Monday, January 28, 2013

Evan at 43 months

43 months

In many ways, Evan is very predictable. When he wakes up in the morning, he emerges from the bedroom carrying his water bottle and his two sleeping friends, Blue (the dog) and Iron Man, and heads straight for the bathroom, where Matt or I quickly join him to help him potty. He'll also always ask for me to play the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop" again! and louder! in the car. And he almost always has a question or idea for me as I try to leave him for his nap each day.


Today's pre-nap conversation went something like this:
"Mom, I have an idea for you!"
"Okay, what is it?"
"I can ride my bike on the house! And you can get me a ladder!"
"Um, you can't do that because it's not safe, sweetie."
"But I can fly like Lightning McQueen!"
"I'm sorry but you can't fly like Lightning McQueen."
"Why not?"
"Because he's a special car and you're a boy. Boys can't fly."
"Okay, I'll just be Iron Man and I can fly."
"Have a good nap, buddy."
(Fortunately, we don't own a ladder.)


But then there are times when things don't go at all like I expect, except that I can anticipate Evan wanting to do things his way. Last week I bought a little workbook with reading and math activities. The first worksheet I tried to do with him had simple instructions like "color the squares with the letter A red." Evan told me he didn't want to do that and instead circled all the A's with red and the other letters with their own color. I thought this was neat because he showed me he knew his letters and colors but just wanted to do the worksheet differently. I put up a new alphabet poster and thought we might go through the letters together, but instead we ended up "discussing" whether the animal next to the O was an octopus or jellyfish. I know Tobin was writing his name by this age, but any time we suggest Ev draw letters, he almost always says "I can't do it, you do it." or "I don't want to." He will write T's fairly regularly on his drawings, and he always calls them "T-Tobin-turtles." I think I'm going to need to learn how to follow his lead when it comes to activities like this.

chatting across the table

It's interesting that just as his sister becomes more of a handful--especially when we're running errands--Evan is becoming especially easy going and pleasant. He listens very well when we're shopping. He may enjoy exploring ahead of me down the aisle but he always comes back quickly when I ask him to. At home, he's learning to be gentler with Lauren, even as she's testing the same boundaries. The other day I heard him yelling "Ow!" and ran into the room to find Lauren smacking him on the head. As I comforted him, he implored, "Tell Lauren not to hit me, or I will break!" I was impressed that he hadn't retaliated against her assault. Indeed she's been the aggressor in most of their altercations lately. She's learning to say "sorry" and give hugs, and he's learning to be patient.


Another big step in Evan's life has been moving out of his crib. Truthfully, we didn't push the issue because it didn't really matter whether he slept in the crib or in the big bed with Tobin, because we weren't quite ready to move Lauren out of our room until recently. The last few months it was kind of comical, because he was very much a big boy in a little bed. He could climb in and out of the crib himself via the adjacent rocking chair, even though he never climbed out when he wasn't supposed to. When we returned from our Christmas travels, we decided to put Lauren in the crib and move Evan in bed with Tobin. He was just a little whiny about it the first night but accepted the transition quickly. The day after his first night in the bed, I offered him the choice of sleeping in my bed or the crib for his nap--thinking that would be a nice treat and I'd just put Lauren in the Pack'n'Play in our room if he chose the crib--but he chose the obvious third choice: napping in Tobin's bed. I mentioned in Lauren's post this month that ultimately we ended up moving the boys onto a pallet on our floor so Lauren could have the kids' room all to herself for sleeping. Evan's handled that well too, calling the pallet his "special bed." He especially likes it on weekends, when Matt and I aren't necessarily up earlier than the boys and they can climb in bed with us to snuggle (chat).


