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Baby Blogger

4/25/2010 11:57:34 AM  
Yesterday we barely managed to make it through the Arbor Day celebration without getting poured on but we were able to be there for the dedication of Ro & JT's memorial trees. Here are the very few pics I got at the ceremony:

Right after I took those pics, the camera flatlined so I was unable to get a pic of the boys together with their brothers' trees (nor of Mimi & Gaga's faces, sadly). Those are the trees in the pics though. It was such a nice ceremony and I really look forward to continuing it every year as a family tradition. I like the idea of Arbor Day being linked to our own remembrance of our first boys. It's all about looking to the future but taking the time to honor the past through doing something for the community (and ourselves!). Those are good lessons for Victor & Erick. And us.

We've had a lot of rain. My cucumber plants are looking miraculously better and I planted some lilies from Gaga that I can't wait to see grow. They are starts from the same lilies that were used in my wedding bouquet. Pretty cool. The boys have stayed mostly inside as of late though:

And we're beginning our sad 6 days without Daddy. Victor doesn't seem like it quite gets it yet but I've got his picture schedule up in the kitchen to count down the days and nights until Daddy's return. So far he's just fixated on the picture of bowling pins (I promised him we'd go to the bowling alley in the next few days.........and frankly, I'm pleased that he even recognized my artist's rendition of pins) and asking exactly when we'll be doing that!

4/23/2010 2:36:47 PM  
Poor E. He spiked a fever yesterday morning and I thought it was probably a reaction to the MMR vaccine (Dr. L subscribed to that theory as well). But he's just been so fussy and seemingly uncomfortable so I took him to get the ears rechecked since we're heading into a weekend. And yep, they're still infected. First time he ever takes an antibiotic and he's resistant to it (in this case at least). So now he's got Zithromax. Meanwhile, Victor finished his 20 days of Augmentin and is naturally starting to cough again. I'm thinking that he should probably never leave the house again!

I was completely bummed because we were supposed to have a day of fun with Heather, Chris, Jack & Bern today. And today was already a reschedule of our outing we had planned for spring break when Victor was so sick. Victor has, however, thoroughly enjoyed his day off school (teacher's institute today) by playing in the playroom and generally being Daddy's shadow. He is on such a Daddy kick lately and I'm glad he got to really enjoy it today because James will be gone for 5 days starting on Sunday. Don't ask me how I'll survive that because I haven't figured it out yet. Lately Victor gets weepy when James leaves for tennis practice so I'm sure he'll be beside himself for a day or so, probably standing at the window watching for Daddy's car with a terribly forlorn look.

Tomorrow we have the memorial tree dedication at the park. It's a rain or shine event and it looks like there will be very little shining but a lot of raining. I'm inclined to go no matter what because this is our special family tradition for James Thomas & Ronan now but I'm a bit leery of taking Victor so near the playscape if it's too wet to play. I don't want him to think that I'm torturing him by dangling that carrot in front of him with no payoff. We shall see. I'm looking forward to the rain in general though. Just got everything planted for the spring and I'm eager to see things looking greener and happier. So far so good except for my poor cucumber plants.

4/18/2010 9:45:14 AM  
OK then. Erick gets a free pass for his recent moodiness. Not only has he been dealing with a double ear infection but he also does, as suspected, have 4 new teeth in there. At least. Strangely, 3 are on one side and 1 is on the other. Of course it's hard to tell for sure when he's trying to bite my fingers off.

We're in the midst of Mulch Weekend 2010 here so there is a lot of frantic outside activity. I just went out a little while ago to get the last of the vegetables and herbs in so that James will be able to mulch around them. I took both boys out with me to let them swing while I planted. Victor was such a fabulous big brother and swang his brother nonstop. So much so that he fell asleep in the swing at 10:00. And then I made the miraculous swing to crib transfer. That boy must be super duper tired!

Pictures from the big birthday coming soon. We're having computer issues preventing me from accessing the pictures from the laptop and I'm usually too lazy (and boy-tethered) to go downstairs long enough to do it from the desktop. Soon!

4/12/2010 3:11:19 PM  
Erick Owen is one! He had a very nice little shindig on Saturday here at home with Mimi, PopPaw, Gaga, Heather, Jack & Bernie (and Victor and Mommy & Daddy, of course). I don't think he was quite as giddy about the swing set as his brother was but he was a bit overwhelmed by it all by that point. He got a lot of fun loot! Just ask Victor - he's claimed most of it for himself. I'll admit that I played with the toys a bit earlier while Victor was at school and Erick went down for his nap.

Turns out that Erick's crankiness over his birthday weekend was for very good reason. Poor guy has a double ear infection! Not surprising given how long he's been congested and how many germs his brother has shared with him during the last 6 weeks. But still! This is his first ear infection and first time to ever have to take any medication besides Tylenol. He's actually been a very good sport about it today, especially considering that he got 4 shots after the ear revelation.

Once he's up from his current nap (I don't think he'd be sleeping now were it not for the shots), I'm going to take the boys on a maiden voyage in Erick's new wagon. Pollen be damned! (See how I feel about that later.) The new wagon has seats and seat belts which will be an improvement for the boys' current needs. We'll go back to the big workhorse wagon again later when Erick can hold his own with Victor in there.

Speaking of holding his own, Erick is not really going to be a bruiser compared to Victor after all. He's just shy of what Victor's weight and height were at one year. They seem to be on the same basic long and lean growth path. I knew Erick had thinned out a lot once he started crawling and cruising so much but I was actually a little surprised that his weight is below average these days. Doesn't feel like it at the end of the day! But aside from the ear infection, he's in great shape across the board.

Erick at one year is fairly similar to Victor at one year in terms of his personality, although Erick is a bit more outgoing in general. He goes out of his way to engage anyone and everyone around him but he gets pretty bent out of shape if Mommy or Daddy is not always in grabbing distance. He likes to clap his hands and wave (backwards) and say "Ow!". It seems like he plays with toys a little more than Victor did but I may be reading too much into that. Much like Victor, he loves the Sesame Street characters and he ADORES Signing Time. And he is just now starting to enjoy sitting and listening to a story at naptime and bedtime. He seems to have some Seuss leanings. Can't complain about that.

We'll do a more proper "What's Up With Erick" list soon, I swear. I want to be sure that we remember all of this stuff. Life's such a blur and he's changed so much already. Erick is the most wonderful surprise we've ever had. As loved and adored as all three of his brothers are, they were so very, very planned. It's so special to have this little boy who just appeared on an ultrasound screen from out of nowhere! He surprised us then and he surprises us every day with his gusto and his expressiveness. Victor adores him 99% of the time, probably for many of these same reasons. He mostly loves Erick's laugh. Can't wait to see what kind of adventures this second year will bring. And for now, you'll excuse me if I still call him a baby.

4/8/2010 3:53:16 PM  
Victor's better but now Erick's sick. I think Erick has/had roseola because he had really bad congestion, cough and some vomiting and then a fever started. After 3 days of fever, it broke last night and then he got a rash that doesn't bother him at all (and it's already going away). All of this is to say that I THINK he's a lot better at this point and that he's "almost better". He should hopefully be able to fully enjoy his birthday on Saturday, even though he's still pretty snotty. His appetite today was the most robust I'd seen it in about 5 days so that gives me hope.

Erick's big gift for his birthday is a swingset that Daddy built in the backyard. It's been a work in progress for about a week but is now completely assembled with swings hung. We're waiting to unveil it on Saturday post-birthday cake. What I find truly amazing is that Victor hasn't noticed the swingset in the backyard. He hasn't been back there for a while but I would have thought he'd notice it out the window. Usually nothing gets past Victor in that regard. At this point, I hope he can be just as surprised and elated as Erick on Saturday. He knows that it's 2 more days away because he keeps asking when the Cozy Coupe will come down off the high shelf in the garage. That one did NOT get past him!

By the way, the boys did manage to have a nice Easter in spite of all of the maladies and home emergencies as of late. Here they are on Good Friday (prior to Victor throwing up all over his therapist):

Here they are on Easter morning here at home:

And just a few of Erick at Gaga's that afternoon:

(Victor was elusive at Gaga's. Too much prowling around to do while he's there!)

4/4/2010 6:14:00 AM  
[James here]
About a week ago, Victor did something he's never done before. I was upstairs in the bedroom getting dressed and saying "Oh. Daddy's tired. Daddy's very tired," because I had been at tennis practice. Out of nowhere Victor asked, "How come?" I was shocked and didn't say anything. So, he repeated, "How come?" with a slightly different inflection. I answered that it was because I had been playing tennis. That was the end of the conversation, but it was still very exciting to be asked an unprompted question by the boy!

4/2/2010 3:29:13 PM  
Really thought Victor was well enough to go to therapy today. Thought it would even help him to get some semblance of routine back. Nope. He threw up all over his OT and his SLP. So obviously that session was cut short. No return of the fever yet (36 hours now, knock on wood) but still coughing fits off and on all night long. And puking, apparently.

We're going to go pick up his third antibiotic in a month when Erick wakes up (James has a tennis tournament today, of course). If he's not improving by Monday, he goes in for x-rays again and probably bloodwork. I'm hopeful about the Augmentin. At least it should keep us from going to the ER two weekends in a row, I should think. And my main worry was pneumonia or an ear infection and this should be a good prophylactic measure for either of those.

On the bright side, the drywall repairs and painting in the basement are all done so once the carpet gets stretched back tomorrow and I can give it a good vacuuming, the play room will be open for business again for the first time in more than a month. Fingers crossed that Victor feels better enough to enjoy it!

3/31/2010 9:46:39 PM  
Victor still has a fever (for the fifth day) and took his last dose of Zithromax tonight. The doctor will be getting a call tomorrow. I'm getting a flu vibe (he looks awful) but I'm worried about his lungs. And ears.

3/31/2010 5:09:30 PM  
A little picture catch-up. These are from the Yo Gabba Gabba live show which was more than a week ago now. Victor's plague has made this time a complete blur. (He's still sick, by the way - achy, lethargic, constantly coughing). Anyway, let's reflect on a happier time, shall we?..........

Got some good short video clips too but that would involve much more freedom than I'm allowed right now. I'm trying to really enjoy the constant need for cuddles, even if it means I get very little done this week.

3/29/2010 8:34:46 AM  
Victor is very sick. Eye infection and bronchitis. Fever, chills and sadness. So updates this week might be even more sluggish than usual.

3/29/2010 6:46:04 AM  
[James here]
Erick was imitating me saying "Oww." yesterday. We were in the upstairs, boys bathroom waiting for Mommy and Victor to finish morning hygiene. Erick was pulling my hair and I was saying "Oww" in a high voice. After about 30 seconds he started saying it too. Just like Victor, if he finds it amusing, it will get his attention, and he'll try it. His version was pretty good because he was looking at my face and trying to imitate how my lips were moving.

3/26/2010 2:14:10 PM  
And today is James Thomas Humphrey's birthday. We met him at 5:38 p.m. six years ago today. Hard to believe it's been that long since we got to see those sweet little cheeks of his.

The sun is out after many, many hours of rain yesterday so I guess it's time for the party to begin. Thinking of the twins today and every day. But especially on their birthday weekend. :)

3/25/2010 3:36:57 PM  
It was six years ago today at 2:17 p.m. that Ronan Woods Humphrey was born. So much has happened since then, a whole lot of it wonderful. He is so missed each and every day though.

Happy birthday, sweet Ro.

3/17/2010 4:51:57 PM  
Happy St. Patrick's Day! Here's our little Irishman once he was home from school today:

(Can't believe he actually happily wore that green tie all day!)

Had to go greet his brother at the window:

He'd been waiting there patiently for a while:

That's our new routine for bus dropoff........Erick (if he's not napping inside) hangs out by the front window where I can talk to him and he can see me while I wait for the bus. He jumps up and down and screeches when Victor's bus pulls up. We'll have to enjoy this system now while the weather is perfect for it!

Here are some random shots of Erick from the past several days:

And here is a video montage from the other night while I was gone at autism support group:

Pru still loves to chase those cards when you throw them, even if she's not too quick on her feet these days. She doesn't have to be fast to be hilarious though, according to Erick.

3/13/2010 11:36:39 AM  
Time flies when you're obsessed with whether or not your house is incurring water damage. What a fun week it's been! Ugh. Hopefully we've got a handle on the situation. In the meantime, while we sort this all out the playroom is uninhabitable. That makes another weekend with yucky weather a bit hard to endure. And we're missing the St. Patty's Parade in STL yet again this year because it's just wet and chilly out there. No thanks. We've got corned beef and cabbage in process though, not that anyone but James and myself will eat it!

The boys are good though. Erick is still thinking about walking and doing a lot of recreational cruising. I've decided to wait until he's walking to start Little Gym. I'm financially procrastinating about starting it anyway with his birthday and Easter taking up budget this coming month. We're not doing a big birthday shindig or anything but I want him to have a few cool gifts since almost everything he has is gently used (and sometimes "violently used") by Victor. I'd like to get a modest swing set out back since he's such a huge swinging fan but that might be pushing it, given all of the other pressing home projects. We're definitely ready for spring around here though.

Victor finally had a good day at therapy yesterday. He certainly hasn't been having bad days but as of late, it's been kind of a water treading situation. I'm still not entirely convinced that he's out of his rut but he was certainly more motivated and receptive yesterday than he has been. He's just so easily bored by therapy after 2 1/2 years of it. The Friday schedule is actually working quite well for Victor but having to drag Erick along is wearing on me. The timing of Victor's school pickup (at which point we head straight for St. Louis) completely sabotages Erick's very much established 11:00 nap and then we never quite make up for it. Also, I have to squat in the lobby of the office building V's clinic is at, feeding Erick is his stroller. It's not a lot of fun for either of us. I like to hope it will be easier when he's not so stroller-dependent but every week I find myself wishing I could just leave Erick at home so that he can get a good nap in peace and quiet. Not generally feasible with Daddy's conference calls and tennis practices though. Luckily E's pretty resilient about it all and he always enjoys the attention from all of the therapists.

Happy nearly St. Patrick's Day to whoever may be out there reading these riveting updates. And happy daylight savings! We're actually quite excited about it because we'll be able to take the boys on walks/wagon rides/bike rides after dinner. You know, if it ever stops raining.

3/4/2010 8:59:11 PM  
First of all, thank you very much to all of you out there who have asked about our March of Dimes campaign for this year. I sincerely apologize for not being more forthcoming about that but we were really kind of on the fence about what we were going to do. Turns out that the walks in both St. Louis and in Edwardsville are on the same day as the regional tennis tourney that James's boys will be playing in here in town. So he wouldn't be able to go. I tried to get used to the idea of doing it without him but then I quickly realized that my heart didn't feel totally in it since we don't have any ties to the local chapters. We're not doing it this year and I don't think that we're probably going to do it in the future as our official family tradition of honoring Ronan Woods and James Thomas. We may do the walk again in future years and we wholeheartedly support the efforts of the March of Dimes and we encourage all of our friends and family to contribute to those efforts. It really does sadden me to not be participating but the truth is that I want to participate in Austin and that's not at all feasible right now.

Our new family tradition, starting this year, is our local Arbor Day celebration. (Ironically, it's also on the same day -April 24- as the tennis tourney but at least it's less than a mile away so James will surely be able to swing a brief attendance.) When we were still in Austin, we planted a tree each year on the boys' birthday weekend. Our yard here is considerably smaller and planting more trees right now would clutter up the landscaping. As it turns out, we can purchase memorial trees to be dedicated and planted at the Arbor Day celebration each year. The coolest part is that they can be planted in the park we can practically see from our yard. The park where we take the boys. Pretty cool. So I think we've found a way to honor Victor & Erick's brothers while teaching them about giving to their community. I just like the thought of them playing there in the park amongst their brothers' trees as they grow up.

I'm actually hoping that we can get the boys to the park this weekend because it sounds like we will finally have warm enough weather for it (barely). Victor has gotten to play outside at school for the past few days but I know he'll still be ecstatic to go to the park. I'm pretty sure Erick might be ready to try out swinging now too. Here he is recently in Victor's therapy swing in the basement:

He did some swinging today too, at his first Play Pals meeting of the session:

Sadly, he spent most of the 45 minutes looking kind of like this:

Baby boy was tired this morning! He must have been awake earlier than I realized or something because usually 9:00 is a really perky time for him. He made the most of it though:

And then he crashed hard once we were home again:

The thumb sucking is getting more and more prevalent, clearly.

3/2/2010 10:22:13 AM  
Erick and I are missing music class at the moment. He's healthy and happy as can be but I just couldn't even try to take him today. I seem to have food poisoning or a gastro virus. Horrible stabbing cramps last night followed by 4 hours of vomiting. Still not keeping much down so I don't really have the energy or strength to haul Erick around today, sadly. He seems perturbed.

Meanwhile, Victor still hasn't gotten rid of his yucky nighttime cough so I took him to the doctor yesterday while he was off school for Pulaski Day. She thinks it's a sinus infection again since the cough has gone on so long so he's on Amoxicillin. Naturally I didn't hear him cough at all last night but I may have just been too focused on my own pain and discomfort. He doesn't mind taking the medicine though and he's fairly chipper (albeit pretty subdued). The good news was that he's up to 39 pounds now! He's been gaining so slowly for the last year but that's a few pounds in just a few months. I'm not really sure why it happened but we'll take it.

Time to try to get Erick to nap so that I can nap too. It's been a lousy few nights sleep-wise, mainly because we have been trying to get Victor to stay in his own room until at least 5:00 again. We caved in a lot when he was really feeling sick and now it's very hard to break the cycle. He's getting pretty crafty about trying to sneak into our bed quietly.

2/23/2010 8:05:22 PM  
I forgot to take any pictures in Peoria. That tends to happen when we're visiting other places, unfortunately. Keeping the boys from tearing everything apart seems to require all available hands. We're going back to Peoria for another visit in a few months though!

Erick's very definitely feeling like himself again and has gotten his appetite for solids back and then some. We went to music class this morning and I was so worn out from the Peoria trip and Girls' Night Out in St. Louis last night that I really was feeling pretty negative about driving down there, to the point that I was talking myself out of continuing it in the future. Naturally he had the most fun I've seen him have at class! So yes, I'll suck it up and keep going. It won't be so bad once spring is finally here. It's hauling the boys around in the cold that is such a drag.

I'm happy that we get to stay close to home tomorrow though. I'll get to enjoy lots of these kinds of moments:

That was yesterday after a bath (hence the delightfully curly hair). But not just any bath....the first real big boy bath! We had tried bathing Erick in the big tub with Victor a few months ago and it was quite harrowing but yesterday he acted like he'd been bathing in the big tub forever. His balance is just sooooo much better now. And he certainly loved playing with all of Victor's tub toys. I guess the inflatable duck tub is headed for the weed patch (good thing too because that duck won't hold air for anything!). Maybe I'll get brave and try the two boy bath thing tomorrow night.

2/19/2010 9:38:49 PM  
We're doing a lot better around here. We still have remnants of this cold (and it must be a cold to be hanging on this long!), mostly a nagging cough, but the widespread misery has abated. I'm the only person still awake at the moment and I intend to change that pretty quickly. We're finally catching up on some much-needed rest now that Erick is sleeping through the night again. Getting his naps back on track and getting him eating more and more solids again has really helped him get through the nights like a big boy again. Ahhhhhhhhhh. That means Victor is sleeping better too.

Victor got big news this week. Next week he gets to start attending school on Friday mornings too. That's kind of a big deal because Friday is a completely non-special ed day. He hasn't been "invited" to attend on Fridays until he was able to get through a whole morning in a blended class without special ed supports. Now that he's gone for a week or so of spending his whole morning Monday through Thursday in the blended room, he's ready for Fridays! It's not much time, really. Just 8:30 to 11:00 but it's more time hanging out with peers at school and it gives me time to take a shower and get Erick fed and ready to haul Victor to St. Louis for his private therapy once he gets out out school.

Erick is probably going to start Little Gym soon. I'm contemplating waiting until early March when he's a little closer to walking. I don't want to overschedule him but I feel like doing these activities is even more important for him than it was for Victor because Erick doesn't have a playgroup or playdates here in our neck of the woods. He really seems to love getting to see some kids more his size/speed. He adores Victor but he needs his own life too! I just have to make sure I leave us some open time for running errands and getting outside come spring. Something may have to give by then, perhaps even music since it's so darned far away. We'll see.

Looks yucky outside at the moment and I was really hoping that we could be spared any precipitation this weekend (as if!). We're driving up to Peoria for the day early on Sunday to visit GiGi and we need clear roads! I'll be sure to take pics.

2/12/2010 5:17:25 PM  
Sure feels like I'm whining a lot lately and I really don't want to whine anymore. But gee, there is a lot to whine about! We've all been sick as dogs. Victor is the healthiest person in the house and was luckily able to enjoy his Little Sweetheart Dance with his schoolmates last night:

(That's his best bud, Vanessa.)

I'm almost sorta kinda feeling better but still have a lingering cough. Erick is doing much better congestion-wise and is no longer throwing up but still is plagued with diarrhea of sometimes epic proportions. And James is in the early, painful stages of the sinus portion. So probably not a very eventful Valentine's weekend for any of us and Monday's even a "no school, no school today!" day.

Victor's bouncing in his bouncy castle out in the sunroom/echo chamber right now and Erick is screaming his head off in his room (still resisting napping in spite of the fact that he desperately needs sleep). Just another quiet winter day. ;)

2/4/2010 12:33:44 PM  
It always starts out so sweet:

but things can get ugly so, so quickly. I'm hoping and praying that today is finally the day that Erick will take a very, very long nap so that Victor can have me to himself for a little bit (half an hour even!) once he's home from school. Sharing Mommy is not something he's feeling good about right now. Thank goodness Daddy will be back to double team soon!

Erick and I have had a nice week of outings though. We tried out Little Gym in Edwardsville on Monday. I think we'll probably end up doing it at some point soon but might wait another few weeks or so for budgetary accommodation and also so that Erick can get just a little more sure on his knees because it's a wild, mostly walking group of kiddos. I can already tell that he's going to get into Little Gym a little more than Victor did though.

Music was splendid as always this week. Erick sits right in front on his teacher and bounces and babbles and smiles at her. He may be in love. And Playpals today was also good, even if we barely managed to get there. We'll definitely do that again, especially since it's an unbelievable bargain. So we're assembling a pretty busy calendar. Not surprising for me, of course. Just want to make sure we leave some time open for walking/strolling/playing at the park in a few months!

2/3/2010 3:43:44 PM  
Well, Victor slithered into bed with me at 1:00 and then Erick was up for a feeding at 4:30. And yet I feel strangely revitalized! This is because I had a visit from the Erick Entertaining Elf today (PopPaw). Things are looking up now that I got to vacuum and change sheets and shower. I rushed downstairs after I was out of the shower figuring that Erick would be frantic with hunger. This is what I found:

So yeah, I went back upstairs and dried my hair. Bonus! Bedtimes are still a struggle logistically but at least tonight I'll go into it a little more rested. Thank you PopPaw. You make me glad I moved 900 miles. :)

12/5/2009 10:51:17 PM  
What a day. We stayed in today and worked on getting the last of the Christmas decorating done and getting our new TV (Yay! Merry Christmas to us from us!) set up. No small feat. Naturally both boys were super high maintenance on a day when we kinda needed for them to be a little more -how shall we say- self-entertained. Both boys are under the weather. Victor has a runny nose and cough while Erick doesn't want to eat anything solid and he has constant yucky diapers (but he wants to nurse for an hour at a time, including during the night). We managed to get a lot done but not without a lot of headaches due to the endless whining and crying today.

There were bright spots, however. Erick was happiest, as usual, when allowed to prowl around on the first floor. He's no longer even the slightest bit intimidated by the hardwoods and he and his big brother tried to stage their own Levi's commercial while he was on the loose:

And yesterday (feels so long ago now) we bundled up to go to the Snowflake Festival:

And Victor discovered the joys of warming up with a nice mug of hot chocolate:

Now he asks for some every hour. Between that and his new love of candy canes, we've created a sugar monster. Tis the season!

11/29/2009 11:55:15 PM  
This was a pretty long dry spell for me. Yikes. We've obviously been busy. Very busy. School is going well but it certainly leaves us rushed for time. Victor's really enjoying it though and I think Erick is enjoying the one-on-one time it allows him too. They are always so happy to see each other at the end of the day though! But hey, let's get to the fun stuff. There's been a lot of it.

Erick celebrated his first Thanksgiving with the whole fam up at Gaga's:

And the boys both have both been enjoying the Christmas tree and, even more importantly, the Christmas tree TRAIN:

Over the course of this past weekend, I desperately tried to take a Christmas card picture, with some hilarious and sometimes frustrating results:

And I resorted to a few ridiculous measures (without success there either):

And the biggest excitement of the weekend was heading off to the MO Botanical Garden for the Gardenland Express holiday show. It was really cool:

Well wait, we went to the symphony today too for the big holiday family concert. But there aren't pictures of that so just take my word for it that it was also very thrilling.

So yes, we're all tired. Monday will be quite welcome, thank you very much. A great kickoff to the holiday season though. Now I just hope this HUGE entry doesn't kill Monkey Deux. :)

11/19/2009 2:33:18 PM  
Victor will be home soon from his first week of full day school! I am pronouncing it a success. By all reports, it sounds like he's done great with all of the changes and transitions and has really only gotten a little concerned when his morning classmates go home and he's kept there for the afternoon. He's done great with eating lunch at school, even! (We'll see how today went though. Quesadillas are hit and miss and that's what was up on the lunch packing rotation.). He's been very tired after dinner and has even initiated going upstairs to get ready for bed. Unfortunately, he's still up at night a lot lately. Maybe it's the excitement about new friends and experiences at school. I think we'll all be happy for a chance to sleep in a little this weekend.

Well, I should qualify that. We'll be happy to sleep in if Erick allows it. He's been waking up quite early himself, with or without Victor's shenanigans. I don't know if it's a growth spurt (he ate a lot at 2:00 this morning and then again at 6:00.........and then again at 9:30....and then again.........., etc.) or if he's getting himself keyed up because he's so into his new form of locomotion. Erick is scooting/quasi-crawling! He gets around quite well, actually. He wears himself out and gets pretty whiny though. And he also seems to make himself quite hungry. He wants to eat more and more solids all the time. His likes yogurt, banana, carrot, sweet potato and oatmeal. Still won't get onboard with anything green though.

Erick's other major new development is some wicked separation anxiety. That seemed to happen overnight. He's always been pretty demanding about getting attention but he now will wail pathetically if you leave his line of vision for more than 5 seconds. I guess it's good timing since we actually do have more time for him now that Victor's at school all day. Speaking of which, it's really sweet to see how happy the boys are to see each other now that they're apart for such a big chunk of the day. They are really quite affectionate with each other. With Erick's new mobility though, he's already going after Victor's toys and Victor is none too keen on that. He's gentle about his hostility but it IS hostility. And thus begins a neverending series of teachable moments about sharing.

11/17/2009 8:42:10 AM  
[James here] I just witnessed Erick's first sustained crawl across the carpet in the office downstairs! It's definitely a proto-crawl, but he is moving forward chasing after a little plastic lemon that keeps eluding his grasp. Yay! Way to go, baby Erick!

11/10/2009 2:41:14 PM  
It's a day of celebration! First of all, Erick is 7 months old today. And nearly as importantly, today is the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street and the premiere of the new season. Featuring Michelle Obama. I'm serious. This has been on my calendar for a month! Cannot wait to watch it with Victor when he gets home from school.

There were some tears today too though. It was Victor's last day of therapy with his current therapist over in St. Louis. He won't be able to make Tuesday mornings anymore so he had to say goodbye to Miss Gabby (Abby), his tough-loving SLP:

and his beloved Miss Momica (Monica), his favorite OT, who just came back from her maternity leave only about a month ago:

He was pretty oblivious about how permanent today's goodbyes were but I wasn't. I always have a hard time leaving behind therapists because I get attached to anyone who gives Victor that much of themselves. He'll still be going to therapy there on Friday mornings, at least for a few more months, but with Miss Ashley and Miss Melissa. He knows and likes both of them too and I'm sure he'll work hard for them and give them lots of smiles and high fives.

And the schedule change? It's because Victor starts going to school for a full day (8:30-3:00) starting next Monday. I hope he gets more strength by then because he's still pretty exhausted from his current schedule coming off his illness. He will sleep so well though, I'd bet. He'll still spend all but about 45 minutes of his day in his special ed room with Mrs. Perkins but will be going across the hall to the gen ed room for learning centers and then eventually for circle time and then finally for small group work. It's going to be a shock to his system to be around so many more kids, especially so many LOUD kids. It's going to be so good for him though and he'll have an aide along to shadow him while he assimilates. Mr. Picky even has to start taking his lunch to school! I guess that means he'll be starving by dinner.

11/9/2009 7:11:31 PM  
Victor's better. Mostly. He's back to school anyway. And yesterday, he got to play in the leaves. Now he wants to "leaf splash" all the time. Here's what started it all:

11/3/2009 8:57:26 PM  
I'll get a better update together soon, I hope, including some more recent pictures but things are a little too hectic at the moment because Victor has what the farm bureau would rather I called something other than swine flu. (Wow. That was one sentence!). It's really not a lot of fun. He's soldiering through quite valiently, including a chest x-ray today as well as his second blood draw in less than a week. Every night he says "no school" very emphatically which should tell you a lot. So yeah, we're on our 4th night of high fever (comes down and pretty much stays down during the day).

So far no one else seems to have it. I have a very sore throat today but I'm hopeful that it's just because I'm so rundown from the restless nights. The most challenging part has obviously been trying to keep Erick from getting sick. It will truly be a miracle if he doesn't get it because Victor is coughing up a lung all over the place and Erick is putting everything in his mouth. (He just got teeth 4-8, by the way).

The other bad news is that Victor had his big 4-year allergist appointment last week (that's where he had his other blood draw and also where he probably got exposed to H1N1). He's still very much allergic to peanuts. He did test negative to almond, pecan and walnut which is good on some level but it's also barely relevant because he still has to avoid any nuts like the plague due to the risk of cross-contamination. So we are continuing to live nut-free here. We're actually quite used to it and it's hardly a sacrifice since to do otherwise is so dangerous to Victor's safety. The struggle is in existing at other people's houses and out in the world. Of course it feels like we'll never be back out in the world again anyway now that we're quarantined!

Actually, I get released from captivity very briefly tomorrow to attend Victor's IEP meeting regarding him moving to a full school day soon. This is the only good news of the week (OK, that and the news that he doesn't have pneumonia!) because it means that he'll soon be spending time in a blended classroom. That's one step closer to mainstreaming. It's hard to imagine him having the stamina for a full day in his current state but it will be a good thing when and if it happens. I'm going to miss him so much when he's gone for 6-7 hours though. I still can't talk about it without tearing up a little. Apparently I can't type about it without tearing up either. I really like hanging out with Victor. He's kind of wonderful. He loves school though and he craves the structure and the stimulation. I'm blessed to have had him to myself as much as I have. I'll be OK. Really.

And now if you'll excuse me, I have a very hot little head to go soothe yet again.

10/27/2009 3:43:39 PM  
Over the weekend, we finally managed to get to Pere Marquette for a hike. We've been wanting to get there but it's been so rainy. Finally got a nice sunny day and it just happened to turn out to be what must have surely been the peak of a truly awe-inspiring fall foliage display. Last year was a bit of a letdown but this year did not disappoint. Victor went on his first real hike on his own two feet too! It was funny because when we got the pack carrier out of the car, he started trying to climb into it. Luckily, he didn't seem to mind Erick taking it over. He was a slow, slow hiker but he was tenacious. He passed out cold in the car afterwards though (which is why he missed out on pumpkin patching with Erick that day).

Anyway, enough jibber jabber. Here's a montage entitled "Autumn" but it really should be entitled "Autumn: What Dawn Missed Most for the Past 11 Years While We Were in the Land Without Seasons". I love you, Austin, but you don't have this. And THIS is pretty much the highlight of my whole year:

10/19/2009 9:47:00 PM  
Erick has been eating more and more solids and while they say that cereal making babies sleep more is an old wives' tale, it's hard to argue with this:

Ah, I kid. He was due for a nap and couldn't wait for me to finish cleaning up. Usually he plays with toys on his highchair tray after he eats (that and he likes to chew frantically on a cold washcloth). Today he was just too tuckered out.

He is enjoying food though. He's a pretty big fan of carrots and while he wasn't crazy about bananas at first (unlike his brother), they've grown on him. Interestingly, he prefers the oatmeal cereal to the rice cereal. So much so that the rice cereal seems to make him break out in a little bit of a rash. Gotta keep it interesting around here, I guess. I'll be curious to see what he thinks of a green vegetable, especially since his brother is still such a green bean fan.

One thing is for certain. He'll happily eat table food as soon as we let him (and NO, we are not letting him just yet!). He wants anything and everything that the rest of us have. I shudder to think of how big he'll start getting then!

10/19/2009 10:24:19 PM  
Victor is kind of an old pro at the whole Rendezvous scene but I just got to go to my first one yesterday (thanks again to PopPaw, Daddy, Victor & Erick for letting me horn in on the male bonding). It was really cool! It was such a beautiful, beautiful day for it and in such a picturesque setting to boot (right along the river in Grafton). Did I get some pics? Oh yes, I got some pics:

(This pony's name was "Pop Tart". Very authentic, no?)

Still can't quite get Victor onboard with wearing his bear claw necklace PopPaw gave him but I think he'll come around eventually. In the meantime, as you can see above, he is quite taken with the walking stick that PopPaw got for him. He paraded all about the camp with it. Luckily he seems to accept that it's an outdoor thing, however.

Erick rode around in the Bjorn for the duration and so I was chided by several mountain men about the inappropriateness of wearing him in anything other than a papoose! Papoose or no, he was worn out from the sun and the fall air and he sacked out in a chair at Mimi & PopPaw's last night during dinner:

I'm sure that won't be our last Rendezvous but I can't imagine a prettier day for it.

10/17/2009 11:22:43 PM  
Thomas was mucho fun! Especially since Heather, Jack & Bernie showed up just as we were getting out of the car to go in. It was a happy surprise for all of us. So happy that it called for a long overdue montage:

10/16/2009 10:56:24 PM  
Had Erick's 6 month checkup on Wednesday and all went well, aside from some still lingering fussiness about the shots (and/or teething). He was 28 inches long (90th percentile) and 19 pounds, 2 ounces (75th percentile). So now he's not only heavier than Victor was at 6 months but is also just very slightly longer. As a result, we switched the carseats out yesterday. Erick went on his maiden Britax voyage today and he was enthralled with the view from a higher vantage point. Victor was cracking up at seeing his baby brother looking around so exuberantly.

They'll get to have some backseat antics tomorrow as we head off to Day Out with Thomas. Cold and rainy, just like last year. We pretty much stayed in today to rest up for the big day (Victor has yet another cold). The boys humored me by posing in their matching firetruck shirts:

That reminds me - I still haven't posted pics from the fire station last week! Here are some shots I took at the Alton Fire Department Open House last Saturday:

More pics to come soon. Tomorrow's Thomas and Sunday's Rendezvous. And maybe, hopefully, some leaves and pumpkins along the way!

10/12/2009 10:16:14 PM  
Erick is six months now and he seems to know it. He rolls at high speed all over the place. Luckily the novelty of doing that during the night has sort of worn off so he's staying asleep quite a bit better now than he was a few weeks ago. He's getting closer to sitting up but he still just doesn't seem terribly motivated about it. Now standing, that's on his agenda! I predict that once he sits, he'll pull up pretty immediately. He really likes being on his feet in general, including logging quite a bit of time in his Jumperoo, so he's definitely got interest in being as tall as possible at all times.

Speaking of tallness, it feels like he's still pretty much growing length-wise at the same rate Victor did. Pants are getting short at the same rate - I'll put it that way. But shirts and onesies? Yikes. Erick is outgrowing some stuff that Victor didn't even wear until closer to a year. And while Victor always outgrew shirts and onesies because they got too short on his long torso, with Erick it's all about his big shoulders and barrel chest (uh yeah, and that's why he was SO much harder to push out). I will literally go to put a shirt on him that he wore less than a week before and I can't even get his arms to the armholes. I tried his Halloween costume on him earlier today and it would barely zip up!

Erick's definitely his own guy. I mean, I know that's obvious, but it's surprising even to us how different he can be from his brother. He's an extremely happy baby most of the time but he does tend to be pretty impatient when he finally gets hungry or tired and he has some epic crying fits at those moments. He's constantly trying to engage us though and very obviously craves socialization and has a huge, spontaneous smile. That part of him most reminds me of his Great PopPaw. Those two would have been peas in a pod. They'd just sit there smiling at each other and patting each other. He's also a very enthusiastic snuggler, although it usually devolves into him trying to chew on one of our limbs (or face). The teething, my heavens, the teething.

If I do say so myself, Erick is extremely handsome. No really. He's not just cute. He is dashingly handsome. He lost all of that dark, thick hair he had when he was born and after a brief and unfortunate period sporting tufts of 3 different textures of hair, he is now getting a thick but soft coat of real actual hair. It's making him look more and more like a child though (and less like a baby). He's quite obviously keeping the baby blues, thank goodness (not as sure about the dimples though). Gaga was right that it wouldn't be fair if Victor got to have the blue eyes but Erick didn't. I think James is right that Erick is going to look older than he is, in a good way. He's got a certain rugged, individualist quality.

And yes, this is supposed to be Erick's six month update but I can't not talk about Victor because Victor is pretty much Erick's favorite person (except for me and that's because I'm a food supply). Erick pretty much likes everyone but he is definitely prone to overstimulation and will cry at the drop of a hat if someone makes some noise he doesn't like. He also erupts into giggling fits easily, especially for Daddy. But for big bro, he has this special adoring gaze. If Victor's in the room, Erick's eyes are pretty much on Victor and he usually has this expectant look on his face, as though he's just waiting to be kissed/hugged/tickled. And then he doesn't even get all that upset when his brother just comes up and takes his toy away! That's love.

It's still incredibly stunning to me that Erick is really here with us, let alone that he's now halfway to a year. He's truly just the most amazing surprise every single day. It's like every morning we get up and say "Oh wow, that's right. We had that cute little baby merely by dumb luck. Let's go get him up and see what he does today. I hope he still likes us!" And yet I can scarcely recall life without Ericko either. We are truly and utterly blessed.

Still just 4 teeth but 4 more brewing. Also, Erick is starting to say something sounding like "da". Yeah. Daddy wins again.

10/9/2009 8:44:01 PM  
More pictures. Who knew? Today's blog shots feature Victor sporting his new favorite eyewear. These glasses are part of the doctor's kit he got for his birthday from his cousins and today he decided to basically wear them all day.

What glasses? Oh you mean these?.............

Trying to look academic:

And then accidentally just looking impish and adorable instead:

I also finally got some shots of Victor peeling apples. He would peel apples every day if he could but today we peeled 30 of them and he actually seemed to tire of it a bit. He still never took the glasses off though. Here's my apple baking apprentice:

Big weekend on tap. Lots o' fun in store. And tomorrow Erick will be 6 months old!

10/8/2009 12:59:54 PM  
Thought these pictures deserved their own new post even if they are part of the same catch-up session. Here's Victor waiting for the bus today, excited to be in his rain gear!

This bodes well for how cooperative he might be about his snow gear. He's officially embracing his Midwestern heritage!

10/8/2009 12:35:58 PM  
Picture catch-up time! My how the time flies here lately. So much to get done around here this week with all of the fall clothes switch-outs and whatnot. These boys grow WAY too quickly! But yeah, anyway, time to get the pictures from the weekend on, eh?

On Saturday, we ventured out very briefly to the Corn Fest at Glazebrook (the park 5 minutes from us). It was our chilliest, windiest day yet this fall and while Victor was undaunted, Erick was not terribly pleased:

I thought Victor would be most excited about the firetruck that was there but he seemed to consider it some kind of diabolical diversion tactic to keep him from his beloved playscape. So the very kind firemen were rebuffed:

He spent a lot of time in the moonwalk and we were impressed with how well he held his own amongst the complete pandamonium. He was the smallest kid in there which is saying a lot because he's not exactly small. He did pay a visit to the antique tractors on display and he checked out their big tires:

And he went into the petting zoo where he was mainly interested in the miniature ponies but since since we had food, the goats tried to intervene fairly aggressively:

He didn't mind much but I certainly wouldn't call him a goat fan (and James is even less of a goat fan since he once again got goat poop on his jeans.......and nearly cried about it......yes, we're talking about an almost 40-year-old man here). There was even a camel there! He wasn't terribly exciting though. The real highlight of the entire trip for Victor was getting to buy some more apples. Victor loves to get apples because Victor LOVES to peel and core the apples with the old cranking peeler Gaga gave me. It's perhaps his very favorite after-school activity now. So we've been eating a lot of apple crisp/cobbler/pie lately. Here he is trying to share his cherished apples with Erick:

Such a sweet big brother, right?

Speaking of apples, Sunday's big activity was a hedge apple hunt up at Gaga's. (Knock on wood, those suckers seem to be dissuading our previous creepie crawly inhabitants. That or it's just the cold weather. But seriously, haven't even seen a spider!). We slept too late to successfully execute our plan for pancakes in Hardin but we did drive up the long, scenic way and took a short and overpriced detour at Pere Marquette. Eventually, we made our way to Gaga's and were so excited to find PopPaw there waiting for us! While I fed Erick, the big boys went on their hunt:

PopPaw even shot a few branches to get some good fresh hedge apples on the ground and I'm not sure if James or PopPaw was more excited about that development. Quite the cavemen, those two. I made the wee boys stay in the car for that phase:

Not a bad weekend for our first foray back into the land of the unsick!

10/2/2009 3:09:55 PM  
Erick has four teeth now and he's apparently frantically working on 2-4 more. And maybe that's why he's refusing to nurse on one side because his ear was all clear when I dragged him to the doctor today! After this week of quarantine (doc is still not entirely sure whether it was breakthrough chicken pox or hand, foot & mouth but HFM seems more likely at this point), I really wanted Erick seen before the weekend kicked off. He's nursing enough to stay well-hydrated but his appetite sure isn't like normal and he's a bit lethargic as well. Don't worry that he's starving though - he was up to 18 pounds and 10 ounces today. That's about 2 pounds in less than 2 months!

He's doing well though. He has really not seemed bothered by the rash even at its peak. He's got a bit of a naggy cough but he's been able to get some good sleep and while it's meant less one-on-one with Mommy, I think he's enjoyed having his brother around so much this week. I cannot emphasize enough just how much he adores Victor. He always has a smile for his big brother and he tries his best to grab him every chance he gets.

And Victor? He's had an amazing week, especially for a boy that has been stuck at home quarantined from all of his usual activities. There was no whining at all about missing school and therapy and music class. Luckily he's really gotten into painting at school lately so I was able to do an art project with him every afternoon to keep him stimulated. Our favorite was making watercolor leaves to hang up on the kitchen window (he likes the part when we spray the water on the diffusing papers). He's been such a good boy about playing indepedently when I'm needed elsewhere and he's been so verbal in general but especially during storytime.

It sure looks like Victor will be back at school on Monday. We almost sent him on Wednesday but he had some new sores popping up just as he was about to leave so we decided to just keep him out of everything for the rest of the week. His teacher will be gone for 2 weeks starting on Monday and I'm sure that will disappoint him but she will be attending special training at TouchPoint Autism Services (what was Judevine Center until a very recent restructuring) and that is a very good thing for her students. I'm sure he'll be glad to be back and will adjust quickly to a sub. He really does like everyone. Everyone except for the mean bus monitor. And I'm with him on that one.

It's cool and fallish and windy this weekend. Not a whole lot on the agenda aside from resting up for next week and maybe taking a scenic drive. In light of the boys' convalescence and my own ongoing hacking cough, I believe I'll be abstaining from attending my 20 year reunion after all. That and trying to deny that it really has been 20 years.

10/1/2009 8:13:00 AM  
[James here] For those of you who don't spend all of your free time on Facebook, I've added one of the greatest Victor videos of all time to the site. I give you Rainbow Connections...

9/28/2009 9:07:09 AM  Or maybe not......... This is maddening.

9/27/2009 8:21:59 PM  
I had planned to construct a comprehensive update tonight but it would seem that Victor has chicken pox and it looks as though Erick might be developing it too. My chest cold seems trivial now. But James is back from Austin, at least! I'll update more when I have the opportunity to form sentences again...........

9/19/2009 10:40:19 PM  
Things are looking up. James finally feels quite a bit better and after a reaction to his antibiotic (yeah, I know, what next?), he's nearly rash-free. Yesterday morning was a complete debacle due to some sleep issues. We missed music class because Victor was up from 3:00 to 6:00 and then wound up sleeping after that until 10:00. Desperate for an outing, I took him to the park since he'd been asking for it all week. Here he is running himself tired (THANK YOU!):

There are a few pictures of the boys together at the park in the pics gallery. And more importantly, I think that maybe we've gotten past the recent sleep troubles (he slept through the night last night and was up at 7:30). We've had a few issues at play. First, Victor's been actually needing to get up and go to the potty once he's in bed lately. This is usually not a concern. Not sure what that's about but basically, he won't come get us or call to us to tell us that's the problem. He just won't sleep until it's rectified. Fun.

Also, Erick has been making a lot more noise at night lately because he won't stop rolling and scooting around his crib and then he screeches when he gets stuck in some undesirable position. Their rooms are next to each other. Pandemonium. Or perhaps solidarity.

At any rate, today was an oasis of sun and family fun after kind of a harrowing week of sleep deprivation. We went to Eckert's for the Apple Fest and everyone's spirits were greatly lifted. There are many pictures from that outing on the pics page but here are some outtakes, including a few from Mimi & PopPaw's house (where we went for a potty break):

Yeah, we took a lot of pictures. We were happy to be among the world of the living. Beautiful, beautiful day.

9/12/2009 10:26:57 PM  
All is well. Just busy with a bunch of whiny boys. The oldest of the whiny boys is doing well following surgery, although today seemed to be his worst day yet (the dreaded "Scab Day"). He's doing pretty well overall but is only about 1/3 there due to the Vicodin. I'm pretty confident that he will heal well though. I'm actually happy to hear him snoring away right now because he's had such a hard time sleeping due to the swelling. He did brave dinner out tonight though, followed by a quick trip to the park for playscaping and a dash through the corn maze:

Victor was a good sport about going through the corn maze even though he really just wanted to go play on the playscape. He did seem to enjoy the responsibility of carrying our safety flag.

Aside from going out for pancakes this morning, we stayed pretty close to home until the corn mazing. The boys hung out together quite a bit:

And Victor happily helped me water the plants on the front porch. He has recently become my minion when it comes to taking care of the plants (and vacuuming, of course - the holy grail of chores!) but it was truly a special treat to be joined by Fireman Victor:

Oh yeah, and I think that tomorrow marks one year since we left Austin. It sure doesn't feel like it. Illinois very definitely feels like home again but I can hardly believe that it's been a year since I saw some of my dearest friends in the world. And the Zilker Zephyr. And Tacodeli. And Phil's Ice House. And Springwoods Park. And Whataburger. And Deep Eddy. We're loving life here but I never stop feeling like I left a little piece of myself there a year ago and I'm terribly jealous that James gets to go visit AGAIN in just a few weeks.

9/7/2009 9:25:58 PM  
We had a fun weekend and it served as kind of a last hurrah before Daddy's surgery. I don't think we'll be doing a whole lot of major outings in the next week, for some reason! A big highlight of the weekend was finally taking a trip down to the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis. I think I can safely say that it was Victor's most exciting train experience to date. There are just so MANY trains to see and touch there and he especially liked getting to go through a bunch of passenger and freight cars. Took a lot of pics, enough to call for a montage in addition to the pics I put in the gallery:

Tomorrow our big boy (the 39 year old one) goes under the knife. I'll be sure to update with his progress once we're home and settled. We're looking forward to a lot of snow cones this week (thanks again, Heathy).

9/7/2009 7:51:44 AM  
[James here]
Victor is quite the bike rider, although he refers to it as "ride motorcyle". We have been riding the motorcycle in the street, going around the block for about two weeks now, and he wears his helmet like a pro and has just about mastered braking on hills. These last couple times, he has started to "go fast" enough to force Daddy to jog next to him. Lord help us when Daddy has to sprint to keep up.

9/2/2009 8:47:01 PM  
It's official. They're pals:

And they both like TV way too much.

8/26/2009 9:24:44 PM  
Victor went back to school today and not a tear was shed. I took pics, of course, but when you're hauling around a porker in a carrier while trying to take shots and keep a kid from running wildly into the parking lot, you end up with shots of the back of said kid.........

(Really doesn't need me at all, thank you very much.)

(Favorite part of being dropped off? Getting buzzed in! He will stall for time if someone is going in right in front of us that might leave the door open for us.)

(Walking on the right side, just as taught.)

(Headed straight for his cubby where his name is labeled in orange. Of course.)

The day was a success. He really seems to like his teacher quite a lot. When I tucked him in last night, I told him "You are going to have SO much fun tomorrow" but then I suddenly thought better of bringing up school in case it would make him anxious. But he very cheerfully said "Fun at school with Mrs. Perkins!". Indeed. He'll be even happier if the bus starts running Early Childhood routes tomorrow.

The other excitement this week was Erick's first rice cereal. I really wasn't sure if I wanted to try it yet. Waited about a month later than this with Victor but Erick seems so interested in eating, especially since he's fascinated with everything Victor does. It was moderately successful. He wants to eat and he makes little chomping motions but he's still doing the tongue push thing. Might try again tomorrow once Victor's at school (so that Erick's less distracted) although I hate to deny Victor the chance to spectate since he thinks it's the most hilarious thing ever.

Anyway, here's some shots of Erick's first solid food experience:

(Victor just had to eat his pudding with a baby spoon too. Hardy har har.)

It's late. Need to shower and sleep.

8/21/2009 9:12:28 PM  
James gets his tonsils out on September 8. We were kinda hoping he could just get it over with this week but this will be much better, actually. Now we can better plan for it since it will be a fairly significant recovery (read: I'll have 3 boys to take care of on my own). Luckily the antibiotics have helped him feel much better so hopefully he'll be pretty comfortable for these few weeks before the surgery. I really don't quite know how we'll explain to Victor that he needs to give Daddy a break for a week or two. Thankfully he'll be in school then.

We had a very full but good day today. I took the boys to music class for the first time as a trio. Victor did so much better with it than I would have imagined. I really figured that he'd be bored and start wandering but he was so good about staying close to me and trying to entertain his baby brother. From there we went to the train station because I knew that the train from Springfield would be coming in soon and figured Victor could watch it while I fed Erick in the car. Naturally Erick fell asleep on the drive. Victor loved seeing the train though and we'll have to do that again. From there we went to the park. It was glorious. 75 degrees, nice breeze, lots of shade, big kids back in school........doesn't get any better.

Of course Erick did wake up hungry right as we were getting to the park. So I did the unthinkable and nursed him on a park bench while Victor played on the playscape (the unthinkable part was not directly supervising Victor). That went really, really well for a while until Victor made a friend who he proceeded to push down the slide repeatedly. Granted, this little buddy seemed to think it was hilarious and kept coming back for more but this is an ongoing impulse control issue that always requires my "input". And sure enough, he'd refrain from doing it if I was standing there watching but if I'd sit back down on the bench, it was back to the same thing. Eventually I got sick of it and had to drag him kicking and screaming out of there. But as soon as we started to drive out of the parking lot, he stopped with the tears and immediately said "Where are we going? " to which I said "Where do you think we're going?" The response? "To Steak N Shake". And we did.

Then tonight we let Victor ride his bike all the way around our neighborhood loop for the first time (we've been practicing on the driveway almost every day). We're talking probably 1/3 of a mile. No sidewalk. I think James is probably a bit sore from all of the hunching over to correct steering. And I greatly enjoyed pushing Erick in the single stroller! So much lighter and easier to steer. It was a great end to a fun day but we sure won't be doing that every night.

8/19/2009 9:27:12 PM  
James & I went to orientation at Victor's school tonight. Honestly, I'm not sure why we had to go since we have a home visit on Monday and a school open house on Tuesday to prepare him for his first day (next Wednesday). It was nice to be back though and the consensus is that his teacher is completely awesome. She's taught with her same aide for 13 years and she has a son with a peanut allergy. I'm not happy that her son has a peanut allergy but that detail sure makes me feel comfortable with her handling of the situation. We were extremely impressed in general. Now to just get him doing well enough to get into a blended room for part of the day!

I really am hopeful that he'll get to that point this year. His language skills have improved so much but there are still so many challenges to overcome. One of the very hardest language concepts for kids on the autism spectrum is yes/no questions so we're constantly working on that but with very little results. Last night, for instance, I knew that he wanted whipped cream for his pudding (he calls it ice cream though) so I got out the can of whipped cream and a container of prunes. I asked him if he wanted the prunes, trying to drag a "no!" out of him. He tried everything he possibly could to make me just put them away but he could NOT come up with just saying "No. No prunes, thanks!". Instead it was more like this:

Mommy: "Do you want prunes?"
Victor: "Mommy's prunes".
M: "But do you want prunes?"
V: "Mommy eats prunes".
M: "Victor, would you like some prunes?"
V: "Mommy eating prunes?"
M: "Not right now. Do YOU want some prunes?"
V: "Mommy is eating prunes PLEASE!!!!!!" (with a look of terror and pleading)

Then he started to cry and he looked right at me and said "Sorry". Is there anything more heartbreaking? I told him that he had absolutely nothing to be sorry for but that we both had to keep working at it and I swear that he seemed to understand. But that scene really got at the heart of how many challenges we still face before he's ready for a regular classroom. It's so strange to think that he can express both of our disappointment by saying he's sorry but he can't just say the word "NO" in response to a question. And he absolutely understands the meaning of the words yes and no and will even use them to "argue" about something he does or does not want to do, such as:

Victor: "I want to go ride bikes."
Mommy: "No, we're not going to do that right now because it's time for lunch."
V: "YES!"
M: "Sorry, not right now."
V: "Yes, now!"

Meanwhile, he's really coming around about his baby brother. I think he's just unable to resist Erick's smile. And he has a whole lot of smiles for his big bro. Erick watches Victor with great interest these days and only looks terrified now when he has good reason (like when Victor is getting a little too keyed up and careless.......something that often happens when he's getting tired). There's definitely a mutual affection brewing between the two though and they have lately been enjoying a little bit of snuggle time together at bedtime. Tonight Victor didn't want to let go of Erick when it was time to go to sleep and I had to explain that it's going to be a while before they can have any slumber parties in there.

Victor also still thinks that any toy or apparatus in the house is up for grabs so he especially likes to sit in the rocker/bouncy while Erick sits in the Kick & Play. Here are a few shots of that:

Victor was being gentle (thankfully) but Erick eventually decided that if he was going to put his feet all over him, they were going to get used as teethers. Erick is very focused on his teeth. The bottom two are in and I'm not seeing very much on top yet but I don't think they're far behind. I hope that this is the reason behind the constant, unpredictable nursing strikes. Aside from that, he's mostly busy trying to watch his brother, staring at his hands, blowing raspberries and giggling at himself, rolling around and (gasp!) last night he even "crawled" about a foot. He didn't use any arms though. Just ground his head into the floor and pushed with his big, meaty, strong legs!

Oh, and Erick is finally sleeping in his own room. It would probably be going pretty well if it weren't for the teething and congestion. As it stands now though, he has slept through the night in there exactly once. Most of the time, we're back to feedings at 1:00, sometimes again at 3:00 and then always around 6:00. I'm not well-rested, especially since James is all codeined up because he gets so uncomfortable at night himself (tonsils don't come out until next month). This too shall pass. At least he's in his own room now!

8/18/2009 6:08:36 PM  
I swear that a better update and more pics are coming soon but Erick's on a hunger strike, Victor's trying to dismantle the house out of sheer boredom and James has tonsillitis (so he's less than half a parent right now). I hope this is the worse before better. I also hope that James can get those suckers cut out this week so he can just feel better for good!

8/12/2009 11:39:51 AM  
Erick is finally differentiating his growth from Victor's! At his 4 month appointment today, he was 16 1/2 pounds (half a pound bigger than V at 4 months) but 25 3/4 inches long (1/4 inch shorter). This puts him in the 75th percentile for height but 75-90th for weight. Head circumference is right at 50 (percent, not centimeters!). I guess his head just SEEMS big. He had a great checkup though. Apparently he's just going to be congested a lot due to his chunkiness. Dr. L was amazed at how much of that tooth has poked through already! And he got his shots. He's sleeping that trauma off right now.

The other outstanding news from this visit to Dr. L's was that Victor's ears are all clear. The ear drum looks like nothing ever happened. So we'll just hope that it was a fluke and this is not something he'll be prone to now. Thank goodness we don't have more ear drops to give any time soon!

I've still got more pics and video from Victor's birthday to process into a montage but it's slow going. Maybe I'll get to that yet today since Erick is so groggy from shots. My guess is that Victor will try to seize the opportunity to make me do a lot of playing though.

8/11/2009 9:46:37 PM  
Erick was 4 months yesterday. He celebrated by officially beginning to cut his first tooth. The first sharp corner is through the gum! That's had him crankier than normal which is still barely cranky at all. However, we've all had about enough of the explosive pooping. I don't see that improving any time soon as much as he's sticking his hands in his mouth though. He goes for his 4-month checkup tomorrow (and shots too) so there will be an update after that. In the meantime, here's a video of Erick getting "eaten" by PopPaw last Sunday during Victor's birthday festivities:

Speaking of birthday festivities, last night we had a belated fest with Bernie & Jack and their parents. This time, the theme was Yo Gabba Gabba:

I didn't get any good shots of the boys but maybe I can rectify that later this week when we see them again. Victor enjoyed the conclusion of his birthday festivities though. Time to get back to just being a 4-year-old! Sadly, today he got a very big goose egg and bruise on his 4-year-old noggin (long, sad story).

So yeah, teeth and bruises. I think it calls for a beer tonight. There's an even better reason to have a beer though. Here's lifting a frosty mug (I don't have any scotch, sadly) to another birthday boy who would be 97 today and is missed dearly.........to you, Old Timer:

Du fehlst mir.

8/4/2009 5:41:07 PM  
Victor is 4! He had a fabulous party with the fam on Sunday and then spent his actual birthday yesterday indulging in his new loot. He loved every single thing he got this year but he's especially fixated on The Big Three: his sweet new Schwinn Gremlin (big boy bike!), his play tee pee and his bounce house. I'm currently spending every free moment working on the massive amount of pictures we've taken. I'll have them on soon but it's no small feat with Victor home all day every day for these next few weeks, especially since he wants to ride his bike or jump in his bounce house all the time and both of these things require close supervision. Also, Erick is more congested all the time and I'm having to pump breastmilk about 4 times a day since he's so fussy about eating right now.

But did I mention that Victor is 4? Because Victor is 4!

Also, by way of slowly catching up, here are some pics of Erick waiting for Daddy to get home from the airport the other night:

7/30/2009 8:19:09 AM  
I'm so proud of my big boy this week. He's on his fifth day in a row in underwear all day without incident (including car trips to St. Louis!). We had recently had to resort back to Pull-Ups temporarily due to his prolapsed colon issues (laxatives and underwear are a dangerous mix until you get the dose just right) but he's really been working hard to get this pottying thing back under control. I seized the opportunity to push the issue a little while I was on my own this week. We needed to be regimented about the routine anyway to ever survive so it worked out well. (Plus, I'm a little more daring about pushing the underwear envelope than Daddy. Sometimes to everyone's detriment but not this time!).

He really must have gotten the memo that he's going to be 4 in a few days because he woke up this morning in a very independent mood. Didn't want his potty insert to sit on the potty and threw aside his step stool instead of using it to brush his teeth. Never mind that he had to stand on his tippy toes! Then when we went out to get on the bus, he refused to hold hands to walk up onto the bus. Just grabbed the hand rail and marched right up there and then turned and said "Bye Mommy. See you later..." in an extremely business-like fashion. I didn't cry until I got back in the house.

7/28/2009 7:35:00 PM  
Big day for the Humphrey boys! Victor pooped on a public potty for the first time. Actually, it's even more significant than it sounds. That's because it was the first time he even tried to sit on a regular old toilet seat. Until now, he's only pooped on one potty that wasn't here in our house and that was at Bernie & Jack's (with their kid seat). He was pretty proud of himself!

And Erick JUST rolled over from his back to his tummy. As in just a few minutes ago. He practiced it for 15 minutes and covered quite a bit of floor area just spinning around but eventually, he got the job done. He's trying to do it again because he knew it was pretty cool. He'll have to keep working on it so he can show it off for Daddy on Saturday.

Otherwise, we're keeping our heads above water. The days are going really well but the nights are pretty harrowing. It's rough having to completely ditch one boy for the other. And Victor is really thrown off by Daddy not being around come nighttime. It feels like he's stalling around until things feel like normal but they never do. Meanwhile, Erick is always starving and losing patience. It's a barrel of laughs.

Oh yeah, and I got the great news today that Victor does actually get to ride the bus to and from school this fall since he has an IEP. We'll take that freebie, thank you very much. He loves to ride the bus and we love the convenience.

7/27/2009 2:12:49 PM  
So far we're surviving our time without Daddy. We're only a day and a half in though. Since the swing seems to be broken (due to Victor testing the weight limit repeatedly), I kinda needed another apparatus to be able to pop Erick into today.

He still loves the bouncy seat..........

but I think he's burning out on it a little. So we decided to try out the Jumperoo. He likes it. Well, he likes it as long as I am in view. I think he feels too vulnerable dangling there otherwise. He hasn't actually jumped yet but he's checked out all of the stuff and liked spinning around in his seat.

He was trepidatious at first:

But he quickly came around:

And surprise, surprise! Look who else had to check it out:

And speaking of Victor's shenanigans, I found this scene when I came down into the playroom this morning:

I've been working on beautifying Pru for the past 4 or 5 days (my urgency is that Zoe comes to clean Wednesday and I want to rid the cat of excess hair PRIOR to her cleaning the floors). So Pru's beauty routine included a bath in the kitchen sink a few days ago. Apparently Victor gave his fake cat a fake bath too. He's also been "helping" me brush the real cat every day.

As far as the ear situation goes, Victor is quite obviously feeling pretty much up to full capacity. We're still not doing any of his therapeutic listening right now because I think it would still be irritating to that sensitive ear. It's going to take a while for that ear drum to heal! Other than that though, we're kinda back on track. Even back in underpants for 2 days straight!

7/24/2009 10:51:20 PM  
Things have gotten so much better around here. Except for the ear drops. Let's just not talk about the ear drops (that we suspect aren't even really helping since they seem to just pour right back out of his ear). Victor has slept through the night very peacefully since his eardrum ruptured. He's still not totally caught up because that was one wicked sleep deficit he had going but he is gaining more energy back every day. And how! We took a celebratory trip to the zoo on Wednesday and Victor giddily rode the carousel and the zoo train (through THREE tunnels!).

Victor's got just one week of summer school left and it's a stroke of luck that our timing turned out that way because James goes to Austin in a few days and I'll be solo parenting with both boys for the first time. I'll be thankful to have those few hours in the morning to rest up a bit. I'm sure glad Erick usually naps for at least an hour of that time. As for summer school itself, it's been a mixed bag. It really stunk that he had to miss almost a whole week of 4-week session, first of all. Also, there is far less structure in summer school from what I can tell and he's really just not as jazzed about it as a result. I've had a hard time with the lack of feedback but then I know that it's such a short session that there's not all that much progress to be had. I think that Victor sees school as an excuse to ride the bus. He loves the bus.

And Erick? He's great. He's more and more vocal every day. James swears that he says hi to him. He's starting to almost develop a discernible napping pattern and I'm trying my best to respect it and not drag him all around when he's overtired. He's certainly had to be a lot more flexible than Victor ever did as a baby though. He's a great sport about just napping in the carseat when we have to go to St. Louis for therapy or when we have to go for a drive so that Victor will stop climbing everything in the house. I'm already cleaning up the bigger carseat though because I know he'll be comfier and my arm can't take much more of the old Graco bucket. The only thing stopping me is the ease of the invaluable portable nap.

And speaking of sleeping, Erick the Sleep Star is not without his foibles. OK, one foible. The boy will not sleep in his own room! He slept through the night at barely past a month but he has yet to get through a night in his own room. He'll sleep a few hours in there and then flip onto his back and flail and grunt until I rescue him and put him in the Pack & Play next to our bed. (Victor, on the other hand, didn't sleep through the night until more like 3 1/2 months but was in his own room before that.) I think the difference is mainly that we did let Victor "cry it out" a little bit to get him to sleep in his own room. It was pretty painless but it was a loud few nights.

That would probably work with Erick too but I'm just never willing to risk waking up Victor once I hear Erick rolling around and grunting in there. When Erick wakes up during the night, it's a quick fix. Milk, burp, done! Sometimes not even that. Perhaps just pat on the back, kiss, done! When Victor wakes up during the night, it's a much bigger, more physically demanding production with music and star turtles and stuffed animals arranged just so. I might have to get brave soon though or Erick will never get used to sleeping in his own room for more than 2 hours (he'll nap in there just fine, of course). Obviously I won't be trying it while I'm on my own though!

7/20/2009 9:06:47 PM  
Poor Victor. He missed the school bus this morning because the driver was WAY early and she didn't bother to just stop and honk. Not a good start to a Monday. Then once he was home from school, I noticed large amounts of pus coming out of his left ear. Needless to say, we made another trip to the doctor.

Turns out that he DOES have an ear infection, just as I suspected last week. She thoroughly checked his ears last week so I don't know if she just managed to miss it or if he really did have the mystery virus and then the ear infection came along more recently. Seems unlikely to me though. He's had a fever off and on and has screamed and cried during the night for a whole week! And the worst of it is that he ruptured his ear drum as a result. The silver lining is that he seems like he is resting much more comfortably now that the ear drum is blown. But yeah, he has a hole in his ear drum. That's not really something you want.

As usual, he's a champ about taking the Amoxicillin. The boy loves his medicine. The ear drops, however, are pure torture. Getting them in was not even that bad (a two person job, however). Trying to get him to lie still for 5 minutes afterwards was completely impossible. I like to think that maybe we'll all get better at it but it's probably more likely that he'll just get even better at trying to evade it. I can only hope that maybe he'll somehow make the connection that the drops are helping. I'm going to have to have Mimi come help me with Operation Ear Drops next weekend when James goes to Austin!

Victor went to sleep easily tonight and seemed to have a certain aura of peace about him that I have not witnessed in about 10 days. I dream of a restful night for all of us but I especially dream of healing for our sweet boy. He's had a rough stretch and he needs to feel like himself again. Just in time to turn 4 in two weeks.......... and then the tears will be all mine.

7/18/2009 9:27:18 PM  
Wow, talk about getting worse before it gets better! It's been an extremely grueling week. Victor has been feeling pretty decent during the days but then gets miserable at night. I don't think he's gotten more than 6 hours of sleep in any given night for a whole week now. He pretty much sleeps for a few hours and then screams and cries for an hour. Last night seemed like a modest improvement so we're hoping that maybe tonight he'll finally catch up a little. On the bright side, Erick is nursing well again so he's also sleeping through the night a little better again too. That's kind of a miracle given the chaos this place has been during the dark of night as of late.

Today we finally got Victor out and about a bit. It was a gorgeous day to catch some fresh air. And hey, since there hasn't been a montage for a while, here are some highlights of our trip to the park, hanging on the patio for dinner and then going for ice cream:

Erick seemed to enjoy hanging out on the patio for a while:

Then he decided maybe he'd like to go back inside for a nap, thank you very much:

Now let's just hope that today's fresh air and exercise works wonders for everyone tonight!

7/14/2009 9:02:28 PM  
Not only is James hobbled by his weekend of tennis but he's now extremely fatigued by a few late and crazy nights around here. Victor is sick. Took him to the doc yesterday and she felt that he had a virus that is going around. It's possibly coxsackie or possibly some random enterovirus. What it means for Victor is a very high fever and crippling headache. We just finished Day 4 of this. It is not fun. When the fever comes down, Victor's in reasonable spirits even if he's quite lethargic (all he's wanted to do is drink water, watch TV and do puzzles). When the Tylenol wears off and the fever spikes again, he's pretty inconsolable. So he's had very, very little sleep these past few nights. And neither have we. The uncharacteristic snuggliness may actually make up for it.

Here is the haggard crew trying to all get along this afternoon:

(Victor demanded a head rub which promptly put him to sleep.)

(Notice how Erick is watching Kung Fu Panda!)

Meanwhile, Erick has been on a quasi-nursing strike. I took him in today because I was worried about his ears and/or his throat. Nothing. (We were especially glad to see no sores in his mouth since he may or may not have some form of Victor's illness). She couldn't even see evidence of tooth buds. So it's kind of a mystery as to what is irking Erick with regard to nursing. I remember a similar issue with Victor, probably even around this same age, but I cannot remember what we ever figured out. Must have been short-lived though because he nursed for 2 more years! Apparently we don't need to worry much about Erick's nourishment though because he was 15 pounds even today which is just an ounce shy of doubling his birth weight.

Right now everyone in the house is asleep except for me. I think I better join them while I can because the Tylenol will wear off soon! Fingers crossed for a more normal day tomorrow.......

7/14/2009 6:50:33 AM  
[James here] Mother Nature was obliging, but Father Time was not so kind. I was rewarded for my singles and doubles victories on Saturday with 7.75 consecutive sets of tennis on Sunday resulting in two singles losses and being a set down in the doubles finals. From the ribs down I am pretty much a cripple. But, my match with a younger, taller, faster, more talented, better looking serve and volleyer will go down in the Book of James as one of the best and most entertaining matches ever!

7/10/2009 5:56:04 PM  
It was a big week around here! Victor finished up his speech camp over in St. Louis and said goodbye to his new pals (Thomas, Jonas, Aidan & Brandon). It was sad to have to leave them behind but luckily he started summer school the very next day. Now he hangs out with Austin, Aeden, Angelo, Katelyn, Kierra, Matthew and Elijah every morning. He's taken going back to school in stride but doesn't seem completely overjoyed about it. I think he's just a bit flummoxed about not having his usual teacher/aide/classmates. We have seen his best pal Vanessa at school though, even though they're not in the same class. They have happily embraced a few times. And he took the bus home today without incident so he'll be taking the bus both ways starting on Monday. Such a big boy!

Speaking of big boys, Erick is 3 months today and he celebrated by going to his first ever music class. Obviously I can't realistically claim that he loved it or anything but he did just great. Not one bit of fussing or crying and he seemed really interested in watching the other kids and babies. He even held a pair of maraquitas (they're tiny maracas) and gave them a few good licks. Erick's about a month and a half younger than Victor was when he started music class but I think he's going to take to it quickly. It will be good for him to be around some other kids that aren't insanely jealous of him and I'm really going to enjoy having it as our special Mommy & Erick time.

We've got a busy weekend on tap since James is playing in a tennis tournament (we'll see what Mother Nature has to say about that) and next week is the first full week of summer school and the new therapy schedule (we go to St. Louis on Tuesday afternoons right after school & lunch). And let's not forget the Jersey County Fair next week!

7/5/2009 3:45:10 PM  
Well, Erick is still a very good sleeper. He really is. But he got me used to that 6:30 or 7:00 wake-up and now he's suddenly revised that to anytime between 5:00 and 6:00. I'm ever so hopeful that it's a growth spurt thing (Friday was 12 weeks!) but that might be grasping. He also seems to either have a bit of a cold or perhaps just congestion from molds since it's been horrifically humid as of late. Oh, and I think he might be starting to teethe. None of this is to say that he's particularly cranky because the boy is pretty much as easygoing as they come but he's snuffly and he gnaws on his hands at times when I know he can't be hungry. Ergo, I think he's an early teether like his brother.

As far as the teething possibility, I don't see buds but I've felt a difference in his gums from a month ago. And how can he be almost 3 months? I want to keep him little. Which reminds me --- he's going to get maybe another week out of his 3-6 month clothes too. Seersee. I feel like it's all passing before my eyes. Then again, I also have a 4th birthday looming in my immediate future and making me wistful.

So yeah, here are some pictures of little sweet Baby Erick in his bumbo seat a few days ago:

Also, here are a few shots of some special father-son moments from the holiday weekend:

And now I must go because my little man is hungry! More to come this week about Victor's first days at summer school............. ahhhhhh, an end to the cabin fever.

6/29/2009 2:41:07 PM  
We are blissfully tired from a great weekend! We had a visit from Aunt Deb, Uncle Pat and Cousins Sean & Nick on Saturday and then we spent Sunday afternoon up at Gaga's (pics from that visit are in the gallery under "Hammock Monkeys"). Our visit with our Milwaukee loved ones felt too brief, as always, but we packed in a lot of fun, as is chronicled here:

(Sean & Victor playing a round of Crocodile Dentist)

(Nicko: The Hammiest Ham that Ever Did Ham.)

(Lots of time spent hanging in the playhouse.)

(Growing boys chowing down.)

(Erick had lots of attention from Aunt Deb & Cousin Sean.)

(While Victor tried to reclaim the bouncy seat.)

(Sean & Victor tried to negotiate who was in charge of the Thomas puzzle while Nick looked on, sweetly oblivious to big boy head games.)

(And Victor caught a last few moments of bonding with Nick before he hit the road.)

We miss them already! Can't wait for Christmas. Erick will be chasing them down on all fours by then I'm sure. Time to start resting up and stocking up on Tylenol.

6/25/2009 7:52:55 AM  
[James here]

thought I would chime in about something that is important: Erick is a very, very good baby. I've been afraid to say it, but by God he needs to get some credit. I don't mean this as any slight to Victor or any other babies I've ever known. And, I don't want to jinx us, but it has to be said.

The little guy has been sleeping through the night regularly for the last month. When he's awake he's now usually pretty happy and fun to play with. He really likes the big eyes and smile game, but he also enjoys the kick-and-play and trying to crawl on his little play mat.

Erick likes to sit up; of course, you have to balance him, but he's very comfortable in an upright position. He likes to see what's going on. He watches his brother warily and observes story time with interest. He's a little doll and Dawn and I keep asking ourselves how we got so lucky.

[Now Dawn here]

Also, Erick tries to blow raspberries. It's unbelievably cute. Careful about the bragging about sleeping through the night though, James. Erick & I were up at 4:00 today (after three mornings in a row of him sleeping until almost 7:00).

This seems like as good a place as any to share these tummy time pics from earlier tonight. Behold the many moods of Erick Owen:

6/15/2009 10:07:46 PM  
It's gotten a little wild around here. Nothing catastrophic. Just some major rainy day boredom/jealousy/acting out stuff. And some potty training issues that I don't feel compelled to discuss at the moment. So that's my excuse for not giving a fuller Erick update yet.

He did have his 2 month appointment on Friday and it went well. He's doing just great and took his vaccinations pretty much in stride. Once again, he's on the exact same growth pattern as Victor. Erick was 12 pounds, 14 ounces (an ounce heavier than V at the same age) and 23 3/4 inches long (1/8 of an inch shorter than V at the same age). He gave Dr. L quite a few smiles but couldn't do the same for the shot-wielding nurse. Great check-up though.

I finally took a bunch more pictures, many of Erick alone and quite a few of the boys together. Here's a montage of the bulk of them:

(The best of those shots are in the gallery too.)

And here's a video of Erick discovering the kicking element of the Kick & Play Bouncer:

And here's one of Erick talking about how much he likes to get cream rubbed on his face:

He's just an incredibly easygoing and sweet little guy. And while Victor gets pretty bent out of shape about excessive attention paid to his brother, he's getting more and more attached to him. I'm pretty sure he likes him because he gave him his toy school bus today. He just doesn't always like the way he cramps his Ramblin' Man style.

6/10/2009 5:39:01 PM  
Time for a post all about Erick. I'm not even going to mention that other guy. OK, so I can't quite manage that. I should at least mention that Victor is spending a whole lot of time with his boy baby doll this week. He calls him Erick and he helps him do all of the things that he sees me do for his real human brother. He changes his diaper and clothes, he "breastfeeds" him, he puts him in his swing, etc. Oh, and he especially likes to put him in his trike basket and give him rides around the house. He's very, very sweet to "Erick Doll". Treats him exactly like we'd hope. But still pretty squirrely and aggressive toward his human brother. He just gets so amped up when Erick makes a noise or flails around. But the play acting is encouraging, no?

So Erick. The man of the day! He's two months old today and he's really pretty amazing. He still spends a lot of time sleeping but when he's awake, he's looking around and checking it all out quite happily. He's downright agreeable as long as he's clean and full of milk. He does take a lot of interest in his brother but is also very anxious when Victor gets very close to him. I think he's ready to grapple with him as soon as he gets the opportunity. He continues to surprise us with his brute strength.

Erick really likes rides in the car as long as we're not stopping at lights. And stroller rides are starting to grow on him too, especially if he gets to just sit in the stroller instead of being in his carseat. He's not a huge fan of the carseat itself. He loves the sound of whistling and he likes to take baths as long as Victor isn't menacing over my shoulder. And his very favorite thing in the world is when we blow on his hair. That usually coaxes a smile/coo/giggle-type utterance.

Erick's a little snugglier in general than Victor was as a baby but when he's not in the mood, he is very belligerent about it and will arch his back and kick for all he's worth. He's a great sleeper (as was Victor) and will sleep 6-8 hours during the night the majority of the time. Still not sleeping in his own room yet though. Might have to try our second attempt at that soon. No discernible nap pattern yet either but he definitely loads up more on sleep in the mornings than in the afternoon (although he's snoozing right now as I type).

I'll report in more about Easy E on Friday after his appointment. And I hope to get some more pics of him yet this week too. He's changing quickly and getting more and more handsome!

6/9/2009 1:39:36 PM  
I was going to blog this week about how we were going to participate in a WashU study. More specifically, Erick was going to participate in the Infant Sibling Study they are doing as part of their autism research. It would have involved some observations of both boys and a few MRIs for Erick. We were gung ho. I really wanted to do anything our family possibly could to aid autism research and selfishly, I wanted an inside track to resources and information as well as some far, far earlier intervention if Erick turns out to be on the spectrum (we don't really believe he will but it's a real risk).

Well, we're excluded. I've been through a few phone interviews to screen us and this last one apparently sent up the red flag that will keep us from participating. I was worried that we might not have an official enough diagnosis for Victor since he never went back to the neurologist at age 3. Nope. We can't participate because of my gestational hypertension. So that was really a bit of a bummer to find out today. It's one less scheduling commitment but I really wanted to see it through.

But hey, Erick turns 2 months tomorrow! I'll try to construct a proper status report. There's a lot to say about him but just such precious little time. He's pretty wonderful though.

6/6/2009 7:39:00 AM  
Happy Anniversary Daddy! I was just about to share the straight poop (hardy har).

It was truly a stroke of luck that I caught Victor showing the signs of needing to go and I was thankfully able to capitalize on it. Now the bribery begins. I've got a few more engines awaiting in the roundhouse but hopefully before long he'll catch on that pooping on the potty is preferable whether there are rewards or not. That or we'll end up with Thomas and every single one of his friends.

Meanwhile, Erick is sleeping 6-8 hours for his long stretch now. A few nights ago I decided to try putting him in his own bed but it was somewhat of a disaster. He woke at 2:00 for the first time in 2 or 3 weeks. I think we'll try it again tonight maybe. We all have to get used to it sometime, right? That monitor in his room is SO hyper sensitive though that it's far more distracting to hear it all night than it is to just have him next to our bed. I can literally hear him dragging his hand across the mattress!

