A new iteration

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:20 am

Tobin asked what the word version means.  I tried to explain it by saying it was when there’s one of something, then there’s a small change.  I was having a hard time getting my point across.

T:  Oh, you mean like a variation?


Utter destruction

Filed under: — Aprille @ 7:29 pm

We were visiting my parents.  Tobin was in his pajamas and Miles was in the bathtub.  Tobin was messing around in the bathroom and managed to get himself all wet.

A:  Tobin, you’re all wet, and those are the only pajamas I brought for you.

T:  I’m doomed!


The Tobin Times #44

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:35 pm

Dear Tobin,

When nobody was looking, you turned sweet again.  I understand that this preschool age is a time of a lot of growth, and that has to be hard on you.  It’s funny how much you can change and grow from one month to another.  Sometimes you regress.  You’re never boring.  You are often concerned about the well-being of those around you.  You frequently wander into a room and ask, “So, how’s Callum?”  You know how to keep a conversation going by asking open-ended questions.  Mubby told me you guys were Skyping the other day and, when there was a lull in conversation, you said, “So, you had fun in Nashville?”  It reminds me of your great-Granddad’s bartender style.

I was chatting with the nanny of one of your classmates, and she said Ben is really excited about inviting you to his birthday party.  She told me that he doesn’t want to invite everyone in the class, because not everyone is nice to him.  I was so proud to learn that you’re a good friend.  You were super psyched to hear about the upcoming party, so I hope you have a good time together.  Ben’s one of the littler guys in your class, as are you, and I think sometimes the bigger boys get overwhelming.  You have plenty of experience holding your own with Miles, though, so you probably can usher Ben to safety.  Unfortunately, Ben won’t be joining you at Hoover in the fall.  You seem unconcerned about the transition, though we’ll see if that changes as August approaches.  Your friend Jack from Willowwind will also be at Hoover, though I don’t know if you’ll be in the same class.  You’re a pretty resilient kid, so I bet you’ll do fine.  I’m probably fretting about it more than you are.

Spring has afforded more opportunities for outside play, which you always enjoy.  The rainy days thwart you, but when the ground is dry, you love to play with your construction toys in the dirt in our front yard.  You also sometimes drag your big Imaginext toys outside, because for some reason they’re just more fun to play with out in the sun.  Warm and humid days bring out your trademark curls, and I love fluffing them.  You’ll probably find them annoying when you’re older, but for now, I’m glad you’re proud of your crazy mane.

You’re full of enthusiasm and joy, and your lust for life brings a smile to my face many times a day.  We’re in Ames visiting Mubby and Skittergramps now, and when I told you about our plans for the trip, you said, “That’s my best dream!”  About fifteen minutes into our drive to central Iowa, you said, “I’m going to take a nap.”  You closed your eyes, leaned on the side of your car seat, and slept for an hour.  Then you woke up cheerful as can be.  That’s pretty major, since you’re usually very crabby when you wake up from a nap.  It was one of the most pleasant sleep experiences of yours I’ve ever witnessed.

We’ve been working in the garden together.  We put up a pea trellis and planted two kinds of peas, carrots, and two kinds of lettuce.  You’re not afraid to get dirty, and the hardest part is keeping you from digging up stuff that I’ve already cultivated.  You’re a great friend to worms, especially the small ones.  You hold them up and coo, “He’s so cute!”, not unlike how you coo over Callum.  We like to make plans for the summer, when we’ll run through the sprinkler in the back yard and take breaks to munch strawberries from the strawberry patch.  I hope you have a taste for fresh-from-the-vine peas, too.  Those were always my favorite as a kid, partly because I thought I was really getting away with something by raiding Skittergramps’s garden.  I didn’t figure out until decades later that he planted peas just so Tyler and I would eat them, and he didn’t care at all whether we did it straight from the source or off a plate at the dining room table.  Heck, he was probably happy we saved him the work of shelling them.

Your current favorites:  lunch dates with me at Panera, where you eat bagels with cream cheese; Imaginext toy videos, wherein adults play with toys and post videos; actually playing with Imaginext toys; lining up all the Imaginext characters and accessories in order of size, affiliation, and color; ice cream with “black stripes” (Hershey’s syrup); doing anything Miles is doing.  You guys recently inherited a computer that Uncle Tyler thought was beyond repair, but your dad put a new hard drive and some elbow grease into it, and now it’s a fantastic machine.  You love to use it, but you’re pretty good about balancing your screen time with more creative and active pastimes, too.

I’m looking forward to a fun summer with you, my little sweetheart.  We’ve got some fun adventures planned, both grand and small (kind of like you).





Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:59 pm

Tobin was showing me one of his action figures.

T:  And he has a helmet…and…eye helmets.

A:  Goggles?

T:  No, eye helmets.


