Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I Know I've Taught Kindergarten When...

... I sing the "Clean Up Song" to Tucker when it's time to put the toys away.

... I ask comprehension questions as I read stories aloud to Tyler, my five-month-old.

... I have wooden jewelry for nearly every season and holiday.

... I have stationery on my fridge that corresponds with the month of the year. (Only because I just cannot justify a full-blown bulletin board.)

.... I have actually asked my 32-year-old husband, "Honey, what is your job right now? What should you be doing?" (Not one of my finest moments as a wife.)

Trick or Treat!

Have you ever in your life seen a more ferocious dragon and tiger?
(Their costumes are each complete with a tail, by the way.
So adorable.)

Always wear your Safety Goggles.

Tucker is getting over a nasty cold, one that had him quarrantined in our house for three solid days. We settled in for lots of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, coloring, playing with blocks, reading books, and napping, napping, napping.

For each of those days, Tucker's attire was pretty consistent: he vegged out in comfy-cozy clothes of my choice, usually consisting of some variation of t-shirts and sweatpants, but he was adamant about the accessories.

For three solid days, he has worn his Cookie Monster slippers and his pretend yellow safety goggles. He was insistent.

Tucker's Motto:

Safefty First. You just never know what could happen, and you wouldn't want to be without protective eyewear.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pumpkin Carving Extravaganza

We introduced the boys to an all important fall tradition this weekend: carving pumpkins!
Tucker was right in the middle of things, while Tyler watched safely from afar, a good distance away from the knives and gooey yuckiness.

And I managed to partake in the whole experience without asking for a pair of rubber gloves. For those of you who know me well, that is quite a feat.
(See? Working on the whole Cool Mom thing.)

I Figured It Out!

As you may have read, we have been struggling with the challenge of decoding the signs Tucker has invented.

I am happy to say: I've figured them out!

Here's what I know:
  • When he circles his pointer finger around his thumb, he wants JUICE.
  • When he opens and closes his fist under his chin (the official ASL sign for frog, but I knew that wasn't what he really wanted to say), he wants ELMO.
  • And our personal favorite: when he pats the back of his head, he wants any of the four of his GRANDPARENTS. Let me clarify: he usually wants one in particular, but the sign works for all for of them. Yep, that's right. He made up a sign for Grandma, Poppa, MaeMae, and Grandpa.
Could I just say, on a sidenote: it takes a pretty smart boy to go through this thought process: 1)Signs mean something, 2)I want to say something, but I don't know the sign, so... 3) I'll just make one up.

I feel like I should add to my resume: Sign Language Interpretor. I may not be able to communicate with the deaf, but I can figure out what my nonverbal toddler is saying, and somedays I'm not sure which would be more challenging!

Rendezvous at Naptime

Robb came home early this afternoon, just after the boys had gone down for their naps. As we sorted through the mail and chatted about the day's events, we both got... "munchie."

Robb said, "I'll tell you what: you go check on the boys, and meet me back here in two minutes. I'll have a snack for us."

And just like that, two minutes later, we were standing at the kitchen counter, sharing tortilla chips and our very favorite queso. We ate the chips right out of the bag, double-dipped them right into the queso container, and shared a diet Pepsi from the same glass.

It was so fun. So spontaneous. So delicious. So romantic. I loved it.

And that's how I know I'm a mother: when what I want to do most during naptime is enjoy a good chat and yummy snack with my husband, without anyone small asking for a piece of the attention or the chips.

It was heavenly.

Ooey-Gooey Pumpkin Guts!


Friday, October 26, 2007

Close Encounters at Costco

I love Costco. I really do. I think it is the warehouse version of Disney World. I love strolling the aisles, looking at the various items they have for me to buy in multitudes, and I am especially enticed by the edible samples all throughout the store. The boys and often I arrive just before lunchtime, and then we graze our way through the shopping list.

One of my friendlier characteristics (and one that drives my introverted husband crazy) is my desire to talk to nearly anybody. I have been known to have such a fascinating conversation with a fellow airplane passenger that we exchanged email addresses before we deboarded. This little peccadillo of mine extends to nearly everyone I meet, nearly everywhere I go.

Even Costco. I have had some very interesting conversations at Costco. Actually, I've had some strange conversations with fellow Costco-ians.

Get a load of these:

When I was about 11 months pregnant with Tucker, we did one last Costco run to stock up on the many things we would need to carry us through that first month with a newborn. I was great big pregnant. It wasn't our most concise or efficient trip to Costco, due to all my waddling, but we got the job done. As we were checking out, I heard a woman far behind me, literally yelling, "Hey! Hey, you! Hey!"

Surely she's not talking to me. Or rather yelling to me, I thought. But the yelling continued, and I finally turned to see that she was looking right at me. "Hey!" she said, so loudly. "What are you having?! Are you having a girl?!"

"Me?" I looked around, but there was no one else looking as though her water might break at any minute. "Oh, no, I'm having a boy."

