Thursday, February 28, 2008

How? How? How??

My aunt and uncle are always gracious to open their home to us when we are in Ohio. We call it the Barton Bed & Breakfast, and it is undoubtedly our home away from home... a very welcome place to be, especially in times like this.

They have many grandchildren, so their home is equipped with all the necessary items for hosting our two small children. In the guest room I have claimed for the week, there is a crib for Tyler and a Pack 'n Play for Tucker.

I put the boys to bed last night, after a very, very long day of catering to their many needs outside of their normal routine or environment. They were exhausted, and I was ready to join the adult world of post-bedtime activities.

As we adults sat in the living room talking about tonight's performances on American Idol, I heard Tucker's voice, "Oh? Mommy? Mommy? Oh?"

He sounded closer than the bedroom where I had left him, and sure enough, I found him standing in the hallway. I was shocked. How did this happen??

I didn't punish him for getting out of bed, largely because I really wanted to see how on earth he had done it. There are no toys for him to stack and climb on, there is absolutely no way for him to gain leverage from inside, and the walls of the Pack 'n Play come up to his armpits. And none of us heard a thump, as he would have come crashing to the ground after throwing himself over the side. Clearly, he made a very clean and graceful exit.

Seriously, how did this happen??

So I asked him. We went back into the bedroom, I put him inside the Pack 'n Play, and I said, "How did you get out, Tuck? Can you show Mommy? How did you do that?"

He pointed. "Out."

"Yes. Right. But how? Did you come this way? Or did you come over that side? How did you get out?"

He gave me a sly smile. "Out."

We continued this oh-so-productive dialogue for a few minutes, but to no avail. I truly wanted him to try it again, just so I could see how his masterful mind had figured it out.

I still don't know.

I finally told him to stay in bed. "Do not get out again. Mommy loves you. Stay in bed. Good night."

You know, it occurs to me that in another 15 years, he just might say to me, "Oh, that whole speech delay? No, I could talk by the time I was a year old, but I found it worked far greater to my advantage to keep my mouth shut."


So glad they clarified.

This is the inscribed stone next to the entrance to the funeral home.

So glad they clarified A. D., just in case anyone thought perhaps this funeral home was built 2000 years before the birth of Christ.

Since, you knw, there was Rome... oh, and then there was this funeral home in Ohio.

So glad they clarified. I wouldn't want there to be any confusion.

(In the face of grief, emotions run high...and sometimes to compensate for the sadness of losing a loved one, silly things become hysterically funny. Perhaps you may not find this as funny as my family and I did, and if that's the case, I apologize. But seriously, we laughed a lot over this.)

Traveling Light

We have arrived safely in Ohio now, but it's never easy to get here!
We probably look like a traveling circus as we maneuver through the airport, but Tucker compensates by waving and saying, "Hi! Hiyeee!" to everyone who passes by his stroller. Our little Homecoming King.

The good news is, the boys were PERFECT on the plane, and they each slept for a good portion of each flight.
Tucker is thrilled with the adventure of traveling, and he is busy showing us what he knows. Since we have arrived, he has said bus, bunny, happy, arm, and lights.

They seem random when I list them, but each word came with a fun discovery on his part. If it takes a trip across the country to get him talking, it's worth it! (Imagine what could happen when we take him to Disney World in May... it just may launch him into spontaneous paragraphs!)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

She's in Heaven.

Grandma died this morning. My dad got up to check on her in the middle of the night, and she had passed away just moments before. She's gone... she's done.

I have cried off and on throughout the day, but not from grief. My tears have come as I have thought of the people she has met once again, the overwhelming joy she must feel, and the picture of her singing and dancing today. She is free. She is healthy. She is young and vibrant.

I am so happy for her. In fact, there are not enough words to describe the joy. Way to go, Grandma. You're there.

For we do not grieve as those who have no hope...
I Thessalonians 4: 13

Adventures of the Day

The boys have been so busy, busy, busy today. I'm telling you, it's a challenge to keep up with them individually, but together, they are a force to be reckoned with.

I put them in the bath tub this morning, which is no small task in itself. Tucker spends the entire time pouring water over Tyler's head, while Tyler tries with great resilience to stand up, even though his hands keep sliding down the slippery tub. The good news is that Tyler is developing quite a sense of balance as well as a tolerance for water on his face. And Tucker, well, he's just clearly enjoying the perks of being older and bigger.

When they were finished with their baths, I dried Tucker off, and I let him roam free, bare bottom and all. I wrapped Tyler in a towel, and we headed into the nursery to get him fully moisturized and dressed. While I was tending to Tyler, I heard some soft grunting coming from the corner... I turn to look, and there is Tucker: squatting and pooping on the floor.

Well that is one way to get my attention in a hurry! Stop the presses!

I plucked Tyler off the changing table and planted him safely on the floor. But I wasn't thinking clearly when I did that... now I had two boys on the loose, and a little pile of toxic waste right there on the carpet. As I frantically grabbed for the wipes, I was chanting, "Don't touch that! Hands off! Please don't touch! No touching!"

I finally got a diaper on Tucker, if nothing else. Frankly, nothing else mattered. Well, the carpet mattered. And I took care of that, too. But there was a clear priority: Get that bottom covered.

