Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nick Misses His Daddy

Nick gets excited when he sees Erik come through the door, and says, "Da!" emphatically. So we thought he would miss Erik while he was out of town for a business meeting.

He didn't fuss more than usual when Erik didn't come through the door at the normal time. But just now, as I was on the phone with Erik, he went to our hamper and pulled off a couple of items of Erik's clothing.

"Da! Da," he said. "Da."


I still remember my dad telling me, "Kristy, use your utensils - you're not a barbarian!" when I was young. Judging from my experience as a parent now, I was probably about Xander's age. :)

I've started giving Nick some food in a bowl with a fork or spoon during his meals. He loves it, and what is more surprising, he doesn't make a big mess. In fact, we have less mess now. He is more interested in his meals and uses signs more often, so he doesn't hardly ever throw food on the floor anymore. I gave him a meal yesterday that didn't call for a bowl or utensils, and he was annoyed. He wanted down very soon. It just wasn't good enough for him.

At this moment, he is eating thick oatmeal out of a bowl with a spoon in one hand and a glob of oatmeal in the other hand. Hey, I didn't say he was perfect at it.

He does jab at his food with the utensil. Then he puts the food into his mouth via the other hand. Whatever. He stays at his meals longer and happier and I get to do a few more things than I used to.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Crinkles of Narnia

Xander likes to play scenarios from The Chronicles of Narnia, using animals and knights and soldiers and pirates and mythical beasts and magical creatures, and even insects. He calls it doing "Crinkles of Narnia."

The Delight of Carrots

I've got to post today. I haven't been doing it as often, which is fine, online friend pointed me to this today: I've been sobbing. This is what I've imagined, what many mothers have imagined when they can't stop themselves.

In that spirit, I just called Xander to lunch. 


"What, Mommy?"

"Lunchtime, honeybun!"

"What? What is..." running from his room to the dining room table. 

Gasp of delight. He picks up the carrot stick and starts eating.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mommy = Kleenex

You know you're someone's mother when they walk up solely to wipe their runny nose on you.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Xander: "When I am a paleontologist, maybe I can find a horn of a Triceratops tomorrow."
("When I am a paleontologist. And then I got to drive to the museum, the dinosaur museum, that takes a long time ago. So I got to go outside. Then I will find the horn.")

Nick: "Bwuh."
(for block)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Father's Day 2010

Happy Father's Day to Erik on Sunday! His day went something like this:

We were in Tampa for a wedding. No one got much sleep the night before. Everyone had colds.

I woke him up before he was ready (he was feeling sick) to beg that we drive home before Nick had a meltdown or fell asleep.

Nick threw up a lot before we could get to the car.

Nick threw up a lot in the car.

I gave him a homemade book with some quotes and pictures from the kids, and a KitKat bar.

He drove about three and a half hours home.

Nick had a diaper blowout all over his carseat, clothes, and leg just before we pulled into our driveway.

Erik washed and watched the kids while I spent a long time cleaning up the car.

Erik took a long nap.

I served a minimal dinner of refried-bean tostadas and Mock Warm Delights for dessert.

I went to bed.

Erik couldn't get to sleep due to sickness.

Happy Father's Day, Erik! We love you!

Wedding Travel

We went to Ricci and Steve's wedding over the weekend and stayed for Saturday night, thanks to Bonnie and Pat and Shannon and others helping us. Erik, Xander, and Nick all had troublesome head colds, but we decided we could make it anyway.

The wedding was beautiful. There weren't a whole lot of people in the small side room at the Tampa Garden Center. It was a perfectly intimate and beautiful setting on the water. A string ensemble of two violins and a viola, if I'm not displaying my ignorance here, played lovely music. I was ready to cry before I saw any of the wedding party. Leslie looked "like an angel" as I told her husband and her mother. Bailey was the picture of gorgeous flower-girldom. Her long, simple, elegant white dress was breathtaking. She had obviously been told to throw the flowers from her basket on the ground at certain points along the way. She took her instructions literally and walked forward, stopped, threw a flower hard down at the ground, walked forward, stopped, threw a flower at the ground, and repeated. It was wonderful. Ricci could not have looked more elegant or more beautiful. The men and the two young ring bearers looked great in tuxes, but I have to say that most people look similarly great when they're in tuxedoes. I cried. Luckily, Nick began to fuss so I took him out of the ceremony and into a hallway where I was safe. It could have been the glass of wine Heather poured for me before we went to the ceremony...

