March 30, 2008

You say it's your birthday

It's official. We no longer have any babies in this house. We have big boys. Thomas' birthday celebration began on Thursday and ran through Saturday night and now we've got a two-year-old, who I'm sure will grace us with plenty of terrible two behavior in coming months. But, for today, we'll just call him delightful. He loves me and I'm not sure what more I could ask for from a rambunctious little man.

He's a lucky boy who was gifted with many celebrations and lots of fun new toys and books this weekend. With that, I present the photo retrospective of Thomas' big birthday weekend.

We started the party on Thursday evening because a large box from UPS was waiting and we figured spreading out the opening of gifts would be better. It just so happens that the first box contained what turns out to be probably the most fought-over and generally delightful gift he's ever received. Both boys loved it and have negotiated (fought) over it all weekend. It's a moon pod and moon rover that go with a rocket that he received for Christmas. BIG FUN. LOTS of astronauts!

Friday brought the party at school. My colleague, Kate, gets creative credit for the Jayhawk sugar cookies that the Toddler Room friends and staff enjoyed. It seemed appropriate given the March Madness swirling in Lawrence. The cookies were literally as big as the faces of most of the kids.

Friday afternoon we were able to play outside, which is a gift in itself with the winter we've had and we went to our favorite mexican restaurant so Thomas could gorge himself on chips & salsa and rice. He opened his gift from mommy, daddy and Andrew that evening. More fighting ensued, even though mommy had carefully selected a toy that seemed fool-proof on that front.

Saturday brought a joint birthday dinner for Thomas and Great Grandma Sarah. They celebrated a combined 89 years and I think the fact that we can all be together to do that is pretty amazing. We had great food and the generations teamed to blow out candles and open gifts. You know what they say...many hands make quick work!

After dinner Andrew talked Mark into playing Candyland and someone(s) talked Grandma into a sing-along in the office.

Then we came home and everyone melted down for the next 45 minutes because, really, how could home and bedtime compete with all of that fun?

I think he enjoyed his weekend and I know he's enjoying all his new loot. In true two-year-old fashion, he'll tell anyone who asks that it's "MINE! No, Andrew. MINE."

I once read - or maybe someone told me - that when you have small kids the days are sometimes long but the months and years fly by, and we know that's true.

Happy Birthday, Thomas Luke!

March 26, 2008

Taking applications

In theory, I'm the boss of myself. And, in a loving and guiding way, am a boss to two amazing little boys. However, it occured to me tonight that I end many days feeling a little like I'm the constant employee and never the employer. I'm a first-born. And, I'm a Leo. I think I'm supposed to be the boss of someone. I'll be seeking candidates. Let me know if you'd like an application.

March 24, 2008

I can't hear you, I can't hear you, mmm...

For many months now, Thomas has LOVED to rifle through our wallets. He likes to generally rearrange everything. You know, he does standard stuff like move carefully organized receipts from one place to another, puts all the never-used airline frequent flyer cards into one overstuffed card slot, removes the pen from its little holder and usually finds a few seconds to admire any pictures of himself he can find.

He got a hold of my purse this morning and in order to buy a few minutes to finish up my pre-work routine, I turned my back on the activity. When I returned to the bedroom, this is what I found.

You'll notice tht he's got my Visa card in his right hand and this is when Mommy began gently encouraging (or maybe loudly demanding) with him to put the wallet away. But, alas, he couldn't hear me. Those are orange ear plugs in - and around - his left ear. There were approximately 11 of them. In one ear. Apparently that makes it very difficult to hear. I like to call this photo, "I can see your lips moving but I can't seem to make out what you're saying, mommy."

We got the wallet reassembled, thrown in the purse and we headed out to school. I dropped Thomas in the toddler room first, then took Andrew to Pre 2. Upon leaving Pre 2 I was greeted in the hallway by Thomas' teacher. He was holding 17 cents in his hand. It was 17 pennies that had apparently been pilfered from our bathroom drawer and my wallet. He had found them in Thomas' pockets and felt as though pennies weren't appropriate playthings for the 18-month to 2.5-year-old set. I'm seriously going to win a parenting award any day now.

