The Tobin Times #31

Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:56 pm

My sweet Tobin,

Your brain is going so fast.  You are constantly learning, imitating, reciting, and analyzing the things you experience.  We just got back from our vacation to the Florida Keys—more on that later—and last night I heard you recite a book you hadn’t heard since before we left.  It wasn’t a short little board book, either.  It was a full-on story (Tacky the Penguin), and you knew the whole thing, almost word for word.  You’re a little sponge for input, so we’re trying to make good choices about what you consume.  You got more screen time than usual on vacation, but it was mostly Sid the Science Kid.  Some people find that show creepy, probably from the CGI animation, but I like it.  You learned a lot about rotting fruits.

You’ve been very sweet lately, really relishing cuddling up with your brother and giving your dad and me lots of hugs and kisses.  You were so excited when Miles taught you how to buckle your own seatbelt on the airplane (and, unfortunately, how to unbuckle it).  You love to climb into chairs with him and generally invade his space when he’ll let you.

Your naps have been getting more erratic.  You still nap more days than you don’t, but Thursdays are especially challenging.  That’s the day we need to pick your brother up at 2:00 instead of the usual 3:00, and if you’re going to have enough time for a nap and then a buffer to wake up and adjust to your life before I throw you in the car or the stroller, I pretty much have to get you down by noon.  Today, that did not happen.  You’re lying on my shoulder in bed right now, watchingCaillouwhile I write this.  The days you don’t nap often lead to tough evenings, but you generally go to sleep easily those nights.

Our trip was pretty much perfect.  The drive from Miami to Marathon Key was tough, after a long day of flying, but we made it.  Your dad and I were tired and hungry when we arrived, and you probably were too.  Still, we stopped by the beach to get our toes wet before we walked to a restaurant near our condo.  Nobody would have guessed that you’d been up since 5 a.m. and traveling all day by your behavior there.  You and Miles both went nuts for the ocean.  You probably didn’t remember your first visit to the ocean last year, so it was really exciting for you.  You guys ran in the sand, splashed in the gentle surf, and got a lot wetter than we’d planned considering we were headed straight to dinner.

One of my favorite parts of our trip was the several morning walks we took together.  You and I are usually the first ones up in the family on days when sleeping in is possible, and we took advantage of those early hours by exploring the beach at sunrise.  You loved the beach and the nice warm swimming pool, but your favorite water feature on the trip was the foot-wash station between the two.  That was another time when you got wetter than we expected, because a spigot that’s shin-high on a grownup is tummy-high on you.

You are currently very into kissing on the lips.  On our vacation, you mouth-kissed a little terrier of some kind, a dolphin, and me (not necessarily in that order).  The dolphin kiss happened at Theater of the Sea, a smaller-scale Sea World type of place.  We went with your cousin Clif and his family, who were also vacationing in Florida at the time.  Another fun thing we did was host my cousin Erin and her family, including cute little Gwyn.  They came to our condo and had fun at the beach and pool with us.  I don’t think you kissed Gwyn on the lips, for which the adults were grateful.

We were actually all healthy the whole time, praise the kind folks at Purell.  After all the colds and worse we’ve had this winter, it was wonderful to spend a truly happy and relaxed week together.  When I asked you what your favorite part of our vacation was, you said, “The little cookie packs.”  Yes, they were good.

You were happy to get home, though.  When you woke up yesterday morning and I reminded you that we were home in Iowa City, you smiled and said, “Yay,” in a sleepy little voice.  You were excited to get back to your dragon, dinosaur, and ogre toys, and of course the books we didn’t pack.  It’s been fun watching you rediscover your old favorites.

Thanks for being my travel buddy, Tobes.  I’m happy to see a sunrise for you no matter where we are.




Safety dance

Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:09 pm

Miles and Tobin were sitting next to each other on an airplane.  Tobin leaned over to me.

T:  Mommy, Bubby taughted me how to fasten my seatbelt!  (patting Miles on the shoulder) You’re a good friend.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:45 am

T:  Oh, marshmallows.

A:  You’re my marshmallow.

T:  No I’m not.

