Category Archives: Raising boys

Right Now: A Few of Our Favorite Things

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   IMG_9951It’s been an unseasonably cold winter here in Texas (yes, a lot has changed in the past eight months — we moved from California to Texas and I happen to be a weather wimp), so I thought I’d put together a list of all the gear we’ve been loving this winter, keeping my boys warm outdoors and keeping them entertained indoors, when it’s been too cold to leave the house. I’m still a bit in awe that it snowed here last week. I certainly wasn’t expecting that.
1. Herschel Supply Settlement camouflage backpack. We’ve been a little obsessed with camo this winter. It’s timeless, unisex and versatile enough to compliment any style and color scheme. My 8-year-old uses it as his daily school backpack and loves that he looks like an “army guy” in it.
2. Gold knit crown from @blessedstyleblog on Instagram. Last March, I opened up a shop for boys on Instagram and have been completely immersed in the world of shopping via social media ever since. If you haven’t tried it, you must. Warning: it can be a little addictive. I purchased these crowns from @blessedstyleblog’s shop and I think they’re the cutest accessory for any wild thing. I love that they’re a thick knit, making them really warm like a beanie, and completely wearable outdoors when it’s chilly. Stylish and functional. We have them in gray and gold, but there are plenty of other colors to choose from. Oeuf has a similar style too, but at a steeper price point.
3. Roxy Marj custom “Wild Thing” pennant flag. Her artwork is so imaginative and whimsical. I just love everything in her Etsy shop. We have our flag adorning the boys’ teepee in our living room, but it really can look adorable anywhere: on the wall, tied to a bed post, or affixed to a bedroom door. She’ll even customize it with a favorite phrase or name of your choice.
4. Camp Wolf buffalo check flannel toddler infinity scarf. Like camo, we’re kind of obsessed with buffalo check these days too. We love this scarf because it’s the perfect size for babies and toddlers and it fits both my 2-year-old and 4-year-old, so they can share. It’s soft and cozy and really keeps little necks warm. Lots of cuteness going on over in that shop.
5. How to Stay Alive in the Woods by Bradford Angier. We’re nature lovers at heart and although I doubt we’ll find ourselves lost in the woods anytime soon, this is an informative, interesting book for any aspiring survivalist. My 8-year-old hasn’t put it down since Christmas. It really is a great read for all ages.
6. Freshly Picked moccasins in weathered brown. My toddler’s go-to shoes because he can put them on himself. He pretty much lives in these. I’ve been a die-hard fan of Freshly Picked moccasins for awhile now, but I just recently discovered this color and it’s a fast favorite. It’s an earthy gray/brown shade that goes with everything and has that naturally “lived-in” look, which I love. These are durable, exceptionally well-made moccasins that will stay on your little ones’ feet and can be worn on any terrain. My youngest has hiked in his frequently and they’ve always held up beautifully, even in mud.
7. Hunter Original Kids rain boot. We haven’t gotten much rain in our part of Texas, but that doesn’t stop my 2-year-old from loving his Hunter wellies. These days, he even likes to stomp around inside the house in nothing but his diaper and boots for fun. They’re great for puddle jumping and getting messy in mud. And they wash off wonderfully.
8. Crewcuts camo notebook. Camo again. My boys love to doodle in this and the cute design makes it a little more playful and stylish than your average composition notebook.
9. Hand-carved wooden animal slingshots. What boy doesn’t love a good slingshot? These adorable animal versions make it even more fun to launch felt balls or marshmallows indoors on those days it’s been too cold to leave the house. As long as they don’t aim at anyone’s face, I’m okay with it.
What about you? What are some of your kid essentials right now?
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Freshly Picked

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Every now and then, I come across a product I love and I just have to tell people about it.

Usually it involves quality or craftsmanship, great design or aesthetics and sometimes it’s just all of the above mashed together.

I’ve always been a big fan of moccasins.

