brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Niko’s been watching some Princess movies recently (“Tangled,” “Cinderella,” “Despicable Me 2,” “Brave,” etc) and also talking with a friend of his who is very keen on Princesses in general. He’s been practicing drawing Princesses for her because she’s more interested in that than in dinosaurs and he’s trying to branch out a bit, and also talking about Princesses… including describing a show that he wants to see. It is a show about Princess Dinosaur.

“Is she a princess who is a dinosaur, or is she a princess who rides on dinosaurs?” I asked.

“She isn’t either of those things,” he explained. “She is a princess who travels back in time to STUDY dinosaurs.”

Which, I mean, if “Dinosaur Train” can feature dinosaurs who travel through time to study other dinosaurs, certainly there’s a market for a PRINCESS, perhaps with a cuddly animal companion, who travels through time to study dinosaurs as well? I’ll press him for more details and share some drawings with you as I can.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Niko’s been sick.

He hasn’t been take-him-to-the-doctor sick, but he has been two-severe-colds-in-a-row, miss-almost-two-weeks-of-school sick. His coughing-till-he-vomits has been way less than previous sicknesses, so either he’s growing out of that or he… just wasn’t that sick. I don’t know, but dang am I glad he only barfed once, although he did it all over a pillow that I made BY HAND and stitched BY HAND out of fabric I selected personally years before he was born. And it’s not the kind of pillow you can wash (too big, wrong kind of fill) and it was VERY soaked in barf, so… I put it in the trash can. GOOD BYE PILLOW.

So that’s the worst thing. Not that I had to throw out a pillow (although I miss that pillow. sniff.), but that my poor sweet baby has been so tediously ill. It’s really not fun being sick and starting to feel better enough to feel antsy and then feeling sick and ill again. He’s been a trooper through the whole experience, though, and hopefully we’re in for healthier times.

The best thing recently is that Niko has kind of leveled up in his art. He’s been bugging me lately to copy the art on some dinosaur flash cards he has, and then after I do so he critiques me heavily. So the other day I was all DUDE, DO IT YOURSELF and he was all I CAAAAAAAN’T and I was all DO ITTTT DOOOOOO ITTTTTTTTTT JUST TRY and he did and it was really cool! He impressed himself. So he’s been copying pictures HIMSELF and it’s super interesting to see what he picks up on as important details, and he’s started adding more details to his dinosaurs… which are essentially really stylized stick figures. But now they are really stylized stick figures with crests and feathers.

He also, and this is even more cool, has started making little still lifes and dioramas with his dinosaurs and plastic trees etc and then… drawing those scenes that he has made. That is absolutely the best and most awesome thing he’s been doing lately.

Well, other than coming up with Princess Dinosaur, but that’s a topic for another post, I think.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Thanks to my parents, we managed to drag Halloween festivities out over multiple events.

Niko at Brookfield Zoo, on a lion statue

My parents have a family membership to Brookfield Zoo, so we met them up there on the last weekend DINOSAURS ALIVE! was there. Niko had previously decided he wanted to be “a fancy Baryonyx” which is to say a Dinosaur (Baryonyx) in a top hat and fancy clothing. We picked up a assemble-it-yourself out of felt and foam stickers costume for $10 at Target, consisting of a mask, tail that hooks into a belt loop, and gauntlets that slip over the hands/lower arms and have foam sticker “claws.” Since October in Chicago is usually pretty gross, we suited him up in his fancy red wool coat. The pants he selected didn’t have belt loops so we added a belt, and wound up putting it on the outside of the coat so the tail didn’t get squished/bang against his legs.

Niko pushes buttons on a plaque to make an animatronic dinosaur move and roar.

He wasn’t too fond of the mask or gauntlets when it came to actually wearing them, but he kept the tail on. We saw a bunch of animals including lions, wolves, and bison, as well as free range peacocks, geese, pelicans, and guinea hens.

A Wandering PeacockNiko admires geese in a fountain.Guinea Hens wandering around the zoo grounds.

And, of course, we saw Dinosaurs!

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He also sat on a Polar Bear statue.

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Two days before Halloween, his costume already purchased, we got a letter from the school saying that masks and face paint are both not allowed.

WELP.