6/6/2009 6:58:35 AM  
[James here] I can't believe Dawn hasn't blogged the fact that Victor has done #2 on the potty 2 times now! Mommy has been his coach both times; she's tuned into when he needs to go and this last time even added some incentive - a wooden train. "Poop on potty then Percy." Too many "p"'s, I'm sorry. Happy Anniversary, Mommy. Although, 11 years is steel - not feces.

6/2/2009 10:07:34 PM  
Victor had "camp" over in St. Louis these past two mornings and it went very well and he seemed pleased as could be to be back with his therapists again. I'm so glad I signed him up. It's just enough to fill some of the void left with school being out. I'm desperately trying to work with him on some of the things that were brought up in his IEP meeting during our fleeting downtime at home but it's so hard to make that happen. Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy so maybe that will help!

His therapists are really happy with the progress he made while he was gone, even with some setbacks in the feeding area. He was very eager to get to work and didn't balk at anything. Not even finger painting and playing in goo! Those are usually the hardest tasks for him to face. Of course he might just be trying hard to please in the first week back but I'm very hopeful that he's ready to build on his progress. It felt good being back at any rate. And he actually went out of his way to make a friend at camp too. May have had something to do with the fact that the boy was named Thomas! I told his SLP that I hope that the other kids are James and Percy.

I won't lie though. It's brutal doing this early morning thing with both boys in tow. It doesn't start until 9:00 which sounds reasonable and all but that means that we have to leave by 8:00 and Victor usually wants to sleep until around then (this will be good practice for summer school though because it's 9-12). Meanwhile, Erick wakes up around 4:00 and I usually try to grab another our of sleep between that feeding and the next one but with our Monday & Tuesday schedule, I just stay up and get dressed and ready before I work in the preemptive 7:00 feeding.

I literally felt like I was going to fall asleep at the wheel driving over there. I'm going to have to just caffeinate on those days. Mimi is going to help out with some of these camp days throughout June too, thank goodness. I really enjoyed doing it these past two days but I also want to maximize my Mommy-Victor and Mommy-Erick 1-on-1 time when I have the chance.

5/28/2009 9:36:05 PM  
We survived Victor's IEP meeting today at school thanks to a lot of luck (a sleeping Erick, in other words) and to Miss Marj for entertaining Victor for the entire 2 hours we were there. This meeting was to set his goals and determine his eligibility for fall. We're really hopeful that he'll be able to spend some time in the regular pre-K room by fall but he'll obviously still be spending the better part of his day in his special ed communication classroom. The important thing we need to remember is how much HUGE progress he just made in 3 1/2 months.

He surpassed all but one of his speech therapy goals and he came very close to reaching his classroom goals. Occupational therapy was a whole other story. He was so far below reaching his goals with fine motor skills, pre-handwriting and even gross motor. So I'm feeling even better about him starting his private therapy back up next week. He will still get OT at school during his summer school session in July but it's such a paltry amount and I'm of the opinion that it really pales in comparison to his private therapy. But yeah, all in all, we felt good about his progress this year and his potential for next year. And inadequate OT notwithstanding, we are really happy and impressed with the program.

It was especially gratifying to hear how much everyone has enjoyed Victor's sweet demeanor and his willingness to work hard at school. Likewise, he was so happy to get to see his teacher and SLP again this week (but especially his Miss Marj). We were not at all surprised to hear that he's really academically ready for kindergarten now. The boy can memorize and pick up routines and cognitive skills like nobody's business. He's got a whole lot of work ahead of him though to get the social and communication pieces in place that are necessary for mainstream kindergarten but if it doesn't happen by then, there are several other classroom options. So it's all good. We just want to make sure that we're getting him every possible opportunity and resource, especially when he is obviously so excited about learning.

And here's our diligent little pupil doing his rendition of Brown Bear, Brown Bear earlier yesterday and today:

5/27/2009 11:05:33 PM  
Erick is sleeping through the night, if you define sleeping through the night as sleeping at least a 6 hour stretch. OK, usually anyway. He's doing this about a month earlier than Victor did. He usually sleeps from 9:00 or 10:00ish until 3:00 or 4:00ish. Which yes, does mean that I should be in bed right now. I still need to pump though because he had a bottle at Auntie Heath's and I must pump to offset that or mayhem will result. Really should just do that and head the heck off to bed! Oh, and Erick's still spitting up a lot.

Victor's struggling with potty progress now that school is out. We're not nearly as good as Miss Marj was about taking him to the potty on a schedule and he's not good about asking until it's too late. Strangely, he's great about getting through the night and staying dry (and we're talking about 10+ hours) but during the day, he gets distracted and wets fairly often. Still no pooping on the potty at all. He is very obviously avoiding even trying. He still wears a Pull-Up instead of underpants if we're going out and about for a long period of time (especially a long drive) and lately, he will finally poop once he's got a Pull-Up on. It's an event, to be sure.

So we're still working on that but the whole "let's put your poop into the potty!" thing doesn't seem to be really getting through. The bright spot is that he's finally peeing standing up when we're away from home. Thanks for the standing to pee mentoring, Bernie & Jack!

Speaking of which, we were just at their house for Auntie Heath's early birthday festivities tonight and I got a few pics:

Happy almost birthday Auntie Heath!

5/23/2009 9:21:24 PM  
We had an exhausting and yet delightful day today. We went up to Gaga's to see her gardens and then hung out with her in town for a bit, had lunch, chilled some more. Victor was in bliss and James and I were feeling very smug and satisfied about being in Illinois so that we can make such things a regular occurrence. It made for a long trip though. Any trip that pushes the limits of two Erick feedings gets a little hairy in the end. Poor little Snuffler was not a happy guy by the time we got home but was quickly mollified with a milk binge and a nice cool bath. So it all worked out but I'm feeling oh-so-tired now. And I'm on my own tonight while James is guys' night outing (well-earned so I won't complain).

So what's new with Erick is that he's spitting up perhaps even more than before but is also chunkier and chunkier. He's into his 3-6 month clothes and is threatening to bust out of his 1-2 Swaddlers. He's smiling more and more all the time and is extremely interested in what his brother's up to but also looks pretty stressed sometimes when Victor hovers over him. With good reason.

Victor's being extremely precious and extremely trying. He won't do much of anything we ask him to do without counting down from 5 first and then saying "Time to _________". It's maddening. He's really testing a lot of limits and insisting upon taking a lot more control of some things, straying from routine, etc. This is good in the big picture of his particular emotional development. It's just hard to stay on schedule. Yeah, he's 3. Very, very 3. And he comes by the stubbornness honestly.

One especially adorable thing about Victor right now is his fixation on "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?". They worked on it at school recently and he is INTO it. He sings it over and over and really practices getting it more and more accurate (and fast!). A few days ago, I found printouts online of pictures of all of the animals in the book and I cut them all out and tacked them up in the play room for him. I think he liked that better than anything we've ever bought him!

5/18/2009 5:57:28 PM  
Another road trip day! I kept Victor home from school today due to the copious amounts of snot gushing forth from his head. Totally hated to do that since there are only a few more days of his semester but it would have been SO obnoxious to send him like that. And since I could not bear the thought of being cooped up with both boys all day while Victor tore the place apart (or watched Cars or Wall-E for the hundredth time), I decided to hit the road again. It was good. Erick was not as happy as he has been in the car as of late but Victor and I enjoyed some beautiful scenery and scintillating conversation about vehicles and farm animals. Truly. It was almost like having Mommy-Victor time. Wow, come to think of it - I think it qualified as Mommy-Victor time. I'm so happy he likes the car as much as I do!

Today's destinations were cemeteries, actually. We went to Carlinville and White Hall to put out fresh flags and flowers for Great PopPaw and Great Uncle Victor in advance of Memorial Day. It's actually a ritual I quite enjoyed being able to do as a family for the first time, especially since I spent many sunny May days helping my grandpa put out flowers for family members and flags for the Carrollton vets. And I always enjoy making the drive over to C'ville because I can still hear his voice in my head narrating the farm scenery (and of course, how to get to the cemetery, no matter how many times I had already driven there). I made sure to show Victor the final dog leg turn en route to the cemetery. He'll get to brush up on that many more times over the years.

And after we went to see Gaga's Victor at White Hall, we took a chance and swung by her house. There she was mowing the yard! (She's NEVER at her house in town when we happen to just pop by). So we got to enjoy an impromptu Gaga visit too. Pretty spectacular way to spend a beautiful afternoon. Except for Erick's crying. For the last 40 minutes of the drive. ("Erick! No crying", said Victor.) No pics of the boys today but here are pics of flags and flowers for our most beloved veterans, both of whom are dearly missed today and every day:

(The matchbox car on his grave marker was left by my Victor the first week after we moved in September. He just put it there like it was the natural thing to do, not even knowing that it's the same color as Victor's motorcycle was.)

5/17/2009 5:04:38 PM  
This last week is a total blur. We've been trying to get in our groove as a family of four. It's been challenging and more than a little exhausting at times but also rewarding. Mostly.

I had such a mishmash of pictures that I threw them all in one montage of "What we did these past several days..........". Most notably, we had Victor's school picnic on Thursday afternoon (where he mostly just ignored us and played on the playscape). Saturday we spent quite a bit of time in the car. The car is my friend because Erick will usually nap and Victor will usually be happy and chatty and most importantly, restrained. And today, Sunday, we braved our first trip to the zoo as a quartet. We wanted to do something that was very specifically for Victor and I think that overall he appreciated it. And he was mostly very cooperative too, especially with the new double stroller's jump seat arrangement (he is not yet willing to try the standing platform, even though I think he'd greatly prefer it). I pronounce the outing a success. Here's the photos:

5/11/2009 12:54:34 PM  
Just got home from Erick's one month check-up. He's 10 pounds and 22 inches. Once again, it's uncanny. Victor was 10 pounds, 2 ounces at his one month (and it was exactly 2 days later than Erick's in relation to his birthdate) and was 22 inches. More importantly, Erick is growing very, very well in spite of all the spitting. Dr. L is not at all surprised that he's still spitting so much because he's such a squirmer so he's constantly shaking up his tummy.

And that's an understatement. While on the exam table, he demonstrated how he can roll from tummy to back and he pushed off Dr. L's hands to take a few crawling "steps". He is holding his chest way up off the table/floor/crib and looking all around. We are in big, big trouble with the babyproofing needs. I always thought that people that talked about how their kids rolled or crawled at an early age were completely exaggerating but I'm changing my tune on that one. Erick was clearly training in utero because buddy boy is one strong dude.

Meanwhile, Victor is at school in his first ever pair of big boy underwear. I hope we don't regret that. I have fears of going out to find a very wet, very distraught Victor getting off the bus but we had to give it a shot. He did not hesitate one bit about putting his underwear on though. He thought they were super cool!

Not a bad start to the week. And tonight's even girls' night out. Which means even less sleep probably. A little time away sounds pretty wonderful though. Thanks for doing double duty tonight, best daddy ever!

5/10/2009 2:49:19 PM  
Happy Mother's Day! We've had quite a nice one. I underestimated how much it would mean to actually be here with my own mother and grandmother in person this year. Just made me feel like we're where we should be. I'm getting used to these family gatherings every month (Easter last month and now MD). I think I need to come up with an excuse to do it every month the rest of the year! That means I should probably start cooking more, eh? Can't make Mimi & Gaga spoil me by bringing in all the food until Erick's 18.

Erick slept more than 6 hours last night and that would have meant an outstanding night of sleep for me (maybe even topping 4 hours!) except that Victor woke around 3:00 screaming and crying. James went in his room to find Victor hysterical and with a mouth full of blood. We think that he fell out of his bed while trying to do some sort of daredevil maneuver (like turning off his ceiling fan or something similar). At any rate, he has a busted and quite swollen lip. Looks like he bit into his lip when he hit the floor (I heard the thud). After the traumatic cleanup and soothing session, he thankfully slept like a rock from 4:00 until nearly 10:00.

Here are a few pictures from Mother's Day 2009:

And in the best surprise of the day, after watching these roses cautiously over the past few days, hoping upon hope that maybe I could cut a bouquet for the table today (but alas, no!):

Gaga showed up with these gorgeous peonies and made me gleeful:

(She has a way of saving the day. With pies. And flowers. And food. And baby holding.)

And just because it randomly showed up on my camera today, here's a pic from last weekend of Victor helping Mimi & PopPaw put in the Humphrey herb garden:

(Thanks MM & PP!)

5/8/2009 1:21:31 PM  
Erick's had a great week and yet a bit of a trying week. He is not sleeping that nice long stretch that he was a week ago. So he's rather overtired at times and I'm rather overtired all the time. I've slept 2-3 hours in my bed for the past 4 nights but keep falling asleep in the rocker in E's room between 1 and 5. The good news is that Erick is actually having some peaceful awake time. The options are no longer only sleeping, eating or incredibly angry. Sometimes he's just alert and interested, especially in his big brother and what the heck he's up to.

The feeling seems to be fairly mutual because Victor is showing much more interest in trying to befriend Erick. He likes to kiss him and wipe his mouth for him and give him toys. Most importantly, the crying doesn't seem to cause nearly as many Victor meltdowns now. This is not to say that Victor doesn't still get incredibly jealous and resentful at times but all in all, he's starting to get on board with the idea of co-existing with "Erick-O" (this is V's nickname for his bro.........and occasionally he very formally calls him "Erick Owen"). Victor also had a really good week at school and has been pottying there consistently. Our incidence of wet pull-ups has been scarce enough that I bit the bullet and got the big boy underwear yesterday. Now to just get brave enough to introduce them!

Victor's only got 8 more days of school which is horrifying. Part of me looks forward to a short break from getting him ready to go on time but I very much do not look forward to V's disappointment when there's no school. He loves school more than anything right now. But he'll have a few mornings of camp in St. Louis during June and then he'll be back to summer school in July. And hopefully Erick and I will be better able to mobilize in June so that we can go do some fun activities like the zoo and the Magic House and the park (and more of the park and then probably.........more of the park).

I really thought about doing Music Together with both boys this summer but it turns out that we couldn't make it work because of Victor's summer school schedule (he'll go 5 days a week!). And honestly, I think he's a little old for it now anyway. I think he could still benefit from the program but he'd be the biggest kid by far and I don't know that making him share that setting with Erick is good right now. Plus, Victor's done three whole years of it (though I do think he'd still enjoy it). So I think I'll probably just wait and do MT with Erick once he's a little older. Victor started at 5 months and that's probably going to be a good time for Erick too, especially since he'll probably sit up by then. This baby keeps acting like he's trying to crawl and he can easily roll from tummy to back. We'll have to get some video of it soon. It's kinda crazy.

5/6/2009 10:32:27 AM  
[James here] Victor did something interesting last night. He spelled "Tyrannosaurus" from memory. Normally, I hold the book entitled "Tyrannosaurus Reg" in front of him and he points at each letter as he says it. Last night, he was looking at something else and just rattled off the letters from memory.

5/4/2009 8:56:14 PM  
Erick and I survived our big solo jaunt to the ENT to get his tongue tie clipped today. The actual procedure took like 1 minute, maybe 5 if you include the prep time I spent giving Erick anesthetic on a paci. And aside from a mouthful of blood, it was not the slightest bit traumatic. He looked a bit like Hannibel Lecter at first because he had blood all down his chin and onto his bib but it clotted quickly and he went right back to sleep from all the excitement. It definitely has improved his breastfeeding latch insofar as it's already less painful for me and it seems like he's staying on and being more efficient too. The spitting up hasn't abated much but I'm trying not to get my hopes up about that (still somewhat clinging to the theory that his bad latch was making him gulp excessive air and causing reflux). I'm just glad it's over and that it went so well. I was very happy with the ENT and would absolutely go back there if we need him later.

This day has made me very tired though. Erick spoiled me with a few nights of 4-5 hour blocks of sleep and I got my hopes up. I swear I'm going to bed after this next feeding! And I am greatly looking forward to Victor's summer school schedule of 9-12 instead of his current 12:30-3:00. This trying to get both boys fed lunch within the same hour thing is not going very well. It seems like everyone except for James ends up crying.

Oh, and I did get Victor signed up for two days per week of "camp" (which is basically fun group therapy) at his clinic down in St. Louis. That will be his guaranteed June activity. And we might even be able to get him back into his private OT and speech therapy sessions on the same days. Insurance is finally worked out again. I'm anxious to give it a try. I think he needs all the help and individualized attention he can get right now to deal with this HUGE change in his life. Plus, he's made such amazing progress at school and I'd like to see him build on it with his therapists. They're going to be so impressed with his strides in communication and social behavior, not to mention his exemplary pottying (we're just on the cusp of trying big boy underpants instead of Pull-Ups!).

4/30/2009 3:12:40 PM  
There are a whole bunch of new pics of the boys together on the pics page. A whole bunch. 14, actually.

And here are some pics from our first family of 4 neighborhood walk on Sunday:

(OK, I lied. That one's on the back patio.)

4/27/2009 12:23:14 PM  
Just got home from Victor's first school drop-off with Erick in tow. There was no major acting out but my big boy who usually dutifully (cheerfully, even) holds my hand to walk in sped ahead and kept tossing me his best "I'm not pleased" look. Now that Erick has been admired by everyone and won't be such a novelty, hopefully Victor will feel a little less threatened by his presence. And as I expected, he was totally cool with his teacher fussing over Erick but he got pretty territorial over his Miss Marj (his favorite aide). Oh, and he says Erick's name a hundred times a day but he refused to acknowledge that his brother even has a name when asked by everyone at school. He told everyone that he was "Baby Sleepy". Thankfully, yes, he is quite sleepy. Makes Monday a little easier.

Next Monday? Frenectomy time. That was the soonest we could get him in. Supposedly this will be a 15 minute thing. The only thing that freaks me out a little is doing it without Daddy there but he'll need to stay behind to get Victor off the bus after school. I'll be fine though. If I survived Victor's allergy testing and the blood panel from hell (when I got to pretty much lie on him to hold him down), I can do this too. Erick is freakishly strong though!

4/25/2009 10:02:49 PM  
So yeah, it's hot in our house. And we still have one more day over 80 before we get some more seasonable temps back. Today we got desperate enough in the middle of the afternoon that we got in the car just to enjoy the air-conditioning. After cruising by the firetrucks (hoping they were all out of the garage to be washed but no such luck this time), we went to see the Robert Wadlow statue. Victor enjoyed this surprisingly well for a kid that is too young to understand what the fuss is about. Then again, he thinks anything outdoors like that is "the park" and "the park" is A-OK.

Here's yet another montage, this one of the Wadlow outing:

Erick slept through that portion. He actually slept a lot, right up until we (meaning James, while I whined "I'm not so sure about this") decided to get really brave and go out for an early dinner in Grafton. That did not go so well. We may not be welcome back there after the dinner concert from our dueling screamers.

Oh, and it's still hot in here.

4/25/2009 1:11:27 PM  
It's 85 here and we don't have working air-conditioning. The mood is not good.

4/24/2009 4:17:59 PM  
Erick had an outstanding 2 week appointment! He's at 7 pounds, 15 ounces which is the exact same weight that Victor was at 2 weeks old (even though he was half a pound heavier at birth!). Dr. L was just happy to have him back to birth weight so this greatly alleviated my stress about how much he's spitting up. Speaking of which, she thinks that he's likely spitting up because he's overeating (seems quite likely, given the outrageous milk supply). So, since he's not appearing to be in pain with the spitting (just instantly hungry again), we're hoping that he'll start growing out of it soon.

Hmmm. What else? Oh, the tongue tie. It's going to get clipped. We're getting sent over to St. John's Mercy to have it done by an ENT there. Hopefully soon. Dr. L agreed that it was rather severe and didn't want to risk it interfering with successful breastfeeding. I'm thankful that she was sensitive to how important that was to me. I don't want to put him through the procedure but I think it's for the best for both of us in the long run.

Dr. L was stunned at how well Erick is holding his head up and pushing up on his arms. She thinks he'll roll really early. Yikes. This is good though because she felt like tummy sleeping is OK for him since he has such good head control. That's a blessing since it's the only way he seems to get himself to sleep, aside from in the papasan. I've had some early luck with turning him onto his back once he's asleep on his tummy. We'll see.

All in all, a good start to the weekend. It will make those middle of the night feedings a little easier to face now that I know that he is thriving as a result. Now it's on to trying to figure out what I can find for Victor to do during June (thank goodness for summer school in July)!

4/23/2009 2:56:25 PM  
Victor's doing a lot better with the whole having a brother now thing. Not quite as much aggressive jealousy and he's showing far more interest in Erick and wants to help take care of him. He still has to be told "gentle, gentle!" a gazillion times a day but at least he's not showing actual animosity.

And Erick is pretty much doing well. He got his first tub bath and is blessing us with some decent stretches of sleep at night. Unfortunately his 6:30 diaper change/feeding does tend to wake up Victor due to the urgent crying (the pacifier is not being all that well-received). Erick does have his 2 week pedi appointment tomorrow and we are extremely thankful for it because he is spitting up a lot during the day and still is uncomfortable on his back. Also, he has a tongue tie. The kid's got to keep it interesting, I suppose! He still loves to be held and has a voracious appetite (probably because he keeps losing so much of his feedings, sadly).

Here are some pictures from this past 4 or 5 days, again with apologies for randomness/laziness:

4/19/2009 9:42:01 AM  
Erick's feeling more and more like a baby and less like a newborn. His cord stump fell off yesterday, his plastibell from his circ is about to fall off and he's keeping most of his feedings down better than he was for a few days there (still some pretty major pukings at times though). Oh, and poop is normal. I had forgotten how comparatively pleasant breastmilk poop is so it's been a nice surprise at diaper changes. He even gave me a few decent chunks of sleep last night (2 hours at a time!).

We do still have problems with sleep arrangements and I'm anxious to get some feedback on that at his 2-week appointment on Friday. He still won't tolerate being put flat on his back at all so he's sleeping either in the papasan (the favored method for all of us right now), on someone's chest or with me painstakingly holding him on his side. He's totally happy to go down in the crib on his tummy but it scares me to much too put him down for the night like that.

And Victor? He's been generally agreeable but when we hit a rough patch, we really hit a rough patch. He's extremely jealous and still doesn't really comprehend the level of gentleness required around Erick. This unfortunately means that I'm getting very, very little time to spend with Victor which just exacerbates the situation that much more. I'm really hoping I can manage to do school dropoff this week now that I'm OK to drive because that will at least be a little bit of Mommy & Victor alone time (something we're striving to implement with little success as of yet). We'll see how willing Erick is to accommodate Victor's schedule. I don't want Daddy to have a half hour of shrieking every day at lunch. Have I mentioned that Erick is a milk junkie? And that I miss being with my big boy?

4/16/2009 10:21:27 AM  
So fellow breastfeeders out there are familiar with the "transitional stool" phenomenon, otherwise known as early milk poopslosions. If you're not familiar, this is the poop that comes as the meconium is finally mostly out of the system but there is a slight lactose intolerance as breastmilk comes in full steam. It's supposed to work itself out in a few days. Well, it's been a few days and I'm hoping that maybe we've seen the last of the poop geysers.

Wouldn't be so unpleasant if Erick didn't always choose his 1:00 a.m. feeding as the time to let it blow. I'm ill-equipped to deal with messes or to use any sort of quick reflexes at that point. That's usually when I'm about to pass out in the rocker (he still thinks day is night). Oh, and the thing I forgot to stock up on? Oxy Baby Clean. Not pretty.

Otherwise, things are good. None of this seems quite as daunting as last time, perhaps because we know how quickly this time goes by. Also, everything's vaguely familiar. I do think Victor spit up this much early on too. He was a piglet too and never knew when to say when breastmilk-wise. Erick's a lot more congested than I remember Victor being but that's probably just part of the joy of being a spring baby.

4/15/2009 3:01:44 PM  
We're hanging in here. Erick's a sweet boy but he does make sleep a challenge. The interesting thing about E is that he was born trying to hold his head up and look around. That should have been a sign, right? Nope, he does NOT want to stay on his back at all.

He breaks his arms out of any swaddle (even the atomic strength Amazing Miracle Blanket, though I haven't used it to full strait jacket level yet) and then uses said arms to maneuver himself onto his side. His preference, however, is to just be held while he sleeps. And that would be fine if, you know, we didn't need to ever sleep ourselves. We've been placating him because he's only 5 days old and he sounds snuffly when he's on his back. We're not sure if that's a newborn congestion thing or a possible reflux thing but we just know it's mean to leave him like that. So the boy is getting held a lot which makes me even more thankful for the sling (which is where you'd find him napping right now).

Victor's doing well. There are a few snags here and there but he's sleeping through the night well and he's continuing to do well with pottying. We're seeing a bit of aggressiveness from him that isn't typical but I think that has more to do with school (Miss Marj confirmed to James that there is a "pusher" in the class.....and I know just who he is!) and imitating what he's seeing there than being necessarily angry. The interesting thing is that he's apparently not pushing or pulling hair at school though. So we'll just keep doing our best to try to correct it. Boys.

4/13/2009 1:03:43 PM  
It's good to be home. It turned out that the second day at the hospital wasn't really all that restful in the grand scheme of things. Good to still have the extra time with people willing to fetch me a constant supply of ice water but having the nursery "available" didn't really achieve us any extra sleep since Erick wanted to eat just about every hour and half around the clock. More than one nurse remarked that they could probably keep him happy in the nursery longer if we'd let him have a pacifier (and thus begins a year of constantly hearing "Why don't you just give that kid a paci!?!?!?"). Kinda would defeat the purpose of on demand feeding though, no?

Milk is in though and he seems to have relaxed a bit about feeding as a result. This is the first way in which he is very unlike Victor as a newborn. We had to wake Victor up to eat every 3 hours due to the jaundice. Erick is very much in charge of the feeding schedule this time. And while we initially thought that Erick looked wholly unlike Victor (or really anyone else, aside from PopPaw), I'm starting to see a lot more similarities in facial expressions and features. We'll see. He sure does have more hair.

One very pleasant surprise is that Erick seems to like being in the sling (which is how I'm even able to be typing this). Victor hated the sling. But Erick wants to held pretty much 24/7 and so far does not appreciate or enjoy stretching out in the swing or the papasan for long so the sling is finally getting its due! If he continues to like it, it sure will help me free up a hand or two while keeping the little guy content. Maybe I can hold Erick and play trains after all.

Doesn't look like James reported the full birth log this time. The short version is that labor was surprisingly longer this time (but not by too much). We started Pitocin at 8:00 Friday morning but Dr. T didn't break my water until 9:00 (the reverse of how we induced with Victor). I ended up sitting at 3 centimeters for quite a while but once again went from 4 to 9 in under 40 minutes. The really exciting part was the epidural or slight lack thereof. I did get an epidural but it was only slightly better than not having one at all.

First attempt was botched so they had to place it higher the second time and the result was that it numbed the high contractions but really didn't touch the lower ones (see 40 minutes from 4 to 9). So pushing, while only taking half an hour, was far more painful than anticipated. All was forgotten as soon as Erick was out though. Then all focus turned to this little guy with the full head of hair and the alert eyes.

Victor is taking things pretty much in stride. He does seem to get that this guy is Erick, as in "The Erick" we've talked about all these months. I was so thankful that Erick's crying didn't seem to disturb him during the night at all. And he's not really acting out or seeming to feel threatened by Erick's presence but his understanding of "gentle" is fleeting at times. I think he's going to do just fine though. If he's going to get upset about anything right now, it's probably just that he got used to so much time with a doting Mimi, PopPaw & Gaga this weekend and Mommy and Daddy are really not quite as much fun now. Luckily tomorrow is a "school bus day" so he can ditch us at home for a while.

OK, montage time. Here's one of hospital pics in random order (I'm tired):

And one of the boys at home today:

4/11/2009 8:45:32 AM  
[James here] I guess I'm a little late in posting this, but I think everyone must have gotten notified via e-mail yesterday. Erick Owen arrived at 1pm sharp on Friday April 10th coming in at 7lbs 9oz and 20.5 inches long. He has a full head of dark hair, great lungs, and a healthy appetite. He also has a penchant for sleeping on his side and using his little arms to grab at things. Further, he seems to be tracking voices with his gaze pretty well. He's very red, but none of the nurses seem to be concerned about that. He's just a cute little angel.

Victor and Mimi have been having a grand ole time. Twice in a row he has gotten out of bed with a dry diaper and done some good peeing right away in the morning for her. He isn't quite sure what to think of his baby brother yet. He does know that he is Erick and he did remember that what Erick says is "Wah!"

Bernie and Jack came to visit yesterday as well. Oh and Auntie Heather was there too. She brought some flowers and milkshakes - just what the Dr. ordered! Bernie and Jack seemed to like Erick and were very careful around him. They're such good boys.

4/8/2009 8:55:30 PM  
Still hanging in here. Erick will be here mid-day Friday and really, that's soon enough. Tomorrow will be a day of very concentrated convalescence for both Victor and myself. I think he's doing a little better but I'm still glad that he's going to have another 4 days on antibiotics before his brother comes home. Me on the other hand? I'm just a mess. The only benefit is that hopefully I'll provide Erick with some good breastmilk antibodies against whatever this gnarly funk is. And I hope maybe I'll get some good drugs in the hospital because I am not really sleeping anymore. Like at all.

On the bright side, Victor has been back to school the past two days and has been quite giddy about it. Today was his last day before spring break. He doesn't go back until next Tuesday so today was his class Easter party. He got spiffed up for the occasion:

And he gave me his best "Time for school, please!", complete with pleading eyes:

I'm sure we'll manage to work in a backyard Easter egg hunt yet this weekend somehow but I'm glad he got to have some festivities with his school buds and it was a beautiful day for it too! He's going to have a fun weekend spending lots of time with Mimi, PopPaw and Gaga. I know that I'm going to miss him far more than he'll miss me. I've never left him for more than about 8 hours before so I'll definitely be pining for my little sweetie.

4/6/2009 5:28:45 PM  
Victor has a rip-roarin' sinus infection and is back on the antibiotics. So he missed school today which was quite sad since he goes on break Thursday anyway. Hopefully he'll be up to going tomorrow. I'm sure he will be Wednesday at least.

No news about Erick. Maybe there will be progress at my appointment tomorrow morning but I still doubt it.

4/5/2009 4:20:30 PM  
We made the egg hunt. But barely. The front is blowing in and it kinda blew us right out of the park. It was just as we were all getting tired of the festivities anyway though so it was all good. Here's a little montage of Victor, Jack & Bernie competing in the compulsory events to earn a goodie bag:

Three things should be evident about Victor:
1. He got a mediocre haircut yesterday.
2. He's sleep-deprived (cough is worsening again).
3. Mimi got him a stylish new Easter sports jacket!

And now the boys are playing away while we wait for pizza to be ready to pick up. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon before the April snow comes!

4/4/2009 4:26:20 PM  
Sorry. Forgot to update yesterday. Maybe because there's so little to update! Still 3 centimeters, now 60% effaced and -1 station. I think I had progressed more by 38 weeks with Victor. So we're pretty much planning on Friday, April 10 as Erick's birthday. In the meantime, I'm supposed to bedrest as much as I can without losing my mind (due to what is now being considered gestational hypertension). I'm having contractions but they aren't escalating at all. Dr. T thinks there's a reasonable chance that I'll go into labor on my own but I don't. But a week from now, Erick will be here so I can suck it up until then!

So if we have a completely routine labor and delivery, that means Erick & I will be coming home on Easter. Puts a little bit of a damper on trying to have a full-blown family wing ding/egg hunt but I guess we'll figure it out and may even just postpone Humphrey Easter for a week. And t-storms threaten our egg hunt plans tomorrow (as well as the possibility of a hard freeze and snow!) too. So we're taking solace in knowing that Victor has his Easter party and egg hunt at school on Wednesday, right before he goes on spring break. Quite certain he'll enjoy that immensely, mainly due to his beloved "Nessa".

3/31/2009 9:56:15 AM  
The good news for the day is that Victor got a good night of sleep. I think the Dimetapp helped but I believe that the main thing was that he's finally caught on that he's better off on his tummy or side while he's got this cough. I guess it probably is a cold.

The not as good news is that I just got home from my appointment and I'm only at 3 centimeters and 50% effaced. I had my hopes up due to the contractions and vomiting. But no. The umbilical dopplers and fluid levels looked great today too. That's really a wonderful thing because it means that Erick's not distressed but it totally blew any shot of making a case for inducing at 38 weeks.

So I'm on track to get induced at 39. Good Friday. And really, I won't be a bit surprised if we make it until then. I guess cerclage babies really are just stubborn. After fighting so hard to keep them in there, they're not very willing to change course on someone else's whim apparently. It's not that much longer to wait but I'm just so uncomfortable and tired. And bedresting with a 3 year old around is quite laughable.

3/30/2009 8:05:47 PM  
Well, the doctor said to give Victor Dimetapp at bedtime and then again during the middle of the night "if he wakes up" (you mean WHEN?!?!?!). We are currently trying to determine if Victor is just one of those kids that gets hyper instead of drowsy on Dimetapp. Honestly, he hasn't taken it for so long that I can't remember. He does seem to be quieting down but it was not all that long ago that he was doing frenetic gymnastics on his bed while laughing maniacally. And really, I've just accepted that I won't get more than a few hours of sleep until the hospital and its wonderful, wonderful drugs. I'll cherish those few nights much as I'll be pining for my little maniac.

That maniac finally got his own computer set up tonight, thanks to Daddy. He's pretty into it and hopefully he'll enjoy a new big boy diversion from Erick's tyranny. Here's Victor as a young "programmer animalist":

And better late than never, here's a really quick montage of Victor with Jack & Bernie at the park last week:

That was the day before cerclage removal and a few days before "the big snow". We thought park-going life was over as we know it. And now here we are.........snow melted away so quickly there's no evidence of it left and I'm still waddling around. But it was a good excuse to go have fun with our favorite friends!

3/30/2009 10:22:04 AM  
Nothing happening here. Except that Victor is sick. Poor little guy does great during the day and is completely himself but at night, he keeps having coughing fits that greatly interfere with his (and everyone else's) sleep. I really want to think it's just allergies and normally we'd just ride this out for a few more days, but with Erick set to arrive any time now, I don't want to let it slide. Plus, I don't want to send him to school with some under-the-radar malady (or send him to school in a vulnerable immune state). So we're not very patiently waiting on a call back from the nurses at Dr. L's.

No news on the Erick front. There is subtle progress, I suppose. I could see him coming on his own this week but I'm leaning more toward him being induced, both in matter of preference and likelihood. Hoping that Dr. T will be willing to make that happen, maybe Friday. I'm prepared to cry for sympathy if necessary.

3/28/2009 10:56:34 AM  
Well, cerclage is out. The removal hurt worse this time but I felt immediately better afterwards, like better than I've felt in many, many weeks. Dilated to 2 immediately (went to 3 with Victor and he wasn't nearly as low as Erick is!) and have had very few contractions whatsoever. So yep, we got sent home from the hospital after a very routine non-stress test. Labor does not feel imminent to me.

Blood pressure is still a concern so I'm on "almost bedrest" until Tuesday's appointment and I have to do kick counts 3 times per day now to make sure that Erick's activity isn't decreasing. Yeah, because stressing about that really, really helps my blood pressure! I'll definitely be induced at least by 39 weeks and possibly more like at 38. I'd get induced today if they'd let me.

I'm still hopeful that maybe this will happen on its own soon but it's not like I can start speed walking around when I'm supposed to be on bedrest. Oh, and there's also the minor detail of the snow in the forecast today. What's up with that!?!?!?!?

3/27/2009 8:28:15 AM  
Erick is full term and I feel like he's coming this weekend. Or maybe I just hope he's coming this weekend. He is very uncomfortably low and I can't sleep anymore. We'll see this afternoon!

3/26/2009 8:34:13 AM  
Happy Birthday to James Thomas Humphrey! He was born on this day five years ago at 5:38. Since he was born a whole 27 hours after his brother Ro, we spent most of his birthday trying to rally and it broke our hearts when it didn't work. But JT came into the world with such a sense of composure and calm that we could only feel that he knew what he was doing and that all would be right. We've always thought of him as the most pragmatic member of our family (making his name all the more appropriate). I think of that part of his spirit often when I'm trying to hold it all together and I'm thankful that I got to see that in him during his very short life.

Thinking of you today and always, James T. And thank you.

3/25/2009 4:42:57 AM  
Five years ago today our first son, Ronan Woods Humphrey, was born. So much has happened in those five years and it's surreal to even think that we're about to have our fourth son. But in so many ways, it feels like we were just kissing Ro goodbye and memorizing his sweet face to carry it in our hearts forever. Our hearts have healed immensely, mainly due to the joy and laughter that his brother Victor has brought into our lives, but I miss him a lot. And especially today. I want today to always be his day and his day alone and I'm pretty certain it will stay that way.

I think a visit to the twins' spot will be waiting until a more logistically appropriate time but I do take comfort in knowing that we're back in IL with them and I'm so glad that we brought them here when we did. So for today, we'll just forge ahead toward at least Friday, with Ronan foremost in our thoughts. That will be especially true at 2:17, the time when we first heard his little voice.

Happy Birthday Ronan. It's your day.

3/23/2009 3:51:13 PM  
Wow! It came as a surprise to all of us but I'm pleased to announce that........................

Victor rode the bus home for the first time today. (Yeah, sorry. Just felt like things were getting stale around here.). We thought he wouldn't be assigned a bus until late this week or early next but he got to ride it home today. He was not especially pleased with the experience thus far. Hopefully tomorrow he'll realize that they are taking him home to Mommy & Daddy. I think he just got a little freaked that it was such a long ride (30+ minutes) when I usually have him home in 5 minutes flat. As perturbed as he seemed upon getting off the bus, he did thank the driver and the monitor all on his own and even said "seeya tomorrow!". Then he came inside, had a glass of water and then proceeded to jibber jabber all about school and everyone there (he's really getting the greeting and goodbye thing down!).

We've been speculating a lot lately about who and what Erick might look like when we meet him (soon!) and Gaga recently brought me some baby/kid pictures of myself to scan. Just had to share a few, if nothing else, to prove that Victor really does resemble me in some ways (still favors Daddy more though, of course). Here are the two truly quintessential Little Dawn shots that Gaga has always had on display:

See, he looks a little like me. Also, SEE, I really do kinda have naturally red hair. Kinda. ;) And speaking of Gaga and hair, here are some shots of me hanging out with her and her spectacularly 70s hair:

She's still that fun to hang out with these days, if not more so. And she's still that spry. Just ask Victor.

I think this one is slightly Victoresque:

This one is dorky beyond dorky:

(Yes, I've been this tall since then.)

And these two embody the free-spirited young woman of the late 70s image that I was apparently going for:

But Erick will probably look exactly like this:

3/22/2009 2:47:09 PM  
We've had a nice weekend. Perhaps our last as a family of 3. We got a lot done though and still managed to enjoy a little bit of fun, particularly an overindulgent crab leg dinner last night. (I'm lucky I didn't go into labor or else I would have been throwing up everywhere). Victor has spent most of today being Daddy's faithful minion for trips to both Home Depot and Lowe's. Right now he's watching Daddy out the window. Best to keep him away from Daddy's pickaxing, after all.

For Ronan & James Thomas's tree planting this year, we're just replacing an arborvitae that was lost over the winter. We don't yet know enough about our yard and what it could really use to intelligently orchestrate a new planting right now. But again, it's the act of doing a planting anyway. I do fear that this might be the extent of our birthday celebrations for the boys this week. I had so wanted to get up to Gaga's to visit "the ampitheater" (which is the spot where their ashes were scattered) but I'm on the fence about both traveling that far and trudging through tall grass on potentially damp ground. We're playing that one by ear.

It kinda breaks my heart to not be there on one of their days now that it's finally geographically feasible but I suppose it could wait until Easter or Memorial Day and still be meaningful. I just already feel weird enough about sitting out March of Dimes fundraising and walking this year (we WILL be back next year though). Extenuating circumstances though.

I hope that Victor is OK for school tomorrow and I'm reasonably optimistic that he will be. He has had some major tummy issues over the past 4 days or so and has been on a applesauce, green bean and roll diet today as a result. I know he'll be crushed if he's not school-ready tomorrow but so far, so good today. I'm really hoping that he won't need to miss any school once Erick comes too. That all depends on the timing, etc., but we can probably make it all work through the trinity of authorized "guardians": Mimi, Gaga & Auntie Heav. And he can start taking the bus home probably by a week from tomorrow. That will help SO much! Hopefully he'll like it as much as we think he probably will.

3/20/2009 3:49:19 PM  
36 weeks under our belts! That means that now, barring any extenuating circumstances, we get to deliver just 5 minutes away, even if I go into labor before next Friday. I'm pretty sure we'll make it to next Friday though. I'm even thinking I'll probably sleep at home that night. I need to pack my bag soon in case though!

3/18/2009 2:24:56 PM  
Generally good report at the doc's yesterday. The good news is that I knocked everything out in one day - ultrasound, NST and regular appointment! Good reports all around though. Well, you know, except that my blood pressure is still always on the borderline, my feet are puffing up more and more and my cervix has shortened. Those are all pretty much to be expected though. I don't even have to go back again this week which is very nice. Maybe I can rest a little during the next few days (particularly tomorrow while James is far away in Peoria and Heather is my stand-in co-parent/birth partner). Plan is still to remove cerclage next Friday, the 27th. Then I'll go to the hospital for another NST so I'll already be there if I go into labor right away. Which, of course, means that I'll go into the next week.

Victor's having a great week at school. His SLP just gave me a pretty stellar report when I saw her this afternoon. He seems entirely undaunted by the lack of private therapy. I'm so, so thankful for that. Pottying is backsliding a little bit. We're not enforcing a schedule as much as we should since we're entirely preoccupied with this week's car purchase/funeral trip/trying not to go into labor situation. We just keep reminding ourselves that we haven't been at the potty training for all that long and we're going to have to expect some regression soon anyway. At least we know that he can and will get it!

Weather here is fabulous right now. I'd love to let Victor get outside more but I'm just not really up to the task of policing his activities out there. And trust me, he knows just how very slow I am and the possibilities for adventure that presents. He's being a pretty darned good boy about agreeing to play inside more than he'd prefer. Thank goodness for the sunroom (aka Trike Town).

3/15/2009 12:16:03 PM  
Sleeping's back on track. Victor's going to sleep by himself and staying in bed for 11-12 hours. The only drawback is that we've had a few pee leak situations in the past week. And you know, it's a whole lot harder to strip a queen-size bed with bedrails than it is to strip a crib. It usually seems worth the sleep though. Usually. At any rate, we're all a lot more rested than we were a week ago. This is a good thing.

My lab work last week turned out to bring good results. Doesn't sound like preeclampsia at all, actually. Probably just chronic hypertension and I'm fairly confident that it will improve once I'm mobile again. With my genetic propensity for high blood pressure, I just can't be sedentary unless I want to take BP meds and I don't want to take BP meds. So there's something to kick my butt into gear post-delivery recovery. At least it will be a nice time of year for strolls around the neighborhood!

We got the news yesterday that James' dear Great Aunt Ilo has passed away. This was not unexpected and she lived a very long and full life but there's still always that "wish we could have seen her one more time" feeling. She was such an original character and will be very much missed. I don't know if I'll feel right playing Rummikub without her. I'm especially saddened that I won't be able to make the trip to Peoria but it's just too risky for me at this point. I hate to miss it though. Sounds like James will make a day trip of it. That means I'll be doing everything in my power not to have Erick that day without James here. No small feat when on my own with Wild Boy. But we'll get by.

I forgot to add these pics this week. Here are a few shots of Victor en route to and at the symphony last Sunday:

(Made the mistake of letting him have a sucker on the way. Then the "keep him quiet" sucker at the symphony didn't work.)

OK. Lots to do today. And no one's busier than poor James!

3/11/2009 3:21:26 PM  
Victor slept for 12 hours last night. As in straight through. It was pure bliss. All thanks go to James for assuming responsibility for Operation Victor Goes to Sleep By Himself. Really only took about 20 minutes. Not bad. I don't know if we should dare to hope for a repeat of that tonight but there is much more hope than before.

3/10/2009 12:41:19 PM  
Erick did well with the non-stress test over at the hospital today. I was worried that he might be feeling lethargic but he always manages to get active when any kind of monitor is on him. He really looked like he was trying to escape! I'm glad he's tolerating everything well so far though. No word on the lab work yet. Hopefully that will be fine and we can keep cruising for 37 weeks and cerclage removal. At any rate, I'll be getting weekly NSTs and growth scans until he gets here.

The sleep battles rage on with last night being probably the worst yet. He was awake from 2:00 until after 5:00. The funniest part was Victor climbing into our bed around 2:00, looking James in the eye with a big smile and saying "Get up please!". Luckily we were able to enjoy such a major communication moment in spite of what was transpiring. So yeah, basically, Victor is waking up when his diaper gets really wet and he doesn't like it. Once he's awake, he realizes "Hey wait, Mommy tucked me and snuggled with me.......why isn't she still here?!?!?!?" and he comes in to get one of us to sleep with him.

We don't really want to make a habit of doing this but the worst part is that even when we do (in the interest of achieving some bare minimum of sleep), it takes him an hour and a half to 2 or so hours to actually go back to sleep. He ended up sleeping in until 10:30 this morning once he got back to sleep. So we've got some tough love nights ahead of us. And that's before we even throw Erick into the mix!

3/9/2009 9:03:25 PM  
Had a good ultrasound today. Cervix had shortened to 2 but that's pretty much par for the course. I go back and forth between thinking we've got 37 in the bag and thinking this is going to be a harrowing few more weeks. That's because I feel just completely awful. Dizzy, pukey, tired and sore. Probably all normal but worrisome in the moment. And the extreme fatigue both makes it all actually worse and magnifies it in my own mind. Victor has taken to getting up around 4:00 recently. It's killing me. Because basically, that's right about when I finally feel comfy enough to get a solid block of sleep without bathroom trips or constant repositioning. So I'm averaging about 3-4 hours of sleep lately. So not cool. We think it's potty-related. It's certainly not malicious but it needs to stop.

But yeah, the ultrasound? Good. Growth is right on. Erick's estimated at 5 pounds and 3 ounces today. That's just barely smaller than Victor was at 34 weeks. So he ought to be on track to get well over 6 pounds by the time the cerclage comes out. He has a giant head (measured 36 1/2 weeks) just like Victor. The only somewhat discouraging news was that he has turned so that his back is now against my back. Still totally doable for delivery but likely a harder labor than if he were still looking at my back. James has already been given explicit directions that I'd like the epidural from the get-go this time, especially if I get induced again. I've got no need to be a hero this time. I'd rather have some energy to enjoy him once he's here!

My blood pressure is a total crapshoot. Got a great reading first thing this morning (and I was worried because I was so dizzy when I got up) but a horrific reading tonight. I have check-ups tomorrow and on Friday to keep an eye on that situation. And I'll probably end up getting monitored at the hospital in the next few days. Honestly, I'm looking forward to doing that because I'm starting to second guess myself a lot (again, fatigue can't be helping that). I'm all about better safe than sorry.

Victor had a great day at school and was begging to go there 3 1/2 hours before his session begins. I think he kinda likes it. I continue to be proud/impressed with how he goes right into his classroom and gets down to the routine immediately. Makes me feel like we've done a lot right with him at home to prepare him for these moments and also makes me feel like he's gotten a whole lot out of his therapy as far as being able to focus and stay with tasks. I just think he's the smartest, most polite and lovely child ever. And I can't even believe that he's this big boy doing big boy stuff when I feel like I was just counting the days until I got to meet him. And even at 4:00 a.m., he melts my heart, although I might be wanting to weep into my pillow in frustration (and sometimes do so).

3/6/2009 2:19:24 PM  
There's been a lot going on but I've had very little energy to update. I go to the OB twice a week now because my blood pressure continues to be slightly worrisome. Not to the point that we'll have to induce early (hopefully) but to the point that we're having to watch it closely. Next week I'll get a growth ultrasound so that we can make sure Erick's ready in case he needs to come pre-37 weeks and I'll probably have to go to L&D to get monitored too, just to make sure he's tolerating the few contractions I'm having. And I'll also have bloodwork while I'm there to rule out preeclampsia, just to be on the safe side. I'm still measuring a week ahead so we're all quite confident that his growth is unaffected by my blood pressure situation. So we're shooting for 3 more weeks so that he'll be full term and won't have to go over to St. Louis. I don't know if we're going to make it to diamond birthstone (April). And I'm growing to accept that Erick might be born in the same month as Ronan & James Thomas.

As for Victor, he's had an outstanding week. As violently angry as we are about his private therapy being completely cut off (though as of today, we have slightly more hope about insurance rectifying this), he's been dealing so well with transitions lately. He's continuing to enjoy his weekly Friday playdates with his Gaga (she generously comes to babysit while I go to the doctor each Friday). He's thriving at school and I could not be prouder of how eager he is to please by doing all that is asked of him. When I drop him off now, it's just "Bye Mommy. Seeyouwato!" and right down to business. And the pottying is going splendidly. He pees on the potty probably 5 or 6 times per day now and we generally only have 1 wet Pull-Up to change per day. He will not yet do it at school though but that's no biggie. He'll get more comfortable with that. Most importantly, he's just pretty darned pleased with life and is being so affectionate and usually reasonable (with exceptions, of course). I'm savoring this because I know that he might get a bit out of sorts before long.

The boys are off to the park to enjoy this gorgeous afternoon and I'm going to follow medical advice and get the heck off my feet. Hoping to do a lot of that this weekend. The next 3 weeks will go by soon enough!

Oh, and here's a montage of the park action (added much later):

Thanks for taking all of the pics, James. I got to rest but still experience Victor's glee about being outside. Bliss all around.

3/3/2009 3:53:40 PM  
[James here] Just wanted to follow up and say that last night we had more whizzing during teeth brushing but this time he made his way over to the toilet before the cabinet was soiled. Also, he just did some more with his last request to "go potty". The funny thing is that if I ask him to "go pee" he says "All done with pee." but if I make the sound effect of it happening, he will oblige. Let's hear it for "qwhisszz!"

3/2/2009 8:41:13 AM  
[James here] Good news! Blood pressure is in the normal range on Monday morning. Thanks so much to Debbie for making a house call and taking a professional BP measurement.

In other news, last night we had our first "peeing" in the "potty". I had him brushing his teeth in the nude and all of the running water was too much for him to take. He started doing the little crossed legs dance and before you know it he was spraying down the front of the sink. I quickly whisked him over to the toilet and convinced him to sit down. With some encouragement, he forced out a little more into the potty. Yay! I tried to replicate the success this morning and even got as far as the crossed legs dance, but every time I took him over and sat him down, he had nothing to give. Eventually, he said "All done with peeing." Oh well, I should have known it wouldn't be that easy.

2/27/2009 10:31:22 PM  
An update's in order. Erick first? The good news is that there was no change in cervical length for the 3rd week in a row. That's a pretty strong indicator that the meds are controlling the contractions. And trust me, with my strange pain tolerance for preterm labor, I don't trust myself to know without some measurement backing it up. So that is good. Making it to term looks completely doable.

What's not good? Why, my blood pressure, of course. Couldn't get all the way through a pregnancy without a blood pressure scare. It was bad today. Really, really very bad. And I haven't been THAT stressed. And I'm already on blood pressure meds for the preterm labor. So it's disconcerting. I'm supposed to rest as much as humanly possible this weekend and I get re-checked early next week. I'm also planning to drink ridiculous amounts of water (which would be advisable anyway since Victor seems to have shared his germs with me). Also, I will confess that I got a little carried away with the caffeine this past week. That couldn't have helped. So that monkey will be removed from my back ASAP.

Really hoping to turn that around. The last thing we need is to have to deliver preterm because of preeclampsia when my cervix is finally behaving again. As for Erick himself, he seems good. And big. Still measuring right about a week ahead. I'm seeing him drag a foot along the left side of my belly a lot these days and he's also still doing a lot of rump shaking. So much more of a mover than V was. I hope that doesn't mean that he won't be the fantastically sound sleeper that V was.

Yeah, so V. He's had a great week. Antibiotics really kicked in and he's officially the healthiest member of the household (barring Pru). School went very well this week. He seems to like his teacher, aide and classmate quite well and continues to be happy to head out for the afternoon. No more crying at dropoff either. He gets a slightly concerned look but he always bravely says "See you in wittobit". There will be a few new classmates this coming week and that will include a few more boys. This is good because I think he needs practice at sharing/playing/co-existing with other boys. He always looks a bit dazed when I pick him up after school but we suspect that he is just mentally tired by that point. Once we're home, he's been playing happily and in a much more focused and exploratory fashion. Far less wandering and what we call "monkooning" (monkey/raccoon-like meaningless scavenging). So we're pleased to say the least.

He's also going to sleep much more quickly at night after he's had school and is sleeping a good 11 hours straight consistently (sometimes, like today, even more!). James had a super busy work week and was always downstairs in the office well before sunrise so Victor was my alarm clock all week. He continues to do well with his big boy bed. When he wakes up, he just climbs out, opens his door and scurries into our bedroom to climb into bed with me. He'll usually snuggle there with me for a good half hour. I'm really cherishing having that special time together and I hope that we'll still be able to do that once Erick arrives. I really want Victor to always feel like there's room for him to get his cuddles too, even though Erick will occupy a lot of time and space with breastfeeding. I'm trying to lay that groundwork. There's plenty of Mommy to go around. I think.

Also, the heartburn is getting bad. As in, tonight. I keep wondering how weird it would be to go to Walgreen's in my pajamas and snowboots. I long for Zantac.

2/20/2009 8:00:13 PM  
At long last, here's a whole bunch of pictures in the new house. So many, in fact, that I took the easy way out and montaged them:

That song is currently one of Victor's favorites and I like to think that some of Victor's happy shuffle and stomp dancing we're currently seeing (like, as in, as I type) is a preschool flamenco of sorts.

Good appointment today. Cervix held even at 2.2 which is truly wonderful. And I'm having very, very few contractions these days. So we're now 5 weeks away from taking out the stitch. I'm measuring about a week ahead as of today, which is probably a really good thing since we need to assume that I might just have Erick at 37 weeks. We're in pretty good shape. Just need to get a new car is all!

2/19/2009 5:34:42 PM  
Victor survived his first week of school (he doesn't go on Fridays). Still a few whimpers about saying goodbye but he's always happy about being there and settles right in to the routine. Today he even said goodbye to his friend Vanessa and gave her a hug as he left. I think he will be quite happy with school, especially since his teacher and aide will both be back on Monday and they'll probably hit the ground running.

I took him to see Dr. Lindsey this morning because he's had congestion for more than a month and it seems to be affecting his sleep more and more (he's waking up WAY too early). And sure enough, he's got another sinus infection. He's on 20 days of Amoxicillin which ought to be lots of fun based on the first dose (administered in the car at school right before he went in). Hopefully he'll have the good sense to know that it will make him feel better.

All of those hot dogs he's been eating lately (I know, I know......but it's a major sensory breakthrough so we're indulging it) have packed a little weight on the boy too. He's finally over the 35 pound mark!

Oh yeah, and here are a few pics James snapped of Victor on his first day at school:

(He really was happy at school. He just resented the fuss. That's my boy!)

2/18/2009 7:03:45 PM  
OK, I must warn you that I am Miss Crankypants right now. I wish I could bubble with enthusiasm about school but so far the experience has been a slight bit tainted. I have high hopes, of course, but right now it's not all sunshine and roses. Victor's teacher and aide have both been out for the first two days. Illness and jury duty. Neither of which I hold against them, obviously. And the subs have been very nice and seem very able. But I just want Victor to be able to get into the regular classroom routine with the people that are specially trained to work with kids like him. Oh, and that's the other thing. Kids like him. The "little girl" in his class with him actually seems to be considerably older and more communicative than he is. Again, nothing against her. She seems to be sweet as can be. I just don't know how much he'll get out of interacting with her right now. But new kids are coming soon. And the school? It's great. Really, it is. It will get better.

Yesterday we had a HUGE dark cloud hanging over us all day as we got a call in the morning from the clinic where V goes to OT and speech. All of our claims since early December have been denied and they won't hold our place on their schedule unless and until it is rectified. Based on James's conversations with the insurance company, it sounds unlikely that it will be rectified any time soon. We're probably going to have to go through actually appealing all of these denied claims. Because yeah, we've got tons of time to devote to that right now. The problem seems to stem from the fact that Victor's diagnosis so far has been PDD (pervasive developmental disorder) and they say that's not autism and thus not covered. Not so. But therein lies all of the vocab mumbo jumbo. I feel the lawyer in me itching to come out and crack some skulls. And it just might.

I know we've been very lucky to have a year and a half of therapy covered without any major hindrances but I cannot help but be completely livid that such an important lifeline is being yanked from my sweet boy right before the most drastic life-changing event of his life. And I know it has everything to do with our current economy but there are some sacrifices I don't believe families should have to make. So I'm mad. Really, really mad. I have a feeling we'll have to call in a neurologist and that could take 4-6 weeks and it just so happens that something else is going on in about 6 weeks. Something pretty big. I'm just thankful that he was able to start school this week so that he has some form of therapy ongoing right now, even if I know it won't be necessarily sufficient for his needs.

On the bright side, Victor seems genuinely happy about school. He's liked everyone he's worked with from what I can tell and he has cried very, very little at dropoff. When I took him this morning, he grabbed his backpack and start running for the door as soon as we got out of the car. And he showed ME how to get to his classroom! He's already been triking better than he ever has at home (at least according to reports) and is showing interest in the bathroom there. Good stuff. And I know it will only get better the more he's around other kids.

But since there's always a but, here's the BUT. When I picked him up today, his cheek looked a little rashy. Not to the point of hivey but definitely rashy. He's been doing lots of nervous hand gnawing lately and we're used to a little rashiness on his chin from that. This was up near his eye and on his upper cheek. The sub said that he'd been slobbering on his hand and then had rubbed at that area. As the night has gone on, this area has looked a lot more like a histimine-triggered incident (it's slightly raised and that eye is watery). I think he was rubbing at the area BECAUSE it was already irritated by something. And I fear that the something might be peanut/PB residue or something somehow related. So I think we need to more greatly emphasize how remote the exposure can be for him to possibly react. We're thinking there was probably residue on a toy or something. Have I mentioned how much I wish preschools would just go peanut-free? I'd sure sleep better at night.

Well, at least I would if I wasn't getting up 5 times a night to go to the bathroom.

2/14/2009 2:15:30 PM  
This week shaped up well. We had Victor's school IEP meeting on Wednesday and it went very well. He was pretty patient throughout the 2 hour meeting while still managing to demonstrate for everyone involved just how serious we are when we say "flight risk". He tried to bust out of the room about 15 times, I'd say. But hey, it was boring for him! We visited his classroom briefly and he didn't seem to want to get out of that room. That's a good sign.

He'll start on Tuesday, the 17th and for the first week it will just be Victor and a little girl in the class. It's a room that just opened up because the class we thought he'd be in filled up suddenly (I guess a lot of kids turned 3 in the past few months!). All three of us are pretty excited about the prospect of him going back and while it will be hard to send him off to school again - especially in light of the safety issues with the peanut allergy and the urge to escape - it's going to be good for all of us. We were so impressed with everyone that he's going to work with and more than anything, we're looking forward to knowing that he's being challenged and stimulated appropriately for a good portion of each day. That and it will be wonderful for me to have 2 hours totally off my feet every afternoon for the next 6-8 weeks. (After that, I'll never get to rest again!).

And speaking of Erick's impending arrival, I had a good appointment yesterday. Cervix still shortened but only from 2.3 to 2.2. That's a substantial improvement over the previous 3 or 4 weeks. And that measurement is not even "that bad" for 31 weeks, really. It could be better but it really feels like things are more under control now with the meds and reduced activity. Once again, the ultrasound tech tried to get me a shot of Easy E's face but no such luck. He is SO VERY head down right now and it would seem that he's going to stay that way. And he's facing my spine. Not good for ultrasound pics but ideal for labor when the time comes. So we just got a few leg/foot shots. I'm finding it very ironic that this pregnancy has been far more "complicated" than with Victor and yet we've gotten a pathetic fraction of the ultrasound pics compared to with Victor. I don't think we're really going to see Erick's face until April (or maybe very late March, but hopefully April).

We're staying in tonight for V Day and probably getting pizza. I think we went out more in Austin! I'm so tired that staying home doesn't feel like a sacrifice at all though. More like a blessing. I'm just so exhausted all of a sudden. I think we had a growth spurt.

2/10/2009 9:04:45 AM  
[James here]
A milestone to note: On the first day we were moving (Saturday the 31st of January), PopPaw broke out the sled he had purchased for Victor and gave him his first sled ride. The sled was orange and formula one racing inspired with a PopPaw modified thermal seat cushion. Victor was a bit worried at first, but once we got some speed going in a figure 8 in the front yard, he just couldn't help but grin. Somehow, he never took a tumble, so overall, I think he was quite pleased with the experience.

2/6/2009 9:40:03 PM  
Well, here's an update to say that I don't have much of an update. Days are flying by and we're getting more and more settled but we haven't really gone anywhere and done anything exciting. That's not likely to change any time soon either, really. The extent of my travels with Victor are pretty much limited to music class and therapy at this point. Cervix shortened yet again and while I'm not put on full-blown bedrest right now, I've been instructed to "do even less". Which is difficult with a 3 1/2 year old. My meds have also been increased to try to better stave off contractions.

We had hoped that Victor would be in school sometime early next week but we are ending up having to go through a meeting to update his plan, etc., before he can start. I'm satisfied that they're doing their best to get him started ASAP and everyone we've talked to thus far has been uber professional and helpful and definitely motivated to learn as much about Victor's needs prior to next week's meeting. Part of the delay is the fairly substantial detail of needing to add occupational and physical therapy to his plan. He didn't receive those services in Austin because they weren't offered in-district there. And not only do we feel like he still needs some component of OT/PT, he absolutely loves that kind of work/programming. The boy is a huge fan of the obstacle courses that are central to the sensory diet approach and it would undoubtedly help him warm to school to include that kind of therapy.

As an attempted bonus during my cervix check today (maybe as consolation for 2.3 measurement), the ultrasound tech tried to get me a quick glimpse of Erick. He was in a ball and still quite head down. He showed us the back of his head, his feet and his testicles. Not exactly what I had in mind but it was good to see that there really is a healthy little human in there, nonetheless. Dr. T said that he'll probably order an anatomy scan for my ultrasound at 32 weeks. So hopefully we'll see his face then! And while I'm obviously anxious to meet him in person, I'm insisting that he stay put for at least 6 more weeks and preferably more like 7-8. Victor will have to get used to me parking myself in a chair during music class!

2/2/2009 11:35:09 PM  
Well, Victor loves the house now. And why not? He's got 3 floors of territory to prowl around in. We've got things adequately secured enough that we can kinda sorta let him go loose without complete supervision. I'm still struggling with that but I'm trying to adjust because I need to be resting as much as humanly possible. Cervix shortened even more last week and I'm treading dangerously close to the bedrest zone.

We had lots of generous help this past weekend with the move and really made some good progress considering that this is only our 4th night in the house. Today Heather did my china cabinet for me and it was amazing how much it did for my mental well-being. Just seeing my house starting to look my house really helped buoy my spirits. I sat and just stared at it for a little while tonight.

What I also did tonight was intervene in Victor's ongoing bedtime struggles. The first two nights in the big boy bed went absolutely wonderfully. He was exhausted at bedtime and just snuggled right in and went to sleep. But yesterday and today both, he fell asleep during the afternoon and then fought sleeping at bedtime, to the point of involving pajama removal and hurling himself off his rather tall bed. He's sleeping peacefully now and looks incredibly adorable in his big comfy bed with his fluffy bedding. I've said it before and I'll say it many hundred more times.........NAPPING IS THE ENEMY. Truly.

1/29/2009 6:43:29 PM  
We closed on the house and we're in the process of starting to move in. Today, Victor's bedroom furniture got delivered and I unpacked his clothes and tried to make his room feel like his room. He was fairly impressed. I didn't manage to get the bed rails put together yet though so that will be a major hurdle tomorrow.

We're really exhausted. The locksmith today was a bust so we'll have to wait until at least tomorrow to be able to get really secured enough to sleep there. Too many doors Victor can access right now, most notably the front door to the house. So hopefully tomorrow we'll be able to thwart our little flight risk enough to attempt our first night there.

Meanwhile, Victor's sick with a cold and is pretty crabby about it, only because it's so greatly interfering with his sleep. We skipped therapy today as a result and it sure felt like we paid the price. Up in the air about music tomorrow. I know he'd welcome the familiar diversion but I think he's probably a bit too germy for it. All I know is that I'm taking the bulk of the toys to the house tomorrow. He needs something to entertain himself with besides the toilets and locks!

1/24/2009 11:33:16 PM  
Classic. Just mentioning that Victor has not been napping (which we really do prefer at this point, for ease of bedtime administration) made him, of course, take a nap today. He was getting increasingly wild this afternoon, fed up I'm sure with our attention to packing, rather than to his whims. I finally made him sit on the couch with me and I rubbed his back to get him to stay put for a while (just like his Daddy, he'll never pass such a thing up). And he relaxed so much that he was passed out on my lap within 10 minutes:

Gotta cherish these moments. Soon he'll be mad at me for turning his whole world upside down.

1/24/2009 11:04:17 AM  
Wow, we've had a few days in a row of Victor resisting the urge to nap in the car, even during those sunny mid-late afternoon hours. It's made him pretty darned tired by dinnertime though, as evidenced by this picture of him last night:

That was after James removed him from his chair before he could just pass out onto the floor.

Earlier in the day, he assisted with some packing, of course. I keep telling him that we don't need to pack him up until Thursday or Friday but he was apparently ready to just get loaded up and make the trip yesterday:

We'll probably transport him in his carseat, much as he'd prefer the box.

1/23/2009 4:15:42 PM  
Kind of an awesome day here. First and foremost, Nate (Nathan Walter) Nordmeyer made his debut at 7 and 14 and 19 1/2 inches. His parents were lightning fast about putting a pic up on Facebook. And yeah, he's really darned cute, as expected. Many congrats to Leener (that's Eileen if it's not obvious by this point), Geoff & Claire! We cannot wait to meet Nate in person sometime, somehow. I guess this is the bad part about having our babies so close together, eh Leener?

I had lots of good news at my OB appointment today as well. My cervix is holding steady at 3.3 this week. That's still a good measurement and the main thing is that it hasn't continued to shorten. Yes, we could have hoped for it to lengthen a bit more again (it does happen) but I'm just happy that it stayed put. The Procardia has definitely lessened the few contractions I was having so obviously I'll be on it until I'm full term. Oh, and no dilation at all which is reassuring. Also, I passed my glucose tolerance test with flying colors (I think it was the exact same number as last time, actually) and I'm not anemic this time. I was both other times.

The week has ended well for Victor too. As a special treat, Gaga came along with us on our St. Louis road trip yesterday since there was an ultrasound at the hospital involved in our plans. Victor had a really good therapy day and I got some really good, unexpected cumulative feedback from his SLP about how much improvement he's made. It's like she knew how much I've been floundering these past few weeks. He really has made tremendous progress with his eye contact, his pronunciations and in forming much longer phrases. It's easy to get hung up on the really frustrating day-to-day things though, like not understanding that questions have answers (he'll often just parrot back what we ask). It's coming though. With time it's coming and I believe that school will help so much.

Packing is slow going. James has had a really busy week and I'm limited by both my activity restrictions and by Victor's desire to investigate every single thing I put in a box. Today he suddenly wanted to read every book on his shelf (as I was packing said shelf). He's been so burned out on his books lately that I was actually happy to see it though. Maybe he'll take a new interest in his books when they're in a new room! I'm sure we'll manage to get the bulk of our household moved next weekend as planned but it's kind of hard to imagine it right now as I look around the house. And while I am incredibly anxious to get into more modern digs ASAP, I know that it will be sad to spend the last night here in the house. We'll definitely have to have chocolate sundaes a la Grandpa on the last night.

1/21/2009 11:30:08 PM  
Hey, here's an idea! How about a fun update for a change? For starters, here are a few forgotten pics I found on the camera tonight. These are from our plumbing emergency a few weeks ago. Victor really wanted to help Daddy:

I just thought those were sweet.

We have actually gotten out for some fun events recently. Thank goodness because the cabin fever has been working all 3 of us over. On Sunday, we went to the St. Louis Symphony with Mimi for another of the family concerts (we have season tix). The theme was "orchestral magic" and I was just certain that Victor would love The Sorcerer's Apprentice the most (as if he would somehow know it was Micky Mouse related) but I think that it was Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique that he was most impressed with. He always surprises me with which piece he prefers. No pics from that concert because I didn't want to get kicked out of Powell.

Tonight we went to see Sesame Street Live's production of "Elmo's Green Thumb". Last year we saw "Elmo Grows Up" in Austin and, while he definitely enjoyed it last year, this year his appreciation was on a whole other level. James and I most enjoyed seeing Victor applauding after each song. He likes applauding at the symphony but there just aren't as many opportunities to do it! He was really dancing to the songs a lot this year too, especially the hip hop number featuring the ground beetles. James and I both liked that song best as well. What is the world coming to?

We did, of course, get pics of Victor and his night out with the SS gang. Here's a quick montage of them:

And now I must go to bed because we have to be back in St. Louis in about 9 hours!

1/19/2009 8:41:47 PM  
[James here]
Over the past week, we've entered a new phase with Victor. He's started to assert himself more, and, frankly it's a little scary. At the same time he has also begun to display more and more autistic idiosynchrasies - a lot more arm flapping, spinning, flipping his ears. It's not enjoyable watching this. He's also having a harder time completing tasks. For example, he used to be pretty good about the task of feeding the kitty. That involved getting the food out of the cabinet, dragging it over to the food dish, opening it, scooping, pouring, dragging it back and putting it away. Now, he drags everything out to the point that he forgets what he is doing. The only thing that is improving is his communication. He now understands that if he really wants something, he should carefully pronounce a sentence such as "Daddy, I want 'yellow' please." ('yellow' is his term for the Meet The Colors DVD). And his diction is getting better.

What's happening now is that he is refusing to take simple orders like, "Time to close the refrigerator." He will ignore you and if you try to close it, he gets very angry. I've had to start instituting "Timeouts" where I take him to his crib and count to 60. I have to hold him in, and if I don't count, it's just me restraining him and him crying and trying to hit me for minutes on end. When I count, once I get to around 30, he quiets down. Bedtime is the worst right now. He's also gone back to taking off his sleepsack, pajamas and diaper if left alone in his crib. He has decided that he doesn't like any of the routine that we've done for the past year. He basically doesn't want to go to sleep, so we constantly have to keep him from leaving the room during the animal/story time. Then, Dawn has had to physically place him in bed while he laugh/cries maniacally - it's not a pleasant or healthy sounding laugh. Once he does go to sleep, he does seem to stay asleep.

I don't mind the assertiveness, and I think I understand that it's a pretty typical phase (albeit usually a little earlier in development), but it's the accompanying strangeness that both of us could do without.

[Dawn's unsolicited input]
I blame the therapeutic listening protocol and the stress of preparing for the move (and resulting physical upheaval in the house) and cabin fever and the realization that Mommy is changing rapidly and he doesn't know why. I blame these things because I need to have a reason for this phase and I need to believe it's temporary. Otherwise, I'm not really able to function.

1/16/2009 6:02:34 PM  
Um, not the best OB appointment ever today. My cervix, while still technically measuring in a perfectly good range, has shortened a somewhat alarming amount during the past 2 weeks. From 4.0 to 3.3. I've been feeling very anxious about getting some feedback and have definitely felt uneasy about doing what felt like a bit too much. And apparently with good reason because I probably have been having some actual preterm labor and not just Braxton Hicks like I thought. Not surprising. In both previous pregnancies, I wasn't really aware that I was having contractions when they started.

OB suggested that maybe I should go ahead and start Procardia now instead of waiting for preterm labor to worsen (further shortening my cervix). I already leaned that way anyway. I'm not a "wait it out" kind of person, especially not when it involves my precious offspring. But when I mentioned that we were moving again in two weeks, OB went as far as to say that he "strongly preferred" that I go ahead and start taking the Procardia immediately so that I can nip the contractions in the bud. So I'm now adding that med into the mix with the Prometrium I'm already taking.

I'm obviously supposed to immediately reduce my activity level as much as humanly possible as well. And no significant lifting (including keeping Victor lifting to a minimum). So I guess this will constitute the proverbial doctor's note that will allow me to be useless during the move without feeling any guilt. I think my job will simply be to keep Victor far away from the action, which won't be hard since we have so much road time right now anyway. Now if he would just cooperate about climbing into his carseat unassisted rather than scampering around the whole car like a spider monkey!

So no, this is not good news. But it's not terrifying either. I'm not being hospitalized and I'm not being put on bedrest. But suffice it to say that those are the alternatives if I'm not able to control this preterm labor situation with meds and more rest. I'm 27 weeks today. That's still 10 weeks from full term. And anything earlier than that is not an option. He may be big (OB took one look at Victor today and said "OK, now I see why this baby feels like he's all legs!) but he's got several months to stay put in there. Luckily I'm on weekly monitoring for now to make sure that happens.

1/14/2009 4:57:56 PM  
Well, things got bad there for several days. And then they got better. Victor is hopefully back to sleeping through the night like his normal self after 5 nights in a row of early morning theatrics (and I'm talking EARLY, not 5:30). As usual, I don't really know what to attribute much of anything to, in particular, but James and I both speculate that there was some kind of developmental growth spurt taking place. Victor is a lot more verbal and far more assertive (painfully so, at times) than he was a week ago. But yeah, there are behavioral repercussions. It seems mostly good though. We're always happy to see him recognizing the power of using his language more. He's just not all that willing to take no for an answer. And sometimes he's a bit cranky.........like when he tells Daddy to get in the car and go bye-bye when he's dissatisfied with him.

On the house front, things are going well. We close 2 weeks from today. I got a minimal amount of packing done today. Obviously, it's going to be a busy 2 weeks. Or 3 or 4. Give or take 10 or so.

1/8/2009 11:08:50 PM  
Yeah, it's been a week. And I know that's a long time for me. The housing situation got complicated (and I shall not comment further at this time or I will surely be censored by James). And Victor has been pretty complicated in his own right. Lots and lots of stimming this past few weeks. For those not in the know about spectrum disorders, here's a long explanation, compliments of Wikipedia:

"Stimming is a jargon term for a particular form of stereotypy, a repetitive body movement (often done unconsciously) that self-stimulates one or more senses in a regulated manner. It is shorthand for self-stimulation, and a stereotypy is referred to as stimming under the hypothesis that it has a function related to sensory input. Stereotypy is one of the symptoms listed by the DSM IV for autism and is observed in about 10% of non-autistic young children. Many people with autism do not exhibit stereotypy. Common forms of stereotypy among people with autism include hand flapping, body spinning or rocking, lining up or spinning toys or other objects, echolalia, perseveration, and repeating rote phrases.

There are many theories about the function of stimming, and the reasons for its increased incidence in autistic people. For hyposensitive people, it may provide needed nervous system arousal, releasing beta-endorphins. For hypersensitive people, it may provide a "norming" effect, allowing the person to control a specific part of their sensorium, and is thus a soothing behavior."

Victor's big stims right now are hand flapping and toilet flushing. And I don't know if the prevalence of the stimming is due to overstimulation surrounding the holidays, a reaction to his therapeutic listening or just an inevitable thing. I know that I hope to see it abate because it gets exhausting for all of us at times. Otherwise though, he's doing really well. He's had a great therapy week and is greatly improving his ability to politely and appropriately ask to have his needs met with far less scripting than he's required in the past. There's definitely some stuff sinking in. We can't wait for him to start school next month. It's going to help him so much and we really believe that he'll have more fun there than he does trying to dismantle the house all afternoon.

So yeah, we're definitely moving to Godfrey next month. I think that was already established in Monkey Deux Land but I'll declare it again for the record. Just as soon as we can properly establish residency requirements, he'll be off to the Early Childhood Center. I was very pleased to be able to switch up his therapy schedule starting in a few weeks, as well. He'll be dropping down to once a week and they had a morning slot on Thursdays that will work while keeping him with his current OT and SLP. That was very good news, indeed. I can guarantee that Victor will be one tired boy on Thursday evenings in the coming months. We'll have the haul to St. Louis for an hour and a half of therapy and then we'll rush back over to IL to get him to school on time. If we can manage to keep him from falling asleep in the car on the way home from school, he'll surely sleep hard come bedtime (rather than stripping naked in protest of me denying him his favorite lullaby CD, as occurred tonight).

And since Fridays won't be a school day for him for a while, he's going to be going to Music Together on Friday mornings (starting tomorrow, actually). We'll keep that up as long as he continues to enjoy it. I do think that he not only loves the music itself but also really thrives on doing the tried and true format that he has known for 3 years now. The familiarity is a great comfort to both of us, really, and I cherish having something special that is Mommy & Victor time. For now, that is. After all, Erick can tag along for free for 9 months. By that point, Victor will probably be busy enough with school stuff that it will become Mommy & Erick time. Bittersweet. It will be fun to see Victor mentor his baby bro in the ways of MT though.

And speaking of Erick, he's quite well. Active and seemingly big. Just as we want him! I did switch to my new OB and while I'm happy with the switch, I'm characteristically anxious about burning bridges with the St. Louis group. And my last ultrasound was absolutely no fun at all. Still a good cervix measurement (40mm from 43 two weeks prior) but a painful process and with no glimpse at our little guy as a silver lining. I'm hoping that we'll get to see more of him next time. I want to see how he's grown.

1/1/2009 11:12:02 PM  
Lots going on around here but I've been a little burned out on pics and blogging and I've been extremely preoccupied with the house situation. And anxious about all that has to happen in the next few months. I'm slightly terrified by all of it but I also can't wait. It is a consolation to know that we have a lot of help in orchestrating all of it. But I'm a fretter.

Victor has been having lots of fun with his new loot (took a few days for him to really get into the trampoline but it's now a fave, as we expected). He's been on exemplary behavior around other people, for the most part, but occasionally a complete terror here at home just with us. The disruption to his schedule has really taken a toll. We're in another vicious late afternoon car napping/late night soliloquy cycle.

I think one of his favorite nights since we've been back in Illinois was at Kristin's wedding last weekend. We had such low expectations about how he might do at his first indoor wedding but he was truly delightful. Naturally, he did fall asleep on the drive there. And he continued to sleep through almost all of the ceremony:

I believe that was for the best! He woke up just in time to see Kristin & Devin coming back down the aisle and then he took right to the reception festivities:

Sadly, most of my reception pictures are marred by red eyes that go beyond the scope of my photoshoppery but here is my one unscathed pic of the happy couple during their first dance:

(Congrats to Kissy! My junior bridesmaid now a bride.)

Victor hung in there until 9:30 at the reception, at which point he tried to sack out on PopPaw's lap:

When we announced that we were going home, he sprinted out onto the dance floor and started doing his jumpy dance again in protest but he eventually surrendered. Shockingly, he stayed awake for the entire drive home. And then he slept late the next morning. We took that to be a late Christmas present. One we happily accepted!

12/27/2008 9:59:38 AM  
We had a nice relaxing Christmas but the newness of it felt strange. Victor really enjoyed having Christmas morning here at home and he definitely understands the concept of unwrapping gifts now. Really well. Here are some moments from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day:

Now once the dust settles next week, we need to get ready to move again!

