The Callum Chronicle #27

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:44 am

My dear Callum,

Your little brain is working so hard lately.  Your latest discovery is the fact that the letter S and the number 5 look a lot alike.  I was wearing a shirt with writing on it that included a couple of S’s, and you poked them and said, “Mommy five shirt.”  It took me a while to figure out what you meant, but you were specific enough that we got it sorted out.  We talked about how that was actually the letter S, and now that’s your favorite letter.  The last couple of bedtimes, you’ve insisted on holding the magnetic S that usually resides on the magnet board in your room.  Some kids cuddle teddy bears, but you prefer a hard little magnet.  We had dinner the other night in Solon, a nearby town, and out the restaurant window you could see the huge letters of the SOLON monument the town erected for their sesquicentennial some years ago.  You got so excited about “big S-5!” that we had to go explore the area.  That was fun until you ate some dirt and I had to take you back to the restaurant to wash your mouth.

The emerging springtime has given us more opportunities to play outside, and boy is it hard to keep you out of the creek behind our house.  You’re still unsteady enough that I’m reluctant to let you play down there unless I’m physically restraining you, and that’s a pretty tiring process.  It doesn’t help that Tobin is pretty adept at creek-splashing, and it drives you crazy not to do everything he does.  We have a summer coming up that might be a little frustrating for everyone, but there are some activities we all can do.  The library has free movies on Monday afternoons, and the big boys are trustworthy enough that I can take you to another room to play if you get too squirrelly.  You have not yet mastered the art of sitting still through a movie, whether at home or in a theater.  That’s not too big a problem most of the time, but I feel bad when you get disruptive and people have paid good money to see a show.  That’s another reason the library is a good choice.

We’ll have the fountain for hot days and the playground for medium days and frozen yogurt for pretty much any day we’re downtown.  I hope we can get out to the Friday Night Concert Series now and then, as well as the various downtown festivals that happen throughout the summer.

Photo by Gary Clarke

Our trip to Nashville was lots of fun, and you kept up with the big boys just fine.  You’re still small enough that the specifics of a destination don’t matter a whole lot to you.  Anywhere you can have playtime and plenty of cocktail hours is okay by you.  You didn’t nap most of our trip, because there was always something fun going on, and you slept great every night.  Since we’ve been home, you’re back to napping a few times a week.  That has its pluses and minuses, since a nap makes you a more pleasant person in the evening, but it also makes it harder to get you to sleep at night.  You’re in a transition stage in many ways, and transitions can be tough.  I do have to give you credit, though:  the eight-hour drive was a lot better this time than last time.  It’s nice that you’re old enough now to be distracted by music, toys, and stories.  You’re also in a front-facing car seat this time, which has to be a lot more interesting for you because you can watch the landscape.

Photo by Denny

You still require a lot of attention and energy, but that comes with the territory and I’m mostly happy to do it.  Sometimes life gets a bit overwhelming, especially with your brothers’ crazy activity schedule that leaves very little time for relaxation and reflection.  That’s one reason I sometimes can’t resist putting you down for nap, even though I know there will be hell to pay at bedtime.  At least at bedtime, your dad is around to contribute to the hell payment plan.

You love to play with your toy kitchen and all the food toys.  You’re also very into Play-Doh right now, although you prefer to rip it into little shreds rather than form anything representative.  You like pouring water (or juice, if anyone was foolish enough to leave a cup of juice within  your reach) from one cup to another, and I’ve more than once heard you yell “Big uh-oh!”  That’s when I gather up the towels and hope it was nothing too sticky.  I’ve cut back on letting you “play coffee” after you dumped about half a pound of organic, fair trade certified ground coffee directly into the water reservoir of my coffee maker.

Next year, Tobin will go to school full-time, and it will be just the two of us most of the time.  Something tells me I’ll find it exhausting, but when that stage is over, I’ll miss it.  As I said to your dad the other night, when I picked you up and smothered you with kisses after a couple of hours away from you, “I need a break…until I get one.”

You’re delicious, and I love watching you learn and grow, even when you do gross things like eat dirt (or Play-Doh).  I guess that’s what a little scientist has to do:  test the world and figure out what’s an S and what’s a 5, what’s tasty and what gets you hauled into a bathroom for a mouth-rinse.




The Callum Chronicle #26

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:21 pm

Hello, adventure boy.

Your dad and I were talking about how nice it is that your big brothers are old enough that we can send them out to the back yard or the park right behind our house to play on their own.  We firmly agreed that you’re not ready for that yet.

You have been a crazy, energetic guy lately.  In a way it seems like you’ve taken a step backward in trustworthiness, in part because your growing physical and mental skills have made you brave enough to try many stupid, dangerous things.  I used to be able to leave you in a room for a few minutes while I did something nearby, but that didn’t work out so well yesterday.  I was downstairs helping Miles practice piano, and when I came back up to check on you, you were nowhere to be found (and Tobin was no help).  The door leading to the garage was open, so I went into the garage and started shouting your name.  You didn’t respond, and I didn’t hear any tell-tale scrapes or footsteps.  I was about ready to freak out when I saw that the porch door was open.  You had grabbed a baseball bat and were heading outside.  I’m so glad I caught you before you escaped.  I am going to work really hard to remember to lock the door to the garage from now on.

This morning, you wanted to “play coffee,” which regular readers will remember is when you sit up on the counter and pour water from my coffee carafe into the coffee maker and pretty much everywhere else.  It’s not too destructive a game, so I let you play it pretty often.  You wanted to do it this morning, and I had a few emails to respond to, so I got you safely positioned with a chair right up to the counter so you wouldn’t fall.  I double-checked that the door was locked, got some water for you to pour, and left the room for five minutes.  When I came back, you were pouring my (previously unused) coffee grounds directly into the water reservoir of the coffee maker.  You got probably a quarter pound out of the bag and all over everything.

I got angry.  You got sad.  It wasn’t a great moment for either of us.  I hope we both learned something.

I’ve noticed lately that when your dad or I scolds you for something, you make a face in which you close your eyes tightly.  Last week, I was running on the treadmill while you played downstairs.  You started heading toward the back of the TV where you are most definitely not allowed to mess around.  There are all kinds of cords and video game components and stuff you shouldn’t touch back there.  Before I even said anything, you stopped, looked at me, and made your eyes-closed “punishment face.”  I’m glad to know you’re starting to think through the consequences of your actions.

You give us plenty of non-frustrating moments, too.  Your language skills are really growing, and you make us laugh all the time.  You love to pick up objects and use them as a microphone to sing “Single Ladies.”  You like to play your ukulele along with all kind of different music.  You made Miles’s day yesterday when you requested his favorite pop song, “Stitches.”  You even knew a lot of the words.  You’ve also really gotten into the music and videos of Justin Roberts.  He’s been a family favorite since before we had kids, and I hope he makes a tour stop around here some time soon so you can see him in person.  His videos have been a welcome respite from Elmo (or worse, Barney).

We’re heading out tomorrow for a family trip to Nashville.  It will be fun to see you interact with your cousins, and it will be interesting to see you in the context of not being the smallest person in the room.  I hope the long drive won’t be too hard on you.  Last time we made the trip, I think you cried for a pretty solid two-hour chunk.  Hopefully this time you’ll be a little more easily entertained.  We can listen to music and read books, and we’ll be sure to make time for pit stops so you can run around.  At least we’re not in the middle of potty training.  That could be a disaster.  We’ll start that one of these months, but for the time being, you’re a lot more interested in toilets in theory than in practice.

Well, in typical practice, anyway.  You were very interested in the practice of putting an entire roll of toilet paper into the toilet.

Your current favorites:  reading stories (especially If You Give a Dog a Donut, Jamberry, How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight, and Goodnight Moon), jumping and dancing, playing outside, taking baths, eating a wide variety of foods (including your babysitter Olivia’s lunch), and giving really sweet hugs.  You like to eat, but it hasn’t really shown up in your body too much.  At your last doctor’s appointment, you were in the twentieth percentile for weight and fortieth for height.  You’re kind of a little guy, but you’re a pretty wonderful little guy.

You’re a lot of person jammed into one small body.  It’s not easy to keep up with you, but you’re a great incentive to keep healthy enough that I can love you for a long, long time.  You make me scream and you make me smile, but I’m always glad you’re mine.




The Callum Chronicle #25

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:11 pm

Dear Callum,

You’ve had a lot to say lately.  Your interests are becoming more broad, and you’re getting better and better at verbally expressing yourself.  You still say a lot of NO, but you also say funny things like “Mama, where are you?” and before I have a chance to answer (because I’m rarely more than twenty feet away from you), you reply to yourself, “Coming, just minute.”  You know all kinds of things I didn’t realize you knew, too.  Today I took you to Miles’s school to pick something up, and while we were there, you very clearly stated the name of the school.  I don’t think I had mentioned it by name before we got there.

Now that you’re over two, we’ve gotten more relaxed about screen time.  I still don’t let you sit for hours on end in front of a show, but I’ve let you have some stretches of Elmo or Wild Kratts here and there.  Unfortunately, the magical power of YouTube suggested videos led you to Barney and Friends, which is about the most annoyingly insipid show ever created for children.  You can somehow sense how much I hate it and therefore request it regularly.

I think you must be growing a lot physically, too.  Earlier this week, two nights in a row you woke up crying in pain.  The first time, you said your feet hurt, and that night was particularly bad because you woke up at 1, 2, and 3 a.m.  The next night you said your back hurt.  I’ve given you a dose of ibuprofen before bed the last couple of nights, which has either helped or at least not hurt, because you’ve been sleeping well again.  Dr. Google says it might be growing pains.  I remember getting those in my legs when I was young, but never my feet or back.  Maybe you were just having a hard time communicating your specific issues.

You love reading stories before bed.  Right now your favorites are a few you got from Mubby and Skitter for either your birthday or Christmas.  You got a couple of Elmo books as well as one called I Want my Mommy.  That one resonates, because you’re in the same mommy-centric stage both your brothers went through at this age.  Mostly you only get clingy to me when you’re tired or otherwise crabby, though.  Most of the time you’re pretty friendly and flexible.  We’ve got a couple of events coming up that will require babysitters, and I’m not too concerned.  You’ve always done a good job with sitters, and the fact that you’ll have your big brothers with you makes a big difference, too.

