We all saw it coming

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:09 pm

Tobin had been playing downstairs.  He came up.

T:  Mommy, I have to go poop.

A:  Then go poop.

T:  Okay.  (He pulled down his pants and walked down the hall with his pants and underpants around his ankles.)  I came upstairs because it’s a little more predictable.


It fell flat

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:23 am

M:  What do you call a table with no legs?

A&D:  What?

M:  An education table.

A&D:  [blank stare]

M:  Get it?  Zero legs?  Zero is a number?  And education…like math?

A&D:  [laughing in confusion and absurdity]

M:  Why does no one get my jokes?


Unrelated (?)

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:16 pm

Tobin was looking over my shoulder as I scrolled through Facebook. A video of President Obama came up. “Is that [children’s author] Mary Pope Osborne? Does ‘porcupine’ mean ‘fabulous’?”

What’s cooler than being cool?

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:15 pm

At HyVee, Tobin was looking at the case of bagged ice.
T: I-C-E.
A: What do you think that spells?

Iron it

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:15 pm

After we finished a walk this humid afternoon…

T: Your hair looks…wrinkled.

The Tobin Times #48

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:10 pm

My sweet, sparkling Tobin,

You’re four, you’re truly four!  After what felt like an excruciatingly long wait, your birthday finally came around.  We celebrated first with Nana and Papa at the family reunion, then at Mubby and Skitter’s house, then with an immediate family party on your real birthday, and then with a friends party in the back yard.  Your dad and I are still recovering.

You’ll start preschool at Hoover next week.  Every time we drive by (which is often as it’s near the intersection of a couple of main thoroughfares in our area), you yell, “Hi, Hoover!”  We went to visit your classroom and meet your teacher; we accomplished one of those goals.  The room is bright and cheerful and should be a fun place to play and learn.  The teacher is MIA.  Well, not exactly—with all the shuffling around in the district, she made a last-minute switch to a kindergarten teaching position.  They’re hoping to hire someone soon.  Luckily, you’re the kind of kid who can handle a little unpredictability.  You don’t seem nervous at all.

You’ve been a little grumpy the last few days having your brother back at school, but you’ve also been enjoyed being the Boss Brother.  You take very good care of Callum when I need you to entertain him for a couple of minutes.   You take joy in helping him discover new foods.  I had to drag both of you with me to a doctor’s appointment this morning, and you very kindly let him play (and even chew on) one of the Batman toys you brought.

We’ve had a tiring but fun summer together.  We spent a lot of time at the library, had our share of Flavor Ice and frozen yogurt, played with digger toys in the dirt, and all kinds of other things.  It’s been a mild summer, mostly, so we’ve gotten to be outside a lot.

You asked me the other day, “Can I jump out of an airplane with a parachute?”  I shouldn’t have been surprised that you asked.  You enjoy a good adventure, and your dad is engaged in a never-ending battle with you over jumping from the couch to the futon and back.  My answer to you:  “Not today.”  I hope never, because that sounds truly awful to me, but trying to force people from doing what they want hardly ever works.

You’ve grown so much this year, both physically and intellectually.  In the family portraits we took last fall, your shorts looked comically like those capri pants European men wear.  Why those guys wear their swim trunks so tiny and their shorts so long is a mystery to me.  In any case, those shorts hit you right in the above-the-knee sweet spot now.  You can write your name, know all the letters of the alphabet (thanks largely to many, many games of Alphabet Go Fish this summer), and have a great imagination.  You can play for a long time with your Imaginext characters and playsets, coming up with adventures for Batman, the Joker, the space characters, and the knights.

Photo by Gary Clarke

I am most proud, though, of your kindness.  Last night, I was getting tired and grumpy as I often do as I scramble to get dinner ready.  Something happened and a shoe fell off the trunk and landed on my foot, which hurt.  I yelped about it briefly, then got over it and continued making dinner.  Later, after dinner, as your dad was getting you ready to go outside and play, you asked me, “Is your foot feeling better?”  I had completely forgotten about it, but you didn’t, and you wanted to check in with me.  That’s the kind of kid you are.  You often ask me how I slept the previous night or how I’m feeling.

Your friend Ben’s dad mentioned the same thing the other night—how you have the unusual characteristic of often checking on how Ben is doing.  It’s not something a lot of kids do, and let me tell you, there is nothing that makes a mommy’s heart warmer than hearing that her little guy is caring toward others.  There’s a lot of self-centeredness among our fellow human beings, and that’s not necessarily bad.  Kids especially are naturally oblivious to the issues of others, and it takes some effort for most of us to snap out of our own perspectives and feel empathy and sympathy.  You seem to have a head start in that arena.

This isn’t to say your E.Q. is 100% yet.  You still do a lot of the typical little kid things, like goofing around when your dad and I have asked you multiple times to put on your shoes.  You can torture your brother like no one else.  I guess that’s the flip side of being aware of others’ feelings:  you can use that knowledge to your own advantage when it comes to pushing his buttons.  Sometimes you are, as I like to say, a little guano.

