Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bye-bye, Mama Judi

My mom left town today. No, we didn't run her out of town. She didn't flee, screaming and yelling, either. She did leave in a flurry of hugs and kisses. It was nice to have her up here for such a nice long visit.

I will miss her. I don't know if she'll miss us or just sigh with relief and exhaustion! She generously took William duty most mornings when he popped eagerly out of his bed before I was ready to drag my creaking weary body out of mine. I don't know why she has more energy than I do, but clearly that's how it is. Or maybe it's that she could marshall all her energy reserves to deplete them over a ten-day period, with the knowledge that she'd be leaving and could start storing up energy again after that. I don't know. I'm just speculating.

Anyway, thanks, Mama, for coming to stay with us!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cakes and capes

Earlier, William was doing his toddler best to resist taking a nap. He was tromping around in his crib, singing and talking and shouting and reciting monologues. Finally, I gave in and opened his door.

I was greeted with a hearty, "I'm SUPER WILLIAM!"

"A Super William who needs to take a nap," I riposted.

We gotta get this kid a cape.


Birthday pictures from yesterday:

Look! I got cake!

It was excellent cake, too. It was a Marble Slab cake with strawberries. Mmmmm.

William was all excited about the prospect of cake, too.

Having his picture taken, though, not so much:

Would you admit to knowing these three silly people?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Happy rainy-day!

It's my birthday, and it's raining. Woohoo!

I'm home in my cozy house with my mama and my son, and it's raining, and my yard is singing. Okay, the yard is not really literally singing. But figuratively, I think it's at least humming a jaunty little tune. God, we so needed rain. I've been fretting about the long string of dry days again. What a great birthday present! I feel less anxious already.

Also, speaking of singing, William sang "Happy Birthday" in his funny little William voice to me, and it really doesn't get any better than that. I'm betting that I might even get to hear it again tonight, when we gather available family members here for pizza and birthday cake. I'll try to get some pictures to post then.

And thanks to all of you who already sent me birthday wishes. What a lovely surprise. Thank you! I'm sort of in denial that I'm another year older, but it's nice to hear from everyone.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Is it time?

Pictures of William sleeping a few nights ago:

I'm thinking it might be about time for a Big Boy Bed. What do you think?

A few nights ago, David managed to talk him into turning 90 degrees in his crib and sleeping in a more conventional fashion. But then last night at bedtime, William stubbornly settled into his usual position: head wedged into the side bumper, bottom in the air, feet wedged into the other side bumper. And when I crept into his room to check on him later, sure enough, his feet were dangling in midair out the side of the crib.

Can you imagine sleeping like that? Doesn't your back sort of hurt, just contemplating it?

I don't know, though. He seems pretty content. I'm wondering if this is yet another example of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

One foot, two foot, left foot, right foot

William knows his right from his left now. I have no idea how or when he learned this, but tonight in the tub, he held up his right food and proclaimed, "My right foot." Then he dropped it back in the tub and showed me "my left foot."

I squealed very loudly and praised him in that very-high-octave voice that only new(ish) parents have. You'd have think he'd won a Nobel Prize from my level of excitement.

"Yeah, I've been teaching him that," David said a couple of hours later when I excitedly told him the big news that our son is clearly a genius. "I've been saying, let's wash your left foot and let's wash your right foot."

And he added proudly, "He's a smart boy."

A few minutes later..."Of course, it could have been coincidence that he got them right tonight."

Here's William with his DeeDee on his left and his Mama Judi on his right:

We were in downtown Franklin today, attempting to eat lunch at a tea room. Which turned out to be closed. Which did not upset William in the slightest, since you can see him digging in in this photo.

Friday, July 18, 2008


I can't believe I forgot to post these yesterday!

Newest statistics on my giant kid:

Length: 38 inches, 90th percentile

Weight: 31 lbs, 8 oz., 75th percentile

Who would like to place the first bet as to when William officially outgrows his father? The pool is wide open, folks, so start submitting.

Car trouble

Ack, my car. Ack, ack, ack.

Took William and his DeeDee to the zoo this morning, and that went well. William rode on the merry-go-round

and visited all his animal buddies

and learned how long a giraffe's tongue is.

Then, satisfied and sweaty, we got in the car and headed home.