You’re in a very curious and adventurous stage, and those qualities combined with your increasing physical prowess can make for some tricky situations.  A while ago I caught you standing in the three-inch space between the edge of your dad’s computer desk and the keyboard.  I try to take pictures of the crazy things you do, but that time, I prioritized your safety over posterity.  You’re welcome.

You love to play with grown-up things, like plungers (I didn’t even realize we owned two plungers until you squirmed into the back of the bathroom closet and dragged them out).  You also currently love to play “coffee,” which means sitting on the kitchen counter and pouring water from my coffee pot into the coffee maker.  It makes a big mess, but it’s an activity that really keeps you engaged and has a low chance of disaster (as long as I remember to unplug the coffee maker).  It’s been a good way to keep you out of the scissors and glue lately while your brothers work on Valentines for their classmates.

You’ve been really excited about painting lately, which is also a huge mess, but I’m not too fussy about those things.  I do wish you’d paint on paper, though.  You seem to consider the paper I put out for you as more of a brush-rest than a medium.  You’d rather rub your paint-covered hands on your hair and face than create anything your dad could hang on his cubicle wall.

You love baths, too, but I try not to do that too often because your skin gets so dry.  Part of our bedtime ritual every night is a thorough lotioning of your back and legs.  You would squirt the lotion everywhere if I let you, but usually I can appease you with a “leetle bit,” which you say in a very cute, high voice.  That means just a tiny dab of lotion, which you smear on your shirt or somewhere else where it won’t do any good.

Your current favorites:  chocolate hearts that were supposed to go in Valentines but mostly go in your mouth, fruit snacks, the “Oompa Loompa” and “I Want it Now” songs from the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie, grapes, bedtime stories (the previously mentioned ones as well as How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight and I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More), playing basketball, talking a lot about the potty but declining all suggestions to use it, and applying makeup from my stash of stuff I don’t care about.  You have a knack for doing that when we’re running late to get somewhere.

We had a beautiful day last week and were finally able to get outside to play.  It felt great to do that, and I know there are more days like that ahead of us.  Especially now that your naps have gotten shorter (and sometimes you skip them entirely), it’s good to have opportunities to get out of the house in the afternoon.  That will mean more mud in the short term, and probably more baths, and probably more lotion.  You had a doctor appointment a couple of weeks ago, and I learned that you’re on the small side, just twentieth percentile for weight and fortieth for weight.  You seem so big to me, running and talking and so clearly expressing humor and preferences and many of the things people with grown-up brains and bodies do.  How can such a small boy make things so exciting and exhausting?

You might need to make me an extra pot of coffee.

That’s okay.  I love coffee and I love you.



The Callum Chronicle #24

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:06 pm

Happy birthday, my little Cal-Pal!

I knew it would happen, but I’m afraid the day has come:  I’ve run out of babies.  In fact, one of the reasons we decided to have a third child was to put off the inevitable babylessness.  And now, here we are.  A two-year-old really isn’t a baby anymore.  You’re talking more and more, you’re pretty steady in your running and climbing, and you are becoming very interested in expressing your opinions.

Photo by Gary Clarke

You’re developing a good sense of humor, too.  You’ll burst out laughing if someone in the family says something that tickles you.  You love music, and you can fill in the blanks of so many songs that I sing to you.  One of our favorites is “Bushel and a Peck,” and you especially like the verse with the chickens.  It’s pretty cute to hear you say, “Chickens!  Dickens!”  You’ve also picked up the Oompa Loompa songs, and you toddle around the house singing “Loompa, loompa!”  Another recent favorite is “Walk the Dinosaur” by Was (Not Was).  You point at my phone and say “acka lacka boom” to request it.

You haven’t napped well the last couple of days, which is why this birthday letter is several days late.  In a fit of desperation and exhaustion, I turned on Elmo’s World.  Naturally, since Elmo’s last name is ToddlerCrack, you love it.  Your favorite part is when he talks to babies.

Photo by Denny

Since you’re young yet, I wasn’t sure if you would grasp the concept of birthdays.  We celebrated Miles’s the day before yours, as we’ll do for many years to come.  I thought for sure that when we sang the birthday song to you, you’d say “Miles” in the name portion.  You didn’t, though.  When I look back at the video I made of your family birthday celebration, you’re clearly saying “Callum” and pointing to yourself as we sing.  That represents a pretty big mental leap, yet more evidence that you’re becoming a regular person.

After a long hiatus, I finally got my treadmill fixed.  I was afraid you wouldn’t respond well to having me lock myself behind the gate and watching me run, but you’ve been doing great.  You play with your toys, mostly the food and the play kitchen, and just hang out nicely.  That’s wonderful, because I really need exercise for my mental health, and it kind of negates the feel-good endorphins if there’s a crying baby rattling the bars of the cage.

It’s not all sunshine, of course.  You’ve really embraced the word no, and you even like to make it more emphatic by yelling “NO WAY!”  That was your opinion on the topic of whether we should put on your shoes and coat to go pick up Tobin this morning.  I imagine it’s hard not be in charge of very much, so I can see why you’d want to express your opinions.  You don’t often have much say in our family’s activities.  I’m going to have to start letting you make more choices about things like clothes.  I bet you might like an Elmo shirt.

You are a makeup enthusiast, and you’re getting strong enough to get the lids even off the things I think I’ve closed tightly.  You’ll smear lipstick on your face and say, “Cute!”  You still love to read, and your current favorite books are Curious George and the Pizza, Curious George Visits the Library, and No No, Yes YesNo No, Yes Yes was a first-birthday gift to Miles from Grammy and Pop-Pop, so even though you never got to meet them, it makes me happy that their gift has become special to you.  You’re on board with not pulling on cats’ tails, but you’re not so sure about the no-smearing-lipstick suggestion.

Your other current favorites:  the fried eggs and toast your dad makes, swiping unfinished juice out of your brothers’ cups, climbing on tables, pilfering dangerous objects off counters (e.g., scissors, knives), singing, dancing, and lotion.  You’re so much fun, even though you’re exhausting.  I love having a lap full of little Callum in the morning, even though it’s sometimes hard to pack Miles’s lunch and get Tobin ready for school when you refuse to be anywhere but in my arms.  I like the game we play at the table, where you lead us in different rhythms, tempos, and volumes of table-tapping, and we all try to copy you.  You love to be in charge.  Littlest brothers never think they’re in charge, but they pretty much always are.

Photo by Gary Clarke

You don’t like to wear pants very much.  Maybe some Elmo pants would be a better idea.

Enjoy your toddler life, my little Callum.  I’m so glad we’re together.





The Callum Chronicle #23

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:08 pm

Hello, little Callum,

You have one more month of being one, and it’s a chilly month indeed.  After a warm and gentle fall, winter has arrived.  We bundled up a couple of times to walk to school in 20-degree weather, but you’re not very good at keeping mittens on, so I’m afraid we’re back to driving.  You’re a pretty good sport about all the hauling around of you that we do, but I don’t want to torture you.

We got a Christmas tree last weekend, and we decided you’re old enough now to handle having it in a more accessible location.  Last year we put it back in a corner, all closed in by the hearth and the couch, but this year it’s out in full glory.  There aren’t a lot of ornaments left below the two feet level, but that’s okay.  When I have the time and inclination, I put them back, and ten minutes later they’re off again.

Your personality is really beginning to emerge.  Most of the time you’re easy-going and sweet, though I’ve seen a few glimpses of the Terrible Twos on the horizon.  For example, you love to play on the outdoor toys at Kinderfarm, but now that it’s colder, I don’t want to linger outside.  You’re very adept at “snake,” the passive resistance tool you use to make yourself difficult to hold.  I thought Miles invented it, because he did it too as a toddler, but I guess it’s part of little kid DNA.  You also do it when I want to change your diaper, which is getting more challenging all the time.  I don’t know if you’re quite ready for potty training, but we’ll get there eventually.  In the meantime, I’m getting pretty strong and nimble as I wrangle you.

Photo by Denny

Your favorite hobby these days is listening to books.  You’ve amassed quite a library on the table by the big chair, and you love it when your dad or I reads to you.  You can fill in the blanks of so many books now.  You really like How Do Dinosaurs Make Cookies, Jamberry, a couple of Dr. Seuss books we have, and Goodnight Moon (which is not my favorite but is like crack to kids for some reason).

You’ve been putting different words together really well lately.  You say “yellow coat,” though it sounds more like “lellow coat.”  Last night we watched the movie Home Alone for a family movie night, and I had forgotten about the plot point regarding John Candy’s polka band.  When you saw that big group of guys in their yellow satin jackets, you said “lellow coat” about fourteen times.

You love family movie night mostly for the popcorn.  The mere mention of the word will send you to the cabinet to drag out the popcorn popper.  When we were at Mubby and Skitter’s house for Thanksgiving, you spied Skitter’s popper on a high shelf and immediately knew what it was for.  You can bet you got some popcorn after that display of genius.

Photo by Denny

Another recent interest of yours is identifying the ownership of various objects.  That made me think about how early the concept of ownership comes into our consciousness in this society.  You know exactly what belongs to whom—your dad always uses a certain type of water glass, and when you see one, you say, “Daddy awa.”  You got irritated when your dad corrected you when you said, “Toto shirt,” because it was in fact Miles’s.  To your credit, Tobin does have a very similar one.  Though your own name is still the one you say the least, I have gotten a few “Cals” out of you.  Sometimes you call yourself Cacco.

Photo by Gary Clarke

Your current favorites:  French fries, Kit-Kat bars, lollipops (which you can say really well), reading books, playing with your brothers, the Imaginext Joker’s Laugh Factory (which you call “Haha,” because that’s the sound it makes), and chatting with Mubby and Skitter online (“Online?” you ask whenever you see an open pupu, aka computer).

We’ll be cozy together now that winter is here.  I hope you’ll still cuddle me when you’re two, but just in case, I’ll squeeze you a little extra this month.





The Callum Chronicle #22

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:34 pm

My sweet Callum,

You’re the only one in the family who’s not sad and angry right now, because you don’t pay attention to current events.  I don’t want to swamp your monthly letter in negativity, and I don’t feel capable of discussing the U.S. election right now in hopeful terms.  Right now I’ll focus on something beautiful in our world:  you.

