Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Why I don't sing in the shower

Back in the day, I was a serious shower singer.  So much so that I even gave a speech in college entitled, "Why you should sing in the shower" complete with scientific evidence and citations.  I come from a long line of shower singers, my dad in particular.  I believe his favorite shower genre is fake opera. 

Then, I became a mom.  And, not just any mom, but mom to a child who at least once a day causes me to remark, usually outloud, "Wow.  This kid is really loud." I mean, really loud.  He spends at least an hour a day drumming, while singing along at top volume.  To give you an idea, consider this: When Elijah was a baby, I would sometimes put him down to nap is his bouncy seat.  He would be near me and I wouldn't have to go up and down the stairs every time he lost his binky.  Well, I tried that with Isabel, but without fail, as soon as she falls asleep, it's time for another drum solo.  So, she naps in her room, with the fan on and the door closed.  But even with all that, one can still make out the distant strains of Elijah's music.

So, you see, when I am in the shower, it is quiet.  And as much as the acoustics are perfect and singing has been shown to be a natural mood enhancer, I need that quiet.  It leaves me ready for the day, and ready to be Elijah's most appreciative audience member.  Earplugs optional.

Monday, January 28, 2013


The other day the kids and I were hanging out in Isabel's room, which used to be the playroom, which used to be the office, which will soon be Elijah's room (did you get all that?) and I realized that we have a whole box of baby toys from Elijah's younger days.  I figured that Isabel might like to play with these soon (just as soon as she gets tired of her own hands), so I pulled a few out.  Little did I realize how much Elijah would enjoy reliving his (earlier) childhood.

The rest of the afternoon and much of the rest of the week was spent using the ball spinner to fling balls onto the floor.  Fortunately, Elijah seemed to enjoy retrieving them as much as he liked dropping them.  The jingling stuffed tarantula became an important prop in "The (Not So) Itsy-Bitsy Spider".  And, in the past week, I have read all 12 of the tiny Sesame Street board books 20 or so times each.

So, it seems that I should be doing a better job of rotating Elijah's toys in and out in the interest of future excited rediscovery.  I just hope that by the time Isabel develops the hand-eye coordination to play with some of these things herself, Elijah will be willing to share.   

Friday, January 25, 2013

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Thank you to Amanda Soule of Soule Mama for the words and inspiration.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Montessori Moment

One way that Elijah constantly expresses his "two-ness" these day is through wanting to do everything himself.  He buckles his high chair (before he gets in it - still working on that), takes off his own bib and is quite nimble with a spoon. 

The challenge, of course, is that although he may want to do everything himself, that doesn't mean he knows how to actually get it done.  One thing that I have found helpful in this area comes from a quote from Maria Montessori: “If talking don’t move, if moving don’t talk”.  I have tried to make a conscious effort lately to employ this bit of wisdom.   When I demonstrate to Elijah how to do something, I tell him first what I am going to do.  Then, when I am done with my short explanation, I show him what I mean.  I know that I have difficulty processing several modes of communication at a time, so I imagine that he might, too, and by separating speaking and then doing, I give him a chance to hear then see.  Even though this seems intuitive, I had never thought about teaching in quite this way before.

At first, separating the explanation from the demonstration felt awkward, but it is slowly becoming a habit, and I find that each day there are many small opportunities for us to practice this process.

Today, for example, I cut Elijah's orange into slices instead of peeling it, which I had never done before.  He looked at the orange for a few seconds, and I could see that he wasn't quite sure what to do with it.

So...I told him in words, "To eat an orange slice, you hold the peel and take a bite out of it.  You don't eat the peel.  When you are done, you set the peel to the side so you can throw it away." Then, without speaking, I showed him how to do it.  After that, he tried it himself.  He didn't get all of the orange the first few times, but the idea was there, and knowing his love of fruit, there will be many more opportunities to practice. 


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

More Izzy-face

Poor second children.  Try as we parents may, there will just never be as many pictures of these precious babes as there are of their older sibling, Mr. or Mrs. Numero Uno.  Thus, I vow, right here and now, to dedicate one post each month to Isabel's face.  After all, it is just so darn cute, right? 