12/23/2008 11:12:50 PM  
Well, we went to the city for the day with big plans. I am happy with my salon trip and we had a yummy dinner. The roads were awful though and Victor fell asleep in the car just as he and Daddy-O were about to embark on a male bonding trip to The Magic House. Not exactly a day of birthday frivolity for poor James.

Victor was a stellar traveler as always though. He even finally got into the spirit of wearing his hood (figured out that it's better than getting your head wet in the rain). Here he is hamming it up with his headwear while we gingerly made our way home tonight:

Yes, that bunny lives in the car.

12/23/2008 12:12:36 AM  
Happy Birthday Daddy-O!

That's me in the process of procuring your birthday present (from me). Bet you can't tell where it is!

You can find your gift by the basement door inside a secret compartment. Enjoy.


A keglet of Schlafly Pale Ale!

12/22/2008 6:59:00 PM  
We traveled to Peoria over the weekend for what will be the roughest travel we face this holiday season. We gloated quite a bit about that! And it was a very successful and happy venture (with the exception of the overnight stay at the hotel). Victor was really happy to see everyone after he got past his warming up period and he greatly enjoyed "sharing" toys with his cousins (seemed like he might have been the sharee more often than the sharer). Here are some highlights:

I should mention that it was brutally cold and icy up there. I wish we'd thought to get some pics of the heavy ice on the trees. It was quite beautiful. Truly. Today's 18 degrees felt downright warm and balmy after enduring the sub-zeros and high winds upstate though. We had absolutely no problems on the roads once we got out of Peoria itself. We were very lucky in that way, unlike poor Aunt Deb, Uncle Pat, and Cousins Sean & Nicolas who had a long haul through lots of snowy conditions.

We're really excited that we'll be able to make more frequent trips up that way to see GG now. We are going to have to work out a better sleeping solution than what we had this time though ("he'll fall asleep in the bed with us eventually!"). Victor never had a single tantrum or meltdown, even in our most tired and frazzled moments during the night at the hotel but he was painfully restless and uncomfortable with the arrangement. Adding a kiddo's travel bed to our shopping list for any upcoming trips. It was worth the suffering though because we all three had a great time seeing everyone and we're delighted that we'll be able to do more of it in the future. With a better sleeping arrangement. I cannot emphasize that enough.

12/18/2008 5:52:26 PM  
We've never seen Victor as excited to have company as he was last night. Was it because he's completely bored and lonely and sick of us? Because Bernie & Jack are just THAT much fun? Or because he seems to have a pretty big crush on his Auntie Heath? Whatever, the reason it was a delight to see him so pleased to be a host. Here are the boys enjoying a holiday playdate together before we all get too busy with family commitments and travel:

Just a few days from a cousin reunion in Peoria. More shenanigans on tap soon!

12/17/2008 2:01:44 PM  
Victor & I got to see Erick yesterday! It was a very harrowing journey to get there in the snow and I had planned to do it alone but James forbade it and we all went down there together. I actually felt pretty bad because I thought that my ultrasound was just a cervical measurement and that we wouldn't really get to see Erick. So James had run down to the car to try to rectify our horrific washer fluid jet issue and he missed seeing baby brother. Victor seemed to actually get who that was up on the screen this time and this morning he showed me one of the pictures and said "Erick Owen. That's baby brother." The most exciting news of all though was that my cervix was measuring 43mm at just under 23 weeks. That's rather outstanding, actually. I'm glad that I'll have that feedback every 2 weeks now.

So, in other news, we do have a contract on a house in Godfrey and we should close on 1/30 if all goes well during inspection, etc. I waiver constantly between being paranoid of something going wrong [James redacted comments about the house since we have not yet closed on it. Worst... negotiator... ever...] [Mind your own business James. I don't think the sellers are on our blog. Seersee.]

Victor's gearing up for Christmas. This weekend he'll get to see his cousins while we rendezvous in Peoria at GG's (Great Grandma Humphrey, that is). I can't wait to see those 3 burning off some steam together! It's always a good time. And next year there will be another hellion in the mix. And speaking of GG's great-grandchildren, she's got a new one! Lena Rose Sonnen was born on the 15th (congrats to Cousin Ann and Steve!). So there will be a lot to celebrate up in Peoria. We're hoping to catch some Christmas lights while we're up that way too. They have a great drive-through display there.

Victor's actually really into the Christmas decorations this year and he loves seeing the lights and the snow. And he's kinda getting the idea of Santa more this year but he doesn't pay him all that much mind. Not entirely surprising since we really haven't done the hard sell on Santa anyway. Around here, he's really a character of about the same caliber of Dora the Explorer. No wait, what am I saying? He's not even that revered. (Rest assured Dora, you are still queen of the universe.) But Santa's definitely gaining a little more notoriety in our house.

Someone who has become extremely popular this holiday season is Emmet Otter. This warms my heart tremendously. For those not familiar, "Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas" was a 1977 Jim Henson holiday special. As a kid, I watched it on HBO over and over and over again. I got it on DVD last year thinking that maybe V would get into it in the next few years. He saw it in the cabinet a few weeks ago and got very excited about the otters on the cover (he already loved otters from reading Brian Wildsmith's "Wild Animals", a vintage book that was Daddy's). Since then Emmet has been requested often and his love of the Jim Henson animal puppets (not sure if they qualify as muppets or not) makes me think that Victor could become a pretty major Muppet fan. I wholeheartedly would support an obsession such as that. They don't come any more lovable and honorable than Kermit, in my book.

12/15/2008 11:14:41 PM  
We had a pretty busy weekend, of course. Unfortunately none of the pics that I took at the zoo on Saturday night with the Dohrns turned out well (and not just because of the fits that Victor was having over the cold). I think that we all decided that drive-through light displays may be the way to go for a while. So much to James' chagrin, we'll probably still try that yet this year. Because I like to keep trying to make everyone have fun, even when every indication is that I should just give it up!

And speaking of the struggle to make Victor have fun, we took him to the local "Breakfast with Santa" on Saturday morning. I'm quite certain that he thought the only point of being there was the limitless supply of pancakes. (Hard to argue with that reasoning, actually.) We sat just a few tables away from where Santa was set up and as luck would have it, we got to sit right next to V's buddy Avery. (He keeps talking about her......."Avie. Train! Avie. Train!"). We thought that he'd warm up to the idea of Santa if he got to watch him without pressure for a bit.

Seemed like a good idea in theory, right? But he was having none of it. He snatched the gift bag away from Santa and went back to his chair to check out the goodies:

We tried to make it into the "Where's ________?!?!?!?" game which often works to get him to go up to people. Naturally, he chose to tell us where Santa was from his comfortable distance:

(Yep, there he is.)

Eventually, I went up to Santa and tried to lure Victor into giving Santa a high five. Kinda worked, except that James couldn't magically fly through the air to get the shot:

And then while I talked to a randomly stumbled-upon cousin (it was only a matter of time, right?), Victor shared an official handshake with one of the most patient Santas I have ever encountered:

I think that will be our last public dealing with Santa for this year, unless Santa is on a train or a firetruck or handing out burgers and fries somewhere. Those are the only circumstances in which I can imagine Victor really catching the Santa wave for right now.

One thing Victor loves this Christmas though (besides the train that he sprints to as soon as he's dressed each morning)? The new recliner. As in the new recliner that is intended to be a gift for James and myself. But Victor believes that it is his and he rarely will let one of us sit in it unfettered:

So much so that he has a new favorite sentence. "Mommy, get up!".

12/12/2008 3:12:22 PM  
Victor went to visit his new pediatrician today and it went well overall. We were all missing Dr. Mirrop a bit. We were so used to him and he was really good at distracting and humoring Victor. But we're very happy with V's new doc (thanks for the recommendation, Jack & Bernie!). She is extremely thorough, which we LOVE, and she was super cool about supporting whatever we need with regards to Victor's schooling and therapy. And we got a new Epipen script, which I forgot to fill on the way home! All in all, a good visit though. He has lost a whole pound since September but that's not at all surprising with the sinus infection and then then mysterious tummy malady. And he's grown another half inch (up to 40 1/2 now)!

12/11/2008 9:27:13 AM  
Victor had his first playdate in quite some time yesterday. (That's the thing that stinks most about all of these winter illnesses!). Miss Avery came over with her grandma to hang out and especially to watch the cool new train! Avery is a fellow train fan so it was definitely a hit. And as usual, Victor & Avery had fun and enjoyed each other's company but remained pretty quiet about it. It's sweet to see how much they like to play side by side though. Here are a few pics of them together:

Oh yeah, and Victor had been saying "Treat or Treat! Ivie!" for weeks now and I kept assuming that he was thinking of Livie since that's how he once said her name (before it became "Mivie" and then eventually "Livie). Turns out that he has been trying to say Avery but it's come out as "Ivie" and he remembered that last time he saw her was when we were trick or treating. He was requesting her! Pretty cute.

12/10/2008 9:06:24 AM  
This is a strange week for me. At the holidays, my thoughts always turn to Ronan & James, even moreso than usual, just because it's a natural time to really feel their absence and reflect on how old they'd be now, what they'd enjoy this season, and whatnot. But now here I am staring down "the week", the big foreboding 22, as in the point in my pregnancy when they were born. It's not as scary as it was last time. It's a little scary but mostly it's extremely surreal.

Last month, I picked up the newest collection of poems by Sharon Olds. She's a poet near and dear to my heart because she was first introduced to me early in college by a professor with whom I had a love-hate relationship (because she pushed me to go outside my comfort zone, something I later thanked her for). And lo and behold, the very first poem in the new collection and the title poem, "Everything", spoke to me so profoundly. It is a poem about losing a child and it describes the experience in such a non-pitying and beautiful way. And so, I'll let her speak for me on this one (this is only the second half of the poem):

"......And many of us,
sea-fruit on its stem, dreaming kelp
and whelk, are culled in our early months.
And some who are born live only for minutes,
others for two, or for three, summers,
or four, and when they go, everything
goes --- the earth, the firmament ---
and love stays, where nothing is, and seeks."

Onward and outward.

12/7/2008 5:49:51 PM  
Victor got an early Christmas present from Mimi, Gaga & PopPaw this morning.....The Pennsylvania Flyer! To say that he's happy with it does not even do it justice. He's obsessed with it and could barely be bothered to eat, drink or converse all day long. Poor Daddy has been nagged relentlessly to make the train go every hour on the hour. I must say that it is a pretty darned cool train so I can hardly blame him. Sure am glad he got it in advance of Christmas though or else I'm certain that he wouldn't have been willing to do anything else during the festivities.

We thought that it was a good occasion to try getting some Christmas card pictures. And it was but it was frustrating nonetheless, mainly due to Victor's current fixation with chewing on his nails. (Please say that this phase will pass!). So I took A LOT of pictures to try to get the keepers. As a result, there's a hefty montage worth of outtakes, including some video highlights as well. Behold:

I had to go ahead and pull the trigger on Christmas cards but like every other year, I'm certain that we'll get some perfect shot a week from now. We sure had fun today though!

12/5/2008 10:20:49 PM  
This early darkness thing is really becoming a problem. If Victor is riding in the car as the sun is setting (or has set), he inevitably falls asleep. And when he falls asleep that late in the day, there is hell to pay when it's time to rouse him. Usually not a big tantrum-thrower, he has now shown us that he is capable of screaming at the top of his lungs for 20 minutes straight. It's horrifying, heartbreaking and completely maddening.

This very phenomenon occurred tonight as we drove to Godfrey for the Snowflake Festival. It started at 6 so yeah, we were right in the danger zone. Sure enough, he fell asleep mid-drive but we proceeded, thinking that perhaps he'd perk up once he saw all of the lights and felt the cold air. Turns out that the cold air was the most insulting of insults to injury. Here's the progression of traumatic events:

(Still kind of asleep but beginning to get surly.)

(Insists upon being held but then proceeds to just scowl at everyone and everything. We MIGHT have stayed for 10 minutes.)

Pictures of the Great Tantrum of '08 were not taken. Use your imagination. And then multiply it by 10. Be sure to include hyperventilation.

(Back in Carrollton city limits, he begrudgingly puts a hat on to humor us. And requests a burger.)

Maybe this boy needs to take an afternoon nap while he still gets over this latest sickness! I have a feeling he'd disagree though.

12/2/2008 10:00:10 PM  
I had an OB appointment today. It was a little weird. Basically, I saw a new doctor within the same group and he actually acted like a high risk doctor. Which is really what he's supposed to do. It's just that his aggressiveness seemed so abrupt compared to everyone else's blasse attitude to date that he ended up seeming more "high alarm" than "high risk". He kept emphasizing how at risk I am for preterm birth and labor. And really, statistically speaking, he's right. But I'm also geting a ton of prophylactic care than most people those stats are based on. So I'm really not going to let myself get all spazzed out about what ifs. I'm not. And I really mean that.

The good news is that he wants to monitor my cervical measurements by ultrasound every 2 weeks for a while. No argument here. That's what I prefer, as well. And he wants to do monthly growth scans so that we always know where Easy E is at size and development-wise. To which I say yippee, sign me up!

Then there's the little sticking point. He also wants me on progesterone supplementation from here on out to guard against preterm labor. This is something I brought up with Dr. B in Austin. He summarily poopoo'd it as non-sense. And I actually do somewhat buy the explanation offered today (though I will spare everyone the details) but I loathe Prometrium. I sang joyfully when I took what I thought was my last dose at 12 weeks. But I guess I will try it again since I'm at such high risk for preterm labor. Something that was mentioned 40 or so times earlier today. Talk about a buzzkill.

In brighter news, we scoped out a possible school for Victor today and were very impressed. He seemed giddy to be there and we're anxious to get him going soon. Unfortunately, he threw up all over the bathroom once he stepped out of the bathtub tonight. So we're clearly not out of the woods. I guess we'll be staying in tomorrow to enforce the Pedialyte intake. He's just on the verge of dehydrating and I'm officially quite concerned. He's been such a sweet, resilient guy this week and I just want him to feel better. Like right now!

12/1/2008 9:03:54 PM  
There's been a clear hierarchy of illness here in our house since Thanksgiving. I'm always right in the middle. A few days ago, Victor was by far the sickest of the sick and James was, as usual, pretty unscathed. Well, they switched places. Victor is all but well. Appetite is not totally back yet but he's finally stopped spiking nasty fevers and he's kept food down for 24 hours now. And he's really pretty peppy. Meanwhile, James is now the recipient of the intestinal distress designation. He's still battling chills and general malaise but is slowly building up some eating and drinking endurance. This place is just a real barrel of laughs:

(The blinding white light? Snow!)

I'm still gradually coughing up a lung. Last night I slept better than I had for a while. I managed two hour blocks of sleep before I'd have my bathroom trip (E's still on my bladder, quite obviously)/Victor puke check/James puke check/coughing fit & Halls re-fueling rotation. Went pretty well until Victor woke up at 3:30 talking about otters. This boy and the animals! But all in all, I woke up feeling somewhat more optimistic about breathing freely again. Until we ran to the grocery store and I got hit with all of that cold air. And snow.

We did still cancel on therapy today (and missed the symphony yesterday) because I was afraid that by the time I got Victor halfway to STL, he'd probably spike a fever again. I felt a little bad because he had a really verbal day and probably would have been on fire at therapy but I still think it was best to keep him out an extra day to get his immunity back up. It's a pretty germy place, really. But we'll be trekking down that way tomorrow afternoon (unless Daddy miraculously feels up to handling Victor duties by then........not counting on that). I moved my OB appointment up a few days because I've felt a little anxious about my cervix in light of all of this constant coughing. I just want to know it's OK. Probably wouldn't be as nervous about it if it weren't for the timing but we are right in the midst of what is still very much my scary time (20-24). I think all will be just fine but I just need to know ASAP. Plus, I'm anxious to see if there is anything else I might be allowed to take to help this cough.

We're seeing healthier days just on the horizon. Don't want to miss another weekend of fun because this Saturday Dora is going to be at the mall. With Boots! Seersee, I'm not kidding.

11/29/2008 12:10:20 PM  
Well, Operation Convalescence is not exactly a success. I felt decent at 5 this morning and it's been all downhill from there. Back to hacking non-stop and by 6:30, Victor was beginning a chain of projectile vomiting. He's a little feverish and is definitely lethargic but not terribly cranky otherwise. In fact, he's been quite sweet and cuddly. But needless to say, we had to skip out on the train ride this morning. I'm really hoping we're OK for the symphony tomorrow afternoon!

Ah yes, the joys of a colder climate. Here's Victor and I relaxing while watching "Dora Saves the Snow Princess" for about the 30th time:

(That one really highlights the shiner Victor gave me last week. Good times.)

And here's Victor napping with his feline protector:

Update at 5:33 -
Up to 8 vomiting episodes now today. He's officially thrown up more times since we got here than he had the whole rest of his life. This is not boding well for tomorrow. He's not keeping anything down at all.

11/28/2008 10:29:45 AM  
We had a great Thanksgiving. It was wonderful to be so close this year. There's no over the river and through the woods to get to Gaga's right now. It's just over Apple Creek, 10 miles up the road! Here are a few pics of Gaga's beautiful table:

Everything was even yummier than we remembered and it was extra special to be able to share the good news that we've got another little boy on the way! Erick Owen Humphrey. We're having a hard time trying to call him Erick yet though because it just sounds so mature. So he's often still Blabby. At any rate, he looks very healthy and hearty in there and has thankfully turned head down. We're hopeful that he'll just stay that way like Victor did, although I'm admittedly not thrilled about the way he currently has his head pressed firmly into my bladder.

Victor & Daddy are currently off for a Black Friday adventure (which I happen to think is crazy but I won't argue with a chance at solitude). They are in search of a good waterproof coat for Victor. Snow's coming soon, after all! Gotta be ready to frolic out there. I stayed behind today because I'm doing my best to rest up and recover from the current chest cold from which I am suffering. And trust me, I'm suffering. Every time I cough, everything hurts. I'm just glad that we saw two days ago that my cervix was holding up so well! At any rate, my job today is to rest up so that I'll be ready for our train ride tomorrow and the symphony on Sunday. Never a dull moment. Except for today. I'm going to try to enjoy the dullness.

Oh, and speaking of convalescing, Pru Girl is doing quite a bit better. She's not eating nearly as much as would be considered normal and she's still acting a bit weakened but she's improved quite a bit. At least she's eating and drinking (and thus using her box again!) and she looks a whole lot better. I'm not sure if she's going to be back to her "normal" or not. It was a really good wake-up call that we need to take the time to give her more love and attention, in spite of all that we have going on. After all, she's our first baby.

11/24/2008 8:23:08 PM  
It's a weird week therapy-wise and we had to reschedule things around holiday/vacation schedules and whatnot. As a result, we drove all the way to St. Louis today for 45 minutes of speech therapy. Kind of a drag. So I tried to maximize our time and gas invested by scoping out some stuff in Godfrey (even though in my heart of hearts I still really, really want to be closer to the city) on the way back home. That included Victor's test run of Glazebrook Park:

I think it passsed inspection. With flying colors. There's even a duck pond. A duck pond! But yeah, it's still Illinois.

11/24/2008 9:57:12 AM  
Everything is fine here. Just really busy. We've been spending a lot of time and effort on our home search, after procrastinating about it for way too long. We're finding ourselves experiencing exactly what we knew we would - we can get far more house for our money staying on the Illinois side. And yet we hate to still be a 40 minute drive from hospitals and therapy and possible future employment. The difference is even more drastic than we were anticipating and it's making it hard to focus our search, especially since we can live anywhere we want right now since James works from home. We might have to make a decision for the short term with the realization that another move might be necessary in a few years. We just really didn't want to have to be moving around a lot. It's a quandary.

Also, Miss Pru has been very sick and has been worrying us quite a lot. She's been on a hunger strike for many days, making exceptions only for Fancy Feast (and even then, very sparingly). She has looked just awful and it's been breaking our hearts to see her that way, especially since she's 14 now and any number of ailments could be affecting her. James finally took her to the vet this morning and naturally, she seemed far more vigorous than normal - brighter-eyed, slightly less shambly and meowing with some real gusto. The vet didn't find anything wrong but gave her some IV fluids (which certainly seems to have helped!) and tested her urine. Kidneys seem fine and that was my main worry. So we have to just hope that she continues to make progress. Oh, and administer the Cat Lax. Yeah, should be a fun few days.

Victor & Blabby are both well and thriving. Victor has had a few really banner days lately and has been really going out on a limb and trying some new stuff, which makes me hopeful that maybe we can get the therapeutic listening stuff back on track soon. And we're all greatly looking forward to our first Thanksgiving in Illinois in many years!

11/18/2008 7:15:58 PM  
Daddy's back and it almost feels like he was never gone. Victor has definitely been his loyal little minion. Pretty sweet. And speaking of Victor, I think the sinus infection is finally starting to improve. He's still coughing a bit but not as violently and restlessly as before. I'm hopeful that he'll get over it this week so that we don't have to repeat the Zithromax. He's still got lingering diaper rash from the first cycle. But in general, he's doing great now in spite of being rather stir crazy. I personally can't wait to get up and go to St. Louis tomorrow, just so that I don't have to deal with Victor's path of bored destruction here at home.

11/15/2008 11:30:11 AM  
Well, things usually get worse before they get better, right? That seems to be the case here. Worst. Night. Yet. Up from 2:00 to 5:00. I tried rocking him back to sleep and it definitely helped alleviate the coughing to be propped up on me and he was snuggly and sweet as could be but it was painfully obvious that he was never going to fall asleep like that. He could see the shadows of all of his toys. So he had to tough it out in bed for a few hours with a continuous cycle of classical music. Eventually he went back to sleep for about 3 more hours.

And I'm certainly glad that we only have one more day of the Zithromax this go-around (may or may not have to repeat in another 7 days). He HATES taking it and it is having undesirable effects in the diaper department. If we have to do another dose of it, I'm having Walgreen's flavor it to the hilt! I had to actually sit on him today to get him to take it. Not pretty on any level.

But Daddy's most certainly in American air space by now and that alone is enough to buoy us through the rest of this day. That and we're going to see Madagascar 2 with Heath, Jack & Bern. Hopefully we'll stay awake through it.

Oh, and today's flurries are a major disappointment. I saw them at 3:30 and they were the tiniest snowflakes I had probably ever seen. I think they were melting before they even got to the ground. Nothing to write Austin about. ;)

11/14/2008 3:00:05 PM  
Verdict? Sinus infection. Zithromax is now on board. Maybe we can get this boy feeling a lot better over the weekend!

11/14/2008 9:29:16 AM  
Well, it's turned out to be a fairly harrowing week overall but we're ending our Daddyless time on a fairly high note, I suppose. We finally got a full night's sleep! Victor's been not only just plain out of whack in Daddy's absence but has also been having really bad coughing fits at night that have been waking him up for several hours at a time. We are seeking medical attention today in case maybe it's an ear or sinus infection.

Wednesday was probably the worst day we've ever had at therapy. He was just despondent and resistant, both of which are highly unusual for him given how much he enjoys his therapy. So I had the lowest of hopes when we went yesterday on 6 hours of sleep. And somehow he had an outstanding day! Thank goodness because I think that the small victory was part of what put him in a good mindset for last night. Much calmer at bedtime and while there was some coughing, it wasn't to the point that it woke him up for long (he was up from 2:30 to 5 the night before). Thursdays at therapy always seem to go well though, in no small part due to his love for Monica, his OT. I wish she could come live with us sometimes.

Victor has been doing therapeutic listening at therapy for the past month or so and has really enjoyed it and responded to it so we got the equipment to do the home protocol. It's a pretty big commitment both time and expense-wise. He has to listen to his CD twice a day for 30 minutes. Sounds easy enough but I know it will be harder to work in around the holidays. Luckily he can do it while eating, playing with his toys and while being in the car. He basically just can't be watching TV or looking at the computer. I tried it with him for the first time this morning and he happily listened for 18 minutes and then he wanted it off! I don't think they ever have that problem at therapy. So I'll have to keep experimenting with what works best here at home. Maybe he just didn't like doing it while sitting and eating breakfast and would rather be moving around while he listens. We'll see.

Victor and I did go to my OB appointment this week as well. Nothing exciting to report there except that all is well with my cervix. No peeks at Blabby, of course. The big ultrasound is less than two weeks away on the day before Thanksgiving. I still have to do that at the dreaded Barnes but after that, I'm officially switched to Mo Baptist. If that doesn't feel like an improvement, I'm moving on. I have a group I'm leaning toward but I'm still just a bit nervous about leaving behind the high risk group. Obviously, I could still get a high risk consult as needed but it's strangely comforting to just be high risk across the board. So all I know about Blabby is that s/he is likely transverse based on how low the heartbeat is and how my uterus is measuring. I'm ready to know who is in there!

11/11/2008 9:21:45 PM  
Victor, PopPaw and I actually celebrated Veteran's Day appropriately today by making a trip over to place a flag on Great PopPaw's grave. I had hoped to get a picture of Victor participating in said placement but it was cold and muddy and the whole operation was a little hurried as a result. We felt proud to have done something that would mean so much to the old guy though. And putting out his flag for this first time meant a lot to me personally. I spent many Memorial Day weekends in my childhood helping Grandpa put out the veterans' flags here in Carrollton and I always loved being trusted and valued as part of his very finely tuned operation. He took great pride in it and I did too. I'm always going to cherish being a part of one of his most pet projects. Here's looking at you, GPP:

(Not the best pic of the stone but you can at least appreciate the furling of the flag.)

And speaking of veterans, hats also off to Uncles Dan & Frank over there in C'ville. Also a correction to my previous post about the Veteran's Memorial: the three bros were NOT all in Europe at the same time. Dan C. and Paul D. were but Frank was in Guadalcanal. And a furl of the flag also, of course, to Victor Gordon Giberson, our V's namesake and also to Paul Woods, Gaga's beloved brother. We're very proud to honor all of you!

I should also mention that we went to the chili parlor while were over there. As in Taylor's. If you haven't ever had it, you haven't really lived. It's the stuff that legends are made of. And tonight, also a scalding case of heartburn tinged with nausea. Like I told Dad, I flew too close to the sun. Probably still worth it though. Even though I'm about to exceed the maximum daily dosage of Tums. With an Emetrol chaser.

11/9/2008 8:27:37 PM  
Things improved a bit, mainly because Mimi came over so that I could take a nap and a shower. That did me a world of good. Now I just have to force myself to go to bed far earlier than usual. Right after I do my nails.

In spite of some bouts with diarrhea throughout the day, Victor had a very healthy appetite and a sunny disposition. And that's even with the 5:30 wake-up and no nap! He was definitely bolstered by Mimi's visit and a cameo from PopPaw. He was really quite delightful to be around all day and certainly entertained us with his Mommywear (my glasses and slippers.....pics are over in the gallery).

The only major struggles we are having are with bedtime itself and with the early wake-ups. We had another near brawl tonight when I cut him off after 6 books. He's fine once I just put him in bed and leave but he sure turns on the drama when I end storytime, in spite of me repeatedly telling him how many more books, counting down the transitions, etc. And the other thing is that he doesn't want me to even do the stuff that Daddy-O usually does (no animals, no "I want to jump!", and now not even "Nightman on Cow"). He barely allows me to put his sleepsack on. It's sweet really but it is trying nonetheless.

The news from the world of Blabby is that I'm feeling him/her "fluttering" more and more. I have an appointment this Wednesday and there is no ultrasound on the agenda but I'm really scheming for one. There is absolutely no reason we shouldn't be able to see by now. I'll be almost 18 weeks on Wednesday. Oh, and this is kind of the last chance appointment for my doctors. If I feel a little more positive this time, I'll switch to their office at Missouri Baptist (I loathe Barnes-Jewish now) but if I continue to feel as lukewarm about them as usual, I think I'll switch docs. I think I'd rather just be with a more suburban group that has a more accessible office and a more enthusiastic staff. There's just the issue of whether someone else is willing to take on a high risk patient with a cerclage someone else placed. I'm not exactly the average pregnant woman and I suspect that sometimes people aren't happy to see me show up with my 3 inches of medical records, throwing around medical jargon. I'm "seasoned".

Oh yeah, and another cute-ism. Victor will now sometimes give Blabby a kiss if I ask him to. But of course he wouldn't demo that for Mimi & PopPaw today.

11/9/2008 8:19:32 AM  
OK, this is unbearable without James. I am not a morning person under completely normal circumstances but particularly not when I have to get up at least 3 times a night to go to the bathroom due to Blabby taxing my bladder. James is downright saintly about letting me grab an extra 30-45 minutes in the morning while he gets Victor up and feeds him breakfast. So I was already going to be feeling that pain.

But Victor, who has been sleeping until at least 7:30 here lately, has chosen to shake things up for me. Yesterday he woke up at 6:30 (after not falling asleep until 11:00). Sun was out so I knew better than to think he'd just go to sleep. So I plodded through the day on about 5 hours of sleep. By 4:00, I was counting the minutes until bedtime because I was so exhausted. Got the boy into bed by a little after 7:00 (stunningly early). There was A LOT of resistance but he did fall sleep quickly. And he slept hard until 3:15. I knew he'd go back to sleep if I just didn't make a sound. And he did. Until 5:30.

I went in there but kept everything dark. So of course he said "Mommy, sleepy sleepy". I'm not sure what that means anymore. He asked for music but when I turned it on, he proceeded to sing each song on the CD. So I tried to rest best I could. Hearing him singing is better than hearing him shouting about animals. Which, oh yes, he began to do once again as soon as the CD ran out (that CD is WAY too short). In desperation, I tried turning the CD on again and this time he got mostly quiet. I don't think he ever actually went back to sleep but he did "rest" and allowed me to do so as well. By 7:15, it was a foregone conclusion that any hopes I had of him falling back to sleep until 9:00 were futile.

I went around 7:30 into his room and there he was in nothing but a diaper (sleep sack and pajamas folded surprisingly neatly) saying "Mommy, help! Wipe poop!" Yikes. So yeah, turned out to be a pretty gross diarrhea incident. Have I mentioned that my morning sickness is still pretty bad? And as I fought the urge to throw up, I got my first spontaneous nosebleed of this pregnancy (I'm not counting the incident in which Victor nearly broke my nose). We need Daddy-O back.

11/7/2008 10:44:48 PM  
Um yeah, still not sleeping. (But at least I grabbed a shower.) I just went in there and reminded him that it's time to go to sleep. As usual, he tried to act like he hadn't been babbling away (we have a monitor, Victor!) and he very dramatically said "Mommy, sleepy sleepy" and offered a huge fake yawn sound. I turned the music back on as requested and then said "Victor, I love you" and walked away. As I got to the door, he said "Mommy, I love you". And I had to fight every urge I had to not run back over to him and give him a thousand kisses and hugs for saying that completely on his own (and even using "Mommy" instead of just parroting me!). I did tell him that it was the nicest thing anyone had ever said to me.

It's going to be a long week with the way he's playing me like a fiddle, eh?

11/7/2008 9:54:02 PM  
I'm going to try to add a lot more everyday pictures during the next week while James is in Hungary so that he can keep up with his boy. A boy who misses his daddy a lot, by the way. He wandered around at bedtime saying "Daddy-O! Animals! Daddy-O! I want to jump!". I didn't have the heart to further sadden him so I let him pull his "OK, last one!" act many times at storytime. 10 books tonight. I'm tired. But guess who's not all that tired? And here's why........

That's him around 4:00 when I managed to carry him inside from the car and fling him onto the bed. I think he had a bit of flu shot hangover from yesterday because I had to wake him up after 5:30. Luckily he had Gaga, Mimi & PopPaw all making appearances tonight and thus somewhat distracting him from his Daddylessness. You know, until bedtime.

I almost don't dare say this but I think he's beginning to quiet down. Can it be? I can really shower at last!

11/5/2008 10:50:19 PM  
For family inquiring about Christmas, here's Victor's current Amazon wishlist:

My Amazon.com Wish List

As you can tell by what I've "wished" for him thus far, he's really into firetrucks and trains and I suspect he will be for quite some time. He also really likes farm stuff. And actually, a few of those items are things he's actually longed for (especially that darned pony). So do with that info what you will. He also really wants a fresh snow for Christmas Day. OK, maybe I'm projecting a little.

11/5/2008 3:21:15 PM  
The sun is shining brightly today. And there's just something in the air - smells like hope. :)

11/4/2008 10:47:18 AM  
Goodness. I am an absolute nervous wreck today. I'm terrified that voters will get complacent and/or impatient with long lines. I cannot stand the wait to see some real numbers. And the other big wait today?!?! News of V's dear friend Livie's little bro Quinn's arrival. I'm doing a lot of screen refreshing today. A lot. I'm looking forward to happily sitting back with some hot chocolate tonight to toast the grand events of the day. But until then, I'm anxiety-ridden.

Victor got the memo that today is all about choice. He screamed his protests of the shirt that I had put out for him to wear today because he wanted his fire truck shirt (SO into fire trucks right now!). And he's making all kinds of demands about what toys he wants retrieved from the high shelves today (let's hear it for that tactic working). He's also suddenly transfixed by all of the toy commercials that are in heavy rotation for the holiday shopping season. This is really the first time he's ever expressed such a burning need for certain toys. It's actually pretty awesome! I just wish he wasn't so dazzled by that $170 Little Tikes pony. Come on.

11/3/2008 11:21:50 PM  
Victor & I had an impromptu trip up to Springfield today to get our valve stems replaced on our tires (they got recalled) and as expected, he passed out soon after we got back in the car. So I decided to take the long way home so that I could drive through Carlinville. V slept through that part of the drive too, so I didn't manage to visit Uncle Dan & Aunt Jean or hit Taylor's Chili for some take-out butter bean soup. Those are two things I very much would like to do soon. But with a sleeping boy on board, I only managed to visit the cemetery and the veterans' memorial. Here are a few pics I snapped at the Macoupin County Vets' Memorial:

(Hint: Look for the Presslers. Three brothers, all in Europe at the same time.)

Good thing we got those tires ship shape because we're sure putting some miles on the Honda. And Victor continues to show his Midwestern roots by being a chipper passenger, especially now that he has graduated to the Britax Frontier! The new carseat is definitely a hit. Now I can go to work trying to clean the chocolate milk off his last seat so that it will be Blabby-ready in another year or so.

11/2/2008 4:24:12 PM  
It's such a beautiful day here today - back up into the 70s again. Much as I think Victor is extremely handsome in his fall wardrobe, it's been fun to see him running around in his shorts today. And how's this for novelty? Victor & I went on a walk around the hood and then went up to the square and scored some groceries at Kroger on the way home. All on foot/in stroller! We won't be able to do that back in the city again. If felt good to get some air and exercise too. I'm just now feeling more comfortable with that, now that Blabby finally seems to have moved upward and is no longer exerting undue force on my cervix.

I discovered while out on said walk that there is no better conversation piece here than my "Texans For Obama" t-shirt. Usually, people just look at me strangely and wonder if maybe I'm vaguely familiar but today, EVERYBODY wanted to talk to me. Luckily, everyone I encountered was a fellow Obama fan. I wasn't in the mood for any silly McCain jibber jabber today. But in just a few days, I won't have to endure any more of it, right?

The registered voters here in the Humphrey household voted early on Thursday (yes, it was the last possible day) and I must say that it felt really good. I haven't felt that gratified by the act of voting since the first time I voted for Clinton. That was actually the first time I ever got to vote in a presidential election. '92. Good times. I may not be as young and full of possibility as I was back then but I think I can safely say that I care more about what's at stake than I ever have before. Two words - Victor and Blabby.

Oh yeah, and an update about Blabby..........s/he is doing well. Moved up a little higher so we're finding the heartbeat much more easily now. And s/he is definitely growing because I am really showing. Like really showing. The morning sickness has improved quite a bit. I sometimes have a day when I don't throw up (today was not one of those, however). This is definitely the worst morning sickness I've had out of all three pregnancies. With Victor, the nausea was really barely worth mentioning. With the twins though, it didn't start until 11 weeks and then it went all the way to 20 weeks. Didn't have the all day nausea like I do with Blabby though. With the twins, it was more that I just had to throw up every morning and then I was pretty much fine. So yeah, I don't know what to think of that. It's tempting to think this means Blabby's a she but something in me really doubts that. Hopefully we'll get to find out in 3 1/2 weeks!

10/31/2008 10:06:20 PM  
This Halloween was definitely our funnest yet but I think we're all glad it's over. It was a late night for everyone, especially Victor. He fell asleep in the car with his cowboy hat on before we had even left Jerseyville. Here's our cowboy hanging out with his pals and then making his rounds:

OK, time can stop flying by now. I love Thanksgiving but I'm not ready for it yet.

10/28/2008 8:12:54 PM  
We didn't leave the house today. Instead, we did our best to rest up in the hopes that we'll be able to make therapy tomorrow. We have a general cold-like yuckiness. We did make it out into the world yesterday, however, in order to get some pictures of the foliage. Here are the results of that outing:

(Lori, thought I'd better get this on before you go into labor and miss it.)

So how long until we start taking all of this natural beauty for granted again?

10/26/2008 9:31:32 PM  
First of all, here are the pics from Monday which I thought I had already posted but alas, had not:

We had such a nice visit from GiGi, Uncle Duck/Ron and Aunt Quacker/Kathy and really appreciated them making the trip down since I was still not road-ready post-surgery. Victor is really enjoying seeing so much more of his family and I know he'll be thrilled to see GiGi again at Christmas time. And seeing Ron & Kathy again really makes us want to take a vacation out to Montana! But Blabby probably has other plans this year........

We had really hoped to take a foliage admiring tour on the way home from Gaga's birthday festivities today but it was unbearably windy and probably wouldn't have been much fun. It's going to be cold out tomorrow but Victor & I might have to take a drive so I can snap a few shots of the leaves. The first freeze is imminent (hopefully not tonight but undeniably by overnight tomorrow night) and things just won't look quite as crisp and pretty after that. I bet we'll see a lot of frantic harvesting if we make it out tomorrow because there's a lot of corn still in!

10/25/2008 2:16:47 PM  
Victor has the beginnings of a cold but remains in good spirits and was certainly not impeded in his enjoyment of Day Out with Thomas this morning. The setting was not nearly as nice as in Austin (something to be said for the sheltered confines of the Convention Center) but this year we had Gaga onboard! And that was an extra special treat indeed.

Victor's favorite parts were watching Thomas pull up and running through the kiddie carwash tent (about 30 times). Come to think of it though, he did seem to believe that lunch at Steak N Shake was the entire point of the outing today. Gaga & I were both stunned that he didn't pass out in the car coming home. I think he'll be a good sleeper for Mimi & PopPaw tonight! (Yes, date night at last.)

Here's some of our Thomas adventure:

10/24/2008 2:44:50 PM  
It's been another busy week. We're going to therapy on Wednesdays and Thursdays now and doing two days in a row of that drive is really kind of exhausting. This week we threw an OB appointment into the mix on Wednesday and I have to say that Victor was so good throughout, even though he was very tired. I had a good report in general. The cerclage is intact and all is well there but the OB totally freaked me out by going on and on about how my uterus was SO low. I've since been assured that this is normal given my history but I'm very aware of how different things feel this time and it can be extremely unnerving at times, especially since we're so far from the hospital. We really need to start looking at houses ASAP.

Today has been a relatively lazy day, particularly in light of the rain. Loving the temperatures though. Our big objective for today was to get my oil changed and to get some groceries. And thus begun an inner struggle that ended in an angry exchange with a blue-vested, um, person. I should preface this story (which will probably only be amusing to Ruth, Lia and Lori) by saying that I LOATHE Wal-Mart. So very, very much. I've probably mentioned that here before, I suppose. Because I seersee can't stand that place. That's not to say that we don't ever go here. After all, no one else seems to have Skinny Cow chocolate milk (V's fave). But I avoid the place as much as humanly possible.

Today, however, I tried to make myself get on board with the Wal-Mart experience. I needed groceries and I needed an oil change. Why not combine them? So I tried to set aside all of my personal hatreds of Wal-Mart - like how I find it aesthetically appalling and I am disgusted by how they historically have treated their employees and have bled the public system dry by shirking their duties to provide proper benefits.........oh, and how they keep their prices low by exploiting Chinese workers who work in horrific conditions and then produce products that poison us with lead paint. I set that all aside and I marched into the Tire & Lube Express, gritting my teeth while Victor giddily skipped along. Where I was not greeted with a smile. Or at all, really.

They were having computer problems and were on the verge of writing up paper tickets. No biggie. I can live with that. But I was shuffled inside and then sternly told to go back outside where I waited dutifully (all the while chanting "I hate this place!"). And then an influx of people dashed inside - you know, people not trying to corral a 3-year-old in a dangerous environment - and they all got "in line" in front of me. So I went in and shoved up to the register and asked the person who had not at all politely told me that I had to wait out at the check-in booth "Hey, what gives?". She claimed to not remember the order we were all in. Strange, since I was the only person in line during our first "conversation".

Then the hormones kicked in and I also suspected that the universe was trying to tell me something about going against my anti-Wal-Mart principles. And I kinda lost it. You know, for me. Like in public. And when I lose it in a public setting, I usually fight the instinct to use bad words by using big words. I'm not sure why. But what I said to her was "I empathize with your computer situation but that in no way exempts you from providing a modicum of customer service and human courtesy". Yeah, I don't know. She looks at me and she says "What's a modicum? Is that some Texan thing?" (Aha, so she DOES remember my license plate! And thus should have some indication of the timeline.). I told her that it meant the most measly amount of decency she could scrounge and wished her a lovely weekend. And I drove away from Wal-Mart. And I won't be back until we need more Skinny Cow.

Rapid Lube? Exquisite service. With a smile. And no moral dilemma either. Plus, my floorboards are finally clean.

10/20/2008 5:09:50 PM  
We are feeling especially homesick for some certain Austinites today:

(All photos are from the Connell birthday party collection. I tried to pick just one and alas, could not.)

Happy Birthday Betsy! We wish we could have been there for your big 0-1. You wear toddlerhood well, you gorgeous thing. :)

10/19/2008 8:49:28 PM  
Today was my first post-cerclage outing and it was certainly worth the effort though I'm a bit sore and cranky tonight. Victor & his Daddy-O had an even bigger day as they headed to the Grafton Rendezvous first thing this morning with PopPaw. For some reason, no pictures were taken during that jaunt even though I'm sure there was a great opportunity during his teepee exploration. Oh well.

Once they were back home, we had lunch and cleaned up a bit for our much-anticipated trip with Mimi to the Symphony for the Peter & the Wolf concert. Victor napped for the whole drive which put him in a pretty good mood for the performance. We've definitely determined that he's happy when the music is playing but when the conductor chit chats, he gets rather squirrelly. We were most looking forward to Peter & the Wolf itself but I think that in the end, we all most enjoyed Rossini's "Thieving Magpie Overture" the most.

Here's a mini-montage of Victor's most action-packed Sunday in Illinois, to date:

10/18/2008 2:43:01 PM  
Today we had a visit from a very beloved Austinite and fellow die-hard Democrat, Cousin Susan! Here are some shots from the reunion:

The awesome part is that we'll get to see her again next month. And the month after, too! We miss her.

10/17/2008 8:00:49 PM  
Recovery is going well. I guess that when my worst complaints are my nausea (not improving in the slightest) and my injection site from my flu shot, that's a pretty good sign that the surgery has gone well. And so far, I've been able to get lots of rest and time off my feet. Daddy-O has been chief caregiver and has been doing a bang-up job of it. And Victor has really been such a good boy about rolling with things this whole week. He apparently had a blast with Mimi while we were gone for 12 hours on Wednesday and he even got to hang out with his pal Avery that day (should have made Mimi take pictures).

It's been nice to have some visits from Gaga and Mimi these past few days. Gaga even brought black bottom pie. And yeah, it's almost gone. Nausea or not, there's no resisting that pie! And we've got some more fun family visits to look forward to in the next few days. Hopefully I'll readjust to sitting upright for a while!

10/15/2008 6:36:03 PM  
I miss Austin. So very much. Medically speaking, everything was just so darned easy there. Today's cerclage was exponentially more harrowing than the one I had in Austin with Victor. But it's in and it went well and the baby looks great (no gender revelations though James has unfounded speculations). I continue my recent streak of phlebotomy troubles though. I'm now at two times in a row of having to get stuck 6+ times in order to draw blood/put in IVs. And the spinal block didn't go a whole heck of a lot better (no general anesthesia, much to my dismay). and then it took more than two hours to feel my legs again.

On the bright side, the baby now has its official unisex nickname. "Blabby". It appears to be blabbing away in there at all times. So much so that it doesn't see fit to give us any good views of its anatomical details. But Blabby looks big and strong and healthy so we won't complain. Much.

The really interesting development of the day was that I was 1 centimeter dilated when I went into surgery. James, ever strangely the optimist, pointed out that this completely vindicated me in my stubborn insistence that I be given the cerclage in spite of my doctors' group not necessarily feeling that it was appropriate. I'm trying to cling to that and chant "I told you so!" but I'm mostly still just really, really, really freaked out that I was dilated at just under 14 weeks. I'm just very thankful that I got the surgery before anything unpleasant happened. And I'm happy to have it over with, obviously. Now it's time to rest and calm my nerves. For many days.

10/14/2008 9:43:13 PM  
Jeepers! Gotta be out of the house by 6:00 tomorrow morning to head for Barnes-Jewish for cerclage but we we're all up way too late tonight. But hey, I'm just going to get knocked out anyway so no biggie for me. I'm foolishly hoping that maybe we'll get some hint about gender tomorrow (we found out even earlier than this with Victor) but I have a feeling that this doctor isn't really the type to indulge those whims. We've substantially narrowed down names already though so I'm anxious to know!

At any rate, better get my last snack (more applesauce!) before the midnight cutoff and hit the hay. We'll all be dragging a bit tomorrow but there are definitely some things worth staying up late for:

(Last birthday shoutout to Jack & Bernie for this year!)

10/14/2008 8:03:12 AM  
Happy 4th Birthday to our sweet little buddies Bernie & Jack! (Still hoping we get down there for cake and ice cream tonight if I'm done projectile vomiting by then). Feels like I was just waving at those little boys from behind the NICU glass and now they're these awesome big boy role models for Victor. I'm so happy we get to see them more than once a year now!

10/12/2008 9:16:35 AM  
So apparently Victor is willing to wear a hat voluntarily. It just has to be at this jaunty angle:

10/10/2008 7:20:44 PM  
Yeah, I've turned into kind of a blog deadbeat. But I have the perfect excuse, really. Really, I do. (For those of you who have been privy to the information leak, feel free to say "Um yeah, duh!"). I'm pregnant. 13 weeks today, to be exact. Hence the official unburdening of the secret. And the nausea. And the crippling fatigue. And the emotional tumultuousness.

To call this pregnancy a surprise is a drastic understatement. Frankly, it's still a shock (Just ask the recipients of the now famous "Are you sitting down!??!?" e-mail). Because yes, it occurred without the aid of technology. Found out I was pregnant just a few days before Victor started school in Austin, actually. So that was a rather emotional week, to say the least.

We've joked off and on that this is our "free baby" but it would seem that no baby comes for free and this one is collecting its fee in units of bile. I'm having the worst morning sickness I've ever had. That or I really did block out the yuckiness of the other two times. So I'm pallid and tired and usually cringing but quite giddy otherwise. I just rarely have the energy to actually smile.

I'm really hoping that I start feeling better soon because Victor's really gotten the raw end of this deal. We just plain don't get out and do much that we aren't specifically scheduled to do. Speaking of scheduled things though, therapy went extremely well this week and he keeps falling asleep in the car afterwards so there's the silver lining of the long drive (an hour and change). But yeah anyway, I had really hoped to get out and do more with him this week since my cerclage surgery is next week and I'll be in recovery mode (no official bedrest but no more activity than is necessary for several days).

We've settled in pretty nicely up here in Carrollton and are generally enjoying the slower pace (and the quiet!) but we're starting to get antsy knowing that we need to get closer to the city fairly soon so we can get to my appointments and the hospital and therapy a lot more quickly. Oh, and then there's potty training and big boy bed transition to contend with before spring. Thank goodness Victor has been so resilient about the relocation so far. That's nothing compared to the adjustments that lie ahead!

So it's time for me to stock up on my ginger Altoids and barf bags and start braving life while we've still got wonderful weather and I'm able-bodied. But tomorrow? Salon day with Mimi & Gaga. I think that might help my outlook just a tad. And Victor will get to have an entire day of Daddy-O (seersee, this is now what Victor calls him) because let's face it - Daddy-O is far more fun than Mommy right now.

10/5/2008 7:54:15 PM  
We pumpkin patched. And wow, it was a madhouse! Victor & I dragged Mimi out to brave the crowds at Eckerts' and then we went to another small orchard from there. Victor had fun but was skittish about stuff he would normally want to do, opting instead to go back to the tractor over and over and over again. He did feed the goats and ride a pony without flinching though. We were so glad that we took the time to go to the second orchard (which was oh so tranquil in comparison) where I scored a cool 50-pounder. Forgot to get a picture of it though!

I did get quite a few pics though, as one would expect. Here are the highlights from the first pumpkin patch of '08:

Pretty sure it won't be the last. We've still got a lot of October!

Oh yeah, and here a few pictures from the park this week that I forgot to ever put up:

(The view from the side of the park.)

(A boy who enjoys the fall temps!)

(Captain Wild Hair)

10/4/2008 4:29:04 PM  
Steady improvement in quality of life here in the past few days. ;) First of all, we're finally boxless! In the house, that is. There are still some on the back porch but we have most of the stuff that's going to the storage unit at the storage unit. I'm sure that come early next week I'll desperately need my green flip flops out of storage. James will be so pleased.

Also, therapy yesterday was considerably better than the eval from hell. Still not as magical as his clinic/therapists in Austin but it holds promise nonetheless. I just keep reminding myself that it will take a few weeks to really get a plan going in therapy. We're still in the "this is what he does" phase. One thing that I'm really excited about is that this new clinic focuses a lot on sensory feeding issues. That's an area where we really feel like we can use some help because Victor just won't try anything new or different at all. And I do believe that it's mostly sensory and probably also a little bit of peanut allergy post traumatic stress!

Hoping to maybe, just maybe, enjoy some fall fun tomorrow. I think it's time for a pumpkin patching trip, if we all feel up to it. I think the fresh air would do us all some good, ragweed or no.

10/1/2008 8:00:45 PM  
New day, new clinic. I stayed up way too late last night researching but was able to find what sounds like a great clinic for Victor. I'm trying not to get prematurely optimistic but it seems a lot like his old clinic in Austin. I just want him somewhere more homey where the therapists all treat in tandem and get to know the kids well. And more importantly, where he might be able to have therapy with other kids at some point. I'm cautiously optimistic. The great part is that he got in for this Friday for a speech session and an OT eval. Fingers crossed.

9/30/2008 9:50:22 PM  
The much-anticipated speech eval was kind of a giant disappointment. More than kind of. After a rather long drive to get there, the experience did not inspire a huge amount of confidence about the therapy he'd get there. I was sitting there thinking "Why did we leave Austin??!?!?!??!?!?" It's the first time I've really felt that way. And then it got worse.

No one bothered to mention to me in the various phone conversations I've had with them during the past 2 months that there is a waiting list 15 kids deep. That probably amounts to a few months of waiting. Which we can't afford, especially after we've waited almost a month already. I'm really not sure what we'll do since part of the reason for going there was to do his speech and his OT in one place. I'm not at all pleased.

While we were all down there anyway though, we decided to have dinner at The Tap Room to reward ourselves. It truly did salvage the trip. It was SO good. It is almost even better than we remembered, especially the Pale Ale. So smooth, so delicious. Even Victor covets it............

(Not staged. The boy is obsessed with somehow getting tastes of beer and with beer that good, even his prudish mother can't blame him.)

9/28/2008 9:28:21 PM  
I think this move was worth it just for the endless supply of dahlias from Gaga and yellow tomatoes from Mimi. Seersee, check these out:

Victor's not napping as a general rule but he's happy as a clam, even without many playdates or outings yet. He definitely loves his playroom and he loves his frequent visits from Mimi. Here he is sharing a reunion of sorts with the most obnoxious singing animals ever known to momkind:

He really is doing well though so I guess it may be time to think about school, even though I'm PETRIFIED about the peanut allergy situation and, perhaps even more than that, the flight risk situation (some of you heard the tale of his jailbreak......and yes, I'm still traumatized by it). We're going over to St. Louis for his speech evaluation in a few days as well. I'll be glad to start getting a handle on his therapy schedule. So far I really haven't minded the rural lifestyle much but driving 90 minutes to therapy once or twice a week is likely to change that.

9/25/2008 12:17:22 PM  
Finally got pics together a little. Not quite to usual standards of quality but considering that I rarely get to shower before 10 p.m., this was no small feat. Here's the pics from the move and from the house when we first arrived:

And here are the pics from our first days as official Carrolltonians, including a trip to the park I played in as a child:

And while Mellencamp's sentiments are sweet and all, I do pine for the city. But I'm also enjoying the slowness and the quiet. For now.

9/24/2008 9:02:32 PM  
We had friends over! Oh, the excitement! And what better friends to have over than the Heathy bunch (Heather, Chris, Bernie & Jack)? It was so much fun to see everyone enjoying the playroom and it was cool to hang out with dear friends and to realize "hey, we can do this all the time!". The only HUGE bummer? I forgot to take any pictures whatsoever. I do actually have quite a few pictures I'm still compiling from the move and the first week here but our spotty internet has prevented me from posting it with my usual timeliness.

But we had friends over! At our kinda house!

9/22/2008 3:30:22 PM  
"We're not in Texas anymore".

I had to run to St. Louis today and I grabbed some Steak N Shake on the way back home (Whataburger, you are all but forgotten to us now!). I ordered a sweet tea and the waitress was extremely puzzled. And so begins our slow acclimation to being Midwesterners again.

9/20/2008 3:49:25 PM  
We're in the house and while we're still constantly at work, it's starting to feel pretty comfy, especially Victor's playroom. Things were going really, really well until last night at which point Victor began projectile vomiting. We think it's a peanut oil-related thing but it's lingering into today which is disconcerting. He already wasn't eating as well as normal so now his pants are REALLY going to be loose. Oh, and our cell phones don't work here at all. They kinda work in Jerseyville but not here.

James just got the living room set up so we are greatly looking forward to chilling out and watching some TV tonight. I'm not sure if we'll have the energy for it after last night's constant pukefest though. I just now got all of the multiple sets of bedding and the stuffed animals clean and ready to be re-deployed.

Sorry we've been so horrible about returning e-mails in general. Hopefully we'll have some normalcy in the next few days. Somehow.

9/14/2008 8:10:45 AM  
Victor and I are Illinoisans now. The trip was 17 hours with stops and he was an absolute joy to be in the car with throughout. (Pru was also a model feline passenger). But yesterday was the brutal day. Fatigue had us cranky, confused and especially needy. Oh, and clumsy. Luckily there was late sleeping today so things are already looking up. Well, they would be anyway, if it weren't for the torrential rains. I'm quite certain that this rain is far worse than anything we got in Austin. Odd.

We're doing a lot of resting and will go visit Pru in Carrollton later if the rain ever lets up a bit. Victor liked the house yesterday but he doesn't have any idea that he's about to live there. And I'm quite daunted by having to see the first load there in the house already. I kinda didn't want to see that stuff again any time soon!

9/11/2008 12:46:42 PM  
Victor had his last day of school in Austin today. Here he is with Miss Christy:

Now it's on to frenzied preparations for tomorrow's road trip with Mimi & Pru. I guess it's way too late to change our minds, huh?

9/10/2008 8:54:52 PM  
OK, here's probably the last montage for a while. No really, I swear. This is Victor saying farewell to his dear friends John & Betsy today. He even requested that I use his very favorite song:

(He loves to sing that song.)

For the past few weeks I've been grumbling about how Victor just now is finally actually playing with John and showing him more attention and affection but really, I'm just so happy that he's realized what an awesome friend he's got while we were still here to enjoy it. Never mind that he flirts with his little sister!

9/10/2008 2:36:28 PM  
Today was Victor's last day of therapy and he definitely went out on a high note. I'm so proud of him for working so hard these past six months. The difference in his skills is really, really amazing. Seersee. And he made some wonderful friends for life there, especially his Miss Gabi, Miss Megan and Miss Nova. There were many tears shed upon saying goodbye but luckily none from Mr. Happily Oblivious. I know he'll miss them though. Here he is enjoying a cookie party with Megan and "Giobuddy" (Giovanni):

I am forever grateful to the crew at CT and I feel a tremendous responsibility to see that their magic is continued elsewhere. It's going to be mighty hard to find therapists he loves quite that much though!

We also had our one last picnic and park date with R, J & B. There are pictures, of course, but it will take me a while to sort them because I've got packing to do and I'm in denial about that really being the last time we see them for a while. There are some extra special shots though. ;) Trust me. (Livie might get jealous.)

9/9/2008 4:09:37 PM  
Victor busted my nose this afternoon. He didn't mean to but he did. There was so much blood that I was sure it was broken but once I iced it for a while and then checked it out, it doesn't look that bad. Just looks like I had a little playground scuffle (or perhaps a collision with a 3-year-old, very hard head!). Probably just a bunch of broken capillaries or maybe a slight fracture but nothing earth-shattering. But that's not to say that I didn't call James in hysterics begging him to come home. He's a good husband.

Also, I'm trying not to be horrified by all of the new polls. I should probably stop looking at CNN lest I begin to really stew. But let's just say that I was really happy when Mimi said that we have a phone bill waiting for us in Carrollton. Proof of residency! One of my very first outings as a Carrolltonian will be to the courthouse to register to vote in Greene County. Obamanos, y'all. :)

9/9/2008 7:57:41 AM  
Well, this is unprecedented but a very necessary measure. I'm going to need to repost the Chuy's montage because I've added some really great pictures that Ruth got. Sadly, the only person missing from this montage now is Ruth.

Miss Christy was back at school this morning. Victor was beside himself with glee and was practically pushing us out of the room.

9/8/2008 12:54:24 PM  
Nobody got anywhere near enough sleep last night. And after two days of excitedly talking about Miss Christy, Victor had a substitute teacher today. He didn't exactly like her. And I forgot to put his medic alert bracelet on. And James had a tire rotation saga. And I got a manicure that I immediately mangled. And after a lunch date with Lia, I had to say goodbye (for now) to one of my best friends in the entire universe. And then seeing me walk back into therapy from my lunch date made Victor have a total meltdown. And he's officially sick of quesadillas. Can Monday just be over now?

9/7/2008 8:50:47 PM  
OK, at this rate we need to just leave town in the middle of the night tonight so that I'm not a complete weepy mess. Tonight we had a Chuy's Send-off with the Connells. This was significant for a number of reasons. It was my first time back to that location since the time I slipped and fell on the floor when I was 36 (or was it 37?) weeks pregnant with Victor. Also, it was extremely delicious and was just exactly how I want to remember Tex-Mex. Most importantly, it was a fun and relaxing dinner with very dear friends. I'm so glad we made time for it. Thanks Ruth & Tommy! And John & Betsy!

Here are some special moments from our last dinner out with our friends. For a while.

(Updated version as of 9/9)

And just to further tug at heartstrings, here's the boys around this time 2 years ago:

Oh, the tears.

9/7/2008 1:07:24 PM  
Lots of fun and lots of sadness this morning. We had our last playdate with Lori & Livie for a while. Of all of Victor's friends, Livie is the one I'm most afraid he will miss. That's not to say that his other friends won't be missed but there is just something about Livie that makes Victor feel so happy and comfortable. Here they are together for..........never mind I can't bring myself to say it. Here they are:

And now I'll get back to packing through the tears. Victor is happily oblivious. And not napping, of course.

9/5/2008 4:13:30 PM  
We just got home from Victor's 3 year well check with Dr. Mirrop. I didn't cry even though it saddened me to be leaving behind a doctor that has been so wonderful to us. Not only is he incredibly chipper and easy to talk to but he's really bent over backwards to help us get Victor all of his therapies. His shoes will be extremely hard to fill!

Oh yeah, but about the appointment, eh? Victor's healthy as can be. He's 33.5 pounds now which is hanging nicely in the 75th percentile (I'll stop fretting about his sporadic eating, I suppose). And he's not at all surprisingly a whopping 40 inches tall. So there you have it.

It turned out to make for a very long day because Victor had therapy for 2 hours as soon as he got out of school. I finally managed to take a few pictures while he was there though. For those of you who have asked about what he does in his occupational therapy, here's some of it:

(Swinging on the hot dog swing with Gabi)

(Jumping on the trampoline)

(Doing his balance and fine motor activities on the beam)

(Scooter boarding and puzzles)

Last weekend in Austin. Not even sure what to do. You know, except to pack.

9/2/2008 1:23:13 PM  
Victor is napping.
Victor in napping.
In his bed.
In his bed.
Victor's napping in his bed.
Victor's napping in his bed.
Mommy likes the quiet.

(thanks to therapy, everything in life is now to the tune of Frere Jacques)

9/2/2008 12:39:01 PM  
[James here]
"Best boy ever." That is accidentally the name of a routine that I go through with Victor when I come home from work. I get down on my knees, pick him up, and toss him into the air asking "Are you the best boy ever?" When he comes down he gets a kiss on the cheek and then it's back into the air with the same question. This happens around 3-4 times.

What's funny is that now Victor will greet me when I come home by saying "Best boy ever." For him, it's probably just recognition of what's about to happen, but what I like to imagine is that he is answering the question and claiming that he is, in fact, the best boy ever.

9/1/2008 7:40:56 PM  
Victor was such a good, sweet boy all weekend. I really think the new nap-free lifestyle is agreeing with him. Don't get me wrong though - if he suddenly takes a nap, I will embrace it while I can! He's sleeping so much better this way though. And having to get up at 6:15 to get ready for school certainly helps him feel like calming down by 7:00ish too.

Speaking of which, I tried to talk about Miss Christy (his teacher) off and on this weekend to convey that she's part of the routine now like Megan and Gabi and Sharon all are. And honestly, I was also trying to feel him out a little about his attitude toward school. He whined once when I brought her up and I could see the look on his face of "Oh no, please not school right now!" but in general, talking about her makes him smile. I'm sure he'll absolutely love her by next Thursday (his last day of school in Austin!).

I actually got a lot of packing done today after getting a pretty dismal amount done Saturday and Sunday. Victor went to the park with Daddy this morning and that allowed me a whole hour and a half to tackle the china cabinet. I have the worst of it done (and by worst I mean the most fragile stuff.........the stuff I agonize over and use way too much bubble wrap on). It was an interesting exercise because so many of my treasures are Grandma Pressler's and it really made me reflect on going to live in her house. She's been gone so long now that I have come to refer to the house as Grandpa's but make no mistake, that house is and always will be HERS. Her presence there will be formidable, I'm sure. And very much cherished, much like the treasures she passed on to me. It will be so strange and wonderful to have them back from whence they came.

The countdown is on. Victor & I leave Austin in just 11 days. James leaves in 14. I'm giddy and I'm morose (and yes, I know that someone out there is saying "Yeah, what's new?" Probably Barnett).

8/29/2008 3:25:44 PM  
The first week of school was a success because all evidence points to Victor actually liking his teacher quite a lot and he obviously does enjoy himself while he's there. There's a little less crying every day now. And from all reports, there is more and more socialization going on already.

Today we ventured into uncharted territory after school. The Connells introduced us to Hoppin' Hippo. It's in Hutto. Yeah, Hutto. Pretty cool place, although I really have no photographic evidence of that. We had the usual problem of boys shooting off in opposite directions. Victor did have fun though and he most certainly wore himself out. This picture pretty much tells the story:

I got excited, thinking the nap ban was finally being lifted. But nope, the transfer attempt was a big NO-GO. We are all sleeping so late tomorrow. Meaning 8:00.

8/28/2008 3:49:35 PM  
As a special treat today (I told him it was for being a good big boy at school but we really would have gone anyway), Victor & I met up with Lori & Livie for brunch and a park date. Once Victor got past his hungry grumpies, he was so happy to be with his favorite girl. I think he really enjoys being with someone who makes him feel so at ease. It's been stressful meeting a bunch of new people this week!

Anyway, there were so many sweet smiles between the two pals today that there was no avoiding a montage:
(He keeps asking to see this again and again.)

8/28/2008 8:35:00 AM  
Well hey, today seemed maybe a little better. As suspected, Victor started to fret the moment I put his Medic Alert bracelet on. He knows what that means. He very willingly went into the car but with a look of excessive worry on his face. But we got over there and he walked at his usual pace and even opened the door to the classroom to walk right in. He cried once we got in there but he wasn't nearly as clingy and was just kinda walking around and doing his half cry. So he's definitely still working out his misgivings about school but he's starting to get with the program a little more. I described his more independent behavior this morning as "bravery" but James prefers to just refer to it as "acceptance". Which may be more accurate, really.

8/27/2008 6:53:15 AM  
Dropoffs are getting a little harder each day. Yesterday, Victor was happy while we walked across the street and happy while we walked into the building and happy while we walked down the hall but horrified the moment we stepped into the classroom. Full-on leg clinging and crying. So we had to just leave him there wailing in his teacher's arms while we skulked away. She said he calmed down fairly quickly though.

Today, he started crying as soon as we parked the car (we've started driving over to the crosswalk and parking on a side street there). He held our hands and walked like a big boy but he was fighting tears the whole time. And of course, it all broke loose when we got into the classroom. We're guessing that tomorrow he'll burst into tears the moment we tell him to put his shoes on.

8/25/2008 8:20:00 PM  
OK, well, I don't think my son takes naps anymore as a general rule. I'm getting more and more comfortable with this (I sure wasn't a week ago!) because he goes to sleep so quickly at night this way. That's much more peaceful for all of us because when he naps in the afternoon, he usually won't fall asleep until after 10:00. Napless? Well, tonight he was sound asleep by 7:45. And luckily he's a really good sleeper once he actually goes to sleep so I think he actually gets more overall rest this way. He's still so clumsy and a bit punchy in the afternoons without a nap but I guess we'll all work through it if this is how things work now. I am still enforcing "an hour in bed" every afternoon though. I'd like to say that it's quiet time but it's sure not one bit quiet. He's content, for the most part, and he's chilling out alone but there's usually singing and/or animated yelling involved.

I should clarify that he is not by any means asking to go to bed at 7:30. In fact, he seems pretty offended at the suggestion, to the point of kicking and screaming, but he calms down by pajama time. Usually. No one was surprised that he fell asleep so quickly tonight though. It was a BIG day. Not only did he have his first day of school but he also had two hours of therapy immediately afterwards. He was definitely dragging toward the end (especially when he had to do his puzzle work in the dreaded net swing) but he really hung in there and impressed us all.

So yeah, how was it, eh? Well, school seemed to be a success overall. He was so happy to get in the classroom and find his favorite toy that he could not be bothered to say goodbye. This made things somewhat easier on us (although James still had to console me as I wept for the walk out of the building) but I did fear that it may have made it more traumatizing for him. Ms. Janie, his teacher's aide, said that he cried about 2 minutes after we left but that they were able to get him back on track fairly easily. He looked fine when he went out to the playscape at 9:00 (I was spying from half a block away). A little skittish but not weepy, at least. Victor, I mean.

The only disconcerting thing was that when I went to pick Victor up (10 minutes early since we had to dash off to therapy), he was standing at the sink shooting water everywhere. On the one hand, there's just one teacher and one aide for that whole classroom and I don't know that anything could really have been done. And it's the first day so I'm not rushing to judgment. I just really want to be sure that he's being corrected and redirected when necessary, especially with repetitive and ritualistic behaviors. But there's the other part of me that thought "Well, at least he found something he liked!". He was soaking wet but smiling from ear to ear. And yes, very happy to see me! I guess it goes without saying that the feeling was quite mutual.

8/25/2008 7:09:54 AM  
Victor is at school and the house is quiet. And yes, I cried. He has probably cried by now too but he was happily busy when we left him there:

The walk over was a lot longer than we expected. It's just a block away, less really, but we had to walk all the way down to the crosswalk and that added a whole 5 minutes. Driving over and parking looked even worse though.

Once we got in the school, Victor wanted to see the fish, of course:

But we had to skedaddle him down the hallway to his classroom:

Once he caught a glimpse of the pre-K/kindergarten common area though, he was in a sprint and it took some gentle wrangling from Daddy to get him into the classroom:

I think he'll do fine. 2 1/2 hours to go. Deep breaths.

(Note: the time stamp is still an hour off. Victor did not go to school at 6:45. Maybe James could pull that off but neither Victor nor myself could come close.)

8/24/2008 7:17:16 PM  
Was there any doubt that the circus adventure would involve a montage?

Good times.

8/24/2008 1:36:31 PM  
After 6 days without a nap, Victor finally broke yesterday afternoon and took a nap. Never mind that it wasn't until almost 4:30! He was beside himself with fatigue so we let him nap even though it's not usually a good idea at that late hour. He was especially exhausted because we had a very special (and tiring) Mommy & Boy day with Ruth & John. Kerbey Lane and the circus (and I do mean THE circus, as in Barnum & Bailey) all in one day! I was tired too. (Pictures are still being sorted and compiled.) It was a grand time. Truly.

Today, we opted for something a little more lowkey. We took our farewell trip to Zilker Park to play a bit and ride the Zephyr. One. Last. Time. :( Victor definitely had a lot of fun since outdoor time has been somewhat limited this week (but you won't catch us complaining about the much-needed rain!). Here are some moments from the last Zephyr ride. For a while, anyway..............

Tomorrow's excitement? Oh, just the first day of school. Ever!

8/21/2008 9:42:25 PM  
Tonight we had the Back to School "Picnic" (that term was used very loosely, in my opinion) across the street at Victor's school and he was so excited to get into the building so that he could show Daddy the aquarium and then hussle him down the hall to his classroom. James was left with a pretty favorable/optimistic opinion, much like I was a few days ago. Now we'll just have to see how it goes on Monday.

Victor and I read "The Kissing Hand" for the first time maybe close to a week ago in an attempt to help him with the transition to school and the concept that Mommy is still looking out for him even when he's at school (not that I'll be driving around the block repeatedly or anything, nooooo, of course not). It has quickly become one of his very favorite books and he loves to very dramatically say the title and present it to me for storytime. Here's his favorite page:

(He definitely has taken that new toys to play with part to heart.)

And here's the page that still makes me cry 80% of the times that I read it:

(Yeah, I think that is a possum.)

My boy is going to school. Allegedly.

8/19/2008 12:04:19 PM  
After a few rough days around here, there is a lot of cautious optimism all of a sudden. The house in under contract. We're not letting ourselves get entirely excited yet but it's hard not to be equal parts thrilled and terrified when we might be moving in 3 weeks. Yeah, you heard me right. If this deal really comes to fruition, I will at least be freed up a bit for packing the house.

Any why? Well, because Victor starts school on Monday. We've gone back and forth and back and forth for many days now about whether or not to bother starting him here but I believe that we will, especially after this morning's developments. Victor & I just went over to school (it's just a block away!) to turn his Epipens in to the school nurse and while there, I asked the clerks where his classroom was and if it would be OK to wander back there.

It was like he knew exactly where he was going. I think he could feel the aura of the toys or something. At any rate, he ran into that room like he was just meant to be there. And trust me, it's not the most exotic place I've ever seen. He was right at home though. We even got to meet the teacher aides and his teacher, Miss Christy! While he didn't exactly go overboard with warm greetings, he didn't recoil in horror upon meeting them so I was mightily encouraged.

I'm really glad that we've gone over there several times now just to walk around the halls and see the aquarium because he definitely feels like it's an OK place to go now. I do realize that he's probably going to feel a lot differently when there are other kids in the classroom (there will almost certainly be some whining and clinging) but I feel pretty good about how well he might do come Monday. Doesn't mean I won't cry though!

Also, it's been raining today. A lot. Finally. And Victor slept late. Things are looking up.

8/16/2008 3:25:16 PM  
We were due for a cold anytime now and Victor seems to have one. It had been so long that we were rather confused by his whiny behavior and sleep disturbances. Today he's coughing and sneezing and his nose is running. He's not in terrible spirits or anything but we decided that he was spewing forth too many germs to go to his friend Saira's birthday party.

Our big adventure for the day turned out to be driving out to Taylor to go to Louie Mueller's for one of our last barbeque field trips (I don't think it will be our very last because we'll almost certainly still have to go to Lockhart for Kreuz's in the next month). We didn't get out there until almost noon so the line was very, very long. We had a good half hour wait to get to the counter. And after all of that, Victor had no interest in brisket or ribs. Truly sad. He just wanted iced tea. And cake. Always with the cake.

James and I were able to enjoy a little Q though and we brought home as much as we ate and then some. We might have gotten a bit carried away. It's easy to do when you have to wait in that line because you get up there and feel like you have to stock up for 6 months. ;)

Victor spent his time just looking cute and getting sweatier by the minute:

He managed to display yet another "Purely PopPaw" expression:

(I may do this too but it screams PopPaw to me. James agreed.)

And all attempts by Daddy to offer him food were rebuffed:

Once we got back home, he was happily reunited with the orange bean bag:

And now both boys are napping away and I find myself almost (but not quite) disappointed because I was contemplating swimming. Nothing gets pit smoke off of you like chlorine, after all.

8/15/2008 4:20:47 PM  
Well, I had pretty much decided that we wouldn't bother with Music Together in Illinois since we'll have so many other things to finagle. Plus, it just won't be even close to the same. But today I looked at the class locator again and told myself "OK, but I am ONLY doing this if there is a class in Alton". And hey, there's a class in Alton. Not just that but I noticed from the director's address that she lives just a few doors down from Cousin Betty in Kirkwood. So yeah, I think that's meant to be. I'll just try not to think about the fact that the only time that works for us is Friday at 3:30. (The writing's on the wall. Napping is a luxury now and not a daily one.)

So this marks a huge moment, really. I am signing Victor up for music. In Illinois. This is really happening. I'm glad it worked out because I think that having something so familiar will really help Victor with the transition. So many other things will be so new but it will be a great comfort to both of us to hear those opening strums of "Hello Everybody..........."

8/13/2008 2:37:42 PM  
For some reason I've always been resistant to taking Victor to Chuck E. Cheese's. I was rather intimidated by it and was admittedly a bit snobbish about doing something so, well, cheesy. Lori convinced me to give it a shot. And yeah, he liked it. He really, really liked it. And not just because there was pizza either.

Victor was completely enthralled with riding the rides and playing the games. The concept of putting a token into a slot and making something happen was something so new and so exciting that he could barely contain himself. You know what he can say really, really clearly and loudly? "Mommy. Money!" He is also good at taking the more aggressive approach and just pawing his way into my pocket to get more tokens. I'm not sure if money just going into the piggy bank here at home will ever be as neato again.

Here's some footage of his maiden CEC voyage:

Yeah, the song seemed borderline inappropriate but I felt like the juxtaposition of Foreigner and the monster truck made it work. :)

8/12/2008 1:32:22 PM  
We had our last music class today. It's always a little sad to wind down any session of class but especially when you know it's the end of the line. Of an era, really. And I might have stayed emotionally stable to the very end if Carey hadn't sung "Happy Trails" to us. It was brutal.

This montage is short but sweet. 2 1/2 years of this song meaning "hey, almost time to put our shoes on!" and now it means something entirely else:

What a blessing to have had Miss Carey and Heartsong in our lives though. Such a bright spot in every week for both Victor and myself and it's definitely given Victor a very profound love of music. He sang before he talked, after all! I'm so thankful for the time we got to spend in such a positive space with such loving people, some of whom will be friends for life. Especially our beloved Miss Carey (who is no longer called "Crazy!").

After our tearful music goodbye, I figured I might as well just wallow in tears so I took Victor to register for school. I don't think I can muster the strength to talk about that yet. ;) And yes, it's possible that he might not even go to school here but I want to be ready in case. Ready. Yeah. Right.

8/12/2008 12:49:25 PM  
We finally let Victor go outside to play after dinner last night (for the first time in a few weeks, thanks to the novelty of new toys!). All three of us were missing our wagon rides around the neighborhood and we decided to just face the heat since we all needed baths anyway. Here's Victor in one of his favorite places:

Spiders, tree roaches, grease, rust, dirt and humidity. Yeah, what a great place to hang out!

8/11/2008 7:49:39 PM  
OK, the weekend recap. It was a bit chaotic, to say the least. Uncle Steven got married and that meant 4 late nights in a row. We also had Uncle John and Aunt Jeanie here at our house for about 24 hours. It was bittersweet knowing that it would be the last time! Unfortunately, I failed to get good wedding pics and I further failed to get pics with J&J and the rest of the gang. Uncle Rich is my only hope in that regard. Victor was just far too unmanageable to allow for much shooting of my own.

I did get Victor out to Jungle Java for some playing time yesterday morning since we were ejected once again for a house showing (we got an offer! yay!). Here he is sliding for the 184th time:

And then being reunited with his beloved laptop in the car afterwards:

We got out for one more indulgent meal last night. We were feeling pretty icky after a few days in a row of really rich food and free wine and beer paired with 104 degree heat (I think we're up to 47 days over 100 now. Seersee.). But we braved Z'Tejas for Jeanie. OK, so we were ecstatic to have an excuse to go. We stayed out too late and ate too much once again but Victor did enjoy wearing my shades out on the patio:

So an exhausting but big weekend. Steven is married! We got to see almost all of our best Austin friends in one night! We have an offer on our house! We're really going to move! I'm terrified!

8/11/2008 2:00:45 PM  
Victor's still singing Happy Birthday quite a lot (and still hoping that cake will materialize as a result). Today, I like to think that maybe he's singing it to his Great PopPaw, who was born 96 years ago today. For 95 1/2 years, he shared his infectious smile and his jocularity with those of us lucky enough to get to love and adore him. And we sure do miss him every day! I'm looking forward to having our first burger cookout on his patio in his honor very, very soon. I can think of few places more sacred.

Happy Birthday, Old Timer. Many happy knee pats. And if our booze weren't all in boxes somewhere in your house already, I'd raise a scotch & water to you too! :)

8/8/2008 5:13:24 PM  
Victor has been singing nonstop in the past week. He sings every song from the current music class collection and a lot of songs from past collections keep randomly surfacing (and that's a lot of songs over the past 2 1/2 years!). He also LOVES singing the theme song to Signing Time because he gets to sing "Alex and Leah!" (I think that he thinks the show somehow involves our friends Alex and Lia). But the most sung song of all today is the birthday song ("Happabirthday deeeWictor") but it's not sung just for the fun of it. He seems to believe that it will make cake magically appear. And we're all out of cake. Hopefully my enthusiastic applause will suffice for now.

8/6/2008 12:56:03 PM  
Things have finally calmed down a bit after all of the birthday festivities happening to coincide with a flurry of house showings. No good news yet on the house, however. And of course now that I feel like things have calmed down a bit, I realize that the house is in need of attention and we're sorely lacking groceries. We're kinda chilling today in spite of that. A day of recovery, if you will. It sounds like that is currently including a nap for Best Boy in the World.

We've had a nice day so far though. Victor got to have one more birthday celebration at therapy. Here he is with Gabi and the Wednesday morning boys (those stats about boys and developmental delays don't lie, do they?):

(Caylen is a little impatient about the candle blowing or lack therof. He wanted cupcake NOW!)

Here's Carter & Caylen. They're about to head off to kindergarten just as we gear up to move and we're going to really miss seeing them every week:

And here is Megan ("MegGAN!") stealing some cupcake from a hapless Victor:

After therapy, we went to get an oil change and car wash on the way home. It was Victor's last time at one of his favorite places (I think we'll be gone by 3 months or 3,000 miles, no?). He really loves watching the cars go through the wash:

Yep, we're getting to the point where we're doing more and more "last time" things. Next Tuesday will be last Music Together class. Ever. Tears will be shed. By me, of course. And this weekend is Uncle Steven's wedding which will mark the last time we get to see a lot of our friends for a while. So yeah, more tears.

