Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas? That's so five minutes ago.

William and I went to Target today. We cruised through the mostly-depleted aisles of Christmas stuff to pick up a few odds and ends to put away for next year. Boy, the pickings were slim, and it's just now New Year's Eve. Everything was finally marked down 75 percent, but I guess everyone else had already taken the best stuff.

William begged for a snowglobe, but seeing as how the only remaining snowglobes featured the cast of "High School Musical 3" and "Hannah Montana," I said, "Sorry, kiddo." I also nixed the purchase of a nutcracker painted to look like a bowler. (And I had thought traditional nutrackers were a little creepy. Be glad you missed out on the bowler.) So we headed home. I was a little disappointed not to land some great post-Christmas bargains, but I'll get over it.

William, on the other hand, was already way over it. As soon as I pulled the car into the garage, William asked, "Mommy, will you get out my Easter eggs now please?"

New Year's Resolution: Let's try to work one holiday out of our system first before moving on to the next.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Because I said so

A couple of days ago, I asked William to stop doing something annoying like banging on the table. My dear child looked at me, tilted his head to one side and with a sly grin said, "Why should I?"

My God. I thought we had a whole 'nother decade before we had a teenager in the house.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Dear Santa...

Dear Santa Claus,

Thank you so much for showering us with so many nice presents this Christmas. I can't honestly say that we were good all the time, but we did the best we could. And we'll try even harder next year.

We all loved our stocking gifts. David and William both liked the Star Wars toys that you put in David's stocking (yes, you read that correctly). William loved the recorder, too.

And I was particularly delighted to receive my annual jar of olives in mine (William unpacked them for me). You never forget how much I love them!

William was also delighted by his super rocketship:

and by his guitar:

All in all, we had a really wonderful day.

(Although, I will admit we're all a little tired of reading the Sleeping Beauty book.)

Hope you're having a nice Boxing Day and getting some rest.

Love, Jennifer

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Adventure

I'm not allowed to go downstairs right now, because, Santa is putting together my Christmas stocking. So I can't post any pictures of William and Leland playing together this morning when Mary Clare and Leland dropped by with treats. Nor can I post any photos of Grandaddy Aaron's birthday extravaganza at the Wyckoffs' house this evening.

But I can tell you this. We took William to the children's service for Christmas Eve this afternoon, and that was about the most hilarious church service I've ever attended. And I'm a preachers' kid. I've sat through a lot of church services.

You know it's going to be a good time when the acolyte's candlelighter burns out en route to the advent wreath at the very beginning. It took the poor girl a good long time to get all the candles in the advent wreath lit, too, because there was some strange heavenly gust of air directed at the wreath that kept nearly snuffing the candles out. She'd finally get one lit and then she'd hover there uncertainly as the flame leaned wayyyyyy over to one side. Not sure what ecclesiastical message is being imparted there, but it was very entertaining, in William's opinion. Which was good for all of us, too, because it meant we got a short breather in the "Keep William Occupied" game, which involved Christmas coloring pages, Spider-Man fruit treats, raisins, water, and being passed back and forth between all four adults in his family who were in attendance.

Near the end of the service, I think I heard a pew crash to the floor on the other side of the church, but I can't be too sure. I was too busy recovering from trying to suppress my laughter during the offertory. See, our church asks children to bring canned goods to church for a local food bank. I thought, "What a lovely idea" and made sure to pack something for William to offer. But I was totally unprepared for the scrum of kids battling their way to the front of the church to leave their cans of food by the manger. It was like a mosh pit, a school carnival, the starting line of a 5K race, and a junior varsity scrimmage, all rolled into one event. You almost expected to hear Nine Inch Nails playing, instead of "Good Christian Men Rejoice" or whatever. At least two little boys landed on their bellies and skidded down the middle of the aisle as other kids rushed over and around each other for the front. David, who was escorting William and his trusty can of green beans to the manger, even lost track of him at some point.

And did I mention the part in the service where William escaped our clutches and crawled, yes, crawled, down the center aisle toward the door? I could see eight rows of people begin to howl with laughter. I covered my eyes with my hand and slunk down in my pew. Have I ever also mentioned that Larson Family Lore has it that I once broke free of my mother's grasp, slid under the pew, and crawled under the pews away from her, to her great embarrassment? Yeah. We all know where William got it from. Luckily for David, William didn't get as far as I did.

Yes, it was a Christmas Adventure for the Larson-Wyckoff family.

But just in case you thought it was all a farce, let me assure you that there was one magical moment, too. We all stood to sing "Away in the Manger," and William stood up on the pew between David and me. And he sang the entire first verse in time with the music, just like everyone else. I was smiling so hard that I thought my face would split in half. And it made all the other shenanigans worth it all.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

To Santa or not to Santa?

Carl Honore raises the Santa Claus question in an opinion piece in today's Washington Post. You know, will it scar your children for life if you lie/don't lie to them about Santa?

Man, we parents really are damned if we do, damned if we don't these days. I hope that whatever William's learned about Santa, inadvertently or not, isn't going to have serious repercussions on his future success/development/happiness/ability to resist becoming an ax murderer.

I loved this paragraph in Honore's article:

"Of course parenting is crucial, but the bottom line is that not every single thing we do as parents leaves an indelible mark, for good or ill, on our children. Kids are more resilient than that. They can handle disappointment, boredom and feeling bad from time to time -- in fact, these things can make them stronger."

This is very reassuring. It takes a little of the pressure off to be the very best possible parent, because that is pretty much impossible to do but still tempting. I want to be a great parent, but there are times when I really just do not want to play another round of Candy Land or read "Madeline and the Bad Hat" for the four millionth time. Sometimes I don't want to try to make everything a potential moment for learning. Sometimes I mess up. Sometimes I yell (but I do apologize afterward). Sometimes I just want to use the restroom by myself--and sometimes I get cross when I don't get my wish. I sincerely want to do the best job of parenting that I possibly can, but hello, I do have my limits. Doesn't everyone?

So my son knows about Santa. Well, that is, William believes in Santa. He believes there is a big round man named Santa who says "Ho Ho Ho" and delivers presents out of his turbo-charged sled. But he's not consumed by the whole Santa myth, at least not yet. In a few years, when he uncovers the vaunted Truth About Santa, he'll get over it. He will. Doesn't every kid, eventually? I'm not worried about this in the least, frankly. I can think of far, far more important things for me to worry about him learning and understanding. So I'll expend my parental-guilt energy worrying about how we deal with those matters instead.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Knit Wit

Okay, someone out there needs to teach me how to knit.

Because how cute is this hand-knit hat?

