Sunday, March 30, 2008

Opening Day, 2008 style

It's Opening Day! It's Opening Day! Baseball season is here again!

The Braves play the Nationals tonight at 7 p.m. CDT on ESPN. David just came home from Publix, where he loaded up on hot dogs and hot dog buns and other assorted stuff.

William is dressed for the occasion in his Jeff Francoeur T-shirt:

I've been going over the lyrics to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" with William all day, in preparation for the big event. I think he's ready.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The 5 Ws and the H

As a journalist, one of the most important parts of my job was to ask questions. To ask the right questions. I'd start out with the basics--you know, the 5 Ws and the H--who, what, when, where, why and how--and then progress from there.

The "why?" is often the biggie. And on that note, I have a few "why? questions" about my own life.

Why do baby clothes run in an even wilder gamut of sizes than women's clothes?

(It's just plain weird that my 23-month-old child has clothes that he can wear right now in 18-24 months, 24 months, 2t, 3t, and 4t. Oh! A good follow-up question: why don't they make more stain-resistant children's clothes? Is there some smoky back-room collusion with the detergent industry going on?)

Why does that darned crib aquarium eat batteries like a carnivore at a steak convention?

(It takes three D batteries, and I swear, William pushes that button like it's his job and he can't take a coffee break. David and I are prying that thing open with the Phillips head screwdriver once a week. We should own stock in Energizer or Duracell.)

Why does William refuse to sit in his Time Out chair when he is supposed to?

(And what can we do about this? It's getting out of control.)

Why do I even bother trying to explain to my son why he needs to sit in Time Out when he's in one of those wild-eyed, wild-hair moods?

(Like he's listening. God. He's still cute, though.* And **. And ***.)

I've got my trusty little mini tape recorder around here somewhere (I'm all old school). If you can just tell me to whom I should direct my all-important questions, I will get right on it.




Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Exhaustion, the toddler-inflicted version

I am about to state something so profound that your ears might ring after you read it. You may hear a heavenly choir of angels.


Having a toddler is exhausting.

Okay, maybe I should qualify that statement. Having my toddler is exhausting.

I love William with all my heart. I would jump in front of a speeding car for him. I adore him so much that I almost can't imagine having another child and loving him or her half as much.

But. And there is a but. But he can wear me out like a dozen personal trainers. He should come equipped with a towel, a water bottle and an energy bar.

Today, I took William to the downtown library for their storytime and puppet show. Two weeks ago, we went, and William was an angel. He sat in my lap and laughed and enjoyed the show. I was awestruck by his good behavior. Today, however, it was like someone had surreptitiously pumped him full of sugar. He could barely sit still. I spent most of the storytime either jumping up and chasing him or hauling back into my lap or at least to our spot on the floor. I offered Goldfish and Craisins, two of his favorite snacks, in the hopes that food would keep me sedentary for a few minutes. Ha.

Remember that old expression "ants in your pants"? That described William today to a T. Or to a W, I guess, as the case may be.

I felt like I had run a half-marathon by the time the storyhour ended. I was wrung out! I was jealous of the mothers nearby, the ones with the sweet little sedate girls in their pretty dresses, sitting quietly in their mothers' laps. Their mothers didn't have to get up once! They didn't have to do any wrangling at all! Meanwhile, I felt like I had earned my own World Wrestling Federation nickname by the time it was over. Gah!

Just so you know, this isn't an unusual occurrence. I have to chase William nearly everywhere we go now if he's not contained in a stroller or shopping cart. That's fine at the park. But have you ever considered what it would be like to take him into, say, the post office? Or into the store to buy just one thing? Yeah. Not such a good idea. God bless all the people out there who are so patient with us and who smile benignly when I bellow, "William, come back here NOW!!" across the room. I especially love the people who say kind things like, "My child was just like that. Oh, isn't he cute?" Thank you, nice people.

I am grateful, however, to have a lovely and lively little boy, one who never hesitates to hug and kiss me. I can't even tell you how I felt yesterday when I was going to pick William up from the church nursery and ran into him and his teacher in the hall. His little face lit up underneath his hat and he drew in his breath in happy surprise and said, in the most delighted voice ever, "Mama!" Oh. Oh my. Is there any better feeling on earth? It sounds so cliched to say "my heart skipped a beat," but you know what? It just might have.

Speaking of which, I can hear the little prince calling "Mama?" from his crib. I am being summoned. He's been asleep for about two hours, and I think I have managed to build up some of my lost energy by now.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The potty

Attention. Attention.