We brainstormed at home the 31st to decide what to wear instead. We weren’t able to get to the store and buy a different costume, so we had to stick with stuff we had on hand. Possible suggestions included:

  • A Magician (he had a top hat from his fancy dinosaur costume)
  • A Paleontologist (jeans, plaid shirt, bucket hat, bucket with shovel and paint brush and dinosaur skeleton toy)
  • A Pirate/Captain Hook (we had NO items to make this costume, but it’s what he wanted)
  • A Ballerina (see above)
  • A Firefighter (he had rain boats and a rain coat that were vaguely fire fighter looking)

He settled on firefighter which actually turned out to be a great costume because it was a gross chilly rainy day.

Once in class for his party he promptly stripped off both the boots (hard to walk in) and coat (hot) and didn’t look like he was in a costume at all.

DSCF5186-cropNiko at school, not in costume.

Nesko and I stayed in the classroom for the whole day, walked home in the rain, and then finished carving the pumpkins we hadn’t had a chance to carve earlier. Nesko works 12-15 hour shifts so wasn’t around to help with them, and if you carve a pumpkin too early it just rots.

Niko demonstrated the face he wanted on his pumpkin, I drew it on a paper, and Nesko cut it out.

Niko demonstrates his pumpkin's face.

Because it was still raining we wound up trick or treating at the mall, but most of the stores had run out of candy, so Niko only got about 5 pieces TOTAL for an hour of walking around. He did, however, get to ride in a train.

Nikola riding a train ride.

.Niko has the day off school today and is working on every nerve I have OH MY GODDDDDDD. It’s not even a too-much-candy issue because I’m super mean about candy consumption and put it all high up pretty much right away.

How was YOUR holiday?

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Niko’s been making a lot of art recently. We worked on one together, but the other is all him.

niko_garden_art_collage

He told me that he wanted to cut out some flowers and glue them to paper to make a garden. So we sat down together and I helped him cut out some blossoms. He tried cutting out stems but got frustrated so I did that. He glued some of them down before getting bored so I finished that up, then he helped me glue the grass down. He drew the sun and I drew some clouds. I wanted him to draw the sun on a piece of white paper, or cut out a piece of yellow paper for the sun, but he would have none of that.

I’d like to do this again on a piece of bristol board, using patterned paper and a better glue (spray on adhesive instead of glue stick) because I think that’d be a cool piece of art. Using decorative paper punches that made flower heads, leaves, etc would also be cool/fun and speed things up quite a bit.

niko_art_allosaur

Remember when I mentioned the white board and how much Niko liked it? He’s been drawing a lot of awesome dinosaurs on it. This is one of them, an allosaurus. On the left you can see its enormous head and massive teeth and on the right you can see its feathered tail. You can also see its hands and feet with fingers/toes. FUN FACT: in Serbian, prst means both “finger” and “toe.” “Digit,” says Nesko. “It means digit.” I did not help with this one at all.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

We had ISSUES yesterday involving TEARS and RECRIMINATIONS because Niko wanted to paint but didn’t want to clean up his toys first, which I set as a requirement… in part because I couldn’t even get TO his painting stuff to get it out, so thick were the wooden train tracks and stuffed animals upon the ground. He eventually came around and we Cleaned All The Things but he’d lost the urge to paint.

It came back this morning.

He helped me get his supplies, including spreading out the blue plastic table cloth we put on the table to protect it. He took off his shirt and painted several dinosaur scenes and practiced writing his name with big chunky paint brush and tempera paint.

I really need to video Niko painting because he narrates what’s going on while he creates. This is the sky and this is sand down here and here’s a Mamenchisaurus with its RIDICULOUSLY LONG NECK and its really big feet and here is a Diplodocus with its long neck and long tail and its spikes on its back and now here are its really big feet. And these are its footprints! And here are some clouds, because it’s going to rain and it’s going to rain on them and here are some rain drops falling on them and they’re falling on the ground and over here on the sea. This is the sea. And here’s a baby! It hatched out of this egg and here’s some other eggs in a nest.

It’s wonderful and adorable and he got very covered in paint. I had to scrub it out of his ear and one arm pit. TOTALLY WORTH IT.

