Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday Adventures

We've been having lots of holiday adventures, but someone has been camera shy lately, so I haven't been able to capture all of it.

Every year Seattle Center has Winterfest.  On the last Wednesday night in November I took Zane there expecting to avoid the crowds, and boy was I right!  We had just about everything to ourselves.  First stop was the rinky-dink indoor ice rink which is just awesome for a beginner.  They have walker/sliders made up for learners to push.  The ice is pretty rutted, but it does the trick!  Zane was looking forward to it, but as I laced up his skates I warned him not to be disappointed if he couldn't even stand up in them on the floor.  As I laced up my own skates, he stood up and took off walking!  I was amazed.  Then he headed right out onto the ice.  When we got out on the ice, we were the only ones there!  After some initial surprise about just how slippery ice really is, he took to it with enthusiasm.  I've seen so many kids with jelly for ankles flopping all over the ice, even with glider/walkers, but not my boy!  I am very proud of how well he did.

Then we headed over to the Armory to see the model train village, which we got to see last year.  This year Zane got to have a turn driving the train!  Another bonus for going on an off night.  Zane has been asking to go up on the Space Needle elevators, and I'm always saying, "No, it's too expensive."  Today I decided, "Why not!?"  So we added a spur of the moment trip up.  This is the last year Zane gets to ride free, so it was a good move.  On our way up to the elevator doors, we were the lucky recipients of a free cheesy photo.

Zane has often seen the elevators going up and down and has said he wanted to ride in the "buckets."  So as we went into the elevators and up, absorbing the fabulous view, I was puzzled that he wasn't more excited.  Then when we got out at the top and stepped outside, he burst into tears!  What!  What!  Was it the height?  The cold?  The wind?  No, it turned out he was bitterly disappointed that he wouldn't get to ride in the "buckets."  I explained that the elevator we had just been in was the bucket!  He had been expecting to find some sort of fair-ground like ride with boy-sized buckets zipping up and down.  He hadn't quite grasped the perspective and size of what he was seeing when he looked at the Space Needle from afar.  So, a little disappointing, but I'm still glad we did it.

I had been planning on getting our tree later in the month, but on the first weekend in December we had a morning with no rain, so I decided to go for it.  It's so rare to have no rain this time of the year, and I really didn't want to drag a sopping tree into the house.  For the past few years I've had little apartment trees, but this year I opted for a full 6 feet.  We don't have much space in our living room, though, so it had to be a skinny tree.  We lucked out and found a pretty good one in the lot in about 2 minutes!  Zane is my kind of shopper.  "Yeah, this is good!  Let's get this one!"  No hemming and hawing for us!  After we got it home and upstairs, Zane decided for some reason that it needed to be pruned and set to work with his little safety scissors.  They did a pretty good job!  I figured I'd cut the bottom branches off, anyway, to make space for presents, but I haven't gotten around to that yet.

Last year Zane didn't pay any attention to the decorating, but this year he liked unpacking the ornaments and hanging them.  The whole process took a couple of days due to much examining of each thing, repairing the stuff that broke, and meticulous placement.  There are a bunch of ornaments near the bottom, no lights near the bottom in case chewy JoJo investigates, and no tinsel in case JoJo gets a hold of that, too.  A unique decorating plan, but it seems to work alright.

Our next adventure was a visit to see the lights and sights in downtown Seattle.  We took the bus (which is part of the adventure!) and ended up making a it a four hour excursion.  I had hoped to go on a carriage ride, but Zane wasn't up for waiting in lines.  We had a carousel ride and then bought a balloon airplane from a balloon sculptor/twister.  We walked around to see the stores, but I was pretty unimpressed by the displays.  Most seemed ordinary with just some extra baubles and tinsel.  No animatronics or Santa's villages.  We tried to go see the gingerbread house display, but the line for that was too long, too. We capped off our visit with the snow fall (soap suds) in Pacific Place and a yummy burger and fries in a diner.  I think this part was the highlight of the whole trip.  Still, with all the walking around we saw quite a lot of interesting street life and street art and music. When we got home Zane set up a drum set like some of the home made ones we saw on the streets.

After a day playing hooky from school so that we could go swimming, we spent the afternoon making saffron buns, or Lussekatter.  Zane's little art table turned out to be the perfect baking table for him.  He helped me mix and knead and shape the dough.  I ended up nixing most of his "designs" as they were just blobs and pancakes and I wasn't sure if they would cook properly.  He did end up with a ring and a snail, though.  I thought they turned out to be absolutely delicious, but Zane was disappointed as he was expecting something sweeter.

This week's project was a gingerbread house!  I bought a kit for the house, and then extra fruit and nuts and pretzels to replace some of the candy.  Zane enjoyed this much more than the saffron buns, and now he wants to eat it.  I told him he could start eating it on Christmas Eve.

Today we took a trip to the mall, and after some shopping and a stint in a massage chair Zane decided he was ready to see Santa.  He emphatically did not want his picture taken, but he did a very nice job of  telling Santa that he wanted the big yellow mobile crane from the front of his truck catalog.

Tomorrow I have cookie baking planned!

Behavior has been generally very good as have naps.  I'm pretty sure the two are related!  Today we had no nap, so we shall see how the evening devolves as we try to go to Kung Fu with Daddy.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Another Holiday Under the Belt!

Halloween: Check!
Thanksgiving: Check!
Now for Christmas.  I always loved the rituals of holidays when I was growing up.  Then, when my family was scattered and when I lived in Seattle with no snow to set the mood, they just weren't the same.  Now I'm enjoying them again with Zane!  It's fun to explain the holidays, read books, buy/create new decorations, and do art projects.

