Sunday, November 15, 2009

Overdue four-month stats

Hello out there. As Matt so articulately laid out in his last post: we are busy. Although we have indeed had an especially busy stretch with Halloween and friends visiting, Ashley and Donnie staying for a weekend to go to a UNC football game and, presently, Mimi being with us to love on the boys and help watch them while I attended a two-day CLE, every and any day feels full of activity. Feeding, bathing, playing, napping (the boys, not us!), cooking, laundering and so much loving. We wouldn't have it any other way, but I'll just tell you that come 9pm, you will find two very tired parents, usually headed to bed.

But I needed to at least take the time to give you Evan's four-month measurements. Perhaps word has gotten out through other channels, but we continue to have a little giant living among us. At four months and six days, he weighed 19 pounds 7 ounces! That's off the charts, plotted above 100th percentile on the pediatrician's growth chart. His weight is also remarkable in that it's almost two pounds bigger than his brother at four months, and Tobin was always an exceptionally large infant. His length (26.5 inches) and head circumference (17.5 inches) are pretty much the same as Tobin's at this age.

So Evan is growing splendidly, if not making our arms a little tired from time to time. By all other accounts, he is doing great physically, even avoiding catching our first family cold since his birth. The one exception is that he is having some minor digestive issues (I'll spare you the details as it involves talk of poop!), so we've been tinkering with my diet, trying to figure out if something I'm eating is the source.

Oh there is so much more I should write here, but I'll need to save that for another day, because while Matt is entertaining Evan, and Tobin and Mimi are out for a walk on this lovely fall day, I shall shower at a somewhat leisurely pace.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My Boys: A Post in Three Parts

Explanation: I haven't posted much here in the last few months. When I allow myself to worry about it, I fast forward years from now when the boys are reading our archives (if they do such a thing) and Evan notices that my blog post right after his birth has been significantly slower than when Tobin was born. The pace of our household is significantly different with two boys than when it was just T. That isn't a complaint; it's the reality. Most of my summer was spent trying to occupy Tobin while Allison attended to Evan. T's curiosity borders on unquenchable, and it seemed at times like Allison and I were working exclusive full-time parenting jobs. I guess this is the struggle all parents have with second children. Unless we space them at 8-year intervals, their needs overlap--and their needs are vastly different. That said, Tobin is as gentle and loving a big brother as we could hope for. And Evan is a delight. His giggles and smiles have lit up our house. He also has outdone his brother in at least one department: whether its my skill or his generosity, I haven't been, ahem, "splashed" during diaper changes more than two or three times. Maybe it was the shock of T's regular changing-table surprises, but I felt like his mission was to keep me on my toes. Evan doesn't seem too concerned with such things.

Baby Boy: Evan is an observer. His eyes (huge) have been struggling to absorb the world since we brought him home. When he wakes up from naps, there is no such thing as heavy eyelids; he barely seems to have eyelids. His eyelashes project from little folds above and below the whites of his eyes. Even before his eyes adjusted and he began tracking movement, he seemed to take in everything, wide eyed and eager. There is nothing timid about his manner, though. When he is uncomfortable or upset, he lets us know more passionately (and loudly) than I remember Tobin ever doing. Their moments of birth foretold this aspect of their babyhoods: Tobin was born wide-eyed and quiet. Evan was born wide-eyed and yelling.

Evan has begun to laugh--that inexplicably infectious baby laugh that can carry a room with it. At least half a dozen times, Evan has begun to laugh, making Tobin and me laugh. Our laughter makes his redouble and it continues until we all ache a bit and leak from the eyes (or T overdoes it just a smidge with a hammering, affected laugh). Evan's coos and smiles create in me an awareness of the present and its immediacy that transcends everything else in my day, week, or mind. He has begun to reach out and grab, bat, push and pull with his hands--always with eyes wide open. I am awed by him and the gift that he is, even more so because I appreciate the preciousness of life at this point in my own life more than I ever have before. He adores his Mama. And he seems to think I'm pretty neat. But he saves his biggest wide-eyed, slack-jawed looks of engrossed wonder for his brother. Tobin sings songs to Evan and tells him stories; he kisses him and hugs him. Evan responds with giggles and a look of pure fascination the intensity of which I've never seen. If Mama hung the moon in his eyes, Tobin hung it, then broke it into a million sparkling, giggling shards of refracted amazingness. Which brings me to part three of my post.

Big Boy: Tobin is his own person. It's probably clearer to me because of Evan's dependence on Allison and me, but he is simply an amazing, increasingly independent boy. An example: He is steadfast in his refusal to adopt my favorite college basketball team as his own. A sample exchange usually goes like this:

Me: "I like Kentucky. Don't you like Kentucky, too? They're my favorite team."
Tobin: "No, I like North Carolina. They are my favorite. They will beat Kentucky."
He loves to play football and basketball, baseball and golf. He plays each in a goal-oriented way. He usually pronounces one of us the winner after a contest. When one of us hits a home run, both of us get to run around imaginary bases. Sunday, when we came in from hitting golf balls in the yard, he told Allison "Daddy had fifty-five and I had zero, so he won today. But I will win next time." He loves to tackle, and often uses that skill in sports and activities that don't traditionally feature running tackles.

But he has been into sports for a while. His newest and most amazing developments are in his storytelling, his mastery of numbers, and his fascination with letters and language. Last night at the dinner table, he told me a story that went like this:
"Once upon a time there were four acorns. There were three acorns ready to fall from their tree and one that was still a little green. The three brown acorns were named Mama, Daddy, and Tobin. The little green acorn was named Evan. He was green because he needed to stay in the tree so he could eat and grow more."
Tonight when we were spelling words on the fridge (more on that in a bit), he left the letters "G-O-L-F C-A-T" up (after we had spelled "golf cart"). I asked him what it said and he said "Golf cat." I asked him what that was and he responded with a lilt of concern at my inability to grasp the idea: "A Golf Cat is a cat that plays golf. I saw one one time at the golf course. You should not go near them because they bite." I asked if they always bite and he said only when they are playing golf. When I asked if they played with little clubs, he replied patiently "No, they play with medium clubs because they are medium cats. Little clubs are too small for them."

