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.)


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.

Time to Pray, Mommy.

I had a lunch date with my mom today, as we so often do.

We went through the line, with Tucker on her hip and Tyler on mine, and we get our food, beverages, and high chair. We finally settled in at our table, and I fixed Tucker up with his packed lunch... he was in the mood for it, today. Thankfully.

A few minutes into the meal, Tucker held his hands together, trying to tell me something.

It looked a little like the sign for cookie, but not quite. I said, "No, no cookies, Tuck. Not until after lunch."

Still, the sign.

Hmm. "Tuck, I'm not sure what you want, buddy."

Still, the sign.

I thought, What is he doing? He only does that when he's... praying.

"Mom, we forgot to pray. He wants us to pray."

And just like that, he took my hand in his right hand, my mom's hand in his left, and he bowed his head.

Mom prayed for our meal. "...and Lord, thank you for this two-year-old who reminds us what's most important."

Tuck happily went back to his meal, now that it had been blessed. He was probably thinking, "And you call yourselves Christians. Who's teaching who around here??"

My Theory about Cute Little Boys

"Shoes are the way to accessorize little boys."

It's true, and it's become my motto for getting them dressed in the morning. If I have anything to do with it, and usually I do, my guys are complete when we start the day, from head to toe. I love for them to look cute, even if we are just home alone for the day. That doesn't mean they always have matching outfits, and it definitely doesn't mean they have to be uncomfortable. But it does mean that they look cute. It's important to me.

I have often been teased about the collection of boys' shoes at my house... between the two of them they have nearly as many shoes as I do. But as I've said, it's the way to accessorize boys. They always wear shoes, even if one of my little guys is still a long way away from needing them.

But I have a theory on all of this. Read on.

If a child looks nice, if he is dressed cute (right down to his shoes), people pay attention to him. A stranger is likely to smile at a baby in a sweet little outfit with a fresh bib, but that stranger is less likely to engage with a kiddo who is in a stained onesie and worn-out sweatpants.

When a person engages with a child, however small he may be, that child learns social skills. He learns to make eye contact, he learns to smile at a new and friendly face, and he learns to associate with people. When someone smiles at him, he gains a little more confidence.

It might sound silly and over the top, but I think it's true. I dress my children nicely because I'm teaching them social skills, even before they can talk.

My grandmother used to say, "It doesn't take any extra time to help your child look nice." She's right. Either way, my kids will be dressed before we leave the house, and they might as well look adorable.

They just might attract some smiles.


"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough,
and more."
~ Melody Beattie

I could eat them up.

New Word: Doe-Doe

Robb's parents' dog, Wendy, stayed with us for a couple of days last week, and the presence of two canines in the house prompted Tucker to find a new word: Doe-Doe (doggy).

Now, when he comes down the stairs in the morning, he says, "Doe-Doe? Doe-Doe?" Until finally he and Molly meet again.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sittin' Pretty. I mean, Sittin' Handsome.

This weekend, Tyler has officially started sitting up, unassisted!
He's still a little wobbly, but he has the idea.
(He has also begun scooting and even did a bit of standing with his hands on the ottoman, but I am not ready to acknowledge these milestones yet. They indicate that he may be crawling within a month, and I am so not ready for that level of mobility. So I choose to only report the sitting up part.)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Boy of Ecclectic Tastes

We indulged in a dinner at one of our favorite pizza restaurants this weekend. We have learned that it's wise to pack a dinner for Tucker, since we generally know his tastes and can easily prepare a dinner of his favorites from home, rather than to hope for the best from the kids' menu.

Plus, it's cheaper than paying for him. That's really the bottom line. There will come a time when we'll have to spring the five bucks to buy him a meal of his own, but until then, he gets what we pack him.

Robb packed Tucker's dinner that night, and he really "hooked him up." His little divided Tupperware bowl included all of his favorites: chicken nuggets, string cheese, grapes, and corn, and he even packed a yogurt and a jell-o. What a feast! (Yes, Tuck is a good eater, but the truth is that we like to take along lots of options, just to keep him busy so we don't have to rush through our meals.)

