Happy Birthday, Daddy

Daddy, we love you very much. FAMILY HUG!

Walker is very excited about Daddy’s birthday because Daddy asked me to make him an Elmo cake so we’re going to see how a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting fares when decorated as Elmo. Daddy also indicated to Walker that he will share his birthday (and we’re going to determine what that actually means as we go).

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As I haven’t posted in a few weeks, I’m going to relate a few notable stories and life snippets.

Walker and I went to visit Gigi in Cincinnati. We loved seeing her and Walker was quite a little gentleman as he met all her friends (we’re wondering if he now thinks all eighty year old ladies come with gifts) but of course, the highlight was the two trips to Graeter’s for the BEST ICE CREAM EVER!

Walker was talking a lot about wanting to see a Winnie the Pooh DVD so Gigi took him to the bookstore on Sunday night. The store was closing but they were gracious enough to let us see what they had. As we ran from one end of the store to the other, Walker sprinted by Gigi saying, “Stay right there. I be right back!” Gigi remained still where she stood, shocked by the little guy shouting orders in the dark store. While we weren’t successful finding the right disc that trip, we did end up getting a Winnie the Pooh DVD a few days later. He loved watching his movies on the portable DVD player and given we were on vacation, I will admit he watched a bit more TV than I normally allow. I’m ashamed to admit that he even watched Barney during a bath time or two (we put the DVD player next to the bathtub). He’s quite technically savvy as well. He knows how to change the DVDs both in the portable and regular player as well as how to navigate my iPhone. He’s even successfully bypassed the password screen once. I anticipate we’re in for a lifetime of supplying expensive gadgets.

I also must say that Walker loves to take photos. He takes them with the real camera and the iPhone and he gets so excited when he sees a photo he’s taken. “My JUICE!” or “Look! BARNEY!” And he’s getting much better framing the photos and choosing his subjects. Below are some of his best photos. I find it fascinating to see how he views the world…

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


(If you can’t see the photos, click here to see them on Flickr.)

While in Cincinnati, Walker used a small plastic step stool to get into and out of bed, reach the sink to brush his teeth and to simply stand on. Now that we’re back, he’s taken to carrying around his big heavy wooden step stools around to turn off the lights, reach high shelves and help me cook. I love hearing him say, “I need to get my ‘tep (pause) ‘tool.”

We very much enjoyed going to the Cincinnati Zoo, one of the best in the country. Walker was very considerate with helping Gigi get in and out of the tram that took us to different sections of the enormous zoo. However, he did get a bit cranky when I wouldn’t let him sit on a bench by a swarm of bees (one has already buzzed in his ear) so he decided to pout — a little something he’s picked up since being two. My favorite pose is when he turns his back, drops his head, pushes out his bottom lip and crosses his arms across his chest. I couldn’t get that pose on film but you can see the dramatic pouting in the photo above.

Little Mr. Pie has some very strongly held opinions. One of the most notable is his preference about how I wear my hair. A few weeks ago, I was wearing a pony tail and it has started to come loose. I absentmindedly liberated my hair from the band and Walker starts to yell, “No! No! No Mommy!” Coming to full attention, I turn to him and re-coif my hair into the pony tail. Walker applauds, “Yeah Mommy!” He’s also realized his name is longer than just “Walker.” The day I returned from Vegas, he surprised me when I asked him, “What kind of Walker are you?” by replying, “Walker YOUNG!” While he knows that’s his name, he prefers to be called “Walkerpie” (I think it’s because that’s what his girlfriend calls him.) And I must say, I do believe he truly loves Madeline. He often gets on his little fire truck, dons his fire hat and declares, “I re’cue Madeline.” When he’s not rescuing the damsel in distress, he places his treasures under the fire truck seat. This week his special toys are his Bunny (of course); his “guys” (while all the little people he plays with are all called “guys,” what he really wants when he asks “Where are my guys?” he’s inquiring specifically for a tiny police man, robber, and dog from a British-made police car set — it took me a few times to realize there are “guys” and “GUYS”); his flashlight; and his Bouncy Ball (a small yellow ball with a happy face I got him more than a year ago). His Bouncy Ball is the newest favorite toy and I love hearing him ask for it in his adorable sing song-y voice (“Mommy, where is my Bouncy Ball?”) before he goes to bed. Yes, he sleeps with it and he will ask for it in the middle of the night and despite being only half awake, he won’t go back to sleep until he gets it.

Oh. That reminds me, I have to go searching for Bouncy Ball as I promised I’d find it and bring it to him after he fell asleep. He really didn’t want to fall asleep tonight — singing a full rendition of Patty Cake with Bunny on his head after his nightly pre-bed muffin, juice and cheese stick. As he’s got a very good memory these days, I must hold up my end of the bargain. So, given it’s after midnight, I’m I’ll finish these odds and ends at a later time. G’nite.

“Where did Mommy go?”

I’m in Vegas.

No, Larry and I are not renewing our vows in the Elvis Chapel and in fact, he and the little Pie are at home. I am attending the Shop.org conference to learn all about more effective ways to convert site visitors into paying customers and the boys are roughing it for 36 hours without Mommy.

