Wednesday, December 19, 2012

2 Years!

This is WAY over due!!!  Gunnar turned 2 over a month ago....and I've been too crazy busy to sit down and reflect on it....but here we go...

We had 2 great celebrations for Gunnar, one on his actual birthday and one the day after Thanksgiving when both sets of grandparents were in town.

On Gunnar's birthday daddy took the day off and we rode the choo-choo train (the El) to the Lincoln Park Zoo and then met friends at Lickety Split, a sweet shop in Edgewater.

Two weeks ago Gunnar had his 2 year check up and here's what we learned:

* Gunnar jumped up 10% in weight!! He's now in the 20th percentile (way to go G!!)
* He's still at the 50th percentile for height
* 90th percentile for head circumference

Dr. T was SUPER impressed with his language skills especially that he was stringing words together to form sentences and even learning some Spanish. She said without question he has the verbal skills of a 3 year old.
She was even more impressed with his emotional maturity. She acknowledged his ability to follow directions and accept what was going to happen next. This is something I've always been amazed by with G. For example, if there is something he wants and I say "just a minute" he very often tells himself "patience" to calm himself down. Dr. T said this emotional maturity was easily that of a 4 year old...wow!

So proud of my little man and who is growing up to be. I can't believe its been 2 years already...but they've been the best 2 years I have ever known...getting to spend every day with G is a daily gift from God. I am so blessed.





Gunnar and his girlfriend Jo were adorable at Lickety Split




Gunnar got everything AND the kitchen sink for his bday! Lucky boy!

Leftover Pumpkin Pie for a cake? Why not! 





Sunday, November 4, 2012

Is it time yet?

Confession...

Gunnar is still nursing. Yes. He is 11 days shy of his 2nd birthday and yes he is STILL nursing.

I for one...am shocked.

I always said "once my child is old enough to ask for the boob he's old enough to stop"...well he probably was old enough to stop when he started signing "milk" at 11 months or when he started saying it at 13 months, but I didn't let that stop me.  Gunnar still asks for "milk" mostly in the early mornings and before he goes to bed (though his request now sounds more like "Mommy. May. I. PLEASE. Have. Some. MIIIIILLLK?")
I try to limit it to once or twice a day.
I'm a sucker...
I know if I nurse him before he naps he'll fall asleep and then I'll know exactly how much nap he gets because he doesn't play around in his crib for 45 minutes before falling asleep. It's easier that way...
Our pediatrician has always said its a two-way decision, "if you're both still happy doing it...then keep it up, but if at some point one of you wants to stop then you need to start taking those steps toward weaning." Ugh...
I'm not sure what I want...society wants me to stop...I know that. (I'm pretty sure my whole family looks down on me in shame for keeping this going so long) But I also know it makes my life easy...

I know Gunnar has no intention of quitting any time soon so if someone has to make the first move...its gotta be me.

He'll be 2 in 11 days...seems like an appropriate age to pull the plug. But is it right for us? I still don't know...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Squirrel and the man who followed

As I was trying desperately to get some words to stick in my brain (aka memorizing lines for my latest show) I happened to look out my front window to see a squirrel lying in the most peculiar position. I don't think I'd ever seen a squirrel on its back like that...and that's when I realized he was trying to move, trying to stand, but he couldn't...I watched him for a good ten minutes and became a little panicked for him. I have no idea what happened to him, or how long he'd been like this...but I did know one thing... it needed help.

So I did what everyone does these days when one doesn't know what to do...I posted about it on facebook. After a very long threaded debate over whether I should kill the squirrel or save him...I decided to try and save him. So, I collected a box and threw in some fleece scraps from my latest owl project and put on my husbands gloves.

I stepped out into the drizzly rain to find my little squirrel friend has scooted his way out onto our sidewalk. I'd never seen a squirrel looking so...disheveled. His tail was heavy and diminished with rain and his whole body lay flat on the cement like roadkill...but he was still breathing and his eyes blinked with determination. It looked to me that at least one of his front legs was broken. I stood next to him on the sidewalk for a good 10 minutes...I guess I thought I needed another shower because my hair was now dripping wet.