Not surprisingly, Halloween was a big hit with you.  You added a key word to your vocabulary:  Kit Kat.  You’ve been asking for them every day, and lucky for you, your brothers brought in a huge candy haul featuring many Kit Kat bars.  Since I don’t let you have more than one a day (or two if you really earned it and/or I really need to keep you occupied in your high chair for a few minutes), that six-pound bag is going to last quite a while.  I used a bunch of candy in a batch of monster cookies for Miles’s school and for our Family Folk Machine concert, but I left the Kit Kats for you.

Your dad took Miles and Tobin out trick-or-treating, and you went with them.  I told him to feel free to bring you home if you weren’t tolerating the adventure well, and you could help me hand out candy to the neighborhood kids.  You didn’t come back until the big boys had filled their buckets, though, because you loved it as much as they did.  You wore Miles’s old Max costume (from Where the Wild Things Are), and you fit right in when we went to school to help with his class party.  The big kids treated you so sweetly and you had a great time.

You’re learning lots of words lately and are starting to combine words into phrases.  You asked for water (“awa”) the other day, so I filled a cup for you.  You shook your head no, then walked over to the windowsill and said “awa pan.”  It took some gesturing, but I figured out that you meant you wanted to water the plants.  You love watering the plants.  Mostly I only let you do it with an empty watering can, because otherwise they’d drown.

You’ve also been crazy for reading books lately.  Many times a day, you do this cute little backward scootch into someone’s lap with a book in your hands.  You can fill in the blanks in many of them, especially Dr. Seuss’s ABCs.  You don’t really like the “camel on the ceiling” part, or at least you don’t think the picture looks right.  When we get to that part, you always have to grab the book from me and turn it around so the camel is facing the right direction.  You also really like Leslie Patricelli’s Yummy, Yucky.  You can tell us that eggs are “mummy” and earwax is “ucky.”  When we get to the part about cookies/coffee, you agree that the cookies are yummy, but you say the coffee is “‘ot.”  I like your attitude.  Coffee is not yucky at all.  It’s necessary.

We’ve been taking a lot of walks lately, because my treadmill is broken and that’s the only way for me to get any exercise these days.  Luckily it’s been a warm couple of weeks.  You sometimes get antsy in the stroller for our long walks around the neighborhood, but mostly you seem to relax and enjoy it.  You like it when we see dogs and squirrels.  You also like playing with toys, especially the Imaginext Batman toys.  I heard you doing a pretty good imitation of the Joker’s laugh from the big boys’ bedroom.

You love copying your brothers’ activities, but you’re not quite up to the level of responsibility required for everything they do.  You want to write on paper like they do, but you can’t help yourself from chewing the erasers off all our pencils.  I don’t know where the appeal lies in that, but you can’t get enough.  You also do a good job coloring with markers, but if I don’t keep a close eye on you, you write on the furniture (or worse, chew the felt tip off and look like you have a mouth full of tooth rot).  Fortunately, most of our markers are washable and non-toxic.

You give wonderful hugs with tender little pats and gentle cheek touches.  You still love a good game of peekaboo and  sharing a bath with Tobin.  Your current favorite food is dried cranberries (and Kit Kats), you like going on the swings at the park (especially when Miles pushes you), and you’ve been sleeping pretty darn well.

Your sweet face is helping to hold us up in difficult times, my darling little boy.  We’re going to work hard to build a better world for you.




The Callum Chronicle #21

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:12 pm

Dear Callum,

The will has emerged.  You’re still a nice little guy overall, but you’ve discovered the strength of your body and are learning to use it to enact your brain’s desires.  We switched you to a forward-facing car seat earlier this week, because you’ve been falling asleep on our drives to Kinderfarm, which ruins your afternoon nap.  I figured you’d be less likely to fall asleep sitting up and facing forward, and so far it’s been working pretty well.  At least if I see you starting to doze off in the rearview mirror, I can grab your ankle and wiggle it around to wake you up.  You get excited when I tell you it’s time to get into your big-boy car seat.  You call it khaki and you love it.

The downside is that if you happen not to be in the mood to get into it, it’s a lot harder to force you in than it used to be.  Today you really wanted to stay and play at Kinderfarm.  As I tried to put you in the car, you grabbed onto the door and wouldn’t let go.  Then when I finally managed to get you in, you arched your back and tried to climb out of your seat.  You probably could have done that with your rear-facing seat too, but for some reason, this new configuration has brought out the physical side of your protests.

Photo by Gary Clarke

We hadn’t switched you to that seat yet during our recent trip to St. Louis, which is good because you had a good nap in the car on the 4.5-hour drive.  You had a fever our first night there, but that didn’t stop you from having fun.  You especially loved the ramps at the City Museum and the fish at the zoo.  You also had a great time bopping along to live music we stumbled upon at a Mexican restaurant near our rental property.  You love to laugh at your big brothers, and they love to entertain you (most of the time).

We’re almost done with Tobin’s soccer season, which will bum you out because you love the playground at the park adjacent to his practice field.  It’s hard for me, because I really want to watch Tobin play during his games, but you mostly just want to go on the slides.  You recognize the word soccer and immediately reply with “‘lide!” when you hear it.  I try to divide my time between watching Tobin while he plays and taking you to the slide when he’s sitting out.  It won’t be long before you’re out there kicking the ball around, though hopefully you’ll have a little more focus than you do now.

I got out the Max from Where the Wild Things Are that Miles wore when he was your age, and I hope you have fun wearing it this year.  So far you haven’t wanted to keep the hat on, but maybe when you get the whole suit with the fluffy tail, you’ll see the value of the entire ensemble.  You’re probably going to want to go out trick-or-treating with your big brothers, though for the time being I strictly limit your candy consumption, as much for choking-prevention as anything.  You do a good job with the occasional Dum-dum lolly (which you ask for by name), but I don’t want you to know about the existence of Snickers yet.  When Miles was your age, Halloween was the first time he had any candy.  We had to convince him to try Smarties by telling him they tasted like children’s Claritin.  You require no such persuasion, since you’ve been pilfering your brothers’ parade spoils for months now.

It’s definitely candy season, so we’ve been working on brushing your teeth more consistently too.  Your brothers’ dentist said it was okay to put regular fluoridated toothpaste on your toothbrush, even if you can’t effectively spit and rinse, as long as it was only a tiny dab.  You love that, since it means using the same toothpaste as Miles and Tobin.  The tough part is getting you to let go of the toothbrush when we’re done.  Most of the time I’m too distracted with other bedtime tasks to get it away from you before you dash off to your next activity, and the brush ends up in the bottom of the Lego bucket or something.  So hygienic, I’m sure.

Your current favorites:  pepperoni pizza, chicken, rice, grapes, your board books (especially The Very Hungry Caterpillar, due to the presence of ice cream, This Little Chick, and Cat the Cat, What’s Your Sound?), saying bye and/or night-night to everyone in the family before bed, baths, saying thank you to the bakery employees at Hy-Vee after your free cookie, trying out new words, and dumping out all the toys your dad and I try to put away.  I think this drives your dad especially nuts, since he likes to tidy things up in a very organized fashion, and you have very little respect for that position.

The house is in chaos most of the time.  That’s the way it goes.

The cooler days are coming, my little guy.  Your big brothers have been requesting hot chocolate, and while I can still satisfy you with marshmallows for now, I know it won’t be long before you notice that they have something you don’t and you’re dumping cocoa all over your tray.

Photo by Denny

Let’s keep sliding together.







The Callum Chronicle #20

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:01 am

My sweet Callum,

You have had an explosion of language lately.  It’s so cute to hear you say all your words—not all of them are traditional, but you say so many consistent things in perfect context that we know just what you mean.  One of the best phrases is “thank you,” which you say now every time someone gives you something.  It’s not just an immediate Pavlovian response either.  A few minutes ago I gave you a cracker, and after eating it, you realized you hadn’t thanked me.  You got my attention and said, “Tankyoo.”

You have new words for your brothers, too:  Mamou and Toto.  You’ve known and loved them as people for a long time, and now you can talk about them all the better.  I’ve even gotten you to say Cal a couple of times (no mooing).  The other day we were sitting at the table and I was leafing through a Food & Wine magazine.  I turned to a page with a photo of penne pasta, and you looked at it and said, “Mamou!”  I thought that was pretty smart:  you recognized the food and wanted to let me know that you’d spied Miles’s favorite.

You like penne too, but I think your favorite food is pizza.  We went out for dinner last night and ordered with the plan to have lots of leftovers, because tonight is going to be busy, and I wanted a quick and easy dinner.  Little did we know that ordering a small thin-crust pepperoni, a small thick-crust multi-topping, and a bowl of pasta (for Mamou) would leave only two measly slices left over.  This was thanks largely to you, since you got through more of the pepperoni than we expected.  We’re having sandwiches tonight.

You’re adventurous and friendly, quick to shout “hi” to passersby, human or otherwise.  We went to Wilson’s Orchard earlier this week, and there was a friendly cat whom you loved petting.  You also really like Stella, the big St. Bernard at Kinderfarm.  Now you take umbrage when neighborhood cats won’t come let you pet them when we’re out for walks in the stroller.

You’ve been enjoying the outdoors on these nice fall days.  We hung around at Miles’s school playground today after pickup for an impromptu playdate, and even though you didn’t have any shoes on because I wasn’t expecting to take you out of the stroller, you loved it.  You cried when I stuck you back in, because apparently walking barefoot on wood chips is a-okay with you.  You love music and dancing, even the silly little songs I sing to pass the minutes and hours of our days.  Most of the time you request “more, more!” even if it’s nothing more than “wiping off your little buns” to the tune of “London Bridge.”  You do a good job making me feel like an accomplished song parodyist.

The whole family has been suffering from allergies this year, particularly in the last week or so.  The weather has cooled off enough that we’ve had the windows open, which is great for breezes but not so great for allergens.  I give you children’s Zyrtec every night before bed, which helps a lot, but we’re been going through lots of Kleenex regardless.  You finally cut the canine teeth that had been hovering under the surface of your gums for what felt like months, so that’s helped.  You’ve been sleeping well, all cuddled up to me.  I love having you next to me, even though you can be a bit of a bed hog.