After the boys were dressed and downstairs, I put Tyler into the Pack 'n Play. Tucker played on his own for a bit, while I talked on the phone with my mom to make flight arrangements. As I was talking with her about departure and arrival times at Akron/Canton airport, I looked over to see that Tyler had strategically stacked his toys, was standing on top of them, and had climbed nearly atop my kitchen counter - high enough to reach a salt shaker (which had not been perched on the edge for his easy access). He had the salt shaker in hand, and he was sucking on it. Delicious.

Dear heavens.

There were many other little atrocities throughout the day, but these two were at the top of the list. This might go without saying, but I took a very necessary nap this afternoon. I think I earned it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Welcome to the Neighborhood.

We have new neighbors. We haven't actually met them yet, despite my best intentions of taking them homemade cookies or a casserole. (Truly, there's not a whole lot of homemade anything happening at our house these days.)

From what we can deduce, they are an older couple with lots of grandchildren, based on our careful observations of what seemed to be a housewarming party... not that we were being nosy.

Among our other observations, we have discovered that she's a chain smoker. This didn't require careful observing... it's a pretty obvious hobby of hers. Of course, she can feel free to do whatever she wants to do in her home, but here's the problem: she doesn't smoke in her home. She steps outside, to light up on her front porch.

Her front porch happens to be directly under Tyler's bedroom window. This seems to be a bit of an infringement, since I can't crack his window on a sunny day without worries of secondhand smoke infiltrating his bedroom.


When I deliver the cookies or a casserole, perhaps I will write a subtle, discreet note on the top: "Welcome to our Smoke Free Neighborhood."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

My Grandmother is Dying.

Here we are, on a journey very similar to one we traveled just months ago: my grandmother is dying.

My dad is in Ohio, waiting at her bedside, caring for her in her final hours. We have thought multiple times that she would not live through the day, but she continues to hold on.

It is hard to know how to help my dad, when we are so far away. It is hard to live with our lives on hold, knowing that at any given moment, we will need to load up the children and seemingly all their belongings to travel across the country. It is hard to wait for an update; it is hard not to call and check in, since there is so often no news to report. It is very, very hard.

It is encouraging to know that her long journey is almost over, and she will be in the arms of the Lord soon... but she's not there yet. When she is there, we will rejoice with her. But until then, this is very hard.

I love you, Grandma,
Don't hold on for us. Better things await you, especially your husband, your son, two of my children, new lungs that are cancer free, and the Lord you have loved all of your life.
Please go.

Snobby and Insubstantial

My brother informed me this week:

If you look up my name in The Bible of Baby Names, you'll find that my name carries the "snobby and insubstantial affiliation with the first daughter, Tricia Nixon."

Snobby? Insubstantial?

Surprisingly, never in my entire life has anyone said, "Oh, your name is Tricia. Oh, like Tricia Nixon?"


I'm glad, especially if a connection with her is considered snobby and insubstantial. No thanks.

Friday, February 22, 2008

"Don't Touch Anything" Song

In honor of my story about Tucker in the restroom, my oh-so-creative cousin, Samantha, took the liberty of writing a song for moments such as those.

Cue music: Veggie Tales' "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything"

My name is Tucker - I can't touch anything!

I must keep my hands all to myself

When in the bathroom

My mommy says to me, "Tucker! You cant touch ANYTHING!"

Well.... you ....

shouldn't touch the trashcan and please don't touch the doorknob

and for heaven's sake, my Tucker, keep your hands on top your lap.

And so I must remind you, in this germ clad little box we're in,

You should always say your "bye-byes" very soft!

Therein lies the problem.

I got a call last night from my college alma mater. They are doing a fundraiser for the College of Education, and they are asking their alumni to pledge a donation.

When the kind young man finished reading his script, I said, "Well, you see, I would love to give to the College of Education. But the problem is that I graduated from the College of Education. I became a teacher. Therefore, I don't have any money to give you. Now, if I had perhaps graduated from the College of Pre-Law, or the College of Engineering, or the College of Medicine, then my circumstances might be different. But since I graduated from the College of Education, I cannot give to the College of Education."

He understood, heartily.

Knee Surgery #4

Robb is recovering from his fourth knee surgery... yuck.

He has had some very miserable pain over the last few weeks, accompanied by (warning, this may creep you out) a loose particle underneath his skin. It's about the size of a pencil eraser, and he could move it around. I'm pretty sure that's not how God made it.

Sure enough, the doctor found that piece, which was a loose piece of cartilage. It's very small, about the size of a pebble... but when a pebble is in your shoe, you notice it and the pain it brings. That's what Robb was feeling underneath his knee cap.

He's on the mend now, and he's hobbling on crutches until he feels he can bear weight on it. The doctor says there is another surgery in his near future, since there is a place in his knee that is worn down to bare bone... that's where that blasted piece of cartilage is from.

Another knee surgery... not our favorite. But we'll cross that bridge later.

For now, Tuck is mesmerized by the crutches.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I L-O-V-E This.

He might become a reader after all, no matter what his nonliterate daddy says.
Robb is not illiterate... he is nonliterate. He can read, but he hates to.
I have told him that he is allowed to be a nonreader...
but please, please, please
let our children develop their own opinions without bias or judgement.
I have a dream.

I Should Have Thought This One Through.

Tucker is starting to have a very slight (almost nonexistent) interest in the potty. He is interested in joining us when we need to go, and he is curious to watch the process. In an effort to teach him the importance of flushing, and in my unabashed attempts to make things fun, I have encouraged him to wave and say "Bye!" as we flush the toilet.

