Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Two Boys, Two Front Teeth, and a Partridge in the Pantry

Merry Christmas from the Wyckoff boys!

Every year, I dream of the perfect Christmas card photo of my two boys. I  spend weeks, valiantly attempting to capture them on film (um, or the digital equivalent) with beaming smiles and perfectly spotless seasonally-appropriate clothing. Needless to say, these are my kids, and that is more than just a tall order; it's dreaming the impossible dream. 

So, this is what I ended up with this year:

Yeah, so they're wearing old sweaters and jeans, and Andrew's got cookie icing all over his face, but you know, it's okay. This is what they really look like. This is what they're really like. They're wild and happy and messy. Unless they're asleep, they're almost always in motion. They're opinionated and exuberant and silly, and while they pick at each other, they also adore each other wildly. This picture shows my sons the way they really are. And you know what? I love that. I love this picture.

Also, it's very last photo of William with his top front teeth!

 He lost one top tooth at a birthday party one Saturday evening about ten days before Christmas. The other one hung in there at a terrible, stomach-churning angle for several more days. We pleaded with him to pull it out already. I offered him bribes. I finally just dived in and tried to pull it out myself. Finally, on Friday morning, he woke up, and the tooth had given up the ghost and fallen out on its own. Hallelujah. It was a  Christmas miracle!

As I can't resist a good photo opportunity, even if it's long past the deadline for the Christmas card, I took lots and lots of photos of William and his new smile, usually as I hummed "All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" under my breath. He was mostly a good sport about it. Mostly.

"All I want for Christmas is NOT my two front teeth," he finally objected. "I already have two front teeth" and he pointed to his bottom two front teeth.

And what he really wanted for Christmas was Ninjago Legos. If the phrase "Ninjago Legos" means absolutely nothing to you, you must not have any contact with boys under the age of 10.

As you might expect, Andrew also wanted Legos for Christmas. He called them "Andrew's Wegos," and he wanted "Andrew's Wegos, and a train, and a truck and a car." He got all of the above. And he got a new "pack-pack"* and a Grover toy. One grandmother gave him a classic set of wooden vehicles, and the other gave him an "Andrew's Wego" car wash set.

(*That's Andrew-speak for "backpack." I can't bear to correct him. I also adore that he calls the cape on his Batman jammies a "caper." Jumping jacks are "jumper jacks." And the water fountain is a "water mountain." Oh, and on the first day of Christmas, my true love game to me "a partridge in the pantry." See, I have to cherish these things. William used to say cute little things like that, and we'd all sigh and giggle, and then three weeks later, he'd be saying the real, correct name for something, and I'd miss his little spoonerisms.)

So here's one of my favorite Christmas Eve photos of the boys. They're wearing their wild Hanna Andersson jammies that William picked out.

They were nearly bouncing off the walls by the time bedtime rolled around that night. (This was after nearly setting a world record in garnering time-outs that morning.) But they managed to set out cookies for Santa and get in bed before it got too late. 

That left plenty of time for David and me to play Santa and Mrs. Claus while watching "A Christmas Story." Twice. It was a longer evening than we'd hoped to have. Poor David. I thought he remembered his vow to never put together anything on Christmas Eve ever again, after assembling the play kitchen a few years ago. But he was seduced by the Dark Side that is Costco and its colorful wooden train table. And so Christmas Eve found him surrounded by wooden pieces and screwdrivers and plastic bags and who knows what else. To his credit, he got it done. And Andrew was over the moon when he saw his train table from Santa the next morning. 

More photos to come soon. In the meantime, Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 30, 2012

A post-Thanksgiving musing

Do you ever feel like time is just FLYING by? I mean, yeah, yeah, we all know that "time flies" is a big old cliche, maybe even one of the very biggest cliches. But sometimes I look at my kids, and I think, "Whoa. When did this all happen?"

Case in point: I took William to the dentist earlier this week. The dentist and I were discussing how his permanent teeth were coming in, and I was asking him if I should be worried about how crowded his lower jaw seems to be with these big new teeth coming in. The dentist said no, he's still young, but then he noted that I should probably thinking about finding an orthodontist in another year or two. Braces. We're already starting to think about braces for my sweet little baby. Braces! For a child who just yesterday was standing in his crib in footie pajamas with tousled blonde baby hair and hollering at the top of his lungs, "MOMMY. Come open my DOOR, please!" It seems so close, so recent.

