Monday, December 30, 2013

The trouble with names...

Trying to explain to a three year old that animals and people can share the same name is very confusing. Gunnar saw "Frozen" a few weeks ago. A movie which has characters that have the same names as our cats...this has been very confusing for Gunnar.

Today at nap time:

"Go sit by Sven" (our 10 year old gray cat is sitting on Gunnar's bed)

"The REINDEER from "Frozen"??!!! Where is he? I don't see him mommy!"

"No...Not the Reindeer from "Frozen"...our cat Sven. Go sit by your cat Sven."

"No mommy, his name can't be Sven. Sven is a Reindeer from the Movie "Frozen" my cat's name is Sveny."

"Well actually his name is just Sven. Sveny is just a nickname we call him sometimes. He was Sven long before "Sven, the Reindeer from Frozen" was ever even thought of"

"No mommy. Sven is a Reindeer, like Santa's reindeer so he's OLD. Sveny is just a baby and his name isn't Sven"

"Why do you say that? Sven is 10 years old, he's not a baby...he's 7 years older than you!"

"No he isn't. You talk to him like he's a baby mommy."  (whoops! Do I?)

"Well maybe I do that because I don't think he understands as much as you do so I use little words with him and big words with you. Let's choose a story for nap time."

"Okay how about three stories?"

"How about two?"

"Okay I choose these two!" Gunnar picks up the two big boy chapter books he got for Christmas from Great Aunt Steph and Uncle Dave.

"Oh...um...well buddy those are called Chapter books. They're really long. So if you want I can read you a chapter but there won't be many pictures and that's all we can read for nap time. Is that what you want to do?"

"YES! I want to read this book about HENRY! Henry the train! He's friends with Thomas mommy!"

"Oh...oh no honey...this is a book about Henry Huggins. He's a boy. Not a train. They just have the same name."

"No Henry is a train. He has coal. He's a coal train and he lives on the island of Sodor."

"Gunnar. Look at the cover of this book. Do you see a train?"

"No."

"What do you see?"

"I see a boy and a bicycle."

"Yes this is a boy named Henry and this is a book about Henry and his paper route."

"Hmmm that's not what I was thinking"

"Do you still want to read it?"

"YES!"

To my surprise Gunnar sits through the entire first chapter. He even asks questions along the way. But when our other cat Elsa wanders in the room just as I'm tucking him into bed....this happens:

"Oh look Elsa wants to nap with you too!"

"Elsa the Queen from "Frozen"?"

"No honey, your cat Elsa...look here she comes"

"No mommy...that's not Elsa. Elsa is a Queen from the movie "Frozen"...my kitty's name is Duke Dukes"

"Oh no honey...her name is Elsa, see it says so on her collar? Duke Dukes is just a silly name your daddy and I call her sometimes."

"No mommy. That's Duke Dukes, and that is Sveny."

"Well their names are Elsa and Sven. They happen to have the same names as the characters in "Frozen" but it's okay honey, you can call them that if you want to."

Trying to reason with a 3 year old is a challenge. But hey bonus! I have a 3 year old who wants to read chapter books! Maybe Harry Potter isn't so far away!



SVEN  and  ELSA "the cats"
Sven the Reindeer from "Frozen"
Elsa from "Frozen"

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween 2013: Saving Halloween with wet socks, red paint, a pteranodon and a monkey

I realized today I should probably change the sub-header line of my blog. Because although I do spend the majority of my time at home...I'm very much a working mama. In fact I have so many jobs, at times its hard to keep track of my life. Today...HALLOWEEN 2013...was no different, just with an added twist.

I wake up this morning thinking the only thing I need to really do is clean the house, carve pumpkins and take my kid to a Halloween party at the library and then trick-or-treating.

Easy enough.

But then I get a text from my friend Mark (who is directing the show that my theatre company is opening tomorrow night) "Dropping off the bottle now"

Crap.

I forgot I have to magically turn a Shampoo bottle into a Swedish Lighter Fluid bottle. (I'm designing props for the show and this was the last detail I had to finish.)

So I get out of bed, feed Gunnar Breakfast and sit down to my computer to design a new label for this bottle...which eats up the entire morning. Luckily Gunnar has been keeping himself busy trashing the living room with puzzle pieces, breakfast food and scraps of paper.

Then, just as I am about to consider playing the "clean-up game" with G, I make the mistake of checking my iphone when it makes that ba-bling sound...a message from an Etsy customer about how much she loves the owl costume I made her daughter last week! Awe! This reminds me I have an order to package and mail....another 1/2 hour gone.

Just as I am heading upstairs Gunnar hands me a "picture" he has colored all over one of my student's homework assignment. Oy. (Did I mention I'm now teaching theatre part time at a community college?) Luckily I've decided this homework doesn't need to be returned as it was merely used to count participation points...however, this reminds me I need to email one of my students about their grade, which I inadvertently marked wrong on his midterm. While I'm doing this my mind wanders realizing I forgot to ask my students to bring their text books to Monday's class...I need to post an announcement on blackboard.  30 minutes gone.

Meanwhile Gunnar has found the iPad...the dreaded "Tro Tro" song is endlessly repeating...

I glance at the clock...it's nearly 1pm. I promised myself I'd get Gunnar in bed for nap by 1pm at the latest, otherwise there won't be time for pumpkin carving before the Halloween party. He hasn't had lunch. I slap a peanut butter and honey bender together on a plate with applesauce while I ask Gunnar to sing the clean up song and attempt to clean up his mess. Lately Gunnar prefers to stand and eat...maybe he can also clean while he eats? Too much to ask? Nah...he obliges.  Until I find gooey breakfast banana on the floor...from breakfast 5 hours ago.

I get mad. (too mad)

"YOU THROW BANANA'S ON THE FLOOR AND LEAVE THEM THERE TO GET ICKY...YOU PICK THEM UP!"