This kind of storytelling springs from words Tobin can spell. He can identify and spell more than a dozen words. He also understands letter combinations and how compound words work. Tonight, we were using his magnetic letters on the fridge to spell words. One of the words he can spell out with his magnets is "ball." Tonight, he said he wanted to spell "football." I asked him what it sounded like it began with and he correctly said "F." He even guessed the "oo" part correctly since one of his favorite words to spell this week has been "books." The "t" was a no-brainer at the end. At first he had "foot ball" spelled out on the fridge, but he changed it to "football" saying "I need to take the space out because it is just one word." He has entire books memorized and recognizes words in print that neither Allison nor I can remember specifically pointing out or teaching him. He has become an independent learner, driven by curiosity and a remarkably consistent deductive ability.

We learned about his independent application of ideas one afternoon on the way home from work (Allison and the boys pick me up most days). Allison and I were talking in the front seat when T's voice piped up from the back "That bus says four hundred and twelve, huh?" Sure enough, bus 412 has just passed us on the left. During the rest of the ride home, Allison wrote down more random three-digit numbers (I was driving, don't worry) for him and he got them all right. Again, Allison and I haven't really set out to teach him his numbers beyond 20, but he has put all of our discussions together into a working knowledge of the way they're arranged. The next natural step was thousands. He identifies most 4-digit numbers correctly, saying them in his own charming way, like this: "Four thousands, seven hundreds, and twenty-six." To me, it's all the more remarkable because Tobin has learned numbers because he wants to. His intellectual curiosity matches his interest in shooting hoops or romping around in the yard. In a different way from the awe I feel at Evan, Tobin's integration of his role as big brother and his wholehearted pursuit of his curiosity awe me as well.

As this lengthy post (and probably embarrassingly gushing tone) attests, my boys mean the world to me. I appreciate all of you and what you have done for them directly and through Allison and me. I'll try to find more time to post and share with you, because ours is often a little house bursting with joy. But now is time for me to go to bed; I've probably got a football game and spelling-story time ahead of me tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Our "two" month old

Today I took both boys to the pediatrician's office by myself (We couldn't get an appointment time late enough in the day for Matt to make it. Boo.) for Evan's two-month well child visit. I rather dreaded this outing, wondering how I would keep Tobin from touching germy surfaces while tending to Evan. I am by no means a germaphobe, except when it comes to the doctor's office. Tobin is a very obedient, well-behaved child but I think any three year old has trouble complying with commands like "DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING!"

Tobin did great. He only dropped his airplane on the floor once. And he also did a fine job entertaining himself so I could talk to the doctor. He interrupted me only twice while the doctor was doing her exam: once to ask me to finish the book I'd been reading before she came in (cute!) and then to ask why Evan was crying (sniff!).

I suppose people might be more interested in how Evan did during the appointment. Well, he did a fine job himself. While he was obviously a little scared by the strange experience that was the exam, and didn't coo and smile much at the doctor, he fussed very little. My sweet baby did wail after his shots, but calmed down within a couple of minutes after a little snuggling with Mama. Tough little guy.

And most importantly, he continues to thrive physically. I don't think even I was prepared for these numbers: he weighs 15 pounds, 6 ounces! Um, his weight is a whole pound more than his big brother at this age, and his brother was by all measures a gigantic infant too. Evan gained three pounds in his second month! His length was 23.5 inches and his head circumference, 16.5 inches. I'm thrilled, if not feeling a little soreness in my arms and back now that I know exactly how big he is. And I suppose it was prescient of me to pull all of our 6-9M clothes out of storage this morning. Indeed he's sleeping in a six-month sleeper right now--my sweet little two month old.

two months

Sunday, August 30, 2009

No hablo

One day last week when the boys and I were taking our morning walk, Tobin found a small stick that he would wave like a fan in front of him to "block the cars from hitting us." While waving the stick, he accidentally hit my hand and immediately said "Sorry Mama." I said "That's okay, it was an accident." Tobin tentatively asked "Are you going to tell Daddy I accidentally hit you with the stick?" I was a bit thrown off by this question because he'd never ask me if I were going to tattle on him to Matt. (Apparently, Matt is the heavy around here. Ha! No seriously, that might actually be true!) I was curious, so I inquired "Do you think I should tell Daddy?" T responded "No, because I don't tell accidents." And then without missing a beat, he said "And I don't tell Spanish either." I must of looked confused, because he then explained "That means I don't speak Spanish very well."

Efficient gratitude

Tobin, saying the blessing before supper the other night: "Dear God, thank you for a lot of fun. In Jesus' name, Amen."

Rhetorical question

Matt [holding and admiring Evan]: "Tobin, how did I get the two most handsome boys in the whole world?"

Tobin: "Mama just had us."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Week in review

Last Monday marked Matt's return to work. Sigh. I am doing my best not to mourn the end of a truly wonderful summer as much as I celebrate the fact that I am not returning to work. No child care to fret about. No new job to adjust to. (No breast pump and bottles to manage!) While taking care of the boys on my own is challenging, it is the "work" I am so grateful to be doing right now.

So how did the first week go? Oh, we had a few tough moments. Monday was probably the hardest day. I got up early (6am) to make sure I got a shower (and maybe breakfast . . . well not quite because both boys were up by 6:30) before Matt left. When Tobin's post-lunch nap time rolled around, Evan wanted to be up while I tried to lay down with Tobin to start his nap, and well, the big boy slept for only about 7 minutes. But after that things went relatively well; I even made homemade macaroni and cheese and veggie burgers for supper. At the end of the day, everyone was exhausted--including Tobin who fell asleep so easily--and I realized I had done nothing except tend to two boys for 14 hours straight: no reading, no checking the Internet, very little housework.

