Friday, November 30, 2012

Evan at 41 months

41 months

Ev is a planner. He's planning to be Wolverine next Halloween, conveniently wearing Tobin's  hand-me-down costume. He's particularly interested in Wolverine's "scratchers," claws made of flimsy plastic and somehow still floating around the house. There's one in the van that Ev likes to wear for a minute and then he yells at me "I don't want this, Mom!" and I have to reach back from the driver's seat and take it, lest he keep yelling.


Ev also likes to yell before his nap time sometimes. Usually, he'll stick with singing/chatting for a few minutes before he falls asleep but occasionally he has something so urgent to tell me that he'll yell until I come back in. One day, I tucked him in and then took Lauren to our room to change her diaper and put her down for her nap. By the time I'd finished with the diaper, Ev was screaming to the point of crying so I went back in, trying to remain calm--instead of giving in to the urge to say what was running through my head: "What in the world could be the matter, son!?!"--and gently asked him what was wrong. He sniffled and said, "Where's Dad?" I replied, "He's at work, buddy." Ev said, "When I wake up, he'll be here? He'll get Tobin?" I assured him, "Yep, he'll get home after your nap and he's picking Tobin up, so T will be home too." Evan simply sighed, "Oh, okay." I left him again and he quietly settled in for a two-hour nap. Once again, I've learned the same lesson with him: Stay calm. His outbursts, while very passionate, are usually short-lived and fairly easily solved. Also, once it was over I had to admit it was kinda funny that essentially all he really needed to know was what was going to happen next. So now I make a point of telling him what's going to happen after his nap, and he seems to like that. (Also, rest assured I am struck with grateful wonder that my almost three and a half year old still naps so consistently!)

like brother like brother

Lately, when Tobin gets home from school, he and Evan immediately start a game of indoor "football." They call it football but it doesn't include a football (those have been banned from inside for obvious reasons) but instead a ball-like object (lately, an Angry Bird stuffed animal). It always include tackling. Lots of it. Part of me is amused and heartened that they obviously love this physical interaction so much. The other part is exasperated by the inevitable tears that follow. I know I'm not consistent in regulating this activity. Sometimes they'll go for quite a while before any tears. But once there is crying, I tell them "no tackling" and then when they don't stop tackling I take away their "ball" and again remind them to stop tackling because they of course don't really need the ball to continue their game. One afternoon this week, we headed outside to let them discharge their energy in a less dangerous way. As I helped Evan put on his hoodie and shoes, I talked to him about how we weren't going to play football outside, just run and kick the soccer ball. Tears welled up in his eyes and he pleaded, "I need to play football with Tobin!" The poor little guy was so disappointed that he wasn't going to get to tackle his brother in the grass. But I continued to explain that there would only be soccer and that if he didn't want to play soccer, he would need to stay inside with me while Daddy took Lauren and Tobin outside. He relented and was happy playing soccer until he apparently needed a more exciting activity: climbing the five-foot support wall on our neighbor's townhome. Ever my adventurer, Evan's favorite adventures involve his big brother. I love the picture above because it's taken on Thanksgiving day during a football break and Ev is so obviously imitating Tobin's hand gestures.

duplo tackle circle

As you'll note above, Tobin's influence on Evan is evident in his pretend play. Those are Duplo people wearing miniature NFL helmets. Here, they're encircling a single player and tackling him. (I'm concerned the player has no helmet and is considerably outnumbered.) Tobin plays with the helmets and Duplos like this too, but his play is a bit more complicated; he runs games with scoring updates and exciting finishes. But Evan mimics that play in his own way too. He matches helmets and tells us the Panthers are playing the Seahawks and then asks who we think will win. His very good at identifying the teams by their helmets and will watch SportsCenter and correctly note, "Oh, the Falcons played the Saints? The Falcons scored a touchdown?" So it appears Matt and I have passed on our interest in football to Tobin, and Tobin has passed that on to Evan. We love it--apart from the tackling injuries.

