My Little Professor

My little professor is learning a lot — and not all of it from his parents or his teachers.

The other night, Walker was in the bath playing with is crayons. He said he wanted to write my name so together we spelled it and he wrote it out. It very clearly was my name. I cried. He’s working on his name too and I gotta say, we’re getting to a point where it’s recognizable — it may be starting from the bottom of the page and make it’s way to the top, the “L” may be backwards and the “E” may have a few more than three horizontal lines, and the lines of the “K” may not exactly touch, but I my mind, it’s absolutely perfectly WALKER. (And I should mention, he’s really good at spelling his name and we’ve been upping the ante by having him do it with his eyes closed or hopping on one foot.)

He’s also taken to telling long stories. It’s important to catch him when he’s rested so they make sense, otherwise, they narrative will go in circles, repeat insignificant details, and trail off to an unsatisfying conclusion. Oh wait. It’s been said that’s my storytelling pattern so it’s genetic? But seriously, it’s really amazing to watch him construct entire worlds and situations with his toys. As an aside, Larry and I were pleased to see that Walker has recently allowed the toy segregation to end. He had been quite adamant (“MOMMY! NOOOOOOOO!”) when we tried to get his Fisher Price astronauts to play with Buzz Lightyear in some sort of an intergalactic mission. However, now he’s got his Astronauts, Obi-Wan Kanobi and his Pirates all teaming up to play a baseball game using Daddy’s chair as the “field of dreams.”

Walker, like all other children, is a big huge sponge and he’s taking queues from everything around him. He’s obsessed with Disney’s Phineas and Ferb cartoon and he’s picked up a few interesting phrases he’s worked into his everyday conversation. It started with “Oh, DANG it!” This is accompanied by him screwing up his little face in a bit of a play angry face and making a pretend snapping motion with his hand and arm. We didn’t realize this came from the cartoon until he busted out, “Hey, you’re doing bad things to my head, man.” And yes, he’s using that correctly. For example, I might say, “Walker, you can’t have a cupcake until you finish your dinner.” And Walker will reply, “Hey, You’re doing bad things to my head, man!”

Another less endearing phrase he picked up was “SHUT UP” which I have recently noticed is said in a lot of kid-friendly cartoons. The first time he said that one, it was to my brother’s girlfriend and we both snapped at him because we were both so shocked. He immediately began to cry and I realized he was just trying to work out the proper context for this neat sounding pair of words. Well, I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to him about words that make people feel bad and we were making progress until one day, we were driving home on a dark, curvy street when a car came speeding down the hill in the opposite direction and turned left right in front of us. and I yelled out….”STUPID DRIVER!” Given the circumstances, I think I did pretty well as the “old me” has a bit of a reputation for, shall we say, colorful language. I immediately composed myself and explained that “stupid” is used to describe what someone does, not who someone is and it’s not nice to say although if someone is driving unsafely and they put themselves or someone else (namely us) in danger, then they are certainly acting stupidly! I’m proud to say that he learned this lesson well and the other day when Larry was driving us to school, a driver cut in front of us and Walker calmly called the driver stupid. Good boy!

Our house has been overtaken by gear — hats, swords, jet packs, ray guns, helmets, goggles, web slingers, ropes (his favorite is the one Larry used 40 years ago when he was a lad), telescopes, repulsor rays — if it’s something you can wear or pretend to shoot with (or rescue people with), Walker has it. The interesting thing is he doesn’t like costumes. We have Superman, Buzz Lightyear, Iron Man, and two astronauts but he’s not really into wearing them. He’d much prefer constructing his own so we end up looking like a Pirate Buzz Lightyear.

I have to mention that the jet pack Walker is wearing is SUPER COOL. There’s a button on the front you can push and the wings will pop out with a “whoosh” sound and the lights on the end will flash red and green. There’s a motion sensor that knows when you’re moving so it will periodically make flying noises and when you’ve safely arrived at your destination, you hit the red button again and the wings automatically fold up into the backpack. Of course, it also says a few signature Buzz Lightyear phrases. It was quite the sensation when we went Trick or Treating with “Big Buddy” Lucas on Halloween.

Part of Walker’s pretend games is less about being someTHING and more about being someONE. He’s taken to pretending to be “Steve” the guy who helps us at our corner store. Walker will make one of us go shopping using his little cart and he’ll scan all the items, bag them up, and take our credit card to pay. He also pretends to be “Big Buddy” by putting on a little knit cap and jumping around. That’s what Lucas wears to school and the two of them like to jump and hop. He also likes to pretend to be “the guy” who we know is the Knight we saw at the pumpkin patch that introduced the sword fight with real metal swords, shields and armor. This is a three-person pretend with the first one explaining the rules — “This is not a game. These are professionals with years of experience. No one is below a Level 4. People can get hurt so please don’t cross line…” — and the other two then have to hit each other with swords until one falls on the ground and plays dead. I might add that Walker is pretty good at sword fighting and has picked up a few nice moves from Daddy who used to fence.

