Sunday, September 28, 2008

Things I Love Today.

Today, I love...

...Text messages from my husband, who has settled in to Houston, Texas. Texting is a gift of communication. It shall be our lifeline. Thank you, creators of such quick, easy, poignant technology that connects my heart to his.

...Tucker's sweet wake up call... tapping on my forehead.

...Tyler's new word: Dip. (This is in reference to his breadstick at lunch and the accompanying marinara.)

...Seeking forgiveness from my three year old, after I lost my patience with his selective listening skills and even more selective obedience skills. I do not love seeking forgiveness, but I do love when he spontaneously kisses my nose to grant my request.

...My mom, who so gets my need to run away from my life and the lovable little responsibilities who are swallowing me whole.

...There is a difference between Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease and Hoof-Mouth Disease. My son does not have hooves, and he did not contract his present illness from any creature that does.

...Bookstores. I could live here. Any bookstore, but especially the independent variety that is overflowing with atmosphere, spirit, and the desire to acquire more words in my life.

...The truth that a break from my children makes me a better mom, and I will be glad to see them when it's time to go home.

But it's not time yet.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Where did he learn that??

My mom asked me tonight:

"Tricia, when did Tyler learn the word boobie?? Six times tonight, he pointed to me, referred to them, and called them by name. He knows that word."

I did not teach him this. His daddy is traveling and cannot take the credit (or blame) for this knowledge, but he is proud of his son's brilliance.

It begins at birth. Clearly.


Tuck was diagnosed with Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease tonight.

I would write all about the symptoms and the yuck-o that we can expect for the next seven to ten days, but... please see Google for the lowdown.

I'm really, really, really tired.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Making The Most.

Tonight, we were all in our jammies by 5:15. All of us.

The boys wanted Nutrigrain bars for dinner. Done. (Who can argue with whole grain??)

After dinner, we had a Mommy Movie night: Milo and Otis.

Bedtime at 7:30.

Friday night is usually my date night with my man... but this month, it's my date night with my little boys.

What is it about my Knees?

This was the scene in my bathroom this morning: Peekaboo Between Mommy's Knees.

Sure, it looks darling. And it was very endearing for the first minute. But I can only handle so much brotherly love and tackling right there, between my ankles. It's an adventure and a health risk to apply mascara, let me tell you.

A little space, guys. Please.

(Only four more weeks until The Guardian of Mommy's Bathroom Time comes home.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Slow Down That Train.

Tucker has a new word, and it's one of my favorites: Thanks.

But when he says it, it sounds like Synkes.

When I poured him a drink today, he said, "Synkes, Mommy."

When Tyler shared his bread with Tucker, he said, Synkes, brudder."

When I pushed the button to make the van's side door close automatically, he said, "Synkes, door."

I love it.

But I do not love this: "Synkes, Mom."

Wait just a minute there, mister. I am Mommy to you, for at least two more years. I do not prefer a nickname, but rather my God-given full name that I received when you were born: Mommy.

Yesterday, I kissed him on the cheek. I just couldn't help myself; he's lucky I didn't take a bite out of those edible cheeks.

You know what he said? "Hey. Don't kiss me, Mom."

Nope. I will. And you'll call me Mommy. And that's how it's going to work until further notice.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wake Up Call

Tucker is learning the art of waking a sleeping person. Some days are better than others; sometimes he wakes his brother with a careful, tender voice, stroking his cheeking and whispering, 'Tozzer.... Tozzer... Wup." (Tyler, Tyler, wake up.)

Other times, well, Tyler starts his day with more of a blunt trauma to the psyche.

Tucker can make house visits, too, just in case this wake up call appeals to you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ten Days?? Where Have I Been??

Well, I will tell you.

Last Monday, my sweet Tucker and I spent the night in the ER. His asthma got the best of him that day, and despite several nebulizer treatments at home, an emergency visit to the pediatrician, and a new prescription for an oral steroid, he got sicker and sicker. That evening, when his cough got worse and he couldn't catch his breath, the doctor sent us to the ER. Not to urgent care, he was very clear. He wanted us in the hospital. Do not stop anywhere in between. Get that child to the emergency room, stat.

