Monday, June 29, 2009

That's enough

William said the most hilarious thing that I've heard him say in a long time on Friday afternoon.

When he woke up from his nap, I told him that we were going to the swimming pool. I handed him a bathing suit, and asked him to start getting ready. As he tends to do when he hasn't had enough sleep, he got all upset and irrational and began crying and kicking and screaming. (Seriously. He loves the pool. It's not like I was telling him to get ready to go have teeth extracted or something.) I let him carry on for awhile and mostly just ignored him, knowing that eventually he'd run out of steam.

So I was downstairs in the kitchen, listening to him rant and rave on the staircase and packing up the bag with our towels and sunscreen, when the crying came to a sudden halt. And I heard a little voice say, quite calmly, "Well, that's enough of THAT! Whew." (And I think he may have even said, "That's enough of that nonsense" because he did say that later, but I don't know if he actually said it the first time.) I heard him come pitter-pattering down the stairs and around the corner and say something about how it was almost too late and it's a good thing that he stopped crying when he did. And he was calm and happy and ready to go swimming. So. Bizarre.

Cheekwood photos

A little taste of Family Night at Cheekwood last week for you.

William, about to follow Leland down to the front where they could dance:

William and Leland sharing food, a not uncommon phenomenon with these two:

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rise and shine

The 5:30 a.m. wakeups continue. Ay yi yi. Do you know how early 5:30 a.m. is? Do you know how early it is when your three-year-old stalled about going to sleep until 10 p.m. (!) the night before?

Y'all know me. You know that I've been fairly rigid about William's bedtime as long as he's had one. Unless there's a special occasion or we have company visiting, we expect William to go to bed at his bedtime, settle down and stay in bed, end of story. It even worked until very recently. We didn't even have that much trouble after the transition to the big boy bed, except for a few nights. But these late-evening stalling episodes are just delaying his actual bedtime, and because he's getting up early no matter what, it's just reducing the total amount of sleep he's going. Which is Not Good. Oy.

Due to the stalling and the early rising, I'm estimating that William got about seven hours of sleep last night. Maybe seven-and-a-half. That's enough for me to function, but this is William we're talking about. High Octane Boy. Without enough sleep, he tends to get wired and wired and more wired, and that just exacerbates the problem because then he gets too wired to settle down. And it just snowballs.

I think I could deal if it was just nighttime stalling or just early wakeups, but both? No. We've tried everything we could think of to nip this in the bud, but so far, nothing's worked. Some friends have given me a couple of new ideas--set an alarm to come on when it's time to get up and explain the time on the digital clock to him and tell him what number will be showing when it's time to get up--so we may try those soon.

Feel free to remind me about all this when William's 15, and I'm trying to drag his body out of bed so he won't be late to high school.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Adventures in swimming

It's been extremely hot* and miserable here the last few days in the Country Music Capital of the World, although it looks beautiful from inside a nice air-conditioned house.

Yesterday morning, David had to work at the clinic, so William and I got up early and made it to the neighborhood pool by around 9:30. We scored one of the few umbrellas, and then we splashed in the baby pool for a little while.

Eventually, William worked up some courage and dragged me off to the big pool, where we spent the next 45 minutes "swimming." For William, "swimming" entails his flinging himself off the side of the pool and my frantic efforts to catch him before his dead weight plummets like an anchor to the bottom. For some reason, he likes to jump down, not out, so it's always an adventure for me, trying to catch him before he goes completely under the water. Then I hold him and propel him around the rest of the pool so he can talk to all his people. He visited Libby the Baby in her floaty thing with her parents in the middle of the pool, the gaggle of shaggy kindergarteners in the shallow end, and the cute bigger girls in between. He also wanted to start a water fight with some of the slightly older boys, but they (thankfully) didn't think that was such a good idea--instead, they waited for him to ask them to squirt him with their water guns and then gently sprayed him on his tummy.