So... perhaps I should have given that decision a little more thought before I made it a routine. And what a joyful, loud routine it is.

I had both boys in the bathroom stall with me at the library today. (Let's just take a moment to show our gratitude for stalls with handicap accessibility, and therefore their roominess for a double stroller.) When Tucker and I are in any kind of public restroom together, my mantra is, "Don't touch anything. Don't touch anything. Don't touch anything." I chant this to him... perhaps I should write a little song about it. I just might.

I digress.

Anyway, we are rarely discreet in our toddler/baby/stroller entourage, but I do try to keep things low key, especially in the restroom, and especially in the library restroom. Librarians and their faithful friends are not known for their congeniality and senses of humor.

All of that to say, as I flushed the toilet, Tucker shouted at the toilet bowl, "Bye! Bye! Bye!"

Great. At least he knows that the very next step is to wash hands, which is more than I can say for some other little boys I know.

Kiss Him - He's Irish.

My mom took my children on a shopping spree to Target last night, and she couldn't pass the dollar bin without some treats for her two favorite little guys.

In anticipation of St. Patrick's Day,
Tucker is now the very proud owner of a green glittery derby hat.

It's a little big.

He loves it. In fact, he insisted on keeping it in bed with him last night. Insisted, I tell you. When he did his middle-of-the-night routine, where he calls me into his room to put his blanket on him one more time, I tried to sneak it off his bed and onto his dresser until morning... but he would have nothing to do with that plan. "Hat? Hat? Hat?" He snuggled with a green, glittery, plastic hat all night long.

This morning, he had his hat on even before I could put a fresh diaper on him. The hat stayed on all day long. Well, with the exception of a few times when I had to take it away, since he was using it as a weapon against the dog and his brother. But after a significant timeout and a reminder to "never hit with your hat," it was back on his head.

It went with us everywhere today.

In his carseat, he has learned to balance it on his foot, then kick it up and catch it in his hands. His Uncle Rob, a world-renowned juggler, would be proud.

If you happen to see my son before this hat-loving phase passes, don't look too closely at his scalp... it's covered in green glitter.

You Can't Start Too Soon.

Monday, February 18, 2008

"No, Boy!"

During a visit to Babies R Us this morning, we could hear a little girl crying. We could hear her throughout the store; whe was very sad. Tucker even commented. He repeatedly signed sad baby, sad baby.

As we finished our shopping, we turned the corner to find her in the arms of her mommy, still crying. Again, my sweet little boy signed, sad baby. She wasn't quite a baby, but actually a bit older than him. She had fallen down, and she and her mom were talking about what had happened and how she might feel better.

Suddenly, she spotted Tucker and shouted, "No, BOY! No, BOY!"

To my child. Yep. That's right. To my little boy, who showed great concern for her emotional well-being, she shouted, "No, BOY!"

Her mother said, "Oh, that's not very nice."

The little girl continued, "No, boy! Boy hurt!"

Tucker wasn't bothered in the least, but my Momma Bear instincts shot right up... who is this little girl, yelling at my child this way? He hasn't done a single thing to harm her, and in fact, he is concerned for her. We walked on by, leaving her to the arms of her mother.

As we walked on, I listened to her: "No, boy!"

I'm not sure what brought on her accusations and angry shouting, and I'll never know. But interestingly, this little tiny standoff with a toddler gave me a glimpse into how I might feel down the road when Tucker encounters a mean child on the playground. Not good.

One thing's for sure: a mother's protective instincts are not to be messed with, by an angry toddler or anybody else.

Darn that Presidents' Day.

Our morning was a total bust.

We started out at Babies R Us, with big plans to take advantage of their sales this week. The boys are each on their way to outgrowing their current carseats, and although they don't need new ones this week, they were on sale this week. Feeling very proud of my proactive attitude, I thought, Look at me, buying things when they are on sale instead of when I frantically need them and have to pay full price... way to go, Great Mom.

But no luck. They were out of the ones I had planned to buy... they are expecting more on Wednesday, but today is not Wednesday, is it? My plan for Wednesday does not include a return trip to Babies R Us. This was the plan for TODAY.

So, load up and head out. (But not before a little girl yelled at Tucker. See previous post.)

But we still had plenty of time in our morning, so I decided to take the boys to the library. I have a few books on my list of must-reads, and Tucker's personal literary choices could use some refreshing, not to mention my desire to further cultivate Tyler's joy for board books... what a great way to spend the morning until lunchtime.

As we drove from Babies R Us to the library, I invested in some positive story-telling. I talked all about a nice little boy who went to the library with his mommy and his baby brother. You see, he was allowed to stay out of his stroller as long as he stayed right beside his mommy. He got to pick out some beautiful and interesting books to take home, and when it was time to go, he got right into his stroller and obeyed his mommy, since he was such a good little boy. His mommy loved to take him places, because he was so well behaved.

(Tucker and I do not have a very strong history of positive experiences at the library. I was pouring this fable into his little mind, in hopes of a seamless visit, filled with great book choices, a smiling mommy, and a tantrum-free toddler. By the end of the story, he was ripe for the picking, so to speak. I had set him up for success. He was ready to obey... I could feel it.)

Finally, we arrived at the library... which was locked up and closed for Presidents' Day.

