Of course he does

Filed under: — Aprille @ 5:51 pm

T:  I love our ornaments.

A:  They look pretty on the tree, don’t they?

T:  We have the beautifullest Christmas tree in the whole world.

A:  Yes, it is beautiful.

T:  (conspiratorially) I like the breakable ornaments the best.


Monthly Miles Memo #83

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:18 am

My sweet Miles,

This is your very last month of being six.  I remember turning seven myself, how much older seven seemed than six.  Maybe because it’s the first multi-syllabic age?  I can’t say for sure, but it definitely felt like the transition to big kid life.  You’ve continued to be a fun and helpful guy to have around, doing your homework and piano practice without complaint and usually playing nicely with your brother.  You still have a low threshold for wigging out when Tobin annoys you, but you guys have had more and more long stretches of imaginative play together.  Right now you like to do  play-acting versions of Cyberchase and Magic Tree House.

Magic Tree House is a series of books that you’ve gotten excited about.  You especially enjoy biographies, and sometimes the Magic Tree House characters go back in time and meet famous people, like Louis Armstrong (whom I like to imagine is a relative of ours) or your all-time favorite, Leonardo da Vinci.  Your preference is still for your dad or me to read the books to you, but lately you’ve been reading a chapter to yourself at bedtime to get your reading minutes in.  That represents a real paradigm shift for you.  I think it’s the first time you’ve ever felt confident enough to read something a little bit challenging that no one has read to you before.  You’ve had the skills for a long time—you breeze through your school-assigned books effortlessly.  I’m really proud that you’re feeling ready to take on new content and read for the pleasure of experiencing a story.

We did something pretty exciting last weekend.  The kids from Family Folk Machine were invited to record a song that’s going to be part of a CD celebrating local kids’ music.  You sang “Deep Blue Sea,” including your special solo.  I was very impressed by how focused and disciplined you were throughout the recording process.  You’re one of the younger kids in the group, and a lot of the kids had a very hard time being respectful of the recording equipment and keeping their attention on the tasks at hand.  Not you, though.  You kept up your concentration through multiple takes, and I think you could have kept going.  Our leader, Jean, wanted to do one more take, but when she asked the kids if they could handle it, a chorus of “NO!” arose.  You told me later you were going to say “yes,” but nobody else did.  I think you got a good recording in any case, and the look on your face when you heard it played back the first time was one of pure delight.

We’re probably going to be taking a break from Family Folk Machine next semester, not because we don’t enjoy it, but because Little Potato will likely be taking up most of my energy during those early months.  I think you could handle it without me there, but you prefer not to.  I like that it’s a special thing for us to do together, anyway.  We’ll be back next fall, possibly with your brother along with us.  We have our final concert tonight, the annual holiday concert at the Englert.  That’s always tiring, since it’s on a weeknight, and I’m tired all the time these days regardless.  It will be nice to have a break, though I know we’ll miss singing and our old friends.

We had a mostly fun time at both sides of our family Thanksgiving celebrations.  At Jackie and Paul’s, you had fun with cousins Austin, Julianne, and Danielle.  Of course you got some good quality time with Nana and Papa, seducing everyone into the Where’s Waldo universe.  More from that series of books are on your Christmas list.

Photo by Denny

At Mubby and Skittergramps’s house, illness put a bit of a damper on the festivities.  Tyler, Oxana, and Aleks couldn’t visit due to illness at their house, but that didn’t stop you from cheering the Nebraska Cornhuskers to victory.  Unfortunately, that victory wasn’t enough to keep head coach Pelini in a job, so Tyler’s future remains unknown at this time.  We hope he either stays in Lincoln or ends up somewhere reasonably close, because nobody wants that cute little chub Aleks to get away from us.  You especially get so excited when we get new pictures of him, and you were very disappointed when they weren’t able to come for Thanksgiving.

