Two Little Owls

I think it’s time for a little old-fashioned photo dumping.

 DSC_0154

DSC_0155

DSC_0157

The elusive smiling Tesser Messer. So hard to get smiling pictures of this baby. It’s not that she doesn’t smile but they’re not as common as they once were and she doesn’t hold them for long. Luckily at the Halloween party we went to there was an indoor slide. Girl loves slides.

Girl has also been a good sport about her hair which continues to not part like a normal girl’s hair. She’s letting me put barrettes in it more often to keep it out of her eyes. But man I wish it would just part so it’s not always hanging down in her face.

 DSC_0220

DSC_0221

DSC_0222

DSC_0223

 

There was also much jumping. To me in these pictures Graham seems to look like he suddenly aged 5 years while I was looking the other way. 

The party was at Early Intervention. Graham’s old speech therapist was there. It was the first time she’d seen him in over a year. He is a totally different kid than the one she remembered. It was nice to be reminded of his progress. Graham didn’t remember her at all, I feel a little bad that these people who were so instrumental for us and for him are no longer a part of him that he knows.

My two little owls received many compliments. I am not much of a crafter, and on the day of Halloween I had to spend a few hours stitching on their feathers after they’d started to fall off. (Curse you fabric glue!) So I was grateful for the kind words. Graham enjoyed his costume, which was the most important thing. Tessa tolerated hers just fine, another win. Perhaps we can find a way to make our costumes out of hoodies every year?

Graham requested his costume be a rainbow owl. Which is just so totally him. I did my best to make his vision come alive.

 
DSC_0203

DSC_0179

DSC_0206

DSC_0241

 

I haven’t been able to take many pictures lately and this was a perfect opportunity. I didn’t get much in the way of practice and working on framing and crafting an ideal image. But I got my two littles at ease and just as they are and that is just what I wanted.

Get Spooky with PicMonkey

sponsored post imageIn blogger land, PicMonkey is the end all and be all. Whenever anyone asks a question about putting together a photo or a pinnable image the first answer they get is PicMonkey. We use it. We love it.affiliate links pic

But honestly, PicMonkey is a tool anyone can use. You may be wondering why you’d be editing images, but they’re great for social media sharing or making your own photo cards. The collage feature even lets you make a nice Facebook cover image. 

I am a PicMonkey junkie. I’ve also been a Royale subscriber for over a year now and it’s worth every penny. Having the access to extra fonts, overlays and more means I can work faster and easier.

So what can you do with PicMonkey? Why don’t you play around and find out? Right now they’re running a contest where you can submitted a spooky edited photo to win a free year of Royale service (a $33 value). All you have to do is play with a photo by adding effects, overlays and any other creepy things your heart desires and share it on social media with the hashtag #picmonkeyboo

Halloween PicMonkey Contest

 

Just compare this gorgeous pic to the one in my sidebar. All these effects, from the super creepy veins in my neck to the eerie colors are PicMonkey effects. And they’re super simple, usually just a click to turn on and off. 

To access all the scary stuff, go to PicMonkey.com, click “Edit a Photo” to upload one and then hit the “Themes” button to see all their Halloween goodies. 

And don’t forget to share with the #picmonkeyboo hashtag to enter the contest. It’s open until 11:59 pm tomorrow (10/22/13). And if you don’t win, I’d still recommend the Royale service. If you’re ever messing around with photos and don’t have the money for a fancy piece of software, you can still do so much here. (It’s from the makers of Picnik, if you remember that awesome service.) Plus with Picmonkey as a web app you don’t have to install it on your computer. 

Picmonkey kindly sponsored this post. As if I wouldn’t have already declared my love for them from the rooftops anyway. Thanks, guys!

Family Time

I think I’m a little bit crazy. Or maybe a little masochistic. But I’ve changed our plans for the summer.

Old plan: Send Graham to low-cost, full-day camp for special needs & regular kids.

New plan: No camp. Just home.

 DSC_0060

It’s cheaper, but it’s sure not easier. 

It’s not just getting used to my kid who was gone from 9 am to 3:30 pm every day now being home and constantly in need of things from 6 am until 8 pm. It’s also that I’ve never actually done this before. Or at least, not for the last 2 and a half years. Before Graham started school we were in the world of 25 hours of therapy a week. Graham would wake up, have breakfast, have therapy, have lunch, take a nap, have therapy, have dinner, go to bed, start the whole thing again the next morning. 