She frowned and said loudly, "Oh. I shouldn't have asked."

What on earth? What's that supposed to mean? Weirdo. We checked out, went on our way, and chalked that whole exchange up as one of my stranger moments in pregnancy.


A few months later, after Tucker was born, I took him with me to stock up on all of our bulk items once again. Before we could do our shopping, he needed to eat (sadly for him, he didn't have teeth and couldn't enjoy the delectable samples yet). We settled into a quiet corner of the food court, and I nursed him underneath a blanket. (Let me just say right now that I am a very discreet nursing mother. Except for the sweet little feet sticking out from under the blanket, one might think I was just chilly and preferred to have a blanket over my shoulder.)

At the table beside me, a busy mother of three was feeding her children their lunch of hot dogs and pizza. Her kids were about 5, 3, and less than a year. The three-year-old really had her eye on me, very curious about just what I was doing.

She finally worked up her courage and said, "Is there a baby under there?"

I mentioned that I enjoy a good conversation with just about anyone, but I should add here that my favorite conversations are with three-year-old children. You just never know what you're going to get, and I love it.

I smiled to her and said, "Why yes, there is."

"What's he doing?"

"He's eating his lunch."

"Oh. Cool." She really said that. Cool.

Still very inquisitive and without missing a beat, she said, "Why does he have two heads?"

Two heads?? WHAT?! What could possibly make her ask that? I scrambled around under the blanket, suddenly very concerned about what parts of me might be inadvertantly exposed, causing her to think my child had such a deformity.

While I was still struggling to think of an answer, her mother blushed and said, "He doesn't have two heads, baby. That's her shoulder."

Ohhhhhh! There were two bumps under the blanket: the bump that was Tucker's head was right next to the bump that was my shoulder, thus making her think she had just met her very first two-headed baby.

She nodded, satisfied with this explanation. Finally she said, "Then can he come over to our house today to play?"

Not today, sweet girl. Maybe when he's a bit older, if we ever see you again.


And last but not least, we went to Costco just today, and I had another conversation worth noting.

I had just gone through the checkout lane, and I was in line at the food court, purchasing a diet Coke for the road. (There are few things I enjoy more than a diet Coke for the road.) I had Tyler in the Baby Bjorn, Tucker in the front of the cart, and I was blindly feeling around in the diaper bag to find my wallet. (Never mind that I just used it to pay for my groceries... I am forever blindly groping around in my bag, searching for something.)

The woman behind me was talking to Tucker, and then she turned her attention to me, saying, "Are they two years apart?"

"Almost. 20 months."

"Oh, I've so been there. Mine are 23 months apart." She had a two-year-old in her cart, and she said her older son was in preschool.

Just then, Tucker's sippy cup fell on the floor, and I had to lean over to pick it up, a simple task greatly challenged by the baby attached to my ribs.

As I stood back up, I said, "Oh, so you know how my life is then."

"Yes, I sure do. But you just wait: it gets a lot harder once the little one can walk."

Great. If there's anything a frazzled mom loves to hear, it's that her life is only going to somehow become impossibly harder than it already is, in a matter of months. Very encouraging.

I politely excused myself to the soda machine, glad to be finished with that conversation. I had no desire to hear just how much harder it was going to get, or how. No thanks. This is tricky enough as it is.

My all makes me want to load right back up and head out into the world of shopping in bulk... the experiences are endless.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What Mothers Cannot Do

Lord, in this frenzied puttering around the house, see more!
The dusting,
are but the poor efforts of a heavy heart to help time pass.
Praying on my knees I get uptight;
for hearts and lives
are not the only things that need to be put right.
And, while I clean, please, if tears should fall,
they’re settling the dust,—
that’s all.
Lord, I will straighten all I can,
and You—
take over what we mothers cannot do.
~ Ruth Bell Graham

And in this corner, weighing in at 28 pounds...

Of all the things I hear myself say during the day, one of the most frequent is, "Tucker, please don't lay on Tyler. Tucker, please get off the baby. Tuck, you cannot lay on him. Tucker, you can lay beside him, but not on him. Tucker..."

It all seems to be to no avail.

So I am trying a new approach: I have decided to view our home as the early training ground for the World Wrestling Federation. Someday, they will trade in their Huggies for silk boxers and great big belts.

I have such high aspirations for my sons. Let the wrestling begin.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pay attention, Mommy!

Tucker has become so skilled with his sign language that he can now alert me to various things in his environment, even before I notice them.

When we were in our hotel room in Ohio, I turned on a British comedy show, which Tucker is surprisingly a big fan of, since I needed to organize and unpack. We could not find anything on TV showcasing Mickey Mouse, the Cartoon Network was boring him to tears (literally) and it seemed like British comedy would be less offensive than some of our other options.

Next thing I know, Tucker is following me around the room signing "horse." Again and again. I said, "Horse? No, no horses here, Sweet Pea. No horses."

