Saturday, April 28, 2012

Evan at 34 months

34 months old

About twenty times a day, I hear "Mama, whatcha doin'?" It seems to be Evan's go-to phrase and more a greeting than a true inquiry because he says it almost automatically upon seeing me, whether I'm cooking in the kitchen, nursing Lauren, returning from grocery shopping, getting dressed, changing Lauren's diaper, fixing him a snack--all things he sees me doing regularly. Evan is good at keeping tabs on me. He always has been. Now he's just more consistently using words to let me know. If I'm in the kitchen preparing food or cleaning dishes, his usual quick follow-up is "I wanna help you!" Many times, I try to dissuade his assistance because his idea of "help" usually, um, isn't. When I do let him pull up a chair to the counter, he's very good at declaring each and every dry ingredient--including salt and baking soda--in something I'm baking "tasty!" and throwing measuring cups and spoons into soapy water.

"take picture my leaf, mama!"

Another phrase he's using a lot lately is "no way!" He's clearly mimicking Tobin with that one but he puts his own spin on it. Tobin most often uses the phrase as an exclamation, as if to say "I can't believe it!" Evan uses it as straight up opposition to things like taking a nap, having his diaper changed or coming to the table for supper. But like most of his defiance, it's really just a strong but short-lived sentiment--more an expression of disappointment than disagreement. A typical exchange goes something like this:
Me: "Evan, it's time to change that poop."
Ev [running away from me]: "No way!"
Me [scooping him up]: "Yeah, we've gotta change it. Is it a big poop or a little poop?"
Ev: "Oh, it's a big poop. A cute poop!"
(He likes to use the word "cute" a lot too. We blame his baby sister.)

checking in

While Evan doesn't exactly make our lives easy, he's always entertaining and, truthfully, quick to come around and acquiesce if we stay firm. Lately, when I tell him it's time to go take his nap, he scowls at me and says "No!" and then runs to the couch, lies down and says, "I'm sweepy!" I shake my head (and smile usually), pick him up to some mild squawking and take him back to his room, where he takes his nap like a champ.

boy w/hoodie & ball

So in addition to doing the hilarious things he's always done, he's now narrating his life and it's only getting better. He's efficient with his vocabulary. Certain words are interchangeable: off/on, open/close and swing/slide. But then there are the less efficient flourishes. Every other night is "bath night time!" When he wakes up after Matt has already left for work, he says "Oh, Daddy go to works!" And then there's just the random quirkiness of declaring the lizards on his pajamas something that sounds an awful lot like "strippers!"

healthy skepticism

Evan is always up for an adventure. He's quite disappointed that he doesn't get to go "chopping" with me very often as I usually try to do our grocery shopping on the weekends when Matt can stay home with the kids. We've been to the doctor quite a few times over the last two months and Evan has been asking when we're going to go again. It's great that he doesn't dread the doctor's office but it's also not somewhere I really like to go--especially with more than one kid. I had to take Tobin in for a sick visit (strep throat) last week and scheduled the appointment so that I could go in the late afternoon and Matt could stay home with the younger two. Evan woke up from his nap to discover Daddy home but Mama and Tobin at the doctor and apparently was quite distraught. Fortunately, Tobin picked up an extra Superman sticker for him there and that helped smooth things over when we got home.

"gonna get you!"

Another recent adventure for Evan was getting his haircut. It had been many months. We loved his longish hair--so fitting for his personality. But it was getting out of hand, so Matt took him in. Evan loved it. He sat and followed directions and enjoyed watching his hair fall to the ground. And when he came home, I greeted him with a squeal because his look was so dramatically different and adorable and he said, "Oh Mama, like my haircut?!?"

about a month ago

Evan's life remains exciting--as does ours with him. I love this video because it shows how Evan changes his mind (about whether he wants Lauren to knock down his tower) and how strongly he feels about certain things (She was supposed to push over the LION block!). And it's just hilarious, quintessential Evan right now.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Flying a kite