We have our first successful potty time. That's right. William went pee-pee in the potty for the very first time mere minutes ago!

Sadly, it happened after he peed all over the door jamb at the entrance to the bathroom. For anyone who happens to visit us anytime soon, I thoroughly cleaned up the affected area, so you have nothing to fear.

But as soon as we realized what he was doing, we offered to let him go pee-pee on the potty instead. He said, "Yes." And David helped him onto the Elmo potty, where William managed to go pee-pee, just a little bit.

We cheered and clapped and kissed him. And after his bath, I gave him a monkey sticker to wear on his pajamas. This delighted him, both because he got a sticker and because it was a monkey sticker. He explained in a very long sentence with many recognizable nouns but not so many recognizable other words what had transpired. But I think he understands what was going on.

So hurrah! I don't expect to have this happen again for a long, long time, but if it can happen once, barely, it can happen again.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Sunday

Do you remember what it was like to experience Easter as a child?

I was just musing about Easters past. For me, so many of my memories of childhood Easters are tied up with what I wore.

I remember the year that my mother splurged on the most beautiful pale green dress for me to wear on Easter. I was about eight. The dress had puffed sleeves and three pearl buttons down the front. I'm sure it cost a pretty penny, since it came from Parisian, and those were the days before Mom went back to work. But, oh, that dress! It felt so special and serious. I'll never forget wearing it.

I also remember the gorgeous pale pink dress with the little lace trim on the bottom. I was in seventh grade that year. I had a big petticoat to wear underneath it, almost like a modified hoop skirt. Man, I loved that dress so much. It felt like an Easter dress should feel.

Of course, I feel a little chagrined that so many of my childhood Easter memories involve clothes. Our pastor noted that he overheard some girls recently talking about their special clothes for...Palm Sunday. It's like we have this tendency to gloss over the seriousness of Holy Week and focus only on the celebratory parts. Well, the celebratory part is's the crux of the Christian faith...but the serious aspects are awfully crucial, too. You have to have the crucifixion before you can have the resurrection.

So I am glad that at least I do remember the joyful feeling of sitting in a sanctuary with the chancel all covered up with potted flowers. The relief that Easter was here at last! And the ritual singing of "Jesus Christ is Risen Today!" In fact, that hymn is so ingrained in my Easter memory that I felt a little shiver go up my spine on Sunday morning when we sang it as part of the congregation at Westminster.

We did have a beautiful Easter this year. Yes, I was obsessed with making sure that my son at least had the perfect Easter outfit, even though I was wearing an old dress. Yes, I eagerly put together a big Easter basket for William and looked forward to having a family lunch together at the Wyckoffs' house. But there were other small pleasures. We all delighted in the fact that Aaron and Diane pulled out of their parking spot when leaving the early service, thus leaving us the perfect parking place for us as we pulled our car in behind them. And David and I were so happy to sing along during the chorus of Handel's "Messiah" at the end of church. And I felt blessed to be part of such a large, jubilant congregation on a sunny Easter morning. And have I mentioned the bunny cake?

It was a good day. A good Easter. William is still too young to remember this Easter, but I will remember for him. And pretty soon, he will start making his own memories.

Okay, I'll narrate you through these....

Who says you can't have turkeys on Easter?

Ah yes. William and David upon arriving at church. William was doing his typical small-town mayor routine: waving and smiling and calling "hi!" to everyone he saw.

Standing in front of the beautiful flowers in Aaron and Diane's yard:

The traditional Wyckoff family Easter bunny cake. William got to "help" decorate the face. It had homemade frosting on it and lots of blueberries. And yes, it tasted deeelisssshusss.

The Easter basket I mentioned. The Play-doh has been a big, big hit. "Play Play-doh," William now orders me. "Mama, play Play-doh NOW."

One of my favorite pictures because you get such a nice close-up of William's little pink face:

And the ceremonial Easter Sunday reading of "Twas the Night Before Christmas."

(For the record, the ceremonial reading of TTNBC is not yet an Easter tradition. William insists that his Grandaddy Aaron read it to him every time he visits their house. So for now, it's more of a every-time-William-and-Aaron-get-together tradition.)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Just a preview

I'm too tired this evening to post the entire run of Easter Sunday pictures. But I will do it tomorrow, I promise. We've just had a very full day that started very early, and I'm kind of wiped out. It was a lovely day, though, don't worry.

In the meantime, here's a preview!

