Monday, January 26, 2015

Our Secret Hideout


I'm sure this is just a normal part of parenting, but it seems like lately Mac and I are going through a rough patch.  I've mentioned this before, but Mac is really a daddy's boy.  The majority of the time, I'm absolutely fine with this.  No really.  I am beyond thrilled that Mac and Ryan are so close.  I personally think I hit the jackpot in the daddy department when I married Ryan because he is so good with the kids and is such an active participant in our family. But lately, Mac's attitude has gone above and beyond the normal "I prefer daddy" sentiment, to an "I ONLY want daddy" order.  And quite honestly, it hurts my feelings.
I know it probably sounds ridiculous that my two-year old can make me feel so hurt sometimes (because I know he doesn't really mean anything by it), but it seems to hit a nerve with me.  Aren't boys supposed to love and adore their mamas?  Am I doing something wrong?  His requests for daddy started out innocently enough, but as they increased in intensity and frequency, it started feeling personal.  Honestly, it goes straight to that spot deep down in my soul that wonders am I a good mom...do my kids like me...am I doing this right?
And I know that's all crazy.  He's a toddler.  It's just a phase.  And all that jazz.  Believe me, I know.  Being a parent is amazing, but it is oh so hard sometimes.  Especially because I will probably never know if I'm doing it right.  Well, I mean...unless he grows up to be a serial killer, then I can say I probably did something wrong.  But Mac and I constantly butt heads.  That child knows how to push my buttons like no one on earth.  My husband would say that this happens because Mac and I are so much alike (he is pretty awesome).  But this kid is so me it's scary.  We're both horribly stubborn and we never back down.  We both get our pride hurt very easily and have tendencies to lash out.  We're both slightly manipulative and know how to work the angles to get what we want.  We're strong willed and determined and smart.  It's quite amazing to see so much of yourself in someone so small.
I think the main reason for the "daddy fixation" has a lot to do with the addition of a new baby to the family (no Mim, I'm not blaming you per se, just your existence).  I'm sure it's been hard on Mac being displaced as the center of our universe and to not have all the attention on him.  For so many months, it was always mommy taking care of the baby while he spent time with daddy.  Our divided household was good for surviving the newborn stage, but I think the division of child labor has somewhat backfired and caused a split in our household.  
I can't say I really blame Mac for wanting to spend time with Ryan.  If I had a choice, I'd pick him too (oh wait, I did).  He's a lot of fun - they do cool "guy stuff" like get dirty, drive tractors, go hunting and shovel the snow.  How can I compete with that?  I probably can't.  However, I have come to the conclusion that Mac and I need to spend some one-on-one quality time together.  Just the two of us - no daddy, no baby. 
This weekend I wanted to take him somewhere fun...just the two of us.  Maybe the zoo or the Butterfly House or even just to the park. We used to do that kind of thing all the time, but it's gotten harder and harder to get away and I always feel guilty about not being with Mim.  But we were going to do it.  Then he got sick.  And Mim got sick.  And I thought it was a good time to shut down the milk factory (my boobs), so I'm in a lot of pain and no one really felt like leaving the house.  So, I tried to do the next best thing...building a secret hideout where the two of us could escape (#popsecretforts).
I told Mac on Friday night that I'd have a surprise for him in the morning.  I'm not sure he really knew what to expect, but that night I stayed up WAY past my bedtime and built a pillow fort on our landing. I brought up chairs and stuck in some mops for ceiling support.  I grabbed a bunch of pillows and blankets.  I stocked the fort with books and his stuffed animals and popcorn!  The next morning he was so excited to hang out in the fort with mommy.  
Since he wasn't feeling well, this was the perfect little escape for him.  It was somewhere he could rest and take it easy, but it still felt special and was something that we could do together.  We had our special popcorn snack for our movie, and I pulled out the iPad and we watched the episode of Daniel Tiger where Daniel is sick and they sing the "rest is best" song.  He sang it over and over again all day.  He even fake rested for me.
But the best part of the whole thing was just getting to spend some quality time with him.  Granted, I was being obnoxious and taking a bunch of photos, but he tolerated it for a few minutes before asking me to come lay next to him and watch the show - which I gladly did.  He is such a fun kid to be around these days.  His imagination is exploding and it's so amazing to watch the person he's going to be emerge from this tiny little boy.  You can already tell what an animal lover he is.  He made sure that Banga (aka Bambi) got some popcorn too.  He may not be able to share with Mim yet, but I think this shows that he's working on the concept and gets it. 
Despite his spitfire personality, he's still a lover.  
Our morning was pretty wonderful.  I think we both had fun and we got some good Mama-Mac quality bonding in.  We snuggled, sang songs, read books and talked about school.  He seemed like he was really having a great great, but the minute we walked out of the fort, he was already asking for daddy again. Seriously?!  C'est la vie.  
Anyone else a fan of pillow forts?  
What's your favorite secret hideout snack?
How do you "connect" with your toddler?