Today was a windy, cool day. After I got home from work, I took all three kids across the street to fly our little kite for a while. Tobin got pretty good at knowing when to keep the line taut and when to loosen it. At one point he kept it aloft for close to 5 minutes. Evan loved seeing the kite fly and yelled at it as if it could hear him. "Oh no airplane! Oh no kite!" when it got close to trees, for instance. To be fair, Evan wasn't confused about whether it was a kite or airplane: ours is a Blue Angels kite. And, as you'll see in the video, Evan has a way of bringing his own mark to any activity:

Lauren, on the other hand, wasn't that big a fan:

Sunday, April 22, 2012


his street

I should probably cut myself as much slack during the week following a vacation as I do the week preparing for one. Although I get rather anxious packing and planning before traveling, I'm finding that the week after can be just as challenging. Transitions are always hard, especially with three little ones in tow.

I'm realizing I approach coming home with conflicting agendas. Part of me wants to just chill and ease back into our normal routine. The other part of me feels compelled to get started on all those things I was putting off until after vacation. After a week of planning and cooking only one single meal, I was suddenly on call every single night again. I tried to ease into this by picking up pizza our first night home and then planning pancakes for the next night. I had some vegetable soup in the freezer, so that along with grilled cheese sandwiches became the third night's meal. So I put off any more extensive grocery shopping and meal planning until Tuesday. By contrast, I decided to get a jump start on trying to take more regular walks with the kids by taking Evan and Lauren on a fairly rushed walk Monday in the 45 minutes I had between the end of her morning nap and picking Tobin up from school. And when I did cook my first real meal Wednesday night, it was a fairly labor-intensive pasta primavera, which involves chopping and roasting a bajillion vegetables. (Resolved: eat more vegetables!) I made Italian bread to boot.

Meanwhile, Evan woke up snotty Monday morning. By Wednesday, Tobin and Lauren were sniffly too. Thursday morning, Tobin threw up a couple times and stayed home from school. I took him into the doctor and discovered he had strep. He's rebounded quickly but I'm bracing for the other two to come down with it too. Thankfully, we've made it through the weekend with not much more than snotty noses.

In most respects this week has not really seen a return to our normal routine. But we have enjoyed some small intentional changes too. Almost every night this week, we were able to take a post-supper family walk. The weather is beautiful and it's so nice to let the boys run and laugh, burning off a good deal of energy before winding down for the day. Saturday morning, we got a preview of how the next several Saturdays will go as we rushed to have our usual pancake breakfast and get to the T-ball field by 9am. Although a bit of whirlwind, the game was so much fun.

And I guess that's kind of what's important about everything we do. Whether according to our routines or whether thrown off by travel, illness and fun additions to our schedule, we are thankful to be doing what we do together.

he snacks!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tobin at 71 months

tobin lee

This is the last month I can say things like "My oldest is five." It took a while to adjust to him being so big, so FIVE. But another birthday is just around the corner. I'm thankful he still likes to be close to his mama.

huggin' mama

For said birthday, there are tentative plans for a family trip to the zoo. Tobin's especially enjoyed learning about animals lately. His favorite TV show is Wild Kratts on PBS and he loves chatting us up about things like caracals and guineafowl. He loves discussing order of food chains; for example, caracals eat guineafowl. If you know what those animals even are, you know more than Matt or I did. We, of course, know all about them now.

big boy

Another love of Tobin's, basketball, remains constant. Given the Fisher Price basketball hoop in our living room and his affinity for NBA Jam on the Wii, I think he is well on his way to following in Matt's footsteps and becoming a year-round basketball enthusiast. (Matt's interest is in college basketball--particularly one program--which he follows closely even in the off-season. In case you didn't know.) When Tobin heard that several UNC underclassmen were declaring for the NBA draft, his initial reaction was enthusiasm: "Wow, they're good enough to play in the NBA!" But then reality set in and he asked, "Will UNC have any good players next year?"

Tobin loved the tournament so much that even after Kentucky won the title at its end, he set up a bracket for his Matchbox cars and would have them race each other in pairs. He didn't start with a field of 68, but usually 16 and would excitedly run to tell me which cars made the Final Four. He did so every day, several times a day, for about a week.

