Sunday, December 30, 2007

"Attention, King Soopers Customers..."

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway...

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

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

Meanwhile, I finished my shopping.

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

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

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

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

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

Great.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This, my friends, was the last straw.

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

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

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

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

"What else do you need?" he asked.

"I think that's all."

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

I burst out laughing.

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

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

And I was. And I will be.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Signing in his Sleep

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Kindergarten Teacher Hears It ALL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is my personal favorite:

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

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

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

Some thoughts on Low Rise Jeans

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

I hate them. Seriously.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Story Hour

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


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

Numbers and Letters

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

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

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

Just kidding.

It has happened.

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

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

It has happened.

Tucker as Al Borlen

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


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

Yep. This is my house.

Language Update

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

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

video

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Night Before Christmas

I have always loved Christmas.

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

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

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

I love Christmas.

The Cure for Bare Feet

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

Well, listen to this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Santa: to Be, or Not to Be?

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

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

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

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

Say no more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Highlights from Our Holiday Getaway

Our Vacation Crew
(Tyler is tucked inside the stroller)

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



Tyler and his Poppa


Tucker's Festive Costume



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


Tyler was enamored by our little tree.

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

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

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


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


It was a great week.

It really, really was.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

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

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

Friday, December 21, 2007

I'm BACK!

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

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

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

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

It was awesome.

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

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

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

Just wanted you to know: I'm back!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Day in the Life

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

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

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

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

Oh. My. Word.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whew. See what I mean??

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hot Diggity Dog!

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

Right away, he began signing hot.

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

Hot. Hot. Hot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Smart cookie, I tell you.

Happy Tyler

video

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I'd Rather Be Crawling.

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

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

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

Don't read this T-shirt.

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

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

Yep. That one's going in the cart.

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

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

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

Man on a Mission

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

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

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

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

"Sorry, it was an accident."

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

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

"So you're okay?"

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

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

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

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

I thank you for your kind assistance in this matter.

Old MacDonald

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Night Owl

It is 11:56 PM.

I am only awake because I am editing papers tonight.

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

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

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

Seriously.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Adventures at the Portrait Studio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boys' Clothes

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

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

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

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

Bathtub Boy


Saturday, December 1, 2007

Denver's Parade of Lights

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Clock Tower display


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

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

How Do You Have Time to Blog?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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