The rest of the week nap time continued to be my most difficult time of the day, because I was hoping I could get both boys down at the same time. Tobin missed another nap on Wednesday. But then I realized that really things were much easier if just one of them was napping, usually Evan because he still takes numerous naps throughout the day. On Tuesday, for example, I was able to chop most of the veggies for our pasta primavera supper while Tobin napped and Evan cooed at me from his bouncy chair. When Evan napped I tried my best to do some activity with Tobin, like drawing, reading, or doing puzzles. Tobin also did a great job playing independently when I needed him to. I was kind of worried about how that would go since he's had Daddy home to entertain him the last couple months.

While I'm obsessing about napping, I might as well note that toward the end of this week it seemed Evan's sleeping started developing more of a recognizable pattern. For the last three days, he has taken a very long (3 hours) midday nap and for the last four nights, he has gone down for the night around 8pm, which is also Tobin's bedtime. Evan still cat naps in the morning and afternoon/early evening--even catching a little snooze around 6pm--but I'm hoping that this routine of the last few days will stick. Evan has also seemed less fussy in the couple of hours leading up to bedtime. That's another reason his 8pm bedtime is so nice right now, because he tended to fuss as late as 10pm. He remains a good sleeper at night, waking once or twice to eat usually and then going right back to sleep in his bassinet beside our bed.

Meanwhile, another good sleep development in our household is that Tobin started putting himself to sleep this week. We're so proud of him. He's come a really long way, considering that just three months ago he would only let me put him to sleep and came to our bed in the middle of the night. Gradually, Matt and I took turns lying with him while he fell asleep and, a few weeks after Evan was born, Matt took over entirely. Matt worked really well with T, using an incentive chart like we did with potty training to encourage him to go to sleep without him in the room. So far he's collected two new cars and is due for a third very soon. Tobin still needs Matt to sleep with him when he wakes at night, but at least he's in his own room while I have Evan in our room. The eventual goal of course is both boys in one room and Mama and Daddy in the other--all night. We can dream, can't we?

Another part of our routine this week that went well was picking Matt up from work. Over the summer, we sold our Element so that we would no longer have a car note. Matt gets a ride to work with one of his co-workers who lives nearby and then the boys and I pick him up in the Civic in the afternoon. Since Riverside is a good 12 miles from our home, the result is about an hour-long trip in the car. This is fine, even fun, for Tobin, but I was not so sure how it would go for Evan who had previously expressed great displeasure (loud, pitiful crying) with the car. But Evan did just fine; he didn't even fuss at traffic lights. This is another trend I hope continues, because we travel a lot in the car. Hopefully, his fear of the car was just a developmental thing that he is growing out of--much like the evening fussiness.

So overall the week went well. Matt only had workdays this week, so his hours were a little shorter, which allowed us to ease into this transition. I'm doing my best to keep my to-do list short. As long as the boys are rested, fed, and mostly happy, I'll feel good about each day. I love to cook, but I'm trying to take it easy when it comes to preparing meals, like I have all summer, and have several quick options (quesadillas, salad, veggie burgers) that either Matt or I could fix. And other than our afternoon trips to pick up Matt, I'm trying to avoid getting out in the car too much. We take walks in the neighborhood and Evan and I watch Tobin play, usually golf, in the yard. For now, I want to stick close to home while Evan works out his sleeping patterns, the weather remains uncomfortably warm, and I'm still new at handling all of this. Eventually, we'll take regular trips to the library, museum, and playground. Who knows, I might even join a playgroup!

I'm sure we'll have more stories to tell as this adventure unfolds. Next up: Evan turns two months! Although the days are long, the weeks are flying by. I can't even believe he's eight weeks old today.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

One month old

This past Tuesday (7/28), Evan turned one month old, and we celebrated by taking him to the doctor for his four-week check-up. Like his previous two check-ups, the news was all good. He is thriving: weighing 12 lb. 5 oz. and measuring 22.5 in. long. This suggests that he is going to hover above the 95th percentile for most of his first year, like his brother. So, yes, he is nursing well.

one month old

Last week we enjoyed a visit from great aunts Louise and Bethany. Tobin loved having company to entertain and playing games on Bethany's laptop. And Evan obliged both guests by taking naps in their arms. Repeatedly. We all had a lovely time.

Generally, Evan seems to be settling into life outside the womb better and better. He is spending more of his longer waking periods looking around and taking it all in. He is smiling and occasionally cooing, which is cause for much celebration around here. Even Tobin seems to understand it's a big deal. Any routine we have involves around Tobin's waking, eating, and sleeping schedule, and Evan seems to go with the flow pretty well. He usually takes a big nap midday around the same time as his brother. He does have a knack for needing to eat or fuss around meal times, which means I eat a lot of meals with one hand or a little off schedule. His evening fussiness is still there, but it doesn't seem as intense as it was. Maybe we're just getting more confident in helping soothe him, or he's growing out of it. The only thing that really seems stressful to him is riding in the car. We took a 20-minute trip to see some friends the other day and he screamed for half of the ride and then just kind of zoned out. I remember Tobin being similarly scared by the car at his age, but after that T was an awesome traveler, so we have hopes the same will be true of Evan. Even with the occasional fussies, we're thrilled that he is a happy, healthy baby overall.

Evan turns five weeks old tomorrow. When Tobin was about that age, I made myself (oh, it was a struggle!) start studying for the Bar Exam. And that gave me about five weeks to prepare for that awful test. I am so thankful I am not having to do that this time around. It's pretty sweet that my only focus is on my boys and our home--and that is more than enough.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Evan et al. at two weeks

Things are going very well with our little family of four. We are certainly busy with all the eating and diapering and cuddling that a newborn needs. Plus his big brother is pretty busy playing golf (traditional and disc), helping Daddy with the grocery shopping, and managing his fleet of Matchbox cars. Oh, and there's a little bit of laundry to keep up with. (Thanks Matt!)