Tucker wasn't interested in a single bit of it. No, thanks. (He's two, remember.) He fussed and complained, unhappy with everything in front of him.

After lots of creative distractions and our best efforts to figure out what on earth to do instead, I decided to offer him a bite of my pizza. I was sure he wouldn't like it... but just when I think I know my son, he throws me a curveball.

He loved it.

He and I shared the rest of my personal Chicken Alfredo pizza. It had onions and mushrooms on it... and he gobbled it down.

Who knew?

Naptime Project

Sleep? No way.
Not when he could instead toss every single thing he can reach out into the hallway.

That's way more fun.

Having a Baby Can Shrink the Brain

Look what I learned through a simple internet search today.

There may be a physical reason to explain why many pregnant women become
forgetful and find it hard to concentrate, research suggests. A study has shown that women's brains shrink during late pregnancy and can take up
to six months to regain their size.
Through the ages, the difficulties of pregnant women may have been dismissed as emotional by unsympathetic men, who complain at their wives' inability to remember anything. Women can also feel concerned that they have become less intelligent.... By Roger Highfield, Science Editor

I knew it.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Stop Time?

I took the children to our pediatrician today for Tyler's 6-month-checkup, a check on Tucker's two-week cough, and flu shots all around. Shots are never my favorite, for myself or especially for my children, but I have to say: I could sing the praises of our pediatrician all day long, so it's not as bad as it could be.

As we were in the waiting room, Ty was snuggled in his carseat and Tucker was playing with the blocks. Both of my kids are very social, but Tyler especially is an "indiscriminate flirter." He was making eyes at Regina, the receptionist. She was getting lots and lots of grins.

Tucker was playing so nicely, and Tyler was smiling away, and that's when Regina said, "Oh, they are such darlings. Don't you just wish you could stop time and keep them just the way they are now?"

That sounds nice. It really does. I nodded, smiled, and said, "Yes, sometimes. Sometimes, I really do."

For example, I would love to stop the clock...

... when Tucker and Tyler can't stop giggling at one another.

... when Tyler falls asleep in my arms, and I can feel the whisper of his warm milk-breath on my neck.

... when Tucker discovers a new word and lights up with the joy of communicating.

... when either one of them smiles at me.

... when I watch my husband playing on the floor with them, flipping Tucker over his shoulder and blowing raspberries on Tyler's tummy.

... when I watch Tucker trying to tell me that he's "two," but he can't get his fingers to stay in the right place, so he has to hold two of them down. Adorable.

... when Tucker tries to soothe his crying baby brother, by rubbing his head, holding his hand, or jamming the pacifier into his mouth... upside down.

... when I think about the challenges that lay ahead, when parenting is going to seem so much bigger than I am. Right now, their needs are pretty easily met, and they think I am a Super Genius Mom who Knows Everything. I do realize this won't always be true, and their needs will be far greater than my supply. Sometimes that worries me. A lot.

But there are other times...
when the last thing I want is to stop time.
I would like to hit the fast-forward button...

... when both of my children wake up from their naps, angry. Like yesterday, when they both woke up in miserable moods, each wanting to be held, but neither wanting to sit next to his brother. That's a tough job when there's only one mommy, and neither child is willing to share her.

... when they have to get shots. Even though I know it's for the best, and it will keep them healthy, I still hate that pleading look in their eyes when they're hurting and they think I should have never let this happen.

... when I have to spank my toddler, for any reason (especially for jumping on the bed for an hour instead of giving in to the sleep he desperately needs, or for kicking me when I wouldn't give him a cookie).

... when anyone has a blowout diaper and there's more poop than you can imagine. Seriously. It's unbelievable sometimes.

... when I can't figure out what Tucker is asking for, and he is growing increasingly frustrated.

... when they are sick, and we have all been up for too much of the night.

... when I think about the fun that awaits us. Like family movie nights... when I'll pop popcorn and make cookies, we'll pile all the pillows and blankets on the floor to watch something animated with some sophisticated humor thrown in for the parents.

