Baby got back

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:38 pm

Tobin and I were snuggling in bed together.  He went to brush his teeth, then he returned.

A:  So, I see you’re back.

T:  (turning his back to me) You see it, do you?



Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:39 pm

Denny and I were telling the kids about the ancient days of television, when we couldn’t fast-forward, pause, or rewind, and we had to watch whatever was on rather than picking a show of our choice, and all the other indignities of the 80s and 90s.

A:  And if you had to go to the bathroom, you just had to miss some of the show.

M:  Um…you could pee in a bowl.

The Tobin Times #39

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:50 pm

My dearest Tobin,

Times, they are a-changing.  This has been a major month in terms of your personal development.  As I may have mentioned last month, we did a weekend-long potty bootcamp, and it works pretty darn well.  That weekend had a fairly large number of accidents, then somewhat fewer the next week, and fewer the week after that, and now I’d say you’re reliably potty trained.  You still wear a pull-up at night, and at the moment you’re about 50/50 in terms of keeping it dry overnight.  Still, though, that qualifies you for preschool.

Our plan was to get you started at Willowwind at least a month before Little Potato’s birth, so you could get established in your routine there before the major change happens on the homefront.  That seems like it’s going to work out fine.  We visited there last week, and while you were a touch apprehensive, you got very interested in some of the Montessori works (especially the “potion,” which involves pouring colored water back and forth between containers).  It helped that you saw your old friend Digger Ben, who isn’t in your class but with whom you will have recess sometimes.  You also saw Craig, the grandpa of some kids we know from Miles’s time at Willowwind, who is a volunteer story reader for the preschool classes.

We came home and had lunch, and afterward you asked, “Can you drive me back to Willowwind so I can do more potions?”  We had to settle for a homemade approximation.  It really made me smile that you wanted so much to go back.  As long as they haven’t rotated the potions work out by the time you formally enroll, I think we’re golden.

As I was considering the prospect of enrolling you, a not-so-small part of me was thinking, “Oh, let’s just keep him home one more semester.  I’m going to miss him.”  I will absolutely miss you, but it will also be really nice to know that you’ll be doing fun and interesting activities at school while I’m taking care of a tiny newborn (and taking advantage of morning nap opportunities).  Let’s face it:  if you were home, you’d be watching videos.  And knowing you, you wouldn’t be content to sit still and watch a video for long.  You’d be watching ten minutes of a video, then wanting to do something else, which would leave very little time for the rest/nursing/diaper changing/laundry/walking around making silly noises cycle that comes with a tiny baby.

I was just telling your dad what a great gift it is that you and Miles have been playing together so well lately.  You’ve been playing school, Minecraft (not the app version, but a play-acting version you guys invented that involves Bristle Block swords and shovels), and other made-up games.  A couple of minutes ago, Miles came up and told me about something involving Lego races.  You were excited that you won a silver coin, which I’m pretty sure Miles pilfered from your dad’s change jar.  Not only am I thrilled that you guys are getting along and using your imaginations, but it’s going to be a huge help after Little Potato’s birth.

I hope you like him as much in practice as you do in theory.  You’ve been wanting to look at a lot of pictures and videos of yourself as a baby, including a super-cute one I just saw of you making ecstatic noises about blueberry puree.  You often say, “I love babies.”  We’ve been talking a lot about what it means to be a big brother.  Although I hope to continue the pregnancy into January, it’s possible that this is your last month as the baby of the family.  That’s kind of hard to fathom, but it’s also pretty cool to see you settle into a more mature lifestyle.

Not every moment has been easy.  You’ve had some serious tantrums lately, including one a couple of nights ago when your dad dared to put lotion on your dry skin.  It was bedtime, and being tired surely didn’t help things.  You screamed and howled, and there can’t have been more than five seconds of quiet before your sobs morphed into snores.  Then you had a good night’s sleep and felt fine in the morning.