You really love babies a lot.  I’ve been trying to paint a realistic picture of human infancy for you and Tobin,  so you’re not let down when Little Potato arrives and isn’t all that much fun right away.  I’ve been telling you how babies, at first, just sleep and eat and poop and cry, and sometimes it can be very tiring and frustrating.  Without fail, you remind me, “But they’re worth it because they’re so cute.”  I can’t deny that one.  My clearest memory of your birth, Miles (even clearer than vomiting on your dad’s shoes while in labor), is my absolute certainty that your bruised, swollen, cone-headed little self was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

Photo by Denny

I still feel that way.  Your baby teeth are falling out and impossibly big adult teeth are growing in their places.  You’re stretching out into a string bean, and I see your ribs every night when you make silly poses in front of the mirror.  You’re still little enough to cuddle up in the big chair with me and read a chapter of the Magic Tree House, though.  I know you’re almost seven and everything, but I’m glad you still fit right into the crook of my arm.




Powder room

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:44 pm

Denny was opening a new package of Kleenex.

T:  What’s that?

D:  Kleenexes for the bathroom downstairs.

T:  Bathrooms don’t have noses.


The gentle glow

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:28 pm

Miles was being grumpy.

D:  Here, this might cheer you up.

M:  Nothing can cheer me up.  Except a lava lamp.


Baby got back

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:38 pm

Tobin and I were snuggling in bed together.  He went to brush his teeth, then he returned.

A:  So, I see you’re back.

T:  (turning his back to me) You see it, do you?



Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:39 pm

Denny and I were telling the kids about the ancient days of television, when we couldn’t fast-forward, pause, or rewind, and we had to watch whatever was on rather than picking a show of our choice, and all the other indignities of the 80s and 90s.

A:  And if you had to go to the bathroom, you just had to miss some of the show.

M:  Um…you could pee in a bowl.

The Tobin Times #39

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:50 pm

My dearest Tobin,

Times, they are a-changing.  This has been a major month in terms of your personal development.  As I may have mentioned last month, we did a weekend-long potty bootcamp, and it works pretty darn well.  That weekend had a fairly large number of accidents, then somewhat fewer the next week, and fewer the week after that, and now I’d say you’re reliably potty trained.  You still wear a pull-up at night, and at the moment you’re about 50/50 in terms of keeping it dry overnight.  Still, though, that qualifies you for preschool.

Our plan was to get you started at Willowwind at least a month before Little Potato’s birth, so you could get established in your routine there before the major change happens on the homefront.  That seems like it’s going to work out fine.  We visited there last week, and while you were a touch apprehensive, you got very interested in some of the Montessori works (especially the “potion,” which involves pouring colored water back and forth between containers).  It helped that you saw your old friend Digger Ben, who isn’t in your class but with whom you will have recess sometimes.  You also saw Craig, the grandpa of some kids we know from Miles’s time at Willowwind, who is a volunteer story reader for the preschool classes.

We came home and had lunch, and afterward you asked, “Can you drive me back to Willowwind so I can do more potions?”  We had to settle for a homemade approximation.  It really made me smile that you wanted so much to go back.  As long as they haven’t rotated the potions work out by the time you formally enroll, I think we’re golden.

As I was considering the prospect of enrolling you, a not-so-small part of me was thinking, “Oh, let’s just keep him home one more semester.  I’m going to miss him.”  I will absolutely miss you, but it will also be really nice to know that you’ll be doing fun and interesting activities at school while I’m taking care of a tiny newborn (and taking advantage of morning nap opportunities).  Let’s face it:  if you were home, you’d be watching videos.  And knowing you, you wouldn’t be content to sit still and watch a video for long.  You’d be watching ten minutes of a video, then wanting to do something else, which would leave very little time for the rest/nursing/diaper changing/laundry/walking around making silly noises cycle that comes with a tiny baby.

