. Every day he's more and more like a kid and it's so fun to watch.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

First Trick-or-Treat

Ben isn't into smiling for pictures any more. 
This pumpkin ended up with about 8 more eyes.

Thomas trick-or-treating

Trick-or-treating with five toddlers is a cluster-f*ck.

But it was really fun!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Playgroup Halloween Party

Ben as Thomas the Tank Engine. 
Despite his face, he loves the costume!

Ben as Thomas and Isaac as Gordon.
That's what Ben does now when I say, "Smile!"

The best picture of the most kids.
It's tough to get a good picture of 10 babies and toddlers
L-R: Alyssa (fairy), John-James (Woody from Toy Story), 
Amelia (Rams cheerleader), Ben, Isaac, Eliot (bee)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ben's Day Out with Thomas

Thomas the Tank Engine visited St. Louis! Considering how obsessed Ben is, we had to take him.

With the conductor


With Sir Topham Hatt (the owner of the railroad)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Imagining a memory

As evidenced by this post Ben's imagination is starting to blossom. Mostly he just has conversations with his toys and usually those conversations are about Dinosaur Train. But it's so fun to watch.

His memory's getting better, too, so he's starting to incorporate things that happen during the day into conversations (not just with toys, but with us, as well). Let me tell you, it's bizarre when he starts talking about something that happened two days ago. You can remember that? Really? It's very intimidating to think about him being able to remember. Up to this point any mistakes I've made have been washed from his brain. Everyday was like a clean slate, which was wonderful, especially on those days I lost it and actually screamed at him. I knew he wouldn't hold it against me. And I know we're still a little ways off from him really being able to remember and understand stuff like that, but it's coming. To think about my parenting mistakes being housed in someone's memory (besides my own) just plain scares me. Being a parent requires more personal evolution than anything I've ever done.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ben the Manipulator - Part 2

Lately Ben is starting to grasp the concept of emotional manipulation. Whenever I reprimand him he immediately tries to cute it up so I won't be mad. His main weapon: saying in the sweetest voice, "Hi, Mommy." So, we have a lot of conversations like this:

"Ben, don't pull Minnie's tail."
"Hi, Mommy."

"Ben, don't throw toys."
"Hi, Mommy."

The thing is, he keeps saying it until I respond, "Hi, Ben." To him that signals the diffusing of the situation. So if I'm actually mad and refuse to answer, what I get is:

"Hi, Mommy.... Hi, Mommy.... Hi, Mommy. Hi, Mommy. Hi, Mommy. HI, MOMMY!"

Eventually, if I don't answer he gets mad and throws a fit. Now, the following analogy is bound to offend someone, but I think it's somewhat fitting. The relationship of a toddler and parent is not unlike the relationship of an abuser and abused spouse. The abused spouse (i.e. the parent) doesn't want to do anything to set off the abuser (i.e. the toddler), because the abused spouse knows that will just mean more trouble for her. So I usually end up giving in and replying, "Hi, Ben," because it's such a stupid thing to have a tantrum over.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The story of the unfavored parent

Ever since Ben was old enough to have a favorite parent (around 8-9 months, maybe?), it's been Heath. Unequivocally. And I get it. He sees me all day long and Daddy's loud and energetic and fun. For a long time it didn't bother me, because it gave me a break. But after a while it started to get to me. After all, I do almost everything for him, including giving up sushi and booze for 10+ months. I know that's a ridiculous way to look at it and it's something he probably won't appreciate for 25+ years, if ever. But my brain goes there sometimes.

Then, over the summer it started getting better. He was more willing to interact with me even while Heath was around. I began to think maybe we were at the end of this phase. But come fall, the favoritism started up again WITH A VENGEANCE. It's as bad as it ever was. He does fine with me when Heath's gone, but in the evenings and on the weekends it's All Daddy. Heath can't even go to the bathroom for 2 minutes without Ben throwing a fit. And he takes shorter naps because he knows Heath's home, so he wants to play.

Luckily Heath usually doesn't mind being the center of attention all weekend. He has the stamina to keep up with Ben and I know he misses seeing him as much during the week. And while I still appreciate the break from Ben duty, it really stings when he refuses to play with me and just cries for Daddy.