The trip did not get off to the best start. Walker has not slept through the night for the past few days and I’ve had to reassure him of my presence multiple times to get him to drift off again. Then he developed some sort of rash originating on his tush and crept down the back of his legs to the bottom of his feet. It doesn’t seem to bother him at all and the nurse thinks it’s probably a small virus or a reaction to strawberries and recommended we give him Benedryl for two nights. In the hour it took me to get ready to leave at 4am, Walker woke up twice and was very upset that I was going to work. To top it off, my cab didn’t come after waiting 25 minutes and I left the house at 5:15 to make a 6am flight. Yes, I may have driven very quickly as I made it to the airport, parked and through security by 6:40. I did make things a bit easier on myself bringing only my work backpack with just a few clothing essentials and toiletries so I wouldn’t have to lug a bunch of stuff around. (In fact, I bring more to work than I did on this trip which has gotten me re-considering my daily packing routine.)

The rest of the day was uneventful. I arrived at the conference by 8:15 and was able to gobble down a quick breakfast before sitting in a series of presentations and chatting on the Expo floor. I chatted with Larry and Walker who had a wonderful and cheerful morning despite being a bit tired and I couldn’t resist but I called Sofiya to check in and Walker was painting away, unconcerned that Mommy was in Vegas having her own small separation anxiety attack.

Did I mention I was in Vegas? I think I’m going to come home smelling like a pack of cigarettes although I haven’t seen too many people smoking. Not sure how that happens but makes it even more icky.

The evening went well and Walker asked Larry a few times, “Where did Mommy go?” Anticipating this question, we made a small video on Larry’s phone for Walker to see when he missed me — I talk to him, encourage him to be a good team with Daddy, I throw him kisses and I deputized Bunny and Frog with Mommy powers. Despite missing me, Walker was asleep without incident by 8:30. By all reports, he slept well albeit restlessly, only waking once asking for me and going back to sleep after Larry gave him some juice and snuggled with him. Larry didn’t fare as well — not shutting his eyes all night because he wanted to stay in with Walker who performed his nightly “feet in the side” routine. I had a King bed to myself and stretched out across the whole thing — just because I could. While Larry found it hard to sleep with the feet in his side, I found it hard to sleep without them.

We had a nice chat on the phone this morning but Walker was starting to show signs that he really missed me. He was quiet in the car and when Larry asked what was wrong, he answered “I miss Mommy” and Sofiya called to say he’s fine and happy and laughing but periodically he tells her how much he misses me. She says I’m driving home to see him now and then they play as if they’re driving in the car to meet me.

I have a few more hours here and then will be jetting back home to see the little man right before he goes to sleep. I’m sure we’ll all sleep well tonight – with the probing feet back where they belong.

Vacation

It’s now September, I’m back and busy with work.  The wonderful days of summer in Maine are only a lovely memory of perfection and it’s time I reflect and document for posterity.

My father is from Maine and I’ve been spending time there since I was a little girl. Some of my best memories are of spending time at “Camp” — the house my Uncle’s grandfather built on the bank of Panther Pond in Raymond, Maine, back in the 1920’s. It’s been upgraded a bit since then and now has running water, a telephone, and a shower but it’s still wonderfully rustic with the bare wood walls, LL Bean rugs and open rooms.

I have three wonderful cousins who hadn’t yet met Walker so we planned a family vacation at Camp in August. (Luckily Aunt Flonnie and Uncle Al built a year-’round home just up the dirt road from Camp so many people are able to converge at once to laugh and joke and pal around.) We stayed for a week and enjoyed swimming, boating, cooking dinner for 7-10 people, Italian sandwiches (there’s a family dispute about whether Dipetro’s or Amado’s is tastier), competitive Solitaire, trips to LL Bean, lobsters, the sun, and being generally unstructured.

As you can see from the video above, Walker really got comfortable with the water. It’s a good thing because it was hot and humid making the lake the most comfortable place to be (OK, sitting in a chair under the trees with a nice cold glass of wine rates up there too…) We would spend hours on end in the water with Walker jumping off the stairs or playing one of his favorite games — “Scary Monster” or “Special Powers”. The latter game involved Walker waving his arms in front of him and making “laser” noises until Mommy froze and fell in the water — often getting sand and muck in her bathing suit. Scary Monster was loads of fun for all. Walker would walk out 20-30 feet on the sandbar and start calling “Scary Mon-ter! Scary Mon-ter!” I would float up behind him blowing bubbles and he would run toward the stairs and giggle until I caught and nibbled on him.

The water wasn’t terribly deep but Walker was running on sand and I had prepared myself for him to fall and go under water at some point. It wasn’t until the very last day, about an hour before we were getting in the car to drive to the airport that Walker finally tripped and went under — right in front of me and Larry. It took me a couple of very long seconds to get to him but he blew bubbles out of his nose and when I picked him up he was a bit surprised but totally fine. He didn’t swallow any water and was anxious to keep playing until the moment he had to get in the car. Thank you Grammy Jane for those swimming classes!