We went to our pediatrician for Evan's two-week (plus two days) check-up, which involved his first weight check since he was two days old. We were blown away to find out he weighs an amazing 10 lbs 8 oz! His doctor said her goal is for babies to regain their birth weight by two weeks. Um, Evan exceeded that by 1 lb 11 oz. We're so proud.

I am hesitant to declare Evan an easy baby, but I will say that he settles pretty consistently by simply being held and/or nursed (usually the latter!). We've also had success with Matt walking him in the Baby Bjorn. At about 10 days old he started being a little fussier in the evening, roughly 5-8pm. But we've found that walks, swaddling and occasionally a pacifier are helpful during this time. Nights have gone pretty well too. Evan wakes about every 3-4 hours at night to eat and goes down pretty easily after being fed, changed and swaddled. During the day, he eats every 2-3 hours and has wakeful periods mid-morning and early evening; otherwise, he eats and naps, eats and naps. Mercifully, Tobin has taken to sleeping until 7 or 7:30am (after a couple of months of waking at 6am), so we're getting some decent rest. I try to nap with Tobin midday to get some extra sleep and alone time with him. I would say that recovery for me this time around has gone more quickly. Apart from the fatigue from the night waking, I feel pretty good.

That's how we're doing at two weeks into this adventure. I feel like we're working really hard, and there's only about an hour at the of each day (when I should probably be in bed already!) when Matt and I get to converse or just hang out. Of course, the wonderful blessing of two healthy, beautiful boys makes it all worth it. I am tired, but so grateful.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Evan Reid, the name . . . & the compromise

When selecting Evan's name, Matt and I followed the same basic formula we used with Tobin's name: a name we liked plus a name with a family connection. Evan is simply a name we came to love. It is Welsh for John, which means "God is gracious." Reid is the maiden name of my wonderful great grandmother (my dad's mother's mother), who was known by friends and family, even her grandchildren and great grandchildren, simply as Dody. Dody was so dear to me. She lived with my dad's parents, so I got to see her about as often as I saw them growing up. When I stayed at my grandparents', I often slept with her, and was treated to her very imaginative bedtime stories. My grandparents and Dody moved just down the street from us in Columbus when I was in high school, so I got to spend even more time with her up until her death in March 1995, my senior year in high school. Even though she was 98 at the time, I was really caught off guard by her passing and missed her terribly. Dody was a woman who absolutely delighted in her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren; it was impossible not to reciprocate. To know her was truly to love her.

As you may recall, Tobin wanted to call his brother Tobin Chevy. In hindsight, we may have played this up a bit much. I guess it was too hard not to, since it was so hilarious and clever. When Aunt Ashley told Tobin his brother's name was Evan Reid, he informed her very seriously that, no, his name is Tobin Chevy. When T came to see us at the hospital to meet Evan, he again argued with us, almost tearfully, about his name. We suggested that Tobin Chevy could be Baby Brother's car name, but his people name was Evan Reid. This was acceptable to Tobin. Around here these days, Tobin refers to Evan as Baby Brother, Evan, and sometimes a sing-songy "Evan Weed." And Mama and Daddy even affectionately call him Chevy sometimes.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

For the sake of comparison

It's a proven, successful parenting strategy to constantly compare your younger child(ren) to your first. Just ask any second or third child. Given that, why not engage in it at the 10-day mark? I've tried to find similar angles for you to compare. I think they look significantly different, but I spend lots of time around them. What do you think? (Here's where you use the comments).

First attempt:
wide awake in a sleeper.
one week old
Second attempt:
hi baby brother

and he was a big baby?

Friday, July 03, 2009

What's your job?

One of the bedtime stories we read to Tobin is "Bedtime for Frances," a story about a little-girl badger who doesn't want to go to sleep. When she wakes her dad up late at night to ask why the wind is moving her curtains, he tells her it's the wind's job to move the curtains and that he has to sleep because he has a job. He tells Frances it is her job to sleep and go to school, reminding her that there are consequences for not doing one's job. That book has led Tobin to ask what our jobs are. He asks regularly what someone's (or something's) job is.

We have told Tobin that Evan's job is to sleep, eat, pee, poop, and grow so he can get big to play with us. Here is a video of Evan struggling with the first of the aforementioned jobs.

Summer activities

Tobin has entered a new phase in playing. He has always been a pretty cautious kid. Lately though, as he has gained confidence in his physical abilities, he has taken on more difficult physical challenges. He likes to run with me when I take him out in the jogging stroller. He likes to jump off small walls and steps. He likes to climb at playgrounds--and not just climb the steps to the slide. One playground near us has a kids' climbing wall about 9 feet tall. He hasn't made it to the top yet, but I don't think it will be long. The vertical climb he completes in the video here is 7 or 8 feet up onto the play structure. This is now his preferred method of reaching the slides.

Even the kind of play he has been enjoying for a while has taken on a new direction. He loves to hit his plastic golf balls in the yard, but has only lately become interested in getting them in the hole. We count how many strokes it takes to get the ball in the hole. He knows 2 and 3 are very good, but doesn't really get discouraged until 6 or 7. He has actually beaten me two times straight up. He scored a 2 at the distance you see in the video when I scored a 3. Another time, he made it in three shots while I took 4 (hey, it's a tricky fairway and green!).

Enjoy the video. Tobin and I had a lot of fun making it..

Tobin in Training from matt smith on Vimeo.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Little brother

Evan Reid Smith was born at 7:53 pm on June 28, 2009. He weighed 8 lbs. 13 oz. and was 20.5 inches long. He and Allison are doing well and worked brilliantly as a team all day Sunday. Until you meet him in person, please accept this yawny introduction. We will probably (certainly) write more here later.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A philosopher's retort

Tobin can be a little impatient sometimes. I might attribute it to his age, but honestly, I know a lot of grownups who are less patient than he is. Still, I've tried to teach patience during walks (when he thinks he'll never catch up to Mama, who doesn't dawdle or play "kings on the mountain" like T does) and when building stacks of blocks to play with. He grasps the concept well and knows how to answer the question "How do you eat an elephant?" He'll confidently answer "One bite at a time."

