Friday, May 30, 2008

Our Trip to Disney World!

It was amazing. It was a dream come true. In fact, it was many dreams come true. It was magical, and every single day held something unforgettable.
I suspect that I will need many days to blog about this trip in its entirety, but I shall begin with some of my favorite pictures.
Our Family, in front of Cinderella's Castle
I'm not sure who was enjoying the parade more: Tucker and Tyler, from their elevated seats, or Robb and me, as we listened to them giggle and point to their favorite characters.
Finally, Tucker met Mickey Mouse.
This was one of my very favorite moments, of the entire trip, but it was almost one of the worst. As we waited in line for our turn, Tucker nearly had a full-blown meltdown, prompted by sheer anticipation. He could see Mickey, he could see Minnie, and he kept shouting, "Hug! Hug the Mouse!" He watched other families leave, and suddenly, he was overcome with fear that someone might take him away from his shining moment. Seriously, it was almost catastrophic; picture all the things a two-year-old is capable of, and that was Tucker in that moment. I didn't know if he could handle it; I was afraid he would lose his mind in the sheer joy of the moment, and he would so something to Mickey we might all regret.
Finally, it was our turn, and Tuck was a total pro. With complete poise and confidence, he walked right up to Mickey and fell into his arms.
Old friends met for the very first time.
Sadly, Tyler slept through it all.
But Ty was awake for our introduction to Pluto, and this is now one of his first words: "Ah-doe!"
I loved watching my children watch the parade. Tucker especially lit up over every float, every character, every everything.
The look on his face was worth all the late nights, editing at the computer.
My children are utterly in love with the magic of Uncle Rob. Every child should have an uncle who lives at Disney World, mingling everyday with Mickey's finest. Some of the most elite Disney World guests hire a private guide to take them through the parks; we have the very same benefit, with someone we love and want in all our pictures. My brother.
He spent the entire week running ahead of us, paving the way, and making sure our every experience was perfect and just above what we might have hoped for. If I didn't already adore him for simply being the best childhood companion a sister could have, then he would have stolen my heart with all the magic he brought to my children this week.
Unbelievable, from beginning to end.


We stayed at Disney's All Star Sports Resort, and it was the very perfect choice for our family. We loved the atmosphere, the kid-friendliness, the food court, the swimming pools, the great big everything. We'll be back, All Star Sports.
And when we weren't busy chasing Mickey and his friends to the far corners of the park, we soaked up the sunshine in the swimming pool, too.
All of us are sprinkled with freckles.

It was a perfect trip, from start to finish.




Monday, May 19, 2008

"Walk, Baby!"

Tucker has claimed the personal responsibility of teaching Tyler to walk. It looks a lot like he is teaching him the box step, but we'll save that for eighth grade P.E. class.
For now, Tyler is very close to toddling all over the house, and it all officially started with four steps yesterday, from Mommy to Daddy.


We knew it would happen.

Way to accessorize.


I'm pretty sure these pictures will make it into the slideshow we will display at his wedding reception.
You just can't beat the Pluto hat and the giraffe galoshes.




Sunday, May 18, 2008

Squeaky Clean


After all the bodily explosions of every kind this week, a good scrubbing was in order.


They are clean again... for the moment.

Pizza and Tamales

At Tyler's 12-month checkup this week, the pediatrician said, "Okay, you can cut him loose on all the solid foods he wants. No more baby foods - he can have whatever you have. Bring on the pizza and tamales!"

Well, he has already had some great exposure to pizza, even if we're not super quick on the tamales. But today he got a banana of his very own, and while he loved the flavor, I'm not sure about the cleanup. This season of self feeding requires parents to relinquish a lot of control... but he has to learn somehow.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure there is something organically great about putting bananas in one's hair.

Peek A Boo!

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They're BETTER!

I am happy to report: healthy little boys at my house. And just in time, because we have carted them all over town this weekend, making up for lost time as we tie up loose ends and get ready for our TEN DAY vacation to Disney World.