Despite the rosy picture I painted above of you and Miles getting along so well, we’ve also had some trouble with you being too physical with him.  Your dad thinks it’s the Spider-man books and videos, which may be the case.  Sometimes your pretend web-slinging becomes more like punching, which is definitely not a habit we want to encourage.  The good news is that you’re becoming more responsive to punishment.  We don’t like yelling at you, but sometimes it’s the only thing that works.  It’s hard to see you get so sad, but hitting is not an option for us, either in terms of your behavior or our discipline strategy.  Your dad has been taking to your room and putting you in your chair for a time-out, and that seems to be reasonably effective.  Here’s to hoping you get the message and don’t get aggressive with another kid who wants to use the Willowwind potions.

Your current favorites:  weird British cartoons (the Octonauts, Where’s Wally, the Numberjacks), playing with Miles, earning potty success stickers, messing around with really expensive musical instruments while Miles is at his piano lessons, Play-Doh, playing with your Imaginext toys, licking my arms (sigh), preparing pretend food.  Last night you made me about fifteen pizzas, all of which were pepperoni-tacos-mushroom-veggies.  You also like to play with the toy stove Mubby got you, as well as helping out with real kitchen tasks.

Photo by Gary Clarke

We had a small snowfall last weekend, and you were so excited to get your Grand-shovel out, which is what you call the shovel Skittergramps got you.  You and your dad got our sidewalk and driveway cleared, but you didn’t want to stop, so you guys cleared the walks of some elderly neighbors.  Dr. Abadhi caught you in the act, and you earned your first dollar.  You were very proud and spent it on sour gummy worms.  You even shared them with Miles.

I really appreciate how receptive you’ve been to our nudges over the last month, Tobin.  You’re a smart, ambitious kid, and I know you’re ready to handle these new challenges that await you.  I’m still glad you’re only going to preschool half-time, though.  I’m not quite ready to send you off full-time yet.  Besides, if you were at school all day, I’d have no excuse to figure out exactly what the heck Numberjacks are.

With love as you charge confidently forward,




Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:06 pm

Tobin came out wearing one of Denny’s bedroom slippers and one of his gloves.

T:  I’m part man, part person!


Time traveling side dish

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:24 pm

Earlier, Miles walked in from school and asked what smelled so good.  It was vegetable beef soup in the crock pot.  Denny was trying to get him to have some at dinner, but he refused.

D:  Well, excuse me for wanting you to try something that you said smelled good.

M:  I thought it was cornbread.

D:  Mommy hadn’t even started the cornbread then.

M:  I was smelling the history…of cornbread…in the future.


Monthly Miles Memo #82

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:30 pm

My dear Miles,

At our choir rehearsal on Saturday, one of the adult members mentioned to you how much you’ve grown.  She didn’t mean in height (although I was looking at shots from an earlier concert, and you did look pretty tiny).  She meant in terms of your confidence, poise, and bravery.  When we first started, you wouldn’t leave my side for a moment at rehearsals or concerts.  Now you’re happy to run off during breaks and play with your friends (mostly a cadre of Minecraft-loving boys), and you sang a sweet and clear solo in our concert yesterday.

I hope that kind of confidence is emerging in school, too.  We had your first parent-teacher conference of first grade a week or two ago, and your teacher used the phrase “deer in the headlights” to describe you early in the year.  She did say that you’ve opened up more, but our biggest concern for your school success is your confidence level and your willingness to take risks.

We mostly like your school, and the diversity of the student body is largely a very good thing.  The downside is that due to a variety of issues in students’ lives, the teachers need to spend a lot of time and energy on basic classroom management.  I suppose that’s a concern in many schools.  Still, I’m not completely comfortable with the emphasis the staff put on rule-following and obedience.  I can see both sides of it.  Obviously, keeping a classroom under control is a prerequisite for a learning-friendly environment.  On the other hand, I don’t often see you getting rewarded for critical thinking, creativity, or kindness toward others.  I see you getting rewarded for being quiet in the hallways and not disrupting class.  Again, these are clearly good skills.  I just hope you’re getting enough of what you need to help you improve—challenges and support for risk-taking and encouragement to branch out—rather than what you’re already good at.

