Friday, November 30, 2012

I Admit It...

I have to come clean. I admit it. I have been cheating on you with another blog.

It started out innocently enough. Some friends referred me to a blog about baby names - I started reading it, and I couldn't stop. I even read a lot of the archive. And then I googled and found there are a lot of baby name blogs out there. I love baby names. I love coming up with them, creating them, finding new meanings and new combinations... so I was going pretty wild reading a bunch of different blogs.

And then I though... Hey! I have enough opinions and ideas about baby names... I totally could do this.

So I started a baby name blog, and I have been trying to post over there 2-3 times a week. It may have taken away some of my time from this blog, though I have tried to keep it balanced.

If you want to join me in my infidelity, check out

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We're Going to the Zoo Zoo Zoo...

Today we (DH, Grandma and Grandpa IL, and myself) took Benjamin to the St. Louis Zoo. It is a fabulous zoo, and is free! The free part is especially nice because you can swing by for an hour if that is all you feel like doing and not feel guilty! Even if you have all day, its so big its hard to cover!

We decided to try and hit up River's Edge (many of the African Animals) and the Big Cat section, because when we went to the Duluth Zoo, Benjamin most liked the cats (Lions and Tigers). It was a really great trip! We were there for about two hours and Benjamin was much more engaged than Halloween. He seemed to prefer smaller animals, and seemed to have a hard time grasping that the big ones (like the Rhino and Elephants) were alive. DH's favorite thing to show him was the Bush Dogs, which he just kept pointing at and making sounds. I liked showing him the fishes in the (otherwise empty) Hippo Exhibit. Benjamin liked the rock (pebble) by the Hippo exhibit. Grandma liked the baby Elephant. Grandpa liked the baby lions playing. We also enjoyed the Kangaroos hopping around, the seals swimming laps by the underwater viewing window, and the Camel taking a BIG YAWN. It was such a good trip. There was practically no one there, it was sunny with no wind, about 45 degrees. A lot of the animals were really active. No crowds, it was great.

How about some pictures?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Growing and Changing

Benjamin is growing and changing so fast its hard to keep track of what is new, what I have documented, what things I am already taking for granted even though they have only been around for a day or two!

As my last post stated, Benjamin has met a LOT of new people in the last three days, and he did pretty well with it! He was a bit shy and clingy at the beginning, but he warmed up pretty quickly after meeting new people. After three days, he now seeks out attention from his Grandma & Grandpa ILs! Once he has met everyone and settled in, he sure does love being the center of attention. He randomly started doing this thing where he waves one arm back and forth and goes "ahahahaha." We all started imitating him and he LOVES it. Then we taught him to throw both hands up when we go "TOUCHDOWN!". He loves being imitated! And he is really starting to imitate more. This morning when I changed his diaper I started working on the B sound with him and he picked it up quickly! Its so fun to make a noise or action and see his little mouth or body try to do what I just did.

His reasoning skills are so great to see! His G&G got a big thing of mega blocks (giant legos) for him to play with while he is here, and it only took him a few minutes and a couple of examples to be able to put two blocks together. I am not saying he is building towers or anything, but he likes to put two blocks together or take them apart. I will build a tower with a compartment inside with a ball or book in it, and he loves to take it apart and find the treasure. G+G also got him a shape sorter elephant toy for early Christmas, and he was able to put in the circle piece within a few minutes of us getting it set up (and has since figured out that its easier to put the pieces in the trunk "out" hole instead of sorting them, LOL... already TOO smart!).

And walking... he is well on his way! He can take several steps without falling if he is in the mood for it. Sometimes he sort of walks in a circle though instead of a line, I think he tries to keep his balance by keeping one leg under him! LOL. Today he was able to stop walking and stand in one place (instead of walking fwd until he fell fwd!), so that is a big improvement! He is really just improving any day and will be walking wherever he wants in no time!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

This year we decided to spend Thanksgiving with DH's extended family in Kansas. In order to do so, we had to make the 12 hr drive. Taking advice from my awesome message board full of mom's more experienced than I, we decided to drive over night (Also could read - I decided to drive overnight and DH agreed to what he thought of as a harebrained risky scheme that would result in us being late for Thanksgiving).

