Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Full Sentence!

We went to Red Robin today for lunch after church. Tucker has a new found love for balloons, and we let him have one at the table (which is a gift of love, since it is highly distracting to the lunch dynamic).

His balloon floated up to the ceiling, too far for him to reach, but not too far for Daddy's Go-Go-Gadget Arms.

I prompted him with some signs, but Tucker put this broken sentence together:

"Daddy, more balloon, please."
You can bet Robb jumped at the chance to get it for him.
This journey continues to be very, very hard most days, but then Tucker gives me a little nugget like this one. I'll hold on to that for a while.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Look Who's Talking!

Tyler is. He really is. There. I said it.

He has five words:

Bob (as in Bob and Larry, of VeggieTales fame)
Uh-oh! (his favorite, most frequent, and for sure the cutest)

I don't really know what to do with a child who appears to be typically acquiring language. I go back and forth between total denial and sheer pride.

Sometimes I think, "Oh, there's no way. He's not really talking. If he ever says it again, then I'll think about this possibility." Then he says it again.

Other times I think he is quite the prodigy. After all, he is talking a full year before his brother did, and that's worth a few points on the secondborn scale.

Just days ago, two of my friends were visiting him and snuggling him (which, by the way, is the key to my heart... love my kids and I'm yours forever). As he rubbed his eyes, my friend asked, "Oh, Ty, are you sleepy?"

He snuggled into her shoulder and said, "Yeah."

He answered a question. What am I to do with this??

Thursday, March 27, 2008

King of the Rings

Tucker is taking a tumbling class on Tuesday mornings, and he loves every minute of it.

He loves the circle time (he chants, "Bus! Bus! Bus!" in hopes that we will sing The Wheels on the Bus), he loves the balance beam, he jostles himself all over the trampoline, he is awkwardly mastering the Pizza Roll (the preschool name for a backward somersault), and he lives for the stamps and stickers at the end of the hour.

It is so much fun to see him doing so well at something... we tend to focus on his language needs all the time, so it is so freeing for him to run and play, bounce and climb, and strengthen some skills he is already so good at.

My little tumbler.

Baby Tricia

An old friend sent this picture to me today.
I love it.

I love how young and vibrant my parents are.

They are each 27 years old there... which is younger than I am now.

I love that I can see a lot of Tyler in that baby picture of me.

I love that my parents are elated, clearly filled with joy. I so get that now, since I know how it feels to be so proud of my family, too.

What a fun picture.


If I keep my house immaculately clean, and am envied by all for my interior decoration, but do not show love in my family, I am just another housewife.

If I'm always producing lovely things - sewing, art, macramé; if I always look attractive and speak intelligently but am not loving to my family - I am nothing.

If I'm busy in community affairs, teach Sunday school, and drive in the carpool, but fail to give adequate love to my family - I gain nothing.

Love changes diapers, cleans up messes and ties shoes, over and over again.

Love is kind, though tired and frazzled.

Love doesn't envy another wife - one whose children are "spaced" better or in school, so she has time to pursue her own interests.

Love doesn't try to impress others with my abilities or knowledge as a mother.

Love doesn't scream at the kids.

Love doesn't feel cheated because I didn't get to do what I wanted to do today - sew, read, soak in a hot tub.

Love doesn't lose my temper easily.

Love doesn't assume that my children are being naughty just because their noise level is irritating.

Love doesn't rejoice when other people's children misbehave and make mine look good.

Love is genuinely happy when others are honored by their children.

~Jean Fleming

From A Mother's Heart

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Our Egg-stravaganza

We have a very important tradition of coloring easter eggs.
Robb and I have done this every year, and we always count them out and strategize. Mine are pretty and pastel; his are bright and vibrant. And most importantly, his decorative plans always include "the Shemuckel Dunn"... a tradition from his family of origin, which means:
the ugliest egg you've ever seen.
The tradition is now complicated by little hands that are not quite so careful with eggs or dye, but they definitely make the process more interesting.
Tyler watched from afar, with some safer, more durable eggs to play with.
Tucker really wanted to drink the dye, and he was seemingly undeterred by the vinegar flavor. I thought one good lick of the spoon would cure his curiosity, but no luck. We spent the entire time saying, "No mouth, please. No, not in your mouth. Tucker. No mouth."
I'm sure the whole experience was highly creative and very stress free for him.
(We'll work on that next year.)
The end result: a beautiful centerpiece on my kitchen table for the weekend.
And each egg tells a story.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Set your DVR!

