Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Strepmas!

Merry Strepmas!

Yes, that's a little step-filled elf, sitting there with a plate of cookies and boiled custard for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. Hope Santa Claus has good health insurance.

On Christmas Eve afternoon, both boys were running a low (under 101) fever. So their daddy brought them each an early Christmas present. When I was a kid, I usually got a sticker book or something for a Christmas Eve present, but for my kids, it was a rapid strep test and a flu test. Luckily, only William tested positive for strep. So it was off to the Publix pharmacy with us for antibiotics. I had sworn not to have to return to the grocery again before Christmas, and yet, there we were at 4:30 on Christmas Eve.

Insert obligatory "Thank God that we have a pediatrician in our family so we could dispatch this with haste" comment here.

Anyway, William and I skipped the children's Christmas Eve service. David went off to sing in the adult choir, and the boys and I drove around and looked at Christmas lights. William and I sang along with the Blind Boys of Alabama and Frank Sinatra on the radio. It was so peaceful, cruising around with "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" playing, as we gazed at all the lights coming on as the sky darkened. Then we came home and had a nice quiet evening. When David got home, William put out the plate of Santa cookies and David read both 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' and the Nativity story to the boys.

Also, William received a personalized video message from Santa! (Google "portable north pole" if you're curious.) David and I wrapped gifts after the boys went to bed, and as the night wore on, snowflakes began to fall.

And yes, Virginia, we had a white Christmas. In fact, it was my first white Christmas. I mean, hello, I did grow up in Alabama. It was just as likely to be 75 degrees on Christmas Day as anything. But the snow started on Christmas Eve, and when we woke up, there was about an inch of snow. And it continued to flurry off and on all day long. I was so giddy, you'd have thought I'd never seen snow before. You'd have thought I didn't spend all of last January and February snarling at the snow because I was so worried I'd get stuck out here and go into labor and be unable to get to the hospital.

Anyway, William woke up early. David hopped up and spotted him peering over the bannister toward the living room, craning for a glimpse of his presents from Santa. He also excitedly told his daddy that he thought he could see the tracks from Santa's sled on the snow on the roof of our neighbor's house. I immediately sat up in bed and posted that little gem on Facebook via my iPhone. (I so love modern technology.) And David and I decided to go ahead and let the boys have their presents from Santa, and then we'd have breakfast after the excitement died down a bit.

William was so thrilled by his Santa presents that it probably would not have mattered if he had gotten anything else for Christmas at all.

William was content to play with his Santa toys and his stocking gifts for a good long time. In fact, Diane and Mark came over around lunchtime, and we didn't even start opening the rest of the presents until after 1 p.m.

Here's William with David and the present that he specifically picked out and bought for his daddy (yes, you read that right):

And here's Andrew with Diane, and his special first Christmas present from her:

And the boys and I piled into Andrew's new chair for a quick picture right before bedtime.

I hope you all had a lovely Merry Christmas, white or not.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

That is the question

I can't wait to see what kinds of questions Andrew asks when he starts talking. Right now, he's mostly saying things like "Da! Da! De!" and the odd "Guh!" and "Ba!" But he says them enthusiastically and with a great deal of conviction, so you can tell that the wheels are turning in there. Probably he'll bust out with some sort of jaw-dropping question one of these days that will have me floundering around for an answer, any answer.

William, of course, does this sort of thing all the time these days. The other day, he asked me me if we would understand everything about God when we get to heaven. I opened my eyes very wide and thought, "Wow. How do I even begin to think about that, let alone respond to that?" I ended up saying something limp about the mystery of faith, which didn't even satisfy me. I don't particularly like it when someone uses that as as response to one of my eschatological or teleological questions, but I have more or less accepted that, well, that's about all we can know at this point.

A few days ago, William asked me another question that strained my abilities: "What comes after outer space?"

I stuttered for a few moments, unsure of how to respond. I mean, the truth of the matter is, I have no earthly idea (no pun intended). I finally said, "Well. I don't know, William. I presume that outer space just goes on and on forever, but I don't know for sure."

This led him to begin asking questions about infinity. I tried to explain that infinity is more of a concept than an actual number. Which is a weak answer, I know. But theoretical mathematics, as a general rule, is not my area of expertise. Then, tonight I had the experience of searching for "googol" on Google. (How meta is that?) William and I know now that "googol" is the digit 1 followed by one hundred 0s.

Of course, I was all satisified just to learn that, and William had to go and ask "Well, what's the number after that?"

"Um, googol and one?" I suggested. (That is right, isn't it?)

The good news is that William does ask this kind of question. Those of you who know me in person have probably heard me complain about people who have absolutely no intellectual curiosity whatsoever. Intellectual curiosity is a trait that I value a great deal. I'm not saying that I expect people to just know certain things but I like it when people want to learn more. And I especially like it when people ask questions to which they don't already know the answers. (Sorry, lawyers out there.) So it pleases me that my son wants to learn more. It challenges me, too. I mean, I can't think of a single other reason that I would have been Googling googol, but now I know. I'm not sure if that makes me a better person--probably not--but hey, at least I'm learning something new.

Side note: I wonder if I asked this kind of question when I was a child. I don't remember asking questions that had my parents scratching their heads as they tried to come up with a reasonable answer, but perhaps I did. Mom, Dad, want to weigh in?

Monday, December 20, 2010

The challenge of getting good Christmas pictures of the boys

Gratuitous Christmas picture time!

I so love them. I mean, I know I'm utterly biased, but aren't they adorable?