I think it is no small thing that the days of illness match the upcoming days of vacation in duration... but somehow, I think the days in the sun will pass by much faster than the days in the house, with sick little people.

Orlando, here we come. Suitcases, open wide. I'm diving in.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Day Ten... and Counting.

Just when I thought we were moving on to bigger, better, healthier experiences, Tuck is still sick. My poor little guy. He actually fell asleep with his face nestled into the crook of my elbow this morning.


That was while he watched Finding Nemo, which was right after Elmo's Springtime Fun and before Mickey's Easter Egg Hunt. Thank you, Lord, for DVDs on sick days. (And on some healthy days. Let's be honest.)

You know you have been really sick for a long time when the only thing left to snuggle with are the old towels we use to bathe the dog.



(They are clean, I assure you. And they are a testament to the serious amounts of throwing up that have taken place in the last four days. We are down to the bottom of the linen closet, quite literally.)

This is the face I am eager to see again, someday soon. I have saved this picture, for posterity and as a reminder that this too shall pass, and he will smile again.


He is so sweet, and that is one very silly grin.

Ladies and Gentlemen, if you look out your window...

On Monday, after the evaluation that wasn't and the vomiting episode that was, Tuck and I took our sad, sorry selves to pick up Tyler from his place of safekeeping with a friend and to visit with my mom, to give her the full update.


Tucker was still in his diaper from the morning's explosions, so we borrowed some little boy clothes from that same friend who loved Tyler all morning. Tuck was doing okay for the moment, so we grabbed a bite to eat with my mom.


Grandma is really good for both of us on such days.


While I lamented all of my woes to my very encouraging mom, Tucker munched on graham crackers and juice, and Tyler plowed through everything he could get his hands on.


When we took my mom back to her office, we pulled up to the drop-off spot to finish our conversation and let her go back to work. With almost no warning, I heard the telltale signs from the backseat: more throwing up. Lots of it. Lots and lots of it.


I scrambled out of the van, scooped Tucker out of his very yuck-o carseat, and let him finish the process on the sidewalk. My mom ran inside for reinforcements; we needed towels, trash bags, and the prayers of our friends. I had to strip Tucker down: back to the diaper. I had to take the carseat out of the van, and I had to sop up the mess all over inside.


We were quite a sight. Tucker in his diaper, throwing up on the sidewalk (I am pretty confident there may still be remnants in that very spot), the entrails of my minivan spread for all the world to see... and all of this right outside of the administrative building.


Mom came with wet towels, dry towels, trash bags, the replacement carseat from her car, and her faithful assistant Alli, all of which were tremendously helpful.


My friend Mindy came out to see how she could help; she said she was inside watching, debating on whether or not to video tape this whole scene so I could post the proof on the blog... and then she decided it would be a better testament to her friendship if she just came outside and helped. Mindy is a former nanny, so she is not taken aback by the bodily fluids of other people's children; she cleaned Tucker up while I... cleaned everything else up.


Finally, the minivan and the toddler were suitable for the ride home. We all got home safely, and we all crashed in our respective beds. Every. Last. One of us.


Fast forward to the next day: my mom said that she could count a dozen people who shared sympathetic comments about the scene they watched from their office windows. So many commented, "We saw your daughter! Oh, how sad!" or "Poor Tucker, standing out there in his diaper..." or "I have small children; you tell her I know how it is..." We were quite the talk of the cubicles, apparently.


I am ready for this week to end.

When Big Brother is Sick...

While I have cared for his ailing brother, Tyler has enjoyed the distractions of his mother. He has been living it up, exploring things he cannot otherwise enjoy. He practiced drinking from my coffee cup, he unloaded the blender, mixing bowls, and toaster from the lazy susan, he pulled all the ZipLoc bags from the box, he has strewn all of my cookbooks across the kitchen floor, and he threw his sock away.

All of that: this morning.

The only thing more challenging than two sick children is one who is healthy and tearing up the place.

video

Almost... but not quite.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

To evaluate or not: Please Don't. Not today.

We are on day #9 of illness at our house. It's been a journey. Why have I blogged very little in the last 48 hours? Oh, because I have been up to my elbows in the diarrhea and vomit of small children.