Photo by Denny

You’re still my number one source of laughter and funny quotes.  Your brain comes up with observations that seem perfectly logical to you (like how the best way to stop smoking is to take off one’s mouth).  You love the stories your dad tells you about “Tobin Crall, the Friendship Street detective, with a keen mind and a sharp eye.”  You laugh and laugh when he tells them to you, including a few that have risen to the top as favorites and you request to hear over and over.

Your other favorites:  Scooby Doo, pepperoni pizza, SnaPeas, Batman, Pokemon, checking on the garden’s developments with me, helping grownups with all kinds of tasks (dinner preparation, sidewalk sweeping, fish-feeding…pretty much everything except cleaning up your toys).

Photo by Denny

Here’s to a wonderful year of being four, my sweet Tobin.  My life is so much better because you’re in it.




Obvious answers

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:20 am

T: Why do some people smoke?
A: They probably started when they were young, and by the time they realized it was a bad idea, it was really hard for them to stop. The best way not to smoke is to never start in the first place.
T: No, the best way not to smoke is to take off your mouth.
A: …


The Callum Chronicle #7

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:25 am

Hey there, sunshine-face.

Happy seven months to you.  Your dad has mentioned several times how much fun the second half of the first year of a baby’s life is, and you’re enmeshed in that now.  It’s so much fun to watch you as your level of interaction grows.  We’ve seen evidence of you understanding quite a few words—notably, “Come see Mommy,” which always elicits smiles and leg wiggles in anticipation of me picking you up.  You also gave a big smile this morning when I mentioned “Mubby and Skitter,” and you almost definitely know your brothers’ names.  I had to take you to a PTO meeting last night due to a scheduling snafu, and when you got crabby, I took you out to the hallway.  The school display case has a pamphlet with Miles’s picture on it, and when I grabbed one and showed it to you, you immediately smiled in recognition.  Then you ate the pamphlet.

We just got back from a weekend family reunion with the Beary side of the family, and we’re heading off later today to spend several days in Ames with Mubby and Skittergramps.  You are already suffering from your own version of Attention Deficit Disorder—that’s what I call it when a kid gets accustomed to the constant cuddles and indulgences of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins and gets grumpy when his mom can’t provide that level of input on her own back at home.  I hold you a lot—we use the wrap, we co-sleep, and you spend lots of time just chilling out on my hip.  But I can’t do it all the time and still accomplish the various tasks that need to get done, so sometimes you have to deal with it.  Sorry.

Your dad sent me an interesting article not long ago that talked about the phenomenon of children becoming intensely attached to a stuffed animal or other security item.  According to the researchers in the article, that behavior is not a normal part of child development, as I’d assumed, but rather a coping mechanism kids use to deal with the trauma of having to sleep alone.  I had noticed that neither of your brothers ever got particularly attached to a specific toy—they like their stuffed animals, but there was never one that they absolutely needed.  Maybe that’s because we’ve always slept with our kids when they’re little, so they’ve felt secure without needing special sleep toys.  In any case, I really like having you next to me.  You’re a pretty good sleeper most of the time, and even when you’re sick or teething (which we’ve been dealing with lately), it’s certainly easier to attend to your needs when you’re right next to me rather than going to a different room.  Plus you’re just so sweet and cuddly.  I love seeing your big blue eyes shining up at me as we drowsily adjust to the morning.

You’re doing all the things babies your age do–rolling over, trying to scootch around (without much distance covered yet), grabbing at everything, and doing a lot of babbling.  One thing you’re not very advanced at yet is eating solid foods.  We gave you rice cereal mixed with breastmilk on your six-month birthday, and that seemed to go fine.  Then I gave you some applesauce, which was also fine.  When I gave you bananas mixed with rice cereal and water, you liked it, but two hours later you started violently vomiting.  It was horrible, much more intense than typical spit-up.  I decided that bananas weren’t a good choice for you.  Then, a bit later, I gave you pureed peas with rice cereal and water, and the same thing happened.  Maybe it’s the rice cereal that’s the problem, though that’s surprising since it seemed okay the first time.  I really don’t know.  For the time being, we’re giving your digestive system a rest and sticking to breastmilk and occasional applesauce.  I’m going to try to find some of the squash your brothers liked when they were your age.  You’d better believe I’m going to give it to you straight-up:  no rice cereal.  I’m also going to give it to you at lunch, not at dinner, because two hours after dinner is not a very convenient time to deal with a miserable, heaving baby.

You’ve been having fun lately in the baby backpack, which your dad uses to take you on trips to the park.  Sometimes you fall asleep, but usually you  enjoy your perch.  There’s nothing more fun than hanging out with the big kids.  Your brothers adore you, and sometimes they fight over who gets to play with you.  I’m going to miss having them around once school starts, because I’ve gotten some very productive exercise sessions in due to their help in entertaining you.  On the other hand, we’ll get to start taking morning walks together again, as long as the fall weather stays nice.  I’ve missed doing that.  Your brothers do not have the patience to take a long walk unless there are doughnuts at the end, which is counterproductive to my fitness goals.  We’ll be good walking buddies again soon.