I have a feeling we'll be closely monitoring the NBA playoffs for the first time in several years. Tobin thinks LeBron James is the best player in the NBA but then he knows Dwyane Wade is really good too and it's amazing because they're both on the same team!

I think he's also still talking about basketball a lot because we haven't really gotten into the swing of T-ball yet. Between rain-outs and spring break, he's still just played the one game. But he asks about once a day when his next game is. Here's hoping Saturday comes quickly!

hoodie required

Monday, April 16, 2012

Lauren at 10 months

10 months old

These days, Lauren especially loves exploring her world. She crawls all around, looking for the bath tub, her brother's shoes and, of course, Mama. Crawling is extra fun when she can do so with a toy in hand--e.g., a Duplo block, a wooden hammer, a DoodlePro pen (dragging said sketch toy behind her). She likes the many, many toys and balls in our home but is just as fascinated by a piece of tape she finds stuck to the carpet. She also thinks helicopter seeds that get tracked in the house are tasty . . . until she puts them in her mouth. She likes sharing her toys with you and will giggle as you take the toy she offers. But you must give it right back, or she will cry and squawk and gnash her two very visible (but not easily photographed) teeth. Between her strong attachment to whatever she is holding in her hand and Evan's firm sense of entitlement to any toy in the house, we've had some sister-brother misunderstandings.

on the move

As much Lauren enjoys being on the move, she also loves to snuggle.

grandma & granddaughter

She loves taking in the world perched on my hip. Or sitting on a lap, especially if you're wearing interesting things like necklaces and glasses.

nana & lala

Of course, this has been an extra snuggly month for Lauren in part because she's spent a good deal of it under the weather. In late March, she had a bad cold that threw her for a loop for a several days and then while we were in Kentucky, she ran a fever for three days and was pretty pitiful. But really all she needed was one thing: to be held. Whenever Matt, Grandma or me would pick her up, she'd snuggle up to our chests and suck on her thumb, occasionally dozing off. She was even sweet enough to let Matt and me go out to a movie one afternoon when she was still sick. I left her hoping she'd nap for most of the time we were away. She napped only briefly in her bed but spent the rest of the afternoon sleeping and resting in Grandma's arms while Nana played with the boys. We all wished Lauren was feeling better, but the snuggle time was so sweet--especially for Grandma.

It seems Lauren has particularly taken to her thumb lately. She's been sucking her thumb to go to sleep for several months but now she's apt to have it in her mouth any time of day. I wonder if it has to do with her teething, which otherwise doesn't seem to bother her much. Neither of her brothers--apart from a two-month stint by Evan--sucked their thumbs, so it's novel for me. And adorable. Also, she's generally a better self-soother than her brothers, so it's helpful too.

sleepy snuggle

Another highlight of Lauren's tenth month was wearing her first Easter dress. (Thank you, Mimi!) She hardly noticed the dress, except when I was getting her dressed, which is a bit unpleasant for her these days no matter what clothes I'm trying to put on. But once we were through that ordeal, she carried on as usual. She did think her shoes were fun; although she'd just as soon take them off and crawl around with them in hand or chew on them. In any case, this dress was the highlight of my month. And dare I say, her daddy's.

chatting w/daddy

Perhaps a truer high point for Lauren was getting in the bath tub with both her brothers. Over vacation last week, we worked out a little routine where we put all the kids in the tub and then I bathed Lauren first, pulled her out and left Matt to wash the boys. Thus far the boys have been remarkably gentle in their bath play with her. Once she leaves, it's back to the usual rambunctious, splashy play.

later that evening

Tonight as Lauren happily rode in the stroller on our post-supper walk, watching her brothers "race," jump and laugh, and later, as she sat between the two of them playing in the tub, I was struck by how sweet our life is--and sweeter still with her in it.

sweet baby girl

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lovely Louisville

brothers at the ohio river

We've been enjoying a pretty laid back spring break here in Louisville. We got off to a quick start with Saturday's Easter parade followed by a full day on Easter Sunday. Since then, Grandma's had to go to work some, Lauren's been under the weather (roseola?) and our camera batteries died with our charger back home in North Carolina. All of this has made it especially nice to take it easy and enjoy the simple pleasures of just being together for the week.

