Positive associations

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:42 pm

Miles was quizzing Tobin about his preferences for some game he was playing.

M:  What’s your favorite sport?

T:  Uncle Tyler.

A:  Maybe he means football.

T:  I love Uncle Tyler so much.


Upside down and backward

Filed under: — Aprille @ 7:37 pm

At dinner. Tobin was describing what happens when he eats.

T:  It goes down through my birth canal into my uterus.


The Tobin Times #40

Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:04 pm

My sweet Tobin,

I had forgotten what it’s like to suddenly stop being the (near) sole influence on a child’s brain input (along with your dad and brother, of course).  It’s a little jarring to hear you start singing songs I’ve never heard and rattling off facts we didn’t teach you.  A day or two ago, you walked up to the globe in the living room and  recited a perfect rhyme about the continents.  You didn’t have a one hundred percent accuracy rate with where you were pointing, but I was still pretty impressed.  It did make me wonder–does Central America count as a continent, or is that just a political demarcation?  It didn’t make the list in your song.  I’m going to have to look that up.

This new knowledge set is coming from school, naturally.  I’ve been so happy about the easy transition you’ve made.  You still like weekends and free-form time at home with me in the afternoon, but your days at school have been going great.  It’s been nice for me to have some relaxing time in the morning now that my energy levels are at an all-time low.  It’s also been nice to have some gift-wrapping time with no curious helpers poking around.  Still, my favorite part of every day is seeing you come out of your classroom, excited and proud of the work you’ve done that morning, ready to rush into my arms with huge smiles on both of our faces.  I love picking your brother up, too, but the world-weariness of a first grader doesn’t have quite the sock-you-in-the-gut charm of preschool joy.

I was helping you get off the potty recently, and you started counting in Spanish.  I consider that a sign of true potty success, that you’ve mastered the skill well enough that you can focus on a little foreign language practice mid-process.

There has been a lot of yelling in our house lately.  You want to be closely involved with everything your brother does, and you are sometimes too aggressive with him.  Combine this with Miles’s naturally tender disposition, and the result is shouting and tears at least once or twice a day.  He gets upset, you get frustrated, you guys freak out at each other, and ten minutes later everything is back to normal (usually).  I hope this helps Little Potato get well used to the noise and emotional fluctuations of our world and that he’ll be chill and resilient once he comes out.

Photo by Denny

You love reading the big brother book we got at the hospital sibling class.  You like to hear the details over and over, both the physical (you are pretty clear on what a uterus is by this point) and philosophical (“What does it mean to be a big brother?”).  I’m sure it will be a shock to your lifestyle, especially when you have to give up some amount of cuddling from me.  I’ve been emphasizing that Little Potato is your baby too—he’s our whole family’s baby—and I think your strong independent streak will help you take a leadership role.

The Montessori learning environment has helped foster that independence too.  You want to do everything by yourself lately, which sometimes results in shoes on the wrong feet and some weird clothing organization.  We’re trying to keep a big picture attitude about it.  Sometimes it’s hard to watch you jam toys and games into containers with little regard for strategy or well-being of the contents (especially for your dad), but mostly I’m happy that you want to do it yourself.

Photo by Denny

Your current favorites:  oranges, both Clementine and Cara Cara; Jake and the Neverland Pirates; this Indian mythology cartoon whose protagonist you swear is named Kreeshner (hint:  Krishna); reading while cuddling in Mommy and Daddy’s bed; Bristle Blocks; your animal and letter magnets.  You invented your own Montessori-style work by matching up the pairs of animals.  We ended up with two sets, though a few are missing and for some reason we have three pandas.  You are great at playing pretend, and you also love to squish into the chair with Miles when he’s playing his PBSkids.org games.  He usually tolerates that pretty well.

The holiday season has been fun and not too chaotic so far.  We decided to stay home, just in case Little Potato decides to emerge early, and all the grandparents are coming to visit us.  You and Miles have been counting down the days, and you especially have loved having the Christmas tree up.  You mess around with the ornaments all the time, and we’ve been making more to fill the hours at home.  We don’t have very many breakable ornaments, but you immediately homed in on the ones that are fragile.  Nothing has broken so far, which is reason enough to be thankful.

I remember being proud as a little kid to give my parents homemade gifts, but at some point I realized that the drippily-glued mosaics and picture frames were actually sort of crappy.  But now, honestly, I cannot wait to open the package that contains the  ornament you made at school.  I hope it has sparkles.

Happy holidays to you, my precious little Tobes.  The best part of the holidays is spending it with excited little kids, and you’re one of my very, very favorites.

Photo by Denny




Of course he does

Filed under: — Aprille @ 5:51 pm

T:  I love our ornaments.

A:  They look pretty on the tree, don’t they?

T:  We have the beautifullest Christmas tree in the whole world.

A:  Yes, it is beautiful.

