stringing together a story of our lives

We Love Whim Pop

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There’s this new popsicle place in Old Town and its pretty awesome: Whim Pop! Its awesome that its not too far a walk from the metro. Its awesome that they make fresh popsicles out of fresh fruit every day. Its a sort of healthy-ish treat for Roman. And the flavors are always different and interesting.

They serve coffee drinks and tea and some other snacks too.

They cover their walls in paper and provide extra sheets and crayons and washable markers for the kids to go crazy with. Also, the people who work there are always so nice, so welcoming and accommodating.

The layout makes it easy to walk through with a stroller, which I appreciate in a neighborhood where every business is in an old brownstone so every business is narrow and cramped and difficult to navigate with my giant heavy double stroller. (But I do it anyway, because Its full of awesome little businesses, like this one!)

A Perfect Day

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It was 80 degrees, overcast and breezy. It was the perfect break from the incessant sticky hotness of this summer. We spent the morning strolling along a lake in the woods. When we got home we sat outside at the picnic table while Roman finally had a chance to play in his yard. Mike surprised me with a glass of rosé, I am fully on board with this current cultural obsession, a nice dry rosé is my new favorite thing. I sat sipping, enjoying the breeze, Iris smiling in my lap. Perfect.

Eventually, we went back inside to get something to eat. Standing in the kitchen, setting down my now empty glass, I looked down to find my arms entirely covered in dry baby poop. Iris’s dress stained a mustard shade. She blew right out the front, either in her carseat or while we sat, and I had no idea. I had no idea that as I sat sipping rosé on this perfect day, thinking to myself if this isn’t nice I don’t know what is” that I was covered in baby poop, that Iris was so happy and calm because she had just had a major blowout after days of constipation.

If that isn’t a perfect picture of motherhood, I don’t know what is.

(image via Cup Of Jo)

Also, a Zagat guide to Rosé and I was drinking Whispering Angel and found it to be delicious.

Bedtime Awakenings

He struggles to fall asleep. Every night. This particular week it took hours. Every night. So every night, after Iris was down in her crib, I’d sneak into Roman’s room to relieve his father.

On this night, in the dark, in his restless state, he cheered, “Mama, yay mama!”. He nuzzled himself right into my arms, lying side by side. But still, after a few moments of trying to lay still, he was restless. I sang him twinkle twinkle little star. He sang it back to me. Perfectly and for the first time he sang, “twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder” he got just that far. We sang back and forth for awhile, his renditions drifting off, sleepier and sleepier. I’d cover his face in kisses and he’d grin that sweet grin that melts me.

Then a new wave of restless energy took him over. He sat up. I turned on his bedtime bear. It lights up and plays a soothing lullaby. He likes it and so do I, I find it very calming. He was beginning to hop around the bed. In a desperate attempt to wrangle his attention I threw the covers over my head, me and the bedtime bear in our own little light up soothing bubble. And he joined us. He sat beside me giggling, excited to be resisting sleep, in this secret undercover tent with his Mama. I laid there mesmerized by the soft round curves of his fresh two year old face, lit up purple, then pink, orange, yellow, green, and blue to the sound of a slow sweet song, in the dark of his room. Our own little world.

Sometimes it feels stressful, lying there, waiting for him to fall asleep. The sense that he will spend the whole night restless, that he will never in fact drift off and rest, that we will fall asleep there and lose the chance to finish any of the things we wanted to finish that evening. Sometimes we feel a little sorry for ourselves that every other person we know seems to be able to place their child in a crib at 7:30 at night and leave the room and that is that.

I would not trade those moments under the covers with that sweet boy for any sleep or any work done or dishes washed or time to myself. Those moments where the whole world slows down and I sink deep into an awareness of how good my life is, deep into gratitude, so deep that for the first time I did not fear my inevitable non existence. Because I was given this, this boy, this happy, healthy boy, with his easy life and my easy life where we have the opportunity every day to slow down and just be grateful. The luxury of time. The luxury of bedtime bears and fluffy bed covers. The luxury of not having to let my children cry.

I don’t need anything else. I have been given this. This is more than enough.

I have been given all the good things. I am one of the lucky ones.

We Love The Sugar Shack

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I have a thing for donuts.

I have an addiction to The Sugar Shack, because they make the best donuts. Also, they have excellent coffee. Also, they have giant crocheted donuts hanging from the ceiling.

I come up with excuses multiple times a week to go get donuts. No ideas for how to spend the morning? Well, lets start with donuts and coffee and see where the day takes us. A good day for library story time? Well The Sugar Shack is practically on the way! Too hot to do anything involving walking today? Well The Sugar Shack is basically the closest thing to any metro stop so lets just go there to get out of the house.