This is sort of a long winded way of explaining why I've only posted one blog entry this month. We've been going through a hard time with the favoritism and I haven't felt much like blogging about the little boy who's rejecting me at every turn. He's just as cute as ever and is talking up a storm. This is just something I need to be okay with. Especially since the woman from Parents As Teachers told me that around 2.5-3 kids usually start to identify with and favor the same sex parent. Gosh, I knew Ben was smart but I didn't realize he was that ahead of the curve.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

First bike ride

For Ben's birthday we bought him a strider bike. It's a small bike with no pedals. The idea is that the kid uses his or her feet, so it's easier than a conventional bike, but it teaches balance. This way Ben won't need training wheels and moving to a regular bike will be a smooth process.

We took him on his first bike ride a couple weeks ago. He's been interested in other kids' bikes at the park and he had a blast in the bike store, so we knew he'd have fun.

He's still too short to sit on the seat and touch the ground, so basically he just walked with it in between his legs. But that's better than boring ol' regular walking.

Of course, every novelty gets old after a while.

Still, I think he had fun.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Conversations with a Toddler - Part 4

Scene: This is all Ben, acting out a scenario with his Thomas the Tank Engine bath toy. All words in [brackets] weren't actually said, but I added to make the meaning more clear.

Ben: Hi, Thomas. What [are you] doing?

Thomas: Watch[ing] Dino[saur Train]. Hi, Ben. What [are you] doing?

Ben: Bath.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Don't read this if you don't want to hear about Ben's "evacuations"

Potty training has been going surprisingly well. He's not really regular about telling us he has to go, but more and more when I put him on the potty he pees. In fact, this morning we went to the potty three times and he peed each time. Once was even in a bigger toilet at Stay 'n Play. And Heath took him to the bathroom at a restaurant the other night and he peed there, too. His Super Why! chart is filling up with stickers. I still don't think he'll be in underwear any time soon, but this is great progress.

Friday, September 24, 2010


I've been dreading potty training for a while. Reading up on all the various techniques it seemed so complicated and like I wouldn't be able to leave the house for months. There are strategies that (supposedly) take 1 month, 1 week, 5 days, 3 days, 1 day, 2 hours. It's ridiculous. I didn't want to spend an entire weekend having Ben run around the house without his pants or diaper, I didn't want to take him out of the house wearing NOTHING under his pants, I didn't want to set a timer and take him to the potty every 20 minutes...

It was seriously stressing me out to think about it, but since Ben started wearing the biggest size diapers they make (before training pants, which are more expensive) a couple months ago I really couldn't avoid it. Finally Heath said why don't we just do it? We don't have to worry about putting him in underwear right away or having him trained within 5 minutes. We can just keep him in diapers and train him slowly.

It was akin to a miracle because for some reason I never thought of that. Well, I know the reason. I'm an Organized Person. I like to have a plan and stick to it. I don't take kindly to deviations from The Plan (I'm sure Heath would say that's an understatement). And so to think about not having a plan and instead just embarking on this journey was oddly liberating. Granted, it's probably not going to make me into a loosey-goosey person, but in this instance not having a plan and just charging ahead was what I needed to do.

So on Wednesday Ben picked a potty chart (out of left field he picked Super Why! and not Thomas), we printed it out and taped it to the bathroom wall and potty training has begun! He earns a sticker for the chart every time he goes to the bathroom in the potty and that's the extent of our plan. I explained to him that if he feels like he needs to pee or poop he should tell us and otherwise I just ask him at random intervals during the day if he needs to go.

Honestly I was expecting it to take a while before anything happened, but we had a victory on the very first day! In the afternoon I was vacuuming and Ben ran up to me and said, "Bathroom!" So we rushed in and he actually peed on the potty! I couldn't believe it. I cheered and yelled and praised him like crazy and he was obviously proud of himself because he grinned from ear to ear.

I'm glad it happened when he initiated it himself. That tells me that he can feel when he has to go. I know this seems bizarre, but it was a very exciting moment. I was seriously pumped afterward and Ben was, too. And it wasn't a fluke. He's peed in the potty twice since then, once when I suggested it and another time when he told me. Doing it this way is probably going to take a while, but I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Here we go again...

Remember a couple weeks ago when I said Ben started waking up in the middle of the night? Well, we discovered that he had an ear infection. It was mild so hopefully the antibiotics took care of it in one round. We'll go back to the doctor later this week to find out.