8/3/2008 3:07:52 PM  
Well, it's been wild but fun. Our boy is 3 and he seems to know it. Yesterday he refused to nap before his party because he was too excited about his new toys. He decided to express himself by tearing his crib tent into shreds. So yeah, that's the end of that. Not sure quite how we're proceeding since we didn't really want to get a big boy bed until our next house. For now he's in the crib with the awareness that he can easily be out of it. It could get ugly.

His party was a success though, in spite of the severe nap deficit (which continues, by the way). He had a blast jumping and sliding and I think I can safely say that his buddies had a good time too:

I really enjoyed watching the little people and noticing the difference from last year to this year. They totally know what's up now and when they're ready for the cake, they are ready for the cake. And I love seeing them showing each other so much affection. He has so many dear, sweet little friends in his life and I'm very thankful for it.

Today was comparatively tame. Presents from Mommy & Daddy this morning, followed by the Big Wheel's maiden voyage and then bowling and Whataburger (Mommy, orange W, OK!??!?!!?"). But no, not a nap. Stayed in the crib though. I guess part of his birthday celebration will be an early bedtime. But here's the first part of it:

And now I must fill the baby pool. I haven't mentioned it recently but it's still hot here. As in really, really, very, very hot.

8/2/2008 10:51:08 AM  
Um, let's just say that Victor is getting this whole birthday boy concept. He wants "pwesents"! He adores everything he's gotten so far: his train set (an early gift from us), his laptop (thanks G!) and his Crocodile Dentist, or as he calls it, "algator" (thanks Aunt Jeanie and Uncle John!). Yep, the third birthday is a whole new ballgame. He gets that he's the focus and he actually has interests! Way more fun for everyone. :)

8/1/2008 7:45:38 PM  
Victor kicked off his birthday weekend today by going on his first chaperoned date with Miss Livie. Lori & I took the kiddos to see Wall-E. We set our expectations for completion low but they really hung in there. They were far more interested in each other than in the movie after a while though. We had joked that maybe they'd hold hands and then they did! Not only that but they relentlessly hugged each other and Victor allowed Livie to give him several kisses (offering his cheek enthusiastically). Cutest of all though, Victor handfed a very willing Livie a slew of popcorn. There were many giggles. Well here, see for yourself:

(If Lori got pics of the handholding, I'm going to have to update this. Also, this song is one of Victor's very, very favorites and he smiles helplessly when it comes on. I've been saving it for the perfect montage. Oh man, is he ever going to miss his Livie.)

Tomorrow's the big Mickey Mouse soiree. I just hope he naps beforehand. We spent much of our time today run out of the house by realtors.

7/31/2008 12:55:11 PM  
So we had the school district meeting this morning. Victor enters preschool in 26 days. Yep, he qualifies for services alright. I guess that in all of the frenzy around here, I somewhat underestimated just how emotionally draining this meeting was going to be. It was more brutal after the fact when it all started to sink in.

I was tearing up as soon as we started even walking into the school (and it's not even the school he'll go to) though. I'm not ready to walk my child into school. Like, at all. I managed to reel myself in and held it together for the duration of the meeting though. Victor charmed the socks off all 6 of the ladies in attendance and was none the wiser that we were all there to decide his fate. Everyone was very nice and conscientious and it was as pleasant of an experience as it probably could have been (although they could have been just a tad more organized).

We headed right to therapy afterwards and the moment Victor's beloved Megan asked how it went, I just kinda turned into a blubbering idiot. And I don't really know why. There were no surprises this morning. It's very odd though. It's like for 18 months, the word autism has been used so sparingly by everyone and it's usually been in hushed tones. Today it was in print in hundreds of different places on many, many, many forms. Sometimes in bold print. Jolting, to say the least. It is what it is and it really changes nothing, except that now Victor can be in a special preschool program. And that's good. It still felt like a solid punch to the gut though.

The gist is this. Victor has an IEP (individualized education plan) which is basically his passport to special education wherever we go. It may change substantially with time. We have good reason to hope that it will because he's doing so great in therapy and adding this socialization piece to the mix should only improve his progress. His primary disability is listed as autism (and he is classified as PDD-NOS, exactly as expected) and his secondary disability is speech impairment. Ironically, this gets him a whopping 30 minutes per week in district speech therapy. Wow. Thanks.

So yeah, he's obviously still going to be getting private therapy. To think otherwise would be a hideous mistake. He gets SO much out of it and it's worth every penny (and it's quite a few pennies, I assure you) to see the confidence and competence he is gaining there. I'll remind myself of this when I'm driving an hour into St. Louis for therapy! Speaking of which, we've got a few buyers coming to look at the house today and tomorrow. Fingers crossed. Don't you just figure that as soon as I get him comfortable and used to the idea of school here, it will be time to head north?

I've got my meltdown out of my system, I think. It's time to focus on the best boy ever's (he calls himself "Best Boy Ever" or "Awesome!" now....thanks Daddy) birthday party and subsequent festivities. Only three spanks on the agenda but thousands of kisses and hugs!

7/29/2008 12:36:59 PM  
I just stumbled upon an article that may not be of any interest to anyone who reads this blog, except perhaps for Ruth and Lia, but it's the most exciting cinematic news I could possibly imagine!

Where the Wild Things Are

"Where The Wild Things Are" is a movie. A movie that may or may not ever get released here. I assure you that it will break my heart and/or enrage me if it doesn't. Love Spike Jonze. Sometimes love Dave Eggers. Love, love, love "Where the Wild Things Are". The combination of the three is dizzyingly promising for me, even it may end up being too dark for a 3 year old (because let's face it - I love the book just as much as he does, if not more).

OK. Back to regular Victor programming. But seersee, I'm pumped.

7/27/2008 2:42:29 PM  
Open House #2 down. If last week was a waste of cookie dough and flowers, this week was a waste of cookie dough, flowers, ice and helium. At least I've got enough helium leftover for party balloons for next Saturday (hopefully). Of course Victor and I had to vacate the premises again. And we had to drag Uncle John, who was here visiting for Uncle Steven's guys' day, with us. We had fun but - you guessed it - it was hot!

Uncle John drug us to Mount Bonnell, where we caught this view:

(Cross that off my list as a place we still need to visit before leaving.)

Victor was, as usual, not feeling the full sun:

We managed to get one group shot, thanks to a friendly stranger, but I was distressed because Victor was removing my prized amethyst earring as the pic was taken:

Uncle John took this shot of the stairs as we were leaving and managed to even capture the two stinkiest guys we've ever encountered:

Somehow those guys managed to waft past us about 5 times during our ascent and descent, once even pausing to lift their hands above their heads so that we could fully experience their malodorous fumes.

And then, while Daddy paced around at home waiting for the sudden rush of people to show up at the open house (never happened), we killed a little time at Laguna Gloria. Victor was wearing down by that point but was able to share a few moments on a bench with UJ:

And then we came home to our clean, shiny, greatly ignored house.

[James here]
This characterization is a little misleading; unlike last week where we had 5 visitors and none of them were potential homebuyers, this week in the last 20 minutes we had two homebuyers stop by and do a full tour of the house.

[Dawn again]
As if. Whatever. Puh-leeze.

7/26/2008 4:46:04 PM  
Whew. Today we finally rode the Austin Steam Train! It's all part of Mommy's "activity wish list fulfillment" and was a good way to spend a Daddyless Saturday (Daddy was busy with a guys' outing). And what could make it even better? Cousin Susan, of course! We had a lot of fun, in spite of having to endure some wicked heat and pushing WAY past naptime. Another montage coming at you, this time featuring Victor's favorite song:

And now time for a lowkey night of pizza and mopping.

7/26/2008 3:02:48 PM  
Last night marked one of those firsts to which I'm been sooooo looking forward. Victor went bowling! He really caught on quickly too. He understood the concept of the lanes and what to do pretty immediately. The only thing that really escaped him (surprise, surprise!) was the idea of taking turns. He thought that it was going to be just 10 frames of all Vector all the time. (The dude at the counter misspelled Victor's name).

Good times. Rolling. Everything I dreamed of and more.

Also yesterday? Mimi & PopPaw's 38th wedding anniversary. Hope it was a good one, you two.

(Victor loves this pic of M&P. I do too.)

7/23/2008 2:45:24 PM  
Today I've spent quite a bit of time taking pictures of Victor's favorite toys, etc., for his "social story" that his SLP Megan is constructing for him. We are making a picture book to depict leaving the old house and then going to the new house but seeing familiar things/faces/activities there to help him rehearse the transition a little in his mind. I wanted to get a more recent picture of Pru so that he could be assured that his kitty will be at the new house. I somehow don't think these are what Megan had in mind as depictions though:

Pru's a good sport. And really, so is that bear.

7/21/2008 3:18:50 PM  
Victor is presently napping VERY hard, thanks to RockNRiver. Unfortunately, his enjoyment of RNR was somewhat hindered by the fact that he was tired going in. He definitely did have a lot of fun but there were many mini-battles. Lots of that whole "I want to be on my own but I can't do any of this myself" angst. Water slides torment him so. He WANTS so badly to do it but just can't quite muster the courage. Mostly he just wants to stand at the foot of the slide to watch other kids come down. You know, right where he'll get smacked into by said other kids. [Sigh.] But we braved it! And hats off to Ruth for braving it with two in tow.

We had speech therapy bright and early this morning (and headed on for water sports from there!) and it went pretty spectacularly. Victor did really well with sitting at the small table in a chair for most of his session and then briefly played on the floor at the end. This is rather significant because he often has a hard time focusing there, mostly because he knows there are toys hidden behind Sharon's doors! And she did some receptive vocab testing with him so that she can score what age level he's at now and he was pointing at the correct picture for almost every word she would say (still having some trouble with action words, Leener). Sharon said that she wishes we had video of him from just 3-4 months ago when he wouldn't point consistently even though he knew the words! He's being such a good boy lately about working hard at therapy.

Speaking of which, I also talked to the school district diagnostician who did Victor's testing for preschool placement. He's eligible for services with a "diagnosis" of PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder). This is as we expected but it was still good to get confirmation. So he can definitely go to preschool here for as long as we live here! And he'll get the elusive IEP to take with him to his next educational destination! Double yay. Now I just have to prepare myself to send my baby to school.

I had a great chat with the diagnostician and she feels that Victor is truly a marginal case. She said that she thinks that there is a really good chance that a year from now he won't display many autistic tendencies at all and that he'll be mainstreamed for kindergarten. Most importantly, she was extremely complimentary about how we've handled his intervention and she said that looking back at his records, it's obvious to her that the changes we've pushed so hard for in the past 6 months have had a tremendous impact on his progress. It was really gratifying to hear that someone thinks we're doing a good job. And by golly, I think we are. We've been lucky to have a little boy who has been so willing to adjust to the changes and work really hard at his therapy. And of course we've also been lucky to have therapists who really care about him!

7/20/2008 8:45:36 PM  
It's a strange feeling to be wishing for Monday to come so that we can just chill out a little after a grueling weekend. We had a pretty good day of recovery today but then had to head out for James' going away tennis party. Here's Victor in the car on the way there:

He's got his own style, alright.

Once there, Victor was not content to hang out in the air-conditioned pro shop as I had hoped. Oh no, we had to get outside to fully embrace the 104 degree heat:

Next weekend will be even wackier. And then the weekend after that? He'll be 3. Unfathomable.

7/19/2008 3:45:33 PM  
The wall. She has been hit. Everyone but Victor is exhausted beyond words. The open house is ov-AH. It was a flop of epic proportions, actually. Very few people traipsing through here. On the bright side, this apparently artificial deadline forced us to get the house ready for showing. It's very ready. It's never looked better. But nobody wants to see it yet! Hopefully this next week will net better results.

Speaking of the house that has robbed us of sleep all week (specifically the Saltillo tiles that have done so), here's a little montage of pics from this morning for Mimi to see. I was too tired to do yard pictures. I realize that this is of little interest to anyone else. Also, I assure Mimi that the vacuum did get put away before people showed up (I love my Dyson but not enough to make it part of the decor):

[Song chosen just for PopPaw.]

So while the open house/"giant waste of cookie dough and flowers" was going on, my job was to get Victor far, far away from here. We contemplated many outdoor activities but I decided to opt for A/C since we nearly melted outside yesterday at Kiddie Acres:

[Victor and Livie look more and more like a real couple all the time.]

So today Victor went to his first movie. Space Chimps. Yep, Space Chimps. And as I told Mimi, "we got through it". He did great for 30 minutes and then it was just nothing but damage control. I was determined to make it all the way through though. It's not that he wanted to leave or anything. He just became far more interested in his own voice and the mechanics of the theater chairs than the movie itself. Understandably.

There were two things that Victor LOVED about the movie though. First and foremost, he thought that the MGM lion (you know, he of 3 second roar!) was beyond awesome. Also, he saw the trailer for "The Tale of Despereaux" and was entranced with a huge smile on his face the whole time. I guess any kin of Mickey's is a friend of Victor's (Despereaux is a mouse). And a quick check of IMDB revealed why I was so charmed by that rodent myself. Voiced by Matthew Broderick. We'll be taking another crack at moviegoing for that one!

7/16/2008 10:41:04 PM  
Exhaustion finally set in tonight. Victor tried to comfort his poor sad, tired Daddy:

But then it was on to begging relentlessly for a wagon ride. Oh, and he did some of his weird stair dancing:

The house is almost ready, really. Ready enough to justify sleeping for more than 4 hours for the first time in several nights.

7/14/2008 1:44:41 PM  
The house is officially for sale. Not that we are in any way ready to actually show it to people! We are having an open house on Saturday and our to-do list for this week is beyond daunting. (This is sure to make James scoff.) Victor has been pretty much an impediment to my progress during daylight hours. I paint at night. Alone. By the dim light of our ill-lit house.

Lest you think Victor isn't at least trying to contribute though, I submit Exhibit A:

It's just a dry mop head but he really thinks he's getting somewhere with it. The best part is the song......"Victor is mopping, mopping, mopping. Victor is mopping up and down!".

7/12/2008 2:42:39 PM  
The house is in a state of severe disarray and Victor is not napping, even though he knows he needs to nap. However, I won't fault him much since he currently has no door on his room and he is being "soothed" by the sound of power tools. He needs to nap. Did I mention that? He wore himself out earlier at CiCi's birthday party:

Cousin Susan is babysitting tonight while James and I go catch a movie. I think V will probably go to bed for her without a bit of a fight.

7/11/2008 3:51:23 PM  
[James here]
A couple days ago we started trying to teach Victor to answer the questions: "What's your name?" and "How old are you?" To give him incentive I would always reply to his answer of "Three" with "Three?! You're awesome!" Today, he began answering both questions clearly and even trying to hold up three fingers when asked his age. And, if you don't say, "You're awesome!" at the end, he will. This was quite a surprise to his first non-family victim, Ruth. What's even better is that I was able to go through this conversation with him over the phone just now. It really was awesome.

[Dawn: I can't remember if he actually did it for Ruth.]

7/8/2008 2:20:40 PM  
Victor has recently become obsessed with YouTube (mostly because we lost his Choo Choo Soul DVD and have had to watch eps there). He loves the immediate gratification. Ask for something (today, it's kittens!) and Mommy can make it appear. Usually. Having seen the Mickey Mouse theme song a gazillion times, this was a welcome change today:

Victor thought it was hilarious and immediately started counting in Spanish in an attempt to impress Raton. I just love the announcer's voice, especially for Donald.

It's a no nap day here. A little too excited about his return to music class today. The schedule change is a definite success!

7/5/2008 1:35:45 PM  
This morning, Victor & went to our last Biscuit Brothers concert as Austinites (Daddy opted out and thus missed out). It was, of course, a good time but was also quite sad. I was feeling pretty weepy during the closing number. For most of the 45 minutes, Victor's eyes were glued to the stage:

He briefly assumed the demeanor of a music critic but my aim was a little - um, off:

Victor started to lose interest until Buttermilk passed out flags for all of the kids for the big patriotic number:

When the show was over, he had the routine down and sprinted into the lobby, flag waving, looking for the bros:

He immediately found Buford and ran up to him and said "Say hit to Buford!" to which Buford said "Hi, Buford". But Buford also complimented Victor on his farmer's overalls so there was a definite skip in his step as we left the building. For the last time. [Heart breaking.]

And now, even though he was up late and even though I have a ton of painting I need to do, Victor is not willing to consider napping. Guess who just bought himself a grocery shopping excursion?

7/4/2008 10:47:30 PM  
Fireworks were a bust. We tried. I mean, we REALLY tried. We drove all the way downtown and drove around looking for reasonable parking for far too long and then we decided that it just wasn't worth it to walk 2 miles amongst the seedier elements of the city. So we grabbed Whataburger and went to the NI parking garage.

From there we saw many different fireworks displays but they were all too far in the distance to even remotely impress Victor. That may have been because he was so taken with his strawberry shake though:

The resulting sugar high made for a pretty late night but he's now resting peacefully. Meanwhile his farmer outfit is laid out for tomorrow morning.................

7/4/2008 1:29:41 PM  
We braved the sun to go to the Milwood Neighborhood Parade & Picnic this morning. It was fun. And hot. But also fun.

Luckily Victor is napping away because he'll need all of his strength for a late night of fireworks!

7/3/2008 3:17:38 PM  
The holiday weekend is underway. Lots of fun spackling going on right now while Victor naps! We did get out for some fun at the park last night and it wasn't even unpleasant. Here are a few shots from Schroeter:

And today brought a rare and special treat - James & I got to go have an adult lunch together all by ourselves while Victor was in therapy. Afterwards we ran by NI to pick something up and Victor tried to get a little work done for Daddy:

Will there be more pics this weekend? Oh yes, there will be more. We've got a parade and fireworks and a Biscuit Brothers concert on tap. Have a happy and safe 4th everybody!

7/2/2008 2:07:31 PM  
Wednesdays just kinda rule. Victor's having another really good day. He certainly started off on the right foot. As soon as I went into his room this morning, he exclaimed "It's Mommy!". (He usually just says "Mommy.") Then when I hit Starbucks on the way to therapy, as soon as I pulled into the drive-thru he said "open window" and once I did, he shouted out the window, clear as day "Venti! Thank you!". Needless to say, therapy went well too. And actually there were school district people there to observe his speech session so it worked out well because he illustrated for them how well he can do in a structured setting. Fingers crossed that he is eligible for special services (and all indications are that he will be).

He's being just an incredibly sweet boy in general this whole week, even with napping being completely hit and miss. When he is willing to lie down and chill out, the weighted blanket seems to be doing wonders for him. He settles in to sleep much more quickly when he is willing to have his blanket on. We're on two days in a row of napping as I type this! Of course, he'd be crazy not to nap today. He had an extremely action-packed morning.

After 2 consecutive hours of therapy, including the slight stress of being observed, he was still rather perky. He was even patient while I talked to Megan about how we need to change up the way we're modeling a lot of language so that Victor will stop talking like Foghorn Leghorn. I do a lot of rehearsing social situations with him ("We're going to see Megan and you will say 'Hi Megan' to her".) and I still say "Can you say _______ ?" way too often with him. As a result, we keep hearing "I say HI Megan!" or "I say more cake". In other words, Foghorn Leghornism. It will be rectified fairly easily.

Anyway, he had enough stamina left that I figured he would enjoy Kiddie Acres with his bud Livie. And while they were both rather subdued, bordering on groggy, fairly quickly (the sun was really beating down!), some fun was had. Victor especially enjoyed helping himself to some of Livie's pizza and playing in the misters with her. We even got them to hug goodbye. And then we had to restage it since I didn't have the camera out the first time! Honestly, how could I not make a montage?!?!?!

7/1/2008 4:08:25 PM  
Oh no. Did you just hear my horrified screams?!?!? Victor's birthday party invitations went out a few days ago. Here's a scanned image of the invite:

Did you see the typo? It's not just a typo but one of my all-time grammatical pet peeves. I'll give you a hint. Apostrophe. As in an apostrophe that is not needed but is instead sitting there like a boil on an otherwise good (albeit overly wordy) invitation. I am having horrible flashbacks of my wedding invitations. But at least we caught "immediatelly" in time. Inflatable's. Ugh.

Mickey sure is cute jumping around though. I think even a cartoon mouse would have done better proofreading.

7/1/2008 2:34:32 PM  
Much as a bonafide rain ended our drought (temporarily) a few nights ago, I suppose I should end the blog drought. Just not a whole lot to report. Doing all our usual stuff while trying desperately to get manual labor done whenever possible. That has been greatly complicated by some nap striking. I think there have been maybe 4 naps over the past 7 days. He's sure sleeping right now though!

There have been a few battles here and there about going outside. The bugs and the heat are so brutal that I've been fighting it but I did manage to get Victor out very briefly this morning for a park frolic. He was pleased. Here he is mugging in the car as we left Springwoods:

Yeah, he's cool.

6/24/2008 1:46:24 PM  
A little video catchup going on here. I'm too lazy to figure out how to add them to the video page so I'm just YouTubing them for now. Besides, this puts them in one place for Mimi to see.

Here's Victor's enthusiastic version of Twinkle Twinkle:

And here's a don't-blink-or-you'll-surely-miss-it clip of Victor & John on the BIG slide together:

And lastly, here's our OT co-pays hard at work. And here's also why there is a mini-tramp on Victor's Amazon Wish List:

{And Ruth, I believe that's checkmate with the House of Pain. :-) }

Footnote: These videos looks awful on our desktop computer but look great on the laptop. Thanks NI! ;) This laptop rocks.

6/23/2008 3:38:06 PM  
Recently Fig Newmans have become the Holy Grail of snacks. I mean, moreso than ever. Not only are they highly coveted here in our house but they are also apparently incredibly hard to come by all of a sudden, for some crazy reason. The Gateway Whole Foods (as opposed to the huge landmark store downtown that is practically a field trip) has been out of the regular purple bag version the last 5 times I've gone. Seersee. 5 times. And I was already gravely concerned about how we will possibly stock up well enough once we're in small town Illinois. My fears have been put to rest. I think.

Amazon is already my lifeline for products of all types, given my extreme distaste for malls. Well now they are my supplier of Fig Newmans. By the case! Not only that but they also offer subscription discounts. We can get a case of precious FNs once a month (though I think we'll go with once every two months since we'll surely be at Whole Foods in St. Louis sometimes). As long as the quality is good and the "use by" dates are not worrisome (my obsession with "use by" dates is a bit quirky in its own right), this is the best thing that has happened in a long time. Our first shipment arrives Wednesday. Until then, Victor will continue to cry about me trying to foist the lowfat version upon him. He has chocolate pudding and green beans to console him.

Oh, and Victor? He's really busy this week working on trying to utter some really longish phrases. I mean, he is FOCUSED. He is spending more time than ever reciting from his books but I feel like he's doing it in a very productive way. He practices and practices words until he gets them right and he's getting better at stringing things together. That's been a struggle still - almost like he's had a 3 syllable limit. It feels like he's on the cusp of some kind of extensive monologue about turning 3. I can't wait to hear it!

He wasn't super jazzed about speech this morning though. Pretty lowkey there. We went swimming afterwards though and the cold water (Deep Eddy!) perked him right up. And he sure cracked up when I slipped on the slimy bottom (springfed pool) and we both went underwater. I deem that progress. My bruised butt (yeah, I said it - butt!) disagrees. Victor spent the bulk of his time at the pool acting as some kind of self-appointed toy custodian though. I'm always telling him to put his toys on the side of the pool when he's done so they don't float off or get seized by overzealous pool urchins. So he walked around most of the perimeter of the shallow end singing "Clean up, clean, everybody everywhere, clean up, clean up everybody share!" while putting kids' toys on the wall. Never mind that some of those kids were actually playing with the toys.

6/21/2008 2:16:20 PM  
A fun but busy few days here. Yesterday we went swimming with John & Betsy (and Ruth, of course) and it was actually chilly! It was sublime. Sadly, there was very little adjacent swimming due to the strong wills of two boys with specific (and often mysterious) agendas that rarely seemed to intersect. This, of course, concerned them none at all. Frustrating for mommies who need to catch up though! I thought it would wear Victor out.

Nope. No nap. So by late afternoon I packed him up and took him to Kiddie Acres, figuring we should enjoy the upper 80s while we could. And it was certainly fun but deliriously tired Victor seemed like he was looking around for someone he couldn't find (at one point, he did ask for "Mivie" so I suspect she was who he sought). Today there was no such loneliness. Today he was reunited with Annika:

The kiddos enjoyed cooling off (it's way hot again) in the sprinklers and giving each other wet hugs and then we all had a yummy and surprisingly relaxing lunch together. And we weren't even left feeling too melancholy about it because we'll get to see Lars, Aisha and Annika in St. Louis since they visit family back there fairly often. I can't wait to see A&V together on the Zooline Railroad! I'm telling you - they were made to be photographed together. Both tall and both completely precious.

Apparently Victor was a little too thrilled by the Annika reunion because once again, no nap happening. Not fair. My to-do list is not shrinking!

6/19/2008 12:46:40 PM  
Just thought I'd report in that Victor has had a great week therapy-wise. All 3 days have gone really well. No more crying about the transition when we arrive and he's interacting with the other kids a lot more. He loves Wednesdays most of all, I think, because he gets to spend 2 whole hours with Megan (his new SLP). He seems to have a better rapport with her than he's had with anyone. It will be so hard to leave her behind.

No new pics this week because honestly, we're not doing much out in the world. We're well on our way to a all-time record for most days over 100 in May-June so outside time has been very limited. Plus, it's just crazy busy around here with trying to get stuff done on the house. There's not enough time to do this stuff with an impatient boy underfoot all the time (especially given recent nap striking). And we have social commitments on the next 4 Saturday mornings! I'm ready to just write "AS IS" on our house in magic marker.

Victor's been doing and saying lots of cool stuff but I'm too tired to even think of what any of it is right now. It'll come to me.

6/15/2008 7:14:48 AM  
A bit of a bittersweet Father's Day. Missing Great PopPaw more than ever, looking forward to seeing much more of PopPaw in just a few months and feeling simultaneously blessed to have and threatened by Daddy (Victor is very much Daddy's boy right now). Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there but especially to mine. And, of course, to Victor's:

6/13/2008 6:54:31 PM  
Oh, how we've missed our friends these past few weeks! I know, I know.....it's a glimpse into our immediate future. And that does sadden me immensely. (Speaking of being saddened immensely, I would have posted this sooner if I hadn't been mourning Tim Russert for most of the afternoon.) Today we ventured out for a rather ambitious playdate with Lori & Livie at Aquarena Springs.

I've always wanted to go check it out. Now I have. Was it fun? Absolutely. Would I go back? Probably not. My opinion is greatly influenced by the traffic on I-35 though. The kiddos really did enjoy the glass bottom boat tour, however. It's just unfortunate that it wasn't a bit longer. And, you know, cooler. How many days over 100 is this now?!?!?!? Ruth, what does your buddy Jim Spencer say? ;)

Turns out that it's hard to take pictures of the actual glass bottom of a glass bottom boat. Weird reflection stuff going on (yes, even with flash off!). Got some pics of the little aquaroonies though:

The highlight of the day was not captured, unfortunately. After lunch, I told Victor to go give Livie a hug and he did it. And he might have been about to give her a kiss (upon my suggestion) but her laughter caught him off guard and he thought better of it. He's got many years to work on his self-confidence in those situations!

6/11/2008 2:42:39 PM  
We survived Phase 1 of Operation Illini-Bound. Barely. The last few days are a complete blur. It was just a whole lot of work in not much time.

We got the truck yesterday morning at 8:00 a.m. and Mimi & Deb pulled out at midnight. As in 16 hours later. And naturally, now that I've had a little rest (a whopping 3 hours of sleep!), I see all sorts of things that I could have and should have thrown into boxes. We purged a whole lot though and the house looks WAY better. The echo effect downstairs is pretty entertaining to our monkey.

Victor really held up pretty well, aside from some tantrums about not getting to go outside to help with the loading. He got to splash a little on Monday afternoon though while I took a packing break:

He was allowed to play on the truck for a bit when it first arrived here at the house. He liked it. A lot..........

Oh, and here are our heroes, Mimi and Debbie:

They not only flew down here to drive the truck to Illinois for us, but they also babysat on Sunday night so that we could go have an adult anniversary dinner. Mmmmmmm, Moonshine. In fact, we ate very well throughout the whole ordeal. We took our personal movers out for both BBQ and Tex-Mex (still trying to hit all of the places on our "food bucket list"). Here's Victor at Trudy's last night:

So yeah, we managed to have some fun during the whirlwind known as Phase 1. I hope Thelma & Louise are holding up well on their road trip! Also, in spite of a short night's sleep, Victor had a stellar therapy day this morning. His word list today was quite impressive. So, if we can catch up on some sleep tonight, we'll be practically good as new.

6/11/2008 10:00:26 AM  
[James here]

I wanted to note that Victor has really ramped up his two word usage in the last week or so. Most notably what I've been observing is that he will now spell his name using the letters on the wall, but he'll label the colors too. So, it goes "Blue ... V", "Yellow ... I", "Orange ... C", "Red ... T", "Blue ... O", and "Green ... R". He's also been saying "TV On" quite a bit. Go figure :)

6/7/2008 11:03:18 PM  
We took a much-needed break from packing tonight to go to our penultimate Biscuit Brothers concert (although I'd certainly make the effort to see them in visits back to Austin after the move). What we did not get much of a break from was the heat. At least we were mostly in the shade and it was, as always, a rollicking good time:

Victor now asks for the Bros by name but he calls them "Farmers!". Basically, anyone in overalls is a farmer. And their sister Buttermilk Biscuit is known as "Mommy" because he is really generalizing mommy lately. He loves to point out mommies and babies in books and on TV and even in person. It's cool but it bums me out a little because I waited so long to hear "Mommy" that I don't really want to share it.

Tomorrow Mimi & Auntie Debbie Doo arrive for Phase 1 of The Big Move. We're feeling very ready to have a visit but not even close to ready for loading day (Tuesday). But the free babysitting tomorrow night for our anniversary date night will remind us why the move is a good thing!

6/6/2008 12:09:41 AM  
Happy 10th anniversary to the guy who still makes me laugh this hard:

You're the best around.

6/4/2008 1:42:58 PM  
It was a bittersweet day because it was V's last music class of the session. While we ARE doing summer session, a lot of our little music buddies are not (including our beloved Gwenny Gwen). So it was definitely a goodbye of sorts and that naturally called for a montage. :)

Today might have been one of the last times we go to Phil's too. That's not to say that it wasn't fun and scrumptious as ever but it's just so hot for outdoor playscaping at this point. It's only 93 right now but it sure feels worse.

6/3/2008 1:21:37 PM  
Well, everything is just plain topsy turvy with Victor's schedule right now. I, for one, thinks he's adapting pretty darned well, all things considered. He was back to see Sharon on Monday for the first time in a few weeks. We had kind of a trial separation to see how he did with speech over at the other clinic. He was ecstatic when we pulled into her parking lot and began shouting her name. And we were early enough that we had some time in the car to talk about things so we practiced saying "Hi Sharon!" (something he had still never done for her) several times. When we got inside, he was just buzzing with anticipation and the moment she opened her door and came into the waiting area, he shouted "Hi Sharon!". So yeah, Sharon and I both had some tears. It wasn't just that he finally did it but that he was so proud of himself.

And speech at the clinic is going extremely well too. We'll probably transition to just doing that soon. He really likes Megan a lot. We're seeing a lot of improvement across the board, actually. He's repeating a lot more words but more importantly, he's retaining a lot more as we label new things for him. I think he's just plain paying more attention now and has so much more interest in knowing what to call things (he's starting to have those aha moments about the power and allure of language!). We're getting more two-word phrases all the time too, still usually involving colors but also some directional phrases and even a few noun and verb pairings. Good stuff.

The only thing that has really, really, really become a problem is the transition when he first gets to therapy. He gets very confused and anxious about who he's working with and what they're doing on a given day and a lot of that is because the schedule has been changed a lot lately, including some make-ups from the holiday weekend, etc. He's crying and clinging when we first get there because he doesn't know what the expectations are so we're really trying to help him work through that by making him wait for someone to come get him instead of going back on his own like he has a lot in the past.

And the new schedule is not making me exactly happy either. I'm still going to be taking him to therapy 4 mornings all summer (3 if and when we stop seeing Sharon). I'm at least pleased that our Tuesday 11:00 speech got moved up to 8:00. Yeah, can you believe I'm saying that? I just loathe the 11:00 slot though. He's so tired and hungry by the time we get settled into the car and it makes naptime more of a struggle than it needs to be. I'm trying to wrap my head around the fact that we're going to have to be there at 8:00 on both Tuesdays and Wednesdays though! On one hand, I think he gets a lot more out of it early in the morning when it's quieter there. And I like that we can still go do something afterwards before lunch. But the problem is that it's already almost too hot for the park at 9:00 but it's too early for any of the pools!

I'm telling ya, one of these days I'm going to get crazy and drive to San Antonio to go to the zoo after therapy. I'll be waiting for a cold snap though (temps dipping below 90, that is).

5/31/2008 8:01:45 PM  
We survived the yard sale and it was pretty much a success, especially given the heat index. I am usually pretty far-removed from my former life as an attorney but I do tend to cling to delusions of grandeur about the value of my time and today was no exception because it felt like I should have walked away with a lot more coinage for all the work I put into it. It's over though and we were able to purge a lot of storage space suckers. Victor was such a good boy all day - very patient and adaptable (and took a great nap!). Here he is making his first ever purchase:

He bought an Elmo toy from Ruth for 25 cents. Luckily, he's starting conservative. He also gave a Fisher Price product demo:

While Betsy did some quality control and lured people into the sale with her big smile:

We're feeling lazy and celebratory tonight but it won't last long because there is a whole lot of packing to do in the next week. Oh, and the early birds? They showed up at 6:15. All kinds of wrong.

5/29/2008 1:21:19 PM  
I keep hearing one of my very favorite Seinfeld lines in my mind over and over today. "People. They're the worst." I am -thisclose- to refusing to answer any more e-mails from yard sale fanatics. I've got to finish getting ready for the yard sale rather than having in-depth discussions about individual items. Man. What ever happened to kicking it old school? The thrill of the hunt? Honestly, it would not even occur to me to e-mail someone to interrogate them about their junk.

Naturally, OT was slightly horrific today. V's therapist keeps reiterating that the changes here at home are making him even more mentally disorganized than usual and we need to get things as settled and normal as we can ASAP. I didn't scream OR burst into tears, surprisingly. Nor did I make sarcastic comments. OK, not many. Just a few. You know, about how I'd very much like for things to be more normal too. Seersee, I'm not doing all of this just because I enjoy bubble wrap and packing tape (though I admittedly do enjoy those things a little too much).

Meanwhile, I've got a ton of sorting to do this afternoon and I think we've got yet another nap strike going on. Also, I'm fairly certain that he's destroying the crib tent right now. My primary goal for this yard sale is to earn enough money to buy a web cam and, if we're super duper lucky, maybe pay for Phase 1 of the move. I'll remind myself of these things that motivate me when I sit in the sweltering heat dealing with the quirkiest people known to man.

Edited to add this picture........

See, he's so livid about the disorganization in the living room that his eyes are glowing red! Looks really traumatized, doesn't he?

5/28/2008 1:26:59 PM  
I think Craigslist is like the greatest thing ever. Have I ever sold stuff on it? Heck no. I don't want people showing up at my house (which is why the yard sale that is now just 3 days away will probably push me over the edge). Have I ever bought stuff? Heck no. I don't want to go to strangers' houses. (Again, how did Victor ever turn out to be such an aloof little fellow?). And now I see the problem with listing a yard sale on Craigslist. People are e-mailing me left and right to ask me if I'm selling this or that or the other. Is it not enough that they'll be stomping all over my front yard before sunrise on Saturday?

I can safely say that Victor wants this yard sale OVER just as much as I do. The upheaval and disarray is showing me that he is more rigid and routine-bound than I perhaps allowed myself to believe previously. But geez, all of the boxes littering our entire downstairs make me feel pretty jittery and out of sorts too. What's really getting to him though is that we've been so busy that he hasn't gotten as much attention as he's used to getting. And for that I do feel pretty badly.

I'm trying to make it up to him when and where I can. Just yesterday I took him swimming and I barely even complained when he got out of the pool, put on his shoes and tried to "shoe" me after a mere 20 minutes. I could have whined about how that was barely worth the sunscreening and the lost pool toys that I spaced out and left there (let alone the bath that we could have otherwise skipped). But really Victor has a lot to feel out of sorts about so I'm giving him a free pass on the speed swimming.

To enumerate:

1. Daddy was home for 4 1/2 days straight and now he's not. This is epically sad. Victor loves Daddy. Daddy is happy fun guy. Mommy makes unsatisfactory animal noises.

2. Victor hasn't napped in the past two days. (He's putting an end to this run right now though. Hallelujah.)

3. Victor hasn't pooped in even more days. He's allowed to eat as many Fig Newmans as he wants right now. He may actually be tiring of them.

4. Did I mention that there are boxes ALL over the downstairs? And we can't park in our garage? And half of his toys have already been packed up into storage tubs?

5. It's really hot.

6. And mold spores are rampant.

7. Other people exist at music class. And sometimes some of them want to be the one to get to turn the lights off and then back on at lullaby time. Screaming and flailing doesn't change this.

8. Yo Gabba Gabba isn't on this week. I'm pretty surly about that one too.

So yeah, this whole move thing is gonna be rough. I'm really going to have to work hard to make it easier on Victor however I can. But luckily that mostly just means that we'll have to go have lots of fun when we can. Somewhere besides in this house!

5/26/2008 8:54:14 PM  
It was somewhat of a grueling Memorial Day weekend but we spent it doing what we like best - avoiding public crowds and doing manual labor. James pressure washed everything humanly possible yesterday while I worked on organizing Victor's room (packing/folding for consignment/tagging for yard sale). Victor was very patient for a while but the inability to go outside in the yard eventually made him inconsolable. We went to Whole Foods at 7:00 last night and he was beside himself with glee. Stayed up late since he had napped so long.

Today? Victor slept until 10:00. And much as we needed a solid block of nap time to get stuff done, I knew we needed to break this cycle we've been in for nearly a week. So we made the executive decision to blow off napping today. Bless James' heart - he kept Victor pretty darned entertained today while I tackled the coat closet (otherwise known as the abyss). Victor played outside with Daddy and helped Daddy with lots of chores. The cutest moment was seeing Victor tinkering under the sink and holding his own pliers.

He did pick up a new and somewhat unfortunate catchphrase this weekend though. Since he's already decided that he can go anywhere and reach anything (we don't call him The Raccoon for nothing) and there were a lot of places we didn't want him raccooning around this weekend, he was told to get out of there many times. So yeah, now he says "Get out of here!" constantly. There's the delirious, slaphappy version but there's also the mad, slaphandy version. But it's a sentence, right!?!?!? His other favorite sentence is "I want to go!". And it always applies.

Thank goodness for a new week tomorrow. We need the rest. Well, you know, except for that whole impending yard sale thing.

5/23/2008 8:39:03 PM  
Got quite a bit of yard sale prep done today but not before getting the boy outside for some fun. Thinking we'd beat the worst of the heat, we headed to Champion Park with the Connells as early as we could all manage. And guess what? The heat was on. We tried our best to retreat into the shade of the sand pit (everyone, that is, except for Victor) but it was pretty stifling.

In a surprising act of adventure, Victor descended into the little creek to cool off a bit. And then he & John got to cool off even more in the whale sprinkler before we all trudged, tired and wilted, to the car. Behold the Champions of Champion Park:

After a long day of packing and sorting, I'm wishing we had a whale sprinkler in our backyard. It's hot, y'all.

5/22/2008 1:33:32 PM  
Should be in yard sale prep mode (I just made the executive decision that I need to move my car out of the garage for the next week, in spite of the heat, and now I'm even more filled with dread) but I have a few pressing items on my mind. Even though I can hear James in my mind pontificating about prioritization and discipline. Can it, James. I'll get to it.

First, small musical and noise-making stuffed animals. We were trying to keep these noisy creatures away from Victor for a while but have swung back the other way since they not only ground him sometimes when he gets out of sync but more importantly, they interest him enough to make him say stuff. So yeah, there are a lot of these animals littering my car, our house, etc.

The favorite has always been the lion but his roar came to an abrupt end a few months ago. This was extremely traumatizing to Victor. What was traumatizing to me was to discover that the only way to change the batteries in all of these little animals is to disembowel them. I'm not a seamstress. I'm lucky to sew a button back on. Is this what is going to force me to actually acquire sewing skills?!?!?! (Also, NEVER buy watch batteries at Radio Shack. You can buy them for about 1/8 of the price online. Seersee.)

Secondly, and more controversially, can someone explain to me why "butt" is a bad word? I've recently realized that we use this word more than is apparently considered socially desirable, especially for children. At OT, it is considered a BAD WORD. While I grasp that we have to teach Victor an alternative word that is considered acceptable in school (let the conformity begin!), I honestly do not understand what makes the word so bad. And I've talked to reasonable, rational, intelligent people who are appalled at the thought of a child using such a word (and I should point out that I mean using it in a purely anatomical sense, such as "I fell on my butt").

Seersee though, is "butt" not a shortened version of "buttocks"? Which is, if I'm not mistaken, an acceptable anatomical term. Doctors say buttocks. Medical examiners say buttocks. Physical therapists say buttocks. Heck, butchers even go so far as to say butt! It's just perplexing to me. And I can't say "bottom" to Victor. I hated saying it as a kid and I hate saying it as an adult (and don't even get me started on the far more cringe-worthy "toop"). It just feels so juvenile and icky to me. Fear not, grandparents, for we will try to do a little vocab makeover so that we don't have a little bad word utterer. But frankly, it's a giant pain in my butt.

5/21/2008 8:16:21 PM  
So yeah, it was 100 at 7:00 last night but luckily we were enjoying sno-cones after a quick pool trip by that point. And today? Not much cooler. I ended up taking Victor outside after naptime to enjoy the inflatable pool and the sprinkler. And yes, this was pretty much in lieu of a bath tonight. Also, it was my hope that it would suffice as his outside time for the evening. Not so. Apparently, if Daddy's not there, it's not official outside time.

Before we could go outside though, Victor had to open his package from Auntie Leener. It was a special Disney souvenir - Mickey ears, embroidered with Victor's name! As soon as he saw them, he excitedly shouted "Oh Tootles!" (you really have to be a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse fan to understand). It took a lot of reasoning with him to get him to leave the Mickey ears inside the house during water play. Here's a very short video recap:

5/20/2008 1:40:13 PM  
It's 97 already today. I was planning to take Victor swimming after speech therapy but he woke up pretty early and I don't think he would have had it in him. This was his first day of speech therapy at the same clinic where he goes to OT. He did really well and if he wakes up from his nap early enough (probably a longshot), he'll be rewarded with a swim. I'm not holding my breath though. (Oops, that was a bad pun and it wasn't even intended. Truly my father's daughter.)

Victor was a little anxious about the change in therapist today but luckily he already knows Megan pretty well from his side-by-side therapy sessions with Owen on Mondays. More than anything, he did not understand why Gabi (his OT) was not seemingly interested in what he was doing. He adapted really well for the first time though and was pretty talkative overall. We'll probably switch him over to 2 speech sessions per week there after he's had another week or two to get used to the idea (especially the idea of leaving his current speech therapist).

Luckily he'll be able to do his OT and speech back-to-back on Thursdays. That makes it a whole easier on me. And since Victor has been doing so well with me "leaving" during his OT, I've already been able to read a whole book in the last month! Since we can't piggyback OT and speech on Mondays (hence the Monday morning OT and Tuesday morning speech), I'll be on the couch in that waiting room 3 times per week. I'm trying to venture outside the clinic a bit more but I like to be able to listen in a bit when I can. It's always fascinating to hear what he'll say and do for them that he won't say and do at home (and vice versa).

We had a bit of a breakthrough on the way to speech this morning. Check this out:

Once he realized that it's hard to look tough while holding a cluster of small furry animals, he let the dimples come out:

But this is notable because it marks the first time since November of 2005 that he's worn his own sunglasses (rather than mine, which are obviously much looser) for a prolonged period of time. I tried to get him to wear them into therapy to show Gabi & Megan but he took them off as soon as he got out of the car. And then put them back on as soon as he got back in. Apparently they're car-ridin' glasses. And what makes THESE sunglasses special enough to actually wear them? A certain beloved mouse in the lower right hand corner. Mickey. Is. Magical.

5/18/2008 10:53:09 PM  
Huh. Well, apparently it's time to really ramp up our surveillance measures around here because when I went in to check on Victor an hour ago, he was completely naked. I would really like to see how Little Houdini managed to escape his one piece pajamas that were, as usual, on backwards. I just can't quite picture how he could have gotten his raccoon hands on the zipper. Wait - now that I think about it, I bet he stretched the neckhole enough that he got his arms out through the top and then twisted it around to unzip it. Dang that kid is sneaky. Thwarted again! So yeah, a webcam is imminent (James scoffed at my mere mention of a video monitor as though I had just suggested a pinhole camera or something).

Packing is going reasonably well. Most of today was spent thinning out the toys, including designating some for the yard sale pile. I've already used up most of the big storage tubs that Victor & I scored at Target yesterday. And he helped me pack up all of the CDs and DVDs by handing them to me individually. That part went fairly slowly, obviously. We're under the wire though because we're trying to get the house market ready in the next month. Mimi is coming down in 3 weeks to take a load of stuff out of here (including some big tubs of toys!). She's even bringing Debbie Doo down with her. If there's anyone that can make driving a monstrosity for 900 miles fun, it's DD!

Oh yeah, and swimming was good this morning. Victor won't do quite what is generally expected but he did make some progress and was not the slightest bit cranky about any of it. He was rewarded with another fab breakfast at Elsi's and a quick park jaunt on the way home. See?

5/16/2008 3:31:35 PM  
Cue the montage - John & Victor owned Kiddie Acres today! (Seersee, I'll cue it up in a minute.) We had a nice lazy morning and then met John, Ruth & Betsy for lunch and some KA fun. The boys were cranky - bordering on psychotic - about leaving the Chick-fil-A playground (yes Ruth, I remember that there aren't CFAs in St. Louis......and yes, it's troubling). But there was bigger fun to be had outside on a spectacular day. And fun was had.

The boys were pretty bold with their choices compared to our first visits there last year. They officially enjoyed everything there was to offer. And then some. The really big moment for Victor was riding the ferris wheel with John. As in, JUST John. He's gotten on that ride a few times with other kids and always immediately changed his mind (like before the ride operator could even shut the door) but today, he was feeling at ease trying it with his old buddy John there as moral support. Did he look giddy? Not one bit. But there were no tears and there was no whining.

Here are some highlights:

We are going to miss those Connells so, so terribly.

5/15/2008 1:21:56 PM  
I got a very exciting and yet completely useless call a little while ago! Victor got a spot in the co-op nursery school where he has been waitlisted for the past 18 months. Isn't that great? ;) If we were staying here, I'd actually be really pleased since it's so nice and close to his OT for pop-in services and it's endorsed by many therapists here as a language rich program. I'll just try to be happy for the next kid on the list. It's a cool school. A cool school Victor won't be attending.

I'm still floundering about the whole packing thing. Not quite sure where to start or how to start but I do know why to start. I need to get cracking because Mimi is going to take a load of stuff up to go into storage so that our house looks a little less like we've lived here 10 years. That's what I'm most looking forward to about moving out of this house - storage. We are going to live a minimalist lifestyle (or, as minimalist as is possible with an entire room's worth of toys) during our stay in Carrollton and it is going to be glorious. Attics and basements, oh my!

Victor's sleeping better in general and is thus having a pretty good week. We're changing up the therapy scheduling a bit so he can try speech with a new therapist. And today he got to have joint OT with a cool guy named Giovanni. They laughed at each other pretty constantly, so much so that I could barely concentrate on reading my book in the waiting room because I wanted to see what was so darned funny. Also, the magic is back at music. And the Gwen is back at music too. Bonus.

5/13/2008 11:44:41 AM  
[James here]
Victor woke up at 3:00 a.m. this morning, and for once, woke me but not mommy. After listening to him off and on for about 30 minutes, I went in there. He wasn't wet or anything - just awake. I was about to change his diaper for the heck of it, when I changed course and instead put a gray belt (duct tape) on him. I just wrapped it around his diaper, put him back in his pajamas, and then back into bed. He seemed happy to be getting his belt and 15 minutes later he was asleep. He slept until 8:00 a.m. this morning.

This type of "deep pressure" is something that calms autistic children in general, and Dawn and I are considering buying a heavy blanket to help him sleep. Sleep is the number one indicator of his mood. Lack of sleep = un/happy/cooperative/bearable boy - well maybe not unbearable, but something close.

5/12/2008 12:37:10 PM  
Whoa, it's Monday again. In the most painful of ways. Victor woke up for the day at 4:30 again, this time exclaiming "Wet!". Thinking he must be soaked, I went in to rescue him and he turned out to just have a run-of-the-mill wet morning diaper. There was no going back though. In his mind, the day had begun and there was just one thing on his mind - going outside to play in Daddy's car. Wouldn't even eat the breakfast that he specifically ordered (3 pancakes and "sawberry" milk) because he was so focused on getting outside. At 5:00 a.m. Which is very much not an option in my mind. So yeah, it was a harrowing start to the day.

After counting down the minutes until I could justify getting into the car, we took off for OT. My expectations were lower than low and I reported as much. So naturally, he pulled off another Miracle Monday and did really well, even sitting still for some side by side sorting with his buddy Owen. Gotta be a fluke, right?

Nope. Went to speech and he was a pointing and labeling dynamo. Even did some stellar turn taking/game playing. Meanwhile, I could barely form sentences and I only had 2 hours less sleep than he did. Youth, eh? Youth or no, he is napping HARD at the moment. I think he was asleep within 2 minutes of going down. Meanwhile, I'm looking into weighted blankets upon OT's recommendation. I'll try anything to get my boy who sleeps 10+ hours straight through back!

In other news, after much waffling for the past week, I signed Victor up for the summer session of Music Together. It's going to run right up until the middle of August which is kind of our target departure time but I decided that Victor still needs to have a group activity and I wanted him to have one last session with Carey before we go. Plus, if I'm being honest, I'm a little driven to make it into the Heartsong Hall of Fame (which doesn't actually exist). If we do summer session, we will be within one song collection of a grand slam. There are 9 regular collections and 3 summer compilation collections and if we manage to do a class this coming fall up north, we'll have completed all of them! We'll see how I feel about driving more than an hour to music class though. Doing it for therapy is one thing but doing it for music class is pushing it even for me. But I'm crazy like that so it's not out of the question!

[A note about the weather:]
It's not even 70 degrees at the moment and I am LOVING it. Makes me pretty excited about relocating to a place where spring really is spring and fall really is fall. But yeah, I know - talk to me in January and February.

5/11/2008 12:53:47 PM  
Happy Mother's Day to one and all! I've had a mostly nice one, though Victor is having a pretty rough day and that's putting a bit of a damper on things. Given how quickly he went down for his nap, I think I know why. He hand-delivered a sweet card to me this morning though, complete with massage gift certificate (who would have thought that I'd desperately need that massage TODAY!). Best of all though, Daddy & Victor went to swim class without me this morning and allowed me to sleep in. I just wish they'd had more fun at class than it sounds like they did.

Daddy's outside frantically working on the house because he's in full-on house sale mode now. I know it won't score me any points but I think I might lie down and read for a little bit to settle my frazzled nerves. It's still Mother's Day, after all. And I know it's only a matter of an hour or two before I again hear the endless cries of "Mommyyyyyyyyyy! Mickey Mouse!" (meaning that he wants to watch him yet again) but just hearing that Mommy part still makes it the best MD ever. If he'll throw in a post-nap "I feel all better now" hug, all the better.

Oh yeah, and here's this year's Mother's Day pictures, taken a few weeks ago at the Wildflower Center (the photog was great with Victor):

Our last Austin family photos!

5/10/2008 3:02:51 PM  
Our last Walk for Babies in Austin was quite a smashing success. We had a well-rested Victor, plenty of cloud cover and another record-shattering fundraising campaign. Right now we're exactly $20 over last year's record at a whopping $1,550. Not bad for our little family team of 3. Thank you so much to everyone for such generosity with your funds and with your well wishes. It meant a lot to us to be able to go out on such a high note:

5/9/2008 11:24:39 AM  
Best kept secret for spring-so-freaking-hot-it-feels-like-summer splashing fun? Still our good ol' public pool with its mercifully unpublicized off season hours that only devoted lap swimmers seem to know about. We were once again the only splashers there yesterday. We'll enjoy that pool while we can because in a few weeks, it will go back to being a hotbed of scum. Because let's face it, most people are messy and inconsiderate (Again, there's no great mystery as to where Victor's "yuck!" issues come from - it's just a question of which of his parents contributes more squeamishness).

Worst kept secret? Brushy Creek sprinklers. At 10:15 this morning (we sped up there after OT, so starved for cool water that I justified paying the tolls to get there more quickly), there were not only a gazillion preschoolers there but there was also a school bus full of preteens. It was brutal. Victor cooled off in the water a bit but he was so not digging that scene. And much as I was smiling and saying "Come on, let's splash some more!", with my mind I was telling him "Dude, I feel ya. I loathe these people too!". Here are the precious few shots I was able to snap amidst the chaos:

I know I've been uncharacteristically quiet this week but it's been a bit of a rough one. Victor has been really "off" for a good portion of the week, less talkative even than is usual for him and exhibiting some really worrisome spectrumy behaviors. We're cutting his yogurt back out of his diet and hoping to catch him up on some missed sleep. And meanwhile, I've just been really emotional about this weekend. It's both our last March of Dimes walk and our last Mother's Day in Austin and that's really started to get to me. I'm so excited about having MD with family next year but I still feel like I'm having to leave a piece of Ronan & James Thomas behind after this and that pains me greatly.

I've been so preoccupied and overtired this week that when I, at one point, saw a recumbent bike rider on the street, I thought it was a monkey on a small bike. And that didn't register as abnormal to me until about 10 seconds later! Yeah, I'm a little fried. The week hasn't been without high points though. Victor had a fabulous time at music this week (really responded to the song rotation this week), acting much like himself. And last night marked a very significant achievement. Victor hung out at his buddy John's house for a little preschooler house party while the parents all went out to celebrate Ruth's 30th. We all had a great time, though the late night had Victor dragging a bit this morning:

And just for fun, here's a pic of our little showman gearing up for the new season of "So You Think You Can You Dance?" with a little costume creation:

Big stuff on tap for this weekend. Count on March for Babies pics after tomorrow! It's gonna be a scorcher again this year. And THAT I won't miss.

5/4/2008 12:49:16 PM  
In my list of Top 5 Easy-to-Get-to Destinations that I Will Feel Lost Without, Brushy Creek is right up there:

5/3/2008 2:55:01 PM  
I swore this morning that I was going to leave the camera in the bag all day and just focus on relaxing but I had to make an exception for this:

(When he saw them Victor shrieked "Duckies!" in his teeny tiny voice that he usually uses for pleading.)

And the reason for today's attempted moratorium on camera work? Yesterday, I got really carried away during sand and water time:

But really, how was I supposed to help myself? He was having so much fun. And it won't be our yard much longer. (Sniff.)

5/1/2008 9:30:06 PM  
Tonight we went the Austin Symphony's Family Concert featuring none other than the Biscuit Brothers. It was great fun. Victor really enjoyed seeing the instruments all individually featured on the big screen and, as always, he loved seeing Dusty and Buford. He even high fived Dusty and told him "Hiyeeee!" Major milestone. And the new performing arts center was quite dazzling. I'd prove it with pictures but there was no flash photography allowed. We followed up with a celebratory dinner at Chuy's. Never mind that the Chuy's downtown was so chaotic that we ended up going to the one WAY up north. (And yes, that does, for the record, end my Chuy's ban.)

Anyway, it was a lovely and yet bittersweet evening because it was a goodbye of sorts, or at least the beginning of a long goodbye (most goodbyes with me are long....it's a Pressler thing). We're leaving Austin. In many ways, my heart is breaking at the thought of it. We have a great life here with amazing friends and I'm pretty certain that this is by far the coolest place we'll ever live. And this is where we brought all 3 of our boys into the world. We've lived a lot of life here and it has become completely home. Not just a place we went to for a while. Home. But it's only home for another 3 1/2 months.

Yes, we are moving back to the St. Louis area so we can be closer to family. But there are two strangely wonderful details that might be somewhat surprising. First of all, James gets to work from home for NI. We didn't dare to hope for such a thing and we are so excited about James getting to spend more time with Victor instead of less (which would have been the case with a new job right now). And I am thrilled at the thought of getting out of the house for a small chunk of time during the day knowing that Daddy's on monitor duty.

The other weird thing is that we're going to move temporarily into Grandpa/Great PopPaw's house while we search for a permanent home. The prospect of a few months of small town life is equal parts thrilling and horrifying for me but I'm mostly just really looking forward to sharing a little piece of my childhood with Victor. I can't wait to swing with him in the porch swing, even though I know how empty it will feel without Grandpa sitting beside me. But wow, isn't it just amazing? How many people get to work from home doing a job they really enjoy? And how many people get to go inhabit the scenery of their most precious childhood memories with their own kid in tow? We're quite blessed.

We're thinking we'll be staying in Austin until middle of August. Makes sense, doesn't it? Stay here for the most scorching heat of the summer. Wouldn't want to miss out on the giant flying cockroaches or the fire ants, now would we? But this way we'll have more time to sell the house. And Victor will get to have one more birthday party with his most beloved Austin pals. And I'll get to work in more "one more time" activities and events than James or Victor could ever imagine. Oh, and there's all that packing.

4/30/2008 10:39:30 PM  
We had a fun evening.............

And no diaper issues. So far.

4/30/2008 1:56:03 PM  
So um yeah, we've been having a lot of issues with diapers. As in taking them off. As in every single time he is put alone in his room to sleep. Sometimes I've been able to intervene quickly and prevent major mishaps. Other times there have been massive cleanups involved. And where a week ago we weren't really sure if Victor understood that taking off all of his clothes and his diaper was "bad", we are now quite confident that he gets that part (when caught pantsless, he'll shout "Pants on!" and will rush to put his pants back on again - whether with or without a diaper underneath). The problem is that he just doesn't care that it's an undesirable behavior. It's apparently worth the risk of persecution. So the key is now prevention.

Our immediate thought was a video monitor or a webcam so that we could at least see it starting to happen and thwart the attempt. But we have a lot of other things on our plate right now so for the timebeing we're going low tech on this. Duct tape. And you know what? It works. The first few times he was so interested in his silver shiny belt that he couldn't wait to check it out in privacy (hence, immediate pants removal) but he's kinda used to it now. And he really, really thought that his backwards pajamas last night felt weird (turned them around so that the zipper and snap - both of which he can manipulate in record time - are inaccessible). However, it must not have been horribly uncomfortable because he went to sleep more quickly than usual since he was able to skip that whole stripping step.

I do believe that this is just a desire to be naked. He doesn't ever strip except when he's alone in his room so I think he does comprehend that it's not a socially acceptable behavior in general. And while I respect the urge for nudity and don't find it worrisome or subversive, the boy needs to have a diaper on because he is far, far, far from potty trained. I want him to explore and express himself. I can even support a healthy amount of nonconformity. But I am not on board with changing his sheets and washing his monkeys every other day. No sir!

Lest you think that this is all Victor's been up to, he's had a pretty big week so far. Yesterday we went swimming for the first time since fall and he had quite a good time. It was a little breezy but it was just sunny enough to feel good in there. He was shivering but he was laughing through his chattering teeth.

And today we were off to music! There was a bit of a struggle in the beginning because Gwen wasn't in class this week and Victor really didn't feel like he could go into the room without her. When I told him at breakfast that we were going to music, I left the room and when I came back he had put his picture of Gwen up on the table. So his aloof act isn't working with me because I know that he loves her. Typical boy, eh?

In a rare and special treat though, we met up with Ruth, John and Betsy for lunch and playing at Central Market. Aside from the aggressively swarming grackles (I loathe birds but especially those guys), it was quite fun. It's pretty hard to keep track of Victor there though. He's great about staying in the area and not wandering but there's so much to do on that playscape that I never know which way he'll go up or down. And I really shouldn't dress him in green there because he blends in too well. All I have to show for today's frolic is this:

Which yeah, is not a particularly good photo. I prefer to see both of those cute faces! But they are doing the same thing at the same time and it warrants photography. Trust me.

Incidentally, really quick story about Central Market food here (with apologies for extreme wordiness today). Victor seems to hate their fries. He wouldn't eat them last time and today he wouldn't either. Scarfed down a grilled cheese and ate every speck of bacon off my Cobb salad but wouldn't touch the fries, which ended up being given to John. So yeah, whatever. Then, on the way home, I was incredibly thirsty for something carbonated so I hit the Culver's drive-thru for a root beer. The moment I pulled in, Victor said "I want fries". So obviously I got them. In theory, he shouldn't get multiple shots at fries in a day but he asked very, very clearly. He ate every single fry in the bag by the time we got home. And of course what's most interesting about this is that a few months ago, Victor wouldn't eat the Culver's fries.

4/28/2008 12:19:20 PM  
How's this for a Monday surprise? OT was entirely lackluster (tired after a nap strike yesterday) while speech was spectacular! It's our own Bizarro World. I'm so happy that speech went well though because he only has it once this week and next.

Afterwards, it was obvious that Victor didn't have a lot left in him so we just quickly hit the neighborhood park on the way home. He didn't do most of his usual stuff because he was pretty focused on his Tonka truck that I finally remembered to get out of the trunk and bring along. He was really good today about sharing it too, even if he did want to keep close tabs on it:

And what was fair was fair so he borrowed a truck from his new friend:

This new friend/adversary of his was not at all on board with sharing so the truck was angrily snatched away a moment later. Victor was so very unconcerned and acted like "Um yeah, I'd rather just play with my own truck anyway, thank you very much":

Then it was home for lunch (leftover pizza - thanks John!) and some delirious playing before naptime:

Because when you've already been caught with the cat's bed stuck on your head, why not just go ahead and pick your nose on camera too?!?!?

4/27/2008 8:29:57 PM  
Happy Birthday to our sweet pal, John! After a stormy day leading into his party, the sun came out and made for a still chilly but lovely evening for a third birthday soiree. Fun was had by all, none more than the birthday boy, of course:

(Pretty impressive gathering of female fans there, John.)

Victor had fun too and we were thankful to have an excuse to get him outside to run around:

Even the open air and the pizza and cake didn't distract him from coveting John's Mickey Mouse balloon though (MM is still his favorite thing in the world):

Three guesses as to what Victor's party theme will be this year! We're not ready to think about that yet though. It's bittersweet enough to see John turn 3.

4/25/2008 1:56:52 PM  
Once upon a time, I swore that I would not let Victor eat french fries, except perhaps on rare and special occasions. I haven't made much of a secret of that not lasting long. Now luckily Victor hasn't turned into one of those kids that will only eat a few things but he did manage to go on a significant hunger strike for the past 24 hours that finally ended with a fry binge. But just look how happy it made him:

He got so carried away that he figured he could go for a quick spin on his trike after lunch (instead of napping):

I wish he'd been this perky (which he actually still is, by the way - he's jumping around in his crib instead of napping) earlier today for our playdate with John & Betsy. It was a pretty day but no one seemed to want to play, except maybe Betsy and she's just a tad small for playscaping. The boys were beyond subdued. John wanted to just swing and Victor wanted to walk around the edge of the rock wall again exclusively. They did not make for an exciting or photogenic duo. Except that I did manage to capture this one shot of John, pausing during a nature walk to reflect on turning 3 in less than 36 hours (how can that BE, John!??!?!?!?!?):

(And seersee dude, you are ROCKING that haircut!)

4/25/2008 8:06:00 AM  
Aunt Sachi went to Hawaii and I got this t-shirt! Thanks, Aunt Sachi!

4/24/2008 12:43:25 PM  
Historically, I've been pretty much of a glass half empty kinda girl. One of my longest running nicknames back in my younger years was "Moody Smurf". Flattering, no? I contend that being Victor's mom has converted me to a full-fledged glass half full kinda girl. Today though, that would be more like Filofax half full. Allow me to explain. And bear with me. It's complicated.

The day started off with a load of a laundry. Then as I went to start loading up the car for our morning's busywork, I noticed that my purse felt light. I suddenly had a vague recollection of seeing my Filofax in the laundry basket (any guesses as to who put it there?). Rushed out to the washer and yep, there is my beloved Filofax floating amongst our whites. Now I'm a pretty high tech type these days but I still cling to two archaic traditions - pretty stationery and my Filofax. Did I mention that my Filofax is a very pretty purple textured leather? Yeah, that's not machine washable. And neither are the pages. Or all of my wallet-sized pictures of Victor.

Here's the good news. I happened to have an extra Filofax (hot pink leather, of course!) with an extra calendar insert. So I can have that part remedied in under an hour. And maybe my purple one will eventually dry out (although it will probably take on a "distressed" look at this point). And hopefully I can scrounge up wallet photos to replace those that were ruined. That's the only part that might still make me cry today. But it's gonna be OK. Really, it will.

Somehow I was able to still keep us on schedule for our 8:30 departure. It bears mentioning, by the way, that this departure included packing the cat into the car for a trip to the groomer. Our girl Pru is being rather remiss in her self-grooming as of late and I had scheduled her for a spa day (which was to include a "lion cut"). It turns out that seeing his defenseless kitty wailing away in her carrier is the most positively hilarious thing Victor has ever seen. And he was insistent upon trying to tote said carrier into the groomers' himself. So Pru had a bit of a bumpy ride but nothing out of the ordinary. She lives with a 2 year old. Life is bumpy.

Inside the groomers', Victor was giddy with delight to see all of the jingly leashes. So entertaining him? Not a problem. I started signing Pru in while they took her back for a quick "evaluation". By the time I had written down my name, the woman was back to inform me that she would not be grooming Pru today. She is not welcome back unless she is tranquilized in advance of her arrival. The explanation? She hissed a lot. Seersee. To which my reply was "Um, she's a cat." As I was just incredulously asking Ruth, are there really cats that don't hiss or growl when taken to a strange location against their will? Who are these cats? And should they be trusted? At any rate, Pru seemed to actually be smiling as she realized that she was off the hook and we were on our way home to safety. Matted, stinky furred safety.

We skedaddled right back out again though because Victor also had a salon appointment of his own. I'm happy to report that his went off without a hitch. He looks absolutely dashing and he was positively angelic as he sat on the horsey and watched Thomas and then politely thanked Miss Grace for his lollipop. Ahhhhhhh. Small victories, eh?

So we were on a roll as we headed to speech therapy. And while he started off pretty insolent, he ended up having a pretty stellar day. Sharon had two magical ingredients today: monkeys (pronounced correctly for the first time ever today, by the way) and water. The two were not combined, thank heavens. He was in a delightful and talkative mood though. You know, until the moment we walked out of the building again.

On the way home, we made a quick stop at Whole Foods to procure full fat Fig Newmans. On Monday, we had to buy the lowfat version (with the yellow label - a label which by its very color announces that it is second rate) and it is not at all pleasing to Victor. Joy of all joys though - today we scored the highly coveted purple label Fig Newmans. Smiles all around. And smiles as we worked our way to checkout to head home. Then, at the cash register we had this brief exchange with a mother (with her 2 kids in tow):

Other Mother (to Victor): "Hi."
Me (to Victor): "Can you say hi?"
Victor: (nothing)

Other Mother (to me): "Why doesn't he talk?"
[Sort of a rude question, no?]

Me (to Other Mother): "He doesn't talk unless he wants to talk."
[Thinking this will end it.]

Other Mother (to me): "Have you tried letting him watch Sesame Street? My son learned all of his words from Sesame Street."
[Are you for real, lady!?!?!?!?!]

Me (to Other Mother): "My son is on the autism spectrum and thus his speech is somewhat delayed. He know words but he doesn't use them unless he really wants to do so."
[This really ought to end this, right?] [But no.]

Other Mother (to me): "You're so lucky. [Wha!?!?!?!?!?] Once they start talking, they never stop and they ask for the same stuff over and over, blah, blah, blah.............
[Lalalalala, I'm not listening to you anymore.] [Paying quickly now.]

Me (to Other Mother): "That actually sounds like a lot of fun. Y'all have a nice day!"
[Muttering profanities as we walk out of the store. Keeping profanities at low volume so that Victor doesn't choose this moment to repeat me.]

From there we headed to John & Betsy's to drop off Victor's now retired Jumperoo. I mention this mainly as an excuse to post this adorable pic of Miss B (whose mom sure must have whipped this Jumperoo together quickly):

Victor was pretty saddened that we didn't go in for a visit and I thought for certain that he was going to say something about John but it was someone else that was on his mind (sorry for the diss, John). In between sobs, Victor said "Frankitty!" (John's kitty is Franklin). Kind of amazing because he's never called Franklin by name before and we haven't been over there to feed him in quite some time.

At any rate, we came home and had a nice lunch which is now being followed by a nice nap. And where my glass once would have been pretty empty by this point, my glass is pretty near full because life is good and I get to spend my days with this amazing little boy who knows how cute his dimples are and who loves to talk about shapes and various kitties. And I'm thankful for every single thing about him, even on rare days like yesterday when he woke up for the day at 4:30. My glass runneth nearly over. Now I should check on how empty my Filofax is by this point.

4/22/2008 2:08:18 PM  
It's official. There's no longer anything that Victor won't try in the world of the bouncies:

It used to be that he would pick one specific bouncy to master on any given visit. Today, he wanted to display a mastery of everything in the joint, even getting impatient with other kids that were a bit too slow on the steps going up to the big slide (what a difference a few months makes!). Thank you, OT. I think.

Also, cutest thing ever? Victor knows that he HAS to have his helmet on to ride on his trike outside (even in cases when "riding" means "being pushed on the sidewalk in an extremely controlled fashion") but he has started to apply that rule inside too. However, his helmet is kept in the garage. So when indoors? He rides with his cowboy hat on. The Plasma Car and the Radio Flyer Inchworm don't require protective headwear, interestingly.

4/21/2008 3:31:10 PM  
An important lesson was learned this morning. Monday or no, I cannot handle a Venti Latte and a half liter of Diet Dr. Pepper in the same morning. In my state of advanced jitteriness this afternoon, I managed to lose a whole bunch of really awesome pictures. I don't know exactly how or why but they did not get from the camera to the computer before I hurriedly purged them (irretrievably - we're talking shift delete here). I could just cry. They were really cute shots of Victor feeding the deer at the zoo. Seersee, they were just precious. Fighting the tears here.

I did manage to get some pics onto the computer intact though. And in my defense, OT and speech and the zoo is a lot to handle in one morning. If only I could have handled uploading without incident! OK, letting it go now. Letting it go.

The important thing is that Victor had a lot of fun today with his buddy Livie (now "Mivie" instead of "Evie"). He happily sat by her on the train ride and shared his deer food with her. And the highlight was when Livie handed him one of her crackers on the train and he turned to her and fed it to her like she was one of the deer! Priceless.

Here's the pics that I managed not to destroy (grrrrrrrr!):

And like every other trip to the zoo ever, Victor fell asleep on the drive home. I drove for an extra half hour so that he could get a full hour nap. He'll be going to bed early tonight.

As a sidenote, I was briefly alarmed at the zoo gift shop when Victor assaulted a cat (an actual domestic cat). In my caffeinated haze, I was concerned that maybe he was slightly sociopathic but once we were driving home I realized that since it was in a gift shop with a bunch of stuffed animals, he thought the cat was fake and he was trying to pick it up to play with it. Whew. Not much consolation to that cat but it sure made me feel better to have that epiphany.

Oh, you should have seen those shots of Victor sweetly feeding the deer and laughing because their tongues were tickly...............dangit.

4/20/2008 2:35:17 PM  
Oof. What a stinker of a year for bluebonnets. In a few ways. First of all, they just plain aren't that plentiful this year. Even worse, Victor is completely unwilling to humor me and sit down for some photos. A bit odd for such a photographed (and typically quite photogenic) individual.

Today we met up with Lia & Alex for the annual "wrangle the boys in some flowers" photo shoot. We didn't even get them both in the same frame, if that gives you any idea. Victor was completely angry that he was taken out into a large field and then was expected to stand/sit still. Wasn't the point of going into the open field to run wildly? Even the singing bunny didn't buy me much time. And when he got his first fire ant bite of the season, it was curtains for bluebonnets. He enjoyed his consolation prize though - an hour at the park with Alex.

Here's the photographic highlights of the day, which really aren't particularly high as far as lights go:

I'm not attempting any more bluebonnet pictures without Daddy along. And next time we get together with Lia & Alex, we're just going to skip right to the chilling and having fun part.

4/18/2008 1:13:52 PM  
Yay, it rained! I'm not feeling the fantabulous effects of depollenizing yet but it sure did make for a nice sunny but cool morning today. We went to the big sand pit after OT this morning and it was time well-spent. Fresh air and sun made us both feel pretty footloose for the weekend. Speaking of footloose, here I am trying to lure Victor into a puddle in the sand:

(That ought to have James cringing.)

He wouldn't quite get comfy with that idea (I think I was the only mom there TRYING to make her kid get dirty!) but he did do some extensive digging:

His primary focus today, though, was on driving a wheelbarrow all the way around the perimeter of the sand pit on the rock wall. When I grew weary of that and hid the wheelbarrow, he decided to do it to even greater effect with a dumptruck. Nice try, Mommy.

There were some pretty decent patches of bluebonnets out there but Victor would not humor me by posing in or near any of them so this brief bluebonnet examination on the way back to the car was the best I could hope for today:

Not even close to what I had in mind. As if I'm in charge here.

4/17/2008 8:01:14 PM  
Added some triking pics over in the gallery. I think that triking is about to become the preferred mode of transportation during our nightly walks after dinner. Victor loves his wagon but the trike allows him to get even closer to stuff he wants to check out and the prospect of pedaling is pretty darned thrilling, apparently. Once we were back tonight, there were many bed jumping shenanigans in an attempt to delay bedtime:

And while I was shooting those, I shot this pic of a pic because it's my favorite shot from V's last official sitting:

It's almost time to get new pics done again!

4/17/2008 1:12:09 PM  
Since I forced Victor to endure a series of errands yesterday after music (which was better, by the way, in no small part because Do-Re-Mi was back!), today I was determined to get him a little park time after speech therapy. Speech today was so-so. Now that he's able to assert himself more, he definitely does so. Often to quite bratty effect. Such was the case today. Sharon said "What, are you 2 or something?". So some air and open space was very much called for before lunch and napping.

Victor's getting a little more adventurous every time we go to the park and I credit OT entirely. Today he climbed the curved ladder on his own numerous times and he finally swung in the "green chair":

How can it be almost the weekend already? I'm not complaining per se but it's just frightening how quickly time is going by all of a sudden. Oh, and napping is going a lot better these past few days. My secret? I'm no longer haggling with Victor over storytime before his nap. After lunch, we come upstairs (whether that's on his own or by force), change into a fresh diaper and into the crib he goes. He tries to delay things with the lingering hugs but I'll take those any day.

4/14/2008 1:06:41 PM  
We're having a good day. Who would have ever thought that a high point of the week could be going to OT at 8:00 every Monday morning? Victor did great today and is continuing to do his Monday session parallel with another kid right around his age. They tolerate each other well and are definitely pushing each other to be a little braver (competitiveness at work!). The major breakthrough today was that I went and sat in the waiting area once we got about halfway through the hour. Victor didn't seem to notice much or at least not enough to stop working. Friday I'm going to take a book with me!

Speech today was decent too. He was tired and he was once again not much in the mood to sit in the chair but he was picking things up pretty well today. He was being extremely stubborn about some other things but that's Monday for you. He really likes the guy that has speech therapy right after him and he went sprinting down the hall to say hi to him as soon as we were finished.

From there we went to the duck pond with a big bulging bag of bread. I had torn our bread up this time and baked it in the oven to really dry it out (duck croutons?) so it wouldn't mold before we could get there. Victor STILL wanted to eat it instead of feeding it to the ducks. However, when he took his first bite and realized how hard it was, he spit it on the ground and a duck gobbled it up. Classic.

The ducks were super hungry today because we seemed to be the first people to come after what was probably a gluttonous feast yesterday. There was a duck that was practically trying to get into our car as soon as we pulled up:

As usual though, the timid mallards had to have their brunch hand-delivered:

Once Victor realized that he didn't really want to eat duck croutons, he got into the spirit of sharing them with his feathered friends:

He so patiently waited for this duck to come see him that I almost expected him to gently drape the duck in a towel when he got out of the water:

And even though Victor was quite tired by that point (another late night rehearsing words in his room), he wanted to walk all the way around the pond:

He was such a good boy about staying on the trail and taking my hand when we met other people/animals along the way. We kept an eye out for rogue bluebonnets and found none but there were a lot of evening primroses:

I actually think the EPs are even prettier than the bluebonnets this year. Really bright pinks this year. Oh, but back to Victor's exploits. ;)

The duck pond adventure came to a halt when Victor ran out on the dock and commanded "Swim!" Here he is contemplating going for a dip:

He clearly thought better of it though because when I said "let's go to the car", he shuffled off and down the trail to the car like it was his idea. I let him save face and said "Oh, are you ready to go home for lunch? OK.". Men.

4/13/2008 1:26:24 PM  
Well, it was another train riding Sunday, this time out at Wilco Regional Park. Sadly, our camera was acting up (I think we've identified this as a faulty battery situation) so this is the only picture I got involving the train itself:

It was a fun ride though. And for those interested in a review, it was not as interesting as riding the Zilker Zephyr but was cleaner and quieter and the train was much cooler looking. Most importantly, one side of the train has the high rail so that Victor can sit on his own with one of us beside him on the seat. Major points there. I'd do it again.

Victor flipped out when we loaded him into the car after that but the playscape was too far away to walk. So he was deliriously relieved when we pulled up to the playscape because he was sure we were going home. Victor cries every time we turn onto our street now. He's a man of action. A man of action who doesn't understand the value of napping.

He had a great time on the playscape though. It was just the right level of difficulty and there was hardly anyone around. There was a whole lot of sliding:

And then a battle royale ensued over getting into the car to come home. I think we're hitting the terrible twos for real this time. Getting this boy down for his nap today was truly a physical feat. I gave him my standard "One day you will be stronger than me but this is not that day" but he seemed to hear the fear in my voice.

Oh, and on the way home we saw this surreal field of bluebonnets:

Why didn't we get any pics there? Well, it's a private lot fenced in with barbed wire. And yes, we really considered it. Just couldn't quite go there, especially in light of my encounter this morning with a cartoonishly huge cockroach. I wasn't feeling at one with the creatures that lurk in fields.

4/11/2008 1:16:45 PM  
Hey, we're starting the weekend right! Victor had another great OT session (including impressive progress with his very first scooter board experience) and then from there we scurried straight to the park for fun with the Connells. And it's another gloriously sunny and yet pleasantly breezy day (let's just not think about the pollen for the moment). John repeatedly requested that Victor come slide with him and he appeased his friend a few times. As a result, I snapped a few pics of some co-playing:

I joked that John was doing his best "say it to the hand" when Victor was crying in the tunnel (he had just scraped an elbow) but what's funny about that is that it's so completely unlikely. If anything John would be relentlessly asking Victor what was wrong and what he needed. He's a good friend like that.