I was just telling your dad what a great gift it is that you and Miles have been playing together so well lately.  You’ve been playing school, Minecraft (not the app version, but a play-acting version you guys invented that involves Bristle Block swords and shovels), and other made-up games.  A couple of minutes ago, Miles came up and told me about something involving Lego races.  You were excited that you won a silver coin, which I’m pretty sure Miles pilfered from your dad’s change jar.  Not only am I thrilled that you guys are getting along and using your imaginations, but it’s going to be a huge help after Little Potato’s birth.

I hope you like him as much in practice as you do in theory.  You’ve been wanting to look at a lot of pictures and videos of yourself as a baby, including a super-cute one I just saw of you making ecstatic noises about blueberry puree.  You often say, “I love babies.”  We’ve been talking a lot about what it means to be a big brother.  Although I hope to continue the pregnancy into January, it’s possible that this is your last month as the baby of the family.  That’s kind of hard to fathom, but it’s also pretty cool to see you settle into a more mature lifestyle.

Not every moment has been easy.  You’ve had some serious tantrums lately, including one a couple of nights ago when your dad dared to put lotion on your dry skin.  It was bedtime, and being tired surely didn’t help things.  You screamed and howled, and there can’t have been more than five seconds of quiet before your sobs morphed into snores.  Then you had a good night’s sleep and felt fine in the morning.

Despite the rosy picture I painted above of you and Miles getting along so well, we’ve also had some trouble with you being too physical with him.  Your dad thinks it’s the Spider-man books and videos, which may be the case.  Sometimes your pretend web-slinging becomes more like punching, which is definitely not a habit we want to encourage.  The good news is that you’re becoming more responsive to punishment.  We don’t like yelling at you, but sometimes it’s the only thing that works.  It’s hard to see you get so sad, but hitting is not an option for us, either in terms of your behavior or our discipline strategy.  Your dad has been taking to your room and putting you in your chair for a time-out, and that seems to be reasonably effective.  Here’s to hoping you get the message and don’t get aggressive with another kid who wants to use the Willowwind potions.

Your current favorites:  weird British cartoons (the Octonauts, Where’s Wally, the Numberjacks), playing with Miles, earning potty success stickers, messing around with really expensive musical instruments while Miles is at his piano lessons, Play-Doh, playing with your Imaginext toys, licking my arms (sigh), preparing pretend food.  Last night you made me about fifteen pizzas, all of which were pepperoni-tacos-mushroom-veggies.  You also like to play with the toy stove Mubby got you, as well as helping out with real kitchen tasks.

Photo by Gary Clarke

We had a small snowfall last weekend, and you were so excited to get your Grand-shovel out, which is what you call the shovel Skittergramps got you.  You and your dad got our sidewalk and driveway cleared, but you didn’t want to stop, so you guys cleared the walks of some elderly neighbors.  Dr. Abadhi caught you in the act, and you earned your first dollar.  You were very proud and spent it on sour gummy worms.  You even shared them with Miles.

I really appreciate how receptive you’ve been to our nudges over the last month, Tobin.  You’re a smart, ambitious kid, and I know you’re ready to handle these new challenges that await you.  I’m still glad you’re only going to preschool half-time, though.  I’m not quite ready to send you off full-time yet.  Besides, if you were at school all day, I’d have no excuse to figure out exactly what the heck Numberjacks are.

With love as you charge confidently forward,




Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:06 pm

Tobin came out wearing one of Denny’s bedroom slippers and one of his gloves.

T:  I’m part man, part person!


Time traveling side dish

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:24 pm

Earlier, Miles walked in from school and asked what smelled so good.  It was vegetable beef soup in the crock pot.  Denny was trying to get him to have some at dinner, but he refused.

D:  Well, excuse me for wanting you to try something that you said smelled good.

M:  I thought it was cornbread.

D:  Mommy hadn’t even started the cornbread then.

M:  I was smelling the history…of cornbread…in the future.