However, now he seems to be working on some type of cold, complete with runny nose, which makes it more likely he'll develop another ear infection soon. He's continued waking up in the night (not every night, but enough), with the added bonus of 5:30am wake up calls. Because he doesn't sleep enough at night he'll often take 3+ hour naps, but I'd gladly cut back on naps if it meant he'd sleep from 8:30pm-7am. Even 6:30. I'd accept 6:30am.

And the extra kick in the pants is that it's supposed to be 90 fucking degrees tomorrow. So not only do we have to deal with a sick kid and less sleep, I don't even get to wear jeans and sweaters.

Monday, September 20, 2010

We are family

We've never been all that close to our extended family. We see our grandparents and a few aunts and uncles, but for the most part I don't know any of my cousins. Which is why it's so exciting to me that Ben and Avery (and any future cousins) get to grow up together. It's an opportunity my brothers and I didn't have and it's going to be fascinating for me to watch how it unfolds.

So last Wednesday Ben and I visited Bekah and Avery.We went to the playground near their house. After some swinging and sliding Ben had a snack of Goldfish. Avery was just chilling in her stroller, but as Ben was eating he leaned in and tried to share a Goldfish with her. Of course we had to explain that she can't eat Goldfish yet, but it was the cutest thing ever...

UNTIL Avery was having a little down time on her activity mat. Ben noticed, said, "Sleepy," and then crawled under there with her and laid down.

Yeah, this is going to be fun.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Junior conductor

This is how we spend our days. Constructing, navigating, destroying.

Clever title

A lot of people who don't have kids don't understand why parents use "months" as a young kid's age rather than "years." It's because the differences between a 13 month old and a 23 month old are vast. They're both one, but developmentally they're on separate planets. Which is why I'm always saying things like, "Three months ago Ben couldn't even do X and now he's practically proficient." Babies and toddlers change so fast that even parents who see them every day can be surprised.

For example, yesterday Ben came up to me holding something (I can't even remember what, now) and he asked, "What's this?" That blew me away because he'd never formed such a real question before. It turns out Heath had heard him say it earlier this week, but yesterday was my first time. It was a full sentence and I could understand it perfectly well and he knew what he was asking. I'm not used to that kind of clarity from him. Only a while later did I realize with horror what it would mean now that he could ask, "What's this?"

We're to the point now that he's repeating any new word we say and also any new word he hears. We were playing Play-Doh a couple weeks ago and I had on the Nerdist podcast. After I turned it off Ben said, very clearly, "podcast." And that's when I realized I shouldn't play the "explicit" podcasts around him anymore.

The cutest thing he does right now, though, is trying to sing. There are a couple songs he can fill in a few words if I sing most of it, but his favorite is the ABC's. He has Heath and me sing that a lot. And sometimes he'll sing it to himself, but what he sings is, "ABC song, ABC song, ABC song."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Paranoia, paranoia, everybody's comin' to get me...

For the past few nights Ben has been waking up in the middle of the night. He hasn't done that in many, many months and it's feeding my paranoia. The same thing happened last fall. He'd been sleeping through the night wonderfully all summer and then fall came and the shit hit the fan. He started getting ear infections and colds and from October to March he didn't consistently sleep through the night. As September approached this year that thought crept into my head and I'm hoping this isn't the start of another horrible winter. I have become very attached to sleeping through the night.

The difference this time around is that Ben can TALK. So instead of just unintelligible crying what we get is, "Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy! Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy!" That is infinitely worse. It's like having an ice pick dragged through your heart.

So, basically what this mean is that the blog may become more incoherent in the months ahead as sleep becomes a distant memory. Autumn has always been my favorite season, but if this keeps up I may start to have a Pavlovian response and become a summer person (shudder).

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Thomas, Thomas, everywhere

With Ben's and Avery's births, our family now has a streak of birthdays at the end of August through September. Between August 23 and September 14 there are four: Avery, my dad, Ben and then me. For various reasons, this year Ben actually had three separate birthday celebrations, the last one of which, his playgroup party, was yesterday. Have you ever thrown a party for 10 kids between the ages of 0 and 3? If so, then you know why I heaved a sigh of relief when the party was over. Finally I could take down the Thomas the Tank Engine decorations. Finally we were done with birthdays for a while. Then I realized my birthday party is on Saturday and it just sort of made me feel tired. However, I quickly remembered that my wonderful in-laws will be hosting Ben over night so I can enjoy my birthday celebration to the fullest. Hooray for in-laws!