My friend Anna (from made this for William. It arrived yesterday in the mail, and of course, I couldn't wait to try it on him. We took a short break from hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree to stage a little fashion show here. He looks a little bit like a knight, don't you think? Er, if knights were very small, rosy-cheeked, and wore rugby shirts, of course.

The problem with me learning to knit is this....I already tried to learn once. That was about four or five years ago, when we were living in Twentynine Palms but before we had William. It was kind of a failure. David said he'd never heard anyone swear so much, and given that he spent a decade or so in the Navy, I'd wager that's saying something. I still have the small square that I made, still attached to the needles, lying around here somewhere. I run across it occasionally. It mocks me.

But all my knitter friends make the coolest stuff, and I've been jealous for years. Natalie made a sweater for William when he was born. Jessica made him a baby cap and then she made a scarf for me. My friend Amy knitted Weasley sweaters for our friend Shab's two little boys. And now William has Anna's hat. I want to be able to make something! I can't make anything. I mean, I can write, but that's sort of ephemeral. I do have stacks of old newspaper clippings that are real and concrete, but that's about all I can say. You can't wear a newspaper article on your head.

Of course, I'm not sure I'm capable of making anything else you could potentially wear on your head either...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hold the cheese (sandwich)

In case you haven't yet finalized your nomination of me for the Mother of the Year Award, please, make sure you add this to your rapturous essay about my myriad qualifications for this great honor.

I didn't much feel like cooking dinner the other night. When David called to tell me he was on the way home, I mentioned this, and he said he'd be happy eating a cheese sandwich and some soup.

I thought, "I can do grilled cheese sandwiches. That's easy enough. And I can use up this bread and the last of the cheese, too."

So I buttered up a stack of slices of wheat bread and slapped the first sandwich into the frying pan. When it was nice and golden brown, I slid it onto a plate and cut it into four golden triangles of destiny (er, that's a joke from Sesame's a takeoff on Indiana Jones) and served it to my son who fell upon it like he hadn't eaten in a week.

I waited to grill the other two sandwiches until David arrived home a few minutes later. When he came in, I started to drop the second sandwich into the pan...and then noticed that half the top slice of bread was mottled in mold. Ack!

David peered over my shoulder and shuddered. Then he said, "Ew, throw that away!" And then he sighed because his dinner was ruined. I examined the other pieces of bread and didn't see any other visible patches of mold, but I couldn't tell for sure under all that butter. I pitched both ungrilled cheese sandwiches in the trash can and wondered unhappily what else I could come up with at the last minute.

At the exact same moment, we both realized that, oh my God, William already had one of those sandwiches! We spun around to look at him as he crammed the last bit of the penicillin sandwich in his mouth and smiled a big cheerful cheese sandwichy grin.

(Please note that I waited to post this little anecdote until we were reasonably sure he wasn't going to expire. He's as hale and hearty as ever, two days later. And bacteria-free, too.)

Don't get too busy, now, to submit my name for MOY. Two weeks. That's all you've got left.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Photo shoot

I'm a glutton for punishment.

I took William to get his picture taken at Sears today. You know, right in the middle of the pre-Christmas rush. At an understaffed store. Because nothing says "happy holidays" like slogging through the freezing rain with your overdressed child and then repeatedly asking them to sit still (HA!) and smile for the camera.

I had this terrific idea that I'd have William sit for some portraits, and then I could give the finished products to my grandparents for Christmas. It was a good idea, right? You know, except for...everything that it takes to get a good portrait of a busy two-year-old at the busiest time of the year.

The poor girl working in the portrait studio was the only person on duty. She had to take all the photos, answer the phones, ring up customers' purchases, and help people who came in to pick up their orders. Halfway through our photo session, she had to stop taking pictures and leave the little studio to deal with the line of people forming behind the main counter. At least William was entertained by the motion-detector lights that kept flashing on and off as he darted around the studio.

A behind-the-scenes shot that I took while we were waiting:

After the photographer returned, she took a few more photos, but William was mostly over the whole thing by then. He smiled wonderfully, and he was extremely cheerful, but he was very wiggly by that time. After the wait to get into Bethlehem, it really didn't even seem like much of a delay to me, but I think William was ready to call it a day.

Fortunately for me, she got some good shots of him before the break. I was happy enough with those. And I was thinking about last year's holiday portrait session, during which William wailed pitifully for the first 30 minutes or so, so today's challenges seemed very small compared to that day's. He smiled when asked! It was a Christmas miracle!

So I took us both to McDonald's as a treat for surviving the photo shoot. Santa Claus is coming to town, and if he brings french fries, William and I will both be very content.

Monday, December 15, 2008

And the line moves on

You know how you quickly learn that certain environments are not particularly hospitable to toddlers? You don't take your rowdy two-year-old to a quietly elegant restaurant at 8 p.m. or to opening night at the symphony.

And there are also events and venues that are actually very welcoming to toddlers....but only if you can get in.

David and I took William to Woodmont Christian Church's amazing annual Walk Through Bethlehem event yesterday afternoon. It's really quite an elaborate set-up, and very impressive. The church sets up their fellowship hall like a small town, with shops, a synagogue, homes, and other sites. Everyone is dressed in (roughly) appropriate attire and engages in activities that people living in Bethelem might have done at the time of the birth of Jesus. Outside on the grounds, they set up a stable where they stage a living Nativity, surrounded by animals. William's imagination has really been captured by his Fisher-Price nativity set, and since Diane and I took William last year to the event, and he had a blast, I figured that it was a no-brainer to take him again.

This is where the "unfortunately" part comes in, though. We got there a little after 2:30 only to find a very long, very slow-moving line. A greeter told us to expect to wait about 45 minutes. Wait in line, for 45 minutes (or longer) with an eager, active toddler? But...but...but, we came early so we wouldn't have to wait in line! The line isn't supposed to be here yet! Everyone told us to come early in the day so we'd avoid the line!

But there was a loooong line. And we were already there. We'd already talked up seeing the little town of Bethlehem and petting the sheep and seeing Mary and Joseph and the Baby Jesus.

So we waited. Luckily, we at least got to spy on the animals from part of the line:

So you may be thinking...why did you even take your toddler to this event if you didn't want to wait in line? And maybe we shouldn't have tried to take William this year. Maybe he was too young. But we wanted him to see the town of Bethlehem. We wanted him to see what it might have looked like in person, not just in his books. We thought it was a great educational opportunity for him. And all things considered, William did okay. He was squirmy, but what would you expect? He didn't really run around or dash off or even screech loudly, although since we were outside, that wouldn't have been so terrible. There were many, many other young children there, and everyone seemed pretty relaxed and happy about being there, which was encouraging.