William in his Easter outfit in the back yard at Post Road!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The big Easter Egg Hunt

This morning was cold and clear and beautiful---and a good day for small children like William to hunt for Easter eggs among hordes of other small children who aren't quite sure why they're being urged to pick up small plastic eggs that don't have anything fun or tasty inside. That's right: today was the big Easter Egg hunt at the Nashville Zoo.

You know, Easter Egg hunts for small children are very funny things. They're not really "hunts." They don't actually hide the eggs. They just take big baskets full of eggs and dump them in a huge mess on the yard and let the kids run after them. The people at the zoo did make a token effort to spread the eggs out over the field, but still. There was no hiding or hunting involved whatsoever. Shivering, yes. Especially all the sweet little girls in their Easter dresses. Hunting, though, not so much. Egg-snatching might be a better description for the event, now that I think about it.

Here are David and William arriving at the site for the egg hunt with Leland, Chris, and Mary Clare:

David and William preview the egg-snatching site. That's Shab and her husband Santi there next to them.

Shab and Yago:

Yago with his daddy Santi:

Leland with her daddy Chris (and David nearby!):

Another group shot:

Leland and William were ready to hunt some eggs. Er, well, once William could see out from his hat, he was ready.

It took the zoo people for freakin' ever to finally start the event. People were lined up around the field for almost an hour, and if you've ever had to corral a squirmy toddler, you know that it seemed like light years longer than that. But I guess I got off easy. David pretty much took over toddler-wrangling duty. He also received the honor of being the parent who got to help William pick up eggs.

Now, I will say that William was prepared. We practiced picking up eggs from the family room floor last night. He was very clear on the concept of picking up an egg and putting it in his basket. He just needed them to let him out there to actually to get to some eggs!

I found some!

Look, Mom! I found half an egg!

At the end of the big eggs-travaganza (come one, you have to realize I was waiting all day to use that one), we turned in our baskets of eggs for a goody bag. I think they reused the eggs for the next age group's egg hunt. William was pleased with his little trinkets, probably much more so than he would have been with his eggs. (He found six, by the way.)

And for the grand finale, William got to ride on the big carousel for the very first time.

That's a pretty big day, huh? And I didn't even tell you about how we wandered around the zoo for awhile and eventually went to have lunch at Baja Burrito afterward. William's supposed to be napping now, and honestly, I think I could use a nap now, too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How to dye Easter eggs

Once upon a time, there was an adorable little boy named William. We know his name was William because, in his picture, his apron had "William" clearly printed across the front. We also know that he was adorable because his picture clearly showed that, too.

One day, William asked his mommy and his grandmother to help him dye Easter Eggs. They were more than happy to oblige. His mommy was even willing to slosh vinegar all over her kitchen while she attempted to mix up the little cups of dye. AND she was willing to risk giving everyone salmonella poisoning by hard boiling eggs by herself for only the second time in her life for this little endeavor.

Hmm. Maybe that's why she looks so crazy in this picture. The eggs got to her.

Luckily, the adorable little boy's grandmother was there to help.

And lo! The little boy named William and his mommy and grandmother ended up with a whole bunch of freshly dyed Easter Eggs! And they didn't break a single one.

Voila! The finished product. The dirty dozen.

And they all lived happily ever after...but they ate vegetable soup for dinner, not eggs.

The End.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Penguins and otters and sharks, oh my!

We took William to the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga on Saturday. I so love aquariums. I've dragged David to aquariums all over the West Coast so I could see/pet sharks, but I somehow had never made it to the aquarium in Chattanooga, even though it's been open for at least 15 years. So Diane bought tickets, and away we went. We saw (and unfortunately also smelled) the new penguin exhibit, and we saw the beautiful phosphorescent jellyfish. We saw the "Nemo" fish tank, and we wandered through the live butterfly exhibit.

Unfortunately, the lighting, while nice and dim for the fish, didn't make for very good photos of people. But I'd say the trip was a definite success. DeeDee and Grandaddy Aaron joined us, along with our friends Chip, Cindy, and Ella. William thoroughly enjoyed seeing the river otters and running up and down and up down and up and down and up and down the ramps connecting each floor. Poor Diane. She did most of the chasing. What a workout!

I did get one funny picture here, though, when William crawled up a plexiglass tube to see inside of one tank of fish:

And of course I enjoyed seeing the sharks. I have this weird thing about sharks. I just like them. I'm just fascinated with them. They're so cold and fearsome, yet they're so elegant and sleek. They're predators, but their existence is so precarious. A few years ago, I got to pet sharks and rays in the Long Beach Aquarium, so I was delighted to see a similar exhibit at the Tennessee Aquarium. Unfortunately, the sharks didn't want to have much to do with me this time around. Still, I got to see them. And I got to see the big tiger sharks swimming around in the massive saltwater tank, and oooh, that's what I always like to see.