Fortunately for Isabel (and me!) Elijah typically sleeps for three (3!) hours in the afternoon, so that is when we get our very own together time (and, thankfully, quiet time).  It is, I declare, the perfect time of day for a photo shoot.

Elephant Gerald agrees.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Word of the day: serenade

  Serenade: Noun A complimentary performance given to honor or express love for someone. Ex. Although Isabel appreciates Elijah's serenades, she finds them a bit jarring.

Friday, January 18, 2013

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Thank you to Amanda Soule of Soule Mama for the words and inspiration.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

She and Him

Before Isabel was born, I didn't give too much thought to how Elijah would feel about her.  We didn't read a million books about babies (just this one, over and over and over), and I am pretty sure that Elijah was basically completely taken by surprise on the day that he came home from Sam's to find her living in his house.  Or maybe he just thought she was visiting, then over time realized that she is here to stay.  Two-year-old minds can be hard to read.

One thing that I am sure of, however, is the way that Elijah feels about Isabel, which is best described as adoring enthusiasm.  He brings her toys, he gives her kisses, and yesterday he painstakingly moved his "drum set", one piece at a time, over by her chair so he could sing to her.

I have no idea why he is so overjoyed by her.  Maybe it is the closeness in age.  Unlike, perhaps, a four-year-old, Elijah does not seem to feel that he was unseated from his privileged position by her arrival.  If there is something we are doing right, I wish I knew so that I could make sure to keep doing it, and replicate it again the next time around.

  I realized the other day how protective I am of their relationship when I decided that we should no longer read Juilius, Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes, which I had gotten from the library.  I am a big fan of Henkes, especially Owen and Wemberly Worried, but reading Elijah a book where the main character spends the first 7/8ths of the story calling her brother ugly seemed unwise. 

Just like one of his shirts states, Elijah is the best big brother in the history of the universe, at least to me.  Sure, he overwhelms her with his love (and his drumming) occasionally, but his intentions are pure goodness.  So, more experienced parents out there...what can I do to keep it this way?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Name that baby

So, Isabel is three months old now, and her resemblance to Elijah remains unmistakable.  So much so that as I was preparing this post, Kurt pointed to one picture and said, "That one's Elijah, right?"

Don't worry, though.  He guessed correctly.  (But then again, Elijah never had a flowered blanket.)

Monday, January 14, 2013


I come from a family of nicknamers.  My dad is J, J-ba, Daddio, Daddy Dinkus, Dr. Dad, and, now, of course, Papa.  As for my mom, I am pretty sure that some of her family members have forgotten that her name is actually Annemarie, not just Am.  My high school friends called her Mmm-K.  Elijah calls her Mamo, which is actually a nickname handed down from a previous generation.

As for me, my nickname as a baby was Eeeper because of the sounds that I made, and that evolved in many directions, to Leeber, Libidibi, etc, etc, etc.  In my family, you can't avoid the nickname, and only in extreme cases can a nickname be revoked (ask Kurt about that).  Elijah has become E-man to my parents, but to me he is Lijey, or The Lij (long i sounds).

And Isabel?  We started with Izzy, of course, or Izzy-Izzy for Elijah, but then we realized that she is quite the gassy baby, so naturally the nickname progressed to Fizzy-Izzy or Fizzabel or just The Fizz.  I realize that this might be embarrassing someday, but I am really powerless to stop it.  And, it could be worse.  Just ask my sister.

Or, as I like to call her...

Well, I'll let her tell you herself.   Or not.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Vidi-o the Week

Okay, so this video is pretty long, but you can see Elijah in his true element: banging away at his drums, singing at top volume, with a brief intermission for refreshments.  My favorite thing about his video is the "drum set", which Elijah assembled himself and which continues to evolve.

Friday, January 11, 2013

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Thank you to Amanda Soule of Soule Mama for the words and inspiration.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Elmo Detox

I just read a story where the narrator remarks that maybe one reason people do things like quitting smoking or dieting is that they can get a sense of daily accomplishment just through the denial of a particular activity.  In other words, they can do something by not doing something.  I can relate to this today because my main accomplishment of the past 14 hours was that I did not let Elijah watch Sesame Street.

