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

I’ve got a dual Friday Five for you, involving some of Niko’s favorite foods.

First up, we have his five favorite healthy foods:

  • Apples
  • Plums (even though they have A SEED)1
  • Carrots 2
  • Strawberries (both fresh and dehydrated)
  • Corn

Now, so you can feel superior to us and our food choices, his five favorite unhealthy foods:

  • Fruit Snacks 3
  • Pretzels
  • Popcorn 4
  • Chocolate Raisins
  • M&Ms, also known as NEMINEMS
  1. He mentions this every time he eats a plum, juice dripping all over his face and chest and hands, and he also asks us to “take out the seed” of fruits that don’t have seeds. Like seedless grapes.
  2. Sometimes I cut them into carrot sticks, sometimes he just wants a giant carrot. He chows down handily on them.
  3. He has three varieties: small fruit snacks (what you think of, when you think fruit snacks), big fruit snacks (a peel-apart fruit snack bar), and new fruit snacks (a long stick). He doesn’t handle fruit leather well.
  4. Choking hazard? What choking hazard? He’s always closely supervised while eating it, and sitting down. Yes, that means when he’s eating other foods he generally 1) isn’t closely supervised 2) isn’t sitting down.

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

My father-in-law, who owns the property we live in, has been concerned with the state of our sidewalks for a while, especially as some of the them slant toward the building and funnel water inwards. The building’s settled over the past 90 years or so, you see. So there have Been Plans for over a year that didn’t quite come to fruition… then on Sunday we were told not to park in the back of the building because there was going to be big machinery and a team of dudes ripping up the old sidewalks and then pouring new. Hooray!

Sure enough, when we got home the sidewalks were all gone, which was a really weird experience. The grass is in great shape, it’s just… dirt where sidewalks once were. It seriously looks like someone crept up when we weren’t paying attention and made off with our sidewalks. Just rolled ‘em up and ran.

Nesko brought Niko home later and apparently Niko was Very Concerned about the sidewalks and couldn’t figure out where they had gone. After some questioning on our part, he decided that the sidewalks had been thrown away in the garbage because SOMEBODY had dropped them and broken them. Who dropped the sidewalk? Tata. No, DJEDO.

How naughty!

I’m looking forward to the new walks. I wonder if they’ll be finished by the time I get home today?

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

I paint my nails fairly regularly, and Niko’s pretty entranced by the process because look! Color! Painting! He’s seen Nesko paint the ceiling/walls, he remembers when our bathroom used to be a different color, and my in-laws hook him up with old paint brushes and a bucket of water at their house so he can “paint” the sidewalk. It’s great! And mama does it TO HER NAILS! They are red/blue/green/orange/whatever. He asked me to paint HIS nails on Saturday and I agreed.

He wanted green but I don’t have a fast-drying green, so I offered him red or blue. He chose red, and I painted his toenails.

It was an incredible mistake.

Just like red cars go faster than non-red cars, and red shoes make you walk faster, those red toenails made him SUPER SPEEDY. It was hard keeping up with him.

We had specific plans for Saturday that we engaged a baby sitter for, and then those plans were cancelled on account of someone involving coming down with food poisoning (the horror!) so Nesko and I decided to see a movie but then couldn’t find a movie we wanted to pay money to see, so instead we… ran errands. SEXY! The babysitter took Niko to the zoo, where apparently he ran laps for most of the time he was there. Because red toenails!

She brought him back home in the evening, and he demanded (politely) that his shoes and socks be removed so he could look at his “red paintings.” I removed his footwear and he was thrilled and kept showing off his toes to everyone.

I swiped his nails with nail polish remover Sunday night so as not to shock and horrify Nesko’s parents, but the polish didn’t come off that easily and his toes look kind of gruesome now… like his toenails have been bleeding. He’s not as fast as he was, though, so that’s good.

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It’s Storytime!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011 13:23
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

We did our usual bed time routine last night, which Niko tried to drag out by changing his mind halfway through his second story. “Not that one!” he claimed. “A different one!” but then I was unable to pin him down as to which story he DID want, so offered him the choice of finishing up the one we were reading or putting the book away. I am cruel firm but fair. After finishing the second story, he threw a fit because he wanted another story and I’d read the wrong story to him. OH NOES! So I offered to tell him a story, which he accepted because he likes my stories ok. This is the story I told him.