He was persistent: horse, horse, horse. Finally, I looked at the TV to see, right there and larger than life, a horse.

You're right, Tuck. There's a horse, of all things.

Last night, he was eating his yogurt in his high chair when he began saying, "Shhh. Shhh. Shhh." That usually means he has found someone asleep, and he's reminding us to be courteous and keep our voices down. But we were all awake, including Tyler.

I said, "Tucker, nobody is sleeping. It's okay. You don't have to be quiet."

Still he continued, "Shhh. Shhh. Shhh." He pointed to the little cup of yogurt in his hand. I looked at it, and sure enough: the cartoon monkey on the cup had his eyes closed.

You're right, Tuck. The monkey is sleeping. We should be quiet.

One thing's for sure: I am learning to pay more attention to what he wants to tell me. While I used to patronize him and say, "No, no, there are no birds around," I am now learning that he knows what he's talking about, and I should stop and find the bird that has caught his eye.

He's one smart cookie. (And he knows the sign for that, too.)

Bunch of Fakers.

Both of the little boys at my house are perfecting the "fake cough." When either of them feels a little short of my attention, they start with this "ahem-ahem" business. They're both very cute, but awfully fake. Little do they know, I know the real-deal cough when I hear it.

I'll draw the line if Robb starts working on a fake cough, too. Let's just get that straight right now.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Only in Colorado

I watched a group of neighborhood children having a snowball fight today... in jeans and t-shirts.

Only in Colorado.

Second-Born Syndrome

Here is a picture of Tucker playing in his ExerSaucer,
when he was just a little tiny guy.

Notice how easy it was to get a picture of him smiling, since he could play and explore so peacefully?

Now, here are a few pictures I took of Tyler today, playing in that same ExerSaucer.

Notice how each picture is slightly blurred, due to the constant flurry of activity?

Obviously, Tyler is having a very different experience with that same toy. Somehow I imagine that will be true for the rest of his life: everything he learns will be under the influence of his older brother.

He may not always appreciate the added entertainment, but I doubt there will be much he can do to change it.

Tucker just loves his brother so much... perhaps a little too much?

Monday, October 22, 2007

I want to be a cool mom.

I have always been a "girlie girl," about as feminine as they come, with such poor depth perception I have never in my life caught a ball, let alone hit one with a bat.

And here I am, blessed with two little boys to raise.

I want to be a cool mom. I really do. I want to be the mom who brings fun snacks, who plays tag (even if she can't catch the football), who plays good music, and who can handle messy hands and grass-stained knees if it means he had a good time getting that way.

I want to be the cool mom who cheers appropriately at their events, the cool mom that my boys don't mind introducing to their friends, the cool mom who makes them laugh.

In fact, in my efforts to be a cool mom, I actually spent some time in front of the bathroom mirror today, practicing my really good explosion sound effects. (I'm not kidding. Yes, I happened to have my curling iron in hand, but that's beside the point.) I'm going to really impress them with that skill someday.

However, I do not yet pass gas on command, and I have no intention of practicing or mastering that skill, no matter how cool it would make me.

But I intend to make up for that weakness in other very cool ways.

Snow Meets Highlands Ranch

We had our first snowfall of the year yesterday,
and my boys were appropriately bundled, for sure.
Tyler smiled out at us from his little peek-a-boo hole from beneath the carseat cover, and Tucker carried a striking resemblance with Randy, the little brother in the movie The Christmas Story, with his arms bobbing straight out at his sides.
But at least those arms stayed warm.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

What's it Like to Travel with Two Boys Under Three?

Now that I have settled in at home, and now that I can smile about some of the crazier adventures of the last two weeks, allow me to enlighten you on some of the funnier highlights of traveling across the country with my two little boys.

Our departure to Ohio was relatively unplanned and somewhat last minute. I had three hours from the moment I woke up until we had to leave the house to catch our plane, and I scrambled like a crazy woman for every minute of those three hours, packing myself, Tucker, and Tyler, and everything the three of us might need for this undetermined amount of time. No easy task.

It is far easier to throw in everything that remotely makes sense, rather than to take the time to be intentional, planning various outfits, snacks, and diapering needs. As a result, I ended up with a few unnecessary items... shoes without partners, socks that match nothing, capri pants that fall off my body. I may have slightly overpacked. Just slightly, though. Thankfully, we were blessed with an airport employee who showed grace for my overweight baggage, so I got to take nearly everything I own to Ohio.

During the trip there, my mom, the boys and I consisently arrived everywhere "right on time." We didn't miss our flights, and we didn't have to run to catch them, but we arrived at each gate just as they said, "Now boarding any passengers with children under the age of 5." That's us, for sure. No time to sit down, no time to change a diaper, no time to grab a snack. On the plane we go.

I gave Tucker an appropriate (and Doctor Approved, I'll have you know) dose of Benadryl at the start of each flight, just to bring on the sleepies. And I have thus learned something very important: Benadryl does not make Tucker sleepy. Thankfully, it did not have its adverse effect, launching him into hyperactivity. But it most assuredly did not make him sleepy.