There was a moment of drama when he realized that the Sleeping Beauty figurine that he kept in his bathing suit pocket was missing. We then paddled around the pool frantically looking for it, until a little girl found it and dove down to fetch it for him.

At one point, I hoisted William up to the side of the pool so he could jump off again, but he stopped and studied a small sign on the pool edge. He pointed to the sign, which read "4 ft" and asked "Why does that have a 4 on it?"

I explained, "The water is four feet deep here. You're only a little over three feet tall, so if you stood on the bottom of the pool, the water would be over your head, and you might not want that to happen. So the sign says four feet."

William looked at the sign dubiously. "I have two feet," he said, looking at his two feet and then looking all around, as if he was expecting to see some mythical swimmer with four feet who belonged in this part of the pool.

So we moved off from the four-footed-swimmer's part of the pool, back to the shallow end, to collect the squirty dinosaur toys. Then we sat under our umbrella, ate snacks from Trader Joe's and watched more people show up, even though it was really starting to heat up. We came home, showered, ate lunch, and played SuperWhy games on the computer together. William's getting pretty good at those, too. If he could actually read, he'd be a menace.

It was a really nice morning together, regardless of the heat. I'm glad we went early, too, because it was about 100 degrees by about 4 p.m. and there was no way I would have taken him to the pool then.

(*No, it's not been as hot as it was in 29 Palms. But it is way more humid here.)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

California, here they come

I have to write down as much as I remembered about a little discussion we had last night with William.

You know how William adores castles and loves to talk about his "castle people"? Well, last night, he informed us, with great seriousness, that the castle people were moving out of their castle.

We gasped in mock surprise. And then William told us that they were moving to California, where they were going to move into another castle there. The knights apparently will stay in the old castle here. I didn't realize that the knights weren't considered part of the "castle people" but apparently they're not. Also, who knew there were so many castles out there, especially in a country that's not even a monarchy?

This whole little bit reminded me of my little brother when he was about William's age. John had these two stuffed things that he slept with at night; one was a soft Fisher Price doll that John called Blue Baby and the other was a shapeless lump of pale yellow cotton called, yes, Yellow Baby. Once, John apparently misplaced his babies, which would normally be cause for major alarm. But instead, he calmly informed us that "Yellow Baby and Blue Baby went camping." Where did he get that? Who knows? At least we can hazard a guess as to where William got his idea for his castle people to go west!

By the way, William just now informed me the new castle in California would be near the beach and it would be "an orange, green and yellow kind of castle." That would be a most, er, interesting-looking castle, don't you think? The castle will also have a lot of "new knights with round heads and helmets with visors on them that come up and down." I can't make this stuff up.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The return of the lightning bugs

When I was little, one of my favorite summertime activities was catching lightning bugs. I used to stand at attention in the dark until I spotted one close to me. Then I'd carefully cup my hands until I could grab one. With my hands still cupped, I'd peer down through my fingers to watch the little green glow flash in my palm. Sometimes, I'd deposit them into a jar. (Didn't we all do that? Don't we all now tell the same sad tale about the jar full of suffocated lightning bugs that gave their lives for our pleasure?) Sometimes I'd just catch them and release them and enjoy watching them light up around me. It was practically a rite of summer, the appearance of the lightning bugs as the weather warmed up. And we knew the summer was ending each year, when they disappeared again.

In California, at least where we lived in California, there were no lightning bugs. When the sun sank below the horizon, that's all there was: darkness. I missed a lot of things about the South in those days, and most of it was related to things that I associated with the summer: iced tea, fried okra, barbecue and yes, I missed the lightning bugs. But I grew accustomed to their absence. And when I moved back to the South a couple of years ago, I was delighted all over again to rediscover them. Unfortunately, we don't get as many in our neighborhood here as I remember having in my yard as a child, but we do still see them.

