The Tobin Times #10

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:39 am

My little Chub-Chub,

I am awash in your slobber.  This month, your favorite thing to do has been to give me big, open-mouth kisses.  More often than not, they involve a solid blurple (our family term for one of those vibrating raspberry-type things) to my cheek, my shoulder, my leg.  We’re pretty sure it’s a gesture of affection, because you are quite capable of biting, but when you move in for a kiss, you never use teeth.

You’re pretty mouth-focused these days.  I’ve stopped scrambling after you to pull every single floor crumb out of your mouth, because that task was using all my energy.  Now I stick to scooping out only non-food items or potential choking hazards.  Technically, you’re not supposed to have a lot of the things you’ve tasted until you’re a year old.  But you’re only two months away from that milestone, and after all the rocks and wood chips you’ve passed through your lips (and, if I’m not fast enough, your digestive tract), it’s hard to get too worked up about an Oreo crumb.

You have five teeth, and a sixth one is on the horizon.  Your chubby little cheeks and legs are becoming less so as you burn calories crawling all over the place.  You’re intrepid, curious, and not very cautious.  You love to pull up against anything that will support you, and you often let go and stand with just one hand holding on.  It’s not going to be long before you take off walking, I’m sure of it.

Photo by Beth Clarke

You’ve also started waving hello and goodbye, and Miles taught you to clap.  You sign for more, not quite perfectly, but consistently enough that we know what you’re saying.  One of my favorite things is when we’re in the car together, and I walk around to your side to get you out.  As soon as you spot me through the window, you return my wave, and your beautiful smile shines out at me.  Even when you’re tired or hungry, you always have a smile for me.  You’re saying mama more and more, as well as dada, and (we think) bubbah to mean brother.

We just got back from our vacation to Breckenridge, Colorado.  You got sick there, which was so sad.  I think it was your first significant fever.  You were sleepy during the day and cranky at night, you didn’t want to nurse or eat solids, and your sweet little face just wasn’t right.  We also found out that you hate Tylenol and will spit it out.  Also, like an idiot, I accidentally bought the pink kind instead of the dye-free kind, and it got all over your dad’s favorite green Obama shirt.  Fortunately, I brought ibuprofen too, which you tolerated better. You healed up after a couple of days and returned to your normal jolly self.  You loved splashing around in the swimming pool and examining trees on our hikes.

Then your brother got it.

While it wasn’t the worst vacation ever (we didn’t have to tie Aunt Edna to the roof of the car or anything), it would have been a lot better with healthy kids.  Maybe next year will go more smoothly.

Oh crap, I just realized I forgot to buy more outlet covers when I was at the store earlier.  Your infinite curiosity often settles on outlets, and I know you know you’re not supposed to mess with them.  Today I saw you heading for one and leaned down to snatch you away, but before I could even get to you, you locked eyes with me and changed course.  I’m glad you’re aware that you’re breaking the rules when you touch them, but something tells me that’s not going to dissuade you when you think you can get away with it.

You are such a stinker.  You are a stinker, but you’re also a charmer, with your big blue eyes and generous smiles.  You’re a Bill Clinton type, I’m afraid.  I kind of wanted to name you Woodrow, after my favorite president, but your dad said no.  In retrospect, he was probably right.  You’re much more of a Clinton than a Wilson, insofar as a personality can be diagnosed in a ten-month-old.  If you want to be a Rhodes scholar, that’s fine with me, but do remember that actions have consequences, and that a cherubic grin doesn’t solve every problem.

I am, of course, referring to the disastrous 1993 Battle of Mogadishu.

I love your adventurous spirit and sunny attitude, my sweet Tobin.  You bring out the best in your brother, who can often be churlish with your dad and me, but almost never with you.  I can’t imagine our family without you, because you have added so much laughter and joy and exhaustion to our gang.  On the plus side, you’re finally learning to take longer naps.  That’s helping with the exhaustion, even though you still do the occasional early morning Power Hour.  You can quit with those whenever you want.

Have a good month, my wiggly puppy.  Even if I get a sunburn on my face because you’ve blurpled off all my sunscreen, it will be worth it.

Photo by Denny Crall




Bets off

Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:56 pm

We were in a toy store, and I showed Miles a deck of cards for playing Old Maid.

A:  I thought you might like these because you’ve been having so much fun playing Go Fish lately.

M:  You know, there’s one called poker.


Monthly Miles Memo #53

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:24 pm

My special Miles,

I know I should probably wait until your birthday to reflect on the previous year, but the end of the school year has made me stop and think about all the things that have happened in the last 12 months.  A year ago, we were in Puerto Rico.  It was a lovely vacation, and we had lots of fun, but just about every night we were there, I lay in bed and cried.  I knew that the Monday after we came back, you would start preschool.

It didn’t help that I was in my third trimester of pregnancy with your brother.  I’m sure I wouldn’t have cried nearly as much about a problem that didn’t even definitely exist if I’d been at normal hormonal levels.  But still, I was sick about it.  Why did no one warn me that having a child would mean reliving every nervousness and homesickness I’d ever felt?  I worked hard to hide those feelings from you, because I wanted you to have a good attitude about school.  I knew it was a great school and that you’d do fine after you got used to it.  You’re the kind of person who needs a lot of structure and order, who likes to know what’s going to happen ahead of time.  I did my best to explain what your school day would be like, but I didn’t know every detail.  We both did our best to be brave.