reading at breakfast

Although he is a ball of enthusiastic energy a good deal of the time, Evan increasingly curls up with a book by himself. He's not reading the words yet but he's content to look through books for quite a while without asking us to read to him. When we do read to him, he has so many questions on each page that it can take quite a while to get through the even the shortest book. He loves to tell us what's happening in a familiar book and is really good at identifying letters . . . when he's in the mood to do so. Tobin always seemed so eager to please when we'd ask him to tell us which letters he see or to count. Evan sometimes just insists "No, I don't want to!" and then asks a question that is more interesting to him. So I am making an effort to follow his lead and enjoy the adventure that is helping him navigate his own very particular world. He reminds me that there are many exciting things about everyday life. He also makes me laugh, even in some of life's more stressful moments. One morning a few weeks ago, Lauren was sick with a cold and had a coughing fit such that she threw up her morning milk all over herself and me. I drew a bath to clean her up and Evan joined her because he always takes a bath with his sister! So once I had them happy in the bath, I walked just a few steps away into my room to quickly change my clothes. I heard a big splash and thud and, already feeling uneasy leaving them alone in the tub for just a minute, I rushed in half-clothed to check on them. They were fine. But Evan, without missing a beat, saw me in just my bra and panties and quipped, "Oh Mom, you going to play volleyball?" And suddenly a very stressful sequence of events transformed into the most hilarious moment in my entire life, courtesy of the incomparable Evan Reid.

classic ev

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tobin at 78 months

78 months

The Saturday before Thanksgiving, Tobin went on a bit of a creative tear. Right after our pancake breakfast, he gathered paper, pens, crayons and tape and made a board game, Thanksgiving decorations and a book entitled Designs. It included pictures he and Evan had drawn with accompanying Tobin-penned captions. He worked on these things prettily steadily through the morning and even after lunch. Mid-afternoon, he plopped down next to me on the couch to watch football and said, "I think I'll take a break from inventing things for a while."

making a book

Over the last couple months, Tobin has really taken to writing. While he's been writing letters and words for a couple years now, he's seemed hesitant to write anything without asking us how to spell almost every word. His kindergarten teacher last year even noted that he seemed to struggle a bit with writing answers to simple reading comprehension questions; she speculated it might be fine motor issue. With that in the back of our minds, Matt and I gently encouraged Tobin to sound out and spell words he wanted to write down, instead of automatically spelling them for him. But at some point in the last few months, he stopped asking us to spell so many words and just writes down whatever he wants. The result is adorable prose replete with creative misspellings. He takes pride in being able to spell certain words correctly, especially most of his classmates' diverse names. He noted that his friend Lorenzo's name would sound just like Lauren's if you left off the "-zo" but "it would be spelled different."

curled up cozy

So it's special to see Tobin enjoying writing in addition to reading these days. He's reading chapter books when he gets a chance and is on volume 3 of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. Matt and I are trying to figure out what chapter books we can introduce him to. He enjoys The Magic Tree House series at school. I think we're looking forward to him reading things like The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and Harry Potter, but figure those might still be a few years down the road.

logging his reading

Tobin received his first public school report card at the end of October. Unsurprisingly, he got especially high marks in reading and math. His teacher also commended him particularly for following directions and participating in class activities. Tobin continues to enjoy working on his reading log each night. A couple weeks ago, he brought home a new reading log form which required him to answer a simple comprehension question each night. He never asks me for help in answering those questions, so I try to remember to sneak a peek every once in a while at his answers. I noticed just tonight he has likes to abbreviate "because" as "'cuz" (yes, with an apostrophe). He told me that he likes to do homework and wishes he had more--especially math! He reports that he even asked his assistant teacher if he could have more but she said that most of the homework was for the second and third graders in his class. I told him that he does a great job reading and keeping his log and that soon enough he would have more homework, but for now maybe he could just enjoy having extra playtime at home? This seemed okay with him.

homework complete

Tobin's Thanksgiving week started out a little rough as he woke up Monday morning throwing up, with what turned out to be strep throat. Fortunately, we were able to get him to the doctor that afternoon and get some antibiotics. He didn't miss a beat from that point on and was his usual positive traveler self on the road trip to Kentucky. While there he helped Grandma decorate for Thanksgiving with some of the signs he had made at home and wrote the names on our family place cards at the table. He enjoyed playing Monopoly and Yahtzee as well as the game Catch Phrase with a larger group of family. I think the object of the game is to describe a word without using rhyming or parts of the word. I didn't play but I remember hearing Tobin describe "a state that's really, really far south and it was created by volcanoes." Hawaii!