He stayed busy with lots of activities: putting the window shade up and down, snacking himself nearly into a food-induced coma, listening to Grandma and Mommy singing Pat-a-Cake and Itsy Bitsy Spider more times than I can count (and surely far more than the surrounding passengers care to remember), and my personal favorite: practicing his favorite sounds at the top of his lungs. "Da. Da. Da. Da-da. Da. DA. DA. DA-DA-DA-DA-DA-DA!"

We had a layover in Chicago, but not long enough to do anything but trek from one end of the aiport to the other, with all of our items in tow: double stroller, Baby bjorn, diaper bag, infant carseat, a backpack, and the various items that no longer fit inside any of the above.

When it was time to board the plane, Tucker decided against it. Nope. Done, Mommy. I'd rather live in Chicago than get on another airplane.

I did not have time to give him a break, nor the patience, frankly. We had already maximized our off-plane time, and they were down to the final boarding call. They actually called our names; that means it's time.

Mom walked in front of me, leading the way down the tunnel and out onto the tarmac. She had the double stroller, the carseat, her backpack and my diaper bag. I had Tyler in the Baby Bjorn, Tucker by the hand, and our boarding passes in my other hand. It was all do-able...until Tucker sat down. I'm telling you, he was not getting up, let alone walking. "Tucker, stand up. Tucker, get up now, please. Tucker. Tucker."

I finally leaned down and scooped him up, only to have him slap me across the face.

Right then and there, I was faced with a parenting dilemma: do I stop right where I am, drop everything in my arms (including my youngest son), and justifiably punish this little boy for such an audacious offense? Or do I remember that we are about to board yet another plane, my fellow passengers are already not especially thrilled to see my tired children boarding alongside them, and a spanking (however deserved) at such a time as this would only exacerbate the entire situation and make this next flight longer than any of us could imagine?

I opted to show grace this time, to turn the other cheek, so to speak. (Please don't judge my parenting skills on this one situation. Simply add this to my list of Things I Swore I'd Never Do. Should he ever choose to slap me again, I assure you the results will be different.) But I picked him up, my own anger nearly boiling over, and squeezed him so tight against me that he could not question what he had narrowly escaped.

Remember, just for the sake of a mental picture, that I was still carrying Tyler in the front-carrier, and I had now added Tucker to my left hip. My mom had her hands equally full, but did any flight attendants offer to help us fold up the stroller or load our carry-ons? No. I choose not to speak poorly of this airline agency, but let's just say... they are United in one thing: poor customer service.

If I have misled you to believe it is fun to board a plane with two small children, let me tell you how much more nervewracking it is to board one that is already full of people.

"Excuse me. Pardon me. 'Scuse us. So sorry. Excuse me."

I finally was able to unload Tyler into the arms of my mom, once we were seated in our row. Tucker was still screaming his head off, which finally required a trip to the bathroom, for a "Come to Jesus" moment, from mother to son.

As we walked toward the back of the plane, a very kind, well-meaning gentleman said, "Oh, is he afraid?"

"Oh, no, he's not afraid, " I calmly responded. But I thought to myself, "I am about to give him a reason to be afraid." (Yet another thing I swore I'd never do. And look at that: I thought it. And I meant it.)

When we could finally settle into our seats, Grandma came to the rescue. She traded children with me, giving me the snuggly one, who was sleeping soundly and not complaining at all. She took the toddler to sit next to her, and he settled right in. Of course, I'm sure it helped that she had bought him fruit during our trek through the airport, and her carry-on had all the toys in it. But let's call it what it is: she's Grandma. He is an angel for Grandma, every day of the week. (I am not complaining, believe me. I am just thrilled she was along for the flight.)

Tucker settled in with my mom, I snuggled in with Tyler, and we all had a relatively peaceful flight. An hour later, we were in the Akron-Canton airport, greeted by family who couldn't wait to see us and graciously loan us their car. (Little did they know how long we would need it.)

Fast forward 14 days:
Time to come back to Denver.

Remember all that stuff I brought with me to Ohio? It all had to come back home with me. Only this time, we were not blessed with an airline attendant who felt particularly prone to overlooking heavy baggage. Tucker's bag was 5 pounds under, and my bag was 5 pounds over. She gave me the option: I could transfer 5 pounds of my stuff to his bag, or I could pay her $50 for the privilege of keeping those things where I had packed them.

And so, I suffered one of the great indignities of air travel: I splayed my open suitcase for all the world to see, and I sorted and transferred items from one bag to the other, while onlookers studied my many belongings. Finally, each bag weighed exactly 50 pounds, and we were allowed to move forward on our journey home.

