Sir speaks

In the last four months, Gabriel has made huge progress in the speech and language department.  The changes started in mid-December (just shy of 2 1/2 years old), when his vocabulary really took off — all of the sudden he was using a lot more words (language) though many of the words sounded similar and were difficult to distinguish (speech).

In mid-January, we started speech therapy, and between that and just finally being developmentally “ready,” he’s really taken off: greatly expanded vocabulary, phrases and sentences, and slowly making progress on articulation.

While we get a lot of, “Be careful what you wish for, once he starts talking, you’ll never get him to shut up,” type comments, I’m enjoying all of the talking, except what is uttered in a whiny voice (but there was whining before he was talking much).

He still drops most ending consonants, so, while we understand almost all of what he says, comprehension can be difficult for others.  The only consistent exception is that he really emphasizes the “d” at the end of “good.”

Me: How are you feeling this morning?
G: Goo-duh

Being able to talk means that he can tell us what he’s thinking.  For a number of mornings in a row, when I went into his room to say good morning, he would start to get up, pause, and, with a very thoughtful look on his face, say, “Thinking ’bout going somewhere.”

He can also tell us what he’s feeling . . .

Me (to a crying Gabriel): I know you don’t want to put away your toys and brush your teeth right now, but that’s what we’re going to do.
G (crying): Feel really sad!

I’m thrilled that he’s starting to verbally express his feelings.  However, such statements are no more effective than crying when it comes to swaying Mama.


He has some particularly cute and endearing phrases:

  • He uses, “Lil’ bit,” as a response to many questions, and, as Matthew describes it, he sounds like a little Southern girl when he says it.
  • “Love you soooo much!”  This one is pretty much self-explanatory.
  • “Want mo’ food,” which usually means, “I want different food.”

He surprised me by counting to ten last week.  I thought we were counting to three or four for rocket ship blast-off, but he just kept going, all the way up to ten!

He’s pretty good with manners, often using “Please” and “Thank you” appropriately, with no prompting.  He hasn’t quite figured out what to do when someone thanks him, though.

Me: Thank you for picking up your toys, Gabriel.
G: Thank you, too, Mommy.

He’s really into Curious George, and we started reading the books and pausing to let him supply certain words:

Me: This is . . .
G: Geor’
Me: He was a good little . . .
G: Mo-key
Me: And always very . . .
G: Cute-sy

Yep, “Cutesy George.”  This is one of my favorites, and, sadly, one that he already seems to be outgrowing.  He can’t completely get his tongue around “cur-i-ous” just yet, but it’s sounding more like “curious” than “cutesy” every day.

We are just now hitting the “Why?” stage.  The word started popping up in a few places two or three weeks ago, but it’s really been in the last week that he’s started using it all. the. time.  Sometimes, it works to turn the question around on him.

The “why’s” got particularly repetitive on a car ride the other day, so I started having fun with it, making up random responses.

G: Why going this way?
Me: Because this is the way to Papa’s house.
G: Why?
Me: Because the unicorn said so.

You have to be able to have fun with this, right?  Either that, or go completely out of your mind.


Polar vortex

Saturday afternoon, temperatures soared into the low 40s.  There was still some slush and ice on our street, but most roads were completely clear, so I headed out for what may have been my last bike ride for a decent while here.

While we didn’t technically need any groceries, we liked the idea of having more eggs and milk on hand.  My first stop was Schnucks (a Missouri grocery chain), which probably would have been a bit crazy on a Saturday afternoon anyway.  Combine that with a forecast of ten inches of snow and sub-zero temps, and you have crazy-town!

Had I driven the car, I would have wasted lots of time and gas circling the packed parking lot waiting for a space.  As it was, I biked right up to my customary cart-return bike lock-up spot.  Talk about prime parking!

Inside the store, my bike helmet doubled as a mini shopping basket.  In addition to soy milk, I grabbed some citrus fruit.  Unfortunately, my choice of transportation didn’t save me from the long check-out lines.  It was interesting to see what other people “needed” to stock up on before the storm.  An employee was going through the lines offering free cookies, in an attempt to appease the masses, I guess.

That crazy ordeal finished, I headed to my much-lower-key second stop, Local Harvest Grocery, for eggs, dairy milk, and steel cut oats.  And our local foodie magazines!  I started to get overheated and had to stop and ditch my coat on the ride home.

