talk to me, baby.

brothers

porch playing

thing 2

tunnel play

Milo’s speech and attention skills are still mystifying me.  We’re working with therapists and reading and researching, but I still haven’t unlocked the puzzle of what gives him a great day.  Going to daycare is a great help to me and I know he likes playing with his friends, but I’m starting to think that he needs even more structure than a daycare can provide.  I’m looking forward to the summer and really diving in to his rhythms.

It’s funny, when I first suspected that his speech was delayed, it was almost like I was humoring myself.  I didn’t truly believe in my core that there was THAT BIG a problem.  Then his evaluation highlighted sensory issues and attention problems and I thought “Oh no, you don’t really know my child.”  Now I feel like I’m the one who doesn’t know him.  All the tips and tricks from the therapists have changed a lot about how I view my day with Milo.  I’ve always loved that he is a huge ball of energy, but I now recognize that his bouts of silliness can spiral into a lack of control that he dislikes.  He can be screaming and kicking and I’ll hold him tight, strap him into his stroller, and I’ll watch him literally sigh in relief.  I’m recognizing where he wants me to reign him in.

I’m reading a lot about speech delays and “typical” development for kids his age.  Pinterest has pointed me to a few blogs written by speech therapists with young kids, and I checked a scary book out of the library called First Words: A Parent’s Step-by-Step Guide to Helping A Child with Speech and Language Delays.  I know that I need to honor all his ways of communicating, and give him more.  We use about three signs in the house right now, and I think Milo can’t get his point across with just those, so I plan on ramping up with new signs majorly over the next few months.  Our awesome therapist also suggested giving Milo more picture cues to help him communicate, focusing on rooms of the house, favorite snacks/toys, and even places we go.  Milo keep falling into the “more” trap- he can sign and say more, but more can mean literally ANYTHING to him (start eating, get picked up, watch TV, move to the playroom, get his Monka) and it’s lost meaning as a good way to communicate.  I had felt that using pictures was a good idea, but I also felt silly, like I was playing school with my little babies.  I need to trust my gut.

I’m going to “homeschool” this summer.  Milo is on a list for a twice-a-week playgroup for speech delayed toddlers, all run through my amazing state’s Early Intervention program, and if he gets in, he can stay in, with transportation included, even into the school year.  But I’m not going to sit waiting for that.  We have a great start of a playroom on the back porch, and I’m going to beef it up (we need fake food, a small table working at, a “comfy spot,” etc.) and make indoor/outdoor specific play part of every day.  We also plan on taking advantage of the Free Fridays this summer, and I’m going to plan out our weeks with a loose theme that leads up to the Friday field trip- animal games, animal books, animal sensory play, and animal puzzles all before we go to the zoo on Friday, for example.  We’re going to practice nursery rhyme songs and fingerplays.  We’re going to have snack and nap at a set time.  And I’m going to keep track of what Milo does in his binder where I store his therapy notes.

This feels kind of over the top (I dwell on the word “silly”) but I know in my heart that this structure and plan will help me a) keep my sanity and b) help Milo learn topics in a categorized manner, which is what all my reading has pointed to as a key to success.  The book reminded me that typically developing kids will get most of this stuff naturally, as a byproduct of living.  And some kids need more deliberate experiences.  I can give him that.

So that’s where I am right now.  I don’t have even a fraction of the answers, but I have a few tricks to try, and we’re going to make it really fun.  I can’t wait to see what clicks and mostly, I can’t wait to hang out with my favorite little friends all summer long.

Here are my Pinterest boards that are helping me plan: talk to me, baby and homeschool summer

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last week // this week no. 3

nom

book boy

banda

davis 1

zonked

I don’t have a ton of pictures from this weekend, because I HAVE NO PHONE.  Early Thursday morning, while we were rushing around before speech therapy, Milo decided that dunking my phone (repeatedly, like a cookie) in my coffee would be cute.  I was in the shower and Ben was in the bedroom- we were both just steps away, but he had enough time to destroy it.  We tried shaking it off and wiping it off and plunging it in rice…but RIP, cell phone.  My constant connection to the adult world.  I miss you dearly.  The replacement should arrive today, but it shocks me how naked I feel without it.  I used a digital camera at Farmland this weekend.  Seriously.