After about an hour of painting we cleaned up and he got into his play dough and made an apple that is lumpy but recognizable as an apple, complete with stem and leaves, and then he made a potato (what?!?) and some cookies and a pancake.

He also lamented that it was SO SAD that he didn’t have A SPECIAL TABLE FOR HIS TRAINS like he’s seen at some stores. I reminded him that he has a really big table in the living room that he could PUT trains on, so he constructed a city on the table with wooden block sky scrapers, wooden train tracks, plastic trees, and rocks. There’s a train station with a parking lot.

After his nap we’re going to work on writing some more.

It’s a good life.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

My dad called me the other day and proposed that he and my mom would take us to Brookfield Zoo to see the Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit. They know Niko’s true and abiding love of dinosaurs, and thought he’d get a kick out of seeing some animatronic dinosaurs up close and personal. They were totally right!

Unlike Lincoln Park Zoo, which is free and closer to us, Brookfield Zoo has an admission fee and many exhibits have additional fees/admission costs as well. As such, we’ve taken Niko to Lincoln Park Zoo a few times, but neither Nesko nor I have been to Brookfield Zoo in at least twenty years. It was a little weird returning there, at least for me, since so much is the same as when I was a kid.

We parked in the North Lot, which cost $10, and met my parents. We went in together after my mom bought a family membership, which was cheaper than buying admission for 4 adults and a child and will let us come back many other times. As soon as we got in, my dad went to rent a wheelchair for my mom, who is having some hip pain, and I went to rent a wagon to haul our stuff. We’d brought a cooler of canned drinks and sandwiches, and a big bag that held swimming stuff, a towel, clean clothing, some chips, etc. There’s a splash pad we thought Niko might have fun at, but we wound up not hitting that side of the park. Brookfield Zoo has Electric Convenience Vehicles (scooters) for rent, but were out of them, so if you need one you probably need to get there super early OR call ahead to reserve one. The Wheelchair was $10.00 to rent it, but you need a credit card as a deposit; the wagon was $8.00 with an addition deposit of $10.00 which you get when you return the wagon and a barcode-printed piece of paper they give you. Niko wound up riding in the wagon for most of the visit, taking up half the space with the cooler in the other half.

Our first stop was the carousel.

Niko riding a camel on Brookfield Zoo's carousel.

Niko riding a camel on Brookfield Zoo’s carousel.

Niko’s never ridden a carousel before, and this huge and beautiful one was a great introduction. He wanted to ride the camel, which was stationary, so was a good choice for a first time rider. He held on super tightly at first, as instructed, but soon was comfortable enough to wave hello and good bye as we spun past Grandma, Tata, and Pop pop. We also found one of the limited edition dinosaur Mold-A-Rama machines near the carousel, the Trachodon.

We headed for the Dinosaurs Alive! area after that, and stumbled across two more Mold-A-Rama machines for T-Rex and Apatosaurus. Dinosaurs Alive! requires an additional ticket, and has presentations on various dinosaurs at different times. There’s big animatronics of various dinosaurs, some old favorites and some lesser known ones. Niko was excited to see T-Rex, Stegosaurus, Amargasaurus, Carnasaurus, Spinosaurus, and others he loves and was really interested in the new-to-him (some recently discovered) dinosaurs as well.

Dinosaurs Alive! at Brookfield Zoo

Some of the animatronics had control panels/buttons one can push to make the animatronics move or make noise. The buttons were pretty high up, though, so a little kid or someone in a wheelchair would have a hard time reaching them without assistance.

Niko makes an animatronic Triceratops roar.

Niko makes an animatronic Triceratops roar.

There was a “Feathers and Fossils” exhibit under a tent (which was pretty warm) with some hands on stuff kids could do, including “digging” for “fossils” (molded bones embedded in a matrix and covered in shredded rubber, which they can brush aside with brushes), reproductions of fossilized bones and eggs people can touch, articulated skeleton replicas, and animatronic dinosaurs that move and roar. There was information about recent dinosaur discoveries, like juvenile T-Rex being covered in feathers, and brief presentations about competing theories like whether dinos were cold blooded or warm blooded.

A juvenile T-Rex animatronic, covered in feathers, at Brookfield Zoo.

A juvenile T-Rex animatronic, covered in feathers, at Brookfield Zoo.