Just as Tyler finished his round, Tuck caught it. But sadly, Tucker showed no signs of illness, until the most inopportune time.

You see, Tuck had a major speech evaluation on Monday morning; this one-shot deal was to assess his progress as a boy who will be three years old in September. A team of specialists planned to watch him play, listen to his words, engage in conversation, observe his motor skills, and determine if he qualifies for another year of speech therapy.

(Actually, the result of this assessment would launch him into potentially three years of service, or as much as he needs until he is in kindergarten. Having taught kindergarten, I have a few professional opinions on these preschool, preliteracy years, and I was eager to know my son would get the services he needs in order to get him going on the right foot.)

I have great anxiety in that setting; we've been there before, we will be there again, and it is not my favorite. Tuck and I lay ourselves out, wide open for all the professionals to see and peruse, and we wait for them to decide if we are worth it, if we qualify, if they will help us. It is a very hard place to be.

As we drove to the learning center, I prayed for my boy, and I spoke truth to myself:

Tucker is beautifully and wonderfully made. The Lord knows the plans He has for Tucker: plans to give him hope and a future. He has promised. Tucker is a child of God, made in the image of God. He is beautifully and wonderfully made.


My heart is very tender toward my son and our unique journey on such days. I am both a teacher and a mom in that room; I am both his advocate and his defender; I am both his greatest cheerleader and his safest place. It is tough to sit quietly and let him choose to perform or not, speak or not, shine or not.

He chose not to. None of the above.

The team of specialists had finally decided to assess what little data he had given them, and we would come back again in June to try it all again. (At this point, I was already very emotional over the idea of coming back again; I really wanted it to be over with. Give me the answer: does he qualify? Can you help my son? Can you help my family? No dice. Come back on June 10, and stay tuned.)

As we tried to move forward, and as she tried to comfort me with any words of affirmation, one of the therapists said to me, "He really is adorable. It will be our privilege to see him again."

I am sure she meant that as a compliment, and she didn't know what else to say, and she wanted me to hear something positive about my child. And believe you me: I know he is cute. I will never disagree with that.

But I hate, I abhor, and I absolutely despise when someone uses the word cute to replace smart. Yes, my child is cute. He's stinkin' adorable. But you know what? He's smart. Please don't tell me you missed that in the hour you spent watching him. Yes, he's cute; but he is also a very smart child with a bright mind. He can be both.

As the team and I spoke about another time to meet, I held myself together and I encouraged Tucker to play with the toys for a few more minutes. Before I knew it, he had climbed to the top of the sliding board, and he was throwing up. All over. All over.

Sidenote: It is always the mom's job to clean up a child's vomit. No matter where we are, whose territory we are on, or how many other moms are in the room: it's this mom's job. Bring on the paper towels and trash bags.

I carried my sick little boy out of the learning center, as he wore only his diaper and socks. And I cried. I cried a lot. For a long time.

And I told him I loved him. Because no matter what, no matter what else is true or not true, I love him, with all of me. Words or no words, his heart knows that truth.

What a very hard morning for us. It's one thing for him to not have the words that other children his age have mastered; it is another for him to be unable to show what he knows, for his victories to hide behind the veil of toddler illness.

A very, very sad day. And he's still sick.

The Fine Art of Dining

Robb put Tucker in his chair for dinner. He presented Tucker with his plate of food, and he pointed out and labeled each item, as we often do. (Although we have to call cheese his special treat, because he'll only eat it if we don't say it's cheese. He'll munch it down without argument, if we don't say that word. Go figure.)

As Robb walked away from the table, Tucker said, "Daddy, fork."

"Oh, you need a fork, buddy? Say please."

"Daddy, fork, please." Robb gave him a fork.

"Daddy, spoon please." Robb gave him a spoon.

"Daddy, napkin, please." As you would expect, Robb gave him a napkin.

And finally, Tuck was ready to eat. Turns out, he respects, values, and needs a completely set table.

Boy after my own heart.

