Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bumps and bruises

This is one of the few posts for which I'm glad not to have photos to share with you. Tobin has been collecting bruises and scratches for the last couple of weeks. The effect is somewhere closer to cute, tough-looking kid than anything negative, but I feel likes it's a preview of what we're in for the next few years. At the time of this writing, Tobin has a big red scratch/scab on his nose, a fading shiner under his left eye, a light bruise on his left cheek, scratches on both of his knees and a collection of scratches and scrapes on his left arm. He routinely challenges inanimate objects in the house. His weapon of choice is the broad part of his forehead. Wielded like a battering ram, his forehead has taken on the following [parenthetical notes indicate T's win-loss against his opponents so far]: Bookshelves (0-1), Doors (0-2), Stacks of books (1-2), Fridge (1-3), Hannah (2-3) and, in a lopsided loss for Tobin, Coffee table (2-4). His running style, while not polished, is able to generate pretty amazing force. If you'd like to calculate the physics of impact, use the following: Tobin's weight (m) = 12.02kg. I think his maximum speed (v) is about 6.44 km/h over short distances. Do the math and you'll see what I mean.

You might be concerned about his losing record the last few weeks, but remember he was nearly undefeated all summer against CD jewel cases and DVDs. In fact, his mastery of CD/DVD domination necessitated the purchase of a new media cabinet before all of his opponents were scratched beyond use. He also is nearing a tie with Hannah in their lifelong headbutt battle.

My mom and dad might see this as a kind of poetic justice, since the story goes that I was rarely without a visible bruise on my head between the ages of 12 months and 3 years. We'll keep you updated. Until then, prepare your house for blunt impact, delivered and received by the most charming battering ram you've ever seen.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Popular Kid

My reaction to Tobin's return to his original preschool is a paradox. On one hand I'm thrilled to be back in an environment that he seems to be extremely comfortable in. On the other hand, I feel like his independence and comfort level there somehow reduce my more recent role as comforter and refuge. There was a brief stretch when Tobin would cry and rush toward me as soon as I walked into his classroom, then cling to my legs all the way to the car. While I was sad for him, I also felt like I filled a definite role. My role now? I feel a bit like the parent of the most popular kid in school.

Tuesday was an excellent example. When I arrived, T's class was finishing afternoon snack time. When I walked into the room, Tobin acknowledged my presence, but made it clear that his sippy cup and collection of crackers and cookies were priority #1. He continued to eat calmly for five or ten more minutes while I chatted with his teachers. When snack was over and he finally came to see me, one of the little girls in his class gave him a hug goodbye. He walked over to the poster of pictures of his family and started to point things out to two of the girls in his class. Script as follows:

(Points to pictures of Hannah): "HA-nnah!"
(Points to picture of Dad and Tobin): "Dah-DEE!"
(Points to picture of Mom): "Dah-Duh."
(Points to picture of Tobin): "Dah-DEE."

At this point, one of his teachers reached down to say goodbye and gave him a kiss on the forehead. Finally, with goodbyes said and skills appropriately demonstrated, he lo
oked up to me as if to say "I guess you could take me home now." I said "Who are we going to see?"

He said "Halnah" while heading toward the door. In the hallway, he paused and looked up at each classroom door. His other classroom teacher came out of the kitchen, saw him and said "Tobin! Are you leaving us?" whereupon she scooped him up and gave him a half dozen kisses on his cheeks and forehead. He giggled until she put him down. We kept walking to the front door when one of his former infant room teachers walked into the hall. She saw T's new teacher as she was opening to door to go back to class and said "Didn't I tell you he was the sweetest?" Then she kissed him.

Finally, we made it to the front door. The director of the center got up from the desk in her office to say goodbye and Tobin casually blew her a kiss. Outside, we had almost made it to the car when the big kids' playground caught his eye. He took one last detour to the fence where the big kids were playing. As he surveyed it, a group of them came up to say hi. He waited silently, not moving much, then looked deliberately from his left to right at those who had come. He blew two quick kisses to them all, did an about-face, looked up at me, then said "Tuck," indicating the car that was waiting to take him home. I obliged, then called his mom as we pulled out of the parking lot, awestruck and proud of my little BMOC.

Friday, September 21, 2007

16-month high- & lowlights

I don't mean the title of this post to imply that anything really bad has happened lately. Mostly, ours is a very happy household because of a certain hilarious toddler. However, August & September are months of transition with Matt going back to work, Tobin returning to school, & me facing the busier part of my work cycle. So the last couple of months have included their challenges. Here's the scoop...

