Sunday, December 30, 2007

"Attention, King Soopers Customers..."

We decided to do a family trip to King Soopers on Saturday night. (For my readers in the midwest, this is the Colorado version of Kroger. Think Giant Eagle... with mountains.)

The boys were both happy and cooperative when we left the house, but as we strolled the aisles and balanced food around them in the cart, they began to lose their patience with us and the whole grocery shopping process. Well, to be specific, Tyler wasn't particularly bothered, since he sat above it all in his carseat, but Tucker was wishing to be down, down, down.

He has started this new sassy, back-talking thing, where he shouts at us, "Bah!" He does it in response to any kind of sharp tone from either one of us, and when he's really mad, he couples it with ramming his head into my thigh. It's darling.

Robb and I have had enough of this attitude of his, and we had decided together that from now on, he gets one warning when he is mean, and then he gets a spanking. (I am not opposed to spanking; I think it is a very important and appropriate punishment when done correctly, but unfortunately a few overly angry, out of control parents out there have given it a bad name.)

He needs to know that it is never okay to be mean, no matter how angry he is.

(Could I just say, this is an especially fine line for us to determine, since Tucker doesn't have other words to show us his anger and frustration. I have taught him the sign for mad, but other than that, his choices are few in showing his emotions. As I said, it's definitely okay for him to be angry, but he cannot be mean. It's sometimes hard to tell the difference, but I am asking the Lord for wisdom on that one.)

Anyway...

Tucker was growing more and more agitated as I checked things off my list, and he finally crossed the line into the yelling and talking back. "Bah! Bah! Bah!"

Robb looked at me, and we shared a parental, nonverbal exchange, in which we agreed: it was time. He had been warned enough, and it was time for a trip to the bathroom. Robb snatched him out of his seat in the cart, and he carried him to the front of the store to the men's restroom.

Meanwhile, I finished my shopping.

The two of them joined me at the checkout counter, and that's when I noticed: Tucker was missing one of his snowboots. And you know, after filling my cart with this week's recipe ingredients, that boot could have been anywhere. I suspected he lost it in his transition from the cart to the restroom, but who could know for sure?

Robb began the search, tracing our steps. The clerk said to me, "Ma'am, is he missing a shoe?"

"Yes, and my husband is looking for it. Thank you for asking."

And just like that, before I knew what was happening, he picked up his telephone and announced over the intercom:

"Attention, King Soopers Customers. Attention, King Soopers Customers. If anyone finds a small blue snowboot, please deliver it to the customer service desk. I repeat: If anyone finds a small blue snowboot, please deliver it to the customer service desk. Thank you."

Great.

He began scanning my items, while employees came from far and wide: "Oh, you're missing a shoe? Can we see the other one, so we know what to look for? Would you like to give us your name and phone number, so we can call you if it shows up?"

Meanwhile, Tucker is still crying his head off. I knew he was still crying over his conversation with Daddy in the bathroom, and anyone who knows American Sign Language knew that he had asked if he could please still ride the penny horse before we left, and I had said no. His tears had nothing to do with his feet, but everything to do with this will being thwarted.

But to all the passersby, and there were many, he appeared to be terribly brokenhearted over a lost boot. They were patting his hand, smiling, consoling, and saying, "We'll find it, little buddy." They all but offered him a candy bar to dry his tears.

Finally, Robb came back, with the boot in his hand. Get this: He had found it in the cleaning aisle, on the bottom shelf, behind some merchandise.

That was one good kick, Tucker. I'll give you that.

Everyone was relieved the boot was found, not the least of which was myself, since this meant we could go home. Finally.

We bid farewell to all the sojourners who helped us complete the journey, we bundled our children to go out into the winter's night, and we loaded the groceries into the minivan to drive the 4 minutes to our home.

The boys were now starving to death, as evidenced by their wailing and gnashing of teeth, so I got them settled in their high chairs and began fixing a baby meal, a toddler meal, and two adult meals; all the while, Robb carried in bag after bag of food from the garage.

Before we could eat, several new things went wrong; I won't bother you with the details or the list of errors, but suffice it to say that I was drawing dangerously close to my limit. The boys were still screaming, and I had really had enough.

We finally sat down to join Tucker who was already eating and to continue feeding Tyler his jar of Ginger Chicken and Vegetables (which he would not swallow, but held his mouth open with it sitting just inside his lower lip, waiting for someone to catch what he would not consume). I tried to pull the high chair closer to me, but it got caught on the Elmo backpack underneath the table, and I couldn't move it closer.

This, my friends, was the last straw.

In total exasperation, I held my head in my hands. I needed a moment. I wasn't sure what was coming next with my emotions, but I was at the end of my rope.

Robb jumped up from his chair and said, "What do you need?"

"The high chair. Can't move it. The backpack. In the way." I was reduced to fragmented sentences, which is really not my style. It's the sign of a near mental breakdown.

In an act of pure chivalry, he picked up the backpack and launched it into the living room, and he rolled Tyler's chair closer to me.

"What else do you need?" he asked.

"I think that's all."

My poor, sweet, very tired husband knelt in front of me and said with great intensity, "I need you to stay with me. I can't have you losing it when they are both already out of control. If you lose it in a moment like this, Tricia, I swear to you, I will get in the car and go somewhere. Please. Stay with me."

I burst out laughing.

He was so right! I can't lose it right now! What on earth would he do if I started bawling right along with the children? I can't do that to him. I laughed and laughed, because that's just what you do when you can only either laugh or cry. You make your choice, and you give in to it.

I said, "Fair enough. I'm here."

And I was. And I will be.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Signing in his Sleep

Tuck is in the throes of a persistent cough that has been around for over two months now, and he has been on a nebulizer twice a day for two weeks. He'll continue this routine for two more weeks, and then we'll see what the doctor says as to whether his lungs have been nurtured enough. Bronchial issues run in my family, and I am all too familiar with the drill, having grown up next to a boy who always had his inhaler at the ready.

Last week, Tucker's cough progressed into croup. Croup is no fun, and it's nothing to mess around with. (And it's horrendously, alarmingly loud; in case you've never heard it, imagine your child barking like a seal in the middle of the night.) We spent Christmas Eve in the doctor's office, getting a presciption to bring down the swelling in his bronchial tubes so he could breathe more easily. My poor little guy.


His first dose of medication was to be administered AS SOON AS we got the drugs in our hands (a steroid, mind you), and then every twelve hours for two days. Unfortunately, his first dose was at 1:00 in the afternoon, which meant that half of his doses would take place at 1:00 in the morning.


My body does not often see 1:00 AM, and that is by choice and necessity. Nonetheless, I am a mommy of my word, so I set my alarm to get up and give my little man his teaspoon of predizone. (Did I mention he had to take it with food? So not only did he get the pleasure of my company in the middle of the night, but he also got a little midnight snack of animal crackers and juice.)


All of that to say, I was preparing his dosage that very first night, when I heard his little voice from his room, "Beep. Beep."


I thought perhaps he was awake, which would have been highly ironic and very convenient for our little medicine date. I tiptoed into his room to find him not awake at all, but quite sound asleep.


Here's the darling part: he was signing away. His little hands were moving in his sweet little signing gestures, and he was talking all about something. I really didn't want to wake him, since it was just so precious to watch him instead. But I did, ever so gently, and he snuggled on my lap, eating his crackers, drinking his juice, and finally downing the steroid in syrup form. I suspect he thinks he dreamt the whole thing.


We are done with that round of medicines for now, and I am hopeful we won't have to start that routine again anytime in the near future... I am hopeful that he will recover from this episode, have healthy lungs, and be free of the need for me to wake him in the middle of the night.


But if he hadn't needed those medicines, I would have missed out on that moment, standing over his bed, watching him use sign language in his sleep. It was a precious moment. Truly.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Kindergarten Teacher Hears It ALL

For those of you who have ever had a child in kindergarten, or for those of you who have children yet to start school, let me tell you one important thing I have learned to be absolutely, 100% true:

Your child's kindergarten teacher knows a LOT about your family.

Having been a kindergarten teacher myself, I could write volumes on the things I have learned from my students.

Some of them are most endearing, such as the little boy who told me all about his girlfriend, how she was so beautiful and he loved her so very much, only to finish the story by telling me her name: Mommy.

But there are others. By golly, there are others.