My dad's episode of Dr. Phil will air on May 29. It's titled Against the Odds, and it's a good one.

My dad is one handsome man. You won't want to miss his TV debut. :o)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Our Clan on Easter

I love Easter. It is one of my very favorite holidays. I like to think of it as our Spiritual Fourth of July. It's our Independence Day. We are set free... there should be fireworks. There should be parades. There should be great display and grandeur... Christ the Lord is risen today!

We had a very special holiday with our family - with a few extra special moments since this was Tyler's first Easter. He looked very, very handsome.

As for Tucker... well, he has had better days. For starters, I didn't realize until Easter morning that my son no longer wears a 2T. He is a solid 3T now. Therefore, his Easter outfit was unfortunately the very wrong size.

His pants were an inch too short, his shirt wouldn't stay tucked in, his vest wasn't long enough, and his milk belly pooched out over the top of his pants. And when did I realize this would be his appearance for the day? Oh, a half-hour before we were to leave for church. Nice. Not my finest work.

I seriously thought about scratching the whole plan and going with something else in his closet, albeit worn before and not Easter-perfect enough. But, since I have recently been told that I seem to perpetually have my act together and can thus be intimidating, I decided to use this as an opportunity to show weakness in a very public way. My son wore his ill-fitting clothes to church, on Easter Sunday, of all days... such a pride buster for me!

To make matters worse, he was sick. Very sick. Like, four-Nebulizer-treatments-in-one-day kind of sick. A better mom would have kept him at home, but not me. It was Easter. I love Easter. Plus, he had new clothes to wear... such as they were.

He even opened his Easter Basket with his Nebulizer hard at work, settling his lungs. Poor guy.

Between breathing treatments, he played with Tyler and Abby, grazed on various yummy treats, and even played a song on the piano.

He played Let Me Call You Sweetheart, I'm In Love With You.
(Just kidding.)
To finish the day, the children explored the Jell-o eggs MaeMae made for them. They seemed to enjoy the flavor, but neither one of them could get past the texture. (I have no idea where they got that... I am so totally okay with anything on my hands or in my mouth.
Totally. Right. Ahem.)

Tucker is signing cold.

You do have to keep Jell-o in the refrigerator, you know. But it added to the whole sensory integration issue for him, I think.

It was a great day. I really love Easter.

Our family - Easter 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

So very helpful.

I am so very thankful Tyler learned how to help with the laundry. This makes my job so much easier, and I so appreciate his helpfulness. I especially love his organizational skills and his desire to sort and fold my laundry that has already been put away.
Help is really a relative term. Truly.

Loving the Swings

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Dad and Dr. Phil: Buddies.

You'll never guess where my dad is today. Just go ahead and try. Okay, I'll tell you.

He is a guest on the Dr. Phil Show.

Yep, that's right. He flew to LA yesterday, spent the night at a Hollywood hotel, and they picked him up at 6:20 this morning to take him to the studio. Wardrobe and makeup - the whole deal. My dad is with Dr. Phil right now, as I type.

Before you get too concerned, he's not there on behalf of my parents' marriage, family therapy, addictive behavior, selfish bride syndrome, stolen identity, or something for Dr. Phil to analyze and improve. He is there to publicly thank the Dr. Phil Foundation for providing a grant to give foster children involvement in extracurricular activities, including dance, tennis, and music lessons.

So that's where he is. Oh, and there's a dollar bet on the table for him: we'll each pay him a dollar to turn on the tears while he's sitting on the stage, so Dr. Phil McGraw himself will pull out his hankie for my dad to keep. He only gets the dollar if he brings home the actual souvenir, and a hankie with Dr. Phil's initials written with Sharpie simply will not do.

How about that? My dad and Dr. Phil, doing lunch today. Okay, maybe not lunch. But in my mind, they are.

Stay tuned for when it will air!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Side by Side

On a trip to Costco this week, I had the brilliant idea to let the boys sit side by side in the cart. Tyler is big enough, and it's really intended to hold two little children, so we gave it a shot.
It felt like such a milestone, somehow. Just another way for them to be buddies.
They were humbled and awestruck by the magnitude of the experience, as you can see.

Things went along very well, and they sat perfectly alongside one another...
until we got in the store.
It was not a flawless trip of brotherly cooperation, I have to confess.