Except that, just a couple miles down the road, the power steering on my car went out. And then the air-conditioning. And the brakes seemed shuddery. As I attempted to continue turning onto the interstate, I felt like I was fighting my own car just to get it to make a turn. I'd need to start lifting weights if I had to do that on a regular basis. I haven't driven a car without power-assisted steering since I learned to drive on my dad's old '66 Plymouth Valiant. Her name was Betsy, and she presented her own set of unique driving and maintenance challenges, but at least you knew to expect them. No one ever expect the Spanish Inquisition, and no one really expects their seven-year-old Japanese car to have a major freak-out on the entrance ramp to I-65.

As the vents began blowing hot, sticky air onto us, William began objecting to his lack of snacks. Diane gamely tried to pass snacks over the seat to him, but he just got more and more upset. And red-faced and sweaty. As did I. We prayed our way home to our house, and I got on the phone with the Mazda dealer. I tearfully summoned Aaron to come over and stay home with William, and bless his heart, he got here almost before I hung up the phone. Shortly thereafter, Kevin the AAA guy picked me up at our house and towed the car to the dealer.

Long story short, two engine belts were completely blown, as was the radiator. It could have been much worse, however. The tow-truck driver and the techs at the dealership were astounded that I managed to drive so far with my car in that state. Not that they would have recommended it. Oh, no no no no. But they were still a little amazed. What I know about cars wouldn't even fill up a whole blog entry, but suffice it to say that big bad things could have happened and didn't. Big bad expensive things. Gasket-type things. I don't know what a head gasket is, but the technician was very solemn when he told me that it could have blown and if it had, that would have been All Bad. It's not good what happened, but I understand now that it could have been so much worse. I'm still bracing for the ultimate bill, which will arrive when they finish installing the new radiator on Monday.

Yes, that's the other ack-y thing. I have to survive 'til at least Monday, maybe Tuesday, without a car. Luckily, Mom's coming up with her car tomorrow. Hurray! She thought when I grew up and moved out, that she could finally hang up her chauffeur's hat for good. Ha ha. You never really get rid of your kids or being responsible for them somehow, do you? Better get that hat out of storage, Mom.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

William blows bubbles

Let's see if I can post another "movie" of William:

I'm sorry the video quality isn't that good. I'm not sure how to improve it, though. But you get the gist...William loves to blow bubbles. He will tolerate if it you blow bubbles, but only for a few moments. He wants to get in on the action.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Temper, temper

You know, I always sort of rolled my eyes at the whole concept of the Terrible Twos. I mean, after surviving my child's early infancy, when one of us was always a red-faced squalling mess, how hard could my son's toddler years really be?

Well, for the most part, not too bad. I love having a child who can actually speak real words! and ask! for things and tell me! what he wants or doesn't want. It's much easier than guessing if he wants a sippy cup or a binkie or a blankey or geez, whatever it is that little tiny babies want when you're already holding them but they're still crying. William says, "Snacks! I need snacks," and I say "Do you want craisins or Goldfish?"

Except sometimes I have to say, "Sorry, kid, but it's almost dinnertime. We've got to hold off on the snacks for now."

Which elicits, yes, you guessed it: the huge screaming Terrible Two Tantrum. Ah yes. So that's why they call it the Terrible Twos.

When William was a tiny baby, his tantrums consisted of him windmilling his arms in jerky circles and high-pitched screaming at the top of his lungs. His little round head would flush bright red, and his chest and arms would rapidly turn crimson, too. David and I jokingly, yet lovingly, referred to him as Super Mister Tomato Head at such times. However, as mad as he got, William couldn't go anywhere. He was stationary. The tantrum was confined to the changing table or the blanket on the floor or wherever he happened to be at the moment that I disappointed him.

William at one week, mad as a wet hen:

A couple of weeks later:

At age two years and almost three months, William still knows how to scream so loudly that you cringe, waiting for the light bulbs in the chandelier to explode all over the foyer. But now he's mobile. He's big and strong, and the boy can dance like Donald Duck when he's angry.

Starting up the dance at the zoo last week:

I'd had the nerve to ask him if he wanted to ride in the stroller. I know! The nerve of me!

Here's his best pouty face from back in May:

Now, I will be fair. Most of the time, William really is still the smiley little guy that he's always been. But when he does get mad, look out. Mostly, he throws tantrums when he doesn't get his way, which you would expect for someone his age. Pretty normal. Most two-year-olds are learning about boundaries and testing their (and our) limits.

But he also sometimes throws a category five fit when you do something that he really really doesn't want you to do. For example, let's say you're singing songs with him. And you choose what you thought was a fairly innocuous song, one that you know, in fact, that he likes. You choose the ABC song. He loooooves the ABC song.