I took a billion photographs of the two of them in various matching or coordinating outfits, trying to get a good picture to use for a Christmas card. I have learned, in doing so, that it is exponentially harder to get a good picture of two small boys than it is to get a good picture of one small boy.

You see, if Andrew is looking at the camera and smiling, then William is grimacing in that time-honored scruched-face smile that all four-year-olds seem to do. Conversely, if William is smiling naturally and looking charming, then Andrew has his hand in his mouth. Or he's trying to crawl away. Or both.

It's like a Christmas miracle when I get a shot like the one I just posted. It's like getting your story on A1 of the newspaper or winning the door prize at a party. Woot! It makes me very happy.

And believe it or not, I actually got several good photos of the two boys to choose from. Here's another one:

And one more:

If only this one had been better centered:

But anyway, there you go. William's doing a little bit of the fake smile there, but overall, I think they're pretty acceptable.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas

Wow, it's December, and we have about three inches of snow on the ground!

It's very surreal. The snow started yesterday morning. It flurried lightly, in a lovely Currier and Ives kind of way, for a few hours. Then it started really coming down in earnest by early afternoon. It snowed steadily the rest of the day and into the evening.

And oh yes, it got cold. Very cold. Deep freeze-type cold. Fret about having enough blankets cold. It was beautiful, though. The Christmas lights on all the bushes were lighting up the snow, casting this beautiful glow. I wish I could have captured that with the camera, but it wouldn't have done it justice.

Finally, this morning, I decided that if we are going to get snow in December, we need to at least get out and enjoy it for a few minutes. We bundled up. Majorly up. There were no "I can't put my arms down!" moments, but we were about one layer away from it.

William's class read a book about making snow angels, so he was eager to give it a try:

And here's a sight you don't see in Nashville very often: a white almost-Christmas. Here's a shot of William in front of our neighbors' Christmas decorations (since they really went all out on the festive front):

The baby stayed inside, in case you were wondering. I may be crazy, but I'm not that crazy.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Give a little

I've been trying to hammer home to William the point that Christmas is not about just getting presents. I've been trying to emphasize the whole birth-of-Jesus angle and the whole do-unto-others aspect.

I really wanted to do an angel tree or something similar this year, too, but it just didn't happen. So we're going to try to do some small "giving" things this year, and next year, we'll step up and do something larger.

So I suggested something to William, something that I figured he could easily get his brain around: giving a present to someone he loves very much. "Let's go to the store and you can pick out a Christmas present for your brother," I said.

See what I was going for? Getting him to learn how to give presents, not just get them.

William whined, "But I don't know what to pick!"

Me: "That's why we'll go look. You can look around and see what you like, and then you can pick something out."

This seems easy enough, one would think. Well. It took us about three different visits to two stores before I finally just lost patience and said, "Just pick something!"

Of course, he finally picked something that I probably wouldn't have picked. It was a little toddler keyboard. You can play it like a keyboard, or you can set it to play songs. It has these little moving figurines on top, too. And requires a handful of batteries, not included. Of course. Now that I'm thinking about it, it really isn't a bad choice. It doesn't light up or laugh maniacally or consist of many small easily-lost pieces. At least theoretically, it's even sort of educational. And it's not that big, so it won't take up a ton of valuable family room or play room real estate.

But William mainly picked it, I think, to get Mom off his back. And so he could go look at the trains in the toy store. I put the toy away when we got home, and it was like we never even bought it. William promptly forgot all about it. So I'm not sure how much of a lesson it was.

I'm holding out more hope, however, for the shopping trip to buy food to take to the Christmas Eve service at our church. Last year, we talked for days about how we were going to bring food to help feed people who are hungry. And then, a day or so before the Christmas Eve service, I took him to the store, and he picked out a bunch of cans of green beans and green peas to take as his offering for the food pantry. And he was so proud of himself, carrying them up to the manger during the service. I hope he'll be so enthusiastic this year, too.

And he did like the idea of donating some cold-weather gear to the "warming tree" at his preschool. I sent him to school with some gloves and hats to put on the tree as gifts for children who might not have nice new gear to keep them warm this winter. His teacher had to remind him to do it, but at least it seemed to make some impression on him, which is what I was hoping for.

I realize that this isn't much. But I wanted to try to do something to make my point. It'd be easy for me to just give things to people, but I want my child (and now children) to understand that they, too, can give. We can ratchet it up next year and then again the year after that. But we had to start somewhere.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Two of a kind

Don't you love this? Brothers being so happy together:

There are times when having two small boys totally wears me out, and then there are moments like that when it is all so totally and clearly the best thing on earth that I can't imagine it any other way.

Time to go shopping

I had a sudden flash of realization about something Very Important yesterday.

I'd been planning to wrap up a few of William's old baby toys and give them to Andrew for Christmas--yes, yes, this is terrible and horrible, blah blah blah, but do you know how much stuff we already have?--and I wasn't too worried about buying a bunch of presents for Andrew this year as a result. Plus, everyone knows that babies like wrapping paper way more than the actual presents anyway. Am I wrong, folks?

Until William asked me what Santa Claus was going to bring to Andrew.

Uh oh. I guess if we are going to maintain the whole Santa charade for a few more years, I need to get cracking. Now I need to go find a few baby toys that are reasonably inexpensive so that "Santa" can bring then to Andrew. Andrew won't care if he doesn't get anything new from Santa, but William will notice. And yes, he will notice. This is William we're talking about. He notices almost everything.

Guess I'll head over to Toys R Us or Phillips Toy Mart soon and peruse the baby toy aisles. Any suggestions?