“Once upon a time, there was a pretty kitty. His name was Roy, but he was such a Pretty Kitty that everyone called him Pretty Kitty. He had red ears and red paws and a red tail and red hair and a red nose and red hair and a red tummy. He was red all over. He had a best friend named Ninuta 1–”

“Noooo! Funny mama!”

“Oh. So what was his best friend’s name?”

“He name… NINUTA!”

“SO one day, Pretty Kitty called Ninuta up on the telephone and said ‘Hello hello! I am calling you! Are you there? It’s me! Do you want to ride on the train?’ and Ninuta said ‘Yes, I love to ride the train!’ so Pretty Kitty came over and they packed some snacks. They packed some goldfish crackers, and some pretzels, and some apples, and some carrots, and some apple juice, and some dinosaur yogurt, and some raisins, and some chocolate milk, and some train track cookies, 2 and they went for a walk and got on the orange line.”

“The orange train!”

“That’s right. Where did they go?”

“They go to the AIR PORT.”

“That’s right. So they got on the train and it went puff puff puff… chug chug chug–”

“No, mama!” Niko laughed. I mean, he literally was laughing at me. “THAT’S A DINOSAUR TRAIN!” 3

“Oh. That’s the sound the Dinosaur Train makes?”


“What sound does the Orange Line make?”

He looked at me intently and silently.

“Is it very quiet?”


“So they got on the very quiet Orange Line and rode alllll the way to the airport. They got hungry and ate some apples on the train, and then they were at the airport! They watched the trains landing and taking off, and then Pretty Kitty said ‘Ninuta, I have a surprise for you!’ ‘Oh boy,’ said Ninuta. ‘What is it? Is it ice cream?’ ‘No, it’s better than ice cream! We are going to fly on a plane and see Trina!’ 4 Ninuta was very glad to hear that. So they got on a plane that was headed for Rhode Island. It took off and they flew and flew and flew. They were up so high. They were higher than buildings and higher than trees and higher than birds. They were even higher than clouds, way up high above them! After flying for a while they landed and got off the plane and went to find Trina. She was very surprised to see them, and gave them grilled cheese sandwiches and grape juice and whumchucks 5 and they played with some cars and then they went back to the airport and flew in a big plane back to Chicago. Then they got back on the very quiet orange line and rode home, where they had some chicken and rice and some ice cream for dinner and then they went to bed. The end.”

I looked over at Niko at that point. He smiled at me.

“That a WUNNERFUL tory mama,” he said, and curled up to sleep. Later in the night he kicked me so hard it both woke me up AND knocked the wind out of me, so that was exciting. But it was a pretty wunnerful story.

  1. “Ninuta” is how Nikola says “Nikola.”
  2. In case you couldn’t guess, these are some of Niko’s favorite foods.
  3. “Dinosaur Train” is a kid’s show on PBS about dinosaurs who ride a train. Yeah.
  4. Trina is my best friend. She came to visit us a few weeks ago and slept in Niko’s “new bed!” in his room. He likes her very much and has been looking for her ever since she left.
  5. A whumchuck is like a big swinging hug that eventually devolves into tickles, and you say whuuuuuuuuuuumCHUCK while doing it.

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

The weather forecast went from predicting a 40% chance of rain on Saturday to a 50% then a 60% chance of rain. A few hours before we were set to leave, the heavens opened and rain came lashing down in torrents. Thunder boomed. Lightning crackled and flashed. Niko was excited.

“Go outside? Inna rain! I put on rain coat. Rain comin down! It rain on cars. Cars all wet! Tata’s car all wet! I go outside in rain coat and splash.”

We did, in fact, bundle him up in a rain coat but then we prevented him from splashing because we are total killjoys. We took our knapsack loaded up with snacks and water and changes of clothing and piled into the car and somehow — SOMEHOW– managed to get out of the house on time. We drove through the rain and I told Niko, who was yawning and also chatting happily away at us, that we were going to do a lot of boring driving so it was ok if he fell asleep. He told me to stop fooling (actual words: STOP FOOLIN MAMA) and made fun of me a little bit, but five minutes later he was suspiciously quiet. A quick peek back revealed that he was dead to the world. Score! He slept the entire drive down, including when we pulled off at an Oasis1 for lunch and ate in the parking lot waiting for a bit of the rain to let up.

It had stopped raining by the time we got to Union, IL, home of the Illinois Railroad Museum, and we were mere feet from the parking lot when we had to stop at a small railway crossing. Niko woke up and stretched and looked around.