You love doing dangerous things like climbing up to the top bunk of your brothers’ bed and trying to slide out with no help.  You want to climb step stools and jump on the futon and mess around with video game controllers.  Just now, I told Miles to come downstairs and practice piano.  You were perfectly happy playing with Play-Doh, but as soon as you heard me say the word piano, you ran over and took up a spot on the piano bench so Miles couldn’t practice.  You are a stinker, but you’re awfully cute.

You have developed a strong bond with Skittergramps lately.  You love talking with him and Mubby via Skype, and whenever we pass the computer (“pupu”), you ask for Giga (Skitter).  I usually tell you that I’ll check to see if he’s online.  You get so disappointed if he’s not.  You actually shook your little fists with rage when he wasn’t there to talk to you the other day.

As usual, you go wherever the gang goes.  Tonight you’re coming to a PTO meeting with me, which may or may not be a disaster.  They’re serving pizza since it’s the first meeting of the school year, so maybe that will keep you busy for a while.  Tobin’s soccer season is starting this week too, so I’m sure I’ll find myself running around the park trying to keep you managed.  We went to Tot Time last week and plan to go again, because now you’re old enough to really enjoy it.  Life is getting more and more fun now that you’re becoming an active participant.  Tankyoo very much for being my little guy.

Photo by Denny




The Callum Chronicle #19

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:18 pm

My dear Callum,

We’re rounding out the second half of your second year now.  Your dad and I were talking about how our numbering/birthday system is a little confusing.  You’ll be two on your next birthday, but that actually celebrates the completion of your second year.  In any case, I’m enjoying this time with you.  Whoever said the twos are terrible has clearly never met a three- or four-year-old.  I know the challenging preschool years will be upon us soon, so for the time being, I’m soaking up your sweet little toddler self.

You’re a little copycat these days.  You naturally want to do everything your brothers do.  Lately I’ve seen you making tapping motions with your finger and saying “aye tee tee aye tee tee.”  I realized you’re mimicking your brothers typing the password into our family computer.  I won’t publish our password on the open Internet, but you’ve definitely got the right idea.  When you get a hold of my makeup sponge, you bounce it over your face just like one of the YouTube pros.  You will only eat now if you have a plate and fork on your high chair tray.  You’re becoming a big boy.

Due to some logistical weirdness, there will be a time next week when we only have my little car.  We can’t fit three car seats in there if one of them is your big, rear-facing infant seat.  The other day, you, Tobin and I tried out a configuration that involved you in the front-facing toddler seat and Miles and Tobin in boosters.  The recommendation is that you remain rear-facing till two, which is longer than either of your brothers stayed rear-facing.  The recommendation, which had previously been that a child remain in a rear-facing seat until age one,  changed after we had already switched Miles to front-facing.  Iowa law isn’t specific on the topic as long as you’re in a car seat of some kind, so I think we’ll give this configuration a try, at least for that brief period when your dad is out of town and we haven’t gone to Mubby and Skitter’s yet.  You’re going to love it.  Your brothers are going to love it for sure, since you’ve been kicking them mercilessly from your rear-facer for the last month or two.

Maybe you’ll keep your shoes on for longer than five minutes in the car if they’re not right up in your face, too.  Let’s hope.  It’s pretty frustrating to arrive at our destination, crawl into the back seat to get you out, and realize you’ve flung your shoes somewhere into the murky depths of sports equipment, coloring pages, and receipts that is our car.

You’re still curious and excited about the world, though for some reason you are strongly opposed to me taking a shower.  I don’t know why—you’ll play with your brothers happily throughout my whole exercise session, but as soon as my run is over and I want to take a shower, you will not have it.  One issue is that I’ve banned you from the bathroom while I shower, because you won’t keep the shower curtain closed, and I don’t want to destroy our floors from water exposure.

You also get suddenly clingy when I’m in the bathroom trying to get ready for the day.  I’ve gotten pretty good at doing basic hygiene tasks with a twenty-five pound kid on my hip, but if my eyeliner looks wonky, I blame you.

Your brothers and I worked hard on a video that features all your crazy adventures.  You’ve watched “The Exploring Baby” about forty times in the last three days.  You can even fill in the blanks when I sing phrases and leave out words.  It was fun to do, and I’m already imagining playing it on a loop at your high school graduation party/wedding/other major occasion.  I don’t think there’s anything too embarrassing in it, except maybe brief shot of you in just a diaper.

YouTube Preview Image

Your big brothers will be going back to school soon, and it’ll be just you and me for several mornings each week.  I’m looking forward to long walks around the neighborhood as the fall mornings grow more palatable.  I’m also hoping you and Tobin and I can do some Tuesday morning Tot Time sessions, now that you’re big enough to really take part.

Your current favorites:  blueberries, ice cream, stir-fry, peaches, baths, faking me out (e.g., holding something out to me, snatching it back, and laughing), waving and saying “bye bye,” attempting the “I love you” ASL sign and saying “I you,” looking at pictures of your cousins, and petting the big St. Bernard at Kinderfarm named Stella.  You’ve also gotten really into books lately, and you’ll often hand a book to your dad or me and ask us to read it.  You really like Who Says That, Cat the Cat? right now.

Have a good month, my little chub-chub.  I’m so glad I have you around.






The Callum Chronicle #18

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:38 pm

Dear Callum,

You’re one and a half, little fellow!  You’ve been so busy lately, running around all over the place, climbing anything you can, and saying all kinds of new words.  You even invented your own ASL-esque sign:  you grab your wrist and spread your other hand.  It means hot.  You mostly use it to describe food, but you also do it when we go out in hot weather.  For a while you were describing any extreme temperature as hot.  You grabbed a fistful of ice cream and yelled “‘ot!”  I think you’ve got it mostly sorted out now, though.

As usual, your month has largely consisted of tagging along to your brothers’ activities.  You handle it well, though, and a lot of times you score a treat (ice cream, play time at the playground near Tobin’s tee-ball field).  You love Justin Roberts now, like your brothers before you, and you like to point to the computer or stereo speakers and ask for “popeye” (“Pop Fly,” one of his best songs and videos). I hope he plays a concert somewhere near us soon, because I know you’d love it.

We had the unusual opportunity of having you as our only kid in the house for most of last week.  Your big brothers spent time at Mubby and Skittergramps’s house, and that meant it was like the old days on Friendship Street.  I can hardly remember, but it seemed so quiet.  It was way easier to stay on top of messes and generally keep things organized.  One time I even got bored.  It was the weirdest thing.  I ended up taking you to HyVee even though we didn’t need anything, and we just strolled around with the grocery cart while you ate one of the free bakery cookies.  I didn’t feel too bad about that, since every other time I’ve gone to HyVee I’ve bought something I didn’t need.  You definitely know where the cookies are, and even if we start our shopping trip with you clean, you’re a little crumb-covered urchin by the end.

I think you missed your brothers a lot, because you got very excited when we Skyped with them.  I know they missed you too, because the first thing Miles did upon his return was rush to you and snuggle you up.  When we decided to have you, my thoughts were mostly about how having a third child would affect my life—how old your dad and I would be when you graduated from high school, how we’d have to find money for a third college education (not to mention preschool), whether we’d be too old and decrepit to keep up with you.  I didn’t really think about how having a baby around would affect your brothers, but I think it’s been really good for them.  Miles especially just dotes on you.  You try to say his name, even though it comes out more as “aisle.”  I know the three of you are going to be life-long friends.  That’s an important gift I can give you, so even long after I’m gone, you’ll have each other.

I don’t plan to be gone for a long time, though, and part of that strategy involves daily exercise.  This summer, Miles and Tobin have been around to help keep you occupied during my basement treadmill runs, but Tobin has been complaining about the responsibility.  Today I decided to give them the day off, and I took you downstairs and let them keep playing upstairs.  You were not so excited about this plan.  You did okay playing for some of the time, but for a good chunk of the session you stood by the protective fence and yelled at me.  You got your leg stuck in there at one point.  I hope you get over that attitude by the time they go to school in the fall.

Your initial personality seems to be holding thus far:  you’re still mostly pleasant, easygoing, and sweet.  You’re generous with the hugs and kisses these days, not only with your family members, but with your doll and stuffed animals.  You make a cradling motion when we talk about taking care of babies.  Your brothers can make you laugh more easily than anyone.  Miles has this toothbrushing dance he does for you that has made for some messes in the hallway, but you love it so much I can’t bear to tell him to stop.  Maybe he could do the moves while not actually brushing his teeth.

We went blueberry picking at a farm outside of town last week, and you ate so many blueberries (ripe and unripe) that I thought you were going to pull a Violet Beauregard.  They had been your favorite food for weeks, but now you don’t seem quite as enthusiastic about them.  Maybe you got overloaded.  I made you a blueberry cake for your half-birthday and you liked that pretty well, but the cream cheese frosting probably helped.

Your current favorites:  ice cream, barbecue chips (“bips”), anything your brothers are doing, climbing the furniture, reading books (especially Jamberry, Dr. Seuss’s ABCs, and the picture book with photos of Tobin in it), Justin Roberts music, splash-splash baths, faking that you’re ready to get out of the bathtub and then laughing and saying “naw-naw” when I reach for you.

You’re silly and fun, and I’ve really enjoyed watching you develop and grow this summer.  It was very special having almost a week with just you.  You’re a wonderful little guy, and I know you’ve got a lot more to share with us.

Sometimes I have to share your ice cream so it doesn’t fall on the floor.  That’s okay.






The Callum Chronicle #17

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:09 pm

My little Callum-puppy,

It’s been a month of learning and growing for you.  I just remarked to your dad that I’m impressed with how well you communicate.  You use a good mix of nonverbal (nodding, shaking your head, and ASL signs) and verbal methods.  Your vocabulary has increased a lot lately.  You now say a lot of your favorite foods (blueberry, strawberry, noodle), and you just started saying thank you.  It’s not quite in context yet—you usually say it as you hand something to me, probably because that’s when you’re accustomed to hearing me say it.  It’s very cute in any case.

You give really good hugs and kisses, and you like to punctuate your hugs with little pats on the back and shoulders of whoever is receiving the hug.  You can climb up big staircases, including the one that leads to the top bunk of your brothers’ bed.  You still don’t have much for self control.  Four times this week I’ve let you get out of my sight, only to find you in my bathroom drinking from a discarded Dixie cup that you filled with water you got by loosening the toilet pipes.  That is a huge problem on so many levels.  Just ask for water, Callum.  I know you’re proud of getting it yourself, but you can sign for it, and you make a great slurping nose with pursed lips that also communicates thirst clearly.  I would be happy to get you water by one of the many normal means we have available.

