Hadleyisms #2

Happy birthday to my big sis, Mary, today!!!

Anyhoo, back with some more silly moments with our 2-year-old guy. Why, hello, crappy Photoshop skills.

After watching an episode of Daniel Tiger about empathy…
Me: How do you feel today, Hadley? What are you feeling?
H: Apples. Nanas. Knees. *stares at me*

(Apples and bananas are the answer to all life’s little problems these days. Not the actual foods; just the words.)

M: What do you want to be for Halloween, honey? (asking with far too much excitement)
H: Apples! Ooohh!! Apples. Or Nanas. Uh-huh.

Here comes Fruit of the Loom boy.

Daddy: (Getting him up from naps/bed 90% of the time) Good morning, Hadley!
H: Gooooood moooorrning!!!! Mama! Hi!! HIIII!!! (as if he hasn’t seen us in years)
D: How did you sleep?
H: Niiiiice! Nice!!

How was your lunch? How does Beardslee’s fur feel? How are you feeling? “NICE!” Adorbs.

Our favorite Hadleyism lately is “tada!” Finish going on the potty and displaying his “talents”? TADA! Eat a piece of pancake? Tada! Build a Lego tower? Tada!

Daddy gets home and the excitement literally can’t be contained. Running aimlessly around the living room, H exclaims, “Dada! Big Bird!! Toes-yitties-eyephant-potty-yancakes…” runs into kitchen followed by the sound of a face-plant on the floor. Deflated but happy “Tada!” comes from the floor. We lost it.

Aside from these, he’s just got SO MANY WORDS. I can’t even keep track. Say something and he tries out the word. There are times I look at him and think, “You’re learning English. You’re understanding. You’re not like a tiny baby from another country who understands two words I say!” I know it’s normal, and what we expect, but man. And the kid knows every letter you show him. (Z is sometimes S, but we’re working on it.) You can sing the alphabet and stop on a letter and most of the time he knows the next letter. He can count to thirteen.

Strides, folks. Strides. 

Sorry I’m Sorry

The Dorky Daddy recently posted a heartfelt admission of an issue that he deals with, which is so admirable and awesome since a lot of guys don’t admit to it. I felt it was important to reiterate that it’s actually an issue for the whole family. Namely, I do it, too.

We’re uncontrollable apologizers. And we’re officially sorry about it.

You’ll see on his post the moment that the truth hit us, but let’s just say that our unnecessary apologizing has been passed on to our 2-year-old son. Yup. Show any sign of distress, and he immediately starts faux crying while saying “I sowwy, Mama. Sowwy, Mama.”

Lose something. “Sowwy, Mama!”

Spill something. “I sowwy, Mama! So sowwy!!”

Punish over something. “Sowwy!!” (Okay, that last one is awesome, but he doesn’t know to say “sorry” for doing something wrong; just because we’re upset.)

Some might say it’s not a big deal, or that it’s not a bad problem to have an apologetic kid.

To that I say, well, keep it to yourself. (Yeah. I went there.) You get to feel what’s best or worse for your kids. We get to use our (in this case shared) intuition to decide that this is a problem for us. He’s no off-the-wall, drug-abusing kid, of course, so it is all relative…but it still concerns us. And the fact that our apologetic ways allow people to discredit our feelings is something I’d rather Hadley not have to deal with, too.

Sorry for the blunt moment, but it was needed.

Wait. No. I’m not sorry. God, this is so damn difficult.

Taking the energy down for a moment *turns dial* let’s address the reasons that apologizing can be a negative thing. List time:

* Sometimes…just once in awhile…it’s a manifestation of passive aggressiveness. We all have frustrations on a daily basis. At work. At the grocery store. (I can’t COUNT how many times in one trip I’ll apologize to people at Hannaford for something I didn’t do.) Out clothes shopping. Heck, at home with your partner. If someone ticks you off, be it in a big or small way, sometimes “sorry” pops out when you’re actually upset about something…and aren’t REALLY sorry.

And, I’ll admit. When someone walks in my way or steals the spot in line or takes advantage of me at work…I will passive aggressively say, “Oh, I’m so sorry!” *raises hand* I do it. It’s been done.

* Insincere or overused apologies lose their meaning. The more you say “sorry”, the less you really mean it. The more I hear Dave say it, it simply blends into the conversation. Sure, it’s a word of kindness (usually), but we need to learn how to use our TONE of LANGUAGE to display our kindness rather than jumping around the kitchen apologizing for tripping over each other. 

* Apologizing without thought gives the other person the upper hand. Totally. I tend to apologize as a kindness tactic — regularly saying “Oops! So sorry you caught me eating my lunch. Sorry! What’s up?” Seriously. They interrupted MY lunchtime (which I was trying to get work done during) and I’m hoping, at the very least, to receive an acknowledgement that I’m being put out a bit before dropping my sandwich and helping them out.

Instead, I’ve often found that the person disregards it completely and continues on, like a bulldozer, with whatever their own needs are. My confidence issues ain’t gettin’ any better with crap like that goin’ down. It is what it is, and it’s not great.