A:  You’re not?  What are you, then?

T:  I’m a sweet chub.


Monthly Miles Memo #74

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:04 pm

Dear Miles,

This morning, I witnessed something I’d never seen you do before:  you were by yourself in Tobin’s room, sitting in the recliner, reading a book.

You’ve always been a fan of stories, and you’ve never had any trouble with your reading schoolwork.  You can sound out words, write sentences, and point out all the sight words you know.  But for some reason you’ve had a kind of block when it comes to just sitting down and reading.  I think it’s your perfectionism at work.  You worry you won’t be able to do it right, so you don’t want to try at all.  Have we gotten past that?  I hope so.  I often emphasize to you that knowing how to read doesn’t mean knowing every single word in the world, that your dad and I still find words we don’t know when we’re reading.  It brought such a smile to my face to see you sitting there, open book in your lap, your lips moving a little as you read for the sheer pleasure of reading.  I think your library card is going to get a workout this spring and summer.

We’re almost done with Ramona the Brave now, and I’ve told you that you can decide what’s next.  We could get another Ramona book, or there are a couple of others I bought for you recently:  Roald Dahl’s The Witches (one of my childhood favorites) and of course the immortal Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  I don’t know what you’ll choose, but we’ll certainly be ready for one of them by the time we go on our upcoming vacation to the Florida Keys.

You’re going to miss a couple of days of school for that trip, which I feel bad about, but we saved so much on airfare by adjusting our schedule by a few days that it was hard not to justify it.  You’re doing great in school anyway.  We had your spring conference a week or two ago, and we were so proud when your teachers told us about your progress.  You’re doing great academically—both your math and language skills are excellent.  I was most happy to hear that you’ve gotten a lot more comfortable in the school environment.  Your teachers say you’re a good friend to your classmates, play well with them, and do a good job participating in class activities.  You read aloud in front of your class and contribute ideas to discussions.  You have work to do in a few areas, such as personal organization (remembering to turn in your work), but you’re well on your way to a really successful school career.

I’ve been enjoying doing some volunteering with your school.  I’m working on your school yearbook, and I’ve been coming to your classroom occasionally to help with projects and events.  I love that you’re still happy to see me (and Tobin) when we show up.

You do great work at home, too.  Not only have you been doing more reading, you also are exercising your math skills.  You get a thrill out of playing games on a math website you use at school, but at home you sneak ahead and doing higher grade levels.  You have the second grade math games pretty well mastered.  You even have tried sixth grade math.  You need help with some of it—it’s basically pre-algebra, and you don’t have quite all the arithmetic you’d need to solve some of the problems.  But you have surprised me with your ability to think creatively and solve some of the problems on your own.

You also make very complex sculptures with your magnet toys.  Your dad says he had nothing to do with this one.  He was playing with Tobin, and you said, “Hey Dad, look what I made.”

We’ve managed to get outside a bit more lately, both to play in the snow and to enjoy the first truly spring-like day of the year.  We took advantage of a snow day that was actually pretty warm to do some unusual playground playing.  You got a kick out of going down the slide and making a big pile of snow at the bottom.  I’m hoping the truly bitter days of winter are past us now, though you did have a late start to school once last week.  You’ve missed so much school this year, from full-on cancellations to multiple late starts.  Hopefully that was the last.  In any case, the warm beaches of the Florida Keys are pretty appealing.

You have a Countdown to the Beach calendar in your room, which I may have mentioned before, because you’ve been excited about it for a while now.  Every day, you cross off a square, and now we’re getting really close.  You have a plan:  you want me to wake you up on our departure day with enough time to draw a circle around that day.  I’ll do my best, but we’re going to have to get up pretty early.  I’m anticipating a lot of moaning and gnashing of teeth on that travel day.  I bought some of those packs of mini Oreos you like.  I hope they work.

You and Tobin have been having a lot of fun together lately, and I’m optimistic that it will continue during our trip.  It might be better if you don’t sit next to each other on the plane, though.  Even sweet boys like you have their limits.

It’s been mostly a pleasure to be your mommy this month, Miles.  Thank you for the privilege.



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