Thursday, June 28, 2012

Evan is THREE.

three years old

As we were for his first birthday, we're on a month-long road trip for Evan's third birthday. This means he gets to celebrate his birthday in Lake Charles with Mimi and Granpa, great aunts Louise and Bethany, Al and Melinda, and even Ashley and Donnie--who are set to arrive Saturday when we'll have his official party. Today was fun too with a birthday breakfast of his favorite coffee cake, lots of playing including time in the backyard inflatable pool and a trip out to get frozen yogurt. He went to bed tired and, though he whined a little bit, I'd guess he was pretty happy too.

enthusiasm for life

Life is moving quickly for Evan these days. Six weeks into potty training, he's got the hang of it. After our Florida trip, we switched him to wearing underwear (instead of pull-ups) during the day and he went from several accidents his first two days to suddenly going accident-free after that. He did a similar abrupt acceleration with riding his bike. One day he was hardly able to pedal and steer at the same time and then two days later he was actually riding loops around the park.

much-improved ev

Evan was extra excited for this road trip. He's always ready for an adventure and is absolutely loving all the extra people on hand for playing and reading and sharing their touchscreen devices. Ahead of time he could list the people we were going to see. In fact, a couple weeks ago, when I took him out shopping with me, he told me that after the grocery store, he wanted to go see Mimi, Granpa, Ashley, Louise and Bethany. He was disappointed when I explained we couldn't go that day--especially considering those folks live in three different states--but mulled over my promise that we would see them "very soon." He's since suddenly started using the phrase "right now" and I imagine Matt and I will be hearing it a lot when we say things like "just a minute."

safety? check.

Evan doesn't easily accept our authority on things like when it would be appropriate to play golf, ride bikes or go swimming. These are things he's been obsessed with doing lately and asks to go do them repeatedly--even when it's ridiculously hot outside, he's not particularly fond of riding his bike for long, and we don't have regular access to a pool. Ever the independent thinker, he counts past 5 in his own way, usually switching 7 and 8, skipping 9 and throwing 14 in there for good measure. And there's no convincing him that this is "incorrect." Honestly, we don't try to hard to persuade him because it's pretty hilarious. By this age, Tobin was singing and saying the alphabet song and writing his name. Evan prefers to correctly identify all the letters on Matt's Kentucky T-shirt and loves to draw his favorite letter over and over: a "T/Tobin/turtle."

i play golf. right now.

Today as we celebrate our baby boy, I'm filled with gratitude and wonder at the wild and wonderful little person he is. His enthusiasm for life is indeed unmatched and I'm so thankful that I get to mother him along this great adventure.

mama & baby boy

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tobin at 73 months


Tobin has spent the first month of his seventh year at home. I imagine there will be a future time when having the kids home for summer break will seem like extra work but for now, having my one school-aged kid here with the babies and me has been great. Of course, he's been busy with the trip to Florida, play dates with his school friends, two Durham Bulls' games and hanging out with Matt, who started his summer break last week.

big big brother biker

As Matt noted, it took Tobin less than a month to learn to ride his birthday bike sans training wheels. I only got to witness the very first lesson but I'm sure the combo of patient dad and determined, good-natured kid accounts for the quick turnaround. Tobin and Matt are quite a good team.

daddy & big boy

Equally as fun as watching him ride his bike is watching his love of reading grow to an almost obsession. Yesterday, Matt pulled out The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. Over a span of about 24 hours, Tobin has made it through 150 pages of comics. Better yet, he's laughing out loud and so engrossed that it took us reminding him like five times that it was time to put down the book to get ready for bed last night. Beyond expanding his vocabulary, we're watching him grasp things like irony. He thinks Calvin is a hoot and "kind of a stinker."

t meets calvin

Next up for the big boy and his family is our 2012 Epic Road Trip (Georgia! Louisiana! Wisconsin! Kentucky!), which is scheduled to begin on Saturday. Tobin is truly excited and I love that he's at an age when he'll have vivid memories of summers like this one.

proud fisher boy

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lala's birthday addendum

I wanted to share a couple videos that I didn't quite fit into yesterday's birthday post. We celebrated Lauren's birthday with a simple, fun family day: an afternoon at the park followed by pizza and cupcakes at home. The weather was so especially gorgeous that we enjoyed dinner outside on our deck.