The weather this year produced some really lovely fall leaves (as far as Seattle can do!).  I remember an art project my Mom did with sealing leaves in waxed paper with an iron.  I figured we wouldn't do this too often, so I threw in the shaved crayons, too, rather than make that a separate project.  Zane loved shaving the crayons, and was excited about the iron.  I made him wear his little cotton gloves just in case he touched the iron, but who needs pants?  :)  It was a fun project to put together, but interest quickly waned on ironing them enough to stick together.  I think Zane liked shaving crayons most of all.  His sheet came out OK and is in a window, but mine fell apart.  Maybe if I had done the project with my pants off I would have had better luck.

Early in the month we had our very first parent/teacher conference at Zane's Montessori school.  I made the day even more exciting by organizing a boy trade with two other families so we could all go to our conferences.  First, when I picked Zane up from school we brought Ryder home with us.  Then, Ryder and Zane went right across the street to the Cole's to be with Henry and Caz while Michael and I had our conference.  Next, all four boys came to our house!  Henry and Caz went home after about an hour and a half, and then Ryder stayed until 5p.  Zane and Ryder got to chill in one little chair while snacking and watching Dinosaur Train.  They even got into a slo-mo wrestling match which was incredibly cute.  Now, I am a gal who has always avoided babysitting like the plague, but I figured that now I am a parent I had better get a stiff upper lip and learn the trade.  It wasn't so bad!  The chaos was kind of fun. Zane did much better at sharing his stuff than he would have done just a half year ago.  I think it helped a lot that these boys were well known friends from school, and they already had a lot of experience sharing with each other.  And now I have earned some time for Zane to go to Ryder's house!  I think Michael and I will find a movie we want to see and take a weekend afternoon off some time soon.

The parent teacher conference was really interesting.  They had a whole worksheet filled out with Zane's progress in various Montessori environments: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math.  Since Zane is just three his work is mostly in Practical Life (sweeping, stringing beads, pouring tea ...), but he has done a little Sensorial (sorting graduated cylinders) and Math (counting stuff).  Language comes later.  Zane also had done an interview with the teachers where they asked him about things he hadn't had lessons on.  He thought letters and numbers looked like worms; now, I know he knows most letters, so I think he was being a little silly and truthful.  His counting is pretty good, and he knew lots of shapes, including an octagon!  The thing that impressed me the most was on the back of the interview sheet he was asked to draw a self-portrait.  We've never done any kind of people or animal drawing together, just scribbling.  And there was a little sausage-body with stick legs and oval shoes!  I was amazed.  One teacher said that many kids watched other kids do the interviews, and so he probably had an idea of what was going on and how others did the drawings.  We were also happy to hear that Zane's behavior is very good, especially since we have had trouble at home lately.  He goes to an adult for help when things go wrong with other kids, he doesn't generally cause trouble, and he is very polite.  Whew!  All good things to hear, and we are very proud of him.

That evening Obama was re-elected and I felt a great sense of relief.  I didn't realize how worried I had been until it was over and I cried just a little.

Zane's behavior issues from the last post have calmed down a bit, but most of them are still there.  I think we have learned to anticipate and avoid some, some have died down a bit after Zane finished experimenting with them, and some are still rolling along.  Napping seems to have come back, so I think that is helping quite a bit.  Life is definitely better.

One exciting development is that I think Zane read a word!  I've been sick so Zane and I have been watching more TV than usual together.  One day we watched a Sesame Street where the letter of the day was X.  I showed him how to make X with his fingers.  He knows most of the letters by sight, but not always.  He's more familiar with letters in our names, like M for Michael and J for Julia. Later we were watching an animated version of Where the Wild Things Are, and the story talked about Max.  As Max's boat floated by, Zane said, "Why is his name on the boat?"  I was floored!  Nobody had pointed that out, so he had to have read it!  It is a short simple word with very familiar letters.  Michael and I told him how proud we were, and he smiled.

We had our first small Thanksgiving together.  A larger family dinner didn't work out, so I bought a few small things and made a dinner sans turkey.  I enjoyed cleaning off the table, getting out the table cloth and nice dishes, and having a fancy meal.  Zane was super excited about the fancy dishes, and could hardly wait to try the apple cider "wine" we all shared.  We actually had to leave the house while the food was in the oven, as the anticipation was killing him.  We played with a friend down the street for a while, and then ate dinner together.

Next up -- Christmas!  I'm looking forward to this, as every year Zane can enjoy it and look forward to it more.  I bought an advent calendar.  I've got lots of things planned, like ice skating and seeing the mini train village at Seattle Center.  I'll try again for a carriage ride downtown.  Santa at the mall, shopping for Daddy and JoJo, wrapping presents, getting the tree, decorations, cookies ...  Our schedules can be tight, so I've got it all mapped out for the month to make sure I don't miss something by accident.

It should be fun!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hell Week

Just about exactly when Zane turned three, he started to have episodes of defiance and anger.  At first I thought it was just because he was going through a lot of changes.  Potty training, leaving daycare, starting school, going on a trip to Maine.  He also had begun to skip naps at school.  I was confident that this phase would pass soon after we got back from Maine and settled into a routine.