Speaking of Thomas the Tank, we are now a fully Thomas household. For his birthday Ben got Thomas pajamas, a Thomas shirt and shorts, a Thomas bath toy, a Thomas train holder, a bunch of track and no fewer than a dozen Thomas and friends trains. I also managed to find him a Thomas Halloween costume. Thomas goes in the car everywhere and even into the crib at night. The craziest thing is that Ben's never even seen the TV show. He learned about the trains only from visiting friends' houses and playing with them at several children's museums around town.

So, I think Ben's 2nd birthday has been celebrated enough. Now it's time to round out the streak and celebrate my 30th!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

On the second year of life

Dear Ben,

Today you turn two! With the birth of your cousin Avery only a week and a half ago, it's even more apparent all the changes you've gone through in the last two years.

 On your actual birth day

I have to admit, this year has been a lot more fun than the first year. Your communication skills have grown leaps and bounds. Especially in the last six months, we've actually been able to (sometimes) understand what you want. Of course there is still miscommunication. Only yesterday after I cut up a banana for your snack you spent five minutes telling me you wanted a "boon." I kept saying I didn't understand and both of us were getting frustrated. You obviously knew what you wanted, but I just didn't get it. Finally I realized you wanted a "spoon." The relief to both of us was visible. It's probably a lesson. This is a sad thought, but right now is probably as close as we're ever going to be. You're so open and immodest and you don't yet know enough or care enough to be able to keep things from me. I know your whole life and I can pretty much tell what you're thinking by the flit of your eyes or the look on your face. And yet, even with that we still have times when we just cannot get our meanings across. So maybe in the future we need to remember that and be patient with one another. I will direct you to this blog post when you're 15 and screaming, "I hate you, Mom!" (Wow, I hope that never happens.)

The first anniversary of your birth

Really this year has been about the very first, baby steps of letting you go into the world. It seems like every week we're letting you climb higher on the playground by yourself, or letting you walk through the parking lot instead of carrying you. Now you can go down steps without holding my hand and you'll even go underwater at the pool! You're a brave little boy.

But here's the dichotomy: You're also cautious. So even though you'll run around the playground like a crazy man, you'll always stop and evaluate before jumping off something new. Even as a two year old I didn't have the energy you have. I'm always running to catch up with you. So it's nice that you give me a moment to catch my breath and adjust before you try something different.

You're an energetic, fun-loving boy. We've entered Tantrum Territory, but most of the time they're short-lived and you quickly go back to being your happy self.  It's a good thing you're so friendly because you still get compliments on your hair everywhere we go. You'll usually say "hi" and "bye" and "thank you," charming most people we meet. You have all the employees at the YMCA wrapped around your little finger.

You enjoy being with people, which is why playgroup is so great. You know all the kids and the moms and you're very generous with your friends. You hand out Goldfish crackers and last week you even shared your Thomas train with Isaac at the playground. I know it was hard, but it paid off because this week at the playground Isaac shared his trains with you! Two years ago I wasn't sure if I could pull off this parenting thing, but watching you share your toys and hearing you say "please" and "thank you" makes me feel like we can do this.

You're growing up to be a wonderful boy. Every week a new facet of your personality emerges and it's fascinating for me to watch. I'm so glad I have a front row seat.

This morning


Friday, August 27, 2010

Meeting of the minds

Last night was the first time Ben met Avery. Of course Avery was as charming as can be, but when Bekah held her up for Ben to see he took a look at her and said, "Go outside!" Apparently he wasn't impressed.

A little later I held him while my dad held Avery and he was a bit more interested. He touched her tiny toes and he kept saying, "Baby!" He can also say, "Avy," because we've been working on it for months.

Right before we left I held Avery. When Ben stopped chasing the dog and noticed he freaked out a little. He said, "Milk! Milk! Go outside! Home! Home!" I'll say anything to get you to pay attention to me! So, overall it went pretty much as I expected.

The other exciting event of the evening was that Ben finally said, "Uncle Ian." He's been saying "Aunt B" for months, but we couldn't get him to say Ian, which naturally frustrated Ian a bit. But at dinner we were treated to a chorus of "Uncle Ian, Uncle Ian, Uncle Ian."