"OK! I WILL!" he shouts back.

He picks up one and is disgusted by the feel.

"YUCK!"  He picks up his foot as high as it will go and smashes it down on the remaining banana slice on the floor.  Banana guts fly everywhere.

"GUNNAR MILES! TIME OUT!"  Mommy completely over reacts to yucky squished banana, Gunnar cries and agrees to clean it up with a towel. Gunnar wipes the banana smear while I wipe away his tears. We kiss and make up.

Time for nap.

We read 3 stories. I sing 3 songs. He actually falls asleep in the middle of the 3rd song. Thank God.

I have time to clean the kitchen and put away dishes...Once that is finished I look at the clock. 2:30. I have one hour before we should be leaving for the party. And then it hits me like a bird through a shiny glass window...I don't have a costume. What if I'm the only parent not dressed up at the Library Halloween Party? I need to find something...fast! I tear open my closet looking for any inspiration...when suddenly IT falls out of my hat basket...the sock monkey hat John bought me 3 years ago for Christmas. I'll be a sock monkey! I'll just put on grey leggings a grey sweater and this hat! Boom done! Halloween is saved!

Time check. 2:45...Crap I should really gut those pumpkins before G wakes up. We have three pumpkins...I usually like to save pumpkin seeds but I decide, hell no...I don't have time for that! I scoop and scrape the bellies of those pumpkins faster than I've ever done before. In 20 minutes flat all three pumpkins are clean and hollowed. Super mom.

Gunnar wakes up just as I start to carve the face in the first pumpkin. He gets excited. Grabs the small knife I'm not using. I panic...speak to him slowly but extremely firmly.

"G U N N A R   P U T   D O W N   T H A T   K N I F E   R I G H T   N O W!"

"Okay Mommy" he does.

Whew! I explain he can tell me what to do but, he can only watch. He decides the eyes, nose and mouth shape for pumpkin #2 and then starts sweeping with the broom I left out while cleaning. I finish off pumpkin #3 in record time.

Time!

Time check? 3:30...CRAP!! I wanted to leave by now and G isn't in his costume yet.

I grab the red face paint from the counter and rip it open. (John's idea...he thought the homemade Red Pteranodon costume would look better if his face was red too) I draw two round circles on my face and show Gunnar.

"Gunnar do you want to paint your face like mommy?"

"Yes! I do!" G exclaims.

This was a terrible idea...trying to get a 3 year old to sit still long enough to paint his face evenly red is like trying to brush a cat's teeth. He was squirmy, squeamy and vocal about his dislike of being unable to move, and yet he was never still.  Red was everywhere...

Good enough. Lets wash our hands and GO!

Wash! Wash off! WASH OFF!!!!! What the heck? The red will not come off my fingers! Panic sets in...(I'VE JUST PERMANENTLY DYED MY SON'S FACE RED! I'M THE WORST MOM EVER!)

I quick google remedies...everything they suggest I've already tried. Oh well it's 4:00...the party is starting, I guess I'll deal with it later... it's red for now.

I throw G into his imperfect Pteranodon costume and we fly out the door...well almost. It's raining. Great. I grab an umbrella and carry Gunnar to the car. We're a little wet but we're on our way. About 3 blocks away from the library Gunnar finally catches my attention with:

"MOMMY! I don't have any shoes on!"

"WHAT?!!!" Oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph....

U-Turn.

What was I thinking? Well I guess he was all dressed in red and his socks were red and I just completely forgot...at least I carried him to the car in the wet rain! However I did set him down to unlock the car...socks a wee bit wet.

When we finally arrive to the Halloween Party at the Library I quickly realize I am indeed the ONLY parent in costume...with the exception of Frankenstein who appears to be the DJ. The party is a total bust...our favorite story time teacher is no where to be seen and the new associate is running the ring and unfortunately she doesn't know how to control the candy raiding mob of pre-teens who refuse to listen to her instructions. Party over....we leave with only a spider ring to prove we were there.

It's still pouring down rain. We pick up daddy at the train and go home to prep for a sloppy night of Trick-or-Treating.  Luckily the rain slows to a trickle by the time we get out and Gunnar has a blast.

"Trick-or-Treat!" he says at every door with a "Thank you very much!!! Happy Halloween!!! See you later!!!" (w/sing songy inflection) after receiving candy from each house.

We take a break and have dinner at the Mexican restaurant two blocks away (seems to be our Halloween tradition) and then return home Trick-or-Treating on the next street over on the way back.

The highlight of the entire day was as I was preparing Gunnar's bath and taking off his clothes he suddenly wraps his arms around me and puts his head on my shoulder.

"I really loved Trick-or-Treating with you. Thank you for coming along with me mommy!" and he looks into my eyes with such love before laying a big ole RED kiss on my mouth. It was so genuine and sweet and precious that I didn't even care he had just rubbed red face paint all over my wool sweater.  These are the moments I live for.  These are the moments that make me realize that out of all of my jobs: artist, actress, company member, crafter, business owner, teacher, etc...MOMMY is the best job I've ever had. The hardest...but the best.

p.s. the red paint came off with cold cream and a warm bath. Disaster averted!










Thursday, September 19, 2013

Working mama

So within the last 5 weeks I suddenly went from having no immediate plans for the fall to: being cast as the iconic role of Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire and accepting a part time lecturer position at Harold Washington College.

With almost no time to prepare a syllabus and memorize a 3 hour long play (where I do most of the talking) I had no other choice but to ship Gunnar off to Grandparents land for another two week stay.
As hard as it was to watch him go, I knew I wouldn't be able to accomplish everything with him around...so off he went. Thank God for supportive parents and parents-in-law.  I spent almost every waking hour of those two weeks memorizing lines and prepping my lesson plans and syllabus.