I’m into your basic chocolate frosted donut. Roman likes the red velvet cake donut “ardy donut” and the apple cake donut and donuts with sprinkles. One time they had an old fashioned donut with a lemon poppy seed glaze and that was probably my favorite one yet.

They have all sorts of fun crazy flavors. You should go!

Cheryl Strayed On Life With Children

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A woman wrote to Dear Sugar for advice on whether she should venture into motherhood alone without a partner, in response, Cheryl Strayed, as Dear Sugar, wrote some of my favorite ever written words on the matter of life with children. I fell in love with all of her advice in Tiny Beautiful Things, but this essay in particular had me saying “yes!”. She has this way of talking about love and all the good-warm-mushy things in life without sounding sentimental or sappy. This matter of fact way that gives extra weight to these beautiful truths. She brings things back down to earth.

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“Galaxy! Galaxy!”

Monday night Roman was tired but not yet ready for bed, a little cranky and drowsy from maybe teething and maybe still being a little sick. He was clinging to Mike so they sat on the couch together and we tried to find something to watch on Netflix that could entertain us all. Mike clicked on Cosmos with Neil Degrasse Tyson and as soon as the program started to play Roman pointed and exclaimed, “Galaxy! Galaxy!” in his sweet little imperfect 2 year old way. “Oh yea he knows what galaxies are now,” says my husband.

Oh yea. He just knows about galaxies now.

He has a book on space that I bought him over a year ago, long before he was interested in books with tabs that opened up to reveal more words and pictures . Now he reads it every night before bed with his father. Apparently. That night I put him to bed. We looked at the book on Space together. He pointed out all the galaxies.

He also pointed out all the astronauts. He says “astronauts” now too, in that sweet little imperfect 2 year old way.

Actually, he seems to say everything now. Out of nowhere he repeats words I didn’t know he knew, as if he’s been saying them all his life.

And he comes out with more complicated sentences all on his own. Like the other day when he said, “baby needs more milk” while she was fussing. He just thought that up himself! He stumbled through the sentence a bit the first time, and repeated it a few more. It felt like a break through. Like next thing I know he will be expressing all of his thoughts in complex sentences all day long.

Thoughts about astronauts and galaxies.

I cannot wait.

(But I can. These days I look at him and for the first time really wonder where the time has gone. How is his hair so long? What happened to his baby feet?)

The First Time They Really Had Fun Together

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Mike set up Iris’s crib in our bedroom. It was a family affair. Roman “helped” while Iris and I watched from the bed. When it was all set up it became clear that Roman took this to be his new jungle gym. He tried to climb inside so we plopped him in and sat Iris inside with him.

He jumped and jumped and she laughed and laughed. He wanted to jump harder so Mike had to hold onto him and keep him steady as he jumped and jumped with all his strength and Iris sat laughing and laughing from deep in her belly. The jumping escalated to flipping around. Iris shrieked with excitement, swatting her arms about trying to grab his hair and face at it swung about. I stood her up and she jumped and jumped with him.

After awhile our arms became exhausted. Neither of them were ready to leave the party. I took Iris out and we tried to calm Roman. He just reached over to me and tugged on Iris and pointed into the crib saying “baby, baby, baby jump” because he didn’t just want to jump himself, he wanted to jump with her. He wanted to jump and see her laugh, he wanted to jump and let her attack his face with her chubby little hands. He wasn’t just having fun, he was having fun with her.

And that was my favorite moment yet.

(and here is one video of it. and here is another.)

Our Summer Vacations at The Jersey Shore

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My husband and I grew up at the south Jersey shore just outside of Atlantic City. We still visit our families there frequently, especially in the summer months, and I’m just now beginning to appreciate our hometown as a tourist destination. Every weekend the joy that fills Roman on these trips makes it harder and harder to leave. We’ve come to fully recognize our family visits as summer vacation weekends.

When we visit the “shore” we stay in Brigantine NJ. Brigantine is probably most popular for its close proximity to Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel and Casino. As of this month it now boasts one of the most awesome playgrounds in the country!!! (That is entirely my opinion.) But seriously, it is my new favorite playground, and we have seen a lot of playgrounds. Brigantine’s Shark Park was recently revitalized post Hurricane Sandy entirely by local volunteer labor. It is fairly huge and completely adorable, with lots of creative touches and so much to climb on, slide on and swing on for kids of all ages.

Roman’s absolute favorite playground activity at the moment is hanging on the monkey bars. With the widest grin on his face he holds on so tight, so full of pride and uncontainable excitement. Climbing up slides comes in second.

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My husband and his family are surfers, so now our two year old is too. They own a surf shop called Primal Surf where you can rent boards of all kinds and take lessons, either private adult Stand Up Paddle Board lessons or group surf lessons at their surf school.