I bridged to this question: "How do we catch up with Mama?" Again, a good answer: "One step at a time."

While we were eating yesterday, Tobin asked me the elephant question. I gave the stock answer. He frowned, then said something to this effect: "Yes, when the elephant is big I eat it one bite at a time. But sometimes the elephants are little and I can eat them all at once. So sometimes I eat little elephants in just one bite."

I can't argue with that.

Friday, June 19, 2009

What happens . . .

. . . when you mix Hot Wheels track, a new camera, and a dorky dad?


Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Such a serious face:

twinkle twinkle from matt smith on Vimeo.

Family of three

So here we are patiently waiting. Honestly, I feel pretty long on the patience right now. Since Matt is done with school and home, the three of us are having an especially delightful time. We wake up together around 6:30--perhaps a bit earlier than Matt and I would like, but it's hard to complain when Tobin wakes up especially funny and charming. We eat all our meals together at our table. We take morning walks with Hannah. We run errands together in the afternoon if we feel up to it. And Matt and Tobin often have some play activity scheduled, usually with our friend Bryon and his son Miles, which allows me some down time or "nesting" time, whatever I prefer. We've even enjoyed some movies on DVD (Cars and Wall-E thus far) in the afternoons when the weather has been oppressively hot or, like today, rainy.

Matt and I have steadily been taking care of our baby to-do list. The big items were arranging care for Tobin and Hannah in the event Baby Brother comes "early"--i.e., before Ashley arrives late on the 19th and Mimi, the 20th. With those plans in place, the other things seem easy, because after having a newborn once, we realize that our littlest one only needs so much stuff: a carseat, some clean clothes and diapers. We've made some space for him, mainly for his little clothes, in Tobin's room and might even get around to converting the toddler bed back to a crib, but there's no hurry about that.

I have my 39-week check-up this coming Friday. Wow. I realize that I've written very little about this pregnancy, but honestly that's a good thing because it's been very healthy and uncomplicated, much like my pregnancy with Tobin. Except for being slightly anemic and having to supplement iron, I've felt good. My weight gain is about the same as it was with T (30 lbs.) and I venture to say that this pregnancy has been easier on my body in its later stages. I'm not having the ankle swelling I had with Tobin, and I also feel like I'm sleeping more comfortably than I did the first time around. Emotionally, I feel considerably more peaceful and relaxed. I'm less fearful of labor and delivery. My greatest concern these days is how Tobin will handle being away from us for a couple of days and then the transition to big brotherhood. He seems to be looking forward to meeting his little brother, and often comes to talk to my belly and will spontaneously tell us, "I love my baby brother." The other night he even gave my belly a very gentle fist bump. Adorable.

There are no imminent signs that Baby Brother is coming soon, but things can change very quickly over the course of a day, or even a few hours. I'm been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for the last month or so, but nothing that resembles the increasingly painful pre-labor contractions I started having three days before Tobin was born. My official due date is this coming Sunday, the 21st. Unofficially, we consider June 26th my due date based on my 18-week ultrasound and our own calculation of our conception date, but my midwives didn't want to change it based on just a 5-day discrepancy. And it this point, it doesn't matter much, except that my midwives have tentatively scheduled me for an induction at 41 weeks (7am on June 28th). Given the choice of scheduling for 41 or 42 weeks, I chose 41 because Tobin was over 9 pounds. Assuming this baby is similarly sized, I figure it's better to have him sooner than later. My intuition tells me that he will arrive well before the induction date.

Again, right now we're really quite content to enjoy this precious time before the excitement (and work!) that will come with transitioning to a family of four. We appreciate so much all the inquiries and especially your prayers. And we will do our best to keep everyone posted on any changes.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Notice served

Tobin @ 1:54 pm on June 13, 2009: "Daddy, I'm going to write you a message. It will say 'Dear Daddy, I love you but don't bump into me.'"

Friday, June 12, 2009

Teacher Assistant

Today was my last workday before summer break. Tobin came along with me to tie up a few loose ends and bring a few things home. I didn't technically have to be there today, so we took the opportunity to go in late and leave early (and play and socialize a lot while we were there). Our morning got off to a great start with plenty of cars to see and talk about on the highway. Whenever we're on the highway (the "big road" in our family), Tobin calls out the makes of cars around us. For some manufacturers he can accurately call models, too. He reliably recognizes Ford, Chevrolet, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and Dodge. This was our exchange as we were exiting the highway toward my school:
Tobin: That's a white Ford van.
Dad: Yes it is. That one is called a Windstar.
Tobin: A Windstar? I haven't seen those in years!
I've never heard him use that phrase before. I laughed for an entire block. We had a similar car-related conversation on the way home after finishing at school. It went like this:
Tobin: That is a Honda Civic in front of us.
Dad: Well, it's a Honda, but it's actually an Accord.
Tobin: Oh yeah. Yes it is. [sheepish grin and shaking head] Daddy, I'm sorry I said Honda Civic. That was silly..
While we were at school, we shot a video with the new camera Granddad and Grandma sent us (we're giving it a spin before Baby Smith arrives). Here it is:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Three-year stats

I took Tobin in for his three-year wellness appointment this morning. Amazingly, we had not been to his doctor's office for a visit since his two-year check-up last June, except to get his flu vaccine in November. We feel fortunate that he has hardly been sick at all in the last twelve months, apart from a couple of ordinary colds. I suppose this is largely attributable to him no longer being in daycare--just one of the many reasons I am thankful to have spent the last ten months at home with him.

Tobin did wonderfully at what turned out to be a much more "grown up" check-up than he'd had before. He listened to the nurse and climbed up in the chair for her to take his blood pressure. He stepped up on the scale to be weighed and stood tall and still for his height to be measured. Tobin was a little bashful when taking his vision test. When the nurse pointed to a picture of an umbrella, he wouldn't say it was an umbrella, but instead whispered, "It's something you use in the rain." I think he really enjoyed the hearing test, and although he insisted on whispering, he smiled and told the nurse when he heard the beeping on his headphones.