This summer, William's finally old enough to not only appreciate them for their fleeting beauty but also to try to catch some himself. In fact, he and his friend Leland were chasing after them at Cheekwood last night; we had taken them to hear a musician play in the gardens while we had a picnic supper. After the musician packed up his banjo and his ukelele (why, yes, it was a kiddie show, however did you guess?), the sky began to darken. And sure enough, little fluorescent dots began to flicker all over the vast expanse of green lawn. Sweaty from dancing, William tried to chase after a few lightning bugs. He wasn't quite quick enough and had to be satisfied with letting his dad trap a few for him to study. But I feel confident that he'll be catching them himself by the time the summer ends.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A whole slew of photos, from Natchez to baseball to ice cream

I am very, very, very behind on posting pictures here.

I'll hit a few of the big highlights of late...

William with Miss Aubrey at his class' end of the year party:

William with a banner on Pentecost at his grandaddy's church:

You see, that was William's first time ever to attend a Children's Time in church, and I was worried he wouldn't sit still for it. Luckily, Dad had apparently through this through in advance. He gave all the kids these ribboned banners and told them they could run through the church and wave their banners. I wish I had a photo of William beaming as he trotted after all the bigger kids, waving his banner through the aisles because his expression was priceless.

William with his Uncle John in Natchez:

William swimming at a friend's house in Natchez (note: "swimming" actually means "playing on the side of the pool and resolutely refusing to get in the pool):

Me with a margarita:

Dressed after "swimming," William then progressed to playing in the playhouse:

William with Grandaddy Johnny:

William and Leland at the pool on Saturday morning:

William and David singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at the Nashville Sounds game last night:

Saying "Cheese!" for Crackerjacks (his first ones!):

At the big Miss Martha's Ice Cream Crankin' ice cream festival this afternoon, with David and DeeDee:

William, shoveling ice cream down his gullet as fast as he could:

Two very sweet little old ladies pulled me aside and cooed over how adorable they thought he was--how serious he was, eating his ice cream.

Friday, June 12, 2009

All Things Castle

William has become enamored recently with a set of castle-themed Legos. David bought the castle Lego set because he correctly knew that William would adore it. This should come as no surprise to anyone who's been around him at all within the past ten or eleven months. He's obsessed with castles and the "castle people" who inhabit them (his catch-all term for princesses, knights, kings, queens, jesters, and assorted marauders).

William especially adores the big red-and-black dragon and the evil wizard figure, both of whom have plastic lightning bolts attached to them. The dragon "breathes" the lightning bolts, while the wizard has them attached to the end of his Gandalf-Saruman-esque staff.

But he hasn't quite grasped the correct wording for the concept. William showed me the evil wizard one day and told me, "The wizard shoots light bulbs out of his staff!"

"What? He shoots what?" I asked.

"Light bulbs. Lights bulbs, see?" he said, pointing to the lightning bolts.

"Oh yeah?" I said, trying not to laugh.

"And the dragon breathes light bulbs!"

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Another one? When?

Gotta flog my own stuff here again. I've got a new article up on the website Betty Confidential about The Question.

Check it out here at
When to Have Another Baby?

Yes, some of you are guilty of asking me The Question. Don't worry. I still love you. Y'all are the ones who love William so much that you're just dying for a sequel, right?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Stand still, and let me put more sunscreen on you

You know how I know that summer is here? I mean, other than the fact that it's hot and also the fact that the calendar says June? I'm already getting tired of putting a thick coating of sunscreen, followed by a chaser of bug spray, on William every time we go outside to play.