So, yeah. There’s more, but that’s the general idea of the thing. Our goal is to raise a happy, healthy, kind, intelligent, confident young man. Part of confidence is being comfortable with yourself and knowing how to act in situations. Regardless of how we appear, Dave and I both have confidence and self-esteem issues. The last thing we want is to pass these on to our beautiful little man. Last thing.

Dave is doing great at trying to identify when “sorry!” is an acceptable response and when it’s probably not the best go-to. He’s not phasing it out completely; that’s not the point. It’s knowing when to say it and when it’s not necessary. That’s all.

I, actually, already started working on my sorryisms at work last year. It. Was. Hard. There was definitely a bit of acting needed to help me learn how to not get plowed over (I also used the sorries as a way to be kind, which often got me screwed over). And, y’know what? It kinda worked. There are still people who are just always going to be hard nuts to crack (which is fine), and I learned which people respect some confidence and some boundaries.

I didn’t start implementing it in other parts of my life. I didn’t think it seemed necessary. But, now it seems it is.

Here are a few of the ways that we’ve been addressing the issue:

* I’ve been talking to Hadley in a low-key, “it’s not a big deal” sort of way when he says it. We talk briefly about why he said it, and usually why it’s not needed. If it IS needed, I’ll say something like, “It was good of you to say you were sorry. When you *did such-and-such naughty act*, you were making bad choices and hurting our feelings, so it was a good thing to say ‘sorry’ about.” Or whatevs. I’ve seen a quick decrease in his use of the word. Sometimes a quick one or two sentence chat gets into his smart little brain better than a super big lecture or hitting him over the head with it.

* We’re not doing anything like a “Sorry Jar” or anything so drastic. Sometimes an apology is totally warranted, especially in marriage or in the day-to-day. But, we’ll gently remind each other, “Honey, you said ‘sorry’ and it’s totally cool, you didn’t do anything wrong.” While Dave likens it to quitting smoking (it’s definitely a habit), it’s not the sort of thing you need to kick yourself over when you accidentally let one slip. Sorry happens. It’s a process.

* If I’m truly sorry for something, I state why. I like to use “I’m sorry because…” any time I’m actually admitting a mistake or a poor wording or any number of reasons. Self realization is where it’s at. It also makes the apology carry so much more weight. It gives “sorry” back its importance.

* We’re having issues, but working on finding replacements for “sorry.” It’s difficult because there’s a sweetness attached to it that nothing can match. Again, it all depends on the situation. Sometimes it’s best just to cut it out. Other times, say someone’s having a bad day, just responding “Dude, that sucks” doesn’t show enough empathy. So, we’re feeling it out. Saying “I’m sorry your day is so terrible” might just have to be a replacement for the time being.

And just because I prefer to end on a positive note, and I hate that I was super harsh at the beginning of the post (I’m not sorry, but I don’t want it to be taken the wrong way), here are some of the awesome things about “sorry”:

* Sorry can melt your heart when it’s said at the right time…especially by someone who’s admitting a wrong or who happens to be an adorable 2-year-old who seems to be connecting to you while saying it.

* Sorry can hold so much power, when used sparingly. When you truly make a mistake and can own up to it (the hardest part), saying “I’m truly sorry” and owning the problem, then finding a way to fix it, it can earn you respect. Or not. But maybe!

Care to add anymore positive things about “I’m sorry”?

Mama Must-Haves

Today’s post contains affiliate links. They won’t make your computer explode or steal your identity…I hope.

So many friends and acquaintances on Facebook (and, y’know, in the real world) are having babies left and right. We’re in talks ourselves, but are still putting off a second bambino for the time being. We’re also pretty private about things; that “don’t tell anyone until the second trimester” thing is law for us, outside of one or two close family members or a BFF.

All these gorgeous shots of tiny shut-eyed beauties got me thinking about Hadman and what it was like to bring him home those 2+ years ago. Oh, how terrified and unprepared we felt. I’m tons more laid-back now, and Dave’s improved immensely. We’re kinda rocking it, parentally. Most of the time. 

Whenever we choose to have another (if we should be so lucky, knocking on lots of wood), I’m excited to try some things that, for one reason or another, didn’t work out with our first little guy. I’ll admit that, while I “tried” cloth diapering, I didn’t succeed — okay, I failed at it. So, that. There’s that.

Also, with how humongous our monkey was, babywearing didn’t really work out, either. It is what it is, but I hope to try it in the future. Maybe a future babe will enjoy it (and it’ll probably make life a bit easier with a bigger brother running around).

But enough of the stuff that didn’t work for us. Here are some of the stuff that I wouldn’t live without that worked out awesomely for us…

#1 – It took awhile to decide on a pump to use at school everyday, so I took a risk purchasing this Medela In Style Advanced Breast Pump. Turns out, it wasn’t such a risk, after all! This thing is a work horse. It comes with everything you need (you’ll need to replenish your storage bags, but that’s pretty much it). Once you get the hang of, y’know, feeling like you’re being milked in a small space at work, it feels like routine — thanks to this machine. Considering how nerve-wracking the whole concept of pumping can be, having a pump you can trust with such a delicate process is golden.   

