12/25/2016

The Tobin Times #63

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:11 pm

My dear Tobin,

I’m writing this late, on Christmas day, because we’ve been so busy getting prepared for the holidays (and being sick) that I hadn’t gotten your letter written till now.  We began our family celebration on the morning of the 23rd.  We organized it with Santa to come to our house early, since we’d be traveling on the traditional days.  You orchestrated a very nice letter to him, and together we made Lemonasaurus Rex cookies to set out.  We figured Santa might get a little tired of the expected chocolate chip and gingerbread.  As we made the cookies, you suggested a secret ingredient.  You always love to add secret ingredients when we cook, and it’s usually just a little extra vanilla or almond extract.  This time you suggested a squeeze of Meyer lemon juice.  You had picked out a Meyer lemon at the grocery store recently, and we still had half of one left after juicing part of it for a round of cocktails.  The juice added the perfect delicate, floral touch to the cookies.

These days have been busy and tiring but also lots of fun.  We’ve watched a lot of Christmas movies, including your new favorite, Home Alone.  I knew you’d love that one, especially the parts where Kevin plays all kinds of violent tricks on the burglars.  You can be surprisingly tender sometimes, though, and you had to run and hide on the stairs a couple of times.

You got a ukulele for Christmas, which was your top wishlist item (actually tied for first place with one of those paddles with a ball attached).  You’ve been strumming it around the house, and it we brought it with us to Ames.  Aunt Suzy taught you the G and G7 chords, and you have been serenading us with great enthusiasm.  We had a fun time with Nana and Papa and the rest of the Beary gang last night, and you got to spend some time with the cousins on that side of the family.  Of course you got presents there too, and most excitingly, you won prizes in bingo and a raffle.  You’re having fun with a jump rope, some cool Pokémon-themed cards and toys, and some science toys.  You also got a hand-held math game, and you’ve been ripping through the addition and subtraction.

What you want more than anything is to go to kindergarten, and you were pretty bummed when I had to tell you that you were incorrect in your assumption that a new calendar year meant it was time to go to kindergarten.  I know you’re ready in a lot of ways, and you’re going to love being a kindergartner once fall comes, but I’m still glad to have you around in the afternoons for now.

We had a fun trip to West High to watch their production of The Wizard of Oz.  You really enjoyed it, and not just the treats at intermission.  You liked how the dog was named Toto (Callum’s name for you), and how they had a real dog to play him.  You liked the music and the dancing and the special effects.  We’re going to have to go to more high school productions, because they really did a good job, and it was a fun way to spend the afternoon with you and Miles.  We have a bigger-deal theatrical date coming up in March, a trip to the newly reopened Hancher to see Circus Oz.  I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I think it’s a Cirque de Soleil-style acrobatics-centric circus.  You’re having a hard time understanding that Oz in this case refers to Australia, not The Wizard of Oz, but we have a few more months to help you sort that out.

Photo by Denny

You are still an active and outdoorsy kid.  Your dad signed you up for a basketball team, and that’s going to start in a couple of weeks.  Until then, you get your wiggles out by doing chores at Kinderfarm and playing outside whenever we let you.  We’ve had great fluctuations in weather over the last month, from a day when it hit -11F to today, with a projected high of 53F.  You’re always grumpy when you have to stay in to play at school.  You and Miles made a cool snowman on a recent snowy Saturday, of course followed by hot chocolate.  Lately you’ve even been drinking the hot chocolate, not just slurping up the whipped cream and telling me you’re done.

Photo by Gary Clarke

Even though brothers can be frustrating, you frequently impress me with how kind and generous you are to Callum.  You always want to go in to play with him as soon as he wakes up from his nap, and he can always count on you to share a treat you’re eating.  We were at Dairy Queen the other day after Miles’s piano lesson, and Callum finished his vanilla cone and still wanted more.  You offered him some of your cookie dough Blizzard, which he had never tried before.  He got a big spoonful, expecting plain vanilla ice cream like he always gets.  He chomped down on a bite of cookie dough, pointed at his mouth in shock and delight, and said, “Treat!”  You cracked up and were so proud of yourself for helping Callum have such a fun surprise.

You were also very proud when Miles opened and loved the Christmas present you picked out for him:  some kind of superhero robot toy with a spinning hand.  You guys play a tournament game where toys battle each other, and it was the perfect addition to that.  He got you some pretty cool Pokémon cards.  It was really fun watching you two be excited to gift gifts to the other.