Speaking of chums, here's a random shot from one of V's Easter egg hunts that I just got from Saira's mom, Maheen:

I just love Victor's "I'm too cool" saunter as Saira tails him. Reminds me of Daddy when he thought he was Mr. Cool. You know, 1987. Ah, those were the days.

4/10/2008 8:22:58 PM  
Well, here's the first of what may be many botched bluebonnet pics this month:

These were taken at Northwest Park right by the pool. The key words there are "right by the pool". As in the pool that Victor really likes. Also as in the pool that they are currently cleaning in preparation for Saturdays' season opener. That means the lifeguards were in the pool and the front gate was open. And that means that Victor was very much at a loss as to why in the world he wasn't allowed to go running in there so he could climb right into the water. Thus the surly expressions in the above pictures.

He was briefly consoled by the playscape but it was a very abbreviated frolic because the 5th grade hooligans were throwing rocks (in spite of being yelled at by myself and two other preschooler moms). Victor didn't seem to care anyway. He ran over to the pool fence and grasped it wistfully while saying "swiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiim!" And that is what he continued to say for a good part of the drive home. I guess I should get the pool bag organized because I don't think he'll forget. That and I should come up with a far better bluebonnet picture strategy.

4/9/2008 12:55:55 PM  
"You can't climb all the way up the green slide."

I've said this many times at Phil's. Not so much as an admonition but more just as helpful "let's just move along and stop squirreling around" guidance. Today, before I could even say it, Victor had scampered halfway up and was clearly home free.

And then he did it about 10 more times. Luckily there weren't many fellow sliders today. He certainly enjoyed himself but he was a bit off his game today in general. He got some sort of big bug or spider bite on his elbow this morning (when? how? why?!?!?!?) and he had a very, very late night last night. He was up chitchatting with the monkeys until 10:45.

I'd like to be able to say that he's really flourishing being back in music again after the 3 week break but I'm not finding that to be the case. Miss Carey is team teaching again and, while she's still there every week, she's not leading a lot of the songs. Victor is not too jazzed about that and he keeps following her around helplessly. And even more importantly, "do-re-mi" is not being done this session (it's a long story involving guidelines from the national headquarters, blah blah blah) and so it really feels like Victor isn't getting the little kickstart to class that he's used to getting. So he's wandering WAY more than before. And while I know he has to learn to adapt to change, music is historically his very favorite thing we do and it saddens me to see it lose its luster for him. And I can't believe I'm going to say this but I think we might both be burning out on Phil's a little.

4/6/2008 3:19:33 PM  
Today's even prettier than yesterday. It's the season to brag about being an Austinite and we haven't even gotten shots of the wildflowers yet this year! We went to Zilker this morning to play and ride the train and we got way more train shots than usual. Here's some now:

Brace yourself. Bluebonnet season is upon us and that means that we'll have to go take pictures at least 5 or 6 times! Hey, it's better than having a blog and never updating the pictures, right?

4/6/2008 2:10:36 PM  
Here's a montage for Mimi. And anyone else with a keen interest in Victor's culinary pursuits.

It's a hit. And he can cook dinner while I cook dinner now! But I don't keep all of the silverware in the fridge like he does.

4/5/2008 2:55:27 PM  
Oak pollen has a stranglehold on me at the moment but, while I really wanted to lie motionless all morning, it wasn't really an option. It's a breathtaking day out there (somewhat literally, in my case) and there was no way that Victor was going to be thwarted. Blue shoes were on and the battle cry was uttered repeatedly. "outSIDE!" So out we went.

We ventured first to the duck pond because we had another stockpile of stale bread. And once again, Victor wanted to try to eat all of it himself even though he'd just had 4 pancakes. We had fun though and we were treated to a rare up-close appearance of the mallards. They must have been hungry today because they usually don't come anywhere near us and they certainly don't go anywhere near those garish and overly aggressive muscovies. And an even bigger treat was seeing the Canadian geese from close range. Those suckers are big! The only exotic creature that didn't make a cameo was the egret.

From there, we sped over to Kiddie Acres for what was supposed to be a very quick visit. I was thinking we'd just ride the train once and the carousel once. Wrongo! Victor wanted to ride everything except the ferris wheel and for the first time ever, he actually asked for each ride by name instead of just running up to them. So yeah, it's not like I wasn't going to gratify those requests! An hour later, after a full round of rides that included two times on the train and the carousel, I dragged him kicking and screaming out of there.

Here are some highlights of today's festivities:

Oh, and OT went great yesterday. Maybe we've reached the point that it's actually going to be great the majority of the time. That almost seems realistic. And the therapressure brushing is going well overall but I'm having a hard time remembering to do it as often as I should. I think it's helping though so I need to get with the program.

4/3/2008 8:17:33 PM  
Ahhhh. A good speech therapy day. Today I tried doing Victor's therapeutic brushing (it's rather hard to explain so I just won't) right before we went in. Either it made a huge difference or he was just "on" today. He was so excited about his own progress today (lots of praise from his beloved Sharon). I had a few happy tears. And tomorrow begins a weekend with no major plans. Just getting some rest and enjoying some beautiful weather. Life is good.

Just for fun, here's my current favorite kids' video:

Victor likes the end when the animals are all poolside. That limboing cat never gets old for me, personally.

4/2/2008 2:29:46 PM  
Sunshine is really highly overrated.

But luckily napping is back en vogue.

3/31/2008 2:27:48 PM  
Today started out well but it's turning into one of those Mondays so rife with complications that it's really just funny. At least that's what I'm telling myself. First of all, nap striking should not be allowed on Mondays at all but particularly not on rainy Mondays. And lest anyone even consider saying "at least he'll go to bed early tonight", um, just don't. Tonight's choir night and I'll get home late regardless. James will have to smirk as he sits peacefully on the couch at 8:00 all alone.

OT this morning was sublime. Truly. Victor was so responsive and eager and energetic. That makes two sessions in a row like that. So yeah, I got gloaty about it and actually dared to say "Oh, this is going to be a good day". "Bah", said Victor. Speech therapy (immediately following OT) was a veritable catastrophe.

We walked in to find the same singing bunny Victor just got for Easter and has since pretty much burned out on. Sadly, Sharon thought it was going to be a huge hit. Not so much. Lots of staring at the ceiling and repeated screams of "orange ball!" with the occasional maniacal "Hi everybody!" thrown in. During the past week, it feels like the better OT goes, the worse speech goes. He definitely likes OT better. There's no mistake about that.

And now, Victor's been making siren noises in his room for going on 2 hours. I am on the verge of finally rescuing him but I've been very busy with the kitchen remodel. As in, Victor's kitchen. It's going in the front hallway for now and that involved moving a rug. A rug whose pad left a disgusting grid of adhesive behind on my tile. It's been a lengthy process but I think it's sufficiently degunked. However, also had to move a painting (a painting of Victor, of course) up higher on the wall to accommodate the kitchen and that revealed wall scuffs and scratches. Went to touch those up and guess what? My can of touch-up paint wasn't really closed. All dried up. Benjamin Moore. Not cheap.

Oh, and funny thing about the kitchen itself. When Mimi bought it on Friday, we realized that night that the screws were missing. Mimi actually managed to get replacement screws from Toys'RUs so last night I thought we were all set. Two hours into the assembly process (seersee), I realized that the doorknobs for the cabinets and the drawer were also missing (they're on their way to us from the company right now). So I went ahead and finished all I could and then tried to relocate the kitchen to the garage so that I could wait and debut the kitchen in its final perfect form once knobs are here.

By this point, it's nearly midnight. And we had to be at OT at 8:00. I open the door to the garage and step flip-flopped into the garage. And then I jump back immediately. There is a baby snake there to greet me. We made eye contact. And he slithered at me. Or more accurately, at my flip-flopped foot. My protector, who was sleeping not 20 feet away on the couch, didn't even flinch at my scream. I had to stand next to the couch and hysterically say "Um, there's a snake out there!". James was not in the slightest bit concerned. So the kitchen is still in the front hall, sans doorknobs. Victor really likes it and probably won't even notice when the knobs arrive.

Oh, but back to that flip-flopped foot that the snake slithered at. It hurts. Like, a lot. After the Cap10 yesterday, I was feeling a lot of pain in my left heel and it is considerably worse today. When I had my stress fracture a few months ago, the podiatrist said that the film showed that I had a heel spur on that foot but that if it wasn't bothering me, she wasn't concerned. I think it might be bothering me. And this constitutes yet another way in which I am becoming more and more middle-aged with each passing day. I have a relationship with my podiatrist now.

So yeah, I'll try to go with the usual approach. Oh, thank goodness I'm getting all of these unpleasantries out of the way on Monday. There's nowhere to go but up this week. In fact, the siren noises are over. I better go find orange ball.

3/29/2008 6:54:03 PM  
In spite of a very busy schedule this week (with both Mimi visiting and a lot going on at work), James did manage to get the boys' tree planted this morning. It's really a beautiful tree, quite a specimen really (went with a Leland Cypress). Victor wanted to get in on the action this year so Daddy had quite a bit of "aaa-help!".

Here Victor assists with the digging:

And here he participates in (read: interferes with) the watering:

And finally, here he is demonstrating the scale of the tree in relation to a very tall 2 1/2 year old boy:

It was really fun to see Victor starting to genuinely be a part of our family tradition.

3/29/2008 4:12:39 PM  
Well, we had such a nice visit with Mimi. Victor's sleep schedule is more than a little off but there's just been so much fun and excitement happening! The highlight of Mimi's visit was definitely a trip out to Marble Falls yesterday for some strawberry picking. Yep, there's a montage:

We were determined to make the trip out there even though it was raining just ever so slightly. I think that made it even more fun, according to Victor. And while he didn't really get much into the actual picking, Mimi & I managed to score a pretty big haul while Victor ran up and down the rows. Those strawberries are the yummiest I've ever had!

After the picking, we worked in a quick visit with the resident goats and that was by far Victor's favorite part. That's when he got really good and muddy too. Good times. And on the way out there, we stopped at Toys'RUs to look at play kitchens. Guess who is the new owner of a way cool (as yet unassembled) kitchen?!?!?! Thanks Mimi.

And speaking of gratitude for Mimi, James & I did get out for our date night on Thursday (and we give rave reviews to "There Will Be Blood") and Victor apparently did really well with Mimi in our absence. Unfortunately, he was distrustful of all of us after that. It's a work in progress. We'll just continue to enjoy being so needed while we still are.

3/26/2008 7:25:45 AM  
And this special little man showed us his beautiful face in much more detail than this at 5:38 p.m., 4 years ago today:

Yep, it's Happy Birthday to James Thomas Humphrey! From the get-go, he was always our good-natured, patient, even-keeled guy and I think he still embodies those qualities more than any of the rest of us. Here's our very first encounter with Mr. JT at 7 weeks gestation:

(posing with Ronan)

And here are the prints of the little feet at the end of his trademark muscular legs:

(The pics are deceiving but his feet were actually considerably larger than Ro's.)

Here's hoping that our boys are having a rollicking good time together, as always. I know a certain brother that will happily have some cake on their behalf!

Mimi is on her way here right now for some springtime fun with Victor and to help us plant the boys' tree this year. 4 years ago, she flew in on this same day and she was the only person that got to hold and meet both boys. So it's a very special treat to have her here on this day again.

3/25/2008 12:00:49 AM  
4 years ago, at 2:17 p.m., we met the boy that left these footprints:

(not even close to scale)

Happy Birthday to one Mr. Ronan Woods Humphrey! Ro would be proud of his brother's feistiness for certain. Oh how we miss Ro and think of him often, always with a smile (and perhaps an exclamation of "That little stinkle!"). Here are a few moments of our first encounters with Ronan:

(that guy next to him is James Thomas)

Our first sweet, handsome boy. This is his day.

3/23/2008 12:47:20 PM  
Happy Easter from all of us here in Monkey Do Land! We've had a nice one so far. It's turning out to be a really pretty day and not as stifling as yesterday (I was wilting yesterday!). We ventured out for brunch with Victor's buddy Katie. Hadn't gotten to hang with her since Super Bowl Sunday so it was quite a treat. And she told us all about her new kitties. One of them is apparently "a nibbler" and "very obnoxious". Her words. ;)

Once we got home, we attempted one last casual egg hunt in the yard but Victor was so over the whole egg hunting thing. He played ball just enough to get some pictures but he was much more interested in swinging and climbing. Here's yet another montage:

Yeah, I'm back to montaging a lot. I figure that even if it's just Mimi, Ruth and Lori watching, it's still worth the effort and I have fun doing it. So now, Daddy's mowing and I'm about to clean the house. Finally. Kinda wish we'd done these things BEFORE all of these recent pictures. Hopefully Victor's cuteness distracts from the squalor!

3/22/2008 10:54:49 PM  
Egg hunt #2 was a moderate success. Two fairly significant glitches though. First, the 0-4 division began at 9:00. We got there at 9:10. They let the latecoming 0-4s go with the 5-7s at 9:30 but needless to say, Victor probably didn't make out quite as well as he might have if we'd been there earlier. The other slight issue was that I forgot Victor's Easter basket. I realized this about 1 minute away from the park. The park is not close to our house. So Victor collected eggs in his sand bucket. He didn't seem to care much. The sand bucket is much more macho, after all.

The really big moment today was Victor's early plundering of his Easter basket. I justified it as "getting all of that Easter grass mess out of the way so that I can clean". The big item in this year's basket was a singing and dancing bunny. I knew he'd like it because it is a counterpart to a singing duck that his speech therapist has (and he LOVES that thing). At first he was so taken with his Mickey Mouse Crocs that I was afraid he wouldn't care about the bunny. Not so. He loves the bunny. Too darned much. For the first half hour he was in bed tonight, I kept hearing faint cries of "Mommy? Bunny?"

Oh, and here's a montage chronicling all of the above, but particularly a very spirited dance-off between Victor and the bunny:

3/21/2008 12:32:39 PM  
Full moon + a bunch of big kids off school for Good Friday + previous day of napstriking = this kind of mood:

It's an off day. OT didn't go nearly as well as it did Monday. It didn't go badly but it didn't hold the promise and magic of Monday's session. He just wasn't very easily directed and he seemed like he didn't wake up until 15 minutes before the hour was up. So after 45 minutes of being evasive, Victor had to be kicked off the trampoline at the end. That's life right there. Got to jump while the jumping's good.

From there we went on to a playdate at Central Market with the Friday crew. Victor really likes that playscape and he had a lot of fun. For a while. Once lunchtime was approaching, a massive pack of big kids descended upon the playscape and it got to be a lot less fun for both Victor and myself (my eyes seersee hurt from trying to watch him.....well, that and the blasted oak pollen). We had a good run but by that point we settled in for some lunch and then headed for home. We'll have to go back soon. On a school day. Most definitely on a school day.

I was feeling frazzled by the time we got in the car earlier but three delightful things happened in the car:

1. Spotted first bluebonnets I've seen this year (and right close to home even!).
2. Victor sang some Elvis Costello for me.
3. Got a completely unsolicited "Victor loves mommy!" which was actually a little surprising given how mad at me he was 5 minutes before.

Also, I'm sure I've mentioned several times lately that Victor is obsessed with Mickey Mouse. Lately when he's fighting sleep, he rehearses his whole MM repertoire: "Misca Musca Mickey Mouse", "M-O-U-S-E......that's me!" and his favorite "Hi everybody!". Well, his "Hi everybody!" is starting to sound less and less like Mickey to me. Instead, it's getting closer to being a pretty good impression of Dr. Nick Riviera.

3/20/2008 1:28:37 PM  
It's been a busy day so far. Victor got a haircut this morning (too short, in my opinion) and then we buzzed off to speech therapy. Here he is in the car, somehow managing to lick his post-haircut lollipop while still retaining possession of both orange ball and green ball:

Immediately after speech therapy, we sped to the nearby egg hunt. Victor did pretty well. Here he is in the thick of it:

And on the verge of facing off with his buddy Saira:

And inspecting his loot:

After the hunt, the kids swarmed on the playscape and I was pleasantly surprised to see Victor getting right in the action. He will not be dissuaded from sliding! Here he is giving me the "back off!" look (Separation anxiety? What separation anxiety?!?!?!?):

And at last, here Victor is on the drive home.......contemplating how he can drink while still holding those darned porcupine balls:

Oh, and he was SO not interested in seeing the Easter Bunny. Maybe Saturday.

3/19/2008 2:33:14 PM  
Well, today we had scheduled a zoo trip with Lori & Livie but the high winds kinda nixed that plan. We ended up at Ready Set Play! and I think it was for the best. I think it's the most fun I've ever seen Victor have there and that's saying a lot because it's like his favorite place on Earth (hmmmm, really should consider that as birthday party locale).

He was all about the big slide today and I didn't even have to do a "see, it's OK!" demo this time. He easily slid down that sucker about 30 times. One after another after another, at a higher rate of speed each time. And most importantly, he was really grasping the concept of waiting and taking turns more than before. He does still have a tendency to give the kid in front of him a slight (impatient) nudge though. I think he considers it assistance. That's something I'm continuing to address.

He wasn't very talkative with Livie per usual but he definitely regarded her as his pal and was patting her on the back and "assisting" her up the stairs to the big slide. We were so glad to see our buddies because they'll be otherwise detained for a bit. Here's the dynamic duo doing their thing:

Victor gave every indication that he was quite tired (after rectifying his quite hungry and quite thirsty conditions) and decided to lie down on the bed in his room during "Ten Naughty Little Monkeys". He looked so comfy that I gave him a kiss and left him there to rest, thinking that maybe he'll decide to nap on his big boy bed. Um no. He was up and banging on the door, saying "Zip!" (which means "Put me in my crib and zip up my tent, lady!") within 5 seconds. So I did. And after nearly an hour of singing, he's napping.

I think we're going to struggle with even convincing Victor that the bed is an actual place to sleep because as far as he's concerned, it's a jumping pad and stuffed animal emporium. Herein lies the trouble with having that bed in there this whole time. Kinda hard to suddenly make it seem like this cool new thing he gets to do. And really, I think he likes feeling enclosed in the tent. So yeah, I'm not rushing that one. Kinda like the potty chair that I need to dust. All in good time.

3/18/2008 12:31:15 PM  
Hey, fellow tired Austin parents in need of a night out! I was just attempting to plan a date night for next week while Mimi is here visiting (free babysitting.........what could be better?). I happened upon this event at Alamo Village:

Big Lebowski Bowl-Out!

Sounds awfully fun to me but that will be Mimi's last night in town and I want to spend it with her. Plus, we can't go to Dart Bowl for every single date night ever. Somebody else should go and enjoy it though.

p.s. My March of Dimes fundraising e-mail went out today. I tried to make sure that people who have already donated were left off the list but if I managed to miss any of you, please accept my apologies as well as continued thanks. And seersee folks, no pressure. Just casting the wide net because it's an important cause for us.

3/18/2008 8:57:12 AM  
I forgot to mention the culinary developments from our trip to Illinois. While at the church luncheon after Great PopPaw's funeral, we discovered that Victor loves fried chicken. We knew he liked chicken strips (like every other preschooler) and especially Chick-Fil-A chicken strips. But he had a truly primal reaction to seeing actual fried chicken parts. He was crazed, obsessed, intoxicated. I think he likes the skin. Just like Daddy.

And then at Aunt Jean's church reception after the burial ceremony, Victor also showed a love for angel food cake. He's never been big on cake (except for cheesecake but that's not really CAKE) but he's way into the AF. I feared that there might have just been something magical about Aunt Jean's cake but luckily he's just as happy with my angel food cake from the box here at home. Doesn't he know that it's fat free?!?!?!?

Also, Victor is way more into TV at the moment. Now that he has so many words that are germane to kids' shows, he's really a lot more engaged when he watches. So it's nice to no longer feel like TV is just a drug I use to get some things done. Strangely, he's enchanted with Dora again but not nearly to the level of Misca Musca Mickey Mouse. Oh, and he's strangely intrigued by Ni-Hao, Kai-lan but I usually nip that in the bud.

Other new stuff? He likes feeding his baby doll (he's doing it right now while wearing his cowboy hat). And he's obsessed with his orange ball. It's this cheap little porcupine ball that was left over from birthday party goody bags but he loves it and asks for it constantly (and will carry it everywhere if allowed). It's his first really, really consistent 2-word phrase. Orange Ball. Fear not because I have an emergency stash of orange balls!

3/17/2008 12:36:18 PM  
We had our first official occupational therapy session this morning and it went smashingly well, especially for his first time. I am really optimistic about the progress he'll make because he really responded well to his therapist - she is invasive and she pushes his comfort levels but she definitely respects his needs and is able to get his attention and focus back when he retreats. She's pretty darned impressive. Naturally when we went to speech afterwards he was kind of a pill. No trampolines at speech therapy, you see. Dang though, on the road by 7:30 on a Monday morning. With a kid that usually sleeps until at least 7:30. A bit rough.

And while I'm very excited about adding the OT into our schedule (until we get the first month's bill), I'm feeling pretty whiny about what it does to our social calendar. As it turns out, the time slots we could get for OT were Monday and Friday mornings. So our days "off" (meaning available for morning playdates) are Tuesday and Thursday. The problem? Several of Victor's best buds are in school those days (particularly John and Livie)! It will all work out, I'm sure. I just want to make sure that Victor has plenty of unstructured outside time now that the weather is so good. Speaking of which, egg hunting is on the agenda for this week......................

3/15/2008 8:31:22 PM  
We celebrated St. Patrick's Day early today at the Shamrock Shuffle 5K (and ensuing "Irish Festival"). I think it might have been just slightly more fun last year than this year. Last year there were Shetland ponies. This year there were tantrums (mostly about the moonwalk). Victor does continue to enjoy the bagpipers though and he was a delightful jogger stroller occupant. That bodes well for the Cap 10K in two weeks. Here's a little wearing o' the green montage:

3/13/2008 9:22:23 PM  
Back in the saddle again. Victor & I headed out today for a long overdue playdate with the Connells. I didn't even realize how much Connell withdrawal I had been experiencing until this joyous reunion. Never mind that it was cloudy and downright chilly (Victor's assessment when I raised the garage door this morning: "I cold"). We braved the wilds of the sand pit at Champion Park with scoops in hand. Here's a pic of Victor & myself hanging out with my best pal, John:

(Photo courtesy of Ruth)

Today was one of those days when it felt sort of like Victor was chaperoning my playdate with John but that's OK because John's really a lot of fun. And he sure is nice to Victor in spite of his aloofness ("Victor, where are you going?!?!?!?"). I'm just happy that we've finally found a locale where the boys will play in very close proximity to each other for a somewhat extended amount of time. And the fact that Ruth and I get to actually plop down on our butts in the sand for a bit? Bonus.

Victor & I have a little on-the-sly therapy session tomorrow (our speech therapist is technically closed for spring break) and I'm anxiously waiting to see if Victor calls Sharon by name. He started saying "Sharon" a few days into our trip to Illinois and it took me quite a while to figure out what he was saying out of context like that. I think he missed her. Can't wait to see the look on his face when he sees her around the corner in the morning!

3/13/2008 1:11:02 PM  
[James here]
Just thought I would record our first ever "commendation" for excellence in the area of parenthoood. All three of us were sitting in the Waco Cracker Barrel and had been eating for about 15 minutes when a long, tall 60-year-old Texan strode up to our table. He said, "I just wanted to commend you two on raising a fine young man there. He's a good one." We said our surprised thanks and he was gone. I spent the rest of the morning all puffed up, but also wondering how he had determined that Victor was so great. We know it for sure, but he managed to figure it out in just a few minutes. I'm also a little bummed that I didn't get a ribbon or a certificate or something.

[Dawn now]
I still wonder if we would have had such positive feedback had we opted for the booster chair rather than the high chair. Restraint is everything. Still a proud moment, nonetheless.

3/11/2008 1:24:14 PM  
We're back in Texas. The drive was not actually that horrific. It really helps that Victor is nearly always a completely happy camper in the car. On the drive to Illinois, he was almost a little too happy. This is what he looked like for most of the 14 hours:

Yeah, he got about 5 hours of sleep total on that trip. Never whined or screamed or howled one bit though. And here's the shocker - we never even had to get out the DVD player! He was completely mesmerized by the big trucks' lights and the freight trains in Oklahoma.

There was snow when we arrived in Illinois but as usual, it had pretty much melted off. We dragged Victor out into it on Friday, just in case it was the best the snow would get. It was. Here's a little boy who is very much not used to the cold:

As you can see, sledding was a novelty at best:

Once he'd had it with the cold, he retreated into his carseat, as if to say "Let's go back to warmer climes now, please":

We got to see lots of family on our trip and we got to share in a very fitting day of tribute for Great PopPaw on Saturday which included a very touching eulogy by PopPaw. I wouldn't have felt right snapping a lot of pictures though. Seemed like abstinence from media overload was more than called for and I didn't have the energy for it anyway. And unfortunately, I got so out of the habit of shooting that I failed to get shots of Victor with PopPaw, Mimi & Gaga during the rest of the weekend. Victor really had a lot of fun hanging out with them though and I honestly think he hated to leave them, although he sure seemed happy to be back in the house this morning.

Ah yes, this morning. We drove straight through the night again and managed to get to Austin before 10:00, including a stop at the Waco Cracker Barrel! After a nap strike at PopPaw and Mimi's yesterday, Victor shocked us by falling asleep in the car 30 minutes into the trip and he easily slept a good 11-12 hours during the 14 hour drive. I was both relieved and insane with envy. This is what we saw in the rear view mirror for the bulk of the return trip:

Oh, and two harrowing developments. First, Victor has been delivering dramatic monologues at 4:00 a.m. every other morning. We are extremely hopeful that this will end now that we'll be sleeping in a separate room from him again. But yeah, speaking of separate..........MAJOR separation anxiety going on with Victor right now. It really amped up on this trip, to the point where he cries inconsolably if I leave the room for even a matter of seconds. He did fine waking up to Mimi after naptime on Sunday though. So my gloating about how Victor really didn't have separation anxiety that was "that bad" when all of his friends did between 18 months and 2 years? It's biting me square on the butt now. Luckily Mimi will be here to visit soon and will conduct more Mommy Withdrawal Boot Camp.

3/5/2008 3:09:21 PM  
We managed to make it to music (yay, Gwen is going to be in spring session after all!) and to Phil's today and even though I could have used some lowkey prep time and some napping of my own, I'm glad we went. Victor was happy and very much in his element and it probably made him more likely to rest. Naturally he's napping better today than he did for the past week. I'm so organized for the trip (thank you, napping gods!) that I even managed to throw together a montage of Victor with his beloved Gwenny Gwen today:

And I'm digging that song so much that I think I'll burn a Be Good Tanyas CD for the road. You know, even though I should probably be getting some rest. The goal is to leave at Victor's bedtime tonight or close to it anyway. So Monkey Do might be taking an early spring break of its own. We're so anxious to see PopPaw and Mimi tomorrow, even though we will be very, very haggard by that point. The DVD player is charged, hidden and ready to make its debut somewhere in Oklahoma or Missouri! I like They Might Be Giants' Here Come the ABCs/123s just about as much as Victor does but I'm not sure I'll be able to say the same thing by this time next week.

3/4/2008 1:39:30 PM  
Words are kind of escaping me at the moment. Grandpa/GreatPopPaw's harrowing journey is finally over which is a tremendous relief for everyone. I don't really have a way to convey what a void he leaves though. Even though he's been lost to us for so long (mentally), the finality is pretty staggeringly sad. The best way I can memorialize him here is with a special image that makes me smile. This is my most cherished Paul Pressler heirloom:

The last time I went to Grandpa's house (in June) was when everything was being prepared for auction. I went in there to get "what I really wanted". That book is what I came out with. It is a priceless 1953 Little Golden Book. :)

It's priceless for a few reasons.....Grandma's model penmanship in her "Donnie Pressler" inscription, the somehow perfectly preserved (albeit yellowed) pages.....but it is most priceless because it is THE book that Grandpa was forced to read to me at bedtime each time I stayed all night. And there was never a better troll voice (or billy goat voice either, for that matter). And never a better lap to snuggle up on. Good night to my favorite storyteller.

3/3/2008 10:13:40 PM  
I think my anxiety must be contagious (but luckily my sore, raw throat doesn't seem to be, so far) because Victor has refused to nap for the past 2 days. I felt very confident today that he would nap well since he was still at a sleep deficit from yesterday. And he seemed as ready as I did.......climbed into his crib and snuggled right in with his monkey posse. But no, there was no napping. This meant that I got nothing done with regard to organizing for our impending 15 hour car trip. Not only would Victor not nap but he was sooooooo clingy when he was around me. He seems very perturbed by how preoccupied I have been. I'm hoping that when we do actually get on the road, we'll all relax a bit more. I know that sounds crazy but that's kinda how we roll.

I think I'm going to stick with our original plan of going to the Children's Museum tomorrow to avail ourselves of some "No Tour Tuesdays" fun. We're hoping to meet Cousin Susan for lunch too. It ought to do us some good to get out and see some sunshine before we start heading for the land of the wintry mix. Plus, I think we'll need to wait out the major dumping of snow that is supposed to hit the St. Louis Metro area tomorrow. It sure is hard being so far away from PopPaw and Mimi right now though. But we'll keep carrying on and I'm going to really try to be normal for Victor tomorrow. My thoughts are still so much with my sweet Grandpa though and I'm sending him peaceful and loving vibes. Even though I apparently have to keep making very enthusiastic animal sounds.

3/1/2008 9:30:23 PM  
Well, Great PopPaw is nearing the end of his fight, it would seem. He is almost certainly in renal failure and there isn't much time left. And much as I've tried to prepare myself for this moment, it hurts so much to let him go, especially from afar. I know that he knows deep down in there somewhere that I love him madly and that he was at the very core of what made my childhood a completely splendid one filled with joy and love and laughter. I so badly wish I were there with him tonight to hold his hand and tell him these things but sadly, I've had to say my goodbyes as if they were my last each time I've seen him for the past few years. And even more sadly, we said goodbye to Grandpa as we've known him years ago. Much as I'm anxious to know he's at peace, it's still so hard to accept that the moment is approaching.

I told James earlier that I had this moment today when I finally just let myself completely melt down and my mind played this montage of moments that seemed like it was out of a sappy movie. I saw myself with Grandpa playing wiffle ball, watching Scooby Doo, eating ice cream sundaes with way too much chocolate syrup while watching Dance Fever, swinging in the porch swing, chauferring him around all summer when he couldn't see to drive anymore, going to Carlinville just for a bowl of Taylor's chili, looking up into the stands to see him at my basketball games in junior high, riding on a wooden box in the middle of his front seat......and on and on and on. In every scene I picture him in, he's always smiling at me. It's like I told Mimi earlier (my mother, that is), he's probably the only person who has been happy to see me EVERY time he ever saw me in my whole life. To be loved that much is a pretty amazing feeling.

I'm lucky to have been blessed in this life in many ways but I honestly believe that my greatest blessing has been in having amazing grandparents that helped shape my childhood and that have been genuine and beloved friends in my adulthood. People are often said to wish for a better childhood for their own kids than what they had themselves. If Victor can have a childhood as charmed as mine, I'll be gleeful for him. My grandpa is THE sweetest and funniest (seersee, THE funniest) person I've ever known. Luckily for Victor, the apple didn't fall far from the tree. I have a feeling he'll be able to say the same thing about his PopPaw.

3/1/2008 12:00:50 PM  
Hey, it's another extra special day. Happy 3rd Birthday to Cousin Sean! And Happy 1st Birthday to Miss Claire! Wish we could give both of you birthday hugs and kisses in person but we'll just have to celebrate from afar. But trust me, we'll celebrate because it's a beautiful day here. Hope you both take refreshing birthday naps for your mommies today. Congratulations on the milestones, Aunt Deb & Uncle Pat and Auntie Leener & Unkie Geoff.

When we started this blog when I was just barely pregnant with Victor, most of the very first posts were about anxiously awaiting Sean's arrival. And now he's 3! How can that be? And don't even get me started on how in the world Claire could really be 1. Hold on tight, Leener, it flies by. It gets even more fun but it flies by more and more quickly too.

Victor & I went to our make-up music class today and he was extremely blissful about being there. He went right up to Miss Carey and told her hi and he called her - get this - "Carey!" instead of "Crazy". We had to go to Miss Michelle's class this morning instead of Miss Carey's though (because of the class sizes) and while I feared that Victor would not be too pleased about being in a different room with a person that was not Carey, he really seemed to like Michelle (luckily he knows her relatively well already) and her class.

It was a really cool group of people which included lots of dads who actually really sing. I think Victor responded to hearing so many male voices for a change. During the week, there might be one man in a class. I know he'll be happy to be back with his usual crew on Wednesday though. And then we'll have 3 weeks off between sessions and he won't know what to do without his favorite part of the week. I think I can probably distract him with some "OUTSIDE!" stuff though.

2/29/2008 3:48:17 PM  
It's a very unique and special day today. It's the day that Original Victor (OV) was born! It's always seemed fitting that Uncle Victor would have a birthday on such a weird day. Wasn't I just calling our Victor complex and unique? Well, his name is thus very, very appropriate. OV's absence is still very much felt but he sure did make our lives richer for having known and loved him. It is an honor to be able to carry on his name and his wild spirit. Happy Birthday, Victor Gordon Giberson. We miss you. And I still smile when I hear your laughter in a breeze.

We celebrated today by getting outside for some good old-fashioned playscaping with Livie, Abigail and Will. Wow, when did Livie start looking like such a little girl?!!?!?!? It was cloudy and threatening rain at the park but the temperature was absolutely delightful and the kids had quite a nice time. Victor's activity de jour was climbing the rock wall to get to the big boy slide (that slide was so cool that I scampered up the rock wall to try it myself - while no one was looking, of course). It did Victor & I both a world of good to get our play fix, especially since we had to sit out music and Phil's this week. We're going to a make-up music class tomorrow, actually, but it sure won't be as magical without "My Gawinnnnnnnn".

Oh gosh, look! Here's a montage:

Seersee, just try to resist clicking on that cute little boy.

2/28/2008 2:27:13 PM  
Hmmmm, the fallout. This morning, Victor seemed quite distrustful about what might happen today. He was clinging to my leg with a vengeance and looked downright worried when we got in the car. I think that he was fearing that he was in for another marathon eval. He didn't even perk up when we picked up Daddy to go to speech therapy. The familiarity of Sharon's office snapped him right out of his funk though and he was so elated to see her that he ran a bit too quickly, tripped and fell on his head. He cried a bit but he popped right up and was still shouting "Hiyeeeeeee!" with a huge smile on his face. I think he loves her.

And he had a good therapy day overall. He's doing a lot better with sorting objects (today he was sorting kitties, balls and pencils into their respective boxes) and he is suddenly really into playing with the baby doll. He loves to feed her and put her down for night-night. And while I hate to constantly be getting him things that he uses in therapy (thus ruining their novelty there), I really think he'd respond to a baby doll of some kind to help model some things at home, especially with feeding, bathing, dressing, etc. I guess I'll be searching for a masculine baby doll!

It bears mentioning that Victor has not been diagnosed with anything aside from language delay. The autism spectrum label is being used to classify his set of "symptoms" even though the cause of his issues could be any number of closely related things. We are not at all hung up about getting a diagnosis at this point and are trying not to be bogged down with the labels. His treatment is going to be the same regardless. That's the wonderful thing about this kind of therapy - it's very holistic and tailored to each kid's strengths, weaknesses and needs. That helps keep it fun too. And I can see why there are so many more speech and occupational therapists out in the world right now (aside from the fact that more kids seem to need them than ever) - it seems like it must be such rewarding work to see kids work through their difficulties and learn to have fun with things that they never thought they would!

2/27/2008 11:04:53 PM  
If I've been evasive about Victor's therapy/developmental situation, I really haven't meant to be but we've just really been focused on trying to get a handle on the situation before really discussing it much further. Well, we've got a bit more of a handle now. The neurologist wanted to go with a wait-and-see approach that we weren't entirely comfortable with so we - upon the advice of Victor's speech therapist (and his dear Auntie Leener) - decided to consult with an occupational therapist on our own for a more intensive sensory processing & integration evaluation. That eval was this morning. It was 3 hours long and we were all very drained afterwards.

It is the opinion of the OT that Victor is indeed on the autism spectrum and isn't just a quirky late talker. This is not a surprise to us at all. It is what we have pretty much believed for the past 6 months. We've talked ourselves out of it a few times but it's what we've believed to be going on with Victor. Some people find this somehow very shocking though and that is probably because Victor is a very happy guy who does actually like people quite a lot. And he's talking more and more all the time. Those are wonderful things for which we are extremely thankful.

Victor does have some very special needs that need to be dealt with though and that is what we have been so desperately trying to get help for. This is more than just a speech therapy situation (although it stands to reason that doing the sensory integration therapy is going to greatly enhance his speech therapy). I don't want to bog down the blog with a lot of technical details that will feel unnecessarily daunting to the people that love Victor but I can try to briefly summarize. Try is the key word. ;)

Victor really struggles with following directions and participating in activities. This is well-established. This may sound fairly typical of a toddler but please just trust me when I tell you that Victor really CAN'T do what is expected of him in a lot of social situations. This turns out to be related to his ability to organize his thoughts and actions (motor planning). And anyone that has spent much time with him knows that Victor is a very repetitive creature (usually involving closing doors but also things like sliding and throwing sand in the exact same way over and over). That's not just his signature quirk but is his attempt to self-stimulate and self-calm in response to his surroundings. There are a few other very typical sensory integration issues and all of these things are going to be addressed and worked on in his occupational therapy.

We are not bummed out about this but are actually very excited that we've finally gotten to this point. Victor has made some really great progress with speech therapy and he is doing more and more typically fun 2-year-old activities all the time but there has been something holding him back from really being able to engage socially and to really be able to take some risks. He's a pretty content guy in the day-to-day but he's really going to need some help getting ready for a school setting. It's time to help him open that door (but not repeatedly!). His therapy is going to be a lot of work for him because he is going to be confronted with a lot of things that make him uncomfortable and even scared but it's going to be a whole lot of fun for him too (Um, there's a trampoline. And a ball pit!). He really responded well to the staff at the clinic and that gave the OT an extremely optimistic feeling about how he might progress in therapy.

So our weeks just got even busier because we're going to be doing the occupational therapy twice a week for an hour. The hope is that we'll be able to coordinate it so that we can do it right before we go to speech therapy which we are already doing twice a week. And Little Gym? We're outta there. I talked to the OT about it at great length and she agreed that it was probably more stressful than fun at this point in time. And really, the gym at OT's is even better anyway! I struggled with cutting loose a social activity when I know that's so important for him but we'll still have music and we'll hopefully end up with a day freed up for playdates. Park season is upon us and pool season is just around the corner. There will still be lots of "OUTSIDE!" with good friends.

I'm so thankful that we found someone that instantly understood Victor and his needs. It's a great setting and I feel really good about taking him there. And I'm especially thankful to be married to such an unbelievably devoted daddy who has been very much an equal partner in persisting to get Victor everything he needs to thrive. This situation would have been very scary if we were on different pages about how to proceed or if the job I do every day were undermined. But of course I'm thankful foremost for such a sweet, smart, happy, funny, beautiful, energetic, complex and unique little boy whose smiles and hugs are ample rewards for all of this extra parental effort.

2/25/2008 10:45:09 PM  
Going through yet more forms and questionaires for therapy recently made me realize that I needed to chronicle a new installment of "What's Victor Into?" before I forget (because frankly, I had a hard time remembering things from 6 months ago for these forms I had to do). There are actually quite a few new developments, most excitingly including books/play/toys (we were really burning out on Knuffle Bunny and that Fisher Price piggy bank). So here's the new WVI.

Favorite Books:
- The Wide-Mouthed Frog (just for the big splash at the end)
- Where the Wild Things Are (terrible claws!)
- Cha Cha Chimps (perhaps his very favorite book ever)
- Cowlick (slurp!)
- Goodnight Mr. Night(man)
- Ten Naughty Little Monkeys
- When Sheep Sleep (old habits die hard)
- Knuffle Bunny (really hard)
- Llama Llama Red Pajama (really rather hard)
- The Listening Walk

Least Favorite Books:
- Knuffle Bunny Too
- Llama Llama Mad at Mama
(not a fan of the sequel)
- Allie the Allergic Elephant (gets it out several times a day and looks at it in actual disgust)

Favorite Shows:
- Sesame Street (fan of Cookie Monster, Elmo, Grover, Ernie & the Count, pretty much in that order)
- Signing Time (still doesn't really sign much but LOVES Rachel, the host)
- The Biscuit Brother Show (in person or on TV, they always make him smile. And dance.)
- Thomas & Friends (but only for the theme song and the opening sequence)
- Dora the Explorer (recent resurgence)
- Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (very new development - OBSESSED with Mickey Mouse now)

Favorite DVDs:
- They Might Be Giants' Here Come the ABCs
-They Might Be Giants' Here Come the 123s (he loved this from the first time he watched it a few weeks ago)
- Preschool Prep's Meet the Colors (Victor has a major crush on the little yellow blob girl)

Favorite Songs:
This is very hard to narrow down. It's basically whatever he heard most recently (including theme songs from his shows). He really latches on to melodies and sings them over and over. This week, for instance, he's really into the silly dog song/chant from this Music Together session. He also loves to sing parts of "Great Big Stars" and "May All Children" from class and he is obsessed with "High Five" and "The Secret Life of 6" from Here Come the 123s. And he is freakishly good at remembering what track is next before it starts playing. It's a little scary. He recently has shown an affinity for Beck and James Brown.

Favorite Play Activities:
- Using his rubber stamps with his Play Doh
- Picking his nose, all the while calling himself "Picker!"
- Naming and pointing at the people in his photo album
- Jumping on beds (any beds)
- Going to the park to swing and slide (big shock there, eh?)
- Climbing the cargo net at the park (!!!!!)
- Playing in the tub with his submarine
- Drawing in the tub with his water crayons
- Playing his tub drums
- "Riding" his Inchworm/trike/Plasma car
- Going for wagon rides around the neighborhood
- Swimming!
- Identifying all of his animals' names and colors (this includes his stuffed animals and his plastic figures)
- Dunking every possible kind of ball into his basketball hoop (including ridiculously tiny balls)
- Putting objects through the giant cardboard tubes that Daddy keeps bringing home from work, much to Mommy's chagrin
- Feeding the ducks at the pond (for about 5 minutes and then not)
- Feeding the kitty
- Washing hands
- Getting a glass of water from the sink by himself....then doing it again.... and then usually again
- Playing with his sand and water table out in the yard
- Bringing me random pieces of clothing and saying "thank you!"
- Helping Daddy unload the dishwasher
- Climbing up onto the bed to tell Mommy "Hi Humphrey!" every morning (sometimes he has to be coerced, recently)
- Trying on hats in the mirror while no one's watching (or so he thinks)
- Riding his big stuffed dragon while Daddy sings the Bonanza theme song
- Duckie Time at speech therapy
- Saying "hi" in his Kermit voice
- Making the Cookie Monster puppet bite him on the butt
- Running laps at Little Gym
- Singing do-re-mi at music class
- Counting to 10 in German to turn the lights off
- Counting to 10 in Spanish to turn the lights off
- Riding the pony while getting his hair cut (thank goodness he loves this)
- Riding the train at Zilker
- Riding the carousel at Kiddie Acres
- Anything involving bunnies
- Playing "chase" in the hallway with his imaginary friend (who I suspect is Cousin Sean)
- Bringing Daddy chess pieces and telling him what they are, i.e., the "camel" (knight)

Favorite People to Name Check:
-PopPaw (Victor believes that the phone exists solely as a way to hear PopPaw's voice)
-Miss Carey ("Crazy!")

Favorite Animals:
bunny, giraffe, hippo, horse, dragon, monkey, pig, cow, tiger, lion, rhino, leopard ("zepper!"), zebra, black bear, kitty, duckie....yeah OK, he likes most animals but especially bunnies.

Favorite Foods:
Not so many changes here, if any actually. Pizza, burgers, fries, chicken strips, cheesecake, Fig Newmans, meatloaf, bacon, pancakes, cheese, applesauce, toast with jelly. Still hating on veggies.

Favorite Drinks:
- Rice milk with Quik (chocolate or strawberry)
- Iced tea, unsweetened
- Fruit Falls (thankfully this is now preferred over sugary lemonade)
- Water (the boy loves to drink water and yet he still gets constipated from all of the cheese he eats)

Favorite clothes:
- Mickey Mouse t-shirt
- Crocs
- Dragon hooded towel
- Lion hooded towel

James, feel free to add as I'm sure you have more. As a caveat though, I'm not writing this as a skill or vocab inventory but more as a list of faves. Stuff Victor will be amused to hear about later, if you will. Oh, I could go on and on and on...........................

[James here]
One of the questions was "How many words does he use?" and "Please list them." I wrote down as many as I could in the space provided and ended up with around 125 (mostly objects). I think the total estimate is around 150 words at this point.

[Dawn again]
Hmmmmm. I wonder where Victor gets his lack of listening skills from. "Not writing this as a vocab inventory". But yes, that seems to be the general estimate.

2/25/2008 10:34:42 PM  
I early voted today with my little civic-minded sidekick along for the ride (he even got an "I voted." sticker again). And while part of me is still uneasy with my final decision, it's a relief to have it crossed off the to-do list. I finally got the oil change I've been procrastinating about for a month too. That was slightly less cathartic.

But speaking of things I'm happy to have off our schedule, Saturday was our last day of swim class at the Y. Naturally I already have Victor signed up for a different swim class in May but we're done for a while. Whew. Do I think it was good for Victor? Absolutely. Was it fun? Of course. Well OK, mostly. (Ruth is reading this and muttering to herself about what I must be smoking.)

However, these swim classes have been a giant time vacuum. They were at 11:15 so there was never really time to do much with the day prior to that. And by the time we got home and Victor had lunch and had his de-chlorination bath, it was at least 1:00 and then he'd nap for hours on end. So Saturdays were for swimming and only swimming. I'm glad that's behind us. Our May classes are at the mercilessly early time of 9:00 but I'll happily endure them for the sake of schedule diversification. Or maybe James will handle some of the duties. Maybe, just maybe.........

I'm actually looking forward to Little Gym tomorrow. I don't often say that since I often feel like I'm attempting to agility train a wolverine when I'm there. I'm kinda excited about Victor's bar interest though. And of course that means that he'll completely shun the bar tomorrow. I might have to try the "act like I'm not paying attention" tactic. And yes, I'll remember that it's payback time.

2/22/2008 10:12:04 PM  
Today was an extremely rare day as Victor & I actually stayed in the house until 3:30. I had big plans of getting out this morning but was waiting on several calls about getting occupational therapy underway soon. I worried that Victor wouldn't want to nap without fresh air and open space to wear him out. Turns out that letting him watch "Here Come the 123s" while jumping on our bed did the trick. He napped beautifully and then was ready to go "OUTSIDE!!!!!" once he woke up from his nap.

And what a glorious outdoor adventure it was! We went to Champion Park for the first time and as a bonus, we got to go with Ruth, John & Betsy. It's either a sign of true dedication or a sign of true desperation when both mommies are willing to make the drive out there at 3:45 on a Friday. It was well worth the stop lights though. I think the dino pit out there gives the dino pit at the Science & Nature Center a run for its money.

I don't really think that much of anyone cares about the montages anymore. That's not me being whiny. I just think maybe the novelty has worn off. But this one's for Ruth, if for no one else, and the soundtrack is a song that I listened to as a pre-teen while Ruth was *maybe* in kindergarten (talking about songs with Ruth always makes me feel old as .....well......a dinosaur!).

Highlight of the dig? I asked Victor "Where's John?" to try to get him to somehow acknowledge his friend. He didn't want to cooperate and by the third time I asked, John said "I'm right here, Dawn!". Yin and yang, those two.

2/20/2008 2:11:32 PM  
Mr. "I Don't Think I Want to Swing on the Bar at Little Gym" decided to put several dozen gray hairs on my head today by making up for lost time on the Phil's playscape. He kept dangling from a bar that was about 7 feet off the ground. I'm not entirely sure what sort of dismount he was contemplating because I hysterically swooped in each time (and Kathy had a save or two as well - thanks Kathy!). Part of me was delighted at the adventurous spirit but it was a very, very small part of me.

As usual though, we had a great time playing with our buddies. I keep swearing I'm going to cut back on the montages but I couldn't help myself today, especially since we're going to miss Gwen & Kathy sooooooooo much when they take off next music session for the arrival of Baby Bro.

Oh, and Miss Carey (or "Miss Crazy" as Victor calls her) was back at music today and Victor was all smiles as soon as he heard her voice. Also, Victor is still going on at great length about PopPaw and Mimi. It's a good thing that Mimi will be here for a visit soon and not just because we're looking forward to a date night that is about $40 cheaper than usual (yeehaw free babysitting!)

2/18/2008 4:49:34 PM  
It's President's Day and that means that we hung out with Lia & Alex on a weekday. It's a tradition two years in the making. Last year we went to the Children's Museum and Victor became fussy with a high fever. This year was better. We hung out, played and ate Chick-fil-A at A-Ed's house. And no, there was not a lot of enthusiastic co-playing but we were able to stage just enough shots to create this montage. It's a special one for me because I have been reserving this song especially for a Victor & Alex retrospective:

We really have to get these two little dudes together more often.

2/17/2008 6:36:25 PM  
We had an awesome date night and Victor reportedly did even better than last time about adjusting to us leaving (although there were bitter tears and much frantic leg-grabbing as I slithered away). He seemed really happy to see us this morning and he was especially happy to see the sun back out after yesterday's storms. Everything outside today was so vibrantly green and we certainly all 3 enjoyed our usual Sunday outing. Victor most of all........

That prominently featured Victor's new favorite catch phrase "Hi Humphrey!". I missed getting footage of his happy puddle stomping out on the tennis court today because we were busy actually playing while he scurried around on his own (LOVE the single fenced-in court!). Needless to say, there are some mighty soggy balls in our hopper after today.

2/16/2008 9:50:25 AM  
Here was my birthday greeting from James this morning:

I'm really, really going to try believe that. Swim class days have a way of making me feel very old and tired though.

[Supplemented at 2:21 to add]:
Victor did better at swim class today than he ever has in 2 years of off and on lessons. He took a lot more direction and was a lot braver once he got to experiment on his own a bit (James reminded me that this is how Victor is EXACTLY like me - he has to do it completely on his own terms and without fanfare). And he has said "Victor loves Mommy" without coaching several times today. Best birthday ever.

2/15/2008 4:40:53 PM  
Well, Elmo rocked last night but I think Cookie was still slightly more beloved. Victor had so much fun and was a really good boy. And what a relief it was to be out somewhere with a bunch of loud, wild kids. Safety in numbers. Here's a montage of the gazillion pictures we took:

This was our 17th V'Day together (James and myself, not Victor) and I think this was definitely my favorite.

[James here]
Yes, a fantastic Valentine's day all around. I must also note that the young man pictured above sitting next to Victor was a wonderful pretend big brother for Victor during the event. He was too old to avoid being bored, but had to come along with his mom and younger siblings. However, each time (and there were many) Victor invaded on his space and said one of his little "Hiiiiiieee"s, he said "Hi" right back and tried to engage him in conversation.

2/14/2008 12:10:40 AM  
Happy Valentine's Day from Victor!

Yeah, our scanner is cheap. It looks slightly better than that if you click to enlarge though. I promise - it's worth the click.

In other news, yucky weather's coming soon so Victor and I managed to take advantage of today's (perhaps last) glimpse of sunshine with a trip to Phil's after music and then also some sand and water play after naptime. Here's a montage of the closest thing to a beach that we'll be seeing for a while:

And that featured the musical styling of perennial free concert fave and cool-guy-down-the-street-from-us Joe McD.

2/11/2008 3:06:44 PM  
We had a great weekend and we have a lot to look forward to this week but that doesn't make it any less painful that it is Monday. We actually went out to eat on Saturday night, something we very rarely do. And no, that's not because of Victor at all but more just a budgetary/dietary thing. He was his usual delightful dining-out self and all 3 of us enjoyed a change of dinner scenery. And yesterday we got in a prolonged park frolic at Brushy Creek, something else we hadn't done for a long time.

Today, on the other hand, is painful. Literally. My glorious return to my regular yoga class is resulting in widespread soreness. And Victor? He's a bear today and exploiting my physical tiredness at every turn. I don't know what is up but he has been so uncooperative about nearly everything we've undertaken today. Getting ready to leave the house for therapy was a full-on brawl and then at therapy, he stared at the ceiling and said "NO!" more than a few times.

I took him to Zilker afterwards to play and ride the train. Yeah, I know. It goes against my better judgment to do something that could be construed in a toddler mind as a reward for being overly willful and difficult. The truth was really that I couldn't face the wrestle-off that would have ensued here at home. His mood did improve and my perspective was substantially altered by seeing a naked 3 year old pooping in the sand box (I knew there was a good reason to stay out of there!). One of those "OK, his mom is having a worse day than me!" moments. Victor chowed down on his "PIFFAH!" (pizza) once we were home and now he is shrieking in his room. Hopefully he'll nap soon so that Daddy & Victor night won't be tumultuous.

We're getting excited about going to see Elmo on Thursday. And yes, by "we" I mean James and myself since Victor doesn't seem to understand the ramifications. I think he'll really like it. I'm totally bummed that we can't take a camera in though. I really can't wait to see his face when he sees a big Elmo. And Saturday night is date night! Part of me hates to leave Victor out of my birthday celebration but we're pretty psyched about enjoying some non-Victor fun, especially Amy's Ice Cream (we'll just have to take Silkwood showers to get rid of any rogue nut residue).

He's still not napping. Ah, Monday. Painful, painful Monday.

2/6/2008 10:34:47 PM  
Well, some considerable wind has been taken out of our sails. Our SLP isn't very dazzled with the neuro's assessment or lack thereof and now that I've had a few days to sit with it, I'm really not either. As with many of the service providers involved here, it feels like Victor gets somewhat lackluster/dismissive treatment since he's not woefully needy/delayed. The whole thing makes me tired right now. I am so relieved that we're regrouping with Sharon though because I need to feel like all of this effort is being harnessed efficiently. And sadly, I'm feeling like our ECI time is more often wasted time than not but we really have to keep them in the picture. And don't get me wrong - Victor is making some really wonderful progress but we need to really look at how we might need to retool our approach at this point. I should probably just shut up about all of this while we try to sort it all out a bit. I'm driving myself nuts and I can only imagine what it's like for other people to read it all.

As not to sound like a total bummer, we did have a really fun day. Mostly. There was a leaky diaper mishap that cut naptime short and resulted in hysterical, overtired sobbing and leg clinging but prior to that everything was peachy. We actually pulled off a Trifecta of Fun today. Music + Phil's + Kiddie Acres. Looking back now, we might have flown a little too close to the sun and sabotaged naptime but it sure was fun at the time. I got a few pics.

Here he is at Phil's totally OWNING that pink slide, pruning a tree and hanging with the big yellow cow:

Oh, and here's one that he miraculously shot of himself (entirely by accident):

And finally, here he is getting tired and cranky while jeep riding with Abigail at Kiddie Acres:

It was determined today that much as he indicates that he wants to ride every single ride at Kiddie Acres, the carousel and the train (both of which involve Mommy assistance and thus no photography) are the only rides that make him smile and say "wheeeeeeeeeee!" The other rides make him look stoic and eager to flee.

2/5/2008 8:16:14 PM  
Well, I feel a tad bit slighted at Little Gym after this morning. James handled the duties today in order to generously allow me to enjoy a salon morning unfettered (thank you!). I ended up running by LG on my way to my appointment because I needed to get my cell phone out of my car (since we had switched cars for the morning). In the 1 minute I was there, I was informed by Victor's teacher that Victor was doing "so well" under Daddy's tutelage because he's "more strict". Um yeah, whatever.

I always try to follow the directives about not forcing Victor into activities and letting him decide on his own to try certain skills, etc. James goes in there with his renegade tactics and becomes a gymnastic hero! And it's not that I even disagree with James' approach but I'm just a skosh resentful that I'm being labeled the pushover when what I've been doing is following directions. Lesson learned here? Don't follow directions. Nevertheless, I'm glad that he participated a little more than usual, regardless of what methodology was employed to facilitate it. Still, give me a break.

What was especially odd about today, however, was that Victor just plain wouldn't nap. Usually Little Gym days are chock full of napping. So he and I ended up trekking to the duck pond so that we could unload some of our massive stash of stale bread on them (that's what happens on Weight Watchers, it seems). It was super windy out there but Victor loved it. He quickly got bored with the actual feeding of the ducks but he couldn't get enough of throwing leaves into the air for the wind to catch them. Here's a short montage of this activity:

And then, in spite of no napping, Victor had a great therapy session this afternoon. And then he ate his dinner really well. And then he went to bed early without even the slightest struggle. I'm tempted to say that no napping is a good thing. But no, I'm not falling for it. Nice try, Victor.

2/4/2008 10:14:27 PM  
We're on the right track. Victor finally had his appointment with the neurologist today (it was quite a long wait) and Dr. K felt that further testing wasn't needed right now. So yeah, yay for dodging the MRI and EEG. And double yay for an actual definitive opinion about what's going on with Victor's developmental delays. We're inclined to be cautiously optimistic that the doctor is correct in his "most likely just a speech delay" with "personality quirks attributable to quirky parents" assessment. We go back in 6 months to re-assess.

In the meantime, he felt like we were doing all of the right things for Victor for right now. And while we knew that, it was still good to hear it. We do need to actively pursue getting him evaluated and possibly placed in "special" preschool. That's the next big step and something with which ECI will help to ease the transition. And if he doesn't qualify, I guess we can say yippee! But it might be a really good next step for him so it's kind of a can't lose proposition. Hopefully.

In more fun news, Victor is showing a significant affinity for James Brown now. He really likes to imitate the chants/yells/growls at the beginning of his songs. I told him that his favorite really should be "Papa Don't Take No Mess" in light of his daddy's neat freaky nature. He seemed most enamored with "The Payback" though.

2/3/2008 4:33:34 PM  
Victor is 2 1/2 today! We celebrated with a trip to the Children's Museum. We went right when they opened at noon and apparently we weren't the only ones with the idea, in spite of the beautiful weather today. The highlight was Victor's obstinate selection of sound effects in the train station. People would come along and switch the sound effects to something else but he'd always go back to the control panel and change it back to "Mystery Train" as soon as he got the chance. He continues to have a strange Elvis fixation, apparently. So the song choice for today's montage was obvious:

Victor definitely wore himself out at the museum. He ate lunch well once we were home and I thought that he'd be ready to go straight to bed but he still insisted upon "Cowlick" and "Ten Naughty Little Monkeys" first. Before I could even finish the second story though, he slithered off my lap and scaled his crib (not quite successfully). He was out in no time flat. He's still riding the Mystery Train to snoozeville now and it's just about time to get up so he can go have a Super Bowl Scamper with his friend Katie. And Katie's playscape is even better than the museum!

[Amended at 10:11 to add....]

We got to Katie's too late for playscaping due to Victor's late napping and Daddy's frantic pruning and tree trimming in light of tomorrow's large brush collection. I didn't get any pictures either. It was a bit too wild for photography. My favorite portion of the evening though was Victor and Katie sitting side by side eating applesauce and this conversational cute-ism that transpired as a result......

Me: "Yeah Victor, I thought you might eat your applesauce with a spoon all by yourself just to impress Katie."

Katie (who is going to be 4 in 15 days, something that was mentioned once or twice): "I was already impressed."

Suffice it to say that the feeling is quite mutual, Katie.

1/30/2008 2:52:33 PM  
Finally, a sunny Wednesday. Today we finally got back to Phil's after music class for some burgers and playscape fun once again. And that pink slide that has intimidated Victor for the last 8 months? Now the coolest thing ever. Never mind that I had to slide down it myself to prove to him that it's OK (which involved launching myself into it and then sort of luging along).

The heretofore problematic nature of the pink slide has been the bendiness of it. And not the bendiness itself so much as the lack of visibility posed by the bendiness. Victor has been none too keen on sliding around a blind curve. Here he is warming up to the idea of tackling the fear, by trying to climb up and see what's in the blind spot and by stalking around at the top:

And here he is finally embracing the pink slide in all of its bendy glory........exiting, lingering mid-slide and luging on through to the other side:

I didn't get any pics of Gwen (or "My Gwen" as Victor has started calling her now) today but there was a special moment between the two chums as they smiled at each other behind the big blue bubble on the playscape. That was what made me get the camera out. Naturally, they were unwilling to stage a re-enactment for me. Stinkers.

1/27/2008 9:18:22 PM  
Wow, I'm amazed that James didn't do his own post after bedtime tonight. It was kind of a banner day. Victor is really communicating exponentially more over this past weekend (mostly about he wants or, more often, doesn't want). A highlight was a few nights ago though when James asked him to say "Daddy open" instead of just "open" and Victor said "No, I'm mean!" He has repeated that little gem a few times since. Yeah, I think he's comprehending a little more than he lets on perhaps.

Cognitively speaking, actually, he's really doing well with all of the typical skills. He's been counting to 20 for a while now but is getting more and more confident with it. And he'll count to 10 in Spanish (learned that at music class). He's also known all of his ABCs for quite some time but he's getting a lot more into picking letters out when he sees them on books or signs or t-shirts. And most recently, he's learned all of his colors. He doesn't seem horribly interested in shapes so far but I think he'll be there soon. He's definitely a master of memorization (likes to walk around reciting the text of his favorite books and every animal name he knows and what sound it makes). Most importantly though, he's starting to understand the whole concept of modifiers a little more because of his new color obsession (yellow and purple are his faves). So it's definitely a very happy gateway to longer phrases.

Unfortunately, Victor's a bit under the weather yet again. It's a good old-fashioned cold and he's not too slowed down by it but it's affecting his appetite to some degree and his coughing is disturbing his rest just a bit. The worst is the runny nose though. He tolerates the wiping quite well but there is a lot of wiping to keep up with. I hope that we are able to make our classes this week because I feel like he's really on a roll. We did manage to get out twice today for some outside fun though and I was quite thankful for that. It was such a gorgeous day though that the ducks at the pond didn't seem very motivated to eat our bread (Victor: "Duckie, bread!"). They were quite full from all of the company they had today.

Oh, and Victor got to hang out with his babysitter Leandra last night while we went out for an adult dinner and it sounds like it went well. It was quite gratifying to hear her comment that his speech has improved incredibly in the last month or so since she was last here.

1/25/2008 5:05:10 PM  
Victor & I managed to work in a somewhat impromptu bouncing session this morning following my dermatologist appointment (everytime I go there, they cut something off of me.......I'm not enjoying aging!). Victor got to jump around with his buddy John while I visited - as much as you can call it visiting when there's that much bouncy interference running - with Ruth and sweet little Betsy. And yes, there's a montage. And it's a bit lengthy but that's mainly because of the wildlife footage I shot of Victor and myself as we went up and down the slide. Shades of Meerkat Manor, if you will. Here are the least wild wild boys at Ready, Set, Play today:

Napping was achieved.

1/23/2008 3:19:00 PM  
Well, it's already time to start fundraising again for March for Babies (WalkAmerica got renamed!). I'll wait a month or so until I bombard everyone I know with a mass e-mail again but if anyone has interest before then, here's the updated event page for The Brothers Humphrey (click on that blob below):

March for Babies 2008March for Babies 2008

Seersee, no pressure to donate. But in the interest of due fundraising diligence, I feel that I must appeal to those of you who understand what this campaign means to us as a family. We'd love to have more team members if anyone wants to join in too! We might even get some better Bros Humphrey t-shirts this year. Maybe.

There's also a link to our event page on the home page of Monkey Do here, if you didn't notice. It will remain there until after the event.

{Barnett wins the prize for first donation for the 3rd year running. Thanks Mikey!}

1/22/2008 12:50:12 PM  
And just like that Victor is a Super Beast. Today was his first day of the new Little Gym session and it marked his first class as a Super Beast (2 1/2 to 3s) rather than as a mere Beast. I was admittedly apprehensive. He's never wanted to participate or pay much attention in the younger class and I wasn't as convinced as Miss Fay was that the older class would draw him into the activities more.

Things started off very well when we walked in to find Ryan there waiting to enter class. Ryan is the very first kid Victor ever met at Little Gym and they were immediately friends but then Ryan got bumped up to Super Beasts within a few classes of Victor beginning. And it was mostly uphill from the moment of Victor and Ryan's horseplaying reunion! Miss Fay speculated that Victor would be more engaged in a class that contained more big boys. And indeed she seems to be right.

Victor was like a different kid in this class. He was actually running along with the other boys and sidling up to them at the bar (the bar!) to watch what they were doing. And there were definitely some scuffles but he loved that part even more and I think he needs a little of that anyway. He responds much more to invasive communication tactics like that. He's a boy. Oh, and he even came into the circle at the appropriate moments (particularly for balls and bubbles) and he helped clean up without being goaded.

There was no mention of "Evie" which was a bit surprising. I was thankful for it today though. I was anxious enough about acclimating Victor to this new pack of boisterous boys and didn't want to have to explain that he wouldn't be in class with Livie this session (but don't worry Evie, I don't think "V'dirt" has forgotten you). I think he would have enjoyed showing off for her today though. He swung from the bar. The bar!

1/21/2008 3:25:28 PM  
An unanticipated benefit of Victor taking his time about talking has been that his tantrums, while occasionally existent, really haven't ever reached the reported magnitude of some of his counterparts. Before, he kinda went along with the program and expressed preferences and dislikes where he could but he didn't have high expectations of having his every whim met (we have been thankful that he hasn't been particularly frustrated or demanding, in fact). Plus, he hadn't quite discovered the power of his voice yet. Apparently it's time to catch up on all of that missed angst. What better time for that than a Monday.

He actually had a great therapy day. He really dazzled Sharon with his stellar letter identification, complete with appropriate pointing. He often acts like he doesn't even know how to point. But yeah, he does know. Quite well. And he knows those letters and numbers inside and out and loves to go on at great length about them. At any rate, it was a good start to the day.

From there, we ventured on to the downtown Whole Foods, being that it was raining heavily and we can park underground there (staying dry). This should have pleased him since he typically loves Whole Foods. I was aggressively hyping up the pizza I was going to get him there. He likes pizza and he hasn't had it recently because the old folks here are on Weight Watchers. So a big production was made of getting Victor's own tiny pizzas out of the freezer case. He was even enthusiastically saying "Pizza!".

Once we were in line to check out, the tide started to turn. He started up with the "Bebe!" routine. We don't know what it means specifically but the general idea behind it is "I'm suddenly angry and not willing to negotiate". I continued with the "Oh, this pizza is going to be so yummy!" pantomime and tried not to let my fear show. Get in the car......he immediately tries to fall asleep. He is kept awake by listening to his Music Together CD (skipping all slow tracks).

We got home for lunch in pretty good time considering the rain and then Victor starts up with his lunch orders. "Cookie". OK, I can do that. What he calls cookie is really a graham cracker and I'm happy to let him have a few of those while his pizza cooks. "Cheese". OK, a little. Fine, whatever. "Applesauce". And this is where it all starts to go really wrong. I can't really explain "Well Victor, you haven't pooped for 4 days once again and neither applesauce nor cheese is going to help alleviate that whole situation you've got going on in there". So I say "Nope, there's no applesauce today". And, of course, he gives me the look that says he's calling BS.

None of this improves once the pizza is served. He repeatedly says "Pizza!" with all of the excitement I've been modeling for an hour now but he does not, in fact, want anything to do with eating it. He wants cheese and applesauce and cookies and he wants nothing else, so much so that he now is sobbing hysterically. Exhaustedly yelling "No more cheese, Victor!" exacerbates the situation. Like a lot. The pizza is now covered in tears and he reaches for his previously shunned yogurt and says "Mommy. Spoon".

So yeah, he had a little yogurt and then he requested some more water and a kiss. Then he nonchalantly walked over to the cabinet and pointed up at the shelf and said "Applesauce" with a look on his face that indicated that what he really meant was "There's the applesauce, moron!" But he happily moved on and it was upstairs for naptime like nothing had ever happened. Except that something did happen. Got him upstairs and suddenly realized that under all of his layers (it's cold, y'all!), his pants are soaked from a diaper leak. He's sleeping now, in fresh cuddly clothes, and he seems relieved. He's going to wake up really hungry though. And asking for cheese and applesauce.

{Yes, I know that pizza also has cheese but it doesn't have much. Which come to think of it was probably the whole problem with said pizza. Sigh.}

1/20/2008 9:54:34 AM  
Daddy vetoed Mommy's plans for this morning (a free concert at Ruta Maya) based upon it being "too cold". Too cold to go do something indoors? Yeah OK, whatever. So it's a good thing we got that tent out for indoor fun yesterday. And there are a few pics of that over in the gallery, by the way. Also, here's a short video of Victor roaring at dinner last night:

I guess I'll probably break out the tempera paints later today. Still too cold for ducks.

1/19/2008 4:24:01 PM  
Yep, we cursed the Illini by actually caring today. I guess I'll go back to very passively rooting for them, though they're clearly on a fast train to a very short post-season. Very short. And Mardy Fish and Andy Roddick both went bye-bye at the Australian too so now it's all on James Blake. He has now finally broken both of his curses (never winning a 5-setter and never coming back from a 2 set deficit) so I'm hopeful but I'm also prepared to shift all of my attention to Djokovic very, very soon. Hey, these are the only sports-related happenings I care about so I get a little obsessive! It's a long stretch until the French Open.

I've been really struggling to get everything scheduled lately but switching to the earlier classes in both Music Together and Little Gym is going to help immensely. Plus, I swear that Victor does SO much better at that 9:30 time slot, even if it's a bear getting him breakfast and out of the house that early sometimes. February brings many very fun events that I have to schedule though and they're all related to my birthday - renewing my driver's license, getting my first mammogram and completing my yearly CLE credits (bloodsucking State Bar still blindsides me with this every time!). What a bunch of fun things we have to look forward to, in addition to Victor's dreaded neuro assessment. That Sesame Street Live show in a several weeks will be well, well-earned! Party on, Elmo.

Oh, and swimming went quite a bit better today. Victor had more realistic expectations about what was going to happen and he was pretty cooperative, really. The teacher was a little less than complimentary about his progress but I guess I'd be cranky too if I had to spend my whole Saturday in a vat of bleach. So free pass for her. For now. Speaking of obscene amounts of chlorine, Victor still very clearly has my sensitive skin and he requires a bath and then a calendula cream rubdown within a few hours of swimming or else he gets quite rashy. He does not perceive this as a problem and, in fact, views the post-swim spa treatment as just part of swimming. I think he might like it better than the swimming itself.

It's still cold, by the way. We are stockpiling so much duck food and I have a feeling that Victor will nap too long to go purge ourselves of any of it today. Too bad because while it is cold, it's sunny and dry. That might not happen again for a while. It seems that the sunniest weather is always during naptime.

1/18/2008 2:50:51 PM  
Victor and I broke out our Illiniwear today as penance for shunning the Illini this week. I gave up on them again. They seem to lead me down this path and then disappoint me almost as much as James Blake and Mardy Fish do (though let's hear it for both of those guys still hanging in there at the Australian Open!). But then they went and beat Michigan without us looking. I felt bad so we put on our orange and blue. Fear not - we still have more clean Illiniwear for tomorrow's Purdue game. So yeah, count on them to lose then. That's how it works.

And while we donned our orange and blue apparel, we happened upon a dad who was a fellow Illini. He said "I graduated in............" and I braced myself to hear him say that he graduated in '99 or something (thereby making me feel really, really old) but he ended up being a fellow '93er. Crazy! And this all occurred at this week's Fun Friday location - the newest and most allegedly extreme bounce house in Austin. The only reason I'm not mentioning it by name is that I don't want a bunch of Google hits from people looking for this place.

We did have fun and it was a perfect day for bouncing indoors because it's rather cold (even by normal, non-Texan standards). Overall though, I didn't feel like it quite measured up to our still-favorite place. It was nice and it was new and it was clean and bright. And nice and new. There were drawbacks, however:

1. No child gates at the entrance. Very problematic for the mother of a sprinter. I gave myself one Weight Watchers activity point based on this, to give you some idea of just how much chasing was involved.

2. The foam pit. I hate foam pits. A lot. This one is very deep and extremely awkward to extract oneself from. And Victor lost a sock in there. For good. Worst of all though, you come out of that thing looking like you've been bathed in oak pollen (that yucky yellow dust). Come to think of it, itched like that too.

3. Oh yeah, and it's a buck more expensive. Case closed.

Still a good comparison study though and Victor didn't seem to feel that any compromise had been made whatsoever. And now he's napping very well, thank you very much. Here's why:

And speaking of thank you very much, one of Victor's new favorite things to do/say is to bring me random objects and say "thankooooooo!". This most frequently involves an emery board that he seems to know is all mine and means a whole lot to me. And while it would appear that the meaning of "thank you" is a bit lost on Victor since he says it when he hands things to others, it's actually a step up from his previous belief that it is just something you say when a cookie is handed to you.

It was actually a really lackluster therapy week in spite of the fact (or is it because of the fact) that we had speech therapy three times. Victor is making some really wonderful progress in general - a lot more spontaneous 2-word phrases happening and a lot more meaningful requests and following of directions - but he was sure not feeling it at therapy this whole week. I would guess that a lot of that has to do with rampant cabin fever and that's not likely to improve much any time soon. My poor little outdoorsman.

1/17/2008 1:52:55 PM  
[James here]

Victor has officially begun to say "No" to his daddy - specifically to saying "Daddy." I've been trying to get him to preface commands like "open" with "Daddy". So, he'll say "open" and I'll say "Say Daddy Open. Can you say Daddy? Can you say Daddy?" until he breaks down and says it. It works for when he wants me to open the filing cabinets. A couple times he's actually said "Daddy" first to get my attention and then "open" to tell me what he wants. Perfect!

However, this past Sunday, I was reminding him that he needed to say "Daddy", and he eventually said "No." followed by coming right up to my face and rather violently pushing my chin up and away. I wrote it off as a strange occurrence that probably wouldn't happen again. Well, this morning, I was attempting to get him to preface "open" with "Daddy" to open the closet door, and he looked me straight in the eye and said "No." followed by the same crane technique to push my chin up and away. All the while he was grinning a demonic little grin. All I could do was say, "No, that's mean." It was pretty cute, frustrating, and exciting at the same time.

[Now Dawn]

I think it's wonderful. He's starting to see the power of his words more and more. And I say this even after I fell for the applesauce hoax today.

What happened was that he had, or at least I thought he had, finished lunch and then he suddenly and very decisively said "Applesauce!". So yeah, I scrambled to get that applesauce. Put it down in front of him and he looked right at me (yay!) and said "NO! Upstairs." And thus lunch was over and naptime was underway.

I am extremely excited that Victor knows how to ask for what he wants and he has the persistence to make it clear now. Big, big step. And being able to express distaste is also important, right? You know, except when we're rushing to get out the door. Then, not.

1/15/2008 9:58:18 PM  
Well, today was the last day of the semester at Little Gym. And while a lot of kids were showing off all of their mad 'nastic skills, Victor marked a few very subtle milestones. Yes, 20 weeks into Little Gym he finally came under the parachute and participated for the entire "Twinkle Twinkle" portion. Amazing. Here's a shot that Lori was generous enough to capture (Thanks, L!):

Even bigger than that though was the fact that Victor swung from one of the bars. He's never even been willing to grab one of the bars for more than half a second. And he did it completely on his own, like it just finally occurred to him that it's something he should try. Trying to force him to do it has never worked. James opined that this trait was derived from me. I'll concede that this is much the case and I apologize to my parents and to James for it. I guess I need to look the other way more. I should know this better than anyone, right?

Also, I almost forgot to mention that we got a call yesterday from Dr. M's office with the RAST results. We'll get the full report in the mail (and it will be analyzed at great length) but the gist is that peanuts are the only red flag. Period. So that's good news. Great news would have been that the peanut allergy had abated but that was a long shot. OK, more than a long shot. At any rate, it's more info for the big February assessment and it's a relief to the people who are responsible for feeding Young Master Victor.

And now, just for the fun of it, here's Victor singing "Night Man" (remember, it's to the tune of the Bat Man theme) in a tired state of post-Little Gym delirium:

I like the dramatically whispered "nightman" at the very end. That's a stylistic touch that Daddy taught him.

1/15/2008 9:48:23 AM  
Here's a special message for Mimi, bearing in mind that it was created earlier and much more quickly than usual, as we're dashing off to Little Gym........

Happy Birthday Meems! We love you and hope that you're having a fabulous 50-something day.

Oh, and good news. I'm finally bootless!

1/13/2008 4:05:55 PM  
As I told Ruth yesterday after swim class, I'm just going to try to hold onto the memory of Victor and John happily splashing each other as we got into the pool. Because it sure went downhill from there and I need something to make me try again next week. Saturday mornings at the Y are A LOT different from weekday mornings at the Y and the chaos did not lend itself to a relaxing setting for strong-willed toddlers. It did get gradually better though and I am cautiously optimistic that perhaps next week will go a lot more smoothly.

The good news was that there is no swim class right after ours so we get a little bit of freebie splash time. The boys seemed to like that quite a lot, so much so that there were some pretty notable tantrums about getting out. Oh, and if the weather is above 60 next week, I think I might forego the disgusting pond of a locker room in favor of marching out to the car in the dragon towel and Crocs. The car diaper change just got a little more attractive. But the post-swim nap? 3 glorious hours.

We've got another hard nap in full effect right now, thanks to this morning's trip to Springwoods for some tennis and playscaping. We hadn't taken Victor out onto the court for quite some time and it was rather fun for all three of us. James and I got to hit some balls around while Victor ran laps and threw/rolled/retrived balls. Good times. Good enough for a montage.

1/11/2008 5:21:49 PM  
Well, that was an interesting experiment. During the past 2 days of "inside time", during which I was trying to determine if Victor's nasal distress was related to a cedar allergy, not only did he not nap - like at all - but he also began to issue forth from his nose far worse goo than previously seen. So today we observed Fun Friday as planned and not only was the snot situation no worse than usual, but Victor is also napping like he'll never get to nap again. I don't have the heart to wake him up just yet. Besides, even if we have a rough night tonight, tomorrow there is swim class to conk him out again.

But back to Fun Friday. It was grand. I do, however, think that I need to start exercising a little more self-control about detaching us from activities a little earlier so that we can achieve our proper nap window. Exceptions are made but lately I think I've made too many. Today though, schedule be damned. Behold the precursor to the end of the nap stand-off:

Some days just call for a montage. This is one of them. Because napping is back.

1/10/2008 10:57:33 PM  
Awwwww. It was the sweetest thing ever tonight. We have really, really, really been working with Victor on names lately and as a result, he's actually called us by our names with a little more frequency. He's getting this whole "People go by names" thing. It's cool. And kind of a big deal, really. We've been enjoying being needed and hounded and alerted and summoned many times a day.

Tonight though, James was gone playing tennis when Victor asked for him. Every night after toothbrushing but before storytime I say "Go get Daddy and tell him what time it is". Then Victor will go to the top of the stairs and as James comes up (having heard this conversational signal over the monitor), he'll excitedly say "Ammals!" This means animals. Animals, as in "now Daddy goes into Victor's room and asks him who all of his stuffed animals are and what sounds they make" (the cutest part of which is Victor holding the "ammals" up toward Daddy and saying "whooziss!").