We saw a new doctor this time, because our old pediatrician moved away about a year ago. She was very nice. Tobin answered her questions and climbed up on the examination table, while I sat a few feet away on a bench, for her to check his heart, lungs, ears, eyes, etc. I was so proud of him. Unprompted, Tobin spelled his name for the doctor. When I explained that he really seems to like letters and knows the whole alphabet, Tobin jumped in and said, "The whole alphabet goes like this . . ." and then went on to sing the alphabet song for her.

So Tobin is doing just great health-wise. He weighs 32.2 pounds and measures 37 inches tall, both of which are right at the 50th percentile. I can't say I'm surprised, but I also couldn't be happier to have had such a great report.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

It Just Is


Tobin's imaginative play has really taken off in the last six months or so. For example, he often pretends he's going to the store in his truck (toddler bed) or brown van (one of our two-door cabinets he has claimed) and will return with things he "buyed" for us. He also treats us to long stories about imaginary characters, complete with names he makes up. He recently told me a 20-plus minute yarn about color-changing baby foxes who eat little eggs and peanut butter and jam sandwiches, among other things.

Today after his "pretty nice" nap, he told me he dreamed about Curious George books, cabinets, and "clocks that are missing some of their numbers." Then he observed, "Dreams are kind of like funny jokes that I don't know."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A name for Baby Brother

Tobin informed me over lunch today that Baby Brother's name will be Tobin Chevy (as in the auto company, not the comedian) Lee Smith. When I countered that we preferred to have just one Tobin, T said we could refer to him as "Tobin" and the baby as "Tobin Chevy." While Matt and I will take this under advisement, we have already picked out a name that we really like. I fear it might not be quite as clever and hilarious, but do think it will be a little less confusing. In any case, I think it's highly likely that Baby Brother will at some point pick up the nickname Chevy, courtesy of his big brother. (Of course, Chevys might be extinct by then . . .)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Remembering, anticipating, celebrating.

These are indeed precious times in our little family. Tobin's birthdays have been occasions to reflect on our time with him, but this particular birthday found me looking back and looking ahead in a special way. As I think about Tobin's transition from baby to boy, I look forward to starting that journey anew, God willing, with our second son.

Tobin's third year has been marked by many milestones: my transition from working outside the home to being home full time; our finishing nursing; and his learning, among other things, to use the potty, to recognize the letters of the alphabet, and to count to twelve reliably--and higher, except that he gets mixed up in the mid-teens. :) He remains thoughtful, curious, articulate, and tender-hearted yet quite an independent thinker.

We celebrated Tobin's birthday in a relatively low key way. Instead of having family in for a weekend of celebrating, we simply went to a Durham Bulls game with some local friends the day before his actual birthday and then on his birthday had pizza, chocolate cupcakes, and presents with the three of us plus Mimi. While I missed having everyone else here to celebrate with us, I did appreciate the opportunity to spend a little less time running around preparing for everything and a little more time taking it all in. Matt's video captures so well the fun family day we had. However, it is missing one little detail: Tobin insisted for most of the day yesterday that he was not yet three. Eventually, we were able to agree that he would turn three when he blew out the candles on his cupcakes. And now I think he will tell you that he is in fact three years old--and, perhaps, even that he will be FOUR! on his next birthday.

Today, Mom and I spent some time pulling Tobin's newborn clothes out of storage in preparation for Baby Brother's arrival. As I held and folded the clothes, I was flooded with memories of how it felt to dress Tobin in those sweet little onsies and how many pictures we took of him in particular outfits. It was a most tangible reminder of what we have ahead of us: dressing and loving and snuggling with a new baby boy. I anticipate that it will feel the same and different than how it felt with Tobin, primarily because Tobin, our very big boy now, will be there to share in this experience.


Three years ago yesterday, Tobin came home with us from the hospital. My mind is awash in thoughts and memories of the last three years, but I can't seem to distill them clearly into words. Thankfully, we were able to get much of T's afternoon on video. So, if a picture is worth a thousand words, maybe this is worth even more?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Egg hunt

We're spending my Spring Break with my parents. On Easter after church Tobin hunted for eggs in the front yard. We'll post more pictures and stuff later, but I thought you might enjoy seeing him search.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Shy in your room

This is the kind of stream-of-consciousness songwriting we're treated to in our house. Oh, and watch your armpits.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Sign here, please

Tobin is very interested in reading and letters. For the last few months, we've gotten used to him saying things like "S-T-O-P. What that says?" when he sees a stop sign. Or "T-A-R-G-E-T. That say 'Target,'" when we visit the store. He almost always remembers how to spell "Mama." "Daddy" always starts with a D and ends with a Y, but it isn't so consistent. He gets "dog" confused with "go" pretty regularly. Overall, he has been inconsistent enough with his letters and spelling that I was on the fence whether he was really recognizing characters, putting them together, and "reading."

Then he blew me away. We were sitting at the table Sunday. I was working with a manila folder when I decided to show him letters. I wrote the usual "Mama, Daddy, Hannah, Tobin" on the sheet and asked him to identify the letters of each and say the words. Flying colors. Got it. But I can't say for sure he wasn't parroting from memory. I wasn't sure if what I was seeing was real decoding-comprehension-process "reading." Then he said "I want to draw your hand." I figured the letter activity was over, so I let him trace my hand with the red pen I'd been writing with. After he finished tracing mine, we flipped the folder over and I traced his hand two or three times. Apparently, while he was in Florida last week, his grandpa stressed to him the importance of adding fingernails to the hand-tracings. I drew fingernails on each of the outlines of his hands. All of this was very normal.

Then T said "I want to write my name." We've let him "sign" cards and notes for a while and always encourage him to write his name. Again, all normal. Until I saw what he wrote. 43 days shy of his third birthday, he wrote this on the paper: 

I was speechless. I think I cheered a little too loudly when he finished because Tobin gave me a look like "I write my name all the time; what's the big deal?"