Your current favorites:  pepperoni pizza (still; this has the makings of a lifelong favorite), Jake and the Neverland Pirates, glasses of milk, playing outside, Pokémon, and anything physical and active.  You’re your dad’s little sports buddy, and you guys have a lot of fun watching Hawkeye basketball together, playing catch, and being on teams.  Signs are pointing to your dad being your basketball coach.  So it goes.

Photo by Denny

I love you so much, my spritely little guy.  Thank you for all the laughs

Love,

Mommy

12/15/2016

Recent Tobinismos

Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:34 pm

Scene: cocktail hour, the Clarke/Crall home. Denny and I are drinking a Spanish Tempranillo and the kids are drinking their usual lemonade/Sprite/maraschino cherry concoctions.

A: Probably the next trip I take to Europe will be to Spain. I’ll bring you guys.

T: Of course you will. What movie do think we’re playing in, Home Alone?


T: This pancake is warm, warmer than lava.
A: What?! I’m surprised it didn’t melt your plate.
T: I’m surprised it didn’t kill me.


T, genuinely perplexed: Who would touch BUNS?

 

 

12/11/2016

The Callum Chronicle #23

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:08 pm

Hello, little Callum,

You have one more month of being one, and it’s a chilly month indeed.  After a warm and gentle fall, winter has arrived.  We bundled up a couple of times to walk to school in 20-degree weather, but you’re not very good at keeping mittens on, so I’m afraid we’re back to driving.  You’re a pretty good sport about all the hauling around of you that we do, but I don’t want to torture you.

We got a Christmas tree last weekend, and we decided you’re old enough now to handle having it in a more accessible location.  Last year we put it back in a corner, all closed in by the hearth and the couch, but this year it’s out in full glory.  There aren’t a lot of ornaments left below the two feet level, but that’s okay.  When I have the time and inclination, I put them back, and ten minutes later they’re off again.

Your personality is really beginning to emerge.  Most of the time you’re easy-going and sweet, though I’ve seen a few glimpses of the Terrible Twos on the horizon.  For example, you love to play on the outdoor toys at Kinderfarm, but now that it’s colder, I don’t want to linger outside.  You’re very adept at “snake,” the passive resistance tool you use to make yourself difficult to hold.  I thought Miles invented it, because he did it too as a toddler, but I guess it’s part of little kid DNA.  You also do it when I want to change your diaper, which is getting more challenging all the time.  I don’t know if you’re quite ready for potty training, but we’ll get there eventually.  In the meantime, I’m getting pretty strong and nimble as I wrangle you.

Photo by Denny

Your favorite hobby these days is listening to books.  You’ve amassed quite a library on the table by the big chair, and you love it when your dad or I reads to you.  You can fill in the blanks of so many books now.  You really like How Do Dinosaurs Make Cookies, Jamberry, a couple of Dr. Seuss books we have, and Goodnight Moon (which is not my favorite but is like crack to kids for some reason).

You’ve been putting different words together really well lately.  You say “yellow coat,” though it sounds more like “lellow coat.”  Last night we watched the movie Home Alone for a family movie night, and I had forgotten about the plot point regarding John Candy’s polka band.  When you saw that big group of guys in their yellow satin jackets, you said “lellow coat” about fourteen times.

You love family movie night mostly for the popcorn.  The mere mention of the word will send you to the cabinet to drag out the popcorn popper.  When we were at Mubby and Skitter’s house for Thanksgiving, you spied Skitter’s popper on a high shelf and immediately knew what it was for.  You can bet you got some popcorn after that display of genius.

Photo by Denny

Another recent interest of yours is identifying the ownership of various objects.  That made me think about how early the concept of ownership comes into our consciousness in this society.  You know exactly what belongs to whom—your dad always uses a certain type of water glass, and when you see one, you say, “Daddy awa.”  You got irritated when your dad corrected you when you said, “Toto shirt,” because it was in fact Miles’s.  To your credit, Tobin does have a very similar one.  Though your own name is still the one you say the least, I have gotten a few “Cals” out of you.  Sometimes you call yourself Cacco.

Photo by Gary Clarke

Your current favorites:  French fries, Kit-Kat bars, lollipops (which you can say really well), reading books, playing with your brothers, the Imaginext Joker’s Laugh Factory (which you call “Haha,” because that’s the sound it makes), and chatting with Mubby and Skitter online (“Online?” you ask whenever you see an open pupu, aka computer).

We’ll be cozy together now that winter is here.  I hope you’ll still cuddle me when you’re two, but just in case, I’ll squeeze you a little extra this month.

Love,

Mommy

 

12/8/2016

Monthly Miles Memo #107

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:57 pm

Dear Miles,

Well, would you look at who’s almost done being eight?