This whole two free-range children thing takes some getting used to. 

The newly-minted 4-year-old is still learning how to process anger and frustration. I am officially that person you hear in the grocery store who is repeating themselves 85 times to their child. And Tessa, who is finally a fully-fledged walker, is now able to get into pretty much all of his toys. 

I feel for him. As an oldest child I was insulted by the fact that I was expected not just to share my toys with my siblings, but to play with them. I remember that expectation that I play with my siblings clearly and with a generous dose of resentment. But on the parent end of things it is just obvious: play with your sister. She is there, she wants to play, just play and make things easier for all of us. She will get bored in 2 minutes and move along. Or you will actually have a good time.

 DSC_0069

I worried at first that I was not making the right decision for him. He thrives on structure. He’s made so much progress that way. He’s not used to this kind of down time. 

Ultimately it came down to two things.

1) He’s still an unusual, quirky little snowflake. But he’s also turning into more of a regular kid. Regular kids play and stay home and drive their parents crazy.

2) Tessa is better when he’s here.

I am not one of those people who doesn’t believe in having just one child. I won’t try to preach at someone to have another. But I can’t deny that her brother has an influence on Tessa that no one else has. If there’s a group of little ones running around she’s likely to ignore them and do her own thing regardless of how noisy and boisterous they are. But her brother is different. She wants to know what he’s doing. She wants to play with him. 

She also imitates him. I strongly suspect he’s the reason she’s started taking her blanket everywhere, as Graham takes his downstairs with him each morning. Since he’s been home from school she’s been talking more (sure, it’s all nonsense, but she’s trying to say something). He makes her laugh. 

DSC_0066

He might as well be a therapist, he’s getting so much out of her.

He may not like it, but he’s good for her. And he seems to be surviving just fine. 

Sure, it’s not perfect for any of us. Keeping Graham busy means Tessa’s naps are thrown out of whack on a regular basis. Neither of them is eating much these days, though at least they’re staying hydrated. I find myself at my wit’s end several times a day, and having to load the kids into the car and get them out a few times a day in the scorching heat doesn’t put me in a terribly good mood. 

Yes, there are tears. There are complaints. There are yells followed by requests to stop yelling followed by more yells followed by threats, etc. 

They are long days. Long days of just me running the show, keeping everyone in line, getting everyone fed, managing sleeping and waking, putting out fires. When it’s all over I can usually manage just an hour or two before I can’t keep my eyes open anymore. 

 DSC_0081

I think we all feel like ^^this a few times a day. 

But that’s family, right? During summer you’re all in each other’s way, in each other’s business, in each other’s face. And you all get by and you all end up a little closer when it’s all over.

 

Making Memories at Fenway Park

Thanks to Fenway Sports Management for taking me to Fenway for a fantastic tour and then to a game as part of a family outreach session. I was not required to blog about it and wasn’t compensated for this post.

You know how there’s stuff you always want to do but you get so busy and your life just fills up and then you realize it just never got done? For me, one of those things was seeing a Red Sox game at Fenway. At least, it was until last week. 

Photo from Gilda Aliberti
The bloggy crew checking out the park.
Photo from Gilda Aliberti

While we were there we talked about all the things that can get in the way of getting to a game. Finding a date, getting the tickets, working out the logistics, it can seem overwhelming. 

The thing is, though, sometimes the special stuff takes a little extra effort. And sometimes you can’t control every last detail. But that’s how memories get made.

Everyone remembers the first time they went to a baseball game as a kid. I do. It was Dodger Stadium. I was about 10. I’ve been to Candlestick Park in San Francisco, to Minute Maid Park in Houston, to Turner Field in Atlanta. And now I can add Fenway to my list. (It’s worth noting that baseball is the only sport where I’ve attended a major league game.)

I definitely need to take Graham. What better place to go for your first game than historic Fenway Park? What better sport to see live for the first time than baseball? A ball, a bat, a glove. You throw, you hit, you catch. You count 1, 2, 3. You run around the bases. They’re the kind of simple rules any kid can grasp. 

I walked along the Green Monster. I ate a Fenway Frank covered in grilled onions. (The kid at the counter looked at me a little funny, but I am of the belief that most things taste better with onions.) I wore my Red Sox hat. I sang Sweet Caroline. 

