#MotivationMonday from a toddler’s POV

I’m not sure about you, but I’m having a hard time getting my Monday in gear.

We had a wonderful but slightly hectic weekend, complete with a glam photoshoot, catching up with friends we haven’t seen in way too long, and a brunch with about a dozen babies and their families. (The cuteness quotient was out of control.)

But Daylight Savings is still kicking my rear and I’m feeling stretched very thin.

Happy Daylight SavingsTo help me buck up, I’m channeling Peeper as today’s motivational coach. In my head, I’m thinking of what Peeper might say. Here’s how that’s playing out so far this morning in my #MotivationMonday. Read more

*Forehead slap*

Amidst a sea of toys, books and stray socks covering the carpet, Peeper worked on a puzzle. She concentrated as she arranged several robots, fitting their wooden heads, bodies and feet together.

Then she moved on to a number puzzle.

As she was putting the numbers in their places, she paused. She moved one piece over to the robots.

“Look, now it’s a forehead!” she shouted.

And just like that, my preschooler is a punster.

IMG_6520

Tell me a story

Tell me a story grandpa granddaughterEvery night, Peeper’s wind-down routine is the same: Last Play with a timer. Negotiations to get another Last Play. Teeth-brushing. Stalling to get out of teeth-brushing. Jammies. Book. Song.

And recently, after the lights are turned out, she has asked for a story.

***

When I was growing up, my dad loved to tell us kids stories. He’d invent characters and a plot then string them along in drawn-out dramas. He told us a scary tale about a ventriloquist’s dummy that came to life and a mummy who chased a bunch of explorers—but just because he wanted a cough drop.

He’d tell us these stories in the car, mostly. The tales kept us enthralled between point A and point B—but he’d impeccably time a cliffhanger to the moment he turned off the Shempmobile, his blue Dodge Caravan. He always left us wanting more.

It’s legend, in fact, that one summer he stretched a story about Fluffito, the world’s fluffiest dog, to last a road trip spanning a dozen states. He told about Fluffito’s adventures as he made his way up from local to regional to national to finally international  fluffy dog competitions. But, unbelievably, he didn’t finish by the time we returned home.

Before I could hear the end of the story, in fact, my sister ruined the punchline:

“He’s not so fluffy!”

(Yes, we waited 3,000 miles for that.)

***

I can’t help but think of my dad’s storytelling when Peeper curls up on my lap, waiting for the tale to begin. They’re significantly shorter than my dad’s yarns, but Peeper listens just as raptly as I used to.

Every night Peeper asks for essentially the same story. She wants to hear about how Finn lost his bark. My challenge, then, is to invent a new twist every night—how his bark froze when he was walking to the North Pole, how a crab pinched his nose at the beach and made his bark disappear, how he jumped so high on the trampoline that his bark bounced out of his throat, how a wave from the river splashed into his mouth and made his bark too wet.

Peeper enjoys them all, I think. But every so often, I spin a winner.

“Oh, that’s a good one, Mom,” she’ll say as she slides off my lap and climbs into bed.

Maybe my stories will become longer and more complicated as Peeper grows older. I doubt I’ll ever tell an epic of the same caliber as Fluffito, but you can bet I’ll continue to imagine ways for Finn to lose his bark.

Tonight, and tomorrow night, and every night she asks me, I’ll begin. “Once upon a time…”

Movie night magic

When we were sleep training Kiwi, Eric and I slept on an air mattress in the living room. Peeper was enthralled with it: It was just like the bouncy castle, except in the house! As she jumped on it, her expression was all, OMG YOU GUYS! You’ve been holding out!

When we tried to deflate it, she deflated, too, into a heap of tears.

Eric and I looked at each other. “Would you like to have a sleepover on it later on?” Eric asked. Peeper immediately perked up.

Peeper talked about her sleepover the entire day. I was looking forward to it, too. I imagined a movie night with popcorn and snuggles and a toddler falling asleep on me. But all day she acted more like Meet the Fockers than a Disney flick—everything that could go wrong went wrong.

