Baxter turned 3 last week and is wise and all-knowing. Or at least he's got a good comic vibe about him. We visited the wonderful northwest last week, staying with our good friends Eric, Sarah and Maya in Seattle. Eric has a great blog supplying the masses with political insight not found on the major news networks, along with top-notch pop-culture and parental information. Incidently, we learned during this trip he also has a not-so-secret fascination with the new and improved Britney Spears. At any rate, Seattle was great, we saw the woodland park zoo, trained almost daily at Greenlake park for the Leaf Peeper half marathon (see details at my sister-in-laws blog), and enjoyed a comfortable family atmosphere at the Magnuson/Prager home. Oh, and Bax turned 3 years of age during the week. It's truly amazing how significant development is on only three short years. I remember vividly watching the Sox march through the playoffs three years ago and Baxter was nothing more than a puking, eating, sleeping blob (I type that sentence with love). Today, Baxter possesses verbal skills unmatched by many adults, has developed a taste for local artisan cheese (blue and chevre), regularly looks forward to mixing it up at the local farmers market and will chat it up with strangers about farming and firetrucks. A newer development is a strangely delightful imagination. His mother discovered his crayon creation on our friends coffee table (sorry Eric and Sarah) during our last day in Seattle. Frustrated by this and several earlier episodes of toddler mischief, she exclaimed, "Baxter, what am I going to do with you?!" To which he replied, " I guess you'll have to put me in a cage with kitty cats, 'cause I'm an animal! Neither one of us has any idea where this line of thought originated from, we have no cats and have never threatened either child with a cage. The beauty of this is that it breaks the mood instantly and acts like a deodorizer of parental frustration.
We're back home now for over a week, ran 13.1 miles yesterday in a lovely race in Waterbury, VT. Fall is upon us, which is a good time in Vermont with the apples and great local harvest of the earth. May all your root vegetables be be tasty.
Five months since writing seems like a death sentence for a blog, but things last forever on the internets. Other than the gap between seasons of "Lost", not much would rival my hiatus. Since we last talked, Paige started walking, kissing, hitting and recently, talking. Her words are limited, not unlike other 15 month old kids, but she doesn't let this limitation keep her from starting discussions with everyone she meets. Both kids actually, don't seem to have a shy bone in their bodies. Our local health food store, which sees us quite frequently, is a popular spot for Paige-related discourse. She waves at the cashiers regularly and babbles small talk while I pay for the goods. I think they enjoy the moment and aren't being friendly out of requirement of their customer service policy. Lately, she also will kiss anyone within reach, which can be a problem for the kids who do seem to mind the approach. We've started talking to her about personal space, but I don't think it's sticking quite yet. Several children have recoiled and started crying when Paige butts in for a chat and smooch. She hasn't taking this personal yet though, she moves on to the next child or dog for smooching, whichever is closer. She still is a pipsqueak, weighing in at 19 1/2 lbs as of last weeks 15 month check. Should anyone worry, I remind them to take a look at her father, all 5 feet of me. She's happy and thriving and we are too. Baxter is doing great too, even though he still needs diapers at this point. I always thought 3 years was going to be the magic number for big boy pants, but as that momentis occasion is about a month away, I may have to adjust my expectations. We have the books, the potty's and we even negotiated a reward system for toilet use, to no avail at this time. About a month ago, I tried a different approach. I said to him, "Baxter, I have a feeling that you are going to use the toilet real soon." He replied, " Dadda, I'll use the toilet when my butt gets bigger." Tough to argue with that logic. This reminds me of something I saw in the newspaper recently. There is a new store opening locally that sells natural cloth diapers, and other hippy-like baby gear. One of the owners was talking up the benefits of cloth diapers and the quote that hit me went something like this. "I don't wear padded paper undergarments, so why should my baby have to wear them." That may be true lady, but I can't remember pooping or peeing in my underwear since college, so I'll need a better argument.
After a harrowing start to life, Paigey turns 1 today. We celebrated a couple of times last week; once with the MP playgroup gang on Thursday and again with the family this past Saturday in Malone at Grandma & Grandpa Lowell's house. Attendance was solid with both greats (Trani and Lowell) from Jen's side of the family making the trip. Baxter was front and center for cake and presents, playing the role of "supportive" big brother. His sharing traits are improving rapidly, as he is always willing to "share" other people's things. As with most early birthdays, this time presents a perfect mental environment for reflection. A year goes by quickly in the grand scheme of things and it's always amazing to see the development of young people. We watched a couple of home videos from the archives from last spring on our nostalgic tour and the comparisons are a blast. Baxter still looked like a baby and couldn't be understood verbally. This is stunning because he can now carry on a conversation about the weather, sporting events and food. Paigey's difference were obvious, as she was a wrinkly uncoordinated blob. Now.......just judge for yourself!
We just returned from a family vacation/conference for Jennie in Park City and it was a busy, fun and exhausting week. Jennie and I went skiing in the Canyons 4 days and the kids went to a drop-in daycare called The Clubhouse. It was a clean, well-run joint for the kids and allowed us to partake in the "Greatest Snow on Earth" (Utah ski industry tourist motto). In addition to the usual (kids can't sleep because of the timezone issues, strange beds, etc), we had some new stuff to brag about. Firstly, within an hour of check-in, Baxter declared that he wanted to poop in the potty. And he did, 2 times within the hour. This is an absolute first for him and we rejoiced later that evening with an ice cream. He tried to negotiate some extra "cake treat and pie treat", but we kept things from getting out of hand and stuck with the ice cream. Paige was not to be outdone and started crawling a few days later. And at 9 1/2 months, she beats her brother by about 2 weeks. She's got two modes, regular crawl and a modified version that looks like some sort of monkey scoot. She's really cute, still so tiny that it's amazing to see her motor herself across the floor. We'll need to start keeping the house a little cleaner now, she picks up the tiniest pieces of junk to stuff into her mouth. We call her Roomba....