I’ve owned pairs that have lasted for decades, their dirt-streaked soles boasting where they’ve traveled like pins on a world map. Moccasins are functional, effortlessly stylish, durable — that rare shoe that looks equally cool on everyone — whether you’re a six-month-old baby girl or a sixty-year-old man. Moccasins are hip even when they’re not trying to be. They’re unselfconscious, unassuming and timeless. They look great with a dress. They look great with a pair of shorts. They’re that universal shoe that seems to compliment any attire, any fashion trend, any age group, any decade.

What I love so much about moccasins (if you’re wearing the soft-soled versions I prefer) — they at once protect you from the ground, while at the same time allowing you to feel it. If I could go barefoot my entire life, I would. But I can’t. So moccasins are second best to that feeling. I want to feel the dirt beneath my feet, the curves of rocks, the crunch of leaves, the cool pavement on a chilly afternoon, the dry sand warmed by desert heat.

I want my children to feel these same sensations as they explore the world around them.

We hike often and take walks through wild terrain. I’ve found my youngest son Moon, who has been walking a mere nine months — a newbie in the mobility department — needs a soft, comfortable sole, a snug fit and a shoe that’s easy to slip on and off his quick and always moving toddler feet. For us, Freshly Picked’s moccasins have provided just that. Not to mention, they are handmade to order and come in more colors than a box of crayons.

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They’ve allowed him to discover and explore, both protecting his feet, while also letting him feel the earth below. They’ve carried him through dusty, pebbly paths, led him to bubbling creeks, through freshly fallen wet leaves after a winter’s rain, over crackling twigs covering the grassy floors of cool and shady oak groves.

And he’s felt it all beneath his little moccasin-wearing feet.

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**Disclaimer: I was not compensated by Freshly Picked to write this post. I simply believe in the craftsmanship and quality of their moccasins — and they’re obviously super cute too!

Eighteen Months

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Eighteen months ago, I was uncomfortably waddling around my neighborhood on a warm September evening with my family, attempting to induce labor by walking, my giant, overdue belly leading the way and carrying him safely inside.

We were all bathed in pink moonlight from that night’s Harvest Moon, which glowed brighter than the rows of streetlights illuminating our path. The moon was so bright, I could see the faces of my children distinctly in the dark, making out the detail of their profiles, their fluttering eyelashes, their pouty mouths, while at the same time wondering who this new life might resemble. I remember all of us looking upward, noticing that enormous round lamp hanging in the sky, my husband and the kids pointing out its size and pinkish-orange hue.

Later that evening, I went into labor.

I remember nurses telling me how crowded L&D was that evening and how on full moons, they staff up with extra hands on deck because so many women go into labor. I remember thinking that couldn’t be true, until I heard the almost simultaneous wails of newborns throughout the night, minutes old, a choir of new life.

Of course his middle name had to be Moon. And now, that’s what we call him.

Today my little moon shadow, my little lunar eclipse is 18 months.

He’s undoubtedly a toddler, quickly escaping babyhood, graduating into that stage where he’s fiercely claiming his independence, where “no” is the word of the day, all day, every day. He wants to do everything himself and he wants to do it his way. He wants to eat with a particular fork, drink from his favorite Nemo (“Momo”) cup, read a specific book and wear shoes only he chooses.

Aside from “no,” “mine” is another word we hear a lot from him.

On walks, he refuses to follow the leader and forges his own path, going against the grain and veering away from us, an adorable stray sheep. We are constantly having to herd him back to us and of course, every time, we’re met with a hearty “No.”

Aside from his favorite word, he’s added lots of new words to his vocabulary lately: “poo” and “pee” (he’ll point and tell you when he’s done either)”hey,” “bye-bye,” “night-night,” “oh boy,” “apple,” “cheese,” “coo-coo” (for cookie), “please,” “dog,” “ball,” “up,” “down,” (while pointing in both directions) just to name a few. He’s starting to put two words together like “bye-bye mama,” but he’s still struggling a bit with the concept.

