Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My son beats me up

Of course, he's only doing it out of love. It started long ago, when he was tiny and harmless. When he first started giving kisses, around 3-4 months old, he'd open his mouth very big and nom on my chin. And for hugs, he'd put his forehead to mine and hold my head. I loved every minute of it! Well, until he got teeth, then the kisses got a little dangerous.With Marty, being a boy and all (ewwwww, kisses!), they found another expression of love. Instead of just holding his forehead to Marty's, Oliver would bonk it instead, kind of like football players do. I actually don't know who started this, if Marty (gently) would do it to Oliver or vice versa. Well, it became a thing, and so it wasn't long before he was doing it to me too.

Let me reiterate: it was really cute at 4, 6, even 8 months old. Now he knows how to give a real kiss. In fact, sometimes he'll smother me with kisses, saying "muah, muah, muah" over and over again. Or he'll sit on my lap and we'll have staring contests, both going "Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm" as long as we can until there's one big "Muah" at the end and a big slobbery kiss to go along with it. Who wouldn't love that? Well, he's still doing the head butting thing too, and at almost 18 months and with a really big hurts!!! In addition, his aim is not the greatest, so very often, he hits my  nose instead of my forehead. He's been a bit more clingy lately, and we'll be sitting on the couch with him in my lap reading or playing or hanging out, when he'll just stop and look at me, and then all of a sudden, on purpose, he'll rear his head back and snap it forward....bonk! Yesterday I got it in the nose 3 separate times. So hard that I'm sure that he's broken it and am surprised when there's no blood. I try to tell him "no, that hurts mommy!", but he just laughs and laughs and thinks it's so much fun. How do I punish him for what he thinks is an expression of love? Someone told me once that your nose grows as you age. Maybe this is why?

I think I'm starting to understand what they mean when they say, "You'll love them so much it hurts!"

And because it looks weird to me to have a post without a picture, here's one of my recent new favorite pictures. If Oliver's being a pest at the grocery store grabbing at things, all we have to do is give him a bag of frozen veggies and he's happy. He's not even teething anymore, but he still loves it! See:

Monday, September 28, 2009


Vintage Oliver & Daddy, from July 2008, 4 months old

We all know that Oliver is very musical. How could he not be with a father who plays every kind of guitar expertly, and a mother who plays the piano beautifully and sings like an angel? Hey, who said all angels are great singers??? Anyway, Oliver showed an interest in music from a very young age, as he'd sit and bop to the beat from at least 5 months old, maybe earlier? For my first Mother's Day last year, Marty got me a piano, in part because he knew I really wanted one, but also because we want Oliver to grow up loving music and encourage any interest in it that he might demonstrate. As you can see, he loves the piano.

 Vintage Oliver & Daddy, February 2009, 10.5 months

Marty loves it too. Never taken a lesson in his life and he plays better than I do! Hopefully Oliver inherited his musical ear. Of course, Oliver also loves his daddy's guitars (see also the photo on the left with Marty). Remember word #2 (whispered only, "tee-ta")? He loves to strum them; every time he went into the office at home, he'd point at the guitars Marty has hanging on the wall until we picked him up so he could pluck the strings.

Vintage Oliver, March 2009, at almost 1 year

Sadly, the piano and most of the guitars are sitting back home in Iowa, waiting for someone to play them. Marty did bring the acoustic to Connecticut, which is good so that Oliver is still exposed to it. Here's a photo from this weekend:

Oliver helping Daddy play the guitar & dancing along

To encourage this musical interest, and just for fun, Oliver & I have enrolled in a Music Together class. Music Together is a national program that has local franchises. You can read about it and see a video of a class on their website. It follows the premise that music can aid in development and learning, especially when started at a young age. So we go once a week and spend an hour singing and dancing and playing lots of fun instruments. Oliver's favorite part is when they dump piles of fun little instruments in the middle of the room and everyone grabs one or two for a big jam session. He also likes gathering all the instruments to put away when we're done...he's so helpful! I'm enjoying singing and finding my voice again, it had gotten very very rusty over the years since high school when I used to sing all the time. It's also nice for Oliver to have more interaction with kids, and for me to have more interaction with adults! As the weather grows cooler, we're really going to start looking for things to do when we can't go to the park, so this takes care of one morning a week!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