*Thanks to PopSecret for sponsoring today's post and encouraging us to build a super cool pillow fort.  All opinions, drama/emotions and shoddy fort building skills are 100% my own.

**PopSecret is encouraging you to submit photos of your pillow fort to their Facebook page.  You can also download a $1 off coupon for the popcorn flavor of your choice! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

You Are My Wild

I am your parent, you are my child
I am your quiet place, you are my wild
I am your calm face, you are my giggle
I am your wait, you are my wiggle
I am your water wings, you are my deep
I am your open arms, you are my running leap
I am your way home, you are my new path
I am your dry towel, you are my wet bath
I am your dinner, you are my chocolate cake
I am your bedtime, you are my wide awake
I am your finish line, you are my race
I am your praying hands, you are my saving grace
I am your favorite book, you are my new lines
I am your nightlight, you are my sunshine
I am your lullaby, you are my peek-a-boo
I am your kiss goodnight, you are my I love you

 Author: Maryann K Cusimano

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Favorite Books for Preschoolers - 2.5 Years


We seem to be on a reading kick these days!  More than ever, Mac is really interested in books and reading has become such a big part of our day.  We read books before naptime, before bedtime and a few different times during the day.  He loves to read books while we put Mim to bed and while we're making dinner.  It's absolutely wonderful to see him develop such strong connections with books and I hope that he grows up to love reading as much as I do.  
(aww, baby Mac!)
If you've ever been to our house, you know that I take my personal library very seriously.  I have an entire room in our house lined in bookshelves.  Mac's room is no different.  I want reading to be a big part of his life, so I've purposely surrounded him with as many books as possible and made them as accessible as I could. For having kids that can't even read, we have more children's books than I ever imagined.  We've got everything from the classics like Goodnight Moon and Corduroy Bear to the newest Little Blue Truck and Llama Llama.  All the Dr. Seuss books and tons of little Goldens.  Every night before bed, Mac and I read two books together (or three, or four, or seven).  I let Mac pick a book and I pick a book.  We have very different taste, but I've been surprisingly proud of the books that have become his favorites.  Here are 24 of our "mutual" favorites (some are mine, some are his).  

I Love You Stinkyface by Lisa McCourt - This is one of those books that I love just as much (if not more) than Mac loves.  The illustrations are beautiful and the message that the mama will love her child no matter what (or how much they stink) is wonderful. 

Animal Alphabet: Slide and Seek the ABCs by Alex Lluch - Mac loves sliding the doors open to reveal the animals in this book.  We use it to identify letters and sound them out with the animal names.  There are even a couple animals that we weren't familiar with (xenops), which gave us the opportunity to look up what kind of bird that was and talk about it.  The hand-drawn illustrations are really pretty and are reminiscent of Eric Carle.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. - I think this one is fun to read.  It's rhythmic and colorful and entertaining.  Great for identifying letters and colors.

Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night? by Brianna Caplan Sayres - I love this book.  Mac got this from Santa for Christmas and it's quickly become a new favorite.  He loves anything to do with trucks/tractors/vehicles and I love the rhymes and how sweet the book is.  Cute illustrations too.  Definitely a winner.

Lift-the-Flap Tab: Trucks by Roger Priddy - This one's been a favorite for over a year now.  We've lost a tab here and there, but he continues to love this book.  Every page is a different vehicle with fun things to discover about it.  Each vehicle has a driver and Mac knows them all by name. It's pretty cute listening to him tell stories about each page.

Stellaluna by Janelle Cannon - This one gets me every time.  A baby bat loses her mother and is adopted by birds, so she has to change to fit in.  Great lessons, great illustrations.  

My Father Knows the Names of Things by Jane Yolen - This is such a cute book with sweet verses and really adorable illustrations. I always felt like my dad knew everything there was to know about everything, and I hope Mac and Mim grow up feeling the same way about their dad (and mine).  

I Stink! by Kate McMullan - My boss recommended this one to us when he heard that Mac was obsessed with the garbage truck. It's all about the garbage truck eating the trash at night.  It has an A-Z list of disgusting things that the truck eats (moldy melons, dirty diapers).  There's even a page where the truck lets out a huge burp.  Mac thinks it's hilarious. I think it's a bit hard to read (it doesn't flow or rhyme), but he loves it.  Another garbage truck favorite (if you're into this kind of thing) is Smash! Mash! Crash! There Goes the Trash! by Barbara Odanaka.