We flew a different airline on our journey home, and I was just sure that was a step in the right direction. They boast a personal TV viewing option for each passenger, for the mere cost of $5.00 on the credit card: well worth every penny. I happily swiped my card, loaded Tucker up on his dose of the Baby Benadryl, and waited for that combination to work its magic.

No luck. This further confirmed my previously tested theory: Benadryl for sure does not make Tucker sleepy.

I sat next to the window, Tucker sat in the middle, and my mom sat in the aisle seat, with Tyler sound asleep in her arms (for which I was abundantly thankful). While Tyler slept soundly, Tucker squirmed and wiggled, he lay down, he sat up, he tried his very hardest to get comfy, but all to no avail. And bless his heart, he really tried. He and I both wanted nothing more than for him to settle right in and fall asleep while the Disney Channel entertained him. It just wasn't meant to be.

I have to admit: I really did well with most of the demands of the two weeks, but this last flight really pushed me to my limit. I was just doggone exhausted. When the airline attendant came to our row to offer us our "light snack," all she had left were pretzels and animal crackers. What I really wanted was just one blasted bag of potato skins... I mean, c'mon. Can't you start the snack cart at the back of the plane, just once?? I nearly burst into tears. And as much as Tucker tried to be still, he just couldn't stop squirming and kicking as he changed positions every 90 seconds or so. I tried all my best tricks: singing, playing with toys, letting him put the shade up and down, again.

I wasn't sure how much longer I could last.

And that's when I remembered what would give me a booster shot of endurance: my mom had packed a bag of chocolate. I'm telling you, I ripped into that bag, and I popped those chocolates as fast as I could open them. One right after the other, double-fisting. Bring on the chocolate. I pounded it.

It's not the first time in my life that I have eaten chocolate as fast and as furiously as I could, but it is indeed the very first time I have found it mood-altering. Many, many pieces later, I had a smile on my face, and peace had been restored in row 23 of the plane.

Just then, the flight attendant came by, offering another round of beverages. "Oh, yes, I would love some water. Thank you." Just as I had taken a sip to cleanse my palate, Tucker shifted again in his seat, kicking my water glass on top of us both.

Suddenly, I was soaked from my ribs to my knees, and Tucker was frantically signing "Diaper! Diaper!" The poor boy thought his diaper had suddenly sprung a leak, all over his shirt and the front of his pants. We were soaked. And we were not close to Denver.

But thanks to the great consumption of chocolate, I took a deep breath and smiled at my drippy little guy. What else could I do?

Doesn't this make you want to travel with us? I'll let you know when we book our next adventure, and we'll start the bidding for anyone who'd like to tag along. I assure you: it's a flight to remember.

Someday, I will again take a book on the plane (and not a preschooler's board book full of textures to touch... I mean a novel for my reading enjoyment), and I will settle in for three hours of blissful relaxation in the friendly skies.


A Recipe for a Great Date Night

A Deck of Cards + Pumpkin Latte + My Best Buddy =
One Great Date.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hooray for Solid Foods!

Tyler has entered the land of solid foods. We introduced him to rice cereal last week, and for the record: I think rice cereal is one of the very best inventions ever, in the history of the world.

Ty has been sleeping through the night with only the occasional interruption when he finds himself on his tummy and without his pacifier, but for simply the gift of extra sleep I could do a dance of celebration.

In fact, I have.

Of course, his dirty diapers have also transitioned into those of a child who eats solid foods...but it is a small price to pay.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A New Challenge

Tucker has become a pro with sign language, which is now presenting a new challenge: He has begun making up his own signs.

There is one I just cannot figure out, where he makes his fist and circles his thumb around his index finger. I have been able to determine that it's something to eat, but beyond that, no idea.

It's not so helpful when he's making up signs but cannot tell me what they mean. That defeats the purpose, just a bit.

Beep! Beep!

As we got onto an elevator with about ten of our extended family, they all cleared a path for my boys in the double stroller.

Tucker leaned around from his front seat and said, "Beep! Beep!"

That was a new word, and I was delighted to hear it... and it is especially fun to realize my two-year-old is able to announce in his own way, "Look out! Wide load coming through! Wide load!"


We have many small children in my family, and we had several of them together during our visit to Ohio. We were taking lots of pictures, as any good parents (and aunts, uncles, and cousins) will do. We had the children all lined up on the glider, and all of the family photographers were saying, "Say cheese! Say cheese!"

Skylar, Cooper and Addison did just as they were told, exclaiming, "Cheese!"

Tucker looked back and forth to each of his cousins, then to the camera, and pronunced, "Cheese!"

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, you heard it hear first. Tucker said, "Cheese!"

The very sweet part of the whole story was that I wasn't in the room when he had this language breakthrough, but three people came running in to get me, each one shouting, "Tucker said cheese! Your son just said cheese!" It was very sweet to see how excited everyone was, right along with us.

He walked around the house all night, practicing his new word again and again, and each time he received praise and applause from whomever was listening. When he woke up the next morning, he really wanted to pick up right where he had left off, but he couldn't remember the word.