Xander and Bailey danced in circles together and fell on the floor and kissed and told each other "I love you" and had fun, continuing to be the picturesque Bobbsey Twins. The little boys had energy to burn but at the same time were exhausted to the core. A lot was asked of them! They made it until about 8:00, when Jeremy and I and the four kids and Bonnie went back to the hotel.

I am glad we went. Some things are worth it.

It wasn't easy. Erik felt awful in the morning, no one except me got enough sleep, Nick threw up all over our hotel room floor and his car seat once we were underway and did worse all over his carseat when we were just about home, and I spent over an hour getting things out of the car, doing laundry, throwing some linen and clothing items away, and scouring the carseat with rags and toothpicks. Erik even took the next day off work.

But I am optimistic. It was good that we went and, by my calculations, we should be an easy-traveling family in about a year.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pictures from Molly's Visit and Today

When Molly was here, she painted Xander's face, to his delight. 

Xander also painted Molly's face. She's brave.

This picture pretty much sums up our day today, other than some good learning activity moments:

Wait, that's not true. I forgot about the hour Xander spent helping me clean! Nick was relatively happy during that time so Xander and I had plenty of time to mop, scrub the sink and bottom of the toilet, declutter Xander's room, change Xander's bedding, wash the bathroom trash can, water plants, and wipe down door handles and light switches in Xander's room. Xander insisted on helping mop even though it took lots of muscles. He took on the responsibility of mopping his own room, although he did ask me for help after a few minutes. Even though this sort of cooperation was in my master plan, I have to admit I was surprised.

So I take it back. Our day was great. Never mind the fact that I have already put Nick in "independent playtime" in his pack 'n play three times and it's not 5pm yet.

More Things I Love

I'm going to copy an idea from an online friend, Valerie, and write a few things that I love about the ages that Xander and Nick are currently.

The cuteness of the becoming-a-toddler face - square little teeth and curly hairs and grins and excitement...
His ability to learn so many new things every day, from new words to imitation of laughing to rolling cars to throwing balls to listening to a book.
The way he walks so confidently but with a very wide stance and choppy steps.
The way he shows his love for Xander and Daddy when they come in the room.

How I can explain behaviors, concepts, and feelings to him and we can have a conversation about them.
The way he listens to long and somewhat challenging chapter books.
His love of cuddling (he didn't have it as a baby).
The way he picks up every single thing I teach him almost immediately.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Summer Weather

Our outside temperature right now is 96 degrees (feels like 103). I'm thinking about skipping outside time today, especially since Xander already played outside at preschool this morning. When I came to pick him up, his hair was wet from sweat! And that was after being inside to eat lunch for at least 15 minutes. But my other thought is...popsicles and water table!

Xander and I have started official reading lessons. After I finish this post, I'll go do our daily ten minutes from The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. He likes it even though most of the information is old news to him. It fills in the things he hasn't been taught, like which letters are vowels and which are consonants, and rules for the sounds letters make in different situations. I think if we waited until next year to do this, he would be over it. Like I said, he knows most of this stuff, but we were at a stalemate because he couldn't read many books simply by sounding out the short-vowel and consonant sounds.

Nick is a confident walker now. His hands lower each day and pretty soon he will walk like a normal person. He has a fifth tooth. He now says "ball" and "car" clearly. He also says "shoes", not clearly. He likes to touch the Xanderpants doll's toes and fingers. He loves balls right now, and cars and trucks, and Magnetix blocks, and things that jingle, and the trash can. We are working on the trash can bit. Today I bought him a small nerf football and a small sand pail and shovel at the dollar store.

There is something irritating him these days. Sometimes he cries for me to pick him up and then cries to be let down and then bawls because he's alone on the floor. He's been better since yesterday, but both yesterday and today he had strange cranky periods in the middle of the day. I'm hoping all will go smoothly once he wakes up from his nap. He is in the middle of what a couple of authors call "Wonder Week 55." (more details here if you're interested) A couple of symptoms he has: wanting to be carried almost all day long, and having frustration tantrums immediately when something doesn't go his way. But he is also learning a lot, growing up, and generally being cuter than ever.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Things I Made

Seems like I am getting desperate for time to do anything these days, so I'm going to post some pictures now while Erik's in charge.

In the last week, I finished knitting a stuffed penguin for Nick and did a no-sew library bag project I found online ( I'll be making two more bags for a birthday party this weekend (two girls around 7 years old sharing a party - we don't even know one of them :). I used a total of six handkerchief squares for three bags. Xander's is made of pirate map fabric and stars on a tan background, so hopefully it's manly enough. The girls' have beautiful colors and swirlies and stuff. Xander's is fraying a bit. I'm not sure how they will hold up, plus the bigger library books won't fit inside. But they're super easy and fun to make. Xander loves his.


