Nana Angel

Nana came for a visit and worked her magic cleaning, cooking delicious meals, helping us settle in and decorate a bit, and spending lots of time with Ben. (THANK YOU NANA!)  Ben and his Nana had a fun date at the Hands On Musuem… played a ton at the park (throwing sticks into the creek is the new favorite)… enjoyed a lovely a picnic… and took a long walk on the bridge over the train tracks and river (always a hit).

They made chocolate muffins:

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Read lots of stories:

Ban & Nana Read Stories

Swang high at the park:

Had squirt gun fights:

squirt gun fight

And so much more. We miss you already Nana!

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ThursDates

Ben goes to daycare 3 days a week over the summer  (Tues-Thurs). It is such a wonderful balance for him, and me! Lately, on Thursdays, we’ve been stopping by for a dinner date at Plum Market, a gourmet health foodie grocer on the way back from his daycare. They have an impressive hot/cold bar filled with tons of new foods to try. So Ben gets to pick out a few new foods to try for dinner (like the purple potato below) paired with some good standbys like their yummy mac’n’cheese.  Each day the little coffee shop/cafe at Plum Market has a special deal… Thursdays happen to be $1 frozen yogurt day so we always finish our meal with a delicious one to share.

Plum Market

 

The ToothBrush Chronicles

There are certain irrational (or only somewhat rational?) fears I have as a parent. One of those is that my child’s first dentist appointment will result in 10 cavities, a stern and shocked look from a judgy hygienist, and a pediatric dentist’s secret back-room call to child protective services. It sort of snowballs from there.

Most likely this first visit, if it’s anything like the doctor’s office or getting a haircut (or even just cutting nails for gosh sakes), will go like this:

1) We practice and prep and talk about it as much as humanly possible beforehand. He will be ridiculously excited about it until the moment we walk in the door.

2) He gradually starts freaking out in waiting room.

3) We get to the room and attempt to get him into the chair and he does a full body thrashing with terror-stricken sobs. We wait patiently, we try to make it fun, we distract with games/iphones/anything  (is a sucker a no-no in a dentist office?), we try to explain things to him. Nothing works.

3) Over sobs, the dentist tries to talk to me/us and says something like: “Relax, he’ll be fine, this is a normal reaction for some kids, he does have some plaque but just keep working on the brushing.”

And then we will leave, somewhat traumatized, somewhat comforted. If it goes even the tiniest bit better than that I’ll call it a victory!

For awhile Ben would brush his teeth halfheartedly & completely ineffectively (basically he just sucked on the brush), and he would also let us brush a tiny bit each day with some minor protest. But for the past 4 or so months he has staged a full blown coup d’état against brushing. Don’t even try to think of something we should have tried, because we already tried it. We wanted to avoid force as much as possible because we all know that this does not end well in terms of starting a happy relationship with dental hygiene. (….”Mommy and Daddy hold me down screaming to brush my teeth? Ahhh! Well of course I’m going to make their life miserable the next 152 times they try to bring up the topic of teeth-brushing. Obviously.”

Anyway, days would go by without any brushing whatsoever, so we had to resort to gentle force on some occasions. Usually it would be a 2-parent effort and never really resulted in successful brushing anyway. It really is hard to reach a moving target and good luck bracing a 2 year old’s head. We reached the pinnancle of stressful parenting at bedtime last week when I literally had him in a full-body, straight-jacket-like, twisted-up pretzel hold of some kind. My legs crossed over his. One of my arms holding down both of his. His head in my lap. Sobs as I brushed gently for about 5 seconds. It’s probably hard to picture but I’m sure it sounds awful to you.  It was awful.

But you know what… it worked!

And so I decided that we would resume this gentle full-body straight jacket pose every day. The parenting angels must have noticed because they intervened. The very next day something changed. All of a sudden Ben became a tooth brushing toddler!!! (For a week straight now, at least).

Mind you it wasn’t completely independent. He put the brush into his mouth and my over-the-top, ridiculously happy reaction just caught his attention so much that he waned MORE MORE MORE of it! Initially I was semi-annoyed… I’d tried the same thing insanely silly, exaggerated, happy response countless times. But then I remembered the secret of understanding toddlers: they will do things in their own time.

His brushing went on for so long that I even got to record a video. I felt like we both should have earned some kind of lifetime achievement award for it. We were ecstatic.

So anyway, all those words just to clarify why this 10-second video brings me so much joy:

How Many?

Benjamin is quite a counter. He also loves to wrestle with pillows on the bed. Apparently at Little Folks he loves doing this too, in the “Cozy Corner.” Anyway, this is the best:

When Ben finished playing on the bed he put a pillow on top of sleeping Toby, who didn’t even care. When I came back 45 minutes later Toby was still dead to the world under that pillow:

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Haha!

Home is made up of…

So I’ve started to write about the chaos of life for the past month, but here is a better summary in as few words as I can possibly consolidate it into (via list):

  • Concluded a time-consuming search for a home to buy (we’ve been looking since February!) with one final, expensive “strike out” on a house we had under contract. Way too many major issues came up during inspection. (Curse you, Ann Arbor real estate!)
  • Finished M1 year
  • Battled 3 different illnesses in < 3 weeks (flu, stomach flu, upper respiratory infection)
  • Packed up a house, lived with a bunch of kind people (friends & fam) for 10 days, moved into a new rental (Fitting with the theme: our movers were unreachable on the day of the move, then showed up 5 hours late, one of the two almost had to drop out from sickness/exhaustion, & they didn’t finish the job until 11pm. Lovely)
  • Helped family for several days to prepare and throw a graduation party for little bro
  • Scrambling to catch up on what was supposed to be 2 full weeks of research time in just a few afternoons
  • Taking over most Ben responsibilities while John ramps up studying for the bar (he will have his turn next year when I am studying for Step 1)

Now I am fully devoted to spending time unpacking  trying to make our home a little more stable and uncluttered. No…cluttered would be a drastic understatement. It looks like an episode of Hoarders. I even have this video to prove it:

 

The thing I’ve learned though is this:  I look around and wish for a home back. And yet, the longer the stuff we have is sealed in boxes & the higher and higher the piles of clutter get….the stronger and fiercer and more protective I become as a mother. I am acutely aware of how this is impacting our little one, but I have realized that our home is made up of our words, our hearts, our laughter, and our love. If nothing else, this crazy move and this unrelenting moment of transition and in life has reminded me of that.

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Everything is hard.

John and I have never in life experienced such an insane level of daily chaos and exhaustion. We are finally moved into our new condo and home for the foreseeable future (after a long weekend up north for brother’s graduation party/open house), so we are now working on getting to a new normal. (As normal as life can be while John studies for the bar exam).

While we’ve tried to cocoon Ben from the chaotic instability of hopping from one place to for 10 days, the reality is that he has slept in a pack and play most nights for the better part of 2 weeks. He has been a great sport and has impressed us with how adaptable he can be, but even his happy-go-lucky toddler-ness has been pushed to it’s limit. This morning was a rough one.

His room is the only unpacked one…

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I was a madwoman putting it together and even putting everything up on the walls so it would feel as cozy as possible, because the rest of the house looks like this:

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In Between

Life has been full. This blog has been empty.

We are living out of our cars and suitcases right now (in between leases) but having a wonderful time thanks to the generosity of kind and dear friends (Rachel & Steve Jenna & Paul…thank you!!!).

In just over 24 hours, I turn 30 and Ben turns 2.  Time passes so fast.  I want to freeze almost-2-year-old Ben forever. His little personality is unfolding so adorably.

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