I could truly watch his thought process... He looked at me and beamed and said, "Shhhh. Shhheee. Sheee." He was probably thinking, "Last night, everybody made such a big deal over it... what was that word??"

By the way, we haven't managed to attach that word to the actual dairy product - only to the photo opportunity.

Leave it to my child to be motivated by a camera!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cool Grandma

How many grandmothers do you know who will carry the baby in a Baby Bjorn,
so I can run and play with my toddler on a playground?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Home, at last.

We are home. Finally.

We were in Ohio for two long, grueling weeks. Grams lived an additional 8 days past anyone's expectations, but she finally made her entrance into heaven, and oh, did we celebrate with her. I still smile every time I think of her running into the arms of my Grandpa, and better yet: her Savior.

How sweet it is to be in our house again, together. Tucker ran around the house, giggling hysterically for 20 minutes after we walked in the door. I couldn't agree more.

So much to process, so much to write about, so much to blog. There will be time.

Just wanted you to know: We are home.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Nursing Homes of the Future

I've spent a good amount of time in my grandmother's nursing home this week, and my toddler and I have been strolling the halls, time and time again. (He is becoming quite the little social butterfly, and it is quite a task to keep him from barging into the bedrooms of the elderly.)

As we walk up and down these long halls, I have found myself reading the nameplates on the rooms. All of these patients are so very old, and their names are of a different generation: Agnes, Mildred, Dewey, Selwin, Hazel, and the like.

In another 80 years, those nameplates will have a different ring to them: Katie, Ashley, Brittany, Forrest, Hunter, Jackson, Isabella, Harrison, Grayson, Ella, etc.

And our children's children will stroll the halls and think, "Oh, these names are so old. Can you imagine naming your child that??"

Hats, Hats, Hats.

King Tuck

Tuckleberry Finn

Tucker is into hats these days. He loves a good hat, including one designed to better fit Mr. Potato Head. Here are two he wore with pride, just today.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Another word - the best one yet!

Grandma: "Tucker, that's Baby Ty-ty. Can you say Baby Ty-ty?"

Tucker: "Yay-Yee Ty-ty!"

Tucker's First Ice Cream Cone


In the Car

Tonight, as we traveled on a long car ride, Tyler began to get fussy in the backseat. Tucker was in his carseat beside him, and he reached over to help his little brother, patting his tummy and giving him his binkie. That alone would have been enough to melt my heart, but then...

Something made Tyler laugh, which made Tucker laugh... which made Tyler laugh, which made Tucker laugh. The two of them dissolved into giggles in the backseat, laughing at one another.

I loved it.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Still Waiting

We are still in Ohio, still waiting for Grams to take her final breaths and finish her life on earth.

We visited the nursing home again this evening. I thought I had said all I needed to say to her, but in the car on the way there, I realized I had a few more things I wanted to tell her, if there's a chance she can still hear me.

I told her all about Tucker and Tyler. I told her that Robb and I also have two children in heaven, and I want her to go on Home and rock them in her arms. And I sang to her: Blessed Assurance and I'll Fly Away. Those are two songs I remember her singing in her healthy, happy days.

I told her to go on to heaven.

Before we left, we spoke with a nurse who said that Grams' kidneys are shutting down, and her lungs will be the next to go. She is struggling to breathe, and I even thought for a moment that she had stopped breathing completely as I visited with her. Maybe tonight's the night.

It's time, Grams. You can go.

Good morning, Tyler!


Daddy's Boy


Kissin' Cousins

Tucker and Abby

New Words

Tuck has made a few more strides with language this week:
  • My dad was changing Tyler and singing to him, "Tyler! Tyler! Tyler!" Tucker joined in, saying, "Ty! Ty! Ty!"
  • When Tyler is sleeping, Tucker reminds us to be quiet; he holds a finger up to his mouth and says, "Ssssss."
  • We visited the mall one day during this week in Ohio, and Tucker stayed so busy in a kids' play area, complete with a fire truck, helicopter, ice cream truck, and a spaceship. He leaned out the ice cream truck and yelled, "Beep! Beep!"
  • Tucker saw himself in a mirror, and my mom said, "There's Tucker in the mirror. Say hi, Tucker!" He waved to himself and said, "Ta-ta!" That's his first attempt at his own name.

It can still be emotional for me to spend time with other children who are Tucker's age, especially when they are talking circles around him, or better yet, having conversations with their moms (the milestone I most look forward to).

But then I remind myself to look back at the progress we've made, and I remember to take this journey one day at a time. We'll get there.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Holding Hands

My two little guys fell asleep in their carseats today...
holding hands.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

I Swore I'd Never Do That.