But several older boys behind us in line started egging him on, teasing him and talking about dog poop and God knows what else. So then we had William brightly chirping about "Ewww, I smell dog poop! Gross!" like a preteen. Great. David tried to talk him out of that, but you know how it is. You try to convince your child to not talk about something or say a certain word and suddenly that's all they want to do. So he dropped it, and eventually, William forgot about dog poop, too.

Finally, we got to enter the actual "town," located in the basement of the church. William was pretty respectful, too. He seemed to really be paying attention to what the various characters were saying, and he enjoyed visiting the carpentry shop and seeing the musicians playing their instruments. But the "town" was fairly dark, and people were crushed in there together. We had to keep picking him up so he wouldn't get stepped on--and so he could actually see what was going on. Finally we just skipped out on seeing the rest of the town and headed outside to see the stable, the Baby Jesus, and the Three Wise Men (who wouldn't have actually been at the stable the night the baby was born, but I can digress on that later). He got to see a camel up close and stick his nose in the urn of frankincense, and then we left.

We waited in line far, far longer than we actually stayed in "Bethlehem" but I think we did as much as we could. We just can't reasonably expect William at his age to wait patiently in a long line for a long time. And I think he did okay. We just didn't want to press our luck. He was happy to see the things that he saw, and that's good enough for me. Next year, he'll be able to do more. It really is a wonderful event. It's just become so popular that it's not as easy to get in and out of as it might have once been. I'm glad we went. It was worth standing in the line.

But it did make me start thinking about how long it takes to acquire patience for that sort of thing. Remember how hard it was to wait in line when you were little? I think we adults tend to forget that. I am not exactly a big fan of lines now, but if I'm by myself and I find myself in a long line, I just pull out a book or magazine to pass the time. Or people-watch. Or send text messages. When I've got William with me, I try to avoid all but the most utterly necessary lines. Otherwise, I go back later without him. But what can you do when the reason you're standing in line to begin with is to take your small child to do something that is supposed to be fun for him? Ply him with snacks. Entertain him with books and stories. People watch. Hope that the line moves quickly. Sing songs. Tell jokes. Hope your child ignores the other kids in line. Wonder if you're just a teensy bit crazy. Remember that, if you're at the right kind of place, no one is going to mind if your child is a little bit rowdy.

But in case anyone ever wanted to know one of the biggest reasons why we've never taken our son to DisneyWorld, well, now you know. Lines.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Snow, Snow, Go Away

Well, I had a Watershed Moment in Parenting today.

It snowed here, however lightly, late yesterday afternoon. While my friend Loretta in New Orleans got enough snow to build an honest-to-God snowman in her yard, we just got a dusting. By the time I headed out to attend a Christmas cocktail party at 7, the roads were damp, but otherwise just fine.

But when I blearily glanced at the weather on the local television news this morning, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a miniature news crawl and a tiny (but growing) list of local school closings. School closings! After that trace of snow? Cowboy up, people!

Well, the South is famous for its longtime "Hey, it snowed a quarter of an inch! Let's close the schools" mentality. I mean, we also flock to our grocery stores and clean them out of milk and bread at the slightest hint of a snow report. (Oooh, and this gives me an excuse to quote from one of my all-time favorite columns from the now-gone Birmingham Post-Herald when I ask, "Have you ever been desperate enough to eat a milk sandwich?") But, as it turned out, neighboring counties received a lot more snow than we western Davidson County people did. And I'm guessing most school officials wisely decided it was better to be safe than sorry, especially in areas where many children ride school buses very early in the morning, before the roads clear up.

So I sat on the edge of my bed, waiting for the name of William's school to scroll by. And this is where the watershed part comes in: I realized I was hoping for his school to NOT be on the list of closed schools. That's right: I was cheering for school to be open on a snow day, not closed.

Indeed, it was the first time in my entire life I didn't want a snow day! "C'mon, William needs to go to school," I muttered, with my eyes glued to the screen. "I need William to go to school."

When the alphabetical list on one channel scrolled by, and the school name didn't appear, I switched channels. Then I checked all three local news stations' websites. Nope, not there either. That's it, I decided. We're going to school. And we did. Or, he did. He happily scampered into the Jungle Room and greeted his teachers and waved me away. And away I flew like the down of a thistle. Which is to say I ran errands, bought Christmas presents, and went to the bank. No way could I have done all that with a snow-day William in tow. Plus, the little bit of snow was all gone. If you're going to have a snow day, you should at least have, you know, some snow to play in.

This is what it's like being a parent. I root against snow days. I don't allow cookies before mealtime. I insist on a regular--and early--bedtime. And sometimes, when I open my mouth, I even hear my mother's voice come out.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Where toddler snacks really end up

Will there ever be a time when I won't constantly be finding raisins smushed into my carpet all over the house?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Thank you for my nightlight

William said his first prayer by himself tonight. It was rambling and hilarious and wonderful, all at the same time.

As I wrote in an earlier post, we've been trying to be more consistent about saying a prayer with/for him at bedtime. You know, we say, "Dear God," and let him repeat after us. And tonight, after I finally got him to settle down and said "Dear God" three times, he took control.

It went something like this:

"Dear God, thank you for my warm house, my pa-wents, my fwends, my famly, my toys, my books, my Mark, my DeeDee, my Baby Jesus set, my lamp, my nightlight, my family, my warm house, nice day....ahhhhh-men."

I was thoroughly charmed. I guess he's been paying attention after all! And so what if he's mostly just repeating stuff that we've said before? Isn't that how we learn most prayers to begin with? Surely I knew the words of "The Lord's Prayer" by heart many years before I really began to grasp what they meant. He understands that we want him to pray and to be thankful for all the good things and people in his life, and that's good enough for me.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Another haircut

I am so predictable.

Every time I take William to get his hair cut, I agonize over the end result, even when it looks perfectly fine.

This time is no exception. Except that it really doesn't look perfectly fine. I think we had a trainee cut his hair yesterday. She was very nice, but she didn't really cut it that much, and the bangs ended up very crooked. I managed to restrain myself from getting out my nail scissors to even them up.

But I made things worse anyway. I took William back to the salon after school today to have someone trim up the bangs to make them even. Well, they are straighter than they were but now they're about an inch shorter than they were after the initial haircut--and because of his cowlick, they're still not really straight! Argh! So now he has crooked super-short bangs with not-short-enough hair-in-general.

And since he's a boy, I can't even pull it all back with a barrette or use a bow to distract the eye from the super-short crookedness.