Monday, November 29, 2010

And we have crawling...

On Thanksgiving Day, Andrew decided to make a break for it.

He reached out his little arms and dragged himself about three or four feet across the living get to his big brother's toys.

And so it begins. It hasn't even been a week, and I can't tell you how many times William has howled for Andrew to leave his stuff alone. In fact, just tonight, he came downstairs and swept the Fisher-Price Nativity set out of his brother's reach.

"That's his now, too," I pointed out.

"No! It's mine!" William hollered, running back up the stairs as soon as he was confident that Andrew couldn't (easily) get to the Nativity set again.

As soon as William was upstairs, I made it easy on Andrew. I just piled all the pieces back into his lap so he wouldn't have to combat crawl over to them.

Besides, it made for a cute picture, and what am I all about if not a cute photo?

And yes, Virginia, there is a Christmas tree in my house already. It's been up since Thanksgiving.

How else would I get a Christmas tree assembled in my house if I didn't assign the task to my father on Thanksgiving night? I'm just bummed that he had to return home before he could hang all the Christmas lights up outside again. I may be a curmudgeon about the appearance of Christmas stuff before Thanksgiving but as soon as Thanksgiving dinner is finished, it's all fair game.

Side note on the crawling thing: Andrew has not really figured out how to move from a sitting position to a (combat) crawling position yet. I am not going to teach him. You'd better not, either.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gobble gobble

Happy Belated Thanksgiving from four of the biggest turkeys you know!

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Sorry for the late post. We had to emerge from our tryptophan coma. It was a lovely holiday this year, with good food and family members. Even Andrew had turkey and sweet potatoes. Hope it was just as good for you and your family.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Second Child Syndrome

Today is Nov. 22, two days before Andrew's nine-month birthday. I am feeling guilty because he's about to turn nine months old, and I have only had his picture taken once. By the time William was nine months old, I think I'd had his picture taken at least four times.

Yeah, I know, there I go with the comparisons again. But seriously, I really need to address this. My brother-in-law has been known to remark about such things, being the little brother, and my own brother has been, too. I don't want Andrew to grow up and say, "Mom always did this stuff for William, but she never did nearly as much for me!"

This is, of course, a prime example of Second Child Syndrome. The poor, poor second child. The second child has to wear hand-me-downs, never gets as many naps, has to be dragged around to their older sibling's events and parties, isn't featured in as many photos. The first kid gets everything, the second child gets the leftovers. The list goes on and on.

[Insert editorial comment here about how First Child Syndrome is no picnic either. The parents are much harder on the first child, expect the first child to be more responsible, enforce stricter rules on the first child, etc. It's true, folks. Ask any First Child. I wonder if First Children have a higher incidence of stress-related illness, now that I think about it.]

Right now, I know Andrew doesn't care. I just hope that he doesn't grow up to care. And I really do feel guilty about some of it. I wish that Andrew could be the center of our universe, as David put it, like William was when he was a baby. Andrew certainly deserves to get some time in the spotlight as center of the universe. We all love him as though he were the center of the universe; in fact, he probably gets more love because he has William to love him, too, not just his parents.

But I'm not sure what I could really do about a lot of the things on the Second Child Syndrome list. The fact remains that we have an older child, too. I mean, I have to take William to school, and Andrew can't stay at home alone, ergo Andrew has to come with me. So he has to spend a lot of time in the car. And that messes up his nap schedule. It would be horribly wasteful not to re-use all the adorable clothes that are in wonderful condition, hence the hand-me-downs. Plus, he looks so sweet in them. And it saves money.

But I can do something about the picture situation. I just need to Do. It. I think I'll call the photographer now....

Friday, November 19, 2010

No comparison

I know, I know, I know.

I'm not supposed to compare the boys. They're both individuals, different and unique, and it's not fair to either of them to compare them. I get it. I do.

But I keep doing it when it comes to their sizes. We found out yesterday that Andrew is a lot smaller at nearly 9 months of age than William was. He's about 18 lb 4 oz and 28 inches long. That puts him in the 25th percentile for weight and a shade under the 50th percentile for height.

Now, the height thing was to be expected. William hovered around the 50th percentile in height many times. He's always been between the 50th and 75th percentiles for height his entire life, although I think he once hit the 80th after a growth spurt. And Andrew feels long to me, so I didn't think he'd be really short.

But the weight! Ack. This is a baby who started his life at 9 lbs 4 oz, if you recall. He was a big old chunk of baby. But his weight has been trending downward. And now he's downright slender. I've been thinking for awhile that he seems narrow, and I just got that officially confirmed at the pediatrician's office yesterday.

At first, I fretted. I am so used to sturdy William that I just couldn't conceive of it being okay for Andrew to not be so sturdy. What was I doing wrong, I worried.

But as the doctor pointed out, David and I are not big people. It's not really that surprising that we might have a child who is on the smaller side. As he gets older, Andrew seems to resemble David more anyway, and perhaps that means that he's going to resemble his daddy in body type, too. And is it really so strange for brothers to be really different? I mean, look at David and Mark. Case in point.

And someone has to be small. In order to have a 50th percentile, you have to have just as many people on either side, too. Someone has to be bigger. Someone has to be smaller. It looks like William is going to be bigger, and Andrew is going to be smaller.

Or maybe not. Maybe Andrew will catch up later. I'm going to add some supplemental formula to his diet, see if I can get him to chunk up a little bit. Boy, there's something I never thought I'd have to do! And to be fair, he's eating really well anyway. He's putting away a bowl of cereal with fruit in the morning, two containers of baby food at lunch and two at dinner most days now. It's not like he's not eating. And he's happy and healthy.