We’ve had a really busy few months. We took Walker to Legoland (seemed like the best place to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary) and it was a BLAST. Walker went on lots of rides and was super brave. He went in a scary mummy-hunting ride, on a ride where we went up 30ish feet and bounced down, and even drove some Lego cars ALL BY HIMSELF. Suffice it to say, we (and by “we”, I mean the person who always has to get one more thing in…) ran the poor kid ragged. We thought we’d leave the second day on a high note and go on the pirate ship ride where you shoot water cannons at the other boats. It was the ride we started our trip with so it felt like a nice bookend. The line was a bit long and Walker was hot so I pickedĀ  him up and he fell asleep about five minutes before it was our turn to get in the boat. No problem! The same thing happened the day before and the moment he sat on the cold, wet seat he woke up (sort of — he wasn’t really back with us until someone shot him with water). But, I guess two days of running around an amusement park will take its toll. As we waited for our boat, I tried to wake him up and he didn’t move. I tried to stand him up and his little legs were noodles. He looked like a marionette with the strings cut. The mission was aborted and we all laughed about it when he woke up an hour later (with a new Pirate hat and a pair of swords as a souvenir).

It’s late now so I’m off to try to get a few hours in before Walker wakes up at 5:45 — DARN YOU DAYLIGHT SAVINGS!

Boycott

Random photo of Walker and Madeline loving each other over cereal
Random photo of Walker and Madeline loving each other over cereal

Walker is boycotting the color yellow. At one time he had no problem with the bright, cheery primary color but recently, he has decided he enjoys every other color in the spectrum — with the exception of yellow. We realized the boycott had begun when we would offer him a choice of vitamins (the gummy bear kind that come in three colors — red, orange, and, you guessed it, yellow). He would consistently pick out some orange / red combination leaving a bunch of sad yellow gummies to be picked through and ignored day after day. (Thank goodness I got two bottles for the price of one so throwing out a third of the vitamins still puts us ahead!)

Next came the yellow toys. He has a bunch of playthings with different color pieces and he’d discard the yellow pieces, sometimes aggressively casting them aside, other times carefully leaving them in the box. The true test of dedication to his cause comes when presented with his favorite edible — M&Ms. He will request 5, 7 or 9 M&Ms and we will count them out of the bag. When he gets the allotted candies, he will pick out the yellow ones and feed them to me. Now, that’s a kid who really holds his ground. Over the past few days, I’m sensing a more lackadaisical boycott as he’s not as consistent at turning away the yellow M&Ms — or perhaps he’s learning to prioritize. “Do I hate yellow more than I love chocolate? NO! Not TODAY!”

As I believe I’ve mentioned before, Walker holds strong opinions — not only about the color of his food and toys but he is also very particular about his clothing. He will get quite upset if he doesn’t have a choice of what to wear and recently, he’s been opting to wear his pajama tops to school. And really, who can blame him when you have such cool Spiderman pajamas (see below). I suppose I’ve been reinforcing this a bit and buying him t-shirts and jammies that I know he will like. However, Gigi recently went on a Gymboree spending spree and purchased a bunch of adorable clothes (she couldn’t resist their big fall sale). I was skeptical that he would wear the clothes since he has had a long-standing boycott on sweaters (I bought this ADORABLE skull and crossbones sweater he refuses to wear), jackets, and any hat other than a baseball cap or dress-up construction and pirate hats. However, he was thrilled he got a present and loved the race car underwear which he demanded to wear to school with NO pants. As a compromise, we took him to school in his jammy top and race car under ware (as well as his protective eye wear — you can never be too careful).

Next we introduced him to the adorable rugby shirt and he demanded to wear the matching cap. He proclaimed he was pretending to be his friend Lucas who always wears the cutest caps to school. He also decided he enjoyed the Cowboy hoodie and luckily, upon returning to Gymboree for more cute undies, we happened upon the perfect accessory to any good cowboy hoodie (you may notice his “cowboy face” looks very similar to his “rock ‘n roll face”…

When shopping for said undies over the weekend, we went into a children’s store and Walker spied some jammies with pumpkins, ghosts, and other adoreable Halloween decorations. These are white, single piece footie pjs with a big zipper from knee to neck. He hasn’t worn this style in about a year and half but he looked at us and asked if he could buy them. At $5.99, we couldn’t refuse and Walker was thrilled he was able to pick out his own clothes. We immediately went home and put them on for naptime. He loved them so much he refused to take them off to go to the corner store so we slipped his crocks over the footies and a matching orange fleece vest over the top. Upon returning home, he demanded we call him “Baby” and he proceeded to crawl around for the rest of the evening. He adores them and given he can’t wear those tops to school, Mommy and Daddy may go find some more of them simply to ensure Walker gets the most out of his fantastic new wardrobe.