#2 – I know, I know. You’re thinking, “isn’t this supposed to be essentials for parenting a baby?” Yup. We read to Hadley from week one, and it’s pretty much his favorite thing to do today. And he’s two. This was our first Mo Willems book, and we’ve been addicted ever since. Have you met Elephant and Piggie? If not, you totally should. They’re the gateway drug to Pigeon. I also foresee some Knufflebunny in our future.

#3 – This Fisher-Price Space Saver High Chair (in a neutral color; ours is tan with polka dots) is probably the baby product with the most longevity. We used it from about 5-6 months until the present, and I foresee using it for awhile still. As the name implies, it saves the space of a regular high chair by utilizing a regular old dining chair as its base. When the time comes, this thing will store awesomely, too. I just can’t say enough good about it. Seriously.

#4 – Dave insisted that I include Sophie, and I can’t blame him too much. She’s a classic, she’s adorable, and Hadman lovingly chomped on her for quite awhile. Plus, giraffes turned out to be his spirit animal during his first year, so it was a perfect match. Don’t mind the price tag on this one; she’s worth it.

#5 – Glass bottles?! Are you insane?? Yes, but that’s beside the point. These classic Evenflo glass bottles worked wonderfully and put my super-obsessed mama mind to rest about BPA and all those other nasties, especially when warming. We also used the smaller 4 ounce size, especially when he was holding his own bottles. Side note: When the kiddos get bigger and you’re heading to a place that you know will have a tile floor, just keep an extra eye on the bottles. Made that mistake once; will never make it again.

#6 – If you’re a new mama and you’re having a hard time getting your little one to sleep at night, all I can say is — SWADDLE, SWADDLE, SWADDLE! Then swaddle some more. These organic muslin blankies are what I prefer thanks to their breathability (especially when your newborn is a summer baby) and flexibility, which allows just the right amount of movement and comfortable snuggliness. Seriously, it sounds crazy, but these were a lifesaver. Probably the only reason we got ANY sleep.

#7 – The sooner you get a potty chair, the better. Santa brought this Bjorn Baby potty, which has since lived in the kitchen (under the above Space Saver chair, actually) and is utilized daily. He’s not fully trained yet, but the fact that he’s shown an interest since about 18 months is incredible. Thank you, Santa! He also knows that it’s HIS special potty, so that’s pretty great, too. Quick tip: Get a cheap little plastic bin and leave a handful of board books, along with dipes and wipes, next to your main potty. You’ll get sick of the books (seriously, we could recite our four books from memory), but it’ll make potty time way easier and fun for everyone.

#8 – We got a few bottles of Baby Bee shampoo-and-body-wash for our shower, and I’m so glad we did. I don’t think I’ve had to buy a bottle yet! I just keep refilling my small one from the huge bulk-sized one. This is Hadman’s main soap (he’s also used one I had to review, which was fine), and I prefer it because a) it works, b) it’s natural, c) it smells AWESOME (he doesn’t smell like a little hippie baby; he smells just like a BABY…you know the smell…the one you want to bottle and never let go), and d) it makes for a super fun bubble bath. I’ve even been known to use it as shampoo when I’m low from time to time. #noshame #notsorry

What were some of your essentials? Do you agree/disagree with any of my suggestions?

Oh, and feel free to check out the rest of my baby list items (I’m still adding) if you need a few more suggestions. Hint: Cheapest organic crib mattress EVER. Just sayin’. 

Hadley 2.0

Hadman is officially a two-year-old, y’all. It happened. And I was, once again, a kinda crappy blogger. After putting a crapload of time into putting the party together (not a complaint; I enjoy doing stuff like that), I failed to take any Pinterest-worthy pictures. Okay, I failed to take many even halfway decent pictures.

See why I don’t own a DSLR camera? I don’t deserve one. *hangs head*

But, guess what I do have, folks. *points to head* The memory and the words, so it’s time to put pen to paper fingers to keyboard and spill the deets. After all, we all know… I. Rite. Good. Goodly. 😉

The realization that the day might not go as planned came Saturday — the night before the big event. See, there’s a huge local 15k/5k/wheelchair run that gets mad exposure (and brings mad tourist dollars) to the area. Out of all the run’s 30+ years, it never had to cancel, but the impending weather for it (which happened to be Hadman’s birthday) was seriously threatening it.

Spoiler alert: The weather turned out fine. Not rain-free, mind you, but not tornadic like earlier in the week. (Not kidding.) Whew.

But, because we knew there was a chance of rain/high winds/severe weather, I decided to nix a vast majority of the decorations. *frowny face* I tossed up a chalkboard banner I had filled in to say “Happy Birthday Hadley” (with ducks and stars cutey-ing it up) and a cool little plaque that I can’t wait to reuse every year, as well as a Duck from “Click, Clack, Moo” that I quickly sketched. Add some chevron fabric for the food table, a few party hats, and a smattering of neat duck facts (I’m nothing if not a fact finder), and I called it a day.