Hmm, perhaps that's because my other baby actually WAS doing that very thing just a couple of days ago. But then, Andrew has an ace in his pocket that William never had. He's got a big brother who is more than willing to come liberate him from his crib so he'll have someone to play with.

I walked out of my bedroom a couple of mornings ago and thought that I heard voices from behind the closed door of the playroom. And that's because I was hearing voices, and no, they weren't all in my head. William had somehow managed to get Andrew out of his crib all by himself. Later, when the boys realized I was awake, Andrew bopped down the stairs to look for me. "Hi, Mommy, hi!" he said cheerfully. Footie pajamas, check. Tousled blonde hair, check.

When William appeared a few moments later, I asked him in a mock serious voice, "So did you change Andrew's diaper for him?" William paused, thinking I was serious. "Welllllll, no," he admitted. "Why not?" I asked. William furrowed his brow and thought about this. "I can't do that!" he finally said, throwing up his hands.

At any rate, he is cracking me up these days. Six going on 26. And on a seasonal note, I was very very thankful this year on Thanksgiving for my lovely little boys. I'm so fortunate to have them and their daddy. I'm grateful for all of my family members. And how terrific was it that we had a big turkey dinner at our house this year, and my Grandaddy Bill got to come along? We had a 92-year age range, from Andrew to Grandaddy.

Here are a few photos....this first one was taken outside of The Meadows. William and I went to have Thanksgiving lunch with Grandaddy and my parents and brother, and then everyone came to our house later for dinner.

And here's one of Diane with William, after we had all stuffed ourselves.

This was the first year we had to have a Grown Ups Table and a Kids Table. The adults who sat in the dining room got to use my good china and the crystal, while the kids (and the adults) who sat at the Kids Table in the kitchen got stuck with the everyday stuff.

One little brother with another! Andrew showed his Uncle Mark how to be a turkey and gobble gobble gobble. William has been singing "The Turkey Trot" for days now, and Andrew has learned just enough of it to be hilarious.

The weekend after Thanksgiving is one of my favorites. We visited with some friends, and I took the boys to see Santa at the nearby garden center. Of course the day that Santa visited, it was about 35 degrees outside, and the Santaland exhibit was in a little uninsulated gazebo thing where you could see your breath. This picture was about as good as I could get under the conditions.

For the record---and I'm sure this will shock exactly no one--both boys want Legos for Christmas. I asked Andrew what he wanted for Christmas, in fact, and he said, "Wegos! Andrew's Wegos!" So I asked him what he wanted to get William for Christmas, and naturally the answer was "Wegos! William's Wegos!"

Monday, November 05, 2012

The Dynamic Duo

Love these super heroes! Batman and Wobin, here to save you from your trick-or-treat candy!

Of course, I keep having to rescue Batman's Halloween candy from Robin. Robin is a sneaky little super hero who keeps finding new and innovative ways to steal candy from his big brother.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Changing and growing

It seems like every time I blink, the boys either 1) get bigger or 2) do something new. Or both. At the same time.

William has two loose teeth right now. (Note to self: make sure Tooth Fairy has a couple of dollar bills on hand.) He has sworn off apples in his lunchbox because they hurt his teeth. I'm torn between wanting them to just come out already and stop doing that stomach-flipping wiggle thing, and doing the whole cliched my-baby-is-growing-up-too-fast routine. He hasn't lost a tooth since last fall, when he lost his first two. I guess it's time.*

William is also reading. Like, real reading. Not just a few words but able to read along in the hymn book at church. (Well, except for the rather large number of SAT words that you get in lots of Presbyterian hymns.) I'm eagerly looking forward to the day when I can have him read recipes and directions to me when I attempt to do something without, er, reading them myself.

He is participating in the Accelerated Reader program at his school, and he's speeding his way through books like "Dino-Soccer" and "Henry and Mudge and the Big Test" and "The Bully from the Black Lagoon." As his reading improves, he seems to enjoy reading more. Which makes total sense to me. The books get better and the stories get more interesting as they get harder. I wouldn't want to read boring old simple books about cats sitting on mats, either. There's never any character development. I just started reading "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" to him at bedtime, and I'm actually starting to worry that he might notice when I might not read every single word. Ahem. (J.K. Rowling could have edited down some parts here and there. Just sayin.')

