Miles, Tobin and I are planning a trip to the doughnut shop.
A: Tobin wants a doughnut with yellow sprinkles. What kind do you want, Miles?
M: Speaking of yellow, when I went to the bathroom, there was so much pee I had to flush!
Miles, Tobin and I are planning a trip to the doughnut shop.
A: Tobin wants a doughnut with yellow sprinkles. What kind do you want, Miles?
M: Speaking of yellow, when I went to the bathroom, there was so much pee I had to flush!
Both the boys were crying for no good reason at the same time, which is my Kryptonite. I was feeling very stressed out by the situation.
A: At least one of you is going to have to stop crying.
M: Tobin can. I did yesterday.
My friend Mandy inspired the BLT salads we had for dinner last night.
It was a nice, (relatively) light main dish salad that will be even better when we have garden tomatoes. It was made of salad greens, halved grape tomatoes (independently seasoned with s&p), thinly-sliced red onion, roughly-chopped hot bacon, boiled eggs, homemade croutons, and sunflower seeds.
I think I’m going to make more entree salads this summer. These croutons have been a revelation. They’re so easy and an order of magnitude better than boxed croutons.
My dear Miles,
Your feet are huge. We need to get you a new sock wardrobe, because the size 4/5 socks that have fit for a long time due to their stretchiness are getting dangerously tight. I look at those big-kid feet and I remember your tiny baby toes. Jellybean toes, I called them, because each one was just a tiny little pellet I wanted to nibble.
March 2008 (age 2 months)
Now, most afternoons, I look down at your feet and see that you’re only wearing one sock. You say that your socks rub your feet uncomfortably. That’s reasonable. The strange part is that it’s only ever one foot. It makes it hard to match up socks when I’m folding laundry, because rarely do they go into the same hamper at the same time.
You’re finishing up your last weeks as a preschooler now. That’s tough to fathom. I’m feeling much less overwrought about kindergarten than I did about preschool, probably because you don’t seem nervous about it at all. You did great at kindergarten round-up. A couple of your school friends and some neighborhood friends will be at the same school as you. It will be tough to leave Willowwind, because you had a great experience there, but I know it’s prepared you well for your future. You’ll take some summer school classes at Willowwind, but those are separate from the preschool program. You’re ready to move up to the big time.
You’re really excited about Uncle Tyler’s upcoming wedding. Dancing at weddings is pretty much your favorite thing ever, and you’re psyched about the new clothes you got for the occasion. We’ll swim in the hotel pool, maybe go to the zoo and the children’s museum, and then spend some time back in Ames with Mubby and Skittergramps. It’ll be a nice mini-vacation, since we may not do anything else this summer.
Gardening has been one of your preferred hobbies lately. You helped me plant some carrot seeds (which still haven’t sprouted) and you did some indoor planting of flower seeds at school and a kit Mubby got you.
You eat a lot of Wheat Thins. You drink a lot of lemonade.
You still need a firm routine. Last night it was getting pretty late, and you and your dad and Tobin were hanging out in bed reading stories. Your dad noticed the time and said that the stories he was reading you counted as your bedtime stories. You burst into tears because Mommy always reads you stories. And Daddy wasn’t reading the right bedtime stories (currently Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, and 101 Dalmatians).
Those are long stories, and you tend to interrupt a lot. But we didn’t fight you on that one, because, really, am I ever going to look back and think, “I’m sure glad I skipped reading those stories to Miles so he’d go to bed fifteen minutes earlier”? You got all your stories, in the right order, read by Mommy. I like our rituals too.
We had our big choir concert. I was so proud of you—how brave and confident and attentive you were. You’ve always been attentive. At rehearsals, when the other kids were running around being squirrelly, you always sat quietly, playing with my phone until it was the kids’ turn to sing, and then you were immediately focused and ready to sing. I worried a little that you weren’t making friends, but by the end, you’d gotten to know quite a few of the other kids. Also, by the end, you no longer needed to be in constant physical contact with me. During the rehearsal period, I sometimes had to stand in the soprano section (gasp) because you were too shy to stand with the kids unless I was right there with you. But you got over that and were just fine joining the kids onstage for the kids-only numbers in our concert. You even added some choreography.
Photo by Gary Clarke
Gabe, one of the big kids, was your total role model. He’s a really sweet guy, and he was so kind and friendly to you. He’s going to be a fifth grader at your elementary school, so I’m glad you’ll have an older buddy around the halls.
