Monday, October 04, 2010

The Next Step

Evan doesn't seem to be in too much of a hurry to walk. He moves along quickly when he crawls, but for the last few weeks he has seen more interested in walking upright. This video is the first one we were able to get of him taking steps (usually, we're busy making sure he's not walking/diving toward hard objects). Before he walks in the video, he has a few strong words for us. Maybe he was announcing his intentions?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Huge day: school + soccer

Tobin summed today up well over dinner this evening: "It was a big day for me." Yes, it was. Today our big boy started preschool--pre-Kindergarten at that. The day went really well, and I am so thankful.

Last night, as we were chatting about starting school, Tobin asked whether I could stay with him the first day. As succinctly as I could, I said that I couldn't but he was going to have a great time, and then I'd be back before he knew it. Then this morning, as he hugged Matt good-bye, he told him he was "a little nervous." When Matt asked what he felt nervous about, Tobin quipped: "Just the whole thing." :) As we got ready this morning, he said a few more times that he was nervous, but he said it in a very matter-of-fact way and didn't seem to fret further. He humored me by posing for some pictures before we left the house and was full of smiles. We even survived a last-minute outfit change necessitated by Evan attacking Tobin's unmanned orange juice (by crawling across the coffee table, no less!). Our ride to school was really normal, with both boys singing their silly car songs.

When we got to the school, he walked right to the bathroom and washed his hands, then went over to his cubby where I found his name tag and safety-pinned it to his back. He went right into the room, where he was greeted by the assisting parent who had him "sign in" and then directed him to the classroom, which was strewn, much like our living room floor, with all manner of Duplos. Tobin jumped right in and started playing. I chatted with another parent and took a few more pictures before I went over to kiss him good-bye. Never really looking up from his blocks, Tobin again asked me if I could stay. I said I would stay a few minutes but I needed to go soon and I would be back in just a little while. I paused for a moment more, watching the kids play, and then walked out. And that was that. The whole experience was simple, low key and pleasant. I think I must still have lingering trauma from numerous difficult daycare drop-offs when Tobin was much younger. So I did fret that he might suddenly have cold feet and really not want me to leave. After all, this is really his first significant time away from home since I started staying home with him two years ago. He's been talking for months about how excited he is to start school, and how he's going to tell his teacher things like he knows his numbers up to one million but he can't count that high because it would take too long, and how he's going to be a basketball player for his school (the school does have a nice gym), etc. All this was a good indication that he would enjoy school, but I knew that it would be unfamiliar to him at first and I just didn't know how he'd handle it. He seemed comfortable and confident this morning, and it just made me so happy--and relieved. I know it might not always be this easy for him, but this really seemed like the best start to the whole experience I could hope for.

It was fun to pick him up and revel in him proudly showing off a giant paper fish and telling me that his favorite part of the day was when they made birthday crowns, and how he fell and scraped his knee on the playground gravel but was okay, and how he did learn something today and it was how to sit "criss-cross applesauce," and how he liked his snack of grapes and "graham cracker sticks you dip in cheese." (Huh?)

On top of an awesome first day of school, Tobin also had his first soccer practice ever today. We registered him for soccer last month and were wait-listed and then got on a team but the team had no coach, so it all seemed tenuous enough that we didn't really mention it much to Tobin in case it fell through. But then yesterday, we got an email from the coach saying show up for practice today . . . with shin guards! Matt went with Tobin to the hour-long 5pm practice while I stayed home with Evan and finished getting dinner ready. Unsurprisingly, Tobin loved it. And apparently, he took to it rather well. The team had a little scrimmage at the end of practice and, as Matt tells it, Tobin's team won 2-0 with Tobin scoring a goal and having an assist. Yay!

In the course of one day, I feel like our lives have changed dramatically with the introduction of preschool and (kinda) organized sports into our lives. Today felt like a really happy day. And though I have moments when my heart aches from watching my boy grow, I mostly feel excited about what's ahead for him and us. Like I said earlier, at dinner, Tobin sighed and said, "Today was a big day for me." And then he deadpanned: "I need to go to bed before Evan." Ha! As it turned out his plans for going to bed early included instructing me "to not let him clean up too much stuff" during his usual pre-bedtime clean-up time and forgoing UNO games, which Matt and I were told we were free to play after he went to sleep. But he still wanted his story time with Daddy . . . and actually did stay awake for one UNO game. I think that little exchange sums up Tobin well. He's self-aware, clever and independent, but he still treasures those special times with us. May that always be so.