Now 4 weeks into school and 1 week into performances I'm starting to get the swing of life as a part-time working mommy. I am teaching two sections of Theatre in the Modern World to students ranging in ages from 18-65 in both classes. I was lucky to snag two class periods that would work around John's schedule so that we don't have to waste any money on childcare this semester.  And luckily my college is an easy 7 block walk from my husbands job. So John takes extra long lunch hours on Mondays and Wednesdays and takes G to the park or around the shopping centers for 2 hours while I teach my first section from 12:30-1:50 and then we trade off again while I get to walk around with G for 2.5 hours before my next class at 5:30pm when John then takes G home on the train with him. It's been working pretty well.

I've always been a juggler...finding innovative ways to do all the things I want to do. And I am so glad to be right here where I am.

I am not sure I have ever been more proud to be who I am.
I am truly living a dream. Mother. Performer. Educator. Crafter.

I'm trying to slow down and appreciate the next two weeks as best I can...because I know I will need a good break from performing once this show closes...and I know I'll miss it.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Cute phrases of late by G

Talking on his Croc shoe which he is pretending to be his phone in the backseat of the car (long ride):

"Oh Hi Stegosaurus!! It's me Gunnar! I've been thinking and...Yes...Blue...That's Right!"

"Hey Baby Bunny Bear...my name is Gunnar Miles and I've just been here with my mommy...yep...um...uh-huh... okay bye!"

"Hi Calliou! Do you know where we are going? (squeals!!) Oh good!"

With anything that might resemble a microphone:

"Ladies and Gentleman! Boys and Girls! I give you....blehbluhblarn!!!"

Stalling before bed time (said in a sing-songy tone):

"Mommy! I'm going to tickle your baaaaaack!" (giggles as he does it)
"I'm going to tickle your chi-n!" (giggles as he does it...so does mommy)
"I'm going to tickle your books!" (giggles as he tickles the books sitting next to us!)

"Mommy! I'm going to give you nosekino kisses!" (giggles while giving me eskimo kisses)
"Mommy! I'm going to kiss your mouth!" (grabs my face, kisses me "romantically"...)
"Mommy! I'm going to give you butterfly kisses!" (grabs my face and presses his eyes to my lips and flutters his lashes)
"Mommy! I'm going to give you EAR Kisses!" (non-stop giggles as he presses his ear against mine!)

I LOVE THIS KID SO MUCH!



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Gunnar the Fashion Editor

This morning I got dressed while Gunnar was eating his breakfast. When I came into the kitchen Gunnar followed me saying "Mommy? Why are you wearing that mommy?"
Detecting that this was out of order (usually I dress Gunnar before dressing myself to go somewhere) I could see a little worry in Gunnar's face.
"Oh honey, mommy has to go to work in a few minutes."
"NOOOooooo!" water building in the corners of his doll like grey eyes.
"Oh honey, I'm sorry but mommy has to work again but Auntie Kerry is coming over to play with you today. Won't that be fun?"
"Yeah...but mommy?"
"Yes honey?"
"Why do you wear that thing mommy?" he touches the light weight scarf I've selected to wear over my lightweight shift dress. "I don't want mommy to wear this...I want mommy to wear a neck-a-lace" he says with a twinkle in his eyes.
"Oh you do? You don't like this scarf?"
"No I don't like that scarf mommy...here I'll take this off of you." And he does...grabs my hand and drags me into my room to my jewelry wall. "This orange neck-a-lace mommy. I want this for you."
Well what could I say? He was right...it looked better...
My 2 year old stylist...I sure hope this lasts!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Choice is mine...

For the last year I have panicked whenever Gunnar would fall asleep in the car. I assumed this meant I would automatically lose a nap because it was impossible to transfer him inside while still sleeping...I've come to realize recently that this panic comes with being overworked and this leads to my inability to breathe in the true possibilities of the day. To put it simply...when I'm incredibly busy I often forget how to be that easy going mom.

When I'm busy my time is precious and my day needs to go as planned in order for me to get everything done.  When things don't go as planned I recently acknowledged that I sort of turn into a stress ball and I let my day run me instead of the other way around.

Having a little more time on my hands lately has helped to remind me about the benefits of being a "go with the flow" kind of mom.  Yes it's good to have a plan for the day, but the truth is unless the stars completely align, I guarantee something is going to throw off my day. Whether it's an unexpected email, a cat choking on ribbon, or a toddler who refuses to nap, these unexpected turns are far easier to deal with if I can play it by ear and rationally think through compromises that make the most of the time that is given to me.

For example...a few days ago Gunnar fell asleep in the car as we were returning from a long day of running errands. Normally this sets me into panic mode.  A brief nap in the car usually equates to no nap at home....no nap at home means I can't get the things done that are easier done without a two year old running around getting into trouble. But instead of panicking and trying desperately to wake him up while driving, I decided to see how things went we got home...go with the flow.

I unbuckled my sleeping monster and gently put him on my shoulder...still sleeping! A miracle...we walk slowly to the door where Mr. Sleepy starts to stir a little while I jostle the keys in the door. A quick thought about how all recent sleeping transfers into the crib have resulted in epic failure, I make a quick decision to bring G into our bed for nap instead (much easier to put him down when I can lay with him and wiggle free). As we lay down on the bed his eyes pop open.  "Don't give up" I remind myself...so I gently say to G "Hi sweetie, we're going to rest in mommy and daddy's bed today okay? If you can close your eyes mommy will sing you some lullabies." To my surprise he closes his eyes and says "Pocahontas Mommy" about half way through singing "Colors of the Wind" G's weight sinks into the pillow and he is out again.  SUCCESS!!

I never would have learned that this could work if I had panicked...I now know...the Choice is mine...I can choose to panic and feel like my day has spun out of control -OR- I can choose to remain calm, breathe and think through the situation at hand and continue to own my day one minute at a time.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

hat boy

My Boy has his own sense of style...
and that style includes wearing a hat everyday. 
Mostly, a flat cap.
We have 3
...he chooses which one to wear everyday.  
I love it.  
He gets compliments everywhere he goes
 (which is why I think he loves wearing it so much)! 
My Little Hat Boy!
xoxox










Wednesday, May 15, 2013

the USB is a spoon?

