The Tobin Times #52

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:37 pm

My sweet Tobin,

This morning, the first Monday of winter break, I woke up and went in to check on you and Miles.  I had a brief moment of panic when I looked in your bed and couldn’t find you.  Had you gotten up without making any noise?  Were you lonely or scared?  Then I looked a bit higher, and there you were, cuddled up with Miles in the top bunk (twin sized, by the way).  You just don’t like to sleep alone.  I suggested that once Callum is bigger, maybe he could sleep in the bottom bunk with you.  You liked that idea.

You and Miles and I have been reading the Harry Potter series together before bed at night, and I’m afraid you’re missing half of it because you often fall asleep before we finish the chapter.  You’re an all-or-nothing guy at bedtime.  You get so hyper and wild and drive your dad and me crazy when we’re trying to get you to put on pajamas and brush your teeth, but as soon as you’re cozy in bed, you’re out cold.  I guess it takes a lot of energy to be a nut-ball.

You are so, so excited for Christmas.  I haven’t put any presents under the tree, because I’m afraid Callum would destroy them, but you’re still pretty tortured.  You helped me pick out the tree, and you’ve helped me wrap some gifts.  You’ve been begging every day for a week for me to tell you what your presents are, but I haven’t budged.  We’re having our family Christmas morning tomorrow before we head out to Paul and Jackie’s for the day and Mubby and Skitter’s later that night.  I went rather light on the toys when shopping for you, knowing between all the grandparents and other generous relatives, you’d probably get plenty.  I hope you remember that and don’t get grumpy when you unwrap books and clothes.

Though we haven’t decided 100%, we’re (by which I mean “I’m”) leaning strongly toward holding off on kindergarten.  I know you’d be academically ready, but you’re still a little guy, one of the smaller ones in your preschool class.  Because it seems like you’ve attended every other preschool in town, I think we might send you to Kinderfarm.  It’s one of those that people often mention when we chat with other parents, and I think you’d get a kick out of the animal care and gardening in combination with traditional preschool activities.  We’ll have to go visit it and maybe sign you up for a summer program.  It’s still a ways off, but time has a way of passing without my permission.

The truth is that I really like having lunch dates with you and spending time together in the afternoons.  I like going to grocery shopping with you and playing in your room with you and Callum.  All day at kindergarten seems like such a big load for a little kid.  Also, I try to take the long view on things like this.  I remember one time in the relatively recent past I was invited but not required to go to some event at my grandparents’ house.  My dad (you know him as Skitter) emphasized that I didn’t have to go if I didn’t want to.  I told him, “I doubt I’m going to look back on my life and think, ‘I’m sure glad I didn’t go see Grammy and Pop-Pop that time.'”  That’s how I’m thinking of this decision for you.  I doubt I’m going to look back on my life and think, “I’m sure glad I pushed Tobin off to kindergarten when I wasn’t sure he was ready and missed all those afternoons of sharing bagels and making forts and playing puppies in bed.”

Honestly, you’d be fine either way.  One thing your dad has pointed out is that if you go to kindergarten next year, you’ll overlap with Miles for a year in high school.  True, that might be kind of cool, but if you wait a year, you’ll overlap with Callum.  All these things seem so important right now, but I suppose they’ll work out one way or another.  I remember being pregnant with each of you boys and everything being so mysterious.  We didn’t know your names yet or what you’d look like or what your personalities would be.  I thought, “How funny that a year from now, we’ll be calling this baby by his name and it will seem totally normal.”  That’s how all fraught decisions are, I guess.  You stew and fret (or rather, I stew and fret)—hey, are the words fret and fraught related?—and then it ends up working out no matter which way you go.

You’re spunky and funny and good at making friends.  You told me that one of your teachers, Ms. Maria, said you’re a smart cookie.  You certainly are.  Our annual holiday letter was mostly funny things you said over the year.  The best one was about a black mamba in a lunch bag.

Keep up the high spirits, Tobes.  You just might find a toy or two under the tree tomorrow morning.




Process of elimination

Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:33 am

Miles is his class’s “Star of the Week” this week, and all weekend he was so excited to go to school on Monday.  Unfortunately, late Sunday night, I heard the sounds of vomiting coming from the boys’ shared room.  Later, I recounted my thoughts on the topic to the boys.

A:  When I heard it, I thought, “I hope it’s Tobin.”  Not that I want you to be sick, of course.  I never want any of you to be sick.  I just knew how much Miles wanted to go to school.

T:  I hoped it was Miles.


The Callum Chronicle #11

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:59 pm

My sweet Callum,

As much as I want you to stay my baby, my last baby, for whom every first is a last first for me, I’m pretty excited about your birthday next month.  With two big brothers, you see a lot of things happening that you aren’t allowed to do.  While I still don’t plan to let you take a bath by yourself or climb onto the highest reaches of the playground equipment, I’m finally going to be able to say yes when you really, really want a bite of ice cream.  That’s going to be pretty big.  We always get Dairy Queen during the half-hour we have to kill between picking Miles up from school and his Thursday-afternoon piano lesson, and as of yet, none has passed through your lips.  You actually haven’t been too upset about that.  What’s harder for you is watching Tobin eat one of the free cookies at HyVee right next to you in the shopping cart.  I don’t know if you will be able to deal with a whole cookie right away, but next month, you’ll be allowed to try a little nibble.

