31 August 2011

Benny's First Steps

Lila is getting so close to her first steps. I almost forgot how amazing those first steps can be until I found this video of Benny's first steps. We gave him some keys so he wouldn't concentrate on falling down. He was just shy of 10 months old when he took his first steps. Absolutely amazing. I can't wait to video Lila doing the same thing!

Side note: Look at those chunky little thighs! Hard to believe that Benny was ever chunky and squishy and baby-y. I don't think he's gained any weight since he was two - just grown taller and taller and taller.
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Two completely separate thoughts. One simple word to link them together: Confession. Let's see if I can make this work.

1. Perhaps I should begin this session with, "Forgive me Father, for I have sinned."

I've never been much of a blog reader. I started my blog a couple of years ago mostly for my memory of Benny's (and now Lila's) younger years. It was somewhat haphazard and I often figured I would lack anything interesting to write about - save for Benny's first steps, first words, and other updates. Over the span of two years, I've realized that I have plenty of mundane things to write about: gardening, home improvementing, reading, accomplishing (or not) goals, in addition to the kids.

However, lately I've been consumed by other blogs. And when I say consumed, I mean I find a blog I like and I read the ENTIRE thing - every entry, every picture, every link. It's bordering on an obsession. And perhaps stalking. And when I get to the very first entry, as I inevitably do, I am somewhat disappointed because I'll have to wait for the blog to be updated. No wonder I have no free time.

On the upside, I found a kindred blog spirit, if you will, in Are We There Yet? The author of this blog doesn't know it, but I think she's pretty great. And I've realized that I'm desperately lacking in a fashion sense from Mama Loves Papa. I think she's pretty great too.

Think that would fly at confession? Probably not. I don't think being consumed by specific blogs is a cardinal sin of Catholicism. Of parenting, yes. Of time management, yes. But of Catholicism, no.

And that brings me to the second topic of the day: God. See, I told you the two thoughts were related.

2. We made a quick post-dinner trip to the park tonight. It's always fun to get the kids outside before bedtime - wear them out just a little bit more... On the way home from the park, we passed a church. Benny asked, "Is that a church?" Yes, it's a church. "Why isn't anyone singing?" Benny associates every church with the church across the street from us. It's a Spanish-speaking Pentecostal/Baptist Church (don't ask me how, please). They can get pretty excited in there every Tuesday and Friday night and all day Sunday. Nine months out of the year, they aren't bad neighbors to have. But in the summer, well, without air conditioning, things can get a little out of hand.

But, back to the original purpose of the second topic: God. I told Benny that not every church has as much singing as the one across the street. As I explained, "They're pretty excited about God." Pause. I knew this question was coming: "God, what is that?" And there you have it: Our complete lack of interest in religion is finally rearing its head. I have no problem with people who go to church, believe in God, etc. It's just not for us (which is a gross oversimplification of the issue, but that's another story for another post). But, I think it may be time to start having the God conversation with Benny. How do we explain THAT to a four year old when we ourselves don't really believe?

29 August 2011

Eating My Words

Throughout this summer I have been harboring some resentment. Not to anyone in particular, but to the garden in general. Nate has taken it on with a gusto, leaving me to make sure stuff in the house is take care of (like dinner). However, as the fruits of his labor are ripening, I find myself eating my words - a lot.

We didn't plant any zucchini this year. I find that squash of any sort tends to overwhelm me and we end up throwing most of it out. Plus, we have plenty of neighbors who are glad to get rid of zucchini at this time of year. I took some donated zucchini and made two loaves of zucchini bread last night. One loaf down, one to go ... not even 24 hours later! And the tomatoes. Oh, the tomatoes. The are simply divine this year. So far they're manageable, but pretty soon we're going to have to start freezing bags of them.

Other yummy creations from the garden this year include coleslaw, cucumber salad, roasted beets, green beans, radishes, lettuce, steamed Swiss chard, fresh basil AND tomatoes on pizza, fresh oregano in orzo, fresh chives in mashed sweet potatoes, carrots, snap peas, strawberries. We also have a volunteer pumpkin plant that has literally taken over a quarter of our yard. At last count, there were at least five enormous pumpkins on the plant, which will save us a trip to the pumpkin patch in a few weeks. Plus, we'll have a ready supply of seeds for roasting!