So Wednesday night after work I picked up the baby from daycare, went home like normal, ate dinner with him like normal, changed him into his pajamas like normal, and then finished up packing and loaded the car while he had his normal evening playtime. Around 6:15pm (earlier than his normal bed time but not unheard of), we strapped him into the car seat and set off! The drive went as planned and very smoothly. DH admits my genius now and is already trying to scheme what other long drives on this trip can take place at night. We stopped every 2-3 hrs to change drivers. Benjamin woke up when we stopped, but we just fed him, changed him, and put him back into the car seat and he was straight back to sleep. We arrived at the ILs hotel at 6am, almost exactly the 12 hours!

Our first meal of the day was breakfast with my ILs, SIL, FBIL, and DH's Aunt&Uncle. They all enjoyed meeting Benjamin (or meeting him again). They were amazing by his eating, amused by his smiles, and it was just relaxing and fun. Then, after a short nap for Benjamin and I we headed over to the Assisted Living facility where my Grandfather In Law lives. We ate dinner there with him and a bunch of other uncles/aunts/cousins, including little G, who is 2 months older than Benjamin, it was cool seeing them together! It was also cool getting to introduce Benjamin to his great Grandfather, who very much enjoyed holding him! After spending some time in his apartment, it was back to the hotel for another nap. Then we headed over to DH's aunts house for more family time and another Thanksgiving dinner. It was nice seeing everyone, and everyone liked meeting Benjamin!

Friday we had another nice breakfast with some relatives at the hotel, and then headed to the Christmas Tree farm that DHs family has strong ties to. Benjamin enjoyed pointing at everything there. Eventually we had to leave to drive to Independence, KS where we spent a nice evening with Dh's mom's family. After breakfast we hopped into the car for the 6 hr drive from Independence to St Louis. Benjamin melted down once, but after lunch with a friend in Springfield, he took a nice long nap, and I got to nap too.

Eventually I hope to post a couple pictures, but right now we are just enjoying being settled in at my ILs house after three days on the road!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Parenting Group

Our daycare, as I mentioned before, is a non profit that is designed for "family's with additional stressors".  We are a pretty straightforward family, so I don't consider us to have additional stressors, but that doesn't mean we cannot benefit from their programs, one of which is a once a month infant parenting group where the head caregiver for the infant room leads discussions about a variety of relevant topics while we all chow down on a free dinner and the babies stay in the infant room for their dinner as well.

There is something cathartic about talking to other parents with kids around the same age, even when we don't do much of the talking. I usually come away from the discussions with at least a few ideas of things other people have tried that we have not, or developmental tips I had not heard of before, or other little things to think over. Its also nice to get to know the parents of the babies' that my son spends his time with. He may only be 10 months old, but he definitely has friends!

That all said, there are also moments at parenting group that make you cringe. Or, perhaps, specific people. And, of course, this post ties back into the concept of "Mommy Wars". Most parents I have met are great! They have their way of doing things, and we discuss them, but there is no judgement. There are two exceptions to this.

The "Expert" Grandma - One of the most consistent attendees at parents group is a relatively young single mom who is still in College. She is great and I really enjoy talking to her. One month, however, she brought her mother, who proceeded to dominate the conversation with her experience. She did not "get" that the conversation was really about people who are experiencing this RIGHT NOW vetting their experiences, ideas, problems. But the worst part was that she acted like if she had not heard of something that it was just crazy or wrong. I believe the topic that night was routines. One routine we discussed was baths. I mentioned in passing that Benjamin loves baths, but that we had to cut way back on them/take them out of our daily routine due to his eczema. I said we did a bath 1-2 times a week. This grandma looked at us like we had said the most disgusting thing ever, and then, when the group leader spoke up in support of our infrequent baths, the grandma proceeded to try and give us advice on eczema, which she clearly had never heard of before we brought it up. It can be great to get advice from the older generation if they have been through something, make please advice givers, make sure that advice is non-judgemental and something you actually know something about.