I was disappointed that the only exit from Dinosaurs Alive! involved walking through the gift shop. Predictably, Niko melted down because he wasn’t getting toys (other than the Mold-A-Ramas he was clutching in his hands at the time).

We broke for a picnic lunch after the Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit, settling in on some benches under some shade. I brought sandwiches and stuff from home, which my mom didn’t think would be allowed. I double checked the zoo’s website and didn’t see any rules about outside food and drinks, or even if glass containers were banned. My gut says skip the glass containers though as many venues in Chicago ban them because of the dangers of broken glass. (Lincoln Park Zoo has a ban on disposable straws which doesn’t seem to be in effect at Brookfield Zoo, interestingly.) If you don’t want to schlepp your own big cooler around, though, there are a LOT of places to buy hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches, fresh popcorn, massive soft pretzels, ice cream, beer, frozen cokes, and more. As you might expect, they’re really expensive. Like, $10 for a glass of beer expensive.

We sauntered over to the Dolphin Show after lunch, but we’d missed the show by like a minute (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO) and the next one wasn’t for 90 minutes. So we scoped out the dolphins under water, and found the (pink) Stegosaurus Mold-A-Rama next to the (blue) leaping dolphin Mold-A-Rama.

Niko watches dolphins at Brookfield Zoo.

Niko watches dolphins at Brookfield Zoo.

Niko was starting to get tired, even though he’d been hauled in his wagon chariot for 90% of the trip, and turned up his nose at seeing the seals underwater. He lobbied hard to go play at the park near the 7 Seas Exhibit and of course we gave in. My parents left for home around that time. The playground had a train theme, almost as if they’d designed it to Niko’s specifications, and he had a fun time running around and playing tag with other kids.

Niko sticks his head through a conductor cut out at Brookfield Zoo's playground.

Niko sticks his head through a conductor cut out at Brookfield Zoo’s playground.

We lured him back into the wagon with promises of ice cream, and saw some more animals (a sleeping tapir, some sleeping kangroos…. or wallabies maybe?… some bored looking emu), and found the last two Mold-A-Rama dinosaurs (Stegosaurus and Corythosaurus) near the Rhinos/Elephants.

We returned the wagon, to Niko’s dismay. He really did not want to WALK on his FEET using his LEGS and there were several melt downs on the way back to the car that included him wailing “I don’t WANT to WALK. I’m too SLEEPY to WALK. But I really want ICE CREAM. I’m NOT too sleepy to eat ICE CREAM so I am WALKING but I DO NOT WANT TO WALK.” A woman ahead of us, pushing a stroller, kept laughing at him because he was being so dramatic and ridiculous.

We loaded into the car and drove off, stopping at a Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins where Niko once again elected for a sprinkle donut over ice cream. Dude loves his carbs I guess. He sacked out on the way home and had a really long nap, his Mold-A-Rama dinosaurs keeping watch over him.

Brookfield Zoo was really accessible using a big bulky wagon. My dad pushed my mom in the wheelchair (if she were a longer term wheelchair user I expect she’d push herself… I don’t know that she’s used a wheelchair before) and neither the chair nor the wagon had problems getting anywhere we wanted to go. There’s a lot of ramps, some of them sliiiiightly steep, but not enough to give us problems. I saw a lot of people with strollers, wagons, manual wheel chairs, electric wheelchairs, and scooters and nobody seemed to have any problems getting around or into attractions. Contrast this with Lincoln Park Zoo where I had serious problems getting baby Niko into newly constructed buildings when he was in a stroller… lots of exhibits had heavy narrow doors without automatic open buttons, and lots of stairs with no ramp or elevator alternative. So Brookfield Zoo definitely wins on physical accessibility, although it’s more expensive and can be harder to get to.

We didn’t look at many animals today. Our main focus was the Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit. I’m hoping that we can visit once a month or so with my parents’ membership and get to see more of the animals, including the Dolphin show.

If you’re thinking of heading to Brookfield Zoo, I’d recommend you check out the different pricing options, bring your own lunch, and consider renting a wagon or bringing your own. The wagon made a huge difference with a four year old in tow. Check out the zoo’s map and Exhibit and Animal Guide as well as the Exhibit Updates to plan your visit. Don’t forget your sunscreen, and your water, and have a great time!