Coming up as we head into fall, we'll be eating lots of tomatoes, more lettuce, sweet corn, watermelon (hopefully!). Nate has also been drying our garlic bulbs, so we'll be inundated with garlic in the next few days. Just as soon as we're done with this year's harvest, Nate will be planning next year's planting season!
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28 August 2011

My Amish Husband

Just to be clear, I have nothing against the Amish religion/culture/etc. However, when Nate walked out of the bathroom tonight after shaving his mustache, I thought he looked like an Amish farmer. He grabbed the sweet corn (from our garden, no less) for effect. He actually rocks this look, but feels a little bit like an Amish doppelganger. So, he's shaving the beard portion and leaving the chops.
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25 August 2011

Hello, My Name Is Walking Contradiction

Having a boy and a girl has really rocked my world - but it's for reasons so unlike what people might assume...

I can't tell you how many times people have told me that Benny is "all boy" because he likes to jump and run and get dirty. And I can't tell you how many times people have asked me if Lila is different than Benny. Here's the thing: I don't want Benny to be all boy and I don't want Lila to be sugar and spice and all things nice. I want both of my kids to be well rounded in gender stereotypes and feel confident and comfortable in breaking many of them.

For example, I want Benny to be strong and assertive and have ample self confidence, but I also want him to be sensitive and respectful and nurturing. I want Lila to be sensitive and respectful and nurturing, but I also want her to have an opinion and love her body and be physical. The dualisms of gender are not something I want to promote in my house.

Benny typically dresses like a boy - pants, shirts, and not too many frills. I think this is less about him being a boy and more about his parents' own fashion style. Which is to say, we have almost none. Nate wears pants and shirts and stays away from frills. I wear pants and shirts and I'm afraid of frills. The same goes for Lila. Sure, every once in awhile, I like to put a dress on her. It's cute. However, I'm never going to be the parent who discourages her from getting dirty on the playground because she's wearing a nice outfit. I'm also not going to dress her in all pink. It's just not going to happen.

The same goes for gender activities around the house. Benny cooks with me, helps me with the laundry, and puts away his dishes (we're still working on putting away his toys). He also helps us in the yard, planting things and shoveling. This is not only teaching him to ignore gender specific tasks, but it's also teaching him a sense of responsibility (I hope). Lila will get the same education around the house.

In the end, I don't want my kids to feel like they have to fulfill any type of stereotype - at least while they're young. There will be plenty of time for that when they're teenagers and are subjected to intense peer pressure.

What's more, Benny is "all boy" in his activities - he likes to play with trucks, he likes to run, jump, and get dirty. But he's also our curious and cautious child. He has always been that way. He sizes up any situation before diving in, cautiously. Lila on the other hand, is our honey badger. That girl, unlike a girl who is sugar and spice and everything nice, doesn't give a shit.

And, after that RIDICULOUS rant, I just purchased these adorable bows for Lila from Adorn Me Girl on Etsy. At least they're handmade, right? I mean, if I'm going to give up on one principle, I should probably follow another and support a small business. Hello, my name is Walking Contradiction.

24 August 2011

Lila: 11 Months

Lila doesn't officially turn 11 months until Saturday, but I figured I'd post something before I forget all about it. At (nearly) 11 months, Lila is:

Standing by herself, without the assistance of a couch or box or chair. She sort of squats and then pops up. Walking with assistance and LOVING it. I put her in shoes for the first time ever today. Yesterday she was stuck walking on the sidewalk with no shoes and I figured I should do something about that. Eating only food she can feed herself. We've had to get really creative with what we give her because she still only has two teeth! Drinking one cup of cow's milk out of a sippy and not a bottle. That means we're down to two bottles a day! Demanding that she play with the big kids at daycare rather than stay in the baby room. Babbling all of the time. Pointing. Smiling and waving. Climbing all over us. Hugging. Dancing!!!!