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At one point on our last visit Roman began chanting “going to the beach, going to the beach” every time we put him in his carseat. (This broke my heart when we were strapping him in his carseat to go back home to Virginia.) Each time we’d drive up to the beach he would point out the window exclaiming, “see the beach! see the beach!” And as soon as he got his feet on the ground he’d run to the water. If there’s a surfboard in sight he pushes it down and tries to hop on.

My husband and his parents strap a life vest on him and take him out on their surfboards to catch waves. He rides them seated or kneeling on the board and rode a wave all by himself for the first time on our last day at the beach, standing up on his own for a couple seconds as the board slowed down approaching the sand.  It was the sweetest thing.

Iris has just started sitting up on her own and finally had a chance to sit at the waters edge and play in the mud with her brother on this last visit. A weekend of many firsts. Its amazing to me the way the beach and its breeze seems to calm them.

A four hour drive isn’t a terribly far distance to be separated from the kids grandparents, usually I feel guilty for not being closer, but it is also wonderful to pack in lots of quality time on these weekends. I can see already that they’re something extra special for Roman, and I’m happy that we have somewhere to take them for a regular change of pace and scenery.

 

This post was originally shared on Hellobee.com with some more tips for things to do in the area!

Her Sense of Humor

She was jumping in the jungle jumper in the kitchen doorway. I was washing the dishes. She had been jumping happily for awhile, a rare occasion. At one point she looked as if she might fall asleep, her head nodding down. I turned to her and I smiled. She smiled back for a minute, as she always does, it is often noted that she is a remarkably smiley baby. We held each others gaze and smiled and then suddenly she sticks out her tongue and makes a fart noise and laughs. And I laugh. And I make a fart noise. And she laughs.

The past few nights she wakes up in the middle of the night, rolling around from side to side, waving her arms, she babbles and she makes these fart noises. Over and over so loudly. It is random and hysterical. It is the middle of the night and I am exhausted and I don’t mind because she is a little ball of light and laughter reminding me not to take it all so seriously.

A Sweet Simple 2nd Birthday Celebration

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Roman doesn’t have a whole lot of experience with birthdays yet, his own or anyone else’s. So for him, a second birthday was a funny thing. A day I wanted to make special for him while he was entirely unaware.

We greeted him in the morning singing “Happy Birthday To You” and kept on singing all day long.

I took him to Old Town to get a treat for breakfast, play at the playground and pick up balloons and candles for the evening.

He got two smiley face balloons which thrilled him (one sadly flew away after mere moments but he was not phased. The other was beaten to its demise by other children at the playground the next day.)

He fell asleep on the way home and took a nice birthday nap. While he was sleeping I hung the birthday banner I made him for his first birthday, and made some new party hats to add to the festivities. He was quite pleased to be greeted with the “Happy Birthday” song when he woke up.

He received a card and two boxes in the mail while he was asleep and opened them slowly when he got down stairs. First the card, a musical delight that he played with for awhile before opening the first box, a Duplo Lego barn set that he played with for an hour before opening the second box, a house set. I believe him to be a record setting slow present opener.

Then his Papa came home!

He received a delivery of a dozen cupcakes (and another balloon!) at 5pm, just in time for the big birthday main event.

And this was the sweetest thing. He loves to blow out the candles. He did have some practice with this for his Papa’s birthday the month before, so we were prepared.  He sat calmly and quietly, wide eyed with attention-loving excitement, as we sang. And then after a moment of focus, he calmly and cooly, barely moving forward, let out a quick blow at his first candle. It took a few more blows, but he got them, and requested to blow them out again, and again and again, until he finally decided it was time to devour the cupcakes. Each time in the same manner, the same sweet little puffs.

After his cupcakes he resumed his play session with the legos. He placed the two little lego people on the windowsill facing out and climbed into the window, pointing out saying “see outside! see outside!” We hadn’t planned on taking him out again due to the heat and hoards of mosquitos, but this broke our hearts so we dressed him in long sleeves and long pants and took him for a ride to the playground down the street on his new scooter, which he had received as an early birthday present and hasn’t quite gotten the hang of yet.

After his scooter ride he ended the night with a disco light dance party. One of his very favorite things.

For days now he sings happy birthday to himself and then practices his little blows. Sometimes he just says “candles” “cake” “hoo hoo” probably to request another chance (which he got when his Grammy visited, and again out to dinner when PopPop arrived, and again a weekend later when we visited the rest of our family in NJ. No big party, just lots of little celebrations.)

He might not understand yet that he is now “2” or that his birthday is one special day in July, but I think after so many celebrations he understands that “birthdays” are synonymous with cake and candles and balloons and singing, and that seems a happy lesson for a second birthday <3

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