Sunday, May 31, 2009

Delightful Creatures

"Between the innocence of babyhood and the dignity of manhood,
we find a delightful creature of a boy."
~ Author Unknown

Friday, May 29, 2009

Don't Anybody Panic.

There is this infamous family video - decades old now - where my cousins and I are playing in my aunt's backyard, and my mom and her sisters are chatting away on the back patio. It's a very peaceful scene, very Normal Rockwell.

Suddenly, along comes 6-year-old Tricia on a scooter. I careen across the screen, elbows over tin cups, scrambling to get my footing as the scooter wins the laws of velocity. There are also some carefully placed sound effects, enhanced by digital technology, which heighten the drama of my entrance and exit.

The women, with their deep conversation, sunny outfits, and glasses of frosty iced tea, don't move. My mom has become famous in our family for the expression on her face: she merely lifts an eyebrow. Nothing more.

For years, I have watched her lack of response, and I have teased her for her lack of compassion. Honestly? Didn't you even feel compelled to offer a hand as I cartwheeled past you on hands, knees, and scooter wheels? Nothing? No response?

She has always said, "There were just so many of you, and somebody was always getting hurt. It just happens to be you in that video. But we learned to wait and see if you needed us."

Sure enough. I get that now.

Our home is a myriad of splinters, scrapes, cuts, and bruises. Good heavens, it's not even June and my kids' knees are wrecked. We go through about one Band-Aid a day, and that's not even Band-Aid therapy. Those are real deal, oh my goodness, somebody stop the bleeding.

So when they skitter across my path with varying degrees of drama, I no longer jump to see who needs kisses or cleaned or comforted. If they need me, they'll let me know. And they can certainly be the judges of this need: I don't need to chase them around wondering if I missed my chance.

I get it now.

Like a Steel Trap.

My children have their father's sense of direction. Thankfully, they do not have mine, and this will bode well for them in their future years of navigational discovery. For now, this geographical awareness manifests itself in their ability to forever associate a passing event with a specific location. If it happened here once when we were driving by, then they expect to always find the same thing.


"Mommy, where is that muddy truck?" (The one that passed us once while we waited to turn left onto our street.)


"Mommy, where is that fire truck?" (The one that flew around us while we pulled over at this intersection.)


"Mommy, can you play the Blue Sky song?" (The song Tucker loves that he first heard on the radio as we traveled on this stretch of road.)


"Mommy, this is where you drove so fast. Where is that policeman who talked to you? Mommy, are you feeling sad? Are you going to cry right now?"

Some reminders are more encouraging than others. :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Okay, Okay. I've Learned My Lesson.

I don't want to say this out loud: I got another speeding ticket yesterday.

"Aren't you the girl who just got a speeding ticket, like a month ago?"

Yes. I am that girl.

Seriously. I know.

Please don't remind me how irresponsible this is, how my insurance is likely to go up, that it's another two points on my license, that it must be nice to have such money to throw away (which it isn't, and which I don't), and that I have single-handedly boosted the county's economy with my recklessness.

Please. Don't. I know.

The thing is, I didn't set out to speed. Who does? Some people do. Some people are reckless on purpose, without mind for the people on the road or the little ones buckled in the backseat. But that just wasn't me. Hopefully not ever, but certainly not yesterday.

I was happy. Even the Starbucks employee complimented me on my cheerfulness. I was in a good mood, toodling along in the minivan, jammin' to the iPod, singing my heart out, and praying as I drove. Until I suddenly saw those swirling red and blue gumballs in my rearview mirror. I was so unaware of my offense that I thought perhaps he needed to get around me. Maybe he just wanted me out of the way. No dice. I was the target.

I will spare you the details, because they are not fun, interesting, or affirming. And I aim for my writing to be characterized by at least one of the above. But suffice it to say: I owe the county an exhorbitant amount of money. $157.00, to be precise.

I cried. Not in an attempt to be manipulative, since I wasn't trying to coax him with my feminine, emotional wiles. I would not have been disappointed if he had been so inclined or overwhelmed by grace, but there was no grace involved. He even said, "Ma'am, I wish I could overlook it, but 16 over is just too much." Fair enough.

I cried out of pure, utter sadness. It's just not what I wanted for my day.

I could only cry. A lot.

Even after the policeman handed me my 'documents,' explained the process (which I am all too familiar with), and released me from my captivity at the side of the road, I still sat for a while, gathering myself, and crying more.