Are you kidding me???

Yes, all the children in the country are off school today. And perhaps, when I was teaching, I may have been very thankful for this holiday. Okay, without question, I was very thankful. But today, I just wanted to take my children to the library. It seems to me that on a day when children aren't at school, the library should certainly be accessible for their extracurricular educational opportunities.

I'm sure all the children of America would stand in agreement with me.

We'll try the library tomorrow. And maybe Babies R Us on Wednesday. We'll see if my attitude improves.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Eat Your Heart Out, Ladies.

Rules for Hand-Me-Downs

Since I have two children of the same gender, we get to maximize the use of little boy clothes. Their birthdays are at opposite ends of the calendar, but that hasn't held me back too much... we've made it work.

There have been times when Tyler was wearing clothes that were a bit too big, since I wasn't about to let Christmas pass without putting him in the gray wool overalls with the red plaid trim, even if he was swimming in it. (It was adorable... not nerdy. I promise.)

It's really fun to bring up boxes from the basement when Tyler is embarking on a new size. It's a delight to unpack what I washed, folded, and stored so long ago (and yet sometimes it feels like just last season). It's a walk down memory lane to remember where Tucker wore different things, which ones he wore for various photos, and which ones I snuggled him to sleep in. I love it.

But I've learned that I have rules about hand-me-downs. Not ALL of Tucker's clothes get to be recycled. I only put clothes in the dresser or the closet if they don't look like they've already been through the toddler mill. Sometimes, what was spot-free when I stored it isn't quite so perfect when I bring it out of the box. Basement storage isn't always kind.

Sometimes, I am learning, I have put things in the box to save forever, because it was just my very favorite. Never mind the fact that it's pilly now... you know, the way cotton gets after much love and many washings.

What I put away with great anticipation of using again... well, it's not always so cute anymore. What is worthy of sentiment is not necessarily worthy of putting on my next child.

Tyler deserves new stuff. Thanks to the mercy of his parents and the endless generosity of his doting grandparents, he is not at a loss for things that are uniquely his. But if it's stained, pilly, yellowed, or just loved too much, and if it's any less quality than something I would have bought off the rack, then it goes to donation... not to Tyler's closet.

That's all there is to it.

Who knew I had so much to say on the topic?? Turns out, I feel strongly about this.

Drinking from a Straw: 101

Tucker can't drink from a straw. No luck. This is most likely related to his speech delay and the use of his muscles in his mouth, but no matter the reason, he can't do it.

It seems extreme to take away all the "sippy cups" at our house, so he'll be forced to drink from a straw. Colorado has such a dry climate, and I don't want him to get dehydrated, all in the name of a new skill. But I'm at a loss.

Any tips from you parents out there? Anybody have to work hard to help your child learn to drink from a straw?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Carseat Chat

Don't you wonder what they're talking about? I do.

Tyler's First Valentine's Day

We really know how to celebrate at our house, and it usually involves baked goods and chocolate. Really, that's the definition of celebration at our house.

Tyler was not so sure about the chocolate frosting, even though I am absolutely confident he is my child.

Tucker, on the other hand, didn't waste any time pounding his piece of chocolate cake.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Don't Waste Any Time

Note: Tucker didn't bother to take off his coat or boots when we returned home.
He did, however, take a moment to put on his hard hat before he sat down to play.

That is great prioritization and time management, right there.

Not a moment wasted.

New Way to Play

I'm not sure this is what the inventors of the ExerSaucer had in mind.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pillow Fight!

Tucker and Robb competed in a ferocious pillow fight... see the giggles (and the pillow!) in action.

Busy Boys

On his way to walking...

Ever the dilemma -

what's more fun: the toys, or the box?

My Life, in a Picture

Notice: Tyler is clawing his way up my neck, and Tucker is clamoring to get into my lap.
(He's not sad; he's mad. Don't feel too sorry for him.)
Everybody wants a piece of Mommy.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What's Better than Mommy? Bob.

Tucker has a fallen in love with Veggie Tales, and one of his new words is "Bob." As in, the tomato.

As I was getting for work yesterday, Tuck was having a bit of a meltdown over the idea of me leaving. I have discovered that he is a planner, he likes to have his ducks in a row, and it helps him to know what's coming. So, as is often our routine, we had a planning meeting.

"Tuck, let Mommy tell you The Plan. I'm going to get ready for work. After I leave, you can sit in Mommy's chair and have a snack, and you can drink your juice, and you can watch Bob. Sound good?"

He hopped off my lap, quite literally. He started waving to me.

"Bye-bye, Mommy. Bob." Although I was not quite ready to walk out the door, he was suddenly ready for me to leave. "Bye-bye, Mommy. Byeeee. Bye. Bye, Mommy. Bob. Bob. Bob."

Well, okay then. Thanks, Bob, for making my departure a smooth one.

Eating out of Grandma's Hand.

He laid his head down in her open palm, and he finished his peanut butter sandwich.
Love it.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

How R-U-D-E.

We planned a family dinner out on Saturday night. We snuggled into our cozy corner booth, with Tucker in his high chair and Tyler in his carseat, wedged into the booth beside me.

Shortly after we were seated, a larger group was seated at the table next to us. We sat back-to-back, in seemingly close quarters. The restaurant was crowded and noisy, so things felt a bit claustrophobic. There was a time in my life when I would have considered that degree of livelihood to be enticing, a clear sign that we had chosen a popular dinner hour, and we are thereby popular as well.

