Be My Valentine

walker_valentine

Walker has been making up songs lately and when we went on the great Valentine photoshoot, he started singing a song. “Valentine for everyone. Play some games for everyone. Play some games and have some FUN!” It’s been something he’s sung a lot over the last few days but apparently it isn’t an original score –it’s his rendition of a song they’ve been singing at school.

I had a wonderful day and received many sweet little hugs and an unsolicited kiss on my forehead while helping the little guy get dressed.

Perfect day. Hugs for everyone.

Walker snapped this photo of me after our Valentine photo shoot. He's getting good with cameras -- he used the big SLR camera!
Walker snapped this photo of me after our Valentine photo shoot. He's getting good with cameras -- he used the big SLR camera!

Playing with Guys

Daddy picks up Walker each evening and they play while I get an hour to do whatever I want — go to the gym, pay bills, catch up on work, grab some wine and gossip with a friend. The boys have a wonderful time and have recently been playing “guys” a lot. That entails taking some of his little toys, frequently it’s the spacemen, and having conversations like.

“Hi, how are you?”
“I am fine.”
“I like pretzels. Want to fly?”

And then they pretend to fly around the house. Last night there was a bit of a different twist. In the midst of playing Guys, Walker set them up on the couch and asked Daddy to take a photo of him with his friends. He was so very proud when he saw it that he asked Daddy to send it to me.

I got the email while sitting at a red light on my way home. It was the most wonderful email I’ve ever received and I drove home with a stupid grin plastered across my face.

Batman can dance!

This morning the weather threatened rain so Walker donned his Batman rain gear that Gigi gave him for Christmas. He arrived at the same time as Madeline and while Mommy missed the loving good morning hugs and kisses, I was fast enough with the camera to capture the sweet little lovebird dance.

This morning was not unlike other mornings in that Walker doesn’t like to put on his clothes — even tho he does have the cutest outfits. Larry and I have been able to cultivate a learned response to facilitate getting the little guy to snap to attention and begin doing what we’ve requested. It all started when he refused to get out of the bath once the water drained away. He’d sit in the cold bathroom, covered in bubbles and ignore me as I would implore him to stand up and get out. One day, based on a conversation I had with Malcolm’s mom, I decided I would tell him that I would count to three and if he didn’t get out of the bath, I’d take him out — which of course, involves picking him up like a little boy. He played through 1 — 2 — 2 and a half — three! He was not happy about being treated like a little boy and I gave him the opportunity to climb out himself. The next day, we had the same problem. Again I picked him up and again, he was very upset. The third day, he was playing in the bubbles and I started to count. I didn’t get past 2 before he stood up straight and climbed out saying, “Mommy, I do it my big boy self.” (This is a very common refrain in the house. Everything needs to be done Walker’s big boy self and there is hell to pay if we don’t give him the chance to try something on his own.) We have expanded the counting to all activities in which Walker demonstrates a reticence to comply. It’s developed into kind of a game with him giggling as we get closer to three. Only on very rare occasions do we ever have to treat him like a little Walker and hey, he’s starting to learn about fractions!

No Smoking

Today Walker and I went for a hike while Daddy helped Pop Pop rearrange some furniture at the house. We came across a trail marker and Walker read the pictures to me: red circle, arrow, cowboy and Mommy. Cowboy = horse riding, Mommy = hiking, Arrow = direction and Red Circle = No Smoking. When confronted with a “no smoking” sign, I was thankful that Walker has grown up in a world where he has never seen a cigarette and would have no concept of smoking. I have hope for his generation.

I realized recently that many of the things I take for granted, I must explain to the little human in my charge. In mid-December, it occurred to me that the legend of Santa was not part of our race memory and I must fill his little head with the story to maximize Christmas fun. I seemed to be successful because Sofiya asked Larry to be Santa’s helper and Walker was terribly excited to see Santa visit the school. Not one child, including Walker, noticed Santa appeared only after Larry excused himself to go to the loo!

Santa has Daddys eyes
Santa has Daddy's eyes

Walker continues to amaze us with his memory. A few weeks ago, he saw photos from our Maine trip and he talked to me about playing “Scary Monster”. Today he started singing the theme from “Bob the Builder” but we haven’t seen the show in months. He tells me about stories we haven’t read for a very long time. It’s both exciting and intimidating to watch Walker’s little synapses knit together and to know that everything, (yes everything, even when you think he’s not paying attention) is getting uploaded into his wetware.