I kept reminding myself that it wasn’t about the fancy. It wasn’t about the Pinterestworthy pictures (which I probably would’ve tried to get if I hadn’t been distracted by the weather). It wasn’t even about the food, necessarily. It was about Hadley’s day, and if he and everyone who came had fun, that was the damn point. It helped me chill out a bit. A bit.

The food wasn’t too crazy, but it kills me that I didn’t grab a picture of my fruit skewers. Kills. Me. 😛 Just picture: skewers with blueberries and strawberries in one mason jar, another with pineapples/cantaloup/watermelon on another set of skewers in a mason jar. *sigh* I tossed the rest of the loose fruit in a bowl near some honey yogurt dip (I wasn’t a fan, but I don’t like honey; next time just vanilla) as well as some watermelon ducks (watermelon + duck cookie cutter) in a bowl surrounded by blueberries.

Can’t you just envision it? Thanks. Thanks for helping out. I appreciate that.

We also had popcorn on tables, some pretzels and chips on the food table, some tomato pie that my in-laws were awesome enough to bring, and a veggie platter with super yummy dip. Thanks, Ina! And I brought out a lemon cake with lemony cream cheese (sorry, Dan!) frosting, plus some classic vanilla ice cream on the side. Hoping to post the recipe soon, since I took two and combined ’em.

At this age, with pretty much just Hadley and his shy-of-3 cousin (and a couple of awesome teen cousins), there’s no need to plan much for a party. No need for pinatas or games or anything; not yet. Between providing a less stressful planning experience for Mom and Dad, it’s nice to see what unfolds.

And that was, by far, the best part of the day.

Have you noticed how we don’t get many rainy summer days the way we did when we were little? (By this I’m talking as a kid of the ’80s, but it could apply back to the 1840’s; if that’s you, God bless ya!) Well, we had one of THOSE rainy days. Awesome!

Hadley fed birds with Grandpa (“Papa”), picked cherry tomatoes with Grandma, rode in his new wagon with his BFF cousin and, best of all, ran around and splashed in the puddles with everyone else.

You know it’s a good party when someone needs to be thrown in a bathtub before heading home. That can be applied to adult parties, too, by the way. 😉

So, even though Hadman had a meltdown thanks to completely missing a nap and it rained lots, it was an insanely awesome party! Thanks for vicariously attending with us!

Best Birthday Gift Ever

Today I’ve got a different type of recipe for you — and there are several variations you can try, so feel free to mix it up all you like. Oh, and one warning: the ingredients take FOREVER to find (ahem, make), but they’re worth the effort. Seriously.

Want a cheese sandwich? Start with some bread…cheese, of course…a piece of lettuce…maybe two…a tomato (if you’re into that sort of thing)…then top it off with another fluffy slice….

Just serve with a carrot or two and you’ve got an awesome lunch. Yum!

Or you could just pull a Dorky Daddy and have a salad for lunch. (He’d have two salads for dinner…then more salad for dessert. Seriously.) Personally, I’d switch out the tomato for strawberries.

Speaking of strawberries…grab a few for a snack! (Pardon the water spots.)

Oh, you’re in the mood for breakfast? We’ve got that covered, too. Eggs and toast, perhaps?

So, this was my “big present” for the monkey’s birthday. It doesn’t look like much, but I’ve worked on them every night for a month or two…so…yeah. Just the hours alone make them pretty valuable. And the fact that he and his cousin started playing with them immediately (and that they’re, apparently, a cat toy, as well), which makes all the time worth it. Big time. 🙂

I’m hoping to make a pizza or more breakfast items for Christmas. They’re not hard to make, just time intensive. Whip stitch…whip stitch…whip stitch…. Yep, there’s your tutorial. That’s all you need. Cut out the shapes (I free-handed) from felt, whip stitch the edges until you die, then stuff with filling…or fill with stuffing, whatevs. Rinse and repeat. The cheese was just a cut-out of orangey-yellow felt; that one was super easy and made up for how time-intensive the rest were. 😉

Depending on where we live at that point, we’ll also try to work on a kitchen area for Hadman to house all of his spoons, spatulas, and pots the utensils and pots he’s stolen from me and for further pretend play. He’s in love with them, so I’m super happy that these turned out so well and were well-received. (By the way, he’s mixed them with the food toys he already owns — the ones with the smiley faces — below…and a stuffed turkey. Which makes sense. Maybe.)

Oh, and for anyone wondering, I’m working on a quick birthday rundown post for this week, too. We hope you had as awesome a weekend as we did!