And smiley. He really is a smiley little guy.

So I'm going to try not to worry about this and just do the best I can to feed him and take care of him and love on him. And accept him for who he is. Which is a wonderful, marvelous, delicious, smiley little boy.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Big Funny

William has been The Big Funny around here a lot lately. I've posted these anecdotes on Facebook, but I wanted to preserve them for later, when I need a good laugh.

The first one...

A couple of nights ago, I was helping William get ready for bed, and I was combing his wet hair. Offhandedly, I mentioned that I needed to do something with my own hair. Wiilliam took the comb and offered to comb my hair for me.

"Thank you, sweetie," I told him. "You're a very thoughtful young man."

William beamed and said, "Thanks! You're a very thoughtful old lady!"

The second one...

William is heavily into fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt right now. I have no idea why, except that he's always loved yogurt, and maybe he just likes the whole magic-ish transformation that happens when you stir the fruit up into the yogurt. Given that he's not a picky eater at all (thank heavens!), I've been buying up a bunch of random flavors for him to try. Black cherry, blueberry, peach, pear, he has enjoyed them all so far.

Last night, he was rummaging around in the fridge for a new carton of yogurt, while I worked on getting the baby settled in the high chair. I heard him exclaim, with great joy, "Oh wow! Doughnuts!"

I was mystified. There weren't any doughnuts in the fridge. At least there weren't any doughnuts in the fridge that I knew about.

Then he added, "Doughnut-flavored yogurt!"

I peered over the top of his head into the fridge and saw what he was so excited about. And of course, I had to burst his bubble.

"Um, sorry, kiddo, but that's actually pineapple-flavored yogurt."

And the third one...

This really is not a specific anecdote, per se. It's just that William keeps trying to claim that he's a slow eater. If you know him, you are probably convulsed with laughter right about now.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

What a great day to be a kid!

Halloween! Is Halloween a great day to be a kid or what? You play dress-up, you run around outside after dark, and you get lots and lots of free candy. And your parents approve of the whole thing. It doesn't get much better than that.

Can you tell they were having a blast or what?

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Sammy and William, with Andrew, just prior to taking off for trick-or-treating:

You'd have thought they'd been shot out of a cannon, they moved that fast. They dashed from house to house like it was an Olympic race. William kept bellowing, "To the NEXT house!" And Sammy gamely matched him step for step en route to collecting more candy.

We had a good time, but I was exhausted when it was all over. I'm guessing that next year, when Andrew is walking and wants to tag along, it'll be even more interesting. This year, I just carried him along to enjoy looking at all the people in their costumes, and that seemed to be just fine with him.

I asked Bruce to take a picture of David, me and Andrew the Pumpkin while the boys were doing their thing. I knew there was no chance I'd get William to join us for a family picture, though, so this is as close as I got:

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Is he asleep?

Oh boy, Andrew just threw the mother of all fits.

He woke up crying about 9;50, and it's now 10:40. I just got him to calm down about three minutes ago. Wait, is that him crying again?

Anyway, I tried everything. Holding, walking, rocking, nursing. Nothing worked. He just sobbed and cried. I figured, okay, he's tired. He just needs to get back in his bed. But he was so worked up that he couldn't let himself calm down and go back to sleep.

Argh! I'm so bad with this! I've been blessed with two boys who are, by most accounts, really good sleepers. Andrew's been sleeping through the night for ages now, and it's never been that difficult to get him to go to sleep at night. In fact, usually he's the one agitating to go to bed; he starts fussing and scrubbing at his eyes, and you know he's done. We tried to keep him on a similar schedule to William, but he was not having any of that. In fact, some nights it's hard to even keep him up as late as 7:30. He's definitely an early-to-bed, early-to-rise kind of guy.

Who knows what was wrong with him? But he seems to have quieted back down again. Let's hope for the best.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Two weekend getaways


After our soul-and-body-exhausting trip to the beach in August, I made the comment on Facebook that a vacation with small children really isn't a vacation. And a friend of mine remarked that it's really just a relocation.

A-freakin'-men to that.

We've spent the last two weekends on the road. I don't even know how many miles we put on the minivan. Or how many snacks William went through en route. I did learn one important thing, though: it was worth it, just keeping most of the same stufff packed from the first weekend and just reloading it back into the van for the second trip.

Last weekend, David and I loaded up Matilda with Andrew, William, Diane and Aaron and set sail for the mountains of East Tennessee. David and I were invited to attend a wedding, so Diane and Aaron went with us to babysit during the wedding events. And soak up a little cool mountain air in the meantime. Well, we certainly were packed tightly into that minivan! But it was worth the close quarters. We had a lovely weekend, all the way around.

Our cabin,

which was named "The Three Bears," had stuffed bears and bear decorations all over the place, and William had a ball looking at all of them.

And of course, so did Andrew:

We did a lot of porch-sitting and chatting in our down time, which, if you think about it, is just about one of the most perfect ways to spend a beautiful fall day:

Diane with William testing out the "Indiana Jones" bridge in a little park, not far from our cabin:

And a photo of the boys together in "their" room, which was a sweet little sleeping porch right off our room:

I should note here, however, that our cabin, while adorable in every way, was perched on top of a precipice. I don't think I've ever driven up a street that was angled that sharply before in my entire life. There are roller coasters in major theme parks that don't go up hills that steep.

