One of Elijah's favorite words these days is no. Or more accurately, "No!!!" It can refer to anything, from wearing his bib, to being buckled into his car seat, to, if he had a particular short nap and you are not Mama, coming near him. I hear this is a characteristic of the age, but still. It is not fun.
As a parent, I am sometimes guilty of the curse of the "no" as well. And, if I'm not saying no, I'm saying, "Maybe later" or "Not right now," which, as all children know, also mean no. I have been trying to temper this tendency lately because as much as I hate having Elijah scream "No!" in my face, I am sure he is also not fond of hearing me say no all the time, particularly when the thing he is asking for is perfectly acceptable, but perhaps not convenient for me.
Case in point: this week, we had just come back from taking Brianna to school, and Elijah walks over to his art table and finds a paintbrush. He looks at me and says, "Mama, I do painting?" My first thoughts were, "Ugh, that sounds messy. And the paints are upstairs. And I really wish we had some decent watercolors, because tempra paints are just such an undertaking." I could feel that dreaded, "No" forming at the back of my tongue. But then I stopped. Why shouldn't he paint? We didn't have anywhere to be for at least an hour. After admittedly minimal preparation, I would be free to sit at the table and finish my not-quite-yet-room-temperature cup of coffee. So away he went, brushing, dabbing and smearing, on his happy way. Until he accidentally got some paint on his arm, which put a halt to the joyous process. But that's a story for another day.
One thing that I had looked forward to putting off for at least a few more months was taking Elijah to the dentist. But, one chipped-tooth-turned-cavity later, and there we were, climbing the purple waiting room dinosaur while Alvin and the Chipmunks played in the background, awaiting our turn in the dreaded dentist's chair.
We heard about Adventure Dental from some friends who recently adopted a 3-year-old. It was fortunate that it came on their recommendation because from the outside, the vibe feels more "payday loan/liquor store" than "child-friendly tooth care". Despite outward appearances, though, I cannot say enough good things about this place. Filling a 22-month-old's tooth is no easy task, between the hysteria (mostly his) and the tininess of his mouth. The whole process took about 20 minutes, and once it was done Elijah was no worse for wear. I feared that he might hesitate to go back the next day for a cleaning, but I think that the promise of another fire hat (the first one "accidentally" blew out the car window) was enough to bring him back.
We have had a love/hate relationship with our pediatrician, mainly because of the somewhat inconvenient location and the sometimes extensive waiting room times, but I would say no such thing about Adventure Dental. If Kurt and I didn't like our own dentist so much already, I might see if the fire hats come in my size, too.
Among his many talents, my husband is (in my humble opinion) a great amateur photographer. If you see a picture on my blog and think, "That looks really cool," it was probably taken by him. (I should probably give him credit for that.) My pictures tend to be more functional, as I don't have as much patience for getting the perfect shot.
After 4+ years in this house, we still have some rather noticeable bare spots on the walls, so recently Kurt took it upon himself to choose, edit and order one of his favorite photographs, which he then framed.
The frame, however, had no wall hooks. This is where our tag team approach came in handy. Not that Kurt isn't handy himself, but he has, you know, a job. Plus, I pride myself on my spacial skills, so the centering and hanging of the frame was also left to me.
Two brackets, a tape measure and only one extraneous nail hole later...ta-da!
Score one for Team Artsy-Craftsy. (As you can probably tell, um, I took this picture.)
There are certain foods that really only appeal to children. Sourpatch straws and Gushers come immediately to mind. Also Lunchables. I remember wanting to take Lunchables to school SO BAD and not understanding why my parents insisted why they were a disgusting waste of money. As usual, now that I am more or less an adult, I have seen that they were indeed correct in their evaluation of that frighteningly shiny lunch meat product. But back then, around age eight or so, I would not be convinced.
And so it goes with toys, as well. For Christmas, Elijah received the most beautiful little wooden truck, handmade with vegetable dyed blocks as cargo. Sure, he likes it fine, about as much as any of this other vehicles, and slightly less than the ones that make noise. It may be my favorite toy of his, but that is just my opinion, not his.
Enter the Bendaroos. I picked them up at Value Village one day as I was in search of some toys that B and B could play with at the table while I fixed dinner. They were cheap, of course, and barely used, so they seemed like the perfect thing. The children, I think, would agree. I, well, I perhaps would not. There's just something about them that is a little gross. They are basically wires covered in colored wax that can be bent and stuck together to make pictures. They also stick to the wall quite nicely. I think it is the stickiness that I just can't get behind. Also, if dropped on the floor, they have a tendency to pick up any wayward crumbs. Ew. But, the kids like them, so they shall stay. For now. At least I haven't heard any pleas for Lunchables.