But no, it got worse!  Because he was skipping naps at school and only having to stay on his nap mat for 30 minutes, he decided he no longer needed to nap at home.  I didn't get it at first, and I just thought he was having an occasional bout of wakefulness, which had happened before.  We began having hysterical fights about staying in his room for nap time.  One day he was shrieking and screaming at me and crying.  He finally was sobbing and told me to say I was sorry!  I felt so bad.  What was going on?  Why did he feel like I was abusing him when we were doing what we always did?

He also began having blitzkrieg flashes of astounding anger.  We had never experienced this with Zane before!  What was going on?  He would be fine one moment, and then all of a sudden would snap and shriek and yell and try to run or struggle.  He would lash out and hit.  The trigger could be something like, "it's time to put on your shoes."  There was no reasoning with him.

Mid-October was just the worst.  It was Hell Week.  We did have some fun going to a how-to-fight-zombies book release party with Michael doing a martial arts demo with his horse chopper, then to Zane's first play The Cat In the Hat, and later in the week a trip to Remlinger Farms.  But at any moment he could have a full freak-out breakdown, even about things we thought he would like!  After the play, he got incredibly upset when Michael bought him a super cute puppet he had been admiring!  I began to have chest pains, and I was afraid to announce any changes to Zane, because I never knew when he would explode.  I still followed regular routines and rules, I didn't give in, but I was stressed about it.

So, I checked out some books.  I started reading about three year olds and positive discipline methods.  I'd read some of these things before, but I needed a refresher.  I reached out to other parents for advice.  Basically, the upshot was that Zane was being a completely normal three year old, testing his boundaries and his new-found independence.  One book (and a friend), said that they fight most against their primary caregiver, and don't be afraid to just get a sitter.  We found through talking to other parents at Zane's school that they were having similar issues.  School is wonderful for teaching independence, and we were seeing the blow-back at home.  The child thinks, "I can make almost all of my own choices at school, so I get to at home, too!"  Nooo-ho-ho-ho!

I gave in to the idea of Zane giving up his nap.  He does have to have a 30 minute rest period, just like at school.  I bought a special clock which shows in red how much time is left within the space of an hour.  He can see exactly how much longer his "imprisonment" in his room will go on.  If he asks for us to come in, time gets added to the clock.  I also use the clock at bedtime to help him see how much time is left before lights out.  It helps us to get him in his pjs with teeth brushed in time to read a book.  He can see if he is running out of time, and one night even said, "Mama, get me dressed quickly!  Time is running out!".  Hurrah!  The upside of having no naps is that he goes to bed earlier, so I have more time to myself at night, and sometimes in the morning, too, as he is doing all of his sleeping at night.

We are being stern about the surly turns of mood.  I make Zane restate complaints in a positive way.  If moods don't improve he starts to lose belongings.  I find I even lay out consequences ahead of time, even before his mood turns dark.  That helps to keep the surly turns at bay.  Every day is still a lot of work, but I think things are better in general.  I'm glad we're working through it, but I sure will be glad when this phase is over!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Remlinger Farms

For years I have been hearing about the glory that is Remlinger Farms.  It's about an hour away, so in past years it had seemed too far to go with a little one who needs naps.  Now that Zane is older and can last a lot longer, we took the plunge!

Remlinger is ostensibly a great place to go for harvest stuff, but it has tons of rides and fun for the kiddies.  I knew it might be wet, so I carefully got Zane kitted out in rubber boots, a raincoat, and I brought an extra set of dry clothes for him.  But then I forgot all that stuff for myself, except I did remember my boots only because Zane reminded me.  After we had been there for about a half an hour it really started to rain, so I put the camera away and didn't get many photos.  I did however, get completely soaked.  Luckily it was pretty warm, so I didn't get cold.

At first Zane spied a train table inside by the bathrooms, and I thought I wouldn't be able to drag him away.  Then we got out into the rides area, and right away he wanted to go on some mini-canoes.  Due to the wet weather there were no lines for rides, and Zane floated around the loop 4 times.  He only got out because the train was coming!  The train was a wood-powered steam engine with quite a long set of cars attached.  It took us on a great ride around the farm and then through a minimally haunted tunnel.  Zane loved it!

We headed out into the rain to play on stationary tractors and a fire truck.  Then to the antique cars that run on a track.  Zane was very excited that he got to drive!

I only convinced him to stop for lunch and bathroom breaks by saying that I needed to go or eat, and I needed him to help me.  After lunch he caught sight of a sandbox, and of course we got stuck there for a while.  This kid would choose a sandbox over just about anything else.

We ran through a blow-up haunted house ten jillion times, and then made it over to a bouncy house.  Watching Zane in a bouncy house always stresses me out.  There are always big kids in there acting like maniacs, and Zane is drawn to them like a moth to flame.

Zane then "drove" a stationary school bus, where he ordered me to wait out in the rain until school was over, and then I could get back on the bus and go home.  Harsh.

It was time to head over to the rides!  Several of them were sized just for kids, so Zane had the thrill of going on a carousel swing and a mini Ferris wheel by himself.  A girl got into Zane's Ferris wheel box with him, and they had great fun pretending to be lions escaping from a zoo.  Meanwhile, I huddled under a sliver of an edge of an umbrella and dripped.  Then we got to go on some very wet whirling pumpkins, and we could control the up and down motion with a push bar.  Oh the power!  I was about done in by the whole day and the wetness, but we still had the roller coaster to do.  It was a teeny tiny little thing, and Zane was determined to go on.  I am not a roller coaster fan, and it was almost too much for me!  It was the only thing we did all day that Zane didn't ask to do again.  I asked him if it was fun, and he said yes.  Then later that evening he said it was scary except that he liked the "flat parts."