Bear in a Square by Stella Blackstone - This book is great to work on counting and shapes with kids.  Each page has a different shape that you have to find on the pages.  It's bright and colorful and well-written.  Bear on a Bike is also good. 

The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson - I love this book.  Beautiful illustrations and very pretty rhythmic verses, it's one of my favorites.  Mac loves naming all the animals on the pages.  The story of a very small animal helping to save a very large one is very sweet, too. 

We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen - This is a fun book that Mac loves, but only if daddy reads it to him.  I've tried, but apparently I don't do it right.  Also, if you were a girl scout, you're going to want to sing it, which your child will probably hate.  Otherwise, it's a cute book with great sounds and a fun ending. 

Babies by Gyo Fujikawa - My mom said this was one of my favorite books when I was little.  I love the books of Gyo Fujikawa and we have a bunch of his illustrated books of nurseryrhymes, poems and fairy tales that I can't wait to read to Mac and Mim when they get a little older.  This one's about babies and we used it to teach him what baby Mim would be like when she arrived. 

The Little Engine That Could (condensed board book) by Watty Piper - After trying to get Mac to sit still for the longer version of this book, I wised up and got the condensed board book for him.  I love this story and the morale.  He now says, "I think I can...I think I can," which is so stinking adorable I could die. 

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn - This is a sweet book about a little raccoon going to school and missing his mama, only to find that the mama misses the little raccoon just as much.  It's like my autobiography.  Mac loves all the animals.  Plus, it comes with stickers to use as kisses.  

My First Animals (Tabbed Board Book) by DK Publishing - Mac loves all the tabbed DK Publishing books in this series and we've been reading them for two years now.  He has My First Animals, My First Words, My First Farm, My FirstColors - they're all very well-loved.  These were some of his favorite books for the beginning and have definitely withstood the test of time.  The animals one has probably been the favorite because it not only has the farm animals and baby animals, but it also has lots of bugs, snakes and birds.  The farm one has two pages of tractors and farm vehicles, so that one's a close second. 

Go, Dog. Go! by P. D. Eastman - One of my favorites from when I was a kid.  I got Mac the entire Dr. Seuss library before he was born, so I'm thrilled that he likes some of these.  Go Dog Go is a favorite, as is I'll Teach My Dog 100 WordsThe Foot Book and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.

Dog by Matthew Van Fleet - Again, this one has been a favorite of his for over a year.  He loves feeling the different textures, wagging their tales and making the dog pee.  Plus, there's a three page spread of dogs in the back of the book that all have names - he's got almost all of them memorized and talks about the dogs like he knows them.  This kid loves dogs.  He chose this book as his very favorite book to take to nursery school last week when he was the leader.  He LOVES this book.  We also have the farm version of this book called Moo.  

Press Here  by Herve Tullet - I do not quite understand the appeal of this book (it's a lot of work), but Mac loves it.  Of course he doesn't "press" anything, he punches and stabs the dots, violently shakes the book and is pretty rough with it.  I'm shocked it hasn't lost any pages yet.

Steam Train, Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker - This is another favorite of mine.  I love the sounds in this book and the pretty verses. Mac loves trains and animals, so the illustrations keep him occupied.  By the same author of Good Night Construction Site, which is another favorite. 

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann - For a book with very few words, this book takes a long time for us to get through.  Mac loves talking about all the animals, finding the balloons on the pages, seeing the animals' lovies in their cages and spotting the mouse.  It's cute.  

Llama Llama Wakey-Wake by Anna Dewdney - I got this book to help Mac get ready for school.  So far it's done little to help him get motivated to get out the door, but I think all the Llama Llama books are cute and have great rhymes.  This one is a board book and much shorter than some of the others. 

Dinosaur Zoom by Penny Dale - This is a book about dinosaurs traveling by various vehicles to get to a birthday party.  I don't know what it is about this book, but Mac loves it.  I do not see the appeal, but it's one of his favorites.  We always have to sing Happy Birthday to the little dinosaur at the end and help him blow out the candles.  Toddlers love vehicles, dinosaurs and birthdays, so it's a big hit around here.
.
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss - A classic.  Repetitious, nice rhyming, cute illustrations, talks about trains and goats and trying new foods.  Everyone wins.

Poke-A-Dot: Who's In the Ocean by lKids - This is Mac's "special book" that I got him to read while I fed the baby in the early days of baby Mim.  He loves this book and it's now well-worn.  It's great to work on counting and really fun to pop the dots.  I’ve even found myself popping the dots when he’s not around. 

  • What are some of your kids' favorite books?



    *This post does NOT contain affiliate links and all opinions are 100% my own. 