But when I really want some time with my husband, or even family time that entails spilled jars of baby food, lots and lots of baby wipes, and smashed animal crackers... well, then I don't necessarily want to yell across the table to my dinner date.

But hey, it worked out that way. And it would have been fine. Except.

Except for the woman who was seated at the table behind us. It was a family with four adults and a little girl of about three. She was with her parents and her grandparents, who had apparently just stepped off an airplane. It appeared that they were in town to wait for the arrival of a new grandbaby expected to arrive any day, judging by the looks of the mother, who was great with child.

It seems like I know a lot about them, doesn't it? I'm telling you: close quarters.

Anyway, we had gone about our plans for a fun family dinner, when the grandmother turned around in her booth and said, "Oh, look, Victoria! There's a baby sitting right behind you! Look! Right here. See? The baby! Oh, what a cute baby! What is his name??"

"His name is Tyler," I said, with a smile. I aim to be polite to everyone, especially people who compliment my children, but I had no idea what a can of worms I was about to open. Keep in mind, she was sitting right behind me, so our shoulders were touching, and she could have easily kissed me on the cheek.

"Oh! Tyler! That's my son's name! Victoria calls him Ty-Ty. His name is Tyler, Victoria. He's a little Ty-Ty. Say hi to Ty-Ty! Want to sing to him? Let's sing to him!"

And Grandma and Victoria proceeded to sing many, many verses of Itsy Bitsy Spider (or Eensy Weensy Spider, depending on which singer I focused on) to my son. Tucker was captured by the tableside entertainment as well, and both boys watched with their mouths hanging open. Usually they smile at such attempts, but I think they were as incredulous as we were.

Truly, even that much might have been okay, had it come to a screeching halt. But that's not all.

Anytime Tyler started to fuss, Grandma would turn around and say, "Oh, Ty-Ty! What's wrong, Ty-Ty?? What's wrong with the baby? What does he need? What do you think, Victoria? Should we sing to him again??"

Oh, dear heavens.

Perhaps they meant well. Perhaps they didn't mean to totally intrude on our family night, and perhaps she had no idea how unbelievably distracting she was, such that Robb and I couldn't think of a single thing to talk about, since we knew she was close enough to hear every word and might start to sing again.

Perhaps. I really am a social person, I am my social father's daughter, and I enjoy a good conversation with a new friend. But c'mon... even I have my limits.


Love the Mall

We love the mall.

I've said it before, but it is indeed the perfect cure for cabin fever, for a day without plans to leave the house, but a desperate need to go somewhere. The boys and I went to the mall on Friday, for some fun times at Pottery Barn Kids and the log cabin. For the first time, I let Tyler out of the stroller, and I let him roam free on the padded carpet.

Tucker was not impressed at first; sometimes his idea of Tyler's involvement entails his baby brother sitting in the stroller, strapped in, watching longingly and with great admiration as Tucker displays new and exciting behaviors that Tyler can only hope to do someday. But today was Tyler's day to give it a shot.

Once Tucker realized Tyler was on the floor to stay, that no amount of yelling, "No!" or pounding his brother on the forehead would take Tyler away (but it just might get Tucker taken away instead), he gave in and decided to show Tyler around the log cabin play area.

It was a day to remember.

One of my favorite things is...

... watching my boys learn to play with one another. I love realizing that they will never recall a time when they didn't have each other, that they won't know life without a brother. I often find myself praying that they will somehow love each other through the ups and downs of being siblings. It's possible that we have given them a built-in best friend.
I hope they think so, too.

Boys and Bathroom Humor

On a date with some fun couples this weekend, I was relaying the story of Tucker's discovery Poo/Pooh, and his new love for bathroom humor.

My friend Lanny joked, "Oh, don't worry. In about 65 years, he'll get over that."

I believe it! I definitely don't get the pubescent jokes or love for all things gross and bodily, but I believe it.

My husband would probably say the same thing about my love for shoes. He just doesn't get it.

Fair enough. And therein lies one of the core differences between men and women.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Poo or Pooh?

During the marathon of all things Disney Channel last week, Tucker watched a round or two of Tigger and Friends. While I lay on the couch, watching with one eye and listening with one ear, he came over to me, holding the back of his diaper and simultaneously pointing to the TV.

"Do you need your diaper changed?"

"No." More grabbing and pointing.

"That's Pooh. Pooh is on the TV," I acknowledged, feeling very groggy.

He nodded his head, and showed great enthusiasm for my realization: Yes! Pooh! Pooh has the same name as the contents of his diaper!

That is such a boy thing to do. I cannot think of a single little girl I know who would recognize and associate Pooh with poop.

I better suck it up... I'm going to have to openly talk about bodily functions in ways I never intended.

Good heavens. Boys.

Teeny Tiny Ty

Tyler had his nine-month checkup today. I am still in denial, even as I write that... how can he be old enough for such an appointment?

He is 27 1/2 inches long, and he weighed in at a whopping 16.5 pounds. That's the 3rd percentile. He's a teeny, tiny guy.

Tucker was never that small... he was always a little guy during his first year, but never quite this small. At the same checkup, he was 2 inches longer and a pound heavier. He outweighed Tyler, shooting high in the tenth percentile.