-We got our season pass to Davis Farmland on Tuesday, and have already gone twice.  I managed it easily with both boys by myself, and then we took Ben, my parents, and Laurel on Sunday.  This works out really well because both boys are free, so we just got a season pass for one adult; however, I think Ben will want to go often on hot Sundays and Mondays, and if I can offer free admission to friends I’m dragging along this summer, I’d be pleased.  So we might add an additional “guest” adult to the pass.  Between farm animals, dramatic play in huge sheds, tons of playgrounds, and the spray park, I’d say we’ll be there twice a week.

-It’s now almost too embarrassing to weigh in at Weight Watchers.  Since I weighed in after the stomach bug ( a solid month ago), my weight has gone up every week.  The fact that I stopped breast feeding Elliott goes into that, but I also pretty much do what I please Friday-Monday, and then start trying to get back on track around Tuesday…my math isn’t adding up.  I keep rededicating myself because I simply want to weigh less, fit into the clothes I already own and like, and want more energy.  I’m not going crazy or beating myself up.  Just saying, “do better.”

-Ben kicked ass and helped me completely clean the back porch (again) last night.  We vacuumed 7 million spiders and 10 pounds of cat hair, moved furniture around to make more running room for Milo, and Ben bought a play kitchen at Salvation Army that we scrubbed to glory.  We haven’t even bought the fake food yet, and Milo already loves putting things in the microwave, closing the door, and hitting the buttons.  After we said “beep beep beep!” a couple times, he makes beep noises now, which is a big speech milestone!  He also loves to chuck plastic Easter eggs and run so they scatter at his feet.  I’ve been reading about the “types” of kids (childhood personality types) and I definitely think Milo is “The Determined Child.”  He needs physical activity, autonomy, and parental support; having the space in the back made for such a happy kiddo.  This morning before daycare he asked to play on the porch instead of watching cartoons.  Maybe that’s a humblebrag but maybe I like it that way.  Now my eyes are peeled for a water table, a grocery cart, and some good fake food- I’ll buy almost everything else used, but Milo will definitely eat the fake food all the livelong day, so I better get something fresh.

-Yesterday, by allowing myself to revel in my filth and stay in my pajamas all day, I managed to get a huge amount of work done on my top secret awesome sauce project that I love.  It’s homemade and scrappy, I’m remembering the tiny bit of HTML that I learned to spice up my livejournals in 2002, and its going to be yet another outlet for me to listen to the sound of my own voice.  What could be better?

-We’re eating a shit ton of popsicles over here.  I found these ones called “mighty minis” that are literally Milo sized and he can eat them before they melt and it looks like someone shrunk a real pop so cute.  Ben brought home the GOOD thick freeze pops and he loves those, too.  Also, despite my love for good craft locally brewed beer, I’m remembering that there is little more refreshing that Bud Light Lime in the summer time, particularly following ANY type of physical labor.  It’s lawn-mowing beer.  I don’t care, I love it.

Coming up this week I’ve got some work on my June bucket list,  getting back into Couch25K with the return of my phone, park time now that the heat has broken, and cheering Laurel on at a race this weekend.  Have a good week!

June Bucket List // Countdown to REAL Summer

make it happen

For a lot of people, anything after Memorial Day is summer time.  Everyone starts talking about the beach and school finally being finished.  Those people don’t live in Massachusetts, where snow days pile up and the last day of school is somewhere in the June 27th range.  For all my teacher loves who aren’t on leave, I feel you.  I need to come and bestow spray bottles, freeze pops, and iced coffees upon your hardworking heads.  For my maternity-rocking self, this means I have one more month of childcare before I need to be ready with a solid summer routine.  This is a wishlist of things I want to do while I can still send Milo to his air conditioned funworld across the street.

1. Finish the boys’ nursery.

All the big pieces of furniture are in place, but there are a few more things I want to do to cozy up their little space.  I need to hang artwork and a shelf I painted, find some valences that are colorful, and I’d love to repaint the windowsills.

2. Set up a work space for myself.

I need a better place to organize my papers, hang a large calendar, and keep my laptop.  I have some projects that I’d really like to buckle down on, and I have no idea if a dedicated work area would be helpful, but I’d like to try.  This should be a one day project, tops.

3.  Buy a domain name, build up the aesthetics of my new project, and generate some material.

I’ve been thinking really hard about a project that I want to roll out for the beginning of July.  It’s something that I think I have the talent for, but I need to prove to myself that I have the drive and follow through.  Setting up a work space and possibly work hours might help me towards achieve this.  This is my greatest hope for the month of June.