Mom's Just Know.

During a recent evening of work at Sylvan Learning Center, I had the privilege of teaching two little brothers who are very close in age - very similar to my two. As I worked with them, and I watched them laugh together, banter back and forth, and applaud each other's efforts, I realized: this is a picture of my two little guys, in five years. It was very endearing.

Probably because I was distracted by future visions of my own boys, I kept getting them confused. I kept calling one by the other's name, giving one boy his brother's workbook... I just could not keep them straight.

I joked with them, "Guys, how does your mom ever tell you two apart?"

And without missing a beat, the older brother, just seven years old, said, "Well, Miss Tricia, she knows us."

She sure does. Moms just do.

Watch what you say...

Tucker and Grandma were playing in the backyard. When Grandma leaned over to pick up the ball they were tossing, the charm fell off her necklace.

Grandma: "Oh, shoot!"

Tucker: "Shoot, Grandma? Shoot? Shoot! Shoot!"

He's listening. It's a good thing my mom is not prone to profanity.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

And So It Begins.

Tucker has discovered... well, how do I put this in a manner appropriate for a blog? He knows he is a boy, and he has discovered the unique part that makes him one.

He loves it.

Any time at all, during baths, diaper changing, even just watching Elmo: hands on.

GREAT.

As I was trying to get him into his jammies last night, I finally got annoyed with these hands that are always in the way. Feeling exasperated, and yet hearing the multiple parenting sources in my head shouting conflicting discrepancies regarding if he should be allowed, if he shouldn't, when, how, where, what is appropriate, what is not, what is age specific, what is okay, not okay... I was kind of tired of the whole thing.

After all, I'm a girl. I don't get the love, and I don't have the envy.

I said, "Tucker, please. Hands off right now."

Robb was standing in the hallway, and I heard him quip, "Get used to it, son. For the rest of your life, women will be telling you what you can and cannot do with that thing."

Friday, May 9, 2008

Crazy Scattered All Over Town

Okay, let's be honest.

When my husband travels, I tend to let down my guard. I have many things to maintain while he is away, so I let some of his preferences rest for a while, since I know I will have time to make repairs before he comes home. But as I am learning, there is a reason for his lengthy list of preferences: they maintain the livability of our home in a very reasonable way.

As a result, he often returns home to find that I have made some careless choices in the days while I have lived without him. Here are some paraphrased snippets of conversation that took place after his most recent homecoming:

R: "Where are all of Tyler's bottles? We own four, but there are only two in the cupboard."
T: "Oh. Um, one is at my mom's."

*****

R: "Where is Tucker's yellow sippy cup?"
T: "Somewhere at Park Meadows mall."

*****

R: "Where is the extra carseat that goes in the CR-V?"
T: "Tucker's buddy Reece rode in the car with us this week. He needed a safe place to sit. I'll put it back. Oh, right. Before I leave for work with all the working carseats with me, leaving you thereby stranded in our home with our children. Right. Just short of that."

*****

R: "Where is Tucker's black Croc?"
T: "No idea. I think he threw it out the door of the van as I was closing it one day. I saw it on Wednesday. No idea since then."

*****

R: "Where is Tyler's left shoe?"
T: "Not really sure. I think it might be at Jen's house."

*****

R: "Where is your pink water bottle?"
T: "I think I left it at work. I'll find it."

*****

Moral of the story: I make him crazy. I am pretty confident he would live a stress-free, clutter-free life, were it not for the wife God gave him. And yet, he loves me. A lot.

I'm thinking of leaving a bag on the front porch (but not the big pink bag... I think it's... not sure). If something of mine (or his, or either of our children) is at your house, can you drop it off?

SHARE!

Now that my children are entering the Play Together stage, they often become increasingly interested in the toy the other one is playing with. As a result, I often hear myself shouting from across the room, "Are you being kind? Tucker, share! Tucker, share with your brother! Tyler, that is Tucker's right now. You need to share."

I am pretty confident that my kids are going to enter kindergarten with the misconception that "Share!" means "Stop whatever you are doing that is annoying someone else who lives in our home."

