Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Breakfast Joy

The sun was glorious this morning as Cooper and I were eating breakfast.

Joyful boy



Ornament Exchange

Last night I went to an ornament exchange with some friends. I found this hilarious one as my contribution to the swap. I can't help but wonder how many of these were made and how many people have them hanging on their tree, clueless of the mistake.

The Mess

When I am working with my tutoring students, Cooper amuses himself in our TV room, watching a movie, playing with his toys, and having snacks. He is incredibly good while I work, leaving me and the students alone, for the most part. I feel very lucky that I can work and not have to hire a babysitter, for now at least. But, there are days when Cooper has an amazing ability to completely destroy the TV room. Here I captured some of his mess after a two hour tutoring session.

I honestly don't think Cooper ate any of the pretzels or gold fish...
he just threw them around.
The boy at his best.
Scouty helps clean up. I swear, dogs help keep the house clean!!




Sunday, December 9, 2007

MAYA Christmas Gift

Last night was the annual MAYA Design Holiday Party. Unfortunately, Cooper was too sick to go, so Erik ventured alone. I was actually very disappointed to miss it, because the party was at the Pittsburgh Zoo and I know Cooper and I would have had a great time looking at all the animals. Santa Claus makes an appearance every year to give all the MAYA kids gifts. Cooper loves his gift, which he opened this morning: a NASCAR truck with two race cars. There is a bit of a vehicle obsession going on with Cooper right now, so anything with wheels is sure to be a big hit.

Checking out the race cars

Putting the cars on the truck

Driving along

Putting the truck back together

Thanks MAYA Santa!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

First Snow 2007

Today Cooper played in the snow for the first time. He seemed very intrigued, though very confused and anxious about how difficult it is to walk in snow pants, boots, and snow covering his feet. He had fun though, and hopefully the first experience didn't scar him too much. See the pictures below for the whole experience.

Happy in the snow

Looking good in the new coat and snow pants

Checking things out from the porch

Uh-oh! Cooper face planted off the porch into the snow.
We went inside after this, but I couldn't
resist taking a picture. Needless to say,
Cooper did not like having a face full of snow.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

One Amazing Kid



I've always been impressed and inspired by all that young people do. Here is an amazing example of a 10 year old girl moved to make a difference in our world, and to challenge others to do the same.

Laura is completing 25 good deeds in the 25 days leading up to Christmas. She is dedicating her work to her grandfather, who she was her inspiration to be a charitable leader, and she is honoring his memory through her good deeds.

Please check out her blog Twenty Five Days to Make a Difference. Be inspired and reach out to make a difference for others this holiday season. I know I'm going to.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Visiting Santa

In need of distractions and laughs while in Michigan last week, my mom and I decided to take Cooper to see Santa Claus at the mall. The experience proved to deliver just what we needed: lots of laughs at the expense of poor Cooper. He was successfully traumatized by the event, and dependably answers a resounding "NO" whenever asked if he wants to go see Santa. Why is terrifying my own child entertaining? I'm not sure, but it was just what my mom and I were looking for. Hope you get a laugh too.

Cooper thought the train was cool,
but once he realized the seat was
close to Santa, he wanted OFF!

This one is my favorite.

I love the polite smile and
Cooper trying to hide his desperate fear.

Uh oh, this is getting scarier!


Can you please take me off of this thing?


Okay, somebody help me.


And the finale;

with one picture left
we decided to attempt the lap picture.
You can see Cooper
absolutely loved that idea.
I don't think he has ever gripped me
as tightly as he did when I finally
lifted him off Santa's lap.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

46% of our County's Public School Children are Low Income?!?!?!

I don't know what angers me and saddens me more when I read things like this disturbing post on another blog: the high rate of children living in poverty or the extreme imbalance of wealth in our country. How do we call ourselves a super-power? How are we one of the wealthiest nations, a global leader, when there are such hypocrisies here? And where do our leaders get off thinking that we can solve the problems of another country, when we can't seem to solve our own?

