I asked W what he was thankful for without giving him the definition of thankful. I wasn't sure what he was going to say, but I'm really glad I hit record:

While I may not need to explain the word "thankful" to W, we might want to clear up his confusion on the definition of question vs. answer.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Books You'll Find Under Our Tree: AMMO Books Review

In true second child fashion, I am totally stumped about what to get B for Christmas. I'm pretty much done with W, but it's hard to justify getting new stuff for a baby who can't open gifts and won't remember any of it anyway. So, I decided that books would be the best thing for me to focus on this year. And, let's face it, W will get his hands on any book that I buy for B, as well. Though we have tons of books , we can always use new ones. Mom and Dad get tired of reading the same books over and over and over...

I received Colors by Charley Harper and Counting in the Garden by Emily and Patrick Hruby from AMMO Books. And they're really good for both boys. I love the art in them. The colors, the black outlines, and the patterns just seem to mesmerize B. And he grips the corner of the page and only lets go when he's ready to move on. I love that the more you look at the pages, the more you see in them. We spent plenty of time with B gripping the book and staring while W pointed out shapes and other objects in the photos.

My favorite of the two is Counting in the Garden. We planted our first vegetable garden this summer (though it performed terribly) and W checked on the progress of his tomatoes and green beans multiple times a day. I like that this book focuses on not only counting, but shows how things add up when you're planting a garden.

i find that counting books are often a drag. We have plenty of books that just show a sleu of items with a big number next to them. The number 20 with a photo of 20 hats doesn't do much for me. I prefer books that can count with a point, like this one.

Colors is great, because it has multiple styles and lots of fun, super bright colors. Again, color books are often boring. Seriously, how many books do you need that spell the color blue and then on the other page show a blue show, blue hat, and blue car. BORR-RINGGG. This book is much more hip and fun. I found myself genuinely enjoying the pictures.

They'll be wrapped and under the tree when the big day rolls around, but I had to give them a once over first. I would highly recommend you consider putting them under your tree as well.

I encourage you to check out the website for AMMO Books. They're really fun and exciting and have a lot of great things to offer. It's a very different style of children's books.... One that we Hannemaniacs really appreciate.

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of these books. The opinions in this post are my own.


W's Big Surprise Tomorrow: ChiTAG (Chicago Toy and Game Fair)

Toys are W's life. He is OBSESSED with them. OBSESSED. So, we're taking this little addict to his crack den tomorrow morning... The 2011 Chicago Toy & Game Fair at Navy Pier!

We haven't told him we're going yet. I think that the idea of a toy fair could put him over the edge, so I just warned him that we have a big, fun surprise in store for him.

I can't wait to see his little expression in the face of a fair planned around toys and games.

If you're looking for something to do this weekend, check it out. It's running running November 19th and 20th and sounds awesome. You'll find us there tomorrow! For a coupon for $2 off click here.

Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets for our family to attend Chicago Toy and Game Fair. The views expressed are my own.


The Boys Have Waged A Sleep War: How We're Fighting Back

This is how our nights have been going for the last two months:

7:55 pm: Warn W we're getting close to jammy time.

8:00 pm: Announce jammy time.

8:02 pm: Announce jammy time again.

8:05 pm: Announce jammy time and threaten to take away a book (he gets three before bed).

8:06 pm: Count: 1...... Do you want 3 books?....2.....OK, we're down to 2 books......3.....

8:10 pm: Matt gets W ready for bed while I feed B.

8:15 pm: W comes out to say, "Good night, Mom, good night. Good night, B, good night" in an adorable sing-song voice, which makes me much more inclined to let him hang out with me for a few minutes. Master Manipulator, right?

8:20 pm: Matt comes out to find him. Carries him back to room and book negotiations begin.

8:40 pm: Matt walks out of the room. B is starting to fall asleep, but I can't put him in his room yet, because....

8:42 pm: W starts talking very loudly.

8:45 pm: W starts opening and closing his door.

8:50 pm: W starts calling for help.

8:55 pm: W either leaves his room to find us or starts full on screaming and crying, which usually wakes up B. Feeding starts again.

9:00 pm: Matt lays down with W, who demands an original story (usually about Thomas the Train).

9:30 pm: I put down B and sometimes switch places with Matt.

10:00 pm: W is finally asleep and parent in bed with him climbs out (after falling asleep, of course)

10:05 pm: B wakes up. Feeding continues.

10:30 pm: Put B back down.

11:00 pm: B wakes back up. Falls back asleep the instant he's held (this continues in 30 minute cycles until about 12:30 and then 2 hour cycles).

So, this means we get nothing done at night and bedtime is a two person job. I have actually cancelled plans because bedtime has become such a nightmare. And then our nanny watched the boys on Saturday night and W went right to sleep... Which made me realize he's playing us for fools. Very tired, unproductive fools.

Now we have a new strategy. Call it a reward system. Call it bribery. But, a couple nights in and it seems to be working:
W gets a sticker for every night he doesn't make one of us lay down with him. Once he gets 10 stickers, he gets to pick our a new car. It was hard to convince him at first. I explained the plan and he got quiet for a while. When it was time to get ready for bed, I explained it again. He thought about it and told me this (not even kidding): "I don't need to do this. I have a lot of toys and Santa is going to bring me alllll the toys I need."

