Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Taste of Home

We had a fun visit with our friends Katie and Scott the weekend before last. They were heading from Fayetteville to Houston for Thanksgiving and stopped over in Dallas to stay with us for a night. Alex made a beeline for Katie as soon as they stepped in the door and barely let her sit down before he climbed into her lap and thrust a book in her face.

After she read him every book in the house, twice, we distracted him with some M&M's and dragged him off to El Fenix for an authentic Tex-Mex feast.

After Alex went to bed, us grown folk stayed up and played some games that Katie and Scott brought, starting with Bang!, a wild-west themed card game with about a zillion rules that might as well have been in Greek. Having spent ninety percent of the last sixteen months with someone who is only now starting to speak in single syllables has sucked the intelligence right outta me. I'm pretty sure that if you cut open my skull and took a peek inside, you'd find the festering remains of a once healthy and thriving brain, now reduced to a glob of useless mush. I mean seriously, the old synapses just don't fire like they used to...Anyway, I digress. Point is, that game was too hard for me. So we moved on to Guillotine, then to The Great Dalmuti, which by the end of the night, we had renamed "The Great Big Booty". Those two were much easier to learn and so much fun to play, not to mention how nice it was just to be playing games that weren't made by Fisher Price.

Katie and Scott were heading out Monday around 2, so we planned on meeting Timothy at Fedora, a brand new Italian restaurant in Timothy's building, to have lunch before they left. The place had a Godfather sort of theme, with black and white photography and damask upholstery and giant booths designed for lounging and cocktail-sipping and cigar-smoking. We didn't have any cocktails or cigars, but I had the best side salad I've ever tasted, and we had delicious paninis and garlic fries, and we were having a great time until I shared a garlic fry with Alex and he completely freaked out, as if I had fed him french fry soaked in battery acid. He's had garlic plenty of times and it has never bothered him, so we eventually determined that the combination of garlic and salt had irritated his sensitive gums that are currently in the process of birthing two new teeth. Poor baby. So he basically went without lunch until we got home.

Katie and Scott moved on to Houston, Alex moved on to naptime, and I moved on to packing for our trip to Eldo.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A long, long time ago...

I wish I had some great excuse for why it's taken me so long to blog about my parents' visit a couple of weeks ago, like I was training for a marathon, or I lost all of my fingers in a freak manicuring accident at the nail salon, or maybe thousands of toads poured out of the sky and crashed into the cable lines, disabling my internet for two weeks...Truth is, I took about a thousand pictures when my folks were here, and Blogger only lets you upload five photos at a time, and each upload takes five minutes, times two when the Autosave feature fails and your browser unexpectedly quits and the pictures that you've spent days uploading disappear into oblivion and you have to upload them again, and...well, you do the math.

That said, I will let the pictures tell most of the story about what we did when my folks were here because a) it would take me another two weeks to create a detailed account of our busy weekend two weeks after the fact and b) it's the least they can do since I spent so much time uploading them.

Due to some scheduling conflicts, my mom and dad were arriving on different days and leaving on different days. So my dad got here on Saturday morning, and since Tim had to go in to work, Alex and I picked Dad up from the airport, hung out at the house, ran some errands, toured Timothy's office, and went out for dinner.

Mom got here Sunday afternoon, and we went to the park to play while Tim got some work done. Poor Ol' Granny B threw her back out, so she had to leave the heavy lifting to Grampa. She did a great job of providing moral support, however.

The nice thing about having someone watch your kid at the park is that you get to play, too. I actually impressed myself by making it from one rung to the other. No, I'm not kidding, I really was impressed.

Of course, leave it to my old man to upstage me.

Watching us swing around made Alex thirsty (and yes, I know my dark three inch roots look thirsty for some bleach, too, but I want fresh highlights for Leah's wedding in January).

And apparently all of the swinging around made Grampa sleepy.

After naptime, A was refreshed and had a good time being silly with B.

During dinner, he continued to ham it up. Recently, out of the blue, he started doing this thing where he balls up his fists and tenses up his whole body to the point where it shakes. The really funny part is that Oliver started doing the same thing when he was about Alex's age, which the Primms called "getting psyched". Alex started doing it on his own, with no prompting from us, like it's just something boys that age do. He thinks it's funny, I guess, and he claps for himself whenever he's done performing for us.

Before bedtime, Alex decided that I wasn't the only one who got to take the pictures. Of course, he's not the one who has to upload them.

Alex makes a much better model than a photog.

Before bed, Granny B told Alex some secrets, which frankly, makes me very nervous. My mom has been known to convince children to plot against their parents, encouraging such things as putting garlic powder on their toothbrushes and filling their vehicles with packing peanuts. So far, nothing like that has happened, but when it does, I'll know who to blame.

On Monday, we hung around the house and took advantage of the gorgeous weather by playing out in the yard.

Dad is the gourmet chef in the family, so he spent the day slaving away in the kitchen, preparing to make homemade lasagna. In my house, if you are going to cook, you have to wear an apron. I think this one pretty much says it all.

It's true, she...I mean he really can cook. The lasagna was delicious, and we ate leftovers for a week.

Before Grampa's flight left on Tuesday, we played in the backyard again. Alex ran around doing boy stuff, and we broke out Timothy's remote-controlled car, which Alex loves and, of course, Murphy hates.

Grampa and Alex played hide-and-go-seek around the tree...