It continues to amaze me how much Walker’s speech improves. His mind goes so quickly and he wasn’t able to keep up for awhile, resulting in a little stutter. However, one night, something must have clicked in his head and the stutter all but disappeared and his vocabulary and verbal confidence exploded. “Cool,” “awesome,” and “‘bunga dude” (that being “cowabunga dude” which was introduced by Uncle Thayer), have made their way into Walker’s lexicon. At least “sure! yah” has changed to the more formal “yes.” He’s trying out calling Daddy by his given name of “Yarry” (he finds it hard to pronounce “L”) and is mimicking everything we say. On the off chance we don’t understand what he’s saying, is patient and gracious when his idiot parents ask him to repeat himself a multitude of times or ask him questions. Today he asked for “mayon” which sounds a lot like how he refers to Madeline. As it is Sunday, I figured he couldn’t be speaking of his girlfriend but I inquired whether he was referring to food or a person. “FOOD!” he said loudly. Moments later and a few more times hearing the word,  it dawned on me that he wanted MELON but I never would have known had I not known he enjoyed a sweet juicy cantaloupe with his Pop Pop on Saturday.

On the social front, Walker has another female competing for his affections. Violette came to Sofiya’s this Fall and is a month or two younger than Walker. She was immediately smitten. She started following him around all day and that behavior seemed to tip off Madeline that a rival was at hand. One day, Madeline grabbed Walker and gave him a big, huge passionate kiss on the lips. This was witnessed by all the kids as well as Madeline’s mother who was a bit horrified at her daughter’s gumption. The following day, when Madeline sauntered near Walker for some canoodling, Violette, not wanting a repeat of the amorous activities, hauled off and clocked Madeline. The confrontation thankfully ended there (I can’t imagine what form a Toddler Cat Fight might take) and there have been no further incidents but Larry and I are amazed at the effect Walker has on the chicks. (It is worth mentioning that today the nice woman at the Jenner Deli/Gas Station refused payment for his hot dog because she was overwhelmed at Walker’s adorableness. This just proves his charm is not limited to the Toddler cohort.)

Walkerand Madeline share a dance at the Christmas party
Walker and Madeline share a dance at the Christmas party
The Other Woman
The "Other" Woman

Happy Birthday 2010

Larry and I have never been big partiers, and New Year’s Eve has been no exception. Generally we would see the New Year in with a bottle of wine on the beach but the pitch dark, cold beach in the middle of the night would be a bit scary for little Walker. However, I did feel that we needed to mark the occasion in some way with Walker so we conceived of a birthday party for 2010. We made a cake and frosted it with black frosting on the bottom (for the old 2009) and white on the top (for the new 2010) and dumped some sprinkles on top. We made a birthday hat and ordered the traditional birthday / New Year pepperoni pizza. Uncle Thayer came over and joined in the festivities.

Happy Birthday 2010. Walker wishes you a happy New Year (with lots of presents).

What are you thankful for?

We’ve been talking about Thanksgiving and discussing what we’re thankful for. I’m not sure if Walker gets the concept but I’m certainly satisfied with his response. We love Uncle Thayer and appreciate his knack for keeping things silly.

Daddy gave Walker a very special present — his very own gallery. Walker was so terribly excited to see all his creations hanging in his favorite part of the house (he learned to walk, throw, kick a ball, and jump in the hallway). Come on by and Walker will give you a tour of his most recent creations.

Thanksgiving week was terribly hectic. It wasn’t just that we were making soup for dinner or preparing for an extended visit to Pop-Pop’s. We also did a major upgrade to the electrical service to the house so we were without power on Monday until after 10pm (and then only a few rooms had power). We had a lot of fun having a picnic dinner on the floor of the kitchen with candles and reading Walker’s bedtime stories by flashlight. The upgrade was much more complicated than they anticipated given they had to essentially rewire all the connections and we’re terribly pleased they are perfectionists and triple-checked each connection, circuit and switch. Of course they found some old knob and tubing we’ll want to replace and there are some outlets with “reverse polarity and no grounding” which sounds like me after a particularly trying day at work…

Feeling good about the safer electrical situation in the house, we went up to Sea Ranch. Walker loves his family and was extremely excited to play with Pop-Pop and Uncle Thayer. On Thursday morning we got a picnic breakfast and went to Point Arena to watch Uncle Thayer surf. It turned out we watched him contemplate the “junky” waves and whether they were worth the pain and suffering of putting on a cold, damp wetsuit. (The answer was that yes, it was eventually worth it.) Walker was eating a muffin that I had thought was a blueberry bran but after a taste, I think it was closer to a chocolate chip mocha muffin — and may have contributed to the refusal to nap later that afternoon. No nap + holiday excitement = Sleepy Walker eating a popsicle at Dinner.