Every time you’ve done it, I’ve scolded you harshly, which makes you cry, but thus far it hasn’t made you stop trying to do it.  Now I’m just trying to remember to close the bathroom door.  That makes you stand outside the door and cry.  Sorry, dude.  It’s not worth rotting out the floor.

We’re finally over your disgusting bout of hand-foot-mouth disease.  I have to say, that is one of the most challenging illnesses a kid in our family has had.  I am so grateful, of course, that we haven’t had to deal with anything more serious, but dang that was nasty.  You were up multiple times per night for at least two weeks straight scratching your poor little arms and legs.  We went through a lot of Benadryl cream.  You developed a taste for Children’s Zyrtec, which the doctor recommended as a better itch reducer than Claritin.  Now you want to carry the bottle around all the time.

We went to a wedding on your dad’s side of the family last weekend, and I so appreciated your easy-going nature.  You were happy to let anyone play with you and carry you around, even people you don’t see very often.  You certainly have your moments of demanding mama, but you do great with sociability a lot of the time too.  You had a great time dancing at the wedding and playing out in the country at a gathering the next day.  You liked the dogs and cats and rope swing.

It’s gotten hot out now, and my plan was to take you and your brothers to the splash pad, but now I’m thinking it might be too hot for that.  Maybe we’ll get out to Twilight Swim at the City Park pool soon.  You’re big enough now to have a lot of fun in the baby pool,  I bet.  In the meantime, you’ve been enjoying your share of ice cream and other cooling treats.  Yesterday, during our weekly trip to Dairy Queen before Miles’s piano lesson, I thought you would lose your mind if I didn’t let you hold my ice cream cone.  Before, you’d always been happy to get spoonfuls from my cone, but I think the time has come when I’m going to have to get you one of your own.

On the last day of school for Miles and Tobin, we celebrated with a trip to Heyn’s.  Everyone on the east side of Iowa City stole our idea, because the line was huge.  I left the stroller outside and held you while we waited in line, and it about killed you to be so close to the ice cream without getting any.  “I-kee, I-kee” you said over and over, pointing at the glass case where you just knew the ice cream is stored.  We did get to the front of the line eventually, and you got plenty of bites.

Photo by Gary Clarke

Your current favorites:  playing with grownup things (my phone, chopsticks, other people’s shoes, keys) and ignoring all your toys, pizza and peanut butter toast crusts, going outside, climbing up and down stairs, pour water into your high chair tray, twisting around to find the owls on your changing pad cover right when I’m trying to change your diaper, dancing, eating garden strawberries, and giving sweet kisses.  Last night you accidentally bonked Tobin on the head with your Zyrtec bottle, and you kissed him right on his owie.

You’re a great little guy, Callum.  Thanks for your patience this summer as we run around to all your brothers’ activities.  I’ll make sure you get some good ice cream out of the deal.




The Callum Chronicle #16

Filed under: — Aprille @ 7:13 pm

Oh, my little Callum.

We’re going through a rough patch right now with your health.  I don’t know what’s wrong with your tiny immune system, but it seems like you’ve been sick more than you’ve been healthy for your whole little life.  Right now is particularly bad.  You came down with a bad rash all over your arms, legs, and face.  It’s very itchy and has made it almost impossible for you to sleep.  This, of course, makes it almost impossible for your dad and me to sleep.  Your dad, knowing how useless I am if I don’t get enough sleep, was up very nearly the whole night with you last night.  He tried to get you to sleep at the usual time, but after a while he came and woke me up and said he wanted to take you to the emergency room.  You were thrashing and scratching and crying, and neither of us could do a thing to calm you down.

You guys spent a couple of hours in the ER while I stayed home with your brothers.  He told me to try to sleep, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to while you were anywhere but safe at home.  Complicating my crummy personality when I don’t get enough sleep, I am a Princess and the Pea when it comes to sleeping circumstances.  I can’t sleep unless things are perfect.  When you’re not with me, things are definitely not perfect.

After a few thousand years, your dad called to update me.  He said, “Well, the good news is that he’s not that sick.”  He didn’t have to tell me the bad news:  there’s nothing we can do to help you.  Apparently it’s just some kind of virus or allergic reaction, and we just have to let it run its course.  We figured out this morning that Benadryl cream seems to help more than oral Benadryl, so we’ll try that tonight and hope for the best.  You’ve been pretty cheerful when it’s not the middle of the night, but you look disgusting (or as disgusting as the cutest baby in the universe can look).  We’re supposed to go to Miles’s school for a music demonstration tomorrow, and he really wants us to go, but you look like you fell in a vat of poison ivy.  I guess if you’re acting okay, we’ll be brave and show up.

You’ve been saying a lot of words lately.  It seems like every day or two you add a new one.  A favorite lately has been “do[g],” which you shout whenever we see one when we’re out on our daily walks.  The other day we passed by a house that had a cartoony little dog sign on the lawn chastising dog owners for letting their pets poop there.  You saw the sign and said “do[g].”  I thought that was pretty smart.  It only looked a little like a dog.  It was two-dimensional, about four inches high, in profile, and a line drawing.  It was a pretty long mental leap for you to realize that such a thing represented a living creature.

You also love to look at and identify squirrels, which sounds more like cull, but it’s consistent.  We also have a new game of shaking our fists at rabbits in the yard.  Fortunately, the fence Tobin and I built seems to be keeping them out of the garden, but it’s still fun to share in our outrage.

You’re brave and sweet and love trying to keep up with your brothers.  They’re pretty great about helping you on the playground and around the house.  Miles carries you around even when you’d do fine walking on your own.  You just smile and let him.  Except when you can’t sleep because you’re so uncomfortable, you’re a very relaxed and go-with-the-flow guy.  You’re going to love having more time with your brothers this summer.  We probably won’t be able to take as many long walks together, but we’ve got all kinds of things planned.

I truly hope you can get some good sleep tonight, my sweet little boy.  It’s such an awful feeling to sit there with you crying in my arms, completely unable to console you.  Last night I really wanted to give your dad a chance to sleep, since he’d been up with you for so long, but I just couldn’t handle it.  I had tried every trick I could think of, bouncing and rocking and singing and nursing and cuddling and cold compresses and baking soda and hydrocortisone and ibuprofen and everything.  When your dad heard me crying louder than you, he came and rescued us.

He’s a really good husband and father.  Good job picking him, Cal.  We’ve got a heckuva support system.

Your current favorites:  spending time outside (though spring allergens may be one of the causes of our current turmoil), string cheese, Honey Nut Cheerios, the books Jamberry and Goodnight Moon, stacking rings, and giving really fantastic hugs and kisses.

Now please, let’s get some sleep tonight, little Callum.  I’ll do my best to help you feel good, and you just relax.




The Callum Chronicle #15

Filed under: — Aprille @ 7:07 pm

Hi, Mr. Toddler.

You are an adventure baby for sure now.  I can’t remember the last time you crawled, except vertically.  Your favorite destinations these days are the grown-up chairs in the living room and the top bunk.  You’re still not so great at getting down, which makes the bunk bed problematic.  You’re pretty proud of yourself when you do big-boy things, though.  You always have to look back to make sure someone saw your most recent limits-stretching accomplishment.

I started making a list, and you have ten words that you say pretty consistently now:  mama, dada, bubba (that one’s new), ca-cuh (cracker), Do (Tobin), ah done, uh-oh, up, out, and apple.  You definitely understand a whole lot more than that, too.  You know how to both shake and nod your head now, and you answer questions with better-than-random accuracy.  You’ve become a very good nonverbal communicator, using signs and other gestures like waving and blowing kisses.  You can identify different body parts, though you get your nose and your teeth confused sometimes.

Recently, Tobin filled up the whole living room with stuffed animals and gave them all names.  You got especially interested in two of them, a funny monster and a rabbit.  I tested you this morning and you got them both right.  You were able to go find “Mr. Grumpy” and “Carrot Eater” on the first try.

Well, this picture just reminded me that you also say hat.  I guess you know eleven words.

Like your brothers, you had lots of fun on our vacation.  You put in some good beach and pool time.  You were a little nervous about the ocean at first, but it wasn’t long before you charged right in.  You also became a fan of Key lime pie, which I can’t say is a surprise.  It’s delicious.  You did a good job on our flights, overall.  You got a little loud toward the end of our flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Chicago, but you didn’t scream and cry or anything.  You just got bored and were not interested in staying in your seat.  I wasn’t either, but we got through it.  You liked the Chinese food at O’Hare.

You’re lying next to me now, trying to breathe through your stuffy nose.  We’ve had one cold after another this winter/spring, and I think a new one has descended on the household.  You, your dad, Tobin and I are all stuffed up.  One of the hardest things about sharing germs the way we do is that being sick ruins your sleep, which therefore ruins my sleep, just when I need sleep the most so I can better take care of you.  Your dad has been putting in extra hours with you at night so I can get some rest, and I dearly appreciate it.  It does seem like maybe you’re getting the hang of breathing out of your mouth, which is good because it’s basically the only way you’ve been able to get any oxygen for the last six months.

You’re so cute, though.  I can’t believe what a sweetheart you are.  You’re friendly and outgoing, and you love to wave at friends and strangers alike.  You tolerate being held by a wide variety of people, and I haven’t met anyone yet who can resist picking you up when you stretch your arms out.  I have to run a little screening process to keep it to people we know.

You’re popular at Family Folk Machine.  The big kids vie for your attention, and you’ve made a habit lately of toddling up to me while I’m singing.  It should probably be annoying, but I can’t help scooping you up and cuddling you.  You’re one of the Family Folk Machine gang.  I should order you a shirt.

Your current favorites:  water from your special cup (you request it by saying “aaah”), water from other people’s water bottles, blurples on your thighs, string cheese, stir-fry, ice cream, the free cookies at Hy-Vee while we shop, and playing outside.  Today you went down the big twirly slide on Tobin’s lap several times.  We had to come home from the playground because you wouldn’t stop trying to get in the creek.  That’s not totally out of the realm of possibility, but let’s at least wait until it’s eighty degrees or higher.