I knew why I didn't want to pick him up and put him in that box...and it wasn't because I was scared to do it (I was...but that wasn't why)...I stood there because I knew the second I put him in that box...his life would be in my hands. I would be taking responsibility...he'd be...MY SQUIRREL.
But as soon as I saw a leashed eager sniffing tail wagger walking down the sidewalk I knew I needed to do it.

I pat his back gently and stroked him a few times and told him what I was about to do. He didn't put up a struggle he accepted his fate...in that box, on my doorstep. And then I spent the next 4 hours calling every wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center I could find on the net. I left dozens of messages talked to several people who "didn't do squirrels" and when I had to leave for rehearsal I reluctantly left my husband in charge. Night came and I realized he'd be spending the night on our porch, in a box.  I knew several centers would be open in the morning (though they required appointments) so I planned to wake early and try again. I was relieved to find him still breathing and blinking by 7 am. I made my lists of places to call and called them the second I knew their office was open for business. I left more messages...no one was answering. I finally decided I was going to take him to the Flint Creek Northerly Island facility without an appointment, I was determined.

But when I stepped outside to see if I should put him in a better, more transportable box...I found my friend had taken his final breath. I shed two tears and one sigh of relief. The responsibility was gone...but so was my new friend. I know its silly...to care about a squirrel...but I guess I did...if but for half a day.

And wouldn't you know two minutes later I received the call I'd been waiting for for the last 16 hours...."Hello this is ___ from Flint Creek, I'm returning your call about the injured squirrel" and though she thanked me for trying to help she made me feel a little ashamed that I hadn't done more..."next time you really need to bring the animal inside, you can close the door so that your child and your cats don't come in contact...but injured wild animals need warmth to stay alive"  

Crap.

I should have done more.

And that very same thought came through my head when a man showed up at my door just a few hours later. I answered, you see, because I was waiting for a man to come and repair my furnace. I felt guilty for not opening the screen door when I realized it was a sickly looking man in an oversized coat who was clearly not at my door to repair my heater.

"I'm a neighbor. I just moved to an apartment on Touhy 10 months ago. I lost my job 10 months ago after I couldn't come to work because I had a brain tumor removed" (showing me his scar) "and from then on I've lost everything I worked 40 years to build...my house, my antiques, my car...the only thing I have left is a mattress and a few clothes. I don't want to be doing this...coming to a complete stranger...but I don't know what else to do. You see I found a job...I'm a master cabinet maker, they've hired me and I'm supposed to start tomorrow but the job is in Skokie and I need a bus pass to get there. I'm a proud man...I've worked hard every day of my life...I do my best....but I'm not proud of this...can you help me? I'll pay you back as soon as I get my first paycheck." 

I hated myself for just staring, not saying anything...my mind was racing with thoughts I'm not proud to share..."why should I believe you?"..."who is to say this isn't a lie?"..."I'm poor too...last month I had to eat mac 'n cheese for a week straight just to make rent."..."why did you choose my door when you live 3 blocks away?" And then I noticed the box next to his feet, the one I'd covered a few hours before with a kitchen towel.

I could have done more.

"I don't have any cash" this wasn't a lie..."and I have to wait here until the heater repair man arrives...but I have to go to rehearsal tonight and on my way home I'll swing by an ATM and put cash in an envelope and tape it to my mailbox, you can come by later tonight to get it...I can do that for you." 

I don't know if he was telling me the truth...but when I said this his face lit up and his blue eyes drew tears to match..."thank you. I'm so excited. I can't wait to get to work tomorrow...and smell the sawdust"

I had a funny feeling as he walked away...I hated that I didn't completely trust his story. I wish I could full heartedly trust this sweet seeming elderly man I'd just met...but in the world we live in I've forgotten who to trust...but I knew I needed to make good with my word...because as my squirrel friend reminded me, life is too precious, too short...and even if I always walk away thinking "I could have done more" at least I walk away knowing I did something...
So I made good with my word...but instead of leaving him cash I bought him that unlimited bus pass and stuffed it in an envelope with a note which read:

Dear Tom,
 I hope this helps get you back on your feet. Good luck with your first week at your new job. And if you want to repay the debt put it in an envelope and place it in my mailbox when you feel you can afford it. God Bless You. 
Your neighbor,
 Kirstin
P.S. I love the smell of sawdust too

The envelope was gone this morning.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

taking classes

I signed Gunnar up for his first class without mommy today...