Monday, September 06, 2010

So long, sweet Summer.

Tonight Matt and I are enjoying a quiet evening watching college football while the boys are tucked snugly in their beds. We're all a bit tired from our last road trip of the summer: Labor Day weekend in Atlanta visiting Ashley and Donnie as well as Mimi and Grandpa who traveled up from Florida. This indeed has been the summer of the road trip. The four of us have covered just shy of 6000 miles on the road.

Our longest trip was our four-week, 14-state, 4000-mile adventure in June and July. We made stops in Kentucky to visit with Grandma, Nana, Sarah and Dan; Wisconsin to see good friends from Durham, most of whom no longer live here; Louisiana to spend time with both our Lantrip and Walsh extended families; and Georgia to stay with Ashley as we made our final trek home. As we prepared for this trip in early June, I was rather anxious. While looking forward to fun times with family and friends, I also fretted about the hours on the road plus just being away from home for four weeks with two young kids. While the trip wasn't without its tough moments (e.g., the time I cried as I repacked our suitcase in Louisiana for the umpteenth time, not because I was sad to be leaving, but because I was so weary of organizing all those clothes!), it was overwhelmingly wonderful. And we were blessed with incredible traveling mercies, chiefly no illness or car trouble, AND two great sleepers.

As I write this, I'm tempted to recount our adventures in more detail, but honestly what I think about most right now is what we learned more generally about our boys on the trip. To say they were troopers is an understatement.

Tobin is at a wonderfully fun age when we finally don't have to micromanage his sleep schedule; the world will not end if he misses a nap or goes to bed late. He also is increasingly independent, and once familiar with a situation or people, he is up for just about anything. And it's just fine if Mom and Dad aren't there. So it was great to watch him playing for hours alongside his friends in the lake in Wisconsin or following my younger cousins around in Louisiana just to see what they were up to. He also developed quite an affinity for games, especially UNO. Matt, Tobin and I still play a game or two almost every night as part of his bedtime routine. He's quite competitive and hilarious in the heat of the battle, which is no surprise. Our firstborn is growing up so fast, and though it catches me off guard sometimes, I just marvel at how delightful it is to watch him mature and to get to know the fabulous individual he is.

Of course, our trip was a big deal for Evan too, especially since he celebrated his first birthday on the road. What struck me most about Evan is what a secure little guy he is. He was so adaptable and would actually reach for people who reached for him, even if he hardly knew them. (I seem to remember Tobin having considerably more stranger and separation anxiety at his age.) And that, in turn, was significant for Matt and me, because it made us feel more comfortable about everything. I even spent my first night away from him when Matt and I celebrated our anniversary on an overnight date while the boys stayed with my family in Louisiana. He also surprised me by sleeping really well throughout the trip. I expected his sleep to be unsettled, and it was occasionally, but for the most part he maintained his schedule without much effort. I am certainly guilty of getting bogged down in the minutia of his day-to-day care, and our travels this summer helped me see Evan as simply a happy, confident baby. I think that has made a world of difference since returning home, giving me a renewed appreciation for how doubly blessed I am to have two pleasant, sweet children. I couldn't be prouder or more grateful.

The balance of our summer was spent mainly at home, except for another week in Kentucky and our most recent Labor Day trip. Our weeks at home were especially sweet since Matt was home with us. And there we were, the four of us, just doing the routine, everyday stuff but enjoying it so much because we were doing it together. With Matt's return to work three weeks ago, we have settled into a new routine that is comfortable in its own way but I do miss our summer togetherness. But there's always next summer to look forward to, and who knows the adventures it holds?

And speaking of adventures, there's another one about to begin this week when a certain four-year-old starts pre-K . . .

Monday, July 19, 2010

Belatedly, Happy Birthday Ev!