Like the little boy who told me that his mom didn't like the family dog, because it was always humping her and guests in their home.

I have learned a lot from the five-year-old perspectives on snoring habits, breastfeeding, bad words, kissing, bad breath, and many, many more.

Here is my personal favorite:

"Teacher, would you please pray for my family? My parents want to have another baby, and I want to be a big sister, but my daddy has a low sperm count. I'm quite a blessing, you know."
Try to keep that one out of your mind at a parent-teacher conference!

I dearly love five-year-olds, and I love to hear their stories. They have a lot to say.

Yes, I know I am just three years from having a story-teller of my own. I'm sure our family secrets will be hung out to dry, along with yours. Stay tuned for some of my own mortifying experiences, as Tucker someday learns to tell all.

Some thoughts on Low Rise Jeans

I have been in the market for some new jeans recently, and my search for just the right pair has led me across the path of many low rise jeans. Here are my thoughts on them:

I hate them. Seriously.

Thank you, to all the Britney Spears and Paris Hiltons of the world, for making a two-inch zipper the new norm. Good heavens.

I happen to believe that appropriate clothing changes with age and life stages... for example, a teenage girl should dress differently than one who is in college. And a single girl should dress differently than one who is married. Further, a married woman should dress differently than one who has children, and this is where we get to my life stage. I am a married woman with children, and that calls for a different degree of propriety than my single, sorority-belonging sisters.

I would not consider myself to be overly modest, and yet one would think I am the only woman in America who does not want her entire midriff (and lower region) revealed to all the world. I know I said I love my stretchmarks, but I did not say I want them on display.

I finally had to resort to "Classic Rise." I do realize that the name implies a puritan style, a pair in which the button would rise above my belly button, perhaps in the category of "Mom Jeans" (a loose term for any fashion of unflattering jeans, as satirized in a Saturday Night Live sketch). But I assure you, this is not the case.

What was once labeled "Sits Below Waist" in the olden days is now "Classic Rise." Sheesh.

So I found my pair, and they are a good fit, albeit classic in their rise. But it was a long, arduous process in finding them, and the three-way mirrors were not kind.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Story Hour

Tucker loves a good book, and he's learning to "read" to his brother. He holds the book, he turns the pages, he signs the animals and pictures he knows, and he laughs and laughs.


They are on the route to being just like their mommy: book addicts. There are worse things, you know.

Numbers and Letters

I just want you all to know that Tucker identified the numbers 1 and 2 this week (by pointing to the numbers on my cell phone and then holding up his fingers to show me how many), and he also pointed to the letter S and said, "ssssss."

Yes, he did. Is it posible that he is learning his letters before he can speak?? Our speech therapist said that in her years of experience, she has seen four children do exactly that: identify all the letters of the alphabet before they could say their names.

So, who am I to hold him back? I'll break out the sight word flash cards this afternoon.

Just kidding.

It has happened.

Tyler is officially sitting on his own, and he has begun to crawl.

The sitting I am fine with, and it's actually rather convenient, but the crawling, well, I know where that will lead: full mobility before we know it. He's not very quick at it yet, but I know it won't be long before he's on the move across the room.

It has happened.

Tucker as Al Borlen

Here is my oldest son, at his finest: a flannel shirt, a hard hat, socks, no pants, and a screwdriver that he was frequently banging against his head to sound the siren in his hard hat.


Oh, and that's his little brother in the back, watching with awe and amazement.

Yep. This is my house.

Language Update

Here is video proof that Tucker is expanding his verbal vocabulary!

(And also, proof that he is two and only performs when he wants to: hence, the word more.)

video

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Night Before Christmas

I have always loved Christmas.

When I was a little girl, I used to quietly feel sorry for my parents on Christmas morning, since they received so fewer gifts than my brother and me, and their gifts were usually socks, earrings, or the occasional cassette tape. Bummer for them, I thought.

But now, as a parent myself, I think I get the best deal of all. Children lay sleepless in bed, filled with excitement, anticipation, and hope for what's under the tree.

But we parents get to sleep soundly, knowing that tomorrow will be one terrific day when we get to make our children smile all day long. We know what's under the tree, and we've chosen and wrapped every single thing with such care and love for our children. Sure, their gifts outnumber mine exponentially, but that's the best part... tomorrow, I get to give, give, give.

I love Christmas.

The Cure for Bare Feet

So, remember how I told you that Tucker consistently takes off his right shoe, at every single opportunity?

Well, listen to this.

One evening last week, we went to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Breckenridge: Giampietro's, an Italian bistro. Tucker had finished his meal, and he was growing increasingly fussy and agitated in his highchair.

My dad, who continues to be my hero and Tucker's, offered to take Tuck for a walk. Dad was finished eating, and he didn't mind giving Tuck a change of scenery, which would in turn give Tucker's parents a moment of peace to enjoy their meals as well.

The restaurant is very quaint (very small), so Tucker and Poppa went for a stroll on the snowy sidewalk outside. Moments later, sooner than anyone expected, they came back. Tucker was crying, and my dad was puzzled. He said, "I'm not sure what is wrong, but he really wanted to come back inside."

We wondered what the problem was... perhaps he was still hungry? Perhaps he missed Mommy? He and Poppa are such buddies, so why would he want to end this little stroll through the snow?

Just then, my brother said, "Hey, Tucker's missing a shoe. Where is his boot?"

We looked underneath the highchair, and there it was: his snow boot. He had kicked it off during his post-meal tirade, and nobody noticed that he was in one stocking foot before he walked out the door.

So why was he crying?? Oh, only because he was on a mountain hike in one boot and one sock.

My dad felt horrible, pretty sure he was out of the running for Grandparent of the Year. But the truth is, not one of us noticed that Tucker was missing his footwear, and there were four other adults to do the checking. So give yourself a break, Dad, since I imagine you just might still be losing sleep from this oversight.

But it has a happy ending: Tucker has stopped taking off his shoes and socks! He keeps them on now, since I suspect he worries about the natural consequence of walking barefoot through snow if he loses one.

And thus, the shoes stay on. Thanks, Poppa.

Santa: to Be, or Not to Be?

As Robb and I finished some of our Christmas shopping, he indulged and bought me a very plush, luxurious red, fluffy robe. Oh, it is one great piece of clothing, let me tell you.

I happened to be with him when he made the purchase (which is not our tradition, but it worked out this way, just this once), and I begged and begged him to "puh-leez" give it to me early. After all, we were gearing up for our moutain getaway at the time, and what better place to "break in" such a luxurious gift?

He told me no, again and again, insisting that I would have to ask Santa, since after all, the gift was from Santa. He wouldn't budge. I kept bugging him, and he finally said, "Would you just relax? Ask Santa."

Translated: I have a plan, and you had just better stop asking or you'll ruin things.

Say no more.

That very evening, I was putting Tucker into his jammies while Robb finished up some duties downstairs. Suddenly, we heard the doorbell ring, the sleigh bells jingled on the front door, and Robb said, "Oh, I'll get it... Hello, Santa! Oh, is that for Tricia? She's upstairs right now. Oh, sure, I'll give it to her when she comes down. Thanks, Santa. Merry Christmas to you, too."

I heard the door close, and I smiled at Robb's creativity, knowing there was also a wrapped gift waiting for me downstairs.

What we didn't account for was Tucker's awareness. At the sound of the sleigh bells and Robb greeting Santa, he perked up, looked at me with wide eyes, and said, "Oh! Oh! Oh!" He bolted for the stairs, and he raced down the steps.

He got to the living room and looked all around... where is he? Where could he be?

Robb said, "You just missed him, Tuck. Santa was here, and he brought a present for Mommy."

Tucker was disappointed to have arrived a moment too late, but he was quickly pleased to see the wrapped gift, and he was more than willing to offer his services in opening it. He soon had forgotten about this missed opportunity to meet Santa.

But I didn't forget. And I felt terrible. We just lied to our son. We've never lied to him before, and tonight, we did.

Suddenly, I had mixed feelings about the whole Santa thing. I have always imagined that we would let our kids enjoy the fairy tale of Santa, but is this how it's going to be? 'Cause I'm not sure I like this part.

This launched Robb and me into a litany of conversations about Santa and whether he would exist in our children's futures.

Here's what we ultimately decided: Santa gets to stay.