The boys made birthday cards for Lauren and presented them to her while I ran inside to get the cupcakes and candle. Matt recorded them giving her their cards, and I'm so glad he did. You'll note Evan has less conventional ideas about birthday-card-giving.

And here's the uncut version of our official rendition of "Happy Birthday to You." (We posted a clip earlier at Flickr but since it was so big we uploaded the full video at YouTube.) I think over the last couple days, she's heard it forty times, mostly from her brothers. Again, Evan offers entertainment by assuming that we're going to sing happy birthday to him next. In just a couple weeks we will, gathered with much of my side of the family in Louisiana, no less! Enjoy!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lauren is ONE.

one year old.

In the blink of an eye, my baby girl completed her first year. Can you believe it's been twelve months since this happened? Lauren's entrance into the world--a dramatic whirlwind--admittedly gave me pause when I wondered what it foretold about her personality. Thus far, she's treated us to a much milder version of life. She's an easy-going, happy child, whose sweetness pervades our home. She remains the most popular person in the house. In fact, at supper the night before her birthday, her brothers were already singing to her.

There's much joy in watching her brothers adore her. She soaks it up and beams right back at them. But they're also all little people who want what they want when they want it sometimes, and this creates some conflict. Lauren, for her part, is teaching her brothers that just because she's cute doesn't mean she's a pushover. To the best of her abilities, she keeps up with them, which lately includes climbing on tables.


Lauren is climbing and pulling up and cruising and every once in a while, we'll catch her trying to stand or step away from whatever she's holding onto. I still expect her to be a late-ish walker like her brothers but sometimes I wonder if she'll suddenly start running after Evan, instead of "chasing" him around the house by crawling quickly after him while he squeals, "Lauren get me! Lauren coming!"

toothy smile

Lauren remains remarkably healthy and strong. At the doctor this week, she measured 29.5" long (50-75th percentile), weighed 24 lbs. 12 oz. (90-95th) and had a head circumference of 19" (above 95th!). While I tire a bit from hearing people tell me "That's a big baby!", I'm mostly thrilled to have such a "notable" child. Of course it's totally familiar territory, because her brothers were huge infants who started to plateau and eventually gravitate to their 50th percentile size after the first year. And I know my musings about the giant sizes of my babies are old news but it still cracks me up. As I've said many times before, I have nothing to explain it except for breast milk. I've been triply blessed with good nursing experiences. Lauren still nurses about five times a day but as she starts to eat more solid food and move more, I expect her to slim down just like the boys did. For now, I'm squeezing and snuggling her perfect, chubby form as much as I can.

swinging in her birthday dress

Speaking of eating, Lauren is enjoying more and more food beyond purees these days. Over the last month she's developed an affinity for beans and rice--especially red beans. She loves avocados, peaches, cheese and yogurt. I'm enjoying being able to feed her more from my own plate and less from my mix of store-bought and homemade purees. Just tonight at her birthday supper, she ate bite-size pieces of pizza. What a lucky girl!

and lauren did too.

Her world ever-expanding, Lauren is talking plenty. I wouldn't say she's said her first real word yet, but she does respond consistently to questions posed with something that sounds an awful lot like "Yes!" We have a lot of fun with that and ask her leading questions. She plays right along with "Yes!" and "Yeah!" and even the occasional nod. You can see some of that in this bath video. You can also see that she understands things like when we ask her to sit down in the tub and that she most definitely knows when she's being very funny and charming.

And perhaps "Yes!" is her first word, which would be really appropriate for my daughter who has such a cheerful, positive outlook on life. As I reflect on this year with her, I often think back to when I was pregnant. Before I knew she was a girl, people would ask me if I wanted a girl and I would honestly say that I didn't care whether the baby was a girl or a boy. After our 18-week ultrasound when we discovered she was a she, people would say things like "You finally get your girl!" And I would think--and sometimes say--it really didn't matter because I'd love another boy just as much. And I know that is true. But what I feel is equally true is that, after getting to know Lauren this past year, I sometimes wonder if I shouldn't have been pining all along for her. Happy birthday Lala!

birthday bliss

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Boys, blackberries, bikes, and baseball

Tobin, Evan and I have been on a roll lately as a boys' club. To help Lauren get quiet time (or even naptime) every once in a while, the three boys in the family have gotten out of the house to spend some quality time together.