My children do not often see me this state of disrepair, and there was no getting around this observation. Right there, in the front seat: Look at mommy.

They talked amongst themselves.

Tyler: "What's wrong with Mommy?"

Tucker: "She's sad."

Tyler: "Why is Mommy crying?"

Tucker: "Because she drove so fast until she cried." Which wasn't far from the truth.


The conversations continued throughout the day.

When Tyler saw my mom, he said, "Mommy was so sad today."

(Thankfully, I had already told her. And more thankfully, she no longer feels compelled to parent me through choices and consequences. We wrapped that up years ago. She was just bummed, right alongside me. That's what friends do.)

"Yeah? Why was Mommy so sad?"

"She needs to take a nap today," which also was not far from the truth, and it is the remedy Tyler often hears when he cannot get his own emotional act together: Excessive Crying = Encroaching Naptime.

"Do you want to pray for her?"

"Yes. Dear Jesus, thank you... for... food." Which is what you say when you are two and new to praying. I'm pretty confident that God can read past the umbrella terms involved in such early prayers.


At naptime, I decided to utilize my rough morning as an object lesson for my little man who is learning the relationship between choices and consequences.

I said, "Tucker, everybody has rules to follow - even me. But today, I broke a rule. I drove too fast, and now I have to pay a lot of money to show the police that I learned my lesson. Can you forgive me for driving too fast?"

Tucker climbed into my lap, held my cheeks in his hands, put his nose against mine, and whispered, "Mommy, read my book."

Sure enough. Enough with the moping and the morals to the stories. Enough. Time to read.


Today has gone better than yesterday. For example, I haven't accrued any further points on my license, and I have not received any fruitless bills to pay. I have, however, annoyed other drivers by candidating for Citizen of the Year and driving just under the speed limit.

So, if you see me around town, with the windows down, the sunroof open, and the music blaring, please know: I'm trying to drive slowly. With a happy heart.

Speed Racer

Monday, May 25, 2009

Imagination Updates

Lately, as we pray before each meal, Tyler says, "Mommy, thank Jesus for the cows."

Okay, little man. I'm not sure where this ritual came from, but he has fully claimed it. Before every meal.

(Who am I to tell him what to be thankful for? And so, "Thanks, Jesus, for the cows.")


In other news, I think Tucker has three imaginary friends: Jason, Jeffrey, and Sir.

He tells me they are tall, five years old, and they look like King Jesus.

(Never a dull moment.)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Sketchy Family Tree

Me: Tucker, do you know I have a mommy?

T: No. [With a budding smile, since he clearly thinks it's both absurd and fascinating that someone may have parented me.]

M: I do. Do you know who it is?


M: It's Grandma. Grandma is my mommy.

T: [Gasp.] Dramma?!

M: Yes. And I have a daddy. Do you know who my dad is?

T: No! [How is it possible that I could have two parents?]

M: It's Poppa. Poppa is my dad.

T: Poppa! [How about that?!]

M: And, I am married. Who am I married to?

T: Ohio.

M: No, not Ohio. Somebody is my husband. Who is it?

T: Tricia.

M: No, that's my name. Who is my husband?

T: [Pause.]

M: It's Daddy. I'm married to Daddy.

T: [Gasp. This is all apparently so alarming to him.] Daddy?!

M: Yes. It's Daddy. And I have a brother. Who is my brother?

T: Tyler.

M: No, Tyler is your brother. Who is my brother?

T: Mason.

M: No, Mason is Reece's brother. (Tucker and Tyler's best friends are Reece and Mason. Clearly, if Mason is somebody's brother, then he must be mine too.) My brother is Uncle Rob.

T: [Gasp.] Uncle Rob?? I love Uncle Rob! He's my favorite!

M: I know you do. I love him, too. He's my brother.

(It suddenly occurs to Tuck that I must have had the most fun childhood ever, if Uncle Rob is my brother. He's beaming in the backseat.)

I should have let it go, on that happy note. But no, ever the teacher in pursuit of long term comprehension, I decided to review.

M: Who is my husband, Tuck?

T: Tricia.

M: Who is my mommy?

T: Ohio.

M: Who is my daddy?

T: Uncle Rob.

M: Who is my brother?

T: Tyler. No, Mason.