Lately, now that he knows that they are on there, Elijah will stand by the computer and say, "Watch Elijah movie." He doesn't usually care which one, as long as he is prominently featured. A few days ago, when looking for one for him to watch, I stumbled upon this oldie-but-goodie, from March 2011, when he was 6 months old. I forgot that he used to be a little bit of a chunker. The funniest part to me, though, was that Elijah didn't want to watch it, I think because he didn't recognize himself. He just kept repeating, "Watch Elijah movie," until I put on a more recent one. I still like this one, though.
There is craziness afoot in our household these days, so much so that I may not get back to my daily blogging for a week or two. I will try to check in more often, but there are no guarantees. For today, please hop on over to Endless Simmer and enjoy a post that I wrote over vacation that just went up this week. See you soon!
Our big vacation, from whence we have just returned, began and ended in the lovely city of Chicago. On Monday, we took a long stroll along the beach near Loyola University. Elijah, as you may recall, is a big fan of beaches as long as he doesn't have to go in the water. Perhaps it was this fear that made him clutch my hand as we walked along the pier that jutted out into Lake Michigan. Whatever the reason, I certainly didn't mind. And, as if I didn't need an extra reminder to treasure such a moment, just yesterday, he was walking down the sidewalk back here in DC, holding a cell phone in one hand and drumsticks in the other. He's still a little wobbly, so I asked if I could hold something so that he could hold my hand. His response? "No, Mama. I walk myself." Sniff.
I don't know about you, but there are certain ingredients that can add a little pizazz to an otherwise -eh- kind of dish. I find this phenomenon especially helpful when I a trying desperately to eat down the fridge, either because we are getting ready to fly the coop, or because I somehow forget that I bought three bags of baby carrots just because they were one sale. My latest addition to this list of special go-tos is a tub of white miso paste. It may seem strange at first, but it is quite versatile. And, as you can see above, it makes whipping up a quick batch of miso soup a cinch. For a recipe, and more deep thoughts, hop on over to Endless Simmer.
On thing that I love about my in-laws is that they are do-ers, especially when it comes to vacation. In my younger, child-free days, I might have resisted this pull, but with an active toddler on my hands these days, I am quite appreciative of planned outlets for his curiousity. This morning, it was off to the Madison Children's Museum, about 45 minutes from our place in Lodi. Growing up, I was a big fan of the Chicago Children's Museium, and more recently we have enjoyed our time at the Ann Arbor Children's Museum near my parents' place in Michigan.
DC does not, at present, have a great children's museum, so I am always interested in checking out what those at other cities have to offer. The best ones, I have found, are organized thematically, with a dedicated area for the under-five set. The Madison museum fit these criteria, and seemed to be a place that children (and adults) of any age would enjoy. In the toddler section, Elijah, not surprisingly, immediately homed in in the drums. It was difficult to draw him away from the musical hut, that in addition to drums of various sizes also included different kinds of shakers and washboards.
Elijah's other favorite spot, not in toddler-land, was a sort of rocket ship. I think the main draw for him was that there were so many buttons to press and levers to pull. Kurt would lead (or carry) Elijah away to another area, only to have him toddle back to the rocket ship at the earliest opportunity. Finally we just gave up and let him play there while we (Kurt and I) took turns exploring the rest of the museum on our own.
My favorite section was the arts and crafts area, where kids could make recycled art sculptures, play with a light table, or weave ribbons and yarn into a loom. Our niece, Grace, was content to window-paint for a good chunk of her visit.
Finally, on the rooftop, the museum boasted a lush garden as well as various small animals for the children to peer at. Elijah showed a lot of interest in the mice. Perhaps he felt that he recognized them from our house. When my mother-in-law suggested we get him a mouse as a pet, I told her that all we have to do is catch the ones that already live with us.
It was a morning well spent, one of many on our vacation thus far. Tomorrow, the beach.
Today finds us in the midst of part three of five of this summer's family vacation. There was a night at my sister's in Chicago, then a day with an old friend in Gray's Lake, IL, and now we find ourselves in Lodi, WI with my husband's clan. Next it's on the my family reunion in Delavan, WI, then back to Chicago to connect with some more old friends before we head back to DC next Tuesday. Whew!
Fortunately, we have been able to answer the call of nature here in Lodi, heading to a state park to throw rocks, take swirly pictures, and stop and smell the flowers. Amen? Amen.