You had a few bouts of tears your first week, but I bet the total volume I cried was higher.  Soon, you were joining in like one of the gang.  You made new friends, developed new skills, and most importantly gained a lot of confidence.  You finished the regular school year like it was no big deal.  When summer session began this week, there were some new kids in your class.  Just like you last summer, they needed some help adjusting.  After the first day of summer session, which of course you handled like an old pro, I asked you if you’d met any new friends.  You told me you did, and that you were extra helpful to them because they were still learning about how school works.  You said you remembered Gideon and Everett being nice to you when you were new, and you wanted to do the same for your new friends.

I’m more proud of that than the fact that you can read.

First day of school, 6/2011, and last day of school, 5/2012.

Did I mention you can read?

You’ve known all the letters and sounds for ages, but your dad has recently started challenging you with some really tough words made from your alphabet blocks.  You successfully sounded out popcorn, laptop, and computer.  A day or two later, we stopped by the library to sign up for the summer reading program.  At the librarian’s suggestion, we got a book meant for new readers, and you handled it really well.  Sometimes you try to go too fast and guess what the word is rather than sounding it out, but your dad reminds you to slow down, look at one word at a time, and digest the information.

You earned a smiley check for completing the story.  A smiley check is a check in the good behavior column on a chart I made, which is having a moderate amount of success.  A threat of a frowny check is a pretty good deterrent when you’re edging into poor behavior territory, and you’re very proud of the fact that your smiley checks outnumber your frowny checks.  You wanted to keep reading so you could pile up the smileys.  We’ve promised you a prize in exchange for earning twenty smiley checks, which you reached quite some time ago.  You decided on a trip to the movies, which we’ve postponed until the movie Brave comes to theaters in a couple of weeks.  Mostly, though, you seem to want the smileys for their own sake.  You get a real thrill out of running over to the refrigerator and totaling them up.

Yesterday you got three frowny checks.  That’s a lot for one day.  I think maybe you ate too much junk food, and it addled your brain.  Today’s going better.

Photo by Gary Clarke

The afternoons can stretch out on these warm days, and we’ve been occupying ourselves with trips to the Flavor Ice stand, the faraway playground, Hy-Vee, and the library.  You also enjoy renting a movie (often The Incredibles, which I finally bought because renting it for $1.99 a pop was adding up) and having popcorn.  You like to help me make the popcorn, which we do just like I used to with Skittergramps when I was a little girl.  We pour in the oil, sprinkle in three popcorn kernels, and crank the stirring mechanism.  You get so excited when the three test kernels pop, and you especially like it when the full quantity starts popping like crazy.

I can’t promise I’m never going to cry again about the things you’ll face in the world.  What if we end up sending you to public school for kindergarten and it’s weird?  What if you refuse to ever eat at school and you starve to death?  What if kids are mean to you?  What if you’re mean to other kids?  What if you never, ever, ever learn to use a Kleenex correctly?

Still, every hurdle you clear gives me confidence that you’re going to be all right.  You’ve got a smart brain in your skull, and despite the mildly sociopathic tendencies that crop up in you and most four-year-olds, I think you have a kind heart.  I love how you protect your brother (when you’re not busy swiping toys from him).  I love how you get excited for bedtime because you enjoy reading stories and cuddling with me.  I love that you’re learning and growing all the time, even if you’ll only eat noodles.

Nothing could have prepared me for you, Miles.  The strength of my love for you makes me gasp sometimes.  You’re my Technicolor Land of Oz, curled-up witch’s feet and all.

Photo by Gary Clarke



Free of dyes, perfumes, and accuracy

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:35 pm

Miles was leading us out of Von Maur (a department store we often visit), taking a rather labyrinthine route.  At every juncture, I asked him, “What does your sense of direction tell you?”  He got us all the way out of the store, then headed down the completely wrong path.

A:  Miles, let’s go the other way.  We parked the car over here.

M:  But my sensitive direction says to go this way!

One of the girls

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:32 pm

We had just read a book in which the Berenstain Bears thought forward to when they would have cubs someday.

M:  I hope when I have a kid it’s a girl.

A:  Why?  Little boys are great.  I love little boys.

M:  You know.

A:  Actually I don’t.

M:  You know.

A:  Is it because you know so many great girls?  Like Mommy and Mubby and Nana and Tessa?

M:  And Gideon.

A:  Gideon’s a boy.

M:  I know, but I still like him.


Miles and the Real Girl

Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:25 pm

Miles and I recently read a book in which a character had a special toy she always slept with.

A:  You don’t really have a special thing for sleeping, do you?  I guess the Mommy Blankie [a blanket that used to be mine that Miles has fully swiped] is your special thing.

M:  I have another special thing for sleeping.

A:  Oh yeah?  What is it?

M:  Cuddling you is my special thing.

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