And finally, we’re very proud of Walker who has just started a preschool curriculum at Sofiya’s. In just the first week he can sing the days of the week in a song and he can spell his name! Sofiya calls him “Professor.” (Video below so if you’re reading this in email, please visit the site.)

Becoming a boy

I haven’t posted in awhile and I have limited time so bear with me if this submission is not the narrative you’ve all come to expect.

First, let me tell everyone that my neck is all healed and the surgeon did a great job — the scar is going to be practically invisible an it doesn’t hurt at all. I’ve settled into the new job pretty well and am continuing on my personal change campaign. I dress well daily (I have even gone shopping at lunch ‘cuz I’m right near all the great stores, uh-oh!) and have been logging 3.5 miles on the treadmill three days a week. It is really shocking how much one can get done when not in meetings all day. My knitting proficiency was taking a hit but I’ve found the Muni rides provide a good locale for finishing up a few of those yarn-craft projects I’ve got going.

But my loyal readers are less interested in what’s happening with me. So, a few notes about the star of our show — Walker Young! He’s gotten so big and mature and talkative. Both physically and emotionally he’s turning into a little boy and sometimes I look at him and think he’s skipped ahead to being eigh years old. He’s REALLY into music and loves to pretend to be in a band, often playing along with music on the TV. I have enough video of him playing air guitar, drums and keyboard to make an entire DVD but the most recent video is one of the best. If you have a few minutes, you might want to watch the video below to see a few of Walker’s signature moves — his eye roll and his “Guitar Face.” What sets this one apart for me is the facile way he goes from serious music playing to inquisitive three year old when he hears the line in the song about the Milky Way. Of course, Mommy has to ruin the tone by turning this into a teaching moment and you can see how everyone pays attention to that… I should note this is a common car activity, Walker is passing the time at a particularly long stop light. (For those reading this via email, see the video by going to the Mimzilla.com blog.)

In a previous post, I discussed the challenge of finding a replacement Bunny Foo Foo but was eventually successful. We had two Bunnys in rotation with a third still in tissue, waiting to be called up. The operative word in the last sentence is “HAD” as about a week ago Walker was playing in our bedroom by a laundry basket full of clean clothes. He was having his Bunny and his Hobbs dolls hug and kiss and he looks down and sees…ANOTHER BUNNY FOO FOO! He was so surprised and excited. He picked up Bunny2 and ran around the house with it. After asking if he could take both Bunnys to school, he looked at me and said, “If I hug Hobbs again and make a wish, will I get a third Bunny?” At the time of this post, Bunny3 is still hidden safely away.

It’s fair to say that Larry and I are relatively indulgent parents. Our living space has been taken over by toys and we almost never get out of Target without some small trifle for our little guy. He’s at this great age where he still likes to watch Barney and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse but he’s seriously into superheroes and fighting the bad guys. He is also very much into GEAR — his backpack, his construction helmet, and his GOGGLES. He LOVES to wear his construction goggles on the top of his head. Coincidentally, he likes to put them on when he’s playing air guitar. Go figure! So this weekend, we went to Target to pick up a few things for all of us — a new helmet to leave at Grammy Jane’s house and some jammies. Below you can see the result of our travels.

Walker the superhero.

Our model is wearing a CARS bike helmet, $1 swim goggles, Spiderman pajama top, Gap sweats and Batman rainboots. We went out for a bike ride just after this photo was taken.

After months of waking up to dense, cold, wet fog, we got up to a calm, clear sky and I’m feeling downright giddy. Have a wonderful week!

Reinvention

I started a new job this week. After eight years at Adobe, I have moved to a new company. What’s notable is not that after all that time I was able to extract myself but rather, at the new gig, I get a fresh start. Like so many people, I’ve been able to move between companies following former colleagues. However, I was recruited and hired based solely on the merits of experience, not my relationships. This is providing me with the opportunity to redefine Mimi@Work. One thing I did at Adobe was spend an enormous amount of effort on smoothing out the “rough edges” of my personality that may have resulted in me perhaps, well, overwhelming others or perhaps being too opinionated.

So, here are a few things I’m going to try out and we’ll see how long it lasts:

  • I WON’T come to work looking like I’ve rolled out of bed. I WILL try to dress (more) nicely and limit wearing jeans to two days per week.
  • I WON’T tell everyone my opinion, regardless of whether they want to hear it or not. I WILL listen and take more time to consolidate my thoughts before voicing them.
  • I WON’T be driven by raw emotion (which as resulted in me pantomiming lighting myself on fire in protest of some dumb situation I was incapable of changing). I WILL continue to be passionate but focus that passion in a productive direction.
  • I WON’T get caught up in politics. I WILL focus on results to navigate through office intrigue.

Leaving Adobe was an extremely difficult decision and it took me two years to prepare which is notable given my somewhat impulsive departures from previous positions. I thought very hard about what I wanted my next step to be and I am making a commitment to myself not to squander this opportunity to be a more mature, thoughtful leader.