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Quotable T

Given how many times a week--sometimes, a day--I text Matt with the amusing things Tobin says, this should be a regular feature on this blog . . . to the extent it has such things. Here are a few recent faves.

On classification of species: "Dogs are not animals because they're REAL! And they BARK and BITE things! That means they are not animals."

While taking a walk through our neighborhood: "Let's sit on this bench. It makes your bottom feel nice."

Thoughtfully answering Matt's query whether Tobin and Mama put "love" in the granola they made: "No, love is a special kind of granola."

While looking at my eyes in the lovely sunshine we've been having lately: "Mama, your eyes look like honey." (Sniff.)

And of particular relevance these days, instead of telling us he has "to go potty," T often says: "I have some tee-tee in my penis!"

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Positive reinforcement

This past Monday evening, we quietly initiated toilet "learning" (a term used by this author, as opposed to "training"). Leading up to this, we had attempted using the potty in late September. Tobin did well, using the potty over the course of about three days, including on a 12-hour car trip from Florida. But then one morning, he tearfully asked for a diaper, and I obliged. Since then, he had displayed little interest in using the potty--often telling us he would use it "tomorrow," which never came.

After doing some more reading and thinking and waiting, we created a chart for Tobin to complete in which he would get a star for each, um, deposit. Along with each star, he would get two yellow or brown M&Ms depending on the type of said deposit. If he got five stars, he would get a new Matchbox car. When I showed Tobin the chart and explained it to him, he seemed moderately interested, but honestly more enthusiastic about helping me color the chart. I asked him if he wanted to try the potty, and he told me, "When Daddy gets home." I didn't think much of this, because I'd heard it before.

Later that evening over supper, Tobin was showing the chart to Matt, who asked him, "Do you want to try to get a yellow star?" Much to our surprise, Tobin said, "Yeah, I do." So off he and Matt went to the bathroom while I started to clean up the dishes. They were in there for a while chatting, and the longer they stayed, the more I started to worry that T would be discouraged if he didn't get a star. So when Matt came out for a second to get a book, I told him, "Tell Tobin that he can get one green M&M just for trying." Matt went back in to deliver the message, and a few minutes later I heard them washing T's hands. When they came out of the bathroom, I fully expected to hear Tobin ask for a green M&M, but much to my surprise and delight, Matt said, "Guess who gets a yellow star!" We were all very excited about this accomplishment. Tobin enjoyed coloring his star and, especially, eating his two yellow M&Ms. As I praised him, I reminded him that he could get a green M&M for trying to potty, even if he didn't tee-tee or poop.

We called Grandma and Aunt Sarah to tell them the exciting news. After Tobin chatted them up, Matt continued talking with them and Tobin told me, "I need to go try the potty." I went with him to the bathroom, he pulled down his pants, and he sat on the potty. For three seconds. And then he said, "I tried. I want a green M&M." Which I gave him. He proceeded to do this three more times and, although I was able to coax him to sit for maybe thirty seconds one of those times, I could see that I was losing control fast. As I signaled to Matt to get off the phone--because I needed help!--Tobin came up to me and, with a twinkle in his eye, asked, "How you get red M&Ms?" I couldn't help but laugh and tried to compose myself enough to explain that red M&Ms were special treats for other occasions, but that he couldn't otherwise "earn" them. When Matt got off the phone, Tobin told him that he wanted to try the potty. Matt took him to the bathroom and with some gentle admonition was able to get him to sit on the potty for a bit longer. And, lo and behold, he peed!

It took another couple of days and many green M&Ms before Tobin achieved his fifth star. We promptly went to Target, where he picked out a white circa-1985 Chevy utility can. We've progressed, and our new charts require ten stars for a new car. On Saturday, Tobin became the proud owner of some kind of Matchbox "water truck," which he selected over Daddy's recommendation of a fairly cool police cruiser.

I don't want to jinx anything, but I'd say that, a week into this experience, Tobin's doing great, and his parents aren't too stressed about the process. And he's eating fewer and fewer green M&Ms.

Saturday, March 07, 2009


I've never played soccer. I didn't grow up with kids who played and it definitely wasn't a popular sport at my high school. I've just watched my first matches the last few years on TV. But while my soccer experience is limited in scope, I still think Tobin demonstrates significant skill in this video (two months shy of his third birthday). Soccer experts especially feel free to comment.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The one thing

Right now, Tobin and Matt are playing hide-and-seek. This is one thing at which our son does not excel. Tobin's usual practice is to tell his daddy, "Go count to 10 [in designated location] and I will hide [in his hiding spot]." I started to help by telling Tobin where to hide (without announcing it first) and then trying to stay close enough to remind him to not yell out, "I'm in the bathroom by the laundry basket, Daddy!" He's getting better at this. Now, we're working on NOT choosing the SAME spot each time.

Regardless of whether it's played correctly, hide-and-seek is always hilarious around here. AND Tobin counts to ten--sometimes even eleven!--flawlessly.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Silly daddy

Tobin and Allison have made a regular habit of visiting me for lunch at work this semester. School offers lots of exciting things to Tobin: big-big kids, big steps, daddy's friends (pronounced free-yuns) and--today's favorite--my dry erase board. We let him stand on a chair and I gave him a few markers to draw with.

While he was drawing, he was chatting everybody up. Bryon came in to eat with us asked how Allison was feeling. When Bryon asked Tobin if he was excited about being a brother, he said "Yes!"

I decided to follow up with a question of my own: "What will Baby Smith call you?"

Tobin bent at the waist laughing, then looked at me with a you're-kidding glance and said "That's silly Daddy. Babies don't talk."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Like his mama

Tobin recognizes Oprah Winfrey and doesn't mind watching her show.

He often asks for more butter on his bread.

He has a Southern accent, especially when saying the word "sometimes." He doesn't get this from Daddy.

A few weeks ago, we were going into Kroger to pick up a few things and Tobin said, "I'm going to pretend we're going to Harris Teeter," which is my favorite grocery store, but we have to go to Kroger more now because of their better prices. Harris Teeter does indeed have cooler carts, more food samples, and balloons!