So this morning as I was tirelessly trying to make banana/egg pancakes (which never worked out for me) my son was sitting at the table using a USB cord as a spoon for his yogurt...

While I was trying to figure out how to flip pancakes I hear: "this is for eating with! Yum! Yum!"

I look up from my sticky mushy frying banana mess to see Gunnar using one end of the camera USB cord (which is plugged into my laptop) as a "spoon" for  his honey/greek yogurt.

Instinctively I get mad.

Very mad.

I yell.

I yank cord out of his grasp.

I take him to time out.

He screams.

I scream back.

The reasonable side of my brain is telling me to calm down. The reactionary side of my brain is furious at myself for not paying attention and taking it out on this small 2.5 year old.

Mommy and son take a Time Out...

We kiss and make up.

We discuss USB's are for computers and never for mouths nor are they used for eating.

"How should we eat yogurt?"

"With spoons Mommy"

"That's right honey...only spoons"

"Yes Mommy that's right Mommy"

We carry on with our morning...
about an hour later I get the giggles thinking about the whole situation. I'm lucky. My child has never tried to climb out of his crib or stick his fingers or anything else in outlets, he's never even tried coloring on the walls or experimenting with food or animals...yet.

But he has tried using a USB as a spoon...


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Books books books...

We have a book problem.
We have too many books
It's a good problem to have...
and we certainly 100% intend to continue to grow our children's book collection.
G loves to Read...
John and I have had a strict parenting policy of always reading G a minimum of 3 books per day since the day he was born.  I'm pretty sure this is why he loves, loves, LOVES his books...
He loves to be read to, he loves to read to himself, he loves to bring books in the car and read books while he practices potty...Books are a big part of our life here...
the problem is...
managing them all.


This is  more or less what we've become accustom to in the last few months...
which is just...unacceptable. No rhyme or reason, no respect, no concept of where anything is...no knowledge of what we've read recently...just chaos.

So I decided to change a few things about my organizing and then decided to come up with a new book reading system. 

First I took out all the books and laid them in a pile on the floor and then I proceeded to place them into categories. 

  • Book collections by the same Author (Dr.Seuss, Leo Lionni, Sandra Boynton, Eric Carle, Maurice Sendak, etc)
  • Spiritual/Religious books
  • Sesame Street themed books
  • Board Books
  • Baby books (word learning books)
  • Hardcover Picture books
  • non-fiction science books (i.e.: animals, dinosaurs, etc.)
  • transportation/vehicle books (i.e.: construction vehicles, trains, planes, cars, etc)
  • Popular Character books (i.e.: Disney, Clifford, Curious George, Arthur, etc)

Once I had these separated into categories I used each shelf for a different category (with the exception of the Baby books which I took downstairs to storage...no need for those anymore). Which looked like this:


The next KEY strategy was moving the large bookcase away from Gunnar's crib. This was a big cause for the mess as Gunnar would take all the books out while he was in his crib and then throw them on the floor when he was done.  

So then I decided to come up with a new system called "Books of the Week" 
So I took an unused basket and placed it on the nightstand (which is now next to G's bed) this basket would now house the "books of the week" which Gunnar and I will select each week at the beginning of the week. We'll choose one or two books from each shelf to be in the basket and then ONLY read from that basket through out the week. This makes putting books away much easier for G because he knows he can ONLY read from this basket and he knows to put them back in the basket when he's done.  Each week the books will get changed out and hopefully we'll put an end to this scattered book problem! 

Once the room was organized I brought John and Gunnar in to explain the new system. Gunnar latched on to it immediately and has been very excited about the "books of the week basket"....and when he's finished reading his books he puts them straight back in the basket while chanting "books of the week!"

So far...I'd say this has been a HUGE success!!! 

This week we will also re-introduce library books as we'll be taking more walks to the library now that the weather is warming up. I think we'll probably keep the same system we've always had with library books which is to keep them in his Owl library bag next to the rocking chair. 

This mommy is thrilled with the clean room!




Wednesday, May 1, 2013

getting back in the saddle

My life is finally slowing down and I'm feeling the need to strap myself back into writing, list making, cleaning schedules and craft making...
Reading back on old posts is inspiring me to put my life back together a bit.
The house is still a bit of a mess and I don't have a daily routine yet that allows me to get enough done.

So first thing on my TO DO LIST for tomorrow:

-Make a weekly Schedule and monthly To DO LIST...

Meanwhile I've been catching up in my ETSY shop lots of cute new products! Here's a peek:







Monday, April 29, 2013

It takes a Village

Over the last 3 months I have been incredibly busy:
-rehearsing/performing a lead role
-helping to produce 3 shows
-creating/filming/editing a webseries
-editing promo videos
-writing 3 grants
-vocal and text coaching a John Webster play at a University
-assistant teaching/grading papers at a University
-hosting family/friends at my house, etc, etc

I basically didn't spend a single evening at home in almost 3 months. And ontop of all that I have this incredibly enerergetic growing two year old who thrives best when you engage in explorative play with him...which really doesn't leave much free time during the day, at all.  But somehow I was able to make it through this incredibly busy and stressful time.

I couldn't have done it without my amazing support system.

For one, I have a NEW unique situation that has been my saving grace for the last few months.
It's called Bethany. [Or, a dear friend living in my basement]
A few months ago Bethany approached me about her struggle with trying to save enough money and I saw an opportunity that might help us both. We had an extra bedroom in our basement. We needed help with childcare. Beth wanted to save money. So we offered the room to her for an incredibly low rent price with the addendum that she would watch Gunnar for about 10 hours a week.
Beth and John and I talked it out and decided it seemed like a worthy idea...so we gave it a go.
Beth moved in at the beginning of December and it changed our lives. Suddenly we had easier solutions for everything...just adding a third person to the mix of things has been a life saver.