Of course, you can’t teach a 41 year old dog entirely new tricks. My life is still defined by my OCD-ish need to cram as much into a 24 hour period as possible. Not only did I decide not to take any time off between jobs — I left Adobe at 4pm on Friday and arrived at my new job at 9am on Monday morning (having gone the previous week to sign some paperwork and get my keys enabling me to take Walker and Larry on the Sunday before my first day to set up my desk) — but I decided that while I had premium health insurance, I would go have a golf ball sized fatty tumor (what the pathologist called a “mature lipoma”) removed from my neck/shoulder. So the Monday of my last week at Adobe, I went to a plastic surgeon to have a “no big deal” outpatient surgery. Yeah, well, that sucker had been growing in my body for between 5-10 years and it was entrenched. It took an hour to cut out and I swear the doctor was practically standing on me. And to make matters worse, I had to sit, immobile, hunched over the side of a chair with nowhere to rest my head. I was not mentally or emotionally prepared for the ordeal. Why I thought a three inch incision though the thickest, most sensitive skin would be no big deal is really beyond me. But there you go. I thought it was going to be nothing and in fact, I planned on dialing into a meeting 90 minutes after my appointment. Luckily, the meeting was with my team so the half-shocked Mimi who was waiting for her prescription of Percocet was not a terribly disruptive presence. Of course, the next day was terribly uncomfortable and I was very pleased to be able to spend the day popping pain meds. The following day, the pain was manageable and didn’t require any pain meds but hey, I was scheduled to be in an all day meeting — two days before my last day which is really just mean — so I figured take ’em if you’ve got ’em and popped a pill only a few moments before I unknowingly had to spend 90 minutes walking through a website launch strategy. Hmmm. I must say, the meeting was significantly more fun through the blur of serious drugs. (Should I add a commitment to my new job that I WON’T come to work on powerful pain medication?) It’s been ten days and this is still an issue. I can’t get my stitches out yet because I have some healing yet to do and everything is still sore and swollen. GRRRR. I have to go back again so my “no big deal, in-and-out” surgery is cramping my style. Glad I crammed that into my schedule.

And did I realize I was starting my new job the week Larry would be away at Comic-Con? Well, no. So yeah. I have a bum neck/shoulder AND I’m a single Mommy AND I have a new job. This may be one of my best accomplishments yet. The good news is that when Larry’s away I don’t sleep so I’m getting a lot of paperwork done, am spending time reviewing stuff for the new job, and am fitting in an OnDemand movie here and there (not to mention a blog posting).

Walker is being wonderful, as always. He’s being extremely helpful and I’m too tired to relate entertaining anecdotes about the things that are making me so astonished at his overall incredibleness. So instead, here are some photos I haven’t posted from his birthday party.

I’m Three

birthdaycardpirate_invite

Tomorrow is Walker’s third birthday and things have been terribly chaotic over the last few weeks. We were out of town having a wonderful time with Grammie Shirley, Aunt Lisa, Uncle Scott, Cousin Giselle and Cousin Alec (Walker followed Cousin Alec around like a puppy dog because he was so terribly fascinated by a bigger boy who showed an interest in playing with him — specifically playing baseball with the new baseball and bat Grammie gave him). More to come on that at a later time. I am tired, my back hurts (apparently I’ve been slouching a lot and it was all caught on camera — in every photo from the trip I look inches shorter, hunch-backed, and fat which is another reason I can’t post about the trip now — it simply will take too long to find photos that don’t embarrass me).

However I do want to wish my sweet little boy a Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday.

Walker has been eagerly anticipating his birthday. Mine (or “mines” as Walker says) is in May and we didn’t make a big deal of it but since it was on a Saturday, my family did come over and we had a very special day together. Sunday morning we got up and the first thing Walker said to me was, “Mommy, is your birthday finished? Is it mines now?”

So sweetie, it is your birthday now and I want to share with you the birthday card for your upcoming party (you can click on the images above to make them bigger so you can read them). Daddy and I worked on it together and I’m sure you’ll love the very elaborate pirate costume Daddy has acquired to be Pirate of Ceremonies.

Last year, I went all Martha Stewart and made two batches of Elmo cupcakes that were super cute. It took you forever to lick all the icing off the top and ignore the cake. This year, I’m sorry but you’ll have to make due with the “almost homemade” cakelettes I made by cutting a store bought pound cake into small pieces, coloring store bought icing and working with you to decorate it all by squeezing out the purple goo and getting your favorite red sugar sprinkles all over the cake, table and floor. I’m sure you’ll love them and I’m just going to pretend I slaved away making you and your school chums home made mini pirate ship cakes. I have bigger plans for your party but should I resort to something store bought, I’m hoping you will not hold it against me.

I love you my big, fantastic boy. I wish only the most wonderful life full of your favorite things — giggles, baseball, snuggles, drawing, and playing with your friends and family.