Tonight he ran to the top of the stairs and said "ammals!" with no response. Then he yelled it. Twice. And then he started pleadingly saying "Daddyyyyyyyyy!" and it broke my heart that James wasn't here to hear it because he would have most certainly melted into a puddle of happy tears. I explained that Daddy isn't always here for animals (I think it threw him off that Daddy hasn't been playing tennis at night much lately but did tonight) and he allowed me to do my not-as-fun version.

As a side note, thank you to Dena for sending me the candidate calculators. ;) I think I might be closer to settling on someone, thanks to James and his relentless stumping.

1/10/2008 3:54:09 PM  
I like Barack and I like Hillary. And heck, to prove just how wishy washy I really am, I even like John Edwards. A lot. But I am just about sick to death of Barack and Hillary both e-mailing me multiple times in a day to obsess about every single little thing. When did they both get so darned needy?!?!?!

It is pretty cool that they both take time to personally e-mail me though, don't you think? No really, they have their handwritten signature stamps on them. And they call me by name because they really care about me. That makes the decision all that much harder. Thank goodness the Texas primary is still a month and a half away.

Nothing tops an e-mail from Bill though. I sure do miss him.

[Victor is nap striking again. Hence the delirium.]

1/9/2008 11:07:01 PM  
Big day. Back to music class. Sensory processing evaluation. Nap strike. Not necessarily the best combination ever.

The great news is that we managed to get to 9:30 music without a hitch and I think that the change will be a good one. Victor was definitely a little more "on" at that time and this was even with a new group of people (though he does know several of the people in this new-to-us class). He participated more than I've ever seen him participate and that's saying a lot because he's really into music class and usually focuses there far more than in any other settings. He did a lot of singing today, especially his beloved do-re-mi! This will obviously continue to be the highlight of our busy weeks.

We opted out of Phil's for lunch today (and Kathy and I have decided that this needs to be a once every other week or so thing anyway) because I needed to get Victor home and fed and down for a nap ASAP. The occupational therapist came out today to do his sensory evaluation and I wanted him well-rested for it. So yeah, he picked today to pull his first total nap strike in many weeks. He did manage to make it through the eval without any major incidents but he was even more prone to wandering than usual. He went to bed a bit early tonight as a result. He needed it because his nose is worsening. The bonus of having a sickly boy? Lots of "mommy up" and "huuuuug" today.

So yeah, the evaluation. No big surprises, no big breakthroughs or epiphanies but I'm glad to have gotten the feedback. Victor scored within typical ranges in every area except for auditory processing. This is just as we expected, really. The OT described it as that "it takes more to get and keep Victor's attention than it does the average kid". Tell me about it. I'm the one making animal noises at the park to get him to tell me what he wants to do next.

At any rate, she didn't feel like he needs an OT component in his current treatment plan with ECI but she's available if we need her for a consult. And she referred me to some good resources about the eating issues, etc. So it was time well-spent and Victor got to show off his newfound hobby of making dragon tracks in his Play Doh.

Oh, and a random cuteness I keep forgetting to mention:

Bert (as in Sesame Street - what other Bert is there?!?!?!?) has become "Jack" in Victor's mind. We worked a lot on learning Bernie and Jack's names before we saw them at Christmas and since Victor is still fairly insistent that Bernie is "Ernie" (as opposed to the previous "Henri" or "Owie"), it can only stand to reason that anyone next to Ernie must surely be Jack!

Unless it's clearly Elmo, of course, as is the case on the Size 5 Pampers Cruisers. Exceptions are made.

1/8/2008 4:03:32 PM  
I've gotten some fairly strong indications that all of the montagery has worn a little thin with the other creative contributor to Monkey Do. So no duck pond montage today. There are a few shots over in the gallery of Victor chilling out on the dock, watching some ducks and geese.

I took Victor to the duck pond today after Little Gym for a very brief outdoor adventure. I think we may both be paying for it now. It's going to be hard to explain to this poor little boy that while it's beautiful outside, we need to stay in for a few days so that our eyes don't swell shut. And while he wanted nothing to do with anything other than applesauce and graham crackers this morning at breakfast, Victor was apparently famished by the time we got to the pond. He was stealing stale bread before I could get it to the ducks. And this is from a very discriminating bread eater!

Here's Victor demonstrating, yet again, the problem with Crocs:

And here are his bread eating nemeses (yes, I've been dying to use that word), flaunting their aquatic freedom:

On the topic of wildlife, Victor has lately been quite fixated on an issue of Zootles (an animal magazine he gets courtesy of his Great Aunt Branwyn) that prominently features seals. There are seals on the cover. No matter how many times I tell him this, Victor won't believe me. Every day we have this conversation.........

Victor: "_______!!!!!" (animal name)
Mommy: "That does look a lot like a ______, doesn't it? But that's a seal. Remember seals? You've seen seals at the zoo. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah..."
Victor: "________!!!!" (repetition of same animal name of the day)

First he was insistent that they were kitties for several days. Then they were dogs for a day or so. Then they had a very brief time as tigers. And today, they have finally reached the highest level of Victor animal affection. They are bunnies. Bunnies that live in the sea.

1/8/2008 6:22:35 AM  
[James here]
Right now I'm working with Victor on throwing and kicking. These are two things that I've seen him do proficiently, but very rarely. I've had a little success telling him to "kick it"; about 33% of the time he'll kick what's in front of him in whatever direction he's facing.

Throwing is another story. He likes to lift things up above his head (straight arm) and drop them forward. I've seen him throw in a bent arm overhand motion, but he just doesn't do it of his own volition. So, I sit with him and we throw Victor-fist-sized objects with me repeating "Throw it" with each item. I try to do it so that he has to time the release himself. We'll see how it goes.

Last night, Victor gave a beach ball a very good kick. I think even he was impressed.

[Dawn here]
You're welcome for the editing.

1/7/2008 3:18:00 PM  
Today was Victor's first day back at speech therapy in 3 weeks. He was elated to see his therapist but was less than impressed with her toys once again today (I wonder how many SLPs have that problem right after Christmas...?). He gave her a lot of what she calls his "Is that all you got, lady?!?!?" looks. I didn't feel like it was going particularly well but she reminded me about how much better Victor is doing with taking directions and completing tasks (building stuff) than he was doing a few months ago. And for some reason, he really loves feeding that babydoll now!

After therapy, I hauled Victor down to Children's Hospital to do the remainder of his bloodwork. One of the panels couldn't be run last time because the sample was unusable by the time it got to the lab (and I like Lori's theory about the FedEx driver leaving the box in the sun). Turns out that it might not have been such a big deal because somehow none of the allergy panels got ordered at all last time. They took a lot of blood last time and just as much this time so it may have been a blessing to be forced to split it into two different trips. And I'm saying this after a 2-hour ordeal at that lab today!

I was completely beside myself about the ridiculously long wait by the time they took us back into a room. Seersee, an hour and a half in a germy waiting room with a 2 1/2 year old who loves to screech and go up to other people and say "Hiiiyeeeeeee!" on a 3 minute loop? And did I mention the fixation with the water cooler? I was so tired by the time we got into the room that I was ready to tear into someone if things didn't go well.

Well, then entered Lettie. Phlebotomist with a heart of gold and 30 years of experience. Dr. Mirrop had even recommended that we request her but it was just the luck of the blood draw that we got her today. She lived up to the hype because she had us in and out of there in 10 minutes with nary a bruise on the boy. And she took A LOT of blood. Immediately after she was done, Victor willingly gave her both low and high fives, if that gives you any idea. The woman is truly gifted.

(Take note, fellow Austin parents: Lettie at Strictly Pediatrics Lab.)

Victor seems not to feel the need to nap this afternoon. He's currently very aggressively asking for applesauce over the monitor. Not sure how long I'll wait him out on that one before I just wave the napping white flag. We could use a trip to get groceries........Monday's are painful anyway, right?

1/5/2008 9:55:12 PM  
I know it's been a lot of videos and montages and whatnot lately but I couldn't refrain from sharing this. That Kermit. Timeless.

1/5/2008 1:49:38 AM  
After some trepidation, it was decided that a snuggly dragon towel after bathtime was a pretty good idea.

1/4/2008 4:19:53 PM  
I'm off my game. Cedar, I tell you, cedar. I'm completely exhausted from our Fun Friday playdate today and it had every reason to be less demanding than usual. We went to the Ls' this morning instead of venturing out of doors (good thing because it's not very balmy) and Victor fell in love with Livie's cardboard house. He got a little bit aggressive about his love of the house (Sorry Will!):

Practically menacing, no? His towering stature lends to the facade. He did love the house though and once he got home and ate (again!), he began a hard nap. Oh, and check out his Obamawear today:

That cardboard house wasn't the only thing to be giddy about on the day after the Iowa caucus!

1/3/2008 2:17:31 PM  
We went to free music class today (bonus!). Actually, it's demo week but every single person in our class was a veteran. Guess we're all jonesing for our Music Together. Best part? Burgers, fries and fun at Phil's afterwards with Miss Gawinnnnnnn. And today was a big day because Victor ate two mini-burgers this time and he also went down the pink tube slide for the very first time after flirting with the possibility for months. Definitely inspired by Gwen.

What's that? You'd like to see the highlights? Happy to oblige........

A blissful nap is currently in full effect as a result.

1/2/2008 9:51:30 PM  
Our house has become consumed with unbridled joy. It would seem that carrots + naked time = an abrupt end to Victor's prolonged poop embargo. I'm happy to report that he was on the tile floor and not the carpet. It was - how can I best say this? - impressive. And really, I'm usually not one to talk about matters of the bowels, especially given James' aversion. But I have to mention it because it marked (literally) the moment that Victor started acting like himself again.

The boy was giddily happy. He sprinted naked all over the house, singing and dancing and doing high knee running, scissor-kicking, grapeviney end zone dances. Best of all though, he finally wanted to read all of his favorite bedtime stories and he sat still and smiled sweetly at me while he filled in all of his favorite little phrases. He hasn't done that in weeks (which also happens to be how long the embargo had been in effect). And not a single whimper when I put him to bed. This after 2 weeks of clinging and crying at bedtime. I pronounce it the best poop ever!

Another cuteness I have to chronicle.........I got Victor a board book called "Goodnight, Mr. Night" and it came with a little bitty Mr. Night doll that will glow in the dark. He's a little strange looking and I thought he might be afraid of him but he loves him. He loves him, though, because Daddy makes him do a little routine where he sings the Batman music and then fills in "Night Man!" This is Victor's new favorite thing to do and he's close to mastering singing the whole little tune. And I've even gotten past being annoyed that his name is not really "Night Man", to the point that I now call him "Mr. Night Man" in the story. See? Compromise. 2008 is off to a good start.

[James here]
The actual formula was: carrots + lots of water - lots of milk + naked time = take that rectum! Poor little dude seems to have been walking around with a bowel buildup (not quite an obstruction) for two weeks. My opinion is that we need to watch the milk intake from here on out.

[Dawn again]
And here I was trying to be delicate about it.

1/2/2008 5:13:56 PM  
We were almost derailed today by a pesky diaper rash that necessitated a trip to see Dr. Mirrop (who probably does officially think that we just want to come there to spend time with him weekly) but Victor didn't let a pain in the butt keep him from his scheduled playdate with Livie/Evie (Olivia). It's a lovely, albeit slightly nippy, day out there and it was good to get some air and sun. And bedtime be damned, Victor's still napping away. I'll get him up soon, really.

Anyway, we met up with the Ls at Kiddie Acres and some coordinated riding was actually accomplished. It helps that both kiddos are united in their love of the carousel and boats. Victor has come to be KA regular in the past 6 months but not to the level of his buddy Livie. The ride operators all know her (and scold her for not following "arms in the plane/boat/jeep" protocol) by name. She's definitely a revered elder statesman of the toddler set there. I think Victor enjoyed being on the inside track today. Don't let the occasional sneer fool you:

1/1/2008 9:18:21 AM  
[James here]
Happy New Year everyone! One of the things I'd like to do more of this year is record simple things about Victor that he might find interesting later. So, today it is the fact that he is picky about the SHAPE of his food. This morning, I was handing him a cookie (which is actually a small graham cracker with the proportions of an ironing board) and it broke. He immediately discarded the pieces in my direction. He will not eat an incomplete cookie. Also, he will not eat a piece of cheese that is not perfectly cubed. If it has any irregular sides, it will be rejected. What's funny is that he carefully examines the pieces especially if there is any hint of irregularity. He's pretty good at finding blemishes, and then it's onto the floor.

12/31/2007 10:46:59 PM  
"Evie." Times 437.

Victor wandered around saying "Evie" for a good part of the day and I had to repeatedly explain to him that he would, in fact, get to see Livie on Wednesday but that he needed to be patient in the meantime. I'll bet you anything he'll play hard to get when he sees her though. He'll get to see the other object of his affection this week too - the cherished "Gawinnnnn" (Gwen). I guess I really need to get him together with some dudes soon so he can grapple and make animal sounds.

So here it is - New Year's again. James and I have now spent 18 holiday seasons together (for real) and I still manage to be surprised when he falls asleep at 10:30 on New Year's Eve. I would venture to guess that he has done this at least 6 or 7 of those 18 years. I'm not big on New Year's anyway, really. A bunch of stupid, drunk people out and about? No thanks. And honestly, "New Year's Day" is probably my least favorite U2 song behind "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (and lest you think I'm bashing U2, rest assured that I am not but those songs annoy even a die-hard Bono-in-his-leather-vest-circa-1987 devotee like myself).

I think the only way I can possibly give this particular NYE any novelty at all is to get into bed and fall asleep immediately so that I can wake up all the way into 2008 instead of doing the countdown. But yeah, pigs will sooner fly. I guess maybe that better be my resolution though - going to bed earlier. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever set that resolution before. It's always just losing weight and spending less money. This year, I'll start with some extra sleep and see where that leads. After all, that alone could cut out late-night snacking and internet shopping. Aha! It's genius.

I seersee need to try to reform and become slightly more of a morning person (gasp!) though because both Music Together and Little Gym will be an hour earlier this session than in previous sessions (and yes, this was my doing). That means I need to be up and ready when Victor gets up instead of wandering downstairs halfway through his breakfast. Oh, but I'm sleeping late tomorrow. And obviously at any given opportunity on the weekends. That reminds me - I think I'll be nicer to James in 2008 too. I'm pretty sure I've set that resolution before but I mean it more this time. And thus I close 2007's blog with the words of a beloved sage:

"Do, or not not. There is no try."

12/30/2007 3:12:12 PM  
First and foremost, Happy Birthday to PopPaw! Have fun at Cabela's, old-timer. We miss you.

We're getting back into the swing of things here and somehow we have managed to book up a full schedule this week even without any of our usual classes or therapy. The weather's quite nice. The bad part? Winter break. Big kids are out and they are dominating the recreational destinations. Somehow we endure.

We celebrated New Year's early yesterday by attending the Biscuits' Countdown to Noon concert. We were amazed yet again at how Victor behaves in such a civilized fashion at the Scottish Rite. If only there were more events appropriate for his age, I'd have him at that theater every week!

Here's just a few video clips cobbled together:

12/29/2007 12:43:09 AM  
Ahhhhh. Last one. This is from the last day in Illinois (the 26th) and it's really the best pure footage of Victor having fun. We waited for the snow to come that day but we never got to break out the boots and the snowsuit. Instead, we walked around the neighborhood and then had one last visit with Gaga. By that point, Victor had really caught on to what a neat trick it is to run up to Gaga and give her a hug and he played it for all it was worth. It was a fun and relaxing way to cap off a week of visiting.

Later that night, Granny Smith came over for dinner and got to visit with Victor and be amused with tales of the cousins terrorizing Peoria with their shrieks and pitter patter. I regret that there are not pics from that visit due to my increasing laziness by that point. And then it was off to bed to get up unreasonably early. I'm still not over that part and neither is Victor.

Here's Victor enjoying his last day at PopPaw and Mimi's:

12/28/2007 10:58:08 PM  
This one gets a montage of its own even though it was on Christmas evening. After all, doesn't Santa typically deserve his own showcase!??!?! We went over to see Uncle Joe & Aunt Ginger (and Kristen) and the strangest thing happened. Santa & Mrs. Claus were there! (It was actually Ginger's sister and brother-in-law but Victor doesn't know that.) And Victor was not the slightest bit terrified of the Clauses. We got to spend some time playing with Kristen too and I was left feeling like I should pay her for her services because it was the first time I got to sit down for more than 5 minutes during the whole week.

Here are those zany Clauses:

12/28/2007 10:25:59 PM  
OK, I'm on a roll. Here's the Christmas Day footage. We had a great day at PopPaw and Mimi's with Gaga and Aunt Branwyn and then late in the day we went to see Great PopPaw at the nursing home. The magic is still there between the two sweet guys and their spontaneous smiles are ever priceless. Victor really didn't get all that into opening presents but he sure did enjoy all of the love and affection.

So this montage features my favorite Christmas song which also happens to be James' most loathed Christmas song, for some reason. Also, it features a song from a movie about a guy named Clarence but it's not George Bailey's guardian angel Clarence. One of my favorite movies ever. Special prize to the first person who knows the movie. Extra credit for knowing the name of the song. Hint: I think it's the last line of the movie. (James is obviously ineligible.)

12/28/2007 8:22:56 PM  
Christmas Eve in J'ville was a lot of fun, mostly due to a special visit from Miss Avery. Victor really took to his new friend and actually played with her and happily shared his stuff. He even tried to put her paci back in her mouth for her and when that didn't work, he offered it to her mommy. I don't know why I didn't get video of the duo. As a result, this is a short one. It's chockful of Christmasy cuteness though. But no, no snow, in spite of Otis's pleadings.

12/28/2007 7:57:32 PM  
Another one down. This is the footage from our visit to Peoria to visit G, Aunt Deb, Uncle Pat, Cousin Sean and Cousin Nick. The highlight was, of course, the wild rumpus of running you'll see. The most exciting moment for us though (and not in a particularly good way) was Victor immediately jumping out of the Pack & Play and busting back into the bedroom at the hotel. Luckily our little flight risk settled down. It was a fun time in Peoria, as always, and we can't wait to see what happens next year. Cousin Nick will be right in the dog pile with the big boys by then!

12/28/2007 6:20:58 PM  
Here's a montage of the night we flew into St. Louis and actually went out into the city and lived a little. We went to our favorite STL restaurant, The Tap Room, and drove through my old 'hood. Then we were off to Anheuser Busch to see their light display. It was brutally foggy but it made the lights look really cool. It was a late night for Victor but it was worth it for the Pale Ale. And the Sticky Toffee Pudding, my God, the Sticky Toffee Pudding.

12/28/2007 3:44:50 PM  
While it was tempting to just hole up in the house today, we got right back in the saddle and headed for Fun Friday with Livie & Isabel. Victor didn't do much socializing, aside from casually touching Livie on the arm and saying "Evie!" before turning and walking away. Come to think of it, he didn't have much need for interaction with me either. He was relishing his rediscovered freedom to roam a little too much. Here's our little loner, loose in the park:

Still working on the holiday footage. Laundry is taking precedence for the moment.

12/28/2007 12:05:20 AM  
And we're back. Mixed feelings about that. As always, we have basked in all of the creature comforts of home tonight but it was harder than usual to leave the Midwest behind (in spite of the fact that my skin was even drier and more miserable than expected without the Texan humidity). We had a spectacular visit with most of our loved ones. The time always goes by way too quickly and there are many friends we would have liked to have seen while in J'ville but a week was all we had! Victor sure did love hanging out with his family though and he showed off his newfound knowledge of everyone's names both by labeling people and by running over to give hugs when asked "Where's _________?".

I got fewer pics and vids than you might expect given how prolific we've been with the camera lately but there was too much Victor wrangling taking place to help that much. That and sometimes I was just enjoying sitting down and relaxing for a change a little too much. I'm not yet ready to tackle the updates yet because we were up at 4:30 today to go to the airport and I just finished unpacking. Hey, halfway done with laundry too! It's a sickness, I tell you. Anyway, I'll try to get to the good stuff tomorrow. Come to think of it, there really are quite a few pics. I just got way lazy toward the end of the week.

Victor was initially very happy to be home to "Peru" (Pru) today but it didn't take long for him to completely melt down. He was thoroughly exhausted from the day's travel (his nap on the flight didn't even come close to making up for the early wake-up) and I think he was also going through "the world revolves around Victor" withdrawal. He was so mad that we expected him to entertain himself for a bit. And he became so completely out of sorts that he refused to open the rest of his Christmas presents and he scoffed at his Tonka Mighty Truck (and his personalized license plate even arrived today too!). Needless to say, he was in bed by 7:30. I anticipate a marathon nap tomorrow.

12/19/2007 11:28:27 PM  
We're pretty much ready to go, I guess. There's just one person that still needs to pack. Need a hint? He's male. Another? He's more than 38 inches tall. And he's going to be 38 years old in just a few days.

The final tally?

4 suitcases (of varying sizes, mind you)
garment bag
laptop bag
diaper bag
toddler backpack (that is too heavy for toddler to carry)
small, rambunctious male child

Turns out that minimizing was fairly out of the question. And wow, we'll come back with even more stuff! Not to mention the slightly larger-than-before male child.

12/19/2007 2:42:53 PM  
Is it weird that I'm looking forward to the flight tomorrow because it means that I'll get to sit down for a few hours? Packing is not going well at all. Victor wants to unpack everything so he can sprint around the house rearranging it all and we are already at 4 checked bags, 3 carry-ons, a stroller and a carseat and I can't quite get it all to fit comfortably. I'm thinking I need to minimize a little. Maybe. Yes, PopPaw and MiMi are surely laughing at that.

One way I can minimize is to take all of the left shoes that I packed for myself out of my suitcase. I'm still aircast-bound for another 3 weeks. My foot's doing a lot better but the doc apparently wasn't kidding when she said it could take up to 6 weeks to heal. Victor, on the other hand, is fit as a fiddle and cleared for take-off. The ear fixation that concerned me so much is apparently wax-related. And I think the moodiness was due to constipation, particularly since the mood improved greatly in the past 36 hours.

We got out this morning for one more playdate before our departure to colder, wetter lands. Victor has quite honestly been a tad bit snippy with his buddy John the last few times we've gotten together. I think he's been jealous that I pay a lot of attention to John now that his sister Betsy is here (to which I'm sure John wants to say "Dude, how do you think I feel?!?!?", and given John's verbal skills, I fully expect to hear him say that next time). Today there was a breakthrough of sorts. There has been progress but today was different. There was genuine comradery. Chumminess, even. Sniff.

Being boys, the subject area that really brought them common ground was animal sounds. If only I had gotten video of the "I'm an elephant, Victor!" exchange.....but I was too busy watching, astonished. It was a real Jane Goodall moment. By the time I managed to get the camera, most of the madcap shrieking and smiling at each other had abated but I managed to get a few moments captured for montaging:

And now I must whip into action and make the most of naptime so that I can actually go to bed at a reasonable time tonight. I'll need every bit of strength for tomorrow. But have I mentioned how much I'm looking forward to Victor having his own seat, complete with carseat!?!?!?!? I am. I really am.

Oh yeah, Merry Christmas Monkey Doers! May it be filled with holly jolly stuff and plenty of naps (especially yours, Ruth).

12/17/2007 1:11:11 AM  
I had to put Victor to bed without his usual sleepsack on tonight because both his blue one and his red one were still in the dryer. I wasn't terribly concerned but as it was getting downright chilly before bed, I thought I'd better check on him and see if he was warm enough. James mocked me. Well, it turned out that my "always check on Victor before turning in for the night" rule is a good one.

I went into Victor's room at midnight and he was sleeping soundly in nothing but his pajama shirt. Pants off, diaper off, sheets soaked, pajamas soaked, monkeys somehow unscathed. For about 2 seconds, it was impossibly adorable. Then not. He was sound asleep and possibly would have slept all night like that which would have been just great given that I already fear that he's getting sick.

I got him up and stripped him and then he began to shiver violently. He never cried one bit, just looked at me and said "Mommy up!" very desperately. And mad as I was, I couldn't be even the slightest bit mean about it all because he was so sad and tired. Once I got him in dry, very warm clothes (including a now dry sleepsack), I set about stripping the crib and cleaning up the carpet best I could. He even tried to help, silently and slowly dabbing with a towel right beside me. And he got a little bit of "Mommy up!" time to make him realize that everything was going to be OK.

He's already sound asleep (it's only been 10 minutes - remember, this timestamp is wrong) and he looks very happy now that he's warm and dry. He's getting an earful tomorrow (more than tonight's "I don't want you to ever do this again!"). And sleepsack, I for one will never underestimate your importance again.

[James here] What a good mommy.

12/16/2007 5:53:43 PM  
Victor's a little out of sorts and I'm fearing that it may be ear-related. Not much appetite and far, far whinier than usual (he's really not a whiny person in general, bless his heart). So I'll probably drag him in to see Dr. Mirrop. On a normal week, I'd wait it out but I want to check those ears out before flying. Didn't the same thing happen last year at this exact same time?!?!?!? I think so.

We did get out for brunch this morning with V's buddy Katie ("Kitty") and naturally he choked down tons of French toast just as we said that he won't eat much right now. On the way home, we worked in a very short park jaunt. If he seems subdued, it's because he is. I'm glad we got him out into the sunshine and fresh air while we still could though.

This is a very short one, as the montage length correlates to the length of time spent playing which was not much:

12/16/2007 12:55:04 AM  

Deja vu. Only with more clothes on. We thought we were SO smart. Again.

Tonight we headed to the NI parking garage roof to enjoy the fireworks that The Domain (fancy pants mall across the road, non-Austinites) does every Saturday night this month. We went right on time and felt so very smug when we got up there and no one else was around. We should have caught on that it was a lot like last time we went up there and no one else was around - a very soggy night in July when the Quarries fireworks got canceled but we were none the wiser.

Well, there were fireworks tonight. We heard them very well. The problem? They were directly on the other side of the building in front of us. We just assumed that they'd be high enough that such a thing would not be an issue. So we sprung into action and jumped into an elevator and then sped into the building and up to the 4th floor. We raced for the windows and pulled up a chair for Victor to stand on to see the spectacular display. Just as the last fireworks were going off. So yeah, the big pyrotechnics show? It lasts all of about 6 minutes. If that.

Victor was not in the slightest bit concerned about fireworks or lack thereof, however. He had a blast roaming the empty halls of the 4th floor and sampling every chair in the elevator lobby. We concluded that he actuallly believed that we went there specifically to let him run wildly. So all was not lost.

An even more delightful result of this evening's botched holiday frolic attempt, though, was that Victor is now fully acclimated to wearing his snow boots. When we put them on last weekend to go to Luminations, he screamed and cried and was afraid to walk in them but tonight he acted like he'd been stomping around in them for years. Dare I say he likes them!

But the biggest breakthrough of the weekend - or probably the month for that matter - was that Victor kept his hood on willingly the whole time we were outside. It involved some very painstaking preparation ("No, hood ON! No, hood ON!") in the car so that we could get him used to it once and for all but it worked. This boy is ready to play in the snow:

We still need to work on some mitten aversion therapy yet this week to be fully Illinois-ready but I still consider this boot and hood thing a pretty significant victory. Besides, his coat sleeves are pretty long, right? Oh, and yes, I realize that there is rain forecasted rather than snow but I'm still dreaming of a White Christmas. And I still believe it's possible. See, I'm not THAT cynical.

[Oh jeepers! I just realized that we don't even have mittens that fit.]

12/14/2007 12:45:41 AM  
We survived the Trail of Lights. And really, it would have been a fairly effortless production if I hadn't insisted upon going out to eat first. Yes, I'll concede that one, James. At any rate, it was fun and worth the trouble but as with any event pushing past 9:00, there was significant punchiness toward the end. And while riding the Zilker Zephyr in the dark past all of the lights was awfully nifty, it marked the apex of the aforementioned punchiness.

James got some great pics of Victor with me. They're both in the gallery and here in all of their montagery. I actually got very few pics of the lights themselves though because that would involve actually stopping and standing still which was not really an option this evening. As a result, most of the lights pics I got make it seem as though the Trail of Lights was ablaze and I'll spare everyone that not-so-holidayish image.

Oh, and to give you an idea of just how tired Victor was when I put him down at 10:00.........I just checked on him and he is lying exactly as I put him and all 7 monkeys are undisturbed and remain in bedtime formation. That's one tired Victor.

Here's the goodies:

12/12/2007 11:17:58 PM  
I fear that I might be addicted to these montages. It's just such a darned good way of displaying a bunch of pictures and videos at once. Here's the latest. It involves Victor jumping with his buddy Olivia. They like to jump.

[James, stop rolling your eyes......this is a really cute one. Seersee.]

12/11/2007 11:30:44 PM  
Daddy was gone tonight so Victor and I took an after dinner field trip to see the 37th Street Christmas lights. It was just exciting enough to be worth it but not so wonderful that we felt bad going without James. Victor really liked walking up and down the block but he was totally bored with driving through.

Check that holiday to-do off the list. Having experienced the beer can-strung "Keep Austin Weird" version, now we're ready for the big, bombastic Trail O' Lights!

12/11/2007 1:25:31 PM  
Victor's bloodwork yesterday went very well. I'm so glad we took the time to go to the Children's Hospital lab, even if it was a bit of a production. We did have to lie him down on a table and get a second tech to hold his stick arm down while I pinned the rest of him. And the tears did roll but he pretty much just muttered his version of profanities and ground his teeth (very Daddy-like on both counts). Had to use both arms because the first one clotted (we had to get a lot of blood) but the phlebotomist got both arms on the first stick. The moment we were done all was forgiven!

Today we managed to get Christmas presents shipped off to MiMi & PopPaw's house (those are the names Victor has given them in pictures and now we'll have to see if the names stick in person!). We've got so much going on right up until the moment we leave town next week. Every year I say this but I'd really like to slow down and relax a bit in J'ville this year. I know one place where Victor will NOT be slowing -or quieting- down and that's in Peoria. I am quite certain that the moment he sees Cousin Sean (still his favorite person in the entire universe), he's going to start running and screaming wildly!

Victor's down for an early nap today. I can get away with that after Little Gym. I hope he settles in and sleeps soon because we have plans to go to a demo at music class late this afternoon. It's probably going to be his last chance to see his bud Gwenny Gwen before the holidays. And speaking of buddies, the picture flashcards of family members are such a hit that I think I might make some up now for friends. He's even learned "Bernie and Jack" already, although it sounds a little more like "Bilbojock!".

12/9/2007 2:01:33 PM  
For family members that have asked to see Victor's Amazon wishlist again, here it is so that you don't have to go digging through the whole blog:

My Amazon.com Wish List

These are obviously not the only suitable gifts for Victor, by any means, but they are some very Victor-appropriate items that have been identified. ;)

12/9/2007 2:43:39 PM  
It's been quite a nice weekend. We actually went out last night sans Victor. And yes, we missed him fairly terribly. He got to hang out with his new sitter Erica though and I think that now that he's gotten to know her a bit, he's going to have lots of fun with her. Every 4 weeks or so. No really, I mean it. It was NICE to be out and about in the world. And it was especially nice to have such an enthusiastic "hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiI!!!!" from Victor this morning. Also, I got the most awesome white elephant gift at the party last night - The Hillary Countdown to Victory calendar! Seersee.

We managed to get out for a bit right after breakfast for a little duck pond action because Victor and I just HAD to show Daddy what all the fuss was about. And we even worked in a very brief trip to the cool park. Daddy was suitably wowed. Here's yet another montage, this time featuring the duckish musical stylings of The Biscuits:

Tonight we're hoping to get to the Wildflower Center for their Luminations event if the weather will cooperate. It's warm enough still that a little rain really wouldn't be a big deal so I'm hopeful. My hopefulness is sometimes rather misguided though. Oh, and my foot? It's practically all better. It's a Christmas miracle.

12/9/2007 2:30:21 PM  
I keep forgetting to mention Victor's new ECI eval on Thursday. It went well insofar as Victor withstood 3 hours of assessments and goading while remaining perfectly charming. Also, there were no big surprises so that was also good. His language skills were scored in the 18-24 month range and that was just as we expected.

Still 6-8 month delay but everyone was encouraged by some of the progress he's been making and we're all starting to get a bit more of a handle on how to work with his sensory needs. As such, we'll be doing another evaluation with an occupational therapist to see about some sensory integration tactics that will address his specific issues (proximity for eye contact, parallel play, number of items that can be processed, etc.).

Tomorrow I take Victor for his bloodwork once we get done with speech therapy and I am dreading that a whole lot. He is one strong little dude and I think he'll fight pretty hard, especially since they need quite a bit of blood. I'm already planning a treat on the way home so hopefully all will be forgiven and hopefully we also won't have to do that again for a long, long while. And I'll try to refrain from reminding him how many times I had to have my blood drawn in order to bring him in to the world.

12/7/2007 6:03:49 PM  
It's Fun Friday! And yeah, it was fun. Exhausting but fun. We packed off this morning for a playdate at the duck pond and the Best Park Ever. Lori has been going on and on about this park and to be honest, I thought "Boy, that Lori sure gets excited about finding new parks!". Well, no wonder. It's truly a hidden gem. Kind of a big gem at that.

I didn't get any pics at the duck pond (which was also pretty spectacular) because I was too busy hobbling after Victor to keep him from trying to scale a ravine. Have I mentioned just how much I loathe this aircast? Anyhoo, there are many pictures from the park. So many in fact that I put them in montage form rather than putting up the pics individually here. If any of our regular readers have technological challenges with this format, please do let me know and I'll go back to doing it the old way.

The playhouse was by far the highlight for Victor but it was a well-rounded park experience, evidenced by the fact that he got quite dirty. For Victor to get dirty, he's really gotten lost in the fun.

Here's the montage:

12/5/2007 9:50:46 PM  
Well, we've been having a great time getting ready for the holidays and staying busy playing with friends. Unfortunately though, the big news for this week is that I have a gimp foot. I went to the podiatrist this morning and she thought she saw a stress fracture on one film (the 4th metatarsal) but couldn't see it on the other so she diagnosed me with "either a stress fracture or acute tendonitis". Either way, the treatment involves walking around in an aircast for at least the next two weeks. At that point, I get re-checked to see if maybe, just maybe, I can embark on holiday travel in two matching shoes. Toes crossed!

The upside? My "special shoe" made me a very popular person at music class today. What could be cooler than a ski boot with really, really loud velcro on it? It was our last class of the session and I know that we will both go through some pretty major withdrawal until we start back up in January.

And speaking of withdrawal, we went to Phil's today for what will probably be the last time for several weeks. It was a really pretty day and in spite of some mean girls trying to dominate the playscape (blocking the slides and shouting "no people allowed!"), Victor had some fun. He eventually pushed the mean 4-year-old girl aside enough to climb into the slide. This was after he yelled "no!" at her. I supported this approach, actually. Most notable on this outing though is that the mini-cheeseburger kid's meal no longer is adequate for Victor. He's ready to upgrade to two mini-burgers. It's a big day.

We have a new ECI evaluation tomorrow morning here at Casa Humphrey and I'm rather thankful that it will involve me staying in my house and mostly remaining on my butt. Hobbling around today wore me out! Plus, I need to rest up for our usual Friday frolic.

12/2/2007 12:46:12 AM  
So we made our way to The Biscuit Brothers' Merry Musical Christmas show so December is officially upon us. 3 very enthusiastic thumbs up! We'll be back for the New Year's show and I already can't wait to see Victor jumping along to the beat again.

Admittedly, he was mildly alarmed when the Bros came on stage and played their opening riffs but then did NOT play the usual opening tune ("Welcome to our barnyard...welcome to the show!......"). It was all holiday fare tonight with none of the usual stuff (which worked surprisingly well). Our little music fan came around and got in the spirit of things but it took several minutes of mulling it over.

There are many pics posted in the gallery but I thought I'd stick the two primo pics here in the blog to sum up our evening of fun:

12/1/2007 10:58:55 AM  
[James here]
I came home to find this the other day. I think because of the thinly veiled passive aggressive sentiment, I find it enduringly funny.

11/30/2007 3:39:28 PM  
Wow, it's been a busy week. And next week just looks even wilder! Most of our calendared events are very fun ones though. We've got an extremely action-packed weekend in store starting in the morning. The highpoint will certainly be the Biscuit Brothers holiday show tomorrow night. I anticipate a lot of excited jumping when he hears those opening guitar and banjo riffs.

Today we had a very low impact playdate, driving just a few blocks to the park to play with Lori & Livie (our Friday fun pals!). It was a cloudy morning but the temp was just as I like it (low 60s) and some fresh air did us some good. Victor was really into the blue slide today:

Today though, he also played along side Livie more than he really has in the past. They make such a cute pair and it's sweet to see him warming up to the idea of actually playing with his friends:

Most importantly though, Victor asked for my help and told me when he wanted to swing using actual words. Without any prompting (either verbal or nonverbal) from me! That's a pretty great way to round out the week, after some really encouraging progress in therapy both Monday and yesterday. He is really enjoying his time with his SLP and is excited as soon as we pull up at her office building. As far as he's concerned, she's another playmate. A playmate who is sometimes a bit demanding and perhaps rather frustrating at times. He likes her quite a lot though.

Also, I don't know how long this link will stay good but it cracked me up too much not to share it:

Humphreynian Elves

I did a version with Victor alone and a version of all 4 of us but Victor decided that this one was the best. He thinks it's hilarious. Pru has no comment.

OK, so it seems that Victor's grandmother likes this one better. Since I'm trying to teach Victor to honor his elders, we'll include it:

Elf Doodle

11/27/2007 10:39:24 AM  
We had another great Monday yesterday. Probably our best therapy session ever. Lots of spontaneous stuff coming out of V's mouth (in a good way). We also went to see Santa afterwards and while Victor had absolutely no intention of sitting on his lap, he was happy to sit on mine to visit with the jolly old guy (whose jolliness was actually refreshingly restrained). Our new Santa pics are in the gallery but just for fun, here's a side by side by side of the official Santa shots for Victor's first three years:

See, there's a slight improvement each year, James.

11/26/2007 12:40:14 AM  
I have a propensity for verbal exaggeration which is based purely upon genetics. Victor's namesake (or namegiver, if you're a stickler for traditional grammar and linguistics) was a prime example of this biological tendency. I try to reel it in and as such, I try to refain from using the term "debacle" too loosely. Today, my friends, was a bit of a debacle.

I just spent about 12 hours of my life trying to take and photoshop Christmas card photos. I think it might be time to stop trying so hard. It's not that Victor is a truly difficult subject. He's extremely cooperative for a child of his age. Really, he is. The dreary skies this weekend did us no favors though. And the red eyes, my God, the red eyes. Our house is truly a photographic wasteland. Add to this a rampant case of cabin fever and we've pretty much all lost it at this point.

This accidental pic from this morning ended up being the perfect photo essay to capture my state of mind when it was all said and done:

Let's see. We started off well enough. There were certainly some good smiles:

The problem? His entire lower body is a blur because he didn't want to hold still. And trust me, I knew the feeling after being cooped up so much this weekend. In fact, Victor often just did his own thing in that chair with no regard for what I was trying to accomplish, including but not limited to playing with his dragon and just standing up and shouting:

And when he would hold still, he thought it was funny to try to look all sneaky:

It was funny for a while. Then I tried using some props to get some expressions of holiday-appropriate enthusiasm out of him. In the case of his trike, he was pleased to get on but wanted to be left alone to ride in peace:

And in the case of the Tonka truck, he was genuinely ecstatic because it's actually a Christmas present. I'm hoping he forgets about it and gets this excited again in a few weeks when he gets it for real:

Eventually, I just let him wander around and hoped to catch some Christmas magic. Instead, he just tried on his Cards hat and pondered who the handsome lad in the painting was:

I gave up at that point and brought him upstairs to let him jump off all of his camera anxiety. Here he is looking strangely like his Cousin Sean:

In the end, I guess there are probably enough good shots to configure a Christmas card (and no, the "good ones" are not included here!) but I'm still not ready to throw in the towel quite yet. I really must have lost my mind this weekend. I cannot wait to be out and about and back to the grind tomorrow. And naturally, the weather will be nice again. Finally.

11/24/2007 11:33:42 PM  
Well, I asked for it and I got it. It's cold and it's rainy and it feels like winter. And that's all just splendid when we want to have some lazy mornings. But yes, sadly the Chuy's parade was a no-go for us. Right up until when we woke up this morning, the hardy Midwesterner in me was hellbent on toughing it out and going down there. Once I reconsidered it though, I came to the conclusion that it was not going to be fun to try to watch a parade in a downpour with a 2-year-old who does not yet comprehend the importance of umbrellas. Also, Pru was especially snuggly this morning. And we had new episodes of "Thomas & Friends" and "The Biscuit Brothers" to watch. You get the idea.

We did eventually brave the elements once the rain lightened up considerably. We ventured out to The Domain to attempt some Christmas pictures. Pictures were taken but none of them fit the bill for the intended purpose - the 2007 Christmas card. The results of this madcap photo session are available for viewing in the gallery though. Apparently we have much more work ahead of us in procuring the official holiday shot. Stay tuned to see how many more shenanigans ensue.

11/23/2007 4:32:03 PM  
We've had a very nice and lazy day after Thanksgiving. The huge and wonderful meal last night (thank you to Jamie, Yvette & Katie, as well as Grandma Mary and Uncle Rob!) and the strenuous playing after dinner prompted everyone here to sleep until 9:00. What better way to ring in the holiday season than by sleeping late with very full tummies!

We lazed around in our flannel jammies and officially lit the tree this morning. There are pics (probably too many of them, really) of that over on the gallery. Victor actually rather enjoyed this ritual.

Since it sounds like it's going to quite literally rain on our parade tomorrow morning (I still have hopes of making it in spite of the 90% chance of rain), we decided that we'd better do something fun outside today. It's cold out but it's dry for now. So off we went to Kiddie Acres. Very few people had the same idea so we felt very smug going somewhere quiet and calm on Black Friday. Did I mention that it's cold out there though? It's cold. The apprehension on Victor's face says it all:

We tried desperately to trick Victor into wearing his hat:

Unfortunately, he doesn't grasp just how cute he is in it so he chucked it quickly and shivered on through his boat ride:

James called Victor "Stoic Rider" throughout our Kiddie Acres adventure today. He'd happily run to the next ride but never looked all that happy while on the rides, in spite of some very subdued "weeeeeeee" sounds that he emitted. So we cut our trip shorter than usual after one last carousel ride with Mommy:

He refused to hold onto the pole by that point and would only hold my hand while requesting "blow!" (meaning "please blow on my hands to make them warm, you dear sweet woman"). So nope. No mitten wearing either. He's got less than 4 weeks to practice bundling up. I'm willing it to be a White Christmas in Illinois.

11/20/2007 9:37:19 PM  
While that pesky writers' strike threatens the very existence of my most beloved of guilty pleasures - Friday Night Lights - there has been headway in follicular negotiations here at Casa Humphrey. A compromise has been reached between the two Victor's hair camps: (1) the clean-cut little man camp, spearheaded by myself and (2) the shaggy, mop-headed urchin camp, quite obviously spearheaded by James.

Victor got his hair cut this morning (and it looks stunning) and I mentioned to his hairdresser -because, yes, Victor does have his own hairdresser- that Daddy really would like for me to just let him go shaggy. I said this in the vein of "Silly men.......isn't that just so dumb?" She replied that she, in fact, thinks that Victor's hair might be really cute if we let it grow and get more shagged out, due to the cool wave thing he has going on (that would be from James).

I wanted to pretend this conversation never existed but she actually got me envisioning the mop-headed urchin. It was a very cute visual. And so, a compromise has been reached in one of the more contested battles in our house as of late. Victor will get a trim pre-Christmas so that he'll look very dapper for the holidays and then I have agreed to try letting him turn into a little Bohemian dude for a while. I fear that getting through that awkward plastered-to-his-forehead phase will be even harder than growing my own bangs out though.

11/19/2007 3:18:58 PM  
Woo hoo! It was a good therapy day. While Victor wasn't the chattiest he's ever been, he was uber cooperative and played very appropriately and took turns. And he finally counted backwards from 10 during "Ten Naughty Little Monkeys" with absolutely no prompting from me. Who says Mondays have to stink?

In completely trivial news that is of really no interest to anyone that doesn't have a peanut allergic offspring, Sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) is really quite delicious. I bought it months ago and then we made the executive decision not to give it to Victor until he's old enough to understand that he can't eat anything that looks like that unless it comes from us. Since our cupboards are nearly bare, we broke down and finally had some yesterday. Mmmmm. I might like it better than peanut butter. Then again, I have a lot of animosity toward peanut butter after it made my sweet boy puff up like a blowfish for 4 days. At any rate, Sunbutter is a delicious (and grossly overpriced) alternative for us since our house is a totally nut-free zone.

11/16/2007 2:53:11 PM  
The adults here in Monkeyland are ailing (Victor has a runny nose but is otherwise unconcerned). So yesterday we all stayed in all day long. Not such a great idea, as it turns out. Victor would not nap at all and I am fairly certain that it was the lack of activity and fresh air working against us. Therefore, he spent his entire "quiet time which can and should be used for napping" jumping and running in his crib. It's amazing to me that he can be amused for 2 hours in that space but I won't look a gift horse in the mouth. I only wish quiet time had been a bit, well, quieter. There was no extra rest for me yesterday. Not that I'm bitter.

Determined not to repeat that course of events, we packed off as planned for our playdate with L&L today. We had originally planned a morning at the Nature Center digging in the Dino Pit but it was decided that none of us were up to something that ambitious (yesterday was a dud of a nap day all around, it seems). So we went to Texas Jumping Beans for some - yes, you guessed it - jumping!

It goes without saying that it was money and time well-spent. Here's Bonnie and Clyde of the bouncy set:

The big breakthrough today though was that Victor, emboldened by his recent sliding under John's tutelage, scampered right up to the slides today. Behold said scampering:

There was some brief trepidation upon the first successful trip up:

Before long though, he was well on his way to his 25th trip down:

At one point, an inappropriately exuberant trio of big girls somewhat trampled over him on the way up the big slide and he bonked his nose pretty hard and started crying. I asked if he was OK and he said "OK!" and then charged ahead through the tears. I don't know if I've ever been prouder and I tried my best to be very nonchalant about waiting for him at the bottom with a kleenex.

11/14/2007 9:13:45 PM  
[James here]
This blog entry has to be handled delicately, but, by God, what happened tonight has to be recorded. It's no surprise to anyone who knows Dawn and I that we are artisans in the medium of profanity, and sometimes slop it about recklessly like a drunken abstract expressionist. We've tried to be good around Victor, but because he is almost always disengaged from conversation and requires active prodding to even respond, we've grown complacent and lazy.

Well, the time of free speech has ended, because tonight Victor dropped the f-bomb - not once but four times in succession - clearly. I'm not going to say who he was imitating, but there was no doubt that he was repeating something that he had just heard. What was impressive was that he plucked it out of a complete sentence without any special emphasis being placed on the word. In fact, it was hyphenated, and he managed to drop the second half and just repeat the dreaded word on its own.

Being undisciplined and lazy and so excited about this advanced linguistic processing, Dawn and I could not contain our pride and amusement, and soon he was joining us in a good laugh. So, now, to borrow yet another Christmas Story reference, whenever he says this word again, we won't be able to honestly ask, "Where did you learn that word!", because we'll know.

[Dawn here now]
That word will never again be spoken in this house. At least not between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.

11/14/2007 12:14:43 AM  
We had the most awesome day today. First of all, Victor was in a fabulous mood for Little Gym. I don't think we had a single clash of wills. Did he do the skills of the day? Oh, heavens no. He had a great time though and he wore himself out.

After Little Gym, I began to execute the Experimental Nap Protocol. We had an appointment with Dr. Mirrop at 4:30 and since Victor has been tending to nap until well past 5:00 (yes, I realize this is not desirable), I knew something had to be done. Well, I got him home and straight into his chair for lunch and announced "You've got 20 minutes to eat, little buddy........then it's nippy nap time".

He was in bed between 12:00 and 12:30 and was sound asleep at least by 1:00. This was a major victory as he woke up promptly at 3:00 jabbering happily and jumping in anticipation rather than being roused at 5:30 crying and rubbing eyes. Oh, if only we could pull that off every day! I've learned my lesson though and I'm going to start enforcing lunch time limits and shooting more diligently for 1:00. I mean it!

So then we were off to see Dr. M. Victor was such a good boy about waiting patiently for more than an hour to see the doc. And our visit went extremely well as we were able to get a referral to get Victor a more thorough assessment and Dr. M ordered some tests to rule some things out. We left feeling more optimistic than we've felt in months. A plan moving forward and a doctor who takes our concerns seriously. Pure gold.

In further developmental news, ECI has resurfaced and will be re-evaluating Victor in a few weeks. We're basically starting from scratch and it sounds like it will be a much more intensive approach to his intervention and therapies this go-around. That was also wonderful news. We're not putting all of our eggs in that basket though and I, for one, am certainly not about to part with our private SLP.

A banner day, really. I even got to take a shower and dry my hair during daylight hours. And I mopped tonight. It's just rainbows, unicorns and Murphy's Oil Soap all around!

11/12/2007 4:27:57 PM  
Well, he is asleep after all (and I should mention that the time stamp on this blog is still on daylight savings; it's really 3:30). But this is how I just found him:

His love of books does warm my heart. There's such a thing as loving a book too much though.

11/12/2007 4:07:51 PM  
The badge of valor for maternal bravery (and on a Monday morning to boot!) goes to my dear friend Ruth. She managed to get both kiddos, including a mere 3-week-old Betsy, to Ready Set Play for a playdate this morning. I can say with utmost confidence that Ruth was the least haggard mother of an infant there. Seersee!

You know, on a lot of days that Victor really gives me a run for my money, I ask myself how in the world I ever thought I'd be able to do this with twins. Today is the closest I've ever come to knowing. Our buddy John's little sister really tested their mommy with her feeding and diaper change needs today so I spent a lot of time watching both wild 2-year-olds. And really, it was fun!

I'm lucky that they both listen well and they are both very good at playing around other kids and taking turns. In fact, I think they were by far the best little boys there. Speaking impartially, of course. However, Victor and John continue to have a tendency to bounce off of each other and repel in opposite directions and any suggestions from me about perhaps playing in the SAME general area for 5 minutes were met with scorn. Boys have got to run!

It was a great time though and Victor should be sleeping right now after the sweat he worked up. He's not. He's still looking at "Hello Calico" and talking to the monkeys in his crib. But hey, it's Daddy's night to do dinner/bath/bed! Ahhhhhhhh.

Pics from this morning are on the gallery. I was too lazy to put them all in here. It's Monday, you know.

11/9/2007 3:00:59 PM  
This morning I was contemplating a pseudo-political rant about healthcare accessibility and the horrific state of our environment. It's never been a secret here on Dawn's Blog that Dawn would sooner swim with piranhas in a pool of sewage than vote Republican or enable anyone else to vote Republican so I felt I was going to totally justify a rant. It's still brewing in the back of my mind (Hillary or Barack, Barack or Hillary?) but thankfully Victor & I got out for some world class Zilker fun this morning and so I've been diverted from rant mode, perhaps for a good while. Whew!

We met up with Lori & Livie this morning to do some playscaping and Zephyr riding (which entailed a lengthy conversation with the train conductor about how overpriced Day Out With Thomas was). Victor did a whole lot of sliding today:

As did his friend Livie With the Wild, Wild Hair:

I can think of no better way to kick off the weekend. I'd just prefer that it be about 10 to 15 degrees cooler than it is at present. And hey, that reminds me of the hot temps in November 2 years ago (cue the flashback music)......................

Victor on TV

The funniest part is Lia & myself trying so hard to evade the camera. But look at tiny V & Alex! Awwwww.

11/8/2007 4:25:59 PM  
Hey, who says romance is dead? We already have a blockbuster Valentine's Day lined up. Of course it involves going to see Sesame Street Live's "Elmo Grows Up!" (presale tix were released today). I'm actually rather excited about it, even though it prominently features Abby Cadabby (whom I loathe). I sure hope our little sweetheart enjoys it when the time comes. Much as he'd probably prefer to see a production featuring the Count, the Cookie Monster and Ernie on ice, I'm pretty sure that singing and laughing Elmo will delight.

It looked like we were headed for another nap strike this afternoon but he finally fell asleep not long ago. And while I know that it won't do anyone any favors come bedtime, I'm inclined to indulge and take a little nap with Pru myself. That or I might just snuggle up with her and do some knitting on Victor's cool blue scarf that he won't ever want to wear and it will be too warm to ever wear anyway. Anything to keep from Googling.

11/7/2007 4:20:08 PM  
Our week didn't start off particularly well. Therapy did not go well on Monday (seems to be a downhill trend for the past few weeks) so we're looking at reassessing the whole situation with some experts. ECI is totally AWOL. So much for benefiting from our tax dollars, eh? To say that I'm disgusted doesn't even begin to describe it. As a result, I haven't felt much like blogging because there's been nothing good to say. About anything. Except that yes, Victor is impossibly adorable.

Today was the oasis in this otherwise dreadful week though. Sweet, sweet Wednesday. Victor had a blast at music class (have I ever NOT said that?) and then he had a date with Miss Gwen for burgers and playscaping. Once again, the dynamic duo:

However, in spite of an active day thus far, Victor is refusing to nap at the moment. I'm trying to summon the strength to just get him up since napping at this point will blow bedtime out of the water.

11/2/2007 3:33:43 PM  
Operation Monkey Net was a modest success, I'd say. Victor's OK with being zipped in for sleeping. The only drawback is that he's not quite as content to just hang out and chill out for a while when he wakes up. Still better than him flinging himself from the top rung like he's on Wrestlemania. So yeah, let's hear it for the crib tent.

I wanted Victor to end the week on a fun note and my nose couldn't tolerate the park today so we went to Ready, Set, Play for some jumping. We hadn't done that for a while and, in fact, probably hadn't been there since Victor has really mastered jumping. He had a blast:

I literally had to drag him out of there with the promise of fries.

10/31/2007 10:52:55 PM  
Two very scary things on this Halloween, in order of scariness:

1. Victor jumped out of the crib for the first time tonight. About an hour ago, actually. When I heard the thud, there was absolutely no mistaking what had occurred. He didn't seem hurt so I stuck him back in after calming him down. I'm not sure what measures will be taken tomorrow but I think we'll try tenting first. I'm not sure any of us are ready for Victor on the loose in the dark of night.

2. Um, what's the deal with black shoes for toddlers? I can only find a few available pairs of black shoes in 8W and half of them look like something I saw on a basketball referee in 1984. And that's online! And from Stride Rite (cha-ching)! Victor needs some comfy but attractive black shoes for his holiday wear and I'm having quite the time trying to procure some. First order is to get him measured again, I suppose.

Also, Victor hated trick or treating with a fervor unseen before. He screamed bloody murder when we we went up to our neighbors' doors. We're not sure if he was mad about being torn away from his wagon ride or if he was terrified of our neighbor's dogs but he did not enjoy the experience.

Just as well because he can't eat any of the candy anyway. He did enjoy rolling around the neighborhood looking at all of the spooky decorations though. So it was certainly a success on that level. I think we're all happy to retire that dragon suit though.

10/31/2007 2:01:32 PM  
Victor was one of three dragons at music class today. Who knew it was the thing to be this year? He completely refused to wear the hood today (and also refused to look at the camera, for that matter):

In fact, 15 minutes into class the molting process began:

After that shot was taken, he went over into the corner, unzipped his suit and slithered out to scamper free in the sunlight. Can't say I blamed him.

Also, just to spite James, here are the family pics from yesterday at the Spooktacular thingy:

10/30/2007 7:37:02 PM  
Is Halloween over yet?!?!?

We went to the little kiddie Halloween shindig at NI this afternoon and I think that Victor is now reaching the point of tiring of his costume. The blaring sun may have something to do with that. Imitation dragon hide just doesn't breathe well. Doesn't bode well for tomorrow. He did have fun this afternoon but we made the mistake of letting him get into the moonwalk immediately upon arrival.

Here's our dragon in captivity:

And here he is jumping and trying to blend in with the big kids:

After this, Victor had no interest in any of the other offerings and once it was established that he had worn out his moonwalking welcome, there was nothing left to do but drink lemonade and head home. One more round and then we can pack away the dragon suit. He is awfully cute in it though.

Victor's gotten a lot of very cute Halloween cards and he has enjoyed them all (thanks friends and family!) but his very, very favorite is from his cousins Sean the Crocodile and Nick the Spider:

10/29/2007 2:34:11 PM  
I was feeling quite a bit better this morning so naturally, what did we do? Well, we went to a hayride, of course! I feel like I just lived a Claritin commercial (um yeah, maybe this IS allergies after all) but it was worth it for the amount of fun that Victor had. Nose. Won't. Stop. Running.

We went out to the Elgin Christmas Tree Farm and it was the best of all 3 hayrides we got to sample this fall. Nice long ride through the rows and rows of Christmas Trees. I wish I'd gotten video of Victor's commentary: "Weeeeeeeee. Treeeee. Weeeeeeeee. Treeee." Good stuff. He loved the goats and the haymaze ("Achooo!") too. The pumpkins were scant at best but we're probably about pumpkined out anyway.

And oh yes, there are new pics. This is shaping up to be a big picture week with all of the fun stuff on the agenda.

10/28/2007 9:14:00 PM  
Well, I feel completely dreadful but nothing was going to hold us back from attending the Bats & Cats Ball at the Children's Museum tonight. All the kiddies met up at City Hall to parade for all of 3 blocks (which still took an amazingly long time) to the museum for a wild rumpus (and yes, I've been reading "Where the Wild Things Are" a lot lately). As soon as we got into the museum, James remarked that it was obvious that Victor has been there before. He was a man on a mission. However, there were A LOT more people there than there are on a typical busy weekday so we had to curb his enthusiasm a bit.

At any rate, it was quite a fun time until Victor's parents decided that we'd had enough of the wrangling. There's a cool new exhibit we'll have to get back to see soon though. Tonight though, it was all of the usual favorites - the train, the splish zone and the construction zone. I think he might have even gotten a very slight kick out of seeing all of the other kids in their costumes. He even hung out with another dragon for a few minutes in Splish Zone! And now, the dragon suit is dripping dry after a prompt washing once we got home. We've still got more rounds to make this week.

10/26/2007 4:57:03 PM  
It was a glorious fall day here in fair Austin (pollen aside). Ought to be the perfect day for a trip to the zoo to feed the deer and ride the train, right? Not so. And what could ruin an otherwise delightful zoo morning? A bunch of screaming grade schoolers on a field trip, that's what.

Luckily Victor was none the wiser about the inability to feed the deer today. Apparently the zoo officials don't allow the animals to be fed when there are such large groups of unruly kids. Victor was pretty content to pet the goats through the fence and there are a few pics of that over on the pics page. And the train was a hit as always so I shouldn't whine much.

In fact, Victor and his buddy Livie really barely even needed zoo animals to make the trip worthwhile. They seemed far more interested in trying to tackle the inflatable Pooh Dracula (truly a strange concept):

And when they weren't staring down marmosets through the fence........

Livie was happily pushing Victor around in his stroller:

And really, I think that Victor and Livie got a chance to pal around maybe even more than usual. She definitely got more giggles out of him than usual:

And after a thumbs-up from Victor..........

The silly girl even climbed into the basket of his stroller:

By the time we got to the picnic area, Victor was getting so tired that he didn't really notice or care that a peacock was scoping out his memonay (lemonade):

So it was time to come home! Next time we'll be doing everything humanly possible to avoid being there on a field trip day (I'm thinking of a Monday - there are no field trips on Mondays, right?). But hey, a pretty day is a pretty day, deer feeding or no.

10/23/2007 2:43:49 PM  
As is no secret to most people I've talked to recently, we've really tightened the budget lately out of fairly dire necessity. It's been painful at times but it's worth it to keep making this arrangement work. As such, I've tried to make a few substitutions in our usual grocery staples (James will undoubtedly scoff at this claim). Apparently there are some things that just can't be skimped on, however.

Fig Newmans. Have you had them? They're good. Really, really very good and tasty. But I thought "oh come on, we should just try going back to the cheapola Fig Newtons.....how bad can they be?". I found out today.

I already had assessed them and reported to James that they tasted like sugared cardboard compared to the organic figgy goodness of Newman's Own grossly overpriced numbers. Victor agrees. I packed a few Newtons for our trip to the park after Little Gym today and when I gave him one, he took one nibble and threw the rest of the cookie as far as he could. Into a grassy field full of squirrels. So it's not like it really went to waste, James. ;)

Lesson learned. There are some things that are just worth spending a little extra on. Luckily we did have fun at the park, Newmans or no. Victor was on a galloping high from Little Gym and the sun and fresh air (and glorious temps in the 60s, can I get a yeehaw?) prompted him to run laps around the big open field. And having a bottle of bubbles in the diaper bag and on the ready at all times certainly keeps me in Victor's good graces.

When it came time to go though, he refused to hold my hand and walk back to the car, instead wanting to continue his wild zigzagging in the opposite direction. So I got to carry a whiny, thrashing boy all the way back to the car. And really, I don't think that even a Fig Newman could have prevented that.

10/22/2007 2:12:01 PM  
It's been a while since I recorded Victor's favorite stuff so thought I'd get some of this down (and honestly, it's mostly for my own sentimental purposes). Some favorites are favorites that never seem to waver and others are new or intensified.


No big changes here. Burgers, pizza, yogurt, cheesecake, fries, lemonade, chicken strips, Fig Newmans, cheese, pancakes.

TV Faves:

Actually, Victor doesn't watch much TV programming these days which is a good thing. He still likes to watch "The Biscuit Brothers", even though he totally snubs them every time he gets a chance to interact with them in person (Saturday being just the latest example of that). He LOVES the theme song to "Thomas and Friends" but once an episode gets going, he is ambivalent at best. Pretty much the same thing with "Curious George" these days. And "Meerkat Manor" too, come to think of it. "Sesame Street"-wise, he's happy to see Cookie Monster or Slimy but that's about it. Elmo barely warrants a second glance most of the time.


Lest you think that Victor doesn't spend any time glued to the TV, I assure you otherwise. He would happily watch his They Might Be Giants' "Here Come the ABCs" every hour on the hour. He loves every single song on the DVD but especially the robots reciting the alphabet at high speed. He also seems not to tire of his Gustafer Yellowgold DVD. Luckily I thoroughly enjoy both of these DVDs as well. And there's a new Gustafer DVD out (and in the mail to us as I type)! He has absolutely no interest whatsoever in feature-length animated movies in general. I'm sure that will change and I'll enjoy not being subjected to them while I can.


Victor's really turning into a little hipster dude without much influence from me. Granted, I try to find a lot of new stuff I think he'd like but he picks what goes into heavy rotation. Again, thankfully he has pretty good taste. He is currently obsessed with his Gustafer CD, especially "My Dragon" and "I'm Your Eel". He sings a lot of the melodies now and it's heartbreakingly cute. He's recently caught on to Recess Monkey and he really likes a few of the Deedle Deedle Dees songs ("Henry Box Brown" & "Rancher Ants").

Victor has a strange fixation on this song "Chocolate" by Snow Patrol and does a little headbanging routine in his carseat when it first comes on. Convinced that it was the drumming that he was drawn to (and I'm still convinced of that), I played him some Springsteen since I thought it had a very similar drumbeat. We were disheartened to see him unmoved by The Boss. There's still time to acquire that taste.

In general, he still really responds to classical music and he definitely likes anything with a Latin American flavor. Too bad Spanish didn't work out this semester.


Victor still wants to hear "Llama Llama Red Pajama" and "When Sheep Sleep" most nights before bed but he's hit and miss these days about telling me what's next. He can be pretty auto-piloted about storytime sometimes and then other times he can't wait to shout out the words. Same with "Ten Naughty Little Monkeys" at naptime.

He is completely and utterly obsessed with "Knuffle Bunny" as of late though. He wants to hear it many times per day and he usually says the last word of every sentence in the book. He's even actually started to request his "Awful Bunnay!" at strange and inappropriate times. We're hoping to catch Mo Willems (the author of KB) at the Texas Book Festival in a few weeks. He'll be reading from the sequel, which Victor hasn't really caught on to yet (it's a little "older" since it involves a bunny mix-up at school), but it should still be fun.

Victor likes to get every single book in his entire room off the shelves at least once a day. He'll usually select a few and jabber away while he methodically flips through the pages. He still rarely sits down for a full reading of his Seuss books but they are favorites for the flipping and jabbering routine.


Victor wants to be outside as much as humanly possible and he now expects to go for a wagon ride every night after dinner no matter what the weather. He puts on his Crocs and stands at the door saying "out" or "siiiiiiiiiddde" (but rarely both). He also likes to swing in the tree out front but it's not nearly as much fun as swinging at the park. He's also really gotten the hang of the playscapes in the past several months and likes to climb and slide and climb and slide repeatedly. Just recently, he's gravitated more toward shoveling in the rocks/mulch over playscaping though.

He's still loving Little Gym and we're seeing the results on a daily basis. Victor no longer likes to walk around now that he's discovered that you can gallop and hop/jump to get just about anywhere you want to go. He also really enjoys jumping in his crib and also on our bed. Pru just loves that, obviously.

He still usually enjoys grocery shopping if it's within a reasonable time limit and he's (a) in one of the race car carts or (b) has a balloon to entertain himself with. He pretty much has to be allowed to open and close one of the freezer doors or else the trip becomes a disaster. He also likes to help put the groceries on the conveyer belt. He's quite helpful.

And lastly, Victor still considers music class the absolute highlight of his week, especially when he gets to go out for burgers with his gal pal Gwen after class. He grins from ear to ear as soon as we turn into the parking lot and he breaks into a sprint as soon as he's released from the car. He is absolutely uninhibited at music class and loves to sing out loud for all of his friends. And as always, he adores Miss Carey and her guitar.

Whew. That's it. That's the preferences and interests of Victor in a nutshell. No wait, in summarized form. Nutshells are noxious and pernicious and we dare not speak of them.

10/20/2007 9:30:31 PM  
As of 5:52 this evening, there's a new girl in town in the form of V's buddy John's new and extremely precious little sister Betsy. (Well done Ruth!). I present to you Elizabeth MacMillan Connell in all of her 7 pound, 9 ounce, 20 inch glory:

We simply cannot wait to meet Betsy and we cannot wait to see John's reaction. She's going to be even more beautiful in person, to be sure. Congratulations to the Connells. And thus it's the end of the all boys, all the time era.

10/20/2007 4:09:44 PM  
Poor tired Victor just couldn't hang in there long enough for the Biscuit Brothers' big finale set at the Family Music Fest today but he did get to do some enthusiastic dancing to Joe McD's set and he also got to go on yet another hayride. The highlight though was hanging out with his buddy Gwen.

Here they are making their way through the hay maze:

They also commandeered some unsuspecting tot's wagon:

Victor also enjoyed driving the tractor in the Pioneer Farms barn:

He barely stayed on the tractor long enough to get that picture and the real draw of the tractor was actually that there was a kitty sitting on the hood.

It was a very windy, dusty, rollicking good time. Sadly, the only nap was in the car on the way home though.

10/19/2007 1:56:25 PM  
We managed to work in some playing at the park with Ruth & John today and we were so glad because they aren't going to be a party of 2 for much longer. It was kind of a last hurrah before there's officially more girls than boys on our outings!

Here's Captain Wild Hair on the blue slide:

And here's Victor with his completely non-wild helmet hair:

Victor wasn't all that into the playscape today overall and spent most of his time shoveling rocks or exploring the wilderness, as far away from Mommy as possible:

When it came time to go, John came over and waited patiently to give Victor a hug goodbye:

A moment later, Victor got up but he didn't say goodbye to his very polite friend. Instead he tried to make a break for it by scurrying up the playscape again before being retrieved and loaded up for the trip home. A wave goodbye sufficed.

Good luck this weekend, Connells. Hoping to hear some exciting news very, very soon!

10/18/2007 10:32:45 PM  
Whew! I think pictures are finally caught up. Brace yourself because there will be more to come soon, I'd guess. Victor & I are going to the Austin Family Music Festival with our friends Kathy & Gwen on Saturday. I'm pretty sure the kiddos will do some cute stuff warranting photography. Ya think?

We had speech therapy today and it went well. Victor really likes his SLP a whole lot and he says lots of things for her that he's never said for us. Then again, he doesn't have to hear her yammering at him endlessly all the time either so he doesn't tune her out. Either way, a therapy day is always a happy day for all of us because it really stimulates his speech attempts. We just need to keep it rolling all week!

Every once in a while now, Victor will call me "Mommy" instead of "mama" and it makes me cry every time. It sounds so much sweeter than the auto-pilot "mama" and it just sounds so much more specific and meaningful. I have to be careful not to get too emotional about it though because the other night when he said it and I started crying, he saw me and it made him cry. I don't want him to think it's a sad thing when it's really about the happiest moment of my life.

Oh, and also? Judging from the massive amounts of milk and bread intake and the 3 hour naps all week? Yeah, I think Victor's going through a growth spurt. His 3T Halloween costume just BARELY still fit comfortably this afternoon so we're apparently going to have to temporarily stunt his growth until November comes because his costume is really, really cute. It even roars. Major selling point there for the occupant of the costume.

10/18/2007 9:05:41 AM  
Great job, James. You're only like the best daddy ever!

I guess I've got my naptime work cut out for me today. I've got a slew of pictures to add to Monkey Do.

10/16/2007 10:28:24 PM  
Well, weaning's a done deal. Victor hasn't looked back and for that I am thankful. I am also thankful that he has transferred his cuddliness and eagerness to be with me over to storytime fairly seamlessly. I was so afraid that he wouldn't love me as much now. I think he still loves me.

Thinking about it tonight, I realized that I have been either pregnant or breastfeeding for 3 1/2 of the last four years. And that's not even taking into consideration the IVF months (which are more physically demanding than being pregnant, really)! So having some freedom over my own body at long last is admittedly somewhat liberating. More than that though, I feel a bit lost. I keep feeling like I'm doing something wrong or forgetting something. It's a very strange feeling, to say the least. I am, however, greatly enjoying getting Victor to bed a little earlier.

I feel very blessed that Victor & I had such a long and prosperous nursing partnership though. He was pretty much of a pro at it from the get-go and he was always rather low maintenance in the grand scheme of things. He's still never had a drop of formula in his life and it's been gratifying to realize that goal. And I mean no offense in the slightest to formula feeders. It's just something I needed to prove to myself that I could achieve.

I breastfed Victor for all of the reasons that La Leche and the AAP and WHO and the lactation consultants said I should and I have absolutely no doubt that he benefited immensely, although I do take issue with the "less ear infections" claims. What those organizations didn't tell me is how much I would benefit myself. Obviously, it's an incredible bonding experience and one that I dreamt of for many years. No mistake about that. The closeness that I've been able to share with Victor in his first 2 years surpassed all of my most outlandish expectations.

It's truly been an honor in every sense of the word but what I've come to understand is just how much I needed such a symbiotic experience. Being so needed was truly a godsend for me because it made me be so much more present in the moment for Victor rather than still keeping a part of myself stuck in the past, still trying to make sense of losing his brothers. That loss is still very much felt but it's defining me less and less, in no small part because giving so much of myself to Victor has healed my heart.

So yeah, this feels like the end of a somewhat prolonged chapter in my life. I can have caffeine and alcohol and cold medicine now. On a whim! Thanks for an incredible ride though, boys. And this next part? It gets more and more fun every day. Except for the diaper throwing part.

Side Note: Hoping to have picture capability again soon. Maybe later this week. Yeah, I know. It's ridiculous.

10/13/2007 9:34:19 PM  
Best Pumpkin Patching experience ever! We went waaaaaaaay out to Marble Falls today to go to the Sweet Berry Farm Fall Fun fest thingy. It was ever so much fun and we had such a beautiful day for it. Sadly, I still can't post pictures. And trust me, there are pictures. Many, many pictures. By the time I can add pics again, I'll have 100 of them. That's probably not even an exaggeration.

Victor is definitely in the spirit of this whole pumpkin patch thing this year though. He loved running around and touching and then sitting on every pumpkin within his view. He also loved petting the goats and especially going on the hayride. We will most certainly be going back to SBF for strawberry season come March. Good times.

I'm not sure if we can finagle another drive out there this month though so we'll probably be hitting a local patch or two or three in the next few weeks. Something tells me that it won't possibly measure up though. That place was just a fall wonderland. And the pumpkins really were sensationally gorgeous. Not just your standard jacks. I'll just keep reminding myself of the virtues of going to a pumpkin patch less than 20 minutes from home. Man, that place was cool though.

10/12/2007 3:52:35 PM  
"Mama Llama, run run run!" This favorite line from Victor's (also favorite) bedtime story was repeated many times during the first hour of Victor's naptime today. And yes, I was excited. I was even almost moved enough to go running into his room since he was saying it so clearly and he was obviously so pleased with himself. But no, naptime is naptime. Turns out that I probably should have run, run, run like he asked.

Yep, another poopy diaper throwing incident. On the one hand, I'm sort of used to this now so that element of shock and disgust is all but removed. I hustled him into clean clothes and changed his bed, immune to his sad tears (I was not very nice to him as I was just about to take a much-needed and much-earned shower).

After the fact though, he's sleeping peacefully and I'm left feeling truly horrible. He might have been trying to tell me that he needed a diaper change, for all I know. And I just ignored him? Oh, it's just too sad to reconcile.

This I know though. The top priority vocab word has just become "poop". If I hear that magic word, I'll run run run alright. Better an interrupted naptime than a monkey house in my precious son's room. Hmmmmm, but how long until he figures out that he can fake me out with it?

10/11/2007 3:34:50 PM  
We survived Day Out With Thomas. As expected, Victor liked the train ride but not much else. Ditto that for Daddy. He did, however, take special interest in the Lego trains so it's clear that he'll be needing a new Duplo set for Christmas. It's already been added to his Amazon Wishlist:

My Amazon.com Wish List

[Grandparents, just in case you were wondering what Victor might want this year, there you have it!]

We took a ton of pics too (narrowed it down to 36 from 70 taken) but we're still hobbled by script issues and so they still can't be added here. Was DOWT worth all of the effort? Depends on who you ask. I think all three of us would like to ride the Austin Steam Train again though!

10/9/2007 1:41:39 PM  
Ssssshhh! Don't say this too loudly (for fear of the big jinx) but I think that Victor might be weaned. We're on our 5th day of no nursing whatsoever. And really, there's not going to be much of anything left if he does suddenly change his mind now. Victor's really taken to drinking his milk out of his cup now and he's also gotten really good at letting us know when he's thirsty. As a result, he's got plenty of wet diapers and that is helping to make weaning pretty stress-free for everyone. My weepiness about missing my cuddler is even abating slightly.

Meanwhile, Victor has gotten to where he seems to prefer milk to the drinkable Yobaby which is a tremendous relief from a budgetary standpoint, not to mention that the Yobaby can be hard to track down at times. He's even on 2% now instead of whole milk. The only BUT here is that he still wants his milk to be pink with Quik. Could be worse, right? He doesn't even seem to mind the conversion to lower fat yogurt (I think that Daddy will miss that whole yogurt more than anyone!).

The other good news is that we're scaling back activities very soon. Abrakadoodle is almost over and we're not doing next session. Also, we are dropping out of Spanish immersion only one week in. Both of these programs are really wonderful in and of themselves but I really had to step back and look at what Victor gets the most enjoyment out of RIGHT NOW. That's definitely Music Together and Little Gym (and obviously, speech therapy).

I'm really, really trying to change my approach so that Victor can do more things that he shows an interest in or a preference for in order to stimulate his language development more. I guess this means that we'll be doing a lot of swinging and sliding and swimming but those things make him happy and those things get him to tell me how excited he is. And they obviously help us practice esses. ;) Besides, who doesn't love going to the park? You know, as long as it's less than 85 out there.

Also, I've got pics to add but we're still having server issues.

10/7/2007 9:19:22 PM  
Well, we learned a few new things about Victor this weekend. The good news comes first. Victor, much like his mommy, LOVES spanakopita. Like a lot. I discovered this last night when I took him to the Mediterranean Festival downtown. We met Alex & Lia there. The strangely ambivalent relationship between the two boys continues but Victor at least made a new phyllo-wrapped friend. I just can't believe that he ate that much spinach!

Here's Victor & Alex really enjoying each other's company:

The bad news is that we continue to have diaper flinging issues. We had another episode of poop flinging yesterday when Victor woke from his nap. We're trying to get through to him that this is not a zoo and while we call him a monkey, he's not really supposed to act like one. As of last night we were speculating that this is an early manifestation of potty training readiness with our thinking being that he was only removing his diaper when it was dirty and he was trapped in his room (which is why it would be so nice if he could just call to us and let us know instead of acting out). Today though, he did it again at naptime and there was no poop involved. So it might just be a boredom thing. One thing is for certain though. It's not being tolerated.

I'll be anxiously watching (and wincing) to see if this continues this week. It is very frustrating to be dealing with this and weaning at the same time (though weaning is going rather well, actually). It just feels like he's turning into such a big boy all at once and I wish he could tell me what he wants and needs and feels in a more civilized manner. So many people tell me that once he really starts talking more, I'll wish he'd shut up sometimes but I just don't see that being true. Aside from all of these issues, I love hearing his voice. Luckily, he's catching on to that and is using it more and more. I think he's on the cusp of really making some great progress. I just hope that he can keep his pants on!

[Daddy here]
For posterity, I'd like to record that today was the first time I spanked Victor punitively. I was the one who found him without his diaper. I wanted him to know that this is not acceptable behavior so I was holding the discarded diaper and saying "No!" very loudly. I gave him two stinging swats to his bare rear, and he got the message that Daddy was upset. It was heartbreaking to watch his little expression and listen to him cry, but I stayed firm and immediately put him back down to complete his nap after putting a new diaper on him. I forcefully made him lay down, so he continued to cry, but he went to sleep 2 minutes later. He slept a good long time. I went in to get him up about 2 hours later and diaper and pants were still on, so we were buddies again.

10/5/2007 11:41:08 PM  
We had speech therapy with our original SLP yesterday and it went very well. She wants to see him once a week for a while and based on the response we saw from him during yesterday's session, we are totally on board with that plan. For now. It was such a relief to have someone taking our concerns so seriously. Plus, Victor really likes her because she apparently shakes the water blocks better than we do. So while the last thing we really needed was yet another weekly event, this is really going to be a good thing. We'll have to miss next Thursday though because we've got Day Out with Thomas to go to!

Today the newest ECI speech therapist came out to meet with us for the first time and, in spite of my apprehension about all things ECI as of late, I actually really liked him quite a lot as well. And I think that Victor would have befriended Scott more if I hadn't had to wake him up for the appointment after a mere hour of napping. He's only going to come out once a month but I think that just those monthly sessions will make for a good complement to our weekly therapy. It certainly can't hurt and the beauty of speech therapy right now is that Victor pretty much perceives it as getting to play with interesting people and their interesting toys. Aside from the napping/scheduling issues, it doesn't feel like a chore at all.

I actually had to wake Victor up an hour into his nap yesterday afternoon too because we had to dash off to his Spanish Immersion class. I hope that we don't have that situation each Thursday. I guess I'll really have to focus on getting him fed and down for his nap ASAP once we're home from therapy. It doesn't help that lately he is taking up to an hour to fall asleep most of the time - both at nap and bedtime. He doesn't cry but he sure gets himself wound up. We often hear several rounds of "do-re-mi" being sung and sometimes even bits and pieces of Music Together songs or his favorite stories or random animal sounds and names.