The Awkward Mom - There is one mom who has made an appearance twice. Both times it was kind of seemed like she did not belong. The first time she was about 30 weeks pregnant. Her older daughter is in the preschool room. The topic we were discussing was creative play. Everyone else in the room had a child 4m-12m. This woman clearly had NOTHING to do with the conversation at hand, and seemed mostly to want to talk about her pregnancy. But its not a pregnancy group. Its an infant parent group. Tonight she was there again, this time with a 7w old while we discussed biting. Her contributions included such things as "I can't remember when my daughter was that little". "I think she may have bit me when I fed her once or twice," and "I made fries from scratch tonight." She also has a tendency to state her opinions in the worst form possible. "I believe that the mom should stay home. You have to be with your baby. You can't leave it after 6 weeks, its not a dog." etc. Yes. That is roughly what she said tonight. Talk about picking a Mommy war battle!! No one took the bait, but I wanted to tell her to lighten up and stop being so judgmental!

Other than that, parenting group has been great!! And even the annoying parts make for fun conversation after the fact :)

Monday, November 12, 2012


Its getting cold out! Today we had our first "real" snow (like it actually was making the ground white), and the high was about 27 degrees. It was sort of a fluke, as it is supposed to be in the 40s again tomorrow and for the rest of the week. Kind of a test run, and apparently we need it.

Cold weather and snow mean different things to a homeowner and mother than to a child, or college student. It means heating bills, bundling up kids, figuring out how to bundle for a carseat, etc. So, while I got the same flutter of excitement and anticipation with today's snowfall as I always get with the first snow, I am also getting some headaches.

Our house was built in 1909. We have a brand spanking new boiler, but neither of us have ever lived with a boiler/radiator system, so its a bit of a mystery to us how it works. Also, a lot of the windows are older. Also, I suspect we have poor insulation. I have spent the evening tonight periodically running around the house and seeing what rooms are warm, what rooms are cold, whether hot water is getting from the boiler to our bedroom, what windows are drafty, what windows are OK. It have to say its kinda chilly in here. Which means, we need to do something, because 25 is just the beginning of cold weather. Some thoughts on that.

(1) I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get hot water to consistently go where I want it in the radiator system. When we turned on the radiators, our bedroom was getting virtually no heat. I spent two weeks fiddling around with the various valves, and walla, all the sudden one day our bedroom was getting PLENTY of heat and our downstairs/living room radiator not so much. It worked out decently though. Then all the sudden tonight, once again, I can't seem to get the bedroom radiator to get heat. I just don't get it. I am thinking I need to enlist my genius brother in law to explain the system to me.

(2) Windows. As I said, about half the window's in our house are old. Really old. Like wavy looking glass old. A quick count tells me there are 2 large old windows, 2 medium old windows, and 5 small old windows in our house. Of these, three of them have storm windows on (a second pain of glass installed from the outside for winter/stormy months), while the rest currently do not. I am thinking that there are more storm windows to install in the garage, and considering the drafts in here tonight, they need to be put up ASAP. Also, hate to admit it, but my momma was right, I need drapes!!

(3) Nursery. Benjamin still sleeps in our room. Since the heat in our room seems to be finicky, whereas the heat in his soon-to-be nursery seems fine, we better get set up to move him. Its not a big deal if we need to snuggle up for warmth at night, but I don't want him to be cold. In all likelyhood, if I cant figure out how to get the heat flowing to that room better in the next 20 minutes, he will end up sleeping in bed with us.

(4) Long term, we probably need to think about some better insulation. I have no idea what we have now, and it does not shock me its bad, but its just one more thing to add to our list of to do/to buy for this house!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Election 2012

Yep. Gotta say something about the election!

I managed to vote. I am very thankful for same day registration here in Minnesota. Life got so crazy I did not have an opportunity to register prior to Tuesday. The day I had scheduled to go and try and register, DH got sick and I had to change my plans.

I make no secret of my liberal political leanings. Waiting for election results is always nerve wracking, though this year was less nerve wracking than some others. This was for a few reasons. First, I was pretty confident that the races that were most important to me were going to "go my way" (thank you Nate Silver!). Second, I was not as worried about the ramifications of a loss as in past years. I was not afraid of Romney. While I am sure he would have enacted some policies I did not agree with, I was not terrified of him. (In 2008, I was not terrified of McCain either.... Until he put Sarah Palin on the ticket, which seemed an abomination - an insult to the office if she was elected.)

