All About Nathan – Look Who’s Two!

2 year old nathanOne of the many reasons I started this blog was because I wanted to document the happenings with my children and have a place to remember what their younger years were like.  It’s time for an “All About” post and today’s focus is all about my second born and newly minted 2 year old, Nathan.

This little peanut that made me a mom for the second time, and made Joey a Big Brother has just recently turned 2 years old. We celebrated with cake and a little train themed party, because like his big brother, he has become a huge fan of trains (more on that later). His second year certainly has flown by and he has grown so much and even became a big brother. And he is the best big brother.

N_2ndBirthdayThis year we’ve really seen Nathan’s true personality emerge as he went from babyhood into toddlerville. What he showed us is that he is a sensitive and shy little guy. It takes him a while to warm up to someone or even make eye contact when he first meets them or hasn’t seen them in awhile.  This shyness a trait he gets from his mother (believe it or not).

After his first birthday, we were slightly concerned about his language development because of chronic ear infections. But we didn’t worry for long as his speech and comprehension suddenly blossomed overnight and at this time we have quite the chatterbox.   It is makes it so much easier now that he can tell us what he needs, and what he wants. But at times we need to remind him to use his words.

Like most two year olds, he wears his emotions on his sleeve. He is the master of what I call the “toddler flop”. Don’t know what that is?  Well tell your 2 year old no, or don’t give him what he wants and you will witness a quick drop to the floor usually followed by tears or wails. And when he is feeling really sad, he comes up to me, takes my hands and places them on his cheeks on either side of his face and says “I’m sad”, which seems to be the way he likes to calm himself down.

Much like his older brother at this age, he has developed a love and obsession with trains. It probably helped that his older brother has quite a collection of Thomas and other train toys already, so it was natural for him to gravitate to those toys. He LOVES trains of all kinds it seems. He loves train themed books, train themed toys, Thomas and Friends (obviously), train videos, riding on trains, etc. Sometimes he loves to sit and watch YouTube videos of real life trains going by, which is helpful when I need to keep him occupied for a few minutes so I can shower.

He has turned into a loving big brother to his baby sister, and is a good buddy to his big brother. Also Nathan appears to be a budding wrestler. Both his father and I are quite impressed at his natural wrestling abilities (where the heck did this come from?), especially the takedowns of his older brother, who is nearly twice his size. And his poor big brother is usually minding his own business before Nathan launches his attack.

Nathanis2_v2He has a smile that warms your heart and gives the biggest hugs. And unlike he was 1 year ago, he actually sleeps so much better. By himself! And does it (usually) without a fight! Imagine that.

Likes:

  • Playing outside
  • Peanut butter sandwiches
  • Going Bye Bye
  • Trains
  • Dump trucks
  • Snuggling
  • Doing things himself
  • Wrestling with big brother
  • Chasing big brother
  • Loving on little sister
  • Chocolate anything

Dislikes:

  • Getting off train rides
  • Disney Characters in Costume/Santa
  • Spinach
  • Being chased by big brother
  • Milk in the wrong cup
  • Sharing (working on that)
  • Naptime (sometimes)

Lobsters – A Life Lesson For My 4 Year Old

lobster_lessonsI am learning that four year olds are inquisitive, and you can never quite predict what is going to come out of their mouths and when.  My 4 year old is in the normal phase of asking question after question on how things work, where things come from, and why things are they way they are. He is just trying to understand how his world works. To me, it gives me a fascinating insight to how his little brain works and to see the world from his eyes.

This week I was reminded of all that when I took the kids on routine trip to the grocery store. Without fail, when we walk near the fish counter, Joey must pay a visit to the big lobster tank to say hi to all the lobsters. He just loves to stare that them and watch them crawl around each other. Some days it is hard to pull him away, and this day was no exception. But soon I was able to drag him away so we could complete our shopping. Then he starts asking me questions about the lobsters’ eyes, and where their mouths are and what they eat. Since I am not really an expert on lobster anatomy and such, so I usually tell him my best guess and recommend that we look it up when we get home.

Then Joey asks, “Mommy, what do people DO with the lobsters?”

“Well honey, they take them home and cook and eat them,” hoping that would be the end of it.

“Cook and eat them? Why do they do that?” he asks.