4.  Take Milo and Elliott to cool places before the school k ids take over.

There are a few museums and play places I want to spend time in before the summer crowds ramp up.  In the early weeks of June, I hope to keep Milo home at least once a week and head out on a little adventure.

5. Summer Routine!

I’m really excited about this summer.  It’s the winding down of my long stretch as a stay-at-home mama, and my first experience being home with both boys completely full time.  With Milo’s speech therapy work and Elliott getting old enough have tiny windows of focus, I’ve toyed with the idea of writing out plans for our day, highlighting the skills we need to practice.  I’m always happier with a plan, but it seemed too insane to do just for my own little family, until I found this amazing article that gave me permission to run my home like a daycare this summer.  There is always a piece of me that says “we deserve a day to kick back, watch TV, eat snacks, be chill,” and those plan-less days are the days where we are all crying and desperate by 3pm.  So I’m going to have a planning template for days when Ben is at work, and we are going to rock this summer.

June also brings Father’s Day and our 6th wedding anniversary, and I’d like to organize myself to give some end-of-year gifts to the teachers who have supported our family this year.  It’s going to be busy and wonderful and hopefully, super productive.  Do you have any big plans for this summer?  Tips for carving out a work space for yourself?  Ideas that will occupy tiny babies during the hottest days?  Happy June, lovelies.

*The above image was found on Pinterest, but it’s from Tattly, distributors of kick ass temporary tattoos.  I will buy.  Summer arm candy, here I come!

last week // this week no. 2

milo toy story

e man

dinner

mama milo mirror

buzz at the libraryLast week was like we turned  corner.  I don’t know if it was just in contrast to the insanity of the week before, or if Ben and I were more on the same page after spending some time talking about our family values, or if some weeks are just going to suck and some are going to go well.  Probably that last one, which is comforting and terrifying at the same time.  We watched less TV, ate more family dinners, played with bubbles, met with friends, got really into Toy Story, exercised a ton, and had the most mundane week possible.  Perfect.  Here are some good things that happened and good things to look forward to:

-I’ve been tracking my Weight Watchers points carefully, using Couch 2 5K to learn how to run again, and playing Wii Fit on my running rest days.  I spent the entire week staying right on plan, and it felt really great.  I’ve been going to meetings for about a month or so, but being fairly lazy and shifting up and down without really losing any weight, so last week reminded me that nothing is going to change until I get my ass in gear.  It might be corny, but when I run I think about Milo and Elliott, I think about running after them on the playground, I think about running a race and having them jumping up and down at the finish line, saying, ” My mom is strong.”

-Milo is really into his toys lately.  I’ve always been an “outing” mama, planning walks and park trips and library stops, but twice this week, Milo would wake up from his nap or get home from daycare, run excitedly to his Toy Story collection, and start building Mr. Potato Head or piling all the action figures into the Fisher Price dollhouse.  I would say, “Get your shoes, we’re going for a walk” and he would wrinkle his eyebrows and sit down hard.  “Do you want to stay here and play?” would be answered with “Yesh!  Yesh!”  I’m so proud that he can express himself to me and that I can squash my gogogo attitude and sit with him.  We’ve had the best slow afternoons.

-Milo is getting some help with his speech delay.  At his 18-month appointment, we expressed some concerns about how many words Milo would regularly use, and we got a referral for Early Intervention services.  He was assessed and qualified, and last week we wrote up a plan for getting him therapy to help him better communicate.  There were definitely times over the last two weeks where I felt overwhelmed- the process is very proactive, simple, and accommodating, but the idea of Milo being “behind” in any way was stressful.  I was scared that he was be frustrated by the testing (he was) or that people might treat him differently once they understood that he was getting extra help (they haven’t), but now I’ve just reached a point of excitement.  Tomorrow is our first in-home visit, and I can’t wait to see how it rolls out.

-Yesterday Ben spent a lot of time with the kids so I could have some time for myself.  Elliott came with me to a brunch with friends (he’s the price of admission to most places) while Milo and Ben went to the park, and then I slipped off completely kid-less for a pedicure and a run!  We also fit in family dinner and a family walk.  We have a busy week coming up, so it was a lovely, restful Sunday.