Photo by Gary Clarke
You have a whole repertoire of songs you like to sing, and they’ve fully infiltrated Tobin’s brain, too. We play them in the car, all of us singing along, and I’m so glad we got to share our choir experience. You have a good musical ear, I think. You like to study the sheet music. You’re taking a drum class this summer, and I hope there’s a little music theory in there.
Your reading is really taking off too. You’ve had a good basic handle of reading for a long time, but you have a perfectionist streak that makes you reluctant to try when you’re not sure (this is also what led us to taking you to an optometrist because of how you failed the eye chart test at the doctor’s office—it turns out you could see it, but you didn’t want to say because you might be wrong). But you and your dad have been working with the letter blocks a lot, and last night you read the dedication in your Disney storybook with almost no help.
Soon you’re going to be reading over my shoulder, and I’m not going to be able to skip chunks of the stories anymore. Maybe you will have moved on to something a little more compelling by then. You’re probably still too young for Harry Potter, but maybe I can find a chapter book for us to read together at night. I’m glad you’re not ready to tuck yourself in yet.
You got a haircut last weekend, and your dad told me he overheard you telling the stylist, “Don’t cut off too much. My mom likes my curls.” Yes, I do, my sweet boy. I love your curls, and I love your smile, and I love your pointy elbows that always seem to jab into my muscles, and I love your enormous feet.
Photo by Denny Crall
I will still need you, I will still feed you, when you’re sixty-four (months).
This morning, Tobin and I had been playing “Hungry, Hungry Hippos,” and of course we left a mess of marbles on the floor. A while later, I was in the bathroom getting ready. Tobin came in and proudly showed me a zip-lock bag full of the marbles.
T: All by myself!
We’re working on Miles doing his own bathroom clean-up. Today, after a bathroom visit, I got him started and then handed him a wipe to finish up the job. He wedged it in, let go, then looked back over his shoulder.
M: It’s a butt-cape!
I’ve been trying some new things this week.
Monday: Fajita quesadillas, a rip-off of something I like at a local restaurant. I sauteed up some shrimp (for me) and chicken (for DC) in some latin rub seasoning, as well as a red bell pepper and an enormous onion, also with some of the latin seasoning. I stuck the aforementioned into big tortillas with Mexican blend cheese (I think it was Monterrey Jack, asadero, and queso quesadilla), folded, and toasted them up. I served them with salsa and sour cream. Denny probably wanted guacamole, but his dream came false.
Tuesday: Chicken Caesar salads, the chicken seasoned with cajun seasoning. The salad was pretty pedestrian except for the croutons. I cubed up some “Italian peasant batard” (so Hy-Vee calls it) with butter, garlic powder, and salt, and crisped them up in the oven. I thought I made way too much, yet somehow they all disappeared.
Wednesday: Ribeye steaks with an exciting new broccoli treatment. I was thinking about my old-favorite oven-roasted broccoli, but it’s warm today and I didn’t want to heat the oven up to 425F. I found this pan-roasted broccoli, and it was really good, maybe even better. I did change it a little–I couldn’t deal with that much butter, so I used about half the recommended amount plus a little glug of olive oil
The rest of the week is TBD. I imagine there will be a scrounge night and a going-out night in there somewhere.
My sweet Tobin,
Today, a woman at Miles’s school asked how old you are. She started to prompt you to say “one,” but instead, you said, “Twenty months.” She was impressed. I already knew you could do it, but I live with you.
You are such a talker. I really love hearing all the things you have to say, because it lets me know a little of what goes on in your inner life. Sometimes you wake up from a nap talking, so I get to know what you’ve been dreaming about. The other day, it was “messy hands.”
Other things you’ve been saying a lot lately include, “I do it!” and “By myself.” We’ve clearly entered the stage in which I need to budget an extra fifteen minutes for every excursion, because you will not let me help you with much of anything. You want to walk up the stairs to Miles’s school by yourself. You want to get strapped into your car seat by yourself. You want to get snacks out of bags by yourself. Overall you do a pretty good job. I don’t think the car seat manufacturer intended a twenty-month-old to be able to manage the clips, but you can do it. Fortunately, it’s harder to unclip them than to clip them.
It’s hard to get you to sit still enough to eat nowadays. You spend as much time throwing food on the floor as actually eating it. It makes your dad and me so frustrated, because you know full well that you’re not supposed to do it. We’ve told you over and over, and yet you can’t abide food in front of you if you don’t want to eat it. Instead of doing something reasonable like telling us you’re done, you throw it on the floor. You don’t even seem sorry.