Ahem. I'm kind of posting this today so that I can at least say that we didn't let a whole two months go by between posts. Those months have been quite full of Matt wrapping up his school year, preparing for our Epic Road Trip, undertaking our (four week!) Epic Road Trip and, now, recuperating from said travels. In the midst of all of that, of course, we celebrated the joyous occasion of Evan's first birthday. I still think of him as "the baby" or "my baby," but I can now say things like I have a four- and a one-year-old. And that's just crazy.

For now, let me just promise more details soon and offer pictures from Evan's first first birthday celebration (on his actual birthday, 6/28) in Kentucky, which was right at the midpoint of our big trip. There was another celebration in Louisiana with the Walsh side of the family about ten days later. So we did celebrate in a timely, albeit protracted, fashion. And in some ways I think that's really quite fitting for our fun, adaptable little guy.

I can also share Evan's one-year-old stats, as we did manage to make it to his twelve-month check-up the day after we returned home. He's doing great and grew an inch and a half since we last saw the doctor three months ago. Interestingly, he didn't gain any weight. We knew he'd been slimming down, losing some of his many baby rolls, but I was at least surprised that he hadn't gained anything. So all that means he weighed 25 lbs. 9 oz. (80th percentile) and measured 30.5 inches long (50th percentile). His doctor was totally fine with his weight, even remarking that she had expected this plateau to happen. He certainly is moving a lot these days, including climbing onto anything he can reach! Oh, there's so much more to say about him, but I think I'll do that later when I have more time to write and discuss his development in tandem with sharing about our traveling adventures, which were really wonderful.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tobin's 4th Birthday

This is the 200th post on the Toblog, so it's only appropriate that it coincides with such an important day. On Tuesday, T turned 4. His mom and I repeated it out loud to ourselves a few times during the day, almost in disbelief. Has it really been 4 years since we brought a squirmy, fragile baby home?

Tobin's outfit for going home.

I took the day off work so we could all be together. We enjoyed a morning of phone calls from family, breakfast, and the T's first hesitant ride on his big-boy bike. After Evan's morning nap, we made a trip to Raleigh's Museum of Natural Sciences. Lunch was Chick Fil-A (the second of three meals T chose for us on the day), then we came home to play all afternoon. The video below is an attempt to share the big parts of the rest of our day with you. (The birthday party he mentions will be on Saturday, so there's still more fun to look forward to here.)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mobility, Sweet Mobility

After about a month of scooting backwards to move around the house, Evan made the leap into full mobility last Saturday. He was 10 months and 10 days old (just returned from a week in Florida) when he started crawling around the house. By the end of the day, he had explored thoroughly, pulling things down and reorganizing as he scooted along. His disposition has changed along with his new skill. Before, he would often grunt at us when he wanted something. Now, he just swings down into position and cruises along. His brother is excited for him, and has been crawling around with him a lot. During the week, I shot almost as much video of Tobin crawling and blocking Evan from the camera as I did video of Ev crawling. I still remember how much fun I had sharing video of Tobin crawling, so I decided to give Evan the same treatment. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Ev's First Week Crawling from matt smith on Vimeo.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mr. Conversation

I took Tobin to a baseball game tonight. We went to one on Monday night and sat with pretty much the same group of people, so he was familiar with the routine. His comfort level contributed to a high level of conversation with everyone around. Here are a few examples (fresh in my memory, and as close as I can get to exact quotes).
  • To a former player of mine, who asked if T if he was in Kindergarten and if he knew his numbers to 100: "No, I just stay home. I know more than 100. But you write one-hundred 'one-zero-zero' or you can think of it as a ten with an extra zero."
  • A friend of mine was there with his elementary-school aged daughters. One of the girls asked if T knew his alphabet and if he would say it: "A, B, C, D, E--you know what? It would take me like 26 seconds to say it, so no."
  • Again to the girls, when the score was 8-0 (an obnoxious team from Raleigh winning): "This game is not close, so I don't call it a good game. If we were winning by 1, I would call it a good game, but I would be a little nervous."
  • On the way home: "Those girls' dad is the basketball coach, but he likes baseball. That's why they were at the game--because he likes baseball. They said they would see me at the next game."
  • Also on the way home, about the girls and our friend Mika: "Hey Dad, do you know what I like about those girls and Mika?" "No. What?" "They speak English. So I can talk to all of them."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Out = In