You’re a lot of fun, little Callum.  We’re going to have a good summer together.  Just wait till your brothers let you share some Flavor Ice.  It’s going to blow your mind.  You’re probably going to try to jump into the arms of the friendly Flavor Ice proprietress.




The Callum Chronicle #14

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:34 pm

Dear Callum,

Yesterday I was at Miles’s school taking photos for the yearbook, and a group of fifth-grade girls started cooing over you.  That’s nothing new—you’re very coo-worthy.  But you enjoyed the attention as usual, and as usual, you were pretty well behaved as I carted you around the school getting my work done.  The girls asked what your name is, and when I told them, their eyes grew wide and they got sly, approving smiles on their faces.  Apparently there’s some teen heartthrob named Callum.  We didn’t realize that when we named you, but you make my heart throb, so I guess it’s okay.

Photo by Gary Clarke

You made my entire body throb with exhaustion over the last couple of weeks, because you’ve been sick yet again.  I don’t know if it’s all the germs your brothers bring home from school, or your bad habit of putting communal toys in your mouth in public play areas, or the fact that you were a c-section birth and didn’t get exposed to all the helpful bacteria you were supposed to.  Maybe it’s a combination of all those, but it seems like you’ve been sick as much as you’ve been healthy in your short life.  Fortunately you’ve never had anything seriously wrong.  You’ve never even been on antibiotics, save for the course you got shortly after birth for some reason or another.

You had a goopy eye situation, and I took you to the clinic to have it looked at.  The PA there said that he could prescribe you antibiotic eyedrops, but that they weren’t really necessary and the infection would clear up on its own.  I decided to keep dribbling breastmilk into your eyes and wait it out.  That seemed to do the trick, because your eyes look great now.  You also had a very stuffy nose, which made sleeping difficult for you (and me and your dad).  Your dad spent many hours semi-sleeping with you in the recliner, which helped you a little by keeping your head elevated.  Thankfully, you’re breathing much better now.  You still have a phlegmy cough, but your spirits are back up, and at least your nose is working.

The weather has been all over the place here, with snow and 70-degree temperatures in the same 30-day period.  It’s been great getting out side more often.  I really miss our morning walks, so I’ve enjoyed doing a couple of those again.  You seem happy outside most of the time.  In just a few days we’re heading to the beach, and you’ll get to experience your first time splashing in the ocean and playing the sand.  I let you walk around outside barefoot a little bit yesterday, and you seemed surprised by the sensation.  Sand is going to be even weirder, trust me.  Just remember not to eat it.

You’re still in a clingy stage and you’re still pretty mama-centric, but you’ve been doing some good branching out too.  Your vocabulary includes “Dada” and “Doh” (Tobin), and you love to look out the window for your dad as he approaches from the bus stop in the afternoon.  I can’t even hold you up to that window any other time, because you immediately crane your neck to find your dad, saying “Dada” over and over.  I don’t like to torture you, so I try to limit that position to when your dad is actually on his way.

You also say “Doh” when we’re outside Tobin’s school, and he’s someone who’s really special to you.  You love Miles too, but you haven’t mastered his name yet.  Don’t worry; it took him a while to get it too.  You haven’t made any consistent attempt at saying “Callum” yet either.  Maybe you’re self-conscious about the teen heartthrob comparison.

Your current favorites:  blueberries, crusts from Tobin’s peanut butter toast, drinking out of your cup with a straw, any kind of music or rhythmic sound (the slightest suggestion of music still makes you dance), and walking long distances.  You’re really a walking champ now, and you barely crawl at all.  You really, really wanted to help make your dad’s birthday cupcakes the other day.  You climbed up onto the stepstool Tobin had gotten out, and Tobin did a very good job keeping you from tumbling to your doom.  You did a pretty good job on the cupcake last night, too.

Photo by Gary Clarke

You have a great face full of wonderful expressions.  You’re funny and silly and usually in a good mood.  You’re a delight in so many ways, and I can’t wait for you to be my little beach boy.




The Callum Chronicle #13

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:42 pm

My sweet Callum-a-zoo,

Happy thirteen months, sweetie!  It’s been a really big month for you.  At your one-year well-child checkup, I was mildly concerned, because one of the developmental questions was whether you could say a word or two.  You hadn’t said any yet, and while I wasn’t super worried, your speech (or lack thereof) was on my radar.

As is so often the case, my worrying was unfounded.  About a week after your appointment, you took off, literally and figuratively.  You can walk short-to-medium distances now—we stopped counting at 14 steps, but I bet you can do even more.  You save your best walking for your brothers.  You squeal as you walk toward either one of them, your arms up in the air.  You love to collapse into a big hug at the end.  They’re about as proud of you as you are of yourself.

Best of all, you said your first consistent word:  mama.  I’ve been waiting eight years for a baby to have mama as his first word, and my last baby came through for me.  I suspect that your dad knew how much it would mean to me and coached you in that area, but I’m not complaining.

You also say up when you want to be picked up, buh for brother, Do for Tobin, and Muh for Miles.  You say ah duh and do the ASL sign for “all done” when you’re finished eating or doing anything else.  I’m not completely sure whether you’ve said dada yet or not, but it’ll come.  You definitely get excited when I hold you up to the window so you can see him walking home from the bus stop.  You have fully embraced the “pew pew stinky feet” game, and you always prompt me with an ooooooh for the second foot (“Oooooh, so niiiiice”).

You’re active and full of mischief these days.  You love to explore the bathroom, unraveling toilet paper and upending garbage cans.  Today we went out for lunch, and you were playing with some crayons.  Time after time, you held one up near your mouth, looked at me, and waited for me to tell you not to eat it.  I don’t think it ever went into your mouth, so I guess you’re getting the point.  You even did some coloring.  Tobin was pretty thrilled about that.

You’re a great eater for the time being.  You are now at the stage where you can eat pretty much whatever your dad and I have at meals, minus anything really spicy.  You’ve enjoyed pork chops, green beans, oranges, rice, bread, crackers, apples, chicken, pizza, and all kinds of other things.  Your brothers love to share ice cream with you.  You’ve also gotten really good at drinking from a straw.  I bought you a special cup that has a toddler-friendly straw built into it, and you grab onto that thing and suck like a little Hoover.  It’s a good skill to have.

I was re-reading your very first Callum Chronicle yesterday.  We’ve certainly come a long way since those challenging first weeks.  Now we just deal with the daily struggles of life with three smart, energetic, emotional, sometimes frustrating boys.  Our days of having an infant are done, and while I miss your tiny little self, this last month has been really great.  Watching you clear these developmental hurdles is so rewarding.  I love watching you smile and laugh and communicate in all the ways you know.  One of my favorite of your quirks is the way you dance to any music you hear, or even anything rhythmic.  I often pump breastmilk to donate to babies in need, and the sounds of the pump are enough to get you moving.  You dance when anyone is singing under his or her breath, at Family Folk Machine rehearsals, and when Miles practices piano.  I love that you feel so much joy you just have to wiggle it out.

Spring is coming, my little love, and you’re going to tear the playground up.  Before that, though, you’ll get to experience your first plane trip and first dip in the ocean.  That’s still a ways out, but you can bet it’s going to be well-documented.  I went through boxes of your brothers’ old clothes last night, and I’m looking forward to putting your chubby little legs into some shorts and watching you toddle on the sand.

We’ll stay bundled up for the time being, though, because there’s an Arctic blast headed our way.  I’ll keep you warm if you keep me warm.




The Callum Chronicle #12

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:26 pm

Happy birthday, special Callum!

As expected, your twelfth month has led to some exciting new opportunities.  You’ve now had a “cocktail” (the Mubby special:  shaved ice and orange juice), ice cream, cake, a variety of bread products, and even a bite of Tobin’s cookie at Hy-Vee today.  You still like healthy food, too.  You ate lots of vegetables at dinner last night, and all the great citrus available this time of year has been really popular with you too.

Photo by Gary Clarke

Some people believe a kid’s personality at one year is a good indicator of the general temperament that will continue through his or her entire life.  I’d have to look back at any notes I made about your brothers’ personalities to know if that’s held true for them.  As for you, I’d describe your current personality as sweet, calm, curious, and easy-going.  At least you’re easy-going when there’s someone around to entertain you.  You’ve been clingy to me during our mornings at home together for the last couple of months.  I haven’t been able to run on the treadmill because you just stand against the safety fence and scream.  All my exercise lately has been walking on the treadmill with you strapped to my chest.  It’s a good workout, sure, but you always fall asleep, and sometimes I want you to skip morning nap to better serve the day’s schedule.  Then, when I’m done exercising, you stand with your head in the shower, crying continuously until I get out.  You’re always soaking wet by then, and on these cold days, that’s not a very happy situation either.

At recent holiday gatherings, though, you’ve shown no such grumpiness.  I don’t know that I’m the one you specifically want; you just can’t stand not to have someone adoring you.  I guess that’s what life with two doting big brothers does to a person.  All through the various family parties, you were happy to have anyone hold you and play with you.

You might (might) have taken a step on your own this weekend, but it would be an exaggeration to call it walking.  You have, however, taken an interest in walking while holding someone’s hands.  You’re still not very steady on your feet, though you’re pretty good at standing unassisted in one place.  Miles loves to walk with you, and it’s nice for him to do it since you two are closer to the same height.  He doesn’t have to bed over as much as your dad and I do.  I don’t know if it’s the age difference or the birthday proximity or just the way you guys are, but you and Miles have a really special relationship.  You love big brother Tobin too, but Miles has taken such delight in having you around.  You’re really lucky to have each other.

It seems like we’ve been dealing with one illness after another since about Halloween.  Luckily most of them haven’t been serious, just runny noses and coughs.  I pulled an enormous, rock-hard booger out of your nose this morning, so hopefully having that out of your skull will help your respiration.  It’s been hard to get a good night’s sleep, because you get pretty thrashy when you’re not feeling your best.  You can also be a bit of a bed hog.

I don’t mind, though.  Your warm little body next to mine is just what I need on these cold nights, even if you sometimes smack me in the face with your flailing fists.