Yes, I realize that I have a lot invested in his hair, perhaps to the point of silliness. I think it's a result of my ambivalence toward my own hair; I always fret that one side is shorter or fuller than the other, and haircuts for me are always fraught with worry that the hairstylist is not going to be able to give this crazy head of hair a decent cut (and I think you may recall the much-alluded-to disastrous haircut of July 2006). And then there's the fact that I still haven't gotten over the Dorothy Hamill wedge that my mother forced on me in 1979. No, that haircut will live in infamy forever.

Argh argh argh.

Thank God his hair grows as fast as mine does. Maybe by New Year's, he'll look normal again.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Potty-training plateaus

I was chatting recently with some mothers of toddlers William's age, and we got to talking about potty training.

As I expected, the mothers with little girls were able to report more success. One of them even sends her daughter to school in panties--real, honest to God underwear!--on a regular basis. And yes, we were all duly impressed. But the moms of boys pretty much all reported the same: little to no progress, at least not recently. Some of the boys weren't interested at all, while others, including William, are only willing up to a point. William's hit a plateau, where he's willing to sit on the potty a couple times a day, but only rarely will he ask to go any other time.

Now, I've read all the books and info about potty-training, and I realize that it's perfectly normal for a boy who is just over two-and-a-half years old to not be fully potty-trained. I'm really not that worried about it at this point. William has his Thomas the Tank Engine underpants that he gets to wear for an hour or so before bed each night, and he seems to enjoy that and usually manages to keep them dry. So I have faith (mostly) that one day, he'll catch on to the whole idea and shun diapers for All-Thomas-All-The-Time.

But I did have a moment of panic the other day when I got online and read the application for the preschool that William will be attending in the fall. Per the application, the school requires the children to have bladder and bowel control. And I had a sit-up-straight flash of "Oh my GOD! How on earth am I ever going to get him to achieve that?" Then I remembered, "Oh yeah. That's like nine months off. I've got time." And I relaxed. For the time being.

David recently suggested that we buy some lollipops to, convince William to consider going number two on the potty. I guess David's a little more anxious than I am about it, given that he's willing to actually consider giving candy to his beloved son. I'm way more lenient about things like that, in case you don't remember the butterscotch-pudding-and-Froot-Loops episode from our big cross-country move in July 2007. But David tends to be stricter about these things, and so for him to advocate the use of a candy, persuasive device...means he must be worried. Maybe we'll give that a shot. My mom potty-trained me with those little candy Valentine's Day hearts, and she potty-trained my brother with M&Ms, and neither of us are big candy-hounds. I mean, my kid voluntarily eats broccoli. I don't think a few lollipops are going to hurt him.

So we'll see.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Say cheese! Please?

We staged a photo session this afternoon after church to get some potential photographs for our annual Christmas card photo. After that little experience, I was reminded of something my friend Jennifer once told me about how she had trouble getting good photographs of her son when he was two years old.

Boy, she knew what she was talking about. Two is a tough age for this sort of thing, I've concluded. At two and a half. William is old enough to know that we want to take a picture of him. He knows we want him to pose and smile and be charming for the camera. He knows that we simper and fawn all over him when he beams a big toothy smile for us. But he's still young enough to be a slave to his own lack of impulse control. He's really just not ready to fully comprehend that it's in everyone's best interest, including his own, if he just (pun alert) grins and bears it and gets it over with. (Of course, it's taken my husband, an adult, nearly ten years with me to fully internalize this, but I digress.)

But I always press on in the hopes that we'll get past this. And I'm sure that one day, we will. One day, William will understand that Mommy just needs him to flash his winning smile at the camera and then he'll be free to run off. And he'll comply. But for now...William may be willing to sit down and smile nicely for a few seconds, but then the urge to move takes over him. And right before I click the shutter on the camera, he feels the need to jump up. Or bend over. Or squeal. Or twist and shout. Or shake it up, baby. And then...he gives in to the urge. So when I click the shutter, I end up with a photo of a little blonde blur. Although, to be fair, the blur is often smiling in these photos.

Diane, God love her, powered through the photo session this afternoon, patiently clicking away and taking shot after shot. When William jumped up, she kept smiling at him and beseeching him to look at her and smile, too. And she kept taking pictures, even as I was finally resorting to offering bribes (Spider-Man fruit treats) to my only child to please just sit still for a few more minutes so we could get a nice family picture. Afterward, she reminded me of the advice once given to me by a photo editor I worked with: take lots of pictures, lots and lots and lots of them, and maybe you'll end up with a couple that are usable. That's some of the best parenting advice I've ever received, by the way, although at the time, the advice was supposed to guide me in taking better photos for the newspaper I was working for.

Someone once commented to me that William always seems to be smiling in pictures. When I stopped guffawing, I confided to them that for every good smiley picture I post of him, there are at least 50 other photos of him madly dashing around or grabbing at the camera or opening his mouth in a big exaggerated expression that is funny, yes, but not exactly sweet and charming. No kidding. You should see my photo archives. If I had to use film, I'd be bankrupt. So I'll just continue to be grateful for the digital camera, which allows me to take hundreds of picture so I will have a few good ones at the end of it all.

And I'll still hold out hope that one day, it will be easier to get a non-blurry smiling picture of my son. Maybe when he's three. Or four? Not any longer than that, though, right?

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Oh my God, I am so upset by the news that came out of Palm Desert on Friday that I still can't talk about it in a reasonable tone of voice.

My old newspaper, The Desert Sun reported on Friday that two men shot and killed each other inside the Toys R Us in Palm Desert on Friday morning. That's right: two men took loaded guns inside a toy store on the busiest shopping day of the year and, when an altercation arose, shot at each other, fatally wounding each other. You can read the paper's report from my former colleagues here, at least for a few days. That's the Toys R Us that I used to regularly visit back when we still lived in Twentynine Palms, an hour's drive away. I used to take William to that very store on Highway 111 when he was a baby to buy sippy cups and bibs and Fisher Price toys. It was a regular on my roster of stores to visit when I made my weekly drives down into the valley. Right across the street from Target and right around the corner from Trader Joe's.