We managed to pick out a pumpkin before we left, as I felt it would be very sad to drive an hour each way to a farm and not get an actual pumpkin.  At that point in the day we were not at all choosy.

We got back to the car and I took off wet boots and jackets and got our dry shoes on.  Zane was lucky to get his nice dry pants and socks, too.  All I had was a McDonald's napkin to wipe my face dry.  What a fun but exhausting tip!  Zane has mostly not been napping these days, but he sure fell asleep pretty quickly in the car.  I think we shall have to come back in the summer and have more fun!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Maine 2012

In mid-September Michael and Zane and I took a trip to Maine to visit relatives.  Zane was great for the trip, but there was some nasty turbulence during one of the flights that I did not like.  At.  All.  I used to be a very nervous flyer, but luckily I am now only a little nervous.  When they told those of us waiting for the bathroom to sit on the floor immediately and find any seat to buckle into ASAP, I only died inside a little bit.  Obviously, we survived.

As usual we first spent a few days in the peace and quiet of Harpswell with my Dad and my stepmother.  The weather was lovely, and Zane really liked the big yard.  We spent quite a lot of time exploring and playing.  My Dad has many garden plots, and Zane immensely enjoyed helping dig out weeds and truck compost to the garden in a wheelbarrow.  My Dad found a fireplace shovel for Zane which was just the right size!  We'll have to get ours out, too.

My "little" brother Brady is now 26, and his cedar play equipment in the side yard was now used as a grape arbor.  It looked like it had been taken over by rot and lichen.  At first I didn't want Zane to get on it, but it turned out to be amazingly sturdy!  Way to go CedarWorks!  I even discovered it was sturdy enough to hold me on the swings, too.  We ought to send them a testimonial!

A necessary part of every trip to my Dad's is a meal at the Dolphin Marina.  It had been completely rebuilt since my last visit, with an even better location and view!  The food was a wonderful as always, and we were blessed with an amazing sunset with rising crescent moon that even had the manager stepping outside to take photos.  Michael is a big fan of Cook's Lobster House, so we went there, too, and saw another amazing sunset.

My Dad has a boat in the harbor at the Orrs Bailey Yacht Club, and I was hoping to get Zane out to see it, but the weather wasn't quite right for it.  Instead, Pa Jim (my Dad's grandpa name), took us out for a row and a beach walk.  That's Zane and PaJim at the top of the post by the Cribstone Bridge.  Zane really enjoyed the row and was a very good boat rider, just as he had been when my Mom and I took him in a canoe in the spring.  He only got worried when we got out at a beach and pulled the boat up a bit.  He didn't want to walk far and wanted to get right back in the boat, which I thought was odd.  I asked if he thought the boat would float away, and that was it!  I assured him it was very safe, and then we had a great time on the beach.  I was very impressed that he even thought of that possibility and was concerned!  I hope he always pays attention to detail and keeps himself safe ...

We got in a nice walk in the woods before we needed to leave for Camden.  Behind the Harpswell Town Hall and transfer center is a great set of trails.  I had forgotten that it is also a place that people like to build fairy houses!  We had a nice relatively flat walk through the woods, saw estuaries, and saw fairy houses and renovated one (fairy houses are made of found natural materials and should be small and look like they blend in with the landscape).  Then we took a shortcut, and you know how that goes.  The old trail turned into a steep and rocky washed out gully.  We climbed over and under and around trees and scrambled up slopes.  It was awesome!  Zane only pooped out a little at the end.  He even named a beetle.

It was finally time to say goodbye and head to Camden for the rest of the family.  We managed to get in lunch at Moody's Diner and for dessert Zane had his first whoopie pie!  Such a shame he couldn't finish it, and I had to eat some.

Camden was chaos.  My Mom has a lovely house with a guest room.  The guest room was currently occupied by my brother's family of four while they got ready to leave on their cruising adventure.  This was wonderful for Zane, who was very excited to see his big cousins.  I ended up coming down with a nasty cold, and I had a lot of trouble sleeping, so I was physically miserable for much of the time.  I loved having people around for Zane to play with, and the big family dinners around the dining room table were a treat for me.  Zane loved all of the new toys (little Legos!) and books and games to play.  Grandma's white board was a big hit, too.  Julian and Ian had homework, so Zane was very serious about doing his own, as well (preschool activity sheets).  We had one near tragedy when Zane fell off cousin Julian's shoulders while Zane was trying to climb down from a bunk bed top he had been forbidden to go up on without an adult nearby.  Zane really clunked his head and gave all of us a heart attack.  Both Julian and Zane learned a bit about listening to their elders.  I'll bet it lasted about three days.

We took Zane and Julian to the Owls Head Transportation Museum.  I thought I had remembered there were interactive exhibits, but at first we had a hard time finding them.  Zane was a little put out that he couldn't fly an airplane.  Then we found a little plane that let you experiment with airplane controls and see how they worked.  Michael and Julian headed off into the rest of the museum while Zane and I hunkered in the gift shop playing with trucks.

Luckily Michael and Julian discovered the mother load of kid fun!  There was a corral of tiny metal vintage-esqe cars to drive.  An old fashioned bus went around the grounds, but Zane wouldn't leave the mini cars, so Michael and Julian went on that.  Then there were about five winged bicycle contraptions that were loads of fun, but a bit tough for Zane to manage.