Thankfully, my list was short.

In the end, I had the bulk items and dry goods I needed to make it through another month,

and I also had proof that my children can do this.

Whether they liked it is undecided, but since neither of them can talk, I get to be the judge.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

My Little Distraction

Somebody made it very hard to start the day.

Have you tried to put on mascara with little hands clawing at your pantleg? Not an easy task.

And yet, somehow I know that someday I will look fondly on this memory.

In fact, I already do.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Speaking to My Son

Within the last two weeks, I have had the pleasure of spending time with two of my dear friends and their little boys. And each time, my friends' children have touched my heart with their tenderness and compassion toward my little boy and the language that is all his own.

Last weekend, we met Alli and her family for dinner, followed by games and dessert at our house. Alli spent some time preparing Ethan for the events of the evening, helping to prepare his expectations for everything, from start to finish. She explained that Tucker uses sign language, and that means that he speaks with his hands instead of his voice most of the time.

(Ethan is busily learning to speak fluent French; he showed me how to say the French version of "My name is Ethan, and I am a red fish." A very useful phrase, undoubtedly.) It was easy for Ethan to comprehend the use of a second language (or in Tucker's case, his first), and he was very interested in learning a few signs he could use with Tucker.

When they walked into the restauraunt, Ethan went straight to Tucker to say, "Hi, Tuck! Bunny! Bunny!" He signed bunny to Tucker, and my little guy lit up to see someone talking about his favorite animal.

And just a couple days later, my friend Jen came over to spend the morning at my house with her two little boys, Reece and Mason. Reece and Tucker played from beginning to end, and Tucker seemed enthralled with Reece's creativity with the toys he had grown bored with. Reece brought new life to our house.

But aside from fun playtimes, he also kept a close eye on Tuck, making sure all his needs were met. When the two of them sat side by side at the table, having a healthy morning snack of chocolate chip muffins, Reece said, "I think Tucker's thirsty, Tricia. He would like a drink." Sure enough. I can do that: beverages all around.

When they were finished, Reece stood in front of Tucker and said, "Tuck, are you all done? Or do you want more?" He signed to Tucker, and Tucker signed back. Reece announced, "He's all done, Tricia. You can get him down now."

I love it. I have always said that anybody who is a friend of my children is a friend of mine. It turns out, anyone who takes the time to learn to speak to my son in the language he is mastering is someone who has stolen my heart.

I love those little boys... and I sure love their moms. Thanks, ladies, for teaching your boys to have such tender hearts and to love little children who think and talk differently than they do.

It's a gift to this mom.

One of my favorite things.

I did the math.

I have edited over 200 pages of other people's writing in the last nine days.

No wonder the blog has gone woefully neglected.

And the laundry.

Monday, March 10, 2008

My brother.

I really love my brother.
He was my first friend, and he continues to be one of my favorite people in the world.

He teaches me about loyalty, worship, creativity, passion, ambition, independence, brokenness, resilience, and friendship.

From living with him, I ultimately learned how to live with my husband, how to fight, what's worth fighting about, and how to still love him, even more deeply, on the other side of such conflict.

When something is important to him, it's important to me. But when someone breaks his heart, they break mine, too.

He knows the path to my heart, how to throw me to the ground in laughter, with just a glance. And I am pretty good at making him laugh, too.

I really love my little brother, who somehow grew into an amazing man of integrity and influence, while I wasn't looking.

He should still be fifteen, or something.

I love you, Rob.

No more crib.

We spent last evening at my parents' house, and we put the boys to bed so we could watch Extreme Home Makeover without distraction.

A few moments in, I heard a crash from upstairs. I ran to the stairs, to find Tucker standing at the top of the landing, crying and bleeding. I suspect he had tried to climb out of the crib, but he could not do it as succesfully and gracefully as the one at my aunt's house, so he came crashing to ground instead.

You'd think I would have learned by now, after four escapes and a broken arm: this child can no longer be contained in such a way.

Well, that final trick earned him a ticket straight to the Big Boy Bed. He moved into my parents' guest room, which is where he shall henceforth sleep from this day forward.

If he ever sleeps at your house for any reason, please don't put him in the crib.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Great Quote.

One of my favorite people shared this quote with me recently:

"Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable."

~ C. S. Lewis

"I Love You."

Tucker signs I Love You.

He waves two fingers in the air.