Photo by Denny

You’ve taken on some new interests lately.  You still like Wild Kratts, but it’s no longer the first thing you want to do when you get home from school.  Recently you’ve been more excited about the Magic Treehouse book series and accompanying website.  You could absolutely read the books on your own, but for the time being, you like your dad or me to read them to you.  I think your dad read to you for over an hour last night.  I do wish you’d challenge yourself, but it’s pretty sweet for you guys to have that special activity to share, too.

Tobin and I had a rough day today.  He’s not feeling his best and he’s been pretty tough to deal with.  But after you got home from school, you were so kind and helpful to him.  You guys got an educational computer game going, and you included him so well.  Now you two are playing school.  He calls you “Mr. Miles,” and no one is more excited than you when he raises his hand to ask for a bathroom break.  There will be more on the potty training in his next Tobin Times, but for now, I want to focus on you.  You’ve been a great support and champion for him as he develops, and as I get more tired and uncomfortable in Little Potato’s pregnancy, I appreciate it all the more.

You and Tobin went to a big sibling class at the hospital a while back in preparation for Little Potato’s arrival.  When you arrived, the teacher had a slideshow ready to go, and the first slide was of a big cat cub.  It was clearly posed in a studio situation, lounging on a branch against a white background.  The teacher asked what kind of animal it was.  You looked closely and said, “It has retractable claws, so it’s not a cheetah…”  I suggested that it might be a lion cub.  You looked again and said, “No, because lions don’t climb.”  We never did figure out exactly what it was.  I still think it was a lion cub who was posed by someone who didn’t know a fake tree was an inaccurate place for it to be.

In any case, I was impressed by your application of knowledge, as was the teacher.  She also appreciated that you knew what an umbilical cord was.

Photo by Denny

Your Leonardo da Vinci Halloween costume was a big hit, especially since we pinned print-outs of the Mona Lisa and da Vinci’s flying machine plans to your cape.  You had fun at your class party, and once again, you were proud and helpful to your little Spider-man brother who wanted to do everything with you.  You also did a good job going around the neighborhood.  Our pantry is still full of treats, even with your dad and me doing our best to help.

You’re excited to become a double big brother, and I have zero doubt that you’ll do well.  One of your favorite things to do lately is text, especially with Uncle Tyler when he sends us pictures of baby Aleks.  You coo over how cute his is, and then you demand my phone so you can reply.  You really enjoy the speech-to-text feature on the phone, especially when it gets the words wrong.  It’s pretty hilarious sometimes.  You wanted to text your dad that Tobin had a potty-palooza (code from a book about potty-training for a poop in the toilet), and the phone changed it to “party pollution.”  We decided that such an event would pollute a party pretty thoroughly, so it made sense in a way.

Photo by Gary Clarke

You’ve finished swimming lessons for the year, and you enjoyed them so much we had to promise that we’ll go swimming as a family soon.  You improved a lot.  You gained confidence and can swim a few yards doing a couple of different strokes.  You’re still a little tense in your back float and reluctant to relax and lean completely back, but you’ve definitely improved over the course of this fall’s lessons.  We’ll get back to that once the winter is done.

I know I’ve told you this many times before, Miles, but I’m so proud of you.  You’re in a really good stage right now, and I’m relishing it.  Thank you for being such a kind and thoughtful boy.  I’m so glad I’m your mom.




A grave injustice

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:24 pm

I was picking a sticky bit of something off Tobin’s head, and a few hairs came out with it.

T:  (in outrage) What did you do to my curls?


Key to the city

Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:39 pm

We were talking about a trip we took to the Florida Keys and speculating about what might happen if we did it again.

T:  Would we drive to the airport?

A:  Yes, and then we’d fly to Miami, and then we’d rent a car and drive to the Keys.

T:  Your ami?

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