“What dat? Oh. It’s a train! OH! IT’S THOMAS!” Sure enough, the train came along the track, and there was a bright blue cheerful Thomas puffing away! Niko’s tiny mind was blown.

We got there around 2-ish, picked up our tickets, hit the first tent where Niko played with megablocks and wooden trains a bit, and then walked around some. We found an area with picnic tables and Nesko told Niko that he had to eat lunch first then we would go ride on Thomas. There were a million portolets (including some baby changing portolets), and also flush toilets inside buildings. Sadly, we had no cash because we live in a bright and shining futureworld where everyone takes debit cards, and the ILRR museum grounds hasn’t reached that future yet, so we did not have Lemon Shakeups or ice cream cones or corndogs or any other fair food. Niko finished eating and we walked over to the giant snaking lines waiting to board the coaches. We got there just in time, as people began boarding, and trooped on.

Niko was a little wary of the trip. This train was very different from the ones he’s ridden before. But he still had fun and looked around a lot.

We also saw a LOT of train exhibits, walked past but did not wait 20 minutes in line for a photo with Sir Tophamm Hatt, rode a red cable car, walked some more, and Niko jumped in a bounce house for the first time.

He was super wired all the way home. I thought he’d fall asleep again, but no, he demanded and ate a bunch of snacks in the car, and then sang every single song he knew in a desperate attempt to stay awake. We stopped at IHOP for dinner (a huge mistake, the food was bland and the service was… not very good. PROTIP: when you’re serving adults and children, bring the child’s food FIRST and not LAST.) and he was a real handful the whole time, very loud, very antsy. We got him home and topped him off with some more food, then into bed.

We woke up on Sunday and asked him what he’d done on Saturday. “Snakes bite [me],” he answered. Then he claimed he’d gone to the beach. When we challenged that claim, he gave us A Look and spoke very slowly and clearly. “I tooka brown train to the BEEEEEEEESH.” 2 We asked him again, and he said “I ate food an then I went on THOMAS,” and then he talked excitedly about how he rode on “a red Toby.” Toby’s a tram car and we did not ride on a tram car, we rode on a street car. Gah, small child! How could you make that sort of mistake? Anyway, it’s interesting that he lumps eating lunch with the Excitement that was ACTUALLY RIDING ON THOMAS’ ACTUAL COACHES.

It seems that he’s needed to take awhile to process what happened, because he was chattering excitedly today about seeing Thomas, and when Nesko dropped him off at Baba’s, Niko was telling her alllll about it, with great gusto.

He was pretty sold on this beach thing, though. If we’d done that instead we’d have saved about $100 or so. Something to consider.

I took about 150 photos and I’ll post them later. I’m at the point where I’m considering just installing a photo album on my webspace because I have more photos than the free version of Picasa will support. If I do that, I’ll have an album just for Thomas.

  1. Oases seem to be an Illinois thing. It’s like a rest area by the highway, but instead of pulling off alongside the road you pull off and there’s a gas station and truck wash and 7-11 or whatever… and then a giant bridge spanning the entire highway, with bathrooms and fast food places and Starbuck’s and ice cream and places to buy sunglasses and maps and hats and mugs and all that. You can sit inside and eat and it’s air conditioned and has wifi and you can watch the cars streaming to and fro beneath you. Well, not literally beneath you. The floors are not transparent.
  2. Note: the brown line doesn’t go to the beach, but he likes claiming he takes the trains various places, including that he takes the orange line to the air port. To get onna plane and fly away an visit TRINA on a airplane at the airport.

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

Thanks to Leah from Tin Roof, Rusted for giving me the heads up about the upcoming Day Out With Thomas. Our tickets are purchased (Nesko’s a huge softy and got some kind of super deluxe package thing plus limited edition this that and the other) and we’re going tomorrow afternoon. It is A Big Secret, although Nesko keeps hinting at it to Niko, which is kind of… why bother? He doesn’t know that Day Out With Thomas exists! But Nesko is sooo excited and can’t wait to blow Niko’s tiny toddler mind.

Our sneaky plan is to pile Niko into the car around noon-ish, run a bunch of REALLY REALLY BORING ERRANDS (like grocery shopping, maybe I’ll buy a bra at the fat lady store, IDK) and then while Niko’s lulled into a false sense of tedious security, head toward the museum. It’s like an hour away so hopefully he’ll nap in the car and be refreshed for our arrival. I’ll let you know if that works or if we just wind up with an exhausted overwhelmed over stimulated jerkass toddler.