Then, a few days after we returned to Music City, I took the boys and we drove down to Natchez to see my parents and brother. We took the scenic route, meaning that we drove through Birmingham and swung by my childhood home so I could show William where I grew up. It's been at least a decade, maybe longer, since I last saw the house. It seemed at once both completely familiar and totally foreign to me. I know it is horribly cliched to say this, but the house--the whole neighborhood, really--looked so much smaller than I remembered it being. The house, which is red brick, used to have yellow, then pale peach, woodwork. Now the wood parts are painted dark green, but they're a faded dark green, and there's this big Bradford pear tree in the front yard that wasn't there when we lived there. It was just...different.

Many pit stops later, we eventually made our way down to Natchez for the annual hot air balloon festival. Poor Mom. We totally took over her entire house. There was not a single room that didn't have some of our stuff in it. Bags of toys, bags of baby gear, diapers, the Batcave, shoes, the bouncy seat, snacks, and so on. We're like the human version of kudzu. And we even ousted my brother from his room, too. (He's living with her while he finishes grad school.) It was great to be there, but Mom's cat didn't look so pleased about our invasion.

On Friday night, we went to the balloon festival carnival down on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, and William got to ride some of the kiddie rides. His favorite was maybe the ricketiest carousel I have ever seen in my life. Every time his horse wobbled upwards on its post, I lunged to make sure I was in position to catch my firstborn, should he be catapulted off.

You can't tell from the photo, but there were massive fireworks exploding out over the river. We watched them for awhile, until the siren call of the next kiddie ride managed to lure William away.

Then, on Saturday morning, the balloons began their first race in the crisp early morning sunshine. They raced right over my mom's house, so we all dashed out into the street in our pajamas to get a look.

We spent most of Saturday afternoon down at the carnival again. Mom and Daddy sold T-shirts, and William got me, his uncle and his grandfather to take him to ride the rides at various times. Luckily for his grandfather, there are height and weight limits to those rides. I didn't realize that on Friday night, and I made the mistake of insisting on riding some of the rides with William. They should sell Dramamine with the ride tickets, I think.

William was allowed to play one game; at $3 a pop, that's all I was going to spring for. Luckily, he won! He got a stuffed lion. I'll have to post the picture from my iPhone later. But in the interim, here's a photo of him with a couple of the hot air balloons in the background...

You could wait in line to get in the basket and then float way up in the air (still tethered to the ground, of course). I said, after I stopped wheezing in horror at the very idea, "Um, no thanks." I like looking at hot air balloons a lot. From a distance. Where there's no possible way that I or anyone whom I love could possibly be scooped up into one.

All in all, two lovely weekends with both sets of grandparents. And of course, it's nice to be home again now, too.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Smell Like a Monster

Have any of you laughed as hard as I have over those Old Spice commercials that feature the guy who does the whole commercial all in one take? Well, the Sesame Street folks did a spoof of "Smell Like a Man" that they call "Smell Like a Monster."

I'm 36 years old, and I still love Sesame Street. My son has moved on, and he now prefers "Word Girl," which is pretty awesome. But there's just something about Grover, Bert and Ernie and all the others, you know? (He did like "Smell Like a Monster," though. He didn't get the spoof part, not having seen the original commercials, but he laughed when the clam snapped onto Grover's nose.) They'll always be old friends.

Saturday, October 02, 2010


Here's a quick photo of Andrew "playing" with his Baby Legos:

I mean, seriously, do you not just want to eat him up? I realize that I am a teensy bit biased, and all, but really.

(Seeing him in those pajamas with that particular set of toys and the Boppy behind him makes me nostalgic for Baby William, too.)

And just like his big brother, Andrew loves to gnaw on those Baby Legos (it's a Lego brand shape sorter for babies, so the shapes are fashioned to look like giant Lego pieces). I wonder if I could run the whole mess through the dishwasher....

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Consonants? Check.

So a couple of weeks ago, David asked me if Andrew had started saying any consonants yet. And as I posted here, I told him I wasn't sure. Because I wasn't sure.

Well, the very next day, as if he knew what we'd been discussing, Andrew began saying "da de de da da." Isn't he so very thoughtful? So, yay for consonants!

And he blows lots and lots of raspberries, practicing the "b" sound. More consonants! I think we will have another round of enthusiastic "ba"-ing here in another month or two.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I was right!

Do y'all remember when I sneered at the expensive designer diapers that Target was selling earlier this year?

Well, I was vindicated. Cruising past the baby section a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a big endcap full of those designer diapers, with the original price slashed down to a much more reasonable "clearance" price. Of course, the clearance price was still more expensive than you'd pay for regular old diapers, even the brand-name kind. No wonder no one bought them.

I'm guessing they won't try that little experiment again.

Although I will say this....I know a lot of parents (myself included) who already didn't like the way that diaper companies put little designs on the diapers, like Pooh Bear or Elmo. The designs show through light-colored clothes. For example, in order to keep Cookie Monster's googly-eyed face from beaming through Andrew's white linen baptism outfit, I had to put a plain white onesie on him first. It would have been nice to just have a plain old white diaper. But even the lower-cost diapers like Luvs put pictures on their diapers. (Yes, I probably could have used cloth diapers which are nice and plain. I didn't. That's a discussion for another time.)

So the Pampers folk were especially missing the mark with the designer patterned diapers: they were charging MORE for something than many parents want LESS of. Tsk tsk tsk.

I love it when I'm right.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I don't remember

You know, you'd think I'd know what I was doing this time around. I've had one child already, raised him reasonably well so far, and nothing too bad has happened (well, other than that minivan-door incident, but we won't dwell on that because all's well that ends well, right?).