I’m thankful for all my boys, young and old. I’m thankful for a wonderful home and a good job. And I’m thankful for giggles, bubbles, balloons, tricycle rides, swings, kisses, smiles, and morning snuggles.

I loved applying for life insurance

I’m about to run out the door to see my wonderful men but I had a very satisfying web experience today that I thought I should share.

I’ve been in the process getting life insurance, because, well, it’s an adult thing to do. I went through my financial adviser and the process was extremely long and a bit absurd. I spent over 30 minutes on the phone with a rep who asked me questions like, “When you were hospitalized for childbirth, what was the cause of the condition.” I chuckled and I replied something like, “I got knocked up.” After weeks of waiting, I got a quote that seemed like quite a lot.

After speaking to my rock star brother-in-law who is the Chief Underwriter at an insurance company, he directed me to intelliquote.com. This morning I went to the site and answered a few short questions and used a very intuitive and helpful tool for assessing my “risk” category as I’ve got a chronic condition that knocks me out of the “No Way You’ll Die Unless a Piano Falls On You” category. I got quotes from four highly rated institutions and requested an application from one of them. Within three minutes (yes, three minutes), I get a call from a rep following up on the application. A few hours later I got a confirmation of the appointment for the lab tech to come to my office and get my vitals for the underwriting process. It was truly a pleasure planning for my untimely demise and should anyone need to do the same, I suggest they check out www.intelliquote.com. Tell them I sent you.

In other news, my cell phone has mysteriously disappeared and my opinion of human nature is not high at this moment. So if I don’t answer, I’m only ignoring you until I get a replacement phone in the next few days. I’ll be experiencing digital detox in the meantime.

But I can’t post without a bit of Walker news. He dressed himself yesterday. What you can’t see is my attempt at providing a bit of class to outfit with the yellow Ralph Lauren sweater.

Coffee Talk

Walker has started showing interest in some of the things we do. This morning he decided he wanted to have some coffee with his banana. Of course, we didn’t pump him full of caffeine but we did provide him with a coffee mug full of high-octane (full strength) cranberry juice. He very much enjoyed the morning ritual and it may possibly become part of his daily routine. There were many toasts with Mommy and Daddy accompanied by a jovial “clink” setting Walker up for a wonderful day of frequent peeing.

Walker is terribly interested in decorations — specifically Christmas decorations. Immediately after Halloween he started talking about them. We have no idea how it started but apparently he’s also been pestering Sofiya about Christmas decorations. We’ve been teaching him about holidays and explaining that Thanksgiving comes first. (Sometimes we tell him Turkey comes first.) So he’s now aware that in two weeks it’s “Firstgiving” and then comes “Christmas decorations.” Pop Pop has the Halloween pumpkins, cats and ghosts we made for him on his windows still and Walker made him a turkey to add to the windows. When we go up for “Firstgiving” we’ll be bringing some stuff to make some more seasonally appropriate holiday decorations — perhaps even making a dreidel or two. We may even expand his horizons to make some Hanukkah decorations.

It seems that Walker is starting to identify his emotions. Nick Jr. has little shorts between shows which teach kids about different themes and this month is all about giving thanks. Today Walker was watching the short and turns to Raow sitting next to me, points to him and says, “I’m thankful for you, Raow.” The cat sort of looked at him quizzically and sniffed his yogurt and peanut butter covered finger. I don’t believe Raow understood but I’m sure he hopes Walker would be thankful enough that he might abstain from jumping on him or chasing him around the house with clanging cymbals or bouncing balls.

Earlier this week, Adobe had layoffs and my team was impacted. It was a very difficult day for everyone. I came home and Daddy had a nice glass of red wine waiting for me and Walker had drawn me a very beautiful card. It was so very thoughtful. The next morning, we all started getting ready for work but at one point, Walker came over to me and very seriously looked me in the eye and declared, “Mommy, I so happy.” You know what? I so happy too.