...and then they played in the tree.

They played on the swing...

...and we spent the rest of the time wrangling Alex away from the air conditioner and the garden hose, as seen below. I'd love to take credit for this picture, but dad is the talented photog in this case.

After we took Grampa to the airport, Alex, B, and I spent the rest of the day playing in the front yard and coloring on the driveway. After we pulled Alex around the neighborhood in his wagon, I made him pull me around for a while. That's one strong boy.

When it was time to go to the airport, Alex was sad, but he put on a brave face and even helped Granny B with her bag.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

licensed to drive...a Big Wheel

I'm sure I've said this before, but man, this month just flew by. I swear, I just started describing him as being "fifteen months old" and here he is, already sixteen.

This past month, we have worked a lot on developing Alex's speech, increasing his vocabulary, and improving his comprehension. It has become clear that, the better we can communicate with him, the easier it is to prevent frustration-induced hissyfits that result when he can't tell us what he wants. At this point, he seems to understand just about everything we say, will obey most of our commands, and will answer our questions as best he can with gestures or words.

I ran into an attorney at the Halloween party who said that her twenty-month old wasn't talking much, and that at his 18 month well-child checkup, their pediatrician wondered whether he had experienced some sort of traumatic event that resulted in his limited vocabulary. After a little Q&A, the doc determined that the Bar Exam was to blame; specifically, the fact that his mom had been spending more time away from home than usual to study at the library. I mean, seriously.

According to the doc, by 18 months, he should have been able to say 50 words and at least two two-word phrases. Of course, my immediate reaction was to start adding up all of the words that Alex can say, and then tried to analyze those numbers to predict how many he might be saying two months from now to determine whether he has been "traumatized" (and readers, that there is a whole lotta sarcasm, in case it doesn't translate).

I mean, such measures of verbal progress are incredibly subjective and some kids just plain ol' talk later than others. In fact, the folks at, say that an eighteen month old should be saying twelve words clearly, and at sixteen months, he should be able to say seven. Off the top of my head, I came up with about twenty words that Alex says regularly, so either way, he's in good shape.

He says a new word just about every day, usually imitating something his dad or I has said. Some new additions include, "no", "go", "push", "bzzzzz" (what a fly or a bee says), "uh-oh", "eye", "bock-bock" (what a chicken says), "boo", "down", "up", "cheese"...and some others that I've forgotten. I think we still have a while before he will be able to say, "Mother, the reason I'm sobbing uncontrollably is because I am feeling a little under the weather today, and I'd love some Tylenol and a spot of tea". But so far, he has made some good progress with his speech, and we look forward to hearing what else he has to say.

His attitude, however, could use a little work. When he doesn't get what he wants, he squeals and clings to my legs, which drives me nuts, especially when I'm trying to cook or do the dishes. If that doesn't work, head butting is usually his second approach, with either me or the floor being his target. These fits normally don't last more than a minute or two, until he gets what he wants or doesn't get what he wants but gets sick of whining about it. He responds pretty well to The Look and a firm "NO", and for that, I am thankful.

While he tends to be clingy at home, in public, he's certainly in that independent phase where he resents being strapped down in a stroller, a high chair, or a grocery cart when he could otherwise be free to roam. Shopping and dining out have become much more stressful than they used to be, and snacks and toys just don't keep him occupied when he'd rather be running around and wreaking havoc. Of course, he's always been so easy in that respect, so easily entertained and happy to be out and about, that he's probably not nearly as difficult as I make him out to be. From what I've been told, Alex's episodes hardly qualify as "real" hissyfits, and I suppose I may be taking for granted how great a kid he really is.

And he is a kid! My baby is growing like a weed, and every time I buy him clothes and say, "These should last through winter", I end up back at the mall the following month to get him the next size up. He's wearing 18-24 month pants now, 12-18 month shirts, and is between size 5 and 6 in shoes. He can pull things off of the counter tops, reach doorknobs, and climb on and off most of our furniture. He is a little daredevil, and his latest stunts are climbing from one piece of furniture to the other and dancing on top of the footstool.

He still loves to be read to, is intrigued by anything with buttons, and will spend up to a half hour inserting a small key into our locked file cabinet, opening it, closing it, then repeating the process over and over again. You know those little kits with the wooden dowel attached to a string that you thread beads onto, made for kids ages 3 and up? Alex can totally do it. And these days, one of his favorite things to do is remove the backs off of all the remote controls and try to pull the batteries out. If he can't get them out, he throws the remote on the floor, which usually does the trick.

Lately, when I put him to bed at naptime or at night, he doesn't lie down right away. Instead, he stands up, performs some acrobatics, jumps around, and when I tell him "I love you, night-night", he says, "bye-bye" and waves at me until I close the door. After a few more minutes of flopping around and chatting to himself, he'll just lie down and go to sleep. I get the impression that he wants me to know that he'll go to sleep when he's good and ready to, and there's something so "big boy" about the whole scenario that really wigs me out.

Despite his occasional beastly moments, he is still the sweetest, funniest, most spirited kid I know. He is more affectionate than ever, will give big kisses to anyone who asks, and often plants smooches out of the blue. Talk about heart-melting. There's not a day that goes by that I don't wonder if his face tastes as sweet as it looks, and I consider taking a bite out of it to find out. Creepy, huh? I guess those are the kind of weird things you think about when you love somebody so much...