Monthly Miles Memo #82

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:30 pm

My dear Miles,

At our choir rehearsal on Saturday, one of the adult members mentioned to you how much you’ve grown.  She didn’t mean in height (although I was looking at shots from an earlier concert, and you did look pretty tiny).  She meant in terms of your confidence, poise, and bravery.  When we first started, you wouldn’t leave my side for a moment at rehearsals or concerts.  Now you’re happy to run off during breaks and play with your friends (mostly a cadre of Minecraft-loving boys), and you sang a sweet and clear solo in our concert yesterday.

I hope that kind of confidence is emerging in school, too.  We had your first parent-teacher conference of first grade a week or two ago, and your teacher used the phrase “deer in the headlights” to describe you early in the year.  She did say that you’ve opened up more, but our biggest concern for your school success is your confidence level and your willingness to take risks.

We mostly like your school, and the diversity of the student body is largely a very good thing.  The downside is that due to a variety of issues in students’ lives, the teachers need to spend a lot of time and energy on basic classroom management.  I suppose that’s a concern in many schools.  Still, I’m not completely comfortable with the emphasis the staff put on rule-following and obedience.  I can see both sides of it.  Obviously, keeping a classroom under control is a prerequisite for a learning-friendly environment.  On the other hand, I don’t often see you getting rewarded for critical thinking, creativity, or kindness toward others.  I see you getting rewarded for being quiet in the hallways and not disrupting class.  Again, these are clearly good skills.  I just hope you’re getting enough of what you need to help you improve—challenges and support for risk-taking and encouragement to branch out—rather than what you’re already good at.

Photo by Denny

You’ve taken on some new interests lately.  You still like Wild Kratts, but it’s no longer the first thing you want to do when you get home from school.  Recently you’ve been more excited about the Magic Treehouse book series and accompanying website.  You could absolutely read the books on your own, but for the time being, you like your dad or me to read them to you.  I think your dad read to you for over an hour last night.  I do wish you’d challenge yourself, but it’s pretty sweet for you guys to have that special activity to share, too.

Tobin and I had a rough day today.  He’s not feeling his best and he’s been pretty tough to deal with.  But after you got home from school, you were so kind and helpful to him.  You guys got an educational computer game going, and you included him so well.  Now you two are playing school.  He calls you “Mr. Miles,” and no one is more excited than you when he raises his hand to ask for a bathroom break.  There will be more on the potty training in his next Tobin Times, but for now, I want to focus on you.  You’ve been a great support and champion for him as he develops, and as I get more tired and uncomfortable in Little Potato’s pregnancy, I appreciate it all the more.

You and Tobin went to a big sibling class at the hospital a while back in preparation for Little Potato’s arrival.  When you arrived, the teacher had a slideshow ready to go, and the first slide was of a big cat cub.  It was clearly posed in a studio situation, lounging on a branch against a white background.  The teacher asked what kind of animal it was.  You looked closely and said, “It has retractable claws, so it’s not a cheetah…”  I suggested that it might be a lion cub.  You looked again and said, “No, because lions don’t climb.”  We never did figure out exactly what it was.  I still think it was a lion cub who was posed by someone who didn’t know a fake tree was an inaccurate place for it to be.

In any case, I was impressed by your application of knowledge, as was the teacher.  She also appreciated that you knew what an umbilical cord was.

Photo by Denny

Your Leonardo da Vinci Halloween costume was a big hit, especially since we pinned print-outs of the Mona Lisa and da Vinci’s flying machine plans to your cape.  You had fun at your class party, and once again, you were proud and helpful to your little Spider-man brother who wanted to do everything with you.  You also did a good job going around the neighborhood.  Our pantry is still full of treats, even with your dad and me doing our best to help.

You’re excited to become a double big brother, and I have zero doubt that you’ll do well.  One of your favorite things to do lately is text, especially with Uncle Tyler when he sends us pictures of baby Aleks.  You coo over how cute his is, and then you demand my phone so you can reply.  You really enjoy the speech-to-text feature on the phone, especially when it gets the words wrong.  It’s pretty hilarious sometimes.  You wanted to text your dad that Tobin had a potty-palooza (code from a book about potty-training for a poop in the toilet), and the phone changed it to “party pollution.”  We decided that such an event would pollute a party pretty thoroughly, so it made sense in a way.