-We’re headed to Florida!  My youngest sister is graduating college, and we’re spending the weekend helping her celebrate.  My twin sisters and dear cousin will get to meet Elliott for the first time, and we’ll all be together, which happens so rarely.  I’m anxious and excited to fly with both kiddos- Ben is staying behind for work but LAurel will be there to help me.  I have plans to pack a special backpack of treats for Milo, and Ben surprised me with an early Mother’s Day gift of a Kindle Fire!  This will probably be the final factor that makes for a smooth ride.

This week coming up is packing, making birthday/graduation/mother’s day cards, hanging with Ben before we’re separated for a long weekend, and travel!  What made you happy last week?  What are you looking forward to?

Yay, you’re 27, congrats, go to work.

milo peep

babies

three boys
milo supermarketThings have been wild.  News coverage, Twitter overload, trying to stay in touch with endangered loved ones.  Early Intervention, play-based assessments, diagnosis, sensory issues, baby sign language.  Family dinners, less TV, deflecting unwanted advice, keeping up with chores, dealing with an ant problem.  Baby and toddler digestive issues (read: LOTS OF PUKE AND POO).  I tweeted on Thursday: “This week has been really heavy. Which made me realize that last week was, too. Which made me realize that this is life. I’m tired.”  But I’m also done with excuses.  Because THIS IS LIFE.  There will be a weekly tragedy, annoying e-mail, childhood illness, sisterly hangout…or maybe all of them at once.

So, in the name of getting our shit together, here are some good things, happy things, positive things, back-to-business things.

-I just loaded my reader (ugh, still stuck on Google, not loving The Old Reader yet) with new blogs about Weight Watchers and weight loss.  If reading about fancy mamas who take lots of instagram pictures makes me want to be a fancy mama who takes a lot of instagram pictures, I’m hoping the same logic will extend to reading about these ladies and their work outs and meal plans.  I have some kids to chase, blah blah blah.  This just needs to happen.

-I’m also working on a family photo book for Milo, and it’s looking really cute.  I’ve hunted down and gathered pictures of our family members and edited them with the names in bold font.  One of Milo’s favorite pastimes is walking around our house, pointing at faces in pictures and asking us to name them, so I want to give him this for the cuteness factor, and to help with his new shy stage (Here is the hierarchy- 1. Ben, 2. Me, 3. Whoever is holding Elliott.  Otherwise- nervous.)

-Ben and I filled an entire dumpster with garage trash, got some quotes on a landscaping overhaul, and have been taking the boys out for lots of walks on our street.  All of these things=being friendly and more involved neighbors.  Our curb appeal is still more like curb appalling (ha HA!), but we’re getting closer to being adult homeowners.  And we finally took our Christmas wreath down.

-This is my current parenting mantra: “Example is not the main thing in influencing others.  It’s the only thing.”  -Albert Schwertger.  Want kids that read?  Read to them…READ IN FRONT OF THEM.  Want kids that eat vegetables?  Put vegetables on the table…AND EAT THEM WITH GUSTO.  Want kids that are kind to people and animals?  DO THAT.  DO IT ALWAYS.  ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU THINK THEY AREN’T LOOKING.  My kids are still teensy, but I already know that this is going to be very important, even more so if they have personalities anything like mine.

-It’s all going to happen.  You can stress and freak out and make lists and demand things of yourself.  You can berate and dismiss yourself, make 1000 excuses, come up with a new system every Sunday night.  Or you can let it be.  And trust that it will happen.  I’m noticing chores get crossed off the list, phone calls returned, little corners getting cleaned up, all in the natural course of life.  If I’m living it right, everything else falls into place.  Honestly, I can only remember this fact when I’m sitting still during 15 minutes of weekly clarity…but it’s true.  Trust that it will happen.

(The pictures with this post are from the last few weeks, just some sweet little gems that never made it to the internet light of day.  Whenever I’ve sad, these subjects ground me right back to where I need to be.)

April 2013

superherosHappy April Fools day!  I was tempted to tell Ben I was pregnant again as a fun prank, but I thought I might push him over the edge and cause some permanent emotional damage, so I passed.  My mama is here for an entire week, which is a huge treat, and we’re planning to visiting some family, having dinner in the city with Laurel, and taking Milo out so she can see him action on playdates.  Here are some other plans we have for this true beginning of spring:

Nightly movie theme: This is superhero month.  Plans include the Spiderman franchise, the Xmen franchise, Avengers, Superman, Ironman, the Hulk…anything we’re missing?  I’m definitely going to pull for Keaton Batman on the nights it is my pick.