I find myself especially sentimental about what a big boy Evan suddenly is. I think part of it is because we'll soon apply through the public school lottery for his spot in Tobin's magnet school's pre-K program. We may end up enrolling him in private preschool next year but in any case, this is his last year at home full-time with me. I will miss my little buddy. I am presently the beneficiary of many of his charms. When I go grocery shopping or run other errands on the weekends without him, upon my return he'll tell me: "Mom, I don't like it when you leave me. I just lost you." (I'm pretty sure he means he "missed" my but how adorable is "lost" here?) He's also amused us by playing favorites. This is not a fair representation of Matt's character, nor our relative hilarity, but one night Evan told me: "I don't like Dad; I just like you, Mom. Dad's scary; you're funny!" Of course, not half an hour later, I heard Matt telling Evan "I love you, buddy" as he carried him to bed. Ev responded, "I love you too, Dad." Here's more of our sweet, funny boy counting with Dad after dinner, Evan's classic enthusiasm on display.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tobin at 80 months

tobin lee, self-portrait

This morning, while playing Duplos with Evan and Lauren, I made a simple structure with a distinct rainbow-color pattern. I put it up on the mantle to save it until Tobin got home, thinking he might like it. Within five minutes of walking through the door, he noticed it and said, "Wow! Mom did you make that? It's so cool!" In less than another five minutes, my creation got caught in the crossfire of some enthusiastic play by Evan and broke. Tobin cried and asked for my help reconstructing it. I reminded him of the pattern at just a couple points and he otherwise rebuilt it with ease.


While he's quite good a figuring out our challenging Perplexus puzzles, Tobin also still loves simple activities like building with Duplos and drawing. His favorite thing to do with Duplos is something he's been doing for a couple years now: creating an Angry Birds game, replete with birds and piggies and structures to knock down. Evan, well-versed in the video game like his big brother, is an admirer of Tobin's games. In fact, he regularly warns Lauren and me not to break Tobin's birds when we're playing with Duplos. This past weekend, Tobin used the Duplos to create a large dice and game pieces, and used some wooden blocks to make a game board. He had us all rolling the dice to advance on the board. I was busy with something in the kitchen and neither younger sibling was focused on the game, so Tobin ended up playing for each of us and would excitedly update us on our respective progressions around the board. Classic.

tobin as calvin

Last Thursday, Tobin dressed up as a favorite storybook character for school. We settled on Calvin from Calvin & Hobbes. Though Calvin is more a comic book character, we figured that since he's finished Matt's entire three-volume collection, it was "literary" enough.

reading to lala

We are especially thankful for Tobin's brotherly patience and reading skills, and encourage his younger siblings to snuggle up with him for some reading. He loves it. He's always had an extra tender relationship with Lauren, although that's changing a tad as she asserts herself and grabs cars and knocks down football helmet formations. Still he's her favorite non-Mama snuggle buddy, especially first thing in the morning. With Evan, I think that Tobin's longer days at school have made their hearts grow a bit fonder. Plus they seem to just be at an age when playing together is more fun than contentious. We sometimes stop by a park on the way home from school, and I've been struck by how much the boys play together almost the entire time on the playground--almost oblivious to other kids around them. And it's usually Tobin leading the way, encouraging Evan to join him or keep up. I was so charmed on a recent visit by their brotherly play that I found myself letting them do all manner of crazy things on a slide, even as I fretted just a tad about their safety. They would climb up then figure out silly ways to slide down holding on to each other--sometimes on their bellies, sometimes headfirst, whatever. I just kind of stood there and took it all in: enjoying my boys enjoying each other. When they're not tackling or racing or otherwise keeping score, they're the best of friends.

best bros.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Today is Allison’s birthday. As a family, we are blessed to celebrate the birthdays of three hilarious little people, and they usually (as they should) take prominence in our lives here at home. However, today provides an excuse for a little celebration of the most popular (for now!) parent in the house.

We’ll probably celebrate Allison’s birthday subtly with a little take-out, wine, and cake (baked--in a good decision for all involved--by the birthday girl herself). No inflatable structures, pizza parties, or new LEGO playsets. Not a lot of fanfare, but that wouldn't really be our style.

What are we celebrating? We’re celebrating Allison.

Allison loves warmly and unconditionally. She is a listener, a supporter, an encourager, and a friend. Not just to me, but also to our children, friends, and family. 

hi there mom.