Speaking of Thomas, one of Niko’s favorite Thomas episodes is called “Rusty and the Boulder.” I think I’ve mentioned this before, how it simultaneously entrances and terrifies him, how he re-enacts the episode, how his new favorite train game involves rolling a basketball around the train tracks while yelling “OH NO! BOULDER! YOIKS!” etc. One of the things I love about the internet, and about youtube, is that people put up videos of themselves/their kids re-enacting episodes of Thomas with their own trains etc. One of these is called “Rusty and the Boulder and Evan.”

Evan is adorable as fuck, and apparently is British? He says “boulder” as “BOUL-DAH!” and Niko specifically requests to watch “Rusty anna boulder an EVAN!” And lately he’s started saying “OH NO! BOULDAH! YOIKS!” and otherwise imitating Evan.

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Thursday, 18 August 2011 11:15
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Like a lot of parents, we are trying to inflict our own positive child hood experiences on Niko. Which means, in Nesko’s case, Niko’s learning Communist-era Football (soccer, to those of us in the USA) fight songs, and Yugoslavian pop songs from the 70s, and eating spaghettios. And in my case, that means mostly wooden trains and a million weird kids’ books and lots of making up goofy songs. (We also dress him in nerdy clothing a lot. Because he can’t stop us. HAH! this shirt offers +5 to nakedness! He has +10 charisma! He is a level 3 human! ZIIIING)

Niko is really into Russel Hoban’s “Frances” books, some of which were illustrated by Lillian Hoban (they were married, they got divorced, they kept working together; the first book was illustrated by Garth Williams). We have “Bedtime for Frances” (aka GO TO BED NOW FRANCES), “Bread and Jam for Frances” (aka NYOM NYOM FRANCES) and “A Baby Sister For Frances” (aka FRANCES HAS A BABY!). How much does he enjoy these books? So much that sometimes he asks for them instead of Thomas And Friends stories. How much does he enjoy these books? So much that sometimes in his sleep he murmurs about wanting A Red Car Toy (Lightning McQueen from “Cars”), and sometimes he murmurs something about Frances.

The books are pretty dated in some ways. In “Bedtime,” Father Badger (who is the disciplinarian) threatens to spank Frances if she doesn’t go to sleep; there’s a pretty clear division of labor among the genders. And they’re dated in good ways as well. Frances catches snakes in a pillow case and does tomboy-ish things and has a male best friend (who often wears purple checked pants), two things that aren’t seen quite as often among girls in kids’ books today (at least the ones I’ve seen, anyway). They are clever, sweet stories, very solid, and sprinkled throughout with little songs just begging to be sung.

If you grew up reading them, take another look at them. If you’re looking for something for your kid, check them out. There’s I-Can-Read versions that are edited to be simpler, but the original texts have a richness the edited ones lack.

What are some of your favorite childhood books? What are you re-sharing with your kids? I’d love to know.

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

Waldo, Niko’s non-family caregiver, suggested that maybe part of his irritability lay in the fact that Niko was working on new teeth… 2 year molars, to be precise. And that was a good suggestion, because teething’s pretty horrible, and while he went through molar teething almost half a year ago, it only resulted in one molar. While I don’t think it caused the fever and puking, I do think it caused the irritable behavior and clinginess. It probably didn’t cause the rash, but maybe it did, because teething is a dark mystery that H. P. Lovecraft might have written about, had he had more exposure to children.

Yesterday, Niko basically ate the world, and when Nesko checked in his mouth today, he had more teeth than he did a week ago.

I was doing laundry when my in-laws brought Niko home last night. When I got outside, he was already running around the yard and hollering happily, apparently trying to get in through the front door. I heard him yell MAAAMAAAAAA and I yelled NAANOOOOOO and he came pelting around the apartment screaming I FOUND YOOOOUUUUUU, and then he ran around the gangway that leads to the back, into the back door, up the stairs, and into the apartment with no prompting. So I’m guessing he’s feeling better, if he’s pelting around hollering happily and eating, you know, food.