Speaking of little nibbles, you still have just four teeth.  I was reading your brothers’ eleven-month updates, and Tobin had six at this stage.  Maybe it’s a summer versus winter baby thing, but you still chug along with your two on top and two on bottom.  You do fine, though.   You like to eat all kinds of different things, including rotisserie chicken, vegetable beef soup, oranges, apples, rice, plain Cheerios, and SnaPeas.   SnaPeas (these crunchy, salty snacks that may contain some actual pea) are your favorites.  After you eat a few, you always want a drink of water.  I’ve tried both sippy cups and traditional open cups with you, and there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference in terms of mess.  You don’t usually spill them straight from the cup; rather, you get a mouth full of water, and rather than swallow it, you just let it dribble out of your mouth onto your shirt.

We’ll keep practicing.

Photo by Gary Clarke

You’ve become an honorary member of Family Folk Machine.  You’ve been to lots of rehearsals, because it’s easier for your dad to sit there and let you play with all the kids who think you’re so cute than to handle you at home.  You’ve especially made friends with Liam, the son of Miles’s piano teacher.  He loves little kids and gets along really well with you.  He likes to dictate your thoughts.

You were well-behaved through three concerts:  our two regular ones and the Festival of Carols at the Englert.  You even made your debut on the Englert stage during sound check.  You dad hadn’t come from work yet, so as Miles and Tobin and I sang, you scrabbled around the stage.  I don’t think you’re quite ready to be a FFM member yet, since you can’t stand up unassisted.  Of course, some of the older members of the choir can’t stand for long either, and we let them stay.

Our family is just now recovering from a nasty (but fortunately short-lived) bout of a stomach bug.  I blame a recent trip to the library during which you wouldn’t keep the nasty plastic fruit out of your mouth in the play kitchen area.  I kept telling you to stop, and you wouldn’t stop.  No more trips to the library for us during the sick season.  This illness reminded me of the last time I vomited, which was when I was in my third trimester of pregnancy with you.  My morning sickness had long since faded by then, but it was an entirely new and terrible sensation to be wracked with nausea while someone is kicking you in the actual physical stomach from the inside.  This time was not quite so bad, though the timing was tricky.  You had it first, then you gave it to your dad and me, and the two big boys got it right after that.

One tip I give any new parent who asks for it:  seal every mattress in your house with a waterproof (and pee-proof and breastmilk-proof and vomit-proof) mattress cover.  Middle-of-the-night laundry is no fun, but it’s even less fun to have to buy a new mattress because yours got soaked in last night’s spaghetti.

You can crawl like a fast little crawling maniac.  You don’t show much interest in solo walking, or even walking while holding someone’s hands.  You do like to cruise around furniture, and you’ll pull up on anything that seems even remotely stable enough to support you.  Sometimes, like in the case of empty laundry baskets, it’s not.  You enjoy reorganizing the shoe cabinet, pulling open drawers in the kitchen, and chewing on your brothers’ toys.  You thoroughly liquified a little board book at the concert the other night.  Your dad and I decided it was worth the sacrifice.

You’ve been in a clingy stage lately, upset whenever I’m not holding you or nursing you or both.  This makes it pretty difficult to do things like exercise and shower.  You had to wear mismatched shoes the other day, because you opened the shower curtain on me and soaked yourself, including the shoes I’d put on you to wear for the day.  They’re your only pair, so I had to scramble around your brothers’ old baby shoes.  I found two.  You wore two.  One had a dinosaur and one had a turtle.

You haven’t said any for-sure words yet, but you’ve been making mama and dada noises.  I’ve probably mentioned it here before, but I would really be happy if your first real word was mama.  I truly don’t mind the scar I’ll carry for the rest of my life due to your difficult birth (I think scars are kind of cool), but the memory of the day(s) remains a traumatic one.  I say this in no way to diminish the horrible pain of those whose babies don’t make it through difficult births or who suffer long-term issues.  I am so, so grateful to have had three pregnancies that resulted in three healthy kids.  It’s sadly, scarily common not to be able to say something like that.  Nonetheless, I’m very glad to never do it again.  And if you could just say mama and reach your fat little arms to me, that would be pretty great.

Enjoy your last month of infancy, my sweet puppy.  I love you so much.





Maury agrees

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:55 am

We dropped Miles off at school, then I did my usual sanity check to make sure things were as they should be.

A: Okay, do I have two kids in the car?

T: Yep, and they’re both yours.


