The Tobin Times #41

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:17 pm

My dear Tobin,

You are ready for spring, big time.  Just about every night, you end up running back and forth through the living room and hallway, because you have so much energy to burn.  You have outside time at school every day, but I can tell you’re really missing the evenings you and Miles and your dad spend at the park during nicer weather.  The indoor lap-running works okay, because you generally crash pretty well at night, but it would be better if you could do it out in the fresh air.

This month has been kind of a blur, due to the arrival of your new brother Callum.  We’re getting closer to spring, and hopefully by the time the first balmy days of March arrive, your dad and I will have adjusted and will be able to be more active along with you.  You’ve been a great big brother so far.  You love to hold Callum and kiss him on the head. Today you said, “He’s so sweet and classy.”  I don’t think you know what that means, but it was nice of you to say anyway.  You haven’t expressed any negativity toward him.  Really our biggest challenge is that you have a hard time being quiet.  He’s still little enough that he can sleep through noisy situations, but I’m tired all the time, and sometimes your shouting wears me out further.

You’re still as enthusiastic about life as ever.  You got invited to your first school-friend birthday party, and you talked about it for days and days before the big event.  You had a very good time.  School is continuing to go well.  You are always cheerful when the school day ends, and you seem to enjoy all the works and other activities you do there.  I’m very proud of what a good transition you’ve made.  You want to do everything all by yourself, which is often not very time-effective, but I guess it’s a good idea in the long run.

Of course, you always want to do everything Miles does.  You make homework activities for yourself that are an extension of playing school, and you tell me proudly that you do your homework just like Miles does.  You sing and play the piano like Miles, and your dad and I have noticed that you’ve picked up a lot of his phrasings and vocal intonations.

You are sweetly, spontaneously kind and grateful.  You often genuinely thank me for the meals I make you, even when it’s something extremely low-effort.  You say things like, “Nothing better than a hot bowl of vegetable soup!” and “Thank you for making me three good meals, Mommy.”  It’s easy to catch you smiling.

You got to see all four of your grandparents as well as Uncle Michael in the last couple of weeks, and you had lots of fun with them.  Mubby tells me you were very good while they took care of you during my longer-than-expected hospital stay.  Skittergramps said you were very frustrating sometimes.  I believe both of them.  You’re three.  I’ve been seeing the term “threenager” floating around the Internet lately, which describes the volatile nature of kids your age.  It describes you well.

Your current favorites:  piling up huge numbers of stuffed animals and blankets and sleeping surrounded by them, granola bars, playing Candyland, waffles, dressing yourself, cuddling up for stories on the couch or the big chair.  I am medically forbidden from lifting anything over 15 pounds right now, and I was worried that you would not respond well to me not being able to pick you up.  But you’ve done well.  You just scramble up next to me, get cozy, and we’re set.

Photo by Denny

The hardest part (well, one of the hardest parts) of my hospital stay was being away from you.  One of the days that you came to see us, you asked if I was coming home that day, and I had to say no.  Your sweet little face just crumpled in sadness.  Keep in mind that I am still riddled with post-partum hormones, as well as dealing with the emotional and physical ramifications of a birth that was nowhere near what I hoped for—besides the obviously wonderful result of a healthy baby.  I am a real Milhouse van Houten these days (“You cry when you scrape your knee, you cry when we’re out of chocolate milk, you cry when you’re doing long division and you have a remainder leftover”).  A couple of days ago, I was standing in the shower, and I remembered that broken-hearted look on my sweet little boy’s face, and I cried and cried.

I am aware that it’s dumb to cry in the shower about something that resolved itself nearly two weeks ago.  You probably don’t even remember it.  But when you hurt, I hurt.

And when you laugh, I laugh.  When you get into the bathtub in your underpants and laugh, I laugh.  When you stare at yourself in the mirror and grin, so proud of your haircut, I grin.  When you’re psyched because you kept your Pull-Up dry overnight, I’m psyched (we’re still running about 50/50 on feeling psyched in the morning).

I’m really glad you’re our family’s baloney brother, Tobes.  There’s nobody I’d rather squeeze into a figurative sandwich than you.

Photo by Gary Clarke













Monthly Miles Memo #84

Filed under: — Aprille @ 7:11 pm

Dear Miles,

Happy birthday, my sweet seven-year-old.  You can read, write, do math, play piano, and take care of babies.  You are responsible, kind, (mostly) patient, and you still love a good cuddle.  You can handle car line by yourself—that’s where you get dropped off and picked up from the parking lot rather than walked up to school.  You sometimes have a hard time finding things even when we tell you exactly where they are.  You love a good joke and learning about historical figures.  You never once balked at the idea of sharing a birthday, even though your dad and I were hoping it wouldn’t happen, so you could keep your special day.