However, even his reading skills couldn't help him with one particular question on his homework the other night. William came storming over to me and threw his homework packet at me. "What is this VCR?" he demanded angrily. "Veekayare? VCR? What is this??"

I retrieved the sheaf of papers and looked for the offending question. It read, "Can a frog use a VCR?"

Well, my six-year-old wasn't even alive the last time we had a VCR in active use in our house. So either the frog would need to be well-versed in the use of outdated technology or the teacher might need to rethink the vintage of the homework pages that she's giving out.

(*Editorial Note: As soon as I finished writing this, William called in here to me and asked if he could have a snack. One of his loose teeth fell out while he was walking out of the kitchen with a Go-Gurt. We just rinsed the tooth off and stuck it in a baggie so it won't get lost. William reports that he doesn't feel like writing a note to the Tooth Fairy this time. "She'll still give me money," he said confidently. Good grief.)

So then we have the little fellow.

Andrew definitely has a sense of mischief about him. The other day, he tried to convince me that David was Mommy and that I was Daddy. He knew we weren't buying, but he was tickled that we were so amused by him.

This morning, I walked into Andrew's room to get him out of his crib. He handed me one of the two binkies that we still let him have in the crib at night. He watched me put them in the top drawer of his dresser. Then he said, "Andrew take binky to school?"

I laughed and said, "No, you can't take a binky to school, silly."

And with a gleam in his eyes, he said, "Graci has binky at school."

The little rascal, trying to persuade me! Wonder what he would have said if I'd responded, "Well, if Graci jumped off a bridge, would you jump off, too?"

He's taller than ever, too. I buttoned him into a darling little outfit--size 3, so not even something old--for church yesterday, and his long legs just hung out from the shorts. When I pick him up, I almost always let out an involuntary "Ooof."

And every time I turn around, Andrew has managed to get something down from a countertop or shelf that I truly didn't think he could reach. He walked up to me one morning last week, casually munching a plum. "Where did you get that?" I asked, and then realized that I had left a batch of unwashed plums sitting in the middle of the kitchen island. Sigh. Hope they weren't covered in too many pesticides and bacteria.

Between his long legs and his even longer sentences, I am slowly coming to terms with the reality that my baby isn't really a baby anymore. He's a strong-willed, hilarious, loving, occasionally exhausting boy. A lot like his big brother in that regard.

But I love them both more than ever.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

First Day of School for Both Boys

We have had two big First Days of School here recently.

William started first grade with a flourish on Aug. 1. Which is absurdly and ridiculously early for a first day of school, but whatever. He requested a new turquoise shirt for the big occasion, and of course, I acquiesced. This picture was taken after he got off the bus at the end of the first (half) day.

Then Andrew had his big first day of school in the Jungle Room at Westminster on Aug. 31. He has William's former teacher from the same classroom, so we are all really excited about that! I snapped this photo when I picked him up after the first (half) day.

William's first day went incredibly smoothly, which was wonderful. William sometimes frets in advance about not liking something new, but he always does great when he actually gets there. This was no exception. He walked right into the classroom with a smile and was delighted to see some pals already there. His classroom was bright and sunny, and his teacher seemed relaxed and cheerful. What a nice way to start the first grade! No tears, no fretting, no hanging back, nothing to worry about.

Of course, he's been that way his entire life. Someone once commented to me about how well-adjusted he was. I laughed at that because I can't take any credit for it at all. Even when he was just 15 or 16 months old, his approach toward a new mother's day out class or a new Sunday School class was always to walk right in with a big smile, check things out and not look back. I've always joked that he just waves me off and says, "Bye Mom, see ya later!" But it's pretty much the truth. He does always give me a big hug and kiss, too, though.

Andrew, on the other hand, is not William. Which is fine! He doesn't usually rush right into new situations with a smile on his face. He tends to hang back and cling to Mommy for awhile, as he takes in the lay of the land. But I figured he'd do just fine this year in school because he knows his teacher--and it's his second year at the school, and he's used to the place. Also, he's been talking about the Jungle Room for weeks now, and I truly thought he was excited about it.

But then he had a major freak-out during his classroom visit last Wednesday, which took everyone by surprise. Screaming, crying, climbing up and clinging to me like a monkey climbing a tree. One of the staff even handed me a handout on minimizing separation anxiety. "We usually just give this to the parents of the one-year-olds," she told me. "But maybe it will help you, too." I felt a little abashed but what can you do?