Benny and Lila are definitely interacting more now, which is really fun to watch. However, Benny is also experiencing some delayed jealousy and has been acting out a little. Whenever we're playing with Lila, he wants in on the action. It's unfortunately, but I'm guessing it will be short lived. Over the past six weeks, two friends have welcomed babies, so I think Benny is beginning to be more comfortable with the sibling concept. And I think he's secretly glad that Lila isn't a newborn any more.

17 August 2011

Half-Marathon Training: Update

Here's the deal: Running more than five miles without a partner is really hard. Running more than five miles with kids is really hard. And running more than five miles with a busted foot and knee is really hard. I don't want to wuss out on this half-marathon, but I'm trying to decide if running it and risking injury is really worth it. Plus, I missed the early registration date, so I'm going to pay considerably more for registration now. Grrrr. I thought I was back.

So, here's the new plan. I will run between 3-5 miles a few times a week. I can squeeze those distances in pretty easily and Lila doesn't mind accompanying me. Luckily I live in Denver, which means that I can run outside year-round. I will begin training, with a partner, for a half-marathon next spring. Perhaps I'll even find more time when Lila isn't such a handful.

16 August 2011

Book Review: Beautiful Boy

As described on the book jacket, Beautiful Boy, by David Sheff is a father's journey through his son's meth addiction. the book was intense. Maybe because I'm a mother now or maybe because drug addiction is so scary or maybe both.

I stayed awake at night thinking about Sheff's son, Nic, who became consumed by drugs as a teenager. By the time he was 21, Nic had been through rehab three times. THREE times! I think about my life at 21, which was just about as far away as a meth addict as someone could be. My worst offense with substance abuse was binge drinking.

Sheff's account of his personal struggle with his son's addiction is heartbreaking. He mostly blames himself. Part of me wanted to blame him too. Part of me wanted to blame friends. Part of me didn't know who to blame.

I work in the mental health field and I found myself struggling with "blame" as I read the book. In the end, it made just a little more compassionate and understanding about addiction in general. It's incredibly complicated and recovery is not as easy as just stopping. Sheff's son wrote a memoir about his own experience. I need to take a break from addiction, but Tweak is definitely on my must-read list.

Oh, and I organized a book club! Our first meeting is in late September, so I hope to be reading regularly again very soon!

14 August 2011

Ferris Wheel

When we asked Benny what he wanted for his birthday, he responded that he wanted to ride a Ferris wheel and a hot air balloon. The Ferris wheel we could do on short notice. We are instituting "experience" gifts for our kids since they get plenty of "stuff" from grandparents and friends. This was the perfect first experience gift for Benny. As we crept to the top of the Ferris wheel and headed back toward land, Benny said, "I really love to ride the Ferris wheel." Ah, the perfect birthday present for our amazing little boy.
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07 August 2011


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Happy Brule Day!

We attended Brule Day this weekend. Brule Day, as you might suspect, is a celebration of Brule. Unfortunately, as Brule shrinks in size, so does Brule Day. However, it's still a nice opportunity to connect with people who I do get to see very often, like old high school friends.

Nate drove my dad's red SSR and Benny got to ride along. He was pretty pumped because 1) he didn't have to sit in his car seat and 2) he got to throw candy! As the sign indicates, Brule celebrated 125 years this Brule Day. Brule is certainly looking its age at this point as more people have moved away than have moved to town.

I have such fond memories of Brule Day, from the parade, to the games in the park, to the coin toss, to the street dance. It was one of the few days I got to spend in town during the summer. We were usually helping out on the farm in one way or another, so to be able to hang out with my friends for an ENTIRE day was a real treat. It also meant that summer was winding down and school would start soon. My hope is that Benny and Lila enjoy it as much as I did. Based on Benny's positive reaction to Brule Day this year, I think we're heading in that direction!

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01 August 2011


Lila is nearly 10 months and one week old! She is now refusing to eat any food that she can't eat herself. She's quite adept at feeding herself as a result. She is also crawling and pulling herself up. She's not too interested in walking with assistance, but she's cruising around the furniture now. She points and claps and laughs. Once in awhile we can get her to give a high five. She looks so big here!

We're getting rid of her jumpers and other baby items. I can't believe how quickly we cycled through those!

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