You love books right now. You’ve found some favorites, especially the If You Give a… series by Laura Numeroff (and, as you will not let me forget, illustrated by Felicia Bond). You’re also into Caps for Sale, Miles’s Spider-Man story collection, and a book we got at the doctor’s office with pictures of various trucks and tractors. You love to sit in the big chair with your daddy and hear those stories, though you’ll plop onto a lap with a book in your hand just about anywhere.
I babysat a friend’s three-year-old the other morning, and you will not stop talking about him. He was wearing a really cool Robin (as in Batman’s sidekick) costume, and now you really want a Robin cape too. You’ve been picking up the toys you guys played with together and saying, “Johnny.” We’ll have to get together with Johnny and his mom again soon. I think both of your favorite part of the morning was bouncing on Miles’s bed. After a while, you got so worn out you both just lay down and rested on the pillows for a while.
Right now, you’re playing outside with Daddy and Miles. That’s one of your very favorite things to do. In fact we have to spell the word outside, because much like bath, you get so excited when you hear it that we can’t get anything else done. This is going to be your big night: when you come in from playing, it’ll be bath time.
It’s finally starting to get warm enough so that you can play outside without six layers of clothing. It’s been a long winter and the spring has been slow to start, so this is really good news. The forecast for the upcoming week is great, and I’m looking forward to getting out with you guys. We had a fun afternoon yesterday tooling around downtown, though it’s getting harder and harder to keep you in the stroller. You love the big playground by the library. Playing with you there was a very athletic endeavor, because unlike our playground, there are ample opportunities to plummet from great heights. I couldn’t just stand at the bottom and watch you. I needed to be right up there with you to keep you from crashing to your doom. I was more scared than you were, for real.
It’s a good thing Miles is responsible enough that he can scramble around on the playground without constant supervision now. There’s no way I could do it if I were trying to keep two brave and reckless little kids like you alive. I don’t know how parents of twins do it. I guess they only go to small playgrounds.
A librarian with whom we’re friendly mentioned yesterday that my two boys don’t look anything alike. She’s pretty much right. When I look at Miles, all I can see is a little Denny. It’s harder with you, but I definitely see a resemblance between my baby pictures and your sweet little face. I think I was verbal like you, but more shy. If you keep this outgoing personality, there will be no shutting you up. That’s fine with me. It makes it easier to find you. I just follow the sound of chattering.
You’re so bright and curious. Another of your common phrases is, “What this?” You want to know what everything is called, and then you repeat it. You usually remember it, too. When we go on walks, you point out to me not just birds, but robins. You thought a dog was a giraffe yesterday, but to your credit, it did have kind of giraffe-like markings.
You have definite opinions on a lot of things, including clothing choices. You like to pick out clothes for me in the morning. Yesterday you choose my Rooster Club shirt. A lot of times you want me to wear something green. You have your own favorite wardrobe items as well. You like your monster shirt, your whale shirt, all your brother’s sweatshirts, and jeans. I like getting you dressed, because lately you’ve been giving me big hugs as I pick you up from your changing table. You also give me kisses on the legs as I get ready in the morning.
You are such a fun guy. I laugh every single day, many times, because of the funny things you do. You are energetic, charismatic, sharp, and sometimes frustrating. You are learning about imaginative games, pretending to lick the play food items at the library and faking sleep (complete with snores). You are such a joy, Tobin. I am so glad I have you.
Tobin had climbed up into bed and was playing “night night.” He got kind of tangled up in a blanket.
T: (In an alarmed tone) My toes!
(pause while he untangled himself)
(In a relieved tone) Oh, hi. I find them.
We’ve been reading the story “Beauty and the Beast” a lot lately from a Disney storybook collection Miles has. I like to put on a big French accent for the Lumiere character.
M: Why do you talk like that when it’s Lumiere?
A: Because he’s French.
M: Then why don’t you go [weird heavy breathing noise]?
A: … what?
M: Oh, never mind. I was thinking of German.
I haven’t posted in this category forever, I guess because I’ve mostly been rotating through old favorites and I figured I’d be duplicating. But lately I’ve been feeling sort of in the mood for trying new things. Maybe it’s the change of seasons. Here’s what we’ve been eating:
Linguine in lemon/garlic/butter/white wine with fresh gulf shrimp for me and chicken for Denny.
Flank steak fajitas. I love the spice rub blend from Cook’s Illustrated (unfortunately the site is subscription-only. I have a cookbook I found it in. It’s basically your warm spices: cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, crushed red pepper, that kind of thing). I make big batches of it and keep it around for all kinds of Latin-inspired cooking.
