Saturday, August 30, 2008

No, it's Iowa...

Living on the east coast it's easy to forget how idyllic summers in Iowa can be. The weather has been perfect, the fruit has been delicious, the tractors have been fun, and the pond has been wonderful as usual. Owen has had a blast running around Grandpa and Grandma Z's house, playing in the grass, chasing butterflies and bunny rabbits. We met Leanna and Troy's baby Grace on Monday just six days after she was born (and just five days after Owen's birthday). On Tuesday Owen charmed all the folks at the retirement home in Des Moines visiting Ethel and Karen. Uncle Bernie drove down on Wednesday and Ken & Helen came over for yet another celebration of Owen's second birthday (this one involved ice cream cake). Thursday convinced Owen that Iowa is a great place when he got to drive Uncle Ken's tractor (daddy took the wheel while turning, but Owen was very insistent that only he was allowed to shift gears). On Friday we kicked it up a notch when Owen got to ride in cousin Kent's digger and play on cousin Kent's firetruck! After the firetruck, a last trip to the pond to play in the sand and pick fresh plums (Owen took a few bites out of ten different plums which doesn't bode well for his diapers) preceded one more visit with Leanna, Troy and baby Grace. Now on Saturday we're driving back to Aunt Katherine's house, then on to DC and back to life in the big city.

(click here to see all the pictures)

Monday, August 25, 2008

On the Road, Part II

After packing a day's worth of activities into a single morning at Aunt Katherine's, we assumed Owen would be sufficiently tired to sleep at least half the way to Uncle Steve & Aunt Becky's. Alas, he was awake before we entered Indiana and growing restless by the time we hit Illinois. By the time we reached the door, he was about to implode from pent up energy. Fortunately we were greeted by all of Owen's cousins plus a couple of their friends who led Owen to their newly installed jungle gym and offered him every toy known to mankind plus some baby bunny rabbits nesting by their mailbox . Two hours later, Owen was ready to crash and after a book read by Olivia and a song sung by Maura, he was out for the count.

Sunday began with outside play with his cousins followed by church, which was essentially more outside play for Owen as he was so filled with the Spirit that he couldn't be contained for more than a few minutes at a time. After church we headed to Spring Valley where we saw horses, a six day old calf, and a plucky rooster. Then it was back to Steve & Becky's where Uncle Dave & Aunt Kara joined us for a barbecue while Owen napped. He woke up just in time for presents and a beautiful cake courtesy of Olivia who decorated it herself and was extremely generous with the food coloring, so much so that Olivia, Maura & Sam had to give Owen a bath immediately afterwards. After several more hours of running around outside, we finally packed up the van and headed to Grandpa and Grandma Z's, who were eagerly awaiting our arrival.

(click here to see all the pictures)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

On the Road, Part I

Grandpa Fawcett convinced us we were crazy to leave DC after work Friday for our cross country trip to Iowa, so we only put in a couple of hours at the office before heading home via the park and library, where we quickly packed up the car, grabbed lunch and left for Aunt Katherine's. We planned it so that Owen would be exhausted by the time we hit the road and figured he'd sleep a nice chunk of the way. We didn't factor in I-270 traffic, however, and so when we came to a standstill outside Hagerstown so ended the sleeping quietly portion of our first leg. Happily, we'd borrowed Grandpa Fawcett's van which comes equipped with a DVD player and so Owen got to watch his first movie ever, The Jungle Book, while on route to Aunt Katherine's. And while we don't generally advocate using television to placate our child, thanks to it we managed to drive 6 1/2 hours without a single stop.

We got in around 9:00 that night and ran around and played while Katherine made dinner and then put the little guy to bed. The next morning involved riding trikes, searching for ducks, trying on football helmets, naked sprinkler time, climbing rocks, and investigating a train, all before lunch. Afterwards we headed to Uncle Steve & Aunt Becky's for leg number II.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Owen's Birthday 2.0


Owen's turning 2 has been a lot easier on me than his turning 1 last year was. Maybe it's because Owen's been saying "Happy Birthday Owen" for the past month and so the shock of his turning 2 has worn off. Or it could be I've just gotten used to the idea since I stopped giving his age in months around March (19 months just sounds weird) and started responding to inquiries about his age, "he'll be 2 in August." But probably the reason this birthday hasn't inspired the tears that last year's did is that Owen really hasn't been a baby for a while, and the fact that he's so excited for it to be his birthday makes feeling sad about it seem a bit silly.