So I was a little, er, nervous about Friday, which was Andrew's first day. It started inauspiciously when I walked into Andrew's room on Friday morning and he announced firmly, "Andrew NOT want go to school." But I, um, might have bribed him--relax, it was just apple slices from McDonalds'--and talked up the exciting things about school on the drive to the church.

To my shock and delight, Andrew determinedly walked right down the hall, hesitated for a split second at the door to the classroom and then headed right in. No crying, no tears, no fussing. Did I mention I was shocked? Even one of the teachers told me that they were prepared for him to cry. He willingly went with me into the bathroom to wash his hands and then found two puzzles. He also seemed very pleased to see his friend Lizzie arrive a few minutes later.

I kept my phone right beside me all morning, waiting to get a phone call from the school. But I never got a call. When I arrived to pick him up, Andrew was all smiles. What a relief!

So now my two boys are both back in school. Here's to a good year....

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A few recent photos

Happy birthday to me! I can't believe I'm 28...again. :)

So, I'm just going to post a few recent pictures of the family having fun this summer!

Here's William with his longtime friend Leland at Cheekwood. We asked them to pose for the camera, and well, I guess you could say this is a pose...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Go to BEACH!

We got home from Pensacola on Friday night. It was a terrific beach trip.

I mean, seriously.

Look at this, for proof:

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We all had fun, no one ended up in the emergency room, the weather was great, and we got home safely. A big, win-win-win-win, all the way around.

I'll post more pictures soon.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I Scream for Ice Cream

I think I tend to have the opposite of "hindsight-is-20/20."

For example, I have found myself saying recently, "There is no way that William was ever like this." "This" as you may have guessed is the way that Andrew has been acting recently, as he is firmly in the throes of the Terrible Twos.

Today, for example, Andrew threw an epic tantrum. We had to wake him up early from his nap because we were going to the big annual Miss Martha's Ice Cream Crankin' event at First Presbyterian. We go every summer. It's tradition. And it's an event focused entirely on ice cream. What's not to love? But Andrew needs his beauty sleep, so anytime you have to wake him up early, you do so at your own risk. So we woke him up...he was okay for a minute or two, and then he remembered, "Oh yeah! I'm two!" and proceeded to go nuts. The thrashing, the kicking, the screaming. Oy. It took me, William and David all holding him down in order for me to buckle him into his car seat. He was like a rabid dog or a mad tiger. As we drove off, he howled. And howled. And howled.

Finally, he grew hoarse and tired, and he stopped howling. Then he was cheerful. And he was cheerful for the rest of the day. Whew. We arrived at the Ice Cream Crankin' and then he discovered that we had woken him up for a good reason: ice cream.

Yes, there is a method to our madness, dear son.

And yes, of course William threw tantrums and became ridiculously unreasonable when he was a toddler. Now, granted, this happened closer to age three for him, but it still happened. It's just that it's easy to forget when Andrew is the one tantrumming wildly and William is the one standing next to me, with a furrowed brow, trying valiantly to hold both of his brother's arms down so he won't hit me with them. William's a good kid, have I mentioned that recently?

For comparison's sake--because who doesn't love to do that?--I'm also posting a picture of William at the same age, devouring ice cream like his life depended on it.

I remember that day so vividly. We handed William a cup of ice cream and a spoon, and his eyes lit up. Then we did the unthinkable: we actually encouraged him to get even more ice cream when he finished the first cup. You could practically see him thinking, "Oh my God, do they know what they just gave to me? Quick, give me more ice cream, so I can eat as much as I can before they realize what they've just done!" William ate tons of ice cream today, too, just so you know. Some things never change.

Side note: I really do love comparison photos. Here's another set from the Nashville Zoo:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Just walking

I have to say, I had the most idyllic hour with the boys on Thursday.

I took them to Edwin Warner Park, where we leisurely walked along the greenway before dinner. I spotted a huge patch of clover right after we got there and decided to do something I haven't done since I was a student at H.W. Gwin Elementary about 30 years ago. I tied a string of clovers together and made a necklace for William, who promptly asked for a matching bracelet. Then I made a matching clover necklace for Andrew. He wants to be just like his big brother, after all.