We also enjoyed boating on the lake. There were many types of boats to choose from — paddle boats, kayaks, canoes, row boats, and motor boats. Walker went in just about all of them with his adorable little life jacket (which we left at Camp — so we must go back!) but I think his favorite was rowing with Daddy. He got to do a little rowing himself and he led the boat in a rendition of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” which was the cutest thing I’d heard in a long time.

I’ve already mentioned that we took the opportunity of being on vacation in a hot climate to start potty training. Walker loved running around in his boxers (or totally pantless) and he only had a few accidents. One of the more memorable moments was driving to Portland and Walker declared “Pee coming” so we quickly pulled over, set up the portable potty and let him pee on the street. That was just the beginning of having Walker pee in interesting places.

We did do a lot of driving while on vacation — from Boston > Maine > Boston, to and from the grocery store, to LL Bean, to Portland and to visit Larry’s college friend Steve and his wife Karen in Camden. Walker was great and spent the time playing games on Mommy’s iPhone, singing, drawing, and napping. While in Camden, Walker enjoyed picking his first carrot and showing off for Steve and Karen.

We tried to keep Walker on Pacific time and  I had a wonderful time sleeping late — until 8am! It usually cools off at night but that was not generally the case over this vacation. Evenings were hot enough that a midnight swim in the lake was essential to sleeping soundly. And I don’t have to say that was an activity that I enjoyed while Walker and Daddy stayed snuggled in bed. That wasn’t the only late night excitement. Walker and I shared a big queen bed and he didn’t hesitate to take over all the real estate. He decided to sleep on the outside which means that I was pushed against the wall and he had the rest of the bed, often sleeping perpendicular to me with his feet or head digging into my side. However, one night around 2am, he shifted and somehow ended on the floor with a very big, hollow THUMP. I jumped out of bed and cuddled with the dazed and surprised little boy but to my astonishment and happiness, the incident didn’t seem to impact anyone else’s slumber. (I believe it was because everyone was wearing ear plugs in an effort to drown out the various snoring and sleep talking going on between the rooms which are only separated by paper thin walls that don’t extend to all the way to the roof.)

I loved watching Walker play with the Micky Mouse light toy Ruthie brought back from Disney World, seeing Jane and Walker read GOOD NIGHT GORILLA, helping Joanie learn to knit, swimming with Annie, cooking dinner for an army, eating too many appetizers, boating with Al, shooting the breeze with Flonny, and trying to get Walker’s dolls from Juniper the poodle.

Thank you Jane, Joanie, Anne, Roger, Ruthie, Frank, Flonny and Al. We love Morrison LLC and we’re already thinking about next year.

Genius child

I got home today to find my son had drawn a self-portrait. Walker is 26 months old and is already drawing recognizable images of himself (albeit something that might be more appropriate for a Rorschach test, but a self-portrait nonetheless.) In case you don’t speak “toddler,” at the end he’s saying “Draw Walker more more more more. End story. Go room.” Of course, we’re thinking he’s a genius. GENIUS!

I’ve been terribly remiss in posting — likely because things like work, vacation, and sleep have gotten in the way. However, I have a few things I will provide updates on and then will provide much more detail (hopefully) in future posts.

!!! WARNING: Pee and poop ahead !!!

The first thing I must mention is that Walker decided it was time to give up the diaper. The first week of August he consistently asked to be taken out of his bath so he could pee or poop in the Elmo potty we got him a few months ago. (Of course, we did document his first poop on film but we’ll spare you that photo…) Knowing we had to capitalize on his interest in the potty, I went out and got him some underwear and a travel potty for our week long vacation in Maine. Grandma Shirley had thoughtfully sent us some Pull Ups so we were armed with a variety of potty paraphernalia. While in Maine, Walker spent a lot of time running around pantless (making for some interesting but not postable photos) or in undies and consistently peeing in his little potty. We were amazed.  “Pee coming! Pee coming!” and a run toward the bathroom informs us of his immediate needs. He’s not consistently dry during the day but we’re close and of course, I just bought an enormous supply of diapers. After just two weeks of potty training he made it through two nights without peeing in his diaper — and we’re not even trying to train him at night. He seems to be doing it on his own and is very focused on his goal. I suppose this is a by-product /  benefit of having a child who I might call a “light” sleeper. He wakes up when he has to pee and we stumble to the Elmo potty in the dark and hear Elmo cheerfully declare, “I’m so PROUD of you!” in his loud, chipper voice because Walker has accidentally given him a “high five” as we plop down on the seat trying to carefully avoid the pee guard.

I must take a moment to provide some praise for the inventor of the “pee guard.” We’re teaching Walker to pee sitting down and well, you can’t rely on gravity to take care of delivering the pee from the child to the bowl. If unattended, the pee would be aimed right you. On the travel potty, I had to place my finger on his little penis to ensure it would point down and the majority of pee would make it to the proper destination. Walker tried it a few times but with limited effectiveness. (He’s also interested in wiping himself after pooping but that also is not a terribly effective activity so we’re encouraging a backup pass by Mommy.) Now that we’re home and using the Elmo potty, I have a greater appreciation for that small, round piece of plastic protruding from the front of the seat. Me and the floors are staying much drier than if it was never invented.

!!! END STORY: Pee and poop !!!