Photo by Gary Clarke

You’ve finished swimming lessons for the year, and you enjoyed them so much we had to promise that we’ll go swimming as a family soon.  You improved a lot.  You gained confidence and can swim a few yards doing a couple of different strokes.  You’re still a little tense in your back float and reluctant to relax and lean completely back, but you’ve definitely improved over the course of this fall’s lessons.  We’ll get back to that once the winter is done.

I know I’ve told you this many times before, Miles, but I’m so proud of you.  You’re in a really good stage right now, and I’m relishing it.  Thank you for being such a kind and thoughtful boy.  I’m so glad I’m your mom.




A grave injustice

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:24 pm

I was picking a sticky bit of something off Tobin’s head, and a few hairs came out with it.

T:  (in outrage) What did you do to my curls?


Key to the city

Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:39 pm

We were talking about a trip we took to the Florida Keys and speculating about what might happen if we did it again.

T:  Would we drive to the airport?

A:  Yes, and then we’d fly to Miami, and then we’d rent a car and drive to the Keys.

T:  Your ami?


The Tobin Times #38

Filed under: — Aprille @ 7:28 pm

Dear Tobin,

As we brainstormed baby names, your dad and I were talking about how we didn’t specifically plan to give you the nickname Tobes.  I had envisioned calling you Toby, which I still sometimes do.  But somehow, the nickname that stuck the best was Tobes.  I don’t know why.  It just suits you.  You’re a Toblerone, a Tobalicious, sometimes a Toby or a Tobester, but you’re most often a Tobes.

We have had a wild month.  We’ve been traveling all around, visiting family and attending events.  You’ve seemed extra sleepy lately, taking many more spontaneous naps than usual.  I don’t know if it’s all the activity or just a developmental stage, but after being napless for months, you’re back on them now and then.  Last night, it wasn’t even bedtime quite yet.  Your brother was reading you a story in the big chair, and from the other room, your dad and I heard him say, “Tobin, are you awake?”  You didn’t answer, so we went in to check on you, and there you were, snoozing with your head on your brother’s shoulder.  Your dad put you in bed fully clothed, and you slept a full night’s sleep.

My big plan for next weekend is a potty training boot camp.  You haven’t been too cooperative so far.  You’ll sit on the potty now and then, but it’s never your idea, and you almost never get anything out.  Starting this weekend, we’re going to be done with diapers.  The Three-Day Potty Training method specifies no bottoms at all in the house (they say for three months, but that doesn’t really seem realistic).  We’ll try it for the weekend anyway, and hopefully you’ll get the hang of it.  I don’t plan to let you back into diapers, but maybe after the weekend is over we’ll put you in big-boy underpants.  I’ll need to check on the status of our cleaning products.  You do seem interested in earning the stickers that go with the potty-themed book Nana got you.  I hope those remain motivating.

Your current favorite thing to do is play game after game of Trouble and Dinosaur Train Pop ‘n Race, which is basically Trouble with dinosaur illustrations.  You don’t seem to care a lot who wins.  You just like popping the die dome and moving your little pegs around.  We don’t play a cutthroat version (ie, nobody gets sent back home when another piece lands in the same spot).  Maybe we should switch to that, because just moving in circles around the board is pretty boring.  You also enjoy jumping back and forth between the couch and the futon downstairs, wearing your Spider-man costume to pick your brother up from school, and talking about Dr. Dreadful (still).  The next time I write your monthly letter and I don’t mention Dr. Dreadful, it will either be because you finally forgot about the blasted thing, or I’ve become so used to hearing about it that it’s no longer discussion-worthy.

Photo by Gary Clarke

You and your brother are both really into the show Wild Kratts right now, and you’ve both taken to spouting various animal facts.  You drew perhaps your best artwork yet today, a couple of squid.  You like the episodes about bats and platypuses a lot.  Thanks to Netflix, you can easily watch them between games of Trouble.