... when I think about the men I hope they're going to be, and how proud I will have been to have contributed to their character, integrity, and manhood.

So, it's a toss up.

Sometimes, yes, I wish I could skip right past today, because I'm not sure I can survive. Other times, I would love to stop time. Sometimes, I want it to stop right now, so I can soak it all in.

Good thing I can't really do either one.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Happy Half-Birthday, Tyler!

We celebrate Half-Birthdays in our family, and Tyler's first one is TODAY!

And in honor of him turning One-Half (or more commonly, Six Months), he got to taste peaches for the first time. What's better than that? Well, many things. But when he's used to only milk, rice cereal, and the occasional sweet potatoes, this was quite the indulgence.
As you can see, he was most delighted.

Happy Half-Birthday to you, Ty!

Where have all the socks gone?

I have heard many moms complain of losing socks in the wash. They are folding the basket of laundry, only to end up with two lonely, mismatched socks in the end.

Erma Bombeck has even been quoted as saying that when you put socks in the dryer, they go to heaven.

At our house, the culprit is not the dryer; our socks get lost in the minivan.

Okay, not all our socks. And not even a full pair yet. But one sock is gone. Tucker's navy blue sock: MIA.

He is in this delightful habit of taking off his right shoe and right sock anytime we are in the car for more than ten minutes. Today, he launched his navy blue sock somewhere, and I haven't found it yet.

I'll keep you posted. I hope you will not lose sleep over this mystery.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Diet Coke with... Lions?

After church on Sunday, we went to lunch at Red Robin, a family favorite. My mom and I each ordered our collective favorite beverage: diet Coke with lime.

As I was trying to interest Tucker in the many possibilities of the crayons and the children's menu, he could not focus for his insistence on signing lion. Lion, lion, lion.

As you may have read, I no longer ignore his sign language. He signs with meaning, and he had clearly seen a lion somewhere, he was sure. I looked all around, looking for a picture of a lion, tiger, or any feline, really. None.

That's when I realized it: when he heard me say "lime," he thought I said, "lion."

Yes, I'll have a diet Coke, with a lion. That's my new favorite.

Who sits on the bench on a carousel??

Well, I do, it turns out.

While we were at the mall yesterday, Tuck and I rode the carousel. He's a big fan of carousels, on most days. He has been on the one at the Denver Zoo several times, and he loves it.

But not so much, yesterday.

We paid our two dollars and stepped onto the carousel, carefully choosing the very best animal to ride together. We looked and looked. Anytime I pointed to yet another colorful option, Tuck shook his head: no.

How about this zebra? No.

What about this sparkly horse? No.

How about the lion? No.

I even did my best to set him on one of them, without his permission. He did his "crazy shake" (Robb and I have named this: when he shakes his whole body as a way of showing how adamant he feels), and he wrapped his legs so tightly around my waist - you would have thought I tried to feed him to the carousel animal.

I was just about ready to ask for our money back and give up on the whole charade (who were we doing this for, anyway??), when he pointed to the bench.

Yep. Of all the choices, brightly painted, rising up and down, and even sparkling, my son chose the white bench.

And even still, he sat on my lap with his arms securely around my neck, the entire time.

So, it turns out, I am a person who rides on the bench on a carousel. I agreed to ride on the boring bench, because that's what Tucker wanted. I tried not to make eye contact with anyone as we rode around in circles... I didn't want anyone to think this was my choice, as if I was a hypervigilant, paranoid mom who chose the bench because she was too worried her son might fall off one of these ferocious beasts.

No, he chose it.

The things a mother will do in the name of her children.

Great Quote

"Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, then you aren't."

~ Margaret Thatcher

Monday, November 5, 2007

New Words!

We spent the day at the mall with Grandma today, and Tucker had a verbal explosion while we were there: 3 new words!

First, we were making our way to the food court where we were going to meet my dad for lunch. I said, "Tucker, we're going to see Poppa. Do you see Poppa? Where is he? Let's call him. Poppa! Poppa! Poppa! Can you say Poppa? Can you call him?"