Asian lettuce wraps, inspired by this recipe, but instead I used ground pork and also added half a pound of finely-chopped mushrooms.
I think I’m going to roast some chicken thighs with zucchini, red bell pepper, onions, garlic, herbs, and pine nuts.
Tobin (19 months) and Denny were watching squirrels out the window.
T: I see him right there!
This was his first five-word sentence.
Hello, my Miles,
After months (seriously, months) of reading the same four bedtime stories, we’ve finally moved on to four different ones. Now, every night, you want to hear in this order: Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, and 101 Dalmatians. These are from a couple of Disney story collections Mubby and Skittergramps gave you. It’s nice to have a change of pace, because I swear if I had to read The Little Mermaid one more time, I might go crazy King Triton-style. You’re not a Disney freak in general (although you pretty much only want to go on a Disney cruise for vacation for the rest of your life). You don’t demand to watch the movies over and over; in fact, of the four new stories, Tarzan is the only one whose corresponding movie you’ve seen. You don’t have much for merchandise, so I don’t think we’re in too much danger of losing you to the Cult of Disney. I’m happy to read the stories to you. They’re a little different from an adult perspective, anyway. I’m not sure, but I think the whole rescue chain in 101 Dalmatians is an allusion to the Underground Railroad.
We’ve been having lots of fun with our choir, gearing up for our big concert next month. You are getting a lot braver, though you’re still shy about standing anywhere except right next to me. We’ll see how it goes when we practice standing in our official positions. You truly love the music for its own sake. You always want to hear the songs from our practice CD, and you sing them around the house so much that Tobin knows most of the words, too. You don’t always get the words right. This morning I heard you singing about shooting with crystals (as opposed to pistols), but I’m okay with that. I’m glad you’re more familiar with the former than the latter.
Photo by Denny
It seems like you’ve been extra sweet to your brother lately. He still gets on your nerves sometimes, but overall you’re very kind to him. You’re still great about sharing food, and today, when I asked you to play with a toy in another room because it was torturing Tobin not to be able to play with it, you chose instead to hand it to him. You got a smiley check for that, dude.
Photo by Denny
It’s time to do some clothes shopping for you, too. A lot of your pants are getting high-watery, and your shirts show your tummy if you reach your arms up. Last Saturday morning, I grabbed some clothes for you from your drawers so you could run an errand with me, and when you came out wearing them, you had about three inches of ankle and wrist exposed. I don’t know how you keep growing with how little you eat, but you seem to be getting it done.
We’re closing in on the end of your time in preschool. After your graduation in May, you’ll move on to some summer programs especially for kids who will be entering kindergarten in the fall. We’ve decided to move you to our neighborhood public school, not because we don’t love Willowwind, but just because it’s hard to turn down a free, high-quality option. Willowwind has been a great place for you and a truly good environment as you worked out the kinks of being away from home for the first time. Kindergarten will mark a change, too. It will be the first time you’ll be away for a full day, since you’ve always been a half-time preschooler. I’m not too worried about how you’ll handle the academic and social aspects of it. Your teachers had nothing but positive things to say about you in those areas at your conference. I’m a little concerned about whether you’ll eat your packed lunch and whether you’ll handle a public bathroom all right.
But…you’re not the least-prepared kid to show up at kindergarten, I suppose. It may take a little adjustment, but you’ll sort it out. We have kindergarten round-up next week, and it will help when we can show you the three kindergarten classrooms. We don’t know yet to which you’ll be assigned, but we’ve heard great things about all the teachers. A handful of school, neighborhood, and choir friends will go to the same school, so even if you don’t share a classroom with them, you’ll at least see friendly faces around.
Does it sound like I’m saying this more for me than for you? I might be. It’s my mommy prerogative.
Something that’s been weighing on me heavily lately is a horrifically sad situation facing some acquaintances. A boy you knew early in your preschool days, one whom I specifically remember being really friendly and welcoming to you when you were new and homesick and scared, is probably in the last months of his battle with cancer. In no way do I mean to co-opt that family’s pain. It makes me feel sick and tear up every time I think about it, but I’m sure I feel about 1% of their grief. All I can do is hug you and your brother tightly and try to maintain perspective. How much would that little boy’s mom love to have his transition to kindergarten be her biggest concern? Our problems are very small. I haven’t talked to you about the situation specifically. Maybe that’s cowardly of me, but I want to protect you from the idea that a child could die. You’re sometimes a fearful kid, and I don’t want to compound those issues.