The following is a growing list of things I swore I would never do as a mother, and yet I watch in utter disbelief as I do them:

  • I was never going to have to chase my child when he did not come to me. I was not going to chase him down, as he walked backwards away from me in the grocery store or mall, with a mischievous grin on his face, of all things.
  • I was never going to bribe my child to do things that he should do anyway (i.e., I was certainly not going to give him an M&M for getting into his carseat or a cookie to avoid a tantrum in the grocery store.).
  • I was never going to let my child watch more than 30 minutes of TV a day, and never would I park him in front of the TV so I could do something else. Like take a shower before Daddy gets home from work.
  • I was never going to wrestle anything out of my son's hand. I was going to teach him to obey the first time I asked, to gently place the debatable item in my hand. I was not going to have to learn and master WWF moves to get that blasted cell phone, remote control, or permanent marker out of his sweaty little fingers.
  • I was never going to let my child do unkind things to the dog, such as riding her like a horse.
  • I was never going to introduce my child to a habit that might become an addiction he would have to break: a pacifier.
  • I was never going to put the pacifier back in my baby's mouth after it had fallen on the germ-infested floor.
  • I was never going to allow my toddler to steal the pacifier from his sleeping brother's mouth.
  • I was never going to let my children share germs, such as when my toddler put his brother's pacifier in his mouth.

Yeah. Right.

Perhaps I should go ahead and make a list of the things I still intend to never do in the future. That way, as they grow, I can simply write the date when I watched myself commit another atrocity, despite my best laid plans.

"I was a really good mom before I had kids." ~ Trisha Ashworth

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Dance Like Nobody's Watching


Tucker's Teeth

As for Tucker's teeth, they are doing well. He has a bruise across his cheek to mark just where he hit the bench, and his lips are still a little puffy when he smiles, but he's been doing plenty of smiling, so I know he's on the mend.

We didn't go to the dentist yesterday, since we needed to come to Ohio instead. But the doctor affirmed that we could leave town, and if there is a problem with those little pearly whites when we get home, then we'll handle it then. But he's doing great, eating well, and I think he'll be just fine.

I knew you would want to know.

Waiting for Goodbye

I am in Ohio right now, waiting for my grandmother to be with the Lord.

She has been ill with Parkinson's Disease for many years, and she has been going further downhill for about the last eight months. Near the end of my pregnancy with Tyler, we thought she was going to go at any time - so much so that I worried I wouldn't get to be here for her funeral, since I would be far too pregnant to fly safely. But Tyler is here, and Grams still is, too.

Her Hospice care workers alerted us yesterday that any family from out of state should come right away, since she was showing all the signs of the final hours. We scrambled to get here right away, in hopes that my mom could see her mother once more. We made it in time, and Grams is still alive, although just barely. She is only breathing 4-5 times a minute. Soon that will slow to just 1-2, and finally she will stop all together.

I want her to go to heaven, tonight. I really do. Even this minute. We have all said our goodbyes in every way that we can, and we have all given her permission to go. It's time.

My mom, my boys, and I are biding our time. Once she passes, everything will pick up and there will be a whirlwind of activity, with family coming into town, calling hours, funeral, and everything that entails. But until she goes, we are waiting. We have said our goodbyes, but we are waiting for her to say her own farewell.

For those of you who are reading this and are wondering how to pray, can you please ask God to take her home? It's time.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Trauma to the Two-Year-Old

We have had a very sad day today. Very sad.

The boys and I met my mom for lunch, and after a delightfully satisfying bowl of macaroni and cheese, we decided to swing by my favorite clothing store just to see if they had any sales going on. The store happens to be right next door, so it was supposed to be a quick trip, a simple stop, and then we would drop Mom off at the office so she could finish her work day.

Well, they were indeed having some sales, and I loaded up the stroller with a few items to try on. Once we were all secure in the dressing room (and there was a LOT to us: two babies, two women, an overflowing diaper bag, purses, to-go cups of diet Coke, sippy cups of milk and juice, graham crackers - quite an entourage, I assure you), I let Tucker get out of the stroller. While I tried on my various choices, Tucker played and played. He climbed up and down off the bench, he twirled around, he bounced and giggled.

And then.... CRACK!

It was one of the most horrendous sounds, and it has been resounding in my head all day. He fell onto the corner of the bench, face first. I scooped him up, expecting to see a giant, purple goose egg on his forehead... instead, I saw blood. Lots of blood, pouring from his little mouth. That awful, unforgettable crack I heard was the sound of his teeth hitting the bench.

Tucker was hysterical, screaming and crying...and I could have easily joined him in his hysteria. It was terribly alarming to see all of this blood, pooling in his mouth and pouring down his chin, all over his little t-shirt. I held him, rocked him, and soothed him as best as I could, as only a mommy can.

Sidenote: Remember, I was trying on clothes. Hence, I was wearing clothes that didn't belong to me, and my son was bleeding all over them. I now own these clothes, blood spots and all. I think it's the first time I have left a store with brand new clothes which will need to be stain-treated before I can wear them. But, Tucker wanted his mom. Grandma was there to soothe and comfort both of us, and she caught more than a little blood in her hands, but it was mommy he wanted, regardless of whether I had yet purchased the outfit I was wearing.