I wasn't really expecting him to do it, but just like that, he said, "Bah-Bah! Bah-Bah!" And he did it again, several more times. Of course, when we actually saw Poppa, he clammed right up. But he said it many times before that, nonetheless.

Then, as he started to eat his lunch, he wanted a drink. I handed him his sippy cup of juice, and he said, "Doose." Yes! Juice! Again, just a one-time deal, but he said it. I have witnesses.

And last but not least, he wanted to trade in his entire lunch for the cookies he was just sure I had stashed away in my purse. (He was right. I had two cookies tucked away, saving them for just the right bribe.)

I was not willing to give them up yet, and I said, "You have to eat your lunch, Tuck. No cookies yet. Eat your lunch, please."

And get this: he waved his finger at me and said, "Doe!"

My mom said, "Did he just say no? I think he did. I think he just said no."

No, I'm not so sure. It may have sounded like it, but that is not a word I want him to have yet. He can embrace many, many others, but I really don't want him to get good at that one. I don't receive that as a word he says yet.

Okay, maybe he did. I suppose I have to add it to the list, even if it's not the preferred list.

I really think there are more words waiting around the corner, and I suspect we'll hear quite a bit more of that two-letter N-Word, whether I like it or not.

Dad-dy! Dad-dy! Dad-dy!

Tucker has fully mastered the word, "Dad-dy!"

He breaks the two syllables into two separate words, and he chants them all the time. When he cannot think of what else to say, he calls for Daddy.

I know that Mommy is harder to say, and although he is capable, he doesn't say it nearly as often.

There are some perks to this.

When we are lying in bed on a weekend morning, drowsy and cozy, and we suddenly hear, "Dad-dy! Dad-dy!", I can snuggle under my covers and say with confidence,

"He wants you, Daddy."

New Planner = New Woman

I just love a new planner.

There is something so promising and invigorating about getting out my colored pens, writing in all the birthdays and anniversaries of the year, planning where I will make my lists of menus and to-do's, and then tagging the appropriate pages with post-its and paper clips. I love it.

I'm such a nerd. I know.

You can say it.

Mr. Two Teeth!

Tyler has two teeth!! I peeked in there today, and there were two teeny-tiny white lines poking up from the bottom. Two teeth! Way to go, Tyler!

I am very relieved to know this is true; the child has been drooling like a fountain. His cute little outfits are so often hidden by a soggy bib, and I was beginning to wonder if this is just the kind of baby he is: a drooler.

But good news: it was just teeth. Two of them.

Amazing Race 12

The Amazing Race started last night, so you need not wonder where I will be every Sunday night for the next many weeks. I am a very devoted fan to The Amazing Race, and I live vicariously through their adventures every season, imagining which challenges I would take, which ones I would leave to my teammate, and which teams I could take out.

If I were a contestant on The Amazing Race, I would choose my husband for my teammate. He is amazing with maps and directions, he can stealthily navigate through any airport, he's a great strategist, and he is a great competitor. Plus, I think it would be so much fun to see the world with him.

I say this with the full knowledge that my husband, although he loves me, would not choose me for his teammate for The Amazing Race.

The reasons are many. While he is great at all of the previously mentioned skills, I am not.

He would wisely choose someone else as his traveling companion for the following reasons, among others:

Although he has called me his "navigator" ever since we were dating, he no longer hands me a map when he's driving and we're searching for our destination. I am not a map girl. Write down the directions with words, and I'm set. But if you draw a map, or if you hand me a published one folded like origami, forget it. We might as well go home.

Robb travels often with business, and he can easily maneuver his way around any airport. Guaranteed. I, on the other hand, usually follow behind him, smiling at strangers and chatting with fellow travelers. I have traveled a few times without him, and one of those times has gone down in infamy... my mom and I were so busy chatting about, well, whatever we wanted, that we casually strolled past our gate three times (picture it: that's back and forth, back and forth, back and forth) before we actually stopped talking long enough to get to the right spot. (We said we weren't going to tell anybody about that... sorry, Mom.)