Anyway, it's been a big year with a lot of ups and some pretty big downs. Through it all we've learned the following lessons:
  1. "No" sometimes means "maybe”.
  2. Bath time is infinitely more fun with bubbles, crayons and swim moves.
  3. Never tell your child which Sesame Street character is on his diaper. Because while his preference ordering might very well be Ernie Cookie Monster Elmo, this only holds true if you haven't just put an Elmo diaper on him, in which case the ordering is reversed and tears are shed.
  4. Saying "bye-bye" to an object beforehand makes it much easier when that object is gone. Saying "bye-bye" to people? Not so much.
  5. Doggies are good in theory. In practice, the jury is still out.
  6. Do not utter the words "cookie" or "ice cream" unless you are prepared to back them up.
  7. Sitting on the potty is not the same thing as going potty.
  8. It is much easier to put home videos on a loop then to hit "play" every few minutes at your child's bidding.
  9. Pools, regardless of size and location, are humankind's greatest invention.
  10. Babies are cute, but toddlers are fun.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Party Boy

We managed to get Owen's birthday presents fairly early this year and planned on giving him one the day of his birthday party and one on his actual birthday. But when softball fever hit in July and our 23 month old son was insisting on having real softballs hurled at him while he attempted to swing a real softball bat, we decided that maybe giving him his bat, ball, and glove early, wasn't such a bad idea. And it probably wasn't, except that we told him it was an early birthday present, which led to "Happy Birthday Owen" becoming his own personal mantra for the past three weeks.

Finally, the long wait is over.

On Saturday, Owen spent the morning riding his new tricycle (yeah, he got that a few days early as well) before going to swimming lessons, having lunch, and (eventually) taking a late nap. When he awoke, he was surrounded by his east coast grandparents, balloons, cake, stuffed animals, and more presents. He seemed overwhelmed with joy. Then Mia, Cole, Will and their respective parents showed up, at which point he became downright giddy. By the time we got to the cake & ice cream, I really didn't think it possible to have a happier child, but then I was proved wrong as more presents were unwrapped.

Not a single tear. Not a single tantrum. Clearly the best day of his life... so far.

(click here to see all the pictures)

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Fair

I grew up in Des Moines, home of the Iowa State Fair, and was an annual attendee at the event until I left for college and my parents moved away. It was there that I first discovered that any animal can be replicated in butter provided you have proper refrigeration. It was there that I won a green ribbon for my peanut-butter cookies when I was eight. It was there that I almost met Gloria Estefan & the Miami Sound Machine until my friend Lisa convinced me we should try and meet boys instead. And it was there that I discovered that boys that hang out at fairs are generally not worth missing a free concert for.

So when Brad, Marlo & Mia invited us to go to the Montgomery County Fair this past weekend, I was really excited to relive one of my childhood memories with Owen. The brochure they'd received boasted of the family friendly fun to be had and even mentioned a petting zoo. But when we first made it to the midway, the only animals to be had were those of the genetic mutation variety -- a dog with two bodies, the "zonkey," a zebra-donkey hybrid, Goliath the freakishly large horse -- whose main selling point appeared to be that they were alive. Inundated with carni-esque glory, I realized that we clearly weren't in Iowa and wondered if we had made a huge mistake.

But as we continued to make our way through the fair we eventually happened upon the local fire department which gave Owen & Mia helmets and let them check out the engine. A little further up the road we encountered the goat barns, followed by the sheep barns, rabbit pens, pig barns, and Owen's personal favorite, the cow barns where he and a champion jersey got into a mooing contest. There was a parade which included some mounted police and a lot of 4-Hers spreading their love of sheep and swine. After some barbecue, we happened upon a field of John Deere equipment which included a combine that was made into a slide. Before we left, we even managed to find the horse and pony stables and got to do a little petting.

It was threatening rain, but held off while we were there. And despite it being August, the temperature was in the low eighties the whole time. Owen and Mia and the rest of us had a pretty amazing time and we really couldn't have asked for more.

Except, maybe a butter cow.