Before the potty training (and subsequent wakings to go potty), Walker was consistently sleeping through the night and I blissfully took full advantage — going to sleep early and taking my time rolling out of bed when he awoke in the morning. Walker would go wake up Daddy and then ask, “Where did Mommy go?” Mommy was lying on the bed enjoying the time between sleep and being vertical. After returning from Maine, Walker started sleeping later and is now staying in bed until 7ish. Hallelujah! But he’s now interested in getting in bed until after 8 and won’t often fall asleep until 8:45 or 9pm. He’s getting to be a bit more headstrong so getting him into the bath, then out of the bath, then in his jammies is testing all my powers of negotiation. It’s not always done without a few tears (Walker’s, not mine — yet).

I must sign off now but not before I introduce the next post which will chronicle our Maine vacation. We spent a lot of time in the water and Walker’s favorite game was to play “Scary Monster”. Here are a few photos…

If you find you’re still interested in reading about kids and vacations, please visit Mighty Girl’s “Take Hank Camping, Check” and read about my friends Maggie and Bryan and their 2.5 year old son’s first camping trip. It’s very funny and has banished any thought of going camping with Walker in October for Larry’s birthday.

“Where did Daddy go?”

Larry is off in San Diego at the annual comic convention where more than 120,000 people talk about comics, movies, television, games and other random entertainment — oh, and hopefully spend some money at booths like the AiT/Planet Lar . It’s particularly exciting for us given we’ve had two books recently purchased by big names for live action feature films — MONSTER ATTACK NETWORK was purchased by Disney and HENCH by Danny McBride and Warner Brothers. Not content to keep things simple, rather than renting the cargo van we usually get, I reserved a mini-van. There was some drama when we went to get the car and they initially said they couldn’t take out the seats which is not what I was told over the phone. However, there was a miscommunication and we converted the van into a comic-hauling machine. We knew it was going to be tight getting all the comics, food, shelves, and dollies into the car but as you can see, Larry and Ian did a terrific job packing the car.

This is the third time Larry’s gone to Comic-Con without me and I have to say, I have some pangs of regret for not being there. I suppose I’m romanticizing the event after two years away but I do miss seeing some of my friends and talking about some things other than driving marketable universe, leads, customer satisfaction, and revenue through adobe.com. However, I know SDCC is a lot of work and Walker would completely freak out at all the stimulation so attending would be crazy. So, Larry is there and we’re up here and Walker keeps asking me “Where did Daddy go?” We’ve been talking to Larry a lot on the phone and I’ve been explaining what a trip is and talking about the concept of time.

I shouldn’t be surprised but I’m continually shocked at how fast Walker’s little synapses are putting thoughts together. He’s able to count (albeit inconsistently correct and today he believed the word “number” followed each integer — “1 number, 2 number, 3 number, etc.”), sing his ABC’s, Old McDonald, and Row Row Row Your Boat. He’s forming full sentences, telling me what he does and doesn’t like (which is a mixed blessing) and answering questions. He’s even talking in his sleep. A few nights ago he sang “Mommy”, one night he chatted about the “BEEECH”, another night he repeated “Daddy did it!” and last night he demanded, “No! I do it!”

Speaking of “I DO it!” Walker is emerging into a true two year old. We’ve had a few little tantrums that all stem from frustration when we help him (against his will). I don’t have a lot to complain about as the emotional outbursts are short-lived and relatively infrequent. But one result of trying all these big boy things is that he’s been extremely attached to me. Each morning he’s wanted to sit in my lap until it’s time to start getting ready for work and then he stands in front of the shower and cries. I love the snuggling (and his sweet, soft hands which he likes to put on either side of my face, big hugs, and the little kisses he gives me) but the tears are a bit heart wrenching and it takes monumental effort by Larry to get him distracted. Luckily this morning he was extremely helpful and let me take a shower while he played where I could see him. I’m hoping for the same tomorrow.

He’s also gotten to be a picky eater. Even the old standby of chicken nuggets and hot dogs weren’t working. One day he only ate fruit and three adult-sized servings of yogurt. Yogurt seem to be the favorite food as he’s eaten 9 (yes, 9) 6oz containers in the last three days. Thankfully he eats what Sofiya feeds him and then only eats packaged food (cheese sticks, yogurt, cookies, apple sauce) at home. We met a couple at the zoo with a boy Walker’s age who was having similar food challenges. They said he goes through phases and only ate fruit for two weeks. They found themselves begging him, “You don’t get your blueberries until you eat your pizza,” and then realized how crazy they sounded. I find it fascinating that Walker is the only 2 year old that doesn’t like bread or pasta. We always knew Walker was unique.

Last week Grammie J was on a bike trip (and was a total stud and ascended a 3500ft mountain in less than six miles) so she couldn’t take Walker to swimming. The responsibility fell on my shoulders. We started off by going to Jamba Juice and Walker got his very own smoothie and we shared a blueberry-lemon muffin. Then it was time for swimming. He was so good getting changed and putting everything in his locker. Once we got into the pool it was fantastic. He was amazing — he jumped into the pool, blew bubbles, kicked his feet, paddled is arms and put his whole head underwater. I was so proud of him and as an added bonus, he was so good about taking a shower and getting dressed in the locker room. He is very helpful.