We've based our decision on several factors. We will absolutely teach our children the true meaning of Christmas: the birth of Christ and His gift to the world. The story of Santa is a fun fairy tale, and nobody really resents their parents for letting this story come alive for them. And in the end, we get to be the heroes when our children realize that we were actually the ones supplying them with their treasures year after year.

So, Santa gets to stay. But we'll have to be a little more careful about his early visits.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Highlights from Our Holiday Getaway

Our Vacation Crew
(Tyler is tucked inside the stroller)

Uncle Rob and Tucker were inseparable. Such buddies. Every little boy needs a really fun uncle... especially one who knows Mickey Mouse personally.



Tyler and his Poppa


Tucker's Festive Costume



Our little Christmas Tree... Charlie Brown and his friends have nothin' on us...


Tyler was enamored by our little tree.

We took our stockings with us for an early Christmas celebration.

Robb and Rob got lift tickets for a day on the slopes!

While the men were skiing, Tucker and I went on a snowy walk one afternoon, and he learned how to make his very first snowball. Since he was with his mommy, he most certainly did NOT learn how to catch it, but he had to settle for the fun of watching it crumble as it crashed to the ground.
(Check out this scenery.)


Tyler spent much of the week with a dilemma: how could he possibly take time to eat when there were other things to watch, other people to smile at, other things to do??


It was a great week.

It really, really was.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Stockings Were Hung by the Chimney With Care...

... and for the first time, we have four stockings.
Welcome to your first Christmas, Tyler.

Friday, December 21, 2007

I'm BACK!

Perhaps you have been thinking, "Where on earth has Tricia gone? Why isn't she posting anything on her blog? What is wrong with the world? How can I rest without her written influence in my life?"

Or perhaps you didn't notice that it's been 9 days since I last posted a single thing.

Either way, I am happy to show you that I have returned to my beloved blogging. We just returned home from a delightful week in the moutains with my parents and my brother:

  • 5 adults
  • 2 babies
  • 2 bedrooms
  • 1 real fireplace (with an honest-to-goodness crackling fire)
  • Lots of meals in
  • Lots of meals out
  • 1 day skiing
  • 2 injured adults
  • 7 days in a condo in Silverthorn, Colorado

It was awesome.

We had a great time, although I cannot say it was relaxing. Nothing about traveling with two boys under three is "relaxing." But it was fun, it was memorable, and it is always such fun to have our family together.

I really anticipated that there would be online accessibility, so I expected to seamlessly make my transition into the mountains, all the while giving daily updates on our vacation adventures. But, no luck. So here I am, with much to report.

There are updates to come, and some fun pictures to show our fun times... but for now, two boys are waking up from naps, and my attention is needed elsewhere.

Just wanted you to know: I'm back!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Day in the Life

Okay... today has been so completely unbelievable... a veritable plethora of little annoyances, wrongdoings, and pleas for patience. I have a bulleted list beside me, and I just have to write about it. This one is for the books, I'm telling you.

First of all, I decided to go about the task of tidying my home today. Don't get too excited; it's not like I changed my clothes for the task at hand, but I did put on my faithful rubber gloves. It's no easy task to clean the house with a toddler underfoot... read on.

I began with unloading and then loading the dishwasher... not my favorite chore, but a daily necessity. This otherwise simple, tedious task was complicated by Tucker's involvement, as he tried to climb into the dishwasher, pushed the racks in and out, and closed the door repeatedly. Okay, not a big deal, but the day was just starting. My patience was fresh.

After breakfast, with the dishes now freshly loaded into the dishwasher, I needed to transfer a load of wet clothes from the washer to the dryer. Again, my faithful two-year-old companion was at my side. I opened the dryer, so the door lay wide open at knee level to my right. Then, I stood up to get clothes out of the washer, only for Tucker to slam the dryer door shut before I could put the wet clothes in. I open the door, toss in the clothes, and stand up to get more of them. Slam. Open the door, toss in the clothes, get more from the washer - Slam. Repeat.

Oh. My. Word.

We (and I use that term loosely) finally got all of the clothes transferred over, and I looked at the clock to see that I had just enough time to do a quick sweep of the kitchen floor and to vacuum the living room before the speech therapist arrived for Tucker's weekly session. I got out my broom, and I gave the kitchen floor a quick once-over... but let me add that Tucker was arguing with me for the broom, since he dearly loves to sweep. He was following me around, whining, pulling on the broom, and stomping through my newly-swept piles.

Once I finished sweeping ("Fine... good enough."), I handed the broom over to Tuck so he could sweep 'til he could sweep no more, and I could move into the living room to run the vacuum.

Except it didn't work that way. Tuck loves to sweep, but even more than that, he loves to be with Mommy. So instead of easily gliding the broom over the hardwood floors in the kitchen, he chose to "sweep" the living room carpet, pushing the broom instead of pulling it, leaving straw bristles all over the place for me to vacuum up behind him.

Oh, and he loves the vacuum. I teased him once by bumping his toes with the front of the Hoover, and now he thinks that's just hysterical. So with each swipe of the living room carpet, I had to dodge his feet, ever in front of me, right in my path. (Aren't kids supposed to be afraid of that thing??)

Finally, time for speech therapy. That hour happened relatively smoothly, since Tucker was in the mood to play and be the center of attention. The only mishap took place when he dropped a puzzle on Tyler's face. (I do realize that Tyler may not see that as a minor mishap, since it was the low point of the day for him, and he has a small bruise over his right eyebrow to show for it. Sorry, Ty.)

After speech therapy, we had about 30 minutes before we were scheduled to meet a friend to grab a bite and do some Christmas shopping at the mall. In the course of that 30 minutes, Tucker decided to color on the kitchen wall with his Crayola markers.

Okay, okay, they were the special markers that only show up on the special paper, but aren't those just a godsend?? I mean, think of how much worse that could have been. Let's just take a moment and count our blessings for all things Crayola... especially the inventions with invisible ink.

Moments later, while I was packing the diaper bag, Tucker approached me with an opened bottle of his BlueBerry No-Tears shampoo, and he had a blue dollup of shampoo right on top of his head. Ugh! What do they mean No Tears? Clearly they weren't thinking of those of an exasperated mother! No time for a bath right now, and no time to cry in disbelief, either. I grabbed a dish towel, wiped off as much shampoo as I could, and rubbed the rest in. At least his head smelled berry fresh. All day.

It was also in this time frame that I gave my dad a quick call. He had asked if I could help him with a small errand that involved picking their dog up from the groomer. It seemed like something I could do. After all, I am a helpful girl, and I am always eager to help my parents out when I can (since there's just no way I can make up for the innumerable times they've helped me over the last nearly-three decades).

But I had to abruptly hang up the phone with him when Tucker threw his 8 x 10 mirror on the floor, shattering the glass and throwing slivers in varying sizes across my kitchen floor. (I am confident he threw it... he was mad that I wouldn't blow bubbles with him right that very instant.)

I put Ty in the ExerSaucer, Tuck in timeout, and scooped up my broom to clean up the mess. I called my dad back to see if we could work out a plan for the dog, but apparently I seemed to be a girl with enough on her plate, what with the screaming toddler, fussing baby, and shattered glass all over. He decided to take care of the dog on his own.

Did I mention it's not even lunchtime yet??

We met our friend at the mall, and I thought it wise to feed my little people before commencing with the shopping. Lunch went pretty well, if you don't count the number of times Tucker accidentally dropped his sippy cup, and then the number of times he threw it on purpose. Also, you would need to exclude that reality that both my children needed to eat at the same time; neither one is fully independent, and neither one was pleased with the choices I had made for him before we left the house. (What? Ty's favorite isn't a jar of pureed yellow/green "Garden Vegetables??" I know. You're shocked.)

When we finished eating, Tucker's plan was to get up and stroll on his ownthrough the crowded mall, assuming I would follow him. No, that was not my plan. I gathered him into the stroller, while he complained in as many ways as he could, without words. He arched his back, he kicked his feet, he looked me in the eye and shouted, vehemently, "Baaah!" And when all else failed, he took off his right shoe. That's his plan every time his will is thwarted. I can read his little mind... "Oh yeah, Mommy? Then the shoe gets it."