Well. Because you are not a mind-reader, how could you have known that the song you should have chosen was "Baa Baa Black Sheep"? I mean, William's got pretty high standards, if you ask me. So when you innocently launch into the ABC song, what you hear from my son is an increasingly frantic "No, no, no! No! NO! NO! NO! Aaaaaaaaaaggggghhh! No! No! NO!" At increasingly louder volume, of course.

And then the arm-waving starts. And the foot-stamping. And the dancing and turning in circles. Really, all he needs is a costume to make it quite the show. Luckily, all it takes to diffuse most tantrums is to either seamlessly launch into the designated "right" song (i.e. "Baa Baa Black Sheep") or to competely disengage and ignore the tantrum until it stops.

Sometimes all it really does take is a segueing sweetly into "Baa Baa Black Sheep" and acting like nothing happened. And other times, I have to really let him have his fit and leave him completely alone. Sometimes that requires a formal Time Out, but sometimes I can just pretend like I don't notice anything and don't give him any attention at all.

The trick is knowing when to do which. And to quote another famous William, ay, there's the rub.*

*(William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Act III, scene I)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Better living through Star Wars

We're still trying to eke out a little more use from our hooded toddler towels for William. He's just about too tall for most of them, but for now, we're still using them. Although the towels are a little short, the hoods weirdly tend to slide down over William's eyes if you don't put them on top of his head correctly.

So, longtime Star Wars fanatic that he is, David has taught William to say, "But I can't see anything with the blast shield down!"

Of course, it sounds more like, "I can't see anyfig with bas sheed down, Dadddee." But considering William's never seen the movie and has absolutely no clue what a blast shield is, I'd say that's pretty good.

Bonus points to anyone who can 1) identify which scene of the movie that quote is from and 2) why a battle helmet would have a solid shield that doesn't allow the wearer to see through it. (Clearly, it must be a battle helmet from an extinct race, wouldn't you think?)

May the Force be with you.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Crayons and rainbows

Do you remember when the greatest joys in life were the really little things?

Like getting a big new 64-count box of crayons.

I remember getting a new box at the start of each school year, and I remember how much I relished the new, sharp tips on all the crayons. None of them were worn down by heavy coloring. No labels were torn. The cardboard box was still sharp-cornered and crisp.

Actually, a brand new box of crayons is still one of life's little delights for me. I still love new markers and crayons and colored pencils and notepads and notebooks---any art or school supplies. When I started freelancing regularly again, I took myself over to Staples and happily filled a small cart with "necessary" organizational supplies. (Like new highlighters and multi-colored paperclips, eeee!) But anyway, despite my age and my (ahem) maturity, I still have a hard time resisting crayons. Tonight, I convinced David to let me put this big 64-count box in our Target cart so William could have some nice new crayons, and David rolled his eyes and said he knew exactly who those crayons were for.

They still smell the same. And except for some new color names, they still look the same, too. Maybe there's no more Prussian Blue or Flesh, but I think Macaroni and Cheese and Purple Mountain Majesty are at least as good. Maybe better.

William just enjoyed taking every.single.crayon. out of the box, one at a time.

But hey, if that's how he enjoys his crayons, who am I to judge?

And he did color with them after he'd checked them all out individually. He's really into drawing what he calls rainbows right now. We always sing this song about rainbows at storytime at the downtown library, and one of the children's librarians always draws a big picture of a rainbow with crayons during the song. He encourages the children to raise their hands and tell him their favorite colors so he can add them to the rainbow.

The lyrics go like this: "Let's make a rainbow, a rainbow, a rainbow. A beautiful rainbow, so high in the sky. Everyone, let's make a beautiful rainbow. With favorite colors, come on, let's try." And then you add in the colors so it starts, "Red/blue/green/whatever is a color that's found in a rainbow. A beautiful rainbow so high in the sky..." Ad nauseam.

William knows the whole song. There's nothing sweeter and more hilarious than hearing his little voice warble out "ess make rainbow, rainbow, a rainbow, booofull rainbow, high in da sky. evrone ess make booful rainbow, favorite colors, come on ess try!" This is particularly true when he just bursts out in song with no warning, like when I'm driving and he's riding in the back seat.

After he cheerfully warbles his way through the main chorus a couple of times, then he furrows his brow and says, "Daddy, favrit color? Ummmm, oyange? Oyange is color found in rainbow! Booful rainbow so high in da sky..." And then he'll stop and quiz me for my favorite color. However, he always answers the question himself. And the answer is always orange. Every once in awhile, the answer is yellow. But if you try to say yellow, you are wrong. Because clearly the answer is orange. Got it? Orange is a color that's found in a rainbow, a beautiful rainbow so high in the sky...