I kept saying, "OH, look, William! Look at the big shark!" when the sharks smoothly glided by, baring their rows and rows of teeth. But in a foreshadowing of what he might be like as a teenager, William didn't seem overly impressed by what his mama liked. Hmm. Perhaps I need to spend some more time making sure that he understands how cool sharks are while he's still little enough to think that my opinion matters...

On a warmer, fuzzier note, William also got to see the baby rabbits at a nearby store that always has a live Easter Bunny display.

Honestly, he wasn't all that excited about the bunnies either. But what can you expect when there are electric model trains, clickety-clacking around their tracks mere yards away from the bunny yard? He's a little boy. He loves trains. Bunnies, even cute little cuddly baby bunnies, are no comparison for trains. Especially not trains that go woo-woo! and clatter by just inches from his nose!

And on the warmest, fuzziest note of all, here's William playing with his daddy after dinner last night:

(That was William pretending to sumo wrestle, by the way.)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Mah Goose!

Ever since Diane gave a copy of a Mary Engelbreit book of Mother Goose rhymes to William, we've been reading a handful of verses to William at least once or twice a day. "Mah Goose!" William says with an air of finality. He declares it, we, in the immortal words of Jon Luc Picard, Make It So.

Some of my observations, upon completing my six zillionth reading of Mother Goose:

Have you ever noticed how many Mother Goose rhymes involve fiddles? I've counted at least three: Hey Diddle Diddle, Old King Cole, and Cock-a-doodle-doo. Why the fiddle, I wonder? Are fiddles easier to draw than other instruments? Is it because "fiddle" is just a funny word? Is "piano" inherently less funny as either a word or a concept, or both? "Fiddle" is definitely a funnier word than "violin," even though they're the same instrument. And what, exactly, rhymes with "violin"? Er, that would be a big fat nothing. Is it because "fiddle" rhymes with "diddle," which is also a funny word?

Also, there are an awful lot of sheep and pigs in Mother Goose rhymes. Lots of pies, too. Simple Simon tries to weasel a pie out of a hard-working pieman because he's flat broke because he was simple (I'm projecting there); Little Jack Horner eats his Christmas pie one plum at a time and doesn't worry about getting his fingers dirty; the Three Little Kittens narrowly avoid losing out on pie because they were careless with their mittens, which makes them, in my estimation, the first animals to ever voluntarily wear and keep up with mittens; and a whole flock of blackbirds met its bitter (yet savory, buttery, and tastes-oddly-like-chicken-y) end in a pie in "Sing a Song of Sixpence." Why pie? Why not cake? You can make lots of good rhymes with "cake": lake, take, rake, bake, partake, forsake, make, wake. I mean, it's just as absurd for kittens to get to eat pie. Why not just (fire up the guillotine) let them eat cake?

Just like in movies and television shows, the name Jack is very prominent in the Mother Goose oeuvre. The aforementioned Jack Horner, Jack and Jill, Jack be nimble, etc. Seriously, think about all the times that there's a character named Jack in a Mother Goose rhyme. And now think about the last two dozen years' worth of movies. And we can't blame it all on Tom Clancy and his Jack Ryan character, either; there are plenty of others. See: Jack Bauer on "24." It's like the default male name. Especially in Sandra Bullock movies. Well, I guess now we know where that little convention came from. When in doubt, take a clue from Mah Goose. Name the guy Jack. He'll be nimble, he'll fetch water, he's your general all-around, go-to guy.

Here's one Mother Goose-related problem that David and I occasionally run into. Our minds were poisoned in the early 1990s by a raunchy old fat-guy comedian named Andrew Dice Clay. If you don't know who he is, well, just be glad that you can enjoy reciting sweet little nursery rhymes like "Little Miss Muffett" with absolutely no worries, snickers, or troublesome stutters. (For the record, that particular rhyme ends up more or less PG, but some of the others are Not Fit for This Blog.)

But you know, despite the fact that Mother Goose, whoever she was, could have used a thesaurus or a baby-naming book, I still actually enjoy reading the verses. I always turn "Wee Willie Winkie" into "Wee William Wyckoff." I love "Old King Cole" because it just rolls off the tongue so nicely, and I always bob my head back and forth while I read it like I'm a jolly fat old king myself. I love the fact that MG sometimes calls the subjects of her rhymes "knaves" because when was the last time you heard that word? I love the fact that the old woman in a shoe clearly had money worries but was doing the best she could, feeding her children, just like any good mama. And I love the way that William always finishes a reading with a sweet little "Night, night, Humpty Dumpty" because the back cover of the book has a picture of Humpty Dumpty on it.