The kicker is that when Ian said, "Can you say Uncle Nick?" Ben said it right away.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Only a few of you will understand this

The other night the three of us were driving home and Heath and I were having some inane argument. I won't get into the details, but I will say that I was obviously right and he was obviously wrong. Hey, it's my blog! :) However, as anyone who knows Heath knows, he won't stop arguing... well, ever. So he made some point which, to him, was the nail in the coffin and he said, "Pwn3d!" Then he said to Ben, "Can you say P is for Pwn3d?" And, of course, because Ben's in a serious parrot stage he said some toddler version of "P is for Pwn3d."

Heath managed to keep the car on the road, but just barely for all his whooping and celebrating.

For the uninitiated, "pwn3d" is basically an internet way of saying, "You suck. I'm right."

Monday, August 23, 2010

I will always have gum

I pulled my first all-nighter in a looooong time last night. But, it resulted in this:

Avery Geneva was born 8/23/10 at 3:48am. She was 7 lbs 13 oz and 21.5 in. Bekah had roughly eight hours of labor and did awesome. I was so glad to be there to support her the way she's supported me. Ian was a total champ. He was a wonderful partner and didn't show any nerves the whole time.
Both Bekah and Avery are doing wonderfully. She looks like Bekah's grandfather! Genetics are crazy things. I'm so excited to be an aunt! She's an adorable little girl and it's going to be great watching her and Ben grow up together.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Well, you're not wrong...

This morning Ben and I were fighting the daily struggle of fitting his t-shirt over his head. When his face finally popped through he looked at me and said, "Big head. Big head."
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Saturday, August 14, 2010


Last night we went to Red Lobster with Ian and Bekah. Heath teases us about how as a family we always have to go there or Olive Garden, so my grandma sent us a gift card. She's an enabler!

So, despite bringing several toys to distract Ben, the dinner went pretty much like any dinner out with a toddler goes. In other words, not great. He was whiny at the table so Heath and I had to tag team taking him to the lobby or outside to run around (mostly Heath, since he's still the favorite and when Daddy's around Ben wants nobody else). When our food finally came he was fine and chowed down on his macaroni and cheese (a Red Lobster specialty), but as soon as HE was done, dinner was over.

Eventually we got the check and when Ian looked at it he realized the waiter had only put his and Bekah's food on there. So we flagged him down and explained the check situation. Then he told us that an anonymous person had paid for my, Heath's and Ben's meals because they were so impressed with how we handled Ben. We couldn't believe it! That was probably $50! I've received free drinks a couple times because a person bought the entire bar a round, but never a free dinner!

And we retained our Red Lobster gift card!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Last Thursday through Sunday Heath and I were in Indianapolis attending GenCon. It's a gaming convention where people get together and play board games, card games, video games and role playing games. We met our friends Arianne and Jeff there and had a blast hanging out all weekend, playing games and meeting some idols.

While Mommy and Daddy had a weekend away, Ben stayed with Oma and Opa. The last time we'd been away from him this long was in November, when we went to Hawaii. He was only 14 months old at the time and though he did fine while we were gone, after we got back he held a little grudge against all the grandparents. So it's no surprise my mother was a little concerned that the same thing would happen again.

When we walked in the door on Sunday afternoon Ben's face scrunched up and he started to cry. My mother was quick to say, "This is the first time he's cried all weekend!" He seemed unable to run over to us, but when I knelt down next to him he threw his arms around me and held on for dear life. I was exhausted from the weekend and happy to see him and very happy that he didn't push me away in favor of Heath, so I joined him with some crying of my own.

For me, missing Ben is a novelty. I'm with him so much that I never have the chance. We're more like college roommates living in a tiny dorm room. We have days we're the best of friends and we have days we're on each other's last nerve. And I have to admit, I didn't miss Ben much this weekend. I was glad to be away, doing something I wanted to do, doing something fun for me. And I know Ben had fun, too. Who can resist a weekend of being spoiled by your grandparents? But in the end, the best part of a trip is always coming home. Though that doesn't mean I won't go next year!

I'm including this picture not because it has anything to do with Ben, but because it is freaking awesome:

 Me & Wil Wheaton

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

All those hours of Dinosaur Train are paying off

It seems like Ben learns at least one new word a day. His vocabulary is growing exponentially. Friday's new word?


No joke.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Conversations with a Toddler - Part 3

Me: Ben, do you want a drink?

Ben: Yeah.

Me: Water?

Ben *shakes head* No. Monkeys.