The online report that I read yesterday morning quoted a mother whose four-year-old son was clinging desperately to her leg and saying fearfully, "Mommy, I don't want to die" after the first shots rang out. And the very idea that not only was a four-year-old child afraid of being shot to death in a toy store but that it was a very real fear just about chilled the blood pumping through my body. As a parent, I was absolutely infuriated by this whole tragedy. Sure there are places we can't reasonably expect our children to be safe, but we don't--or shouldn't--take our children there. And a toy store is not one of those places. We all know that having children means that, one day, we will have to turn our children loose, hope that we did a good job raising them, and let them live their own lives. We all know that we can only be responsible for their welfare for so many years. But who ever thinks they'd have to worry about their child's life inside a toy store? And to paraphrase a city councilman quoted in the story (one I used to interview, I might add), who takes a loaded gun into a toy store and why? It would never have occurred to be worried about trigger-happy gun-toters inside a toy store. And for some people, now they always will be, on some level.

Luckily, no innocent people were harmed in this incident. At least not physically. But I'd be willing to bet that some of those parents, once they finish thanking God for still being alive, are never really going to get over it. I don't think I would.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

'Twas the night before Thanksgiving

'Twas the night before Thanksgiving
and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring...
well, except for David, trying valiantly to defrost the turkey.

Oh yeah, and no one could find apricot-flavored JellO for the supposedly mandatory apricot-JellO-cream-cheese-mandarin-orange thing. Guess we'll have to make do with peach.

And I'm not sure I got the right kind of gravy packets.

Or that the rolls are the right kind, either.

Do we even have anything to drink tomorrow?

But let's hope that everyone just remembers the big's all about being together and being grateful for what we have. And at least William understands that tomorrow is Thanksgiving (and not Christmas, although I think he's about ready for all the Christmas lights and decorations to go up). He says that Thanksgiving is the day when you eat pumpkin pie and eat turkey and watch the parade. And, if prompted, he will also that note that it's a day when you say "thank you." My goal is to hopefully parlay that into many many days when he is thankful.

So let's just cross our fingers and hope that the turkey thaws out. And the salad is acceptable. And the rolls. And the gravy...

Monday, November 24, 2008


You know, I know that it's common for teenagers to think that they know everything and their parents know nothing. In fact, I know it from firsthand experience. In moments of extreme frustration with her hardheaded teenage daughter, Mom always exclaimed that one day, I'd realize how smart she actually was. And I scoffed. 'Til I was about, oh, 24, or so. And then Mom got even smarter after I had William. Amazing how that works, eh?

So I figured that one day, William would grow up and dispute every word that comes out of his parents' mouths. I just didn't realize it would happen when he was only two years old.

Inspired by some of our fellow parent-friends from church, we've been trying to say a prayer with him every night before he goes to sleep. We've been a little (okay, a lot) lax about this until recently, but we really are trying. We put him in his crib, and then we all fold our hands and begin a little freelance prayer out loud. It's still a little awkward. I do much better with these things when I write them out beforehand--and I keep wondering if perhaps I should try that next time. But my friend Fran has reminded me in the past that it's okay to pray badly as long as you're actually praying and you're sincere, so maybe I should just keep that in mind instead. So we're working on the routine part and the sincerity parts right now, trying to instill the importance of prayer in our little boy at a young age.

Usually, David or I start with a little riff on "thank you, God, for such a nice day that we had today" and segue over to thanking God for our friends and family and wind up with a "please help William be a good boy tomorrow." To our delight, William agreeably folds his little hands and echoes us. "Dear God," he says, swaying on his knees in his crib, smiling and looking at us to see what happens next. Sometimes he echoes whatever he say next and sometimes he just says a few words and giggles. I think he's catching on, though. He repeats more of what we say each time we try it.

But here's where the premature teenager-ness comes in. Tonight, David led him in a very nice prayer, ending with, yes, "Amen," which David pronounced "aaaa-men" with a long "a" sound. And William popped up on his knees and immediately corrected him. "No, Daddy, it's aaaah-men," he informed his father.

Whoa, where did that come from? David stuttered over this for a few second, finally saying weakly, "William, you can say it either way, you know. They're both correct." Which is true, as far as I know, but who knew our son already had an opinion on ecclesiastical issuses?

Our son, the expert. The two-year-old expert on the proper language for prayer. Perhaps in a former life, he was on the Council of Nicea. Or maybe it's just soome of his preacher-grandaddy genes coming out. Or--and this may be the most likely--he's just growing up to be as opinionated as his parents are. Gulp.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Back to the treehouse again

I meant to post this on Thursday, but I got distracted.

Let me just say a big hearty "thank goodness" for the Monkey's Treehouse. As the weather cools down again, and rainy cold days are in the forecast, it's nice to have an indoor destination where my child can run wild. During the summer, we spent a lot of mornings at the pool, and in the autumn, we often headed to a nearby playground. As winter approaches, we'll be putting the Monkey's Treehouse back into our regular rotation of playspaces. We'll still go to storytime at the library and visit the train tables at the bookstore, but as I've written before, more is expected of children in those situations. They actually do need to be quiet at times--or at least not run amok. So it's nice to have a place where William can run around (or amok) and make noise and it's all good.

This is the part of the post when I would normally sigh and say that I miss the Bellevue Mall's play area. But I have committed myself to not saying that because the renovation of the mall is going to result in a big new lovely library, and that will benefit far more people than just us. I'll just have to keep searching for more good indoor activities for winter for my exuberant (read: rowdy and noisy) son.

Here he is, with Leland, putting on a big show in the play theater. He picked the purple witch's costume out all by himself.

The warehouse sale

Boy, where do I start with this one?

My friend Mary Clare and I got up early this morning to drive downtown for a Kelly's Kids warehouse sale at the municipal auditorium.

For those of you unacquainted with Kelly's Kids, it's a boutique brand of children's clothing based in Natchez, my parents' town. It's a popular brand here. They sell little corduroy longalls in the winter and seersucker shortalls in the summer and cute little dresses and pajamas all year round. The clothes, while expensive at full price, wash and wear beautifully, which is key, given how much hard use and laundering we put clothes through here at our house. I already own a fair amount of KK clothing, mostly bought at consignment sales and from the outlet near Mom's house. The warehouse sale was advertising drastically discounted prices, so I figured it was worth a try.

Hoping to find a couple of cute things, Mary Clare and I drove up to the auditorium around 8:40. A line of women, dressed in their heavy coats and holding cups of Starbucks, was already wrapped a quarter of the way around the building. As we trolled for a parking spot, three women here, two women there, four women here again joined the line. A few women even pushed laundry hampers on wheels. No kidding. These women were serious. And as we found out later, some even showed up before dawn to wait in the cold and get one of the first spaces in line.