She refused to eat. She sassed. She demanded. She threw fits. She threw toys. I was ready to call off the whole sleepover.

Somehow Eric, whose job as a special education teacher should have depleted all of his patience, kept a cool head. We pushed through Peeper’s bad attitude and got set up for our special evening together.

I’m so glad we did.

Toddler movie night sleepover
Finn enjoyed the sleepover, too. Can you spot him in his camouflage?

Read more

A bug’s life up close

Peek in a creek - Ten Thousand Hour MamaSpring has come early to Portland. All week the sun has been out, sparking thoughts of running through the sprinklers, popsicle-sticky fingers and sipping wine in the afternoon sun.

Yesterday I threw open the windows and door to the deck. Peeper, of course, darted outside to play in the sun. I took advantage of her independence and Kiwi’s nap to do some dishes.

“What kind of bug is this, Mama?” I heard Peeper ask from outside.

I stepped onto the deck. There was Peeper, lying belly-down on the porch, her nose mere inches from a beetle.

“I don’t know, sweetie. What does it look like?”

“Hm. It’s kind of black and kind of white. It’s very interesting,” she said.

Together, we watched the beetle march up the side of the house. Then it must have tripped over an invisible thread of a spider web. Suddenly, a tiny spider—maybe a tenth of the beetle’s size—darted out. The spider crawled over the beetle, leaving iridescent strands over its hoped-for prey.

Peeper and I watched the drama. Would the beetle escape, or would the spider catch a giant lunch?

The beetle ended up breaking the spider’s hold. After another minute, Peeper pushed herself up off the deck and went back to playing basketball in the planters.

I returned to the dishes. But I smiled as I scrubbed oatmeal from a pot. For a few minutes, Peeper had invited me into her world. I watched the age-old struggle of eat or be eaten with the wonder of a child.

As Peeper notices the smallest of details, she inspires me to see our world anew. She pushes me to ask questions and, when I don’t know the answers, to find out—or at least imagine what could be. She makes me want to get down and examine life nose-to-nose.

Weekly smile: Rock of ages

Driving home from preschool earlier this week, we got stuck in horrible traffic. A semi and car had crashed ahead of us, and we had no opportunity to exit before becoming mired in the standstill. As my car crept along, idling more often than moving, my impatience grew.

Then Peeper started singing from the backseat.

“Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,” she began. She paused then added, “Sing it with me now, Mom!”

We spent the rest of the trip home singing Raffi and Christmas songs at the top of our lungs.

A music-loving family

Music has been central to many smiles in the last week. I brought out a tiny toy piano, which has fast become Kiwi’s favorite toy. She’s clearly a virtuoso, as this video shows.

Tummy time jams from Catherine Ryan Gregory on Vimeo.

Another night, Peeper exclaimed, “Let’s start a band!” The whole family got in on the action—banging drums, strumming a ukulele, tapping piano keys and jingling bells.

If only we’d remembered to break out the mini accordion Nana got Peeper for Christmas!

We’ll announce our tour dates soon. Until then, we’ll keep jamming.

Rock of ages

Trent’s World hosts a Weekly Smile link-up, where bloggers post tidbits of happiness. The internet could use a little more positivity, and I’m glad to share what made me smile in the last few days!

Weekly smile

weeklysmile1
Weekly Smile via Trent’s World

Yesterday Kiwi got a series of vaccinations. I had hoped the shots would make her sleep—after all, after the first round of ’em two months ago she got her longest stretch of shut-eye ever.

Alas, it was not meant to be.

So as I’m feeling like a braindead zombie today, I stumbled across a weekly smile link-up hosted by Trent at Trent’s World.

We must have been on the same page because this week my mom, Eric and I also tried sharing our day’s high and low at dinner. It felt a little silly, but it was nice to hear the highlights and dips of my loved ones’ days.

Here, then, are a few smiles from my week. Read more