As of right about now, Evan has been out in the world living with us as long as he spent growing in my belly. And oh, how he continues to grow. I suppose 0 to 8 lbs. 13 oz. (his birth weight) was impressive, but we're blown away that he's gone from just under 9 lbs. at birth to nearly 26 lbs. at 9 1/2 months. (At times I feel every one of those 17 lbs. in my arms and lower back. Ha!) More precisely, he weighs 25 lbs. 10 oz., and measures 29" in length and 18.75" in head circumference. Compared to his brother, he's about 2 lbs. heavier and half an inch longer. Evan is doing fabulously. And although we snicker at his hugeness, we are so very mindful of what a blessing it is to have such a strong, healthy, hearty boy.

He is indeed all boy. With some hesitancy, we have referred to him as our "wild child." His reactions seem to be stronger than what we remember Tobin's being at this age. He loves to be loud and hit stuff--as do most babies. But he does so with a recklessness unfamiliar to us as parents of one Tobin Lee Smith. However, Tobin did not grow up with an older brother, who delights in all the noises Evan makes and likes to match them with his own. Today at the doctor's office, Evan was happily playing with the white paper on the exam table and then just began squealing, or one might say screaming! Happily, but very loudly. And Tobin, who was "helping" by throwing every single piece of paper Evan tore off into the trash can, began to respond with his own squeals and squawks. They did a similar thing at Target this morning. And almost anytime we're in the car for more than 5 minutes. More often than not, it is Evan who instigates it. Although he might be squealing in response to something Tobin did, so it's really a chicken-or-the-egg thing.

Speaking of his strong reactions, Evan responds enthusiastically to music. He loves it. We were in church for the Easter service and he started bobbing and swaying to the chords of the (rather mundane) instrumental prelude. I have often resorted to playing The Avett Brothers' album I and Love and You when an afternoon grows long and Evan is a little cranky. Usually, it makes him pause and smile and dance. Just a few moments ago, he woke up from his nighttime slumber and was restless for several minutes while I tried to soothe him back to sleep. When I started singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," he went limp in my arms and is now sleeping soundly again.

Unsurprisingly, Evan eats well. He is still nursing and as far as solid food goes, he still eats mostly purees, but will try just about anything I offer. His favorite "texture" foods are Cheerios and small chunks of bananas. He likes apples and avocados too. Tonight, I slipped a few pieces of my cooked rice into spoonfuls of his sweet potato-chicken puree. He made the funny little face he makes when trying something new, and then amused himself--and us-- by smacking the rice between his gums. Until recently, his gums were the only things he could use to "chew." His first tooth broke through about 10 days ago, and a second is just now visible at the gum line. He has that adorable toothing tongue-twirling and drooling look going on.

Perhaps because of the tremendous effort it will take to move his prodigiously-sized body, Evan is not quite crawling. But he seems this close. Just this afternoon, he got up on all fours and paused there a moment. He lunges from bottom to belly very well. And scoots and pivots on both his bottom and belly in almost any direction except forward. He is also able to slither backwards on his belly very quickly. I particularly love how I can be standing near him and he will pivot/lunge toward my feet or even pull on my pant leg, asking me to pick him up. It is only a matter time before he is really moving around.

And we have provisionally and optimistically deemed Evan a good traveler. While he's done well for the most part with our travels, including our flights to Louisiana and back for Christmas, car trips have been a little dicey. We had one particular trip that really did us in. Our return home from Labor Day weekend spent in Louisville took us 13 hours. The last 90 miles took us almost 3 hours, because Evan was screaming so we stopped about every 20 miles to try to console him. He was just over two months at the time. Since that one trip, we've always split the 550-mile trip to Grandma's by staying overnight in a hotel halfway. Gradually, it seemed as though Evan was improving over those shorter 6ish-hour trips, so we took the plunge a couple of weeks ago and decided to make our spring break trip to Kentucky all in one day. We left at 5:30am, loading two very wakeful boys in the car; ours are not the kind of kids you can carry anywhere and expect them to stay asleep. And we arrived in Louisville not quite 10 hours later, having to stop only twice: for a midmorning nurse and potty break, and then for lunch. Our trip home this past Sunday was pretty much a mirror image of the previous trip. We were so thankful and relieved. I'd guess the improved travel is a combination of Evan being more accustomed to the car, better at entertaining himself and on a better schedule when it comes to eating, sleeping and, um, pooping. It also helps that Tobin sets a great example and provides plenty of entertainment too.