We found the end of the mushrooming line and waited. Finally, the doors opened at 9, and we descended into hell. Okay, no, we walked down the stairs into the warehouse space. But unless you love big eager crowds of shoppers, it was kind of hell-like. Hordes of women were converging around dozens of tall metal hanging racks, snatching and grabbing and squealing and pushing. Huge rows of clothing disappeared before our very eyes, like something out of a science fiction movie. MC and I moved around, trying to find an empty spot here and there at a rack so we could find a few things for our own kids. I got lucky and snatched a pair of brown corduroy overalls trimmed in light blue, and Mary Clare found a pair of darling tights with hearts printed on them. But we were clearly moving too slow to really get the good stuff. And all I have to say at this point is, thank God we didn't have William and Leland with us. It may have been a children's clothing sale, but it was clearly no place for children.

Well, as it turned out, those first few shoppers, the hard-core ones, had run through the space and grabbed enormous armloads of outfits--usually the best ones, like the really nice holiday overalls and dresses--and refused to part with them. They lugged huge baskets full of multiples off the main shopping floor and began dumping clothes on the bare dirty floor to see what treasures they had landed. See, these women were not Mommy looking for a Christmas card outfit for Sally and Junior. They were crusty old battle-axes looking to score as much new merchandise--with tags--as possible so they could take them home and sell them on eBay at a big markup. Security guards pushed their way through and demanded that the women start handing over some of the clothes because they didn't want them scattered all over the floor. Dozens of regular shoppers stood around them, hoping that someone would grudgingly part with that sweet little blue gingham snowman jumper or that long-sleeved pumpkin t-shirt. MC and I waited in vain for a pair of darling little madras plaid pants for Leland, but no one was willing to part with any. Not only that, but when we approached one of these women a little later to ask if she'd part with one lousy pair, she snapped at us. Yikes. Gee, thanks, lady. I hope you get carpal tunnel syndrome from listing everything on your eBay store.

We cast about aimlessly, looking for discards. Turns out most people must have discarded the same things. Strange red-and-white zebra-print jammies. Basic corduroy pants. Little blouses that didn't match anything else. Nothing to see there. So we got in line. No, scratch that. We got in the first line. We waited in a long line to have our items counted and packaged, then we had to go wait in another line to actually pay for our stuff. As we compared our small armloads of clothing with other women in line, a common sentiment was heard: "Hmmm. Do we really want to stand in this line and then again in that one for this?" We weren't the only ones disenchanted by the eBayers. Not by a long shot. That camraderie was kinda nice, actually. It made the line-standing much more pleasant.

So, whew. I like what we got, but was it worth the jostling and jousting? Hmmm. I might have to see how much the brown corduroy overalls are selling on eBay for before I tell you for sure.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Testing out the new camera

We have a new camera--hooray!--but I'm still figuring out how to use the photo editing software that accompanies it. The camera is a lot nicer, but the software is slightly more complicated.

Does this picture look okay?

Ah, the Thanksgiving turkey headdress. This picture probably should be filed under the category of "Pictures to Show William's Prom Date."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Later, Dad

My child is entirely too verbal for his own good. Or for ours. We forget that he's only two sometimes. It's as if because he can say so many things, we expect him to be able to do more things, too.

The other night, he cried out in the wee hours. David blearily staggered into William's room to see what was wrong. William stopped crying as soon as David opened the door and simply handed his fleece blanket to his daddy so he could cover him back up.

"William, you could put the blanket back on by yourself," David told him.

"No," William responded. "I'll do that when I'm older."

So he can say that but he can't actually cover himself up with his blankey? Hmmmm...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Books We Need

In a committee meeting the other day, I was chatting with some other women who have small children, and we came up with a good idea. Someone should write "A Pregnant Woman's Guide to Nashville."

It would contain a carefully audited list of pediatricians (ahem, I can recommend an excellent one by the way, if anyone's looking), places to buy maternity clothes (the Opry Mills Old Navy), places to fulfill your odd cravings, stores with good restrooms, stores where they sell nursing supplies, and so on. We'd interview all the moms we know and get the best advice and then compile it into one (mostly) definitive guide.

Or perhaps it could become a series, like travel books for various cities. The Lonely Planet Series of Guides to Motherhood. Fill in the name of your own city. Anyone want to sign on with me and create a new venture? Anyone know how to write a business plan?

But I had another idea later. Someone should also write a book that contains all the stuff about parenting that the parenting books always seem to leave out. The not-so-glamorous stuff that happens After you give birth. There are shelves full of books about sleep-training your child but precious little about what kind of nursing pads to buy and why. Or the return of certain bodily functions. Or how to get poop stains out of a christening gown. Or the best way to deal with the mess created by a projectile-vomiting infant. Or why your breast pump is making funny sounds and when it's time to buy new tubing.

Parenting books often deal with, yes, parenting, but let's face it: is adjusting to your new life and all its messes not a cruicial part of being a parent? I know I can find a book about introducing new foods to my child and helping them learn to love a healthy balanced diet. But I want to know how other moms deal with Play-Doh and tiny PlayMobile parts. How do you get puke out of those car seat straps, anyway? What's the best way to get Craisins stains out of the rug? How do you get your two-year-old to smile for the camera? If you hide your child's Halloween candy so they don't get cavities or beg for candy for the rest of their young lives, are you a bad parent or a good parent?

You know, the un-warm-and-fuzzy stuff.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

William in his own words

Sometimes I wish I could be a fly on the wall and observe William when he's not with me. I always wonder how other people see him, how he really acts when I'm not in his presence. I know him so very well--but only in relation to me. He's my son, and I adore him. But what is he like as a friend? A student? Even a grandchild? I can never really know for sure.

So when I get a small insight into William Without Mommy, I always get a small thrill. The latest came when I saw the new bulletin board for his class at school. The teachers had asked each child what they were thankful for, then transcribed the answers onto a piece of paper. The children then colored on the papers, and the teachers hung them up in honor of Thanksgiving.

William's paper reads, "I'm thankful for my books, and my mommy and daddy, and that's all."

I choked back giggles when I read this. First, because he listed his books right off. Mommy and Daddy don't come first; his books do. And the "that's all"--what's that about? When I picked him up a few minutes later, I asked him about the picture and asked if he wasn't thankful for anything or anyone else. He thought for a moment or two, then added, "My toys and my books." And with some subtle reminding/prompting, he also added his grandmothers, grandfathers and uncles to (verbal) list. (Amazingly, he did not say "food" or "fruit treats" or "lollipops." He must not have thought about that angle. One of the other children in his class did, though: she added "my lunch" to her list.)