The adventure for this week was a big one: an overnight trip to Boston! It's just about 2.5 hours away, not a bad drive at all (especially compared to Philly). Oh, but the fun began before we even got there...Oliver had his first episode of car sickness! He had been fussy and unhappy the whole trip, we stopped for breakfast at Dunkin' Donuts (the only place around) and he had part of a egg & cheese croissant. Still fussy, he kept throwing his bink (pacifier) and his toys and I kept risking my life by unbuckling my seat belt to reach over the backseat to replace them. Months ago we had decided that I would quit riding in the back with him on longer car trips, because he tends to want "upeeeeeez!" (up, please). Instead, he just turned on the fake cry/tantrum until I would give him a new toy or retrieve his bink. Sigh. Anyway, he was finally happy and quiet with some books, then suddenly got fussy again. So, I was leaning over to find the bink, and blech, breakfast came back up in two big heaves. So now I'm unbuckled and leaning over and picking up vomit with my bare hands and the few napkins I could grab and throwing it in the bag. Only a mother's love, right?  Then using all our wipes to clean up the rest. Fun times. Not to mention the smell. I'm thinking it was the books, combined with him still being rear facing (recommended as safest these days). We were on the toll road, so not a lot of places to pull off, but when we finally did and got him cleaned up he was happy as a clam and was the rest of the weekend, so I'm sure it was car sickness and not an illness.

I'm so sorry, I don't have any pictures to illustrate this story. Aren't you sorry?

And of course being the prepared mother we all know that I am....I brought three shirts (yay), but only two pairs of pants (boo) on the trip. So he wore the same pants all weekend. Eh, he didn't notice. Actually, I should be spending this time scrubbing down his car seat. But I'd rather blog, wouldn't you?

The rest of the weekend was happily less eventful. The weather was amazingly beautiful, 68 and sunny on Saturday, 73 and sunny on Sunday. As a result we spent most of our time outdoors and even skipped the art museums. Boston has some amazing art museums, but we'll just have to save those for a later trip. On Saturday, we had tickets for a trolley that tours all over Boston and lets you get on and off wherever you want all day. That worked out pretty well, despite a few long waits for the trolley. On Sunday, we went to the New England Aquarium and then walked the Freedom Trail and then the neighborhood of Back Bay with it's beautiful streets and brownstones while Oliver napped in the stroller. On both days we spent time in the beautiful Boston Public Garden, with a pond of ducks and swans and swan boats riding around, which was Oliver's favorite spot, of course! Now for the pictures! Disclaimer: my camera was on the wrong setting and/or running low on battery so I did not get a lot of great photos like I usually try to do. Here are some highlights:

Oliver and Marty at the Charlestown Navy Yard (where the USS Constitution is located), with the city in the background. 

Oliver & I at the same spot. He was obsessed with this bell!

 We spent a lot of our time at the Navy Yard following Oliver around and making sure he didn't walk off the pier into the water.

Cute Oliver Story #1 (the vomit story wasn't cute, so it doesn't count): We would let Oliver out of his stroller to walk around anywhere it was safe without cars, like here or in a park. He's just too adorable when he walks around like this. First of all, he'll find a line or path and follow it very determinedly. Also, I guess people don't often let toddlers this young out of the stroller, because strangers are often fascinated by him doing this. Of course, it's probably also because he's just so cute! I always hear people saying "Did you see his eyelashes?!" Anyway, we were walking around like this, and he walked by a line of people waiting to go on the USS Constitution, and they were all ooohing and ahhing, and of course he plays right into this by throwing them all kisses (Muuuuaaaaah!!!). Then, a little bit later at this same place, we were waiting for the trolley and Oliver became very interested in this tour bus parked nearby (guh-kuh! aka truck!). The passagners returning to it stopped to watch him, and he'd act all shy and smile and throw a kiss. Soon a crowd gathered. Seriously, we should have put out a hat with a dollar bill in it! He was the star of the show. He actually got a little overwhelmed by it and walked back and tried to climb into his stroller, which of course they all thought was the cutest thing ever. Some of them even followed us as we kept walking asking about him and telling us how cute he was. I'm somewhat used to this because he often charms the ladies in the grocery store, but never a whole crowd of sightseers! Oliver, making friends everywhere he goes!

