Thursday, April 30, 2009

More Fun from Daddy

So, I'm having a leisurely morning this morning, with a welcome reprieve in workload until a new SOW gets signed (that's statement-of-work for you non-consulting types, not anything having to do with that nasty flu). It's raining and gloomy outside, so I decide to cheer myself up with a proper breakfast.

I chopped up the leftover grilled vegetables from dinner last night -- red, yellow and green peppers, eggplant, zuchinni, and onions (we had chicken fajitas) -- and put them in a pan with some eggs. Let it cook until almost done, then sprinked some cheese on and threw it in a 350-degree oven to cook for the last 5 minutes and get a little fluffy. YUM! I even emailed a picture of it (at left) to Eric just to make him jealous. Beats toast and jam, I think.

"So how is any of that More Fun from Daddy?" you ask in reference to this post's title. Well, he left behind some evidence of fun-having in the kitchen, you see. When I got the pot-holder out of the drawer to use in retrieving the frittata (that's what fancy people call my concoction) out of the oven, I was greeted with this:

Eric had put masking-tape eyes on the pot-holder to use as a hand-puppet in entertaining Oliver. So great. Of course, while "so great" was my first thought, my second thought was -- crap, how is this going to manifest when Oliver is 3 and requires much more than a hand-puppet for entertainment. I'm imagining the entire living room transformed into a cushion-fort for a start or a public-art-sized adventure with Crayola. Eric's creativity really knows no bounds, so I may be doomed. I mean, if a simple Huggies box can be so easily transformed into a herky-jerky hardwood floor rollercoaster ride like it was earlier this week, then I'm definitely in trouble.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Ah, ham. Such an appropriate title for a blog about the little Jewish boy from Chicago.

No, really, it is.

I mean, Oliver is a ham. He really laps it up when his goofiness gets grins and giggles from the crowd. And just watch when the camera gets pointed in his direction.

In addition, he really seems to like ham (and so does Mommy because it's sooo easy, and with a slice of paper cheese and a grape makes a meal, right?)

But actually, the inspiration for this post was neither of those things. It was Oliver's feet.

They are hams. Seriously thick and seriously rotund hams.

A few weeks ago, we travelled to Fort Wayne to see my mom for the weekend and I thought it would be a good idea to go to the fancy kid's shoe store for a proper measuring since I'd been squeezing him into Robeez and hand-me-down tennies and had no idea what his real shoe size was. Well, it turns out that "squeezing" is not nearly a strong enough word for what I was doing to that poor kid's feet.
He definitely has some hams. Size 6 hams. Size 6 WIDE hams, to be exact. The guy had to recommend Stride Rite's special wide and deep model so his feet wouldn't get too crushed. (I, however, was slightly crushed, because the wides weren't as fashionable or versatile as the non-wides. Function over fashion this time, I guess.)

So Grandma bought him his first pair of real kicks that weekend and he's been wearing them ever since. They go with more outfits than I originally thought and we got them just in the nick of time, as the snow finally melted enough to actually set foot on ground outside.

Here's the Before and After. Foot and shoe. Ham and Rye:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Small Appliance Repair

For months now, one of Oliver's favorite activites has been (and still is) servicing the humidifier we keep in his room. (We are supposed to use it to help relieve his congestion, but seldom remember to. Ooops.) He has always liked to take off and put back on the screen over the steamhole. And has recently advanced his maintenance also to include using a Big Gulp straw to check the levels in the hole that is exposed when the screen is removed. This can go on for quite some time. It's very important work, so of course he is very focused. Unfortunately, the repairs are usually initiated when we're trying to get him dressed and ready for daycare. So, I have to apologize for the impromptu nature of the photo. I had been meaning to get a picture of him in his "workshop" for some time and finally grabbed the camera to capture the moment, however inappropriate.
Next stop: Toaster Ovens (and pants).

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Seize the Day

Last weekend, Eric and I took a trip without Oliver. Grandma came into town to watch the boy while Eric and I took some time to ourselves for a trip up to Milwaukee. And boy did we make the most of it. It was a great trip and we packed in tons of fun.

We hit the road around 9:15 and arrived by 10:45. Amazingly there was no traffic. And I had no idea Milwaukee was so close. Such an easy drive. Plus, the weather was gorgeous, so it made for really pleasant travel.

Right away, we headed for the Jan Livens exhibit at the Milwaukee Museum of Art. Wow that's one impressive building. Seriously world class. The special exhibit was very impressive, too. We were frequently reminded of our time spent in Amsterdam. Back pre-baby, when we could swing International travel without thinking twice. After touring the exhibit, we sat down with a cup of coffee from the cafe and watched these really good classical guitar players. It was a perfect break and the view was great -- overlooking the lake and lakefront path out of these huge windows. I'm telling you, this museum is really worth seeing. We'll definitely be back.