T:  (conspiratorially) I like the breakable ornaments the best.


Monthly Miles Memo #83

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:18 am

My sweet Miles,

This is your very last month of being six.  I remember turning seven myself, how much older seven seemed than six.  Maybe because it’s the first multi-syllabic age?  I can’t say for sure, but it definitely felt like the transition to big kid life.  You’ve continued to be a fun and helpful guy to have around, doing your homework and piano practice without complaint and usually playing nicely with your brother.  You still have a low threshold for wigging out when Tobin annoys you, but you guys have had more and more long stretches of imaginative play together.  Right now you like to do  play-acting versions of Cyberchase and Magic Tree House.

Magic Tree House is a series of books that you’ve gotten excited about.  You especially enjoy biographies, and sometimes the Magic Tree House characters go back in time and meet famous people, like Louis Armstrong (whom I like to imagine is a relative of ours) or your all-time favorite, Leonardo da Vinci.  Your preference is still for your dad or me to read the books to you, but lately you’ve been reading a chapter to yourself at bedtime to get your reading minutes in.  That represents a real paradigm shift for you.  I think it’s the first time you’ve ever felt confident enough to read something a little bit challenging that no one has read to you before.  You’ve had the skills for a long time—you breeze through your school-assigned books effortlessly.  I’m really proud that you’re feeling ready to take on new content and read for the pleasure of experiencing a story.

We did something pretty exciting last weekend.  The kids from Family Folk Machine were invited to record a song that’s going to be part of a CD celebrating local kids’ music.  You sang “Deep Blue Sea,” including your special solo.  I was very impressed by how focused and disciplined you were throughout the recording process.  You’re one of the younger kids in the group, and a lot of the kids had a very hard time being respectful of the recording equipment and keeping their attention on the tasks at hand.  Not you, though.  You kept up your concentration through multiple takes, and I think you could have kept going.  Our leader, Jean, wanted to do one more take, but when she asked the kids if they could handle it, a chorus of “NO!” arose.  You told me later you were going to say “yes,” but nobody else did.  I think you got a good recording in any case, and the look on your face when you heard it played back the first time was one of pure delight.

We’re probably going to be taking a break from Family Folk Machine next semester, not because we don’t enjoy it, but because Little Potato will likely be taking up most of my energy during those early months.  I think you could handle it without me there, but you prefer not to.  I like that it’s a special thing for us to do together, anyway.  We’ll be back next fall, possibly with your brother along with us.  We have our final concert tonight, the annual holiday concert at the Englert.  That’s always tiring, since it’s on a weeknight, and I’m tired all the time these days regardless.  It will be nice to have a break, though I know we’ll miss singing and our old friends.

We had a mostly fun time at both sides of our family Thanksgiving celebrations.  At Jackie and Paul’s, you had fun with cousins Austin, Julianne, and Danielle.  Of course you got some good quality time with Nana and Papa, seducing everyone into the Where’s Waldo universe.  More from that series of books are on your Christmas list.

Photo by Denny

At Mubby and Skittergramps’s house, illness put a bit of a damper on the festivities.  Tyler, Oxana, and Aleks couldn’t visit due to illness at their house, but that didn’t stop you from cheering the Nebraska Cornhuskers to victory.  Unfortunately, that victory wasn’t enough to keep head coach Pelini in a job, so Tyler’s future remains unknown at this time.  We hope he either stays in Lincoln or ends up somewhere reasonably close, because nobody wants that cute little chub Aleks to get away from us.  You especially get so excited when we get new pictures of him, and you were very disappointed when they weren’t able to come for Thanksgiving.

You really love babies a lot.  I’ve been trying to paint a realistic picture of human infancy for you and Tobin,  so you’re not let down when Little Potato arrives and isn’t all that much fun right away.  I’ve been telling you how babies, at first, just sleep and eat and poop and cry, and sometimes it can be very tiring and frustrating.  Without fail, you remind me, “But they’re worth it because they’re so cute.”  I can’t deny that one.  My clearest memory of your birth, Miles (even clearer than vomiting on your dad’s shoes while in labor), is my absolute certainty that your bruised, swollen, cone-headed little self was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

Photo by Denny

I still feel that way.  Your baby teeth are falling out and impossibly big adult teeth are growing in their places.  You’re stretching out into a string bean, and I see your ribs every night when you make silly poses in front of the mirror.  You’re still little enough to cuddle up in the big chair with me and read a chapter of the Magic Tree House, though.  I know you’re almost seven and everything, but I’m glad you still fit right into the crook of my arm.




Powder room

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:44 pm

Denny was opening a new package of Kleenex.

T:  What’s that?

D:  Kleenexes for the bathroom downstairs.

T:  Bathrooms don’t have noses.


The gentle glow

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:28 pm

Miles was being grumpy.

D:  Here, this might cheer you up.

M:  Nothing can cheer me up.  Except a lava lamp.

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