The Tobin Times #47

Filed under: — Aprille @ 7:43 pm

My sweet, adventurous Tobin,

We made it!  After some long days of driving, a great time in Nashville, and more long driving days to get home, our vacation has come and gone.  You’ve been asking to go back and making plans for the next time we visit.

Photo by Gary Clarke

You and Miles spent as much time as possible in hotel pools, hitting the water on both transition nights near St. Louis and every day in Brentwood.  You were your typical brave self, helping Miles push his boundaries and doing some really good run-and-jumps off the edge of the pool.  Of course you also had a lot of fun doing other things, like our trips to the zoo, the science museum, and spending time with family.  You always have a blast with Mubby and Skitter, and this time you got to add cousin Aleks to the mix.  You got a kick out of helping him walk, though he doesn’t want a lot of help these days.

We’ve recently discovered a splash pad here in Iowa City, which isn’t quite as fancy as the one in Nashville, but we’re hoping to spend some time there on an upcoming hot day.

You came down with a mysterious (and fortunately short-lived) fever the other day.  We were meeting some friends at the library, and you were fine as we got organized and loaded up the car.  Then, as we stepped up to the children’s room desk to get your prize for completing the summer reading program, you started looking woozy.  The librarian even noted that you weren’t looking so good.  I grabbed a lined wastebasket and kept it near you.  You fell asleep in my arms and stayed there for a while, and you remained off your game for the rest of the night.  No puke ever emerged, so that’s good, and a dose of ibuprofen did the trick of helping you cool off.  You’ve seemed fine ever since.

Photo by Gary Clarke

You were proud and excited when I told you this is your last month of being three.  That’s hard to believe, but in other ways you seem very big.  We’ve gotten a start on planning your birthday party, which will also be a half-birthday party for Miles, who got out-scheduled by Callum’s birth.  It will be your first time inviting school friends to a party, so that’s pretty exciting for you.  You made some good friends at Willowwind last year, and I hope we can stay in touch with them as you move on to Hoover next month.  It’s funny to think that we’ll be seeing some of those same kids at junior high band concerts and other activities in ten or so years.

Photo by Denny

You’re just as funny and precocious as ever.  You are expressive and silly and very, very adept with words.  Last night I told Miles to be careful, because he’s been accidentally shutting your dad and me in the car door lately.  As I strapped you into your car seat, you said, gravely, “I love you.  I would never hurt you.”  I laughed, leaned down and kissed you, and you said, “I’m keeping that forehead kiss.”

One of your favorite things right now is to play Alphabet Go Fish, a game your old friend Beanie gave you.  It’s really helped you learn your letters—I think you know all of them now, and your dad has gotten you started sounding out some words.  You’re full of joy and enthusiasm for the things that go right.  Today, the electricity went out for about an hour and a half.  It stressed you and Miles out, because lunch without access to the fridge, microwave, or toaster is a dire meal indeed.  When the power came back, you squealed with happiness and shouted, “We did it!”  I don’t know if you guys were sending electricity-request vibes to the universe or what, but you were quite sure that your efforts solved the problem somehow.

You run hot on other emotions, too.  Sometimes you just stand and scream with rage.  Not usually, though.  Usually you’re a pretty jolly guy.  Your poor little body is all scratched up right now, because mosquitoes find you delicious, even through bug spray.  You can’t resist scratching, and it shows all over your arms, legs, back, and neck.  This is not keeping you inside, though.  We happened to spend all day inside today, and I can tell it’s not your natural habitat.  You love to be out running, jumping, splashing, and creating havoc.


Even though I do my best to cherish you and your brothers at every age, I admit I’m looking forward to you being four.  Four is easier than three, I think.  You’ll be at a new school, making new friends and adapting to a new environment.  I’m excited to see how you grow and develop over the next year, especially as you mature and stop screaming so much.

You actually don’t scream all that much.  It’s just that when you do, it’s really loud.  Everything about you is full-volume, little Tobin.  You’re a lot of kid, from your stinky feet your crazy, fluffy hair.  I love you and I’m so glad you spent your third year with me.




The Callum Chronicle #6

Filed under: — Aprille @ 7:30 pm

My sweet Callum,

Holy crap, it’s your half-birthday!  I am having a hard time fathoming that my last baby is a full six months old.  The major milestone of the half year is the okay to eat solid-ish food.  I was planning to wait until after we get back from vacation for that, just to reduce the variables in our lives, but your brothers were so excited about helping to feed you rice cereal that we decided to give it a go last night.  I was expected the same kind of bizarre faces and gagging noises your brothers made when we first fed it to them, but you just took it all in with your usual aplomb.  You smiled and enjoyed it.  For the rest of the evening and all the next day, you made big, new, smacking noises and motions with your mouth.  I think rice cereal was a hit.

Besides the food, other major hits with you include spending time outside, the song “I Love You a Bushel and a Peck,” anything your brothers do, and playing in your Exersaucer.  You like cuddle time, too, but unless you’re really hungry or tired, the Exersaucer is a place you’re happy to play for a good chunk of time.  You’ve started to get interested in toys.  That’s nice because your dexterity has improved to the point where you can actually play with them some, and now and then that will keep you happy for a while.

Photo by Gary Clarke

Your personality is just as it has been:  sweet, calm, and relaxed most of the time.  Honestly, most days you’re my least stressful child.  That can’t last, I know, and I understand that turning into a frustrating person is a natural part of the human development continuum.  I’m enjoying your chill, sweet baby stage while it lasts.

You love all kinds of people, and you’re not shy about smiling at all the friendly faces you see.  We had some recent fun with Nana and Papa as well as other family members, and you got to show off your charming personality to them.  I was afraid that you’d given a lot of people on that side of the family a false impression, because at the previous gathering, you were in a truly awful mood.  But this time was much more reflective of your usual attitude, and lots of people got to enjoy you.