Here are some shots from the Boston Public Garden, a beautiful spot where we spent time both days, and as you can see, where we let him run around freely!

 At the Aquarium on Sunday. At this aquarium, they have a huge tank in the center, and a ramp going up in a spiral all the way around it, kind of like the Guggenheim Museum in NYC. The penguin areas are open all around you on the lower level where the ramp starts. Oliver loved running up and down the ramp!

This is outside the Aquarium, near the seal habitat. It's a beautiful deck overlooking the water. As you can see it was a gorgeous day. Yes, the thin wire railings freaked mom out too! Especially because Oliver really wanted to go swimming!

For lunch Saturday, we ate at one of the Cheers locations at Quincy Market (it's a chain there, spun off from the tv show). Here's Oliver enjoying a pickle. This kid has some really weird food tastes right now. I can't say we had any amazing meals, but on Sunday we ate at the Green Dragon Tavern, where the Paul Revere and those guys hung out, and where the plan to invade Lexington and Concord was overheard starting his famous ride. Only it turns out they moved it to another location in 1993, so maybe not as historic as we thought when we entered. Oh well, the food was decent. Oliver ate cole slaw and a tomato, weirdo!

Enjoying a pretzel bigger than his head as a snack before the ride home on Sunday (he shared it with daddy).

Cute Oliver Story #2: After the pretzel, we let Oliver out to run around in this little green space area to burn some energy before the ride back home. He became obsessed with these manhole covers. At home when we walk around the apartment complex, he often walks from one metal thing in the road to another, but this time he stopped at every one. He'd point at the letters and grunt, "Uh?" (aka, "what's that?"), and make Daddy tell him each letter. I'm telling you this kid is going to be reading in another month or two! He did it with every single cover, which as you can see by the above picture, there were a lot in this one area. It really was too cute!

Overall, it was a great weekend, and I definitely think we'll go back again while we're on the east coast. The ride back home was uneventful, thank goodness. Now, I better go clean that car seat before he wakes up from his nap!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Photo Friday

My apologies for the lack of blogging this week! Here are some photos to tide you over. We all know it's pictures of Oliver you really come here for anyway! :-p

A Day at the Playground



And no, I did not dress him in yellow on purpose...just a happy coincidence!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Happy Grandparents Day!

Maybe it is just a Hallmark-created holiday, but because I think all of Oliver's grandparents are something special, today's post is all about them. He is so lucky to have such a wonderful family. We love you all very much!


Grandma Charlene

Grandpa Ken

Grandma Linda
And because you can never have too many grandparents...

Great Aunt Bonnie & Great Uncle Terry

Great Aunt Lois
As Oliver would say, "Muaaaaaaahhhhhh!!"

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I dare you to click on all the links in this post.

It all started so innocently. In our apartment, the computer is in the dining room, which is between the kitchen and living room, all open. We really had no choice, given the size of this place. I've always had an aquarium screen saver on my computer, but it wasn't until after the move that Oliver really began noticing it. Soon, anytime the screen saver wasn't on, he'd point and whine and make the fish sound (kissing sound), so we'd set it up to turn back on. Sometimes, he'd be playing in the living room, and he'd just look over at the computer to make sure his fish were still there. Cute.

Then we visited some aquariums and he was really into fish, so we found this video on YouTube that he is just mesmerized by, so we'll put it on sometimes when he needs distracting, as I mentioned in this earlier post. I didn't really mind, because it's soothing and beautiful, and I love fish too.

Then one day, a friend on a message board posted a link to this video, saying it was like instant tantrum relief. Warning: don't click on it unless you want the song in your head all day. Seriously. Ok, I warned you! So for fun one evening when I needed to distract Oliver out of a tantrum, I played it for him. He loved it. Of course he did, why wouldn't you, right? It's classic silliness!

Then I started clicking on "Related Videos." Don't ever do that unless you have a lot of time to kill. Marty loves to do this, especially for Japanese Game Shows or Japanese Pranks . . . but I digress. Who doesn't love the Muppets and vintage Sesame Street, right? So we watched Kermit and Animal and Beaker and of course, Cookie Monster, and so many more. So much fun. Oh, and one of my all time favorites, R.E.M. singing Furry Happy Monsters! ("Come on monsters, you don't have to cry! You can be happy!") So not only was Oliver entertained, I was walking down memory lane remembering all these characters from my childhood.

