Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Finley takes the Alpine PLunge

So I got this article forwarded to me from the NYT's most popular and while I kind of laughed it off at the time, it did stay on my mind later in the afternoon.

Finley and I rolled up to one the nice playgrounds near us and he immediately jumped out of the car and made a run for the giant alpine slides as he watched some kids going up and down.  He paused at the bottom of the huge staircase and said, "Can I go up there, mommy?"  I said "of course" and he quickly started up, but after five or six steps turned around and invited me up.  Ug. I don't know whether it was my tired-30-weeks pregnant self or that NYT's article impacting my decision more...but I said, "No thank you, go can go by yourself."  In a surprising turn of events, he actually seemed okay with going solo and continued up the mountain with lots of reminders from me to use the handrail.
Gulp, he climbed higher and higher with me being farther and farther away. Can you get a sense of how high up this slide is??? I almost ran up to join him out of fear he'd fall before ever reaching the top, but I maintained my composure and he made it!
He excitedly called out that he was ready and then went down with no prompting or cheering from me.
 I was truly in shock and awe that he climbed up there and slid down all of his own.  My little fraidy-cat was no more! Has our timid caterpillar finally sprouted wings and taken off???  At least for's his second trip down where he waited for another little boy to come and go down with him at the same time.  The boy could've cared less, but luckily Finley's reading of subtle social cues isn't quite that sensitive yet.
He went down one more time and then it was off to the sandbox for some more low-key and low-elevation fun. Phew :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Trash Days!

Being out in the world with a toddler is much more exciting than just walking around on your own because around every corner, there might be something that will make you jump up and down and scream out in joy...okay, it'll make the toddler do that, but the enthusiasm is contagious!

The other morning, Finley and I were out running errands and as we headed back to our car, we turned the corner and ta-da--a garbage truck! Finley's latest truck obsession live right in front of us, picking up trash!!  
He asked if we could follow it and so we did and he watched the two garbage men loading the trash like a hawk.
 We walked with the truck for about two blocks, got waves from the garbage men, and the driver even pulled the really loud horn for us.  Life was good.  At some point, we had to move on with our morning and we headed off to a playground about ten minutes away.  We parked the car and Finley commented that everyone had their trash on the sidewalk so the garbage truck must be on its way...brilliant deduction!  He asked if we could sit on the curb and wait for it but thankfully I convinced him that if we played on the playground, we could keep an eye out for the truck and come back to see it.  We played for about 45 minutes or an hour (with many false alarms for garbage truck arrivals, silly Finley), but as we were about to go down a pair of slides, I heard the much-anticipated truck around the corner so we made a run for it!

Amazingly, it was the SAME garbage truck that we saw in the center of town and I'm pretty sure the driver recognized me and gave me a sympathetic smile :)  We sat on the curb and watched all the bins and cans being emptied house by house on the street and when the truck turned a corner, Finley begged for us to run and catch it.  Ug.  I suggested we hop in the car to track it and he obliged, so the hunt was on!  We watched the big truck go down another street and a half before I made up a reason for us to have to get home so we waved to the truck and headed off.

Finley has loved trucks as long as we can remember and while his attention has mostly gone to the world of construction vehicles, trains and garbage trucks have come into his focus which has been a welcome change!  We have several different toy garbage trucks at home and each day (sometimes several times), Finley will use his fireman little people figure as a garbage man and pick up all sorts of trash.  He asks me to use the firedog as my garbage dog and fill up a second truck.  Recently, we have been talking more about recycling and now he has a line of four garbage cans (round blocks) and several recycling bins (small, upside down foam bridge blocks).
Thankfully life imitates art around here and Finley is an excellent trash man on Thursday nights after dinner--emptying trash cans around the house, dragging full bags to the basement door, and helping Dan roll the trash can and recycling bins down to the curb.  Plus, on Friday afternoons, he's eager to pull all the empty containers back up to the garage!  Boys will be boys!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Big Apple Circus!