(Robb was on a business trip, so Tyler stayed with my parents, and Tucker and I followed the doctor's orders. Just him and me. My mom came by later for a couple of hours, with a burger for me, some toys for Tuck, and moral support for all of us.)

As soon as we entered the ER, we had their full attention. Doctors, nurses, and medics came rushing to our side. Tucker was wheezing and gasping, and they were in high gear to get his lungs resting. And let me tell you, those ER nurses know their stuff. They were quick and efficient and always at the ready, but they were so careful to be friendly and to never alarm Tucker. He was a big fan of the fuzzy animals on the stethoscopes.

We settled in.

We read books. We colored. We watched movies: Shrek, Happy Feet, and twice through Finding Nemo. And Tucker had a popsicle. I'm pretty sure he thought he would like to move in and live here forever. Seriously, they know their stuff. There's so much that's awful about the hospital, so they do their best to make the lighter parts as great as they can be.

But four hours later, my little boy was no better. In fact, he was sicker than before. He had been resting in my arms for over an hour, but his chest was still rising and falling with each breath, as if he had just run three flights of stairs.

They decided to keep him. They put bracelets on both of us. They secured an oxygen mask, and they put in an IV... three of them held my baby while I held his sweet, terrified face in my hands, sang to him, and tried to keep from falling apart. It nearly broke me in half.

He finally fell asleep in my arms, now with extra wires and appendanges, and they wheeled us together to our new room.

When he was finally asleep, and there was nothing for me to do but listen to the beeping machines and the precious rhythm of his steady breathing, I finally cried. And I prayed. And I recalled every bit of Scripture I have tucked away in my memory. And finally, I slept beside him. My precious boy.

They woke us through the night, to check his vitals and to administer more breathing treatments. And when they let him sleep, he still woke up with tremors, terribly disoriented, both from the confusion of his whereabouts and the aftermath of more steroids than his body knew what to do with. He thrashed. He tried to tear out his IV. He wanted me close, but then he started to kick and hit, out of no control of his own. It was a rough, rough night.

A hospital visit will bring out maternal strength otherwise unknown.

Robb came rushing home from his business trip, and he arrived first thing in the morning. Thankfully, he arrived in time to see me in my hospital-issued paper pants. When you don't have jammies of your own, they give you theirs. Not quite the same. Not as comfy, and certainly not at all flattering. I did not lose sixty pounds to wear pants like these. But, they did the job at hand, and they gave us good comedic relief. They were some seriously funny pants.

And this is where we stayed for three days. Tyler came and went between visits with his grandparents, and he snuggled with us to watch movie after movie, so Tuck could keep his breathing rate slow and steady.

When we couldn't stand another single minute of that hospital bed, we went for a ride in the wagon. Just look at that sweet, sick face...

Thankfully, pancakes save the day every time. Eat up, little man.

Finally, three days later, they decided we had done enough, we had served our time, and we could go on home. And it's a good thing. Because we had a plane to catch to Ohio. (I'm not kidding.)

We spent five days in Ohio, loving our Ohio family members and getting Samantha married (read on...). We came back last night, and I wish I could say we were returning to life as normal.... but that's just not the case.

Robb left town this morning. He has been deployed to Houston, Texas for Hurricane Disaster Relief. Sadly, he is gone for an entire month. That's a long stretch, and we are only four hours into the journey without Daddy. But he's going to serve people who are hurting, and we'll try to stay healthy and hospital-free while he is away.

And that, my friends, is why I haven't been blogging. But I'm back. And so happy to be.

Wedding Coordinator Extraordinaire

My cousin Samantha got married last weekend, in Ohio. We brought Tucker home from the hospital on Wednesday, and he had just enough time to take a nap before we boarded a plane to head to our favorite state in the midwest.