Robb is a great strategist; just play one card game with him, and you'll see what I mean. He can account for every single card, including the ones I have held tightly in my hand from the start of the game. He'll say, "You should play that Ace of Spades you've been hiding." And I'll say, with sincerity, "What? Whose turn is it?"

Lastly, Robb is a great competitor, always with his eye on the win. I am not this way. I do not have a competitive bone in my body. If we competed in The Amazing Race together, we would have a conversation something like this, probably on a daily basis:

Robb: This pit stop is almost over. We need to get up, get out, and get a head start so we can get ahead of the other teams.

Tricia: Yep. You're right. And speaking of the other teams, I had such a fun conversation last night with that couple from Nebraska. You would really like them.... In fact, I told them we would wait for them this morning.

Robb: What?!? No. No, we are not waiting for another team. They were the last to arrive, Tricia. They don't get to leave for another 12 hours.

Tricia: Right, but don't you think it would be fun to travel with them? I told them we would save them a seat on the train. And, I told them our whole strategy for the next leg of the race. I thought they would find it helpful. I told them we would call them a cab so they don't have to walk so far. They're just so fun. Maybe we can play cards with them at the next pit stop.

I would forever be interested in letting others go in front of us, all in the name of friendship and "fun couples."

I do realize that this email doesn't particularly shine the best light on me, but all of these things are nonetheless true.

I holdfast to my plan: Robb would be my partner, my ticket to the million dollars.

And if you asked him right now, he would holdfast to his own plan: "Not a chance would I want to run in The Amazing Race with my wife."

Flowers for Mommy

I spent yesterday afternoon editing papers for gradudate students, a bit of a side-gig I have going on, in my "free time."

While I spent several hours polishing their writing on various topics, Robb took Tucker to the grocery store to stock up on a few necessities. When they came home, Tucker climbed the stairs and proudly made this presentation:

Isn't that just the sweetest thing you've ever seen?

Robb is a terrific dad to these little guys, and he takes his job very seriously. Part of his endless list of duties includes teaching them to be gentlemen. How lucky I am to be the guinea pig for the next two decades, as they train to be Knights in Shining Armor.

...there are some perks to being the only girl around here.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Food Network

I'm in love with the Food Network.

If I could choose only one channel of all the networks in all of the world, that would be my choice.

After last night's viewing, I am thinking of adding this to my list of life goals:
to be a contestant in the Pillsbury Bake-Off.

This is not because I have an extensive list of recipes I have invented (with or without General Mills products), and it is not because I truly think I could win the million, though it would be nice.

I would love to do it because I could rub elbows with the best and say I was a contestant on the Food Network. It's probably the closest I will ever come to a real, live Food Network Challenge.

But, oh, how I would love to be one to create and carry a 60 pound cake from one table to the next, while the audience chewed their nails in fear that I might drop the masterpiece I whipped together in less than 4 hours. That would be my moment.

And, by the way, Season's Eatings.

Nice Hair.

"I love how you styled Tucker's hair today, all slicked back. What is that, hair gel? He is just one cool dude."

I smile and say thank you to my friend's compliment...

What I do not tell her is that his hair is stiff from the remnants of the yogurt cup he put on his head when he finished his lunch.

We can just all be thankful they don't put chunks of fruit in Baby Yoplait.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Diaper, anyone?


I went into Tucker's room to get him up from his nap this afternoon. He was already awake, and he had been standing at the gate in the doorway, waiting ever-so-patiently for me. When I walked into his room, he went straight to his dresser to hand me a diaper.

It was a dirty one. Not a dirty one, but one that had been used already, for sure. Hmmmm, I thought. Did I forget to throw this one away?

And that's when I realized: there was a little bare bottom underneath his long t-shirt.

He had taken his diaper off. Grrrrrreat. (Please don't hear Tony the Tiger in that word. Insetad, hear a mom who cannot believe this has happened. I may have to resort to wrapping duct tape around his waist before naptimes.)