Media Mix

In a prior missive, I mentioned that we were reinforcing potty training using stickers to bribe our little guy into peeing in his Elmo potty rather than his pants. He quickly got into the spirit and within a few days, he covered the small piece of cardboard we taped to the wall with dozens of stickers. His favorite sticker was another TV character, Brobie, a beloved green monster from Yo Gabba Gabba. One day, as he was sitting on the potty, Walker shocked me when he looked at me and said, “Mommy, can I have a sticker to put on my Facebook?” (And of course, Walker’s only Facebook page remains on our bathroom door, a she clearly can’t have his own social network until he’s at least three.)

Walkers current Facebook page -- photo by Walker
Walker's current Facebook page -- photo by Walker

The poor kid didn’t have a chance. Media is a prevalent part of our household. Larry and I are both professionally and personally interested in technology and pop culture. Walker is clearly picking up on our interests and embracing them. Hmmm, is nature or nurture at work here?

Each morning we arise early and have a good amount of time to play together. Sometimes we play “hall ball” which entails doing anything with a ball and more often than not, some form of hitting implement. Sometimes we read stories. Sometimes we watch TV. And sometimes we do a combination of all of them. Recently, Walker has been requesting to watch “dot com.” In his world, dot com is the place where we play games or watch videos on www.pbskids.org or www.nickjr.com. Mommy and Daddy work the keyboard while he tries to move the mouse by touching the screen (the same way he moves things around on the iPhone) and I must say, he’s quite adept at the games.

Daddy recently acquired an iPad — OK, Mommy was fascinated with it as well — and we’ve taken to watching some fun videos on YouTube on the large, crisp screen. It didn’t take long for Walker to get in on the action. Everything you ever wanted to watch has been posted. Walker loves to watch Spiderman, IronMan, and Speed Racer cartoons. He’s very interested in the superheroes and enjoys pretending to rescue anyone who needs it for any reason. It’s really fun to snuggle up on the bed and watch the “Little TV.”

As you may know, we are also big fans of Star Wars and Larry found a hysterical set of videos featuring the Star Wars characters dancing to popular music as a part of Disney’s Star Wars Weekends. Walker LOVED the clips and asked to see them over and over. Seizing the opportunity, Larry produced a Storm Trooper action figure from a box of toys we’ve been saving for Walker. He immediately loved it. There were more requests to see “my guys” on the Little TV. More Storm Troopers came out of the box. And more dancing videos. The box is now empty and we have six Storm Troopers to play with. They go with Walker everywhere. He sleeps with them, brings them along to school with his Bunny and gets cranky if we don’t play with them as he instructs. In Walker’s world, Storm Troopers are good guys and so is Darth Vader (but Walker is seriously deprived because he doesn’t have that action figure). Bad guys would never dance to MC Hammer.

Walker’s media immersion isn’t restricted to television and movies. Larry is indoctrinating Walker with a love for loud rock-n-roll (defined as all the music I don’t like). As a part of the Iron Man movie marketing blitz, Larry succumbed to purchasing the CD of the soundtrack (primarily AC/DC) and by accident, also purchased AC/DC’s Back in Black. While in my car we listen to sweet songs about dinosaurs, rockets, ninjas and submarines by Laurie Berkener, Barenaked Ladies and The Beatles, Larry’s car is equipped with music that blares “Shoot to Thrill!” Walker pleads for Larry to turn up the volume and then performs his air guitar and keyboard solos as he make the “rock” sign with his fingers.

My little boy will be three in two weeks. I’ve joked with Larry that I get him now while he’s cute, full of snuggles and sweet-smelling. I realize I’ll have lost him to classic rock, superheroes, and building movie props sometime around age eight.

Mother’s Day 2010

Hanging out in front of Mommys favorite -- Jellyfish!
Hanging out in front of Mommy's favorite -- Jellyfish!

Walker,

Thank you for a most wonderful Mother’s Day. Without you, today would be just another beautiful Sunday but you are here and I had an incredibly special day. I am called “Mommy” because you exist and I revel in my new identity. Last weekend, I even decided to make up “Walker’s Mom” cards to give out to your friends’ parents. I never knew how much my life would become fused with yours when you were just a concept. Before you were born I had a vision of how life would be with a child but you came along and I’ve made very different choices. I’m thrilled with every one of them. I’m proud of you and I’m proud of me and I’m proud of your Daddy. I love us.

You make life exciting. Every day is an adventure. And accomplishment is part of every mundane detail. You can brush your teeth by yourself and you know that when you turn “W for Walker” upside down you get “M for Mommy”. You love to play in the “backyarden” and you’re sensitive to the people around you. You love to dance and sing and a simple “Mommy, come join me” energizes me, no matter how tired I may be. I can’t believe you can identify three quarters of your letters. I love that you wake me up at 5am when you proclaim your love for lollipops in your sleep.