You might think he is showing you that he's two, or giving the peace sign, or impersonating Nixon.

But I know the truth.

And it's my favorite sign he's ever done.

Editing, editing, editing...

I am up to my ears in reading other people's writing.
It's a good thing... a really good thing, especially considering every bit of it represents extra income. But there's a LOT of it these days.

I am into my third semester of editing papers for graduate students before they turn in those final projects...

...and I have just expanded that role as a professor's assistant, reading and editing grad students' papers for the errors they missed in their proofreading...

...AND I have been hired to edit an honest-to-goodness book that is about to be published. The author got my name through the editing grapevine, he approached me about polishing his book on his behalf, and we hit the ground running. It's due to the publisher by the end of the month, so we have our work cut out for us. Or rather, I do. He has finished his part.

Just when I thought I had envisioned all the titles that would go with my name, I have a new one: Professional Editor.

In an effort to wade through the masses of double-spaced essays, I packed the boys up for a play day with my sister-in-law (to whom I am graciously indebted for giving me the morning "off"), and I settled in at Caribou Coffee.

It was glorious.

I just might be a Caribou convert, after many years of loyalty to Starbucks. (Okay, not diehard loyalty... since I hate coffee. But I do love a good mocha with a splash of raspberry. Anything to give me the sophistication without the bad taste.)

After nearly two hours of reading, highlighting, and finding errors of varying degrees of minutia, I truly felt like a new woman.

I love this job.

ps - If you have any editing needs... I'm your girl.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Would You Look At This?

I am in total denial. This cannot be.

Home again, home again.

Our flight home was a great success.

The children were exhausted in every possible way, so they were ready to settle in for a long winter's flight. It took Tyler a while to quit trying to climb out of my arms and into the overhead compartments, but his warm bottle and cozy blanket did the trick. Tucker settled into his carseat without an argument, and thanks to a late departure, Frontier Airlines gave us all free TV viewing on the seatback in front of each of us.

A small price to pay to ensure a flight with a happy toddler.

Robb came home two days before the rest of us, and he surprised us by greeting us the old fashioned way: right there at the gate. He took advantage of some of the perks of traveling often, and he greeted us with a smile and lots of hugs as we stepped off the plane.

The boys were delighted beyond words. Tyler couldn't stop giggling, and Tucker kept patting Robb's leg and smiling at me. If he could, I know he would have said, "Look who I found, Mommy! Look who was waiting for us, all along!"

I love being the mom in this very special family of mine.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Few Highlights

We have been in Ohio for nearly a week, celebrating my grandmother's life in many ways... the greatest of which is with laughter and togetherness.

I have thought of the best ways to encapsulate the best parts of this week. Short of typing pages and pages of sentiment, there is no perfect way to share what's on my heart tonight. But here's my best shot: a list of my favorite quotes from the last six days.

"My pastor said I have been a wonderful sister... but no, I had a wonderful sister."
~ My Aunt Bett, my grandmother's sister

"I have nothing but wonderful memories with her, and you just can't say that about everyone."
~ My Mom
"My grandma had a gritty side... an ornery sense of humor. And it wasn't until I got older that I was allowed to enjoy her stories. She was a very funny lady."
~ My Brother
"She was my true north. I could always follow her to find my way home. And even now that she's gone, if I follow her example, I will find my way Home."
~ My Uncle
"She was one classy lady."
~ My Cousin
"Grandma and I found each other once I was married with children of my own. She loved being a mother... she used to say, 'I rocked my boys 'til their feet hit the floor.' She loved her boys, and she loved my boys, too."
~ Me
"Mom never quit shopping, and she never quit looking for good deals. She loved to shop and she loved to order things from a catalog. In fact, she ordered a suit just a few weeks ago, and when it came, she discovered she didn't have anywhere to wear it... so she decided she wanted to be buried in it. She shopped for and bought the outfit she is wearing today. I needed to get her a sweater to wear underneath, and she would be proud to know I bought if off the clearance rack for $5.99, even though it was originally $30. She would love that. One last bargain."
~ My Dad
"As the pastor gave the invitation when I was just sixteen years old, my sister nudged me and said, 'Don't you think it's time?' I will always be thankful to my sister for giving me the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ."
~ My Great-Uncle
"Mom would have loved to see the funeral procession - the long line of cars, stopping traffic. She would have loved that."
~ My Dad
It's been a good week.
My grandma would have loved every minute of it.