Yesterday morning as we were waking up, Tobin told me, "When I get bigger, I want to be a girl like you, Mama." I choose to be flattered, rather than the least bit concerned.

This morning, Tobin was carrying around "a list" (old Target receipt) that "tells us what we have to do." And then he read it to me: "It say go to the car wash, Harris Teeter, and Kroger." Which is exactly, and conveniently, what my morning to-do list said.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


There are certain words I will always remember after having a seventh grade English teacher (Mrs. Linda Miller, Fort Jr. High School) who was really into vocabulary. One of these words is "malapropism." I looked it up just to be sure I was remembering correctly. Merriam-Webster defines it as "the usually unintentionally humorous misuse or distortion of a word or phrase; especially: the use of a word sounding somewhat like the one intended but ludicrously wrong in the context."

Tobin astounds us everyday with his increasing mastery of our language. He talks in paragraphs now and frequently will start a conversation by saying, "I have an idea, Mama." He also uses "because" fluidly, although he can be a bit circular in his reasoning: "I like chocolate milk because it's my favorite!" However, he does mix up words sometimes--his own special set of malapropisms, if you will. "Alligator/elevator" as well as "chicken/kitchen" are classics. Recently, he adopted a more perplexing one: "envelope/peppermint."

Tobin also insists on calling tomatoes potatoes. The other day at lunch I was trying to explain that he was eating a tomato and that potatoes are what he helps Daddy cut up and roast when we have burgers. Tobin looked at me and said, "Mama, you say tomato, I say potato." And that was that.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


There's one other little story I forgot to share about the ultrasound. As we were watching Baby Brother on the screen, Matt asked Tobin, "Do you think he'll be like you?" Tobin quickly responded, "Not at all." Which means Baby Brother may be a bit on the wild side, but possibly a not-so-picky eater and better sleeper.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

An amazin' day

"Amazing"--more accurately, "amazin'"--has become a regular part of Tobin's vocabulary. He uses it liberally, with amusing results. For example, last week (warning: poop anecdote!) Hannah had an accident in her crate shortly after Tobin had just had his own poop. As he watched me clean up Hannah's mess, he said, "My poop is brown? Hannah's poop is black? That's amazin'!" As I laughed, I couldn't help but get over my annoyance with the situation. Then later that day after Matt helped him plug in an emergency flashlight, Tobin looked at him and said, "Dad, you're amazin' sometimes." Appropriate usage, I think.

By any measure, today was indeed amazin'. We woke up to a couple of inches of snow on the ground and watched it fall throughout the morning. It was Tobin's first real snow and the first snow of any significance here in the past five years. Matt stayed home, extending our holiday weekend to four days, and we had a great time taking Tobin out to play in the snow.

After our late morning excursion, we came in and had a nice lunch of vegetable soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Then Tobin sat between us on the couch while we watched Barack Obama sworn in as the 44th President. Tobin seemed to take most of it in, although he probably enjoyed watching Aretha Franklin sing and Yo Yo Ma play his cello more than the actual swearing in. In any case, it was certainly a special moment for us to share as a family.

The only problem with the snow was that we feared it might postpone our ultrasound scheduled for late afternoon. The clinic called me early afternoon and asked, since I was still planning to come, if I could come immediately because they were planning to leave early. Matt drove us very carefully on the slushy roads to the clinic. And we were definitely glad we made the effort when we got a glimpse of our baby, our second SON! There's something so incredible about seeing this little person inside me--this little one who is definitely making my belly grow, but who I have not felt otherwise. At one point, we saw his little hand and told Tobin the baby was waving at him, and Tobin said, "Hi Baby Brother!" Tobin will proudly tell you that our baby is a little brother and/or "Baby Smith is a boy!"

We know Tobin is going to be a wonderful big brother, and we look forward to many, many more amazin' days ahead.
meet baby brother!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Good job, Daddy

Last night, I needed a haircut and decided to take Tobin with me. I was a little worried about how he would do in a new environment, and part of me wondered if he would take my time in the chair as an opportunity to escape to toddler freedom. Instead, he turned on the charm and pulled out the stops on the smart-boy routine. While we waited, he asked to read some of the books stacked up in the waiting area. The woman sitting next to us had mentioned that she had a two-year-old at home. Tobin told her that he is two and a half, then seemed to make the next few minutes a demonstration of the inherent superiority of two-and-a-half-dom.

He brought a book to me and read every capital letter on the front cover: "T-U-E-S-D-A-Y. What that says?"

"Tuesday," I said.

"Today is not Tuesday?"

"Right. Today is Monday."

He shrugged his shoulders, shook his head, and frowned as if figuring his harvest after a season of drought: "No. Monday is not Tuesday. Hmm."

The woman next to us looked up and said "I don't even know if my son knows 'A.'"

When called to the chair, I pulled up a seat next to me for Tobin to sit in. He watched raptly while Tammy used the clippers and scissors. He didn't say anything for a while, so I broke the silence, "Do you like my haircut?" He didn't respond for a while, so I asked again, reminding him that he could say yes or no.

He thought again for a second, then said "'Yes' is a word I can say with my hands, so I say it like this." Then he made the sign for yes with his hand.

Tammy said "He knows sign language?" I explained he knows some. Tobin talked a little more about the blue pickup truck in his pocket, then it was time to go. When we got home, I asked him to tell his Mama where we had been. He exclaimed, in a voice that I choose to interpret as proud of his dad, "Daddy got a haircut; and he didn't cry!"

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Christmas 2008, Part Two

We've had a good (almost) week in Kentucky with Grandma, Granddad, Sarah and Dan. We've logged a lot of miles, but it's been worth it for a Christmas break during which we visited the beach in short-sleeve shirts and saw snow flurries and temps in the teens. I've put together a short video of our experience in Kentucky. Hopefully, we'll get the time to type more and put up pictures after we're back in NC.