After the museum, we consulted the trusted iPhone for not-to-be-trusted directions to the Milwaukee Public Market, We love a market and this one had all the pickin's: cheese, beer, wine, spices, middle eastern food, bakeries, grills, butchers, sweet shops, delis. We consumed a gourmet sandwich, traditional hummus, and of course some Wisconsin-brewed beers, and took our cheese and cookies to go. Yum! (Peanut Butter Buddy = homemade peanut butter cookie, topped with smooshed peanut butter cup and dipped in dark chocolate. OMG!)

After the Market, we rushed over to Lakefront Brewery to grab the last tour of the day, but unfortunately it was sold out. This left us drinking $4, not-as-delicious-as-I-remember-it, Cream City pale ale out of undersized plastic cups in an oversized room with cafeteria-like tables. A little disappointing, but we could almost imagine what fun the beer garden along the river might be like in the summertime.

Then we made the tough call of whether to commit to staying overnight or to drive home. Honestly, it had been a full day already, but we decided to stick it out -- I mean how often do we get "us" time anyway -- and I'm so glad we did.

We checked into the lovely (sarcastic) and reasonably priced (not sarcastic) Hampton Inn & Suites downtown just long enough to sit down for a few minutes and consult the trusted iPhone again. Flixter, the iPhone movie app, found us a theatre close by with a movie starting in 30 minutes. Gotta love technology, right?

So we headed over to the East End (I think that's what the bartender called it -- or maybe East Side -- whatever) to see Gomorrah, an Italian mafia movie. It was pretty good. Not great, as the reviews would have you believe.

Then we bellied up to the bar in the dark corner pub called Von Trier, where the bartender served us pretzels, a Bell's Winter White and directed us to one of two spots for dinner, which was a good thing because half a sandwich and a couple dips of hummus really weren't holding me.

We opted for pub food for dinner. When in Wisconsin... ya know? Hooligan's Super Bar had a great selection of beer. We opted for the Alpha King (odd choice since we were in Wisconsin and it's brewed in Indiana, but we had the gal pull us a sample of the Cream City from her tap and found it to not be any better). In addition to beer and food, they had satellite trivia, which we played a few round of, Eric renaming himself to "Wayne" for the occasion. Whatever.

While still embarrassingly early for a Saturday night, after Hooligan's we were pretty spent so called it a night. The next morning we grabbed the tail-end of the complimentary breakfast and headed home. We were home by noon unpacking our cheese haul and playing with The Monk.

It was a very fun trip and I'm so glad we were able to go. Many thanks to Grandma for watching Oliver -- who she said was a perfect angel while we were gone. Doubtful, but I'm glad she sees it that way.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Daddies Are Awesome

Eric is a great dad! He really does more than his share with Oliver -- including dirty diapers, daycare drop-off, baths, and the famous changing-table tango -- and all with much less frustration than Mommy. I'm not sure the long-term effects, but when Oliver does something particularly ornery, Eric just laughs it off, where I tend to get a bit tense about it.

And Oliver LOVES his daddy. With each of us side-by-side at the crib's edge, Oliver will invariably stand up with arms outstretched to Daddy. Like every single time. And you should see the boy's face light up with his daddy walks in the door after work. He's even more excited to see Eric than the unfed cats are.

But it's no wonder, really. Eric goes all lengths to make Oliver smile (and what a smile it is!). There are tons more gushing words I could say about Eric as a father, but I'll save them for some sappy Father's Day blog entry or something. For now, I just wanted to express my gratitude and share my amusement, as I'm sure Oliver was equally amused when Eric donned these get-ups to get a grin out of The Monk. Nice.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Oliver the Voyeur

Oliver cracks me up. He's much like his daddy in the way he likes to just observe stuff. He's always surveying a situation. Site-seeing. Just generally taking it all in -- often skeptically. This is especially obvious when he gets around other kids who are playing. Whether it's at the park or at the Garfield Conservatory (as in photo above), he is typically more entertained by watching the other kids run and jump and play than he is engaging in those activities himself. In the case of the photo, he was watching kids run up and down stairs -- oooo.... fascinating. Nevermind the cool tree and books that were there for his enjoyment in the kids area of the conservatory.

But seriously, if he's having fun, then I'm having fun. There will be plenty of time for him to get in the thick of things, I'm sure. He's actually taken quite a liking to a slide in a park. I'm personally not a huge fan because his shoes get stuck and cause his feet to get caught underneath him, resulting in anything but a slide. If I wasn't holding him, he'd surely go head over heels and break his neck. Seriously. Here's a few shots of him at the playground last week. Eventually we're hoping not to have to wear hats and fleece jackets. I know it looks like the sun was shining, but it was still pretty chilly. Ridiculous.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Memory Lane: Applesauce Plus

According to my iPhone, I took this memorable photo of Oliver on August 29, 2009 -- pre-blog.