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Niko’s gotten really into coloring and painting lately. He pretty much exclusively is interested in dinosaurs ONLY and gets super pissed if a dinosaur that’s supposed to have spikes/plates/a frill/horns/etc isn’t portrayed as such so he will DRAW THEM ON while scolding the original artist. “How could they even DO THAT? They should KNOW that a Kentrosaurus has a big spike on its side! They should KNOW THAT!”

He likes to paint, mostly with tempera paint (finger paints make his fingers feel icky, so mostly he uses a Popsicle stick to scoop paint onto the paper then push it around). He paints stegosaurs and allosaurs and baby sauropods eating ferns, and he adds some trackways (footprints), and then he draws a giant comet coming straight at them. It’s a whole story process.

We used to set him up with an art easel in the kitchen, which has tile floor. Now that he’s marginally less prone to sloping paint EVERYWHERE I set him up on the dining room table, over the hard wood floors.

I pour some paint into these little paper cups I picked up for free somewhere. They’re about the size of a dixie or bathroom cup. A 1/2 cup sized reusable plastic storage container, small glass, or ice cube tray would also work. And then the pain, paper, etc gets set down on the plastic table cloth we saved from his birthday.

When we were ordering birthday decorating supplies, I splurged a tiny bit on a blue plastic table cloth. It’s meant to be disposable. I did not dispose of it. Instead, I wiped off all birthday crumbs, folded it up, and stuck it in our big white cabinet that holds printer paper, art supplies, and computer cords. And when he wants to paint I pull that sucker out and lay it down on the table. It’s water resistant, so if he spills a bit of water on it the water doesn’t soak into the table cloth or (antique) (and ugly, but emotionally priceless for Nesko) dining room table. It protects the table and table cloth from paint spills. And when he’s done, I just fold it up and put it away.

We’ve gotten a lot of use out of it. It’s way cheaper than “oil cloth” (which is not actually oil cloth, may I pedantically point out), and less likely to be impregnated with cancer-causing chemicals. It reduces my anxiety about paint RUINING EVERYTHING. And it lets Niko MAKE A LOT OF ART!!! Which he loves doing.

Speaking of child!art, what do you do with it? I have kept a total of maybe 3 pieces (two of which are drawings of us as a family, and the first drawings he made of humans) and I display the rest for a while before tossing it. Or I send it to family or friends. But really, I toss a lot of his art. I might scan or photograph some of his current stuff before tossing it, but really I consider it ephemera.

What’s your take on this?

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Pool Party!

Monday, 20 May 2013 10:42
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Our friends’ child, L, turned 3 this weekend (and we also got to visit her brand new baby sister, J), so it was POOL PARTY TIME!!!!! The party was on Saturday and started exactly as Nesko got off work. Oops. My mother in law was kind enough to give us a ride up to his work, which is closer to where the party is than our house is. That afternoon I got the really cool book we were going to give her and paged through it prior to wrapping it up. I’m really glad I did because it was a book with moving parts and somebody had broken one of the parts. They’d twisted an elephant’s head clean off. WHAT. Man! Don’t you just hate it when you’re on top of everything and have it all arranged conveniently and then suddenly BAM! Nuh uh. Back to square one. So we arranged for a quick trip to Toys R Us first.

I should note: Niko woke up way early that morning, but looked and acted incredibly sleepy. I encouraged him several times to lie down and rest a bit but he declined each time. “I can’t rest mama! I’m too excited about the POOL.”

So we get to Toys R Us and Niko’s talking about the different toys he will get for L. Dinosaurs! Obviously she loves dinosaurs. I mean, if HE loves dinosaurs SHE will too, right? Ooooh, or TRAINS. She’d love a train, wouldn’t she? OBVIOUSLY SHE WOULD. If Niko likes a thing everyone else will like a thing too, right? OF COURSE. He finally settled on a small set of tiny dinosaur figures and then got distracted by a display train table and wandered over there to play with it, scooting trains around and pondering aloud just how likely L would share the dinos with him. Maybe she’d share them a lot. Maybe she would let him take them HOME with him. She likes to share, right? She’d share them with him, right? I explained him what sharing is and isn’t and that if he gave these tiny dinos to her they’d be HERS and MAYBE she’d play with them with him while they were together, but they were HERS and she would KEEP THEM and they would LIVE AT HER HOUSE. And then I picked out a stuffed triceratops for her, because Niko was still insisting on a dinosaur theme for her presents, and made the command decision to drop $5 on tiny dinos for him. Which I think was a good decision, he loves those tiny dinos.

