Monday, August 23, 2010

The Social Event of the Season

Ben's 2nd birthday party was great fun! Two of Ben's favorite shows are Curious George and Blue's Clues, so we worked them into the fun. I printed out coloring pages with George and Blue, made a George bean bag toss game and a Blue treasure hunt game (in the bean bin), and decorated the monstrosity of a cake with George's face. It was a lovely day (a bit too cool for the wading pool, actually), and our house was packed with parents and kids.

We had a book swap, so every child went home with a new book. There were no major meltdowns and Ben seemed to really enjoy himself.

I have to say, the high point was the cake: I baked two chocolate sheet cakes and layered them with semisweet chocolate buttercream and salted caramel buttercream. I think it's probably the yummiest cake I've ever made. The leftovers are so moist and delicious. Ben ate his entire piece and half of mine and still wanted more.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Check this out.

Can you even believe he was ever that little? I find it hard to believe. Now a 2-year-old, Ben just has so much knowledge and personality, not to mention he is as sturdy as a redwood tree. I, for one, do not miss the newborn days of fussing, sleeplessness, endless nursing, and constant time on the yoga ball. His 1-year-old chubby legs and wrist cancles were awfully cute, though. Life with Ben gets easier and easier and more and more fun. Here are some things that are new about Ben.

*Ben knows his alphabet, including the phonetic sounds for all the letters. I've caught him sounding out a couple of words (in particular, the word "hug" in his book Hug). He finds letters everywhere--on cardboard boxes, labels at the grocery store, and street signs. He even compares his food to letters: a cracker is an O until he bites into it and makes a C; a chickpea looks like a Q.
*Ben knows some of his shapes and colors (purple is his favorite). He enjoys coloring and will often carry his purple crayon around. He is also perfecting the art of counting to 10 on his fingers ("one, two, three...eight, nine, ten!"--the numbers in the middle are less important). He learned 2 just in time for his birthday (in fact, he said it all day, holding up his thumb and pointer finger any time he did).
*Ben has peed in his potty several times. He is good about telling us when he has a dirty diaper. Sometimes he'll just lie down on the floor and stare at us expectantly, waiting to be changed.
*Ben is great about following instructions. If I tell him something is not allowed several times, he pretty much stops doing it--he's been like that ever since learning to walk. I like watching him remind himself something is forbidden, as he will start to touch it, then pull back, pause, shake his head no, and leave it alone.
*He's very good at tidying up. If he is playing with his cars and I tell him we're going to the park, he'll put his cars up without my even asking. When he is done with a plate or cup, he carries it into the kitchen and sets it on the counter. He often gets into the pantry and pulls a snack (usually crackers or dried fruit, which I leave at his level), but he never digs right in. He brings the box to me and asks for it, and if I say no, he puts it back in the pantry without complaint. It's a little scary!
*Ben has a greater sense of moderation than his parents. When he's sleepy, he grabs his blankie and heads for the stairs. When he's tired of playing at the park or library, he kisses it goodbye and heads for the stroller. When he's full, he puts food away. The other day Ickie and I were stuffing ourselves on Teddy Grahams, and Ben took the box away from us and returned it to the pantry. That moment was rather humbling.
*He's gotten over his picky eater stage and eats vegetables and meat aplenty. He loves chocolate as much as Ickie, but often he'll eat a couple of M&Ms (for dessert), then go back and finish off his green peas. I can't say either of us grown-ups do that!
*He loves the playground, the library, the downtown wading pool, and any playplace, but his favorite playthings are elevators and automatic doors.
*He enjoys his choices. He bides his time picking out books at bedtime and choosing between two identical binkies. Sometimes it drives us crazy.
*His vocabulary has exploded in the past month. He's constantly repeating new words, and although some are still hard to pronounce (dog is still "gog" and park is "kark"), he's a fair communicator.
*He's always been laid back when it comes to sharing his toys, but he's getting better and better at interacting with his buddies. The other day at the taqueria, he and his friend George sat at their own child-size picnic table and shared many an inside joke.
*Ben knows who Noah is, but not yet who God is. We'll keep working on that one.
*He's not prone to fits. He gets fussy and emotional when he can't communicate clearly, but once we've figured out what he wants, he doesn't move into tantrum mode. In fact, as long as he can assist in whatever is going on or is given advance warning, he's fine with turning off the TV, putting away a toy, or coming inside. That'll last forever, right?
*He isn't afraid of the dark, or loud noises, or much of anything. He relishes new freedoms (I let him out on our enclosed porch on his own now and listen through our kitchen window).
*He's contemplative. He'll try most things new if he can watch and consider it for a while first.
*Ben is musical. He enjoys watching our church organist or Chris playing the guitar. He loves it when we sing and he can do motions. He dances to music on the CD player--it doesn't even have to be children's music, as he'll march around the house to swing music or Mozart.
*He gives us hugs and kisses constantly. He's even warming up to other parents--after his birthday party on Saturday, he started a circuit of leg hugs among four adults.

On Friday for Ben's actual birthday we met friends at Smiling Hill Farm petting zoo for play and a picnic. The first time Ben and I did something with Robin and Ezra was actually at Smiling Hill a year ago. They have become great friends within this past year. That was then and this is now:
Here's a whole slew of photos from the fun that day.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Inside Joke

Have a Seat

Ben loves the toddler-sized armchairs at our library and in Greenlight Studio's reading room, so I ordered one for him for his birthday. I got the cheapest one I could find from Walmart (the Pottery Barn ones are so expensive!), and it's actually really cute and matches our "grown up" furniture. I expected Ben to hop right in when he woke up from his nap, but in true Ben fashion, he spent some time mulling it over.

Then he made me sit in it.
He thought that was funny, so he sat in it, and it was just right!It's also a great place when you need to make some calls or peruse a magazine.
We moved it next to his book shelf. I was cooking yesterday and there had been a long stretch of silence, which can be unsettling, but low and behold, he was just sitting in his chair and reading all that time. (And yes, he is wearing sweats in August. It's been getting down in the 50s at night this weekend.)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Being a Toddler

Being a toddler is way more fun than being a baby. I got all excited about all the new things Ben is into last week and did the following:

a) I cleared out his own kitchen cabinet for him and let him decorate it with stickers. I offered him a flashlight to take inside it with him, but he prefers it pitch black in there.

b) Since he's been really into being my sous chef (and I use that term quite loosely), I sewed him an apron from this free pattern. There is elastic in the neck strap and the waist strap velcros, so he can put it on and take it off all by himself. It's rather long, but I'm hoping he'll be able to wear it for several years.