Oh, and I took about a bajillion pictures.

 DSC_0580

DSC_0600

DSC_0616

 
DSC_0645
 
DSC_0654

DSC_0736

 

Did I forget to mention batting practice? I even managed to get a couple of the ball in motion!

batting collage

Oh, camera. Have I told you lately how much I love you? Batting practice was tricky to photograph, but yeah. Way cool for this budding shutterbug.

The fine folks from Fenway sent us home with a bag of Kid Nation goodies. Graham was enamored. He insisted on wearing his new too-big jersey over his other Red Sox shirt. He also demanded to wear his hat to his soccer game. Oh, and the lunch bag has replaced the almighty Thomas the Tank Engine. Powerful stuff.

 
Graham the Red Sock

I need to teach this kid to sing Take Me Out to the Ball Game so he’s ready…

Who’s already started making baseball memories with their kids? And what are your baseball memories with your parents?
 

Snapshots

The children have been rather neglected on the blog of late. We are just trudging through the every day, working to make it to the next bedtime. It is easy to forget to pull out the camera in the bustle of the everyday. And it’s easy to forget to write about them, especially when I’m not writing a lot anyway.

IMG_7674
Photo by Kathy Day

As you can see, Graham has started soccer. It is a neighborhood volunteer league and super low key and I love it. There are no games. There is barely practice. They do some running and some kicking and there is a cheer and snacks and drinks. What I really love about 3/4-year old soccer is that my kid doesn’t really stand out. Sometimes he just needs to be held tightly for a while. Sometimes he wants to do something else. And there are plenty of other kids who decide they are not super into playing soccer at the moment and would like to sit with their parents on the sidelines and cuddle. 

Of course, Graham still finds ways to distinguish himself, like in the team photo session.

soccer 1

soccer 2

soccer 3

I’ve been impressed at his skills. He’s a surprisingly good kicker. He still hasn’t quite got the hang of stopping the ball but he’s much improved. He prefers to pick up his ball whenever the urge strikes him, but this is not too unusual in his age group. His favorite activity is called “Kick the Cones” where they bring in the little cones they use to mark off the practice field and aim their balls at them. Graham’s preference is to put the ball directly in front of the cone and then have his foot directly on the ball. I have to give it to him, with this approach he rarely misses.

DSC_0302

He has spent several months obsessed with his birthday, it’s still over a month away. I can already see 4-year-old Graham moving past his 3-year-old ways. He still has plenty of frustrating habits but he is more playful, more curious and more communicative than ever before.

As for Miss Tesser Messer, she has taken her first steps and decided that steps are not really her thing, thank you very much.

DSC_0455

She cruises like a champ and finds that generally she can do everything she would like to do by cruising or crawling. She is nearly 16 months and I’m hopeful that by the time she’s 2 she’ll finally decide that bipedal is the way to go. Teeth are slowly but surely making their way in. She has 4 now with a couple more almost here. Having all her front teeth seems to have revived the adventurous eater of her baby days and she’s finally venturing beyond bananas again.

My favorite new development is that she’s started to enjoy a bit of snuggling. It must be on her own terms at her own request, but she will sometimes want to sit in my lap and be held. 

DSC_0406

She talks and talks and talks even though she is not technically talking yet. She has said pretty much every syllable in existence and probably invented a few of her own. I don’t see words in our immediate future. She’s not a fan of signs. But we’re slowly making some progress with communication. I can at least figure out what she wants most of the time without excessive screaming.

And, as you can probably tell from these pictures, Tesser and Grammer are starting to enjoy each other’s company more. Here you can see them playing their favorite game: Dogpile. I am usually at the bottom but this time I got the camera instead.

DSC_0401

DSC_0392

I swear, none of those pics are posed. They were just rolling around and having a great time and I snapped and snapped. I’m still learning so some of them are underexposed and some are out of focus but I got a fantastic set of pictures and got some good experience working with bright outdoor light. (The direction you shoot from makes a huge difference.) For once I did a great job of following my own advice and just taking pictures of my kids on the fly.

They are getting along a lot better lately and I love seeing it. Sometimes Graham will actually let Tessa play with his trains. He is taking more of an interest in her and likes to bring her snacks. 

I can’t say things with these two kiddos are easy, but they’re certainly easier and they’re definitely more fun.