I'm sorry to say I have not finished the project for Mom's birthday, which was in the end of May. I did work on it today, though, Mom. :)


Xander just asked me, "Mommy, is talking thinking?"

He had just said something about some dinosaurs being fragile, and I said I was just thinking about dinosaurs, too. That's when he asked about thinking, and I tried to explain that thinking happens in your head. He pointed to his head. Upon reflection, I wonder if he thinks any thoughts that he doesn't say out loud to me. Ha ha ha, she laughs tiredly.

Then he asked if we were ah-onihores. I had to ask him to repeat that one. Luckily he previously mentioned some dinosaurs being predators ("the meat-eating ones, Mommy") so I figured out he meant omnivores. He is certainly being an omnivore right now with our pre-Thursday-movie treat: a beef tostada, some red jello, a small can of root beer, and popcorn.

Today at lunch with Erik, Xander asked if there were any kids who lived in his work. Only grown-ups, Erik said.

"Only people?" Xander said.

"Yeah, only grown-up people."

"And I am growing up to be a paleontologist and a dad."

According to Xander, even though we don't have any pets in our house, "everybody can get a cat, and everybody can have a puppy, and everybody can have a dog, and everybody can have a kitten."

Keeping A Mustache

We are on our way to see Erik for lunch. I told Xander he had a milk mustache and wiped it off. He said seriously, "But I love keeping mustaches on!"

I laughed so hard. He joined in.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ouch! Another Milestone

Most of you know Nick had his first walking injury last night. He was walking with his sippy cup and no one had their eyes on him. He fell, hit his mouth on the cup, sliced through his bottom lip with his top teeth, and proceeded to bleed and swell and cry.

Poor thing. I hate looking at his bruised lip. But he's fine and it's healing. No stitches and no doctor required, just an in-case phone call to the nurseline.

It's another around-one-year-old milestone. Xander still has a scar above his left eye from a bathtub accident before he was a year old, and at one point he had a black eye. Yikes. Nick will have a somewhat battleworn look in his birthday pictures and videos tomorrow.

Strong Emotions

Here is the background to the story I'm about to tell: Xander has been going around saying, "The White Witch [from The Chronicles of Narnia] is bad." People have been agreeing with him. "Yes, the White Witch is bad."

On to the story: Tonight Erik caught Nick dropping his dinner food on the floor, so he reprimanded Nick, turned him around in his booster seat for "time out" and, to emphasize, said, "Bad."

Xander began to cry, the hard cry that you can tell is associated with a deeply felt emotion. He said something about the White Witch. A few minutes later, we deciphered what he meant. He had seen Erik saying "Bad" to Nick, probably while pointing for emphasis. He knew the White Witch was bad. It was devastating to him to hear his little brother being called the same thing as the White Witch (maybe he thought Nick was the same thing as the White Witch, or was accused of being the same thing?)

We hurried to explain that Nick was doing a bad thing, that Daddy was just pointing out the bad behavior. Nick was not actually bad, and neither were any of us in the family. Another word for what the White Witch was was "evil", and none of us was evil either, and we were never going to be. Plus the White Witch was in a movie and we were not. What happened in the movie didn't happen in real life.

As in that ubiquitous quote, we "had some 'splaining to do." Only time will tell what Xander took from what we said.

Xander proceeded to eat his dinner, satisfied for now. It reminded me of a couple of times that I felt a similar emotion at about the same age. In one instance I was taking an evening walk with my mom and dad and began crying. They realized after some discussion that I was crying because I thought they would someday die on the cross. I had learned about Jesus being crucified and got the idea that everyone would eventually die the same way.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Drawing No. 1

I forgot to tell the cutest part of my first art project experience with Nick, the one where I taped paper to his tray and helped him make crayon dots on it.

When Xander makes drawings or paintings, we are in the habit of posting them on his bedroom walls. His walls are now half-covered in artwork. I am looking at one of his marker drawings right now because we posted one of them in a spot in the living room that he chose. So after Nick made his first drawing in about five seconds flat, threw down the crayon, and cried, Xander asked if we were going to put up his drawing. I told him that was a good idea and where should we put it? Xander showed me a good spot on Nick's bedroom wall. And now Nick has some of his own artwork to decorate his room.

What Do You Do When You Want One Boy Distracted and the Other One Undistracted?