But here I am, on Kid No. 2, and I can't seem to remember much of what I did the first time around! My friend Mary Clare, who has a baby one week younger than Andrew, and I spent 30 minutes on the phone a couple of weeks ago, trying to remember how much baby food we fed our first kids at six months of age. I actually went back through this blog to look it up. And I'm still not entirely sure. I'll find myself mixing up a little bowl of baby oatmeal for Andrew and then studying it dubiously. "Does that look right?" I then will ask William, who will just shrug and keep slurping up his own bowl of Quaker's instant. Like he remembers.

Now David's doing it. "Has Andrew started saying any consonants?" he asked me earlier today. "Um, I don't know," I said, trying to remember. "Had William started saying any consonants by this time?" David didn't remember. I didn't remember either.

I'm reassuring myself that it really doesn't matter that much. I wrote down most of the big stuff last time, and hopefully I'll write it down this time, too. My motto in life has more or less been "If it matters, I write it down." (Which is better than my runner-up motto in life, which is "If something is stupid, I tend to say so.") I kind of wish now that I had written down even more the first kid around, but I'm glad that at least I wrote down as much as I did. Because while I may still be bumbling around with baby food, I at least have some frame of reference for some of the other stuff.

That is, if I can sort back through all the old posts and find it...

Friday, September 17, 2010

The sweet spot

Andrew will be seven months old next week. It's the sweet spot of babyhood. He's old enough to be able to really engage with us, but he's too young to go anywhere. Or to talk back to us. He sleeps through the night, and I can still pretty much drag him around to wherever I happen to be going. I do know, however, that those days are going to end before too long. So I'm trying to just enjoy him right now as much as I can.

I'm posting a few photos that I took the other night when we all got down on the floor to play with Andrew.

Augh! I just want to gobble him up when he's all bright-eyed like this:

Hmm. How'd all those rings get on Andrew? Can you tell that this little guy has a big brother?

If you look closely in this last picture, you can see that David's got one finger hooked in the strap of Andrew's overalls. That's so Andrew won't just pitch forward and land on his face. He's getting better every day, though, about sitting up on his own. He's much more stable than he was even a week ago.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gross anatomy

William's been obsessed with one of David's old med school textbooks for a couple of months now. It's an anatomy book, full of pictures of cadavers and cross-sections of cadavers and peeled-back pieces of cadavers. Lovely stuff. Fabulous bedtime reading.

Of course, we did not tell William that the illustration of a skeleton that he was so carefully studying was a photo of an actual skeleton from a person formerly known as alive. Why freak him out, we reasoned. Just let him look at the pictures, and he'll eventually get bored with it.

But he didn't get bored with it. He continued to look at it and ask for explanations of the various parts. Still, we figured, why let him in on what the pictures really are?

Until one day, William hefted the book into my lap so he could ask me yet another question that I could not answer. (My standard responses are either "You're asking the wrong parent, kid" or "Hmmm. Let's see what Dr. Google has to say about this.") And as I tried to figure out exactly what he was pointing to, he said very matter-of-factly, "These are pictures of dead people."

To which I stuttered and managed to stammer out a response something like, "Uh, yes. Yes, they are."

He wasn't fazed in the least. Not in the least. Hopefully this lack of squeamishness bodes well for him as a future scientist and not as a future, I don't know, axe murderer or something.

And for the record, we bought him his own children's book about the human body. He's got a good memory. I'm not really exaggerating when I say that I wonder if he might actually be able to explain the digestive system better than I could.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

And so autumn begins at last

My God, how did I get so behind again? Here it is, September already. I love September. I'm already waking up each morning in a better mood, knowing that it's fixing to be autumn.

But wow, a lot has happened. In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Andrew weighed 17 lbs 8 oz and was 27 inches long at his six month (plus one week) well-baby visit last Thursday, which puts him smack-dab in the middle of the growth chart. He's in the 50th percentile for both height and weight, which also means that he's smaller than William was at the same age. And here we were, all thinking that he was this giant baby. And he's really not! I'm actually pleased about this. It means that he's much more likely to fit into all of William's hand-me-down clothes for this fall and winter. Hurray! I can't wait to put Andrew in William's sweet little green grasshopper romper, the shark sweater, and all those other outfits that I have such fond memories of.

Andrew is now gobbling down baby food like a champ. He's had rice cereal, peas, green beans, squash, sweet potatoes and carrots. We start him on a new food on Tuesday. I think I'm going to go with either oatmeal or a fruit. Maybe apples or pears. So far, I've introduced everything in the exact same order that I did with William, but maybe we'll get really crazy and go with something totally wild and unexpected next. Like peaches! I like living on the edge, you know.

William started four-year-old school on Friday. Should I call that Pre-K or four-year-old kindergarten, or what? Well, whatever it is, he started it. He loooooves it. He has the cutest little teachers, all young and energetic, and a terrific classroom and they're going to be learning more yoga again this year from their music teacher. He's allowed to bring PBJs in his lunch this year, and there are several boys in his class who love to play Batman on the playground, too. I think it's going to be a good year.

Obligatory First Day of School photo:

William also started four-year-old Encore on Tuesday. That's the school district's gifted-and-talented program for preschoolers. His schedule is going to be packed this autumn, between going to preschool five days a week and Encore one afternoon a week. I was feeling all guilty for accidentally missing the deadline to sign him up to play soccer this fall, but looking at all the schlepping I'm going to be doing anyway, that might not be such a bad thing.

Um, what else is going on with us?

I guess those are the big things. On a smaller scale....

