Monday, October 31, 2011

Snow Day in Brooklyn!

Saturday, we received our first snowfall of the year.  Tye awoke from her nap to a wintry wonderland.  From reading books and watching movies, Tye knew of snow, but I don't know how much she remembered from last year.  As we walked outside, she gasped and commented on how cold it was.
Tye loved watching her boots leave footprints as she walked.  Almost immediately, she picked up a small chunk of snow from the seat of her bike and put it in her mouth, then giggled as it melted in her mouth.  

Our little play time on the back deck didn't last too long before Tye became really cold (Mama has not yet found snowpants or waterproof mittens for this winter) and we quickly came inside to warm up.  

After that, we embarked upon a family trek to search for a pumpkin during the hardest snowfall of the day.  The wet, icy chunks falling from the sky turned out to be pretty miserable- our faces stung as they were pelted with heavy snow, and our clothes were quickly soaked.  I resorted to keep Tye dry in her stroller with a garbage bag.  We can say we made an effort, though, and we did our best to enjoy participate in the snow.  

As soon as we found what turned out to be the last pumpkin in Fort Greene (and it was therefore, the Charlie Brown Christmas tree of pumpkins), we returned home, warmed up, and carved our pumpkin as the snow continued falling.  This was one snowfall best enjoyed with a mug of spiced cider and a bowl of freshly baked pumpkin seeds, wearing warm slippers and "jamas."  So yes, we enjoyed the snow, after all.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Corner Store Playdough

The longer we live in Brooklyn and the more experience I gain living here, the more I learn to improvise.  Can't carry the dog food home from the store?  Order it on Amazon.  Dryer takes three and a half hours to dry a load of clothes?  Hang them all.  So when I wanted to make play dough for Tye but couldn't find food coloring at any of the local corner grocery stores (or our nearby Target), I thought of one of my favorite recipes for play dough from my teaching days: Jello play dough.  It's a beautiful, smooth consistency, smells yummy, and doesn't require food coloring- perfect for life in our area of Brooklyn, where apparently no one uses food coloring. (I know, I don't use artificial food coloring, either- except for making play dough!) 
Jello Play Dough

1 cup flour (plus additional for kneading)
2 Tbsp salt
3-4 Tbsp cream of tartar
1 small package flavored gelatin (we used blue raspberry)
2 Tbsp cooking oil
1 cup water

Combine ingredients in a medium pot or large saucepan, stirring until smooth.  Place the pan over low heat and stir continuously until the texture changes and the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the edge.  Turn dough out onto wax or parchment paper to cool.  Add flour gradually and knead until smooth and no longer sticky.  Store in an airtight container.  If it becomes dry, knead in a little oil and add less flour next time.  

Though I've been wanting to try out play dough with Tye for a while, this was our first experience with it.  She asked to eat it many times and even tried to sneak a few tastes, but did a much better job keeping it out of her mouth than I had expected.  We had a great time playing together, making shapes with our hands and cookie cutters, but Tye's favorite play dough activity was finding small animals hidden within the dough.  She loves the idea of hiding right now and becomes really excited to find items.  When she realized there were animals hiding in the dough, she squealed and giggled with delight, then re-hid them in their "house."   

Play dough is great for a child's development, with opportunities to practice fine motor skills (cutting, shaping, twisting) and coordination (using a rolling pin, practicing cutting dough "snakes" with scissors) and to engage in sensory input- squeezing the soft, squishy dough- that can be hard to find elsewhere.  Plus, as Tye will tell you, it's fun!  
Needless to say, we're going to be making a lot more play dough in the future.  I'm excited to try some natural food colors, like adding/substituting beet juice, green or hibiscus tea, turmeric, and orange peel to the water in other recipes, and turn our improvising into a culinary adventure.   At least I know I can fall back on more Jello in a pinch.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

An Abundance of Owies

I don't know if everyone's kids are like this or if it's just Tye, but every once in a while, she manages to fall- a LOT.  The injuries are rarely sporadic- rather, they come in waves.  After weeks without an owies, Tye has had several in the past two days, including two that left big scratches on her face.  
Her forehead was the result of a fall off the equipment at the playground, which is completely unusual for her.  The scratch on Tye's nose happened after a little fall on the small cement area in the back yard.  Her face doesn't tell the rest of the story- the running fall cushioned by a large bush, the fall off the kitchen chair that resulted in a major head bump, the skinned knees hiding beneath her leggings.  