You’re getting better and better at “big boy” things, like playing on the equipment in the middle of Sycamore Mall (or whatever it’s called now).  You and Tobin and I have lunch dates at Panera once a week or so, and we usually take some time afterward to go play.  You think everything is a climbing toy, and you would scramble up onto the play picnic table and twirl around the center pole if I’d let you.  You think it’s pretty neat to be able to do the same things Tobin does.  Unfortunately, that play area has plastic fruit just like the library, and you sure find those things attractive.  Not wanting a repeat of the Vomiting Horrors of ’15, I try really hard to keep them out of your mouth.

I saw the birth story I wrote about my experience giving birth to you, and I couldn’t bring myself to read it.  It’s a less painful memory as time goes on, but it’s still a little too fresh to relive.  I have to remind myself what a wonderful outcome I got—I’m so grateful for modern medicine, because who knows whether either of us would have survived the ordeal without the expertise of the skilled surgeons who took care of us.  I’m also very glad that it happened with my last baby and not my first, because I have zero desire to ever do that again.

But I am so, so happy to have you.  Your smile and laugh are why I do everything I do.  You invented a new game just yesterday.  After one of our treadmill walks, I partially unstrap you and lay you down on your back on the bed.  Yesterday, as I leaned over you to finish unstrapping myself, you grabbed the shoulder straps and gave a tug.  That pulled my face down to yours.  I kissed your fat little cheeks and neck, and you laughed and laughed.  I leaned back up, and you pulled me back down:  more kisses, more laughter.  We repeated this again and again.  I needed it.  I was sad about David Bowie dying and a dreamed I’d just had about a deceased friend.  There’s nothing that perks a mommy up like her sweet little son inventing a game that gets him more kisses.

It’s been a blur of a year with you, my little love, and I’m so glad to have had it.  I’ll kiss you until you won’t let me anymore, and then I’ll blow you kisses until you yank me back.  If you don’t yank me back, then watch out, because I’ll be the one yanking.  This is all predicated on you using a Baby Bjorn forever.  We might have to look into the next size up.

Photo by Gary Clarke

Love forever and ever,



The Callum Chronicle #11

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:59 pm

My sweet Callum,

As much as I want you to stay my baby, my last baby, for whom every first is a last first for me, I’m pretty excited about your birthday next month.  With two big brothers, you see a lot of things happening that you aren’t allowed to do.  While I still don’t plan to let you take a bath by yourself or climb onto the highest reaches of the playground equipment, I’m finally going to be able to say yes when you really, really want a bite of ice cream.  That’s going to be pretty big.  We always get Dairy Queen during the half-hour we have to kill between picking Miles up from school and his Thursday-afternoon piano lesson, and as of yet, none has passed through your lips.  You actually haven’t been too upset about that.  What’s harder for you is watching Tobin eat one of the free cookies at HyVee right next to you in the shopping cart.  I don’t know if you will be able to deal with a whole cookie right away, but next month, you’ll be allowed to try a little nibble.

Speaking of little nibbles, you still have just four teeth.  I was reading your brothers’ eleven-month updates, and Tobin had six at this stage.  Maybe it’s a summer versus winter baby thing, but you still chug along with your two on top and two on bottom.  You do fine, though.   You like to eat all kinds of different things, including rotisserie chicken, vegetable beef soup, oranges, apples, rice, plain Cheerios, and SnaPeas.   SnaPeas (these crunchy, salty snacks that may contain some actual pea) are your favorites.  After you eat a few, you always want a drink of water.  I’ve tried both sippy cups and traditional open cups with you, and there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference in terms of mess.  You don’t usually spill them straight from the cup; rather, you get a mouth full of water, and rather than swallow it, you just let it dribble out of your mouth onto your shirt.

We’ll keep practicing.

Photo by Gary Clarke

You’ve become an honorary member of Family Folk Machine.  You’ve been to lots of rehearsals, because it’s easier for your dad to sit there and let you play with all the kids who think you’re so cute than to handle you at home.  You’ve especially made friends with Liam, the son of Miles’s piano teacher.  He loves little kids and gets along really well with you.  He likes to dictate your thoughts.

You were well-behaved through three concerts:  our two regular ones and the Festival of Carols at the Englert.  You even made your debut on the Englert stage during sound check.  You dad hadn’t come from work yet, so as Miles and Tobin and I sang, you scrabbled around the stage.  I don’t think you’re quite ready to be a FFM member yet, since you can’t stand up unassisted.  Of course, some of the older members of the choir can’t stand for long either, and we let them stay.

Our family is just now recovering from a nasty (but fortunately short-lived) bout of a stomach bug.  I blame a recent trip to the library during which you wouldn’t keep the nasty plastic fruit out of your mouth in the play kitchen area.  I kept telling you to stop, and you wouldn’t stop.  No more trips to the library for us during the sick season.  This illness reminded me of the last time I vomited, which was when I was in my third trimester of pregnancy with you.  My morning sickness had long since faded by then, but it was an entirely new and terrible sensation to be wracked with nausea while someone is kicking you in the actual physical stomach from the inside.  This time was not quite so bad, though the timing was tricky.  You had it first, then you gave it to your dad and me, and the two big boys got it right after that.

One tip I give any new parent who asks for it:  seal every mattress in your house with a waterproof (and pee-proof and breastmilk-proof and vomit-proof) mattress cover.  Middle-of-the-night laundry is no fun, but it’s even less fun to have to buy a new mattress because yours got soaked in last night’s spaghetti.

You can crawl like a fast little crawling maniac.  You don’t show much interest in solo walking, or even walking while holding someone’s hands.  You do like to cruise around furniture, and you’ll pull up on anything that seems even remotely stable enough to support you.  Sometimes, like in the case of empty laundry baskets, it’s not.  You enjoy reorganizing the shoe cabinet, pulling open drawers in the kitchen, and chewing on your brothers’ toys.  You thoroughly liquified a little board book at the concert the other night.  Your dad and I decided it was worth the sacrifice.

You’ve been in a clingy stage lately, upset whenever I’m not holding you or nursing you or both.  This makes it pretty difficult to do things like exercise and shower.  You had to wear mismatched shoes the other day, because you opened the shower curtain on me and soaked yourself, including the shoes I’d put on you to wear for the day.  They’re your only pair, so I had to scramble around your brothers’ old baby shoes.  I found two.  You wore two.  One had a dinosaur and one had a turtle.

You haven’t said any for-sure words yet, but you’ve been making mama and dada noises.  I’ve probably mentioned it here before, but I would really be happy if your first real word was mama.  I truly don’t mind the scar I’ll carry for the rest of my life due to your difficult birth (I think scars are kind of cool), but the memory of the day(s) remains a traumatic one.  I say this in no way to diminish the horrible pain of those whose babies don’t make it through difficult births or who suffer long-term issues.  I am so, so grateful to have had three pregnancies that resulted in three healthy kids.  It’s sadly, scarily common not to be able to say something like that.  Nonetheless, I’m very glad to never do it again.  And if you could just say mama and reach your fat little arms to me, that would be pretty great.

Enjoy your last month of infancy, my sweet puppy.  I love you so much.





The Callum Chronicle #10

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:22 pm

My sweet Callum,

My last little crustacean has worn the lobster costume.  You tolerated it pretty well, much as you do everything.  I hauled you and Tobin along to Miles’s school so I could take yearbook photos and help out with his class Halloween party.  All the big kids fawned over you, of course, and you were very well behaved as I assembled plates of snacks.  You were crawling around on a rug at one point, and I looked down and saw a thin stream of red coming out of your mouth.  I felt a swell of panic, sure that you’d swallowed a staple or something and perforated your mouth (or worse).  Luckily, the sniff test revealed that what you’d really swallowed was an M&M.  I’d been planning on holding you off of refined sugar and chocolate until you were at least a year old, but being the little guy who gets dragged around to big brothers’ events has its privileges.  You’ve also taken advantage of your big brothers’ carelessness in putting their Halloween treat bucket out of your reach.  I’m not encouraging such behavior, mind you, but I sort of admire your resourcefulness.

You’ve been eating all kinds of new foods lately, not just contraband.  You love all the meats I’ve given you so far—little bites of chicken and shredded beef and pork.  You also like little veggie bites, small chunks of fruit, and SnaPeas.  You would rather eat Miles’s Honey Nut Cheerios off the floor than the special low-sugar, honey-free cinnamon O’s cereal I got you.  Babies definitely aren’t supposed to have honey.  I hope the fine folks at General Mills use pasteurized honey.  I also hope Miles learns to eat without dropping 20% of them onto the floor.

You’re big enough now to sit in the big-kid section of the car cart at Hy-Vee, which is pretty special.  You’ll be really, really happy when I let you have one of the free cookies from the bakery.  It’s kind of torturous for you now to be so close to Tobin while he’s eating one.

We’ve all been sick to varying degrees over the last couple of weeks.  You had it first, I think, which manifested itself in some pretty crummy nights.  I’m glad your dad is always such a good sport about helping with nighttime duty, because I’m worthless if I don’t get a reasonable amount of sleep.  That’s even more the case when I’m sick, which I’ve been for a while now.  I’m almost better, and you seem a lot better too.  We’ve both had good nights again lately, which is a huge life-improver for everyone.

You’re super accomplished at pulling up against furniture now.  You’ll stand any time you have the chance, and you often let go with one hand and just use the other for balance.  You’ve also gotten interested in exploring the kitchen cabinets.  That’s a pretty good hobby, since it keeps you busy for a while as I prepare dinner.  So far I haven’t tripped over you while carrying anything hot.  I’ll do my very best to continue that streak.

You and your dad have been coming to Family Folk Machine rehearsals lately.  It’s nice because the kids there like to play with you, which makes it a little less stressful for him, and if you start getting truly inconsolable, I can hold you while I sing.  A terrible thing happened last weekend, though. Your dad motioned for me to come help him, because you’d pooped and he needed help finding the spare diaper in my purse.  It didn’t seem like too big a deal, but I followed him into the men’s room just to see if he needed some backup.

Oh boy.  It’s a good thing Tobin was dressed in layers, because after a few highly challenging minutes in the Senior Center men’s room that involved a bath in the sink and an unsalvageable onesie in the garbage can, you were wearing his shirt.  I hope the fellows who used the room between that night and the next janitorial service were old enough that their noses didn’t work anymore.