He's definitely feeling the sleep deficit a little at this point though. As soon as we finished storytime tonight, he ran over to his crib and started scaling it in an attempt to get in (I guess we really do need to figure out that toddler bed conversion thing). But alas, exhausted as he was, that didn't prevent him from performing a special partial recitation of "Llama Llama Red Pajama". I think he's feeling as jazzed up about speech therapy as I am.

10/3/2007 2:33:24 PM  
I love Wednesdays. Wednesdays are good. Victor seems to thrive in Music Together more and more with each passing week and we're having so much fun being back in class with our buddies Kathy & Gwen again. And while V&G don't exactly embrace each other giddily, they definitely know that they've been friends for a long time and they have a certain ease with each other. It's rather sweet.

Today the four of us went out for burgers and fries at Phil's after class (those fries got 8 enthusiastic thumbs up!) and then the kiddos got to play on the playscape right outside. I think we'd all love for it to be a weekly event but the massive caloric intake might prevent that from being realistic.

Victor still won't swing like a monkey from a bar (which was truly something to be thankful for in this setting) but he was sure happy to watch Gwen do it:

He was more focused on proving to me that yes, as a matter of fact, you really can climb up the big tube slide:

Luckily, there was some actual sliding too and Gwen even peeked in on the action:

But, as usual, Victor and Gwen spent most of their time criss-crossing paths with little more than the occasional glance or shoulder pat of acknowledgment:

It sure was fun and it certainly facilitated an easily achieved nap. The only thing that would have improved our Wednesday was a temperature below 90.

10/1/2007 2:19:19 PM  
I don't think we should schedule activities for Monday mornings any more after this session of art class. I'm not a morning person and I'm not a Monday person. Thus, Monday mornings are a sort of purgatory and especially when they involve packing us off to Central Austin, Land of Parking Shortage. Ugh. So let's start with the bright spot of the morning. Look at this watercolor crayon resist that Victor created (with signature assistance by yours truly):

And that would be the extent of the good news to report from this fair Monday. Victor is still running wild at art class for the most part and I was accordingly running interference at class this morning. The teacher asked me to try just modeling the level of participation I wanted from Victor while I "let him explore, with the hope that he'll come join in". Approximately, one minute into the implementation of that strategy he pulled on a wooden folding screen thinking it was going to open like a door and instead it came tumbling down upon a few of his classmates. Pretty scary really. Someone really could have been hurt.

I guess the only encouraging thing was that when I grabbed him and somewhat hysterically screaming "We don't play with that, OK?!?!??!?!?!?!", he actually said "yes" and acted like he got it. That was pretty major. He's never actually answered yes to indicate comprehension before. He's only said yes in response to "Do you want more ______?" or "Do you want to swing/slide/go outside?". So I guess that was technically another bright spot but it was overshadowed by the near maiming of his classmates. It was truly horrifying. Thank goodness the other moms understood and were merely annoyed that something so dangerous was in the classroom (which really isn't the teacher's fault - it's another organization's space that they're allowed to use).

The whole experience left Victor completely wiped out. He crashed hard and I would like to do the same, especially since I only got 3 hours of sleep. Not to be though. And get this - I chewed all of my nails off. I haven't done that in about 10 years. I so should not have skipped out on yoga yesterday.

So yeah, in the future? Mondays will be spent outdoors or in padded spaces. And that free exploration thing? Not in that room. Ever. Art shouldn't be so dangerous and I think it's also supposed to be fun. Isn't it?

9/29/2007 8:40:36 PM  
Well, we took a day trip out to Bastrop today and we are all fairly pleasantly exhausted. We started with The Dinosaur Park and this pic pretty much sums up our review of it:

It's a great concept and it's fairly well-executed but Victor's just not into it enough to make it worth the effort (or expense). He did befriend an Allosaurus toward the beginning of the excursion:

He was less enamored with the T Rex (and doesn't Daddy look thrilled as well?):

In fact, at that point he decided it was time to just get right back in the wagon and get the heck out of there:

There was some brief interest in the T Rex eggs and then we were outta there:

Next up was the Riverwalk. It is well-established that we completely scorn the San Antonio Riverwalk (deemed by James as the "Sewerwalk"). We really like the Bastrop Riverwalk. It's small and quaint and peaceful. And today, it was also very hot. No pics got taken there due to the constant whining on all of our parts.

So then we were off to the Bastrop State Park, a favorite of ours for the Lost Pines. We took what, pre-Victor, would have seemed like a very unambitious hike. With Victor in tow, a few miles was plenty for James. The air was fragrant (I think, my nose is still somewhat disabled), the trails were soft and cushy with pine needles and there was a wonderful breeze. It was good but we were very happy to see the car again.

I mean, just look how happy these guys look as we started out:

As with every other outing with "The Gremlin", a lot of time was spent beating on Daddy's head:

Victor did get set loose in the woods for the first time ever and he was suitably intimidated. That was good because he stayed nice and close, probably because he was so thirsty. I was glad he didn't stray far because he would have been hard to spot in his camo:

And finally, here are the boys in the final stretch. I thought I'd prominently feature "The Gremlin" in all its glory because it is getting retired after today:

Turns out that a non-adjustable kid pack is not something to which you can really....well......adjust. A new pack is in order! We'll need to rest a while first though.

Tomorrow? Nada!

9/26/2007 9:51:13 PM  
Rejoice! Insurance is paying for speech therapy after all. At 80%. After a $200 deductible. Still, this is HUGE boon and makes the whole scenario a little less stressful. So we can now go to the SLP that we really like (and are scheduled to see next week) without cringing.

So naturally, guess what happened? Yep, a new ECI SLP called the very day that I got our refund check from insurance. Not quite sure how this is all going to work now. Honestly, I thought that they were just going to forget about us. Guess not.

I guess Victor and I get to audition his therapist candidates at this point. Ah, the power! Who has the better toys, anyway?

9/24/2007 2:54:22 PM  
I've developed a new Monday morning strategy of rewarding Victor for being a good boy at Abrakadoodle (good being defined as "staying in the room and not creating any major scenes") with a fun outing on the way home. Today that entailed a trip to the Mayfield Nature Preserve. And while I've determined that it is, as suspected, perhaps best with 2 parents (a herder and a photographer), it was enjoyable. We tried to go to the Laguna Gloria grounds too but parking was too daunting for a Monday morning. Maybe next week.

Mayfield is one of those places in Austin that hardly anyone knows about and that makes it all the more beautiful. Here was the tranquil scene as we arrived:

And as soon as Victor caught on that we were headed for ponds full of fishies, this was the scene:

Running, running, running..........and then this:

All efforts to explain to him that he isn't allowed to jump into the lily ponds (nor should he want to) were met with screaming and flailing so I had to lure him over to the peahen pen area, where he strolled about happily for a bit:

And then he shockingly climbed right up on a bench, as though to actually pose for pictures. Who knew? There, he beckoned to a peacock to come join him and then decided to follow said peacock away from the bench:

Then, our visit finally culminated with a face-off of sorts between the two new friends:

Literally about 3 seconds later, Victor attempted to pet his peacock friend and that was the end of their visit. We were mildly disappointed not to see any fan displays but I think that little interaction made up for it. Victor does not seem to have my fear of birds (and actually, even I can suspend that fear for peacocks).

9/21/2007 8:53:17 PM  
We swam. Victor even put his newfound skills to use by learning to walk up and down the steps into and out of the pool unassisted. He practiced that a lot. A whole lot. He also jumped up and then tried to bounce on the bottom on, well, his bottom. He seemed surprised by the fact that it meant going underwater rather abruptly but he recovered quickly after some embarrassed sputtering. So all in all, it really was a fun day. I'm purging that whole poop thing from my memory now.

The zoo was definitely a hit and, much as anticipated, the train was a highlight. As usual though, no pics from there. Safety first, after all. He definitely loved feeding the goats and the axis deer as well. He hadn't done that before.

Here's the alpha goat. He was a major bully and literally knocked everyone over to get to the food source:

Like me, Victor grew to find him repugnant. We were both rather enchanted with the extremely docile axis deer though:

Victor did have some lovely gal pals along for the adventure and here he and Livie confer briefly about the animal food supply while the deer eagerly wait for the next handful:

And here he and Isabel divide and conquer:

Another major highlight was the very hammy "tigah" who put on an impromptu aquatic show for us. Here he starts the weekend off early with a feline kegger:

It was so cool to see him up so close. All I could think as I was taking these pics was "James would be so freaked out right now":

World's Most Dangerous Zoo, eh, James?

On the way back to the snack area, the girls became quite enamored with a Galapagos Turtle:

But Victor was uninterested and trudged onward toward Monkey Country:

Here we saw some disturbingly introspective capuchin monkeys (and Victor's Cozy Coupe envy was renewed):

And all good zoo visits must end with a visit to the cutest of the primates, the beloved squirrel monkeys:

We'll definitely be back soon for more deer feeding. And speaking of deer, just for kicks, here's Victor with the axis deer about six months ago, when he was a lot less brave:

p.s. Happy Birthday to Alex! Welcome to the terrific twos, old chum.

9/21/2007 4:52:55 PM  
"It's alright, sweetie monkey. There are worse things that could happen." I've said this many, many times in the last half hour but I'm not sure that I've meant it. I want to mean it. Um, Victor just pulled a major doozy of an ending to an exhausting day.

We went to the zoo this morning (new post on that to come soon, complete with many pictures) and had a great time. It was hot though. Hot and ragweedy. So I fervently hoped that Victor would stay awake for the drive home and then nap for a few hours in his crib. Nope. Fell asleep 5 minutes after leaving the zoo. I drove for a bit and then sat on the driveway talking to Gaga on the phone and that got him almost a solid hour of car nap. Then I took him in for some water and cookies.

I decided to force the renap issue even though it NEVER works. I was going to enforce the "do what you want in here but you're spending the next 90 minutes in your crib" rule. Well, he really took that rule and gave it a whole new horrifying spin.

Around 4:00 James came home to change for tennis and as expected, the "Daddy sounds" riled Victor up and so I went to just get him out of bed. When I opened the door, he was standing in his crib naked. He was wearing a diaper and shorts when I put him down. For a few brief seconds, I thought this was adorably mischievous and gave my standard faux-exasperated "Oh Monkey!". Then reality hit.

Victor had taken off a very, very, very dirty diaper and thrown it onto the floor and then proceeded to roll around and kick at his crib slats. So yeah, big mess. I ran a bath and gave him a quick lower body wash. And cleaned the tub. Oh, and removed the sheets and threw them into the washer. And then, of course, scoured the crib slats. Oh, and then there was the cleaning of the bathtub. Again. Throughout all of this, Victor happily chattered next to me while patting me on the back encouragingly. Truly his saving grace.

So everything's put back together and I think we might go for a swim soon. Why, you ask? Because I can't stay in this poop-bombed house. That and I am going to wear this boy down. He WILL sleep late tomorrow morning. He will.

So yeah, zoo pics in a bit. They'd be on now but I got a little poop-tracked.

9/20/2007 9:15:32 PM  
We're taking Victor back to his original speech therapist in a few weeks. He made some really good progress with ECI but there has been a large amount of turnover there as of late and as a result, we're not getting satisfactory services. This means we'll have to suck it up and go out of network but we at least want to be checking in periodically with Dr. D (V's SLP is a PhD - Lori, Ruth, Eileen.....yeah you know me?). He's really talking a lot now but we've still got a lot to work on.

So anyway, we got new paperwork from Dr. D to fill out prior to our appointment which included a new and rather lengthy 2 year development questionnaire. As I told her, James and I do not agree about how to answer a lot of those questions. I tend to be overly optimistic but I like to think that it is because I see him do things that other people don't get to see (and he's not big on command performances). And quite frankly, I feel like it's reflection of my job performance when he doesn't do what he's expected to do. So we had some differences about some of our responses to the questionnaire. Two big items were jumping with both feet off the ground and walking up and down steps (instead of climbing/crawling). These are apparently big 2 year milestones. Who knew?

In the end, I think we compromised and said that he was doing those things "sometimes" (James said "not yet" and I said "yes" since even though he would not do those things I knew that he could do them because I'd seen him do them). Well, the day I mailed the paperwork back he did both of those things and did them well. And now he ALWAYS walks up and down stairs and is totally fixated on practicing his jumping. Really, I still give Ulysses S. Dee credit for the jumping because it was seeing that concert that got him jumping. Seersee.

The point of all of this rambling? The best way to get a kid to do something is to proclaim in writing that he doesn't do it. The really fun part of all of this is that Victor is now a playscape scampering star! Thank goodness park weather is not far off. Until then, I'll keep grinning through the stifling humidity. I really have no choice.

9/20/2007 1:31:57 PM  
Just as I was really starting to curse Austin (Live Ragweed Capital of the World?), I made a thrilling discovery today. The free neighborhood pool down the street from us is now open all year long (it's heated, not that much heating is necessary). Granted, the aesthetics leave a lot to be desired and it's pretty boring compared to some of our favorite aquatic destinations around town, but it's there. And it's open. And it doesn't involve cold spring water or algae! It's only open for a few hours right during the middle of the the day but that's just fine with me because that means no big kids. Now let's just see how long it takes us to get there.

[Note to some of our more local friends: turns out that it's $2 for adults and free for kids. It's not like the city would heat a pool all winter for free! Still a bargain. Monday through Friday, 11-1 and 5:30-7:30.]

9/18/2007 10:56:14 PM  
Victor's doing a lot more mimicry again here lately. He's especially fond of mocking my half-yawned, exasperated "Oh Monkey!". A few days ago though, he really latched on to a new one and this was something that made James positively giddy.

We were watching Excalibur on cable (a beloved movie of both James and myself) and it was toward the end when someone - is it Gawain? Perceval? - calls out repeatedly in this horribly pained voice "Arthuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrr!". Victor waited a few moments and then did his own rendition and it took James a moment to catch on to what he was doing. Frankly, his "Arthuuuuuuuurrrrrr!" can sound a lot like his "high fiiiiivvvvvve!" sometimes.

We thought it was an isolated incident but then tonight during our post-dinner wagon ride (which it was far too humid for, by the way), he sprung it on us again. He was doing all of his usual walk around the neighborhood words: tree!, flower!, wellow, orange. Then suddenly there was this guttural bellow of "Arthuuuuuurrrrrrrr! followed by a huge smile and many encores. If Cookie Monster were a Knight of the Round Table, he would sound like Victor.

[Edited after consultation with James to add: It was neither Perceval nor Gawain but Lancelot that calls out to Arthur in that final battle scene. I should know that. I blame the Clarinex.]

9/18/2007 2:14:48 PM  
My itchy, watery eyes are crying tears of joy because it is finally raining! It's been a rough few ragweed-laden days for both Victor and myself but while today seemed to be the worst of it for me, he seems to feel like a million bucks. James mercifully handled Little Gym duties this morning while I slept for a few extra hours. Sounds like things went pretty much as normal although I think it sounds as though he might have made some improvement on the balance beam in my absence. Showing off for Daddy?

Speaking of which, I started Mommy's Choir again last night and apparently Victor went to bed at 7:30 (truly unheard of) for Daddy. He never napped yesterday though - just sang do-re-mi for an hour and a half and then started talking in full Esperanto sentences until I went in to get him. So it was no surprise when he slept for nearly 13 hours overnight! He's napping now though so hopefully we're getting back on track.

9/13/2007 11:10:58 PM  
But wait, there's more!

Late this afternoon (yes, you heard me right - we were actually able to go somewhere in the afternoon, post-nap) we went to the Spicewood Springs Library for a free concert featuring the Deedle Deedle Dees. We officially LOVE them. It was a great time and Victor got so caught up in his bounce dancing that he jumped into the air with both feet cleanly off the ground for the very first time ever. He was totally impersonating the lead singer (Ulysses S. Dee). I only got one picture and it is unfortunately not of the big jumping moment:

but I got some video that is pretty cool. Actually, I edited that and a whole other slew of videos tonight so that hopefully Daddy can get them up on the site tomorrow (it's the only Piglet's Page voodoo that is still beyond my control/abilities).

We've got a pretty busy weekend on tap and I'm hoping that Victor will be up for it. He's acting just a little "off" - not eating well, more clingy than usual, producing horrific diapers.........but I suppose it's to be expected with the germy territory he's covered this week.

Seersee though, if you get a chance to see the Deedle Deedle Dees, run don't walk.

9/13/2007 2:26:55 PM  
Victor saw his first IMAX film this morning - African Safari. He enjoyed it for the most part but we left a bit early nonetheless. This was due to his volume level. We had a recurring conversation throughout the film that went something like this........

Victor [shrieking with glee at the sight of lions]: "Eeeeeeeeeeeee! Eeeeeeeee!"

Dawn [whispering forcefully]: Sssssshhhhhhh, Victor, quiet please."

Victor [equal parts cheerful and loud]: OK!"

This continued on a steady loop for about 10 cycles before I finally grabbed our stuff and snuck out the back. The worst part is that he never did let me get a picture of him with his 3-D glasses on. This is because they were never on for long.

9/12/2007 1:58:17 PM  
This is the week that all of our classes are amping up. So far, mostly good. Monday was Abrakadoodle and it was not entirely disastrous. That's about as enthusiastic as I can get about it at this point. I'm hopeful that he'll settle down and be willing to produce some art while we're there at some point. It is by far the most challenging of our classes and the fact that it's on Monday mornings down close to campus just adds to that level of difficulty.

Little Gym is getting better though. Victor seems like he's starting to get with the program. There are few expectations there as to anyone's level of participation so that helps. I'm trying to approach it as an exploratory environment in which I encourage his participation but don't force it. If I can stay the course with that attitude, I think he'll come around more and more. He's starting to remember the other kids in class more now too so that helps.

And today was music. Ah, what a relief. He was apprehensive when we first got there (I think that he still sometimes suspects that I'm going to leave him there like I did for yoga) but as soon as Carey strapped her guitar on, there was a look of sheer joy on his face. Even with a lot of new faces he was right at home and sang and danced and ran and clapped and generally acted like the happy little boy I know and love. So in spite of the tuition hike this session, I'm feeling like keeping it in the line-up was a solid decision. He's still singing "do-re-mi" in his crib right now.

It's another cool (by Texas standards) day outside and while I won't announce that we're going to get out and do something fun like say, Kiddie Acres, if he doesn't sleep soon.........I'm not going to be heartbroken if the nap doesn't happen. Yesterday we got in a great park frolic after Little Gym and it did us both a world of good. It was sprinkling and about 75 the whole time we were there. Victor had to ride home in a fresh diaper sans pants due to the wet slides but it was totally worth it! Have I mentioned recently how ready I am for fall?

9/9/2007 4:35:38 PM  
We survived the 5K weekend extraordinaire but just barely. Victor was a peach about getting up early though and he enjoyed the varied scenery. He continues to loathe the jogger stroller but the regular stroller really hurts my arms after about 2 miles. Yesterday's race was downtown and I didn't get any pics there but I did get some today. Today's race was close to home at The Domain and while the race course was incredibly ho-hum to look at (and painfully hilly toward the end), the festivities afterwards were quite thrilling.

Here's Victor begrudgingly posing in the stroller pre-race:

And here he is inhaling some breakfast on the fly while apparently imitating the expression of Gustafer Yellowgold (the yellow dude on his shirt);

After the race, Victor got to ride and then hug a giant armadillo:

He became completely entranced by the decorative tiles (and then angry when we would not remove them for him to play with):

We extricated him from that play area and moved on to the fountain on the way to the car. Guess what happened?

Yeah, this:

Straight in with no hesitation whatsoever. The sopping wet clothes did not seem to bother him in the slightest, so much so that he did not even notice the huge crane looming overhead:

So in the end, race weekend was really rather fun. Let's not do it again for a while though. Well, except for the fountain part. We'll probably be back there again soon.

9/7/2007 3:26:47 PM  
Last night Victor got to hang out with Cousin Susan while his folks went out for a bit. We went to the MOD WalkAmerica celebration event thingy because I was notified that I was receiving an award. I don't want to go on the public record complaining about MOD because I so value the work they do but let me just say this: my award was apparently a crab cake and a Michelob Ultra. Piece together how I feel about that, given that this was only the 3rd time we've gone out and left Victor at home in the past 25 months. Yeah. On the bright side, Victor had a blast. It was really more like his fun night. He absolutely adores Susan and she was a dear to help us out.

Victor got pretty keyed up about being up late and showing Susan all of his cool stuff (especially his tent!) so I think it was probably 10:45 before I finally heard silence over the monitor. I dared to hope that he'd sleep a little late this morning but he was ready to rumble at 7:30. Ouch. So I decided to just really wear him out this morning. And judging from the monkey calls I hear from next door, it may not have actually worked.

We went to Deep Eddy to swim bright and early today (you know, the crack of 9:30) and it was delightfully empty. The cool spring water was just what the doctor ordered and we both perked up a bit. From there we went on to the brand spankin' new Town Lake Park (which will probably be renamed since Town Lake just became Lady Bird Lake). It's a pretty snazzy little park. Literally one of those parks you can call a hidden gem because it's about the size of a gem.

They have a granite sprinkler garden there and while it's much more aesthetically pleasing than Brushy Creek, it's really not as exciting. I saw pics online of the sprinklers lit up at night though and that looks like something to write home about. We will definitely go try that sometime. It's not like Victor's up and running around in swimwear after dark very often though.

At any rate, here's Victor strutting around the sprinklers today:

And Victor splashing in a precious, tucked-away puddle:

And Victor reflecting about how to get over to the docks (I took him over there later):

And finally, here's a close-up of the granite sprinkler garden which shows Victor doing that walk he does that always reminds me of his grandpa:

This weekend? Races both mornings. That means we'll have to be out of the house by 7:15 both days. I'm not a morning person so I really don't know what makes me plan these things.

9/4/2007 2:35:35 PM  
Well, our Diaper Champ is finally giving up the ghost. It served us well for a long time but its integrity seems to have been irretrievably compromised. It's not good. So I just looked into buying a new one off Amazon so that I could read the reviews and make sure there haven't been any major structural changes in the past 26 months.

As it turns out, there are some unfavorable reviews but not really anything new or earth-shattering. There are a lot of people complaining of stink leakage in the second year of service. Here's the funny part - there are some very staunch fans defending the Diaper Champ and citing to how it has never given them a problem in the 6 months they've used it. Bah. 6 months? That's a trial period. A Diaper Champ breaking-in, if you will. Just wait for solids. And don't even get me started on meat! So much stink ahead of you, sweet baby diaper changers.

So anyway, our Champ is on the driveway air drying after a very exhaustive scrubbing. After this, I'll give it a week. The light I can see peeking around the edge of the seal pretty much tells the story though. It's all stinked out.

9/2/2007 9:55:00 PM  
Today we went to the First Annual Austin Kid's Day at The Backyard. It rained and then the sun blazed and then it rained and then the sun blazed pretty much for the duration of the concert. And we only survived for 2.5 out of 4 acts! Fun was had but it was certainly exhausting and we all came home in need of a shower and a nap. Speaking of naps though, Victor skipped his nap today in order to partake of the musical offerings (doors opened at 1:00) and he was quite resilient. He wasn't as exuberant as he would normally be but he was pretty chipper and even rather obedient.

The day started with the usual battle over the hat:

Yeah, we all know who won that one:

The concert kicked off with a performance by a family favorite, the one and only Joe McDermott:

Victor was pretty subdued during Joe's set and spent a lot of time flinging himself back into the stroller (thank God we could take that thing in). Soon the Biscuit Brothers went on and the energy level of the crowd lifted substantially (it had just started to rain too and that helped):

Victor got a little more feisty and outgoing at this point:

When Dusty and Buford finished up and came out into the crowd to greet the kids though, Victor got shy. He actually refused to give Buford a high five. Thankfully, Buford did not remember Victor and thus didn't realize that this marked the third time that Victor has totally ignored him in person. So that photo op came and went abruptly, to say the least.

Turned out that Victor was getting rather tired at that point:

But then out came Trout Fishing in America:

Victor isn't all that familiar with this band and has only heard a few of their songs that happen to be on compilation CDs we own. Today he seemed to join the ranks as a true fan though. He yelled "yay!" for them and suddenly began to have a lot more fun again:

Halfway through their set, however, Victor gave indications that he was feeling quite done, thank you very much:

The rain picked up at that point and so did we. Needless to say, there was napping on the car ride home. It was cool to be in on the very first of what will hopefully be an annual Austin event though. The best part? The weekend's not over yet!

9/1/2007 3:55:47 PM  
It's September now so why does it feel like July? We headed out this morning for a playdate at Zilker Park with Lia & Alex. It felt gloriously cool and breezy when we left the house and muggy and oppressive by the time we got out of the car a mere 15 minutes later. There were lots of little people down there enjoying the day though and Victor and Alex joined right in. Just not necessarily together.

Here's a pic of Victor and myself on the Zephyr:

And here are the boys playing the giant marimba side by side (ever so briefly):

Victor and Alex both did some sliding but their paths didn't cross much at that point. Here I managed to catch a shot of some spectacular mother-son sliding though:

The remainder of our time was spent trying to keep the aggressive birds away from our snacks, watching the Barton Springs swimmers and bathing in/drinking lemonade. By that point, everyone was far too tired to go to the Science Center and dig in the dino pit. Next time!

8/30/2007 9:11:31 PM  
Victor has really had a fun week and is feeling much more like himself again. Tonight during our family walk after dinner, he was gabbing away about the trees and flowers. It's been nice to be able to get him out for a wagon ride on some of these not as stifling nights. As always, he likes to spot all of the cats and especially a favorite cat down the street named "Cookie". We called Cookie "Agassi Cat" for more than a year because she has a gimpy back but now we've finally taken to calling her by her proper name.

We've really had an action-packed week with two meetings of our playgroup (trying to live it up before everyone's classes start), Little Gym, haircuts for both Victor and myself and then today's Kiddie Acres adventure. We met Ruth & John and Lori & Livie there and it proved to be our most fun trip there yet.

Two major milestones at Kiddie Acres today. First and foremost, Victor & John acted like they knew and liked each other. Like a lot. It seriously took two years to accomplish this. And how did we do it? We threw them into a boat ride together, of course. They really did seem happy to be together at first but then once the ride started moving, they immediately went back to their usual aloof act. And then in other news, Victor rode a real live pony. He wasn't particularly excited about it but he wasn't nervous either. I'm not actually sure he realized it was a horse.

As usual, Victor's favorite part is the carousel. To an outsider, he may not look like he's having much fun on the carousel but to the person standing next to him (and holding firmly onto his pants), it's obvious. He murmurs a series of "weeeee"s and "whoooooaaaa"s that indicate his restrained jubilation. And then he pats his horsey and says bye-bye. I wish he could have held still to say bye-bye to his friends. I know we both look forward to doing it again.

There are pics of said KA adventure in the gallery, including the magical moment of friendship. I don't know what I can possibly do with Victor tomorrow to live up to today's fun. I'm thinking..........sprinklers.

8/26/2007 7:54:47 PM  
Victor has been a total monster all weekend. That's not to say that he's a bad boy or anything. He's just been a monster: wild, unpredictable, uncontrollable, loud, quick, erratic. This is why we stay so busy during the week. Stuck in the house for a few days, Victor transforms. It's not usually pretty, or at least the aftermath isn't. I hate Legos.

For this and many more reasons, I cannot wait for fall and all it has to offer. I love, love, love fall anyway. The clothes, the smells, the festivals, the cool nights, the breezy days. Bring it all on. But most of all, I cannot wait for fall and the promise of quick jaunts to the park to burn off energy (finally without humidity and mosquitoes). My boy likes to run with the breeze in his hair and I anxiously await being able to let him do just that.

The good news that I keep forgetting to share is that Victor drinks out of cup rather adeptly now. And I mean an open cup. Like a big boy! It has been a gradual process with many backslides along the way (hence me forgetting to update about it, or rather, fearing that I'll curse myself by updating about it). As James said earlier, he did this whole drinking independently thing totally backwards. He started with water bottles, then went to open cups and now he's finally using sippies (albeit tentatively). It's a tremendous relief for us. He can control his own liquid intake and that is huge. I wish I could say that eating was going so well. He's still balking at most foods that aren't pizza, burgers, fries or meatloaf. Hoping that improves once he's not so nasally compromised.

I believe that I've also forgotten to report in on Little Gym. He likes it. He really, really likes it. He doesn't do anything he's supposed to do at the time he's supposed to do it but he sure loves getting in that room and exploring all of the stuff. The first time we went, he ran straight to the balance beam and walked right across (holding on to the rails, of course). I think it's going to be a great addition to our fall line-up.

I will probably wish I hadn't committed to 3 different class activities but a busy Victor is typically a happy Victor. Plus, I think he needs the Abrakadoodle since I'm not so great at the art stuff. No really, I'm not. You'd think I might be but I'm not. And we're about to start our 8th straight Music Together session (haven't missed one yet!). It's just a no-brainer that we'll keep doing that for now. Victor loves it there and we're shameless Miss Carey groupies!

Oh, and one more thing - he has a new bunny obsession. Hadn't ever said "bunny" until this weekend but now it's all I hear. Won't he be excited when the Knuffle Bunny sequel comes out in just a few weeks?!?!?

Time to round up my little hellion for bed. I even have his "Mommy's Little Monster" pajamas picked out for tonight. He's the sweetest monster of all though. Time for that monster to dream of bunnies. And monkeys. Always monkeys.

8/24/2007 3:13:40 PM  
We are having a strange and yet delightful day. Victor slept until 10:00! That was the sweetest gift imaginable this morning. I'm not entirely sure about that as naptime churns away with silence not yet achieved though. I knew Victor wouldn't nap at his usual 1:00ish so packed him off to Kiddie Acres around noon to get him some air and to wear him out a bit.

He got braver this time. We started with the sure things: the train and the carousel. I have no pics of that part since I have to obviously ride those with him. He was giddy though. After that, I decided to let him walk around and decide what he was interested in doing next.

He went straight for the planes this time and once he checked out the structure of the plane itself and removed some of the leaves that were inside, he enjoyed the ride:

Emboldened by this breakthrough, I led him over to the jeeps. We had to stick with orange, of course. I would call it a success because there was absolutely no crying, whining or yelling. The focus seemed to be on how to unbuckle the seatbelt though (a recurring theme in our daily travels):

It stood to reason that we should go ahead and try the boats, right? V's friend Livie loves the boats and he's got to be able to hang with his friends. This is when his enthusiasm waned a bit. Still brave but now with clenched teeth and not a single smile cracked:

So needless to say, getting back to the planes was a tremendous relief. He felt much more in his element again:

We capped our adventure off with one last ride on the carousel ("horseeeee!") and then the train ("chooooo!"), ran through the refreshing misters and then got home to soak up some major AC. Seems like it should be a good time for a nap, doesn't it? I think so too. Victor, on the other hand...........

Oh, and the broccoli eating? Totally isolated incident.

8/22/2007 9:03:29 PM  
Victor ate a piece of broccoli. This is huger than I can possibly describe. I think that this was actually the first time that he has ever eaten a non-potato vegetable by his own hand. There was much fanfare.

He also seems as though he is on the mend (per James, since it's hard for me to judge) so I'm hopeful that we can swim tomorrow. The end of pool season is drawing near, after all.

And once again, two random items in closing:

1. Victor will say all of his colors when goaded into it but the two that he is most willing to say all on his own? Orange and blue! Warms my Illini heart.

2. Victor is quite adept at singing the ABC song in a turn-taking mode. The very, very best part is his ultra cute pronunciation of "W". "Ubdoo". Awww.

8/22/2007 2:31:49 PM  
We are most certainly in the throes of those last fleeting moments of summer. On the one hand (and as has been well-documented), I cannot wait for the big kids to be back in school. However, with Labor Day coming soon, life is about to change a lot. Many of Victor's friends are going to be going off to preschool. Even he will be starting up with a new and ambitious class schedule - Abrakadoodle on Mondays, Little Gym on Tuesdays and Music Together on Wednesdays. A very balanced curriculum, I must say. So playgroups, playdates, park jaunts and pool frolics are going to be much scarcer soon. As a result, we've been trying to really maximize time with our buds. Nothing can throw a wrench into that more quickly than a rampant Radivirus. The boy is irrefutably sick.

Turns out that the boy is the one that would most refute his own illness though. He is still playing hard (and happily, I might add). He's a whole lot quieter than usual though. That's always disconcerting for me. I feel like I'm not challenging or encouraging him enough when he has days like that. And lunch today was one of the more maddening parenting experiences I've had in a very long time. He's not in the mood to eat anything except baby food and yogurt and he keeps grunting and shoving instead of just telling me what he wants (and has told me he wants countless times before).

Last summer we were at the pool and I overheard a dad yelling at his son "Use your words!" and at the time I thought "what a ______". I understand now. I try my best not to lose my temper but it can be incredibly frustrating and frightening to see a perceived backslide in language development when it's something you're already very concerned about. I'm managing to only yell "Use your words!" in my head and instead say "Please tell me" or offer him choices but I get that dad now.

On a slightly perkier note, we did host playgroup this morning. The Radivirus was temporarily masking itself so we proceeded and naturally, Victor's nose started to gush forth copious amounts of discharge once his friends arrived. As usual though, fun was had and it was wonderful to visit with everyone and catch up on all of our recent adventures. Picture-taking was even less stellar than usual but I managed to get just a few of Victor and Eli actually playing together. I had to document the momentous occasion:

Sounds like we might have a nap strike in effect right now, aided in no small part by the hacking cough I keep hearing.

8/20/2007 1:30:14 PM  
It feels like Monday alright, in every sense of the word. After a full weekend of nap striking (as in not a single minute of napping all weekend long) and extremely picky eating, we headed off - exhausted but determined to go have fun - to the museum this morning. I should have seen which way the wind was blowing as soon as I got out of the car. I jammed the parking meter with a mangled quarter and then, after finally managing to pick it out with a safety pin I found in the bowels of the glove compartment, I promptly threw my cell phone under the car. I mean so far under that I had to actually move the car to get to it. All the while Victor was looking at me as if to say "Oh boy, it's going to be one of those days". But into the museum we went.

He did pretty well for a while. Still some pretty significant sharing and turn-taking issues but nothing meriting the looks of scorn from the mothers of infants (to whom I say "oh just you wait!"). And as always, there was a completely wild and inappropriately violent child there to bring the standards of decorum down just a bit. Whew.

Now usually Victor is really good about staying close to me in these settings. He likes to have his 4-5 foot "independence zone" but he doesn't typically like to do anything drastic without grabbing my hand and yanking me along. So I stood and chatted with our friend Kathy while Victor & Gwen played nearby. Well, I think our separation anxiety situation has changed at the least, if not abated completely. One moment he was there and the next moment he was gone.

(Ruth, this is when I thought of you.) I didn't immediately panic. Thought maybe he was just hiding behind one of the displays in the immediate area. Nope. Then I began to cry a bit. I didn't call his name because he never answers to it anyway but in hindsight that might have been worth at try. Kathy thought she saw him drifting toward the construction zone but I figured he wouldn't possibly have gone all the way upstairs all alone in a museum. Without me. So I ran frantically around the downstairs and started to have horrible visions of him running out the front entrance or of him running off with a pack of preschool ruffians. Finally, after what felt like 3 minutes but was probably more like 1 minute, I ran up the stairs to the construction block station and there he was happily sorting bolts and screws. He was completely oblivious to the fact that I might be concerned.

I couldn't even really get mad. It's a museum and there's lots of fun stuff to look at. I'm the one that looked away so it was basically a "my bad" situation, bordering on "I'm a bad mom" situation. He didn't grimace too much about the hugs and kisses upon our reunion but that didn't prevent him from trying to take off 2 more times after that. At that point, he flung himself into the stroller as though he knew that it was time to give it a rest. Lesson learned on my end. Not so sure about his. Is this really better than him being scared and whiny?

Oh, and I think he must have a cold. Probably our Friday trip to Radivirus (Radijazz Playnasium) with Lori & Livie. Oh, the fun he had there though! And it's impossible to lose him there. Apparently that's become highly key.

[Edited at 1:58 to add that the nap drought is officially ended. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.]

8/16/2007 2:43:00 PM  
After a swimming excursion (which was fun but exhausting) yesterday, it was quite a relief to have playgroup inside today. Thank you rain. I snapped a few shots. I know I'm almost on a picture binge lately and probably no one wants to see this much but this blog has become my Doodle Scrapbook so I'll continue to indulge. And then some.

Just for fun, check out this little comparison study. Here is a pic from playgroup 6 months ago next to a pic from today:

[Edited to add: to view both at the same time, might have to right click and open link in new window for each.]

They've got so much more hair now! And Linnea is definitely sporting the cute big girl pigtail well these days. :)

Here are a few more just for good measure, including Victor getting some toe cleaning from Lucy:

Somehow our gracious host (Eli) managed to escape most of the pics. And lastly, here is a pic that was completely an accident but I kept it because it captured the essence of the end of playgroup. It's all a blur, basically:

Good times. Good friends. Good napping? Say it's so.

8/15/2007 2:39:45 PM  
Victor has historically been unbelievably good about sitting happily in his carseat but here recently it has become a bit of a struggle. Specifically, he has discovered how to loosen the harness in his seat. He doesn't unbuckle it. He just presses a lever and leeeeeeeans way forward to let all of the slack out. Then he is free to wriggle his arms out and reach everything in the backseat. I can often tell when he's started to loosen it and I can reach back and yank it tight again but he's gotten more and more stealthy about it. Something has to be done because I'm tired of pulling over to get him back in.

I do have a few allies in this ongoing battle though. I bought Victor a little roaring lion and a screeching monkey at the Waco Zoo and for brief jaunts, he is so enthralled with them that he is distracted from the escape potential. Exhibits A through C:

Also in the category of "Things were going so well and now......not!", Victor was making tremendous strides with drinking water out of an open cup unassisted last week. He still wants no part of the sippy cup so we're really trying to make this open cup thing work, especially since weaning is upon us. Last week he was really getting the concept. Then we went to Waco.

While we were out in that heat at the tennis match, I kept dousing Victor with water to cool him off. He thought that was super cool. So you see where this is going, right? Yep, now he wants to pour water on himself every chance he gets. As a result, I've been taking his shirt off at lunch so that he doesn't totally soak it. And naturally, now he also has decided that he prefers to be shirtless as much as possible. All of this goes to show that nothing good comes of going to Waco. Except for that whole Little State title thing. And the procurement of small noise-making animals.

8/13/2007 3:29:45 PM  
First and foremost, congratulations to the Texas Little State 4.5 Champions! We're very proud of Daddy and his whole team. Here they are:

And in related weekend event news, another birthday (now belated) wish to Miss Saira. We had a grand time at her party yesterday in spite of yet more heat. Here's the birthday girl waiting patiently to dig into her cake:

Today Victor & I have tried to enjoy some relative normalcy and some massive blasts of air conditioning. This meant heading north yet again but this time only as far as Round Rock to go to Ready, Set, Play! with Ruth and John. Victor gets a little braver each time but is still not keen on the big slides, unlike his daredevil buddy John. Victor spends most of his time in the bouncies yelling or racing about wildly:

But here he is in an actual mid-bounce (I won't go so far as to call it a jump):

As usual, the photographic order of the day was attempting to capture some semblance of interaction between the boys. Here they are in Toddler Towne exploring the ball pit and entering the "oh yeah, we're friends, aren't we?" warming-up stage:

John offered an olive branch in the form of a most certainly germ-ridden ball:

Victor responded with the gentle shove that proceeded this shot (luckily John was a very good sport said shove):

And then briefly they appeared to possibly be conspiring to stage a Toddler Towne jail break:

All in all, a good start to the week, I'd say. And in closing, several random news items:

1. Big kids go back to school in 14 days! Can I get a "woo hoo!"?

2. Victor seems to be weaning in earnest. He knows he's 2.

3. Sea World is prohibitively expensive for this family. Was just looking into it again since Victor loves the fishies but we're not spending the money on that until he can write me a report about how great it was.

4. But next time we go to Chicago, we are so going to Shedd.

8/11/2007 9:17:30 PM  
Best boy ever. Victor really deserves some kind of medal for surviving today's field trip to Waco/Mommy's day as a single parent. Come to think of it, I need a medal too. Of course James is the one that played tennis in the scorching heat so I shouldn't whine. Much.

We went to Waco today to watch James play in the Little State Championships. All of the second place finishing USTA teams in the state are invited to play and it's a pretty big deal. Kind of like a state championship consolation tourney. Whatever. It's big. And last we saw, the team was doing well.

I decided that Victor & I would go up there early this morning to go to the zoo since you might as well actually enjoy what there is to enjoy of Waco if you must go there. We did. It was brutal. The animals were angry and pouty about the heat but Victor really didn't mind all that much. He had lots of fun barking at the meerkats (he thinks that they're chihuahuas) and singing "lalala kitty" to the ocelot. And as always, he loved the fish. For all we went through today, I only have this picture to show for it:

Let's just say that I don't plan to undertake such a major mission without James for quite a while and not just because of the lack of photographability. And really, Victor was just wonderful. Delightful. Tolerant. It was just that everything was so daunting in the heat. We managed to stay at the tournament for about 4 hours but that was our limit. There was a lot of dousing with water and sunscreen reapplications. I've never seen Victor drink so much.

Victor slept for most of the drive home but woke up 2 exits before IKEA. I had wanted to stop on the way home since it's a little further north than I usually go but I sure wasn't going to wake Victor up for it. I took his waking at that point as a sign that we should just go. Have you been to IKEA? It's cool. However, on a Saturday at 6:15 it's completely chaotic and maddening. Naturally, this is when Victor chose to totally lose it (maybe that 1 hour of napping all day had something to do with it). He probably wasn't all that loud but it was also the same moment when my headache reached the level of full-on splitting and I realized that I missed the back of my neck with the sunscreen. We soldiered through though. Perhaps we'll go back in a year or so.

And now, Victor and I are safely home in our 75 degree house (James isn't here to bump it up to 76). This will be my first night without James in probably about 3 years and I had big plans of watching some chick flick that he would hate. Instead, all I can think of is having my big snore-free bed and my snuggle cat to myself ASAP. My guess is that I won't be able to sleep without him though.

8/10/2007 2:11:51 PM  
Since playing outside is really out of the question in this heat, I set up Victor's play tent (yes, it's new!) last night after he went to bed. He was quite excited to see it this morning. Why didn't I ever think of it before?!?!? This is the perfect thing to bring out when we're having a boring day at home:

He still won't go through the tunnel though.

8/8/2007 1:18:58 PM  
I've been in pre-fall cleaning mode and that has meant sorting stuff for the resale shops. I stumbled upon Victor's monkey costume from last Halloween in the process and Victor immediately started putting it on. Once he had it on, he was not entirely pleased though, as you can see:

This is the point that he started saying "wulp!" (help):

I couldn't stop laughing but this is right about when he seemed pathetic enough that I finally wulped him out of the monkey suit:

Can you tell from the fingerprints that Victor spends a lot of time looking in that mirror?

8/7/2007 5:29:37 PM  
Victor is tall. 36 7/8 inches tall, to be exact. That's still firmly in the 95th percentile. The great news is that he is also still trending upward with the weight and is now right smack in the middle of the 50-75th percentile at 28.7 pounds. So there's a good reason that clothes are actually fitting him a little better these days. Granted, they're usually 3T clothes but at least I can get things to fit him.

Victor got a great report at his well check and he even managed to avoid getting stuck with any needles. We were there 2 days too soon to get his next HepA shot so that will have to wait until we're back in a few months for his flu shot. Also, Dr. Mirrop didn't feel like the RAST was going to add much to the allergy picture right now or at least not enough to justify putting Victor through getting a vein stuck. So we're waiting for a while on that.

Victor was in great spirits for the doc and really enjoyed using the stethoscope on himself and imitating Dr. M washing his hands. I guess I might have to get him a toy stethoscope because he thought it was the greatest thing ever.

8/6/2007 3:00:40 PM  
Victor got his 2 year portraits done this morning. Here's the official birthday shot:

It was a mildly harrowing experience. I tried to express to the photographer that attempting to get Victor to pose was futile and that he needed to just be snapping and hoping. Then he got out the dreaded blocks. That NEVER works and today was no exception. Not only did Victor knock them down every time the guy dutifully stacked them up but he also started to pelt them at the guy. Then it reached the point that Victor started throwing his snacks at him too. That's when we knew it was time to call it a sitting.

Ah, but wait.........there's more:

The last two didn't scan well due to size but there they are nonetheless and if you click on the thumbnails above, you'll get slightly less funhouse-mirrored versions. So yeah, we got some cute shots in spite of the (much-deserved) photographer pelting. Check that off the 2 year list. Next up - a visit to Dr. Mirrop!

8/5/2007 12:23:31 PM  
We survived the party intact and with lots of leftovers. I think everyone had fun but it's certainly a blur, as expected. Victor did love the bouncy castle, thanks to the efforts of Cousin Susan (who climbed in there with him). I'd say it was a hit overall as evidenced by the gazillion pictures of bouncing and frolicking.

Something funky happened with my picture upload so there are two different sets and, as such, they're no longer in proper order. All 50+ pics are there though which was a remarkable feat given how tired I am.

Thank you so much to all of V's friends for making it such a special day for him and thank you especially to Victor's Grandmother for making the trip down for the occasion. Sorry he was too sleepy to say bye-bye this morning! And now, it's time for some major chilling out here. Well, that and playing with new toys.

8/3/2007 9:46:00 PM  
Well, he's 2. He seems to know it too. He definitely gave us some major attitude at moments today. The trend of late napping and the resulting lateness in going to sleep continues and I don't think it will get any better until the excitement around here dies down a little. The kid is just amped up.

Thank you to all of you who sent gifts this week. He has really been having fun checking out all of his new stuff. And tonight he was enthralled by his birthday candles on his cake. Unfortunately, it took quite a while for him to trust that something that had only moments before appeared to be on fire was really something he wanted to eat.

I guess we're ready for tomorrow's party. I feel like there's something I should be doing tonight but I'm so sore from hunching over to decorate V's personal cake for tomorrow that I'm planning to opt for rest tonight and an early morning tomorrow.

Victor has been wearing me out for two whole years now. As exhausted as I am, it doesn't feel like it's been that long. This next year might be a major battle of wills but I'm pretty sure it's going to be even more fun than the first two. He is becoming the coolest little guy.

8/1/2007 9:01:01 PM  
The birthday festivities are in full swing! Victor's Grandmother arrived this morning and we ran around a little and then I got to go get my nails done during naptime. Sweet! We spent some time working on how to answer the question "Victor, how old are you?" but he seems to think that he should keep counting on from two. He also got one of his presents early tonight - the Sand & Water Table. Here are some pics of him trying it out:

And here is a demonstration of what he thinks the purpose of the sand table actually is:

Yes, it's to remove all sand from the table and disseminate it in the yard. Clean-up required a hosedown and a bath. I can safely say it was a hit but I don't know when I can face playing with it again.

7/30/2007 5:10:13 PM  
I'm living quite the comedy of errors. Except that none of it is particularly funny. Since none of it is truly tragic either, I guess I'll stick with comedy of errors even though "idiotic cavalcade of errors" is more on the money.

I've been cleaning in a frenzy for the past few days so the house will be at least somewhat pleasant for Victor's Grandmother. After all, she doesn't get to take many trips. As usual, cleaning has inflicted a series of injuries upon me. I look like I've been mountain climbing instead of dusting, vacuuming and mopping. Bruises everywhere. So Victor and I have that in common, at least. We both got that Pressler "jerky movement" gene.

Last night, in an act of indulgence, we packed up and headed off for the Austin Symphony's Concert in the Park downtown. We've looked forward to this one - large string ensemble. There was spotty rain but the sun was out and we proceeded with plenty of "memonay" and cookies on hand. We got the best parking space ever! Of course that was because the symphony was nowhere to be found.

Apparently musicians don't like the rain. But do you know who does? Fire ants. In the less than 5 minutes we were at the park, I managed to stand smack dab in the middle of a thriving fire ant community. I have at least 10 bites and my foot is puffed up and very unhappy. Day 2 is exponentially worse than Day 1. The itching, my God, the itching! I am so still getting that pedicure later this week though. I shall not waste babysitting services.

So yeah, fast forward to today. Still gimping around and cleaning but today I was standing ready to go to get my new tires installed (and yes, it sure would have been a good idea to do this BEFORE it rained for 2 months straight). Tire dude was supposed to call me the moment that he got my new beautiful tires into stock but by 11:00ish, Victor was getting restless. I ended up calling to reschedule the installation for tomorrow because I wanted to make sure that Victor got down for his nap early enough to be perky for therapy at 4:00.

4:00 in Casa Humphrey. Guess what happens? Therapist calls to say that she's stuck in traffic way out yonder and maybe it would just be best to reschedule. I had to agree in theory. Next week she'll come after we've had V's 2 year pediatrician appointment and we'll have height and weight info for the nutritionist (who will hopefully be participating in this little sitdown). Plus, I'll be less preoccupied with bouncy castles and forecasts and ice cream transportation strategies and keeping the floors clean. And meanwhile, Victor? Still napping. And you know what? Good for him. All I keep saying to myself though is "We could have gotten those tires today". That and "ow!".

7/28/2007 11:29:02 PM  
We got to go outside today. All 3 of us at the same time! It was sunny this morning so we made a mad dash for Zilker where we played on the playscape and then rode the Zephyr. Our timing was auspicious because the train stalled on the tracks right as we went back into the playground and the sun became oppressive right about then too. Victor definitely had some fun and the fresh air seemed to do wonders. No nap striking today! Yesterday was the opposite of all of the above: all rain, no play, no nap, cranky Mommy.

Didn't really get any outstanding shots today but will still post a few just because they were actually taken outdoors. Did I mention that we got to go OUTSIDE?!?!?

The only other big news to report is that Victor is finally really developing preferences and is communicating them to us. This has been most evident this past week with his constant requests for lemonade ("memonay"). Tonight however, he was asking for beer. Over and over and over.

7/26/2007 5:17:08 PM  
Victor's feet grew. Like a lot, actually. I was jamming his feet into his 6s and he's a 7 wide now. Found out that little bit of info this morning in a rare trip to the mall. We also managed to catch about 20 minutes of Joe McDermott performing at Pottery Barn Kids before Victor started to lose his mind. Perked right up for Whole Foods though (I'm starting to think that his great ambition in life is going to be stocking the freezers there).

And speaking of Whole Foods, check this out:


I almost cried at the sight of a flyer for this because it just sounds so darned fun but Victor can't have ice cream shop ice cream. Would it be mean to take him anyway and then confine him to the Blue Bell vanilla (a known safe quantity)? It's really good stuff and he won't realize what he's missing, right? I guess that begs the question though - then what is the point of an ice cream festival???? Awww, nuts!

Oh, and it's still raining. I don't think it will actually ever stop for more than 3 hours at a time (which almost always manages to occur during naptime). I'm watching the forecast like a hawk at this point. Victor's party next weekend is not scheduled to include toddler mud wrestling. What it will include though is Victor's Grandmother! Yay!

7/23/2007 2:20:35 PM  
Victor is testing my resolve at every turn. After the wulk braggery, naturally he has gotten very wishy washy about it and has been pathetically whining "wulk!" as he sits in the rocker with me for pre-nap storytime. I'm holding firm on cutting out that nursing but it's been hard, especially since I hate to not reward him for using his words. I've been trying to explain that he just had his milk at lunch and he should have had more if he wanted it, blah blah blah. Yeah, blank stare. At least he gets over it fairly quickly and hopefully he's starting to get the idea that he better drink while he can because the mommy wulk bar isn't open 24/7 anymore.

The latest sticking point is tooth brushing. Talk about a battle royale. He has been so good about it for the last year and a half, begrudgingly holding still to let me brush away in there. Lately though, I've been trying to get him to participate more in such activities (also including washing hands). Well, the step stool is his absolute favorite new thing. He loves to be able to watch himself fake brushing in the mirror and he especially loves being able to reach everything on the sink. Too late to take that back, eh?

This is all generally good but he seems to want to take me completely out of the tooth brushing process and he is woefully negligent in his own brushing, as you would expect from a toddler. So while a week ago, he downright enjoyed me holding him and brushing his teeth (whilst singing various improvised tooth brushing anthems), now it's an infringement upon his sense of self. So yeah, potty training? We're not fast-tracking that. The potty seat can continue to be decorative for a bit. I sure am glad I got that kickin' retro green.

Oh, and as previously mentioned, Victor is really paying attention to his picture of his cousin Nick now. He likes to move the frame around and set it up in different places. When I ask him who that is, he'll answer "Meck" probably 1 out of 10 times. Unfortunately, it's never when James is around so James thinks I'm delusional. Sometimes when I ask, Victor tells me that the person in the picture is "Tunky" (monkey).

7/17/2007 9:08:37 PM  
This merits a new entry. Victor drank cow's milk. He even drank some of it out of the sippy unassisted. Then he got really mad and I had to help him drink out of the open cup. The important thing is that he's motivated enough to actually try to drink it himself so we'll experiment with other cups (we certainly have enough different kinds we've tried over the last year).

Oh, and I put strawberry Quik in his milk to get him to drink it. A lot of Quik, actually. Still, it's a big step from drinkable Yobaby. My days of driving around the city trying to score the ever elusive liquid Yobaby may be just about done. At long last, we have a wulk-drinker! Sadly though, he seems to be terrified of sandwiches. I gave him a sandwich tonight and he was really upset and clearly thought that it was going to make him sick again (last time he had a sandwich was the peanut butter incident).

Also, Victor has some new interests:
-climbing onto his table and standing up
-flushing the toilets over and over again
-carrying around his cousin Nick's picture and setting up the frame where he wants to play
-"reading" his books by himself (babbling and flipping pages)

Obviously some of these things are more endearing than others.

7/17/2007 2:31:01 PM  
Swimming was a bust again. There may have actually still been class (as in, IN the water) for all I know but it was pouring when it was time to pack and leave so I made the executive decision to opt out today. Instead, we went to Ready, Set, Play! with Ruth & John. Victor started tentative as ever but after about 30 minutes, he finally embraced the inflatable experience. Unfortunately, by that point the big kids had arrived in droves. While Victor always gets excited (and sometimes even inspired to be braver) by watching the big kids, there's nothing more irritating for a mommy trying to make sure her precious child doesn't get trampled.

Oh, and I promise this won't turn into a tirade (although it justifiably could) but there were a great deal of snack crumbs in one of the bouncies and Victor kept wanting to try to eat them. They probably weren't nutty but even aside from that, it's disgusting. Not to mention completely against the rules! We're trying to live in a society here. OK, so that treaded close to a tirade.

Much as I tried, the quaint picture of Victor & John uniting in play was still not to be today. I'll be ready and waiting, boys! Here are a few shots, nonetheless. After all, I had to prove to Daddy that the bouncy castle at Victor's birthday party won't be a complete and utter waste.

So yeah, here's Victor very boldly invading a little girl's ball pit space:

And here's John considering coming into the bouncy castle with Victor and then thinking better of it (before probably scampering off to run more football drills):

And last but not least, here is Victor finally bouncing happily of his own free will, just as it was time to pack up and head out:

7/16/2007 3:03:33 PM  
Swimming got canceled today. Some evil delinquents vandalized the pool last night and it was unsafe for lessons this morning until they cleaned and checked the chemical levels better. I would really like to find these kids and force them to get a toddler ready for swim class, negotiate the post office and then arrive to "safety story" day at the pool and try to keep said toddler from entering the pool. Class lasted 10 minutes and that felt too long.

Thankfully, Victor woke up early today and was thus able to settle down for a nap without a fight. Every portion of the day leading up to that was a fight though. Every day I tell him "Nope, this is not the day that you are suddenly stronger than me" but while I won't tell him this, I can see that day coming. At least I know that he'll wake up thinking I'm fun and wonderful again. Naps are truly magical.

7/15/2007 2:49:42 PM  
Important lessons learned today:
1. Childproof caps aren't really childproof.
2. Dye-free liquid antihistimines, while perhaps slightly less tasty than their neon colored counterparts, are a really good idea.

We had a really lovely morning. We went out for a nice breakfast and then went to the park to let Victor run free for a bit. Unfortunately, he was very keyed up from the excitement and managed to get the cap off a bottle of bright orange Triaminic and then proceeded to shake it all over the carpet in the hallway upstairs. Good times.

On a more endearing note, Victor's newest cute-ism is that now rather than saying "OK" when he wants to get out of his chair/crib/carseat, he'll say "OKs". It's like his version of "for reals". This is far cuter than his other new habit of grinding his teeth.

Resisting the temptation to rest up for another week of swim class while Victor naps right now. I desperately need to clean the downstairs since Victor has therapy tomorrow. I seriously doubt that Stephanie would notice the dust bunnies (which are more like dust jack rabbits or perhaps even dust hyenas) that have taken up residence here but I need something to motivate me. Shame is a great motivator. Swiff on!

7/13/2007 2:45:00 PM  
Swimming went better today as a result of lower expectations on my part and a longer break-in time for Victor. He does not respond well to being rushed into the pool and asked to perform so I got him there early enough to prowl around the perimeter for a bit and then enter on his own. I finally had to just remind myself yesterday that I loathed swim lessons when I was little (so much so that I once threw up in the pool) and while I've really been trying to make it fun for Victor, I can't really fault him for not being thrilled about it at this early stage of the game.

Today though, he screamed and cried a little bit less about being submerged and then he even jumped into the pool from standing for the first time. He's been "jumping" toward me from sitting on the side of the pool for a long time but was never cool with doing it from standing until today. He was even pretty pleased with himself so there's hope yet. Suffice it to say though, I'm extremely happy that I don't have to get us into swimsuits again for another few days.

Victor's talking a lot more about what he wants these days (cheese, fry, wawa, goga/yogurt, cookie, ball, buh-boh/bubble) and is even finally working "milk" ("wulk") and "help" ("wulp") into the repertoire which has been very encouraging. And he's using his spatial/directional words very appropriately these days (in, out, up, down, open, close) instead of just using open generically for everything. He also says "bye bye" on his own now instead of being coached as to when it's time to say it and he is throwing in his "lovee lovee" a little more often, especially when I put him down for his nap. Hearing that was well worth the wait. Much like Victor. :)

7/11/2007 3:12:49 PM  
I'm frazzled. Haven't had a day this hard for a long, long time. Got up this morning and was rushing to get us ready for yet another day of Swimmerama when we got a call letting us know that the teacher was "ill" (forgive me if I'm suspicious of a 20-something's "illness" but I was that young once and remember being "ill) and was rescheduling for Friday. Great. We have music on Friday mornings.

"Hey, this is OK", I thought, "this will break up our week a little better so we don't burn out on swimming". So I rushed to get us changed and to a make-up class at music this morning. We even went during our old reliable 10:45 Wednesday time slot. Let's just say it ain't like it used to be.

Victor had two separate time-outs at music today. I have NEVER had to do that with him before but he was just wild and was slapping at me when I tried to subdue him. I'm not cool with that. Turns out that getting a time-out is pretty upsetting to him, enough so that he tries to reform his behavior at least just enough to be allowed back into civilization again.

After the very prolonged ordeal at music, I just wanted lunch to be easy so I picked up some ChickFilA on the way home. Last time we had it, Victor acted just a little weird but I decided that I was just looking for something to be wrong since I'm still a little paranoid about the peanut oil. Well, he was a little weird yet again. He kept smushing his lips together and biting at them after he ate his lunch. So I gave him some Benadryl, put him down for a nap and then staked out on the other side of the door with the Epipen.

I had decided that I would wait until he quieted down and then I would sneak in and lie down for a nap in his room so that I'd be there if he was having any kind of reaction. It got quiet and I quietly tiptoed in. Victor was not asleep. He stood straight up and shouted "Mom!" and then "Cookie!" and so, not knowing what else to do, I tried to act invisible and just lie down quietly with the animal menagerie. That did not go well. He yelled at me for 10 minutes straight. So then I got up, gave him the lion he'd been asking for, kissed him on the head and begged him to please, please, please just rest for an hour.

I'm still hearing a bit of chatter in there but it's getting sparser so I guess there's hope. Tomorrow there will be swimming and when there is swimming, there is napping. I'll be repeating that over and over to myself.

7/8/2007 9:50:23 PM  
We went to Kiddie Acres (a tiny amusement park for tiny people) this afternoon with Alex & his parents. Alex tried everything fearlessly while Victor only tolerated the train and the carousel. There are pics over in the gallery but as of this posting, I am unable to put titles and comments on them yet. For all I know, this blog entry will disappear into mid-air too!

(Pics are updated now.)

7/7/2007 2:41:54 PM  
Happy Birthday to CiCi! We had a blast today at her party and I even managed to capture a few shots of the music/playgroup crew (Ciera, Linnea, Victor, Eli & Saira). As usual, they evade a group shot though. Here they are in all their soggy toddler glory:

Click on the thumbnails to enlarge but don't forget to scroll down to see the whole pic or you'll miss Saira!

7/4/2007 11:50:27 PM  
And we thought that all hopes of fireworks had washed away in this rain:

We ended up getting to make the Zilker fireworks after all. We were stunned to drive downtown, navigate the trek from parking over to the boggy park, sit through the awesome show and get back home again in just over 2 hours. It was another late night for Victor. Over in the pics gallery, you can see evidence of just how cranky and upset he was about being out late at night. He was blissful!

7/4/2007 7:18:52 PM  
Victor& I braved the rain to go downtown to the Paramount Theater last night for the Biscuit Brothers' July 4 Extravaganza (known to some of you out there as "Operation Spite"). I was less than confident about my abilities to accomplish this feat sans Daddy but I decided that I had something to prove about Victor's ability to sit through a concert. Success was ours and the gloating was oh so sweet!

The pictures are about as lackluster as it gets but I had to chronicle this (best that I could while juggling a toddler and all of his accoutrements). Behold Mommy's bravest outing to date:

Here Victor sits wearily on the edge of his seat, wondering what it's all about.

Then, suddenly a familiar face appears way in the distance (cheap upper balcony seats). It's Buford Biscuit!

Before we know it, the Bros really get to jamming and the kids start going crazy.

At this point, Victor is enthralled.

He claps and yells and sings E-I-E-I-O and then just when he starts getting antsy, it is miraculously time for the intermission, at which point he prowls around the historic Paramount.

Then he lounges on Mommy for the second half and waits for the big finale.

And that's all she wrote.

7/2/2007 1:54:41 PM  
So last night we took Victor out after bedtime for his first ever fireworks show. We went to the roof of the National Instruments parking garage to view the nearby Quarries display. Victor was very, very perplexed when I changed his diaper at 8:15 and then took him back downstairs again. He doesn't go out after bedtime very much. We packed him into the car and got some ice cream on the way to the magical show. And we waited. And waited. And waited. Finally at 10:15, we decided that something must be wrong and we drove over to the Quarries. They had canceled it (WHY!?!!?!?!??! It was perfect out last night.) So there are pictures of Victor at his first fireworks attempt in the main gallery. The reactions you see in the shots are probably due to fatigue and fear of the rampant crickets.

So today, we straggled out early for playgroup at the Children's Museum. Victor didn't last very long after the late night (although he is still fighting his nap as I type this). Here are a few shots from that outing. I wish I could get group shots of the whole crew but they all have their favorite parts of the museum and their paths rarely cross when we're there. For Victor today, it was all about the giant chess set and the green slide. He didn't even set foot into Austin Kiddie Limits today!

These pictures remind me of how desperately I need to figure out the rest of Photoshop. Pretty blurry, even on the Kids & Pets setting ("spazz setting").

6/30/2007 2:07:19 PM  
Well, preferences are changing around here. Dora is all but passe at this point which is really fine because we're trying to really minimize TV watching these days. As usual though, I consider Signing Time and some parts of Sesame Street to be exempt from that. And luckily, Victor is really enjoying his Meet the Letters DVD and it's starting to sink in. We need to start working on Meet the Colors.

Sadly, Llama Llama Red Pajama seems to be less of a thrill these days too. Ever since we got back from vacation, Victor really hasn't wanted to participate in storytime like before. One book that has really gained his favor though is Ten Naughty Little Monkeys (a gift from his grandparents while we were visiting). That is his standard pre-nap book and it's certainly growing on him. I like that it ends with the monkey doctor saying "Put those monkeys down for a nap!".

Actually, when I read Naughty Monkeys before his nap earlier, I put him in my lap in the rocker and he held still and looked at the pages very attentively. We haven't tried it that way for a while because he has been in a phase where he didn't want to sit on laps to read but instead preferred for it to be like library storytime (where I sit with the book facing out away from me and he stands in front of me dancing and jumping and occasionally focusing on what I'm saying). Could it be that he now prefers lap snuggling for storytime again? It would be this mommy's dream come true. The closer we get to weaning, the more of a snuggle opportunist I become.

I can say with confidence that I think Victor will really like Llama Llama Mad at Mama when it comes out in a few months though (thanks again for the alert, Ruth!). That is definitely a sentiment that he identifies with more and more all the time since I'm constantly putting an end to inappropriate fun. The book is about Llama Llama being mad that his mom is taking so long at the grocery store though. We don't have that problem, thanks to the beloved racecar carts. Oh yeah, but wait, that too will probably change!

There's a new Knuffle Bunny book coming out soon too. Yep, this is what I get excited about now.

6/29/2007 1:56:38 PM  
We started our summer session of Music Together today. This is a different day for us because we did Wednesdays for the past 17 months. I had some misgivings going in and wondered if I should have messed with a winning formula, particularly since the main reason I even switched was so that we could go to Art Day in the Park on Wednesday mornings and we have yet to ever actually go.

All fears were put to rest when Victor was reunited with his friend Saira! They seemed genuinely happy to see other. Victor was definitely pleased to be back at music class and to see Miss Carey again too. Lots of clapping and shouting "yay!" and "hola!" (which he seems to think means the same thing).

6/28/2007 12:30:46 PM  
OK, so here's the good news. Victor is not allergic to cat hair or mold spores. Good thing because we have ample amounts of both right now. He's also in the clear for cow's milk and miraculously doesn't even react to cedar pollen. The "bad news" is bad but not really news since there was little doubt about these results. Victor is definitely very allergic to peanuts. During the scratch test, his peanut site puffed up almost immediately from even the extremely diluted serum they used (they start weak and then go stronger if it's nonreactive).

Ever since I learned that Dr Mirrop had seen our blog (which is not a problem since we adore him and would never have a bad word to say about him), I'm leery of saying much about doctors here. I'll make an exception today. The allergist, who shall remain nameless, was not very nice. I would even go so far as to describe him as cranky. He got us the info we need for now but I'm far from dazzled with him. He didn't want to do the RAST panel since we basically got what we needed from the skin testing so we'll probably do the RAST at Victor's 2 year. They're far nicer there anyway!

So yeah, must avoid peanuts just as we have been. Also have to treat tree nuts like poison as well. He won't be tested for tree nuts until age 4 though because "he shouldn't have them until then anyway". The bright spot in the conference was the tidbit that Victor can have ChickFilA even though they use peanut oil since it's refined (and it makes sense given that he's never reacted to anything from there).

The real challenge is that Victor can't really have any bakery treats or chocolate because of the danger of cross-contamination. So it sounds like I'll be making him his own cake for his birthday again and he won't get to eat any of the bakery cake. At least he won't know any better for now.

Oh, and the Epipen instructions continue to perplex us a bit. The allergist said that if he reacts like he did last time, we can give Benadryl and watch for any signs of labored breathing or throat discomfort before giving the adrenaline shot. The nurse gave us a demo and she made it sound like if he reacts at all we should just give him the shot to be safe. The original prescription (we got a new prescription for even more pens) says to "administer if exposed to peanut butter" which seems grossly vague. I believe in my heart that we'll know if we need to do it at some point but I just wish we had a better handle on it for now.

Victor has speech therapy this afternoon but I'm hopeful that we'll have time to run out after his nap to get some cow's milk! We'll both continue to cringe at the sight of all nuts.

6/26/2007 12:31:18 PM  
OK, it's never going to stop raining. At least the floors are clean again.

There are a lot of new things to report but I'm so tired and everything's a blur so I'll probably need Daddy's help to remember it all. I can tell you that Victor is walking up the stairs (instead of crawling) now and he is saying a bunch more words. We're hearing lots of these:

water (wawa)

Also, he counts to 5 in Spanish now. Sort of. He does uno, cuatro & cinco and then he'll say "bravo!". He picked that all up from Vanidia during a short driving tour. He'll sometimes do "dos" but it's more like "toes!".

[James here]
"Go-go-go!" is big and quite cute. I've been trying to get him to say that as a command for me to spin a top or send a train across the room. He imitates me when he says it which means that he gets very excited, stomps his little feet and says "go!" about 5 times. His "out" is important too. I'm starting to get him to say it to me from a distance when he wants out of his booster seat (i.e. is done eating). Before, it was combined with his old way of communicating it which involved grabbing my hand and throwing it toward his tray. I'm also really working on getting him to say "Daddy" in combination with any other word. That seems close. Mommy, he did use two words recently; what did he say again?

[Dawn back]
That would be "mama wawa".

6/26/2007 8:51:32 AM  
Oh yeah, forgot to mention (although it's pretty obvious) that there are a ton of new pics from the trip uploaded now. I posted about 65 of them that I narrowed down from 140 and I still don't feel like there are enough! Once again though, it's hard to get pics while still managing to keep V out of trouble.

Getting a little more back to normal here. We might even venture out for some fun today. The fact that Victor put his Crocs on and is now saying "Out!" repeatedly indicates that I may not have much choice, as long as the rain holds off for a bit.

6/25/2007 1:52:52 PM  
We're home. I don't even know where to begin recapping. Allow me to first share that Victor seems to be very happy to be home. After a 48 hour nursing strike and some seriously (seersee!) bad bedtime behavior for a few nights, he's nursed just fine at home and he slept last night for 13 hours without so much as a whimper. He's even napping well today! He had so much fun seeing everybody and exploring so much new territory but I think he's relieved to be back to his crib full of monkeys and his kitty.

The flight to St. Louis was completely without incident and while Victor refused to nap on the plane, he was really good and even acclimated quickly to his new flight harness. We pretty much hit the ground running in St. Louis. Got up early the next day and went to the zoo with V's grandmother and the Dohrn clan.

Victor liked the zoo train, just as expected, but the wait in line for the zoo train was not so fun. It was so unfun as to result in Victor's first ever spanking. And yep, I'm the one who gave it out. He got antsy about waiting in line and took off running under several chains into the carousel area. He was not looking back either. So I swooped him up and gave him a solid swat on the butt. He cried and cried and then stayed mad at me for quite a while. I can honestly say that I really didn't feel bad though. That's exactly the situation in which I've always figured I'd feel compelled to employ corporal punishment in order to impress upon him what a huge NO-NO that kind of behavior really is.

There was a lot of fun to be had at the zoo though. Victor especially loved playing in the sprinklers at the Children's Zoo with Bernie & Jack. He was completely and totally soaked but with a huge smile on his face. Later that night we even went swimming in J'ville so he certainly got his fill of water fun. Good thing because it was brutally hot. And here we thought we'd get a break from the heat on vacation!

On Saturday, we went to Gaga's to hang out and have lunch uptown. He impressed everyone with his ability to pack away a lot of hamburger. And yet again, a change of clothes was needed because he splashed and played in the garden fountains at Gaga's (and then rolled around in mulch - nice!). We managed to visit Great Grandpa at the nursing home on the way back to J'ville and luckily V stayed in a good mood for it. He even put up with us going to Grandpa's house for a bit. It was very bittersweet because it was probably the last time I'll ever be there in the house. I'm glad V got to be there for a bit. I wish I'd swung in the porch swing with him though. I swung a little but it felt so strange without Grandpa.

Father's Day was spent mostly relaxing (as much as it's possible to relax while trying to keep a toddler from destroying your parents' house). We had a nice lunch with Gaga and Great Aunt Brownie and then we also had dinner with Ginger & Joe. Needless to say, Victor really amped up the charm. He even said "Gaga" numerous times and then gave Ginger his impossibly precious "loveelovee" farewell. It was really fun to see Victor hanging out and getting more comfortable with his grandparents. His separation anxiety is still very much at play but he does seem like he's starting to understand that other people love him too!

It was really hard to leave Monday but we had many more stops on the agenda so we headed northward to Peoria. We had a short but really fun visit with G there. We even got to go see Aunt Ilo for a bit. This is when napping started to slip a lot though. I wish Victor had been in a better mood but he hung in there pretty well. Tuesday morning we had breakfast and then played with G for a while before hitting the road for the drive to Milwaukee. The drive started pretty and then got really boring but we made good time and then the excitement really began.

It took a little while for Victor & Sean to really warm up to each other but once they did, it was pure joyful pandemonium. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have never heard Victor squeal with such glee as he did playing with Sean. Aunt Deb even thought she heard Victor say "chase". It would make sense because there were hours of chasing. And wrestling. And poking. And giggling. Poor Cousin Nick didn't get nearly so much attention from Victor (but that's probably just as well given the way that he shows affection). James & I couldn't get enough of Nick though. Such a cutie. And we even got to see Grandpa Humphrey!

By the time we left Milwaukee on Thursday, we were already exhausted and that's even with Victor napping pretty well while there. He just got so wound up. Once again, it was hard to tear him away but we had more stops to make. From there we made our way to La Grange Park to visit Eileen, Geoff and Claire. It was so awesome to get to hold my best friend's baby but it made me almost sad how big she's already gotten, especially after just seeing tiny Nick. That is one healthy, strong little girl! I just wish I got see everybody more than this. While visiting in LGP, we went to the Brookfield Zoo and walked around in some spectacular weather. Victor really enjoyed the dolphin show. Unfortunately, we got tired and lazy at this point in the trip and so there are far less pics. I would love to have video of V's reaction to the dolphin show finale though. He was clapping so excitedly!

We got to enjoy even more of the great weather with dinner outside (Heather, it was at Palmer's - remember "can you phrase that in the form of a question, Leener?!?!?"?). Then we got ice cream (South Beach be damned) and sat outside for a bit before going home and turning in fairly early. My, how times have changed! Friday we got up and lounged with the Nordmeyers a bit before heading off yet again, this time to LaSalle-Peru for a visit with Ben & Vanidia.

he Lyleses rolled out the red carpet as always and there were toys waiting for Victor upon his arrival so he got right down to business. Perhaps even better than the toys though was the livestock on hand. Victor was quite smitten with Nacho the chihuahua and Mimi the kitty. Once again, I'm kicking myself for not getting video. Victor spent most of our two days there barking at Nacho in a dog sound we hadn't heard him make before (and which really didn't sound all that much like Nacho - it was kind of a waaaaf, waaaaaf!). Just trust me - it was super cute.

At this point in the journey, the weather was delightfully cool. We got lots of fresh air and rest and we ate like kings. The only disappointment was that it was raining too much to go hike at Starved Rock on Saturday. We did get to go see the park a little but no tromping around for us. I even bought shoes at the Gurnee Bass Pro for the occasion. We'll just have to go back again. And that's the theme of the whole trip, I guess - we'll just have to find a way to get back and see these people more often. It was so much fun for all 3 of us and it was definitely worth the fatigue and soreness that we are feeling now. Right?

The flight out of Chicago-Midway was pretty much good. We were just so tired and frazzled that it was awful to drag our stuff around at that point. We had a very brief scare on the last leg though (Nashville to Austin). Southwest had honored our peanut allergy alert quite satisfactorily but there were still peanuts on the floor on each flight we took (we might be flying early in the morning from now on). I noticed a peanut very near where Victor had been standing on the floor playing with the tray table and then right afterwards he started crying and yanking at his ears. This is exactly what he did when he had his reaction. I was pretty panicky at this point because we were on our descent but still a good 15 minutes from Austin. I asked James "but his eyes would be itchy if it were a peanut reaction, right?". Cue Victor rubbing at his eyes. Turns out that his ears hurt from the depressurization and he was wiping the tears away. He bucked up as soon as he saw how concerned we were which I was especially thankful for.

Today we recover. I'm actually quite glad for the rain keeping us inside today but eventually it will be time to procure supplies for life back here in reality. Until then, we rest and enjoy space and creature comforts. It's good to be home, even though we now have the clingiest cat ever. And no food.

6/17/2007 10:15:19 PM  
It's been a very action-packed trip so far and Victor has had lots and lots of fun. In addition to the zoo trip, he's gotten to play at the pool here in J'ville and then got to frolic in all of Gaga's garden fountains. He even rolled around in the mulch while he was all wet. Today was the first day so far that he didn't require a change of clothes at some point. He also got to visit Great Grandpa and tonight he charmed Auntie Ginger & Uncle Joe with his coy act. Along the way, he got his first official skinned knee.

He's enjoyed stroller rides around the neighborhood with Grandmother and has developed a special growl language with Grandpa. And he even said "Hi Gaga!" while he was at Gaga's house. It's going to be hard to leave tomorrow but there are many more adventures to be had in the Great Midwest.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there! It was a special treat today to get to say that in person to my own daddy.

6/17/2007 9:55:01 AM  
[James here]
We went to the zoo on Friday. It was quite a bit of fun because Grandmother, Heather, Chris, Bernie, and Jack were all there as well. The highlight for Victor was the Hippoquarium - not for the hippo but the fish. The highlight for those of us who've had to endure Dawn's grammar policing was when the train conductor corrected her: "Don't you mean 'He and I'?" Priceless.

[Dawn here]
In a show of sportsmanship, I'll leave James' above post unaltered.

6/13/2007 11:46:21 AM  
Victor & I are attempting to have a lowkey and restful day but I am quickly being reminded why we have so many activities out of the house - he is dismantling anything and everything. He's really starting to show an affinity for mechanics. It was bound to happen, right?

He's also showing some pretty strong desires for independence. Read: he's having some wicked tantrums. He's really good at going limp and wriggling out of just about any hold. He also has gotten good at kicking and screaming and running out of reach. He ought to be a real blast in the airport. We'll definitely have to let him walk off some steam.

Victor has really gotten into his letters and numbers more and more in the past week. He's got this great DVD that teaches the letters and it seems like it really is working. It's mighty tempting to bring it along on our trip but I fear that no one would ever want to see us again. The DVD is extremely repetitive. That's why it works but it can be rather maddening for adults. So we'll just have to keep working on letters and numbers the old-fashioned way - by annoying everyone with our own sing-songy voices!

Two random thoughts before I wean myself from blogging for a while:
1. I think I might be addicted to the smell of Play Doh.
2. I still can't get "Don't Stop Believing" out of my head.

6/11/2007 2:05:08 PM  
Well, we got to do a few of the things that we missed last week due to the peanut debacle. There were varying degress of success. Last night we went to the Austin Symphony's Concert in the Park. I would say that it went fairly well though I'm not sure that James would agree. It kept Victor up a little later than bedtime but he rolled with it and was no worse for wear this morning.

Yeah, so this morning. Not so great. We went to Mom & Tot Yoga and we ended up - yes, you guessed it! - leaving early. Victor kept opening the door to the studio and running out into the lobby to see Maggie (forever known as "the baby whisperer"). That and he spent a lot of time poking at everyone else's yoga mats. It turns out that preschoolers can be extremely territorial about their yoga mats. As can their parents. I continue to be amazed at how snide people can be to other people's kids when they're doing something completely harmless (also encounter this at music with a few select people). If they loathe other people's children so much, why do they take their kids to public classes? It's mind-boggling. I can genuinely say that I look forward to seeing the other kids at music class and I love getting to hang out with them and interact with them. And if they touch my shoes or tap me on the shoulder, I'm not going to have a conniption over it. Sheesh.