In honor of our little monkey man’s second birthday this Sunday, I thought I’d share a list of his recent words and phrases that have us cracking up…or saying “awww!” while wiping away a tear. Either or. This is also completely selfish because a) I’m forgetful to the max, b) the baby book doesn’t have cool parts for this stuff, and c) um, we haven’t done great at keeping up on that, anyway. So, without further a doo-doo (I know, I know, it’s adieu)…

One- and two-word sentences are the cool thing at the moment. He’s too busy, I’m sure, for anything lengthier. 😉 You also must read the below words/phrases on the higher pitch spectrum. Not super high-pitched, but up. Friggin’ adorable.

So, some of the sounds-mundane-but-makes-us-downright-giddy words have been…


“Okay!” (it’s the WAY he says these!),

“Honey!” (thanks, Pooh),

“Happy!!!” (my heart melts),

“Babies” (no clue why; maybe his dolly; yes, he has a couple),

“Guys! Okay, guys.”,

“Bub” (tub, of course) and “wawer”,

“Good” and “bad”
(soooo helpful when teaching right from wrong! He think Winston’s the naughtiest kitty, apparently),

“mama dada boo!” (practically one word, said in that order, meaning family; Boo = Beardslee),

“Jappers” (Jasper),

the occasional “Wee Wee” (Winston’s nickname),

and various body parts (nose, eyes, toes, etc.) and a good number of letters and numbers.

Every day there’s a smattering of new awesomeness. I can’t keep up.

Aaaaand the piece de resistance: When I was in the shower over the weekend, Dave and Hadley were watching old Donald Duck shorts. It showed a sign that said “Out to Lunch”, and before Dave knew what hit him, Hadley said “out to lunch.” In shock, Dave asked if that’s what he said (he’s never used the phrase before, ever) and, nonchalantly, Hadley answered “mhmm.” Oh, that? It ain’t no thang. Just reading off the TV screen before I turn 2. No big. Jaw. On. Floor.

So, it looks like we’ll be working on sight words sooner than later!

The real reason that this stuff gets me so dang excited is the fact that, for the past, eh, year and a half to two years, the poor little guy hasn’t had a say in ANYTHING. Imagine. Not being able to communicate except through screams, a few hand signs, and guttural noises. It had to have been incredibly frustrating. The more that he plays with his language and sees how we react to different words (always super excited when he displays a new one, letting him know it’s okay to try them out and okay to make mistakes), the freer he seems in his personality.

For example, I’ve always asked yes/no questions, and for the longest time he would just say “uh-huh” and “uhn-uhn”. Sure, he still does that a bit, but now it’s a direct “yes!” or “nooooo” with gusto and energy in every single response. He definitely knows the importance of inflection and he’s putting himself into the lines already, folks. He’s a little Barrymore, he’s so friggin’ entertaining. I’m also trying to give him more choices so that he feels like he has a bit of a say in this little ol’ thing called life. “Pancakes?” “Hmm…noooo.” “Eggs?” “Um, no.” “What, then?” “Burries!!!” (Berries.) Guess who had a crapload stack of fruit for breakfast.

Oh, and I said “Well, those people suck” when folks wouldn’t let us cross at the supermarket yesterday. “*Mumble mumble* yuck.” Same inflection and everything. Oops. I knew full well it was a copycat moment and had a very quick, very important conversation about what he should and shouldn’t say — and mentally whacked myself over the head for saying it in the first place.

I guess it’s Swear Jar time, Mommy. And I’ll be putting the most cabbage in. Der.

So, mamas and papas (and anyone else with an opinion) out there. Am I being crazy? Is this “First Child Syndrome”? Is it weird to want to try to remember this stuff?  

Currently – July 10th

This week is all about Hadley. He’s turning 2 years old this Sunday, so we’re doing plenty of reminiscing, planning, prepping, and just generally getting getting our heads in order. God. Two years. He’s practically in college. *sigh* Gotta say, the ladies who put “Currently” together selected the PERFECT themes for our week! 😉

We’ll be celebrating with our close family members this year. Last year, we invited a ton of people — all whom we care about deeply — but this year, we decided to cut it back to just family. (What my mom calls “a normal birthday party.” Thanks, Mom.) Just kidding, I’m actually super lucky that my mother agreed to hold the party in her backyard since they’ve got way more space than we do (and we could all fit under their carport easily if it rains). I can’t wait to have a larger space for times like this…and for an excuse to clean. Obviously.   

There are times that I can’t seriously believe how much Hadman’s growing into a little boy, but at other times I’m like, “Yup. That happened. I remember it. It’s gonna get worse.” and I can rationalize the crap out of it. Parenthood! I’m just lucky that, when I ask him, he still identifies as both a “big boy” and “mama’s baby.” Oh, Lord, I’m going to go cry now!!

Monkey’s (in case you don’t notice, he’s got a million nicknames) been playing pretend progressively better lately. Oh, and so am I. There was a time when I was about 9 that I remember telling Mom that I was officially a grown-up because I had lost my ability to pretend. She laughed…a lot…and I think I know why. Only a kid with an active imagination could come up with crap like that.