This will be funny if he becomes a mathematician

Heath has been working on numbers with Ben. So when they're playing they're always counting things. Heath will say the numbers and Ben will repeat some of them. And when Heath gets to 10 he always says, "Yea!"

Last night I was giving Ben a bath and he has letters and numbers that stick to the side of the bath. So I was grabbing ones that floated by, sticking them to the side and saying what they were. At one point I grabbed eight and then Ben said, "Eight, nine, 10, Yea!" Then he started repeating, "Ten, yea! Ten, yea!"

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pearly whites

*knocks furiously on wood*

*throws salt over her shoulder*

*uncrosses every part of her body*

I think we might be done with teething.

*glances around to make sure the Tooth Fairy isn't laughing at her naivety*

Ben went through a big growth spurt this spring/early summer, which was accompanied by teeth brushing madness. Every morning and evening it was like Wrestlemania trying to get the toothbrush in his mouth for even five seconds, when we'd never had that problem before. However, just as suddenly as it started, it stopped. For a couple weeks now he's been brushing like a champ. So rather than the oncoming Terrible Twos, I actually think brushing his teeth was hurting him, which is why he was being so disagreeable. I only wish we could know these things as they're happening.

I haven't been able to get a great look into his mouth, but looking at the baby teeth chart in his baby book, I think he has them all in. This is cause for celebration because TEETHING SUCKS. The kid won't remember it, but I'll carry the emotional scars for the rest of my life. And I remember when I got my adult teeth and I don't recall it being all that painful. Maybe I blocked it out?

Now all we need to do is get his final round of shots (for a while) at his two year appointment and we'll be done with big, painful things that are necessary (for a while). Then it's on to potty training. Ugh.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Arianne, you may not want to read this one

Ben's evil gene has finally kicked in. No cat in the household is safe from his attempts at torture. His aim is horrible, so most toys hurled in their direction miss. And Crookshanks is smart enough to just stay out of his way. She spends most of the day sleeping under our bed. However, Minnie is such an attention whore and apparently has no self esteem that she consistently submits herself to Ben's torment. He has pulled her off chairs by her fur, he pushes her down to the floor to use her as a pillow, he tries to pick her up by her feet, and she takes it. It's ridiculous. She doesn't have front claws so she can't fight back very effectively, but she did bite him one time and I had absolutely no sympathy. He totally deserved it and yet it didn't deter him at all. I spend most days at home yelling, "Don't throw things at the cat! Be nice to her!"

What's so vexing is that whenever we meet an animal at the park, or when we spend time with relatives' dogs, he's perfectly fine. He pets them gently and that's the end of it. Maybe it's a quasi-sibling thing. You're nicer to strangers than to your own family. Hopefully this isn't a clue as to what's to come when Ben eventually gets a sibling. Though considering how Ian and I fought as kids, I'll probably deserve whatever they dish out. Karma's a bitch.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Most kids have their picky eating habits, I'm sure, although I'm a big believer in letting/making a kid try everything. Ben doesn't know kids aren't supposed to like black olives or catfish and he's eaten both with gusto (despite the fact that I wouldn't eat either). I don't think it's necessary for a kid to live on mac and cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And Ben's a fairly adventurous eater, though there are some things he absolutely refuses to eat. His biggest issue right now is presentation. Apparently he's channeling the Food Network.

Recently we were at a neighborhood meeting. There were a lot of kids in the room, but Ben was sitting on my lap while I was listening to the speaker. He wanted a snack so I pulled out a piece of bread and, obviously not thinking, ripped it, presenting half to him. Well, that just didn't sit well with him so he SCREAMED. I had ruined his snack. He did the same thing when I split a bagel for him. And don't get me started on when I combined his peas with his mac and cheese. Let's just say there was a lot of manual removal of peas.

However, the weirdest one is that I bought the same brand of turkey I always buy, but in a different package. When I pulled it out Ben absolutely refused to eat it. But when I pulled out the normal package of turkey he happily chowed down.

Friday, July 16, 2010


 I'm sure there are times when every parent feels like he or she just isn't doing a very good job. Especially being a stay-at-home mom, I feel like I need to be creating a stimulating environment for Ben to learn and grow all the time, but it's just not possible. Sometimes dinner has to be cooked and the laundry has to be done and Ben sits in front of the TV by himself. Though I question the idea that TV is no good, because Ben isn't even 2 and he knows a lot of the alphabet partially from watching shows. But I digress...