“Because lobster is delicious,” I answer him, part of me wondering what the heck he thought they were for… decorations?

“Well how do people cook them, put them on a fire?” he then asks.

GULP… Oh boy. Now I know how lobsters are cooked, and really I never gave the way they meet their demise before they make it to my plate much of a thought. But how does throwing something into a super hot pot of water to boil alive sound to a 4 year old?  In my mind, I’m trying to find a way to gently tell him about the (torturous?) way lobsters come to their end and decide that the truth is probably the best way.

“They way lobsters are cooked is that they get put in a super hot pot of boiling water for a few minutes and when they turn bright red, they are done cooking and ready to eat.”

“Well mommy, when people try to eat them, won’t their claws pinch their mouths?”

“Um… no honey, after you cook a lobster, they are no longer alive so their claws no longer work,” I told him.

I look at him waiting for the next question… “Oh, okay,” he says. Then seemingly drops the conversation. That was enough for his 4 year old brain at that moment.

Oh boy. Lessons on life and death and where the things we eat really come from. All that can come up in one little conversation about lobsters.

The whole thing made me laugh a little an I knew that he would probably bring it back up again (he did). When I thought more about it, it made sense that usually the food we take home and eat (specifically meat or most seafood) is not alive and walking (or swimming) around. It has already been taken care of and packaged for us to take home to cook. So when he brought up the cooking of lobsters again later, we made comparisons to the chicken or beef that we eat that were once walking around on a farm before it made it to our store and to our table. And really for a 4 year old, we don’t need to go into much more detail on the in between for HOW they got there. It’s interesting to see his wheels turning while he processes how it all works.

So will he actually try lobster? Are you kidding me? This is my picky eater we are talking about. Though we told him how yummy we think lobster  is (not that we go on eating lobster all the time), he is not so convinced.

Next life lesson that has come up in the last 24 hours… How is the baby is going to come out of mommy’s belly? Since I did not quite know the appropriate 4 year old answer at the moment, I told him that we would talk about it later.  So I better figure it out before he asks again (and he will very soon).

Guest Room to Kids Room Makeover – Nathan’s Space Themed “Big Boy” Room

Nathan'sRoom16 month old Nathan is firmly in his toddlerhood, growing by leaps and bounds, and will soon be outgrowing the crib. Well, the reality is, soon he will be kicked out of the crib because baby#3 will be  needing a place to sleep within a few months from now (once the baby is no longer in OUR room). Since my nesting instinct is starting to kick in big time, I am itching to get Nathan’s new room ready. So we are changing what is now the guest room into Nathan’s new “big boy” room.

(And before my far away family starts freaking out saying, “What? No more guest room?”… don’t fret!  We will still have room for you and beds to sleep in when you come and visit. Just a little bit of shifting around and nifty beds with some hidden compartments that will make space for visitors. So don’t you worry. AND you will get to enjoy the fruit of our latest decor efforts.)

For Nathan’s new room we are going with a Space theme, with planets, rockets, stars, and other spacey type things. I’ve started gathering together some ideas on a Pinterest board. I have a few DIY projects in mind, plus a few etsy purchases and Target runs on the agenda. Paint started going up over the weekend and I am fine tuning my shopping list. Here is the collection of things I have in mind to complete this guest room to kids room makeover.

First, here are the paint colors for the walls:  Nathan_paint_colorsThe “accent wall” color is aptly named “Planetarium” by Behr. I wanted a bold blue color for at least one wall to have some contrast and give that space feel. I’m always afraid to paint a whole room such a dark color, so I stick with an accent wall. I love having a bold color accent wall… though husband is not exactly a fan because of the mere fact that it’s more work having to paint a wall a different color than the rest… but he loves me and that is why he does it when I ask. He’s such a great guy. 🙂

Furniture_bedding

We have chosen some furniture pieces (above) that hail from Ikea and we’ll be getting those very soon. I’m especially pleased with the daybed as we need the extra storage from the drawers below (AND the bottom pulls out to set another mattress beside it and boom, we have extra sleeping space for guests). Target had some cute space/rocket themed quilt and bedding that I picked up, so we are well on our way. (Target Circo Blast Off Quilt set and Sheet Set)

decor_and_wall_art

I have numerous ideas in mind for various decor items and art for decorating the rest of the room. It is just a matter of deciding exactly what I want, what I can find (anyone know where I can find the rocket lamp in the above picture?), and how much of it I want to DIY. I am in the midst of deciding between a couple of those custom wall decals to put on the bold blue wall (bottom row of above photo from Etsy Here and Here). I’m also trying to decide on various art options for the other walls (Middle row – Rocket Canvas, Planet Prints, To the Moon… Print). Glad there is so much good stuff to choose from.