I recommend checking out the link to the post, along with an interesting comment on the outrageous long-term costs of higher education.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Yeah Red Sox!!!!

I think a little piece of my heart will always live in New England. I lived for two years in Boston and over a year in Portland, Maine, and it is a rare day that I don't long for the New England coast. A person can't live in New England and not become a Red Sox fan. I think they must put something in the water. (Like when was Emilie ever a sports fan?) And it is so exciting that the Red Sox have won their second World Series in three years.

Unfortunately, I have yet to actually watch the Red Sox win. The first time they won in 2004 I had just moved to Pittsburgh and our TV hadn't arrived, and being new to the city we didn't even know where to go to watch the big game. Last night I have only fatigue to blame. Erik was away for the weekend so playing single parent wiped me out. I made it to the 7th inning at least, and had a good feeling they were going to win.

So congrats to all the Red Sox and how I wish I could join the party in Boston!!!!

P.S. Now it is time to cheer for the Patriots! Just don't tell anyone here. That is punishable by death in Steeler Country!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cooper and Charlie at the Pumpkin Patch

Last week Cooper and I had a wonderful treat to spend a beautiful fall day at the pumpkin patch with our friends Charlie and Sara. The day was perfect, sunny and in the low 70s...amazing. I loved every minute of it, and had been begging my mom (who was here the previous week for a visit) and Erik to go pick out some pumpkins. No one wanted to join, so I think they missed out and we got to enjoy it all.

Charlie and Cooper waiting for the hayride enjoying some muffin.

Cooper LOVED riding the tractor.

Coop posed for this picture with no prompting. I have NO idea!

This one looks good!

Did you know pumpkins make great seats?

Cooper riding a mini tractor while I enjoy the beautiful day.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Where Did September Go?

The fall has brought more than the changing leaves and cooler weather to our household. Fall has brought a major change to my schedule, one that still has me reeling and my head spinning as I am trying to gain some control over it all.

In July I started working at Wesley Spectrum Services as a Behavior Support Specialist and Mobile Therapist in the Family and Child Development Center. What does that mean? I am a behavior therapist in the wraparound program, over seeing and contributing to therapeutic interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders. When I accepted this position I knew it would be part time, to earn some more money and to stay current in my field (and release some of the stress of having a masters degree in social work and not using it). I thought I would have one or two cases, work a few hours a week and learn a lot.

I also started a tutoring business last year, Reach and Succeed Tutoring, providing services for students in a variety of subjects. All tutoring takes place in my home so that Cooper can be here while I work. I had high hopes for the tutoring, and things went well in my first year. But over the summer I only had one student and wondered every day whether the tutoring was ever going to go anywhere.

Well, here comes September and all of a sudden I find myself with 13 hours worth of cases at Wesley (which means roughly 15 hours of work) and 7 tutoring students for 8 hours per week (one student comes two hours per week) plus prep time. So, I have gone from working a few hours a week to suddenly working between 20 and 25 hours per week.

My how my days have changed!! Thankfully, Cooper goes to the babysitter on Thursday and Friday. Un-thankfully, I now have no days without work, and that includes weekends.

So today I say good-bye to September and the shock to my system it has brought me. I hope that October brings me some calm in this madness and a way to balance my new, much more hectic, schedule.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My Beautiful Boy


This is my latest favorite picture of my Coop. He looks like such a big guy, and I see hints of what he is going to look like when he is older.

Quote of the Day

Cooper loves to say "Uh-oh". Most of the time he says it for completely unknown or incorrect reasons. Erik and I have found ourselves saying to him on numerous occasions, "You don't say 'uh-oh' when you throw something on the floor."

This morning Cooper used "uh-oh" perfectly.

The Today Show was on, so I can somewhat feel like I know what is going on in the world, and they were talking about how Bush is going to address the UN today. There was a shot of Bush walking down the stairs off his mighty airplane. Cooper looked at the screen and said, with a slight tone of dread, "uh-oh".