In addition to Bethany, we were grateful to have Nigel (Bethany's boyfriend) come and live with us for about five weeks.  Suddenly we were a happy family of 5. Gunnar's happiest moments were the incredibly rare moments when all four of his caretakers were "ALL TOGETHER!!"

And then we have the super duo pairs of amazing grandparents. About 2 weeks into the run of my show, my parents came to see me perform and then offered to take Gunnar home with them to Minnesota for two weeks to spend with both sets of grandparents. John and I decided the break would be nice and perhaps we'd be able to get some things accomplished, so we let him go. Unfortunately I wasn't able to enjoy a single moment of this "motherless" period as I was so busy accomplishing other tasks, but it did allow me to complete things with greater speed.  

And then there are the amazing Chicago standbys. We've left Gunnar in the loving care of his wonderful aunt Kerry and several different friends whom Gunnar talks about often in the hopes of playing with them again soon.

And of course, on a daily basis I have taken Gunnar to the YMCA playrooms since he was just six weeks old. The caretakers there truly know him and have come to love him. He greets them by name with joy and smiles and leaves them with hugs and kisses. Just last week one of the babysitter's at the Y asked "when are you going to have another child so we can have another Gunnar to play with?" I assured her I wasn't quite sure about the answer to that but I do know I will continue to bring any and all of my children there for as long as I have a nest.  (I will have to recount my love for this luxury in another blog...but the Y and its free childcare has been my sanctuary and saving grace throughout my stay-at-home mommy career). 

All in all...I whole heartedly encourage this village caring model. Especially over the last 3 months I have seen Gunnar thrive under the care of numerous "parental figures" and I feel so blessed to have so many friends and family who have come to love Gunnar almost as if he is their own.  I love hearing the excitement in Gunnar's voice when he finds out one of his friends is going to be watching him for part of the day.  

My parents have said over and over how "well adjusted" Gunnar is for a two year old. He really is. He never cries when someone leaves, he welcomes each new activity and person with excitement and joy. I truly believe this sweet and well adjusted demeanor isn't necessarily 100% ingrained in his genes, but cultivated by the village of loving arms, bodies and souls who have cared for Gunnar over the past two and half years.  


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Art and Stoicism

This is incredibly hard for me to write about.

I was 14 when my grandpa died. By good fortune we were able to be there when it happened, blessed to have a chance to say goodbye. I remember feeling unexplainable grief mulling around in my body but became ever frustrated with my inability to produce actual tears. This is what we're supposed to do...what our bodies are meant to do when we lose a loved one...right? It's what I've seen in movies and television time after time...but why isn't it happening to me? Did this mean I didn't love my grandpa enough? No. No... I was sad, I loved him dearly, I was devastated...I was...but how would anyone know if I couldn't actually cry?  I sat through the beautiful service saltwater free...despite moving eulogies and beautiful music...there I sat. Feeling...but not emoting. It wasn't until we got to the snow covered gravesite and watched the coffin lower into the ground that I was finally able to release one lone teardrop.

As I got older and began to have more experiences with death and love, in my explorations as an actress and now as a mother I have found ways to access my emotions a little more freely. Yet the most basic and natural reaction for me in moments of intense feelings is and always has been suppression and distraction. Stoic Kirstin.

It wasn't until I joined Akvavit Theatre last January that I realized this stoicism was ingrained in my blood.  Before joining Akvavit I had never heard the term "Nordic Stoicism"....apparently that's a thing...and I've got it. And here in my new found artistic home I've found a place where this strange trait is not only understood, but actually appreciated.

It's unbelievably hard to find the words to express what it means to have an Artistic home...
to have ownership in collaborative art, and not just any art...but art that defines my soul.

I am so incredibly grateful to be a part of Akvavit Theatre as a Norwegian American, as a collaborator, as an actress, as a company member. I am so proud of the work we create together because I believe we're redefining what people come to expect from theatre.  I love that we can read a script that sounds impossible on paper and instead of shying away from it we plunge forward with reckless abandon.

Our current project: Gjenganger: 3 Plays by Jon Fosse is no different.  In Autumn Dream, A Summer's Day and Winter (the 3 plays we are presenting) Jon Fosse writes about "everything and nothing. " In a sense he pours out truth onto the page and extracts everything that we'd believe is important to plot and what you have left is raw human behavior. Between the vastness of Fosse's words lies the truth of the human condition.

I am so blessed to have been asked to play a pivotal role in Autumn Dream.  Never in my career have I worked on a more challenging script, and yet I am drawn to it with such fervor and longing.  Perhaps it's the script or perhaps its the intensity of working with devoted and inspiring collaborators, perhaps its both.

But yesterday, amidst this play about death, I found myself working alongside an actor who somehow managed to channel the stoicism of Nordic Gods worthy of the highest praise. Had I known that this actor's father had unexpectedly died just hours before this rehearsal I never would have had the courage to say to him this line: "And now your father's dead."   But this collaborator, friend and actor, whom I now hold with the highest of respects, chose to power through this run-thru without letting any of us know about his father's passing beforehand.  The fact that he allowed us to perform as we would, without knowing his troubles (and was able to hold it together beautifully) was the most selfless gift I think I've ever received from a fellow actor.  He mustered through this play (which takes place in a graveyard, dripping with talk about death)...in order to give us the peace of mind that we needed to make it through a week of rehearsal without him as he left to bury his father.

After a year of collaborating with Akvavit Theatre I have learned to embrace my stoicism and understand that this trait runs deep not only through me and through my whole family but in all humans in various forms, at different times.  And that is why I feel so connected to this company and to these plays. I am learning to acknowledge the absence of outward emotion as both a blessing and a curse...but more of a blessing.