Um, no. No, no, and no. We'll keep working on it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

For the Little Things

Tucker and I have a new game we play in the car, to keep the sleepies away when I need for him to stay awake for just a bit longer. We play The Thankful Game.

I name something I'm thankful for, and then he does the same. Back and forth we go. Tyler jumps in now and then, but he is always and forever simply thankful for Bug Eyes (a nose-to-nose giggling game he plays with my mom).

Tuck and I take our turns, and I love to see where his mind travels.

Today, Tuck's list was profound. He was thankful for (or as he says, "fanktul for"):

The road
Minnie Mouse
Daisy Duck
Swimming Pools
Chocolate Milk
and Band-Aids.

A few times, Tyler was thankful for Bug Eyes.

And yesterday, I was thankful for sunshine, sunblock, a kiddie pool, splashing, pouring, and exploring. Oh, and Tyler, who discovered the joy of hopping out of the pool every few minutes to plant a kiss in the palm of my hand.

And I am always thankful for naptime. Always.

And I am thankful for little boys with a thankful heart, laughter in the backseat, and reprieves between tantrums. Everybody needs a break, now and then.

And a special nod to Band-Aids. I'm with you there, kiddo.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

That Could Come In Handy.

Today, Tyler brought me his diaper.

That he had just taken off.

Without taking off his shorts.

Now that is a trick.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Relaxed Outing

We went to the park. My children needed to run, for the sake of their lives and our relationship. It had been a tough morning (see previous post), and the only cure was a wide, open space. Run, boys. Run.

On the way there, I called Robb to let him listen to the mayhem in the car. I do this, sometimes, on the hard days. I call him, and I say, "Hello, Mr. Corporate America. As you sit in your office far away, I just want you to hear what's happening in our Lord of the Flies House. Just listen." And I hold up the phone to give him an earful of two little boys on the loose.

It's only fair.

This time, he listened, encouraged, and reminded me that I could take their scooter and bike to the park. Our closest park has a playground area, but it also has a large span of grass encircled by sidewalk. (.42 miles, I later found out.) In case the slides and swings didn't burn enough energy, I could run them like racehorses. Brilliant. I literally pulled a U-turn in the middle of the road, backtracked to our home, and loaded up with their personal vehicles.

When we arrived at the park, we made a beeline for the sidewalk lane. Do not stop at a swing or slide - don't let that heart rate slow down, boys. Hit it. Go, go, go.

Tucker is very speedy on his scooter, and he was off to the races. Tyler's bike doesn't have the same vehicular capacities, so he sits and scoots at his own speed. (This is Tyler's general approach to life, so it suits him well.) Tucker was going far ahead and then back again; he would check in with the slowpokes, and then head off on his path once more. Tyler: scoot, scoot, scoot.

We got 3/4 of the way around the track when the boys found a pine tree, and thereby lots of pine cones scattered all around. The Good Night Show recently boasted a clever, timeless craft to make a bird feeder out of pine cones, butter, and oatmeal. When my children happened on to this treasure cove of ingredients, their mental wheels started spinning.

Must. Collect. Lots. Now.

Except whose job is it to carry their collection of pine cones? My job. And these were a prickly variety, let me say.

When we had collected all that I could carry, it was time to rally the troops and move on down the road. Except each of my happy travelers had bottomed out. No more. No thanks. Carry us.

No can do, kiddos. See, you have loaded me with pine cones. Not that I could carry children anyway, since there are two of them, one of me, and oh, yes. A bike and a scooter. This was of no consequence to them. They whined. They complained. They were toast.

When I finally persuaded them to draw from their inner core and please, oh please, move on, they decided they didn't want to venture the rest of the path. They would rather turn around and go back the way they came. Mind you, we were 3/4 of the way around. My boys would rather take the long way... at least it's familiar.

We started back, but they were done riding. No more with the bike and scooter. Tucker dragged his scooter sideways behind him, which certainly seemed much harder to me, but whatev. Tyler wouldn't even do that much. I had to carry his bike, while he held onto a rear wheel, since I had no hands to offer him.

Picture this: Tucker, dragging his scooter sideways. Mom balancing an armload of prickly pine cones in the crook of her elbow, carrying a bike in the other hand, with a toddler dangling off the back. Oh, and I kept taking calls on my cell phone. Sure, I could have let them ring through to voicemail. But that would mean missing a social opportunity... have you met me? I am hereby an extrovert before I am anything else. Including sensible.