After much discussion and debate, we decided to buy tickets for all three of us to go see the Big Apple Circus! Why the back and forth? Well, it's hard to know with 2 year olds what they will like, love, hate, fear, find funny, etc. and Finley's no different.  While he LOVES airplane flights, he's 100% afraid of water we weren't sure how a circus would be for him.  However, we figured it was worth a shot so we got some tickets, checked out circus books at the library, and even looked at pictures of the performers on the Big Apple's website.  We suspected the part he would be least fond of would be the volume of the whole thing so we told him that parts of the show would be loud but not scary.  We listed other loud things he likes: airplanes, garbage trucks, guitar music, drums, fire engine sirens, etc.  He seemed to understand, but wasn't thrilled that it was going to be loud inside the tent.  Ah well.

We wanted to make a whole outing out of it so that in case the circus went over like a lead balloon (thanks to Mary and Mr. Buggy for this useful phrase), the evening wouldn't be a total loss.  We drove downtown and parked and then went to check out the tent before it got dark.
Finley enjoyed hearing about how lots of workers had to set up the tent and get it ready for our show and he was thrilled to see it for himself.
 We passed by the tent and then made our way to Fanueil Hall and Quincy Market to get some dinner.  
Walking there was certainly great fun for Finley!  Look at that smile!
We stopped to watch some breakdancers performing in the market and Finley seemed interested, which boded well for the circus performers to come later on.  However, we were all pretty hungry so we headed for the Pizzeria Regina counter and ordered some slices.  Finley devoured his while I munched mine and Dan went in search of a gyro.  When he returned, we all enjoyed our meal and the people watching in the food court dining area.
After he'd eaten quite a bit, though, Finley's tune began to change.  He said he didn't want to go to the circus.  Hm.  He said his tummy hurt.  Uh-oh.  He said he wanted to use the potty since his tummy hurt.  Eureka!! Our hands off approach to potty training may have worked!!! Alas, he wasn't so keen on finding the bathroom after all and climbed back into his seat to finish his pizza.  Oh well.  We cleaned up everything and had some time to spare before the show, so as a distraction measure we went to the Crocs store to get Finley some Jibbitz to jazz up his handmedown crocs.  (What's a jibbit, you ask? It's a little plastic decorative figure/shape you pop into the hole of your crocs.)  Despite looking a bit green in the gills, Finley thoughtfully picked out a basketball and a cool, red robot.  However, by the time he'd picked them out and handed them to Dan to pay for--he was just not right and I figured perhaps a diaper change was in order as he continued to complain about his stomach hurting.  I told Dan that I thought he was really nervous and anxious about going to the circus and perhaps that is why his tummy was hurting him, call it motherly instinct ;)  No need for a fresh diaper after a visit to the changing table in the bathroom, oh well, but it was time to head over to the tent so Dan popped him up on his shoulders and off we went.  We asked Finley to tell us when he saw the big tent and he seemed excited to spy it off in the distance.

He showed the lady our tickets and proudly climbed into his own seat to wait for the show.