We've now read Prince Caspian (by C.S. Lewis) and Catwings, by Ursula K. LeGuin, to Xander. His chapter book list to date is: [updated 7/11/10]

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Sir Reddy and Sir Pants
Prince Caspian
Catwings Return
Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings
Jane On Her Own
The Water Horse
T. Rex Attacks!
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Silver Chair
Volcanoes! : Mountains of Fire
Magic Tree House #37: Dragon of the Red Dawn

I think I'm missing a few. We are almost done with Catwings Return.

I thought it would be amusing to list the "art projects" I've tried with Nick which are supposed to keep him busy while I do half an hour of learning activities with Xander. Here's that list:

-taped paper to his booster seat tray and gave him a nontoxic washable crayon and showed him how to make dots on the page

Results: He scribbled a few lines, threw the crayon on the floor, and cried.

-put him on a towel on the kitchen floor with two bowls, a measuring cup, a baby spoon, and a tablespoon; one of the bowls was partially filled with water

Results: He played happily, leaving behind no mess...for five minutes.

-put rolled-up pieces of masking tape on his booster seat tray along with various shapes of construction paper and foam letters so he could stick objects on the tape

Results: the tape didn't stick to the tray, but it did stick to Nick's hand, making him mad. He continued to sit in the seat for about five minutes playing with a couple of other toys.

Things that have worked to distract him while I'm doing learning activities with Xander:

1. holding him for a few minutes while reading a book to Xander and having Xander turn the pages for me

2. letting him play with some of Xander's toys while we're all in Xander's room

3. letting him take the letters and index cards off Xander's learning board

4. that's about it - although I should call those activities above which resulted in five minutes' worth of play wildly "successful"

Family Vacation

Erik wanted to explore the Kissimmee River; he wanted to bring the family; he found a special deal at the River Ranch Inn in Lake Wales, Florida, for Memorial Day weekend. So last weekend we went to the River Ranch Inn for three days along with our friends Jed and Elvia and their daughter Izelle.

We did: swimming, horseback riding, rodeos, farm animal petting, sports, a cookout, hikes, playing, and eating out at the Smokehouse.

Xander is still afraid of the pool but Nick and I went for Nick's first time and he adored it. He splashed his arms and kicked his legs upon entering the water, acting like a pro. He put his face in the water. He leaned toward me to "jump" in the water from the pool ledge. He just loved it.

Xander got to see the adult rodeo with his daddy and Izelle and her parents, which included a calf roundup/chase for the kids. He ran around with all the kids, probably blissed out, definitely not getting the point that he was supposed to try to get a red ribbon off the calves' tails. When the roundup was declared over, guess who was still in the arena? Yep. Xander. Guess who chased the very last calf all the way up to the corral while every single other child was back with their parents? Yep. Xander. Guess who had to grab Xander's hand to finally end his time in the ring, to the sound of everyone in the stands laughing? Erik.

Xander and Izelle also participated in the kids' rodeo the next afternoon. Once again Xander made everyone laugh by starting out on the stick-horse barrel race early, then running round and round the barrels without stopping and without getting back in line. The poor child wore himself out and could not do the other games quite as well because of it: the potato sack race (in which he was worn out and trying so hard), the tug of war (in which the girls fell on top of him and temporarily traumatized him), another calf roundup, and the water balloon shootout (in which Izelle got him good and he got Mommy, which cheered him up). Both kids were recognized by strangers later in the day due to their performances. They were about the littlest kids there and I call them plucky.

We saw and heard a baby lamb, born hours earlier. A deer licked Xander and Nick patted its nose. A little goat rammed Xander with its horns but luckily it didn't seem to hurt. Xander and Izelle rode miniature horses in a circle for a good long time. Xander joined a volleyball game. The adults were very patient with him as he tried and tried and tried and tried and tried to throw the ball back over the net to the other team. Nick was completely entertained and hardly fussy, and even though the babe was woken several times per day with people coming in and out of the room, he always went back to sleep with very little trouble. People at the Smokehouse restaurant thought Nick was extremely cute for stuffing his face per usual, and Xander and Izelle for holding hands and wandering about.

Erik made a fantastic choice for our family vacation. There were so many things to do it was almost like going to Disney World, only the activities were real kid things to do. And no lines! The only thing we couldn't do was explore the areas of the river that Erik wanted to see. Areas were blocked off for restoration in between places he wanted to see so they weren't accessible via boat. I think he had fun anyway.

Later I will try to post some videos.