Press Photo for Autumn Dream by Jon Fosse one of the 3 Plays presented by Akvavit Theatre in Gjenganger: 3 Plays by Jon Fosse

And if you've managed to read this far into this rant you might now understand why I cherish this work with Akvavit Theatre so much. I hope you will consider checking us out the next time your near Chicago. Gjenganger: 3 Plays by Jon Fosse opens in rotating repertory at the DCASE Storefront Theatre in downtown Chicago (66 E Randolph St) running Februarty 28th-March 24th (Thurs-Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays at 3pm). More information can be found here: www.akvavittheatre.org

I also implore you to become a part of this production by helping us complete funding. We have a kickstarter campaign running until Friday. Any and all donations are accepted and are tax deductable. PLEASE CLICK HERE.

You can also check out the webseries I created to bring attention to the importance of Jon Fosse making his Chicago debut by subscribing to our YouTube channel.





Monday, February 4, 2013

Role playing G

Gunnar shoves me into my bedroom and closes the door behind him "Bye bye, go to gym" and two seconds later he opens the door to say "Oh no!  My purse! Be right back Sven!" as he reenacts this morning's events in his own way...as he grabs a bag and shuts the door again I hear him say on the other side "Oh my! SNOW!"
I was in stitches.
And when I finally was allowed out of the room he said "I'm serious!"
Life with a 2 year old is never dull!


Thursday, January 31, 2013

It's Over!

I can't believe it's done...just like that! And it was so easy...
Yesterday I woke up and I had made up my mind...I was done breastfeeding.  Done. I want my breasts back...I want to wear pretty bra's again...I want to feel like a woman and not just a milk factory.
For over 14 months I've been wondering how and when this would happen...
But I never could have imagined it would be this easy.
Gunnar did ask "May I please have some mommy's milk?" twice but both times I said to him "No sweetheart. Mommy is not going to give you any more milk. You're a big boy now and you don't need it, mommy can sing you lullabies though."
And both times...he just looked at me and said calmly "Okay mommy. May I please have some Edelweiss?" No tears...no struggle. Amazing.
He even woke up early this morning (from a nightmare, I think) and to my surprise he didn't ask for milk...only wanted "mommy rock you" (aka: mommy rocking him back to sleep).
It's done.
And I feel good...After nearly 26 months...my breasts belong to me again!
No regrets.
Hallelujah!


Monday, January 28, 2013

Finding Fosse...

So I put myself in charge of something new...
A web series. To generate awareness for my theatre company's upcoming trifecta play amazingness (more on that soon...but if you want info now go to: www.akvavittheatre.org)

Please subscribe. Watch and Enjoy! Its for fun! We have 2 episodes out so far...


Sunday, January 27, 2013

How I survived the plague...

Well it's Sunday night...
I have officially made it through 96 hours of the stomach bug plague without succumbing to its power (she types while knocking on her hardwood kitchen table)
It hit Gunnar pretty hard on Wednesday night...
Then John got it hard on Friday night...
...and I just waited for it to take me too.
But I did so with a fighters instincts...and it paid off.
Here's how I survived the plague:

1.  I starved it out...
probably in fear of catching it and in fear of the violent out come I stuck to lots and lots of fluids: Juices, tea, soups, water and gatorade. I had a few pieces of toast, bananas and yogurt...and that was it. Bland, mild...minimal.

2.  I washed my hands like a crazy person...
I'm pretty sure I was washing my hands every 2-3 minutes...with hot water and LOTS of soap, I even sang happy birthday...crazy. My hands may or may not be cracking from over scrubbing.

3.  I sanitized...and sanitized some more...
When no sink was near...I did it everywhere...I might have even threatened to sanitize the cat after hearing he slept next to my husband all night.

4. I slept on the couch...
This isn't about love, I love my husband, but I'm not going to share a bed just so we can romantically vomit in side by side buckets...its not my bag...

5. I did yoga...
there were some moments when I could feel my body giving way to the illness...in those moment I chose to breathe it out...no joke. Down-dog, go, up-dog, breathe...its almost astonishing how much better I felt after after 5 minutes of yoga...word.

6. I got out of the house...
not enough to expose my kid to more germs but enough to get some fresh air and to not go crazy.

7.  I left the sickies at home and saw some theater...
Once John was well enough to get out of bed I left him with G for the night and went and saw 2 shows with friends. At the start of the night I was terrified the plague might hit me while we were at one of the shows...but as soon as the lights went down I let myself relax and enjoyed myself. Laughter and enjoyment could possibly be the best medicine around. And you can't beat back to back live theatre coupled with a day of scary here-goes-nothing blocking crazy scene rehearsal the next morning, followed by an energizing company meeting...I'm surrounded by theatre and life and it probably is the number one thing that saved me this weekend...that I'm sure of.

Now that I've put this out there...I'm probably destined to get sick tomorrow...but the fact that I've held it off this long is a feat worth blogging about!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hardest Night of Mommyhood thus far...

On my way home from rehearsal last night I got this text...

"G needs mama ASAP. Throw up disaster."

If you know me...this is just about the worst news I could ever get. Mostly because I am petrified of vomit. I'm scared of doing it, I'm terrified of being around someone else doing it...it makes me freak out.
But the thought of my little man having to be around it gave me a new urgency to run toward it...
I arrived to find the situation mostly under control. Daddy had cleaned up the disaster in his crib, put all the "friends" and blankets in the wash and Gunnar had already taken a tub.

Gunnar wanted to rock and read stories and he continued to vomit for the next 5 hours. I've been lucky...up until now I've only dealt with G's vomit twice. Once at a Starbucks, and it was clearly caused by excess post nasal drip which he was choking on...it didn't last long, thankfully.

But this...this was something violent.