It was a long, long walk to the car. When we arrived, and I had loaded the blasted bike and scooter into the back of the minivan, they got their second wind. Of course, they did. Off to the playground. Mommy will just sit for a bit, thanks. Hit the slides, boys.

Oh, you'd rather swing? And I need to push? Are you kidding me?? Exactly whose idea was this field trip, anyway??

After one more episode which involved one very potty-trained child threatening to poop in the mulch right there in front of God and everyone, we scurried to the van and headed home as fast as the green lights and school zones would allow. And as we pulled into the driveway, said child of mine said, "What? Go potty? No, I don't need to."

Some days? My kingdom for a nanny.

(I love you, boys. Even on such days. Thanks for keeping Mommy running... literally.)

Comedians at the Breakfast Table

It's 8:44.

Already this morning, they have jumped on their beds,

jumped on my bed,

tied blankets around their necks and claimed to be Superman (or 'Soccer Man'),

bitten the roses in my boquet for Mother's Day (I thought they were sniffing, but then I heard one say, "Mommy, I bite it." Who bites flowers, anyway??),

emptied my silverware drawer,

chewed on their placemats,

fed Cheerios to the dog,

and splattered milk all over the table and the floor.

It's all spurred on by the fact that they each believe the other to be downright hysterically funny.

I would just really like my cup of coffee. I can tell I'm going to need it today.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Epitome of Two

Me: Tyler, is your ice cream cold?

Ty: (with furrowed brow) NO!

It was. I assure you. But this word falls out of his mouth far more easily than anything.

Cold ice cream notwithstanding.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day.

Witty. Wise. Omnicompetent. Grace. Feminity with Confidence. "Don't let anybody put you in a corner." Talented. Laugh-out-loud Funny. But even more than funny, she is write-it-down wise.

"Yes, you can, Tricia. Sure you can. You name it - you can. Well, maybe not basketball. And not hockey. Or baseball. But anything else? You bet you can."

And the only thing almost as great as having her for my mom? Giving her to my children. They're pretty enamored. And nobody can blame them.

Sometimes, I think I could not possibly love her more than I do. And then I spend another day with her. And I find out I was wrong... she gets even better.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. You're somethin' else.

"She's a Blogger."

I have heard the following quotes recently, about this very blog:
"Look out: she's a writer. She'll tell the world."
"Can you repeat that quote? It's a good one.
Plus, we'll see it on Tricia's blog in the morning."
"Be warned: whatever you say can and will be used against you on the internet."
"She's a blogger. Everything is bloggable."
"Don't you dare blog about that, Tricia. I'm telling you, don't do it."
"She has a camera in her red bag. She'll take a picture."
"I know. This is what she does."
See, here's the thing. The only difference between writers and the rest of the world is this: A writer slows it all down. She thinks about it from every angle, until she finds the best one. And then, with some careful crafting, she tells what's interesting about a crack in the sidewalk or the whipped cream on her mocha.
And on a great day, she can make you laugh.
So, my friends, watch out. Because I'm watching. If you're not careful, and even if you are, you just might end up on the blog.
(It's really the highest of compliments. I promise.)

I Think I'm 'A Regular.'

Robb and I went to my favorite coffee shop tonight. I've told you about this place before... great aesthetics, great coffee, and live musicians on the best nights of the week. I also come here to read, write, edit, think, and be. I love.

I looked at their glass case of sweet treats... I'm a sucker for baked goods, but I also thought about ice cream tonight. So many choices, really. And I'm not that hard to please with such things. Robb had placed his order, but I was still thinking.

Finally, having made one decision at least, I said, "I would like a cup of your house coffee, please."

And the very kind familiar face behind the counter said, "I could have guessed it. I almost poured it for you."

"Oh, yeah? Predictable, am I?"

"Well, I really knew you were going to go with it because you were venturing out of your comfort zone, looking at other options. I knew you'd settle in for the tried and true."

Well, look at this student of my habits. Who am I to prove him wrong?

I added a cookie to the mix, which I've officially never done. At least not that exact variety. So there.

His name is Adam. We might as well be on a first name basis, if he's going to anticipate my every move.