But, seriously, there are a handful of great reasons that parents need to take time out of their day to play, on the floor, no devices in hand, no pictures being taken, no distractions. There are positive psychological and developmental repercussions for the child, but I’ve noticed that it can be a mood enhancer for Mom, as well as providing my brain with some great exercise… not to mention fun memories.

For setting up the shindig, I’m hoping to put up a couple of handmade posters (with none other than ducks from his favorite books, of course), a row of streamers behind the food table, and a mix of the old poufs and a few new ones that go with the yellow-and-blue duck theme. I found some fun cloth to use as a tablecloth for the food table to reuse elsewhere (can you say “chevron”?!), but the rest of the tables will just get a wipe-down. My sister’s also going to bring a kiddie pool to set up, and my stepdad found the old school sprinkler (which kids may or may not run through, we’ll see; Had’s still at the “trip over his own feet” stage) for some fun. Only having two little ones to run around at a party like this makes the “entertainment” part of it kind of simple.

Even a small birthday party like ours isn’t THAT small. I only sent out 5 homemade invitations (they’re awesome), but that ultimately invited 16-17 people. See why we couldn’t have it at our small house? Plus, I come from Blogland, which is just a town over from Pinterestonia. I’ve got to at least put some effort into the aesthetics of the thing. Although, no matter how adorable the paper straws are, NO ONE uses them. NO ONE. Unless, of course, you serve root beer floats.

Oh, the feelings. The feelings. I’m calmly excited (vs. last year’s inevitable stress-out), a tad nervous about making a lemon cake that’ll be fluffy (I’d like to never use a boxed cake mix ever again…even if they are delish), but ultimately all the emotions revolve around Hadley’s growth. Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing some of the stuff he’s saying now, which, when compared to one year ago…well, it’s a completely different kid. Totally.

So, that’s what my week’s currently about. After his birthday, I’ll be turning my attention to some puttering around the house and other laid-back funness. 🙂 With my guys in tow, it’s hard not to enjoy life.

Thanks for hosting, Ot & Et and Harvesting Kale! You ladies rock.  

Summer Update #1

Hey, guys! Now that summer’s well under way (can anyone else not believe that July 4th has come and gone?!), I thought it’d be nice to grab a reminder of some of the fun we hope to undertake this year.

So, there’s some stuff I’m super excited to have crossed off, and some stuff that we’ve got in the works. Let’s chat, shall we? First, what’s complete.

#6 – My sister decided to have a garage sale earlier in June, so I happily offered to help out if I could bring stuff to sell. We didn’t make a ton, but it was more than we would’ve made by donating everything. Plus, we dropped everything off at the Salvation Army right after the sale so that we didn’t have that “dump the stuff in the cellar/garage and forget about it” moment. That’s never a good moment when you discover all the crap stuff months later. So, to have the extra space in our basement and to have the garage cleaned? Priceless.

#7 – As you know, I’m working on our garden. Since it’s planted and we’re to the “tend to it” phase, I’m calling this one done. I may move around the strawberries/herbs or try some new ones to see if I can get them going a little better. Otherwise, our netting seems to be working to keep the kitties out, and our lettuce is going great (and, considering it was all planted at once, it’s awesomesauce that it’s growing to varying heights — they’re not all ready at once!). Actually, I finally “harvested” some lettuce recently, so yay! 

Now, for the stuff we’ve got in the works! 

#2 – Man, if I don’t have stuff underway for buddy’s second birthday, I’d be in trouble! It IS this Sunday, after all. So, our closest family members received their invitations (it’s going to be a small, fun shindig this year; like 17ish people), and I’ve got a menu drawn up. 

It’s a mid-afternoon get-together, so we’re just doing snacks and cake. We already bought water, soda, and organic juice boxes, as well as bags of pretzels and two kinds of non-GMO popcorn. A little later this week I’ll pick up some fruit and veggies to cut up and the makings for some dip (any “real food” fruit or veg dip recipes are welcome! Pinterest has been a pain on this search). Oh, and of course there’s the cake. Thinking of doing a lemon cake (again, suggestions for a fluffy, non-box mix recipe are welcome! They all sound too dense), maybe with organic cream cheese frosting. 😀 

Now, if only the weather would cooperate…

#3 – Okay. This is one reason my post is a day late. My sis and I had planned on taking our munchkins to our zoo, but (again) the weather had other ideas. Luckily, she knew of a newer indoor play place for all ages of kids (it was, indeed, a blast! And super clean, whew). It just means we’ll have to plan another trip there sometime this summer. We’ll probably take a quick family trip there when the weather looks nice again, too, so I have high hopes!

#4 – Yay! We have our trip booked! I’ll just be sharing the location here; we’re not keen on letting folks know when our house will be unoccupied. So, I’m sure some of you guessed it, but we’ll be swinging back to Massachusetts — starting in the east near Concord and winding our way back to spend more time with some friends, with some other adventures along the way. Can’t wait to go, and can’t wait to share how we handle keeping a toddler and two grown-ups happy along the way!