Photo by Denny

I took you to a doctor’s appointment last week for your annual check-up.  You’re at the 48th percentile for both height and weight, so I guess I have official confirmation that you’re not a little chub-chub anymore.  Your grocery store girlfriend commented the other day that you seem to look a lot older all of a sudden.  You’re thinning out, and your cheeks are less squishy.  We were counting birthdays last night, and you told me you’d be four on your next one.  I did my usual exaggerated sorrow response, bemoaning the loss of mah bay-bay.  You said, “You’re just kidding.  You like me being four.”  I had to admit that you were right.  I can’t imagine loving you any less, ever, even when you’re a weird teenager.

Last weekend, you and Miles stayed at Mubby and Skittergramps’s house for the first time without your dad and me.  He and I went to Minneapolis for a brief babymoon.  You had lots of fun.  Mubby kept you beyond busy, with excursions and crafts and apple-bobbing.  When we got home, you asked me why we went to “that apple place.”  It took me several guesses (I assumed you meant either the orchard where we picked apples last month or the orchard activity center to which Mubby and Skitter took you) to figure out you meant Minneapolis.

Other recent events include a trip to Nana and Papa’s farm along with a visit to the Covered Bridge Festival.  You got to pet a baby lamb, which Papa plucked right out of its pen, much its mother’s irritation.  You played out by a creek, rode in a tractor, jumped over and over into a corn pit, and ate a lot of junky vendor food.

Photo by Denny

We also had fun at my cousin Debi’s wedding.  It all took place outside in her big new backyard, and you had a great time riding around on scooters with cousin Josh and popping the giant bubbles Miles blew.

We have more busy times coming up:  next week you have your last swim lesson, Big Sibling class at the hospital, some time with your favorite babysitter Olivia while your dad and I go to Miles’s school conference, and of course Halloween.  You may need a few more naps this week, but at least it will be nice to be home for the weekend.

Pants-free weekend, that is.  This could prove to be interesting.

I will still love you if you pee on the floor.
I will still love you when you turn four.
I will still love you, with or sans clothes.
I will still love you.  You’re my little Tobes.

Photo by Denny




Enumerating reality

Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:12 pm

I was packing for a weekend trip, and I was getting stressed out because I couldn’t find some things I wanted to pack.  I let Tobin play with a bag of my old makeup, knowing I’d be giving him a bath shortly after anyway, so it was okay if he got messy.  He really took it to the next level, though, getting makeup all over his clothes and smearing it thickly on his face.  He noticed my frustration.

T:  Why are you upset, Mommy?

A:  I’m just feeling stressed out.  I have a lot of problems right now.

T:  One, I’m a mess.  Two, you can’t find your pants.


Monthly Miles Memo #81

Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:03 pm

My sweet Miles,

Last night, part of your homework was to write your “words to know” in your favorite color.  Those aren’t words that are part of your weekly spelling list.  They’re just words you should recognize and be able to read consistently.  I read the words to you, figuring I could hand you the list if you got frustrated.  No need:  you wrote those words with your red marker quickly, confidently, and accurately.

Photo by Denny

I was telling your dad just last night how much your reading has taken off, even since just last spring.  You finish your nightly reading easily now, often to Tobin, which he loves.  You have great inflection and enthusiasm, and he laughs and laughs when you do funny voices.  I’m looking forward to your parent/teacher conference next month to learn more about what goes on with you in school.

You’ve also maintained a great attitude about piano lessons.  You look forward to them every Thursday, and you love to play “Everything Is Awesome,” the first song you learned.  You’ve moved on to new songs, but still, every time you sit down at the piano, that’s the one you want to play.  It’s also fun that there’s a duet part, so you and I often play together.