Tyler... third percentile. What a little peanut.

Why Would You Say That?

At the doctor's office today, a mom in the waiting room looked at Tucker, who was playing away with the fun options for little boys.

She said, "He has beautiful hair. Lovely red tones to it. He'll probably hate it, but it's very pretty."

I said, "Thank you."

But I was thinking, "He'll probably hate it? Why do you think so? Because, frankly, he has exactlly my hair color, and I don't hate it. But if you think he will... well, that's interesting."

Hmmm. Interesting.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Language Explosion!

Tucker has made some huge strides in the last two weeks - a veritable language explosion has taken place at our house!

He has added several new words to his vocabulary, including me, my (spoken with great emphasis, as he takes a toy from the baby brother), hi, bye, up, and please. Even better, he has started putting two words together in sentences. We've heard each of the following recently:

More, Mommy?

More, Daddy?

Up, Mommy!

Hi, Beep! (his word for car) More Beep! Beep-beep! Hi, Beep! Bye, Beep!

Hi, Baby! Bye, Baby!

More, Baby?

No! No, Doe-doe! (his word for Molly, our dog)

Juice, please!

He's coming right along. We are on a new level with his therapy now, since he has found the confidence to mimic nearly anything he wants to. And very often, he wants to! Now that he has found his voice, he uses it quite frequently... and every word is music to our ears.

Thank you to all of you who have patiently waited alongside us to see this progress, who have encouraged us in through the language drought, and who have allowed us to boast over every sound and word, each of which is a victory. He still has a long way to go, as there is a growing disparity between his language abilities and that of other children his age or younger. But this has been a huge breakthrough, and we can hardly sleep for rejoicing over his newfound abilities.

Just this morning, Nicole, our speech and language guru, said, "Congratulations. This is huge. This really is a big one." I couldn't have wanted to hear anything more.
Way to go, Tucker.
Mommy and Daddy are so proud of you...
such a journey we are all on together, as you learn this language.
Keep on talkin', kiddo.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Let's Bake!

The boys and I baked together today. It was our very first kitchen endeavor together, and it was such fun that I think we'll need to do it once a week. Well, once a month.

Here is a photo montage of the morning's festivities...
Cue the music...

Since we had never done this before, I wanted to guarantee our success. For starters, I opted for Pillsbury. You can always count on the dough boy.

Next, I helped Tyler get all set up in his highchair. He had an excellent view of all the action, and he was pleased to play with his Tupperware seal, egg dipper, and funnel. Those are not your average baby toys, you know. It was sure to buy me some time.

Finally, time to get working with those cookies. Tucker didn't really understand the part about "setting the cookies two inches apart." He was more interested in putting them in a very straight line. (He is a classic firstborn, in many ways.)

This is the face of sheer concentration.

Sneaking a bite before they are baked?
Yep. He's mine.

Since he had never baked anything before, he really didn't understand the process. He thought it really was all about lining them up on the cookie sheet, and then we would eat them from their neat little rows. While I am not above this, it's not the precedent I wanted to set... at least not today. So, the tears are because Mommy insisted on putting them in the oven.

While they browned their edges to golden, Tucker practiced the art of oven mits.

Finally, the timer rang, and the cookies were ready to come out of the oven. But to Tucker's sheer disappointment, we still could not eat them. So hard to be patient.

At last, they were cool enough to devour.

Tucker got to be the official taste tester, fully equipped with his sippy cup of milk.

Tyler was no longer pleased with this plan. With all of Tucker's mm-mm-mmm-ing over his delicious cookies, he was wishing he had more teeth so he could have a cookie of his own. The Tupperware and even the light-up, twirly Nemo toy could not distract him from what he was missing out on.

Sorry, kiddo. Your turn will come. In the meantime, save room for some pureed sweet potatoes for lunch. I can hear your tastebuds already.

So, the verdict is in: The Cookies were a Success.

Just think: next month, we can do them with shamrocks in the middle.

You better place your cookie orders now, ladies and gentlemen.

We're gonna be big.

Monday, February 4, 2008

No-Burger Blues

He is crying because he wanted a hamburger for lunch, and Mommy doesn't have one in the diaper bag. Seriously.

Perhaps this is the downside to my decision to offer variety in his meals: he now believes the diaper bag is his personal equivalent to Mary Poppins' carpet bag, endlessly filled with his favorite things. All he must do is keep asking, and it will magically appear from the depths of the Magic Bag.

Once he stopped crying over the hamburger, he asked me for ice cream.

No, no ice cream in the diaper bag either. But that would be cool. I'm with him on that one.

Size 6 Diapers??

How is it at all possible that my son is ready to graduate into Size 6 Diapers??

I remember when he was in Size 2's, and I saw a box of 6's on the Costco shelf. I looked at my little-bottomed boy, and I thought, "Size 6? Good heavens! What kind of a big kid wears Size 6 diapers?? Surely he'll be potty trained before we need diapers that big!"

Yeah, not so much. My little guy has some hips, and potty training is nowhere in the near future. (Partly because I feel very strongly that he needs to be able to verbally communicate his need to go before we introduce the process. Oh, and partly because he has zero interest.)

Size 6, here we come.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

How Tucker and I are Different

Before illness set in, Tucker enjoyed a fun playdate at McDonald's with his favorite cousin, Abby. When we got home from hours and hours of playland fun, I took off his shoes and socks to help him settle in for his nap.