I’m in the earlier processes of a couple of other list items (like puttering), so I hope to be back with another update soon…and it BETTER say “we went to the zoo!” in it. 😉

How’s your summer going? Any great plans or list-checking?

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted…

We’re currently deep in the throes of researching summer vacation options. Our goals are to keep things within a reasonable budget, but mostly to find spots that will occupy an active two-year-old (and two history- and culture-loving adults, if possible, at least once).

So, needless to say, Disney isn’t on our short list. 😉

Oh, and while I enjoy sticking my feet in sand at least once a year, my vacation doesn’t have to revolve around it. The sheer number of people hitting up Cabo San Lucas or some such place, like, annually makes my head spin. Yeah, no. Not for us. I can take a day trip to hit up a local sandy-beached lake and be recharged, easy.

I happened upon a pretty cool list that helped us focus a bit better on what Hadley’s level of interest might be. (Unfortunately, I totally forgot to save the link — I’ll post it if/when I stumble upon it!) I’m able to search for activities like outdoor play and children museums. His age would probably entail more animal-based outdoor things like petting zoos and farms, and environments that are more subdued and calm. Goodness knows he’s active enough without adding a chaotic environment! 😉

Here are some of our ideas beyond our local zoo (although we’ll be sure to hit that up plenty) — you know, travel-worthy endeavors.

Philadelphia seems to have lots of activities to meet our needs: 

The Please Touch Museum (though admittedly steeply-priced, sigh – $17 each, including Hadley — $1.50 off if I decide to renew my AAA membership, but is it really worth it?) is beyond perfect, with tactile, educational, and super fun pretend play activities designed for the under-7 set. 

The Adventure Aquarium or Philadelphia Zoo might be good options for animal viewing. The aquarium is in New Jersey, but is one to keep in mind since it has tons of Hadley-age touch-and-feel activities. The zoo is another not-cheap joint, but the petting zoo sounds insanely cool, and considering the munchkin’s love of animals, it’s worth remembering.

– Plus, I’ve been to Philadelphia and Dave hasn’t. I loved the cultural and historical activities; even just walking around the historical district would be doable for Dave and I, while towing a little guy.

And, then, there’s Rochester, NY. I know, I know. From a big joint like Philadelphia to a piddly spot like Rochester? But hear me out! After all, Dave brought it up, so I have to consider it! And I can see some of the positives.

See, I’ve spent a bit of time in Ra-cha-cha since my two brothers attended college there and my sister-in-law is from just outside the city. But, I haven’t been there in a long time, and I know my experiences there were quite isolated. So, maybe it’s time to look at the city through grown-up, wife-and-mommy eyes.

– Their zoo, for example. It seems larger than our local one (gotta look into this, it might not be) and the price is cheaper for ALL THREE of us to get in compared to the Philadelphia Zoo. No kidding, whenever a kid is free, I sit up and notice. Plus, I think we may get a further discount from purchasing our Utica Zoo pass. #kaching

– Reason #1 for our gang to think about hitting up Rochester: THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF PLAY. Sorry for screaming, but yeah. It’s like The Please Touch Museum only slightly cheaper (still a fee for Hadley, humph), but closer to home, JUST as cool, and (huge bonus) it has a Sesame Street exhibit (although traveling through Pennsylvania, I’m pretty sure there’s a Sesame Place). Plus, if we want to shell out a few more bucks, we could check out their butterfly conservatory…that is, if we’re not too exhausted by the dozen or so other activities. Side note: LOVE that they have designated spots for quiet time, partly because I know *someone* may need a nap but also because I know the need for the learning disabled kiddos who visit to have that cool-down, low excitement type of environment. Extra points, in my book, that they thought things through to this extent.

– We’ve got a couple of friends in the city, so we could plan to meet up. Also, I’d like to explore the city a bit, just to know what’s happenin’ on the western side of the state.

We’re also huge Massachusetts fans. I love the history in eastern Mass (we wouldn’t do Boston until Hadman’s a bit older, but Lexington and Concord are my jam), and we’ve got some dear friends in western Mass. So, of course we could revolve our plans around an entire weekend devoted to both.

– Um, yeah, in this case hitting up the local haunts near our friends and catching up with them is kind of the main idea of the thing. We’d turn it into a weekend-long (or extended weekend) thing by planning to travel east to get my historical fix. If you haven’t been, Concord not only is one of the historically significant locales regarding the start of the Revolution, but is overflowing with a wealth of other history. Several of my favorite authors lived there (shout-out, Louisa May Alcott!), and the fact that the transcendentalist movement was centered there gets me hopping with excitement. There’s also a small beach that you can visit on Walden Pond (yes, THAT Walden Pond…if you don’t know what I mean, we can’t be friends. Kidding. Sorta.) and a nearby replica of Henry David Thoreau’s tiny cabin THAT YOU CAN WALK AROUND. So. Damn. Cool. 

I don’t get out much. Clearly. I mean…look at the last time I was there (I think this was the summer before we got pregnant).