You see, the Spraying Down of One's Child is a vital but time-consuming part of the preparations that I have to undertake to prepare to visit the pool. I took William to the neighborhood swimming pool yesterday afternoon and again this morning, and I swear, it took me nearly an hour to get us ready to leave. First, I have to dress William in a swim diaper and swim suit. Then I have to put on a swimsuit that covers a reasonable amount of flesh and find my cover-up and my own hat. Then I have to coat both of us in sunscreen. Luckily, spray sunscreen makes this go much faster than the olden days, when you had to use a tube of regular sunscreen...uphill, barefoot, in the snow. Then I have to make sure W's got sunscreen on his face and neck. Then I have to pack the small cooler with drinks and snacks. Then I have to pack the pool bag: towels, extra swim diaper, extra clothes and underpants for William, pool key, wet wipes, house key, cell phone, money for the vending machine (optional), lipbalm with SPF. Then I have to get the wagon out of the garage, put the cooler and pool bag in it, make sure the pool toys are also in there, and then convince William to put on his shoes and hat and get in the wagon. Then we can leave.

Usually, there's at least one time-sucking bathroom adventure that takes place somewhere during the adventure. Also, the phone tends to ring at least once or twice. Sometimes the UPS man shows up. Sometimes the plates of the Earth shift.

However, there is a silver lining. To my delight, I've disocovered that it is SO MUCH EASIER to take three-year-old William to the pool than it was to take two-year-old William to the pool. Seriously. He helps me rearrange the stuff in the wagon so it all fits. He helps me fetch things that I've forgotten. And then when we finally do make it to the pool, he can get his own toys out and do his own thing while I get our stuff situated. He shares his toys with the other kids, and he even stops running and walks as soon as I bark "Slow feet!" He doesn't even fuss when I insist that he stop playing so I can douse him with another spray of sunscreen.

I was really proud of him yesterday when a little girl kept taking his toys (not maliciously--she just wanted to play with them, too), and he didn't wail and moan and try to snatch them back. Today, he played nicely by himself, since we were the only ones at the baby pool when we first got there, and then he shared another child's toys when another family showed up. (Note to self: buy William his own mermaid pool toy so he won't have to wait to share the ones toted by the little girls in the neighborhood, who aren't so eager to share their toys). And when it was time to leave, he was very agreeable. He collected all of his toys that were strewn about, and helped me put everything back into the wagon. And we left, in a very drama-free way. Ah.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Plugged in

When I was childless, I thought that I'd never let a child of mine watch television in the car on road trips.

It wasn't that I sneered at the idea (like I sneer at some ideas that I've deemed silly or stupid). It's just that I didn't have television to entertain me on long boring road trips when I was a kid. I had to read books, scribble in activity books (anyone remember those magic ink pens?) do Mad Libs, listen to cassette tapes (yes, I'm that old), play the Geography Game or the License Plate Game with my family, or stare aimlessly out the window at the scenery speeding by. So I reasoned that any child of mine could entertain himself or herself the same way.

It was one of many lofty ideas that I had as a childless adult that I promptly threw under the bus once I actually had a flesh-and-blood child and was no longer getting anywhere close to my RDA of sleep. That should actually be a theme in my life as a parent, now that that I think about it. I had a friend tell me that she never takes parenting advice from people who don't have children or don't have extended experience in working with children. My own personal policy is that I am allowed to try out the theories I had before I had children but I am not allowed to feel bad if or when they don't work out at all and in fact flame out spectacularly.

You see, I had this lovely baby. And lo, the sweet baby who slept in the car became a child. A very bright and (mostly) happy child. A child who was not old enough to read to himself. And the child was also very social and wanted to talk with or at Mommy all the livelong day. And Mommy could only keep that up for so long in the car before she wanted to put her head down on the steering wheel and sob for mercy. Or at least for someone else to do all the talking and listening for a little while while she drove, drank Diet Coke and pretended she was going to write up her gritty and fascinating road trip for a sophisticated magazine and sell it and make lots of money.

So when William was two, I convinced my husband to let us borrow a DVD player from our friends for our trip to the beach last summer. No, we did not plug our son into the DVD player for the entire trip. We talked to him. We told stories and we sang songs. But eventually, we got tired. So William got to watch episodes of "Arthur" and "Sesame Street" and snippets of "Finding Nemo" and "Toy Story." And David and I were able to have a nice quiet adult conversation in the front seat. I even got to read some of my library book (I was immersed in the non-fiction book Hospital: Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity, Plus Red Tape, Bad Behavior, Money, God and Diversity on Steroids by Julie Salomon.) We had snacks. We talked some more. We were all reasonably sane and happy.