dear david bazan

Tobin made a card to send to David Bazan, one of Matt's favorite musicians who Matt saw at a show last week. You'll note above he included a quiz and a pilgrim on the front. He then enclosed a sweet note inside plus drawings of a turkey and Star Wars. I'm going to get him started on our Christmas cards soon! (Well, if we sent Christmas cards . . . but there's at least a possibility I'll post something Christmassy by Tobin on Flickr.)

dear david bazan, page 2

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lauren at 17 months

17 months

I find the second year so enchanting--even the third time around . . . or, maybe especially the third time around. Watching a child acquire language is miraculous. I'm even mesmerized by something as simple as walking. I catch myself watching Lauren toddle around, transfixed by the fact that's my baby moving around the world like a little person.

pink & polka dots

I love the polka dot pants Lauren's wearing above. They're 18-month size so, of course, she's been wearing them since she was about nine months old. But I suspect she'll be wearing them into the spring too as her growth numbers are continuing to come down from the upper limits of the percentile ranges. At the doctor last week, she weighed 26 lbs. 4 oz. (75-90th) and measured 31.5" long (50-75th). Her head circumference remains prodigious at 19.5" (above 95th). Her doctor has been monitoring her head measurements closely since her 12-month appointment since she's so high on the growth chart and she was a "late" walker. That's why her recent well-checks have been a little early--e.g., 14 and 17 months instead of 15 and 18. But since she's talking and walking as expected--and because late walking and large noggins seem to run in the family--everything checks out fine.

cozy snacker

Lauren suddenly has six teeth. Her bottom two teeth came in around 10 months. Then sometime around her birthday her first top tooth started coming in very slowly. Then it seems just in the last month her second top tooth and her bottom lateral incisors cut through. She's hardly complained about these rapid arrivals. She does enjoy being able to bite into a full slice of pizza and likes showing me her "teeeeeth" when her brothers are brushing theirs.

scoopin' rocks

One of the sweetest things you'll ever hear is Lauren's "thank you." She uses it properly when you give her something but she'll also say it when she gives you something, like a handful of rocks. Lately, she loves to give her brothers their water bottles. Each of the kids has a water bottle that they use all day long, take along in the car and, in the boys' cases, carry to bed with them. Lauren used to love to sneakily drink from her brothers' bottles. She'd cry in protest when I'd take away one of theirs and replace it with her own purple one. Eventually, she came to understand that I'd prefer she use her own bottle and now she's quick to grab a bottle lying around and deliver it to its proper owner. She knows the green one is Tobin's and the blue one is Evan's. Besides, she's moved on to stealing the boys' juice or milk cups (with straws!) that they sometimes leave too close to the edge of the dining table after meals.

baby at fountain

Another fun aspect of Lauren's verbosity these days is that she uses the word "poop" with aplomb. It's a multipurpose word. She uses it to tell me that she's pooped in her diaper or when she poots, which she likes to do on purpose and then giggle. She also calls diapers, whether soiled in the trash can or clean out of the box, "poop." She also uses "poop" to refer to the general area of her anatomy she can grab while undiapered. She even used "poop" one night to tell us that she peed on the living room floor while we wisely let her run around naked after her bath.

too cute

Lauren likes her routines. Every Sunday morning, she finishes her morning nap while I take the boys to the 11:15 service at church. When she wakes up, Matt takes her on a walk around the neighborhood. They're often finishing their walk just as we get home and wave at us when we drive by and honk the horn. She's still taking two naps a day--although the afternoon nap is getting a bit iffy. I often entice her to head to the room for a nap by telling her "It's time for milk." She reaches for me and when I pick her up, she pats my chest and asks "Nurse?" Each night after I put her in her pajamas, I tell her to go kiss her boys goodnight and she runs through the house to deliver big sloppy baby kisses to Daddy, Tobin and Evan. Lately, she's even started letting me read Goodnight Moon to her before bed. For a while, her idea of "reading" was pointing and yelling at a few pages of her choosing and then closing the book emphatically. So it's a nice treat to read that sweet book in its entirety to her each night. Of course, I think about how I read it to her brothers too and I find myself thinking about how quickly time is moving. I'm resolved to treasure as much of these simple baby routines as I can as I think about a time ahead when I will miss very much the familiar cadence of "In the great green room, there was a telephone, and a red balloon, and a picture of--the cow jumping over the moon."

On a lighter note, my girl playing soccer! And then doing what toddlers do so especially well.