The Tobin Times #20

Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:59 pm

My sweet Tobin,

Today, a woman at Miles’s school asked how old you are.  She started to prompt you to say “one,” but instead, you said, “Twenty months.”  She was impressed.  I already knew you could do it, but I live with you.

You are such a talker.  I really love hearing all the things you have to say, because it lets me know a little of what goes on in your inner life.  Sometimes you wake up from a nap talking, so I get to know what you’ve been dreaming about.  The other day, it was “messy hands.”

Other things you’ve been saying a lot lately include, “I do it!” and “By myself.”  We’ve clearly entered the stage in which I need to budget an extra fifteen minutes for every excursion, because you will not let me help you with much of anything.  You want to walk up the stairs to Miles’s school by yourself.  You want to get strapped into your car seat by yourself.  You want to get snacks out of bags by yourself.  Overall you do a pretty good job.  I don’t think the car seat manufacturer intended a twenty-month-old to be able to manage the clips, but you can do it.  Fortunately, it’s harder to unclip them than to clip them.

It’s hard to get you to sit still enough to eat nowadays.  You spend as much time throwing food on the floor as actually eating it.  It makes your dad and me so frustrated, because you know full well that you’re not supposed to do it.  We’ve told you over and over, and yet you can’t abide food in front of you if you don’t want to eat it.  Instead of doing something reasonable like telling us you’re done, you throw it on the floor.  You don’t even seem sorry.

You love books right now.  You’ve found some favorites, especially the If You Give a… series by Laura Numeroff (and, as you will not let me forget, illustrated by Felicia Bond).  You’re also into Caps for Sale, Miles’s Spider-Man story collection, and a book we got at the doctor’s office with pictures of various trucks and tractors.  You love to sit in the big chair with your daddy and hear those stories, though you’ll plop onto a lap with a book in your hand just about anywhere.

I babysat a friend’s three-year-old the other morning, and you will not stop talking about him.  He was wearing a really cool Robin (as in Batman’s sidekick) costume, and now you really want a Robin cape too.  You’ve been picking up the toys you guys played with together and saying, “Johnny.”  We’ll have to get together with Johnny and his mom again soon.  I think both of your favorite part of the morning was bouncing on Miles’s bed.  After a while, you got so worn out you both just lay down and rested on the pillows for a while.

Right now, you’re playing outside with Daddy and Miles.  That’s one of your very favorite things to do.  In fact we have to spell the word outside, because much like bath, you get so excited when you hear it that we can’t get anything else done.  This is going to be your big night:  when you come in from playing, it’ll be bath time.

It’s finally starting to get warm enough so that you can play outside without six layers of clothing.  It’s been a long winter and the spring has been slow to start, so this is really good news.  The forecast for the upcoming week is great, and I’m looking forward to getting out with you guys.  We had a fun afternoon yesterday tooling around downtown, though it’s getting harder and harder to keep you in the stroller.  You love the big playground by the library.  Playing with you there was a very athletic endeavor, because unlike our playground, there are ample opportunities to plummet from great heights.  I couldn’t just stand at the bottom and watch you.  I needed to be right up there with you to keep you from crashing to your doom.  I was more scared than you were, for real.

It’s a good thing Miles is responsible enough that he can scramble around on the playground without constant supervision now.  There’s no way I could do it if I were trying to keep two brave and reckless little kids like you alive.  I don’t know how parents of twins do it.  I guess they only go to small playgrounds.

A librarian with whom we’re friendly mentioned yesterday that my two boys don’t look anything alike.  She’s pretty much right.  When I look at Miles, all I can see is a little Denny.  It’s harder with you, but I definitely see a resemblance between my baby pictures and your sweet little face.  I think I was verbal like you, but more shy.  If you keep this outgoing personality, there will be no shutting you up.  That’s fine with me.  It makes it easier to find you.  I just follow the sound of chattering.

You’re so bright and curious.  Another of your common phrases is, “What this?”  You want to know what everything is called, and then you repeat it.  You usually remember it, too.  When we go on walks, you point out to me not just birds, but robins.  You thought a dog was a giraffe yesterday, but to your credit, it did have kind of giraffe-like markings.