Allison teaches. It isn't her job title or her profession, technically, but she teaches, most often by example. I struggle to be patient when I find myself saying "Please stop [insert undesirable activity here]," for the twentieth time. Allison maintains her resolve and her calm (with maybe the occasional exception). As she and I have learned to be parents and a parenting team, she has taught me more than anyone else, from the details of diapers and bathtime to the more philosophical elements of parenthood and discipline. I am the dad I am in large part because of Allison's influence.

intently reading

Allison works hard. A lifetime ago, I knew Allison as an undergraduate student. While I was likely to put off work and find excuses not to do what I convinced myself was busy work, she seemed to tackle everything with the same dedication I reserved for "important tasks." She applies the same ethic at work, at home, and in school. She was the one who put renewed effort and work into the blog and our pictures so we could share more of what's going on.

allison + matt = 16 years

Allison is the favorite. We have a running joke in our house about how everyone wants/needs to be close to her all the time. I say it's a joke, but it's largely true. It's not unusual for me to leave for work in the morning as all three kids are spinning around Allison like little planets to her sun. She is comfort and peace to all of us, especially Lauren. I'm sure it's exhausting sometimes, but she embraces it wholly. That's the idea I think I celebrate most today. Allison is wholly invested in her multiple roles in our lives. She and I can handle a 3 am emergency wake-up call with mechanical precision, we can curl up on the couch for a big game, and we can laugh together about pretty much anything. A lot.

mama's helper

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lauren at 19 months

19 months

Another month yields another picture of Lauren standing in a chair. But her hair's a little longer and she's probably a bit taller. She loves sneaking up on the table too.

cozy w/ev

Another quintessential Lauren pose above: snuggled up to someone, sucking her thumb. Lately her naps have been a little on the short side so she wakes up a few minutes before Evan. The moment she hears him yelling from his room, she squirms out of my arms saying, "Bubba? Bubba? Bubba!" She finds him in his room and plops down beside him, lays her head on Tobin's pillow and gestures for me to pull the blanket over her. The boys are currently sleeping on a pallet on our floor as we've moved Lauren to the crib in the kids' room and let her have that room all to herself obviously at nap time but also at night. Having her own room has helped her get over her latest round of night waking, it seems. I'm sure this sleeping arrangement saga is to be continued, so stay tuned!

 smiley w/mama

Lauren sleeping in a room separate from me has given me the best sleep I've had in a year and half. To be fair, she's had good stretches of sleeping through the night but it's not been unusual for her to wake and cry even though she puts herself back to sleep. Before the holidays, I think she finally caught on that I was just right there in the big bed next to her Pack'n'Play so she started demanding my attention. And even on nights she didn't, my light-sleeping tendencies had me waking and often fretting with every noise she made. Now I sleep much better with the physical distance between us. Physical distance isn't much of an option during the day though. It's truly an honor to be her favorite person in all the world but some days it feels like if she's not in my lap or on my hip, she's flopping on the floor crying because she isn't.

on the floor

The better nights have helped me be more patient during the days though. And I know this is all part of her growing up and one day soon I'll blink and wonder "Where did my baby go?"

crayon selection

Growing up can be hard on a baby and her mama, but it's also a lot of fun too. The last few days I've had success getting out the crayons and letting her draw with Evan. Honestly, she enjoys coloring more than Evan these days. She recently enjoyed a very fun trip with her daddy to Target. He didn't make her ride in the shopping cart at all and even let her hug a friendly--but unfamiliar--boy! I wasn't surprised to hear about the hugging because she not only waves to random people we encounter on our walks through the neighborhood but blows them kisses! She's also chatting up a storm and recently taken to gesturing with wild arm movements while doing so. She tends to say "Okay? Okay. Okay!" while playing or trying to figure things out. Today, I handed her a cup and she said as plain as day, without any prompting: "Thank you, Mama!" She continues to love impersonating animals and had her brother's cracking up at her piggy "oink! oink!" at dinner tonight. And speaking of dinner, she's eaten her brothers under the table lately. They suddenly aren't keen on family staple "red pasta" (penne with marinara) but she gobbles it up and eats broccoli to boot, adorably asking for "more trees!" She's even impressed me by becoming my first kid to eat scrambled eggs. I guess it doesn't take much for this mama of picky-ish eaters? All this to say, Lauren keeps me busy and still overwhelmingly charmed as she finds her place right beside the rest of us.