You do understand the idea that kids can suffer, I think. For the last couple of years, I’ve participated in the Layettes for Life program. I found out about it through a former coworker who has done humanitarian work in Haiti. It involves making packets of baby supplies (cloth diapers, onesies, socks, hats, sleepers, outfits, blankets) that are sent to Haiti. They’re used as an incentive to get mothers to bring their babies to health care professionals : come get your kid vaccinated and get some clean, new, cute clothes out of the deal. Today the supplies I ordered arrived, and you watched as I assembled the layettes. We talked a little bit about how there are some babies in the world who are so poor they don’t even have a onesie. I’m sure it’s hard for you to comprehend, considering the overflowing boxes of baby clothes that fill our house, but I want you to be involved in a small but concrete aid project. You can understand that the clothes you helped fold will go to a baby who needs them, more than if I just told you that I sent money.
Another sad piece of news: the Roosevelt playground, which my family and I helped build and was a huge part of my childhood, has been dismantled. The building is being turned into condominiums. You loved playing there, and I haven’t told you about that yet either. I’ll need to do that before we go to Mubby and Skittergramps’s house next, because you do better when you have some time to process things. Much like the whole kindergarten situation, I think it’s probably harder on me than on you. You’ll be bummed, but there are many other playgrounds.
I’m bummed, but I have two healthy children. We’ll get over it.
Spring is here. We’ve had a couple of tantalizingly warm days, followed by those rude cold days that wouldn’t even seem cold if it hadn’t been warm just recently. More beautiful days are to come. We have a wonderful spring and summer ahead of us, full of trips downtown to play in the fountain, to scramble around on the library playground, to walk on the path behind our house to get ice cream or a Flavor Ice. I’d prefer it if you didn’t grow up, but it’s a whole lot better than the alternative.
You called a candy cane a hurricane today. I had to hide my laughter because you really like to get things right.
Photo by Gary Clarke
I love you forever and ever and ever, my tender-hearted little sugarbug.
Things Miles says that he’s not going to say forever so I want to remember them:
Baby thermometer (baby monitor)
Magniflying glass (magnifying glass)
In our folk choir, Miles and I are singing John Prine’s “Paradise.” Miles has listened to the song many times, but he seems to have misheard the lyrics.
M: Where the air smelled like snakes and we’d shoot with our pistols
But empty top models was all we would kill.
For reference, the original lyrics:
Where the air smelled like snakes and we’d shoot with our pistols
But empty pop bottles was all we would kill.
My dear Tobin,
You’ve been doing the grossest thing lately: you stick your fingers down your throat and very nearly gag yourself. You seem to think this is fun. Your dad and I yank your hands out of your mouth and tell you very sternly not to do it, but you laugh and laugh and keep doing it. It is disgusting, and I have nothing to say on the topic except that you are very weird.
Although the last few nights have been better, you went through a really tough spate last week with your sleep. I thought maybe it was related to teething, but it seemed like you had been working on the same two teeth forever. Those two bottom canines were just loitering around beneath the surface for what felt like months. I decided, teething or no teething, I needed to night-wean you. I remembered that your brother magically started sleeping much better right after he was weaned, so I figured it was worth a try.
I picked a week, read a bunch of other people’s opinions on how to do it best, and got started. Your dad wasn’t crazy about the idea, largely because I was going to be counting on him to help out with the middle-of-the-night grumpiness you were sure to express when I denied you your favorite solution.
We made it two nights. Strangely, you didn’t really cry much. You did a little, but mostly it just seemed like you were wide awake. I think you’re addicted to the sleep-inducing qualities of warm milk, and without it, you just wanted to sit straight up in bed (prairie-dogging, I call it) and hang out. So why did we make it only two nights? On day three, you came down with a fever. You were lethargic and crabby. You also cut those two teeth that had been toying with you for so long. I felt like I couldn’t deny comfort to a little guy who was feeling bad, so we got off our rhythm. Now, you’re feeling better and those teeth are in, and suddenly you’re sleeping pretty darn well.
This has reduced my motivation for full-on night weaning. It’s a lot easier to allow you your milky when it’s only once or twice a night, at reasonable times like 9:30 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., as opposed to five or six times. Still, we’re going to have to do it at some point. I don’t want you to be late to your high school graduation because you were up all night nursing.
[A note to people who may be new to this blog: I am KIDDING. I only plan to nurse until he's 13 or 14, tops.]