I saw the signs, and I wasn't interested in a recurring battle over this one, so I took his sock off myself. Sort of diffused the battle when I took away his ammunition. I put the sock inside the shoe, and tucked them both inside the stroller. That problem was solved, except for the countless well-meaning mall patrons, who stopped me to say he was missing a shoe. (I appreciate it... I really do. They don't know I have confiscated the shoe on my own. After all, there was that one time he was shoeless without my knowledge in the mall, and the charitable employees of Chick-fil-A held it for safekeeping.)

As we left the food court, Tuck was yelling, "Baa! Baa! Baa!" No, not like a cute little sheep. More like an angry toddler who will be heard. He attracted the glances of many, and I just smiled sweetly and said, "He's two."

I had a short list of items to get at the mall, but I tossed the list into the diaper bag when I couldn't get past all the shouting from the front of the stroller and all the glances from beyond. We made one exchange (and well worth it, since I'm wearing it right now), and we were ready to hit the road.

I am a good enough mother to have put the shoe and sock back on my son before we headed out into the 23-degree weather, and he is predictable enough in his tirades to take it off as soon as he suffered the defeat of being strapped into his carseat.

May I just add here: I know mall parking spots are at a premium this time of year, but seriously, do not wait behind a mother with a fully loaded double stroller, with your blinker flashing and your hand poised over your horn. It's gonna be a minute.

Tucker and I sang most of the way home, not because I had such a joyful song in my heart, but because I was not about to let him fall asleep prematurely, thereby depriving me of this much-deserved rest. No, I wasn't planning to take a nap... but his naptime means rest for all.

He was falling asleep as we pulled into the driveway, so I quickly parked the car, carried him up to his bed (one shoe on, one shoe off), and then helped Ty get settled in for his nap as well.

It was time for me to edit a paper and then get ready to leave for my afternoon and evening at work. Sometimes, my gratitude for my job are beyond words.

Whew. See what I mean??

And tomorrow? Well, I get to do most of it all over again. I'm hoping there won't be any more shattered mirrors or bruises for the little brother, but there's bound to be some tantrums and shoelessness. Bound to be.

But the good news is this: eventually, every toddler goes to sleep.

I read these quotes somewhere, and if I could remember where, I would share my source. But for now, you'll just have to settle for the sentiment:

"There is no child so perfect that his mother isn't glad
to see him go to sleep at the end of a long day."
AND
"God invented sleep for toddlers so that mothers could forgive all the indiscretions of the day."
Amen.
And with that... I'm off to bed.
I've earned it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hot Diggity Dog!

One day, not too long ago, I put Tucker in his high chair for lunch. I fixed him a hot dog, and I placed his meal in front of him on his tray.

Right away, he began signing hot.

"No, it's not hot, buddy. It's just warm. It's a hot dog. You can eat it."

Hot. Hot. Hot.

"No, just warm. Please eat your hot dog." That's when I realized that I was saying the word hot as I told him to eat his lunch, which is definitely a mixed message. I assured him that it was safe, he really could eat his hot dog. "Please eat your lunch."

He signed Mickey Mouse, and he pointed to the TV.

"No, you need to eat your lunch right now. After you're finished eating, we'll talk about watching Mickye Mouse, but it's time for lunch right now."

He persisted with signing Mickey Mouse and pointing to the TV. But then he added the sign for music. He pointed to the hot dog, then the TV, then signed Mickey Mouse, and then music.

I was puzzled. What is he telling me? I wondered.

Suddenly, it came to me: the theme song to the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is "Hot Dog! Hot Dog! Hot Diggity Dog!" I sang those few bars to him, and his face lit up with joy. He gasped, pointed to me, and nodded his head. Translated: Yes! That's it! You got it, Mommy!

Now let's just take a moment to acknowledge the steps in that thought process. First of all, it's one thing to make the connection between the food and the song, but it's quite another to somehow communicate it all to another person without any verbal skills.

Smart cookie, I tell you.

Happy Tyler

video

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I'd Rather Be Crawling.

Ty is just a few breaths away from crawling.
It was bound to happen, and he's happening on to this skill a good four months before Tucker even thought about it when he was a baby. Ty hasn't really figured it out yet, but it's truly only a matter of time.

He's got the all-fours pose, he rocks back and forth, and he scoots all around on his tummy, no problem. He has even started his own version of Baby Pushups.

I'm thinking of knocking his hands out from under him, just to buy me a bit more time of immobility. My days are numbered.

Don't read this T-shirt.

This past weekend, on a trip to Walmart to "frump" (definition, "to frump": v. to stroll through Walmart without a list, looking for things you didn't know you needed), I found a new T-shirt for Tucker.

On the front, it says, "If you think I'm cute, you should see my Mom."

Yep. That one's going in the cart.

But here's the problem... when I bought it, I was only thinking of the times he would wear it with his angelic smile and sweet attitude, both of which I get fewer and fewer glimpses of, now that he has fully embraced being two.

So now, I am wishing for a t-shirt to put over that one, when he's tantruming and throwing his shoes and socks across the restaurant where I am dining with my friend, just hypothetically speaking. This cover-up would say, "Don't read this T-shirt," or "My mom is not happy that I'm acting this way," or "My mom is happier and thus cuter when I keep my shoes and socks on in public."

If you happen on to said t-shirt, pick one up for me. Size 2T.

Man on a Mission

My mom and Robb's dad work together, which means Tucker and Tyler have two grandparents to visit in the same office. We visit often, and when we are there, Tucker thinks he owns the place.

He can navigate from the car to the jar of animal crackers in their second floor exective suite without any assistance, were it not for my insistence to hold his hand in the parking lot. But he knows how to push all the right buttons to get him where he wants to go, including the handicapped accessible button that swings open the door, as if to welcome Prince Tucker.

And he knows how to operate the elevator. He pushes the button to call the elevator, then he trots right in and pushes everything he can reach. Sometimes he gets the correct one by default (since he has pushed them all), and he often inadvertantly pushes the telephone button to call the Elevator Company. (I try to beat him to it by covering the buttons that are off limits, but he is quick, I tell you. Lightning fingers.)

Every time, the intercom rings through to the mysterious woman on the other end of the line, who says, "May I help you?"

"Sorry, it was an accident."

"Oh, you've had an accident? Do you need help?"

"No, no help. It was a mistake. We're okay. So sorry."

"So you're okay?"

And by then, we've arrived at the second floor, the elevator door has opened, and Tucker's on the go to meet his grandparents and the snacks and toys they keep on hand for him, which leaves me to shout over my shoulder, in my polite-and-slightly-embarrased mom voice, "Yes! We're fine! Thank you! Sorry! Merry Christmas!"

Reciprocally, since Tucker can get inside and to their offices by himself, I fully suspect he could navigate his way right back out the door and down the street on his own.

So to all of you readers who visit with my son as he wanders the halls on a regular basis, and you know who you are, could you please stop him if he is without a responsible adult and visibly on a mission?

He may not be talking much, but he's thinking a lot, and there's just no telling what his plans are.

I thank you for your kind assistance in this matter.

Old MacDonald

One of our ongoing assignments with speech therapy is to sing Old MacDonald so Tucker can learn his animal sounds. So, we sing, and we sing, and we sing. We sing in the car, at the breakfast table, in the grocery store, in the morning while he gets dressed... by golly, we sing.

I am proud to say, he is finally getting it! He has learned about Old MacDona'ds sheep, cow and horse. He's really good at the sheep... not so much with the cow and the horse. But we're working on it, and it's pretty cute to listen to in the process.

If you were to ride in the car with us, this is what you might hear:

(My voice is the plain text; Tucker's voice is italicized.)

Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O!
And on that farm he had a Sheep. E-I-E-I-O!
With a -
Baaa!
here and a -
Baaa!
there. Here a -
Baaa!
There a -
Baaa!
Everywhere a -
Baaaa!

Right. So he's got that verse down. And he does it with such a sweet smile on his face, so proud that he knows just what to say at the right time.

But silly mommy has to go on to verse two, which sounds something like this:

Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O!
And on that farm he had a Cow.
E-I-E-I-O!
With a -
Baaa!
No, Moo.
Booo!
here and a -
Baaa!
No, Moo.
Boooo!
There. Here a -
Baaa!
No, Moo. There a -
Baaa-Booo! (He corrected himself that time.)
Everywhere a -
Baaaa!

As you can see, it's a work in progress. And the horse verse isn't much better, although he gives me the occasional "aaaay!" for nay. Today when I reminded him to say nay, he pointed to his knee instead. Nay... knee... who's to say, really?