Halloween 2009

Today is Halloween and as Walker was going to bed he told us that he had a “happy day.” Thank goodness. We’ve been preparing him for Halloween over the last few weeks. We read him stories about the holiday, talked to him about Trick or Treats and put his Batman costume on a few times. (You will note that he is not wearing the Batman costume. He put it on twice for no more than 30 seconds each time — not even long enough for us to get more than a Walker sized Batman smear across the digital photos — despite the fact he talked about being Batman for Halloween.)

Walker has decided the holiday has some scary parts to it. He has us change the channel when the “I don’t like Candy Corn” song comes on TV on Noggin. He gets nervous when it’s dark and talks about monsters (and he talks about the monsters in the back yard during daylight too…) And as mentioned before, he’s not terribly receptive to wearing a costume. So, we’ve taken to making costumes out of things he’s familiar with. Last weekend he went to Boo at the Zoo as a Zookeeper and wore his “Junior Zookeeper” vest (which he wears every time we go to the zoo) but we embellished it with his safari hat and a few Beanie Babies

Today we decided we’d whip up a Construction Worker costume. As I was trying to get him dressed, again trying to convince Walker that wearing underwear and pants is required before venturing outside, he brings in the Batman costume and says, “let’s go Halloween.” Well, OK. That was unexpected. I pick up the costume and he says, “NO! NO!” and then won’t let us remove his Captain Spooky shirt or put anything on over it. So, Walker created his own Pirate Construction Worker and he owned it as he knocked on doors.

For knocking on only a few doors, Walker came home with quite a significant candy stash. We’ve decided to borrow a wonderful tradition a good friend established with his kids — the Switch Witch. She comes on Halloween and takes kids’ candy but leaves a present in return. We sat Walker down and told him all about the history of the Witch and how she would bring him something really nice in exchange for the candy. He was fine with taking out all his candy and choosing the two pieces he could keep (he chose his favorite — lollipops) but when we went out on the deck to leave the bucket, he got very scared and asked to go to bed. (Larry and I told the Switch Witch that Walker would very much like a Thomas the Tank Engine Lego set. We’re hoping that’s what Walker will find under his empty Thomas the Tank Engine candy bucket.)

Despite going to a truly fantastic pumpkin patch last weekend — it had a small choo choo train, pony rides, an amphitheater made of hay with sword-fights and magic shows, and an enormous hay maze with a Minotaur who gives out golden gourds (Walker calls it a “Minotorn”) — we didn’t have a pumpkin. So we bought one at the very last minute and whipped up a bat in five minutes with some black construction paper and toothpicks. Walker loved it.

He had a happy day.

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

Cold and Flu
About two weeks ago, I wasn’t feeling well. I didn’t have the flu but when I awoke, I was not eager to jump out of bed. Walker was up and running around and I absentmindely mentioned I was cold. I hear Larry say to Walker, “Yeah, that’s the one.” The next thing I know, I see my small boy walk into his room wrestling a very large red sweatshirt. He’s trying to hold it up as the arms are falling down and threatening to trip him at any moment. He sheepishly walks over and hands me the sweatshirt and I was so surprised. I didn’t recall saying I was cold and I was convinced he was a mind reader. I embarrassed him by how much I was proud of his thoughtfulness. I gave him lots of hugs. The next day he woke up and immediately brought me my sweatshirt.

Barricades and stairs
As mentioned before, Walker has definite opinions about many things. He continues to demand that I wear my hair in a ponytail — even voicing concern that it’s not up from the moment I step out of the shower. He’s also taken to telling Larry and me where we should stand when we play. One day, he wanted us to play in his room but I had to go out and make his breakfast. As I walked toward the door, he quickly shut it and stood in front of it. That was the first of many human barricades he’s taken to creating in order to get his point across.

It’s not just the human barricades we have to maneuver. Walker has two wooden step stools he’s been moving around the house in order to reach the light switches — he must turn on all the lights in the morning because he’s afraid of the dark — or to get on the bed or wash his hands and brush his teeth. The stools are large and heavy and he must move both in tandem which generally means he has one and either Larry or I must move the other and place it on the floor to his exact specifications. While he can step up on both — one is tall and square, the other is short and long — he likes to have them next to each other so he can step up on one to the other. He also likes to stand on them and play ball in the hall. Suffice it to say, Larry and I must do some reconnaissance before turning in at night to ensure we don’t stub toes or trip and break an important bone or two.