I never really thought of it before but...you can't really ask a toddler to vomit over a toilet or a bucket...it just doesn't work like that (they don't understand the concept). John did have a brilliant idea of putting a bucket bib on him which helped a little (except when it was off being cleaned and didn't make it back around his neck in time). So mostly I spent the night rocking and constantly cleaning up vomit, on me, on G, on the floor. And yes I hated the smell and everything...but what I hated most was seeing the sunken eyes of my baby hurting and not being able to do anything for him to make it better.

After going through 5 pairs of pajamas and several sheets, I finally laid a towel in his crib and was able to get him to sleep for the night around 3am. Mommy was exhausted to say the least, and feeling quite queazy herself...(though I have reason to believe it was purely from holding in my disgust at the site of vomit and having to be in contact with it for over 5 hours).

He was in good spirits today...but he hardly ate a thing...only finishing one cup of applesauce all day and a cup and a half of juice.  Hoping this will all wash away by tomorrow morning.

And now I wait...to see if it was simply food poisoning or if it was a virus that soon will come to me...
the agony of not knowing...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Victory!

A gentle hand takes the victory!

As I was putting Gunnar down for his nap he said "mommy I make poop!"

So I got him right over to his potty seat gave him a few books and walked away... 5 minutes later Gunnar comes walking in the kitchen with the biggest grin on his face. "Mommy I all done!" he said as he gave me back his book. I figured he was just done with another practice round... But when I went to the toilet to check I found a very large surprise waiting to be flushed!

I screamed! With excitement and Gunnar did too! He shouted "Gunnar Flush it!" And was so excited to watch his big accomplishment spin away.

I hadn't planned for such instantaneous results so I made up a new rule on the fly...4 stickers for Poopoo in the toilet! Gunnar could not believe the news! What a day for mommy and G! Hooray!

The Potty Seat

So Gunnar finished his first potty chart.
He got 1 sticker for every time he told me there was poop in his diaper and 2 stickers for every time he practiced going potty on the toilet.
We brought the chart with us to Target so he could pick out his potty seat.
He chose the Sesame Street seat (and thankfully he chose the one without any bells and whistles...just a seat, no batteries required, no annoying buttons...just a seat).  He carried it around the whole store until we got to the check out where he showed the checkout lady his completed chart.
Along with the seat we also bought a stool to make it easier for him to get on the potty by himself.
This a very exciting thing.
Apparently.
Gunnar loves to practice getting on and off the potty.
He loves to drag the stool over to the sink to wash his hands.
This is going well.
I'm still not putting any pressure on the situation.
If he wants to practice, awesome. But it's totally his call.
We started a new chart yesterday. Same thing. He's still just learning this concept of letting us know...
We're going to take this at his pace...


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Gunnar's Classes

Last November Gunnar and I started creating a schedule of weekly activities to look forward to.

I still take Gunnar to the Y most mornings so that I can get a workout in and get ready for the day without disruption, and Gunnar gets to socialize and play in the babysitting room (and its free with our membership)

Gunnar started taking a class at our YMCA on Tuesdays called Discovery Fun. This is actually a 90 minute drop-off class which is why we signed up...so that I could potentially get some things done during this class if I need to.  Its a relatively small class with about 8-10 kids and they socialize, read stories, make crafts and sing songs. Gunnar loves it and often talks about his friends in his "class." Cost was relatively inexpensive at $100 for 8 weeks.

On Thursdays we had been going to Storytime at our new local library...(which, for those of you who've followed GM from the beginning, is MUCH better than our old library's story time...they actually sing songs that are supposed to be sung) Gunnar LOVES Miss Jessi and Mr. June and of course he gets to pick out books to bring home on the way out (bonus!).

 Unfortunately the toddler storytime got cancelled for the month of January so we were stuck with nothing to do on Thursdays until I found a music class at Gymboree to fill our time.  Gunnar took his first class this week and he really enjoyed it. The theme of the class was Queen music which made it enjoyable for mama too! We signed up for a month of classes but I think once Toddler Storytime gets back to Thursdays at the Library I think we'll stop taking the music class (only because storytime is free...) Our Gymboree class runs about $79/month (which is 4 classes with unlimited playtime) We did get a big discount this month which brought the cost down quite a bit...

Gunnar's been loving the socializing and mama's enjoying the freedom that scheduled activities provide.


P.S. Gunnar finished his Potty chart today...off to buy a potty seat!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

have a chat...eye to eye

I've noticed a pattern.

When I get down at Gunnar's level, really squat down and explain to him what's about to happen...I believe I'm capable of diverting atomic bombs (also known as toddler melt downs).

Melt downs tend to happen when I go about my day and forget to clue Gunnar in to what's happening.
Today we could have had a bad moment. You see Gunnar's beloved owl lovey was sent to "time out" (or rather the washing machine) after he decided to put him in the garbage can (the stinky diaper one, yeah that happened)...so when he needed Owl for his afternoon nap, and owl wasn't dry yet...I knew it could be bad. So I got down to his level and talked it out with him...I found some alternative loveys (stuffys he hasn't seen in a while which made it special) and he was totally okay with it...no tears! Took it like a pro!

yeah...I'm good! Super mom! The only unfortunate side-affect was when he woke up mid-nap with no owl...then we had a few tears, and less free time for mommy...I guess I'll have to save learning lines for tomorrow's nap.

Favorite Gunnar moment of the Day: Hearing Gunnar sing along to Rufus Wainwright's "Hallelujah" which sounds more like "La-lay-lu-leee, La-lay-lu-leee!"

Monday, January 14, 2013

Who's kid is this?

I took Gunnar to a new French Cafe called Le Cafe in Lincoln Square today. I decided to treat Gunnar to his first Banana Nutella Crepe...because he loves Chocolate, he likes bananas and LOVES pancakes...he'll LOVE IT! Oh wait, what was I thinking? I have that child who loves to say "NO!" when it comes to trying new food...so despite my efforts to paint his lips with Nutella, he still refused to take a single bite. WHO'S KID IS THIS? This from the son of a girl who always asked what was for dessert before I even had dinner...
Needless to say...I couldn't let a perfectly scrumptious and decadent crepe go to waste...so I ate it.  Poor mommy (or yummy, depending on which way you look at it).


favorite Gunnar quote of the week: "Sorry for throwing COWS!!!"