The kids have dropped by Grandma's office a couple of times to see her friends at work. They're always so sweet to us. Matt has mowed the lawn and stained the deck, the latter with Tobin's help. Evan has kept close tabs on Grandma and the dogs. Lauren has been fussy, running a fever for a few days and is now coming down with a rash, but the upside of that is that she's been extra snuggly. Matt and I were able to sneak away one afternoon while Grandma and Nana watched the kids and saw The Hunger Games. We both enjoyed the books and were looking forward to the movie, which did not disappoint. Tonight, we're headed over to Nana's for dinner. Grandma's been home from work for a few hours already and we're looking forward to a leisurely Saturday too.

The near perfect springtime weather--sunny in the 60s and 70s--has been showcasing Louisville's loveliness. We've especially enjoyed taking the kids to the waterfront and to a couple nearby playgrounds. This city has beautiful parks. All a perfect backdrop for a wonderful week.

sister swingin' at seneca

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Happy Easter!

the smiths, easter 2012

We enjoyed a nearly perfect Easter Sunday. We went to church, came home for lunch and naps, had an Easter egg hunt and went out to dinner at a favorite restaurant on the river. The weather was gorgeous all day long.

four generations

Dare I say the only challenge we encountered was trying to get all the kids to look at the camera for a picture. Didn't happen. But we got some great pictures anyway. Enjoy more here!

all the babies

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Spring has sprung.

opening day (for real)

We kicked off our spring break Thursday night with Tobin's first T-ball game of the season, a make-up of the rained out Saturday opener. Matt is helping out this year, so when game time arrived, both he and Tobin took the field. This was a little tough for Evan who kept saying, "I wanna see Dad!" and would take off to the dugout. I had Lauren sitting in the stroller and would have to run as quickly as I could to retrieve him. I plied him with snacks and offers to climb the bleachers and "Oh look, Tobin's about to throw the ball!" Eventually, he found another girl about his age and they played sweetly mostly running around and hanging on the limb of a small nearby tree. This allowed me to watch most of the game.

the bleachers

Tobin's Padres played the Yankees, who batted first. The very first batter of the game hit a solid ground ball right at Tobin, who was covering the right side of the pitcher's mound. And then the batter ran as hard as he could . . . to third base. This gave Tobin plenty of time to field the ball and throw it to first for the out. The wayward Yankee made it all the way back to first and then had to be consoled by his dad because he was out. (Yes, there is crying in T-ball.) Although a little traumatic for that kid, it was hilarious and a fitting start to a fun, funny game. Plus, Tobin got the put out!

first at-bat: single!

Tobin's league is a modified coach's pitch. By rule, each player gets three swings at a coach-pitched ball and then they get the ball set up on the tee if they haven't put the ball in play on the first three pitches. Tobin hit fourth (clean up!) in the batting order. Tobin hit the third pitch during his first-at for a single his first time up and eventually came around to score a run. Scoring a run is clearly Tobin's favorite thing to do in this world. He squealed as he crossed the plate. Matt was positioned as catcher for the coach's pitches, so he got to give him a high five as he crossed the plate. Just perfect. Tobin grounded out (hitting off the tee) in his second at bat. So he was 1-2 with a run scored and at least two put-outs to first. There's no official score keeping but of course Tobin kept count of runs and reported that the Padres won 11-9. It was a great start to the season and our spring break.

kentucky bound

The next morning, we packed up the van and hit the road to make the 540-mile trip to Louisville. Matt usually does most of the driving, while I distribute snacks, toys, books and the occasional reassurance to Lauren from the captain's chair beside her. The boys sit next to each other in the very back. They spend their time being silly, singing, snacking and watching a movie after lunch. They are veteran car travelers at this point.

"take our picture!"

Our trip to Louisville takes us around 10 hours. Our usual routine is to leave sometime between 6 and 7am, stop mid-morning for a potty/diaper change break, eat lunch west of Charleston, WV at Chick-fil-A and then drive the last 200 miles into Louisville, sometimes stopping for another potty/mental health break if we need to. Lauren seemed to have a rougher time with the last stretch of the trip than she did at Thanksgiving or Christmas, so we made a final stop about 50 miles out. But all told, she did great and we logged yet another smooth, safe road trip. We are so thankful for traveling mercies and our tremendous little travelers.