And even when I get tired of reading my least-favorite rhymes, I always tell myself: this is so much better than reading "The Little Engine That Could." And if that means nothing to you, pick up the unabridged version of that book sometime and see if you think you could read it over and over without going just a teensy bit crazy. My solution to that book, however, has been to gloss over the first three-quarters as much as possible and concentrate on the last few pages. You know, the "I think I can/I thought I could!" part. That's the important part anyway. The "instill good values and build character in your child" part.

Well, it's long past 8 o'clock. Wee William Wyckoff has long since run through the house in his nightgown. He's fast asleep in his little bed, and hopefully I'll be fast asleep in my little bed soon, too. Night, night, Humpty Dumpty.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Pointing it out

William and Leland played together at the dragon park near Vanderbilt on Thursday. Then we ate chicken fingers at McDougal's for lunch. Apparently William did a lot of pointing.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Buy me a membership

Thank God for kid-friendly places that offer memberships.

In bad weather, they can be absolute life-savers. Or at least sanity-savers on days when I just don't want to stay inside my own house and read Richard Scarry books for the three-thousandth time in a row. I don't want to think what we'd do without places like the zoo or the science museum, where we can drop in for an hour and leave whenever the tantrums or exhaustion threaten. I don't feel guilty about picking up and leaving because we can come back any old time! And I love that. Once you've gone to the zoo three or four times, you've essentially paid for your membership. Anything after that is free.

Now, I do love to go to the bookstore and the library. They're both free, and we do go to both quite frequently. Plus, books! But both places can require a fair amount of kid-wrangling and clean-up. Sometimes it really does take less energy to go to a place that may seem more energy-draining on the surface because it requires less maintenance on the back end of the trip. That's doubly true on days when William has some excess energy to burn. Most days, he does really well at the bookstore, where he can play with the choo-choos to his heart's content. But at some point, he'll get antsy and need to run around. Sometimes that's okay at the bookstore, and no one bats an eyelash. Other days, when William's energy starts bubbling over, I get those Looks from the mothers of the perfectly-behaved Stepford children who have obviously been either brainwashed or hypnotized into oddly sedate behavior prior to their bookstore trip. I mean, come on. He's a toddler, people. It's not that weird that he wants to run around after playing nicely for a half hour.

So anyway. I love having a roster of places to take William so that we always have someplace that fits our current needs.

Today's membership-provided entertainment was brought to you by the letter W (for William), the number 1 (also for William) and the Adventure Science Museum.

Our friends Jaclyn and Sammy met up with us. Here's a rare photo of William and Sammy in the same space at the same time. For those of you who think William can move fast, well, clearly you need to meet Sammy. He's a small white Carl Lewis. I mean, if I didn't know better, I would think he had some kind of magical power. He's that fast. Ergo, it's nearly impossible to corral these two long enough to actually get a picture of both of them. So cherish this one.

Now obviously, the science center does require me to keep a close eye on my son, but it's not like he's going to hurt anything. See, that's another good thing about the science center: it's almost impossible to break or ruin anything. No books to reshelve or toys to stack either. And no one has to be quiet. Usually there's so much noise that you can barely hear William's ear-splitting shrieks of joy over the general din.

William checks out his reflection in one of the funny mirrors. His reflection was cute. Mine, not so much. Which is why we have a picture of him here and not one of me!

Chomp, chomp.

William wasn't quite sure about the big dinosaur exhibit. He and Sammy both hung back and clung to their respective mamas when they saw the model dinosaurs moving their heads and growling. I can see how even a ten-foot imitation dinosaur would be a little frightening to a three-foot-tall two-year-old. I remember being a little scared of the pictures of the T. Rex in my dinosaur book that I had in the second grade. (And I was much taller then.)They ARE scary. He didn't have to explain that to me. So I didn't talk him into posing by the dinosaurs. So the shot of him holding onto the teeth of the (fake) dinosaur skull will have to suffice.

The only downside of today? The president was in town, and they closed a bunch of the roads that we needed to take to get home. Which resulted in my driving around all over Nashville, cursing, for about an hour. Which sort of ruined the charm of a nice morning at the science museum and a quick drive home for lunch. Which drove me to drink...okay, actually it drove me to McDonald's to order French Fries. But I think I deserved them.