As for the DIY, one project I am starting work on is a solar system mobile. I am modeling it based on the one in the photo above from PBK.  I am feeling slightly ambitious (and maybe a little crazy), so I decided we were going to do our own DIY version. I am aiming to make it a family project and a little bit of a science lesson for my oldest son, to learn about the planets, what they look like, where they are located, etc. I’m trying to make it simple and it obviously won’t be exactly to scale, but scientist husband might have other ideas. It will be a grand family craft project/science project/experiment. A new blog post will follow showing our progress with photos and even a tutorial (if it is a success). Wish us luck!

So that is what’s on tap for Nathan’s new room. I’ll be posting some photos of our progress and a “grand reveal” when we are all done. Stay tuned!

All About the J-Man – 4 Years, 2 Months

IMG_0405It’s hard to believe that what was once a tiny little peanut, is now this huge (in comparison to his little bro) 4 year old, that is loaded with energy, has a fearless spirit, is always moving (always!) and is ready to make mischief and nearly every turn. He has a generous heart, friendly to just about everyone he meets, and is always aiming to make people laugh. So here is all about Joey at this age and stage.

He is 4 years old now, but it took him awhile to warm up to it. In weeks leading up to his birthday, he didn’t want to be 4 and insisted that he wanted to stay 3 forever. We kept trying to convince him how much better 4 is and how much more fun he will get to have because he’s bigger. Some days he embraces being older especially when he thinks it suits him… “I’m big enough to go on that giant scary ride for grown-ups Mommy, I’m 4 now!” And some days he likes to convince us he is still a baby, like when we ask him to clean up his toys or other little kid “chores” we ask him to do. But he is my little Peter Pan. Most the time, he doesn’t want to grow up.

IMG_0350

His tastes in toys and play things has changed from being obsessed with trains (Thomas) to loving a mix of Cars (from Disney), Jake & The Neverland Pirates/Peter Pan, the Avengers and all things comic book super heroes. Our days of play usually start with playing with cars on the train table, and evolves into sword fighting like Captain Hook and Peter Pan, then playing Captain America and Iron Man fighting the bad guys. Mix in a bit of wrestling with the little bro (who usually is the one who instigates it) and a few games on mommy’s iPhone and a bit of play outside with our pirate ship water table and that is our day. He likes to play constantly and play hard.

Joey is ever the jokester. He is always trying to make you laugh, whether it be from made up knock-knock jokes (of which he is obsessed), to purposely picking the wrong answer to a question because he thinks it is funny. Always trying to be silly. For some reason, I foresee him someday being the class clown, as I imagine  he does the same at school as he does at home. In a way is joker side is endearing, but I’m also afraid it will get him in trouble especially in school.

He is always wanting to be a good helper. He loves to help Daddy “fix things”, in fact, I think he is in need of his own tool belt. He wants to follow daddy to the garage or the basement or anywhere that Daddy has to go work on or fix things.  He loves to help mommy in the kitchen. He wants to learn to be a “good cooker” like mommy he tells us, while he stands on a chair in his apron helping with simple tasks like mixing and spreading. I think I am going to like this more and more as he gets older and more helpful.  Too bad he doesn’t like being such a good helper when it comes time to picking up his toys.