You are super excited right now about playing outside and riding in our new red car. Spring has been very late in coming this year, and I don’t even think it’s fully in swing yet. The last couple of days have been nice, so we’ve maximized your outdoor time with trips to the playground behind our house and the one by the library. I think it’s going to get cold again next week, though. I hope things turn around soon, because those afternoons when we’re stuck in the house can really drag. Your brother wants to play computer, and you want to be anywhere he is, and that sometimes means mashing his keyboard and pulling out his power cable, and that always results in at least two people screaming. You are not usually one of them.
I don’t mean to make it sound like you’re naughty all the time. You’re really a sweetheart. Mubby and Skittergramps visited last week during Miles’s spring break, and you had so much fun with them. After they left, we went down to the room where the slept, because it’s also where we store some old clothes I needed to sort. You climbed onto the bed and said in the saddest little voice, “Please? Please? My Skitter?” Usually you saying the word please gets you pretty much whatever you what, which I suspect you have figured out, but there was no way I could grant that wish.
You remain a great talker. Yesterday you gave yourself a little assignment. You said, “Zzzzz. Zzzzz. Zzzzz. Izzzzzzzaak.” Izaak is a friend of Miles’s, and he and his family came over to our house for dinner the other night. His name was hard for you to say, and you gave yourself the task of working on that tough sound and trying it out in the name. You’ve started doing more and more multi-word sentences. At Hy-Vee recently, your favorite check-out person gave you a sticker, and you said to me, “Sticker on coat.” I was happy to fulfill that request, even if you didn’t say please. Just tonight, you got tired of a song we were listening to in the car, and you said, “No more like it.” The songs we’ve been playing the most are the ones from the Family Folk Machine practice CD. Family Folk Machine is the choir Miles and I are in, and I think when you come to our concert, you’re going to be singing along in the audience. It’ll be fun when you’re big enough to join.
You really enjoy helping your daddy make his tea in the morning, and you’ve recently branched out into helping me make coffee, too. For the tea, you like to push the numbers on the microwave and dunk the tea bag into the mug. For the coffee, you like to sit on the counter, help me pour the water in, and flip the power switch on the coffee maker. I get a kick out of sharing these rituals with you, and they’re a good way to entice you away from climbing into your brother’s bed and sitting on his head.
You’re starting to learn some of your letters, using the magnetic letters in your room. So far you consistently identify F (both upper- and lower-case) and X. You know a lot of animals, too, even though you usually think dogs are horses. We’ve taken a couple of trips to the Natural History Museum recently, and you’re crazy about the giant sloth. You call it a dragon.
You also like the mannequin representing a native Iowan. You call him Mommy. Is it because he has long hair? That is weird, because I don’t even have long hair. Really, I look nothing like him at all. You like his belly button. I guess he and I have that much in common.
Photo by Gary Clarke
The biggest phase you’re in right now is “MY TURN.” You say that all the time, whether the thing you want to do is age-appropriate or not. If I’m eating something, I’m usually happy to share it with you, but you are not content to let me feed you bites. You yell, “MY TURN” and grab the fork out of my hand. It’s gotten so that I automatically bring two utensils if I think you might be interested. Another thing you say a lot is, “Let go peepees.” Can you guess what that might mean? I’ll give you a hint: you’ve heard it a lot from your dad and me at diaper-changing time. There comes a point in the process where we can’t continue until you fulfill that request.
I hope that isn’t too embarrassing for you to read down the road. I’m assuming you’ll care about reading these someday. Maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll continue at your current pace and be out adventuring with no time to stop and reflect on your babyhood. That’s okay. These are for your dad and me, too. It’s so easy to think we’ll never forget these funny things you say and do, but brains get so busy, and new memories come in and muddle up the old ones. I want to have a record to look back on and remember when you were my sweet little Chub-Chub.
I noticed yesterday you’re not so chubby anymore.
But I still love you.
We’re going out for a nice dinner tonight to celebrate my birthday.
A: Miles, before we go out for dinner, I’d like you to change your clothes.
M: But these [sweatpants] can be jammies OR regular clothes.
A: I know, but when we go out, it’s nice to put on something a little dressier.
M: But I don’t need to.
A: I want you to.
M: You don’t need me to.
A: Come on, Miles.
M: You need to use acceptance.