It's so funny to think that this bright little person with all these funny ideas used to be a tiny little helpless blob of a baby. Every day, he grows farther and farther away from that tiny baby and grows into his own person. It still sometimes amazes me. There was a time when I really thought of him as an extension of myself, but those days are long past. In case I ever forget that, though, I am reminded when he says something new or unexpected. And that happens just about every day. He still repeats some things that we say, but often, he comes up with things all on his own. William's mind seems to be whirring along at warp speed all the time. I can barely keep up with him. I don't know: if I were an expert in early childhood development, would it still seem as amazing the way his mind is developing?

So I just try to write as much of it down, so I can remember and marvel again later.

Friday, November 07, 2008

William Wyckoff: On Domestic Affairs

A toddler's take on the world:

William, upon hearing that "Bock Mama" had won the presidential election and defeated John McCain, asked why they couldn't just share the job.

I guess when you're two years old and constantly asked to share your toys/food/books, that idea seems so natural that you can't imagine why adults don't just sign on, too!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Never underestimate your child

Never underestimate your child.

But if you do underestimate what they are capable of doing, trust me. They will surprise you! I learned this, in a delightful way, last night.

William was dancing around the bathroom while I brushed my hair and put on makeup yesterday morning. To give him something to do, I pointed to a stack of plastic cups sitting on the counter and said, "Hey, William, do you want to carry those cups downstairs for Mommy?"

William is at the age where he loves to "help." He loves to help unload the dishwasher--which I let him do; he gets to take out all the little plastic forks and spoons that he uses and put them in his drawer. He loves to help take clean laundry out of the dryer and put it in the laundry basket. And he's finally old enough to fetch various things for me when I need them; if I ask him to grab a kleenex for me, he goes running off and comes back moments later with, yes, a kleenex. It's actually quite nice. Even nicer is the look of sheer pleasure on his face because he knows he has been helpful, like a big boy.

Anyway, he was happy to help by carrying the cups downstairs. Off he went. I managed to get distracted by various things and completely forgot that I had asked him to run this little errand.

Fast-forward to about 6:30 p.m. last night. William was eating dinner, while I ran upstairs to get something. While I was upstairs, I remembered the plastic cups. And then I realized that I hadn't actually seen where he put them. They could be anywhere. Really. Anywhere. I walked back downstairs and called, "Hey, William, do you remember those plastic cups I asked you to bring downstairs this morning? What did you do with them?"

Through a mouthful of strawberries and pears, William said, "I put them in de dishwasher."

Astonished, I opened the dishwasher, and there they were! He had opened the dishwasher, pulled out the top rack, unstacked the cups, and placed each one individually in the top rack, just like Mommy always does, pushed the rack back in and closed and locked the dishwasher.

Amazing. I never would have thought he'd even think of doing that, let alone actually do it! He just gets more and more interesting and amazing as he grows up. Wow.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Some Halloween photos to tide us over

It's taking me forever to get Halloween pictures organized and posted, so I'll just have to do it piecemeal.

And frankly, I'm just glad there are pictures at all...I managed to break our camera at Leland's birthday party on Saturday morning. Ack. That poor camera. We bought it when I was pregnant with William, and it's taken so many pictures since that it deserves a Bronze Star for meritorious service or something. Is meritorious even a word? I digress. I read a news article a few months ago about a UPS driver who logged something insane like a million miles on the same UPS truck over a couple of decades of work. My little silver camera was like the Canon equivalent of that truck. That was even more of a digression, wasn't it? Bottom line, that camera has worked hard, but at least it held out through Halloween!

Anyway, here are a few...

We had a Wyckoff-McDonough family Halloween shindig at our house this year. Mark, Diane and William represented our family with costumes:

Here, Alethea helps William sort out and organize his candy, clearly a very serious enterprise.

I'm a little unclear on their sorting criteria. I think I heard Alethea proposing that they sort by color, but it could be that they ended up sorting by candy type. What I do know is that William has enthusiastically embraced this whole free candy thing. He's eaten almost all the lollipops he collected, except for the Tootsie Roll Pop, which er, I am going to work on convincing him to give to his dear old mom. Last year, he didn't understand candy, so we ate Twix bars and M&Ms from his pumpkin with abandon. This year, it's going to be much harder to get away with that. So my plan is to let him eat some of it, over the course of a few days, and gradually spirit away the rest. For the sake of his teeth, of course.

Hopefully we'll get this whole ugly dead camera debacle behind us soon.

Friday, October 31, 2008


I have buckets of pictures of William in various stages of wizardhood and pirateness over the last week, but for now, this soon-to-be classic photo will have to suffice.

Say aaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Happy Halloween from Chez Larson-Wyckoff!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Jack'o'lantern

The process:

If you've ever been with David when he's eating ribs, you have likely seen him attack the ribs with a very surgical precision that kind of freaks me out just a wee bit. Same thing with the pumpkin, except useful, not freaky. (He would argue that it's not creepy at all ever since the rib-cutting technique that he uses allows him to remove the maximum amount of meat from the bones, thus allowing him maximum enjoyment of his delectable meal. Whatever. It's very, um, visceral.) And luckily, that skill served him well here. See?

The finished product:

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pumpkin time

Look what we picked out!

Now David is planning to "help" William turn this modest little pumpkin into Jack: The O'Lantern. Last year, we had to forego the pumpkin-carving because David claimed it wasn't safe for him to carve a pumpkin because he didn't have disability insurance yet. I'm not exactly sure what kind of pumpkin-carving David was envisioning that was so dangerous it required insurance (chainsaw-powered carving, anyone?), but this year the insurance is in place and he's on board with the project. He even bought a neat little carving kit from Target, and William's all excited. I'm all excited about roasting the pumpkin seeds myself...

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

You know you're an English major when...

If y'all weren't already impressed by my dorking out at Walden Pond, reciting Thoreau, you'll surely be impressed* by this!

Yesterday, I taught William to say, "To be, or not to be: That is the question."

That's right, I've got my boy reciting Hamlet. I convinced him to do this by telling him that the guy who wrote those lines was also named William. This is how we entertained ourselves in the car on the way to my committee meeting at church.

*Okay, maybe "impressed" isn't exactly the right word. "Amused" or "bemused" or maybe even "horrified" might be more accurate.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mom the Human Mapquest

Yesterday's conversation, in my car, en route to Centennial Park.

William: Mommy, what street are we on?

Me: Highway 100.

William: Dis DeeDee and Gandaddy's street?

Me: No, they live on Post Road. Remember?

William: Yes. (pause) Where's Post Road?

Me: You drive a little further down, and then you have to turn left and cross over the railroad tracks to get to their house.

William: (nodding) That makes sense.

I'm so glad he approves.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I love fall

I love fall. I do. I love it, love it, love it.