Monthly Miles Memo #95

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:12 pm

My little Miles,

It’s your last month of being seven.  As usual, the holidays are going by in a blur, and as usual, your birthday is sneaking up on me.  Can you really be almost eight?  Every year goes faster than the one before it, and you are growing so fast.  A lot of your pants are high-waters now.  At Thanksgiving, Aunt Dorothy remarked upon how, the last time she saw you, you and Tobin were a lot closer in height.  Your feet are huge, and I’m sure we could share socks if I weren’t opposed to you hogging up my socks.

Your favorite thing to do is draw elaborate pictures and write captions for them.  You’ve strewn the train table downstairs with your cartoons, and some of them are pretty creative.  You like inventing bands of superheroes and assigning them roles and powers.  You even include Tobin a lot of the time.

We had some recent drama involving a school library book.  Every Tuesday, you and your classmates get to check out items from library, and they’re due the following Tuesday.  A few weeks ago, I realized you had left your books at home, which would mean you wouldn’t be allowed to check out new ones.  Since I knew that would devastate you, I stopped by school and dropped off your two books at the office.

If I’d known then what I know now, I would have just left them at home and had you bring them back a week late.  But a snafu spiraled, involving the books going to the wrong class and the wrong Miles, and you weren’t able to check anything out.  You were pretty upset at pickup that day, and I was pretty frustrated, since that’s exactly what I was trying to avoid by dropping off the books.  I emailed the secretary and the librarian and explained the situation, and they said not to worry, the books would turn up.  The next Tuesday came, and you had media again.  From what I understand, you go to the library, pick out your items, and then a teacher or librarian reads a list of kids who can’t check books out because they have overdue items.  You were so, so sad when your name was on that list and you couldn’t check out your stuff.  The next week:  same thing.  I think that’s a pretty crummy way to do things.  Maybe the point is to give kids incentive to return their items, but I don’t like the public humiliation and disappointment elements.

Maybe most kids don’t care too much about that sort of thing, but you do.  I completely understand, because I would have absolutely hated that as a kid too.  It was all the worse because the missing items weren’t missing due to any fault of yours.  The next Monday night, I emailed the librarian again asking her to make an exception to the no check-out rule.  I never heard back from her, but when I picked you up on Tuesday, you had a huge smile on your face.  The first thing you did was show me the library book you’d checked out.  I didn’t hear back from her until Tuesday evening.  It turns out she didn’t make an exception for you; they found the book.  I guess it all ended up okay, but the whole situation was annoying.

It’s not like you don’t have anything to read.  We make regular trips to the public library (though that might have led to a very disgusting weekend of Vomitpalooza for our family), and we’ve been reading the Harry Potter series together, sometimes you reading aloud and sometimes I.  In fact, you’ve become a huge Harry Potter head.  Your Christmas wishlist is largely Harry Potter stuff, and you love to talk about it with other people who’ve read the books and seen the movies.  We’ll be finishing Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in the next couple of days, which will mean it’s time for another popcorn and movie event.

We had several Family Folk Machine concerts:  one at our regular Senior Center space, one at the Old Capitol Senate Chambers, and the Englert’s annual Festival of Carols.  As always, I was so proud to see and hear you singing with bravery and enthusiasm.  Family Folk Machine is just the best.  We’ve met so many nice people and had so much fun.  It’s become a whole-family affair, since Tobin is singing now and your dad and Callum often come to hang out during rehearsals.  Still, though, I’ll always have fond memories of when it was just my little Miles and I singing “Country Roads.”

Photo by Gary Clarke

This will be your first birthday with Callum around, so we’re going to have to figure out how to manage the consecutive birthday schedule.  I don’t think our family could handle two full-sized cakes in two days, so I might have to make half a cake for each of you.  You’ll want chocolate, your forever favorite, and maybe I’ll go with something fruity for Cal.  Maybe you can help me divide the recipes in half.  You did a good job helping me with the math of doubling the pancake recipe last week (you can really put away the pancakes these days), so I bet you’ll figure it right out.

I love you, my little seven-year-old.  You’re my Golden Snitch.





Undeniable truths

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:13 pm

M:  Tobin touched an ornament.

A:  Tobin, don’t touch the ornaments.

M:  Tobin touched an ornament again.

A:  Tobin, don’t touch the ornaments.  Miles, don’t be a tattletale.  Nobody likes a tattletale.

T:  Nobody likes a black mamba in their lunch bag.


Gruesome fruit

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:47 pm

A: What did you have for snack today?
T: Animal crackers. Other kids had apples.
A: Why didn’t you have apples? You like apples.
T: I don’t like Hoover apples.
A: Not as good as Honeycrisps, huh?
T: No.
A: What do Hoover apples taste like?
T: Like two monsters stuffed on spikes.
A: Oh my.

Questions and answers

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:51 am

T: What’s the difference between Tuesday and Thursday?
M: They’re different days of the week.
T: So they both don’t know karate?
M: Tobin, exactly what planet are you from?
T: Earff.

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