Thankfully, there were virtually no messes to clean up in his bed or the surrounding area, which is a gift straight from the Lord...and perhaps a clue that potty training isn't as far away as I had thought.

So NOT a skill I was ready for him to learn.

Sign Language Update

In the interest of documenting his progress for my own reflection in years to come, Tucker has become fluent in the following signs:
  • help
  • cookie
  • cracker
  • drink
  • eat
  • fruit bar
  • banana
  • cereal
  • hurt
  • juice
  • Elmo
  • Mickey Mouse
  • bird
  • fish
  • book
  • airplane
  • lion
  • bear
  • Grandma/Poppa/MaeMae/Grandpa
  • shoes
  • sunglasses
  • phone
  • brush teeth
  • bath
  • cat
  • rabbit
  • more
  • please
  • thank you
  • baby
  • sleeping/Shhhhh
  • binkie
  • sad
  • car
  • music
  • hat
  • hi
  • bye-bye
  • cheese
  • all done
  • up
  • down
  • "just one more" or "in one minute"
  • dog
  • play
  • hot
  • cold
  • broken

Good heavens! That's over 40! Now if we could just get him to say some of these words he knows so welll...

As for actual words, we have:

  • MaMa or Mommy
  • Daddy (his favorite, which he shouted all over the grocery store this week)
  • Baby
  • Beep! Beep!
  • Uh-oh (Note to any readers who spend any time with my son: this word is NEVER to be ignored. He is always saying it for a reason that requires at least a glance.)

The signing list is much longer than the verbal list... and so I wait. And I keep working with him. And I remain thankful that he is getting the help he needs. And I try, really, really hard, not to get discouraged or impatient with this slow progress when we are around other children his age (or younger) who talk circles around him.

You'll get it, Sweet Tucker. You sure will. And in the meantime, you keep signing your little heart out.

Mommy knows just what you're saying.

We're Number ONE!

Buy the Jeep.

A few weeks ago, a good friend came from Ohio to spend a few days with me while Robb was traveling. She was a tremendous delight, and she helped lighten the "mom duties."

As we traveled around town during her four days here, my friend pointed out every single Jeep that crossed our path. She was ever aware of their presence on the road, and she admired each one we met along the way.

Mind you, she drives a Saturn.

I finally asked her, "So, why don't you get a Jeep?"

She said, "What if I don't like it, once I get it?"

"You could test drive one, just to make sure it's a good fit."

"But what if I get it, and then I want a different car?"

"Well, you could decide in your heart that if you indulge and buy yourself your dream car, you will be content. You could just decide to like it, and you could get the car you love so much."

She thought about it, and we talked more about it, and she pointed out more of them as we drove all over town, visiting some of the best things Denver has to offer.

As far as I know, she still drives the Saturn, but she is probably still envying every Jeep driver in America.

Life is short. Buy the Jeep.

Let's Not Judge One Another

"Let's not judge one another for the decisions we make about
working or staying home,
nursing or bottle-feeding,
and homeschooling versus public schooling.
Instead, I pray that we moms will give ourselves,
and each other,
~Dena Dyer

My Buddy

My Little Dudes

I spent some time at the park today, with my kids and a very close friend of mine, who happens to be expecting a little person of her own. We chatted about many, many things while Tucker ran about and Tyler snuggled under the blanket in the arms of my friend.

She said, "Tricia, your kids are so stinkin' cute. I just love them."

"I do, too. I really do. I think they're pretty handsome, if I do say so myself."

"Seriously, they are. They are going to be such handsome young men. Seriously (she says this word a lot), they are going to be the ones that all the moms want their kids to invite over. They'll say, 'You want to have a friend over? How about Tucker or Tyler?' Or, 'Who have you thought about dating? How about one of those handsome boys?' Seriously."

This same friend, on another day, said, "If I ever have a daughter, I am totally going to want to hook her up with one of your boys when she grows up. Seriously, for sure."

I can't think of a greater compliment.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Getting Tyler dressed...

... is like stuffing an octopus into a pillowcase.

My word.

I just finished loading that squirmy boy into his jammies, which was no easy task.