You have definite opinions on a lot of things, including clothing choices.  You like to pick out clothes for me in the morning.  Yesterday you choose my Rooster Club shirt.  A lot of times you want me to wear something green.  You have your own favorite wardrobe items as well.  You like your monster shirt, your whale shirt, all your brother’s sweatshirts, and jeans.  I like getting you dressed, because lately you’ve been giving me big hugs as I pick you up from your changing table.  You also give me kisses on the legs as I get ready in the morning.

You are such a fun guy.  I laugh every single day, many times, because of the funny things you do.  You are energetic, charismatic, sharp, and sometimes frustrating.  You are learning about imaginative games, pretending to lick the play food items at the library and faking sleep (complete with snores).  You are such a joy, Tobin.  I am so glad I have you.




The case of the missing toes

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:22 pm

Tobin had climbed up into bed and was playing “night night.”  He got kind of tangled up in a blanket.

T:  (In an alarmed tone) My toes!

(pause while he untangled himself)

(In a relieved tone) Oh, hi.  I find them.


L’insoutenable légèreté de la respiration

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:40 pm

We’ve been reading the story “Beauty and the Beast” a lot lately from a Disney storybook collection Miles has. I like to put on a big French accent for the Lumiere character.

M:  Why do you talk like that when it’s Lumiere?

A:  Because he’s French.

M:  Then why don’t you go [weird heavy breathing noise]?

A:  … what?

M:  Oh, never mind.  I was thinking of German.


What we ate

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:22 am

I haven’t posted in this category forever, I guess because I’ve mostly been rotating through old favorites and I figured I’d be duplicating.  But lately I’ve been feeling sort of in the mood for trying new things.  Maybe it’s the change of seasons.  Here’s what we’ve been eating:


Linguine in lemon/garlic/butter/white wine with fresh gulf shrimp for me and chicken for Denny.


Flank steak fajitas.  I love the spice rub blend from Cook’s Illustrated (unfortunately the site is subscription-only.  I have a cookbook I found it in.  It’s basically your warm spices:  cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, crushed red pepper, that kind of thing).  I make big batches of it and keep it around for all kinds of Latin-inspired cooking.


Asian lettuce wraps, inspired by this recipe, but instead I used ground pork and also added half a pound of finely-chopped mushrooms.


I think I’m going to roast some chicken thighs with zucchini, red bell pepper, onions, garlic, herbs, and pine nuts.


Leftovers, duh.


Two pronouns and everything

Filed under: — Aprille @ 7:04 pm

Tobin (19 months) and Denny were watching squirrels out the window.

T:  I see him right there!

This was his first five-word sentence.

Monthly Miles Memo #63

Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:32 pm

Hello, my Miles,

After months (seriously, months) of reading the same four bedtime stories, we’ve finally moved on to four different ones.  Now, every night, you want to hear in this orderCinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, and 101 Dalmatians.  These are from a couple of Disney story collections Mubby and Skittergramps gave you.  It’s nice to have a change of pace, because I swear if I had to read The Little Mermaid one more time, I might go crazy King Triton-style.  You’re not a Disney freak in general (although you pretty much only want to go on a Disney cruise for vacation for the rest of your life).  You don’t demand to watch the movies over and over; in fact, of the four new stories, Tarzan is the only one whose corresponding movie you’ve seen.  You don’t have much for merchandise, so I don’t think we’re in too much danger of losing you to the Cult of Disney.  I’m happy to read the stories to you.  They’re a little different from an adult perspective, anyway.  I’m not sure, but I think the whole rescue chain in 101 Dalmatians is an allusion to the Underground Railroad.

We’ve been having lots of fun with our choir, gearing up for our big concert next month.  You are getting a lot braver, though you’re still shy about standing anywhere except right next to me.  We’ll see how it goes when we practice standing in our official positions.  You truly love the music for its own sake.  You always want to hear the songs from our practice CD, and you sing them around the house so much that Tobin knows most of the words, too.  You don’t always get the words right.  This morning I heard you singing about shooting with crystals (as opposed to pistols), but I’m okay with that.  I’m glad you’re more familiar with the former than the latter.

Photo by Denny

It seems like you’ve been extra sweet to your brother lately.  He still gets on your nerves sometimes, but overall you’re very kind to him.  You’re still great about sharing food, and today, when I asked you to play with a toy in another room because it was torturing Tobin not to be able to play with it, you chose instead to hand it to him.  You got a smiley check for that, dude.