Though we recognize that there may be parental delusion involved, your dad and I are both sure that you’re an exceptionally cute baby.  Everyone wants to take credit for you:  Papa is sure there’s a Crall ancestor out there who looked just like you, and I heard “Isn’t he such a Beary?” last weekend.  I personally see resemblance to your Clarke cousins.  In any case, the genes seem to have meshed together well to make you.  Not only are you cute, we really appreciate your personality.  You’re still so calm and good-natured, happy to be held by anyone who wants to hold you (for now, anyway).  The only time you fuss is when you’re hungry or tired, and those issues are pretty easy to address.  You don’t have any teeth through the gums yet, but every day I check, because I can see them under the surface.  You’ve been doing a lot of chewing lately, too.  I know that by this time next month, you’ll have a couple of teeth, and my time with my last gummy baby will be over.  That does make me feel tender, but I’m also so happy to be getting to know you.  You have completed our family, my sweet love, and I am so grateful for you.




Monthly Miles Memo #91

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:24 pm

Dear Miles,

Summer break is almost over, and I was just thinking about what a big summer it’s been for you.  You’ve made huge progress in two of the biggest challenges in a kid’s life:  swimming and bike-riding.  We went to the public pool the other night, and at first you didn’t want to leave the baby pool.  That got a little awkward, since you were clearly the biggest kid in there, and you had to sink down to your belly to get any kind of water coverage.  Finally we convinced you to hit the big pool, and once you got used to it, you took off like an eel.  You were swimming with your head underwater, making real distance as you kicked and moved your arms.  I’d always found it annoying that our municipal pools don’t allow water wings, but this time it worked out well.  You swam so much with the help of the water wings while we were in Nashville that you got absolutely comfortable in the water, and then when you found yourself unencumbered, you took off.  You’d done similar things before at your swimming lessons, but this was the first time I’d seen you do 100% legit swimming.  Nice work, kid.

Your biking is going just as well.  You can zoom long distances down the path, doing full 180-degree turns, managing the sidewalk as well as the grass.  I’m so proud that you faced your fears, took some risks, and saw rewards this summer.  You’ve done the same thing with piano.  You tried your most challenging musical piece to date:  the Super Mario Brothers theme song.  You’ve been at it for the whole summer, doing small chunks at a time, sometimes frustrated to tears but always willing to get back to it (after a break).  You’re going to have the whole song in your repertoire before the summer is out, I know it.

You’ve had some fun adventures this summer, the biggest of which was our trip to Nashville.  You were a trooper in the car, definitely the least stressful person in the back seat.  It helps so much that not only can you read, you love to read.  We checked out a big stack of library books, borrowed a bunch of Calvin and Hobbes collections from Uncle Mark, and got some audiobooks on CD.  You handled it just great.  Calvin and Hobbes is a big interest for you right now.  I’m happy you’re excited about it, and I love hearing you laugh as you read quietly in your room.  However, it gets a little exhausting feigning fascination when you want to recount yet another Calvin and Hobbes plotline to me.  You yell “Mom!” like your hair is on fire, and when I rush to find out what you need, you invariably say, “In Calvin and Hobbes…”  I sigh and stand there as long as I can handle, smiling and nodding.  I reiterate:  I’m thrilled that you love to read.  I’m thrilled that Calvin and Hobbes has captured your attention, because that’s good stuff.  So I will smile and nod some more.

In Nashville, you had a blast in the pool (of course) and playing with cousin Aleks.  You also enjoyed the science museum, the zoo (even when the tortoises got a little aggressive for your taste), the splash pad, and Antique Archaeology.

Antique Archaeology is a store run by the people on the show American Pickers, the partner store to their shop in Iowa.  You and your dad like to watch the show together, so it was pretty fun and special for to go to the Nashville location.  You even got a t-shirt that displayed the Iowa/Nashville connection.  You didn’t buy any antiques.

You’ve had fun with friends this summer, at birthday parties and playdates.  You’ve spent a lot of time playing with your brothers, most of the time really nicely. We just spent the weekend with your dad’s side of the family, and you handled interactions with a variety of people mostly well.  That’s an area where you need to grow—flexibility, adaptability to different people, and adjusting to situations outside your comfort zone.  I think you’re making progress.

It will be good for you to get back to school, though.  You are ready for new challenges, even if it means getting up early.  We’ve got your back-to-school night coming up, when you’ll find out who your teacher is and visit your new classroom.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m going to be able to go to that, since Tobin’s is a the same time in a different place, and your dad and I are going to have to divide and conquer to manage that night’s commitments.  But I’m not worried about you.  You’re an old pro at Lucas Elementary now, and your second grade year is going to be great.  I’ve heard good things about all the teachers, so no matter whom you get, I know you’ll have an excellent year.  If it’s anything like this summer, you have a lot of learning and growth ahead of you.  I’m looking forward to seeing what the year brings.



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