Photo by Gary Clarke

I love witnessing your excitement about your upcoming new little brother.  You’ve felt him kick a few times now, and you’re very interested in learning about his weekly developments.  You know all about umbilical cords.  You took my explanation of why I’ve given up all alcohol and most coffee very seriously.  Whenever I drink anything slightly unusual (e.g., hot chocolate), you ask with great urgency, “Will that hurt Little Potato?”   The other day, we read that Little Potato can now open his eyes and see strong light changes.  You got a flashlight and shined it on my abdomen, and lo and behold, he kicked.  He also kicked when you hit a strong C-chord while practicing piano.  That was cool, but now it’s hard to get you to practice playing with both hands, because you always want a hand on my tummy in case the sound gets him moving.

We’re headed out of town this afternoon, first to Ames and then on to Winterset for the Covered Bridge Festival.  The Ames stop is to see Uncle Larry and Aunt Lily, who came all the way from California.  We’ll also see Aunt Suzy and Uncle Joe, as well as Mubby and Skittergramps.  Then we’ll head on to southwest Iowa to hit the festival with Nana, Papa, and hopefully Uncle Michael.

In other family news, we had a great time at Cousin Debi’s wedding last weekend.  The weather was chilly, but you didn’t let that stop you.  You had lots of fun riding around on scooters and blowing enormous bubbles.  You had on a cute outfit, but you never really got a chance to take off your jacket.  I knew how cute you looked, though.

Photo by Denny

You remain front-toothless, and my dream came true of having your first grade picture with a big gap in your smile.  You’re excited about an upcoming school event:  the annual visiting author.  This year, the featured author is Peter Brown, and you’ve been enthusiastically telling us about the books he’s written that you’ve been reading.  We ordered a couple of the books, and I look forward to hearing you read them to me.  I’m anticipating a very dramatic reading of You Will Be My Friend!

Photo by Gary Clarke

Your current favorites: Wild Kratts, designing and drawing inventions, pasta, French fries, improving your upper body strength on the playground, swimming, Minecraft.

Photo by Gary Clarke

We’re going to have a fun month coming up, my dear.  We’ve got more adventures on the horizon, plus of course there’s all the fun of putting together your Leonardo daVinci costume and the ensuing Halloween festivities. Then, before we know it, it’ll be Thanksgiving and Christmas and two very important family birthdays, one of which is yours.  I can’t deal with the thought of you being seven, so I’ll just postpone dealing with that for a while.

You’re a good kid, Miles.  Thanks for hanging out with me.




The Tobin Times #37

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:52 am

My special Tobin,

Your dad and I think you’ve been on a growth spurt lately.  You’ve been eating a lot, including many healthy foods.  You had a salad for lunch with spinach, peas, bell peppers, pineapple, and strawberries.  You’ve also fallen into the habit of taking naps, which I thought we were long past.  That means falling asleep later, which means your brother often falls asleep on the bottom bunk waiting for you to fall asleep.  He prefers to sleep in the top bunk, where we typically move after you’ve fallen asleep on the bottom.  You, however, sleep better when he’s down on the bottom with you.

Photo by Denny

When you’re by yourself on the bottom, you usually need me or your dad to come snuggle you at some point during the night.  That doesn’t usually happen with your Bubby’s with you, but sometimes it does, and that’s a double-whammy.  It’s getting pretty hard for me to wedge myself between you and extract myself when you’ve fallen back asleep.  We really need to get you out of that habit before Little Potato shows up.

You’re excelling in other areas, though.  You’ve been doing great in your swimming lessons.  The course catalog indicated that three was the minimum age to sign up, so I was surprised when the person at the registration desk told me you were too young.  It turns out the minimum is actually three and a half, but they gave us special permission because I said you were comfortable in the water.  That you are—if anything, you’re a little too brave, quick to dunk your head and jump off the side of the pool.  Your just-turned-three status hasn’t hurt you any in swim lessons, though.  Your teacher, Randi, says you’ve been doing well and improving from lesson to lesson.  I just signed you up for another session, so we hope you can continue your progress.  You look really cute flailing around with your kickboard.