Classes don't start until October 28th but I'm excited for him and I'm feeling really good about it.
My life has gotten so incredibly busy with my etsy shop and my theatre company and the show I'm currently working on...and the weather has rapidly changed to fall with fewer opportunities to play outside.  So when I looked at the early childhood programs offered at our YMCA I was excited to see they had several options for indoor learning without me. Many of the classes included parents (music, dance, etc) but I decided that it would be good to give Gunnar some practice at socializing without mommy in a classroom type environment...so I signed him up for "Discovering Fun" which covers a little bit of everything from art to dance to story time and music.

Now the question is...what should mama do with the 1.5 hours every Tuesday all to myself?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Confession

okay here it is...Sometimes...I put my child in timeout because really...I'm the one who needs a time out. I can get a little "Hot" when G doesn't listen to me...and in an effort not to lose my cool I just put him in his crib for a few minutes...or however long it takes for me to calm down.

It might not be fair...but I think its better than me screaming at him all the while getting more frustrated because he doesn't understand me...or doesn't care to.

...thankfully he generally likes his crib so by the time I've cooled down...he's having a good time jumping around reading books in his crib and we can start over again...no harm done.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Gunnar's Day with Thomas!!!

Thanks to Auntie Kerry we learned that Thomas had come to town...or at least somewhat close to town...even if it was an hour drive...it was definitely worth a trip to see him.

Now Gunnar doesn't really know any of the other characters in Thomas and Friends...we only have 2 Thomas books and he hasn't seen the show. However Gunnar does have an entire Thomas train table in our basement complete with Brio trains and tracks and many different Thomas characters...he just calls them all Thomas. In fact, whenever Gunnar sees any train he'll usually shout out "Thomas!!"






I promise you Gunnar was just as excited as me...His first reaction when seeing Thomas was priceless "THOMAS!!!!!!!!!! WOW!!!!!!" 

So excited to ride Thomas!




He got a certificate saying he was a Jr.Engineer

seeing all the old train cars was a bonus...

Gunnar liked seeing the cabooses because he just learned about them in his new train book. 


Despite the unending rain...it was worth the drive all the way out to the Illinois Railway Museum...what a fun day!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Chicago's Hidden Hogwarts

I have really started to love our new neighborhood, Rogers Park.  And I think I'm beginning to understand the "Park" part of the neighborhood's name...could this be because there seems to be a park every two to three blocks in every direction?
Not only is there a park right outside our door but there is another one a block South of us. It seems that everywhere I turn we are finding new parks to explore...all within walking distance.  But on Thursday Gunnar and I discovered the most magical park I have ever been to...and it's only 5 blocks away.
It's totally hidden...I would have never have known it was there if I hadn't accidentally turned on the wrong street coming home one day.

Tucked between Touhy and Lunt one block West of Western you will find Indian Boundary Park. A huge mass of grassy land and trees complete with lots of walking paths, a fountain pond (with ducks, large goldfish, and turtles), a field house (which is closed indefinitely for repair after a fire destroyed part of the building earlier this year) tennis courts, a bird and butterfly sanctuary, several gardens, a splash pool (that isn't running currently...sad) a small zoo with goats and chickens, and the most imaginative castle type play structure I have ever seen.  The structure was lovingly built in 1989 by over 1500 volunteers from the community in five days and although it needs quite a few fixes, it has to be one of the coolest playgrounds I have ever seen. All sorts of moving bridges and tunnels, hundreds of nooks and crannies, passageways and towers, a stage with built in seating, a sandpit moat, slides, monkey bars, tire swings, regular swings, baby swings and obstacles galore. I have never seen more kids using imaginative play than I have at this park...