More Quick Joey Facts:

  • Likes: Imaginative play, pirates, cars, trains, sword fighting, super heroes, Disney Jr., swimming, playing in or with water, fixing things, books, sweets, cooking/baking, saying his prayers with Mommy at bedtime
  • Dislikes: Naps, sitting still, getting his picture taken, seeing others hurt, upset or crying, cleaning up toys, most any vegetables but broccoli, trying anything new to eat, going to his room when in trouble
  • Fears: Pretty fearless except for bugs and certain sounds like vacuums, hair dryers and hand dryers
  • Reads: Not quite yet, but he is great at sounding out letters and just starting to put the sounds together. Loves books but still prefers us to read to him than working on learning to read himself.
  • Words to describe him: Caring, loving, helpful, friendly, outgoing, spirited, stubborn, hyper, talkative

Easy Holiday Snowflake Art For The Kids

Easy Snowflake Art Project for kidsI was looking around for some easy holiday art projects for kids that my 3 year old son could do. He loves to paint and make messes, so when I stumbled upon this on Pinterest, I thought it was perfect for him! The original awesome step-by-step tutorial right here.

The materials are easy to find, and I knew my son would love to spread paint around a canvas with reckless abandon. So one Sunday afternoon, we had some fun.

What you need:

  • Canvas of your desired size (I used 12″x12″)
  • Masking or Painters tape
  • Acrylic craft paint in desired colors
  • Paint brushes or sponge brushes

Take your canvas and with the masking tape, tape on the pattern that you want your snowflake to look like. You can get as intricate as you wish with different lines and snowflake patterns. For this one, since it was my first time, I kept it super simple with very basic lines. I probably could have used more “flourishes” on  my snowflake since the finished product looks kind of plain.

Once you have the design taped the way you like, get the paint and the brushes and let your kid go to town on the canvas. Here, I just squeezed the paint on a plastic plate and let him go. My only instructions were to not leave any white spots on the canvas.

Painting is serious business apparently.

I helped him get the edges of the canvas covered, but the rest was all him. Once they have completely covered the canvas, you let the paint fully dry. I let mine dry over night. It will look sort of like the pic below.

Once it is all dry, just peel all the paint off from the canvas, and you should have some lovely snowflake art your kids will be proud of. Here is our final product…

 

So they are a bit basic. Maybe could use a few extra lines. I’ll just call them “perfectly imperfect”, as that is what all snowflakes are. Am I right?

My son is certainly proud of his efforts. Every time he sees them, he likes to exclaim “I made that!” I love it.

Our Last Fling of Summer

The summer flew by so fast, that before we knew it, it was the week before Labor Day weekend and we hadn’t even been to the shore yet. How can this be? We kept meaning to make plans for it, and other things kept pushing to “maybe next week”. We approached the last week of summer and our LAST chance to make it. What is a summer in New Jersey without at least one shore trip?

I made the decision that on a Monday in the last week of summer we would take our chance. So the grandparents and I took the littles to Wildwood for a day of fun. It was my littlest one’s first trip to the shore ever, and the first shore trip where my 3 year old was big enough to take full advantage of the ocean swimming and boardwalk treats and rides.

When do Wildwood, we like to do the beach by day, and then the boardwalk in the evening. Though the clouds all around us looked ominous, it ended up being a nearly perfect day, only a few stray raindrops. The people just down the beach in each direction, were not so lucky. It’s like the sky opened up just for us.

Nathan enjoyed the time at the beach as much as any 6 month old could. He nursed, napped, reached for toys, nursed and napped some more. Before we were done at the beach, we stuck his little toes in the water just because.

Turns our, Joey is my fearless little fish. He had talked all morning about swimming in the ocean, sticking his head under water and everything. I thought he would be a little timid when we actually got there, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. We found our spot, he got lathered up in sunscreen and then ran straight for the water and we could hardly keep him out of there for the next 4 hours. He kept trying to convince Grandpop to take him further and further out into the waves. No fear in this kid. He hardly sat down for a break for 2 seconds, before dropping his juice box, flinging off his towel with both arms and running straight for the water again. Poor Grandpop didn’t get to sit down for the first 2.5 hours.  It warms my heart to see that my son loves the water as much as his mother. It is my happy place too.

Day at the beach lead to the evening on the boardwalk, with boardwalk food, rides and all. Baby did his thing in the stroller (mostly slept) and Joey got to ride all the rides he wanted to his heart’s content. Of course, he had no nap (we are dropping those lately) so at dinner, he was so exhausted he fell asleep at the table. Then got a second wind and had to do a few more rides before we made our way to the car.

All in all, our blast of summer was a great day. We made a promise that next summer, we wil do something we have never done and spend a week at the shore. Can’t wait!