Today people have told me I’m a good mother. I hope you agree. You make it easy to be your Mommy. And, my mother taught me a thing or two about Mommihood. May you look back on your childhood and remember joy and laughter and adventure. I want you to remember me as I remember my mother — strong, smart, fun, creative, and full of love.

I love the new gardening tools I know we’ll use together. I know you’ll not remember that today we spent the day at the Aquarium of the Bay and the Rainforest Cafe or that we ended up getting you as many presents as you got me. But I do hope, someday in the future, you’ll read through this blog and realize your Mommy and Daddy had no manuals, no training, and no idea what the heck we were doing as parents. All we have is you, and you teach us everything we need to know about guiding you through life to ensure you’re the incredible person we know you will be.

It wouldn’t be very fun if every night, when you ask me “what was your favorite thing?” I reply, “I’m your Mommy” so I’ll do my best to recall some special moment where I felt deeply connected to you or were amazed by you or were entertained by you. But today, let me tell you, my favorite thing is simply that I’m Walker’s Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day Walker.

~~~~~~~

And because I haven’t posted in awhile, here are some SUPERHERO(tm) videos I thought I’d share.

Here is Larry trying to teach Walker the Green Lantern oath.

And here is Walker singing the “SpiderMan” song now that he’s conquered climbing the spider web at the playground (his first time attempting the large, rope dome). Please note, he is wearing a Batman t-shirt so we’re careful to introduce him to both Marvel, DC (and of course, independent) comic book heroes.

Catching up on events — Easter Party and Florida

Face painting

Walker took us to an Easter party today at the zoo. He had his first (and second) time in a bouncy house and met the Easter Bunny, and oh yes, he got his face painted. I’ve been a member of the Golden Gate Mother’s Group for the last three years and I’ve never been able to RSVP fast enough to any of their events but I somehow lucked out this time. When we arrived, we were a bit apprehensive. As we entered the field, we had to navigate through hundreds of strollers and music was blaring a variety of tunes ranging from Leo Sayer’s 70’s hit “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” to “Old MacDonald.” Walker decided to have a snack alone by the bubble machine and then peel off from the crowd to play on the playground. We skipped the Easter egg hunt given there were hundreds of people looking to pick up a few eggs in a small area so instead, we took the opportunity to try out the bouncy house. Walker was in heaven.

BOUNCY HOUSE

As people started to dissipate, we snuck in the face painting line and spent more time in a less-crowded bouncy house. Walker got some little bubbles and a bunny cookie from the Easter Bunny and the organizers encouraged us to take a bunch of bananas on our way out. After a well-earned nap, we made cupcakes for Passover.

All in all, a very productive day.

Last weekend we took Walker to a playground we recently discovered. It’s huge and even has a play pirate ship. As we drove up, I saw his little friend Violette running around by the slides. For long-time readers, you may recall that Violette is competing with Madeline for Walker’s affections so when she saw him come through the gate, her face lit up. I could tell she was thrilled she got him all to herself. They immediately started chasing each other and after getting tired of the slide — which took at least twenty trips down — they decided to play on the swings. Violette doesn’t stay in one place for long so she sat in the kid swing for 30 seconds and then ran over to the big kid swing where she promptly jumped on and swung draped over the swing by her tummy. She had her hands out like an airplane and Walker thought that looked like fun. He ran over to try it and, well, didn’t have proper training so instantly did a nose dive into the ground. Seeing what was happening, I grabbed his leg, flipped him over, and brought him to a sitting position on my leg. It all happened so quickly that I only vaguely remember his scared little face, his head and neck hitting at a funny angle and blood spurting out his nose as soon as he righted himself. I calmly wiped away all the blood with my hand as Larry ran for my bag. Moments later, Walker was all cleaned up and running to the pirate ship with Violette. I stayed behind to try to clean up the blood from my person and clothes. Walker had a wonderful time and the picture above was taken after The Incident so you can see, he was none the worse for wear. That’s more than I can say because around 9:30 that night, I started feeling like I was going to throw up and realized I was experiencing some sort of post-traumatic stress. My wonderful husband talked me off the ledge and I guess that’s all part of being a mom. I wonder how I’ll feel the first time he gets a soccer ball in the face.

Today we also implemented a Potty Incentive Program. While our little guy has been out of diapers since August, in the last two weeks, he’s started peeing in his pants more frequently and has even had a few “other” accidents. I know it’s all part of a phase but for some reason, I’m finding it more difficult to deal with. So, always attempting to problem solve, Walker and I sat down this morning and made a chart for bunch of stickers that Daddy made. When he goes in the potty he gets a YAY sticker and when he has an accident he gets an OOPS sticker. All the books suggest stickers are good incentives and there are even books that give you all these things for potty training. But we made our own and he seems to be really happy about it. After the OOPS he had this morning which drove me to begin the Potty Incentive Program, he only got YAY stickers so I’m cautiously optimistic.

