Sunday, January 30, 2011

Scooter Wagon!

Finley has enjoyed the red push wagon we borrowed from our friend, Henry, months back. After he learned to walk, he wanted to push it all around the house. He liked to put toys into it and deliver them across the house. Then, the wagon went untouched for a few weeks. I was considering returning it to Henry's family since Finley appeared finished with it and I was eager to clear up some space, until last week when Finley found a new way to enjoy the wagon. The first time he did it, we were so worried he was going to fall that we didn't really notice how darn cute it was. With lots of practice (i.e. OCD like repetition), he has gotten much more stable and now it's pretty fun to sit back and watch. Enjoy!
Thank you Henry (and Henry's Grampy) for another few months of Scooter Wagon fun! He seems to love getting in and out of it and while we don't really see the "thrill" that Finley seems to get from trying to scoot on it, I guess that doesn't really matter :) Ride on, little man!

Sledding At Last!

With all the snow we've been getting lately, it's crazy that we hadn't gotten around to sledding yet. I was delaying the adventure until I thought Finley was mostly over his cold and the temperatures were above 30...Saturday, the stars were aligned!

I had scored an infant toboggan off the Arlington-Parents lists for FREE a few weeks ago and Friday night, I cleaned it off and set it in the kitchen for Saturday's trip to the local sledding hill. On Saturday morning, Finley took it for a test drive while finishing his breakfast waffle.
That smile made me confident that he'd enjoy being towed around later in the afternoon! Despite dealing with a nasty sinus infection myself, the three of us braved the wintry outdoors. It was sunny and mild, which made it borderline enjoyable to be out there. Finley let me put mittens on him, which he wasn't thrilled about, but at least he didn't take them off.
We got to the top of the hill and Finley was NOT interested in walking around on the packed snow, so we sat and watched some kids (and Dan) go down the hill for a while to get acclimated.
After a few decent runs, Dan came back over and we got Finley strapped into his toboggan and off we went!
There aren't many cuter things than this, right?
Finley was enjoying himself until Dan went into some snow that wasn't packed down at all and pretty bumpy, so they changed course.
And the smiles returned :)
I took a turn towing around the little guy while Dan did a few more sledding runs, trying to find a good part of the hill to try with Finley. He found a less steep portion and carried Finley and our other sled to the top. I got myself into position with the video camera and away they went.
Finley wasn't thrilled with the landing (I cut the video when he started crying a bit), but it was worth a try! After all, last year he probably didn't even know what was happening.
We packed up and headed home, pleased with our time outside in the fresh air. It made me realize how different Finley's infant/toddlerhood has been compared to mine in terms of weather and recreation (growing up in Texas, I didn't experience snow until I was 6 or 7 years old while visiting my grandparents in Buffalo, NY). Maybe next year, he won't just experience it, he'll enjoy it!

Well, he did enjoy getting his winter gear off and running around the basement when we got home! What a sport!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stay At Home Snow Day

Technically this is my school's 3rd snow day this month, but Finley and I took an additional one since his daycare was closed and we were both sick last week post-snowstorm # whatever. Snow days at home with a toddler are a bit different than they were when I could spend them curled up on the couch, catching up on TV, napping, shoveling, and just enjoying my freedom from the kids in my class. However, Finley snow days give me a chance to be a stay-at-home mom full time and I'm coming around to appreciating it more and more. My regular set up, which is part time preschool teacher and part time stay-at-home mom, has been going smoothly. Exhausting, but fairly smooth. Every afternoon, Finley and I find some sort of activity or adventure to do to pass the time before dinner and Dan's arrival home. Some afternoons are easy and some are more challenging, depending on Finley's mood and my own :) Sometimes 4 or 5 hour blocks make me think about how difficult it would be to have to entertain the little nuglet all day every day, but I think we'd figure it out (or we'll have to come summertime). And after a day (so far) like today, I suspect we might just have a ball together!

Finley's still fighting a cough and runny nose so we heard him coughing up a lung around 4:50am, but the only ones awake were me and Dan as Finley was able to snooze through his hacking. At 5:30, Dan's alarm went off so he could snowblow the driveway before work and I could look to see if I had yet another snow day. Finley wasn't up, just coughing. Snow day for me, so I curled up with the laptop to watch some live Australian Open. Finley started chatting about twenty minutes later, but was coming in and out until about twenty after 6 when I went into get him. He was his usual smiley self and despite have a ton of green snot dripping down his face, was excited to start the day. We played and played and when it was time for breakfast, he was eager to eat. He ate a huge portion of blueberries, all of his yogurt, and 1/2 of a multigrain waffle. I wiped him clean and set him free on the floor, but minutes later he was back reaching towards the highchair tray. All that was there was the other 1/2 of his waffle, which I offered to him. He grabbed it and babbled back into his pile of toys. He noshed on the waffle for the next thirty minutes while he continued to play. Soon it was book time and he started bringing me books to read while he sat on my lap. I LOVE that he loves books and it's nice to know all those hours spent reading to him when he was a teeny tiny baby and all through the months have paid off. He used to have three favorite books and he'd only want those, but lately he's been branching out and handing us all sorts. Sometimes he'll sit through the whole book and sometimes after a couple pages, he's all set. He loves lift-the-flap books and seems to open the flaps right on cue. But I, after we'd read a few of his selections, I made a request. "Finley, can you bring mama Hop on Pop?" He stands up and walks to the shelf of 20+ books and scans it. He reaches in pulls out Hop on Pop! I was speechless, I didn't think he'd be able to do it. He brought it over to me and I said, "Yay!!" and he clapped. We read it and then I asked, "Can you find Moo, Baa, LaLaLa?" and off he went to find it. Again, on the first try, he pulls out the right book and brings it over for me to read it. WOW!! So either we have been underestimating him lately or he's a genius! I'm leaning towards the latter, but I'm certainly biased. I knew he could find objects around the house like our big blue ball, his best friends Agent P and Bark-Bark, but who knew this identification skill covered book titles, too??!