So he drew rainbows with his new crayons. Doesn't that make you want to dig out your own Crayolas right now?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The potty

When I was working for the university's wire service in grad school, I had an editor who was potty-training her toddler. Adrianne used to get phone calls about her son, and afterward, she would announce loudly to the newsroom full of students, "Xavier went poopy on the potty, everyone!"

And we all would dutifully cheer or applaud, with sort of a bemused sense of "whatever makes you happy, Adrianne." Except for my friend Eric who had a young son of his own. His cheers were pretty heartfelt. My biggest responsibility in those days, other than myself, was watering my roommate's ficus tree when she was out of town for the weekend. I had no clue why it was so important to tell people that your kid just went poopy on the potty. I mean, who wants their toilet habits broadcast for every Tom, Jen, or Harry to know about?

Now I'm turning into Adrianne. I'm the one broadcasting the big news now! William went poopy on the potty, everyone! (Aren't you going to cheer? That's your hint, y'all. Cheer, darn it!)

Last night, William asked to sit on the potty before bathtime, and we got a tiny bit of urine and poop in the potty after his dramatic show of straining. Needless to say, my voice rose a couple of octaves and I congratulated my son on this major achievement. (And if you don't think it's a major achievement to get a strong-willed two-year-old to poop on a potty, you've clearly never spent any time leading any potty-training initiatives. Doing your taxes is easier. Trust me on this. I've done both.) He helped me empty the potty bowl into the big toilet and flush, which he loves to do, regardless of whether he's responsible for the need to flush or not.

And then he got to choose FIVE Thomas the Tank Engine stickers to decorate his pajamas. David even called DeeDee to crow about the big news. And I called Mom today and told her.

And if I might brag some more, William, on his own free will, asked to use the potty three times today. That's three. THREE. He managed to produce a little peepee twice and a smidge of poop the last time. So all day, his outfits have been covered with little train stickers, plastered haphazardly but very proudly all over. He looooves those stickers. My mom used those chalky candy hearts as rewards when she potty-trained me, and then she upgraded to M&Ms for my little brother. Hmmmm. I feel a little cheated there. But nowadays, the experts all warn against using food as a reward, and of course, we always do exactly what the experts advise here. Ahem. But we're using stickers nonetheless, and they seem to be a pretty effective incentive so far.

So there you go. I feel like we've achieved some kind of scatalogical breakthrough here. I don't think it will last---in fact, I know it won't last. But it can be done. This is a good feeling. See, I think I needed the reinforcement more than my son did. I needed to know that it can happen. And now that I know, I have to tell everyone so they can celebrate with me.

In the meantime, I need to go back to Toys R Us. I've got to stock up on those Thomas stickers.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008



You know how, when you say "ssssh!" you put your finger to your lips? Well, William puts his finger to his nose and squashes his nose in when he says "ssssh."

He's almost right. Right?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Fireworks went boom...all around us

Remember how I said we were skipping fireworks this year?

Turns out, we didn't have to. The homeowners' association sent out a sternly-worded email, reminding everyone that it's illegal to set off fireworks in this county, etc. etc. And in true Independence Day fashion, at least half our neighbors ignored the suggestion. As the sun went down, the fireworks started going up. And up and up and up.

We were putting William to bed, deflecting his eager questions about when he'd get to see fireworks with a "maybe next year." And that's when we started to hear the popping and the crackling and the booming. David yanked open the blinds in our bedroom, I grabbed William from his crib where I had just deposited him, and we watched one of the best fireworks displays I've ever seen in the comfort of our own air-conditioning. There were explosions of color in about five different directions that we could see---and in several directions that we couldn't. Roman candles and the sizzlers (my favorite) and the weeping willows and reds and greens and purplea: they were all represented. Many, many times.

Dressed in his monkey jammies and with wet hair, William was beside himself with joy that he was getting to see fireworks after all. And Diane, Aaron, David and I were thoroughly amused with his experience. Blissfully, he shouted, "More! More fireworks!" and "Fireworks go boom!" and "Oh wow! Big firework dere!" and "Happy Fourth July!" as he spun back and forth between the two windows, trying to follow the show. It was the most fun I've had watching fireworks in a long time.

And it was free. And did I mention we were inside our own air-conditioned house? And that we didn't have to fight traffic anywhere?

Eventually, even William seemed to have had his fill of fireworks-watching, and so David capitalized on that by putting him back to bed and instructing him to listen to hear the last fireworks. But the fireworks went on for at least another 45 minutes, as more and more neighbors joined in the fun. Eventually, they petered out, and then, silence.