Our energy the last couple of weeks has been focused on blackberries and bike riding. Wild blackberries grow pretty thick along the Tobacco Trail near our house. They first started to ripen a couple of weeks ago. Tobin is especially excited about memorizing locations from the past and speculating on the ripeness of berries that were "too red and too bitter" the last time we walked by. We've been able to bring home enough to have blackberries with lunch most days this week.

wild blackberries

T is a good picker and brags about how few scratches he has compared to me. He's also constantly reminding us that copperheads and ticks might be in the tall grass, so we should be careful. Evan matches him for enthusiasm, but his enthusiasm is usually directed toward eating as we pick them. He also doesn't seem to have reservations about the "too red and too bitter" issue."Uh nuh 'nother," is usually what he says after eating one. I always stay close to him, because between the blackberries and the honeysuckle, I worry sometimes that I've taught him the outdoors are a kind of buffet spread.

Our biggest development in play so far this summer is Tobin's jump into the world of big-boy bike riding. Grandma got him a new bike for his sixth birthday, and Allison and I decided we wouldn't put training wheels on it. On June 4, while Ev and Lauren napped, I took T to a nearby parking lot with a small paved loop. On the first day, he was hesitant but able to get going with a little push at the start. By the end of the first day, he could ride laps around the parking lot. On his second day, T was confident enough that he wanted to tackle the Tobacco Trail, which is adjacent to the parking lot we were using. Though I wasn't dressed for the occasion, I happily jogged along for 2 miles as Tobin took off like a pro (with a well-deserved break in the middle).

takin' a break

Since then, his skills have steadily improved, as has his appetite for getting out to ride, as you can see here:


In part because of Tobin's new interest in biking, Evan talks a good game about riding his bike. During the day, no matter the activity (naptime, lunchtime, bathtime, for example), Evan will tell Allison and me "I want to go ride bike. Go outside and ride bikes please. I wanna ride bike. Please, Mama? Dad? Ride bikes." Ev has inherited Tobin's first bike, and loves to get ready to ride:

safety? check.

The actual riding, though? Well, a couple of spills slowed his enthusiasm significantly. Still, he's able to pedal and is beginning to grasp the coaster brakes, which is pretty good considering he's a couple of weeks shy of his 3rd birthday.

We've been able to see a couple of Bulls games already this season, too. After a game we attended with Bryon and Miles, all the boys got to run the bases, slapping five with Wool E. Bull at second base along the way.

We're only a few days into my official summer break and already having a great time. A rocking good time, even.


Saturday, June 02, 2012

Summer prelude

3 babies on a slide

With Tobin's last day of school on May 17 and Matt's last days of work passing quickly, our favorite time of year is almost here. Just having Tobin home has made our days feel more leisurely. There's no need for the dash to get out the door for school in the mornings. I often don't even get the boys dressed until after Lauren's morning nap, which is when we may or may not head out to run an errand, visit a playground or take a walk. Even our evenings are more relaxed and we're starting the inevitable summertime shift that makes bedtime gradually later and later.

sleepy swinger

Now that Lauren's older, we plan to roadtrip like the summer before last. Although we've traveled a lot with Lauren already, she had not visited her Mimi and Granpa in Florida until last week. She's seen Mimi and Granpa many times--in Georgia (Ashley's wedding), Louisiana (Memaw's funeral and Christmas) and here (Mimi's fall and spring visits)--but we hadn't been able to work in a trip to their house. Since Tobin was done with school and we still had a good month before hitting the road again, late May ended up being a great time to make the trip. We were sad to leave Matt behind as he headed into the busy end-of-year testing time at work but it was nice to be able to spend a whole week down there, instead of trying to squeeze a visit into the holiday weekend. Of course, that meant I had to fly with three kids by myself. Getting through security with the three kids, diaper bag and stroller and visiting the bathroom were the hard parts on the way down but not too bad. On the return trip, the airline gave my mom a special pass to accompany me to the gate so that was super helpful. Indeed, I felt like I was pretty much breezing through the whole trip up until the last 30 minutes of our flight home. That's when the inevitable poop situation--the one that always happens with kids while traveling--transpired.