Samantha asked me months ago to be her Wedding Coordinator, and I said yes without question. After all, I have been in a dozen or more of them, including my very own - I know weddings. Or so I thought. But you know what? There is really a LOT to a wedding. There's just a LOT. There's a reason why it's a billion dollar industry in our country. There's just a lot to it.

I know what I have seen and experienced at the weddings I have attended and participated in, but it turns out that there are many things that happened when I wasn't in the room or simply wasn't watching closely enough. I should have been watching more closely, to every single detail at every single wedding I have ever attended, all in anticipation of this one. Because I was the Go-To-Girl. And people thought I knew all the answers. After all, I was the Wedding Coordinator. You have questions? Need details? Come to me. I'm the girl for the job. I am administrative at my core, and I can make lists to keep up with anybody. Bring it.

But I confess: I didn't have the full picture of my duties in my mind. I pictured myself helping the bride into her dress, watching the clock, maintaining the schedule, making sure the candles are lit, and standing at the back of the church to signal each bridesmaid to walk down the aisle. I can do that. Who can't do that??

But there were a few things I didn't think of, remember, or imagine in the job description. There were small details, like knowing which grandparents belong to whom and when they should be seated and in which row and at what time. (Okay, that's a big detail, especially in the mind of those said grandparents.)

There are a few other details that escaped me...

... melting the bottom of the candles to secure them into candlestick holders that are too small, only to end up purchasing new candlestick holders on the morning of the wedding so the whole place doesn't burn down, all in the name of the unity candle.

... wrapping 250 homemade and hand-decorated cookies into darling little bags with beautiful little ribbons. They were delicious and decadent, and if you were here, I would share one with you. No, wait. They're all gone. And they're that good.

... sewing a button on to the groom's tuxedo jacket.

... sewing padded bra cups into the dresses of two bridesmaids. While they were wearing the dresses. That's an intimate moment, let me tell you. I had my hands on or near the breasts of many women this weekend. I definitely did not realize that was part of the job description. (Sidenote: I have poor depth perception. It is seriously risky to hand a needle and thread to a girl who can't really tell how close she is to, well, you know. But hey, no blood, no foul. And all the padding did a very nice job for all the pictures, if I do say so myself.)

... turning down the advances of a groomsman who apparently found my adminstrative and organizational skills to be very attractive. "No, I cannot dance with you. I'm going to save the slow ones for my husband. No, I still cannot, even though he has left to get our children. Sorry. How 'bout you dance with your wife??"

... serving as liaison between the lovely bride and the very large and very grouchy owner of the reception hall. I won him over in the end, with my charm and promises that nobody - 'til death do they part - would blow bubbles in his precious building. I promised.

... missing the wedding ceremony because I needed to meet with the cake decorator who had been called in to fix the cake that did not at all look like the one the bride had asked for. (The matron of honor is a cake decorator, for heaven's sake. She knows the difference between fondant and butter cream. We're gonna need you to fix it.)

My favorite part of the day? When I sat down at the wedding reception, realizing they were married and I could relax. And I could eat. And I could dance. (Oh, and as we danced and partied late into the night, it was a relief to realize that I do, in fact, still know every single word to Baby Got Back. Good to know those lyrics are stored safely in my mind. Classy.)

I have to say, it went very smoothly over all. And in the end, Samantha and Chris are married and off to Mexico. Well done. I'd do it all again, for that bride whom I love.

In the meantime, I will hold tightly to my teaching certificate. That's the job I was meant to do.

Too Old For This.

During our stay in Ohio, we spent a day at my aunt and uncle's farm, complete with goats, donkeys, hayrides on a tractor, and a trampoline for young and old.

And I learned that I am officially too old for such antics. I jacked my knee and peed my pants, neither of which did my brother appreciate, since he was my bouncing partner and seemingly responsible for both.

But it was so much fun. I'd do it all again.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cardiology On The Go

One of Tucker's favorite toys is his stethoscope. It seems he is always listening to the heart rate of anyone in our family or any inanimate object in our home. He has a holistic approach to medicine, so he listens to anything he can reach. (He often listens to my heart rate in the back of my knee while I'm fixing dinner.)