Of course I told him that was a perfect use of one of his favorite words.

Friday, September 21, 2007

What I'm Reading

I recently finished My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult . This is an engaging book that I know will stay with me for many years. Picoult, reportedly inspired by her own experiences with her child, explores the realms of childhood illness, "designer" babies, parent's rights, and the lengths a parent will go to to help her child. I found Picoult's use of varied perspectives particularly gripping as the chapters shift perspective between each of the main characters. Picoult seamlessly moves from the voice of a thirteen year old girl to her 40-ish fire-fighter father to others, and in doing so offers the reader an all knowing perspective with which to form her own opinion on the heart wrenching challenges they all face.

My Sister's Keeper also illuminated, again, how much has changed for me since I became a mom. I know that my reading of this novel would have been drastically different before Cooper came along. I still would have enjoyed it, but pieces would not have been read as deeply as they did with my own perspective as a mother. One of my favorite quotes from this book exemplifies this:

"being a mother is completely different. You want your child to have more than you even did. You want to build a fire underneath her and watch her soar. It's bigger than words." I touch my chest. "And it sill all manages to fit very neatly inside here."

I definitely recommend this book to everyone. Let me know what you think if you do read it or have already done so.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

First Day

Today was Cooper's first day of his new Kindermusik class. What a treat to be back with Miss Kathy, his amazing teacher. We took 2 sessions last year and Cooper soaked up every morsel of the time, exploring the instruments, watching the twinkle lights on the ceiling, and dancing to all the songs.

I'm learning that Cooper is an observer by nature, preferring to stay on the edge of the action, and today was no exception. At the beginning of every class, instruments are spread out on the floor for the kids to play with as everyone arrives. Today, Cooper chose to sit in my lap and watch the others play, a happy observer. During class, Cooper let all the other kids get an instrument before him, patiently waiting to get one for himself. I think he likes to soak everything in and study his options before committing himself to anything. (Those of you who know Erik well may have some ideas of where Cooper gets this.) Once he warmed up a bit he decided instead of sitting with me singing the songs, he would rather walk laps around the classroom. From that perspective he could see what everyone else was doing and take it all in.

Here are some pictures of the day, with Cooper playing his new take home instrument, Zig Zig Blocks. He LOVES them!

Before Class

Playing the Zig Zag Blocks


Friday, September 7, 2007

Hiding

Where's Cooper?

I think I see something.....


Here he comes....

There he is!!!!

Time to play with the eggs!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Carpetastrophy

I've been away from this blog for a while, and here is my excuse. A week and a half ago, with every intention of doing a good thing for our home, I rented a Rug Doctor carpet cleaner from Home Depot. I've wanted our carpets cleaned since before we moved in here, and thought if I did it myself I could save some money. Well, I guess I did too good of a job and over soaked our carpets. They took 4 days to dry. I was on the phone with Rug Doctor multiple times a day, and eventually they sent someone out to professionally "clean up" what I did, for free. Thank goodness. Yesterday was the professional day and our carpet looks nice (for 10 year old carpet!). What does this have to do with blogging? Well, our computer is in the family room and we have had very limited access to this room throughout the whole fiasco. But I'm back at it now!

Needless to say, I highly recommend hiring professionals if you need a carpet cleaned...I've learned my lesson!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Erik's Blog

I encourage everyone to check out Erik's Blog at www.thedahlpod.com. He has been posting a lot lately (perhaps due to a little competition from his wife?). The most exciting thing he has done is uploaded some hilarious videos of Cooper, "Me and My Shadow" and "Cooper Finn-ing Out". Enjoy them!!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cooking with Cooper

I have been including Cooper in some food preparation lately. It started with pulling up a chair so that he could watch me get his morning snack ready. I explained each step of preparing apple slices and he actually watched, listened and helped by putting the slices in the bowl. This morning I got some confirmation that he is actually taking it all in as he picked up the apple corer and put the end of it right in the middle of the apple.