Walker likes to help in a number of ways. He has some chores — he has to put all of his clothes in the “ham PER” and he feeds Rwoar his dry food which entails taking the dustpan and door stop off the top of the container, removing the lid, scooping the kibble into the big bowl, replacing the lid, dustpan and door stop. He’s also expanding his skills to cooking. The Elmo cake was his first creation and yesterday he helped me make soup in the crock pot and today he ran in the kitchen yelling “Hep! Cooook!” after asking for pancakes which he didn’t eat (yes, he had “yo gurt” instead). His memory is good as he has asked me every day for the four days to make him an “Elmo Cke.”

So much happened during Walker’s birthday weekend that I haven’t had a chance to mention the amazing time we had when Larry’s sister’s husband Scott visited. He’d never been to San Francisco before so it was so much fun seeing the city through his eyes. We took him to Twin Peaks (where he enjoyed the city views and those of the well-architected South American woman next to us), drove him around Sea Cliff and Pac Heights (after getting stuck in parade traffic for more than 45 minutes) and ended up at Chrissy Field and our march to the Golden Gate Bridge. I would be remiss if I neglected to mention our venture to Baker Beach and how much fun we had playing in the sand and watching Larry fall into the ocean. I brought extra clothes for Walker but didn’t think to bring a dry set of clothes for Larry…

Showing Uncle Scott around my city

Two Party

Note: This entry has taken me waaaay too long to complete but hey, it was a very exciting week!

Walker used to say he was “fourah” when asked how old he is. Now he says “TWO PARTY” — probably because we had be preparing him for the string of events that would celebrate his birthday.

We began on Tuesday morning, the day before his birthday. It was what I consider to be a typical chaotic “working mom” day. I wanted to bake the cake and cupcakes so I had time to decorate them later in the evening. After much deliberation between Duncan Heins and cake/icing from scratch, I concluded it was overachieving enough to ice the yummies with an Elmo face so everyone was going to have to choke down very cute looking deserts from a box. So, the easy preparations began at 6:30 am and Walker was the very capable assistant — pouring the water and oil in the bowl and holding the mixer. He was thrilled to help but even happier to lick the spoon (and he made quite a mess of it). I then fed Walker, got him ready for school, dropped him off at Sofiya’s and raced to work in time to give a presentation to the worldwide marketing organization. (It was well-received with over 100 attendees between the two sessions — more than any previous presentation in the series!) After work I carved out a few moments to go to the gym and then home to feed Walker and put him to bed. At 8:30 pm, I started the Elmo challenge — turning white icing, food coloring, ice-cream cone cupcakes and a 6″ round cake, into a legion of Elmos for Toddlers to scarf down without a second thought. (I think they turned out quite well.)


 

On what he calls his “happy day,” Walker went to his swimming lesson with Grammy Jane and then to Sofiya’s. At 11:30 Larry and I went over to Sofiya’s with Elmo cupcakes and many memory cataloging devices (e.g. cameras) in hand. Walker was exhausted and overwhelmed. Poor kid lept into Daddy’s arms and just said “home?” the entire time his friends sang to him. He was able to get into the dancing and drum playing but there were some tears when we left. Elmo cupcakes were stashed away to be distributed after lunch and nap but we heard they were a hit. Walker had TWO and Sofiya gave him a third on his way out the door to go home. Luckily he only is able to eat a fraction of these things before he gets tired/distracted.

He was greeted by his Pop Pop, Grammy Jane and Uncle Thayer for his family Two Party. Daddy blew up helium balloons to mark the birthday boy’s house so Walker was very excited to come home. We ordered some pizza and started on the present opening. This was a long process due to the tentative way he tears open the packages and the need to play with each item after opening. The first present was his helium balloon adored tricycle. He was THRILLED and immediately hopped on. He figured out the pedals and pushed himself around. However, we noticed he only seemed to go backwards and there was a clicking sound as he moved. “Are there gears on that thing?” inquired Grammy J. “No, I think Larry put the wheel on backwards,” replies Uncle Thayer in a bemused manner. Well, it was true. The little Dude could only back up until the bike was reassembled with the wheel facing the right direction. (Of course, it had taken Larry hours to put the darn thing together because he had to go out and get critical pieces that were not included in the box and the instructions were as clear as if they were translated from English to Sanskrit and back.) We figure this will be the first in a long line of toy assembly mishaps over the coming years. He continued to open many wonderful presents including a set of musical instruments (he loves to wake us up with a loud blow from a recorder or a few heavy-handed bangs on a drum), a few whale-adorned outfits and stuffed toys, books, a growth chart, a letter set, and a variety of Elmo toys. After present opening, we had another baked good in the shape of Elmo — a big cake! Walker blew out his candles and had even more sugar. Unsurprisingly, Walker had some difficulty going to bed despite being exhausted.

The next few days were uneventful but Walker did talk a lot about wanting more Elmo cupcakes.