Photo by Denny

It’s time to do some clothes shopping for you, too.  A lot of your pants are getting high-watery, and your shirts show your tummy if you reach your arms up.  Last Saturday morning, I grabbed some clothes for you from your drawers so you could run an errand with me, and when you came out wearing them, you had about three inches of ankle and wrist exposed.  I don’t know how you keep growing with how little you eat, but you seem to be getting it done.

We’re closing in on the end of your time in preschool.  After your graduation in May, you’ll move on to some summer programs especially for kids who will be entering kindergarten in the fall.  We’ve decided to move you to our neighborhood public school, not because we don’t love Willowwind, but just because it’s hard to turn down a free, high-quality option.  Willowwind has been a great place for you and a truly good environment as you worked out the kinks of being away from home for the first time.  Kindergarten will mark a change, too.  It will be the first time you’ll be away for a full day, since you’ve always been a half-time preschooler.  I’m not too worried about how you’ll handle the academic and social aspects of it.  Your teachers had nothing but positive things to say about you in those areas at your conference.  I’m a little concerned about whether you’ll eat your packed lunch and whether you’ll handle a public bathroom all right.

But…you’re not the least-prepared kid to show up at  kindergarten, I suppose.  It may take a little adjustment, but you’ll sort it out.  We have kindergarten round-up next week, and it will help when we can show you the three kindergarten classrooms.  We don’t know yet to which you’ll be assigned, but we’ve heard great things about all the teachers.  A handful of school, neighborhood, and choir friends will go to the same school, so even if you don’t share a classroom with them, you’ll at least see friendly faces around.

Does it sound like I’m saying this more for me than for you?  I might be.  It’s my mommy prerogative.

Something that’s been weighing on me heavily lately is a horrifically sad situation facing some acquaintances.  A boy you knew early in your preschool days, one whom I specifically remember being really friendly and welcoming to you when you were new and homesick and scared, is probably in the last months of his battle with cancer.  In no way do I mean to co-opt that family’s pain. It makes me feel sick and tear up every time I think about it, but I’m sure I feel about 1% of their grief.  All I can do is hug you and your brother tightly and try to maintain perspective.  How much would that little boy’s mom love to have his transition to kindergarten be her biggest concern?  Our problems are very small.  I haven’t talked to you about the situation specifically.  Maybe that’s cowardly of me, but I want to protect you from the idea that a child could die.  You’re sometimes a fearful kid, and I don’t want to compound those issues.

You do understand the idea that kids can suffer, I think.  For the last couple of years, I’ve participated in the Layettes for Life program.  I found out about it through a former coworker who has done humanitarian work in Haiti.  It involves making packets of baby supplies (cloth diapers, onesies, socks, hats, sleepers, outfits, blankets) that are sent to Haiti.  They’re used as an incentive to get mothers to bring their babies to health care professionals :  come get your kid vaccinated and get some clean, new, cute clothes out of the deal.  Today the supplies I ordered arrived, and you watched as I assembled the layettes.  We talked a little bit about how there are some babies in the world who are so poor they don’t even have a onesie.  I’m sure it’s hard for you to comprehend, considering the overflowing boxes of baby clothes that fill our house, but I want you to be involved in a small but concrete aid project.  You can understand that the clothes you helped fold will go to a baby who needs them, more than if I just told you that I sent money.

Another sad piece of news:  the Roosevelt playground, which my family and I helped build and was a huge part of my childhood, has been dismantled.  The building is being turned into condominiums.  You loved playing there, and I haven’t told you about that yet either.  I’ll need to do that before we go to Mubby and Skittergramps’s house next, because you do better when you have some time to process things.  Much like the whole kindergarten situation, I think it’s probably harder on me than on you.  You’ll be bummed, but there are many other playgrounds.

I’m bummed, but I have two healthy children.  We’ll get over it.

Spring is here.  We’ve had a couple of tantalizingly warm days, followed by those rude cold days that wouldn’t even seem cold if it hadn’t been warm just recently.  More beautiful days are to come.  We have a wonderful spring and summer ahead of us, full of trips downtown to play in the fountain, to scramble around on the library playground, to walk on the path behind our house to get ice cream or a Flavor Ice.  I’d prefer it if you didn’t grow up, but it’s a whole lot better than the alternative.

You called a candy cane a hurricane today.  I had to hide my laughter because you really like to get things right.

Photo by Gary Clarke

I love you forever and ever and ever, my tender-hearted little sugarbug.




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