That's when I saw a spot of blood on his sock and a cut on his heel where his shoe had rubbed his foot raw. Poor little guy... poor little foot. It didn't need a band-aid, since it had long since stopped bleeding. It was just a memory, and a vauge one, at that.

And that's how he and I are different:

If my shoe was rubbing my heel, and doggonit, if my shoe was causing me enough pain to draw blood, the whole world would know. I would not keep playing with glee, ignoring the annoying pain, waiting for it to go away. Things would need to stop immediately. I would need a remedy, right now. And I would probably be a little overly dramatic about the whole thing... just maybe. Yep. That's one character trait he didn't get from me.

Just goes to show how much he loves playing with Abby: enough to bleed right through his sock, and never miss a beat.

Presidential Hopefuls

A word to any of you who are planning to run for President and would like to have my vote:

The best campaign plan is NOT to call my home incessantly, recording messages on my voicemail, bashing your opponent.

Consider it a waste of your campaign funds, and get another tactic. Please.

My Husband: My Hero

Here are the reasons my husband is my hero, and how he stole my heart all over again this week:

  • While I was sick at home with our sick children, he texted and called from his various locations in "The Dakotas" to check in and encourage me.
  • When he got home, he greeted his sick, frail, couch-ridden wife with a bouquet of orchids. After opening my eyes to such a sight, and after missing him so very, very much, I instantly started to cry. How could I respnd any other way?
  • Within 24 hours of returning home, he fixed the garbage disposal and the washer, which both malfunctioned in varying degrees while he was gone.
  • For two days, he followed me around to my various places of rest, saying things like, "Are you drinking something? What do you want to drink? Why aren't you drinking? What can I pour you to drink? Where's your drink?" He believes whole-heartedly in the power of rehydration.
  • On Friday, he rented the equipment to professionally shampoo our living room carpets, after the destructive wear and tear of 36 hours of eruptive, explosive vomiting. All the while, I lay on the couch, still unable to move or open my eyes.
  • He played on the newly shampooed carpets with our two little boys, who were so delighted to see him and get their little paws all over him. It's hard to know who was more thrilled to have him home: the boys or the mom.

I dearly love that man.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

"Wet Clean Up in Aisle 16."

(I apologize in advance for the graphic nature of this posting. I also apologize for the length of this posting... but it's a good story, in its own very gross way.)

On Wednesday afternoon, the boys and I headed out for a major trip to the grocery store: time to stock up on the necessities. Robb was traveling for the fourth week in a row, and we were on a countdown until he would be home again. In the meantime, we needed to fill the cupboards.

I had filled the cart to its capacity, and I was on the final stretch. I needed to visit the baby aisle, and then I needed to make the inevitable "one more round" to get the things I always forget the first time through.

As I pondered the baby foods, trying to choose the best ones for my littlest man, Tuck threw up. Again and again. Everywhere. A LOT. I mean, a LOT.

I had tucked my coat in the little space underneath, for temporary ease of coat-free shopping, and his throw-up was filling his lap, his coat, his seat and seeping between the bars of the cart and down onto my coat. I'm telling you: there was A LOT.

What do you do in a moment like that? I really, truly wanted to say to the people strolling by at the end of the aisle, "Excuse me, can you help me?? Please? Can you help?!" But what can they do?
If I am being totally honest, I really want someone else to be The Mom for a moment. It's not that I don't want my kids, it's just that I don't want that to be My Mess to clean up and deal with. There was just far more to clean up than my baby wipes could handle.

Well, one thing was for sure: this grocery shopping adventure was officially over. Yes, I still needed baby food, and more importantly, those few other items - mandatory items. Things that completed the recipes I planned to make for my family this week. I needed them. And yet, clearly, we could not continue shopping.

I lifted Tucker out of his seat, and I cleaned off his hands, face, and shoes. I pushed my very heavy cart with one hand, and I held his hand with the other... only to remember that Tucker's legs stop working when his pants are wet. He walks like Frankenstein. His knees do not bend, and his feet operate as though he is wearing cement shoes. It is not a good plan. And yet, what could I do? Put him back in the vomit seat?

Actually, that's exactly what I did. He couldn't walk, I couldn't carry him, and our only remaining choice was for me to put him back in the cart. Poor guy.

We headed straight to the checkout stand. The communication henceforth went something like this:

"Hello, ma'am. Did you find everything?"

"Well, mostly, yes. I'm sorry to tell you, though, my little boy just threw up all over the baby food aisle."

"Oh... oh, yes." He just looked at Tucker, who appeared to have indeed thrown up, or else I had poured cottage cheese all over him without buying it first. "I'm so sorry to hear that."

"Yes, I'm sorry, too. Very, very sorry."

"One moment, Ma'am." He picked up his telephone, and he pressed the Top Secret Code for making Public Announcements. "Can I get a wet clean up in Aisle 16? Wet clean up in aisle 16."

I was tempted to encourage him to call the HazMat team. Seriously. They had no idea how very wet or how very much this clean up would entail.

The kind young man, Ryan, began unloading the cart, scanning my items, one at a time. As I watched, it brought back memories of sweeter times in the last hour: when I bought a slice of apple pie that I planned to indulge in after my children went to bed, and when I chose some heart-shaped Valentine cookie dough that Tuck and I will tear apart and bake together, creating memories and a blog post, all at the same time.

