Impromptu Project

Being the full-time parent of a toddler has its ups and downs. Lately, it’s been a battle of the wills for me and Griffin. I usually win, but my sense of humor flies out the window as a result (so is it really winning?). I’ve learned that patience is generally a prerequisite to maintaining my sense of humor, and the Battle of the Wills drains my fairly large supply of patience rapidly. Take, for instance, yesterday in the late afternoon: after a day filled with temper tantrums and plans gone slightly awry, I logically knew it was funny when Griffin pulled my pants down and gave me a raspberry on the butt while I was bending over to wipe up the juice he deliberately spilled on the floor. But in the moment, all I could think was “Andrew, please come home soon, or so help me, I am going to throw this kid through the window.”  Toddler parenting seems to be the ultimate test of whether you can go with the flow. I find my most successful days are ones where I’m not married to my ideas of what should or shouldn’t happen and I pay close attention to Griffin’s hunger, energy, and mood; my least successful are when I have a rigid agenda despite Griffin’s mood or think Griffin is going to love doing x. y, or z, but instead has absolutely no interest what-so-ever.

So this morning was a success as the stars aligned to allow for an impromptu project with my kiddo. After Andrew left for work, I noticed that the back door in our kitchen has a good one-to-two inch gap with the floor and is a huge heat-loss problem. I decided it was time to make a draft snake! I had several old sweaters just waiting for projects, as well as a buckwheat-filled bed pillow that proved to be not as comfortable as I was hoping, so I had the supplies. Griffin was fascinated watching the rotary cutter (from afar, of course), and under careful supervision, he actually really enjoyed sticking pins into the sweater material while I pinned the seams. He became my helper at the sewing machine, putting the pins back in the box as I pulled them out. The best part of the whole project was making him in charge of filling the snake with buckwheat hulls. I let go of any anxiety with making a mess (that’s what vacuum cleaners are for, right?), and just let him have fun. The end result was practical (no more leaky door!) and fun for both of us. And now every time he walks by the door, Griffin says, “sssssss!” and gives the snake a hug.

Project ground zero.
Buckwheat hulls are also good for playing with!
Griffin says, "sssssss!"
No more cold, leaky door!

Snow and Hot Cocoa

This weekend was our first snow of the season, and it was quite a storm!  It dumped about eight inches of heavy, wet snow on our neighborhood.  On Saturday morning, we went out with Griffin for some snow time.  It was his first time all bundled up in his snow suit, which was awkward, and it was his first time getting cold snow blown into his face by a fierce wind.  Not surprisingly, he wasn’t very happy.  But we did manage to build a messy snowman.  On Sunday, we tried again.  Without the wind, Griffin was much more excited, though he was still hesitant to walk through the snow (he kept falling down — not used to lifting his feet so high).  But he was very brave, and we spent nearly two hours exploring the snowy landscape at our nearby park.  (He even hurtled down one of the slides head-first, ending up with a face full of snow, and laughed the whole time!)  Another kid offered to share his sled, but we weren’t quite ready for that.  When we got home, I introduced him to one of the very best things about winter: a warm mug of hot chocolate!

First sight of the snow from the back porch.

First snowman (there were precious few props available at this park.)
What's up with this warm brown water?

Sculpture Garden

The weather here has been unseasonably warm, so Griffin and I have been trying to spend as much time outside as possible. I don’t anticipate we’ll hunker down and never go outside again once it starts getting colder, but when it’s cold, you don’t always have the luxury of being leisurely. Today, I thought there was no better place to luxuriate in leisure than the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, located next to the Walker Art Center in downtown Minneapolis. It’s only about a ten or fifteen minute drive from our place in St. Paul, and to my knowledge, Griffin had never been exposed to gigantic pieces of art, so I was curious to see what he would think.

Of course, he loved it. I’ll have to wait until he can talk so that he can give me his critiques of the pieces, but judging by his giddiness and excitement, I think it’s going to be a favorite destination. And it’s a good thing we went when we did. As soon as we hopped in the car to go home, a storm swept in and dropped the temperature by about thirty degrees!

"Shhhhhh!" (Translated to "fish!")
Griffin stands in front of the Spoonbridge and Cherry. Even though he excitedly said, "poooon!," he was a little wary of approaching without holding my hand!
Catch me, Mama!

Playing Catch-Up

Our lives have been full lately, which is why we’re averaging only about one blog post a month! Things certainly have been going on, but we just haven’t been writing or putting up the pictures. Today I did a little catch up on the photo site and put together some photos from various things that have been happening this fall (even though it seems like we forget the camera more often than we remember it!). Some were big, some were little. But all point to the fact that we’re settling into our new lives here in Minnesota.

Click on any photo to take you to the full gallery.





This is not about baby showers.

Taking showers with Griffin was one of the earliest ways that he and I bonded, and remains one of my favorite ways to hang out with him while getting something useful done at the same time.  I’ve been meaning to write this post for more than a year, since I figure other new parents might want to try this too.

I remember being afraid of showers when I was a little kid.  Baths were the norm, and showers were scary grown-up things.  I don’t remember when that shifted, but I was definitely still mostly taking baths in elementary school.  When Griffin was born I assumed that this fear was hard-wired, and that was why everyone only talked about giving babies baths.  But Griffin hated baths.  We had the mini tub for him, but it was hard to keep the temperature constant with so little water (and our house was often cold in Oakland).   When I was in charge of a solo bath it usually end with Griffin crying, my knees hurting, and both of us wet and cold.  Bleh.

One day in the blurry early weeks of no-sleep,  I was up early with Griffin and he was having a hard time — teething, indigestion, grumpiness, who knows. He was loudly voicing his discontent with the world.  I was tired of walking around the apartment trying to calm him down, and I felt gross, so I brought him into the shower.   I felt a bit edgy, like, “I wonder if I should check one of the baby books before I do this?”  As usual, I didn’t check the book and decided to experiment.  As soon as Griffin was enveloped in the steam, he stopped crying.  He snuggled up against my shoulder and just lay there quietly.  I let the water splash on him and run down his back.  He seemed happy!  After a while he reached out and tried to grab the spray.  He giggled.  I giggled.  Our morning was transformed.

That first time neither of us got much of a wash.  I didn’t want to drop him or get soap in his eyes or otherwise ruin the moment.  Pretty soon, however, he and I were taking showers all the time.  In the morning, I would scoop him up and take him in with me.  Often he was happy playing at the back of the tub while I washed.  If I was done with the soap, I would let the tub fill up a bit so he could splash around.  I could get out and get dressed while he continued playing.

Nowadays, Griffin enjoys real baths too, and we have a bigger tub here so sometimes I join him.  But he and I still take showers together regularly.  I even have a steam-free shower-mirror so that I can shave while he’s playing (he likes watching the shaving cream slide down the drain).  After I’m done, I always pick him up for some snuggle time and we both laugh together as he tries to catch the water and causes it to spray all over.  These happy moments go a long way toward preserving my sanity in the face of toddler moods.