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His personality hasn’t changed much from the day he was born, or from five months, seven months, eight months, nine months, ten months, or a year.

He’s still sweet and gentle and shy at first when meeting new friends. He plays coy and offers a bashful smile, but he’ll warm up quickly. He’s relaxed and mellow and overall just a quiet, easygoing, confident spirit who doesn’t want or need to take center stage like his brothers, or compete for attention. He’s perfectly happy hanging out on the sidelines, watching the show from the front row, doing his own thing on his own time, dancing to his own beat, exploring his surroundings his way.

He is without a doubt our guiding light, our moonbeam, illuminating the way, lighting up our world, just like that Harvest Moon eighteen months ago.

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Let it Snow!

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I’ll start by saying I’m typically a weather wimp.

When the temperature heads south of sixty degrees, which is rare where I live, except late at night, I start fantasizing about tropical white sand beaches and a fruity drink with a swizzle stick. As a native Californian, the most severe weather I’ve ever experienced (at least in my region) is a heavy downpour. Every so often, you may need an umbrella, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I used one. I’m a warm weather gal to the core, who doesn’t even mind a steamy 110 degrees in the desert, smack in the middle of August, as long as I’m sitting poolside.

But this winter had me seeking out a different kind of “white.” Not the white sands of a balmy beach, but the white, icy variety that’s only found in cold climates. Seeking out snow isn’t usually at the top of my list of winter adventures and even as a child when my family took a few weekend ski trips, you could find me alone in the lodge sipping hot chocolate, warming my hands by the fireplace while the rest of the family zipped up and down on those chilly slopes, freezing their butts off.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Lately, I’ve been craving a real winter – especially for my boys to experience. Maybe it’s seeing all those quaint photos on Instagram this past month, where friends in the Nordic region are posting beautiful photos of their blustery winter wonderlands, blankets of white snow covering wide open spaces and clinging to tall pines like powdered sugar.

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It got me yearning for some snow this time of year, when the holidays in so many other parts of the world are synonymous with sweaters and mittens, frosty white landscapes, hot chocolate and roaring fireplaces. Here in my part of California, you could easily spend Christmas on a beach in a bikini.

What I love most about this state, though, is that in less than a couple hours drive in the middle of winter, you can either be on a beach or on a ski slope.

I wanted the boys to experience snow and go wild in it, so we packed up our car with puffy jackets, ski bibs, scarves, warm socks (we even brought the puppy in his own little sweater) and headed up to our local mountains last weekend to play in the snow. And it was perfect.

It started snowing the minute we made our way up to about 4,000 feet, delicate flurries dotting our windshield, the boys squealing with delight, and it didn’t stop until we inched our way back down the mountain.

“Look! It’s snowing, mama!” screamed the three-year-old, the entire way up.

At about 35 degrees, it was cold enough to need all our layers, but not too cold where we were uncomfortable outside for a few hours. The boys made snowballs and slid down slopes on a bright orange plastic sled, their giggles echoing through rows of pine trees.

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I worried a bit about the baby being out that long in the cold, so I bundled him up to the point where he toppled over when he walked and couldn’t quite stand back up alone, so I carried him snugly on my back in a carrier much of the time, until he fell fast asleep, soft snow flurries melting onto his rosy cheeks. He was easily the warmest of the bunch.

My three-year-old cried when it was time to pack up and head back down the mountain. He wanted more. He begged daddy to let him go up the “mountain” just one more time to slide down on his little sled. And so daddy carried him up the steep incline one more time, only to launch him right back down again.

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It was the perfect finish to 2012. There is something about a fresh snowfall and all that untouched white that can’t help but resemble a clean slate. I’m looking forward to 2013 and all the possibility it brings. It’s a new chance, an unwritten page, an unmarked path open to new plans and new adventures. I’m excited to get started.

I’m wishing you the Happiest of New Years. I hope 2013 brings you love, peace, health, happiness and everything you could possibly wish for.