Since then, we've done various searches on other occasions. Usually while one of us is cooking or cleaning up after dinner, the other one sits with Oliver to keep him away from the stove or out of the dishwasher. So, yes, Marty does it too, his favorites (aside from the aforementioned Japanese game shows) are the Swedish Chef and Statler & Waldorf, you know, the two old guys in the box seat at the Muppet Show. We don't just watch the Muppets though, one time we searched to find all the animal sounds--wouldn't you rather hear (and see) a real cow moooooing rather than mommy? Or to look at lions and other animals. See, YouTube can be very educational. There are lots of benefits. You can see little bits of things, no commercials to interrupt, and if it's boring, you can click on something else. Then you turn it off and go play.

Well, ok, it is kind of like tv. Ideally, we'd like to keep him from watching tv until age 2, and only selectively after that. I said ideally. Really, he mostly ignores it if we have it on to watch something ourselves. Until recently, that is, and I think YouTube is to blame. One night when he was fussy, I was a lazy momma and put on some nature show with lions or tigers or something and he loved it. But he didn't understand why the lions went away every 12 minutes or so. So while the commercials played, he'd scream at the me and the tv for them to come back. Of course, he doesn't understand that it's not YouTube. I can't just hit "Replay" or click another link to get the lions back. Maybe they learn that at age 2? Oh, the challenges of the internet generation!

But that isn't the only negative result of our YouTube explorations. One day, I clicked on a link of a cartoon I didn't recognize but looked cute. This one. He liked it, I thought it was a bit boring, but whatever. Every once in a while, it would come up as a "Related Video," so I'd click on it since he seemed to like it. I don't even know who the characters are, I think they are popular in another country, anyone know? Well, I have created a monster. He is obsessed. He doesn't want to watch any Muppets or lions anymore, just some cartoon hippo and dog singing and dancing. He loves it in any variation; apparently they've done a number of songs, including this really annoying one. So now anytime we sit at the computer, or one of us starts cooking or washing dishes--he starts yelling over and over again, "Ba-ba! Ba-ba! Ba-ba!" and isn't happy until we turn this video on. No, I have no idea what Ba-ba means (both pronounced with a short 'a'). At first I thought he was saying "baby," because the hippo looks sort of like a big baby, but, he actually says "baby" correctly in context (ba-bee) so I think this is something different. We know hippopotamuses (hippopotami?) from some of his picture books, but we don't shorten it, so I don't think it's a variation on 'hippo.' Who knows? All I know is he doesn't say "Momma" or "Dada" with such frequency or fervor!

 It's a phase, right? It will pass? Do you think we've ruined his chances to get into Yale? Maybe I'll have those songs out of my head by then.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sunflowers & Scholarships

What better way to spend a gorgeous September Saturday than out in the country at a Sunflower Maze! We're trying to do all the fun outdoor activities on our list while the weather is so nice, and save the museums for the winter when there's nothing else to do. This was something I've always wanted to do, I remember my Aunt Bonnie & I used to try to talk my grandfather into planting sunflowers in the field just below the farmhouse. This maze was north of New Haven at Lyman Orchards.

 It was apparently in the shape of a guitar, as you can see on their website. I'm sure Oliver would have been even more excited had he realized he was walking in a guitar (word #2, pronounced 'tee-ta', in a whisper), but unfortunately, we weren't able to see the whole thing from even their viewing platforms, not enough to see the shape of it. I guess we could have driven up a nearby hill to see it, but didn't realize that until after we got home and saw it online.

Oliver loved it; he took off running the minute we got near the entrance. Well, running and falling, since he's not a great runner yet! Between the falling and picking up "rocks," which were actually clods of dirt, he was filthy within 2 minutes of our arrival! We should definitely have brought a change of clothes, lesson learned. Some things you may not have realized about sunflower mazes: they are surprisingly hot, even though it was only 73 degrees out, I was sweating like it was 90. And there are lots of bees. Happily, nobody got stung. 