Speaking of our time in Louisville, we recently uploaded our Easter pics to Flickr. Enjoy!

Friday, March 26, 2010


The other night, our curious firstborn was asking Matt about Heaven while brushing his teeth. After some discussion of its size ("Bigger than big.") and location ("Maybe very high in the sky?"), Matt asked Tobin if he wanted to go there and T said, "Yes, but I think I'd like to just visit first." Then Matt asked who he knew in Heaven. Tobin lit up and said, "Johnny Cash, Granddad and Carl Perkins!"

Fast forward to tonight when Tobin and I were chatting while he finished eating. He told me that he climbed a mountain that was so tall it went past Heaven. I asked if he visited Heaven and he said yes, and that he had seen God. Curious, I asked, "Well, what did he look like?" Almost nonchalantly Tobin said, "He was a circle." He went on to explain that God didn't have eyes or a throat or a chest, he was just "round."

Besides being entertained by these exchanges, I am amazed at how Tobin's mind works, and I love his confidence in his own opinions and experiences, even the imaginary ones.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"That's Ok"

I'm dealing with a slight cold this week. In the evening, my throat is a little scratchy, and I've found myself coughing through story time. So last night, I decided to abbreviate the books Tobin and I were reading by trying to omit adjectives here and there. Tobin caught me both times. My first attempt was during A Visitor for Bear. It went like this:
"And Bear made a nice fire to two sets of toes."
"'Crackling fire'"
"Right, thanks T. 'Crackling fire.'"
I read the rest of that book as it was written. Next on our list was The Berenstein Bears in the Dark, a book we hadn't read for a few weeks. As we worked our way to happy resolution of Sister Bear's fear of the dark, I tried to skip a word again:
"Sister Bear couldn't believe her big Papa had ever been afraid of the dark."
"'Big powerful Papa,' Dad."
"Right. 'Big powerful Papa."
"Hey Dad?"
"Yes Tobin?"
"That's OK. Sometimes I have trouble with words, too."

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

What did you do last weekend?

I only ask because Evan had a pretty busy weekend. He stood (propped up a bit) for about 20 minutes, sharpened his clapping skills, shot some hoops with his brother, and danced to good music. Video evidence is below.

Evan's New Activities from matt smith on Vimeo.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Skills . . .

Evan is advancing quickly in the motor skills department. We should find the time to write an entire post about his ability to grasp, his improved balance, and abilities at the table. For now, enjoy video of him playing ball with his dad.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Bedtime stories

Reading bedtime stories is the most consistent part of the bedtime routine at our house. Tobin loves it, and a great motivator for him is the promise of "more books" for completing an evening task ahead of schedule. Last month, he told me he wanted to read a story to me as part of it. He chose one of his favorites. Below is video of him reading it. (He told me he's taking a break from reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear this week, but he still likes to watch this video).

T reads Brown Bear, Brown Bear from matt smith on Vimeo.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Two Choices

Tobin expresses his will strongly sometimes. Lately, the dinner table seems to be the place where he flexes his rhetorical muscle most. A few nights ago, he told Allison that he wasn't going to eat the food she had prepared, and he demanded (loudly) something else. When he started crying at the table, I said "Tobin, you have two choices: you can stay here at the table and eat with us now, or you can go to your room until you're ready to eat with us." He dried up pretty quickly and resumed his charming dinner-table chatter.

Shortly after, Evan began crying from his place at the table. Allison and I moved to get him ready to finish supper and get ready for bed. While we were moving around, Tobin's voice authoritatively said "Evan, you have two choices: you can stop crying and stay here, or you can go to your room."

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The process has begun

Hi all. We're getting settled in with our new webhosting setup. My goal is to make this as seamless for us as authors as it is for you as readers. I'll be going slowly through the archives of the Toblog to try to make sure all our links are good.