But all of that was lost in the fact that my son had gotten sick: very sick.

The grocery bagger, a girl named Carly, with very black hair and very blue eyeliner, said, "Ma'am, is there anything else I can get for you? Anything left on your list?"

My goodness, yes. Yes, there is. That darling girl went to the far corners of the store to find cream of chicken soup, french fried onions, and baby wipes. Now that is above and beyond the call of duty.

Meanwhile, Ryan, stayed to the task at hand. It was only while I was sorting through my coupons that I heard him say, "Oh. Oh, my."

I looked up to see his hand covered in cottage cheese... you know what I mean. I didn't realize it, but while Tucker's throw-up was pouring down onto my coat, it was of course pouring over some of the groceries, too.

Oh, yuck. I said, "Oh, my goodness. That's awful. This is awful. I'm so sorry. Oh, my gosh, this is so awful." I asked him to hand me a plastic bag, and I would take care of the food my son had thrown up on. After all, his mother should be the one to handle the dirty work, and believe me: even I didn't want to do the dirty work.

Ryan was so professional. "Ma'am, I'll just get you a new one. You shouldn't have to take this home. We'll get you a new one. What is this, chunky blue cheese dressing?"

I couldn't help it - I laughed. "Ironically, yes. It's chunky. Blue Cheese."

And off he went, to wash his hands, and to replace the dressing. Who can do without Marzetti's Blue Cheese? Not me, apparently.

Let me just toss this in for your mental picture: Tucker felt just fine, for the moment. What had upset his tummy so badly was now out of his system, and he was ready to ride the Penny Horse. So he was signing horse with all he was worth, and saying, "Nay? Nay? Nay? Nay?"

"No, not today. Sorry, Buddy. No horse today. You're sick." And all the mothers in the store rejoiced over my good judgment, since I did not choose to put my son in his wet, vomit-soaked pants on the horse. Not even for a penny.

Finally, finally, it was time to go.

Tuck and some groceries were in one cart, and Tyler (who was blissfully behaved and showing no signs of illness) sat in his carseat along with the rest of my groceries in a second cart. Carly offered to help me to my car, and I took her up on it before she could come to her senses.

She said, "How about if I take the cart with the baby, and you take the one with the... the sick little guy?"


She began to push Tyler's cart - which struck fear in his heart. He realized instantly that someone other than Mommy was pushing him out of the store, and he was terrified. He began screaming - the kind of wail that makes mothers everywhere turn and look, signaling clearly that a child is in danger. (I am very thankful that he has this awareness, since I would want him to respond exactly that way if he ever needed to... but let's not go there. I can feel nightmares stirring at the very thought of it. Back to the throw-up.) We had to stop everything so I could show him that I was right here, right beside him, going out the door to take him home. Bless his sweet heart... I do love that boy. I love them both... have I mentioned that?

After Carly loaded my groceries, and after I loaded my children (one wet with tears, the other wet with, well, you know), we drove the four minutes to the house. I carried the children in the house, got Tucker out of his wet clothes, and began carrying food into the kitchen.

But then he threw up again. And again. And again. And I cleaned him up. Again, and again.

I was able to put the cold things away between his episodes, but everything else stayed strewn about the kitchen, because Tucker couldn't stop throwing up. This continued for six hours.

(Please remember, if only for sympathy: Robb was traveling. For the fourth week in a row. I was at my limit.)

My mom came over for moral and physical support, and there are truly not enough words to express how deeply thankful I was. She held Tyler, played with him, fed him his bottle, and put him to bed, all while I held Tucker, keeping the trash can and the wash cloth close by.

At the appropriate time, Tyler went right to sleep, and Mom and I agreed that things seemed pretty well under control. She could go on home.

We settled in for the night, and Tucker kept throwing up. Every 15 minutes, almost like clockwork. Since there was no way I could risk putting him in his bed, Tuck and I had a sleepover in the living room. He slept on a makeshift bed on the floor, complete with his comforter and a sheet (to be replaced as needed), and I slept on the couch right beside him. As he got sick throughout the night, I changed his jammies and his sheets, until we had accumulated quite a pile of laundry in the corner of the living room.

It was quite a night.

Finally, Tucker's body calmed down, and he fell asleep. And so did I.

Until 3:30 in the morning... when I got sick. Oh, my goodness, did I get sick. I will spare you the details (unlike I have throughout the rest of this story). But I will say this: I was sicker than I have ever been since we got married. Crazy sick.

At 5:00 AM, I had to call for reinforcements: Mom. She came back, ever ready to help, even before the sun came up.

I'm telling you: when I'm sick, there's just nobody like my mom. She stayed for the duration, leaving for only a few hours when she needed to teach a class at the seminary.
(Tucker, by the way, was completely healed by morning, and ready to hit the ground running. I was definitely thankful that he stopped throwing up, but c’mon… couldn’t he give me just one day of snuggling and downtime?)

Mom was absolutely phenomenal. She took care of me and my children, right down to bathing Tucker and Tyler so they didn’t smell like throw-up when their daddy came home from his business trip. She stayed until Robb came home, at 8:30 that night. She gave him the report, and then she went off duty. Unbelievable. I love you, Mom.

That was Wednesday, and today is Saturday…and that, incidentally, is why I haven’t posted a single thing in four days.

It all started at the grocery store.