The Callum Chronicle #3

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:15 pm

My little Cal-puppy,

Congratulations, my love.  You’re officially out of the fourth trimester, that time in infancy when, if we were any other species, we wouldn’t have been born yet.  Thanks to our big skulls housing our big brains, we humans have to be born when we’re still basically fetuses, which can be tough on parents and babies.  But now you’re three months old, all ready for the world.

To be honest, you have been a pretty sweet and chill guy since you were newborn, so the fourth trimester wasn’t even that awful.  Still, it’s nice now that you’re completing your basic tasks more predictably.  You’re sleeping more reasonably:  you’re not much of a napper, but you do a good job at night.  You’re eating just fine:  I stopped recording your feedings and am just nursing you as you request it, since you’re growing and thriving.  You’ve been in three-to-six month sized clothes for a couple of weeks now, which makes me ache a little, but it’s better than shrinking.  You poop and pee copiously, as a baby ought.

You’ve got a fantastic, huge, and quick smile.  You’re starting to laugh.  It’s not completely regular yet, but it’s unmistakable.  You even laughed at my old favorite “Pew, pew, stinky feet” joke.

I put you in the same striped outfit that I photographed your brothers in around this age, but I didn’t manage to get a surefire winner in that photo session.  I’ll have to try again on another good-light-in-the-bedroom day and post that next month.  I have a three-up frame all picked out.  I’m glad we’re done having babies, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a frame for four five-by-seven photos that matches our general frame aesthetic.

I’m also glad we’re done having babies because kids are a lot of work.  Fortunately, you have a very sweet disposition, and that helps a lot.

You’re starting to discover your hands and your capacity for grabbing things.  Your aim still isn’t very precise, but you’re pretty good at getting your hands into your mouth.  I really hope you don’t end up a thumb-sucker.  We tried to give you a pacifier, but you weren’t really into it.  I breathed a sigh of relief to some degree, because breaking a kid of a pacifier habit seems like a huge pain.  But thumbs are a much bigger headache—cutting them off doesn’t seem like a good option, because I like you as a primate—so I hope you don’t get too attached.

Your favorites haven’t changed a lot yet.  You like milk, watching your brothers, cuddling up under my armpit, your bouncy seat (until you don’t), your swing (until you don’t), and going on walks.  One thing that’s been frustrating is that you no longer conk out when your dad wears you in the mei-tai wrap.  That has complicated bedtime.  Now, instead of sleeping peacefully with your dad downstairs while I put your brothers to bed, I have to get you to sleep and then scamper off to put your brothers to bed.  Sometimes you stay asleep, sometimes you don’t.  When you don’t, I have to stop what I’m doing with your brothers and go address your needs, and then your dad takes care of the big boys.  He doesn’t mind doing it, but for some reason my presence is in high demand from everyone at bedtime.  I’m not sure why lying next to me in the dark is so much better than lying next to him in the dark, but it’s everybody’s first choice.

I hope one day to lie next to your dad in the dark again.  You’re pretty happy in your position right next to me for now, though.  I’m sure we make quite a picture.   You start out in the middle of the bed on a pad to catch any puke or diaper leakage, but you scoot closer and closer to me throughout the night.  You often manage to pivot so your head is right up against me but your feet are pointing out toward the side of the bed.  I have the sheet and comforter only up to my waist to keep your head away from possible suffocators, and I have a small blanket that I can put on my upper body but keep off you.  I also sleep with a sock over my eyes to block the light from the lamp I keep on so I can check periodically that you’re in a safe position or to locate the nose suction apparatus if you’re stuffed up.  Everything’s an adventure.

And, like a little edelweiss, every morning you greet me.  Your smiles are really the best.

We’ve been taking a lot of walks together, now that the springtime is warming up the air.  I love this time of year, with the tree buds poking out and the first flowers starting to show.  We’re even in that miraculous few days when the magnolia trees are in bloom but they haven’t shed all over the lawns and sidewalks yet.  I was telling your dad the other day, I think a winter baby is harder than a summer baby during late pregnancy, with all the hassle of trying to put on boots and winter gear and worrying about slipping on ice and weather emergencies that complicate travel.  But the upside of a winter baby is that now you’re a spring three-month-old, and we can get out together and enjoy that amazing rebirth that our side of the globe goes through every March and April.

Blossom of snow, may you bloom and grow.

I love you, my Callum.






Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:51 am

Tobin wanted to watch videos on my computer, and I wanted him to wait a while.  He went to the couch and sat.  Later, I joined him and offered to help him get started with a video.

T:  I was so patient I freaked myself out!