This English language... pretty tricky. You have to admit.

So we'll keep singing, and I'll keep introducing more animals, including those who belong in Old MacDonald's Zoo instead, since there aren't many songs about the sounds of lions and bears.

And if all this singing will keep him awake as we travel home from morning errands to naptime, then I'm all for it. It's an added bonus, aside from the whole language development thing. You know how it goes.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Night Owl

It is 11:56 PM.

I am only awake because I am editing papers tonight.

But in the bedroom behind me, I just heard a ball bouncing. I turned from the computer desk to see my son, bouncing a ball in his bedroom. It was only then that I noticed the pile of books, blankets, bears, and blocks (no alliteration intended) that he had silently created while I worked at the computer.

And that's when I also heard Tyler start to cry. What should I do first: put Tucker back in bed, soothe Tyler back to sleep, or keep editing this paper that's due before I can go to bed?? (Did I mention Robb is traveling? That eliminates the possibility of asking him to multitask with me.)

Seriously, we are moments away from tomorrow. I have got to get these boys to bed, so I can edit papers, so I can go to sleep, so I can somehow feel rested before they are awake and ready to start all over again.

Seriously.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Adventures at the Portrait Studio

I took the boys in to have some pictures taken this week. It was time to stock up on Tyler's six-month pictures, an updated shot of the two of them together, and some photo stocking stuffers for many of our family and friends.

Let me say, first of all, this endeavor took place over the course of two visits to the portrait studio. The first time, last Friday, I abruptly ended the photo session halfway through. The photographer was impatient with my children, snapped her fingers and her voice at me, and proceeded to make Tucker cry instead of smile. I will be the first to say it's nearly impossible to make him smile if he's not in the mood, but the best route is never to shove a toy in his face and then jerk it away. He lost interest in that trick, oh, about two years ago. When she actually threatened him, that was the last straw for me. I stopped the session, and I didn't even look at any of the pictures she took. I left without buying anything, and I was made a phone call to their management later that afternoon, relaying every detail of this negative experience.

The manager was appropriately appalled. She said I was not the first to complain, and she asked me to please give them a chance to rectify the situation. Sure, if she would promise to give me a photographer who had more experience with small children, and if she would give me additional photo sheets for my time and hassle. She agreed to personally take the pictures of my children, and thus we had a deal.

And so we returned, this morning at 11:00.

Let me just say, my kids looked adorable. They were wearing matching outfits: white button-down shirts, red vests and ties, black dress pants, and get this: black patent leather shoes. They were two handsome little men.

I was determined to make this a positive experience. I gave Tuck a pep talk in the car, reminding him that we were going to take some pictures, and he was going to smile and obey Mommy. (Positive self-talk is very powerful, and since he can't talk, I gave the motivational speech on his behalf.)

I prayed all the way there, between pep talks and rounds of Old McDonald. I asked God to grant me wisdom and patience in the portrait studio, an otherwise very stressful environment for the mother of any toddler. The Lord heard my cry, He granted me the necessary skills, and He also reminded me of the small bag of m&ms in my purse.

Wisdom and patience can go a long way, but let's keep it real: never underestimate the power of bribery.

If I said it once, I said it 25 times during the photo session, "Tucker, can you smile for the camera? Mommy gives treats to little boys who smile so nicely."

Yep, that's right. I bribed my son to sit still and smile nicely. I bribed him to sit still, to stand straight, to hold his brother, to lay on his tummy, to smile, smile, smile... you name it, I gave him an m&m for it. You bet I did.

Go ahead: add it to The List of Things I Swore I'd Never Do. The List is growing increasingly longer.

The morning was not without mishaps, including Tyler's fall from his brother's lap. He took a nose dive onto the white sheet. There was blood, although I don't know where it came from and it didn't last long. There were tears, although they stopped when I gave him his pacifier and a some snuggles. Soon, he was up for more pictures. He was a trooper, especially for a boy who can't reliably sit up yet.

Amanda, the manager, did a great job from beginning to end. She greeted Tucker with a high five, she let him hold her camera, and she did all the right things to get some smiles. (I even heard her chime in to offer him a "treat" from mommy's purse. You do what you have to do, people.) He sure made her work for them, but the end results were just terrific. I am hopeful we won't always have to keep the m&ms on hand for family portraits, but I'm not above it.

In years to come, I will look at these pictures of my precious little guys, and I will forget the challenges of the day. I will think of how charming they look in their red vests and ties, and I will wish I could cuddle them and their sweet, smiling cheeks. I will have forgotten the little moments that will inevitably get lost in the magnitude of days, and I will lose sight of what it was really like.

So, lest I never forget, this is what I have written on the back of one picture:

On this day, December 3, 2007, we took the boys' pictures, and it was no easy task. I resorted to giving Tucker bites of chocolate to keep him engaged and smiling, and Tyler toppled over on his face, drawing blood and tears. It was quite a day.

But the pictures are well worth it, and so are these sweet little boys.

Boys' Clothes

In my quest to dress my boys well, I am often annoyed with children's clothing stores this time of year, and I start all over again in the spring.

At Christmas and Easter, the racks are overstocked with the most darling varieties of dresses, in every size and color, to style any little girl from head to toe. 75-80% of every store is filled with these adorable rows of ruffles and lace... and when I finally find the boys' stuff, it's often stupid. (For example, don't expect to see either of my kids in a blue sweater with a fuzzy bunny and a carrot appliqued on the front at Easter.) It's just annoying.

Not everyone has daughters, and yet we still want our children to look festive and cute enough for a picture. Is it really that hard to showcase cute things for boys?? They keep me on a constant search, for sure!

So, kudos to the two stores that never let me down: Carters and Janie and Jack. You do us mothers-of-boys proud.

Bathtub Boy


Saturday, December 1, 2007

Denver's Parade of Lights

We had such a GREAT evening last night! We took the train downtown (among the throngs of people) to enjoy the Parade of Lights.

My dad received a private invitation from the Marriott, and he was gracious to include his family in his RSVP. Our evening included dinner in the Marriott ballroom, a special visit with Santa, and reserved bleacher seats to watch the parade.

Let me tell you, this is the way to see the parade.

Tuck was totally enthralled with the train ride... although the picture doesn't show his enthusiasm. He was particularly interested in the sleeping passenger across the aisle from us. He kept pointing to him, then looking at me and saying, "Shhh." Yep. He's sleeping. Finally, when he woke up, Tucker threw his arms in the air and said, "Oh!" Translated: you're awake! Want to play?

Daddy and Tucker shared a Gingerbread Man cookie. This delicacy prompted Tucker to say a new word to describe his cookie: "boy."

Tucker and Santa met again. Tuck was far more comfortable this time, since they met just a week ago at the mall. He also lit up when Santa came by on his float with the reindeer, and Tucker seemed pretty confident that Santa was waving just to him. They're buddies, you know.

The Clock Tower display


Here's my little man, who especially loved the great big floating dog, reindeer, penguin, and Kermit, but nothing compared to the marching bands. He danced, he conducted, and he cheered. Boy after my own heart.

ps - Where is Tyler, you ask? Well, it was just too cold for the little guy, so he had a much cozier evening on a date with Uncle Doug and Aunt Melissa, instead. Try not to tell him how much fun we had... he can go next year.

How Do You Have Time to Blog?

People ask me this question all the time. "How do you have time for that?" they ask.

This ranks right up there with people who look at someone's hobby, or a special homemade something, and respond, "Clearly, she has too much time on her hands."

Here's what I say: You make time for what you love.

I love to write, I love to blog, I love to sort through my experiences and my emotions on paper. So I make time to do it.

I know a girl who loves a clean house, so she makes time to organize and polish everything she owns. I have another friend who loves to know her checkbook is in perfect order, so she spends plenty of time recording every transaction.

When it comes to balancing a checkbook, dusting the living room, or organizing the playroom, I think to myself, "How on earth do you have time for that?"

You make time for what you love. And here I am, making time. 'Cause I love this.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Discouraging Day

I so often write about Tucker's victories with language, and today I feel the need to share my heart in another way: I am discouraged.

Tucker has hit a new level of frustration, and language seems to make him so very angry sometimes. Before he had signs, he could become so easily angered when he wanted something and didn't know how to ask for it. Now he has dozens of signs, and he uses them freely, but it's not enough anymore. I think he wants to go to the next level.