Making sand castles

I was going to save this for another post but given the boys are asleep, I’ll take a moment to tell you about our wonderful trip to Florida. My grandmother and uncle have birthdays in March and we all went to Florida to celebrate. As Gigi sold her apartment, we all stayed at the Embassy Suites which was actually wonderful for Walker as we could walk out our door and swim in the big pool, sit in the “hot pool” (Walker preferred the hot tub), or walk across a small road to sit on the beach. Each morning we went down and enjoyed the breakfast buffet, had our requisite hot dog and french fries at the restaurant for lunch, and partook of the nightly happy hour which had drinks for Mommy and Daddy and Virgin Daiquiris for Walker. Twice we took our drinks out to the beach to enjoy twilight at the ocean before heading off to dinner.

We ate dinner at a restaurant each night and Walker was a super star. The first night all nine of us (my uncle’s college age kids, Jory and Jessica and my Cousin Barb also were in Florida) went to an Italian restaurant with Gigi’s close friends. Walker was so excited that he ran around the entire time and Larry and I had to do a lot to entertain him. At one point I think I was doing Walker curls because I ran out of things to do in a confined space and figured I might as well get a work out in as well. I was exhausted and stressed after dinner and thought there was going to be no way we were going to make it through a week of meals like that. Luckily, Walker got into the groove and I remembered to bring his mini-DVD player (he calls it his DVTV) so the rest of the meals were uneventful and actually rather relaxing.

How Walker passed the time at dinner

We got Walker a bunch of beach and pool toys and each morning, Aunt Justina awoke at 7:30 and reserved a bunch of pool chairs under an umbrella for us. It was fantastic to have a comfortable base of operations established since it was difficult enough maneuvering the troops and equipment from breakfast to the room to the pool. We’d play in the water and sand from about 10:30 to 12:30 and then we’d order our lunch and eat it upstairs in the room. While Walker stayed on Pacific time, he continued to nap mid-day so he was up again between 4 and 5, just in time for Happy Hour and a nice romp on the beach. The Man-O-War were washing up on the beach so I was able to show them to Walker and he successfully avoided them but it did reduce the time we would have spent at the beach and in the waves. There were two icky days but one day we went to Jupiter Florida to visit Cousin Tom and Jody and they took us to a great turtle research center and the other day, we found a wonderful children’s museum so we were able to keep busy. We also found a local playground where Walker met some friends.

We brought home not only a tan but also a more permanent memento — Walker started saying a naughty word on the trip. I own up to the fact that it was my influence and thankfully, the word isn’t one of the more offensive but it still is a bit unseemly for a 2 year old… Let me explain. When I’m surprised or shocked or find something absurd, I’ll often utter “Jesus” a bit under my breath. And, I may have done just that when parking our car. You see, the hotel has valet parking but being a family on the go, we like to park our own car. We were warned that upon entering the parking garage, there is quite a large speed bump. But no amount of warning could prepare us for the mountain we encountered. If you drive over it too quickly, you feel your car will fall apart. If you go too slowly, you can’t make it over the bump. So, the first time we hit the bump, I was shocked and surprised by the absurd bump and must have muttered, “Jeeeee-sus”. The next time we went to park the car, Daddy and Cousin Barb were in the car. We hit the bump and walker exclaims, “JESUS!” We all bust out laughing and think it’s the cutest thing because, well, he got it right. But from that point on, it was all over. Walker thought he was hysterical and even when we were driving other places, he’d declare “Bump…. JESUS!” Toward the end of the trip, I realized we needed to find a way for this not to continue once we got to California because while we thought it was funny and harmless, I know I was going to be very unhappy if Sofiya informed me that he was teaching it to other kids. We took measures to ensure the context of the comment was only for use in the car with Mommy and Daddy. I’m happy to report that the usage frequency has significantly declined and even Walker will say that “Jesus” is only a car word. Dodged a bullet on that one.

He’s a real little boy now

As evidenced by last week’s video, I attended Walker’s swimming class. However, he had no idea I was there. He had been having some trouble leaving me in the morning because he would tell me he really wanted to spend time playing with Mommy and Daddy at home so I ensured I was filming from far away and obscured by a many chairs and swim toys as possible. As Walker were getting out of the pool, Grammy Jane motioned for me to come over. Walker saw me, ran over (dripping wet) and jumped into my arms (drenching me). He gave me the most wonderfully strong and long hug while saying, “Mommy. I love you SO MUCH!” I will never, ever forget that moment.