Man, I loved those striped jammies. Also love how he made me crack up with applesauce all over his face and the bonus snot bubble. Even held and smiled for the camera despite it all. Can't say that too much has changed, really. He still makes a mess with applesauce -- although more now because I'm letting him learn how to use the spoon (not my choice, exactly, but abiding my the age-appropriate parenting advice notes). And he still has a perpetually runny nose thanks to daycare. More often than snot, though, it just runs down under his nose in an entirely uninspired fashion. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Word of the Day: Bay-buh

Oliver's vocabulary is expanding -- and ever changing. I started this post a couple weeks ago when his most-identifiable word was "Bay-Buh," meaning bagel, which he wanted for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But, alas, time has passed since then and he's not nearly as obsessed. The bay-buh is definitely still one of the favorite food groups, though, and we make sure to always have some on hand.

He doesn't vocalize the Cinnamon Raisin part, but that is undoubtedly his preferred flavor. He didn't go for the blueberry I bought last week in a pinch. He does know, though, that they are kept on top of the fridge and points and grunts in that direction often. I know he shouldn't have them for every meal, but I usually give in if he's already eaten some semblance of protein or fruits/veggies. For awhile there, I thought he might turn into a bagel.

I still feel like he's on the verge of adding a bunch of new words to his vocabulary, but for now, there is still a lot of babbling and mamama and dadada with multiple and varied meanings therein. I'd blog about more of them, but some are just too difficult to map out phonetically, especially his other favorite food: CHEESE! (In this case, he is the product of his parents genetic make-up and predisposed to a love of cheese. Although, I suppose nurture plays a role, too, since we always have cheese around.)

Oliver's word for cheese is kind of a chhhh sound, but made by holding the teeth in clenched position and loosly pushing air through on either side of the tongue. It's a very difficult thing to depict phonetically -- kind of like letting the air out of a tire-sound, but just kind of -- and I have yet to be on-the-ball with the video camera. I have yet to give up either. I probably just need to set him up. Me with the camera. Daddy slowly opening the fridge to show Oliver the inside of the door where we keep the good stuff -- Processed American Cheese slices -- YUM!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Nature vs. Nurture: Baseball

It’s a pretty common question I ask myself. How much of Oliver is just Oliver plain-and-simple – a 15-month-old little boy – and how much is he a product of his environment? That age-old question of nature vs. nurture.

On Saturday, on our second of three trips to Target of the weekend (pathetic, I know), I thought his behavior spoke loudly and affirmatively “Nature. I am who I am, regardless of experience.”

I had my back turned, deliberating the all-consuming question of what kind of outdoor trash receptacle we should buy, and when I turned back around, he was reaching for a wiffle ball and bat with all the grunting and whining of a little boy wanting a piece of sports equipment. So, of course, Daddy gave it to him.

At this point, I tried to deconstruct where he was getting this desire for the ball and bat. I mean, Eric and I could not be less interested in sports (with the exception of the tangentially related beer drinking). Then I was thinking that he might have seen our neighbor coaching his daughter in tee-ball earlier in the day (talk about forcing the nuture-factor), but it was also unlikely since they were down in the yard and we were busy up on our deck above. Or maybe he caught a glimpse of the Cubs on TV somewhere, also extremely unlikely since we don’t watch much TV and almost never sports. But ultimately, I concluded that he’s a boy and a love of sports must be innate.

I was excited to get the new toy home, to open it and let him play with ball and bat separately. I was especially curious to see him play since he hadn’t been overly interested in the balls I bought him from the going-out-of-business sale at Right Start earlier in the week (Tip: 30% off over-priced is simply regular-priced, not a steal by any stretch of the imagination. I’m such a sucker for a sale.)

However, in the interest of passing time and staying out of the house (where he otherrwise seems to get into more trouble than anywhere else), we hung out at Target a bit longer and let The Monk hold on to his prize.

Instead of swinging it around with a hey-batter-batter-hey or begging to have the package opened, as one might expect regarding a new toy, he insisted on pushing it around the store, holding it out in front of himself with the ball end down, and pushing it down the aisle, under the counters, into corners – using the plastic-packaged ball much like a janitor scraping gum off the floor. And really, really enjoying it all the while (as evidenced by this action shot below).

Against my better judgment, I tried to show him how to swing it, but again, he wasn’t interested in that use at all. He just kept pushing that thing around like a vacuum cleaner (also, unlikely as a learned behavior since I never vacuum myself). And he wouldn’t let me have it back. And he wouldn’t get back in the cart. And he wouldn’t follow us toward the check out. He just kept pushing in all directions and groaning (his focus mantra) and babbling (his joyful mantra). So needless to say, it was a long exit out of Target on that particular trip.

In any case, he has had as much joy from the thing at home as at the store and has not shown an ounce of interest in removing the packaging from around the ball. It’s really quite fun to watch. Next innovation will be somehow attaching a mop to the end of that thing so he can clean his own smooshed bananas from the floor.