Usually he’s at the in-laws Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and Waldo minds him on Tuesday and Thursday, but she has a job interview today (ONE MILLION GOOD LUCKS TO YOU) so my sister-in-law is toddler wrangling. On the drive over, Niko happily chatted away about riding the brown train, and how Waldo was going to take him on the brown train, and then the red train, and he loves the brown train. Nesko responded that SIL was going to watch Niko today, but maybe SHE would take Niko on the brown train and Niko said “No! Waldo take it the brown train!” and then he got Very Serious and said “Tata take it the baby brown train. Tata brown train! Today!”

I hate refusing the kid. This isn’t the first time he’s requested we play hooky and ride the trains with him (not that he knows what all his request entails). We have tentative plans to do Something Fun this weekend, maybe ride downtown. Frankly, we could just hop on the brown line, which loops around the downtown and comes back, and not get off anywhere or do anything but ride the train, and he’d be happy. He is a cheap date! We still have our membership to MSI, so maybe we’ll do that.

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

We’ve hit a developmental phase that I totally hate. Some infants/toddlers never reach this, some are afflicted for a long time, some flirt with it on and off. It’s utterly horrific. I’m talking about night terrors.

When Niko woke up screaming and sobbing and inconsolable yesterday morning at like 5:00 am, we assumed it was a hold over from his recent battle with a stomach bug. Maybe his stomach hurt. Maybe he had a fever dream or something. He eventually came out of it enough that he was able to respond to our questions and we assumed it was a bad dream only, but I had my suspicions that he was only saying “yeah” to things as an automatic response and had been in the throes of a night terror.

I think I was right. This morning was the worst of them all. He’s had “night” terrors a few times before during his naps. The longest until today was 45 minutes of sobbing. Today, though, he “woke” at 3:30am and sobbed and wailed and thrashed around and slapped himself in the face until about 5:00, at which point we all got out of bed and I took a shower while Niko clung to Nesko on the couch, still whimpering gently, and watched “Thomas.” An hour later he was still on edge, clingy, weepy, and delicate.

He perked up, out of nowhere, after a bit. Nothing had changed, he just hopped down and started playing with a train. He objected strenuously to a diaper change/getting dressed, but was in pretty high spirits when Nesko dropped him off at Baba and Djedo’s.

Also: he has a rash and has been rubbing his eyes/putting things on his eyes. The rash looks like contact dermatitis (my old friend), but we haven’t changed any detergents or soaps or lotions or ANYTHING (I mean, we haven’t even opened new bottles of the same brand). It started out ringing his neck and has spread to his back and chest, the insides of his upper arms, and his face. It might be heat rash, possibly, I guess but it’s 10-20 degrees cooler than it’s been lately so I don’t know if it’s that. It might be a strawberry thing (he’s been eating a lot of them lately, and I’d cut them out of his diet several months ago because he had a rash on his stomach that seemed to come up when he ate strawberries, but then he ate strawberries more recently with no rash at all). It might be from the farm we visited this weekend, although Nesko says the neck rash has been in place for about a week, although maybe THAT was heat rash and this is something else.

I do not know.

At least it doesn’t seem to itch.

In more fun and less screamy news, we went to Wagner Farm in Glenview. We went last year, although it was later in the year (late October) and pretty cold and windy. The good bit about that was no flies, less cow poop stink. It being warm, though, meant less snotty nose on Niko’s part. He was still feeling a bit down after his stomach bug and wanted to be carried everywhere, but he had a good time. He even touched a calf! It was thrilling. If you ask him about the visit, he mentions that he saw a cow, and he touched a cow, and that the cow “making poop” and “THAT FUNNY.” So, you know. Poop jokes. Yay?

Afterward, we went to The Choo-Choo Restaurant in Des Plaines. We met our friend Brian there. We weren’t able to sit at the counter, where a train runs around delivering your food. The food tasted good anyway, although Niko was very ready for a nap. (We should have just gone home, but we’d already made plans and Brian was already on the way, and we are selfish jerks who like seeing our friend.) He didn’t eat much, and wanted to sit in this train ride like the kind you see outside grocery stores, where you put a quarter in and it jerks around, but the train jerking around seemed too much for him… it looked a bit, at times, like he was about to be carsick.

We didn’t do all we wanted to do this weekend because of his rude awakening Sunday morning and generally being out of sorts the rest of the day. But there’s always next weekend. We have plans to visit Ann Sather’s (again) and then the beach (again) with a different friend of ours from out of town.

I have a bunch of photos of the last beach trip and the farm, and hope to post them soon.

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