I called the doctor on my cell phone, right there from the dressing room. They listened to my report of the incident, and once they heard that all this blood was coming from a head injury, they wanted to see him right away. So we loaded up the stroller with all of our things, and off we went to the Pediatrician's office.

My mom drove the van so I could ride in the back next to Tucker, since he couldn't bear to let go of my hands. He was not bleeding as profusely anymore, but now it was more the typical bleeding of any fresh wound; there was no doubt that he was an injured little boy.

Did I mention Robb left on a business trip this morning? How is it that crises like this happen when I don't have my teammate? I was immeasurably thankful to have my mom with me, needless to say.

Tucker fell asleep in the car, and he was sleeping very soundly when I carried him into the doctor's office. They took us straight to an exam room where I could lay him down, but within minutes a nurse came to move us: off to the trauma room. They weren't sure if he might need stitches, and we needed to be in a place that was best equipped for any procedure.

As we walked into the trauma room, my heart sank. We've been here before, when Tucker broke his arm last summer, and when he needed to have that cast put on three more times after he took each one off. (That's another story for another blog post.) I hate that room. I know it's an important place, and I am thankful for the ways the doctors have cared for my son there. But, I hate that room.

One doctor walked into the room and said, "Well, of course Tucker is in here. This is Tucker's room." The trauma room is "Tucker's Room" at the doctor's office. What does that tell you about my son's medical history?!?

I have learned recently that Tucker has a receptive vocabulary that doesn't quit, so I decided to start telling him what was going to happen, so he could be as ready as I could help him to be. He had woken up during the transition between rooms, so I rocked him in my arms and said things like, "The nurses will come, and they will get you all cleaned up. And the doctor will come, and he will look inside your mouth. It might hurt for a minute, but he's going to tell Mommy how to make you feel better." Can I just tell you how hard it is to say these things to my crying baby, without crying myself?

One of the things I love most about this pediatric practice is that there are lots of doctors, physician's assistants, and nurses, and they all know their stuff. They are all available to give second and third opinions, so I always know that we have gotten a thorough exam. Well, sure enough, a team of five people looked inside Tucker's mouth by the time we were finished.

It was such a process, from the cleanup to the exam; part of the time I was able to hold him and soothe him, but twice they needed me to lay him on the table so they could get a better look inside that sweet little mouth.

I'll tell you what: my son may not speak, but he was telling me more than words can say as he pleaded with me through weeping eyes while the nurses held his head still. It was all I could do not to cry, but I knew he was gaging his fear by my own. If I cried, even at all, he would be even more afraid than he already was. He needed me to be strong, and if ever there is motivation to keep my act together, my son is it.

Instead, I held his hand, kissed his fingers and said, "I love you, Tucker. You are teaching Mommy how to be the mother of a little boy. This is what it's all about, buddy."

I didn't dare look at my mom. She was in charge of Tyler, who was sleeping through it all, and she was there for my emotional support. But I didn't dare make eye contact or look in her direction... the flood gates would have flown open. Between the doctor's visits to the room, I said to her, "Just so you know, it is very intentional that I am not looking at you. I am holding on by a thread, and I can't let you give me any sympathy." My goodness, does she ever understand that mentality!

She said, "Oh, I know. In fact, let's not even talk about that right now. I will read to you. And you read to me." She proceeded to read aloud the words on the colorful poster in front of her, and I read aloud the labels on the boxes in the supply cabinet. We read aloud to one another, just to keep ourselves from really thinking about what was happening all around us. It was our saving grace.

Well, by the time all was said and done, we learned that Tucker had a gash on the inside of his right cheek, and he had knocked two teeth loose. They chose not to stitch the cut since it's inside his mouth, and stitches could cause a greater problem by interrupting the natural healing process. So, no stitches - thank you, Lord. (And I do mean that as a prayer. Thank you, God.)

As for the teeth, the outcome remains to be seen. The doctor referred us to a pediatric dentist, where I am to take Tucker tomorrow morning. It is possible that they may fall out on their own, or that the dentist may choose to take them out, or the worst case scenario: he may have nerve damage and may need a root canal. (Emotionally, I cannot go there right now.) Or, it is also entirely possible that those little roots might tighten right up, and he'll get to keep those baby teeth until we're ready to introduce him to the Tooth Fairy, in another five years.

I'm really praying he keeps his teeth, for many reasons, not the least of which is that I love his sweet little smile, and I don't want it to change.

I had to go to work tonight, and Tucker spent the evening with Grandma and Poppa, eating popsicles and ice cream, watching multiple episodes of Mickey Mouse Club. Because that's what you do at Grandma's when you don't feel good, of course.

So that's where we are now. I am getting ready for bed, but I just had to get all of this on paper so I could stop thinking it through again and again.

Sometime soon, maybe any moment now, I am going to have a good cry over this whole thing.

And it's going to be a doozy.