Saturday was a special event at the Zoo. In celebration of their 80th birthday, Fisher-Price was sponsoring a birthday party show featuring they’re Little People toy line. We went to the member’s only event at 9am and it was fun to go to the zoo before it officially opened. We all gathered under the big tent and all the kids were wearing the special crowns they distributed. Walker was of course, the cutest child wearing his crown and the “Junior Zookeeper” vest his Daddy gave him for his birthday. The rest of the morning was spent playing on the playground, watching the bears feeding, checking out the baby Gorilla, having 80 cent hot dogs (Walker had one and a half), and buying a history of the SF Zoo written by a 16 year old. Walker was exhausted and was fast asleep in his stroller before we left the zoo grounds.

Daddy decided to let Walker sleep in the stroller for his nap so he walked him home. It was a beautiful day and they both enjoyed the fresh air. I sped home in the car and quickly made a second batch of cake and cupcakes and popped it in the oven. Of course, I went through the whole Elmo decorating dance on Saturday night after Walker went to bed.

After nap Walker wanted to take a ride on his new bike. Walker and I ventured out to the beach with his bike and his wagon filled with sand toys. It was very warm and the tide was high. There were many, many fishermen on the beach and Walker started playing in the sand. He sent me to get water in his bucket a few times but then decided to go with me. We walked up toward the water and he wanted me to pick him up. He’s never even liked to have the waves come over my feet while I hold him so it was notable when he encouraged me to walk forward into the waves. A wave came up and swept past my ankles. Walker smiled. He wanted to stand in the water. I let him down and he stood in the water as a wave receded. A wave came up and he stood his ground. He squealed and giggled. We spent the next thirty minutes playing in the waves. It appears he has overcome his fear of the ocean and I can honestly say that was one of the very, very best times of my entire life.

Sunday was Walker’s friend party and it was lots of fun. He had two little friends come — Malcolm who is also 2 and Lucas who is 15 months. They weren’t sure how to play together but they were all brought together through the tight bonds of Elmo cupcakes. By the end of the party, Walker was running to each of the kids pretending to be a lion. Sofiya came by as well and Walker was a bit perplexed. When she arrived, he knit his little brow and you could see the thought bubble, “How can she be HERE? This is my house. Shouldn’t she be at school?”

Mommy and Daddy had fun as well. We had a few close friends come and even some of our neighbors stopped by. The day couldn’t have been more beautiful — it was sunny and warm so we all hung out on the patio which is a luxury in the Sunset during June. I think Walker really enjoyed his birthday and I know we’ll have great memories of a fun and stress-free second birthday. I’m hoping we are beginning a trend for future years.

Adobe was shut down the week following Walker’s birthday and once again, I had a long list of things to accomplish. Of course, I didn’t get everything done but I can say, I got a bunch of paperwork and errands done. I was also able to get in a bike ride — the first in over a decade. I had a fantastic ride around Lake Merced along the ocean and all the way through Golden Gate Park and back. According to mapmyride.com, it appears the ride was 20.26 miles! And other than having a bit of a sore tush — bike seats are just not comfortable — I never even got sore.

One of the BIG objectives for the week was to clean out the garage. In my mind, that meant going through a bunch of boxes and get donate/sell/toss stuff. While that didn’t happen, we were able to make significant headway. I was able to find a buyer for a new 3′ x 4′ window we never used in our construction project and we rented a U-Haul van and took 500lbs of old junk to the dump (unusable ladders, car seats, file cabinets, etc. Thank goodness 70% of SF garbage gets recycled)!

One highlight was on Independence Day, we took one of many of our on demand bike “rides” (which is not exactly the case as Walker rides for a bit but spends more time walking or being carried). We passed a neighbor’s house and she stopped us to chat about Walker. She invited us to sit in her garden and then proceeded to fill us with wine (mango juice for Walker), cookies, and stories about the 32 years she’s lived on our street. She’s 75 and has seen many kids grow up here. Her own son married a girl who lived across the street. We are finally getting to know our neighbors and feel an even deeper attachment to our wonderful home.

One errand we completed was to purchase an iPhone for Larry. It’s been quite a lot of fun for both the big and little boy as evidenced by the video below. (For the uninitiated, Walker and Larry are playing with the Star Wars Lightsaber applications on the iPhone so they can have a laser sword duel.) You’ll notice that Walker chose this last weekend to begin saying his name which he does with confidence. “What is your name?” “Wa KER!”

Back to work and hopefully shorter, more frequent posts.

Testing the acoustics

I’ve been working on a Birthday blog but I’ve been so busy I haven’t been able to finish it off. Some of you have made requests for blog updates so I thought I’d provide a small video for your viewing pleasure. Last Saturday, Walker took us to the zoo and one of his favorite activities is to run through the tunnels and test out the acoustics. I captured the moment for you to share. (It was the Zoo’s birthday as well so they distributed crowns to celebrate and Walker is donning his “Junior Zookeeper” vest.) You may want to turn down your volume a tad as the small person does pack quite a strong set of lungs.

Also a note: Walker went to his two year old check up and he weighed in at 28lbs 2oz (55%), measured 35″ (70% although they measured him lying down so I think he’s a bit shorter…) and had a head circumference of 48.7cm (55%)

Water

Walker loves water.