School: I will make every effort to make this long saga very short & speed up to the happy ending. About 3 weeks before Matt returned to work, we got the bad news that Tobin's preschool could not guarantee him a spot for the fall (after taking a summer break) because (& this is where I'm cutting out a lot of stuff) the school had to unexpectedly reduce class size. We were pretty much heartbroken. We loved Tobin's old school & the people there. Most importantly, we felt completely confident that Tobin was getting good, quality care there. It is so hard for us to be away from Tobin during our work hours, but it is bearable knowing that he is in competent, caring hands. So we suddenly were faced with the prospect of (1) finding a space (2) in a good daycare. It took some scrambling & lots of interviews & visits, but we found a comparable school in a comparable location. I say "comparable" because it wasn't the same as our old school. The only advantage the new place had was a newer building. We had some concerns about the staff turnover at the school, which is fairly common in daycare but not something we had to deal with at the old school, which had staff who had been there for years. The teachers were very nice there, but seemed young & a little immature. I felt good about leaving T there but not great. And there's a huge distinction between the two in this context. Tobin spent a total of 5 weeks there when we got a call from the director of the old school that a spot had suddenly opened up. Without hesitating, we accepted the opening & enrolled Tobin in his old school the following week, which was last week. I was able to work half days last week so that I could spend some time with T in the morning at his school, allowing him to have shorter days & for both of us to familiarize ourselves with his class & teachers. Although Tobin hadn't been in the toddler class before we took him out for the summer, the teachers in that class knew him & have been really great with him. He's an adaptable little guy & seems to be handling the transition well. He even takes naps (sometimes 2 hours long) after lunch on his little cot. I think Matt was pleasantly surprised to hear this after a summer of trying to trick Tobin into napping midday--usually by taking him for a ride in the car. Anyway, the good news is we're back where we want to be & exceedingly grateful.

Food: At Tobin's last doctor's appointment, his percentiles for height & weight continued to fall a bit. He's hovering around 50%, which is understandable considering Matt's & my sizes. However, the doctor was concerned that he hadn't gained any weight since his 12-month appointment. We were pretty surprised. We knew Tobin was a rather finicky eater. He won't drink cow's milk (we keep trying) & doesn't like certain textures, like meats & certain veggies. But everything we read made us think this was par for the course for toddler eating. We compensate for the milk mainly with yogurt, one of T's favorites, & some cheese. And Cheerios are our fail-safe. Since the doctor's appointment, we've made a more concerted effort to encourage grazing. We feed T every couple of hours, even if we're just playing on the living room floor. For example, he likes sharing a banana & a cup of yogurt with Dad every afternoon. So hopefully the next weigh-in will show progress. I think Matt & I are only moderately concerned about Tobin's eating, because he does seem to be eating more & a better variety lately &, the fact is, he is still our pleasantly plump little boy (note the belly, legs, & cheeks). This was just another thing that popped up in these last couple of relatively challenging months.

Shoes: T is very into shoes these days. In a previous post I noted his love for his sandals. His summer/early fall sneakers have been a pair of white low-top Converse (of which Dad has a matching pair). Most mornings Tobin will find his shoes & say "dutch," which as best we understand means "I want this!" or "Can you help me?" or "I like this!" He laughs & smiles as I put on the shoes & then walks around happily watching his feet. In the afternoon, his dad has a ritual of sitting down on the porch steps with Tobin to take off his socks & shoes because there is a lot of sand on the playground at school. The only reason removing T's sneakers is acceptable to him is because he thinks it's hilarious to hear the sand hitting the brick stairs. And because he gets to put on his beloved sandals (by far, his favorites). Taking the sandals off for bath & bed nearly always brings some tears. I admit that last night I skipped the bath & waited until T was sleeping to take them off just to avoid this emotional routine of parting with his sandals. Yesterday morning, we had a new shoe drama. I dared put on a different pair of shoes in the morning: T's (awesome) navy Pumas. After all, it's officially fall, right? Anyway, after I put one on, Tobin looked at his foot & cried. And then struggled to get away before I could put on the other one. We made up &, with a milder whimpering, he allowed me to put on the other shoe. And then he smiled & said "dutch?" ("Can we go to the car now?").

Hannah: Matt & I often talk as though we have two kids. We consider Hannah our first baby, but we acknowledge the obvious difference between loving a canine child & loving a human child. :) But, seriously, lately, I've felt more like I am a parent to two siblings. Tobin LOVES Hannah. He even says her name very clearly now, except that he has trouble with the "n" & so it sounds like he's saying something like "holla!" or the Jewish bread "challah." However, his sister can also cause him consternation. For example, she always wins tug-a-war with her chew toy. Sometimes this little game is funny; other times Tobin tries to keep Hannah away from the toy by holding it away from & uttering a gutteral "nuh nuuuuuuh." (I've seen him use similar tactics with other kids at school. Part of me worries he'll never learn to share. But the other part of me is glad he can fend for himself...because it's kinda crazy in there with 11 other toddlers. And some of them bite!) Today, I gave Hannah my empty yogurt container to lick, which displeased T because apparently HE wanted it. So I closed Hannah in the bathroom with the yogurt cup so she could lick in peace. Oh goodness. T followed me to the kitchen crying & then pointed at the bathroom & went back & banged on the door. A few minutes later, I let Hannah out. Tobin was on it. He took the cup from her & then she took it back & ran under the table. He cried & followed her. And I finally just took the cup away from both of them. The whole exchange exhausted me...& was hilarious.