Then, we spotted the sand box.  Paradise!  A sandbox loaded with mini heavy equipment and surrounded by actual heavy equipment.  We go in sandboxes all the time back home, but Zane can never get enough of digging in sand or dirt.  It was pretty hard to drag him away.

One disappointment was that the gift shop no longer sold Michael's favorite spark plug mug.  We have one at home, and he was hoping to buy a backup.  I don't even see them with a quick internet search, so I think ours is now extra precious!

The weather in Maine had been pretty lovely, but the one day we planned to watch Ian's football game it was cold and rainy.  Zane and I tried to watch it, but we ended up heading back into the car.  I really wanted him to nap, so we went for a drive.  He didn't nap, but we did see a lot of farms, and an amazing lot with lots of broken down old fire trucks.  I have no idea what that was all about!  I just typed derelict fire trucks in hope maine in Google, and found the place!  Firefly Restoration.  The big silver barn is what we saw and drove around.

I planned our Maine trip to be at the same time as the Common Ground Fair, so it was time to go!  This is a real rural arts fair, with no fairway of rides.  I remember once seeing a woman spin angora yarn straight from the back of a very contented angora rabbit.  We had loose plans to find my friends Ann and Jon, my Dad and Stepmom, and the rest of the Camden crew there.  When I was growing up the fair was much closer to Camden, so I had no idea the car ride would be so long.  Luckily, Zane found it all quite interesting.  Then we had to hike at least a mile from where we parked in a field to the fair itself.  We found out later there were shuttle buses.  Just before we entered the fair Zane stopped to play on a huge pile of woodchips.  Lucky we did, because Ann and Jon spied Zane on the pile, and we were able to spend the fair together!  If we hadn't stopped to play, we never would have found them.  We spent a bit of time looking at a log splitter and Zane investigated some garden sheds that looked just like hobbit houses.

Ann and Jon knew the layout of the fair and managed to get us to the kids' area pretty quickly, after a stop for fresh yogurt with maple syrup.  The kids place was awesome!  Right away Zane honed in on the hammering area and whacked a bunch of nails into logs.  Then off to the mural board with about twenty minutes of splashy artistic fun.  The soapy water for cleaning brushes was as much fun as anything.  Then off to the threshing!  I was excited about that.  I've always wanted to try threshing, and here it was for the kids!  I gave it a whirl, too.  It was extra great, since I got Zane a new book for the airplane (Peasant Pig and the Terrible Dragon) which had threshing in it.  I'd tried to explain it to Zane, and lo and behold here it was!  They were going to do winnowing next, but Zane was off to the hay jump.  I tried to get a picture of him in mid air but didn't quite manage it.

We finally tore ourselves away from the kids' area with a goal of seeing big horses.  On the way we got side-tracked by a garden weaving project.  There was a basket of fibers and plant bits, and anyone could contribute.  It pretty cool to show Zane how weaving worked and then pick stuff to put in.  It turns out Zane's skills lie more in unraveling.

There was a wonderful stall selling garden art, and there was a glittering array of baubles festooning a fountain.  Zane asked about the money he saw in it, and I explained about wishing.  I gave him a penny and he said "I wish I had a real penny!" And then he threw his penny in to the pool.  Hmmm.

The day was hot, and we were starting to get tired out.  On the way to the horses we stopped at the rabbit house.  I thought Zane would love it, but for some reason he was not at all interested.  I asked at the spinning hut about the angora rabbit, and a lady said we'd just missed that.  While Michael, Ann, and Jon looked at bunnies (they are bunny people, too), Zane and I wandered outside and saw mules pulling a cart and also slower horses pulling a cart, both for rides.  I let folks know we were headed to track them down.  Zane and I spent quite a while around the horse paddock watching pacers, seeing folks harness their horses and mules, and looking at a pony with a cart.  Zane saw a sawdust pile and of course had to go dig.  We finally reconnected with the others, and Ann led us to the horse cart rides.  Whew!  I was ready to sit for a while.  We had a lovely plod around part of the fair grounds, and while we were riding we heard, "Zane!  Zane!"  Grandma (Mom) had found us!

After the ride we got some food with my Mom and tried to find the rest of our family with no luck.  Then it was off to find our car.  This time Jon told us about the bus shuttle, and we had less of a slog to the car.  As we were finally pulling out of the fairgrounds Zane said, "Let's turn around and go back!"  It was really a great trip.

I had hoped to get apple picking and a hike up Mount Battie in, but that just didn't work out.  Apple picking was only on days we couldn't go.  When we finally got around to squeezing in a hike up to the tower on top of Mount Battie, Zane turned out to be too tired and cranky, and we didn't make it.  I can see now in pictures from that day he was pretty tired out from the trip.  We did manage to see a snake and a toad!  I also taught Zane the magic of writing on a flat rock with another rock.  This was unfortunate, as Zane then wanted to write on all of the rocks.  On a rocky hill.

The trip ended up being exhausting and a bit overwhelming for me as I was sick and didn't sleep well, but it was still great to do it all.  We made a lot of wonderful memories!  Next visit out will most likely be next summer when my cousin Jason gets married.

I leave you now with a few video highlights.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

End of Summer

Boy, I sure have been busy lately!  I keep meaning to post, and the photos pile up in the camera, but no little elves come and do my post for me.  So here I am at last.