I really feel like we are on the cusp of a language breakthrough... if we can somehow teach him how to turn on his voice, I think words will just start falling out of his mouth. He's so close, but so frustrated.

We talked a lot about this during speech therapy this week, as Nicole noticed his frustration as well. She is trying so many strategies to help him find his voice, and we will continue to practice everything she sends our way. She suggested that I scale things back a bit, and stop asking him to say things. That was working for a while, and he was enjoying the games of learning new sounds and trying new words. But now, it only agitates him. So she suggested that I continue to model the strategies, play the word games he knows, and practice, pracitce, practice.

It felt like a bit of a setback, even though it may not be. It just felt like one, to realize I should stop asking him to move forward. Even though it seems easy to me, and I know he is capable of making the O sound to ask me to open his yogurt, it is hard for him. I don't get it, but I don't have to. I just need to stop asking him to say it, and maybe he'll just come out with that word when he's good and ready, on his own time.

After speech therapy, I was so sad for him and discouraged for both of us... it is very hard to see my son so angry because I don't know what he's saying.

As we drove in the car, I prayed for him, asking God to open his mind, unlock his vocabulary, and give him the words I want to hear.

Just then, in the backseat, I heard him say, "Mommy?"

I looked in the mirror at him, and he smiled at me. Then he looked at his brother in the carseat beside him, and he said for the first time, "Tylo..... shhhh." Translated: my brother is sleeping.

I started to cry.

It just goes to show, sometimes it's not about me, my plans, my therapy, and my agenda. He is communicating in his own way, and I need to take the morsels of language as they come.

And they're coming.

I love this.

"You can stay the funny girl or the smart girl or the interesting girl, but you're always going to stop being the most beautiful girl. It's best to stay away from letting looks define us altogether."
~Rebecca Barry, Hallmark magazine

Exactly How I Feel

"My child called me 'Mama.' I am overjoyed, elated, flying high, and touching the stars."
~ Susan Seligman, mother of a young boy
with expressive speech delay
I couldn't have said it better myself.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Two More Words

Tucker's New Words:

  • Zach (my parents' dog), whom he calls Jah
  • Grandma (my mom), whom he calls Mah-Maw
They each come running when he calls for them. But my mom is undoubtedly more thrilled than the dog!

Man of the House

With Robb traveling, Tucker has taken on the role as the Man of the House.


Here, he sits watching TV, just like Daddy.



(Daddy watches a little more football and a little less Elmo,
but the relaxed position is strikingly similar.)

Stretchmarks.

I have my share. Four pregnancies and two C-sections later, my wrinkled, puckered tummy looks like a "dried apricot," as my friend L. once said. It's true.

But you know what? I love my stretchmarks. They tell a story. They are victory scars. When I look at those stripes across my abdomen, I remember when my children were growing inside me, when they were just mine, when they went everywhere with me, when only I knew when they had the hiccups.

And when I look at the six-inch scar from my C-sections, I think of the moment I met them, when I first heard them cry, when I watched them meet their daddy for the first time in the operating room. I think about how amazing it is, an everyday miracle, and how blessed I am that God let me participate in bringing them into the world. He could have done it all without my help.

Yesterday, I saw a bottle of StretchMark Eraser on display at the mall, professing to take those stripes away with some faithful moisturizing.

I didn't even pause to pick it up. First of all, I don't think it would really work. But more importantly, I don't want them to go away.

I love them.

Two in Diapers

Having two children in diapers presents a few challenges.

~ There's always someone who needs his pants changed.

~ It's entirely common for me to try to put the wrong-sized diaper on a little boy. This leaves Tyler swimming in a size 5, and Tucker bursting through the velcro tape on a size 3. Neither is effective in maintaining dryness.

~ When they need changed simultanously, I've been known to change Tucker, let him down to play, only to then put him back on the changing table, thinking it's Tyler whom I just finished with. Tuck hates that.

~ My diaper bag is bulging at the sides, filled with enough diapers to get both boys through any list of errands, groceries, or play dates.

~ On a particularly "productive day," I counted over ten poopie diapers, between the two of them. I say 'over ten' because that's when I stopped counting. That was a fun day.

~ I should have bought stock in Huggies. Or Luvs. Or Pampers. Or the Costco brand. Really, I don't have a favorite. I buy whichever is the best deal this week. But I should have bought stock in at least one of them.

Someone will be potty-trained someday. I believe in faith that this is true.

No More Long Hair

When Robb met me, I had long, flowing hair that fell in curly tendrils down my back. He loved it. He claims it was one of the reasons he fell in love with me.

I don't have it anymore.
My long hair has gone the way of many other pre-parent things, along with sleeping in, impromptu weekend getaways, and adult conversation over dinner.

I am confident that the late sleeping, the weekend getaways, and the uninterrupted chatting will return someday, but I am not nearly so sure about the long hair. I think it is gone for good.

Robb says he is beginning to believe my long hair was a "bait and switch." I'm sorry to disappoint, but I just don't have time for it anymore. With at least one child fussing and the other getting into something he shouldn't, I needed something in my life to take less time. The hair had to go.

And now that I've gotten a taste of the freedom and timesaving advantages of short hair, I think it's here to stay. At least for now.

Exploring

Each of my children found themselves in sticky spots today.

As I was getting ready to start my day, I put Tyler on a blanket on the bathroom floor so I could take a shower. When I got out of the shower, Tyler was no longer on the blanket... and I could hear a strange, squeaky, sucking sound nearby.

Hmmm.

I found him in the closet. He has learned how to scoot backwards, and he reversed himself right into the closet... and he was sucking on my shoe. (I choose not to even think about what germs he may have consumed by sucking on the sole of my shoe.)

As for Tucker, he has discovered the two wooden support beams underneath the kitchen table. That is his own little jungle gym.

I know this looks like he is stuck and about to fall on his little face, but I assure you, no two-year-olds were injured in the posting of this blog. It's only part of the climbing process.

Boys.

Bunny in the Christmas Tree

Our home is all decked out for Christmas - we decorate in a major way for this season. It's an explosion of wreaths, lights, and snowmen at my house. We love Christmas!

Tucker is all about the Christmas Tree. He has learned the sign for tree, and he signs it every morning as he wakes up, knowing we'll soon turn on the lights. Everyday, he stands beside the tree, signing away and saying (in his sweet little dialect), "More? More? More?" When I finally flip on the lights, he smiles, jumps up and down, and says, "Woooooaaaahhhhh!"

It's great. Gotta love the enthusiasm.

There's just one thing that puzzles him: he's pretty sure there's a live bunny somewhere in the tree. At least once a day, he exlaims, "Uh-oh!" He signs bunny, and he stands in his hunting pose, squatting before the tree, searching for the bunny.

It's pretty logical thinking, really. He has seen bunnies run underneath the trees outside. Now suddenly, he woke up to find a tree in his living room. Perhaps there's a bunny in there, too.

I used to try to explain to him that there really wasn't a bunny in there. I would promise him, no bunny, for sure.

But then I realized: there is really no rationalizing with a two-year-old. So now I just say, "Bunny? Oh, maybe. You better look." And the hunt begins.
I'm hopeful he won't ever really find a bunny in the Christmas Tree, but I'll let you know.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Tucker meets Santa

We were at the mall for some post-Thanksgiving shopping today, and we happened onto Santa's Workshop. The line was short, and there sat Santa, on his red velvet throne, just waiting to meet Tucker, face to face.

As we waited in line, Santa's elves struck up a conversation with us, asking Tucker all kinds of questions. "What's your name? How old are you? When is your birthday? What do you want for Christmas?"

This is ever a dilemma for me, since I don't know if I should explain his language issues to the stranger, or simply answer for him, or perhaps even wait quietly, just in case this is his big moment to burst forth with all the words he has been storing up. I chose my usual method: I answered on his behalf.

When it was our turn, Tucker walked right up to Santa as if he really might climb onto his lap, and then he stopped, about three feet away. That's close enough, thank you.

Santa asked his name, and I answered for Tucker. Then Santa said, "Of course, it's Tucker! I remember you from last year... my, how you've grown. You're almost twice as big as you were when I came to your house last Christmas. What a big boy! Would you like to pull on my beard?" A very friendly Santa, indeed. And I was very impressed that he remembered Tucker... I was tempted to ask him what he thought of the cookies we left out for him, but then I remembered that this was Tucker's moment. Not mine, even if the cookies were most likely sensational.