He picked out the card for her. “OH!” he said. “I LOVE YOU PONIES!” he said. “This is Rainbow Dash,” he pointed out, “and this is Pinkie Pie and they are MY FRIENDS. They are PONIES and they are MAGIC and I LOVE THEM.” The card had stickers in it, too.

So we get to the party, and we’re an hour late, but we’d told our hosts the situation ahead of time so it wasn’t super rude but rather an unavoidable thing, and Niko spends most of the party either with his face pressed against the big glass windows over looking the pool, reminding us that he REALLY REALLY REALLY WANTS TO GET IN THAT POOL DOWN THERE, or causing trouble.

Here is a list of the trouble that he caused:

  • Wandered down to the pool, took his shoes off, left them there, and came back.
  • Repeatedly stole helium balloons/balls from the birthday girl
  • Ripped the string off a helium balloon so it floated up to the twenty foot high ceiling and nestled there against the decorative beams
  • Flipped his shit when certain presents were being taken out to the car because he wanted to play with them
  • Ate the strawberry off someone else’s cupcake like it weren’t no thing
  • Refused to share his tiny dinos and pushed people who came near them

But he also did adorable things like hug people like it was going out of style, and gently stroke the baby and call her pretty and cute, and bring people cupcakes without them asking.

So the party ends, and everyone cleans up the party room, and Nesko spends like half an hour holding the baby. And then it’s time for the pool!

No lie, it’s been like 2 years since I was last in a pool.

I dug out my bathing suit and found I had not one but TWO bathing suits, both purchased at Target clearance sales, both tankinis. One is brown and white and has trunks (!!!) and a halter top and one is a skirted number with a halter top. I’ve always loathed skirted suits because really, they are very much about HIDING YOUR BODY’S SHAME. Your disgusting fat ass! Your disgusting fat thighs! HIDE THEM AWAY FROM VIEW, YOU MONSTER!!! The only reason I got it was because it was the only bottom left in my size. I tried it on for the first time and internets, I felt like a pretty princess in it. I did a little spin. But I elected to wear the trunks. So we’re there, and we get into the pool, and ahhhh bliss. Ahhh heaven. We had a floaty thing for Niko that went around his chest and circled his arms and kept him floating and bobbing pretty well, and he practiced floating on his back and we towed him around and he kicked a bunch and objected MIGHTILY when water got in his mouth, nose, or eyes. Or ears. Or on his head. But other than that he had fun, until he stopped having fun and wanted to just get out and play with tiny dinos again.

We should have called it a day at that point, but our friends invited us to a barbecue and we lingered and there were many Niko-flavored melt downs and we got home way too late. We pushed it too far. We flew too close to the sun. We stayed up way too late. But eh. It was pretty fun!

I really miss pools and swimming. I love the water so, so much. I basically need to meet someone who lives close to us and who has a pool, and I will befriend them solely to use their pool but maybe in time true friendship and love will flourish and anyway I can bring tasty baked goods to the table and don’t care of they use me for my cookies.

What I don’t love is getting out of the pool OH GODDDDD GRAVITY WHYYYYYYY and water in the ears, which I currently have in my right ear, which is kind of ironic because I have hearing loss in my left ear so THAT is the ear I’d rather get pluggedup because it’s a crap ear anyway. So I’ve been saying “what” a lot and pawing at my head. BUT WORTH IT. OH GOSH SO WORTH IT.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

I want you to imagine a helmet. A football helmet, maybe. Only without the face/mouth guard, so it just covers the head.

Now imagine that there’s hair all over that helmet, just shaggily covering it. You may have seen wigs like this, perhaps in the 1970s.

Now imagine that this thick helmet of shaggy hair has been licked in the back by a cow, so chunks of it are sticking up impervious to wettings and stern combings.

This is Niko’s head.