I love the leaves that change from drowsy summer green to surprisingly brilliant yellow and red. I love sleeping with the windows open at night. I love the first night when the temperature drops below about 55 degrees and you have to snuggle up under the covers or wake up with an icy nose. I love the snap in the air with the cool mornings that lazily warm up as the October sun rises in the sky. I love putting on sweaters after months of t-shirts and tank tops. I love simmering some apple cider on the stovetop and smelling the cinnamon waft through the whole house. I love the sight of pumpkins perched on front porches and bin after bin of crisp apples in the grocery stores.

I love it all.

And I love that William seems to love fall, too. He is delighted, absolutely ecstatic by all the Halloween decorations that have popped up over the past two weeks. He helped me pick out another pumpkin and a big scarecrow at Michael's the other day so that we, too, would be "a Halloween house."

I get this giddy feeling when fall seems to have arrived at last. I don't know exactly when I developed this affinity for this season above all others. I don't really remember, but I think it may have been when I was living in California, though, and deprived of four normal seasons. When David and I lived in San Diego, we used to plan at least one October trip to this little mountain town called Julian, an hour or two east of SD. Julian was known for its apple orchards. We'd drive up there in the morning and wander around the little gold-rush-era town, then buy a few jugs of fresh-pressed apple cider and a couple of fresh apple pies to take home with us. There was almost nothing as good as a crumbly Dutch apple pie from Julian. We made sure we always procured one, somehow or other, for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals when we lived in that part of the world. Since then, apples, more so than pumpkins, really signify autumn for me. We never really got the red, gold, and orange leaves in California, but at least we got apples. Now that I live here in Tennessee, we get it all.

And the best part is that there's still a lot of autumn left. We have plans to attend at least one or two costume parties before Halloween, plus then there's Halloween Night itself. And November is nice around here, too--and I adore Thanksgiving almost as much as Halloween. And today, we went to a pumpkin farm, down near Franklin. It was so perfectly autumnal that I was a little dreamy-eyed. I mean, how is this for storybook? We took a hayride and wandered around a pumpkin patch where you could pick your own pumpkin.

And of course, having Leland with him made it that much more fun for William:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A few Boston photos

A few quick snapshots from our Great Boston Adventure....

Me at Walden Pond. You know, as in Henry David Thoreau's Walden.

The leaves at Walden Pond:

David in front of Paul Revere's house in the North End:

Eating lobster at the Ye Olde Union Oyster House...

...with Brian and Jennifer:

David at Fenway:

Me at Fenway--on top of the Green Monster:

David inside the Old North Church, where the famous "two if by sea" signal happened:

Me in Lexington, site of "Don't fire unless fired upon" unfortunately came true:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Have some chowdah!

In case anyone's wondering why there've been no urgent Three Peas news items posted in the past week, let me just reassure you. I just got home a few hours ago. I've been in Boston for almost a week with David. He attended the annual American Academy of Pediatrics conference, while I perfected the role of sightseer. Fenway Park, the Old North Church, Paul Revere's home, Lexington and Concord, Harvard, the JFK Presidential Library and Museum, and the list goes on.

Oh, it was wonderful. I slept in almost every morning, walked so much that I think I'm three inches shorter than when we left, and ate clam chowder or lobster in some form every single day. We also watched the Red Sox with some of David's Princeton buddies, and we ate dinner with his old roommate and his wife. And David's friend Brian even gamely showed me around and took me up to Walden Pond, where I got to indulge my inner English major geek and recite from Thoreau's "Walden" while standing in front of the site where Thoreau's famous cottage once sat. Brian even took a picture. I'll have to post that later.

And yes, we left William here in Nashville with Aaron and Diane. We called them every day, and once or twice, they even managed to coax William to talk to us on the phone. Usually he was too busy having fun and reveling in having the undivided attention of his grandparents for days on end, with no pesky interruptions from boring old Mom and Dad.

So I was steeling myself to walk in the door tonight and hear him say "No! Go 'way!" We joked the entire time in Boston about how William was having so much fun with Dee Dee and Grandaddy that he might start to forget about us. And so I kind of figured we'd be met with, at best, a lukewarm reaction.

But what did he do? He and Diane opened the door, and a huge smile spread across his face and he began shouting, "Mommy, Daddy! HI! HI!"

And I ran to him and gathered him in my arms, and he gave me "big hugs," as he likes to call them. And he smiled and laughed and clung to me in joy. And I thought my own face was going to split in two from smiling so hard.

It's great to go out of town. It's great to take a vacation with just your lovely husband. But it's also great to come home to the smiley little guy who's part of both of you--and to gather him up in your arms and hug him until he squeals.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Rain and other assorted minutiae

Signs that you've had a lot of rain recently:

The grass is green again.

The trees look a little less shriveled.

Your car hydroplanes just a little bit if you accelerate too fast.

Your toddler greets you barefoot at the classroom door at the end of the day because he spent all morning jumping in rain puddles and completely soaking his socks and shoes.

Remember when you were little and loved to jump in puddles? And didn't care if your clothes got dirty? After I got over my initial "OH, no," I felt a little nostalgic for my own childhood. I'd never intentionally jump in puddles now and get my feet wet on purpose...but I remember when I did.

William at Cheekwood for the annual scarecrow exhibit.

This is the Loch Ness Monster:

At his school's big fall carnival, better known as the Hoo-rah!

Playing the knock-over-the-pumpkins-and-win-a-small-dubious-plastic-prize game:

The infamous snowcone that ended up all over both Mark and William:

Hmmm, William wonders, is that hot dog good enough to eat? (Notice the snowcone stain here, too.)

A recent visit to the Belle Meade Methodist Pumpkin Patch:

William kept finding "the best pumpkin in the whole world!" over and over and over again...

But eventually he found The Best Pumpkin in the Whole World:

Monday, October 06, 2008

Go team!

You know the old saw about how it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game?

Well, we went to the MBA-Ensworth High football game, and our team definitely, certainly, absolutely lost. But William had so much fun that I don't think it really matters. (Of course I'm saying that! Our team lost!) After all, William kept saying we were at a baseball game, so I'm thinking the football part was incidental to him at best anyway. He got to eat ice cream sandwiches and play with Leland and run around and make lots of noise. It doesn't get much better than that when you're two years old.

David, William, Leland and Chris stand near the end zone to watch the kick-off:

And the shakers. The shakers were big. (Despite being the colors for the opposing team.)

Give me a W!

When was the last time you had this much fun at a sporting event where your team lost?

William is multi-tasking here, by the way. He's eating his ice cream sandwich, running, and havin fun, all at the same time. Pretty impressive, don't you think?