The weekend after Zane's birthday we went to Viking Days at the Nordic Heritage Museum. I put a nifty horned helmet on his head, armed him with a foam sword, and we were off with Michael and our neighbor Gavin.  I posted some pictures of the event on my Facebook page.  I had hoped Zane would get to see some mock fighting, but that didn't happen while we were there.  He did get to try hammering wooden pegs with a huge mallet.  I really enjoyed the displays and the food, but Zane was way more interested in the playground there that he's been to many times before.  Oh well!  This playground has sand on the ground rather than mulch, and I don't know if that's the reason, but the slides here really work up a super electrical charge!  It's dangerous to touch your child before they put their feet on the ground!

A few days later I took Zane to Bellevue for his first fall harvest experience.  We went to pick blueberries!  This was way different from my Maine experience of raking and picking blueberries on low bush plants on a rocky hill ala Blueberries for Sal.  The bushes were even taller than me!  Zane called it a blueberry forest.  I had never been to this place, but it was great.  You park at a produce stand where they provide you with buckets, and then you walk through tall blueberry fields with wide grassy roads and paths, and the whole field is surrounded by trees.  The blueberries were copious and sweet, and it felt very bucolic.

The picking area was also about 1/4 mile away from the bathrooms.  Zane was pretty recently toilet trained, but I had learned he could really hold his pee.  He also only poops every 3 or 4 days, so I had no worries.  Before we walked down to the field I asked Zane if he had to pee, and he said no, and he didn't look like he needed to.  Of course, as soon as we got allllll the way down, he suddenly grabbed his crotch and said "Mama, I need to pee!"  I looked back up the path we had slowly walked down.  I looked around and saw no other people.  I decided to be naughty, and I showed Zane how to pee at the very base of a very bushy bush.  I figured no one would be walking or sitting or picking anything there.  I also told him this was kind of naughty, and it wasn't a good solution as a general rule.  Phew, dodged that bullet.  But then about 15 minutes later, he said he had to poop!  I wasn't too worried since he'll get that feeling off and on for a bout a day and a half before he actually goes.  But after a few false alarms, he said he really had to go now!  I'm not naughty enough to leave poop under a bush.  Well, had lots of wipes and a plastic bag full of dry clothes just in case he had an accident, so I took out the plastic bag and had Zane poop right in the bag.  I couldn't believe how well it worked!  Then I had to carry it around, but, oh well, so do dog owners!

We ended up having a fantastic and relaxing time, and Zane said he really liked it.  On the way back to buy the blueberries Zane ate all of the ones he had picked and some of mine, too.  We didn't take very many home, but that wasn't really the goal.  I also picked up some yummy corn, and some peaches that Zane had poked holes in.

After such a nutritious and wholesome outing, I had to balance things out with a trip to the Evergreen State Fair.  I had been telling Zane about cotton candy, and he wanted to try some right away.  When he opened the bag and felt it, he looked at me dubiously and said "What's this?"  I said it was actually food, and it melted in your mouth!  He was instantly convinced once he tried it!  The bags are enormous, and I ended up tossing it at the end of the day, explaining that it was just a treat for that day.  It was so hard for me to let him eat such crap!  But I didn't stop there!  I let him have a sno-cone, some pretzel, and a corn dog.  He was pretty pleased!  I ended up eating the apple I brought for him.

I had hoped to show Zane draft horses pulling things, lumberjack skills, chainsaw carving, pig races, and animals, but we spent 3 hours on the kiddie carnival rides and 20 minutes on animals at the end when he was getting pretty tired.  I decided the day was for him, and that was OK.  Especially since we'll be going to a fair in Maine with no rides and lots of animals!

When we got to the fair the rides hadn't quite started yet, so Zane tested his strength with a hammer and won a blow-up hammer.  Then we waited for the roller coaster to begin, and Zane was introduced to the fine art of hanging around by some other, more experienced boys.  I am not a roller coaster fan, but I figured the little Wiggly Worm couldn't be too bad.  It was about as much as I could handle, and Zane was a bit scared on the downhill parts, but mostly he liked it.

Next we went through a couple of obstacle courses.  And went through them again.  And again.  And again ...  Zane is just tall enough to go on these "rides", but not tall enough to go alone, so I did all of the climbing and slithering and crawling right along with him!  Some of those tubes are really not meant for adults, but luckily I'm a skinny bean.  Next we tried a water pistol shooting game and eventually won a small orange elephant.  After a break for more icky fair food, we went on these whirling bear things.  Not a great combo for my stomach, but Zane didn't seem to mind at all.

Then we went to an area of the rides where little kids could go on things alone.  There was a beautiful multicolored train that chuffed around a mini track.  A bunch of kids got into the engine and Zane liked that a bunch.  I saw him talking with another boy, and captured this photo on the right that seems to me a glimpse of future Zane.  Doesn't he look older there?  We took a ride together on some circling swings, and my butt barely fit into the seat.  I don't know how other parents with their big American butts fit could in there!  Next we hopped over to some boinging dune buggies, and the boy Zane sat next to in the train ran over and jumped into his buggy, too.  They seemed to have a great time together.  It was kind of odd to see him doing something by himself and talking to another kid!  A preview of his upcoming school career.

The weather at the end of this summer has been fantastic.  All of August and half of September have been dry and sunny, with only a few uncomfortably hot days.  We've been spending some nice time in the backyard, and now that the fence is fixed up JoJo can come out, too.  Zane and JoJo found they had something in common in their love of digging!

We've had a very nice sunflower growing in our backyard, and one day Michael got a number of nice pictures of all of us enjoying its grand yellowness.