He is refusing all offers of hair cuts, and I could force him somehow I guess but that’s a violation of bodily autonomy I don’t want to engage in. Also, I don’t want to deal with a squirming, struggling four year old and a pair of scissors or clippers. That’s how you end up with a bald kid with only one eye, you know?

I’ve asked him about this and he proclaims loudly that he LIKES being a “chupo chupovee” (which is like… a hairy man of the forest? a yeti? some kind of forest priest? I don’t exactly know) and has told me that he LIKES “being a beast” and having “beast hair” because “I’m like a dinosaur with all my beast hair and this is how I’m like a dinosaur MAMA.” Like, duh, MAMA, don’t you know ANYTHING? And it’s not like I want to buzz his head, I just want to tidy up the back and around his ears. I’m secretly Wolverine’s long lost twin sister, short and hairy, so I know how tedious weekly haircuts can be. But darlings, this is not charming mussy toddler hair. This is an ill kempt pelt on his scalp and something has to change.

IN OTHER NEWS, we’ve been hitting up Wendy’s once a week prior to our grocery shopping trip. They have the BEST toys, stuff that’s not just plastic crap choking up the toybox/landfilf advertising some shitty kid’s movie/tv show/etc. They are currently offering a small Cranium game in 4 parts. The containers for the game fit together and make a multi-colored game, and each hold a different component of the game. We’ve got a word game with letter dice, an art game with clay and a crayon, and an activity game with a spinning top timer. There’s one more to get. Niko and I played with it this morning while Nesko slept in a bit and it was a lot of fun. Some stuff is too advanced for him, but it was easy to skip or modify those activities. Playing board games/game nights are a big part of our social life, so it’s really cool to have interactive kid games that are fun for adults too. Other faves of his are “don’t break the ice” (kind of boring for adults), block head (a stacking game that’s short and pretty fun), and topple (which he calls “topples” and which we don’t follow the rules for, we just goof around). While we were playing I used the little purple crayon to draw Niko’s face and shoulders on the big piece of paper we were using. He knew right away it was meant to be him, which would be really ego-stroking except like most 4 year olds he thinks he’s the center of the universe and thus all drawings are somehow of him or related to him. He requested I draw a troodon “biting on my head and eating my head and my hair” and I did so, drawing a cartoonish troodon attacking and biting his head and he cooed and awwwed the entire time commenting on how cute it all was. Because obvos dinosaurs taking big bites out of your skull is just ADORBS, am I right? BRB contacting Cute Overload.

Mirrored from Now Showing!.

brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

“Niko, did you finish your apple? Go take your plate to tata if you want bacon.”
“NO! I do NOT want… oooh! Yeah! I DO want bacon!”

“Mama, is this dinosaur a plant eater, or a meat eater?”
“Well, it’s got forward facing eyes and big sharp teeth. It looks like a meat eater.”
“No, I think it’s a plant eater.”
“But look, it’s a therapod. It’s got two feet with three toes on it, and a long tail for balance, and–”
“WELL MAMA, next time Elliot comes over I will ask HIM if it’s a plant eater or a meat eater.”
“And will you believe what he says?”
“I will if he says it’s a plant eater.”

“Ahhhh! Ahhh! Ahh! The living room is fulllll of dinosaur zombies!”
“Oh, huh.”
“DO YOU KNOW HOWWWWW to stop dinosaur zombies?”
“Do you…. I don’t know. How do you stop dinosaur zombies?”
“WITH FLOWER GUNS! pew pew pew pew pew.”

“I wanna watch that train show with that fox and that hound.”
“Oh… do you mean “The Fox And The Hound”?”
“Yes, it’s got a train in it.”

“Niko, no puppet show in the kitchen. No toys in the kitchen. You need to take that puppet show out of here.”
“TOO BAD it’s stuck to the floor TOO BAD I can’t move it OH WELL TOO BAD.”

“Hey, do you want to watch ‘Word World’?”
“Yes! They make words on that show, that word world show. Do they make the word dinosaur?”
“I don’t think so, that’s kind of a big word and they mostly spell little words.”
“What about Stegosaurus? That’s my favorite word.”
“Why is that your favorite word?”
“Because of all the S’es.”