If we were still in Chicago, I'd take Tye to the chiropractor.  After all, after this many tumbles, she is certain to need an adjustment.  But I've also noticed that an adjustment breaks the cycle of injuries.  I realize it could just be the end of Tye's fall phase, or as the old motherly wisdom suggests, perhaps she is finally becoming used to her body after a growth spurt.  The thing is, after months of regular adjustments, the pattern of falls-adjustments-no falls has been pretty obvious.  

Now we just need to find a chiropractor in Brooklyn.  
"Owie on nose."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why we moved...

Because nothing replaces sitting in Daddy's lap for dinner any night I want.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Playground Explorations

Our trip to the playground yesterday was great fun for Tye.  New equipment to climb, new sights to see, and lots of leaves to collect and throw into the air repeatedly.  Now, if we could just find some other kids to join us at the playground, we'd be all set.

Oh, and remember what I said about Tye learning to smile for the camera?  Well, we have some practice ahead of us...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Thoughts at 26 Weeks

I may be 26 weeks pregnant, but my body believes my third trimester arrived three days ago.  It came on like a ton of bricks- one day, I felt great, and the next, WHAM!  I was exhausted from pushing Tye in the stroller a few blocks, every time I bent over to pick up one of the million items on the floor my belly and back hurt, and by the end of the day, my entire body felt absolutely exhausted, despite my afternoon nap.  With only a week and a half until I officially enter the third trimester, my body isn't that far off.  I just wasn't expecting those typical third trimester symptoms until, well, the third trimester.  Fortunately, I've been surrounded by gentle reminders to appreciate every day of this pregnancy, and I'm truly working on that. 

I'm forever grateful just to be pregnant.  Today, October 15th, marks Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, a day with special meaning to me.  Almost three years ago, I had an ectopic pregnancy that ended in emergency surgery to remove my ruptured fallopian tube.  The devastation of losing a pregnancy is hard to describe and rarely discussed publicly, as if miscarrying is shameful.  I found, though, that by talking openly about our experience, I was introduced to a flood of other women who had lost a pregnancy and even more stories of hope.  I learned that 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage (1 in 3 by some estimates), which helped ease my own feelings of guilt.  Remembering how fortunate I am to have become pregnant with one fallopian tube, and to still be pregnant, being grateful comes easily.

As my pregnancy progresses, I'm thankful for each day that Baby Girl stays inside me.  Much as I did with Tye, I'm reminding this babe daily to "Stay inside until January," our pregnancy mantra.  Some days, I feel as though everywhere I turn, I encounter another story of a premature birth.  A friend just told me of a sorority sister who delivered her twins at 24 weeks.  Loving, concerned friends and family members reminded Tyler and me that I shouldn't be lifting anything heavy during the move, or better yet, shouldn't lift anything (and Tyler has been fabulous, helping me throughout).  With at least three close friends who delivered prematurely immediately following a move, moving was a real concern for us, and one we continue to take seriously (the boxes aren't gone yet!).  I'm thankful that we've progressed into a portion of the pregnancy in which Baby Girl would possibly survive if she was born, but even more, I'm grateful for every day she remains safely in utero.  

I'm also reminding myself to treasure this pregnancy because there's a chance it could be my last.  Though right now, I can say I would like another child someday, I don't know what the future holds for our family.  To assume I'll be pregnant again would also rely on me becoming pregnant again, an uncertain venture for any couple.  When I think about the possibility that this could be my last time experiencing pregnancy, I can't help but cherish each day.  