March 17, 2008

For ages five and older

For a mere $1.49 at Target, you can purchase a Dudley's egg dying kit. It contains nine color tablets, four egg wraps, stickers, a clear wax crayon and the box conveniently transforms into an egg holder. It's a darn good deal.

The box clearly says, "for ages 5 and older" on the outside. I noticed that as I read the directions this evening. I lingered on that advice for an extra second, but come on...pssshaw. Lots of kids way younger than five dye Easter eggs. Right?

Thomas helped spread out newspapers and both boys waited at the table impatiently while I filled the cups with water. Then, we dropped the color tablets in the water and you could almost read their little minds. "What's the big deal here. Nothing's happening." That's when I got to play Mr. Wizard by adding the magic ingredient. Thomas graced us with his full-body chuckle with each teaspoonful of vinegar poured and Andrew said "oooh" and "aaah" as if on cue. We were in business.

Andrew gets the whole egg coloring concept and, just like at Christmas, is at the perfect age to really get into all these odd traditions we've paired up with religious holidays. He carefully dipped his eggs and was willing to wait for them to fully soak-up whatever color he was working toward. He even took suggestions graciously and let me help him when he really needed it.

Thomas, not so much. Thomas was on the do-it-yourself-plan tonight. Egg dippers? For sissies. Real men use their fingers. Just one or two carefully selected colors per egg? For wimps. Real men rapidly transfer their egg from one cup to the next as quickly as possible. Egg dye splashing? That's why we spread out the newspaper. And, why is everyone getting all upset and rushing for paper towels? Isn't that why we own stock in Shout Gel?

We started with an even dozen eggs and after just one casualty, ended our extravaganza with 11. Not bad. That 11th egg got a lot of love, as Thomas was unwilling to stop with the decorating. It saw a little action in every single color multiple times and he was the last person at the table by 10 minutes. I finally took pity on the egg and our kitchen table and we called it a night. His hands are still orange, even after a long bath, and his shirt and mine might never be the same, but Easter comes but once a year and our finished products look great!

March 11, 2008

A crash course on cheese

At the dinner table this evening...

Andrew: Mommy, what is that on your veg-et-a-bulls?

Me: It's shredded cheese.

Andrew: Can I have some?

Me: Sure. I'll get you a little bowl to use.

Andrew: No, mommy. I don't need a bowl. I'll just lick it off my plate. Oh, and mommy, I don't want Farmer John cheese. I want pizza cheese. What's that called? Mostarella?

March 9, 2008

Wii've got it

A Wii that is. Wii've been looking for one since Christmas and had pretty much given up hope that there would ever be one in stock again. Then, last Sunday morning at 9 a.m., a friend in Kansas City called and said her husband was at Costco - another exciting weekend as a parent of small children! - and they were unpacking 15 new Wiis. They knew wii had been looking and she was calling to see if wii wanted him to buy it. Done.

She sent the Wii to Lawrence with her mom and I met her in a church parking lot last week to make the exchange. My friend told her mom to be careful with it because it was expensive so when wii met she dug it out from underneath a quilt and a pile of newspapers in the backseat of her car. I felt like I should be watching for undercover law enforcement.

Mark finally got it all setup last night and you can guess what wii've been doing ever since. It comes with golf, boxing, bowling, tennis and baseball. So far Andrew is the only one who's played. Bowling is a little challenging for him, he's pretty good at baseball and tennis and he's got boxing mastered. You should see him dancing and swinging like a madman. Wii're having a slight parenting disagreement over whether boxing is a constructive energy release or the first step on the path to thinking punching's cool. He's working on his golf swing right now. Mark is trying to help which is pretty funny since Mark doesn't play golf anymore because he doesn't have the patience for it.