Photo by Gary Clarke

As you may have noticed, you have a new little brother.  You have been excited about his arrival for months, and you even confessed that you planned to use your birthday candle wish to wish that he’d be born.  Well, you got lucky.  I went into labor at 11:30 p.m. on your birthday, and he was born the next day.

You are seriously the greatest big brother I could imagine.  You love to hold him and talk to him and sing to him.  He loves to watch you, and he often calms down when he hears your voice.  He must think it’s pretty cool to have a seven-year-old brother.  You’re not even mad that we didn’t name him Fred.

Photo by Gary Clarke

Seven years old seems to suit you well, too.  The gaps in your mouth are filling in with big new teeth, though you still have plenty of tooth fairy visits in your future.  You’re a dedicated student at school and of the piano.  We offered you the opportunity to miss piano lessons and a day of school so you could come hang out at the hospital more, but you chose to stick with your routine.  Mubby said she could tell it was a tough decision for you, because of course you wanted to come see the baby, but you also found value in keeping things as predictable as possible.

I’m not able to go up and down stairs yet, so our piano practicing has been a little weird.  Our strategy right now is for us to look at the piece you’re working on together, then you go downstairs and play it.  I can hear your playing pretty well from upstairs, so I can give you feedback when you come back up.  Then we move on to the next song and repeat until we’re through your tasks.  You have been getting good piano-related exercise.  I am also doing well in my recovery, so I’ll be able to get back to my normal piano guidance style soon.

Photo by Denny

Your Christmas was a good time, naturally.  We decided to stay home, but we were lucky in that family came to visit us.  We had a great time playing with new toys and enjoying good food with Mubby, Skittergramps, Nana, Papa, and Uncle Michael.  A very special gift you received was a refurbished school desk.  It’s nice for you to have a place to store your stuff, and you look so cute sitting at it.  We’ve still mostly been doing homework at the dining room table, because it’s easier for a grownup to sit down with you there, but you like the desk for playing.

You got a special treat on your birthday:  no school.  We didn’t have much for snow last week, but the temperatures were very low.  As it turned out, you had that one full cancellation and several other late starts on the surrounding days.  Mubby and Skittergramps said that was nice, because you were able to have fun, relaxing mornings together without having to rush around.

Another thing that made me proud while I was away at the hospital:  I had asked if you would be willing to sleep in the bottom bunk with Tobin, because he sleeps so much better when someone’s with him.  Even though you really prefer the top bunk, you were happy to make a sacrifice to help our family.  Mubby said she offered to sleep with Tobin, but you insisted that it was your responsibility.  You take these things very seriously.  I love knowing that I can count on you.

Your current favorites:  the song “Red River Valley,” which you first learned about in a Magic Tree House book.  You and your dad found a recording of it, and I thought it sounded like something you could play on the piano.  I transcribed it as well as I could, and you have had so much fun playing it.  Your piano teacher has been helping you with it, and I think she thought it was cool that you brought in your own music.  That’s also the song you love to sing to Callum the most, but you change the line “the cowboy who loves you so true” to “the brother who loves you so true.”

It’s pretty much the greatest.

Other favorites include Big Hero 6—you saw the movie twice, and you got a book for your birthday and a toy for a big brother present.  Your favorite foods haven’t shifted much.  You’re still in your rut of pasta, Cheerios, hot dogs, and fruit.  Oh, you like waffles, too.

This was your golden birthday:  you turned seven on January seventh.  We tried to make it special for you, with a sparkly golden number seven to hang from the chandelier, yellow balloons, and a cake with a golden seven on it.  We ate dinner at your favorite restaurant (Noodles & Company), opened presents, and tried to remind you how very, very important you are to us.

I think little Callum looks like you, Miles.  It’s hard to know for sure, since his face hasn’t really settled into its final position yet.  Maybe it’s also because he’s a winter baby like you, and he’s wearing the same clothes you wore when you were brand new.  But when I see his little face, it takes me straight back to the winter of 2008.  I was freaked out and exhausted and utterly in love with the tiny guy who looked up at me from his swaddling blankets.  I never would have had two more kids if you hadn’t been so wonderful, Miles.  Even the not-so-good times, the frustrating bouts of stubbornness and illogical behavior and tantrums, all of that taught me that you are worth it.  Babies are the only thing worth anything.

You may be seven years old, but you’ll always be my sweet first baby.









A solid fellow

Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:55 pm

Bedtime stories.

A:  Fidgety Fish, by Ruth Galloway.

T:  Illustrated by Erlin Muscular.

I have no idea who Erlin Muscular is, but Tobin thinks he illustrated 80% of our storybook collection.  He’s been mentioning him every night for days.


The dark side

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:57 pm

T:  Why can girls who are pregnant swim instead of walk?

A:  Well, pregnant people can swim or walk.  But I like to swim because it makes me feel lighter.

T:  Yeah, walking makes you feel darker.

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