Since she learned we'd be moving, my dear friend Ines has been wishing for me to find peace after the move so I could just enjoy being pregnant.  Now that the chaos is beginning to calm, I'm able to concentrate on my connection with Baby Girl and finally realize Ines' hope for me, something I didn't realize how much I needed.  All these reminders of how fortunate we are aren't going wasted, either.  I'm grateful for the conception and safe continuation of this pregnancy, and for the wonderfully easy second trimester with which I was blessed when I needed it most.  When my continuously changing body requires me to slow down now, I'll gladly use the extra time to be present in the moment, enjoy the beauty of today, and say a little prayer of thanks.

Friday, October 14, 2011

To Tye, at 23 months

Dear Tye,

What a month you've had!  You've grown up so much, even as you've simultaneously adapted to new surroundings.  You have a new bedroom in a new house in a new city, and you are continuing to find joy daily in your surroundings here.  I am loving watching you play more imaginatively, using your toys to fill the scenes in your mind and talking as you go along.  Such a great reminder that play is serious work for you.

You're becoming more interactive with adults in your life and as they pass by.  Before we left Chicago, you became adept at enthusiastically greeting friends and family members by name when they entered our home.  Listening to you talk on the phone is both hilarious and precious as you rattle off long sentences with a recognizable word here and there.  Obviously, what you are saying has great meaning to you.  I can't wait to understand more of it.  Other adults are understanding more of what you say, too.  Earlier this week, as a woman held the door open for us at the bank, you walked through and cheerfully said "'Scuse me," a simple phrase that spread chuckles around the bank lobby.  When we walk outside and see our neighbors on the stoop, you love to greet them with a bubbly "Hi guys!"  Who wouldn't love that?

Your love for books has taken on a whole new level of interest.  You will gladly spend hours at a time opening and looking through the books on the shelves in your room, labeling items and characters and often telling the story as you turn familiar pages.  Yesterday morning, you actually fell asleep reading books to yourself (fully decked out in sunglasses and rainboots, might I add). 
Recently, you've begun to enjoy when we tell you stories, too, especially familiar ones.  How amazing to recognize that your communication comprehension and visualization skills are strong enough to follow along.

Yet another recent acquisition is your interest in emotions in yourself and others.  You label happy, sad, and hurt and show great empathy when others are sad or hurt.  One day before our move, when you saw me crying, you climbed up to me on the couch and said, "Mommy, what you doing sad?" as you gave me a big hug and kiss.  It's hard to stay sad when I have you to cheer me up.  

Along the same lines, in the past day or two you've learned how to actually smile for the camera, and you're a little ham.  I am cherishing these first photos of your huge grin- you look so much more grown up.

I had worried that our move this month may have been a difficult transition for you, but you proved yourself to be quite resilient and a strong little family member.  You still occasionally repeat the phrases we used to explain our move to you: "Mico go to Brooklyn, Daddy go to Brooklyn, Mommy go to Brooklyn, Tye go to Brooklyn."  And now when Daddy leaves in the morning, you look to me and say, "Daddy go to train," instead of "Daddy go to airport."  The best part, though, is hearing you gasp and exclaim "Daddy home!" when he enters the doors each evening. We've only been here for one full week, but I know already that this move has been well worthwhile.

As we approach your second birthday, I can't help but wonder where the time has gone.  Each day with you is new and exciting as you grow up so quickly.  I just hope I'm doing all I can to cherish every moment of the present, because the future comes so very quickly.  I'm so blessed to share each day with you.  I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.


Monday, October 10, 2011

City Living

Hi Friends!  I'm writing you from our tiny kitchen in Brooklyn, or as Tye says, "Book-wyn."  The past week feels like a whirlwind, and packing up the moving truck a week ago seems as if it happened a lifetime ago.  We arrived to NYC Wednesday night and stayed in a hotel so we could move in early Thursday.  

I don't know how much you all know about living in NYC, but one of the many differences between Chicago and NYC is it's dog-friendliness.  In NYC, owners of dogs 25 pounds or less are set.  Anyone with a dog over 30 pounds is limited, and no one owns a dog over 50 pounds because a) you can't live anywhere with a dog over 50 pounds, and b) you can't go anywhere with a dog over 50 pounds.  After many attempts, we finally found a hotel in Brooklyn that allowed dogs and was willing to make an exception to their weight limit policy (thanks to Tyler's hotel status acquired from traveling with his last job).  Can you imagine what the hotel staff were thinking when we walked in with a 100+ pound dog and a toddler?  I'm sure they quickly made certain no one was rooming next to us.