Photo by Denny

Construction vehicles remain your favorite things to climb on, talk about (except maybe Doctor Dreadful’s Alien Autopsy, but more on that later), and look at.  There’s some reworking happening at the park across the street, and you love it when your dad takes you down there after hours so you can check out the enormous excavator.  He also took you to an event last weekend at the Children’s Museum called “Move it!  Dig it!  Do it!”  You got to explore in a lot of different big vehicles, like a skid loader, a cement truck, an ambulance, and a fire truck.

Photo by Denny

You were playing nicely with Play-Doh just now, so I thought I could sit down to write this.  Now I see you’re licking the Play-Doh, and you won’t listen to any of my admonishments to stop licking it.  Gross, but I’m pretty sure it’s non-toxic.

You remain funny, articulate, and expressive.  You do great gestures and eyebrow work.  You’ve taken to miming certain words or concepts, not because you don’t know how to say them, but just (I think) as an opportunity to be creative.  For example, when you talk about Dr. Dreadful (again, more on that later) and the fact that you might be too young for it, instead of saying the word young you’ll slowly lower your hand toward the floor, elevator-style, to indicate shortness.

Your current favorites:  cashews, Wild Kratts, pepperoni pizza, veggies and ranch dressing, listening to your brother read to you, taking showers and baths, getting candy from vending machines.

Your current un-favorites:  using the potty (I don’t even know, man), Dr. Dreadful’s Alien Autopsy.

Dr. Dreadful’s Alien Autopsy is a game/activity Miles got a year or two ago.  It mostly involves mixing together various ingredients to make candy that looks like alien guts.  You found the box downstairs a while ago, and it intrigued you.  The instructions were missing, so I looked online to see if I could find them.  Easily enough, I found a website dedicated to the product line.  A video auto-played, and it was full of mad scientist style cackling and lightning bolts and spooky music.  You hated it, freaked out, and refused to do any of the candy-making activities.

And yet, ever since, you’ve been talking about it nearly nonstop.  Every day we have about ten conversations on the topic.  “Why is Dr. Dreadful for big kids?  Why not for [elevator hand] kids?”  “Is that candy disgusting…or gross?”  “Why didn’t I want to eat that candy?”  I think Dr. Dreadful has replaced the big kid in the park with the Nintendo 3DS as your emotionally challenging obsession.  I don’t think hiding the Dr. Dreadful Alien Autopsy kit will get it out of your mind, either.  We met that kid in the park once and you talked about him for months.  There may be a lot more Dr. Dreadful discussion in our future.

Photo by Denny

You were the first one in the family besides me to feel Little Potato kick.  We were snuggling up in bed one morning and your leg was against my midsection.  Little Potato chose that moment to do some serious leg work, and it was pretty fun for you to feel it.  Now, when we talk about it, you mime frantic kicking.  It looks a lot like what you do in the swimming pool.

You have such a curious little brain, a strong little heart, and a wiggly little body.  You are hard to contain in all these respects, but you are almost always fun to have around.  I love how resilient you are, how the little setbacks of life don’t faze you (as long as nobody tries to mess with your strategies for getting in and out of the car).  You’re a fun guy, Tobin.  I’m fond of you.




It sort of feels like that

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:38 pm

For the first time, Tobin asked a question about the mechanics of how Little Potato is going to enter the world.  I gave a simplified explanation.

T:  Is he attached to a rocket or what?


He doesn’t realize he isn’t helping his case

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:44 pm

A:  Tobin, did you hit your brother?

T:  About a hundred times.


An eternal question

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:12 am

M:  Why isn’t pink called “red-ette”?

Love is blind

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:02 am

Miles took an online colorblindness test (he passed) while also watching one of these videos he’s obsessed with where a woman opens Kinder Surprise Eggs and shows the contents.

M:  I think this one is going to be Shrek.  If not, I’m fairy tale blind.

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