This morning I found a container of frozen pork and onions that I put away when I was pregnant with you.  The inside was a freezer-burned mess, and I’m pretty sure from the struggles I’ve had finding lids to fit containers, that particular line of plastic food holder has been discontinued.  The date was clearly written in Sharpie, though:  12/17/07, almost exactly nine years ago, almost exactly nine years and one month since you joined us and changed everything.  I’ll wait till next month to get nostalgic about your lifetime with your dad and me, the evolutions and revolutions that have formed our family.  For now, let’s think about what you’ve been doing this month.

Photo by Gary Clarke

We had our Family Folk Machine fall concerts, and you did your usual bang-up job.  I was thinking about how when we first started, you wouldn’t stand with the other kids and would only participate if you were pressed directly against my body.  You’re a confident member now, singing solos and hanging out with your friends during kids’ break time.  Your class had a presidential race, and it was optional to run.  Running meant giving two speeches to your class.  You said you were definitely going to run.  I told you that no matter what the outcome, I was very proud that you were willing to take a risk and be brave.  You said that giving a speech was no big deal.  I credit Family Folk Machine with helping you gain that confidence before a crowd.

Last week, you ran to me at pickup time and announced, thrilled, that you were class vice president.  Fourteen of your classmates ran for president, and you got second-to-the-most number of votes (I guess they don’t use the electoral college at Lucas Elementary, or you would have been president).  You agreed that your classmate Oumou will make a good president, and you’re looking forward to helping her and taking over her job should she be absent.  Your campaign slogan was “Crall:  He’s no baby.”  You explained that it’s a pun, like you don’t have to crawl like a baby.  I’m not sure your classmates all got it, since one of them came up to me after school and told me your slogan was “Carl:  He’s no baby.”  In any case, enough of them appreciated you to get you a job.  Way to go, little Joe Biden.

We had a nice Thanksgiving break filled with the usual travel, family, and food.  You ate a lot of corn.  It’s a good thing you’re an Iowan, because there’s always corn available around here.  Food remains a challenging issue for you.  You are very reluctant to try anything new, even if there’s ample evidence that it’s good.  Pizza, for example.  Everybody likes pizza, right?  You agreed to try a piece of Tobin’s favorite kind if we took off the pepperoni, and you were a pretty good sport about it.  You said you liked the cheese and sauce but not the crust.  It’s true that you don’t like bread or bread products (not counting pasta, which will save us on some future trip to Italy).  You manage to get enough calories to survive, though sometimes I wonder how.  Honey Nut Cheerios make up a good percentage of your diet.  I manage to shove fruit into you every day, always apple slices with lunch and almost always some other fruit at dinner.

In other areas, you’re very open to exploration.  You took a 3D printing class after school this fall, and you made a really cool Pokeball.  You know what that is, though I don’t.  Pokémon Go is another obsession, and you and you dad and Tobin spend a lot of time and energy (including all the physical walking you have to do to reach certain goals) on that game.  You also stretched your boundaries in your most recent round of swim lessons.  Last night you passed the test required to dive into the deep end:  swimming the whole length of the pool using the forward crawl (Crall).  You even did a dive off the side.  You said you belly flopped your first couple of tries, but then you got it done.  I’m pretty happy about that.  Confidence in the water is a huge factor in experiencing so many joys in life.  We’re going to be snorkel buddies for sure.

You now have just a week and a half left of school before winter break.  I haven’t figured out what all we’re going to do to fill our days, but it will be easier than last year since Callum’s a little bigger.  We’ll probably rent some movies and make some popcorn—our garden harvest is surely ready to pop.  I’ll try to find time to wrap Christmas presents without you seeing.  We’ll probably go to Costco and buy giant vats of laundry detergent and olive oil and paper towels and eat lunch in their little food court.  Maybe we’ll go to the library and meet your dad downtown after work to take advantage of the students’ absence.  I want to try the new Zombie Burger.  They have fries.  You’ll like it.

Your hair is getting a little outrageous again, but the low humidity of winter air is making it slightly less enormous than it was before your last haircut.  You’re wearing a hat in our family holiday card picture, so the world will never know (unless you have to do any class executive branch publicity photos).

Your current favorites:  Prodigy math games, which you play online against your school friends and help Tobin to play; Goosebumps books; Panda Express’s orange chicken; piano lessons; and Pokémon Go.

Eight’s been good to us, mostly.  You’re a cool kid, and you’re learning and growing all the time.  One of these years, you’ll eat my delicious Thai pork with mushrooms, peppers, and noodles.

Love,

Mommy

Powered by WordPress