William keeps asking lots of good questions, so I find myself spending a lot of time on Google, looking up the answers. He and I spent almost an hour the other day looking up information about the South Pole and the North Pole the other day. I don't know how much he learned, but I feel smarter already.

Andrew keeps getting more and more fun. I love this age. He's starting to really pay attention to things, he's figuring things out, and he laughs so much more, too. And the fact that he sleeps through the night reliably helps, too. :) Sometimes I like to just stare at him and stroke his cheek and drink him in. William and I both spend a lot of time telling him how adorable he is. Hopefully we won't spoil him too much.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sitting up

And right on schedule, we have...tripoding!

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Andrew will officially be six months old tomorrow, and last week, he started propping himself up in a sitting position. He can't sit like that for a really long time, though, or he starts listing over. But he's getting better at it each time, as he builds up his strength.

Remember William at about the same age? We used to prop him up with the Boppy so he could sit up and play with his toys.

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I got out the Boppy for Andrew a couple of days ago,m too. He actually does better without it, but you do have to sit right there next to him so he doesn't suddenly throw himself backward and bonk his head.

I bet he'll be sitting up all on his own before I know it. I swear, every time I turn around, he's grown a little bit or doing something new. He started blowing raspberries about a week or so ago, and he loves to do that to get attention. And he's really digging the baby food. Right now, we're on green beans, but in another day or so, I'm going to give him squash. If he's anything like William, the squash will be a Big Hit.

* * *

Side note: we did not get any good family pictures at the beach this year, despite the matching outfits that I bought for the boys specifically for that purpose. Sob. But I did at least get one pretty cute snapshot of them at home in their little outfits. It's hard to set up a pose right now, but I bet it will be easier once Andrew is reliably able to sit up by himself. Check them out:

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Monday, August 16, 2010

What, me worry?

I don't know how we got onto the topic of worrying, but I found myself discussing how parents worry about their children with William this morning.

We were driving home from the dentist office, and he was chattering on about Harry Potter (as usual) and asking a billion questions that I refused to answer on the grounds that 1) he needs to read the books in order and find out for himself and 2) I refuse to spoil it for him. And somehow, I was telling him that parents always worry about their kids, even when they're grown up.

William was mystified by this. He wanted to know why. I told him that I couldn't really explain why, except that parents love their children and want them to be healthy, happy and safe, so they worry about them not achieving those things. William might be perfectly safe when he's at school, for example, but part of me still worries about him.

And I found myself uttering something I never really thought I'd say.

"You'll understand when you're a parent one day," I said.

Mom? Is that you?

Really. It was her voice coming out of my mouth. Or maybe it was my dad's voice. Either way, it was like aliens took over my body and began controlling my speech. That happens a lot these days, I've noticed. I open my mouth, and rather than saying something of my own, I parrot something that my mom used to say to me. Eerie how that happens.

In fact, the other day, I chuckled over a cartoon in the paper and had to call my mom to share. (The cartoon was Zits, in case any of you are fans.) The teenaged boy says, in disbelief to his mom, something like, "So you want me to text you every time I go somewhere, even if it makes me look like a dork?" And the mom says, happily, "Yep! Thanks!" I don't even have a teenager, and yet, I totally got it. I'll be that mom in about ten years. Mom texted me back to say, "Ah yes! You just wait!"

The funny thing is that I was totally prepared to worry about my young children--I just didn't really understand that it would keep going on forever and ever amen. All new parents worry. We worry about our babies being born healthy. We worry about whether the baby is still breathing when he's alone in his crib and hasn't cried in a long time. We worry when the baby hasn't had a messy diaper in what seems like too long (can there really be a too long?). We worry about our babies hitting all the milestones on time. So yes, I worry about Andrew. But I still worry about William. In fact, I might worry even more about him now than I used to. And now I know that I will continue to do so for as long as he lives. The specific things that I will worry about will undoubtedly change. But the big ones--health, happiness and safety--will remain constant.

In fact, I even worry about my own parents a lot more these days. It's ridiculous. I admonish them to call me when they're on the road and let me know when they get safely to their destination. I may, er, even have been known to call or text and badger them until I get a satisfactory response. And um, I may even pester my husband to do the same with his parents ("Did you call Diane and Aaron yet? Did they make it to their hotel yet? Is their car doing okay? Are they all right?").

The irony. Yes, yes.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Back to sleep

Lots of people claim that babies sleep better when they sleep on their tummies. I can't speak for all babies, but that was pretty much true for William. Once he was able to sleep on his stomach, he did. From then on, until he started sleeping in a big boy bed, his default sleep position was on his stomach. With his bottom in the air.

So awhile ago--I don't remember exactly when--Andrew started sleeping through the night. He's done it off and on for awhile, but then he started doing it fairly reliably a few weeks ago. Sure, we'd get one of those nights, here and there, when he'd need rebinking (read: re-insert the pacifier into mouth of squalling babe) a few times, but they were starting to decrease.

Then he started rolling over onto his tummy. Now his latest trick is to roll himself over onto his stomach, fall asleep, squirm around in his sleep, and then wake up on his stomach. He seems to have forgotten that he can roll back onto his back, so he thinks he's stuck. And oh, that makes him so mad! One night last week, I was jolted out of a sound sleep by the sound of frantic baby cries. I limped as fast as I could into Andrew's room, and there he was, on his stomach, sideways in the crib, with both leg hanging out between the slats. No wonder he was mad!

He's doing better again. He does seem to like sleeping on his stomach. Just not waking up on his stomach. So I'll be really glad when he remembers how to roll back onto his back without assistance again.