He loves his bath and he’s quite fond of puddles. I found that out the hard way when we went for a walk which was cut short because Mommy didn’t realize that puddles were like the Muses to the ancient sailors — toddlers are unable to resist their calls. Walker was no match for the fantastic muddy puddles which called to him after a big winter rain and he jumped right in without hesitation. (Unfortunately I also hadn’t learned to keep an extra set of pants, socks and shirt in the diaper bag either.) Puddles will stop Walker in his tracks and it takes lots of persuasion to divert him.

Walker now goes to the beach on a regular basis — we went three times this past weekend — and he likes to play with his bucket and shovel, filling it with sand. He then orders one of his parents to retrieve buckets of water so he can then immediately pour it out on the sand (brine shrimp and all) and order us back for more. He’s still afraid of the waves so we don’t have to worry about him surfing anytime soon but he does love to jump in the small puddles and rivers left behind from the receding tide. The video is from our trip on Saturday but our Sunday excursion will remain in my memory as one of the best times I’ve had with Walker. The tide was extremely low and there were lots of little rivers with little “lakes” of water that went up to Walker’s mid-thigh. We rolled up his pants as high as they’d go and Walker ran between each river and waded into each and every lake multiple times. He had so much fun going from dry land to deep water and back. He balanced on the side of the lakes and he thought it was fantastic when his feet sank into the wet sand. After about twenty minutes he was drenched from the waist down and up to each elbow. Not thinking he would be swimming at the beach, we were unprepared with no towels or extra clothing. But, we did have our own duds so we stripped him down to his diaper and bundled him up in Daddy’s big gray hooded sweatshirt. Walker couldn’t have been happier and Mommy felt like she had just witnessed happiness personified.

On the topic of water, today was Walker’s first swim class. He was very excited when I told him he was going swimming with Grammy J this morning. He immediately got down on his tummy on the floor and moved his arms as if he was doing the breast stroke (his form is better than mine already!). He then said “water?” which, as I’ve already said, is his favorite element. Here’s how it went in Grammy’s own words:

We had our first swimming lesson today and it was a great success. Only three kids in the class—Walker’s the oldest, an 18 mo. old and a year old. First we got changed. Walker is very good at taking off his shoes and socks and putting them in the locker (we’re going to work on having him put the socks into the shoes…but that’s for next time) and then putting my shoes into the locker. I unbuttoned his shirt and he did his best to take it off but the arm thing is sort of tough. Anyway, we both got into our respective suits and headed out to the pool. Of course first we had to take a shower; it was sort of a token shower on his part.

Then we got right in. The teacher is a nice young man whose name I think is Doug. The first 20 minutes was teaching the adults what to do to get the kids used to being in certain positions. For instance, lying on the back was practiced by singing twinkle, twinkle and looking up at the ceiling. Then we played with a rubber octopus and Walker would throw it out in front of him and kick his legs and reach for it. He sat on the side of the pool and sort of lunged out to me. He’d hold onto the side of the pool with his legs up and push out backwards. He was great about trying everything. We also worked on blowing bubbles; homework is to practice this in the bath tub starting with humming. Then the last ten minutes we played in the shallow end (where he could stand) with various toys.

The teacher was very complimentary about his water skills. I think next week we may advance to jumping from the side of the pool to me. Then back to the showers. We used the handicapped stall which had the shower handle you could detach, which he really liked. Then we put our suits in the machine that spins around to get all the water out of them. Then to the most exhausting part….getting us both dry and dressed. I decided to go first so I bundled Walker up in about three towels and sat him on the bench while I quickly got dressed. Then it was his turn. He’s not as good at putting things on as he is at taking things off though he did retrieve our various shoes from the locker.

He was hungry and polished off a bar in about five minutes and then fell asleep (really asleep, not dozing) on the way to Sophia’s. A good time was had by all.

And now on to some other items.

There were two things I left off the last post in the “overheard” section.

  • “Vroom. Vroom. Beach”: When we leave in the morning, Walker thinks we’re somehow going to decide that rather than going to school we should drive to the beach.
  • “Go Mamma. Go. Go. Go Mamma. Go!”: Walker yells this when we “jump in pants” as Daddy holds him aloft and Mommy slips his pants on over his legs and his tush. “Mamma” is replaced by “Daddy” when Larry is in charge of slipping on the pants.

The other thing to mention is Walker’s new found love for his Toddler bed. You see, he’s going to be two in ten days and I figured it was time for him to start spending time in his own bed. I wanted to make a big deal out of the fact that we were going to get rid of the crib and he’d now have his own big boy bed to sleep in. Taking a page from the successful parenting book, I thought about ways to turn the transition into some sort of celebration (similar to the ceremonies where kids give their pacifiers/bottles to little kids who need them). I thought about doing it on his birthday or putting a big bow on the bed. But then I had an epiphany. Walker loves Elmo and we got him a training potty with Elmo that he loved so much he carried it around the house as if it was a regular chair to sit in at any ol’ time. Why couldn’t Elmo help with the bed? I found some Elmo bedding that was perfect for his new Toddler Bed and when it arrived in the mail, Larry and I couldn’t contain ourselves. Rather than make it a surprise, we ripped open the box and the moment Walker saw the Elmo sheets he demanded we put them on the floor so he could try them out. The next day, Larry converted the crib to the Elmo decorated toddler bed. When Walker saw it, he immediately jumped in the bed and crawled under the covers. He continues to play in the bed and pretend to sleep so we know he is thinking about what it’s meant for — not just jumping on the bouncy mattress or launching him off the bed and on to the floor. At first, he would play in the bed until it was bedtime and then he’d demand stories and sleeping on the big mattress. But after he fell asleep Larry would put him in his new bed until he’d awake and then he’d crawl in bed with me. After a few days, he started snuggling up to me in his bed and we read stories. He still won’t fall asleep in his bed either as he goes to sleep or after he awakes in the middle of the night. But he adores his bed and we know it’s just a matter of time before he’ll demand to sleep alone in his big boy bed with Elmo.