One thing you may want to change is your RSS reader address. (If you don't know what this is, don't worry about it). Change it from to http://walshsmith/atom.xml

You could also help me by letting me know where we're missing content. Leave it as a comment and I'll get the email. Also, I doubt you'll notice, but we've deleted the old pages that linked to brief bios and other randomness. If you miss any of that content, let me know and I'll find a way to get it to you.

As always, thanks for reading and sharing with us.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ch-ch-ch-changes . . .

Over the next few days, I'm going to try to move this blog to the homepage of . Our method of publication is no longer being supported by our blog publisher, so we've got to get a move on.

If I get it right, you should redirect automatically, but who knows if I'll get it right? If you visit the blog and it isn't here, please redirect to .

In case everything crashes and fails, I appreciate your patience ahead of time while I fix it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

More Snow Playing

These videos are from the day after the previous one. There isn't really much I can add to Tobin's smiles and laughter on the video.

Snowplay from matt smith on Vimeo.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Snow! (January 2010 Edition)

We don't get snow often. Last month we got a wet, useless, sorry excuse for snow. But Friday night and Saturday, it really snowed. We had 4 or 5 inches here with a nice crust of sleet on top. While it wasn't perfect for making snowmen, it has worked well for snowballs and our little improvised cardboard sled. We all took a walk.
on a walk in the snow
T threw lots of snowballs.
follow through
Then he had his first(!) ever hot chocolate.
It has been an all-around good time. I didn't have to go to work today, our power never went out, and we've been out to play in the snow five times (with another pending this afternoon). This is what winter should feel like.

Snow Days from matt smith on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Zero and a half

Back on November 18 (which is after this blog was last updated--yikes!), Tobin turned three and a half, and since then he has been especially proud to tell people exactly how old he is. He often tells others that his brother is "zero" so I thought it might be cute if he, as of December 28, said Evan was "zero and a half." Apparently he is too smart and serious to indulge such silliness and prefers to just say Evan is six months old, thanks anyway Mama.

And at this point, our baby is nearly seven months old. We might later delve more deeply into certain moments of the last two months, but they have been a whirlwind of travel, family time and some illness. We spent Thanksgiving in Louisville, Christmas in Lake Charles (including a day trip to Houston) and New Year's back in Louisville. For most of our Christmas travels, the boys were sick with respiratory ailments. Tobin went on antibiotics twice, once for a croupy cough and most recently for an ear infection. This doubled the rounds of antibiotics he has had in his entire life--and ear infections, I think. Evan fared slightly better but suffered through about four weeks of a snotty, stuffy nose. Matt and I also got sick, but just with common colds. Knock on wood, we have enjoyed about a week of clearish noses and are so thankful. Really, we've been very healthy as a family with little kids, but traveling and sickness are a rather unpleasant combination.

On a more positive note, Evan has been undaunted by the stresses of the last two months and is thriving. Matt and I kind of joke that one day a couple of weeks ago, it just occurred to us that he could sit up. Now he sits up and plays for long stretches, grabbing anything in reach, preferably something he can bang against something else to make! some! noise! He also rocks (jiggles!) side to side when his toys play music, or when Tobin sings one of his originals. And he's started vocalizing with distinct, consistent consonant sounds. Often I hear him waking from a nap saying, "huh duh duh," which I imagine to be "Hey, Dada!" It's so much fun to watch him interact with his world these days.

Evan's eating solid foods about three times a day: rice cereal, bananas, apples, pears and sweet potatoes. It's been special to have him part of family meals. He usually eats lunch with Tobin and me and then sits down for dinner with all of us. He seems to particularly like the rice cereal-sweet potato mixture I've served him for supper the last week, opening his little mouth wide and sticking out his tongue expectantly.

It's pretty much impossible for me not to build up to releasing his latest stats. I mean he's simply huge. I can't help but giggle a little bit about it every time I pick him up or clean the rolls on his legs and arms during his bath. Evan is our very robust bundle of blessings. At six and a half months, he weighed 22 lbs. 12 oz. and measured 27.5" long with a 18" head circumference. His doctor is super pleased with how well he's doing. And so are we.