 No more photos once the show started, so I'll fill you in.  He took turns in both our laps, clearly getting worked up about the upcoming show.  Eek.  But all in all, he did great.  He sat in my lap and while he was nestled up pretty closely for most of the performance, he did sit up now and then pointing things out and leaning over to tell Dan what he saw.  We brought along his beloved Owly (his lovey that stays in the crib except for plane rides and long car trips), which turned out to be a great idea since it seemed to help him stay calm and watch the show.  He wasn't such a fan of the music and flashing lights, but he did like the jumping acrobats, kids who volunteered to come out from the audience, and the horses.  He never cried or screamed and he watched very intently never looking away, but I could tell from how he was breathing and snuggling into me that he wasn't quite sure about the whole thing.  I narrated things the best I could and reassured him throughout, he talked back calmly, asked some questions, and told me what was happening that he could see.  After about forty-five minutes or so, there was an intermission and we asked Finley if he wanted to stay for more circus or go home.  He said he was all done and ready to go home so we decided to go with his lead and head out.  He said goodbye to the circus and happily got a smiley-face hand stamp on the way out the door.  He told us he liked the jumpers (acrobats) and the horses as we walked away from the big tent. Phew! Dan was parched so we popped into CVS to grab a drink and being the nervous mom that I can be, I asked Finley if he would like a special treat to eat in the car since we were so proud of how brave he was at the circus.  The answer, of course, was "yes" so we bought a small bag of M&M's that he proudly carried back to the car.  Finley has only had M&M's a couple of times--from the one neighbor's house he trick-or-treated at in the fall and after some medicine this winter.  But I was pretty sure these little chocolate gems would assure a positive end to our circus adventure.  Below is a blurry car photo as he happily munched his dessert as we left the garage :)
Okay, so I probably overcompensated...but we all felt happier and more relaxed after sharing some chocolate!

Long, long story short--we had a good time and are happy that we took the chance and went to see the circus.  Can't wait to hear what Finley has to say about our evening's adventure when he wakes up in the morning!!

Update: Since typing this last night, Finley woke up this morning and when we asked him what we did yesterday he excitedly said, "the circus!" and he said he liked going there and he liked the jumpers and the horses.  Sweet.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Beach-Worthy Weather

After the mildest of winters and a week of July-like weather in March, we haven't been too sure what to  expect weather-wise but it was a scorching 89 degrees on Monday (sorry Boston marathoners) and near 80 yesterday.  Finley and I are on spring break this week and Dan kindly took off the week to spend with us, which means lots of family time.  However, it also means, lots of time for me to relax and let the boys hang out since I'm now 28 weeks pregnant (have I failed to mention that in this forum??).  Yesterday I had some appointments, so I left the guys to fend for themselves and lo and behold around 10am I got some photos emailed to me from them.
Yep--they'd gone to the beach! Well, a lake with sand...over in Winchester, about 15 minutes from our place.  The emails sounded like Finley was having a blast and they would be home for a late lunch.  Both boys arrived home sunned and covered in sand, raving about all the fun they had.  Finley snuggled in for a nap while Dan and I ate lunch and hung out. When Finley got up, Dan quickly asked him if he'd like to go back to the beach again but this time with mommy and daddy.  A resounding "yes!" was heard from his crib so after changing clothes and reapplying sunscreen, we were off.

This place had everything a toddler such as ours could want:
1. Parking lot right across from commuter line railroad tracks and since it was nearing rush hour, the trains were plentiful.
2. A Beautiful Lake
Fleets of sailboats were all around and it couldn't have been lovelier to feel the sun on your back and the cool water on your toes.
3. Ducks
After feeding the ducks matzah last weekend with GG in NY, Finley was quite interested in these quacking friends that weren't shy or skittish.
4. Big, abandoned shovels, enough said.
5. More toys.  After their visit this morning, Dan brought more toys including our blue ball which was just like one Finley had played with alongside some other beach goers earlier.
Kicking and tossing it were fun, but not as fun at whacking it with the shovel and getting everyone all wet turned out to be.  We threw the frisbee around, dug up rocks to throw into the water, and while Finley didn't get in much past his knees--he thoroughly enjoyed the water.
6. Airplane flight path from Logan right over our heads, lots of planes to watch and wave to.
7. A nearly brand new playground!
Here is Finley peering into his "barn" getting ready to feed all his animals.
While debuting his new-to-him crocs, Finley was careful to take them off and dump out the little foam rubber pieces that were on the ground under the play structure.
He enjoyed being the captain of this little boat.
Even letting on a first mate (me!) and driving the boat to the "boat station" that I explained was called a "dock."
After discovering a long stick, he took it aboard as a fishing rod and came to bring us his catch.  If only he knew how I felt about seafood...
What an afternoon! I suspect this place gets PACKED on hot summer days so it will be nice for us to enjoy it until school lets out :) While we are house hunting, outings like these make me very thankful for how close we now live to such a wide variety of free, outdoor entertainment!  Way to go Super-Dad, all this fun started with you!