We're happy to be home and are getting some sleep to recover. We even did some sleeping on the way home.
This saying never made much sense to me, but I remember it fondly from our annual Christmas viewing of "The Christmas Story". The gist of it is this: don't say anything you want kids repeating. In our childless years, we used curse words like most normal non-trucker people. As Jennie was pregnant with Baxter, we started retraining our vernacular with the inevitable assumption that we would need to be curse-free for the next 20 years. For the most part, we have been pretty clean, only slipping up when faced with severely frustrating situations. Family members, especially those who go weeks without seeing the kids, will occasional lapse. This makes for a slightly funny but awkward situation that requires us, the former children to reprimand our parents for swearing. 20 years ago, I would never have thought the following would leave my lips directed at Jennie's dad: "Watch your mouth old man! Do I need to take my belt off?" As I mentioned in an earlier post, we recently had prolonged issues with leaky bathrooms. The shower stall has just been "repaired" for the 2nd time when I took a shower. As I opened the door, I noticed a dark wet spot on the floor towel. Filled with frustration, I muttered under my breath, "Jesus." Baxter just happened to be in the room with me and repeated what he thought he heard, using the same disgusted tone as his soon to be ashamed father. Only when it came out of his mouth, it sounded more like "Pizzas". Being well-read on how to deal with these situations, I didn't pursue or prod him further, but I didn't enjoy a nice chuckle. So next time you're struggling to find a strong but clean exclamation for a frustrating situation, remember there's always pizza.
I successfully had lasik surgery this past Friday at the Vermont Laser Eyecare Center. When I say successful, I mean 20-15 vision and I went skiing the very next day. What an amazing procedure, I have a hard time putting it into words, but I guess I'll try. I have a decent memory and one of the files deep in my brain bank includes getting glasses when I was 6 or 7. Blackboard items at OlBrushton-Moira seemed a little too blurry and I was tested for vision issues. The first (5-6) pairs of glasses were shall we say, from the geek series of eye wear. Combined with my super-cool mullet, I was able to snare my amazing-ish girlfriend Jennie during the high school days. I finally got contacts my frosh year of college and have worn them since. Recently I began having some issues with the contacts and Jennie, now playing the role of best wife on the planet, got me lasik's for Christmas and the rest is history. As I said before, everything turned out a-ok, but I must admit to a smidgen of anxiety and while getting the kids ready for the day, I had a frightful thought that I could be seeing them for the last time (irrational moment, even non-successful surgery wouldn't result in blindness, i think). So I took an extra 5 seconds with each kid, staring at their faces and soaking up their beautifulness. Luckily, I get to keep seeing those faces for the unforeseeable future. Even the outsider can admit, it's a sweet view. (Baxter "helped" with brownies, Paige just waking from a nap)
Those who know us have heard all about the bathroom nightmares that we've encountered. For the most part, we love our home. Or I should say "love where our home is located but would like to make some rather large renovations in the near future" (Hello Chittenden loan department?). As luck would have it, we've encountered dueling leaky bathroom issues. Downstairs kitchen bath with shower (yes, we know that's weird) had some leaky grout and rotten drywall--out of commission for about 2 months. Very shortly after we learned of this problem, we noticed some peeling paint in the kitchen ceiling, curiously enough below the upstairs tub. We find out that the upstairs grout is also shot and is as porous as a sponge. We proceeded to shower with the shower head handle as close to our bodies as possible, which in the middle of the winter tends to be rather chilling. Downstairs shower door arrives, hurrah for us! Grout is applied upstairs, we're back in business with both, right? Well, there appears to be additional leaking from the hot water handle upstairs, call the plumber. Also, the new not-cheap shower door (downstairs for those keeping track)is leaking near the bottom. Our 3rd option for cleansing ourselves is pictured below....I'll add a pic of my bath later..
I have a confession and I hope this will serve notice to other parents out there who feel like something is wrong with them, because it's completely natural (I hope). It is this: We feel a giddy-like sensation when both kids are sleeping soundly, either for naps or the evening. Early on, I didn't feel like I could release this information for fear of social services taking umbridge with this attitude. Jennie and I would confide in each other and question our fitness to be parents. "What does it say about us that we look forward to nap and bedtimes with the same fervor as kids on christmas morning?" Luckily, we had the same feelings so we didn't have to sheepishly admit to such truths. Lately, I'm hearing similiar themes from other parents with young children. "I try to not to wish my life away but......" "I got em both in bed by 7:30, it was heavenly." "He was driving me crazy, so we started the bedtime routine early." Guilt is a powerful and awful emotion and is not enjoyed by many. It's important to consider the facts. We have high standards for our parenting experience, whether it be enriched playgroups, organic foods, limited TV (limited meaning zero for Jennie), etc. We could spend 24 hours a day trying to live up to these expectations, without even considering work, sleep and other household duties. Perhaps it should be stated as such: Parenting is extremely hard. That's not to say that we don't enjoy it or love our children very much. In fact, I think it's hard BECAUSE we love them dearly to set such expectations. These quotes illustrate my point: "I feel like a lousy mother, I haven't read many books to our 6 month old. I hope I haven't irreparably harmed her development." "He's only had yogurt, fruit and some whole grains today, we're not doing a good job with vegetables." I think you get the point. So let's take it easy on ourselves. If they're happy, healthy and mostly alive, pat yourself on the back because you're doing a good job. Besides, if we were perfect, therapists in 20-30 years would lose a lot of business.