But, still, I was glad to see most of the elections I voted in turn out the way I had hoped. Obama of course, but more significantly honestly the two Minnesota constitutional amendments both were voted down. One would have banned gay marriage or the recognition thereof in the state. There is absolutely no justification for such measures, and any argument people make for them is sure to violate the separation of church and state.  The second would have enacted a strict photo ID voter law in Minnesota. Any law that makes it more difficult to vote in these United States is bad for democracy. If there is going to be Election Fraud, its not going to come through individual voters, it will be electronic. The Bonus result for me was the defeat of Chip Cravaak, my Republican congressional representative. Not only was I glad to see the seat go to a democrat for #s purposes, more significantly I was glad to get rid of this specific man, who tried to allow logging and mining in the BWCA, and does not actually live in Minnesota anymore!! (His wife got a job out east and he spends almost no time in the residents here, its a joke). Good riddance!

So yes. I am pleased with the election results. But here is the thing, that does not mean that I think that things are suddenly going to get so much better. Congress has spent the past 4 yrs blocking anything that the president attempts to accomplish. I do not expect this to stop. Even if it does stop, I am not convinced good solutions to our problems exist on either side of the aisle. Some things just take time to resolve. We will see what happens!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

10 Months Old!

Despite my "spoiler" post a few days ago, I do feel like I have a couple things to tell you for Benjamin's 10 month update!!

Over the weekend I declared him a "stander" because I saw him stand for 17 seconds while pointing all over the room and trying to look up at me. I think he can stand however long he wants now.

Then, on Sunday, he took a step. He was standing next to me, having just used me to pull up, and he took a step towards DH. It was a little step, it was followed by him falling, but it was a step. After saying "WAS THAT A STEP???" two or three times to DH, I then almost started crying. LOL. So not ready for this!! He is growing up!

He likes us to read him books. He loves his number book with "three kittens", because he wants to stop and point at the cats. He does not usually let you finish books, but hands you a new one as soon as you get started on one (usually). But he occasionally just sits and listens (or looks at the pictures) for multiple books. He was loving the touch+feel farm animal book tonight, especially the pigs bristly head. (sandpaper).

Here are some pics from Yesterday!! Unfortunately he was a bit sick - snotty nose and runny eyes, which shows up big time in some of these pics, but he was still laughing and having fun! Its a lot harder to get pictures of him now then it was a few months ago!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween 2012

Sometime time I get around to posting something on this blog I feel like its old news. It often has already appeared on Facebook, Google, and my message board. But, this is the only place I am sure it will "stick", that I am sure I will be able to find it if I want to go back a year from now and see what we did.

Our Halloween Celebration began 10 days ago at Boo at the Zoo, which I already wrote about.

Then, we had a Halloween Birthday party for Benjamin's friend K (son of a good family friend). Benjamin was super shy when we got there. There were not very many kids at the beginning either. But, eventually, after we sat on the floor with him a bit he got curious about the toys and the handful of other kids. Some pics - one of his shark costume in general, one of him and K, and one of him "playing" with a 8 yr old who was there. He kept touching the older boys face, and the older boy was so good! 

The weird thing was, that after they had been playing awhile, K went and started to climb something. His father said "K, please don't do that" and K stopped, but started whining. Just a little bit of whining. And Benjamin started full out screaming mandrake face. It was really weird. I asked daycare about it and they said he has never done that (cried when another kid cried).

Our next Halloween activity was a Monday night party at our house. We all dressed up and had quite the spread of food.

I highly recommend the "candy corn quesadillas",  not just for halloween, they are tasty! And now I have discovered how EASY quesadillas are on the counte rtop grill, likely to become a regular meal for us.

Tuesday night I had book club, but we did manage to squeeze in some pumpkin carving. We carved the pumpkin so it has the same teeth as Benjamin! (vampire fangs and the two bottom middle).

Honestly, by the time Halloween came about we were all done with our celebrations! Benjamin is decidedly too young to Trick or Treat and we were exhausted! So, we put a bowl of Candy out the porch and tried to relax. It is a fun season!!