Based on how often I use the term and the tone with which I use it, it is likely that they will think share is synonymous with stop it, PLEASE.

And to be truthful, it kind of is. Not a huge difference, really. And it's okay if they think that for a while.

Please, guys, just stop annoying your brother.

What are you EATING?

Tucker came in from playing outside, with his mouth full of what appeared to be a very tasty, crunchy treat. It sounded like he was crunching ice with his little teeth. He stood next to me, munching, munching, munching.

I said, "Hi, Tuck. Are you enjoying a treat?"

Munch, munch, munch.

"Robb, what did you give him?"

"I didn't give him anything to eat."

And then I realized, Tucker isn't just chewing. He is frantically trying to show me that he has bitten off more than he can chew, quite literally. He needed help.

"Tuck, what is in your mouth?"

"Wocks."

"Rocks? Rocks?? There are rocks in your mouth?"

I stayed calm, encouraging him to spit them out into my hand, when his gag reflex kicked into high gear. Before we knew it, I was doing the finger swipe, clearing out all of the morsels of geology he had put in his mouth, just to see how it felt.

Boys.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Who Can Deny This?

Apparently, I am the best spot on which to cuddle up, settle in, and watch Elmo.
Who can say no to that??


Behind Every Good Birthday Party...

... is a great mom who did some extensive planning.

I am learning this: Birthdays do not just happen. Birthday cakes, cookies, and cupcakes do not bake themselves. Invitations do not go out unattended. Presents do not come wrapped. Parties do not come off without a hitch, unless the mom makes it happen.

All of this to say, having grown up in a family where every single birthday was a huge, momentous occasion, never to be forgotten or overlooked:

Thanks, Mom.

Manipulation

This is Tucker's newest attempt at getting my attention.

He pulls the horse down on top of him, then he yells, "Stuck!! Stuck!! Mommy, help! Help!" And I come running to rescue him, as any good mother will do.

Well, I came running the first time. Now, I call from the other side of the room, "Tuck, you're fine. Please get up on your own this time. You can do it. Yes, you can. Tuck, just push the horse off you. Yes, you can. Okay, I will help you. See? All better. Please don't do that again."

And less than two minutes later, he does it all again.

Perhaps it is my fault; when I respond to his crises with great sympathy and rescue him from harm, the degree of maternal nurturing feels a bit intoxicating to him, and he needs to have it again and again. And yet I simply cannot ignore him when he needs me.

The desire of my heart is to teach my children that I will always be there when they need me, but that they do not always need me.

So far, he believes he needs me. At least right now, in this moment, to rescue him from that blasted horse.
And so I do.

Puppies, puppies, puppies.

These are the cupcakes from Tyler's birthday party.
What you have here is a whole litter of edible shnauzers, westies, beagles, and bulldogs.




Thank you, Family Circle magazine.

Laughter...

"You can't deny laughter;
when it comes, it plops down in your favorite chair
and stays as long as it wants."
~ Stephen King
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Good thing we already celebrated.

What a sad couple of days for Tyler


We went to the zoo on Tuesday, which is a very fun outing that is even more fun with good friends. Tucker loves the zoo, and it is no small challenge to keep him corralled amongst all the animals. He has always been a fan of the elephants, but now he also loves the giraffes, the polar bears, the peacocks, and the squirrels. But if you ask him which animals were his favorite, he'll tell you the dogs. (I don't recall seeing any, but whatever.)


He has no fear at the zoo, and frankly, I could do with a healthy amount on his part. I caught him and snagged him away just before he fed his entire index finger to the ducks. I'm not kidding. He loved the day, from start to finish, and he didn't even complain about the growing blister on the inside of his left ankle, where his shoe was rubbing his sweet little foot. (Which is not nearly as sweet as it once was... somewhere along the line, baby feet change into kid feet, and those are two very different animals.)


I am learning that my son will tolerate great amounts of pain, if he is having a good time. He did not get this character quality from his mother.