I have a lot of those days lamenting the time lost because kids this age are such sponges and I could be teaching him calculus or French (if I knew calculus or French). However, occasionally I have days when I feel like Super Mom. Usually they coincide with days Ben's being agreeable and I'm not on my period. Yesterday was such a day, and we spent about 30 minutes playing with his 2-piece puzzles. The object is to match the item with its color, texture or pattern. Here are Ben's matches:

There are so many days when I feel completely distracted and even though Ben and I spend the entire day together, I don't feel like we really spend time together. It's wonderful when we find an activity that's fun for both of us and I can feel like raising a kind, intelligent, thoughtful, polite, curious child isn't the impossible task it sometimes seems.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


What at first was merely a tunnel to crawl through has become a springboard for bigger things.

A ramp for cars to race. A cannon to expel nosy cats.

A place for imagination to grow.

Friday, July 9, 2010


I'm a big believer in saying "please" and "thank you." However, though I always use the terms around Ben, so far I haven't been very successful in getting him to use them. It was making me feel like a bad mother, because most of the kids in playgroup either say or sign "please" and/or "thank you." So I was overjoyed when Heath took Ben to his parents' and Ben finally said "thank you" for ice cream, when prompted. I have no problem having to prompt him to say those things at this age.

Then yesterday morning we were just bumming around the house. Ben always wants to watch TV when we're home and usually I try to wait until the afternoon when I'm worn out and could use a little down time. But yesterday he picked up the remote, looked at me and said, "Dino, please." How could I say no to that? So I praised him profusely for saying "please" and then we watched another thrilling episode of Dinosaur Train.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Independence Day

We spent our fourth of July out in St. Charles with Heath's parents'. During the afternoon we headed down to Frontier Park on the riverfront. There was a small carnival with rides and booths with crafts and food. Your typical Midwest holiday set up. Since Ben can be a bit of a daredevil, we decided to see how he liked carnival rides. First up, the mini-roller coaster:

Yeah, he wasn't too keen on it while we were riding, but he kept talking about the "choo choo" the rest of the day. He liked the carousel a lot better. He rode that one twice:

He also rode a little motorcycle ride all by himself, but by that time my camera was full. While riding he didn't seem too sure about it, but after it was over he did his triumphant "Yea!" Maybe he was glad to be getting off.

Rather than go to a professional fireworks display and spend two hours fighting to get out of traffic afterward, we watched my in-laws' neighbor's display. Let me tell you, I won't go to another professional display as long as he keeps doing them, because it was as good or better than anything I've ever seen. For a private display it was freaking amazing. Ben managed to stay awake and it was so fun listening to him say, "Wow!" through the whole thing.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Family resemblance

Heath has had a beard for years and Ben's never seen him without one. So lately whenever he sees a picture of Heath pre-beard he points and says, "Todd!" (Heath's brother)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ben the Imitator

It's official! We've entered the "parrot" stage of Ben's life.

The other day I dropped something in the grocery store and said, "Shoot!" Ben immediately replied, "Shoot!" I'm glad I didn't say a different word.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Once more, with feeling!

Ben's first word was "no." Oh, what a joy that was. It took a long time for him to say "yes" at all. However, in the end it was worth it. These days whenever I ask him if he wants to do X and he does, rather than simply saying, "Yes," he says, "Yea!" If I ask him if he wants to have juice or watch his favorite TV show not only does he say, "Yea!" but he also throws his arms up in victory.

Gotta love the enthusiasm.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Two weeks ago we went to the Lake of the Ozarks and stayed at a resort with my parents, brothers and sisters-in-law. Although the trip had its ups and downs, it was fun to all be together as a family. There was swimming, there was 500, there was a boat trip that turned people against each other and had Heath cackling like a deranged pirate.

The first night Ben woke up at midnight and wouldn't go back to sleep until 5am. That pretty much made the entire trip exhausting for me, but I suppose I should get used to that. I don't see a relaxing vacation in my future for a long, long time. At least I'll have my memories of Hawaii...

Here's photographic proof that we went:

Using iPods as a family

A nice relaxing boat ride...

Hmm... Those are some menacing clouds in the distance...

Lesson learned: Don't f*** with Mother Nature 
(especially when nobody really knows how to drive a boat).