This year, as you know, I was planning a trip to Natchez to visit with my family. Originally, we planned to fly. That little plan got derailed by a 106 degree fever the day before our scheduled flight, but I couldn't have known that in advance. So I was planning ways to entertain my active three-year-old on the airplane. I told David that we really should just suck it up and buy our own portable DVD player. He balked for a few minutes, then remembered the beach trip. And a couple of days later, he walked in the door with a bag from Target. We had second thoughts, though....which resulted in our buying a set of nice headphones for William to use when watching his DVDs.

Even after the plane trip was cancelled, I had a road trip to deal with. Not only one road trip but two: one to Natchez with my parents and one home from Natchez without my parents. Have you ever driven any of the routes between Nashville and Natchez? No? Well, let me just fill you in: they are boring. So boring. So blindingly mind-numbingly boring. So boring that you'd be hard-pressed to find anything interesting enough to play "I Spy" for more than two rounds, and you can consider yourself lucky if you see license plates from more than four states. So once the initial excitement of hitting the road waned and the best snacks had been eaten, I dug out the little white DVD player. So, for a little while, somewhere on I-55, south of Batesville, Mississippi, I got to have a nice conversation with my mother while my son watched "Cinderella." He only got to watch a total of two hours of TV on the entire five- or six-hour trip, though; that's how long the battery lasts, and I didn't clue him into the fact that the player has a cord that plugs into the cigarette lighter. So he still got some of the "God, I'm so bored" road trip experience that was so crucial in shaping me into the person I am today.

A week later, I drove home with William in the minivan (we've named her Matilda, a nice combo of Sedate Old Lady and Slightly Retro Wacky, don't you think?) that my grandparents have so graciously bequeathed to me. William contentedly watched "Sleeping Beauty" while I settled back in the driver's seat and listened to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong sing songs from "Porgy and Bess." Summertime, and the livin' is easy, indeed.

I don't think I'll make big bucks (er, or any bucks) from writing this up here, but hey, now you know the secret to my survival.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Natchez Update

Please don't fall over in shock. Yes, it's been about ten days since I last updated this blog, but don't worry. William's healthy, I'm healthy, David's healthy, it's all good.

In fact, William bounced back from his miserable bout with...well, whatever it was that gave him those fevers and destroyed his appetite to the point that he even turned down popsicles...and we got the chance to come visit Ma and Pa Larson down in Natchez after all.

For those of you who actually do want the logistical details: David and Aaron drove us to Memphis last Thursday, where we rendezvoused at Grandaddy Dudley's house and met Mom and Daddy. David and Aaron then made a beeline for Corky's so David could get his ribs, and William and I took our inaugural ride in what will be our new minivan. Mom and Daddy drove us down here to Natchez, where we're staying until this Friday. At that point, I'll drive myself and the Little Prince north to Nashville.

What? Yes, I will soon be a Minivan Mom. About two years ago....actually maybe even a year ago...that would have made me squirm with self-induced angst over my impending entry into Suburban Matronhood. I thought of myself as still a little bit hip and couldn't imagine myself in a Mom-mobile. Well, guess what, folks? I'm so over that now. Let's be honest about my reality here. I live in the suburbs. I'm a mom. I wear bathing suits with skirts on them. I carry a purse stuffed with small boxes of raisins and Spider-Man fruit treats. Let's just call a spade a spade, shall we?

And so soon I will have a nice roomy minivan with plenty of room for people and stuff. And I can't wait. I didn't realize how small my Mazda was until I took a road trip in the minivan last week. Geez. Was I really so worried about being hip (despite the fact that I haven't been hip in a long, long time...and in fact, may never have been hip at all) that I would have forsaken room to tote around lots of stuff and have room for people at the same time?