While Tucker was trekking from one end of the zoo to the other, Tyler rode along as my personal passenger, in the Hip Hammock (one of the best baby inventions, aside from diapers). He didn't seem terribly thrilled with the whole event, and he kept laying his sweet little head on my shoulder... which is when it occurred to me that perhaps he wasn't feeling well. That's when I realized he had a fever, which is when I realized perhaps that's why he didn't sleep through the night. I had brought my sick child to the zoo, the day before his birthday. Well done, Tricia.

Just add it to the list of reasons why I won't be Mother of the Year.


Did we rush home? No way. I was having a good time. So was Tucker. So were our friends. Instead, I have him a healthy dose of baby Tylenol, settled him into a reclining position in the stroller, and trekked on. He snoozed for a good while, without complaint.

He also napped on the drive home, and then he napped yet again when he was in his crib later that afternoon. Poor little guy.

It wasn't until later that night that the thermometer read 105. That will strike fear in the heart of any mother, particularly one whose husband is traveling. Robb was due to arrive home late that night, and he made the drive from the airport to our house in record time. He's one good daddy.

The doctor gave us 45 minutes to bring the fever down, or he wanted us to head to the ER. Some Motrin, a tepid bath, and a popsicle later, he was down to 103. Not my favorite, but low enough to hold off a trip to the hospital. My poor baby.

No, wait... my poor one-year-old. Because at this point, we had turned the corner in the night: it was no longer the eve of his birthday, but truly The Big Day.

The next morning, he was no better. But to make things worse, I was sick, too. I thought I had the flu, but I had a killer migraine that felt like death warmed over. I did not get out of bed until 4:00pm, and I was in my pajamas for 36 hours. I would show you pictures of my wretchedness, but thankfully there are none... and if there were, I am not quite humble enough to post them. It was an awful, horrible day.

(Thank you to those of you who loved me in that moment. You know who you are, and you know how awful I looked. It was not my finest hour. But you were good to me.)

While I lay in bed, wishing for something to change, Robb spent the day doing the Dad Thing, running Tyler to the doctor for bloodwork and a full physical, only to learn that he has a virus that must run its course. Doctor's orders: should the fever spike that high again, call right away. Thankfully, his fever has stayed below 102 since then, but even as I type, he is loaded with Motrin and napping away.

We are hopeful that this will be the only birthday of Tyler's entire life on which he will need to visit the doctor.

He is on the mend, and I am happy to say: I am too. Because yesterday at this time, there is no way I could have sat vertical long enough or opened my eyes to any degree necessary to write this saga.

Good thing we already celebrated Tyler's birthday, and good thing he can't read the calendar to know he got the shaft on May 7, 2008.

It's the bonus to the pre-literacy years.

366 Days Old

So... remember when I said I was not at all sad to see Tyler graduate from the baby stage?

That was definitely true... I am abundantly thankful and in eager anticipation for all that awaits him in this next year, as he is now one and not yet two.

But I do long for the days of immobility and limited curiosity.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Not a Baby Anymore...

We celebrated Tyler's birthday yesterday. Even though he won't officially turn one year old until Wednesday, our family is all about the party. Once the party happens, the birthday has happened as well.
As far as I am concerned, Tyler is a toddler.









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And just like that, my baby boy has turned One.

Should I be sad about this? Because I feel like maybe I should be... and yet not a single bit of me is sad. Maybe it's because we've had a baby at our house for a very long time, since Tucker's babyhood flowed right into Tyler's, and ever since then I've had two in diapers, two who gave me reason to carry a diaper bag, two with opinions (I don't expect that to change - ever), and only recently, one who could talk.

Maybe I will be sad another day. I'll let you know. For now, I am really ready to turn the page on this book about raising boys.

Happy Birthday to you, Sweet Tyler.

PS. Stay tuned for more great pictures of our special day with Tyler. There are many, many pictures that captured moments only my heart has held until now. You won't want to miss them.

Friday, May 2, 2008

One Year Ago...

Tyler will turn ONE in less than a week.

Might I just say, I am far more comfortable than I was one year ago,
in more ways than I can count.