Sunday, January 13, 2013

creating his own ritual

I love a good bedtime ritual we've had one for Gunnar since he was 6 weeks old. It's changed a little as he has gotten older, for instance now the ritual starts with dinner, and after dinner we sometimes take a bath and then take our vitamins and brush our teeth, jammies & sleep sack comes next, followed by 3 stories from daddy and then lullabies from mommy and then we go straight to our crib with our sleep sounds on and owl lovey in hand, mommy whispers "night, night, sweet dreams, I love you Gunnar" which Gunnar repeats back every time.

Recently Gunnar's been helping us add a little to that ritual. After a visit to Nana's house where he slept under blankets for the first time, Gunnar has demanded this be the new staple over sleep sacks. He particularly asks for both his "monkey blanket" which was a gift from Besta for Christmas, and his "Owl Blanket" which is a beautiful quilt made by Grandma. And just last night he requested one more thing...

"Stars in the Sky" he said as he reached back up for one more hug. I picked him up and racked my brain to figure out what it was he was wanting...and then it came to me.  Maybe only once or twice after putting Gunnar to bed I have said to him "I love you Gunnar Miles, more than the sun and the moon and stars in the sky" and this is exactly what he was asking for....as I repeated it back to him he said "Yeah...love mommy more than stars in the sky. Night night. Sweet Dreams"

And as I put him down for his afternoon nap he said the same thing "Night, night, sweet dreams, love mommy more than stars in the Sky"...ritual complete. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

"50 dollars!"

Yesterday I took Gunnar to the mall to pick up a few presents and supplies for my etsy shop.
While we were in Forever 21 Gunnar started shouting "FIFTY DOLLARS! Fifty DOLLARS!!"
Which is hilarious because we all know NOTHING in Forever 21 costs $50...I'm pretty sure their highest price point is $34. I just laughed it off and figured he picked it up from some kid in his class...
but then he kept doing it...in every store he said "Fifty Dollars!"
I was recounting this story to some friends last night while Gunnar was attentively listening to my retelling...he waited until I was done telling the story and then very calmly said "Movie says Fifty Dollars!" Apparently my son has already started quoting movies!
(That's also when I realized he's so verbal now that I can really ask him where his references come from and he just might tell me!) It took me a few minutes to think of which scene in which movie (though it wasn't quite difficult considering he's only seen 3 movies since he turned 2)...the quote came from Jim Hensen's: Emmet Otter's Jug band Christmas.  Quite a cute flick for kiddos of all ages!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Keepsake hands

I made these hanging wall keepsakes for Gunnar's nana and grandma this Christmas.
I just traced Gunnar's hand and had my sister trace William and Charlie's hands....I then used the tracing as a pattern, cut our fabric with wonder under and appliqued the hands onto fine linen and embroidered their names and ages...
Make your own...
Or buy one from me! 






Thursday, January 10, 2013

G's New Sticker Chart

Gunnar loves stickers...
I took him to Target today and showed him the potty seats. He wanted the Sesame Street Potty seat.
We started a chart. Every time he tells mommy that he has a poop he gets to put a sticker on the chart. When the chart is full...I will buy him the potty seat!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Almost Potty Time...

I've been trying to take it easy when it comes to potty training...
Our pediatrician suggested we wait until Gunnar shows us the signs that he's interested in potty training. For us that has to start with Gunnar letting us know when he has a soiled diaper...
Up until very recently Gunnar has been mostly "lying" or maybe not understanding the concept (?) of telling us when he has poop in his diaper...
He has done everything from say "POOPY" when he has nothing in his pants...
to flat out denying he has poop when asked.
But I've tried to be patient and let Gunnar guide us...after all I know that once we start the potty training venture life will inevitably be "less convenient" for us until he's completely trained...so might as well enjoy the freedom diapers provide while it lasts.
But this morning the first thing Gunnar shouted when he woke up was "MOMMY I HAVE POOP!"
I jumped out of bed to congratulate Gunnar on:

 1. Saying a complete sentence!  -and-
 2. Letting me know that he has poop (a first!)

and then just before nap Gunnar asked to use the potty! So I let him sit on the potty (with me holding him as he practiced pooping and actually squeezed out a little pee) He was very proud of his progress and thrilled that he got to FLUSH as a result! So...maybe he's getting there...

Decision Time:

Potty Seat? or Potty Chair?

I see benefits to both but am leaning toward the seat since Gunnar has a keen interest in the real thing already....

Please discuss... What worked for you and your toddler? 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Blog Makeover

After I wrote my post last night I realized my title picture sorely needed an update...and once I did that I just kept updating until we get this...
A complete page makeover.
Let me know what you think...

Monday, January 7, 2013

Toy Time Out

I finally got so sick of Gunnar throwing EVERYTHING! Gunnar loves to love up his toys and books, run around the house with them and then chuck them as hard as he can at walls, people, down the stairs, etc.
When he threw my mother-in-law's porcelain salt and pepper shaker when I was trying to get it back from him, I decided enough is enough...I've got to stop this habit. But how?
Just putting him in time out wasn't enough...
So I finally sat Gunnar down and explained to him that things are not for throwing.
Balls are for throwing, but we only do that outside.
So from now on...if I see or hear him throw something he will get an instant time out AND so will the toy or object he threw and he will not be able to play with that toy for the rest of the day.

We implemented this new rule about a week ago...and I am SHOCKED at the transformation! Only a few toys and books have gone to that time out spot ontop of the bookshelf...and that's really all it took for G to kick this bad habit!

One big pat on the back for mommy!