But, you know that boy of ours... He can't say no to a toy, no matter how hard he tries. And I may have told him that I have a direct line to Santa and if he doesn't cooperate with this Santa may not be bringing him all the toys he's expecting.

Remember this post? I still stand by it. Those moments are precious, but I feel like I'm being played by a three year old. So, now that we have a plan for the W battle... I'm plotting my plans for B. Tonight I gave him acetaminophen before bed (in case this is a teething issue) and a bottle of formula. He's already woken up once. But, I have my fingers crossed.


The Other William

For the From Left to Write Book Club we read the memoir Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic by Martha Beck. Being pregnant while in graduate school at Harvard was stressful enough, but when Martha learned her unborn child had Down syndrome she battled almost everyone (including herself) over her decision to continue her pregnancy. This post was inspired by the book. 

 In college my sister Christina worked for an organization that helped socialize people with disabilities. They paid very little and I believe she would have done it as a volunteer, but it was the perfect position for her for the few years she was in Iowa City. She worked with a number of clients, but her favorite was a young man with Down syndrome by the name of William.

William lived in a little apartment in downtown Iowa City. He had a job at a bank. He was functional and contributing to society. Christina helped him cook his meals, clean his apartment, and meet other various responsibilities a few times a week. I remember her first telling me about William and more than anything I was shocked that he was living on his own. I remember thinking that his parents must have worked hard to make sure he had every opportunity and overcome their fears to allow him such independence.

Early on in their relationship, as she was headed to his apartment, Christina noticed William walking a block ahead of her. She quickened her step, called his name, and waved for him to wait, so they could walk the rest of the way together. In response William looked over his shoulder at her and started to move faster, which only made Christina run faster and call him louder, which made William move faster... until they were both running. (Can you imagine what people walking by were thinking to see this girl chasing down a boy with Down syndrome in the middle of a busy downtown area?)

William got to his apartment building and beat Christina up the stairs, closing the door behind him. When she knocked, he answered the door and greeted her. She asked if he had seen her on the street and why he ran from her. "Because you're supposed to meet me here," he said.

William loved Christina and understood her role in his life. But, William was IN LOVE with my youngest sister Danielle, who would often join Christina to spend time with him. Like any other young man faced with a pretty young university student, he tried to find ways to convince Christina to give him Danielle's number or allow the two of them to spend time alone, so he could woo her. He would ask Christina to help him make dinner for Danielle with the clear message that Christina was to leave once the meal was ready. He was one in a long line of guys who would be smitten with my sister.

Christina would soon graduate and move back to Chicago, thinking she wouldn't see William again. But, she did... Six years ago I was back in Iowa City with my sisters, we were walking through the main area of the downtown and there was a large group of people with Down syndrome listening to a concert in the pedestrian mall. Christina mentioned that she thought William might be there and as soon as she said it, he came running toward her. He gave her a big hug and gave Danielle an ever bigger hug. It was like they were long lost friends. He introduced us to his "friend," who was a pretty blond girl who also had Down syndrome. He was smiling. He was happy. And he was hanging out with his friends like a lot of other young men on a Saturday night in Iowa City. I'm not trying to simplify his condition and realize William may be extremely capable, but he's my point of reference when I think of someone with Down syndrome.

When I was pregnant with my William, we were pretty set on the name since it was Matt's grandfather's name. But, like most expectant moms I spent plenty of time thinking of possible names and crossing any off of my list that reminded me of someone I wouldn't want to think of every day for the rest of my life. We all do it. Mark was an ass in high school. Blake was the smelly kid in school. Ray stuck his hands down his pants. Mike had small man complex. I don't mind thinking of William every day. I hope he is doing well.

As a member of From Left to Write Book Club, I received a complimentary copy of this book.


Our Little B

This is B's sweet little expression about 90% of the time. Our happy, happy boy.

He's FIVE months old. Seriously, did that time fly for you as fast as it did for me? I received all the warnings that it just starts to go faster and faster with each kid, but I kind of underestimated just how fast it could go. In the blink of an eye five months have flown by and I look at what's been documented about our little guy and realize he hasn't gotten much Hannemaniacs air time.

So, I thought I would introduce you to our little Baby B, who is quite possibly the sweetest, happiest baby I have ever met. He has an infectious little smile that constantly stops strangers on the street. He likes to intensely stare at people until they make eye contact and then breaks into a big smile when they smile at him. And if you don't smile at B, you have no heart. He's happiest standing and bouncing and rolls easily from front-to-back and back-to-front. 

B easily slept through the night at 2 months and, up until a few weeks ago, he was a champion sleeper. He popped his first tooth at three months and his second tooth at four months, both in the bottom center.

B adores his older brother and loves watching W and Matt play. He is fascinated by Howie. His favorite activity is burying his head in my neck and shrieking. We spend a lot of time sitting on the couch playing this game. A true mama's boy.

This little baby makes me incredibly happy and I spend a lot of time laughing at him and making funny faces and noises to make him smile (really, it doesn't take much).

I never, ever imagined I would have a child with blue eyes, but his seem here to stay. And now I can't imagine not having those big blue eyes to look into every morning. I can still remember when it was just the three of us, but barely. It seems like he's always been a part of our family.

In a way I really thought that our second child would just be a clone of W, but it's not the case. Both boys have distinctly different personalities and looks. I can't wait to see Beckett's continue to blossom.