Monday, April 9, 2012


Two weekends back (where does the time go?), we hosted a kid had started small andbutkept growing, which made it loads of fun! I wasn't sure our little house could handle it, but it was just perfect!  Josh and Eliot arrived first and then Finley and Dan returned from their swim lesson. Henry and Dave drove home to get the rest of their family (Mary and not-so-baby Simon) after saying goodbye to Fin and Dan at the pool before driving to our house.  Finally, Stacy and Kelvin (up from CT) and their kids, Aliza and Levi, made our party complete.  The kids checked out all the toys in the playroom and the books in the family room, while the parents tried to hold thoughtful conversations over the chaos...and I do mean chaos!

I whipped up some chicken nuggets and cooked veggies for the kids and for about ten minutes, everyone under the age of three was at the table eating lunch (or at least thinking about it).  Finley took his role as "head of the table" seriously and kept checking on everyone, "Is Eliot having chicken?" "Does Aliza have a fork like me?" "Where is Henry?"
But before we knew it, they had eaten their fill and started a dance party in the kitchen.  Thanks to the accompaniment of the Fridge Farm, they all busted a serious move.  Our guy, in particular, seems to like to boogie :)
This was pretty entertaining to watch for the grown ups as we all shoved some sandwiches into our mouths, not knowing how much time we'd get to chew!

After lunch, it was time for most people to head out.  We said goodbye and then helped Aliza get settled in the guest room and Levi into the travel crib so they could nap at our place  Once everyone was asleep, Dan tidied up the kitchen while I managed to tip toe into the playroom where every toy we own was on the floor and began putting things away like the good OCD mom that I am.  Stacy, Kelvin, Dan and I had some lovely down time to talk and relax before their kids were up and then we went to the basement to play as Finley continued to snooze.  However, when he got up--we had a little more time to play.  All three kids were posed nicely on the couch for about 30 seconds and I wasn't near my camera but grabbed it in time to catch a few cute ones of Finley and Levi hamming it up together.
Aliza seems to love being read to as much as our bookworm, so I happily read to an eager audience before it was time for the CT crew to head out.
The day was a complete success, in my humble opinion, and it was so wonderful to have everyone over and actually enjoy ourselves at the same time.  Maybe I'm getting this hostess thing yet!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Barn Babies!

Last week, Dan took the morning off and kept Finley at home in order to bring him to my school for a special event: Barn Babies!  A well-loved spring tradition at Bowen, Barn Babies arrives in a big van with lots of cute little farm animal babies and two well-trained gals to share them with us.  

My kids were super excited and when Finley arrived, he got in on the enthusiasm and couldn't wait to go upstairs to see all the animals.  We sat and listened to the girls tell what what animals they had brought and how to be safe with them.  A pot-bellied pig, two lambs, three puppies, lots of kittens and bunnies, and two chickens.  As expected, Finley wasn't exactly sure what to make of all of this at first...but he came around and wanted to get into the puppy pen.
Not too sure what to think about these excited puppies...
Then we held a kitten, who kept reaching for Finley with his paws whenever Finley would wave and say hi.
This next one is pretty funny, Finley just kept saying "Hi Kitty" over and over getting closer and closer to its adorable dace.
Next up, the lambs' pen.
And back to the kittens...

Finley's turn to hold one!
He had no interest in holding a chicken or a bunny, but couldn't help going back for a visit to the puppies.
Now he's looking like a pro!
Such a fun treat to have Finley with me at school and to see him get to enjoy such a special experience up close with all these Barn Babies.  Hopefully he won't get any ideas about wanting pets on the home front :)