You handled the Fourth of July fireworks better than I expected.  I was sure you’d either sleep through the whole thing or be terrified by all the loud noises, but you just sat quietly in my lap and watched the lights.  We were out way past bedtime, but you never would have known it by your behavior.  Once the show was over and we loaded you into your stroller for the walk back to the car, you conked out immediately.  We should do that every night.

You can roll over front-to-back and almost back-to-front, give hugs (which always end with you grabbing handfuls of hair), laugh big laughs and smile big smiles.  You know your family by sight and by voice, and you’re getting pretty consistent with responding to your name, too.  It doesn’t hurt that Miles says “Hi, Callum!” in a loud sing-songy voice about fifteen times a day.  There’s nothing like a big brother in your face to get a point across.

You’re so much fun these days, sweet Callum.  Please, please, please sleep a lot of the way to Nashville.  If we can make it nine hours in a car, we can do most anything.



Monthly Miles Memo #90

Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:52 pm

My dearest Miles,

You’re seven and a half now.  This seems like a time when you’re straddling the little boy/big boy divide.  You still like a lot of little boy things, like the rides at City Park, cuddling at bedtime, and a diet made almost exclusively of carbohydrates (with a few hotdogs and orange chicken thrown in there).  You’re moving onto a lot of big boy things too, though:  Calvin and Hobbes comics, Encyclopedia Brown books, and riding a two-wheeler.

The bike thing is pretty major.  You’ve been tooling around on your training wheels for a while, but your dad decided it was time for you to learn to ride without them.  I wasn’t sure how you’d do, since you tend to be apprehensive and risk-averse.  I was afraid you’d take one spill and refuse to try again.  You proved me wrong.  With your dad and Tobin cheering you on, I saw you coast confidently down the path.  You can even start and stop with no help now too.  That’s pretty awesome, Miles, and it makes me look forward to the day when we can rent bikes together on vacation and zip around some exotic locale.

Photo by Denny

You still do things that baffle me, though.  Yesterday you cried at Target because the Nintendo Wii-U demo setup didn’t have the game you wanted (which, by the way, we have at home).  You had a weird mini-freakout when there was no more corn when we had dinner at some friends’ house last weekend, and you refused to share your dad’s ear.  You do great in your swimming lessons, dunking your head underwater no problem and doing some good swim strokes, but you freak out at the idea of taking a shower.  Everything in your seems heightened.  I’m not sure the best way to help you with that, because your life is doing to be a series of difficult moments if you don’t get your responses under control.  Maybe that will sort itself out as you get older.

You’re always coming up with good ideas or trying out projects you hear about elsewhere.  You’ve done backward writing (a la Leonardo da Vinci), fiber arts (you took a class and made a tote bag and a tie-dyed shirt), and you’re getting really good at playing the Super Mario Brothers theme on the piano.  You’ve played it so much even Callum recognizes it.  After your piano lesson today, you were lingering at the piano while your teacher came out to talk to me about your progress.  You played the tell-tale first bars of the theme—da da da duh da DUM, DUM!—and Tara looked down at Callum and said, “I swear he just perked up when he heard that.”

You are still pretty much the best big brother in the world (at least to Callum).  You can make him laugh whenever you want with your silly faces and noises, and you’re always right there to help when I ask you to.  I admit I haven’t been at my best lately.  All this week, nobody has had any summer activities, so I’ve been home full-time with all three of you.  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed, and sometimes I’m not as patient as I should be.  But I can always count on you to keep Callum safe and happy if I need to, say, go to the bathroom.

Photo by Gary Clarke

We’re gearing up for the big summer vacation:  a road trip to Nashville.  I’m dreading the road part of the trip, but once we get there, we’re going to have a great time.  You can’t wait to see your little cousin Aleks, and I know you’re going to be just as great a big cousin to him as you are a big brother.  You’re so excited to help him walk.  I hope you can keep up with him.  From what I’ve seen, he’s a high-energy little fellow.  We’ll get to see Mubby and Skittergramps, too, which is always fun.  I hope you get to do a lot of swimming in the pool, jumping on the bed, and reading in a quiet corner.

I’ll still cuddle you if you need it, sweetheart.  I’ll try to remember that even when your tears make no sense to me, they’re serious to you.  And if you want to ride your bike, I’ll cheer you on louder than anyone and make sure your helmet is on tight.




Summer project #3: Pineapple popsicles

Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:58 pm

I read a recipe online for pineapple popsicles, and the kids were interested in trying to make them.  The recipe I found included coconut milk, which I’m sure would be delicious if you’re a coconut fan.  I am only lukewarm on coconut—I like it in curries but not a whole lot else. I guess there’s that multi-syllabic Canadian dessert bar.  What’s that called again?

Anyway, I saw pineapples on sale two for a dollar at my grocery store.  Two for a dollar, for real.  We eat a lot of fresh pineapple, but I usually spring for the pre-skinned and pre-cored kind.  This time I decided to provide the kids a little culinary education and bought the whole deals.

This is what a pineapple looks like, in case you didn’t know.  We ended up using 3/4 of a pineapple for one batch of 5 popsicles.  I think we could have gotten 6 popsicles out of the 3/4 pineapple, but I couldn’t find one of our popsicle molds, so we made 5.  I ate the unfrozen pineapple sludge with a spoon and I’m not even sorry.

Tobin helped me whiz the chunks around in the food processor.

We had about half a cup of French vanilla ice cream hogging up space in the freezer, so I nuked that for ten seconds and threw it in the food processor.  We whizzed that some more, then poured it into our popsicle molds.

And into the freezer they went.

This is how they turned out.  They were good.  The kids ate them for breakfast this morning.




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