Thursday, movers stuffed boxes into every square inch of our apartment and left us to figure out where everything would eventually belong.  I wish I had a photo of us in that stage, boxes piled high with nowhere to move them, but I was so daunted by the task of unpacking them I didn't think I could bear photographical evidence.  Since then, we've been slowly unpacking boxes and finding nooks and crannies for most of our items.  "Most" because we are certainly donating and selling more items now that we're here, even after reducing our belongings by a significant amount in Chicago.  Salvation Army is celebrating our move.

When we began unpacking, I focused my efforts on Tye's room first, which proved to be a very good idea.  Once we loaded her shelves with her toys and books, she began to happily pass the time by taking inventory.  As she began pulling books off her shelves, she excitedly identified each one.  "Puppy book!  Bunny book!  Daddy book! Duck book!"  Clearly, the familiarity was important to her.  I think it helped her feel at home in our new, still chaotic space.

We took a break from our unpacking yesterday to make a practice run down to Tyler's office in Midtown.  What a needed rest!  Tye was ecstatic to finally ride the trains she's been hearing rumbling below the grates in the sidewalk.  It was a quick, easy trip, just as we had hoped.  
Since Tyler works next to FAO Schwarz, Manhattan's famed toy store, we stopped in with Tye.  She was in awe.  
Every time Tye found something she liked, she gasped as she ran towards it full speed, stopped long enough to barely investigate, and immediately, her eyes were caught by something else. She ran around the store gasping, running, gasping, running, until we found one that kept her attention- a cowgirl puppet.  
As soon as she put it on and figured out how to make the mouth move, she was enchanted.  What a great souvenir to remind us of our first family outing in Manhattan.

Today is Tyler's first day of work, so I'm sitting here as Tye naps surrounded by more boxes, furniture we're trying to sell, and more boxes.  I keep wondering how unpacking can take so much time.  We don't yet have a couch to sit on or chairs for our new tiny kitchen table, so I'm sitting on a stool next to the mobile island.  I haven't been grocery shopping yet and we've almost depleted our stock of snacks, so Tye and I will probably walk to share some lunch when she wakes up.  We'll share photos of our space eventually, but we have a lot of work to go before then!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Moving update

After weeks of our move feeling unreal and distant, we're now in the thick of it. I had to search through half-packed boxes to find my laptop charger, and every room in our home looks foreign, it's so empty. The moving truck comes Monday to haul our belongings off to New York, and then we'll have until Thursday to make our way out there.
I have to believe the hardest part of the move is behind us. Until Wednesday night, we still didn't have an apartment in NY, even though the movers were coming in 5 days. Fortunately, our application for our apartment was accepted and we've signed a lease. Then came the first moving deadline of Friday morning, by which time we had to have our home staged for realty photos. Staged as in "nothing you own but furniture can be visible, and some of that has to go, too." We gave away about half our belongings to The Salvation Army to make room for everything else to be stuffed into closets and cabinets. Then Tye and I went to our final Chicago playgroup with our dearest friends. Even though I know I'll be in touch with them, saying goodbye was painfully hard.
Everything is slowly but surely falling- or being packed- into place. Tye knows there's something going on and isn't sleeping as well as normal, but she's having a great time playing in moving boxes with all the odds and ends that show themselves when you finally pack your home. When she asks where something is, a simple response has been sufficient so far, as if she only wants to be sure it actually is somewhere. I think we'll start talking to her about our new home on Sunday to prepare her for the sudden emptying of our current home the next day.
A deep thanks goes out to all of you for the notes of encouragement and keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. The support has been just what we needed. This week will go down as one in our lives that marks a dramatic transition, by which our lives will be measured as "before" and "after." It's an exciting time for us. Can't wait to share more!


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