Photo by Gary Clarke

You still haven’t said any really obvious words, though you do blurt out quite a few “mamas.”  I don’t think they’re specifically directed to me, but I’m glad you are physically capable of saying it.  I’m continuing my training efforts, since I’m holding out hope that you’ll be my one baby who says “mama” for his first word.  You definitely understand some words.  I took you and Tobin to the playground yesterday, and I asked you, “Do you want to go on the swings?”  You laughed and wiggled and very clearly indicated that you knew a good time was ahead.  You and Tobin had a lot of fun swinging together.

Nobody loves you more than your brothers, Callum.  Miles rewrote the lyrics to the song “Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal” so that rather than being about a mule named Sal, it’s about a baby named Cal.  They love helping you try new foods, playing with you in blanket forts, and making you laugh.

Photo by Denny

Okay, fine, if anybody loves you more than they do, it’s I.  I wouldn’t want to wrestle them for the title, though.




The Callum Chronicle #8

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:01 pm

My little Cal-Pal,

Well, look who’s eight months.  Actually you’ve been eight months old for over a week, but the thing about having three children who are in an increasing number of evening activities means I have less and less time to sit down and write these things.  That’s yet another reason we’re done having kids.  If we had a fourth, the poor baby would barely get any documentation.  Also, you guys would have to draw straws to figure out who could go to college.

I’m doing my best to keep up with you.  The increasing quality of cell phone cameras helps.  I remember those leisurely days of Miles’s first year, which actually weren’t leisurely at all in terms of stress level.  I spent a lot of time looking at websites about what developmental milestone my baby should be reaching by whatever month and being worried about whether Miles was right on schedule (spoiler alert:  he was, mostly).  I also had more time to stage photo shoots with the DSLR when the light was coming into the bedroom just right.  Nowadays I’m much more likely to snap a quick shot of you with my phone.  The other side of that is that when you accomplish a milestone, I may or may not have a chance to look on the chart on the website, and when I do, I think, “Oh, okay, yeah, that’s about right.”  I’m certainly more busy, but I’m also way less freaked out.

That’s pretty much you.  You’re busy—we sometimes struggle to keep up with all the tasks we have to complete, but we usually get things done.  You’re also not very freaked out.  You do your thing with aplomb.

The biggest news of the month is that you have teeth.  You’ve gotten the two bottom center and two top center incisors, and you’re doing pretty well with them.  You haven’t bitten me much, and you’re fully enjoying the world of chewing.  You like to chew on magazines, other people’s fingers, toys, shoes, Dixie cups, the spoons I use to give you your food, and towels.  The one thing you won’t chew is poofs, those little snack things most babies like so much.  I keep trying to give them to you, but you just pick them up and play with them.  If one happens to end up in your mouth, you gag and hate it so much that I end up fishing it out.  I noticed that the main ingredient is rice, which is our lead suspect in what may have caused those puking incidents a couple of months ago.  I was hoping you’d outgrow that, but maybe rice just doesn’t sit well with you.

You still spit up more than I would expect a baby your age to.  Since I stopped giving you rice cereal, you haven’t had any of those big, heaving vomit sessions (thank goodness; those were nasty).  Still, you don’t hold your stomach contents very well.  I hope you get over that soon, because I’m tired of always smelling vaguely of rotten milk.

You’ve made big progress in the locomotion arena.  While you don’t yet meet the textbook definition of crawling, you’re an accomplished roller and scootcher.  For a while there you were doing this funny thing where you’d lie on your back and push off from your heels.  It looked really cute, but you got a rug burn on the back of your neck.  Now you usually prefer to do a more traditional tummy-down scootch, pulling yourself on your forearms and pushing off with your toes.  We’re going to have to get you some shoes soon, because it won’t be long before you’re ready to do some walking.

Speaking of walking, now that Tobin is back in preschool in the mornings, we’ve been able to resume our long morning walks.  Technically I’m the only one walking, since you ride in the stroller, but it’s a much more pleasurable form of exercise than running on the treadmill.  You usually either look at the scenery contentedly or sleep, both of which are a nice way to spend an hour or so together in the morning.

You are pretty accustomed to being hauled around.  You still have a very sweet, calm personality, which is very useful, because getting done all the things we need to get done would be a whole lot harder if you were being a jerk.  You still get crabby in the evenings, which is hard because that’s exactly when I need to be helping your brothers with homework and piano practice and bedtime prep.  Normally you’re fine with anyone holding you, but you consistently reject your dad at those times.  I know you love him.  You always get a huge, excited grin on your face when you see him through the window walking toward our house from the bus stop.  You definitely know your brothers, too.  They can both make you smile and laugh more than anyone.  Sometimes Tobin gets a little too rough with you, by my estimation, and I tell him to cool it.  “But he likes it!” Tobin says, and I have to admit, you’re never as upset about Tobin’s squeezes and man-handles as I am.

I recently had the opportunity to take a part-time job.  The place looking to hire me was willing to be very flexible, including letting me bring you to the office because we don’t have any child care lined up.  It was tempting—I do plan to have some kind of employment again one day, and the extra income would have been nice.  I hemmed and hawed about it for a while, but in the end, I decided it just wasn’t worth the stress it would bring to our family.  I really like being able to dedicate my mornings to you, and I don’t feel like I have the kind of free time during the afternoons to do the remote work I would have needed to.  In the end I declined, and I feel good about that for the time being.  Money will come, a job will come, but you’re not going to be my little guy for very long.

Thanks for all you do for me, sweet Callum.  May you have a respite from teething, a respite from snotty noses, and an anti-respite from being your friendly, funny, laid-back self.




The Callum Chronicle #7

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:25 am

Hey there, sunshine-face.

Happy seven months to you.  Your dad has mentioned several times how much fun the second half of the first year of a baby’s life is, and you’re enmeshed in that now.  It’s so much fun to watch you as your level of interaction grows.  We’ve seen evidence of you understanding quite a few words—notably, “Come see Mommy,” which always elicits smiles and leg wiggles in anticipation of me picking you up.  You also gave a big smile this morning when I mentioned “Mubby and Skitter,” and you almost definitely know your brothers’ names.  I had to take you to a PTO meeting last night due to a scheduling snafu, and when you got crabby, I took you out to the hallway.  The school display case has a pamphlet with Miles’s picture on it, and when I grabbed one and showed it to you, you immediately smiled in recognition.  Then you ate the pamphlet.

We just got back from a weekend family reunion with the Beary side of the family, and we’re heading off later today to spend several days in Ames with Mubby and Skittergramps.  You are already suffering from your own version of Attention Deficit Disorder—that’s what I call it when a kid gets accustomed to the constant cuddles and indulgences of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins and gets grumpy when his mom can’t provide that level of input on her own back at home.  I hold you a lot—we use the wrap, we co-sleep, and you spend lots of time just chilling out on my hip.  But I can’t do it all the time and still accomplish the various tasks that need to get done, so sometimes you have to deal with it.  Sorry.

Your dad sent me an interesting article not long ago that talked about the phenomenon of children becoming intensely attached to a stuffed animal or other security item.  According to the researchers in the article, that behavior is not a normal part of child development, as I’d assumed, but rather a coping mechanism kids use to deal with the trauma of having to sleep alone.  I had noticed that neither of your brothers ever got particularly attached to a specific toy—they like their stuffed animals, but there was never one that they absolutely needed.  Maybe that’s because we’ve always slept with our kids when they’re little, so they’ve felt secure without needing special sleep toys.  In any case, I really like having you next to me.  You’re a pretty good sleeper most of the time, and even when you’re sick or teething (which we’ve been dealing with lately), it’s certainly easier to attend to your needs when you’re right next to me rather than going to a different room.  Plus you’re just so sweet and cuddly.  I love seeing your big blue eyes shining up at me as we drowsily adjust to the morning.

You’re doing all the things babies your age do–rolling over, trying to scootch around (without much distance covered yet), grabbing at everything, and doing a lot of babbling.  One thing you’re not very advanced at yet is eating solid foods.  We gave you rice cereal mixed with breastmilk on your six-month birthday, and that seemed to go fine.  Then I gave you some applesauce, which was also fine.  When I gave you bananas mixed with rice cereal and water, you liked it, but two hours later you started violently vomiting.  It was horrible, much more intense than typical spit-up.  I decided that bananas weren’t a good choice for you.  Then, a bit later, I gave you pureed peas with rice cereal and water, and the same thing happened.  Maybe it’s the rice cereal that’s the problem, though that’s surprising since it seemed okay the first time.  I really don’t know.  For the time being, we’re giving your digestive system a rest and sticking to breastmilk and occasional applesauce.  I’m going to try to find some of the squash your brothers liked when they were your age.  You’d better believe I’m going to give it to you straight-up:  no rice cereal.  I’m also going to give it to you at lunch, not at dinner, because two hours after dinner is not a very convenient time to deal with a miserable, heaving baby.

You’ve been having fun lately in the baby backpack, which your dad uses to take you on trips to the park.  Sometimes you fall asleep, but usually you  enjoy your perch.  There’s nothing more fun than hanging out with the big kids.  Your brothers adore you, and sometimes they fight over who gets to play with you.  I’m going to miss having them around once school starts, because I’ve gotten some very productive exercise sessions in due to their help in entertaining you.  On the other hand, we’ll get to start taking morning walks together again, as long as the fall weather stays nice.  I’ve missed doing that.  Your brothers do not have the patience to take a long walk unless there are doughnuts at the end, which is counterproductive to my fitness goals.  We’ll be good walking buddies again soon.

Though we recognize that there may be parental delusion involved, your dad and I are both sure that you’re an exceptionally cute baby.  Everyone wants to take credit for you:  Papa is sure there’s a Crall ancestor out there who looked just like you, and I heard “Isn’t he such a Beary?” last weekend.  I personally see resemblance to your Clarke cousins.  In any case, the genes seem to have meshed together well to make you.  Not only are you cute, we really appreciate your personality.  You’re still so calm and good-natured, happy to be held by anyone who wants to hold you (for now, anyway).  The only time you fuss is when you’re hungry or tired, and those issues are pretty easy to address.  You don’t have any teeth through the gums yet, but every day I check, because I can see them under the surface.  You’ve been doing a lot of chewing lately, too.  I know that by this time next month, you’ll have a couple of teeth, and my time with my last gummy baby will be over.  That does make me feel tender, but I’m also so happy to be getting to know you.  You have completed our family, my sweet love, and I am so grateful for you.



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