Most often, Tyler is his patient, but he has to get a quick check on that heart rate, since Ty is on the go.

(Please pay little attention to Tucker's mismatched outfit. What happens on a Stay-at-Home-Day is not for the fashion photographers of Parenting Magazine.)

First Day of "School"

The day after Tucker's third birthday, he transitioned into speech therapy for three year olds. You see, children who are two years old receive one-on-one therapy in their homes. But kiddos who are three? Well, that's a whole new world. The threes have speech in a small group preschool setting, at our neighborhood school.

Which means: Tucker is a preschooler. And as you can see, he was very pleased to claim the title.

My little buddy and I walked, hand in hand, into his new classroom.
He was so excited and so ready to do this thing... I had to remind him to say goodbye to me.

(But, let the record show: I would rather be on that end of the spectrum than be the mom who cannot leave because her child is melting down... I've watched that scene, and it's brutal for everyone. Tuck spared us all. He was ready to roll. See ya, Mommy.)

I planned for this day, I packed his backpack, I prepped and prepared in all the ways I know how. But I was still not ready for the sentiment of handing him over to his teacher. The reality of getting into the car, leaving him in good hands, and knowing this is the beginning of a new chapter. (And I really am that mom who cried in the car. I wasn't going to be. And look at that... I am that girl.)

Miss Jill is his new therapist, and she is well on her way to learning his language, or better yet, teaching him ours. I had to resist the urge to speak for him as he got settled in... this is his environment, his classroom, his new teacher, his new world that is not mine. And she knows just what to do to help him communicate with her and his new friends.

But, until now, that was my job. There's a big piece of my heart in that classroom now, two mornings a week.

My little guy. A preschooler. You do it, Tuck. And be sure to tell me all about it. I can't wait to hear it all, in every sense of the word.

The Measure of Success

Our favorite pizza restaurant boasts the artwork and thank you notes of its many patrons. While we wait for our beloved garlic knots appetizer, we can peruse the work of those who have come before - all on napkins, all framed. It's the benefit of being independently owned - you can decorate your walls however you choose.

There are autographs from Denver athletes, doodles from busy preschoolers, and notes, notes, notes from elementary students. Very charming.

This past weekend, this lovely message hung next to our table:

Dear Big Bill,
Your pizza is the best.
I love the ravioli and the pepperoni pizza best of all.
I have heard you are very successful.
I don't want to be successful.
I want to be a teacher.
Emily, age 9
Hey. Wait a minute. What is this about?? Oh, the paragraphs I could write to overturn this philosophy of success vs. teaching. Frankly, don't get me started.
But she's nine. And I know what she means.
More power to you, sister. The future independent business owners of America need you to be their teacher.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Three Years Ago Today...

Once upon a time, three years ago today, I met this little boy.

And we became a family.

And today he is three.

And we are celebrating BIG TIME.

Happy Birthday, Tucker.

May you somehow know how much we love you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Operation Cookie

I do not advise eating these cookies. They are pretty, and the morning project was fun for all of us. But I'm pretty sure they are only suitable for the little hands that made them.

(I know where those little hands have been.)

What Must It Be Like...

"We so often spend our lives in the future,
and we know that because we feel anxious.
Other times, we live in the past,
and we know that because we feel regretful -
or wistful.
What is it really like to live the day God has given us in the present?"
~ Ian Crohn

Saturday, September 6, 2008

This Could Get Sticky.

"Tuck, what would you like to be for Halloween?"

"Hmmm. Pancakes."

Friday, September 5, 2008

Stroller Treat

As you have read, I am all about positive reinforcements, little treats, bribes, whatever. We live in a culture that appreciates affirmation and extrinsic motivation, and I suppose I am supporting that in this next generation that my children will belong to.

With this in mind, my kids are very familiar with the term "Stroller Treat." This is the special gift they will receive/earn for getting into the stroller, without arguing or complaining, although they would far rather walk. A Stroller Treat can be anything from two fresh grapes on a day when the diaper bag is freshly packed, or a broken graham cracker on a less prepared day. One never knows what the treat will be.