At this point, Tucker began a three-point presentation for Santa, with lots of pointing and gesturing, oohing and aahing, but really no words at all. But he sure had a lot to say to Santa, his ol' buddy, ol' pal.

Santa gave him a candy cane and a little book, and we were on our way.

I took a picture of the whole interaction, only to discover moments too late that I erased it, by accident. But I promise you, it happened.

And most importantly, Santa remembered Tucker.

Drool Factory

Top that. Just try.

More Words!

We made a list of Tucker's ever-growing vocabulary this week. He is getting quite a list!

Tucker can verbally SAY the following words, with his very own voice:

  • Daddy
  • Mommy
  • Poppa
  • MaeMae
  • Baby
  • Ty
  • Mickey (or the beginning of Mickey)
  • dog
  • more
  • moo
  • baa
  • beep beep
  • Uh-oh!
  • Vroom!
  • Abby (his cousin, whom he lovingly calls Babby)
  • No (I have reluctantly added this one to the list... but it's officially part of his two-year-old vocabulary, often strung together, with great inflection. No-no-no-no-no!)

Coming right along, Tuck!

Cake Decorating, 101

In my efforts to make my way to a Food Network Challenge,
or at least to meet the highly talented Bronwyn,
I have taken up cake decorating.
Here are my latest works, however amateur.

In honor of Thanksgiving, 2007: a Turkey Cake.

To celebrate my niece's 2nd birthday: An Abby Cadabby Cake.


In honor of Tucker's 2nd birthday: The Elmo Cake.


Just makes you want to lick the frosting off the beaters, doesn't it?

Mo-wa?

Tuck has gotten really good at asking for "more." It used to be "mo," but it has evolved into two syllables: "Mo-wah."

He sounds like he is from Boston or terribly impersonating a french accent.

It's pretty cute.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

No Med Students, Please.

I took Tuck to the doctor today, in search of some answers for this lingering cough. He saw an audiologist this morning (as part of his quest toward language), and she was not able to do an accurate hearing test because of some fluid in his ear. She suggested we see a doctor, since the fluid could be an ear infection that stemmed from the incessant cough.

So off we went to the doctor.

Now, let me say, I am all for med students, in general. And, I am all about a positive learning environment to equip anyone to become better at what they do; I am, after all, a teacher.

But, as it turns out, I am not all-in-favor of a med student to examine my son. Particularly this one, whom I met today. And, I'm learning, it's also important to me that the medical professional be older than me. They may get harder to find as I get older, but since I'm only 28, I would prefer to see a doctor who is at least 30. Call me crazy.

For the sake of anonymity, and his future career, we will simply call him Med Student.

He comes into the room, and he gave me a weak, dead-fish handshake. Not a great start.

Med Student: "Well, what's going on with Tucker today? Are his ears hurting?"

Me: "Actually, no, I don't think so. He hasn't been pulling on them or complaining, but he has this cough that's been here for about 3 weeks, and I'm wondering if there might be some fluid in there."

Med Student: "Has he been sick?"

Me: "No, just the cough that won't go away."

Med Student: "Has he had a fever?"

Me: "No."

Med Student: "Has he seemed tired?"

Me: "No, just the cough. That's really the only thing."

Med Student: "So you say he has a cough?"

Me: "Yes. He's had it for about 3 weeks."

Med Student: "How long he has had the cough? About a week?"

Are you kidding me??

Me: "No, three weeks."

Med Student: "Right. You said that. Sorry." He writes it down and speaks aloud: "Coughing... for... two... weeks."

Me: "Three weeks."

Med Student: "Oh, right. Let's take a look."

He peeks in Tucker's ear, only to decide he needs to get the doctor to take a look.

Med Student: "I'll just get the doctor."

Me: "Sure." (What I'm really thinking is, "Yes, you do that. Run along. Get the doctor, please.")

For your mental picture, let me add that he was wearing dress pants and white sport socks (the kind that don't even cover his ankle, but are meant to barely cover his foot inside the shoe), and here's the kicker: as he was leaving, I saw a flash of black boxers with orange flames on them poking from the top of his waistband.

Please. I'm pretty sure that's not on the list of appropriate dress code. Wear whatever underwear you want, but please don't let the mother of your patient see it. Especially if it has flames on it.

He brought a doctor back with him, a man whom I know and trust. Dr. H finished the exam, and the best news is there's no infection. I still had to fork up the copay for no new diagnosis, but that's better than letting an ear infection fester in there without my knowledge.

And the Med Student and I parted ways. I am thinking of sending a note to the doctor's office, with a pre-written post-it for them to stick on our family file:

Please do not allow these children to be examined by the following:
Anyone Under the Age of 30.
Anyone who aks questions but does not listen to the mother's answers.
Anyone who dresses less than professionally.
Anyone whose underwear is showing.
Thank you.

He got his head STUCK.

I was doing a few things in the kitchen today (probably something to do with dishes... there is always something to do with dishes...), when I heard Tucker start fussing in another room. His fussing turned to soft crying, which quickly grew to louder crying, which sent me on a search for him.

It wasn't easy to find him - it took me just a bit longer than he would have hoped, I am sure.

When I found him, he was in the bathroom, with his head wedged in between the bathroom sink and the wall. And I mean, wedged.

(I thought of getting the camera to take his picture to post for posterity, but he was so frantic that I thought better of it. This post would have been much more interesting with some photo journalism, but I would have needed to sacrifice my Mommy Card.)

He was so snug in there, I have to tell you. I thought for a moment I might need to break out the canister of Crisco and grease him up... or at the very least, we might need to call Daddy for moral support and advice.

It was one of those situations where I had to hurt him in order to help him. I pushed him back toward the wall, into the corner, where we had about a half-centimeter more space, just enough to dislodge him. Then I helped him bow down to get underneath to get out, until he was finally free.

The whole thing was pretty traumatic for him, and he required lots of cuddling in the aftermath. I am hopeful he won't try it again, but he's funny about stuff like that: if he did it once and it hurt, he seems curious to try it again, just to see if it will hurt as badly the second time.

Boys.

Would you still be my friend...

Would you still be my friend if my name was Babe?

There's a nurse at our pediatrician's office whose honest-to-goodness name is Babe, and anytime I refer to her by name, I feel like I have crossed a boundary in our barely-acquaintance relationship. It's very weird.

When I say, "Thanks, Babe," I expect her to respond with something like, "You're welcome, Sweet Cheeks."

Very weird.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cute as Can Be


Thoughts on a Clean House

Here are three of my favorite thoughts about a clean house:
"Our home is clean enough to be healthy, but dirty enough to be happy."

"If you're coming to see me, come anytime.
If you're coming to see my house, make an appointment."

"A sparkling house is a fine thing
if the children aren't robbed of their luster in keeping it that way."


Still breathing?

How old do my children have to be before I can resist the urge to sneak into their rooms at night to make sure they are still breathing??

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Laugh-Out-Loud Quote

"I like a woman with good head on her shoulders. I hate necks."
~ Steve Martin

Mo and Mae Mae

Those are Tucker's two new words: Mo (more) and MaeMae (Robb's mom).

He has fallen in love with potato chips, and they were the impetus to this language discovery. At our therapist's recommendation, we have been encouraging him to give any kind of vocalization when he wants more of something, but we were very excited when he would say, "Mmmm."

Along the same lines, when he wants me to open something for him, I encourage him to say "Oh," or even just form his lips into a circle. (We're all about small victories at our house.)

Well, he was beginning to confuse those two - he wasn't sure when to say "Mmmm" and when to say "Oh", so he started putting them together: Mo. It all worked out in the end!

And you can bet your sweet bippy that he gets nearly anything he asks for mo' of.

His other breakthrough: MaeMae. We spent the evening with Robb's family tonight, and Tucker ran right up to Robb's mom and said, "MaeMae!" As if he's been saying it for weeks. MaeMae was abundantly pleased, as you would imagine.

How 'bout that.

He Called My Name!!

Yep. That's right: Tucker called for me!

He has spoken had different variations of Mommy throughout the last few weeks, all of which I was willing to accept since I knew he meant me, and since I so desperately wanted him to say my name. Well this week, my prayers were answered. Quite literally.