Your dad and I have noticed lately that you’ve been growing in more than one way. Your shirts and pants are getting too short. Moreover, you’ve been a pretty chill and fun guy these days. You still have your moments, like when you need to get out of bed and don’t want to, or when your brother is thwarting you in one way or another. But your emotional meltdowns have been fewer, and you seem confident and capable in most ways.
Your jokes make sense sometimes.
“What day is April Fool’s Day?” [pause] “January seventh?”
January seventh is your birthday, so I more or less get that one. This next one, not so much:
“What day is Christmas?” [pause] “Inside my eyeball?”
After you told that one, I said something about needing to work on the structure of jokes. That seemed to hurt your feelings, so I quickly assured you that absurdity has comic value in its own right.
As we head to school to pick you up, your brother often says, “Bubby hug,” which means he’s excited to see you and hug you. Now, every day, as soon as you burst out of your classroom, you ask, “Did Tobin ask for a Bubby hug?” I think you’re proud that he’s so happy to see you. Lots of your classmates like to crowd around him and hug and kiss him, but the big kid he most wants to see is you.
You’ve been doing great in school. One big accomplishment recently was that you wrote your numbers on a long strip of adding-machine paper all the way to one hundred. You were so proud when you came out of your classroom and showed it to me, and your teacher mentioned that you’d been dedicated to that project all day, even asking for (and receiving) special dispensation from Line Time to continue working on it.
You continue to enjoy music. At our choir practices, you don’t have a lot of interest in singing with the group. I hope I can convince you to stand with the other kids and sing during the concert. During the adult rehearsal time, you usually sit by yourself and play with my phone. While you do that, you sing as loud as you please. The adults often look over and smile. You know some of the grownup-only songs better than I do.
We got a new car yesterday, and your one requirement through the whole protracted car-seeking process was that you and your dad be able to play our choir song playlist while he drives you to school. You liked the “robotic doors” on the minivan we test drove, but those were not as important to you as the music. Luckily, the Subaru Outback we settled on has a USB port for easy iPod integration. We’ve tested “Country Roads,” “Paradise,” and “Yellow Submarine,” among others, and they all work well for singing.
You’ve made a friend through the choir, a fellow video-game enthusiast who likes to watch you play games and show off his own. He’s a little older than you, so I hope he’ll be a good role model for the group-singing aspect of the activity as well. Another older kid you like a lot is your cousin Maxwell. We visited Max and his family recently, and you guys had a great time working on a Lego project. That visit also included your cousin Meredith’s birthday party, which was at a bouncy house complex. I was so proud of how brave you were. You were a little hesitant at first, but Max helped you get started, and soon you were scrambling around with the whole gang.
The biggest event of the last month was our Disney Cruise. It seems to have made a big impression on you, because you bring up one element or another from it almost every day. One of your favorite parts was our waiter, Claudius. He did magic tricks for you every night at dinner, and you’ve been attempting to reenact them (with mixed results). You loved the arcade, the beach, and especially the theatrical entertainment. We saw two different plays, Toy Story: The Musical and Disney Dreams, which was a loosely-plotted song and dance extravaganza. It featured a flying Peter Pan, and you still like to talk about the “theater tricks” Peter Pan used to fly. Your hypothesis: invisible wires.
At one point, your dad was trying to impress upon you that going on a cruise was a very special privilege you should appreciate, and that most kids don’t get to go on cruises. You looked around and said, “I think most kids are here.” I’m sure it seemed that way to you, since the ship was teeming with short people. You really did love it. You haven’t stopped asking when we’re going on our next one. I don’t know for sure when that will be, but considering what a great time you had, we should probably start saving.
In the meantime, spring is coming, and we’re going to be having a lot of fun in the coming months. Your uncle Tyler is getting married, and you’re super psyched about that. You found some of last summer’s water toys downstairs and were ready to go outside and use them, despite the snow that remains on the ground. You’ve been asking when the Flavor Ice stand will open.
It was a tough winter, Miles. We all felt the strain. But we’re nearly through it now.
Have heart, little one.
You’re my heart, little one.
We’ve been having the worst time lately with Tobin doing something naughty, then laughing in my face when I scold him. After just such an event…
A: Why does Tobin always think that’s funny?
M: He doesn’t think it’s funny. He just doesn’t care.
My little heart,
You are a year and a half old now. Actually you’re more like a year and a half going on five, because there’s not much your brother does that you don’t try. You sneak into his classroom when we pick him up from school. You wear his clothes (you especially like to put his underwear on your head). You mess with his computer and his toys. You rough-house with him just as hard as he rough-houses with you, maybe even harder. A couple of times lately when we’ve approached his school, you said, “Bubby hug.” When I told him you’d made that request, he was happy to squeeze you. I thought he might be squeezing a little too hard, but you were smiling so big I didn’t stop him.