I emailed Dan about the books and while he was totally excited to hear it, he wrote back that he wished he was home having a snow day, too. Sorry, Daddy--I'm sure he'll do it tonight before bed!

It was naptime and since Finley had totally tuckered himself out pretty well, he crashed and slept for just about 2 hours (despite all the coughing). He woke up a little sad, but perked up once he realized that his dad had left him some Special K to snack on. More playing and exploring around the house was on the agenda next. He loves to open the cabinet full of pots, pans, and lids and remove one lid to carry it over to the cutting board cabinet and put it in there. Then, we had some jam time as Finley banged on his drum and I played the piano. He wanted to switch instruments for a while and then it was time to dig in his toy bin for a while. He found some tiny little vehicles that we gave him for Hanukkah but weren't a big hit back in December. He put one on the rug and rolled it back and forth and smiled. It's funny that now he plays with cars and trucks the more typical way i.e. rolling them on their wheels instead of just chewing on them or throwing them. He finally figured out how to fit his flathead screwdriver into the screws in his toy tool box, which will make his dad happy. A few more books and then we watched an excavator move snow off our street for almost twenty minutes! Finley, you are a male stereotype.
Lunch was a freshly made chicken, broccoli, and cheese quesadilla followed by a very juicy tangerine. Despite being up for almost two hours at that point, our little energizer bunny just rolled on. We played in the playroom as Finley's new adventurous self likes to get into his push wagon and try to use it like a scooter. Then, it was back into the living room where Finley found the nametag lanyard that I had to wear in Prague at Worlds to get into events and ride the shuttle. I hadn't seen it for a while, but he dug it out of the toy bin and carried it around for a while. Then I put it around his neck. He pulled it for a bit and then pouted so I took it off. But he lunged back for it and much to my surprise, using two hands he put it over his head and walked off. Hysterical! He wore it for an hour and played with it here and there, but just seemed to like having it on. He completed our census form and addressed the envelope.
Then, I distracted him to rescue the pen and he picked up our census envelope and a Kohls giftcard and carried them around for what seemed like forever. Wearing the lanyard and such, he looked very official :) Eventually, he came to snuggle on me and that was my cue that naptime was near.

I got him into his sleepsack and against his protest, took off the lanyard. He seemed WIDE awake when I put him in the crib, but within ten minutes, he was out. What a peach!

I know that not all our days together are this enjoyable and easy, but I wanted to document this one since I truly, truly had fun just watching him bustle around and do his thing. He showed me new skills I didn't know he had and while we're still waiting for that memorable first word (other than hi), he's clearly got a lot going on in a very wonderful way. Not to be too cheesy, but Finley is just amazing and I can't wait to see what he'll do next. My parents are coming up next week to watch him while daycare's on vacation and I am so thrilled that they'll get to experience just what I did today.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Indoor Options

Along with getting more than our fair share of snow this winter, the recent temperatures have been unbearable. As I parked in Beth's (daycare) driveway to drop off Finley on Monday morning, my car's thermometer said this:
It had been -6 on the highway so -4 was an improvement!! That kind of cold prevents any sort of outdoor recreation. In fact, that kind of cold almost prevents getting to any indoor recreation since you don't want to have to get out of a warm car or back into a frozen car. This week we've been to the local library and had a playdate with my my friend, Jenny, and her 9-month-old daughter, Quinn. Jenny was kind enough to let us park in her garage upon our arrival, sweet! Today (the only day I remembered to take out my camera), we went to a little indoor gym in Arlington after school. I scored a sweet 14 visit multipass from an amazing online coupon deal and couldn't wait to use visit #1. It's a drop-in playtime for kids 0-6. Once we got there I thought to myself how GIANT 5 and 6 year olds would be in comparison to Finley. Yikes. Luckily the oldest kid we saw running past us was no more than 4. I tried to take pictures, but I also wanted to encourage Finley to be independent which means I wouldn't be within grabbing distance. So I took a bunch of photos during the first twenty minutes we were there and then put the camera away.
He really loved pushing these big blue yoga balls around.
Finley impressed me by crawling up and over things since he's not much of a climber at home.
He's getting pretty good at throwing balls and it's funny to watch his reaction when they bounce or bonk into other things.
He's also quite good at following directions. I suggested that he put all those balls into the hole and, ta dah!