"Don't touch the wood chips they are on the side of the zumon beasts (?) and they protect the trolls"

Whatever that means...I don't know but I sort of wanted to join them...

"You stand on guard I'll check the boundaries for goblin intruders" 

These were sentences I heard spoken on two different trips by two completely different sets of kids.

I'm telling you this park is magical. And its free...

The only thing is...it needs some love. I truly hope someone out there will see what a beautiful park this is and help it receive the updates it needs. I hope they keep the play structure intact but just go in and fix a few pieces of wood here and there and pound in some nails. The zoo certainly needs some updating and I hope they can fix the splash pool.  I was going to put a donation button at the bottom of this blog post but the CPD's donation page is not functioning...so instead I will list the email address of the park's Advisory Council President: Ann Glapa, anng2601@yahoo.com  email Ann if you're interested in joining the council or making a donation.

To learn more about the Park click here. Here are some pictures of one of Chicago's best kept secrets:

Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary

See the castle peaking out from behind? Magical!

Turtle and Goldfish!

One of about 3 dozen ducks!

I mean look at this playground...don't you just want to put on a robe and play Hogwarts? Or dungeons and dragons or something?




Even a Choo Choo train!

WARNING: This slide is not appropriate for toddlers (sit with them when they slide)...its too fast.
 Gunnar did a face plant shortly after I took this picture...but he still wanted to get up and do it again!

The kid in the orange shirt was the one searching for "goblin intruders"

On our first two visits I didn't see any animals and thought the zoo was abandoned....but on todays visit we did see goats and chickens (of course I didn't have my camera with me today)

Gunnar thought Monkeys should live in here

Tennis Courts

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ups and Downs and the hardest part of the day

The day starts when mama begrudgingly gets out of bed and stumbles toward the bathroom (.. never been a morning person)...but as of lately this sour grump has an off switch called "Mama! Morning!" whenever those sweet exasperated words are heard leaping through the air like the little size five feet springing up and down on a crib sized mattress.

When the morning starts with hugs and giggles and a chipper almost 21 month old...life is pretty grand.
That is until he throws his breakfast on the floor and demands for "Hummus" without a please and when you fail to get it within 30 seconds and he has a toddler sized meltdown...Who eats hummus for breakfast anyway?

My child does.

The same almost 2 year old who eats like a bird. Refusing most offerings unless they are: "hummus", "yo"-gurt, the occassional "beans", or peanut "butter sammich"...or the ever loved "packet" of baby food.

Once breakfast is through he's all fun and giggles again. Just the thought of going to the gym seems like a chore when its so beautiful outside. So instead we opt for a walk to the beach...its only a mile away these days and its quite peaceful.

Mama does yoga on the lighthouse pier while toddler laughs from his stroller clapping his hands and singing "joy like a fountain"...its the highlight of our day. Waves and water all around and joy like a fountain in our souls...Gunnar gets a visit to the "dolphin park" climbing through tunnels and sliding down slides before heading home for lunch and a nap.

Lunch goes about the same as breakfast...only half way through Gunnar gets really sad when he realizes we never saw a "choo choo" on our walk...mama might have made it sound like we'd see one for sure...(we pass the Metra and the El on the way to the beach...really thought we'd see one coming or going)...sad baby tears start flowing "choo choo...go?" "choo choo....Nap...nap...choo choo"
It's helpful when your child never fights nap time...and instead tells you he needs one. Even he knows when tears start flowing its because he's over tired.

Mama gets some things accomplished during nap time but not as much as she had hoped...and when he wakes she feels ill-prepared for what to do with the rest of the day.

A trip to Target to get a few things turns into 45 minutes of "ELMOELMOELMOELMO! COOKIECOOKIECOOKIECOOKIE! GEORGEGEORGEGEORGEGEORGE! THOMASTHOMASTHOMAS! CATCATCATCATCAT! POOHPOOHPOOH!" Why, oh why do they have to put up my sons favorite characters all over the store? Everytime we turn a corner there is another character he knows and loves...please tell me this broken record excitement will go away sometime soon.