florida day 2: morning snuggles

As noted, Evan is potty training and does well at home but to ease my anxiety about accidents while traveling, I've kept him in pull-ups. So he was wearing one on our flight home and stealthily pooped his pants. This really wouldn't have been a problem apart from the smell for my fellow passenger and fortunately, it was toward the end of the flight. But unfortunately, it became apparent that the pull-up had not contained the poop and it was perilously close to breaching his shorts. And this is when the reality of being by myself with three kids hit me hard. I simply couldn't do anything except wait until we got off the plane. I don't think Lauren, Evan and I could have fit in the airplane bathroom, assuming Tobin would be cool with me leaving him behind in the seat. And I couldn't think of what I would have done with her while I was trying to clean Evan up even if we did fit in the bathroom. So the worst part of it truly was waiting that last half hour of the flight: worrying that other passengers were gagging from the smell and fretting about whether I would be able to get Evan down the aisle and off the plane not trailing poop before I secured him in the stroller. Evan was kind of oblivious to it and actually napped for the last fifteen minutes of the flight--as did Lauren--so that made it a little easier. I avoided making eye contact with any of the other passengers, even the ones who had been smiling at the kids from across the aisle. I didn't want to know if their smiles had been wiped away by the stench. I waited until most the other passengers had exited so that we could quickly leave the plane and I got him to the stroller without incident. Of course, I still had to actually clean him up in a public restroom with two other kids in tow. I could have just high-tailed it to find Matt in baggage claim but I was so frazzled at that point and kind of obsessed with cleaning it up that I just went ahead to the first restroom I saw at our gate. In any case, that part really wasn't as stressful as the anticipation of it while still on the plane. We all survived, and I almost cried when I saw Matt at baggage claim out of pure exhaustion and relief. Nothing like poop to keep a mama humble, right?

bros. in wagon

Inauspicious ending to our travels aside, our week in Florida was wonderful. There's just so much for the kids to do all the time, any time. And my parents love being on the go with the kids too. Mom frequently told me to go back to bed or take a nap and then she disappeared with the baby. Dad took the boys fishing after breakfast and supper in the backyard pond and pulled them in a wagon to the neighborhood tennis courts, basketball court and putting green. There's the neighborhood pool that we visited almost every day. Add to that: kayaking, corn hole, ladder ball, slip'n'slide and special trips to a splash park, bowling alley and Playmobil fun park. And the beach. Our trip to the beach may be my favorite memory from the whole trip. We arrived around 10:00 on Memorial Day but somehow beat the crowds. We walked along the surf and splashed--just a little--in the foamy waves and played in the sand. Lauren and Mimi snuggled under an umbrella, where she took her morning nap in Mimi's arms. And did I mention that my sister drove all the way down from Atlanta to surprise all of us and spend the holiday weekend with us? So she was able to join us for that sweet morning at the beach too.

chattin' w/ashley

There were just a few dicey moments during week. Evan had a terrible no good very bad day in which he fell in the pool without his floatie (Granpa quickly to the rescue!), threw up his dinner (Overzealous burrito eating triggered his gag reflex? Never acted sick before or after.) and fell out of the hammock (The temptation to try to scale or rock the hammock was too great, apparently.). But other than that, he had such a great time that he actually whined we arrived home at RDU and Mimi and Granpa weren't there. He has told me many times since our return that he wants to see Mimi and Granpa and Ashley and--while we're at it--my aunts Louise and Bethany. Strangely, Tobin also threw up one morning (something he ate?) while we were at my parents' house and was touch-and-go for about half a day. But by the afternoon, he was enjoying the slip'n'slide at full strength. Lauren also loved her time in Florida and gave me the tremendous gift of sleeping soundly most nights, even when her napping schedule and bedtime routines were thrown off. Thankfully, she did not throw up.

thank you mimi & granpa!

Our week in Florida was the perfect prelude to what we expect to be an extra sweet summer, visiting family and friends. For now, we are missing Mimi, Granpa and Ashley but thankful for the memories of our fun visit and anticipating seeing them again before the end of the month. And we are most grateful to be home with Matt and look forward to him joining us on our next adventure.