My sweet Toby-Tobe,
This has been a difficult holiday season for everyone. First, my Grammy died, which wasn’t truly a surprise, but thoroughly crappy nonetheless. She was my last grandparent, your last great-grandparent, and I miss her. We had planned to come to Ames for a few days before Christmas to spend some time with Mubby and Skittergramps and to let your dad work in peace, but the timing of the funeral made us change our plans a little. We came a day early so we could catch a ride in Skittergramps’s big blue van. We’ve been having fun her, for sure, but we missed your dad a lot and were excited to see him Friday night.
Then the storm came. Actually it came on Thursday, a real jerk of a blizzard. It was worse in central Iowa than in eastern Iowa, so your dad set out on Friday as scheduled, only to find the roads too messy to safely traverse. He spent a night in Newton while we chilled out here. This morning, as usual, you were the first one awake. You looked over to the bed where your brother was sleeping and yelled, “Bubby!” Fortunately, he’s a heavy sleeper. You’ve done that every morning since we’ve been here and it hasn’t woken him up once. Then you noticed someone else was in the room. “Hi! Daddy! Hi Daddy! Hi!” you said.
You’ve also detected our Ames morning pattern. When we got up, I didn’t have to prompt you at all. You suggested “Skitter. Down. Skitter, down.” So down we went to see Skittergramps. He always has the coffee brewing.
Those are just a couple of the two-word phases you’ve been saying lately. You’ve said “Read ‘gain” to request another story and “He’o, Papa” when you hold a phone (or a block or anything, really) up to your ear. You got to play with Nana and Papa for real last night at the annual Beary family Christmas Eve extravaganza. You were feeling pretty tired and crabby due to a short nap and coming down with a cold, but you still managed to have fun and entertain the crowd. You loved it when the group sang Christmas carols. Things were a little sad with that crowd, too, due to the much-too-soon loss of Aunt Jeanne. You spent a lot of time with her kids, Andi and JT, and I hope your antics helped lift their spirits a little. JT, who is a childhood educator, told me several times that he thinks you’re really smart. Apparently you were displaying specific signs of it. Naturally your dad and grandparents and I already think you’re a genius, but it’s nice to have some external reinforcement.
Photo by Gary Clarke
You haven’t really developed a present obsession yet, though you’ve had fun with the toys you’ve opened. Mostly you want whatever your brother’s playing with. You also enjoy removing the bow from any package that has one. We decorated our Christmas tree this year with only non-breakable ornaments on the lower couple of feet, but even so, I took a long look at it the other day and found that all the ornaments has migrated to the top. I know I’ve said, “Okay, honey. Give that to Mommy. Let’s put it up a little higher,” but I guess I’ve said it more times than I realized.
Your favorite foods right now are cake (which you call Happy Cake, as in Happy Birthday Cake), couscous, rice, turkey, and clementines (o-anges). We sang happy birthday to Uncle Larry on the phone, and later, when Skittergramps showed you a picture of him, you said, “Happy!” Your favorite pastime is watching YouTube videos of Harry Belafonte’s “Day-O,” especially a live version Skittergramps found. Once, as you sat on Skittergramps’s lap watching and listening, the camera lingered on the lady backup singers in low-cut dresses. “Milky!” you exclaimed.
You are so enthusiastic. You make funny faces so often, and you make us laugh every single day. Even when you’re sick, you’re still pretty good-natured. You love a good dance party, which of course makes you Mubby’s special buddy. You guys have been working the Christmas boogying pretty hard lately.
We ordered your passport for our big vacation in February. I’m so excited for you to get it. If your appreciation of baths is any indication, you are going to love the beach and the ocean. We’ll see whom you side with on the topic of how seawater tastes: your dad (ew, ew, gross) or me (yum, like soup). You give really wonderful hugs and kisses. Your favorite number is two, though you can also fill in “ten” if someone gives you a one through nine lead-up. You can fill in the blanks in the ABC song, and you made your dad and me sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” four times in the car yesterday. Do you realize what a long song that is?
You’re snoring away next to me right now, since your nose is so plugged up that you can barely breathe through it. I admit I got pretty tired last night at the Beary party when you wouldn’t let anyone but me hold you. That’s so unlike you; I should have known you were starting to feel crummy. Still, it’s nice that you’re still in the stage where sitting on your Mommy’s lap makes everything okay. I can’t un-clog your nose (well, I can use one of those suction thingies, but holy crap do you hate that), but I can cuddle you and kiss your fuzzy little head and make you know that you’re safe and loved.
Photo by Gary Clarke
I hope you’re having sweet dreams, my little snot-bucket. I love you for a thousand Christmases and more.