Monthly Miles Memo #87

Filed under: — Aprille @ 5:01 pm

My special Miles,

As usual, at the end of your piano lesson today, your teacher came out to update me on what you worked on and what we should think about for next week.  Now, she is normally a very positive and effusive person (perfect traits for a kids’ music teacher), but this week she was especially excited about your progress.  You have been rocking your hardest piece yet, Linus and Lucy (aka the Peanuts theme).  I think I wrote about that last month, when it was brand new and very daunting.  Now you can play the whole thing, beginning to end.  It’s still not completely smooth—you need to pause here and there to find the next hand position—but I am very impressed by your hard work and dedication.  It’s a whole lot harder, mentally, to play competing rhythms on the right and left hands than to just play chords on the left.  I am so happy that you haven’t gotten frustrated and given up.  You’ve just chipped away at the piece every week, and you’re now getting to the satisfying part:  sitting down and playing a really cool song.  It’s been a privilege to go through this experience with you.

We had a fun, small-scale Easter celebration last weekend.  Sunday morning represented a brief lull in a swath of illness that has gone through our house.  Tobin had his mega, multi-orifice blowout a couple of weeks ago, and then he had an apparent relapse.  I think it must have been something else, something more contagious, because not long after we got done hunting for eggs, I started to feel queasy.  I spend most of Sunday in bed, and a day or two later, your dad got it.  You and Callum have so far miraculously avoided it.  I think we’re all past it now.  I really, really hope so.

You’ve been a fun guy to have around lately.  I’m glad your dad and I are feeling better, because it seems like you’ve been getting the short end of the parenting stick lately.  When our resources were so strained, the most capable kid ends up taking care of himself more than usual.  It used to be that Callum would be happy to sleep downstairs in your dad’s arms while I put you and Tobin to bed, but lately he’s been very grumpy at night and will only accept me.  That means that you and Tobin haven’t been getting your usual nighttime ritual, which involves me lying in bed with you and cuddling until you both fall asleep, first Tobin in the bottom bunk and then you in the top bunk.  Tobin has been pretty ticked off about that, and listening to his bad attitude is only marginally easier than listening to Callum scream.  You, however, have been so sweet and understanding.  I really appreciate how your age and maturity level have advanced to the degree that you can think of others’ needs and see some empirical priorities.  Still, it breaks my heart a little when I have to crawl down from the top bunk, apologizing for not being there for you, and you sigh a shaky sigh and say a reluctant, “Okay.”  Last night Callum did better and I was able to stay with you.  Maybe that will start happening more often.

Once we start Family Folk Machine again in the fall, we’ll have some special time together.  Tobin claims he’s joining too, but something tells me he’ll spend more time playing with his friend Digger Ben than singing.  Like your piano work, singing together in Family Folk Machine has become a really important Mommy/Miles activity, and I’ll be glad to get back to it.

You were a featured part of a concert a couple of weeks ago, the For Kids & By Kids project.  The Family Folk Machine kids recorded a song for the CD of the same name, and you performed live at the Englert for the CD release event.  It’s pretty cool that you’re a soloist on a CD distributed to people all around the city.  You did a great job, exhibiting no noticeable stage fright or reluctance to sing right into the mic in that big, full theater.  That’s a pretty big sign of growth for a kid who has struggled with shyness.  I love it when you stretch yourself, Miles.  You can do amazing things.

I read an article  today that scientifically supports something I’d always suspected:  babies wake up a lot at night because it’s a natural part of our evolutionary progress.  The article went on to state that there’s a strong correlation between babies who wake up a lot at night and  high cognitive function, empathy, and conscience.  I wish someone had told me that when you were a tiny baby, Miles.  I remember how much I struggled in those early months when I was so sleep-deprived.  Later on, when we’d worked out a pretty decent night management strategy and I didn’t feel tired during the day anymore, I still felt stressed out because I kept getting the message I was doing it wrong.  “Good” babies sleep through the night, and “good” parents find a way to make it happen.   By the time Tobin was born, I was totally over any hangups about that and just did it in a way that worked for us, and you’d better believe I don’t let anybody make me feel bad about the way Callum sleeps.  But you were my first baby, and I wanted to do it right, whatever that meant. The staff at the doctor’s office tsk-tsked me about co-sleeping, about putting you down when you were already asleep, about nursing you to sleep.  I beat myself up about it plenty, but I could never bring myself to do anything else.  Those things soothed you, and when you needed me at night, I just woke up and took care of you.

Well, apparently that helped to make you smart and empathetic, so those tsk-tskers can suck it.

Yes, I realize correlation does not equal causation.  Yes, I am still jealous of people whose babies naturally sleep eight consecutive hours through no particular effort on the parents’ part.  But the article helps.

Over the weekend, you proposed a game for our family to play called “Secret Friends.”  We each drew another family member’s name out of a shoebox (except Callum, who cannot read, write, or dictate).  All week we’ve been writing notes to our Secret Friend, and you’re planning a big reveal event this weekend.  You helped Tobin write his notes, and they’ve all been very sweet.  I’ll have to gather them up and post pictures of them when the project is finished.

I hope I get to lie with you until you fall asleep tonight, Miles.  I did it when you were a baby, and even though you don’t truly need me to do it now, I’m pretty happy that you want me to.  You’re not going to want your mom in your bunk bed with you forever, so I’d better soak you up while I can.






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