Holiday plans: This month we have Earth Day AND April Vacation!  When I was teaching, April Vacation always felt like the kick off to the countdown to summer.  This year, I want to do some fun trips with the boys- maybe even a beach day with Ben.  The Boston Marathon is also sometime this month, and I’d love to go watch a little of it with Laurel.  She’ll be running it one day, and I can’t wait to be cheering her, so getting some practice is probably a good idea.

Routine: As I get more used to Elliott, he’s gaining weight and his health is solid, and I have more emotional strength to handle the ups and downs of being out and about with a toddler and an infant, I’ve been keeping Milo home from school.  It’s getting nicer and there are fun things to do around town that I’d like to experience with my son while I have the chance to be home during the week.  I’m hoping to spend Monday volunteering at my school, Tuesday/Thursday doing things with Milo and Elliott (Mom’s groups, library, museums), and Wednesday/Friday running errands and having one-on-one time with Elliott.

Health: I just rejoined Weight Watchers, and I’m pretty excited to having even MORE structure in my life.  I like rules.  The first week on plan, I hadn’t done any special grocery shopping and already had a meal plan written, so I just did my best to track and lost 2 pounds.  I went a little wild at Easter brunch (I’m not skipping lobster mac and cheese, thank you), but it’s a new week and a new month and I’m ready.  Ben and I are also planning to start walking in the mornings before he goes to work.  I have a couple of motivators- bopping around in my bathing suit all summer, my mama’s 50th birthday cruise in November, and being a healthy example for my two little mirrors who will do what I do, eat what I eat, and act like I act for most of their lives.

Goals: This month I will read 2 new books from the library (I’m thinking The Secrets of Happy Families and something fictional and escapist), I will lose at least 5 pounds, I will paint my fingers/toes, and I will write a meal plan/shopping list before every weekly shop.  These things will make me infinitely happy, healthy, and help my family.  All four of them.

I hope your outlook for April is sunny and fortified with love.  Spring is coming, good things are on their way!

(The image above was found on Pinterest, and this site is the closest credit I could find.)

 

“Know first who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.” -Epictetus

our year(image credit: etsy)

I’ve been thinking so hard about what I want this year to look like.  In my addled mind, 2013 was in the distant future, and it stayed that way until last night at 2:45 am, when all of the sudden my brain kicked into overdrive and I started having the gentlest of panic attacks about needing to organize my maternity binder at school, find some newborn-sized baby bottles. dig out the teeny clothes from the basement…PREPARE.  Before that hit my radar, most of my plans for the year were about forcing myself to get dressed everyday.  I wish I was kidding.

I want to find a word that encapsulates my intention for the year.  In 2013 our family will become four, and I’ll be a stay-at-home mama for 3/4 of the year.  We will need a ROUTINE.  Money will be tight and I will be under the gun to get my health in control.  We have big decisions to make about where we will make our home and raise our kids; do we take advantage of low mortgage rates or hunker down and stay put?  It’s going to be hectic.  And I want to be put together.  I want to be showered and dressed.  I want the baby bag packed in advance, and have a list made before we’re headed out the door.  So what is the word that sums that up?  Pulling together a family, planning ahead, making big decisions about our future, doing it all wearing a real bra and real closed-toe shoes?  Um, I think the word is adult.

Not old, or stodgy, or boring.  But I think I’m ready to be adult.  Italicized adult.  Planning, paying out for worthy services, dressing for the weather, cleaning up after myself.  Getting my nails done and getting haircuts in some sort of regular pattern.  What Would An Adult Do?  Rock the year.  It is SO doable.

I have other, more organized action steps that I want to tackle: my 27 While I’m 27 list has 27 bullet points that I have until October to take care of, and I shared on Facebook yesterday that I seriously want to take more pictures of things that aren’t my kids and read more “fun” books that I pick based on the covers.  I’ve spent a solid year getting used to being a mother and balancing work and family care; now I want to thrive in it.

I’m obsessed with making plans and goals; here are my New Year’s plans or recaps from December 2009, January 2010, January 2011, and December 2011.  What are your plans?  What are you most proud of this year?  What will 2013 be like for you?  We’re onto bigger and better things.