See, despite most photographic evidence to the contrary, Oliver has a mom! A sweaty mom, and a dirty, sweaty boy with sunscreen not rubbed in all the way, so excuse his dishevelment.  And now for some Oliver cuteness. Whenever we see flowers, he likes to go "smell" them, because Paul smells the flowers in his Pat the Bunny book. He smells flowers in person, and he smells flowers in books. Of course, he doesn't actually inhale or really smell them, in fact lately, he opens his mouth in a big 'O' like he does when he's giving kisses, and sort of kisses the flower. Told you it was cute. Here's pictorial evidence: 

Don't everybody "awwwwwww" at once! Ignore the fact that he's not actually smelling the flower (or that this particular plant has no flower yet at all), to him, all plants are flowers. The photo not taken: Oliver ripping the leaf off the sunflower and tearing it to shreds. Hey, he's still a toddler!

After the maze we went to New Haven because we've been wanting to see the campus of Yale University. So we had a quick picnic lunch of Subway on the town green, then went on a walking tour with a guide who discussed the traditions and history of the school. Of course, the campus is gorgeous, so many amazing buildings, and we didn't even get to see all of it. Here's a photo of Oliver and Marty in front of the Library, just minutes before the meltdown that made us miss the end of the tour. But it had been a long, napless day, so he did great overall. 
Marty was even impressed with Yale. Yes, my husband Marty, who in general tends to disdain any evidence of wealth in anyone (seriously, he gets jealous of people on House Hunters when they are looking at houses over our price range. Which is pretty much every house). When we got home and put Oliver down for a late nap, he even looked up the tuition costs and was shocked that it was only $35,000 a year, compared to $50,000 a year for his dream school for Oliver, Northwestern. So yeah, now Yale is a bargain, and he's trying to figure out how to get Oliver in, because Marty is the ultimate bargain shopper (next to his mom). No pressure Oliver, but now you really have to be the genius we all want to think you are!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


September has arrived! I know it's not technically autumn yet, but the arrival of September still feels like it's the fall. I would blame all the back to school stuff, but since the stores have been advertising it since July, I think it's simply the passing of the calendar. Add to that the gorgeous mild weather, and it made for a great weekend.

As we were making our list of Things to Do in Connecticut, we came across a number of orchards and farms. Lots of pick your own blueberries and strawberries, peaches and apples. We decided against the blueberry picking this year, because we aren't sure it's wise to teach Oliver that it's ok to eat things off of plants. Especially when we've been trying very hard to prevent him from putting everything he sees into his mouth. Maybe we'll go next year when he'll understand better! But apple picking is safe! We've always enjoyed going apple picking in Iowa, but often miss the best crops, so we decided that we'll visit a number of them around here this fall and try different varieties of apples over the next few months as they come into season. Yes, I too think it's just Marty's ploy for getting me to make him apple pie!

Feeling nostalgic? Here's Oliver and I at an orchard in Iowa last September. It was a bad year for apples because of all the rain, but it was still a nice day.

On Sunday, we went to an orchard not far from here that had Ginger Gold apples and peaches available for picking. It was a gorgeous day for it!  Here's Oliver and Marty on the ride up the hill to the picking area. I'm not sure which he loved more, the tractor or the stick!

Picking apples:

Oliver was not as interested in picking peaches from the tree. He'd much rather pick them up off the ground. You know, the ones that are all mushy and covered in dirt and swarming with flies. Yeah, those.

As you can see from the size of the bag, we got quite a haul. You pre-paid, $15 a bag for 2 people, and could fill it however you like, with apples and/or peaches. Of course, my frugal husband packed them in, the apples were on the bottom. Still the peaches were fragile and bruising easily, so we had to use them up quickly. I made a peach-blueberry crisp yesterday, with a yummy, and not too bad for you oatmeal topping. Well, not too bad if you don't count the sugar and the butter. And the ice cream to go with it.

Most of the time we were there, Oliver kept the apple he picked in his hands. We offered him bites off ours, and he tried a tiny bit, but refused any after that. But he kept trying to gnaw on his ginormous apple, to no avail because his tiny teeth couldn't break through.

Which reminds me, he's done teething!!! Well, done until his 2 year molars come in, but hopefully we have a while for that. But his last incisor finally busted through last week. That explains some of the non-napping, though not yesterdays. My little baby is no longer a baby!