We're looking forward to a great week at Grandma's house!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

She's on the move!

Over the last couple weeks, Lauren has perfected her crawl. She's been scooting and pivoting, rolling and reaching for the last two months. Like her brothers were, she is an especially chubby baby and I've come to appreciate how strong she must be to move her (not so) little body. So she's crawling at 9.5 months, which  splits the difference between Tobin (8.5 months) and Evan (10.5 months) for achieving this milestone. There is a direct correlation with their respective weights and crawling ages. Lauren is the happy medium between her two brothers in that measure as well, weighing slightly more than Tobin did at this age. I could extend this further and predict she will walk at 16 months, compared with Tobin's 15 months and Evan's 17 months. But then I wonder if the desire to keep up with two busy brothers might make her an earlier walker. And correlation does not equal causation, or something like that.

Of course, Lauren crawling is a game changer. I can't just plop her down in the living room with one of her brothers and some toys and move from room to room, peeking in to find her basically where I left her. Nor can I rely on her to stay under my feet playing in the kitchen when I need to be in there. Apparently, she has places to go. The other night I was trying to load the dishwasher right after supper and kept Lauren in the kitchen with me while Matt took the boys to take a bath. I set her up with the refrigerator magnets and a couple of bowls, which usually keep her occupied for a while. But she heard the bath water running and I turned around just in time to see her little bottom headed down the hall. I followed her and sure enough, she crawled right into the bathroom (covering an approximate 10-yard distance in our cozy home), where Matt swooned over how adorable she was and scooped her up, letting her sit on his lap so she could watch the boys in the tub for a while. More and more frequently, I'm finding her heading down the same hallway to find me in the bedroom when I'm running back and forth trying to get everyone ready in the morning. She has such a proud, happy look on her face when she "finds" me. She knows what she wants and, now, how to get there.

I've been through this twice before but it's still just as remarkable to see this baby crawling. As the third kid, she has a lot of chaos--toys and big brothers everywhere!--to crawl over and around but it's all totally normal to her. (You'll see Tobin's feet in this video; he's playing a video game--hence, his sound effects.)

And while I'm sharing the cuteness of Lauren crawling, I'll throw in a bonus video Matt took of her playing basketball. See what I mean about her trying to keep up with her brothers? She has watched them play hours of basketball and she seems to be getting the hang of it just fine--with a little help from Evan, of course.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Opening day (almost)

t-ball 2012 opening day

As I write this we're gearing up for the last college basketball game of the year (Go Cats!) but on Saturday we directed our attention to baseball ever so briefly when we attended the opening ceremonies for Tobin's little league. He's playing his second season of T-ball!

our lil' padre

Just like last year, every single player on every single team had his or her name announced over a loudspeaker and then took the field with all the other players. Tobin noted this was the second time he'd ever heard his name in a microphone. He was thrilled! Again!

taking the field

Tobin's wearing number 24 on his jersey again this year, a number both Matt and my dad wore at various times during their playing days. When I filled out his T-ball registration form this year, I listed a few preferred jersey numbers and didn't think to consult him. While he was fine with having 24 again, he said, "Maybe next year I'd prefer my jersey number be in the 30s or 40s." Fair enough. After all, his favorite number is 43--true to his North Carolina roots--for Richard Petty.

Although it rained on us a little, it was a fun family time and got us excited for baseball. Evan applauded heartily when Tobin took the field.

clapping for tobin

Tobin was scheduled to have his first game later that afternoon but alas the rain made the field too wet, so we weren't able to have the full opening day experience. Evan was sad to leave the field after the opening ceremonies, saying over and over again, "I wanna watch Tobin play baseball!"

The rained-out opening day was a tad metaphorical as our attention remains mostly on basketball; Kentucky won a huge game against Louisville later that same day and plays in the championship tonight. But after tonight we'll bid a fond farewell to a fun basketball season and throw ourselves into cheering for Tobin and his teammates. Go Padres!