After Gabriel woke from his nap, we headed out to play in the last remains of snow in our north-facing front yard.


We would have had much more snow to work with on Sunday, but we feared conditions would not be conducive to much outside play time.  Make snow-people while the sun shines, right?

Sunday morning dawned with falling snow and a little boy requesting “out.”  At that point, we still had temperatures in the 20s, so we bundled up and headed out.


Matthew and I shoveled show and we did some front yard sledding before walking down the street to a slightly larger hill at the park.  We’d already been outside for quite awhile at that point, and Gabriel didn’t last long.

We have a children’s lift-the-flap book about winter fun that ends with the child’s mother showing up with hot cocoa, and when we reach that page and open the flap, Gabriel excitedly proclaims, “Mama!  Ha co-co!”  He needed little coaxing to head inside for his own mug.


Hot chocolate with whipped cream — mmm, mmm good!


We spent the rest of the day hibernating as the wind picked up and temperatures dropped.  I made a big batch of granola in the morning, and Matthew made an apple pie in the afternoon.

Almost all schools and many businesses are closed today, but Mrs. L was willing to take Gabriel, even though none of the other kids she watches were planning to venture out.  While I wouldn’t have bothered to clear the car or risk driving on these streets, bundling up for the half-block walk to her house was no big deal.

I did end up carrying Gabriel most of the way, due to the high snow drifts (I didn’t think to walk in the tire tracks on the street until I was headed back home).  Matthew bundled up and walked to the bus stop in pre-warmed mittens and boots, where he fortunately had a short wait.  With this much snow on the streets, I’m not sure when we’ll be back on the bikes, but for now, I’m thankful for a warm apartment and being walkable to [some] places.

Child labor

One of Matthew’s new crops this year was a bean that you grow for the dried bean.  Theoretically, you can grow almost any kind of green bean until the seeds/beans fully ripen and the pods dry, but certain varieties are grown with that in mind.

From time-t0-time, I read a lovely blog called A Life Sustained, where the author, Courtney, writes about creative, Montessori-learning-type activities with real-world objects for her toddler son.  I admire, and am inspired by, her efforts, but I’m not gonna lie, thinking up and carrying out projects like that is not really something to which I aspire.  And, yes, I feel at least a bit of mommy-guilt over this fact.

Last week, I soothed some of that guilt when I stumbled upon bean-shelling as an engaging, real- and natural-world toddler activity.  Perhaps it would be more fair to say that Gabriel discovered it, as it was his initial interest in the pile of dried beans left sitting on the floor.


I grabbed the beans and pulled out a metal cake pan, and we plopped down on the floor and went to work.

It’s pretty amazing what toddlers can do.  At just over two-years-old, Sir has the dexterity to shell the beans, a decent bit of focus to stick with the activity, and the knowledge that the de-beaned pods go in the compost bucket.

He also knows, but sometimes needs to be reminded, that we have to make the dry beans hot (i.e., cook them) before they are good to eat.

Since decent dry beans are relatively easy and affordable to buy, Matthew is debating whether or not to grow this crop in future years.  The toddler-entertainment factor may make the case for keeping them in the rotation.


From a cuteness standpoint, two is a pretty great age.  If we’re lucky, perhaps the year will be heavy on the cute and fun and light on the infamous “terrible.”

Though perhaps as a sign of things to come, Sir spent the weeks leading up to his second birthday practicing the word “No,” which entailed using it as a response to almost any query we posed (even those to which he clearly meant “Yes”), as well as uttering it randomly.


He loves tractors, trucks, trains, and riding lawnmowers.


And vacuums.


Pretty sure the vacuum in our unit at the resort was the highlight of his summer vacation.  Had I known that, I could have skipped the ten hour car ride with a toddler and just bought him a vacuum at home.


But he also enjoyed a dip in the lake . . .


. . . before eating birthday cake.*  (And someone’s been reading too many children’s books, for goodness’ sake!)


Gifts included some fun second-hand finds, wrapped in receiving blankets (my current favorite reusable gift wrap), as well as some special, handmade wooden toys we found at a shop on vacation.

The vacation made for a special, adventure-filled birthday week.  Happy birthday, baby!

*His birthday cake was a hybrid of this almond cake and this pistachio cake, basically the almond cake recipe with half ground pistachios, half almond meal, with the topping from the pistachio cake, served with local Wisconsin strawberries.