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Puppy Love

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Call it kismet, fate, destiny, luck, good timing or just plain meant to be, but we now have a fourth boy in the family — yep, a fourth Wild Thing — and his name is Mojave. Like the beautiful, dusty desert in California I’ve always loved driving through.

We signed up to be placed on a waiting list to adopt a dog at the Humane Society over the weekend, but as we left the building and headed to our car, the boys a little let down that we wouldn’t actually be going home with a dog that day, we spotted three young guys in the parking lot holding the sweetest-looking pup who looked just like a tiny chunk of salted caramel.

My husband asked about him and the guys told him they’d found the little guy abandoned behind one of their workplaces and that the Humane Society turned them away since the pup was found too far away from their area of jurisdiction. We offered to keep him and they quickly agreed, happy to find him a home with a family who’d undoubtedly love and care for him.

We’d thought about adopting a pup for the boys for quite awhile now. I suppose we were waiting for the baby to get a bit older and for my oldest to get a tad more responsible, so he could help with the care and nurturing and maintenance  a dog requires.

He’s ready. We’re ready. And we figured it made sense (although, maybe it sounds crazy to some) to adopt a younger puppy so he could “grow up” with the boys, rather than an older dog who might already be set in his ways and could become impatient with three very loud and very wild boys.

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I’d say a puppy’s playfulness is on par with a toddler’s, so a new playmate has arrived in this house ready to do what puppies do best, equipped with an energy level that only a goofy little pup can bring, all big, clumsy paws and perked up ears, a tiny ball of adorable fluff. So far he naps a lot, eats a lot, poops a lot, pees a lot and plays a lot, just like any other baby does. He’s awfully cuddly around nap time and I’m not sure who enjoys snuggling more — the boys or him.

And that’s Mojave, two days in. We’re so happy we found him. Or he found us.

Now, onto the housebreaking.

A Week in Photos (and a little shameless self-promotion)

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The boys and I were able to get outdoors and explore quite a bit this week.

Last weekend, I took the two older boys to see a movie in an actual movie theatre, which we rarely do. The three-year-old is finally at an age where he can (mostly) sit still through a nearly two-hour film, without too much”Shhhhushing” on my part to get him to stop TALKING OUT LOUD and narrating all the action for us. There was a little bit of this going on, but I think our neighbors were mostly okay with it, since it was a kid’s film after all.

Later in the week, we visited a beautiful arboretum on the campus of my old college, where I was a little wistful reminiscing about being young and quietly studying for exams in the shady gardens there as a teenager, when all I had to worry about back then was studying for exams and being a teenager. I used the outing as a vehicle for not only allowing the boys to study nature, while using their imaginations and getting their hands dirty poking around bubbling streams with sticks and leaving with muddy knees, but to continue to explain the concept of college to my oldest, who had never actually stepped foot on a college campus before.

We stood beneath giant cacti in the sunshine, got up close and personal with vibrant orange monarch butterflies, who let us nearly touch them with our fingertips, and ran through make-believe jungles, pretending we were lost there, using our sticks to guide us through tangled vines.

We also hiked through our favorite canyon this week, under a canopy of oak trees. It was the first time I really let the baby walk around on his own and hike along with us, instead of strapping him into a stroller or onto my body, carrying him on my back. He was giddy with the freedom of exploration, grabbing sticks to carry like his big brothers, stomping around in piles of autumn leaves, touching new textures and throwing rocks. I’ve realized a large part of boy behavior involves searching for the biggest stick you can find on hikes and wielding it as a sword to fight your brother, while also chucking rocks at anything and everything that moves.

“Yeah, boys? Let’s not throw that giant rock at that beautiful bird resting peacefully in that tree, okay?

This week, we also tackled a little project I’d been talking about for awhile, but hadn’t gotten around to. We finally moved the baby’s crib out of our bedroom and into his brothers’ room so that all three boys could finally share a room together and the baby could sleep in his own crib overnight instead of co-sleeping with me, as he’s done since birth.