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Romanian Orphanage Crib Strikes Again

Remember when I said "so far, so good" about our beach trip?

Yes, well, that was before it stormed and stormed and stormed the rest of the day on Friday. So everyone had to stay inside, rather than get to run around out on the beach. And then we got caught in ridiculous traffic for nearly three hours in the mountains on the way home, which resulted in my throwing in the proverbial towel and convincing David to get us a hotel room in Knoxville for Saturday night.

Guess what showed up in our hotel room? That's right. Another Romanian orphanage crib*. This time, Andrew got the Romanian orphanage crib experience. And like his big brother, he was not so amused by it. Every time he rolled over, he got arms or legs tangled up in between the cold metal bars.

And then he woke up screaming--SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS LIKE HE'D BEEN SHOT--around 1 a.m., and I couldn't convince him to quiet down there for awhile for love or money. David was hyperventilating. Even William, who sleeps like the dead, woke up. The screaming echoed around and 'round those concrete walls in an impressive way, like the acoustics in a European cathedral. This was after we had sat in our minivan for hours upon hours all day AND stupidly taken the boys to eat hamburgers at Littons in Knoxville at 8:15 at night. It was, to put it mildly, perhaps not the most relaxing evening of our lives.

(*And of course, I took pictures of Andrew in the crib! You knew I would. Unfortunately, they're on my iPhone. So I'll have to post them later.)

From earlier in the week, when things were a little more sane:

William doing triangle pose at the beach:

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Me and Andrew at sunset:

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Dee Dee helping William try to boogie board:

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Andrew and his daddy:

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I'll post some more photos soon.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Beach babies

This is our last day at the beach, so I thought I'd take advantage of a temporary lull in the action to say hi to all my readers.


This was our first big family vacation as a family of four. So far, so good. We loaded down the minivan like we were going to be hiking up Mount Everest, in anticipation of just about anything that could possibly happen. It's amazing that David could still drive it, frankly. Nothing like travelling with small children and all their gear!

We've had mostly good weather. It stormed one morning, and then it rained briefly today, but that's about it. Andrew's only been out to the beach a couple of times, but I don't think he minds. William, on the other hand, has had a ball, playing on the beach. Even I have made it down to the beach a few times, with my gimpy leg. I was wishing that we hadn't rented an oceanfront beach house with the longest possible walk to the beach, but I've managed to do it. Darn stairs, though. The walkway goes up and down, up and down, up and down. Ugh.

Next year, I want to rent a house that has a shorter walk to the beach. Okay, yes, I hopefully will not have a broken ankle next summer, but I will have a one-year-old that I will have to schlep to the beach, along with a five-year-old and all the necessary gear. Man, I'm tired, just thinking about that.

I'll post pictures soon. Wish us luck on the journey home tomorrow...we're going to need it...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Solid to speak

Look who got to eat some tasty rice cereal on Wednesday night!

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Yes, we allowed Andrew to have his first dalliance with solid food. Well, if you can call runny rice cereal "solid." I'm sure it's violating all sorts of laws of physics to refer to it as "solid." It barely stays on a spoon.

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Is this the universal baby "I don't know about this stuff" expression or what?

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Actually, this might be a better example:

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Yeah, look at all that delicious rice cereal just oozing down his chin. Nummy.

We made Andrew the same promise that we made William: it really does get better than this. Really. And soon. Sure, maybe pureed peas aren't the creme de la creme, so to speak, but there is some good stuff coming. I mean, Cheerios are coming in a few months. I still eat--and enjoy--Cheerios to this day.

We're going to have to start working on the sippy cup soon, too, though. I need to refresh myself on the boot camp techniques that worked with William and see if Andrew will buy into them, too.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mama Lou

My grandmother, Louise Huntley Moore Larson, passed away this morning. She was 92.

She had major surgery earlier this week, and she just never was able to bounce back. She held on for awhile, but ultimately, it was just too much for her. She died around 11:30 this morning in her hospital room in Vicksburg, with my grandfather by her side. And my uncle, aunt, mom and brother were there, too. Unfortunately, my dad was en route, so he wasn't there; however he'd been with her all week, so he had had a chance to be with her when she was still conscious.

You've probably heard me refer to Mama Lou before, and of course, there are pictures of her on this blog. She got to spend time with William a number of times.

He attended her ninetieth birthday party, and she was present for his baptism. I just wish that she'd gotten the chance to meet Andrew, too...especially since some of us think he resembles Grandaddy Bill.

I'm still feeling sad about her passing away, so I'm not going to write too much more about it right now. I'm just going to tell a short story about something that happened when I was a little girl.

I was probably about three years old, and I went to stay with Mama Lou and Grandaddy Bill for a few days. One day we were going somewhere, so Mama Lou put me in the car. But somehow I managed to lock the doors while she was still outside the car. So she stood there, staring at me in disbelief, while tugging and pulling on the car door. She tried to coax me to unlock the door, but either I didn't understand what she was trying to get me to do, or I didn't want to. She was upset, and then I got upset, and then we both sat there, on opposite sides of the glass from each other, and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed at each other. Grandaddy Bill eventually came and saved the day.

We've laughed about that story countless times over the years, especially a couple of years ago when William locked me and David out of the beach house. I'm sure it wasn't that funny at the time, but it got progressively funnier over the years, like many family stories do.

Mama Lou had not been in very good health these last few years, and there were times when her memory would fade in and out. But when she was feeling good, she was still the same old Mama Lou. I talked to her a couple of months ago about Andrew, and she sounded weak but otherwise the same as I've always known her to sound.

I will miss her.