Including Mommy.

And that's the beauty of it: they don't know what they will get, but they eagerly obey in hopes of something grand. I'm sure there are many things wrong with this parenting philosophy, but it works for us in this season. When it stops working or they start demanding, we'll change the plan. For now, everyone gets in the stroller.

Tonight, we had a family dinner at the mall food court. The boys each enjoyed a kids' meal from Chick-fil-A... gotta love the chicken nuggets, chocolate milk, fruit cup, fries, and educational toy. I can always count on Chick-fil-A to give a prize that's worth giving a second glance. We have many books, games, and even some CD-ROMs, thanks to the blessed folks at the restaurant which closes on Sundays. I'm a big fan.

Smart mom that I am, I snatched up those educational toys, saving them for the post-meal transition. I had just acquired two Stroller Treats.

After they finished their meals, faces and hands were hereby cleaned and ready to stroll, I announced the plan: "Stroller Treats for everyone who obeys! In the stroller with two little boys, and you get your special Stroller Treat!"

They jumped at the chance to obey their mother, whom they adore... or more likely, they were eager to find what hid inside the cellophane. As I buckled them in, Robb unpacked the Treats.

Get this: Bookends.

Seriously?? That's the treat for today? Each of my children gets a bookend??

I mean, I get the educational value, I suppose. Sure, they must need bookends to properly organize and shelve their ever growing library of board books. But come on, Chick-fil-A. Beyond that, where's the fun in a bookend??

But, not to be outdone or defeated, I turned on my Merry Sunshine voice, and we got so excited about the Stroller Treat to top all others. Woohoo! Bookends!!

The boys each took a bookend in their little hands, with tremendous gratitude in their little hearts. And they held them. Because what else is there to do with a bookend, when you have neither a book nor a shelf?

But guess what? They were in their stroller. And off we went, and shop we did.

Thanks, Chick-fil-A.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

"Would You Still Be My Wife?"

Football season has officially begun. I really wish I liked football more, but I truly enjoy the social dynamics of the game. And the food. I promise I do.

But I also love my husband's comments and attempts to engage me in a game I'm barely paying attention to.

R: "His last name is Smelly. Would you have married me if my last name was Smelly? Tricia Smelly. Mrs. Smelly. Would you?"

T: "No."

R: "Really? No?"

T: "Really. No. Not even a first date. I had a hard and fast rule in my dating life: never go on a date with a man whose last name you cannot stand. So, no."

R: "What about him? His last name is Succop. Would you have married me if my last name was Succop?"

T: "No. I would never have gone out with a man who would have potentially made me Mrs. Tricia SuckUp."

I was also against anyone with the last name of Fisha or Wisha, but I never met any of those.

Now that we have that question taken care of, back to the football game...

This Is How It's Done.

Tucker gave Tyler some coaching on how to wear a baseball hat today.

What I love is that Tucker cannot figure out how to get the hat on forward (never mind that I love a little boy with his hat on backwards...), and he just keeps saying, "O'way! O'way!" (Other way!) Meanwhile, Tyler is sitting very patiently, letting Tucker practice and practice, as if this is how long one must wait to perfect this look.

Oh, the benefits of having a very fashion conscious older sibling.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day...

It was the Friday before Labor Day in my kindergarten classroom. Ever aware of the "teachable moment," I wanted to enlighten my students as to why they would get an extra "stay at home day" this weekend.

I said, "You see, Labor Day is the day when we honor all the people who serve and protect our country...." I continued with one paragraph after another, telling all the reasons why it's important to honor the people who serve or have served in our Armed Forces.

All the while, in the back of my classroom, my faithful teaching assistant (a veteran herself) was doing everything in her power to get my attention. She was waving the white flag, the checkered flag, the red flag, and the many backpacks - anything to get me to shut my mouth and please, in the name of everything that is educational, stop misinforming these children.

Oh, wait. That's Veteran's Day. Never mind. See you Tuesday.