The room began to get more crowded, so we took a snack break. Finley's new love, blackberry cereal bars, are a must when we're on the go these days and while they are delicious--they can be a bit crummy. I decided to tether him to the highchair in the gym's snack room instead of letting him wander all over and leave a trail of crumbs. He didn't mind, in fact, I'm pretty sure I could've strapped him to a porcupine and he would have been okay with it as long as he could still eat his cereal bar.
I guess he's like me, he prefers not to be photographed when chowing down. I promised him I'd only take one more if he gave me a big smile:
Mission accomplished!

After his snack, we went back into the gym for an hour or so. He played with the balls, crawled through tunnels, climbed foam stairs, stacked cones, played peek-a-boo with a nice little girl, flirted with some nannies, went under the parachute, threw a mini-tantrum, and then sat on my lap for a while before getting back into the action. This seems to be his routine when we go places--he dives right into an activity and entertains himself for a while but then needs some mommy's lap-reassurance and then the cycle repeats itself. I suspect it's totally normal for him to need to check in with me and to pout here and there, but it's funny how predictable it is. He does it at home, too, and it's almost as if he's "recentering" himself before going into the next phase of his play. Whatever works :)

We packed up and drove home as the next nor'easter began to dump even more snow on us. Ug. I sure hope Finley and I will know what to do when the sun is out and we don't have to bundle up so only our eyes are showing!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dear Aunt Caitlin

Dear Aunt Caitlin,
Thank goodness you gave me a year's membership to the Boston Children's Museum for my birthday! After a week of early wakings, picky eating, super-clingy behavior, and frigid temperatures--my mom and I needed something fun to do after school on Thursday. I immediately took off to the ball room and I had to call out to get my mom to follow me, but maybe she was just shocked that I willingly went more than 2 feet from her for the first time all week. The balls and ramps room is so fun, it took me a while to find a ball to use but I finally found a zillion of them at the tower.
I wanted to use of the really big, flat balls, but I just couldn't quite reach it.
I settled on a plain old golf ball and sent it down, can you see it going?
But then I wanted that same ball back, it was tricky to find!
Couldn't find it, but found two other pretty awesome ones that I just had to show my mom.
On my way out of the room, I noticed a set of stairs that I had never seen before and I just had to test it out.
I got to the top and there was a big, blue slide! But for some reason, my mom jumped up the stairs and caught me just as I was trying to walk down the slide. Odd. We slid down together and then I grabbed a couple balls and went back up again. This time, I threw the balls down first and then tried to walk down the slide, but again my mom caught me and made me slide down with her. I think she just wanted to have some fun, too. I heard her mumbling something about how I'm supposed to sit and slide, but that doesn't seem like it would be as much fun.

Next on our museum adventure was the second floor, which is where the little kids playspace is. I walked from the stairs down the hall, but took a detour into the water table room. I'd never really spent much time in there since I thought it was baths, but it turns out that it's just for playing! I walked around and around and even got to splash in some puddles.
Lots of kitchen toys were around so I carried around a spatula for a while until I came across something even better, a red ladle! I banged it on the edge of all the water tubs for a while until my mom suggested I put the ladle into the waterfall, I appeased her and got to get myself all wet! Yippee!
I poured the water on my shirt, my pants, my shoes, and while I was tempted, I didn't drink any of it. Some silly kids went running by wearing weird, red plastic shirts over their clothes, thank goodness my mom didn't make me wear one of those. After letting the ladle float away, I tried turning off the water, but couldn't quite do it. Maybe next time I'll be a little taller and stronger.
I finally decided to go to the kids playspace, but really only wanted to sit in the car and press the music buttons. A little girl offered to drive, so I got to ride shotgun and control the radio. Silly girl.
Her mom was taking pictures, too. After a while, she hopped out, but the plastic baby offered to keep driving. I helped her steer though since her arms were pretty short.
The playspace closes before the rest of the museum so we headed upstairs to the Construction Zone, but on the way we stopped into another exhibit that I'd never tried. I shopped at a farmer's market and then found a big set of drums to play.
In the Construction Zone, I crawled through a few tunnels but then I remembered the Bobcats and just had to get in one.
My mom agreed to put me in one, but said I had to wear a helmet.
I humored her for a few seconds, but I knew my dad wouldn't want me to wear a helmet that had a Shawmut sticker on it instead of a Turner one.

The museum was closing soon and after being Independent Finley for a couple hours, I needed some snuggling time with my mom. We sat together and watched some other kids play before going to get a special snack and heading home. The snack was my favorite: fruit! Cantaloupe, watermelon, and some greenish cantaloupe that was surprisingly good.
Delicious! My mom even let me drink the pink juice at the bottom of the fruit cup, am I lucky or what?

So, Aunt Caitlin, I wanted to say THANK YOU and tell you that your museum pass is a winter-saviour for me and my mom. We always have so much fun there and it makes us think of you. Can't wait until you can go there with us again.

I love you, Finley