And THEN the best sound of all: rain. Rain! Rain for my parched yard and my poor thirsty tomatoes. I can't think of a better ending to a glorious evening.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!

I have officially had my independence from the desert and 29 Palms for one year today. Exactly one year ago this morning, we said goodbye to our little house in the desert and drove east for the last time. Amazing. It's been a whole year!

We made it to the Grand Canyon that night. Somehow it seemed fitting that we celebrated our liberation by visiting one of the most majestic places on earth.

Today has been a much quieter Fourth of July.

I took William up to a more modest locale for the holiday this year: the neighborhood pool. Less majestic, definitely, but a heck-of-a-lot-easier ride? Absolutely. A ten-minute wagon ride versus a God-only-knows-how-many-hour road trip? I think you can guess what I prefer. We splashed and sweated and ate the gobs of picnic food that the homeowners' association provided. William gleefully ate more than a half-dozen slices of watermelon and cantaloupe, dripping it all over himself in bliss. In a little while, we'll fire up our own grill and cook some hot dogs and eat with Aaron, Diane, Mark and some of David's other relatives.

No fireworks for us this year. I love them, and you can only image how much William loves them. But I finally decided, after much deliberation, that I just couldn't deal with driving all the way downtown at night to wait around for fireworks at 9 p.m. Not when I'd have to fight traffic on the way home, too, since that would mean a very, very late bedtime for William. I hate to deprive my son of fireworks since he loves them so much, but well, too bad. Maybe someone in the area will shoot some off, so he can see them without leaving home.

David and William, apropos of nothing, except that I took the picture today:

I hope all my faithful readers (and even my not-so-faithful readers) are having a lovely Friday and a lovely Independence Day. May you have good food, drink and fun, wherever you are today.

William hopes you have a great holiday, too. And if you have any watermelon, please save some for him...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Our very first tomato

When we moved back to Nashville, I made a vow. I vowed that I would grow my own tomatoes. All those years we lived in the desert, I bemoaned the lack of grass and wished for a yard. But I also missed things like tomatoes--things that you just couldn't grow in a part of the world that stayed above 100 degrees for almost half the year. Tomatoes. The really good fresh kind that my parents grew in our backyard when I was a very little girl. The kind that your kind friends give to you because they know you love them and they have a surplus. The kind that you could just bite into like an apple, letting the juice run down your arm.

So naturally, when it came time to start planting seeds, I was hellbent on growing my own tomatoes this year. No matter what it took. I was going to grow some tomatoes, by God!

But of course, I am notorious in our family for having a black thumb. I tend to unintentionally kill plants that are supposedly hard to kill. I neglected a cactus to death, and I didn't even know that could be done. I killed mint in my yard about ten years ago. I wonder if I give out some terrible deadly electric energy, like the character Rogue in the X-men movies. (I cannot believe I just referred to a comic book character on my own blog on my own free will. But I digress.) I even fretted about having a baby because hello, my track record is not so great.

Luckily, I have managed to keep William alive for two years and counting. He is healthy. He has not starved or frozen to death. That gave me some new confidence. It lasted until I managed to kill two different batches of tomato plants lovingly raised and given to me by the gardening teacher at our church, Miss Ginny. Along the way, I also killed a basil plant. Things were not off to a good start, to put it mildly. I planted the seedlings too early, and the cold got them. They wilted almost before my eyes. I told myself that the third time would be the charm. William and I straightened our shoulders and headed off to Home Depot to buy some sturdy plants and some fertilizer.

And lo, here they are, about two months later:

All the things that I have successfully grown, together in one place!

And so it is fitting that the first thing....er, person...that I successfully grew...so far...got the chance to pick the very first tomato. And here he is, triumphantly bearing it aloft:

Look at the tomato! It's all real! Okay, yes, it had a big blemish on one side, but it's been there since it first started to grow. And once we cut it away, we could eat the rest. And oh my, was it good. Oh my.

I only used the transplant fertilizer when I physically transplanted the plants from their containers to the ground. So except for that, they're more or less organic. Definitely pesticide-free. (Ask me sometime about how I had to unearth a bunch of deliberately buried rocks and bricks (!) out of my little corner garden before I could plant my little fledgling tomato plants. That's a fun story.)

Really, I'm so proud. Doesn't this look like such propaganda for organic gardening?

Well, the tomatoes are organic. Not-so-natural Goldfish crackers and graham crackers comprise a good part of the little boy.