Of Grand Proportions

Consistent with the pattern of his life stage, Tyler took Robb on over some battle he fully intended to win. (I'm pretty sure it had something to do with standing in his booster seat, putting a banana in his sippy cup, taking toys from Tucker, or something else of equal value in his world of battles worth fighting for.)

My husband, in a moment of wit and candor, said, "Look out, kid. I've pooped bigger than you."

Friday, May 8, 2009

And so, he is Two.

It's official: Tyler Jay is two years old.

In our family, we welcome a series of celebrations,
so we have completed Day One of his Festivities.

Every birthday boy needs a crown.

His brother needed a birthday crown, too. A pink one.

(At this point in their lives, I am all about teaching them to celebrate each other. After all, that's more fun than teaching them that birthdays are only fun for one. So, Tucker got a birthday crown too. His said: Today is my brother's birthday.)

Apparently, when it's your brother's birthday, your mother forgets to clean your face after breakfast. Nice.

I promised Tyler that he could have a birthday balloon, which meant of course that Tucker could have one too. So, we made an early field trip to the Dollar Store, where they could each choose a balloon for the day. Tucker chose one covered with Mickey Mouse and his friends. An easy choice.

Tyler? Not so much. As we were strolling to the balloon aisle, he snagged a hardback copy of Faith and Politics off the shelf. He wanted it. No thanks, balloon. I want a book. This book.

I'm really not kidding. This happened. Oh, how my young son loves faith and politics.
I'm glad he's listening to all our dinner conversations.
[Insert sarcasm.]

He threw a full-blown temper tantrum.

"No balloon! NO! Read a book!"

Nope. Sorry. Out of principle, I made him get the balloon. And he was none too pleased, as you can see.

He is so very much two.

So very much fun, so very much ours, so very much Tyler.

Happy Birthday, Tyler.

You are a walking smile.

A running,


up to no good,

bring on the trouble,


I'm so glad you belong to me.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Please be my Friend.

Do you know what I did today? I found my favorite author on Facebook. Not just her fan club - the real deal. I found her.

I sent her an invitation to please-oh-please be my friend. (It's not really quite that transparent on Facebook... it doesn't convey that degree of pleading. But if a measure of one's heart can be attached to such a virtual invitation, then I definitely sent my heart into cyberspace.)

I told her I love her book(s), her characters, her voice, and her thoughts. I asked her to please keep writing. And, you know, I asked her to be my friend.

Because, if I ever become a novelist, I would like for her to write something charming, witty, and compelling on the back cover. And we'll know it all started on Facebook.

p.s. Which brings me to the other thing I did today: I started writing my novel. I really did.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

It Might Be Time for a Big Boy Bed When...

Tyler finished his nap prematurely today, and I didn't respond right away to his signals that he was ready to be retrieved from the crib. Naptime is precious, and it takes some serious negotiating to cut it short. So when he complained and fussed at me, I didn't come running right away.

But finally, his wails won out. When I went into his room, I found him teetering on the edge of his crib, balancing himself with his toes on the rail and his hands on the top of the dresser. He had cleared the top of the dresser and emptied the top drawer. He had coated CDs with lotion, and he had retrieved a snow cap and mittens from within the dresser. All while he balanced on his tippy toes.

I retrieved him - quickly - and I gave a strongly worded lecture about not climbing.
Then I asked him, just once, to show me how he did it.
But not before I got my camera.

And so, as you might imagine, he has been promoted: just one day shy of his second birthday. As designed, Robb converted the crib to a toddler bed by taking off the side rail.

Tyler's response: "Oh, thank you, Daddy!"

"Look out, world. Tomorrow, I will be two years old. You are not ready for me."

All in a Weekend.

I take it all back. Not that I said anything bad in the first place... but still, anything I might have said? I retract. My husband CAN do it all. While I was gone for my five-day-getaway without boys or responsibility, he became the CEO of this household.

When I came home, he greeted me with an immaculate house, dishes clean, laundry fresh, dinner waiting, children bathed, and the minivan detailed. And, it turns out, Mr. Entertainer invited guests over for dinner each night, and he cooked for them. New recipes. Seriously.

Oh. One more thing: he painted our bedroom. RED. We had chosen the paint long ago, but we couldn't find the time to tackle the task. Turns out, he just needed me to leave town. I came home to all of the above, and a beautiful bedroom makeover. Oh, my goodness.

Way to go, Mr. Incredible. I am thoroughly impressed.

As it turns out, I am indispensable. :)