    Thursday, January 8, 2015

    Baby Mim - 5 Months

    Dear Mim,

    Five months!  Wow.  I cannot believe you're nearly half a year old.  It is absolutely not fair that time is going by this quickly.  I felt like Mac was a baby forever (years and years), but here you are becoming a big kid in the blink of an eye.  Maybe it's because you're the second or maybe it's because you're a much easier baby than he was, but time is moving in warp speed these days.  I constantly have to remind myself to slow down and take a few minutes each day to marvel at all your wonderful babyness - your chubby cheeks, your squishy thigh rolls, your big gummy grin and those adorable girly coos and squeals.  You are baby perfection.
    You are the most delightful little thing that's ever happened to us.  I think your dad and I must say that you're "delightful" all the time, because even Mac has started to say, "Mim's lightful!"  You are such a sweet happy baby and your smile could melt the polar ice caps.  It lights up our whole lives.  You make the most amazing happy expressions and the camera seriously loves you.  Your giggle is absolutely to die for and comes out most frequently when your brother does something goofy or when you're about to get in the bathtub.  I've never seen a baby get so excited for bath time - you go nuts!
    This update is a couple weeks late, which I'm going to partially blame on the holidays and partially on you for being such a little stinker these days and not sleeping at night (or all that well during the day either).  I'm not sure if this is the dreaded 4 month sleep regression coming a bit late, or because you're teething or because you no long want to be swaddled at night.  I don't think your dad or I have gotten more than 2 hours of continuous sleep in weeks.  You're an early riser too, which is different than your brother.  Your poor daddy take the majority of mornings (while I take nights) and has had multiple conversations with you about a proper wake-up time (4:00 a.m. is not acceptable, young lady).  Your saving grace is that you're so sweet and smiley in the morning (even at 4:00 a.m.) - it makes it impossible not to smile and laugh at you at such an ungodly hour.  
    Your naps have been somewhat hit or miss these days too.  You do fine in your crib for your morning nap and overnight, but your afternoon nap MUST be in someone's arms, or you're not sleeping.  We've all tried to get you to nap in your crib, but you insist on snuggling.  Most of the time this isn't a problem (we love snuggling with you), but this can't go on forever.  And you also seem to think naps are optional when I'm home (on weekends or over the holidays).  If mama's around, you're not sleeping.  So you've basically gone from a really great sleeper, to a mediocre sleeper.  Fine.  You're still leaps and bounds ahead of where your brother was at this point, so I'm in no way complaining. Ok, so I'm kinda complaining, but only a little bit. Sleep training begins at 6 months, baby. Get ready.
    You're still a little chunky monkey.  I adore those chubby cheeks and the thigh rolls that go on for days.  You're still on 100% breast milk, but always out of a bottle.  I could never get you to go back to nursing after your strike at 9 weeks.  I tried a few more times, but you weren't having it and I was done with pushing you.  I'm over it...for the most part.  I'm still pumping (3-5 times a day) and hate it with the intensity of a thousand burning suns, but there's an end in sight!  I've decided to turn the milk factory off at the end of January (when you're 6 months old) and feel pretty good about the decision.  Hallelujah!  I'm ready to have my body back to myself and possibly take a sledgehammer to the pump.  I'm proud that we made it this far on breast milk, but I'm pretty over it.  Also, I miss vodka.  
    Speaking of eating, we're planning on introducing some solids to you in the next month or two.  I'm simultaneously excited about this and also pretty sad because it means you're really growing up (say it ain't so!).  Mac had a few solids at 5 months, but I don't think you're ready yet (although you do watch me and my food intently while I eat and smack your lips, which is adorable) (ok, so maybe I'm not ready yet).  We're going to do Baby Led Weaning again, so I'd like you to be able to sit up on your own and show interest in food by reaching for it.  Until then, bottles it is.  
    I'm not even sure what else to say - you're a sweet and happy baby!  You love your brother, your parents and your nanny. You smile all the time. You are quiet and observant whenever Mac is around, but you talk/babble/squeal non-stop as soon as he's out of the room and all the attention's on you.  You're still very bald, but I think you're finally starting to get some hair (and I think it's blonde!).  My friends have said that you look like me, but I think you look a lot like your dad right now.  I'll have to post a photo of Ryan at this age so I can prove it.  You guys could be twins.  
    So there it is!  Happy 5 months (a bit late, as usual), baby Mim!  We love you so much, sweetheart.

    XOXO,
    Your mama
    Likes:
    - baths
    - music
    - watching Mac
    - watching TV
    - chewing on your hands
    - getting your picture taken
    - the exersaucer
    - your playmat
    - clean diapers
    - gripe water
    - blowing raspberries
    - rolling onto your tummy (then screaming to be rolled back over)
    - squealing
    - daddy playing the guitar
    - holding my hand
    - snuggling


    For comparison:
    Mac's 5 Month Post