Jewish Gymboree

Last night, Walker, Larry and I attended Shabbat Family Services at Temple Emanu-El. It was absolutely fantastic. I didn’t really know what to expect but one of Walker’s friends at day care attends regularly and she and her mom thought it would be neat if Walker could go with her. Walker looked dapper in his corduroys, sweater vest and a little paper firefighter hat he had made four days prior (and has only removed it to sleep). I wasn’t sure if he’d be able to eat a snack but just in case, I brought his milk and a cereal bar. As we walked into the building we were greeted by scads of little kids running around and large bowls of snacks. OK, this was clearly not going to be like the other services I’ve attended.

We found seats at the front of the sanctuary and Walker sat quietly next to his friend while kids seemed to multiply as they ran around the stage, the floor and well, everywhere. All young ones had chosen some sort of instrument — bells, a triangle, castanets — so I grabbed a little something for Walker. The service started and the chaos didn’t subside, but it seemed to follow the flow Rabbi Mintz and the guitarist created as they led the congregation in a variety of Hebrew songs. At one point, a little boy behind us appeared on the floor between my legs as he crawled under the benches to retrieve a stray tambourine. Kids were dancing around the stage and one little boy seemed to be hiding behind the ark. Surprisingly, there was only one casualty. An adorable curly-headed girl about 2 years old and her 4 year old sister were playing by three little steps and one of them tripped causing them both to fall down the stairs. Some tears but nothing serious and frankly, I’m not sure I would have even noticed had it not happened right in front of me. Walker was a bit overwhelmed for the first half hour but did smile and clap and play his instrument. He really came out of his shell and joined the dancing kids on stage after singing the Shema complete with hand and dance moves. At the end of the service, kids were exhausted and famished (despite all the food they ate as evidenced by the many raisin boxes, cookie bags, and cheese stick wrappers). Walker seemed to love it and Larry and I both felt it was a special time linking him to a special community in San Francisco. So, I think we’ll regularly attend what I’ve coined “Jewish Gymboree.”

Today we had a bit of an adventure. Walker fell asleep in the car and he wouldn’t wake up even when we told him it was time to play at the beach. We decided to give him some nap time so we thought we’d try to find a new beach and traveled to Pacifica, a town we’ve only gone through on the way to other destinations. We found a little sunny cove and as we peered out past the waves we saw a small whale making his way South. He wasn’t far off shore and Larry and I tried to point out the spout and what little of the whale we could see to a drowsy Walker. We choose to believe Walker saw his first whale today.

I also thought it would be a good time to document a few things we’ve recently heard Walker say:

  • “I’m fo-wahr”: Walker’s response when asked, “How old are you?”
  • “Hello? Hi. I did it! Bye.”: The one way conversation he had in his toy Star Trek tricorder (and by his, I mean, the one that was Larry’s)
  • “I’m stuck.”: Pick one of any number of times when Walker finds himself unable to do something he wants to.
  • “Hide-oo”: The request to either join him sitting on the floor of Larry’s closet with the doors closed or create a fort in the living room to protect us when building houses with blocks.
  • “No-no-no”: Delivered in sing-song tone and complete with finger wagging. Used when Mommy or Daddy are doing something Walker finds distasteful.
  • “Mamma. Room. Now!”: A direct order to leave the room I’m in and go somewhere else.
  • “Beee-CH”: Used either matter of fact or in a pleading tone but always a request to go play in the sand at the beach. Often requested first thing in the morning, upon returning from day care and once, in the middle of the night while he was talking in his sleep.
  • “Wahdder”: Like many small boys, Walker is fascinated with water. He enjoys playing in puddles and will ask us to create some if they don’t exist naturally. He also sends one of us down to fill up his bucket at the beach which he immediately pours into the sand.

 

I must also take a moment to say that I had a fantastic birthday. I did nothing for my fortieth birthday which was just what I wanted. I took Walker to day care, went to the gym and then to the chiropractor. I returned home and Larry and I crawled in bed to watch a movie on OnDemand. I don’t even remember what it was. Then, I took a nap. And then it was time to get Walker. To top off a perfect day, my brother and his girlfriend made us dinner. And not just any dinner. Fresh caught Abalone that Thayer pried off the bottom of the ocean floor only hours earlier. They prepared everything (which is very involved and requires much pounding of small slices of meat with large mallets) while I drank too much wine.

It was a perfect birthday. Relaxing and filled with love