I dreaded the process because I knew it would be met with major screaming tears on the baby’s part. I wrote about why I was ready to get him sleeping in his own crib here. It’s time for him to learn how to sleep in his own space, without still waking up to nurse every couple hours when he’s co-sleeping with me. I am more than ready to get some solid sleep again. They say it takes 72 hours to break any habit and last night was night three of him sleeping in his crib overnight with his brothers.

The first two nights didn’t go very well, my husband was up with him several times, coaxing him back to sleep, but last night, he did much better. He only woke up once, fussed for a few minutes and got himself to go back down. It was the first time in fourteen months that I was able to sleep a solid six hours without waking up and it was blissful. Let’s hope tonight goes just as well. Fingers crossed.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in the US and we feasted and gave thanks along with the rest of the country. This year, it was just us five gathering around our table, which I decided to decorate and make festive for the occasion. My husband roasted a delicious turkey and we collaborated on the side dishes: mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes, cranberry chutney and pumpkin pie. It was a lovely day and an opportunity to be grateful for our blessings, especially the three little lively boys who have stolen our hearts more than we could have ever imagined.

They have taught me so much about loving and living.

And to tie this week up with a beautiful holiday bow, a book I contributed a piece of my writing to, was released today. It’s an honest anthology of funny pregnancy stories from twenty moms called, “Bumptabulous,” and if you’re so inclined to buy it for yourself or an expectant mom, you (or they) are sure to get some laughs and a candid  peek at pregnancy and motherhood.

You can read more about it here and purchase the book here.

If you celebrated Thanksgiving, I hope you had a wonderful one with your loved ones. I’m thankful for those of you who visit and read about this little life of mine, with my Three Wild Things and share your stories as well.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Disneyland Diaries

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I’ll admit, I’m not Disneyland’s biggest fan.

In fact, I wasn’t even a big fan of the place as a kid, when I grew up with it practically in my backyard, an easy, twenty-minute drive up the 5 Freeway on a good day. I can’t even completely pinpoint what it is about Disneyland that makes me uneasy, it just does.

There’s something so saccharine about it all, the squeaky clean image, the creepy, robotic characters and animatronics (I’m talking about those inside the attractions, not the real-life “cast members” themselves), the contrived “fun” that comes with an obscenely hefty price tag, how the entire place is stuck in some kind of bizarre time-warp (I mean, Tomorrowland still looks like 1986 to me), that it’s capitalism, Americana and over-consumption at its finest: buy, buy, buy, consume, consume, consume and you’ll be happy!

After all, it’s the Happiest Place on Earth, right?

Maybe it’s something about all that happy that creeps me out. Because, it’s not really a true reflection of life itself. Life just isn’t that darn happy all the time. Why should people spend $150 apiece to enter a theme park that promises them happiness by gorging on overpriced churros, super-sized buttered popcorn in cheap plastic Mickey Mouse containers, waiting an hour and a half in lines that snake around buildings for nothing more than a mere three-minute thrill? Is that really happiness? I feel like some of the best happiness I’ve found costs absolutely nothing at all.

I’m sure I’m completely overanalyzing Disneyland.

My point is, against my better judgment we visited Disneyland last weekend for my middle son’s third birthday. And we consumed and consumed and consumed. Until I literally felt kind of sick.

It always amazes me how easy it is to give up your stance on so many things you previously vowed you’d never do, once you have kids. For example, per his request last year, I spent my oldest son’s sixth birthday at a local Chuck E. Cheese’s. That’s something I swore I’d never do, pre-children. Ever. But, there I was, happily eating slices of bad pizza and playing skee-ball.

So. When your adorably spirited three-year-old has a newfound interest in all things Mickey Mouse, you know what you do? You stop being jaded and cynical. That’s what you do.

Yep.

You go to Disneyland.