And as the sun began to dip lower in the sky, we just...meandered. We look at the bees buzzing around in the grass, and we watched airplanes flying over our heads. Yes, Andrew chased after a few dogs, which necessitated my sprinting after him a couple of times. But other than those few bursts of speed, we mostly just ambled and talked and enjoyed the nice day together. In fact, both boys wanted to hold my hand for long stretches of the walk, and that was just fine with me.

We walked, we meandered, we ambled. Together. Shamed by a recent article making the rounds on the Internet about not living in the now because of the smartphone distraction, I kept my phone in my pocket. Well, except to snap a few shots of the boys in their clover necklaces. And as I held both of their hands, I thought, "This. This is what I want to always remember."

So yes, there are still--and will continue to be--plenty of times when I'm trying to do five things at once. There will be phone calls I really do have to take, and there will be times when I can't devote every single molecule of attention to them. But there are times when I am making myself slow down and live in the here-and-now. Those are such precious times, and when I make them a priority, I am always so glad. I hope that the boys will remember them, too.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Now we are six

Happy sixth birthday to my son, William.

Six years ago today, at 6:35 a.m., William was born, with his eyes wide open so he could take in everything happening around him. He's still curious, inquisitive, and eager to learn, six years later. In fact, those are some of my favorite qualities about him.

I just asked him what his favorite aspect of himself was and he pondered that for a little bit. "Maybe that I like to learn about things," he volunteered. "Like the ancient Egyptians."

I can get on board with that.

I typically do a photo retrospective each year on William's birthday, but I find that I tend to gravitate to the same old pictures every year. So I tried to choose some different one this time, ending with a picture of him at his birthday party yesterday. Behold, William through the ages (if six years can be considered ages):

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A belated Easter post

Wow, so April is more than halfway over, and I'm just getting the chance to get back to the blog here.

I don't know why I'm surprised. April is always a crazy month for us. Between Easter (most years) and William's birthday and soccer and other assorted activities, it seems like April fills up faster than any other month.

And speaking of William's birthday, it's this Sunday. He's going to be six. Six! Insanity. I have to say, though, that five has been a good year, and I think six will be even better.

Anyway, in the meantime, as I gear up for that, I'll leave you with a few Easter pictures. We didn't get any great ones this year, but you can get the gist.

The boys at the church Easter Egg hunt on Good Friday:

David and me with William in front of the congregational cross. That's a tradition at our church; they have baskets of flowers available for you to put on the cross.

Andrew and his Grandaddy Aaron. Andrew did not intend to pose for pictures, so we had to get action shots of him.

But at least I got this sweet picture of Andrew at home on Easter morning:

Saturday, March 31, 2012


William scored a goal!

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I wasn't there to see it, but his dad and his grandfather have both assured me that it was awesome. And more importantly, William played hard during today's soccer game. That's what really matters most.

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I'm really proud of him for playing hard. Goal-scoring is nice, but I am just glad that he's really gotten into playing. William tends to do most things with enthusiasm, so I probably shouldn't be too surprised. But I'm still glad.

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The older I get, the more I value enthusiasm. I think it's highly underrated, actually. Little kids tend to be enthusiastic, and then as they grow up, they get more jaded and want to be cool. And the enthusiasm--at least, the visible enthusiasm--wanes. Well, guess what. Sometimes cool is not cool. And um, that's a total tangent. Hooray for enthusiastic kindergarteners playing soccer!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Moving to Nashville

It occurred to me recently that I never get around to trying to post pictures here from my iPhone, even though I have an iPhone 4s with a really good camera.

Let's give it a try....

That, as you can see, is Andrew. Andrew in his beloved red shoes. "Red shoes!" he crows happily when I tell him it's time to put on his shoes. "RED SHOOOOOZZZE!" He is standing by the door to the screened-in porch at my parents' new house.

Yes, my parents are moving to Nashville. Mom is officially retiring from her school job in May, and she'll become a full-time resident of the Music City shortly thereafter. Not that she's counting the days (okay, actually she is). Daddy will continue to work in Memphis for a little while longer, and he'll drive back and forth. Grandaddy Bill, my 94-year-old grandfather will move to Nashville, too, and live in an as-yet-to-be-determined assisted living facility.

I've been looking forward to my family moving here for so long that I hadn't stopped to think about the fact that this will be the end of Road Trips to Grandma's House as my children know them. Well, as William knows them. Andrew's only made a couple of road trips in his two years, neither of which he will remember.