The most exciting event of the last month was our vacation, a Disney cruise. It was our first cruise and your first time out of the country, and it was exactly what we hoped it would be: easy, fun, relaxing, and thrilling for you kids. I knew you were going to love the ocean, and oh, how you did. You played in the sand and the surf until your exhausted little body couldn’t take it anymore, and then you slept in my arms in a beach chair. My love, there is really nothing better than lying in the shade of a palm tree with a view of the Caribbean, holding a sleeping little boy who smells like ocean water and sunscreen.
One pleasant surprise was how much you enjoyed the theatrical productions on the ship. I was afraid your dad and I would have to tag team walking around with you outside the theater, but we had no need to do anything like that. You were absolutely fascinated by the singing and dancing, bouncing and laughing in your dad’s lap. When Mickey Mouse came out at the end, you pointed and yelled, “MOUSE!”
I could never have imagined myself going on a Disney cruise. Seriously, the fifteen-years-ago version of myself would have laughed in my face. But kids change things. I still maintain my dream of sailing around the Turkish coast, visiting archeological ruins and drinking wine and eating local cuisine, and we may well do that when there are no more little kids in our house. One thing I wasn’t prepared for in parenthood was the absolute vicarious joy of it all. Mickey Mouse holds no interest for me, personally, but watching your eyebrows go up so high they’d disappear if you had hair when you saw him is very interesting.
You love playing outside in the snow these days. Over the last week or so, we’ve had a good bit of snow, but the temperature has stayed around the 30F range. That makes it perfect for outside play, so you and your dad and Miles have spent a lot of time throwing snowballs and sledding down the tiny hill next to our house. The only bad part is that you hate coming in so much it’s almost not worth taking you outside at all, considering the screaming you do when we force you to come in. You’re a persistent little fellow, too. Just when I think I have you distracted with a nice, quiet, pre-bedtime book or activity, you’ll run back to the door and say, “Opie! Opie! Out-ide!” I’m not much of a cold weather person myself, but once we get some true spring going on around here, I promise to take you outside more. I miss our walks down the trail.
You’re still a little chatterbox. I’ve long since stopped keeping track of all your words, but I bet you consistently say over 200 by now. You’re putting words together more, too. Just this morning you demonstrated an understanding of possessives. I usually eat a Lara Bar for breakfast, which you like, but I don’t often share with you because they’re expensive. Normally you’re happy to have a regular granola bar (which you call just “bar”). Today at breakfast I asked if you wanted a bar. You replied, “Yeah. Mommy’s.”
I think I distracted you and ate my Lara Bar in the bathroom. The things we do.
You like all kinds of foods. You’re more of a savory guy than a sweet tooth, overall. Today you chose couscous for lunch instead of pancakes. You really liked the fairly spicy chili we had a while ago. I didn’t even offer you any, since I didn’t think you’d like it, but you kept looking at it in your dad’s bowl and saying, “Poop.” We figured out after a while you were trying to say soup, so your dad gave you some, and you dug it. I hope you get that pronunciation sorted out before you start telling people you eat poop for dinner.
Reading books is still one of your favorite things to do, and you and your dad spend time every evening rocking in the recliner together reading. Your top choices right now are The Monster at the End of This Book, Barnyard Dance, Science Verse, and Let’s Dance, Little Pookie. You like to go to Hy-Vee with me and ride in a race car cart (“car-cart”). You get so excited when we find that one is available. Usually one is. Every now and then we have to use a regular cart. Those are not the best shopping trips.
We’ve been in the process of trying to find a new car for a while now, and your favorite part of the test-driving experience is scrambling around in the front seat. That’s pretty novel for a kid whose biggest upgrade so far as been moving from a rear-facing infant seat to a barely-less-confining five-point-harnessed toddler seat. I have the feeling you’re going to be pretty disappointed when we actually buy one of those cars and you find out your car seat ends up in there, too.
Sorry, dude. I love you too much to let you get squished.
I even love you too much to shove you off me right now. You’re lying next to me and sort of pinning my right arm to my body, which is not the easiest position for typing. But sleep is a precious, precious thing, and I’m not going to risk waking you up for something as trivial as blood circulation. Besides, part of being a mom is being able to do just about anything with one hand.
Have a good month, my sweet, snoring, naughty, funny, adventurous little boy.
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