I’m just awesome, aren’t I? (I think I was admiring the wide-plank floor. Maybe.) Glaring super white. (Wear sunscreen, people.) Slouchy. Style for miles. Anyhoo, there’s also some cute antique shops in Concord (hellooooo, Thoreauly Antiques!), as well as some neat historical spots in Lexington. Plus, knowing how much a toddler loves to run endlessly in no particular direction, Lexington Green (Lexington “Common”) is perfect for that. Yep. The place where the first shots were fired in the Revolutionary War is a great place to run around, or chill with a picnic, or whatevs.

– Heading toward the Concord area, we could stop in at the Children’s Discovery Museum along the way. Further westward, there’s also the Children’s Museum at Holyoke and the Amelia Park Children’s Museum to try out. Of course, we’d check in with our friends in the area to see what their opinions are of the places and if they’re worth our time and effort first. Our local children’s museum is having lots of issues currently (I believe they’ve even closed their doors for the time being), so we’d warn our friends.

– Plus, we could stock up on some stuff for the second half of our trip at Trader Joe’s (and review it, finally!) in western Mass…and there’s outlet shopping nearby. Not that it’s a must.

So, that’s the short list. No matter where we go, I’m hoping to map out a handful of stops along the way, particularly at wide-open parks or play grounds. I’d like to find a nature walk (a super simple “hike”) at a state park some place. Hopefully it’ll be a relatively short one, since our guy’s a collector…as in, eyes constantly down searching for a rock or a piece of bark or a leaf. We’ll have to take a jar or bag, ‘cuz I’m clearly an enabler.

Whatchya think? Anything we should add to our lists? Do you vote for one over the others? (We do have veto power, but it’s nice to hear opinions. Might just sway us one way or another.) Oh, and while we don’t eat 100% organic/natural while traveling (or ever, really…we aim for the 80/20 thing), of course we’ll stop at some local eateries. However, I hope to do some research to see if there are any “local local” joints that are kid friendly and don’t just serve mac ‘n cheese. Plus, a cooler of food. Definitely.

What’re you planning for the summer? Any fun getaways? We’re also hoping to get to a local sandy spot or two, but otherwise picture me laying in a kiddie pool while Hadley stands precariously, splashing me.

Ahhhh. Summer. 

…And We’re Just Monkeyin’ Around

Couldn’t help but make a Monkees reference. It KILLS me that I can’t make it to any of their concerts for this tour, but I’ll just be content in my secret Monkee fandom. Er, not so secret.

Anyhoo, we took our first zoo trip of the season! Yay!! We dragged Hadley along last year, but there’s a huge difference between a one-year-old baby and a two-year-old toddler. He knows most of the animal sounds and lit UP when we came upon the gibbons (and their screeching calls). We could hear them from the car, and at first he thought they were in trouble — “Uh oh!! Uh oh!!”

Besides the awesome monkeys, we witnessed the lions (the guys were lazing about while the female was full-on stalking a rabbit who had wandered into the wrong area — spoiler alert: the bunny got away, thank goodness), a red panda, arctic foxes who just happened to be having a game of tag, an ostrich, zebras (Hadley’s favorite last year), a camel, DUCKS (he only focused on one mallard, so while there were a bunch of them, he kept pointing his finger – “one duck!”), and some reptiles.

Oh, and when we hit the children’s zoo area, we met the stars — their famous sea lions. Seriously, we could’ve stood watching them ALL DAY. Then, there were some farm and petting zoo-type animals…along with a skinned knee. Yep. First skinned knee ever (and a pretty deep cut, actually). All boy, that one.

Since it was kind of a last-minute decision to go, I only packed a lunch for the Hadman. I’m super glad I did since Dave stood in line for over 30 minutes to get our lunch (before they even waited on him). The place is a branch of a local institution, Voss’, but their service lacked sorely. The food was okay, but given the price and PITA factor, we’ll just pack a cooler next time. Bam, done. (And cheaper.)

{He didn’t seem to mind the fact that he got healthy stuff and we got pulled pork BBQ.
Give the kid fruit and he’ll eat all day long.}

The Utica Zoo, itself, is neat for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s the zoo that Dave and I frequented as kids (along with practically every other kid in a 30 mile radius). Secondly, we recently found out that most of the animals in captivity have actually been rescued or are housed here because they wouldn’t survive in the wild. They’re about environmental stewardship and conservation, which makes me feel far better about attending. Not to mention, it has a pretty rad theme song that’s definitely an earworm. You’ve been warned.

We decided to purchase a family pass for the season, so I’m sure there will be lots of trips this summer. It’s kind of cool to think that we can pack a lunch and just hit up the zoo for a random afternoon, or meet up with Dave for a half day on a work day, without thinking “it’s not worth $7.75 per person to hit up the zoo for just a few hours.” It also means that I can hook up with my sister and her little one to have a field trip. Needless to say, I’m ecstatic that we have such an open invitation to our very own hang-out place.

Fresh air + wild animals = perfect day for our own little monkey.