A quick stop at our new library to check it out and maybe snag a Museum pass on the way out...and Gunnar spies a book about sharks...which he thinks are "DOLPHINS!!" (his current favorite animal) So we decide to look for a book about dolphins to bring home too...and a pass to the Brookfield Zoo...win win.

And when we arrive back home this mama's beat...and there are still 1.5 hours before daddy walks through the door. Unstructured play time as mama tries to check email and get things done results in food and dishes sprawled across the floor, two time outs, a poopy diaper and one exhausted mama. And when daddy shows up to the tornado house, a crabby kid and a tired mama...I don't blame him for wanting to take a break on the couch. But that undoubtedly IS the hardest part of the day. When mama just wants a break...relief arrives...and it poops out before he even starts...must go on...don't start a fight...feed him dinner...make a bath...bedtime is near.

And finally relief steps in...to put on jammies and read some stories. Of course there was the pee on the floor that needed cleaning while that was happening...but mama did get 3 minutes to herself before the day is through. And then its time for lullabies, "love you's", milk and kisses "night night"...the best reward for day's end.





Friday, August 3, 2012

The Joy of having a toddler...

I love being a mom.
But I think I've decided that I love being the mom of a toddler even more than being a mom of a baby.
It's just so much fun. And the love I share for him is somehow now perpetuated more by his new found ability to confirm his requited love for his "mama mommy".
I love how he'll come up to me and say "cuddle" when he wants a hug.
Or "mooch" or "kiss" when he wants a kiss.
How he'll wrap his little arms around my legs and confess: "LOVE!" he'll say and kiss my knee.
I love how he laughs at my stupid jokes and my silly dances...I'll do anything to hear him giggle.
I love singing songs with him and getting just as excited as he is when he points out numbers or letters or characters that he recognizes in stores or in books.
I love how he wants to read the same book over and over and over again...and how he can recite almost every one...but you'll only know if you "accidently" forget to read a word.
I love hearing him say new words everyday and watching his reaction when he sees my reaction after hearing him say a word I've never heard him say before. (This reaction has yet to be captured on film but it's one of my favorites where he clasps his hands over his mouth and does sort of a snorted chuckle  like, "I know!...can you believe I know that word? hardy har har!")
I love how whenever he sees someone with their hands folded together he shouts out "JOY!" because that's the sign for joy...and he then immediately says and signs the word "Soul" very sweetly as to sing the song "I've got Joy like a fountain in my soul"
This is such an amazing moment in his life...
and its so infectious and beautiful...
the "JOY" he has is something I wish I could bottle up in a jar and save forever...
carry it around with me forever and open it up to share with myself and others whenever it was needed...
it is truly that special...
I believe his JOY could rescue the loneliest soul from the deepest darkest depression.
This little boy is such a gift...





Wednesday, July 11, 2012

This summer so far...

In the last 6 weeks...
We've moved into a new house...
Gunnar had his first trip to the ER and got stitches (freak accident fell on the edge of a milk crate)...
We've had 4 sets of visitors in our new house...
I've rehearsed and will open a play this weekend...
The whole family had a nasty cold...
Scored lots of "deals" at dozens of garage and estate sales...
Gunnar got Hand Mouth and Foot Disease (thankfully it only lasted a few days)...
Lived through 4+ days of over 100 degree weather...
battled it out with the landlords from hell and finally got our security deposit back...
John started his new job...
John made a patio out of nothing (or so it seemed)...
Gunnar has learned an average of 10.3 new words per day...
Gunnar learned to spell his name, count to 10 starting with 0, and started taking 3 hour long naps...
Gunnar mastered the ipad and knows more about it than I do...
Helped a friend find an apartment in Chicago...
I started writing a play, and will finish the first draft by the end of next week...
I made 10 onesies, 12 pairs of earrings, 1 custom baby mobile and 1 birthday sweater all orders for The Happy Hoot...

...and that's just the note worthy stuff...
it's been a busy summer...
...a well deserved summer vacation is heading our way sometime in August....someone give a hint to my husband...I'm liking the idea of a cozy cottage in Canada...