A couple days ago I needed to make a dessert to share with my friends for my night out. I included Cooper in the cookie making and I think he got a big kick out of it. I let him add some of the dry ingredients, which he did seamlessly. I also let him partake in the best part of making cookies...stealing some chocolate chips and licking the beaters. I think he is going to continue to enjoy cooking with mom!!

licking the beater

sweet rewards for hard work

enjoying every morsel

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It's 3:30am....WHAT?!?!?!

Last night I had a great time hanging out with two friends. We shared a bottle of wine and ate some cookies I had made and sat on my friend Jehnie's couch talking and talking. Finally, Jessie and I gathered ourselves to leave, none of us knowing exactly what time it was. We all knew it was late, but I was dumbfounded when Jessie looked at her phone and said "It's 3:30". All I could think was "what am I going to do when Cooper wakes up in 4 hours?"

I'm feeling tired but everything considered I'm doing pretty well. Mostly, I'm feeling really great about having two friends that I can sit and talk with and totally lose track of the time.

p.s. and it was so wonderful to come home to a clean kitchen....thanks to my wonderful husband!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

What I'm Reading

A Self Study in Early Childhood Education

With Cooper officially in the midst of toddler hood, I've been reading a lot about early childhood education. As an educator I'm naturally drawn to this subject and excited about working on creating the best learning environment for my boy. But, with the plethora of books, magazines, and websites out there addressing this very subject, it is a bit overwhelming.

Though I know that homeschooling is not something that I have any intention of doing, for lack of a better way to describe it, part of my reading is to assist me in creating a home preschool for Coop. Here in Mt. Lebanon, as in may other communities where children and education are highly valued, the norm is to start your child in preschool at age 2 (the whole preschool push will have to be a topic on another day). Since that won't be happening for us this year, or maybe not even next year, I want to make sure that Cooper is learning, growing and exploring the world in a way that I feel good about.

Here are some of the titles I've been reading in this realm:

You Are Your Child's First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy, a Waldorf early childhood educator. I have had wonderful experiences visiting and studying the Waldorf school in Ann Arbor, MI. Since my introduction to this beautiful way of teaching young people I have desired to make it a part of my child's education. Though we don't have a Waldorf school near us, or the means to send Cooper to private school, I am learning ways to incorporate some of the Waldorf philosophies into Cooper's daily life.

Montessori From the Start by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen. This book is intelligently written and a great source for understanding Maria Montessori's philosophies of education and child development. I've never studied this before and find it all incredibly interesting. I'm still working on formulating my own understanding of it all. More on this to come.

Teaching Montessori in the Home, The Pre-School Years by Elizabeth G. Hainstock. This gives some actual lessons to do with preschoolers. A very easy read, but doesn't get as much into the philosophies behind the practice.

These are some books I'm using to find songs, finger plays, and other fun activities to do with Cooper:

The Baby's Lap Book by Kay Chorao
The Baby's Good Morning Book by Kay Chorao
Hand Rhymes by Marc Brown
Finger Rhymes by Marc Brown
Sing Us a Story by Jane Marino

Needless to say, this self-study is keeping me busy.

What I'm Reading

This on-going segment of my blog will take a look at what I am currently (or just finished) reading. At times it will be only a brief summary; at other times I will provide more indepth analysis and discussion of the material.

I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

18 months

Today Cooper is 18 months old. For some reason this feels like an even bigger land-mark than his first birthday did to me. 18 months means he is really a toddler, compared to the 1st birthday when he was really still a baby, not walking yet, still rolly-polly. I look at him all the time now and think he is such a big kid now. It really blows my mind. What a difference a year and a half makes. I'm not sure who has learned more, me or Cooper. I certainly know I am not the same person I was before he was born.

Happy 18 month Day Cooper!!!

(almost) 18 months
6 months
1 day

Launch

i'm joining the blogosphere. let me know what you think....