Oh, & there's so much more to tell...but I will save that for another post. Tobin's Aunt Sarah is visiting this weekend, so we're excited about that.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Tobin in high school

Through a quirk in our schedules today, T came to my school for a visit at the end of the day. Allison thought she would be in Raleigh late tonight (which didn't happen in the end anyway), so she dropped him off during the last few minutes of my last class, a nice group of AP Language and Composition kids.

I was a little worried about him because his separation anxiety has been pretty high lately. I have a sofa in my classroom, so I took him there while my students were finishing peer-editing some essays. I had a pop-up book for him and he just read on the couch for a minute. He didn't react at all to his mom leaving, which is remarkable for the stage he's in right now. At the end of class he was clingy, but he never cried. After the students left, he finally got comfortable enough to walk around school with me. He walked to the front office, then walked around on the practice soccer field, then walked on the grass of the baseball infield. I was a lot more popular than usual in the halls with him on my hip or walking next to me. He still likes to hold onto my hand, but he's gotten much more confident walking.

As much fun as we had, the real treat was that Mom got to come home at her normal time. Since we were expecting her to be late (maybe even post-Tobin-bedtime-late), it felt like a holiday when she called to say she was coming home.

I didn't have a camera at school to take a picture in my classroom, but I can give you a sense of environment. The first picture is one that was taken last week in my classroom for the school system's website, the second is T helping me grade some quizzes on Sunday. Merge the two in your mind and you'll have a good idea of the scene. Mondays at work don't get much

Monday, September 03, 2007

A family first

After our Labor Day dinner of veggie burgers and roasted potatoes (our attempt at healthy french fries, which were quite yummy with olive oil & rosemary), we took Hannah out for an evening walk. Usually, there are only three of us walking because Tobin rides in the stroller. But we decided to take a very short walk due to the heat, so tonight Tobin walked with us to the end of our little street and back (maybe 100 yards).

Tobin was very enthusiastic even before we stepped out the door because he was wearing NEW SANDALS. We had tried the same pair on him earlier in the summer but he did not like them because they felt funny on his toes (picture flip flops with a heel strap). Tonight was quite different. He LOVED them. He would walk around giggling and just looking at his feet. Then we went outside, and there was more laughing as he walked down the street with us, sometimes holding my hand or Matt's hand or both of our hands or no one's hands. He made Matt and me both a little nervous because he fell a couple of times. While we're used to the falling that comes with new walking (Matt likes to exclaim, "Sniper!" when Tobin falls seemingly randomly and, especially, sideways.), it's totally different when he's falling on asphalt. Tobin, however, was undaunted by any stumble. He just loved being outside and looking at fascinating things close up like parked cars, trash cans, recycling bins, and grass! He loved to walk up to the curb onto the grass and kneel down and pat the grass. We also let Tobin hold Hannah's leash but she pulled it out of his hands rather easily, which was startling to her (it's retractable and would fly back towards her) and hilarious to him.

The walk ended with Tobin walking up all nine of our front steps with some help from Dad. Once inside, we took his sandals off. He protested until he realized that he could hold the sandals and shake them while almost-running around the house. And squealing with laughter.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

So long, Summer.

We are certainly sad to see the summer go, but what a lovely summer it was...

At the end of June/beginning of July, Tobin took his first-ever trip to Louisiana. We drove, which in hindsight (and for most people, in foresight) was not the best option. But Hannah hurt her back a few weeks before the big trip and we weren't comfortable boarding her. Plus, we had a fabulous new road-trip-ready car, Sirius radio, the iPod, and two able drivers. It's all kind of a blur now, but we actually drove from here to Louisiana in one day on the way there. I don't like to remember how long it took, except that Mapquest estimated 16 hours and it took longer than that. Again, not our best decision as parents. But Tobin did remarkably well, considering. And he's a pro at sub-10-hour trips in the car because of it now. We had a great time in Louisiana while we were there, spending the first few days at a state park in the northwestern part of the state and then traveling down to Lake Charles for the remainder. Tobin got to meet his Lantrip family: great-grandparents, two great-uncles and their families, and three great-aunts and their families. That means lots and lots of cousins, most of whom are my first cousins, which I think makes them T's second cousins? It was wonderful to share him with everyone although he was just getting into his more intense separation anxiety period and usually wanted Matt or me nearby--he wouldn't let just anyone pick him up without a little protest. Our time went too quickly, but we have next summer to look forward to...when we will almost certainly fly. :)

Our other big trip of the summer was at the beginning of August when we drove to Kentucky for a few days. There were far fewer people to visit during this trip but that made it very nice. Just us and the grandparents. Matt and I snuck away for TWO dates while we were there. And there was lots of playing with and watching Tobin do his new tricks, which included almost walking at that point.

Right before his 15-month birthday, Tobin started walking. I remember playing with him one Saturday, and he just stood up unassisted and took about seven steps toward me. It was if he had decided he was ready to really give this biped thing a go. Ever since, he's been practicing a lot. There are still lots of stumbles and some crawling, but he's walking for the most part. It's really odd in a way, because walking makes him look so grown-up yet when he's standing, he looks so small. The best thing about Tobin walking is that when I come home from work, I am greeted by an almost-running, smiley little boy who stumbles into my arms for a big hug. It's simply wonderful.