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...