Thomas is completely intrigued and has, so far, been content to watch the action. Mark hasn't tried yet but I can tell you right now that he's going to love it. I can also hardly wait to get my hands on it, when no one else is around. To date I've watched all this action from the couch. While the rest of the family has enjoyed the new Wii, I'm "enjoying" a raging case of strep throat. I had almost forgotten how much it sucks to feel like you're swallowing razor blades while courting a fever and killer headache, but to take my mind off that I've got built-in entertainment in the form of the multi-sport seminar going on in my basement.

The search for the Wii began because of Andrew having asked Santa for Guitar Hero but it appears he has, for now, forgotten all about his quest to become a rock star because he's got several new sports to master.

March 6, 2008

Keeping his head above water

Until mid-November of last year, Andrew had sported tubes in his ears pretty much continuously since he was nine-months-old to battle recurrent ear infections. As a result, he had also worn earplugs anytime he was in the shower or bathtub and had never gotten his head wet at a swimming pool. For years we've told him that as soon as he didn't have eartubes anymore he would take swimming lessons. Because he's a boy that just doesn't forget, neither do we and yesterday we made good on the promise.

Andrew began lessons yesterday with our new friend, Dorie. Dorie comes highly recommended by the mothers-of-preschoolers-set around town and now we know what all the hype is about. Andrew has been talking about these impending lessons non-stop for a week and woke up yesterday morning asking what time he would be going to the pool and inquiring as to whether he would wear his swimsuit to school. He was just a bit excited about this.

Now, picture the scene. Thomas and I have been home all day because he has a fever. Because he wasn't 100%, and because I thought Andrew would enjoy this as a 1:1 activity, Mark planned to leave work in time to stay home with Thomas. He ended up detained by a few minutes so Thomas and I loaded up to go get Andrew at school, with the plan that I would bring him back home before Andrew and I went to the pool. Thomas was so excited to "go, go, go" somewhere that when he realized he wasn't invited on the next phase of the journey he was distraught. That was when we decided that we would all go to swimming lessons. It would be a fun family event. Everyone would love it.

Everyone except Thomas. As it turns out, Thomas is terrified of indoor pools. Who knew? After a few attempts to cajole him into enjoying the outing, he and Daddy left and went across the street to hangout until the lesson ended. The good news is that Andrew enjoyed the experience a great deal. His initial enthusiasm and bravado faded a bit when he realized that his new friend Dorie wasn't kidding about wanting him to put his face in the water. I think he thought he was going to get away with just paddling around, holding his head up like a little turtle, but Dorie had another plan and she's done this a few times.

When the lesson first started, you could have bounced a quarter off any part of Andrew's body. He was a little tense. She began by asking him to float on his back, with her helping support him, and he looked like a stick figure. He was all arms and legs and his heels and hands were levitating off the surface of the water. By the end of 20 minutes she had him relaxing on his back, blowing bubbles in the water and gliding in the water with his face down. By the time daddy and Thomas arrived back to pick us up, the revisionist history had already begun and he had, according to him, had a total blast, had trusted Dorie completely and had been swimming like a fish.

We've got a few more lessons on the books and I hope he's as excited to go back next week as he was when he left yesterday. We're leaving Thomas at school next week.

P.S. Please excuse the low-resolution photos. In the interest of matrimonial harmony I won't blog about the whole story, but our camera was the victim of an unfortunate accident somewhere along I-435 in Kansas City. I've been promised that we'll have a new camera in time for Thomas' birthday later this month but until then I'm reduced to using my phone. I'm smiling, really. It's just through gritted teeth.

March 4, 2008

He's one hot rock

It's Tuesday afternoon and Thomas and I are chilling at home. Actually, he's incapable of chilling, what with his 102 fever and all. Kids are so amazing because one minute 102 can look pretty dire on an almost-two-year-old and the next they rally and look pretty darn good. He usually rallies about the time I get him to the doctor's office. Motrin is some good stuff.