Now, I could get all sentimental about what it's like to take a big trip to the grandparents' house. And I started to do that. I started to think about how much I always looked forward to visiting my own grandparents when I was a child, how I stockpiled books and treats for the car trip, and loaded film into my camera in anticipation. And I wondered if my children were going to miss out on that whole experience and wish that they'd had the chance to go somewhere different occasionally and see new things.

Then I came to my senses. I adore living in Nashville, and I think my parents will like it, too. But beyond that, they'll get to have the experience of getting to know their grandchildren and spending time with them on a more regular basis. My in-laws live here, and I love that they have a good relationship with William and Andrew because they get to see them both on a regular basis. I want my parents to have a similar benefit. Instead of having to stay with us for a week, they can drop in for Sunday night dinner or show up for a Saturday afternoon soccer game. And then they can go home and sleep in their own beds and have all their own stuff right there. They can go to school on Grandparents' Day or have lunch with the boys, or (hint hint) do a little babysitting. But they don't have to cram in all their grandparenting into a four-day trip here or a week there. I think it will be good for everyone--and probably less exhausting.

I admit that a small part of me will miss our trips to Natchez. I didn't get a chance to go to Natchez this year, and it doesn't look like I'm going to get the chance to return before Mom moves up here. I will have to remember all the good memories from my past trips. The upside to this is that I'll never have to subject myself to a marathon road trip on the slow-going Natchez Trace with tired, grumpy, hungry little boys in the backseat. The downside, of course, is that I won't get a chance to say goodbye to the little town that welcomed me during a tough part of my life. I'm still not entirely sure how I managed to make it to Natchez with 11-week-old William, but I'm glad I did.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

You're a wizard, William...

Tomorrow is "Dress as Your Favorite Character from a Book" Day in William's kindergarten class.

Look at what I can do with a Revlon eyeliner pencil!

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Some mad cosmetic skilz there, am I right, folks?

I think they're doing this in honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday. I'm just glad that he didn't have to dress as his favorite character from a Dr. Seuss book because I don't know where I would have dug up a costume for, I don't know, Sam I Am or someone like that.

William's more into the Magic Treehouse books and the Harry Potter books than the Dr. Seuss book right now, so we decided to go with those. After all, he could have been either Harry Potter or Jack from the Magic Treehouse books with the same pair of glasses.

Can't wait to get him all dressed in his robes and scarf tomorrow, too.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Andrew at two

Andrew turned two years old on Friday, February 24. Happy birthday, sweet boy!

Here he is with his "Elmo boon" that he got for his birthday (don't worry, he got other presents, too. He might be the second kid, but come on, give me some credit):

You know, I often fretted about how it might be hard for a second child to come into our family, what with William having such a larger-than-life personality. I wondered how on earth another child could possibly keep up or compare.

Ha. Ha ha ha ha ha! As it turned out I had absolutely no reason to worry whatsoever. Andrew more than holds his own. No worries about this kiddo. In some ways, he is more tentative than William, who has never met a stranger, but in other ways, he is far more fearless. He is most definitely His Very Own Self.

He loves Elmo, canteloupe, his big brother Wuhhh-lum, balls, diggers, Special K, fish sticks, Corduroy the bear, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Cookie Monster. He tells everyone to have a good day, and he loves to ride in the beep-beep car. His favorite item of clothing is his new red shoes, followed closely by his zip-zip jammies. He ends every meal by inquiring hopefully, "Go play Elmo?" He is not afraid of the big slide in our backyard, and he wants to brush his own teeth, thank you very much. Sometimes he gets very quiet, and I get nervous, but when I creep off to find him, he'll be sitting there in a pile of books, very carefully flipping the pages and studying the pictures.

Here's a retrospective, since I always enjoy looking at old photos of my little guys, and I hope you will, too.

Andrew, shortly after birth:

Look how small he was on that big quilt!

Oh, yeah, check this next one out. He's never been afraid of those stairs at all. As soon as he started crawling, he wanted to take on the staircase. And then, once he started walking, he was determined to master walking up and down the stairs as soon as possible. None of that babyish crawling or scooting on the stairs for Andrew. No sir. In fact, he goes up and down those stairs so fast now that it will take your breath away. I'm trying not to think about it.

And the birthday boy with his white chocolate raspberry birthday cake. He bypassed his own plate of cake and tried to go straight for the rest of the entire cake with his little monkey fork. Silly boy. Although I can't blame was darn good cake.