We were doing some Christmas shopping with my mom while Robb was out of town, and I was strolling ahead with Ty while Tucker held Grandma's hand. Suddenly from behind, I heard this sweet little voice: "Mah... mee?"

Mommy! I stopped in my tracks. I will turn around for that voice any day of the week. I scooped him up, Grandma took the little one in the stroller, and we skipped and sang Jingle Bells the rest of the way to the car.

He said it!

That's all I really wanted for Christmas.

Friday, November 16, 2007

My Picky Eater

Tyler is like his daddy in many, many ways - and it's not just the red hair. They have lots of similarities... yes, their red hair, but also their fair skin, their tendency to get overheated, and the newest discovery: they both have very choosy palates.

It looks like Ty is a picky eater, which he most certainly did not get from me. So far, he has turned down rice cereal, pears, sweet potatoes and carrots. I have been able to entice him on most of those during another try a day later, except that rice cereal. No way.

Yep. Turns out, I have a picky eater. Imagine that.

Hunting for Bunnies

Tucker has a new new fixation with rabbits. He loves bunnies. He looks for them everywhere we go - he even persuaded Grandma to leave her table on a lunch date, so the two of them could walk around outside the restaurant, looking for bunnies. He loves them!


One thing that's especially endearing about this little man these days is his posture when he's on the hunt... for anything. When he's looking for his juice cup, Poppa, Tyler, Mickey Mouse, or especially bunnies, he squats down, bends at the waist, and looks all over.

After he stood at the front door, asking and asking, I finally agreed to take him outside to get a closer look at any potential bunnies that might be passing by. This time, I took the camera.

Whatcha lookin' for Tuck?
(That's his sign for "bunny.")



The Hunting Pose


Note: All of these are still shots. He actually strikes a pose, and stands there, looking.
You've gotta see it. He is intense.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Silence is Golden... Sometimes.

Not so much, when my toddler is awake. Noise is a good thing... it assures me of where he is, what he is doing, and the pleasing truth that he is engaged in something so harmless that he is not trying to be quiet.

Both of the boys were awake and well occupied for a while this afternoon, and I chose to take this rare opportunity to vacuum my upstairs... a job long overdue. (I love vacuuming. That's another posting topic.)

I stopped the vacuum after finishing each room, to carefully judge the volume level downstairs. I could hear coos coming from Tyler, a few exclamations from Tuck now and then; those sounds assured me that everyone was alive on the first floor of our home. Only then did I feel comfortable to continue cleaning.

But then... they were quiet. I should have responded right away, but I didn't. I kept cleaning. Foolish, foolish mommy.

When I came downstairs about five minutes later, I found Tucker with my red pen in hand, the cap nowhere to be found, and red streaks all over his hands, his face, and his brother's cheeks.

I should have known... it was too quiet.

p. s. A closer inspection later revealed red streaks all over Tyler's cheeks, the shoulder of his sweet little Pumpkin Patch onesie (that we'll hope isn't ruined), and even the back of his neck. Fantastic.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Jamie Lee Curtis

I want to meet her.

Recently, I lay awake in my bed, my mind reeling with the novel I was reading... I was reading a riveting novel by Jodi Picoult, but I had just encountered a character in prison for shaking his baby to death. Needless to say, I couldn't get to sleep, I was angry with myself for allowing this into my mind (especially late at night!), and I wanted something bright and refreshing to consume my thoughts until I could drift back to sleep.

I chose Ladies Home Journal. Their featured celebrity of the month was Jamie Lee Curtis, and their interview with her was spectacular. The whole thing was so well done, and I think I read through it twice before I was ready to put it down.

Here were my two favorite pieces of the interview:

"The only thing children need is their mother. They don't need
stuff. They don't need accoutrements. They need the consistency of
their mother. The hard, boring, repetitive, day-in, day-out teachings."
I loved that! I was so encouraged by her truth that I am the most important thing my boys need on a daily basis. They don't need the best Fisher Price has to offer, they don't need to be enrolled in every playgroup and early childhood class at the neighborhood rec center. They need me. The rest is extra, icing on the cake. But what they need most is the consistency I bring to their lives.

But wait, there's more! She also talked about her son. She said,

"My son has learning differences and therefore he has a most unique and
fascinating mind, and it has been a challenge to find out how he learns best. And we are in a great environment for that to happen. He has a great team around him and we are working very hard to help him, as we work very hard to help both our kids."
Wow. This totally resonated with my heart, particularly with the needs Tucker has right now. He is a very bright little boy, and nobody can tell me otherwise. As Jamie said, he has a most unique and fascinating mind, and it is challenge to find out how he learns best. She could have said that about my Tuck, instead of her own son. We have surrounded Tucker with specialists to help him find his words, and with the help of our speech therapist, I am quickly becoming one of those experts. If Tyler has needs that remain to be seen, we will do the same for him. It's our job.

All of that to say, I want to know her. I would love to sit down with her over a cup of coffee, and just talk. I loved everything else her interivew had to say... she is a classy lady with a lot of great thoughts. I would love to meet her, but not as another one of her adoring fans. I would want to have a mutually beneficial relationship, that she might walk away from our coffee date and think to herself, "That was great. We talked about so many interesting things. I'm glad I know her."

Jamie Lee Curtis and I could be good friends.

I'm thinking of writing her a letter. I would love to tell her how refreshing and encouraging I found her to be. I would love to tell her that if she ever finds herself in Denver, even for an afternoon, we could get together. This could be the start of a beautiful relationship.

And so, to my population of faithful readers: do you have any tips on writing a "fan letter," so to speak?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Daddy in the Airplane

Robb is in Phoenix this week on another business trip.

When Tucker prances around the house calling Daddy's name, I have been saying, "Daddy is on the airplane."

Today, he saw an airplane in the sky, and he beamed and said, "Daddy!"

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Night of Throw-Up.

So. Remember a few days ago, when I wrote about the flu shots and the success with introducing Tucker to Chicken Alfredo Pizza (complete with onions and mushrooms, don't forget..)?

Well, one of those, or perhaps a combination of the two, led to catastrophic results.

I was sitting at the computer in the loft at our house, editing away on some students' papers. (All of my editing starts at about 10:00pm, and I work until I can't make sense of the words anymore, let alone improve them.) Tuck had this horrendous cough that wouldn't quit, and he was just hacking away in his room. Cough medicine wasn't doing a thing. Poor little guy.

And then suddenly, the coughing sounded very different: he was throwing up.

I will spare you the details of the experience, but I will tell you that it was messy, and it was recurring. We went through all his pajamas, all of his sheets, and we did multiple loads of laundry throughout the night. It was a three-hour endeavor.

My husband was quite the trooper. I only asked for his help the first time around, and he did a great job getting juice for Tucker, carrying soppy sheets to the wash, and standing alongside to offer encouragement in his best nasally voice, plugging his nose to avoid adding to the mess.

Just as Tucker finally settled down around 3 AM (just short of needing to sleep on the floor in our room due to lack of clean bedclothes), Ty woke up an hour later. He was hungry and needy with his own list of wishes and demands. Ugh.

What a night. That was one for the books.

Evidence that I'm a Mom

There are lots of things I have started doing within the last two years that I never did before, in my pre-mommy life. Here are a few bits of evidence to show that I am, indeed, a Mom:

~ I pick my son's nose, with or without a kleenex.

~ I have been known to flip my child nearly upside down or hold his bottom up to my face, all in an effort to determine if he has a messy diaper. There's no method quite so accurate as the Smell Test to make sure.

~ There is usually a hot wheel of some kind in my purse.

~ There is usually bodily fluid of some kind on my shirt.

~ I don't flinch at all when the shower curtain flies open while I'm taking a shower. It's usually my two-year-old, just checking to make sure I'm close by.

~ I have been known to change the lyrics to any tune, to sing all about my children and their daily routines.

~ I stockpile napkins in the glovebox of my car.

~ I may have a panic attack if I have left the house without at least two diapers of each child's size somewhere on my person.

~ I can do deep-knee bends with a 30-lb two-year-old on my shoulders.

~ The songs that most frequently come to my mind are no longer from the Top 40... they are from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

~ I have discovered the all-purpose benefits of carrying wet wipes, even to Mom's Night Out.

~ I have my Pediatrician on speed dial.

~ I narrate everything I do, often with sign language.

I could go on... there are probably more chapters to come on this topic. Stay tuned.