We are ONCE AGAIN trying to transition Niko to sleep in his own little bed and not in our bed, kicking and punching us all night. The night before last he was up literally every hour, yowling and crying, resulting in three very tired people the next day. I had a headache LITERALLY ALL DAY from lack of sleep. Nesko slept in until almost 11:00, scuttling our plans to run errands in the morning. Niko was lobbying hard to go to the park that day and I told him that we’d planned to take him to the park in the morning but we were too tired to go because he’d kept us up all night. TOO BAD. He asked several times and I told him the same thing each time. Why can’t we go to the park? Why can’t we go outside? Why can’t tata play with him? Because he’s sleeping, because he’s tired, because he was up all night because Niko was being mean and unkind and not being quiet and not letting us sleep.

Last night went much better. He did wake us up with his crying once, but I think it was a legit nightmare. Nesko settled him and came back to bed. We both went to bed around 10:30 (although I had a hard time falling asleep) and woke up around 8:00 and my mood and energy levels are both vastly improved. I’ve still got a sleep deficit but am feeling a lot better. Niko and I had a talk today about his future allowance.

Basically, he gets 10 cents for each night he sleeps through the night without being a dick and if he makes it for a full week he gets an additional 30 cents, which makes a dollar. Also, if he helps us pick up all his toys and books before going to bed he gets 10 cents with a 30 cent bonus if he does it every night for a full week. This is another dollar. So he’s got the potential to earn $2.00 a week just by being a decent person and not an asshole. He wants to buy some more trans, so he’s got a goal to work toward. I’m going to make a chart so he can see how well he’s doing, including showing how well he’s working toward his goal. The train he wants costs $10.95 and I figure Nesko and I can handle the tax since he’s so young. When he’s 6 or so he can start figuring that out and accounting for it himself.

I know some people will object to “bribing” him for basic good behavior, but honestly, I want him in the habit of doing these things and I want to give him an allowance any way. Some people push for giving kids a base allowance that’s not dependent on behavior or chores. I think most people just do what their parents did, but neither Nesko nor I got an allowance so we don’t have that to fall back on.

How do you handle allowance in your household? Was it an easy decision, or hard? Is it what your parents did, or different? Is it dependent on chores, or not? What’s your pay scale? I’d love to hear more.

BTW, I wrote a post about diets, body size, and taking photos of yourself at my main blog. Please feel free to check it out.

Mirrored from Now Showing!.

brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Niko is super super SUPER obsessed with Dinosaurs right now and his driving goal is to get out to the Field Museum to see Sue, but it’s hella expensive and they don’t have a parking garage and it’d take us like 90+ minutes to take the train and bus out there, so we’re forcing him to wait until it’s warmer like the huge cruel abusive jackasses we are. THE HORROR. He’s been watching a lot of “Walking With Dinosaurs” which I’m not entirely sure is appropriate for him (there’s a lot of babies getting eaten on that show) but one upside is that the narrator is Kenneth Branagh and Niko has started narrating his play in Branagh’s voice. Some day when he’s an actor famous for his melodious voice, I’ll be there to take all credit. Yes, yes. He learned it from the teevee.

I was putzing around the kitchen the other day when Nesko walked into the living room and saw something he thought was ADORABLE. All of Niko’s dinosaur toys were lying on the floor on their sides, their heads gently resting on wooden blocks.

“Aww, Niko, are your dinosaurs asleep?”

“Yes, they are. I tucked them all in and read them two stories.”

“And their heads are on their pillows?”

“NO, tata, dinosaurs don’t HAVE pillows.”

“Oh, but they could use nice soft leaves and grasses.”

“No, they are using meat.”

“They… are using meat… for their pillows?”

“Yes.”

“That’s… pretty disgusting.”

“I know. But dinosaurs are pretty disgusting a lot of the time.”

Later he arranged all his dinosaurs in a conga line.

One of his favorite games to play with me is where I’m a Stegosaurus and he’s an Allosaurus and I’m eating ferns and he tries to menace me and I swing my “spiny tail” (my leg) at him to keep him away. He hops around growling for ten or fifteen minutes until he gets bored, and then he climbs on my back. YOU SEE, I am a mama stegosaurus motorcycle and he has to ride me. BRRM BRRRMMMM.

Mirrored from Now Showing!.