Walker has expressed great love for us over the last few weeks but he’s also gotten a bit more attached to his little blue Bunny Foo Foo. As we have only one (as opposed to our Legion of Substitute Flat Frogs), we haven’t allowed Bunny to travel much beyond the boundaries of the Cheese House. Since Walker has had a hard time leaving his Mommy and Daddy, we’ve allowed him to take Bunny to Sofiya’s. But one night, Bunny decided to stay behind and Walker was very, very sad. Driven to action, Mommy purchased a new bunny online for $12. When it arrived, I was dismayed to realize that it wasn’t the same — in fact, it was completely different! Ours is a sleeping Bunny with sweet little ears but this one is WIDE AWAKE and has long floppy ears. Convinced Walker would notice, I immediately started looking online and realized they don’t make Bunny anymore. Off to eBay I went. There were a number of other Bunny Foo Foos available ranging from $20-$45. I purchased the cheapest one and when it arrived (from www.lostloviesystore.com, what a fantastic idea!) I realized it also was a bit different and I fretted that Walker would notice. Back to eBay I go and realize that of course, the exact same Bunny Foo Foo was selling for $45. SERIOUSLY? I considered returning the eBay Bunny but after a toe-stubbing incident a week ago, I gave Walker Replacement Bunny and he’s been loving it ever since and Bunny has been making many more trips outside.

Walker tries to hang a spoon off his nose, just like Mommy.
Walker tries to hang a spoon off his nose, just like Mommy.

I believe we’ve hit the beginning of the “terrible twos”. Our sweet little boy has started to have series opinions about what he will and won’t do. Last night he refused to put on his “nighttime undies”. All the tricks in the book didn’t work. We tried to explain why he couldn’t sleep without undies. Do you want to jump in pants? NO! Do you want to choose your own pants? NO! Mommy and Daddy need help. NO! How about good teamwork? NO! We’re going to have to treat you like a baby. Do you want to be a big boy? NO! When Mommy gets to three, we’re going to put them on you. 1. 2. 3. And we had to put them on. And he cried. And cried. And cried. Heartbreaking. This morning, he wouldn’t put on a sweater. Again we went through some tricks, but fewer this time. We put the sweater on him. He cried. And cried. And cried. Heartbreaking (but a bit less so). I’m not thinking we’ll be heartbroken too long as he continues to try our patience.

He’s acting very grown up. The last few days he decided he needed to take a shower in the morning before he goes to “work,” just like Mommy. He wants to help make his own food. He’s been insisting on making his own jelly sandwiches. And of course, doesn’t eat them. I’ve had to convince myself that the jars of natural fruit spread and expensive whole wheat bread that have been tossed into the trash are an investment in his education (although, I’ve decided to buy cheaper jelly knowing that the ratio of eating to garbage is relatively low).

He’s a real talker. He’s also picked up more than a few of my phrases. One day when he refused to take a nap, I asked, “Why don’t you want to take a nap?” “Because I’m a Turkey Lurkey” he replied. Yes, I call him that when he’s being really silly. The other day, as I’m trying to leave and only be 15 minutes late… Walker was being a Turkey Lurkey by running around the house, refusing to put on his coat, and then finally, after we’re ready and staring to walk out the door, Walker tells me he has to potty. But he won’t go in his potty. He wants to go in the big potty. So I get his step stool so he can stand up and pee like a big boy (he did it the other day, all by himself! but tried it again later and got pee all over the wall and potty so he’s not so excited about trying it more). No, he wants the potty with “wings.” I figured out he wanted the travel potty so I get that. By this time, he’s wet his pants so after going potty, we start undressing. He demands to have his socks changed to. I’m running much later now and I’m thinking, “Are you KIDDING me? Socks? GRRRR. They’re not wet! Walker is just stalling because he doesn’t want to go. UGH.” But of course, I’m smiling and gently helping him get out of his clothes. Walker looks at me and says, “Are you KIDDING me?” I was stunned. The little dude read my mind. Are you KIDDING me?

Sweet little boy tries to make a "football" face
Sweet little boy tries to make a "football" face while showing off the jersey his Aunt, Uncle and cousins gave him

And it’s time for me to admit I’ve failed. Yes, I had all these wonderful intentions of raising a little California boy who embraced healthy eating. But, I’ve lost the battle. Walker doesn’t like to eat anything that isn’t packed with sodium or sugar. I’m investing in Pepperidge Farm because he’s eaten an ocean of cheesy fish and pretzel fish. He’s interested in cereal but won’t eat anything that’s not unnaturally colored. He won’t eat a cheese sandwich, only a jelly one. Hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and fish sticks are a staple for dinner. Snacks include crackers and cheese sticks. And he’s on a milk embargo. He’ll only drink juice (we cut it with water, of course) but, desperate to get him to have some vitamin D, I started pushing chocolate milk which he only recently decided he’d drink — as long as he can do so from the bottle and through his long curly straw. Thank goodness he loves yogurt and fruit and will eat “cheesy rice” which I pack with veggies or meat. And of course, he eats anything Sofiya makes for him (but if she sends the same food home, he won’t eat it). Walker, when you read this as an adult, and we discuss this over lunch, will you please remind me of the angst I feel now and tell me how it was all for naught as you enjoy your whole wheat salmon sandwich with organic avocado and a nice homemade tzatziki sauce?