I've been trying to cram in so many adventures, because school would be starting soon for Zane, and we wouldn't have so much free time anymore.  He had his 3 year checkup and the doctor's, and for the first time he wasn't freaked out by being weighed or measured or poked.  He had his blood pressure checked for the first time, too.  He was 28 pounds and 3 feet 1/4 inch tall.  He is still smaller than average, but staying on the same curve he's been on for awhile.  I also took him for another developmental assessment with the awesome Marni at Parent Trust.  It's always fun to go there!  He's right on target for all of his social, emotional, and physical skills.  If anything, a bit ahead in verbal, and a bit behind the curve in gross motor since he's a bit small.

Zane has been eating a lot lately, and he's started to think about philosophical matters, too.  He has been asking about monsters in his room, and plying us with lots of questions about death and dying.  I'm not sure how much he understands since he doesn't seem upset, but he definitely stresses that he doesn't want to die and he doesn't want us to.  I try to be honest without telling him all of the possible worst case scenarios out there. 

I recently read an article about math for kids, and I instantly felt guilty that I had been reading to Zane all over the place, but never asking him math problems.  Then I got more realistic and felt better.  Still, that night I asked him some very simple questions about apples, and he got it!  "If I have one apple and give you another, how many do you have?  If you have three apples and I take two, how many do you have?"  I was pretty impressed with him.  I hope to maybe try some Bedtime Math problems with him.

Well, the beginning of the school year finally came!  I was so excited for Zane to have a new environment filled with kids his own age, sunshine, new things to do, and access to the outside all day long.  He was not worried about it at all, and immediately loved it!  In fact, the first day when I cam to pick him up to bring him home for lunch and the rest of the day, he got angry that he couldn't stay for lunch!  So the next day I packed him a lunch and he was disappointed he couldn't stay to nap with the others.  So now I make him a lunch every day, even if he isn't staying for more than the morning.  But, on Mondays he comes home for lunch so I can visit with him since I work until past his bedtime.

He has been happy every single day that he has been there so far, and Michael and I are so pleased.  We can even see updates online that the teachers post about what skills they have introduced him to.  Pictures will be going up throughout the school year.  I love having a peak at his day.  I also love that the school is about a 30 second walk from our house (for adults -- several minutes for dawdling boys).

Zane has really amped up his desire to do things by himself now that he is at school, too.  Mostly that is nice at home, but it also has made him think he gets to decide not to do things we ask him to.  There has been an uptick in time-outs and other consequences.  Just a phase, just a phase I remind myself.  All of this stimulation will make his neurons explode, and that's worth it!

Our next adventure is a trip to Maine next week, so look for a big post about that in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Zane is Three!

Today my Sweet Baby Zane turns three!  Last night Michael was making a big deal about Zane turning three, and this morning Zane asked me, "When will I change?"  He had an idea that he might be quite different today, even though last night I assured him he would be the same!

For the last couple of nights we've been playing a balloon bombing game with the balloons leftover from his party.  Enjoy this prelude to the actual birthday celebrations.

This morning Michael got up early so Zane could enjoy his presents and hopefully calm down a bit by nap time.  Unfortunately, the first present Zane took from the stack was a rolled up shirt with a digger on it.  As he started to open it he got very mad and said, "This isn't fun.  It's not fun!"  He really threw quite a pout, enough that I was thinking of repossessing the gifts!  But really, he had been expecting toys and he opened clothes!  Ick.  So I let him have a bye on that.  Then he opened the other things from Michael and I and really liked them.  Two Cars videos and a book of TowMater stories.  A Dinosaur Train set, and Cranky with some magnetic freight train cargo.  Well, I guess we went to the dark side on licensed image stuff from TV, but at least it's mostly PBS Kids!  I was excited to discover that the plastic Dinosaur Trains fit on Zane's wooden train tracks, and that the Megabloks they are made from are interchangeable with his Legos.

Video evidence of the birthday present melee:

After his nap Zane also enjoyed some cars from Grandpa, a shirt from Grandma, and a crazy pipe and flag from cousins Ian and Julian.  I think the flag was his favorite!

I wrote and posted this last night, and I realized later that I forgot to do my hypothesizing about the year to come!  Here's what I said last year:
And what do I look forward to next year? Well, I imagine he'll get pretty fluent with language and easier to understand, learn shapes and counting, jump, walk up and down stairs without hands, and generally get stronger and more nimble. What do I dream of? Potty training and sleeping in his own room!
I'd say that was all right on!  He doesn't really know counting very well, but the rest is true.  And he did indeed get the potty training in just under the wire!

In this next year Zane will begin school and I imagine that will cause a lot of changes, along with just growing older!  I can't think of any really big changes like weaning and sleeping in a bed and toilet training from the last several years.  I think there's a good chance that he might be reading just a little bit when he turns four.  Hopefully he will also be better with numbers and counting.  He still zips around on his balance bike, but maybe he will learn to pedal a bike without training wheels, too!  I hope he can form some really good friendships and start to hang out with more kids (I have to make that easier for him).

We'll see!  It will all be a magnificent mystery.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Zane's 3rd Birthday Party!

Actually it was Zane's first birthday party thrown on his behalf, and it was his third birthday!  I was nervous about organizing this, but it all went off without a hitch.  I was pretty surprised!  But also proud of myself.  We have a small house and backyard, but the weather cooperated so we could stay in the backyard which is our biggest space.  Two families from the neighborhood came, and that was just the right amount.  We also invited some daycare kids, but they never responded and didn't show up.