For the past four days, the poor baby has had a fever of 102 plus, a streaming nose and a general feeling of horrible-ness.  Given all that, I didn't feel (too) guilty letting him watch episode after episode of Sesame Street.  Today, though, he was feeling quite a bit better, yet was quite demanding, as only a two-year-old can be, that the Elmo marathon continue. 

Because it is important to me that Elijah not watch much TV, and because I might have thrown my shoe if I heard "Elmo's Song" one more time, I decided that today was going to be TV-free, whatever it took. 

It took a lot.

It took every single piece of his new art kit.  It took 4 Dr. Seuss books and three trips through Elinor and Violet: Two Naughty Chickens at the Beach.  It took a stop at Uncle Chip's for a cookie and a train ride to the museum.  It took a lot out of me. 

Our day of not-doing one thing turned into quite the full day.  Mission accomplished.

Friday, January 4, 2013

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Thank you to Amanda Soule of Soule Mama for the words and inspiration.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Toys I Love: Wooden Train Set

Growing up in Downers Grove, Illinois, one of my favorite places in our little "downtown" was Anderson's Bookshop.  The backdoor, which opened directly into the children's section, was adjacent to the backdoor of the library, creating a little book lover's paradise.  I swear, I spent hours and hours there, and many, many visits, before I even realized that there was an adult section at the front.  After my sister and I would leave the library with our piles of books for the week, we would peruse the shelves at Anderson's, eying the newest Babysitter's Club books or craft kits.  On very special days, often before a family vacation, we even got to choose a book or two to take home.

In addition to all the latest kiddie lit, Anderson's also boasted a fully stocked toy train table, cherished by us in our younger years.  We never owned such a train set ourselves, so playing with it there was a special treat.

A few years ago, while the twins were staying with us, we were blessed inherit just such a train set from an old professor of Kurt's, and Elijah's enchantment with it has grown significantly over the past half-year.   He can now assemble many of the tracks himself, although he does sometimes yell, "I'm very frus-ter-ated!" when the trains jump the tracks.  We haven't even given him all the pieces yet, as the whole concept of cleaning up after himself is still a work in progress.

Just yesterday we put some batteries into the self-propelling locomotive.   I am not exaggerating when I say that hours were spent pushing the train up the hills and watching it snake around the curves, as well as experimenting with how many cars the locomotive could pull before stalling.  And even with all of that, I have a feeling that we are only at the beginning of the enjoyment that this train will bring.

Link of the Day: I don't ever want an iPhone, so I can't imagine that I'll be getting one for Elijah, but if I did, I would certainly follow this mom's lead.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Writing on the Wall

A few weeks ago, Elijah wrote on the wall (see above).  I wasn't too upset, though, for two reasons:
1) Because Elijah likes to narrate his existence, and I was standing close by, he hadn't gotten very far when he announced, "Look, Mommy.  I write on wall.
2) If children's books any indication, this is some kind of childhood rite of passage.  Just ask David, Olivia, or this baby

So, instead of sending him off time time out, as Olivia's mom did with her, I got out a piece of paper and taped it to the wall so that Elijah could have a vertical drawing experience without the property damage.  Thankfully, there have been no repeat performances to date.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


When Elijah was very little, and I was absolutely losing my mind with sleep deprivation, I received a much need ray of hope.  A friend with many children, the youngest of whom was eight at the time, predicted that around two months, Elijah would start smiling and even though I would be just as tired, I would feel just a little bit better.  She was right.  Something about that little gummy smile warmed my heart enough to lift the load just a bit.

Never in my dreamiest sleep-filled fantasies, however, would I have imagined that only two years later, I would have a child who, in addition to warming my heart with her radiant grins, actually lets me get some sleep at night.  By no means is she sleeping through the night, but she isn't keeping me up from 3-6 am daily, either.

 And, oh, those smiles!