We had a morning party which turned out good because the day was getting hot.  I decided not to try to do too much, so I bought a fruit plate, veggie plate, cake, cupcakes, juice, and frozen pizza.  I like making cakes, but it would have been too much to do.  We started off with a shark pinata filled with toys -- no candy!  Zane was super excited about it, as he hadn't seen it before.  He posed with it trying to make an angry face.  As soon as the kids arrived, we had at it!  I ended up having to help things along, but it was pretty fun.

Then we did Olympic Fishing!  I had cut out eight identical gold fish and put paper clips on them.  One fish had gold stars all over the back.  The kids took turns fishing with a magnet, and whoever got the gold-star fish won a medal!  That was a good time filler, and everyone got a medal except Zane who lost interest at the end.  He kept asking where was his cake!

Meanwhile, I cooked up the pizzas, brought them out, and then brought out the cake!  It was yellow all over -- Zane's favorite color.  He blew the candles out right away, and we feasted.  After the kids got all jacked up on food and sugar, they ran around and screamed like banshees while one Dad was an escaped prisoner, and then Michael threatened to barbeque them.  Good times.

Zane had a good time, but was also kind of subdued.  He was tired in the morning, and ended up having not much trouble napping after the party, so I think he's a bit tired for some reason.  Still, I was really pleased that he had fun, the other kids had fun, there was food everyone liked, the games filled up the time, and the cleanup was easy!

We'll give Zane presents from the family on his birthday on Wednesday.

Here is video evidence of the fun!

Summer Fun

We've been having a really great summer.  I've enjoyed so many adventures with Zane that we can do together, now that he's older and more of his own person.  The potty training has also really gelled, so it is wonderful to be able to just head over to a toilet when we need to.  No lugging diapers around, no scheduling trips around using the toilet at home (which was the only acceptable toilet for a couple of weeks), no juggling fluid intakes to get the pee at the most convenient time.  I still take an extra set of pants in case of an accident, but I have not yet had to deploy them.

Michael's cousin Rafi and his family came through Seattle briefly to start a Disney cruise to Alaska.  We caught up with them for about an hour at the terminal.  Zane's cousins Elisa and Niko are so wonderful, and Zane just looooooooved them.  That's the three of them at the top of the post.  This was on day three of potty training, and I was all stressed out, but Zane wasn't, as you can see!

One sign that Zane has been having a good summer is his very diverse collection of scabs.  The picture does not do them justice (like my modesty oval?).  He had two sets on one knee and one on the other with a scattering of extra bruises.  Each shin was scraped bloody.  He also had a new chin scab with matching lip scab in addition to the old healing spot from his bicycle mishap from a month ago.  Each scab and bruise was from a different event.  Also, yesterday he ended up needing three baths throughout the day, which I think is also a sign that the boy is having the kind of summer a kid ought to have.

I realized the other day that I've kind of fallen off in terms of taking him to the zoo and aquarium and museums and swimming, but when it's nice in Seattle, I just want to be outside!  Zane likes it, too.  We're very fortunate to have a nice neighborhood to walk, play and bike in, a pleasant backyard with good neighbors, and parks within walking/biking distance.  We can go back inside when the rain starts!

Our neighborhood is really wonderful.  Many Seattle neighborhoods celebrate Night Out Against Crime, and ours is no exception.  The idea is to get neighbors together at least once per year to create a more solid community of people who will watch out for each other throughout the year.  This year Michael was able to participate (he's usually at Kung Fu), and Zane was old enough to really have a blast with the other kids.  I think the stomp rocket launchers really made an impression on him.  He was laughing maniacally and yelling "Hoarding!  Hoarding!" as he gathered up all of the rockets in his arms.  He also had an awesome time running races with a bunch of the other boys.  His favorite pair of shoes these days are blue and black "running shoes" that he says make him go super fast!  Towards the end Michael had some sort of game going with a gaggle of kids involving threatening to barbeque them.  Good stuff for little boys!

This month is a very busy one for us.  I have been excitedly looking forward to Zane's birthday and also starting school in September, but I also hate to be wishing time would pass, because then summer would be over!  The weather has been really superb the last couple of weeks, and as of today the forecast looks great for the next week, too.  At this time of year I start thinking that each nice day could be our last.  We've been enjoying soccer, which will end at then end of this month; we had a rocky beginning, but Zane said he wants to continue in the fall.  We tried to see some fireworks nearby, but they were delayed and ended up being too far past bedtime to be reasonable; but Zane still was excited about being outside in the near dark since he goes to bed and wakes up in the light in the summer.  Today we had a fabulous birthday party in our back yard!  I'll post separately about that later.  Next up is Zane's actual birthday on Wednesday, and we'll give him gifts from the family then.  Next a doctor's appointment for a three year checkup, a development assessment, a haircut for school, and the last days at daycare.  I'm hoping to squeeze in our first visit to a big fair.  I think I'll go in the morning and plan to stay for a long time and not worry about the nap schedule; sometimes you gotta mess with the schedule!  I can't wait to show Zane kiddie rides, a horse show, pig races, chainsaw carving, and fair food.  I think he will love it and be in awe of all the world has to offer.

And then in September we have school starting, and that will allow me to go back to the gym.  And finally, in mid-September we go to Maine for a visit!  Whew.

I will leave you with this nice photo of Zane washing the kitchen floor.  I gave him a bowl of soapy water and an egg beater for entertainment, and he ended up deciding to wash the entire kitchen floor plus the outside of the garbage can!  Who am I to stifle the urge to clean?