So now we're in full-on packing mode and I'm swearing that our outings will be minimal pre-trip. Victor has to get his hair cut tomorrow and we need to go for a few more visits to see John's lonely kittty, Franklin. One last swim may or may not be in the cards because Victor is experiencing some gastrointestinal issues (diarrhea and lack of appetite) and I blame our trip to the pool on Saturday. Um, it's a little bit different crowd on the weekends than during the week. It was wild and dirty and unnerving. I'm just glad that Victor has at least gotten in his first HepA shot. Yuck.

6/8/2007 3:00:35 PM  
Victor will be going for allergy testing in 3 weeks. We sure wish we didn't have to wait that long but it just wasn't possible to get him in before the trip. Even if I could have gotten him off Benadryl for the required 3 days, there just weren't any openings with the allergist due to his own vacation. So we're just going to have to be super duper, overly careful during our travels. The good news is that he's so close to being totally back to normal. There's a little lingering eczema but that's it. He does still seem a bit skittish about drinking which makes me continue to be extremely suspicious of cow's milk. I hate not knowing what's really safe.

I'm finally getting used to carrying the Epipen with me everywhere I go. I really struggled for a few days with the detail of not leaving it in the heat. I always leave the diaper bag in the car so that it's there and ready to go but the Epipen cannot be left in the hot garage. Then the big duh-duh moment came when I realized that I should just keep it in my purse because I always bring my purse in the house and I never leave home without it. I constantly obsessively check to make sure it's still there though.

We're in trip prep mode at this point. Today while Victor naps I'm trying to burn copies of his favorite CDs so that we'll have music for the car that will keep him in a good mood. It's hard to narrow down the music choices and still pick things that won't drive James and I crazy (you know, I actually just typed the word "nuts" instead of "crazy" and I went back and changed it because I'm so bitter toward nuts). James is going to have to make a concession on the Biscuit Brothers though. Victor & I outvote him. It's basically going to end up being a Dan Zanes festival with a skosh of Amy Winehouse thrown in. We know who's in charge.

I had planned to take Victor swimming yet again today since he loves it so much but he naps for so long afterwards and I need him up and alert for therapy at 4:00. Speaking of which, I better finish up my projects so that I'll be ready myself.

No huge plans for the weekend except to get rested, grab some yoga classes while I still can and get Victor out to the pool at some point. He's really going to miss his swimming outings come next week but I think that seeing so many loved ones who will give him lots of attention will make up for it.

6/6/2007 2:05:36 PM  
Victor is feeling much better now, thank you. He's still got some skin irritation but I think he's finally close to working this all out of his system. We don't ever want to go through that again. I just called Southwest a little while ago to be the peanut killjoy (why don't they just stop serving them at all?). Did you know that you can request that they not serve peanuts if you have an allergy to them? Yeah. So that ought to be at least slightly less stressful than it could have been.

Victor & I went to the art museum this morning before music class and he enjoyed looking at the photography exhibit. It was all photos of people swimming at Barton Springs. We had planned to go to the Austin Symphony's Art Day in the Park event but once we pulled up and saw the crowd, we opted for the museum instead.

It was the last day of music until summer session starts up in a few weeks. Victor was back in his element, as you can see:

Oh yeah, and Victor now brings me his bottle of bubbles and requests that they be deployed by saying "bupple!". Then he quickly loses interest.

p.s. Happy Anniversary to Doodle's Dad! You are loved and not just because you're Doodle's Dad. But it helps.

p.p.s. Right back at ya Doodle's Mom! Little Doodle impressed the table next to us at our anniversary dinner tonight by going through his numbers again. I think colors will be the next big thing.

6/5/2007 6:25:31 PM  
[James here] Yesterday Victor counted all the way to ten. It was quite nerve racking after he said one-two-three (none, oo, and eee) because it is so rare for him to say the early numbers. But somehow, he was motivated to say them all! None, oo, ee, oh, ive, iex, enen, aight, nine, tehn.

6/4/2007 12:57:15 PM  
We went swimming yet again yesterday morning (with Daddy, yay!) and Victor had a blast. He definitely has an hour limit though. At about an hour, he walked back down to the 1 foot end and climbed right out. Then we came home for some lunch and things took a turn for the worse.

Victor ate his scrambled eggs like a champ and then I gave him some of the drinkable yogurt that he loves so much so that I could get him down for a nap. (He's been drinking a 6-oz bottle of that instead of nursing pre-nap for the past 5 days). He was so enthusiastically thirsty that I put some cow's milk in his cup with his drinkable yogurt and for the first time, he did not turn his nose up at the milk (we've tried this before, trust me). Then he went down for his nap and slept for 3 hours. Swimming will wear you out.

He woke up from that nap rather unhappy though. He was immediately crying and rubbing at his eyes and ears and acting just generally agitated. Once he was up for a while, he got a little perkier and I commenced with trying to get us both ready for the Austin Symphony Concert in the Park that I had looked forward to all week.

When I put V in his chair for dinner, I asked him to please be neat about eating so that his shirt would still look nice to go to the concert. That was apparently asking for trouble. And this is when I turned into the most stupid mom ever. I decided that he could have a little PB&J sandwich for the first time ever. Dr. Mirrop had said to wait until 2 but I figured "Hey, what's two months?".

He poked at it and appeared to nibble a little as I got the rest of our food heated. Then the projectile vomiting began. Thinking it was perhaps a fluke, James & I wiped off his very cute (and now puke soaked) concert-going outfit and put him back in the chair to see if he at least wanted some yogurt. Then he began to frantically rub at his eyes and jab violently at his ears and I realized that perhaps nourishment was the least of his concerns.

Got him out and realized that he was even more covered in vomit than previously though and that he also had diarrhea (which interestingly was black from all of the cake icing at Linnea's party the day before) so I hauled him upstairs. Once I put him on the changing table, reality kinda set in. His face was swelling very quickly and he was covered in hives. His eyes had become little slits in his puffy face. I actually said "I don't know if we'll be able to go to the concert, Doodle". Um, seersee.

So yeah, I called the nurse on-call. She came close to sending us to the ER given the amount of facial swelling but since his breathing was still normal, a consultation with the doc on-call assured us that we were fine to stay home and adminster Benadryl. Luckily that worked pretty darned well.

He slept through the night very well. I didn't do the same since I was in his room numerous times to check on him and listen to his breathing. He's acting pretty normal today, aside from being a little clumsy and lethargic from the Benadryl that he is still getting every 4 hours in order to keep the swelling down.

A trip to the doc today was not horribly enlightening. We are going to do allergy testing at his 2 year appointment so that we can get a clearer picture of what all we should avoid. Can't test very accurately right now, unfortunately. In the meantime, we are almost certain that he is allergic to peanuts so we have to avoid any contact with all nuts. We are also supposed to avoid straight cow's milk until after the RAST panel when we will see if he's allergic to milk protein at all. He's OK to still have his yogurt as long as it doesn't affect him. Given that he eats about 12 ounces of it a day, I think it's OK but I'll be watching closely for changes. Weaning him from breastfeeding just became far less of a priority.

Most importantly, we will now be toting an epipen around in the diaper bag. We have to do this until he is 10. Yes, 10. Given the extreme reaction he had from such a miniscule amount of peanut butter, he could go into anaphylactic shock from future exposures. That includes just touching a stray peanut. So our flight next week will certainly have an element of difficulty we haven't had before - getting through security with a spring-loaded syringe and dodging stray peanuts on a plane.

Just to complicate things, Victor did have a rather raw throat today at the pediatrician's and we were informed that there is a virus going around that entails a sore throat and tummy cramps and vomiting. So yeah, that may have been what had him already upset pre-peanut butter. But we're not taking our chances with the milk until after we see what testing reveals. Peanuts are banished forever though. I might throw our jar of Jif off a cliff.

In spite of how worrisome this adventure has been though, I am infinitely thankful that this all happened THIS week and here at home instead of next week during our travels. I guess it was good that we found out the relatively easy way. Now I just can't wait for his swelling to go down so I can see the twinkle in his eyes again. He's been such a little trouper.

6/4/2007 12:57:31 PM  
We went swimming yet again yesterday morning (with Daddy, yay!) and Victor had a blast. He definitely has an hour limit though. At about an hour, he walked back down to the 1 foot end and climbed right out. Then we came home for some lunch and things took a turn for the worse.

Victor ate his scrambled eggs like a champ and then I gave him some of the drinkable yogurt that he loves so much so that I could get him down for a nap. (He's been drinking a 6-oz bottle of that instead of nursing pre-nap for the past 5 days). He was so enthusiastically thirsty that I put some cow's milk in his cup with his drinkable yogurt and for the first time, he did not turn his nose up at the milk (we've tried this before, trust me). Then he went down for his nap and slept for 3 hours. Swimming will wear you out.

He woke up from that nap rather unhappy though. He was immediately crying and rubbing at his eyes and ears and acting just generally agitated. Once he was up for a while, he got a little perkier and I commenced with trying to get us both ready for the Austin Symphony Concert in the Park that I had looked forward to all week.

When I put V in his chair for dinner, I asked him to please be neat about eating so that his shirt would still look nice to go to the concert. That was apparently asking for trouble. And this is when I turned into the most stupid mom ever. I decided that he could have a little PB&J sandwich for the first time ever.

He poked at it and appeared to nibble a little as I got the rest of our food heated. Then the projectile vomiting began. Thinking it was perhaps a fluke, James & I wiped off his very cute (and now puke soaked) concert-going outfit and put him back in the chair to see if he at least wanted some yogurt. Then he began to frantically rub at his eyes and jab violently at his ears and I realized that perhaps nourishment was the least of his concerns.

Got him out and realized that he was even more covered in vomit than previously though and that he also had diarrhea so I hauled him upstairs.

Once I put him on the changing table, reality kinda set in. His face was swelling very quickly and he was covered in hives. His eyes had become little slits in his puffy face. I actually said "I don't know if we'll be able to go to the concert, Doodle". Um, seersee.

So yeah, I called the nurse on-call. She came close to sending us to the ER given the amount of facial swelling but since his breathing was still normal, a consultation with the doc on-call assured us that we were fine to stay home and adminster Benadryl. Luckily that worked pretty darned well.

He slept through the night very well. I didn't do the same since I was in his room numerous times to check on his and listen to his breathing. He's acting pretty normal today, aside from being a little clumsy and lethargic from the Benadryl that he is still getting every 4 hours in order to keep the swelling down.

A trip to the doc today was not horribly enlightening. We are going to do allergy testing at his 2 year appointment so that we can get a clearer picture of what all we should avoid. Can't test very accurately right now, unfortunately. In the meantime, we are almost certain that he is allergic to peanuts so we have to avoid any contact with all nuts. We are also supposed to avoid straight cow's milk until after the RASP panel so we can see if he's allergic to milk protein at all. He's OK to still have his yogurt as long as it doesn't affect him. Given that he eats about 12 ounces of it a day, I think it's OK but I'll be watching closely for changes.

Most importantly, we will now be toting an epipen around in the diaper bag. We have to do this until he is 10. Yes, 10. Given the extreme reaction he had from such a miniscule amount of peanut butter, he could go into anaphylactic shock from future exposures. That includes just touching a stray peanut. So our flight next week will certainly have an element of difficulty we haven't had before - getting through security with a spring-loaded syringe and dodging stray peanuts on a plane.

In spite of how worrisome this adventure has been, I am infinitely thankful that this all happened THIS week and here at home instead of during our travels. I guess it was good that we found out the relatively easy way. Now I just can't wait for his swelling to go down so I can see the twinkle in his eyes again.

6/2/2007 3:31:33 PM  
I took Victor to Linnea's birthday party on my own without James this morning (James had to go into work last night and ended up staying for about 15 hours). There are ample pics over in the gallery, by the way. We certainly proved that we don't need Daddy to have fun - though it does often help - but that boy ran me ragged. Literally. He ran and I was ragged. He had SO much fun though, especially splashing in the baby pool. He is definitely turning into a water baby.

I should qualify that, I suppose. He's not into even trying to do anything resembling swimming and going underwater is something to be avoided but he loves walking around in the water and splashing. We actually went swimming on Thursday with Ruth & John and while he took a while to get comfy in the water, he took a little less time than at our previous swim. Then I took him to yet another pool yesterday morning and he was giddy. It is the biggest kiddie pool I've seen by far. Nothing fancy, no playscape or sprinklers or slides.....just a whole bunch of territory to cover. And cover it he did! He did not want to leave.

So I guess we'll be hitting the pools a lot this summer. It's a great way to get him used to being around other kids and being in new places though. Most importantly, Mommy gets to stay cool. I think our park days are about to enter a hiatus. It's pool and museum season.

5/30/2007 3:54:49 PM  
OK, so it was kind of a glorious, fantabulous day. Victor had a really great music class today. When we got there, he seemed like he was going to be Mr. Cling but he quickly got in the spirit of things. And then some! We've been working on singing "do-re-mi" a lot at home lately and he really enjoys it but he usually clams up about it in class.

Today was a whole new Victor though. He ran right up to the front of the class and watched Carey like a hawk when it was time and then he proceeded to do almost all of it, very loudly and very confidently. He was so proud and excited and it just filled my heart with so much joy. I know that sounds corny but I just felt so happy for him that he's enjoying having his voice heard.

The other major positives of the day were that Victor did not put anything in his mouth today (it was the first time we have EVER had no contributions to the slobber bucket) and once we were home and had lunch, he went down for a nap without nursing. He was pretty peeved about it for a few minutes and even angrily shouted "Uh, seersee!" down the hall at me but it has now been established that he does not need to nurse to take a good nap. That nap just ended however so I best go reward good behavior by letting him get out to play.

Lest you think that Victor has abandoned his duties as chief door closer and camera monitor during his newfound love of singing, here is some evidence otherwise.

Oh, and word has it that Victor's big boy site might really be coming soon. Big changes around here.

5/27/2007 8:33:27 PM  
We DID have a more relaxing day today. James & I even painted shuttters during naptime. Wait, I guess that's not relaxing, is it? Well, it is to the people that just want this project done already! Anyhoo, our only outing today was to Springwoods Park (our very fave park and the location of V's birthday party this year). It was a truly smashing success. Somewhat literally.

Victor has been working on summoning the courage to walk across the playscape foot bridge that leads to the big slide for probably 3 weeks now. He's wanted to do it but just wouldn't quite execute. Usually this would manifest itself in Victor walking to the very edge and then stomping in frustration, turning back and going down the littler slide. Today he finally made the breakthrough (and Ruth, as I planned, I captured it on film!). Here are the pics of him walking across the bridge like it's no biggie and then him at the top of the slide.

We were very proud of Victor for his newfound playscape bravery but what came next filled us with even more pride. And terror. And some anger too. There was another little boy there with his mother and his mother was completely ignoring him and leaving him to fend for himself. He planted himself at the end of the slide and then tried to climb up it. For a while, we dissuaded Victor from sliding down and told him VERY loudly to wait until the other boy was off the slide. The mother continued to do nothing. So eventually we decided to let Victor go up on his own and go ahead and slide, collision or no.

Victor excitedly ran across the bridge to the slide but when he got there the other boy had gotten to the top of the slide and was just sitting there. Victor started yelling "hey!" and clapping his hands and the other kid just yelled back. This is when it took a turn for the worse. Victor freaked. He stepped away in fear and started to go over toward one side of the platform. We told him "no!" when he went to step off and he hesitated but then proceeded to step off the platform and tried to step onto the chain ladder there. Not good. He immediately slipped and racked himself but good and then just kind of dangled there (only a few feet off the ground).

I scooped him up and he cried bloody murder for about a minute while James and I thanked our lucky stars that he's not pottytrained and thus had some good crotch padding from his diaper. Dusted him off and he went right back to the bridge, strutted across and went down that slide! I was just so proud of him that he didn't let it scare him. Hopefully he's a little scared of that stupid chain ladder now though.

So a forehead bruise, two leg bruises and some slightly scraped-up nether regions later, Victor is sleeping very soundly up there. He's probably dreaming of bridges and slides. Life with a little boy.

5/27/2007 1:45:42 AM  
My throat hurts so much that I can't sleep right now so thought I'd go ahead and post pics from today/yesterday. We had a very busy Saturday. We started the day with a barbecue field trip to Lockhart. Luckily the rain held off for the most part because it's a good 45 minute drive away. Here's Victor at our first stop (and by far the highlight of the tour), Kreuz Market. Best prime rib ever. Seriously (seersee!), ever.

From there we went on to Smitty's Market and it was there that Victor finally really caught the Q wave, due in no small part to the great sauce on the ribs (which constituted a slight South Beach transgression on my part). Here he is starting to really get into it.

The rain was continuing to hold off so we stopped by McKinney Falls State Park on the way back to Austin. Victor had fallen asleep and was not at all pleased about getting back out of the car again but he played along, especially once he found his sunscreen in the diaper bag and started putting it on himself. The park? Just alright.

We were very tired at this point and came home to clean up and get the boy a nap. Sadly, we had to wake him up yet again to head off to our dear friend Steven's birthday dinner. He was understandably moody throughout the evening but he had moments of giddiness and none were more intense than when Steven passed him the gooey remains of the cake plate to clean up. Here he is enjoying some chocolate icing.

I think we'll try to relax a little more for the rest of the weekend. If the sun comes out in earnest though, I reserve the right to eat those words. Pool season is beginning, after all!

Sleepy sleepy time.

5/24/2007 3:34:32 PM  
[James here] Yesterday Victor entered the "Hi" phase of childhood. He began saying "Hi" and "H-H-Hi" (a daddy thing) over and over and over... well you get the picture. I cannot wait until the first time he annoys the hell out of some stranger by saying "Hi" to him or her 10 times.

5/23/2007 3:46:41 PM  
I just put a few music class pics in the gallery since it's been a while. Victor has really been getting into doing his do-re-mi this past week but as I suspected might be the case, he got distracted at class and didn't really do it like he does at home. He really loves music class more and more and he definitely feels so comfortable exploring and socializing there. It's really fun to see.

This summer we're getting wild and switching to Fridays instead of Wednesdays for class and that may not sound like a big deal but it just feels so strange since we've gone on Wednesdays for the past 16 months. I wanted to free up Wednesday mornings though so that we could go to the cool Children's Day Art in the Park that the Austin Symphony has every Wednesday morning in June and July. There is a concert by a featured local performer each week and they have an "instrument petting zoo" where the kiddos can look at and touch and even play real instruments. I think Victor's right at the age that he might really enjoy that.

We're also going to try (key word being "try") doing Mom & Tot Yoga on Monday mornings. This is different from what we did before. With this, we'll be in class together the whole time. I'm not putting any pressure on either of us to make this work but it might be a good step to get him used to going to the studio so that maybe he can try going it on his own come fall. Or maybe he'll totally hate it and we'll have Monday mornings free after all!

On Monday, Victor had his first speech therapy since his ECI evaluation. We've had previous visits with the developmental therapist (she basically just plays with him to see how he's progressing with those skills) but this was our first real speech therapy since the eval. It went really well. She was impressed with his progress and he really responded to her and enjoyed talking to her. Can't ask for more than that!

I strongly suspect that he was just waiting until now to really start talking. That's not to disparage ECI in the least. It's been great to have them checking in with us about strategies for helping his language skills blossom. They've given us some great pointers that have really helped a lot.

Next month at therapy, we're going to press the feeding issues more. Victor still has major texture issues with any vegetable or fruit that isn't pureed nearly beyond recognition (even the beloved bananas). So our assignment is to force him to get really messy. This is a challenge because he is appalled by the thought of finger painting (but will happily paint with a brush) and still often recoils from playdough. We had a pretty significant breakthrough today though.

This is the part of the blog where I have to admit to everyone out there that yes, I do let my precious son have fast food once a week. I know. At any rate, he loves Chick-Fil-A nuggets (but not as much as he loves their cheesecake - oh good God, did I just say that out loud?). I got him some today and I let him have free reign with the dipping sauce, whereas I usually ration very small amounts. He got that stuff all over his hands and face and shirt and was not the slightest bit concerned. I'm trying to celebrate that part of it instead of focusing on the brutal reality that he probably loves high fructose corn syrup. That's a battle for another day.

5/21/2007 9:24:57 AM  
Is this not unbearably cute?

I called Victor over to the computer to look at this picture and as soon as I said "Sean", he started craning his neck to see his framed pics of Sean here in the office. I wonder if he'll say his name when he sees him in person or if he'll get performance anxiety. We're working on "Nick" too. He repeated it a few times but I don't think he can come up with it on his own.

I just cannot wait to see these two little guys in person soon. We are going to have so much fun on the Great Midwestern Jaunt! Look out Martin boys, here comes your furniture-climbing monkey cousin.

5/21/2007 12:17:37 AM  
With no offense to Victor's other loyal chums, he is showing that he has a clear favorite buddy and her name is Katie. What I wouldn't have given for pics of the two of them together today - neurotic Victor stressing about getting wet while an effervescent Katie gave him hugs and told him "It's OK, Baby Victor" (I so hope she still calls him that in 10 years). Victor even called Katie by name and that is not something he has ever done for anyone except himself, Dada, Mumummum, Kitty and Cousin Sean (well, Sean's picture anyway). I had the camera along, of course, but it turns out that keeping a toddler happy and getting pictures of said happiness at the same time can be nearly impossible at times, even with Mommy & Daddy double-teaming.

We had a really fun swimdate with Miss Katie and her parents Jamie & Yvette this morning out at their country club. Once Victor got past the terror of being put into a pool (not sure why it was so traumatic), he enjoyed walking all over the toddler pool and seeing how deep he could go before the water got into his mouth. Turns out it's right at the point that the water goes to 3 foot depth. Can he really be that tall?!?!??! He also enjoyed watching Katie go down the whale water slide about 150 times and he clapped and said "Yay!" for her. He even got brave enough to go down the slide himself (with parental assistance) and he quickly figured out that the best way to avoid the splash at the end is to use his feet to stop himself halfway down so that he can inch down at his own careful pace. Hmmmmm. He could actually have gotten this from either parent. I think it's slightly more James though.

The only blemish on an otherwise delightful Sunday was the small detail of me forgetting to put sunscreen on myself. I am rather crispy tonight. By the time I slather Victor up, I have a hard time remembering to put it on myself. I guess I won't be sleeping on my back tonight.

5/19/2007 3:40:33 PM  
We went to see our favorite children's performer dude Joe McDermott at his CD release concert this morning and Victor displayed yet more evidence of becoming civilized enough to sit and enjoy a performance. I'm still beaming! It was a fun show though and better yet, it was at a really cool toy store that we will have to go back to again soon. Daddy even fell for Victor's sad act and bought the toy he had been playing with the whole time. He's a sucker for magnetic toys. Here are a few pictures of my sweet boys this morning:

I'm now waiting not very patiently for Victor to wake up so that we can speed off to today's tennis match. It's not really important that we go but I did go to the trouble of packing up snacks and drinks so I don't want that effort wasted! Plus, it's a beautiful day and Ruth & John might be there. Time to start stomping around and making some noise.

5/16/2007 9:34:35 PM  
I don't have many more details about little Nicholas Patrick Martin (that's what happens when James takes the call, I suppose) but I do know that he's healthy and he looks sorta like his mommy. Behold the Nick:

He came a bit unexpectedly but luckily only a few weeks ahead of schedule. Sounds to me like he is going to be very different from his big bro Sean who kept us all waiting on pins and needles for weeks (literally) and then came out looking just like his dad (not that that is a bad thing). Nick is smaller too. We are so excited that we'll get to meet him in a month. Many congrats and lots of love to Deb, Pat, Sean, and Nicolas!

So what's up around here? Well, Victor was a bit of a wild man at music class today. Lately he has been participating so much more but today he was just a bit nuts. Then we got home and he threw tantrum after tantrum and then napped for an unheard of 3 hours. So I guess he needed to sleep, eh? Here are a few pics of him being a maniac at music class:

Tonight we went for one of our long family wagon ride/walks and we let Victor run around at the park for a while. It definitely tired him out because he is sleeping well now and has finally stopped coughing and saying "owwwww!". I'm finally starting to believe that this is allergies because going outside does seem to exacerbate the congestion and coughing. Much to James' chagrin, medications are becoming very necessary.

Here are a few pics of Victor running at the park. I've taken pics several of the times we've gone there and I don't ever post them because they always turn out so blurry but I just like them so you'll have to humor me. Obviously I still haven't gotten around to mastering Photoshop (Lia, I'm pulling a total Missy!). Here they are though, in all of their authentically blurry glory:

5/16/2007 8:19:32 AM  
Cousin Nick has arrived! More details to come..............

5/15/2007 1:17:58 PM  
Mother's Day was perhaps slightly less than stellar. I greeted the official day with a surprise puke mess in Victor's crib when I went to check on him right at midnight. Had to get him up and strip the bed, change his clothes, wipe his head down (since he was just rolling around in the mess) convince him that it's really still time to be sleeping, etc. He just plain coughed so hard that he threw up and he's done it a few times since then but thankfully, none of those incidents have been nearly as messy.

Once he got up for the day, a bath made him feel good as new so we still went to brunch. Unfortunately, that was kind of a botched operation as well. By the time we got downtown to go to Moonshine, there was a line down the block just to walk in the front door. Seersee. Then we tried Magnolia and it was similarly chaotic so we ended up at Z'Tejas. It was only a little better than mediocre. Quality there has gone WAY down.

Have I mentioned that Sunday was my last day as a free eater? I started South Beach yesterday so this has a lot to do with why I was so deflated by the brunch snafu. Victor was undaunted by the subpar Z'Tejas though and he ate pretty much everything he could get his hands on and then wanted more. I guess that's what happens when we have to drive around for an hour looking for food! Here's a pic of him giving us the "where's the rest of my breakfast?" stare.

5/12/2007 5:17:42 PM  
WalkAmerica 2007 was a very hot, very brutally sunny, very successful adventure. We ended up raising over $1,500 between the three of us and we are so grateful for all of you out there who sponsored us. It meant so much to us and it felt as though you were walking with us, except that you didn't have to bake in the sun. Thank you for making Mother's Day that much more special again.

We took lots and lots of pictures and 14 of them are over in the picture gallery. Here in the post though, I just wanted to share the proofs for the boys' memorial tower posters. After all, they are what today is all about. They are more loved than ever.

5/10/2007 8:28:23 PM  
Here's a picture of a very determined Victor playing on one of the springy toys at the park earlier this week.

Apparently I should not have had him outside so much this week because a trip to see Dr. Mirrop today may or may not have revealed that all of his congestion problems as of late are most likely due to allergies. The good news is that his ears were clear and his lungs sounded good. The spectacular news is that he gained 2 pounds in the last 2 months. He's almost 27 pounds now and is finally trending upward again after a long weight gain rate plateau.

After the good report, we felt cocky enough to go ahead and do playgroup today. Here Victor is enjoying his trike and Curious George (with a very James-like expression) right before leaving for playgroup:

And here is he at the end of playgroup:

Unfortunately, that was the beginning of a 20 minute nap that Victor decided would just be it for his napping today. Not a sound decision on his part because he was tired and stumbling and had massive amounts of pus oozing out of his swollen right eye by late afternoon.

Yep. The eye was fine when we were at Dr. Mirrop's. Hoping it's allergy-related and not the dreaded pinkeye. Tomorrow will tell. He is sleeping extremely well at the moment though. I sure hope the little monkey feels better in the morning.

5/7/2007 9:54:05 PM  
James and I are developing an idea for a new children's book called "Headbutts Are Not Hugs". Victor loves to give hugs but he also loves to show his affection in other rougher (and less than desirable) ways. Just ask poor Pru. As she would tell you "Kidney kicks are not kisses" and "Hairpulling is not humane". Also, "tackling is not tender" and "pulling tails is not pally". If only Pru could type, I'm sure she'd come up with more.

5/6/2007 8:45:12 PM  
I forgot to mention the Victor milestones for the weekend. First of all, he is consistently saying "Victor!" and it is often interspersed in his counting. He likes to imitate counting a lot and until today, he didn't seem to ever say actual English numbers. Today however, when we'd count to ten while pausing between each number, he would say "nine" and 'ten" at the appropriate points. A few times he even did 6 & 7. This was such a good reminder for us that he really is taking in more than we realize and that it's all going to start coming out.

We removed batteries from almost all of his talking or musical toys (except for the Fridge Phonics, of course) upon the advice of V's EI coordinator and sure enough, he is really starting to enjoy the sound of his own voice more than the sound of Fisher Price voice-over lady. Just 5 days of more quiet play has made a big, big difference. I don't think it's coincidence that he made such progress in the same week we made that change.

In general cuteness news, Victor has had a habit for a while of grabbing my hand and putting it on his head to signal me to give him a little head rub. Tonight he did this as usual but then pushed my hand away and started scratching his own head before grabbing my hand back again. It seems that he loves to get his head scratched just as much as his daddy does! I mostly loved the look on his face when he realized that he could just show me what he wanted. The look on his face when he got what he wanted was even better though.

5/6/2007 5:25:10 PM  
Another action-packed Saturday yesterday. First we had John's 2nd birthday party out at Brushy Creek. We had lots of fun but, as evidenced by the below photos, the water was still a bit cold. Then we rushed home for a quick nap before heading back out for Family Fun Night at Heartsong where I performed with the women's choir. We have one more performance this Tuesday and then we're done until fall. I'll miss all of my new friends and I'll miss the night out each week!

Today has been a recovery and organization day around Chez Humphrey. Just got a new computer and it has entailed much reshuffling. First order of business was to get pics uploaded, of course. Note that John the fearless birthday boy was scampering around happily while Victor shivered with his daddy. And so without further ado, here they are:

I swear I'm going to make the time for my Photoshop tutorials this week. I really mean it this time. Need to be ready to really enhance our WalkAmerica pics next weekend!

5/4/2007 1:49:10 PM  
We playgrouped at Brushy Creek Lake Park today, in spite of some drizzle. Hey, we were going to get wet anyway! Victor was not very sure about running out into those sprinklers but he started to get into the spirit of things toward the end. His friend Linnea was thrilled by the "wawa" the moment she got there and ran about fearlessly. Once again, I think the need to impress her might have kicked in for Victor.

We'll be back there again tomorrow for V's buddy John's birthday party so I'm hopeful that today broke him in somewhat. Plus, it will be exponentially more fun with Daddy there to frolic. I'm not the best frolicker.

Here are a few pics of Victor and Linnea from today:

5/3/2007 8:50:03 PM  
I stand corrected. I guilted myself into whipping together a t-shirt. It's not even 1/8 as fancy as what I had envisioned but it will work.

Also, Victor's favorite new word is "seersee" (seriously) and he just moments ago said "sock" for the first time. I think we're making some progress. I still need to progress him right into bed though!

5/3/2007 1:22:23 PM  
Well, I kinda irretrievably dropped the ball on WalkAmerica Family Team t-shirts, I think. Even if I could get it all together tonight or tomorrow, I'd be hard pressed to get anything shipped soon enough to get to us for the walk (without paying out the nose). Maybe I'll surprise myself but I'm officially lowering my expectations. There's just not enough time in the day.

Speaking of dropping the ball, I don't think Victor will be going to preschool/Mother's Day Out this fall either. We're pretty far down the waiting lists at the few affordable places I felt enthusiastic about. I don't feel like he's ready to start at 2 anyway, to be honest. If something opens up, we'll try it but I am starting to feel extremely comfortable with waiting until closer to 3. With no offense to anyone out there, I really think that pushing true academics at 2-4 is a lot of hooey anyway. My only pre-K concern is to get him socialized and comfortable with a school-like schedule. His music, art and playgroup are definitely helping him to start to take instruction from other adults and to begin to grasp sharing, taking turns and dealing with conflicts. He can use more of that though and when the time comes, I think preschool/MDO will really help with that. Just probably not this fall.

Oh, and one thing I keep meaning to ask my fellow toddler parents (Ruth? Heather?): On Curious George, is the Man in the Yellow Hat dating Professor Wiseman? If so, why is he so formal in the way he talks to her? I'm not sure why this is the detail that perplexes me so much about a show revolving around a monkey who walks around the city of his own free will.

4/30/2007 1:04:42 PM  
Here's Victor's fabulous Abrakadoodle creation from today. Yes, I'll admit that there was a little too much "help" from me but he really was not grasping the gluing part of collaging (just the tearing, tearing, and more tearing part). Since I have the artistic skills of a 6 or 7 year old, it averages out about right as a combined effort. Here is "The Critter".

Also, congrats to the Varbles out there on the arrival of the Calvinator (thanks for saying hi, Tanya!). Cannot wait to see him in person soon, hopefully on our next visit. Not long from now, actually!

4/28/2007 11:02:24 PM  
Well, we went to Waco. The zoo was really cool, actually, but there really wasn't anything else very cool about Waco. Well, aside from the Dr. Pepper Museum. We were too tired to justify forking out the $13 for us to all get into the DP Museum though. However, we'll definitely go back to that zoo. My only complaint was the complete lack of monkeys. In spite of that, It was a very pleasant and attractive zoo.

There are pics of Vic in the gallery and here are some zoological highlights of the day, including a shot of my good luck monkey charm in the car during the drive there. I took that shot on a whim and it's a good thing because he's really the only monkey we saw today. I'll get over it.

4/27/2007 8:12:01 PM  
First of all, happy 2nd birthday to Mr. John Daniel Connell! I just cannot believe that our little gang of playmates is already starting to turn into -gasp- preschoolers. Hope you had a fun day today, little buddy. See you soon.

Not much Victor news to report but wanted to give an update on WalkAmerica. We have obliterated last year's fundraising record and surpassed our goal. Thank you so much to all of you who have donated! The walk is still 2 weeks away so there's still plenty of time to donate or join us on the course. We are especially looking forward to seeing the boys' memorial towers this year. Just this week they were offered to us through the generosity of local corporate sponsors. We gave a lot of thought to the passages we included on Ro & JT's posters and we will be so touched and honored to see their names in writing as we stroll along Congress Avenue.

We're going to Waco tomorrow. No seriously, we really are. We're making a journey to the Cameron Park Zoo. Just enough distance to feel like a getaway. I'm sure there will be pictures.

4/26/2007 2:25:46 PM  
It's a perfect spring day - cooler and drier than it has been - and luckily it happened to be playgroup day. V's therapist had to cancel yesterday and wanted to reschedule for this morning and boy am I ever glad that I stood firm on not blowing off playgroup. It was definitely a day not to be missed! We are really feeling the absence of Miss Gwen who is currently playing in sandboxes in Japan. We had fun nevertheless. Here's a picture of Victor with Eli & Linnea during the bubble frenzy. There are more solo pics of Victor over in the gallery.

Wish I'd gotten more pics of the group but they are hard to "group" for long. And luckily, after a rough night Victor fell asleep in the car and is still napping away. We definitely have 2-year molars poking through (I think that the uppers are in and these are the lowers but can't swear to it) and it's making for some impressive mood swings. Bedtime is pretty much of a brawl this week.

Speaking of bedtime, V is suddenly too long in the torso for all of his pajamas so I had to order some last night. It was very bittersweet because now he's officially into the toddler boy sizes across the board. And his sweet white onesies are now a thing of the past. Sniff.

And right on cue, I hear a very hungry monkey!

4/24/2007 5:19:26 PM  
Two important milestones before I forget! First of all, Victor outgrew a pair of jeans in the waist last week. That may not sound like a huge deal but it kinda is. Granted, now I'm starting to wonder if I just shrunk the darn jeans but never mind that. In the past though, Victor's pants and jeans have always gotten too short before they ever got remotely tight in the waist. In contrast, this pair of jeans is still OK length-wise but just so tight in the waist that Victor refuses to wear them without unsnapping and unzipping them for comfort. Yay for a little belly to fill out those pants!

The other item of huge import is that Victor had his first ever ride in a race car shopping cart at Home Depot this morning. I have been in fear of those carts (due mainly to Ruth's HEB horror stories) but thought that this would be a good trial run since we didn't have too many items to get, just in case he tried to escape or anything. No attempts to escape whatsoever. He truly thought that he was the coolest guy there (which he was, of course) and he kept his hands on the steering wheel -except to wave at passersby- and a grin on his face. Those carts are a bear to try to steer around though. I guess he won't forget about the race cars next time we go to HEB, huh?

4/24/2007 1:15:00 AM  
I'm up way too late. Since I'm up working on pics anyway, here are a few outtakes from Saturday's bluebonnet adventure with Alex & Lia. There are also more in the pics gallery. The boys were not the most cooperative subjects but they did have fun throwing rocks. Then we went to storytime and no more pictures were taken because they sprinted all over Barnes and Noble. But yeah anyway, here are a few more bluebonnet pics before I pass out:

4/20/2007 2:16:44 PM  
It's been one wacky week, to say the least. The house is in substantial disarray due to the ongoing siding and window installation. It's really starting to look nice and the guys are plugging away at it (having to add a whole lot of insulation along the way) but man, am I ever ready to have some quiet in this house. I'm also ready to stop vacuuming twice a day every day. Add in James' all day training at work this week and I'm feeling very, very frazzled. Victor has been a peach through it all though. He's really a resilient little guy and I'm so proud of him for being such a big boy about enduring the chaos.

We've stayed busy with all of our usual stuff and thrown in some extra park trips this week to stay out of the house a bit more. Yesterday, amidst the noise and clutter, the Early Childhood Intervention people came (an EI specialist and a speech language pathologist) to do Victor's developmental evaluation and assessment. It took 3 hours. 3 hours. He never whined or cried or fussed once through the whole thing. He really likes the EI specialist a lot and he'd only met her once before. We have what James considers the ideal situation - Victor is eligible for the therapy services but just barely. Free speech therapy! He wasn't assessed as being quite as far behind as he was back in February which wasn't a big surprise. They really had to manipulate the non-language areas to get him covered under the program but I'm thankful they did. He'd most likely catch up just fine without any therapy but he really enjoys and responds to his EI specialist and she can hopefully help us to work with him on his speaking and his cup/drinking issues. So it's a very positive outcome.

As expected, Victor was ahead of the game in gross motor skills and social skills. He's definitely physical and outgoing. He was just slightly behind in fine motor skills and that once again wasn't a big shock once I thought about it because he's been on the go so much until recently that he's really only starting to sit down to focus on more detailed tasks. Expressive and receptive language skills were both right in the 15-18 month range so he's reallly not all that far behind. I think that once we really work at employing a lot of the communication tactics they've already suggested, we'll start getting some more meaningful communication out of him. So far most of his words revolve around the things that he is interested in or thinks are fun but I'm really hoping to get more words out of him to help meet his needs and preferences with regard to our routine. I feel like we've got some guidance to do that. They reminded me that we should focus on one thing at a time as not to overwhelm ourselves or Victor. That's definitely something I have to be reminded about.

Today was a little less successful. We've been expelled from yoga for the rest of the session. OK, it's really a self-imposed exile. Basically, we can continue to go every week but with the knowledge that we'll probably only get to be there for the first 20 minutes. I don't want to do that anymore. While he needs to adjust, this is stressful for both of us and it's supposed to be quite the opposite. So we're quitting and trying again in a few months. After our ouster though, we headed straight for the park and met up with Ruth & John. Life has been so busy for everyone lately and we've missed our friends! It was brief but it was nice to touch base with some buddies.

Tomorrow we have a date with Lia & Alex and I am really looking forward to driving many miles down Mopac away from this house for a bit. Plus, we haven't seen them for probably a few months and I can't wait to catch up and see what a big boy Alex is now. Count on pictures of the reunion! You cannot count on them ever smiling together in the same picture though. Beggars can't be choosers.

4/15/2007 5:03:23 PM  
Well, we had the NI company picnic yesterday and what was supposed to be a perfect day for it ended up being cold and windy. The highlight for us was getting to sit with V's buddy Katie and her parents to watch most of Joe McDermott's performance.

James has proclaimed Joe to be much cooler than the Biscuit Brothers. I enjoyed it quite a lot too and am even more of a fan of Joe now but I won't tolerate Biscuit dissing. Aside from Joe's performance though, it was pretty much a lot of shivering and chasing and wrangling. Victor only napped for about 45 minutes yesterday due to the noise around here from the siding installation so he was delirious by the time we left Reunion Ranch for home.

Very few pics got snapped but here are just a few, including one in which Victor resembles a ventriloquist's dummy:

Today was a far nicer day so we packed up and headed off to the Austin Science & Nature Center. We were not disasppointed. Victor is still a bit young to get into the spirit of the Dino Pit but James & I jumped in and did a little digging demo for him. He did enjoy seeing the birds of prey exhibits and taking in the fresh air and sunshine. Here are just a few shots from today:

4/12/2007 3:31:05 PM  
OK, I know I'm always saying that we're having the most beautiful day but today is really THE most beautiful. Well, so far. We went to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center this morning for our usual Thursday playgroup and a blast was had by all. Victor is napping quite hard as a result. There are Vic pics in the main gallery but here are also some group shots and outtakes:

I have issued myself the challenge of learning Photoshop Elements 5.0 in the very near future and the icky lighting in some of those shots is really motivating me. The kiddos are cute enough to make up for less-than-stellar photography though.

Oh, and Victor's new trick for the day (practiced and perfected at playgroup) is to dive headfirst back into his stroller and then wriggle his way properly into his seat. He even tries to buckle himself back up. The boy likes to ride around looking at things.

4/7/2007 9:35:14 PM  
First of all, thank you dearly to our friends and family who have sponsored us in our local WalkAmerica event. With a little over a month to go, we're 75% of the way to our goal of $1,000. Hoping we still get there but even if not, we have been so touched by everyone's generosity as we continue this family tradition.

On to Victor business. I have been meaning to give kind of a "what's that guy up to?" update for several weeks and just haven't ever managed to sit down to do it, mostly because he keeps doing more and more stuff that scares/dazzles/interests me. I'm going to try to jot down some of the cooler recent developments. Physically speaking, we definitely feel like he's putting on some weight. He's shockingly strong and his legs and arms seem much meatier than they have been. Also, his feet are growing more quickly now. Needless to say, he's still tall. It's sometimes frustrating because people wonder why he doesn't say more since he looks like he's older than 2. I'll get to that more later.

Let's talk about fun stuff. These are some of the really endearing things he has started doing lately:

- leading me by the hand to the rocker when he's tired
- handing me his shoes (and my shoes) when he wants to go outside
- saying his own name when I point to him
- putting toys away (never thought this day would come)
- smiling bashfully at Dora the Explorer
- clapping and saying "yay!" at the end of each song at music class
- imitating Daddy's dragon (stuffed animal) flapping its wings sound
- giving lots of hugs and kisses
- holding his cheek out to get a kiss
- running everywhere with little arms pumping
- coloring/painting
- dancing when he gets excited
- sitting on our laps sweetly to do activities
- feeding us bites of his food
- stacking anything and everything he can
- playing with his shape sorter
- talking to his stuffed animals
- terrorizing his cat

Verbally, he's really made some progress. We are still proceeding with the EI evaluations in a few weeks but we are certainly encouraged by what he's had to say recently and feel like he's gaining some ground with his language development. Here are his really consistent words:

- dada
- mama
- cat
- kitty
- shoes
- comb
- Sean (Victor loves his cousin!)
- aaaah ("open" or sometimes "up")
- e-e-e (means "open" to Victor)
- Victor (pronounced "ditter")
- uh-oh
- hi
- lion (usually pronounced "lala")

And here are words he has been overheard saying lately but that are not what I consider consistent yet:

- go
- ball
- dog
- car
- cow
- yeah
- OK
- backpack
- do (in do-re-mi)
- ti (in do-re-mi)
- cup
- open (as opposed to "ah" or "e-e-e")

Emotionally speaking, he's displaying a wide range of responses. He's definitely got some major separation anxiety going on (see yoga gripes) and even has brief periods at home when he flips out if one of us is out of his sight, particularly Mommy. He cries every day when Daddy leaves for work and is overjoyed when he comes back home. He also displays some naughty emotional behavior. In the past, we could say "can I see that?" (which has always bothered me from a grammatical standpoint) and he would hand over whatever he had. Now if I ask, he will run away from me to keep from giving up the coveted item. Sometimes when Daddy asks, he will throw the item at him or throw it in the opposite direction. We keep trying to teach him that this is bad but we often have to avoid making eye contact with each other because Victor's so funny when he's trying to be tough. Overall though, he's sweet as pie and loves to be doted upon.

Other than the fact that he's totally entranced by toy trucks now, that's pretty much the short version of what's up with Victor. Trust me, I could come up with a far longer version. He's just that cool.

4/7/2007 11:37:19 AM  
Yesterday's yoga experience was even worse than last week, so much so that I don't even want to talk about it except to say that we are THISCLOSE to quitting. So I'm heading off to yoga today to attempt to reclaim some calm.

Before I go though, here are some pics from this morning. Here's Victor "eating" one of his Easter cookies sent to him by his Grandmother and his Gaga. He saw it more as a toy than something edible for a while but then did nibble off the lamb's legs one by one. I can vouch for the yumminess of the cookies. Homemade sugar cookies. Mmmmmm.

I keep meaning to post more of a general update and will do so later. It's rainy and cold so I'm sure I'll have a good opportunity to do so. More pics to come too - the Easter basket awaits!

4/5/2007 3:02:21 PM  
Playgroup met at an Easter egg hunt today. It was a perfect day for it but the hunt itself was pretty fruitless for the Humphreys. Victor couldn't wait to bust through the tape but then once they officially started the hunt, he just froze while a pack of preschoolers scooped up everything in sight. We came away with a pretty barren basket. Eli was very nice and shared a few eggs with Victor. Apparently Eli had a good hunt strategy.

Here are some pics of the festivities, including the Easter Bunny, who was apparently wearing his contacts today.

4/2/2007 1:21:57 PM  
I now present Victor's first ever painting. We had our first Abrakadoodle class this morning and it was fun. The teacher was somewhat surprised that he hadn't ever painted before. I didn't want to tell a person who believes that all human potential hinges upon finger painting that I'd rather him make that kind of mess there than at home. Maybe we'll both get braver about it now though. He is getting some paints in his Easter basket.

This work was described by the teacher as minimalist. It's unfortunate that I didn't get a picture of Victor at class. If you'd seen the paint on his face, you'd understand why he only managed to paint one quandrant of his page.

4/1/2007 2:28:36 PM  
Spectacularly beautiful day here so we headed off to Brushy Creek this morning to let Victor run wild in the big grassy field. He had little interest in that, which was actually fine with us when we saw all of the fireant hills (they apparently have loved the rain too). We did get to try out the Kelty backpack that has been sitting in the closet in waiting since last fall. Victor seemed to enjoy the ride and Daddy didn't moan about it too much so hopefully we'll get out for some more ambitious hiking adventures soon.

Here are some of the photo "outtakes" from this morning. There are several others in the regular photo gallery as well but these were too cute not to share, even if they weren't completely gallery-worthy:

The bad news was that the Brushy Creek water playscape was very definitely not functioning yet (thanks for the misleading info on your website, Cedar Park!). Too bad because the sun is scorching out there. Might be time to break out the kiddie pool.

3/30/2007 9:30:22 PM  
Yoga was an utter disaster today, so much so that we cut and ran 20 minutes in. For real. It didn't help matters that we got there right at 10:00 due to the rain traffic so I had to literally hand him off in the air as I went in to my class. He started crying immediately and never really stopped. So next week I'll be making a full-out effort to make this work. We both need it - I need the relaxation time and he needs the socialization. So next time we'll go really early so that I can play with him in the kids' classroom for a while and get him interested in all of the fun that can happen in there before I break away.

I have to say that I'm finding this level of separation anxiety to be just a little surprising (and uncharacteristic). I was telling James tonight that I'm pretty sure that if I just got up and walked out of music class, he'd just carry on and have a blast. Then again, he's known most of the people in music class for more than a year and he's so comfortable with that room that he claps as soon as he sees it. So I guess this will just take time. It makes me really glad that we're trying this now though so that he'll be gradually eased into being separated from me prior to preschool. In the meantime, it is a heartwrenching and ongoing effort.

3/29/2007 1:03:20 PM  
Playgroup had to convene indoors today due to rain so we headed off to the mall play area. Fun was had and we somehow managed to (mostly) beat the crowds. Here are a few pics. Love the one of Eli hugging Linnea. See, being friends with Victor means that you get to be prominently featured on his website!

While we were at the mall, we got Victor's feet measured again at Stride Rite. The woman estimated him at a 5 1/2 wide and I just moved him up to 6 1/2 mediums recently. This caused me tremendous consternation. He did not hold even remotely still for the measuring though so I can still hope for user error (or would that be usee error). And speaking of unwillingness to hold still, don't miss the pic of Victor visiting the Easter Bunny on the pics page. Classic. I don't think he'll be wanting to go back to the mall for a while.

3/28/2007 5:09:57 PM  
I love music class for many, many reasons but right now I am loving it because Victor has been napping for 3 hours. Playing instruments and sprinting around the room while shouting jibberish is very hard work. Here are a few pics of us with Lori and Eli from class today:

3/26/2007 9:49:23 AM  
And Happy Birthday to James Thomas Humphrey! Victor is marking the occasion today by actually taking completely voluntary sips out of his sippy cup. I give James Thomas full credit for that one. He was going to be such a persistent and diligent llittle do-er and I have little doubt that he has inspired his brother to consider drinking like a big boy. Thanks Sweet Baby James. :) Happy birthday.

3/25/2007 9:11:37 PM  

Another action-packed weekend has passed and boy, are we tired. A big, big thank you goes out to Uncle John for flying in and being a huge part of Ro & JT's birthday weekend festivities. James had an outstanding but draining performance (draining enough to necessitate a trip to the medical tent) in the Cap 10. Uncle John, Victor & myself? We just tried to have fun and survive the six miles. Here are a few pics of us pre-race.

The other big activity for the day was planting a new tree for the twins. James & John did a fabulous job and even seemed to have fun breaking apart all of the rock that lurks just inches under the soil in our yard. Here's a pic of the new tree (a red maple) and also a pic of it side by side with the original trees we planted for Ro & JT in 2004 (a bald cyprus and a Chinese pistache). And of course there is a pic of Victor admiring the foliage on his brothers' new tree. It's turning out to be a nice family tradition.

We are all officially exhausted and are looking forward to getting up at a normal time tomorrow after today's 7:15 departure. James may be a morning person but Victor & I just really aren't.

3/25/2007 6:25:28 AM  
Happy Birthday to Ronan Woods Humphrey! We still miss him so much every day but we see so much of him in his brother, especially in some of the wilder moments, and it makes our enjoyment of Victor's antics that much more special. We're set for a busy, wacky day but this day is above all else about our Ro.

3/24/2007 1:40:20 PM  
Well, Daddy didn't play in the match today due to his bum foot (resting it for the Cap 10 tomorrow) but we went to hang out at the courts for a little bit anyway. Turns out that Victor has more of a clue what to do with his racquet than we really imagined he might.

I must say that I'm quite relieved that tomorrow's race is the last for a while. We have our WalkAmerica event in May as well but it's later in the morning and it's not an actual race. This waking Victor up early and packing a bunch of supplies into the stroller routine has gotten old after 3 weekends in a row!

3/23/2007 1:54:58 PM  
Yikes. First day of toddler yoga was not exactly a smashing success. Victor was just fine when I left him to go next door to my class (which was a delightful class, by the way). He was running around and waving at everyone. I guess it took a turn fairly quickly though. Several kids started to cry after the mommy exodus and Victor got fed up and wanted to get out of the room.

Apparently he continued to try to escape the entire time. I knew it wasn't a good sign when I walked out of my class to find him outside in Maggie's arms. Thank goodness he had a familiar face there though (she helped with the classes we did last fall too). I'm really hoping that the situation improves next week. He's got to get used to this sometime and at least I'm just a room away right now. He doesn't realize that though, I suppose! He nervously chewed on his Crocs all the way home.

So to brighten things up, here are some pics from a happier day last month. These are from our trip to the Austin Children's Museum with Lia & Alex. I had just broken our old camera and Lia was kind enough to assume photography duties that day. Here's Alex & Victor:

Even more pics are probably coming soon. Uncle John is here for the weekend and Sunday is the Cap 10 so I'm sure we'll be snapping away. Loving the new camera.

3/22/2007 2:51:31 PM  
We made a trip to the Austin Zoo today with our usual Thursday playgang. It rained off and on the whole time but it kept everyone else away and it seemed to make the animals happy so we gladly suffered some sogginess. I didn't really get any pics of the kids today because when they were out of their strollers, they were off in every direction. Here are some of the animal highlights from today though and there are also some shots of Victor on the regular pics page as well.

3/20/2007 2:19:30 PM  
Today's excitement was.....well.....exciting! We went to see the Biscuit Brothers put on a free concert in the Capitol Rotunda after they received their commendation from the Texas Legislature. I cannot say with any degree of confidence just how much fun Victor had since it was right at naptime and it was HOT in there (as evidenced by the red faces in the pics below). I for one thought that it was totally and completely awesome though! I just love these guys and it was well worth postponing nap and lunch to go represent for the bros. They are such a fun live show.

Here are some pics from the show. Victor didn't look that mad the whole time, really. He smiled at a banjo once for 5 whole seconds. Really.

3/17/2007 2:30:20 PM  

We got up early today and headed out for the Shamrock Shuffle 5K. It was hilly and rocky and muddy and fun. So it was a pretty authentic Irish experience! Did I mention the mud though? Wow. There were people losing their shoes in it. I had to wash down the jogger stroller out on the driveway a little while ago too.

It was a fun time though. Victor liked the bagpipers best of all and the moonwalk least of all. I wish we could have seen a little more of the Irish dancing but we needed to get home so that Victor could nap. Still napping........and napping....and napping. We're headed out again soon for Daddy's tennis match so I might have to wake our little leprechaun up.

Here are some pics but there are a few more on the actual pics page too. I love this one of the bagpipers that James took!

3/15/2007 1:19:19 PM  

Below is the sole picture I managed to capture at playgroup today and I'm only posting it because it proves that Victor left his hat on at least long enough for me to get one picture. Still not a fan of the hats. We had a fun time at Zilker again. The Zephyr was perhaps not quite as magical as last time but the Spring Break "Lord of the Flies" feel of the playscape may or may not have had something to do with that. It stands to reason that there were a gazilliion kids at the park today though because it's not only Spring Break but also the first sunny day after 2.5 days of rain. The bluebonnets are doing their thing and it looks like it will be a stellar year for them! Yeah, so here's hat-hater.

Major indepedent streak going on around here. Victor didn't want ANY help at the park, including with the stairs and being carried around was insulting and uncool to the point that he'd go totally limp to evade me. Oh, the fun we're about to have with the tumultuous twos! That trend continued back at home when he refused to eat any of the chicken that I had shredded up for him but preferred to chomp on a full-sized strip. He's becoming firmly convinced that Mommy is not really all that necessary. You know, not until he wants milk. Then Mommy is the best.

3/13/2007 2:09:00 PM  

Well, it's done. The Board of Trustees has voted to retire Chief Illiniwek's name and likeness. I mean no offense to anyone who wanted to see the Chief go and honestly, I do see SOME of the arguments on the other side. It makes me really sad though because I have so many fond memories that include that image. Luckily I still have a few sweatshirts that include that image too. I'll miss seeing his dance. Gave me goosebumps every time. Oskeewowwow, Old Timer. You won't be forgotten in this house. Here's hoping the Illini step it up Friday as a proper send-off for you.

3/13/2007 11:45:15 AM  

Rain, rain, go away. Little Victor wants to go outside and run around in circles and then pick up and examine every tiny stick in a one block radius. We're having another rain day and Victor is just on the cusp of getting impatient about being inside. He did do some coloring this morning while he watched Dora (and his new fave "Wonder Pets") and that provided some smiles. I got some video of it but some editing will be in order. I need to edit out some dull moments and a particularly gassy moment. Only Granddad would enjoy that part of the video. There are some pics of him sitting and coloring on the pics page. It's a new and exciting phase for us - sitting at a table and quietly entertaining oneself!

Here are also some candids from breakfast this morning. He's getting better and better at the spoon thing but he's still not really willing to take his eyes off of Curious George. And breakfast without Curious George is a dour affair.

Update: The video I mentioned? It's gone. I shift-deleted it before it was really fully transferred so it's just plain gone. I'm trying not to cry about it.

3/10/2007 1:35:03 PM  

Victor has had a long-standing record of being a perfect - absolutely angelically perfect - jogger stroller occupant during each race so far. Until today. He wriggled his arms out of the harness repeatedly (even though it was as tight as we could get it), he kicked his sun/windscreen cover off - again repeatedly, he screamed about the sun being in his eyes once he had removed the cover, he grabbed at the cover and got it trapped on his head. Oh, and he had to have a whole cup of water at each water stop. Finally, he fell asleep briefly after the Mile 2 marker. I wanted to do the same.

It was a pretty day for it though and we enjoyed taking the drive out to Bastrop and back. He was happy as a clam in the car. He is just not digging that jogger stroller at the moment. I don't think he likes the angle it reclines him at. So some tweaking may be in order before the next race, which may or may not be next weekend. I didn't manage to get any pictures this morning given my lack of an extra arm or two.

Oh, but I should mention that Victor woke up today at 4:45. Not crying at all...just a bunch of excited jibberish. I had the alarm set for 5:30 to get up and get us out of the house by 7:15 and somehow it was like he knew. He went back to sleep around 5:45, of course, so I had to wake him up to get him ready. So yeah, I'd very much like a nap. I'm currently waiting him out to see if that occurs. The kicking is slowing down up there which is encouraging (but then I've fallen for that before). Surely he isn't going to consider a one mile snooze his nap for the day. That way lies madness.

3/6/2007 12:18:48 PM  

Here's a few new Claire pics. I'm a sucker for those extreme close-ups and I certainly can't resist seeing Auntie Leener looking so blissful and glowing! Hmmm, they don't seem to be enlarging when clicked upon. My apologies there.

Not much is up here. We're having a recovery day from yesterday's nap-striking, food refusing, house dismantling extravanganza. It's another gorgeous day out there but the cedar count is high and the energy level in the house is low. Hard to miss such a pretty day though because before we know it, it's going to be hot out there.

We've got our tour of the preschool that we're hoping send V to tomorrow. Also, his language development materials finally arrived. I'm glad to have them but it was gratifying to see that we're already doing a lot of what they suggest. We do need to work at letting him lead more though. That will be the real challenge. Other than that, nothing horribly exciting going on around here except that we're gearing up for our first 5K of the season this Saturday. I'll be walking with the stroller. James can be the speedster of the family.

3/2/2007 12:04:44 PM  

Another gorgeous day called for a trip to the park with John & Ruth. I cannot wait to reap the rewards of the fresh air when Victor takes a good, hard nap. Got a few shots of the boys swinging together. These pics may not seem especially dazzling but it is truly just remarkable enough that these little guys were caught together in the same frame. I wish I'd gotten a pic or two of them together on the tire swing. Once Victor stopped being positively terrified, he kept trying to hold John's hand. As to be expected, John was having none of that!

Also, just got these pics of Claire and her mommy!

3/1/2007 7:32:48 PM  

Update received, update received! Claire Lillie Nordmeyer was born at 8:22 this morning. My bet was quite off. She was 7 pounds, 13 ounces and 20 1/2 inches long. She apparently has dark hair and is described by her mother as "perfect" and I don't doubt that description for a moment. Good job, Leener! I cannot wait to hold her. How am I supposed to wait 3 more months to see her? Wah!

3/1/2007 2:34:54 PM  

Happy 2nd Birthday Cousin Sean! How in the world are you two already? Hope you're feeling better and having lots of fun. Wish you were down here with us today because it was a great day to go to the park for playgroup! Fun was had but the camera ran out of juice 10 minutes in. Whoops.

Anxiously awaiting word from Little Miss Nordmeyer, who should have debuted by now. I'm betting 7 pounds, 9 ounces and 19 3/4 inches.

2/28/2007 2:50:04 PM  

We've got our little boy back. Victor is at full strength again. Actually, it feels like he's capable of more shenanigans than ever, almost as though he's making up for lost time. I'm just so pleased to see so many smiles and so little snot. He's eating pretty well again although he's being a little stubborn about eating anything other than pancakes and Yobaby. Here's where we pay the price for doing anything to just get him to get some calories during this past week.

He was happy as a clam at music today. Ran around the room greeting everyone and even walked up to Gwen and said "hey!" and then proceeded to have some cryptic and apparently very humorous conversation. Here are a few pics from class today. Probably not all that exciting to anyone except for V's grandmother so I hope she enjoys them!

Oh yeah, and he's also saying "yumyumyum" on a regular basis. Strangely, this can be attributed entirely to Daddy rather than to Backpack on Dora the Explorer. Speaking of yum, this boy still needs to have some lunch. And thus another Yobaby battle begins!

2/28/2007 1:00:41 AM  

Shouldn't be up. Shouldn't be up. I sure am glad that Victor has his father's trait of sleeping like a rock. He'll probably end up being a night owl like me though. You know, right about the time that I get old enough that I can't hack this late night stuff anymore. Anyway, things are good here. There are quite a few newish pictures (the new camera gets an overall thumbs-up) and some new video that I'll coerce James into uploading. Video is still too advanced for me.

I had wanted to post a little update on Victor's progress here lately but it's hard to even know where to begin. I'm sure James could better break it down into levels of excitement-worthiness. I'm just so thankful that he's finally feeling more like himself because now that he's back to pretty much full strength, he is doing and saying new things constantly. The look on his face when he realizes that he is actually communicating with us is absolutely priceless.

Some highlights lately have been Victor identifying his body parts, pointing to things that he wants, leading us to things that we ask him to identify (Cousin Sean's picture, kitty, Koalie, Mommy, etc.), identifying some of his Fridge Phonics letters and -gasp- saying a few of them. Consistent words lately are comb, cat and dog. Mama even gets an occasional mention once again. The cutest thing though is that he makes his version of the appropriate animal sounds (as modelled by Daddy, whose version of a camel sound is questionable) when greeted by his stuffed animals. And perhaps the most important thing of all for me is that Victor is starting to communicate when he wants to eat, nurse, nap, go to sleep, etc., by leading me to the proper area or "starting the routine" himself. We are officially communicating!

2/26/2007 2:17:11 PM  

So here I go again overscheduling us. Just as swim class is about to end, I've got us all signed up for new and exciting schedule commitments. We do get a few weeks of slacking off first though, thank goodness. Later this month though, we start going to art classes on Monday mornings (Abrakadoodle Twoosy Doodlers!) and toddler/mommy yoga on Friday mornings. So this officially gives us a planned out-of-the-house activity for every weekday. Which is good, right? I mean really it is. I just want to make sure that we still make some time to just go play at the park and stuff like that. Plus, pool season isn't all that far off either! Would it be really irresponsible to prioritize the water playscape at Brushy Creek over storytime at the library?

I just can't believe that it's really time to think about getting ready for preschool. How can that be? I'm excited about it and I think that he'll really enjoy himself, assuming that we even get him in anywhere by September. He's certainly a social little guy and I think that he'll really benefit from being around other kiddos without me around. Boy am I going to miss him for those 6 hours a week though!

And is it wrong that I cannot wait until he's old enough to bowl? I do not know why but that is the big thing that I cannot wait to do. Granted, it might have something to do with desperately wanting to have some Dart Bowl enchiladas. Also, I can't wait to see James teaching Victor about spot bowling in the style of Great Grandpa Humphrey. In good time, in good time.

2/23/2007 5:04:14 PM  

The good news is that Victor hasn't run a fever for a few days and he just had clean labwork at the doc today so there's nothing horribly wrong. Just still working through this viral nonsense. The bad news is that he has lost more than a pound in the last two weeks and I feel like I've been bludgeoned. He napped for almost 4 hours today though so at least I got some decent rest for a change. Now I understand why he's been so lethargic.

He is most definitely on a hunger strike but seems to be improving slightly. Trying to get Pediasure into a boy who doesn't like anything about cups is proving to be a challenge. We did lure him into drinking out of a cup with pure, undiluted juice yesterday though. He just doesn't seem to be as fond of Pediasure. So apparently at this rate Victor will be lucky to get over 25 pounds by the time he's 2, thanks to his regimen of stair aerobics/hallway sprints and a yogurt diet.

2/22/2007 2:44:05 PM  

We went to playgroup this morning and Victor had a total meltdown so I assumed he'd pass out in the car. I think he may have just been hot and bothered from the sun outside (it is delightfully sunny and warm today) because he perked right back up in the AC so we went to his favorite store of all time - Whole Foods - on the way home.

He fought the nap tooth and nail today but sounds like he's finally snoozing in there. I think I may need to take him back in to the doctor again. He still won't eat and he's still whiny to the extreme. Something is not right and I don't want to head into the weekend with such an unhappy boy. I'll just have to live with being permanently affixed on the "crazy mom" list at Pediatric Associates.

On a much brighter note though, here are pics from today. I love the group shots but I'm also especially fond of the pic of Gwen strolling with the "mowmow". Behold the cuteness of our musicmakers.

2/19/2007 8:39:53 PM  

I have a sick boy. The day started without major incident and we thought he seemed a little hot but his temp was just below 100 and we shrugged it off as "not even officially a fever". So off Victor & I went to the Children's Museum for our date with Lia & Alex. He was a bit moody but still had energy at that point. He was certainly able to enjoy playing with plastic bugs! Once we got to his usual witching hour (11:30) though, he began to fall apart. That's when he started getting really clingy. When Victor wants to sit with me and hold onto me for more than 30 seconds, he is clearly not feeling well.

Once we got home, I took his temp again and it was 102 so once I got him down for a nap, I called the doctor's office yet again. After all, it HAS been 10 days since we were there last. By the time I got him up to make a 4:00 appointment, temp had shot to 104.5 and he was glazed and moaning. I still didn't cry. Never did I cry. I came close though.

As soon as Dr. Boes saw him, she said "looks like flu" because he was obviously so achy and very, very hot. Then she looked at his throat and said "and I think he might even have strep too". So we waited for that labwork to come back and naturally, he has neither of those things. Further discussion led to speculation that maybe this cold he & I have shared for going on 6 weeks had led to a sinus infection. Bloodwork came back totally normal there as well. So it seems that he has this respiratory virus that has been going around that is flu-like but not actually the flu. This means no medicine. Just the continuation of the Tylenol-Motrin Shuffle (thanks for the new term, Ruth).

The bright spot in all of this? I haven't felt so loved by Victor like probably ever. It was like a year worth of snuggles packed into about 3 hours. Not really the way I'd like to get the snuggles but I'll take them wherever I can. So I was feeling pretty cocky about my status in Victor's world even though I hadn't managed to make him crack a real, full-on dimpled smile in many hours. Then it was revealed to me just how outranked I am in that regard. Since he had also refused food all day, I decided to give him pancakes and let him watch a little TV to see if that coaxed him into a little nourishment. So yeah, Dora (the Explorer, that is) and Aunt Jemima were able to make the clouds lift enough for Victor to chatter and gnaw away for a bit. And then, adding insult to injury, he chased Kitty up the stairs and gave her a hug. I got a kiss goodnight though. Take that Dora, Jemima & Pru!

2/15/2007 3:45:20 PM  

Two more weeks until March 1! And what is the big deal about March 1, you say? Well, not only is it Cousin Sean's 2nd birthday (Victor continues to be the president of Sean's fanclub, by the way) but it is also the day that one Claire Nordmeyer is scheduled to make her debut. Cannot wait to make a trip up that way to see her once she gets big enough to be exposed to toddler germs and shenanigans. And don't you worry - we'll be posting pics of her ASAP, as long as her parents approve. So lots of excitement in store very soon.

Speaking of excitement, we hosted playgroup today. Turns out that Victor is not the most adept sharer on his home turf but it was a fun time nonetheless. Unfortunately, Victor seemed a lot more interesting in showing off all of the bad stuff to do than he was in demonstrating his toys. It was more along the lines of "Hey, look at this space I squeeze into to get behind the couch!" and "Hmmm, let's go open the fridge a few hundred times." and "Have you seen me scurry up the stairs? It's breathtaking!". Normally this is where I'd insert some pictures of V and his friends frolicking and I wish that today was no different since the house is pretty clean and photogenic. However, I had an incident with the camera yesterday and it did not survive. New camera is on its way to us from Amazon and should arrive on Monday. I guess that makes it my belated birthday present from James.

2/13/2007 12:30:57 AM  

The Good?..................
There's a lot. So much that I'll be abrupt for the sake of brevity. Victor likes chasing bubbles around the yard. He also likes jumping into the pool at swim class. He's been doing lots of interpretative dancing when he thinks I'm not looking which is truly precious. Really experimenting with his movements lately. Tonight we discovered that he likes to pinch his daddy's dimples. Also, he now has a little patch of lighter blonde hair on the back of his head that we call his "skunk spot". When Victor smashed his finger in a drawer at bedtime tonight, as he was trying to calm himself, he grabbed my hand and pulled me over to the rocker so that he could snuggle and nurse to make himself feel better. That's a pretty significant communication attempt in our house. So there is much good. Much, much good. Enough good to outweigh the following.

The Bad?.........................
Well, Victor is fighting going to bed these days. He doesn't want to stop playing and clings and cries when I go to put him down. He did NOT used to do this. It's not overly concerning because he calms himself very well once I tuck him in and leave the room. It's just really sad sometimes. On the other hand, he is not fighting the naps much lately at all. Go figure.

The Ugly?............................
Yeah, so I was commenting to Ruth last week as we changed the boys after swim class that Victor had never pooped in a swim diaper. In fact, it is extremely rare that he ever even poops out in public to necessitate a diaper range on the fly. So today after class, I go to do our usual routine where I rip off the wet swim diaper and quickly slap a dry diaper on. There was poop. Poop that was in a strange and terrifying form I had never encountered and it was flying everywhere as a result of my - as James calls it - jerky movement. I cannot even venture a guess as to how many wipes I used in that little misadventure. Victor? Undaunted by the whole thing.

2/10/2007 2:36:18 PM  

Yesterday Victor had his 18 month well check and it went great. He's staying consistently long and lean and is fit as a fiddle. He faced the shots like a real champ this time too. Got over it pretty quickly so that he could sprint down the hall to leave! Dr. Mirrop isn't overly concerned about the talking thing (or lack thereof) and seems to think that it will all come before we're back for his 2 year. I sure hope so.

We had a fun morning today. Went to Victor's friend Katie's for a Valentine's brunch. He really likes his friend Katie and tries to chase her around. She's very sweet to play with him so much even though she's almost 3. Victor even identified Katie today. When Daddy would ask "Where's Katie?", Victor would drag Daddy's hand over to where Katie was. She should be pretty flattered.

I managed to snap a few shots this morning. The lighting is awful in these but the subjects are too adorable not to get some screen time. Here's Victor and Katie and Eric!

2/7/2007 8:42:07 PM  
[James here]
The last month has been exhilirating. Victor has gone from seeming to not listen at all to a child who knows what the "nos" are and can nearly be left alone in the "wild" downstairs. Victor now communicates quite proficiently by grabbing our hands and taking us to what he wants us to do. The typical request is to open something - the front door, the refrigerator, the file cabinet, etc. He will bring us things to see what we'll do with them. Using an exchange system (Daddy will open the door if Victor...), we've taught him to stack blocks and find his cousin Sean's picture, Koalie, or Elmo. He will hand over any object he is holding if we ask "Can I see that?" even if it means walking across the room to hand it to us (what a good boy). He has a favorite book (Llama, Llama Red Pajama) and he will pull it out of a shelf of books inerrantly. Tonight he ran from the office into his bedroom and brought it back to us - what a cutie! From just one session, he has almost learned to give me five (again through the exchange system). Our big challenge now is to get him to give us verbal cues along with the hand grabbing.

2/7/2007 9:31:30 PM  

Our first Mega-Wednesday went quite swimmingly. Hardy-har-har. There must be no dawdling after music class in order to make Wednesdays work but it is doable. It was kind of good to make myself stay on task enough to get Victor fed and down for a nap ASAP. I have the tendency to let him meander too much en route to naptime. I was afraid that I'd have to wake him up to get him to swim class on time but he woke up right at 3:30 and I marched into his room, changed him into his swim diaper and trunks, and then we sped off to the Y.

Our swim teacher though? A wee bit of a louse. She's nice enough but she's not very inspired which is rather an unfortunate flaw when dealing with toddlers. Ruth & I both have felt like the Y just let us pay money to come splash around periodically. Seriously, the teacher adds nothing to the experience. The boys do like jumping in though so it's not without value. I should also mention that Victor had a really cute moment with John today after class. He was frustrated with me because I wouldn't open one of the locker doors at the Y for him (so that he could shut it again) so he grabbed John's hand and tried to direct it toward the locker. I guess he thought that since John is 3 months older, he can help him out with these things!

On the opposite end of the professionalism spectrum, we had our visit with the speech therapist yesterday and it went really well. Victor responded well and played happily so I feel comfortable that he'd be receptive to therapy if we need to do it. For now though, the therapist is encouraging us to do a home program called "It Takes Two To Talk" and then we'll go back to her to re-evaluate in a few months. In just the time that we were at her office, we saw some encouraging signs from Victor as a result of implementing some of the tactics she encouraged. She seemed to think that it was good that we're being proactive this early but she also didn't seem alarmed at his level of delay. Looking forward to getting going with the program once our ridiculously expensive home teaching materials arrive.

2/5/2007 10:44:19 PM  

We did go to swim class and boy was it a good thing! Victor loved, loved, loved being back. He was pretty apprehensive when we first walked into the Y's pool area but once we got into the water, he got into the spirit of Kipperdom. And wow, logistically speaking, this is so much easier this year. I don't have to juggle Victor and all of our stuff as much because he can stand still for me instead of being held. Ahhh. On the other hand, the class itself was far more exhausting than before. He's a lot longer, heavier and stronger and that all proves to be much more of a workout for the arms. We were both tired.

The highlight of class today was Victor & John doing synchronized "jumps" into the pool over and over and over (and over and over). They just sat on the edge instead of standing - Ruth & I aren't completely mad! They were having a blast though. I think all of us will be sleeping soundly tonight.

2/4/2007 12:46:43 PM  

Well, Victor marked 18 months by officially growing out of his 12-18 month pants. I've been still putting him in some of his 12-18 month pants when we're just here at home so that he isn't constantly doing his Chippendale's routine. They were way too short but at least staying on. Too tight now! So he's officially into 18-24 pants across the board. He's wearing 2Ts and even some 3Ts in shirts and jackets though due to the torso issue. Some of his t-shirts look like mumus but it's that or crop tops. Why isn't there a Toddler Thin & Tall store?!?!?!?!

We celebrated yesterday with some fun at the park and a dinner out. Victor really had fun. We've been cooped up too much lately, obviously. He's feeling quite a bit better but is still somewhat congested and snotty. We've got a big week ahead of us so I hope that his cold lets up soon. Like tonight.

Tomorrow, health permitting, is Victor's first day as a Kipper. He and his buddy John start swim class at the Y again. It's every Monday and Wednesday afternoon all through February. That ought to get tiring very quickly! I wish it was just once a week like Shrimp level was last year but I guess we just have to rise to the Kipper challenge.

Tuesday we have Victor's initial evaluation with the speech therapist. I'm actually really looking forward to that. It will be great to get some real feedback on how he's communicating, both verbally and nonverbally. I am anxious about how "on" he'll be though. He's taking direction a little better all the time but he can still be pretty headstrong about who chooses his activities. Luckily Daddy has picked up a few tricks in that regard lately. At least we go at a good time of morning for him, energy-wise. That should help. I noticed that there is a park close to the speech therapist's office so I'm thinking there will definitely be some swinging as a reward when we're done!

Wednesday we've got music in the morning and then we have to make the mad dash home to eat lunch as quickly as humanly possible so V can nap enough that I don't have to wake him up to go to swimming. I predict that Victor is going to go to bed pretty early on Wednesday nights this month! Then Thursday we have playgroup and Friday is his 18 month appointment with Dr. Mirrop. We'll cap off the week with shots. Oh, and then Saturday, we get to go to brunch at Victor's buddy/mentor Katie's house. That will be a good consolation for the shots!

I'm tired thinking about all of this. Almost time to head off to yoga and Victor is napping. Zen all around. Oh yeah, and speaking of cute, little zenmasters, happy 20 months today to Victor's girlfriend Linnea!

2/1/2007 1:41:15 PM  

We went to playgroup this morning but Victor was not quite himself. The nose is running quite excessively again as well. Not a coincidence. He's screaming for food instead of napping so without further blabber, here are some pics from today of Victor with his music buddies: Eli, Linnea and Gwendolyn. Good times!

EDITED at 10:00 to add:

Well thanks Dr. Mirrop. Now all I have stuck in my head is "The solution to pollution is dilution". That's Dr. M's saline drops slogan. So yeah, Victor just has a cold. So the goal for tomorrow is to get some rest and get well. Both of us. For real this time!

1/30/2007 3:25:33 PM  

It never fails. If I had tried to take a nap myself this afternoon, Victor would have woken up an hour or so ago. Instead, I'm sitting here ready and waiting to give him his "lunch" (which is a snack at this point) so we can get out of this house together for just a little bit before I get an early dinner ready. A walk to the library maybe. Or a quick trip to Whole Foods. Nope, he's just snoozing away up there. I do know he needs it though. Hopefully this extra rest will get him well enough for music and playgroup. I get to go out and about tonight because it's choir night anyway but I thought that maybe Victor might like to see the light of day!

Oh, and James is now sick too. I'm just waiting to hear Pru start coughing next.

1/28/2007 9:11:38 PM  

We've been busy and sick. Actually, Victor has had cold symptoms far longer than I have but I am doing far worse at this point, at least based upon sheer volume of nasal drippage. Is it a cold or is it cedar fever? It's the age old Austin January - March question and brings with it pure misery. Runny noses haven't dampened our spirits though. It's been a cool week!

We got to socialize quite a bit more than usual this week for one thing. Two lunches out in the same week, each time with a favorite buddy. I got pics of Linnea & Victor lunching together but unfortunately Alex & Victor proved to be a slightly wilder combo. No pics were captured, in spite of Lia & I both having cameras along. Good fun though. And I dropped the photographic ball once again last night when Victor got to make a new friend - Lauren. It was a fun night and a reunion of sorts with old friends. Victor stayed up 2 hours late and while he danced with joy to get into his carseat to go home, he hung in there like far more of party animal than either of his parents.

He's been doing some really cool stuff this week. I think he got a glance at the 18 month development checklist and decided to try to knock some of this stuff out. He's suddenly totally into grabbing our hands to make us do what he wants or go where he wants us to go. This includes making us open doors, rub his head, put buckets on our heads, put buckets on his head. He also will finally follow some directions. He will hand us an object when we ask for it (not always the correct object but hey, baby steps!) and seems to enjoy being thanked for sharing stuff. He's also focusing on things for longer. For instance, he ran across the room earlier to pet "keeeee" and she ran upstairs so he scampered up the stairs after her and followed her around upstairs until he finally cornered her. This is all pretty major for us at this point!

We're really, really excited about the language development though. Bear in mind that what might not sound all that exciting to some people is groundbreaking for us because Victor is still a man of very few words ("dada" and "keeeeee" specifically). He seems to recognize the letter "E" in his Fridge Phonics and says it now. He also will sometimes say "doh" when I sing "Do-Re-Mi" to him. The cutest thing though is that he really wants to imitate Dada saying the animal sounds for all of his stuffed animals. Now when we hold an animal up, he will every once in a while start to make the sound but even when he doesn't actually make the sound, we can see him starting to form it with his mouth! The wheels are a-turnin' in there. And now today he did what I considered the coolest thing yet (as musical education coordinator of the household). Victor has been imitating me saying "e-i-e-i-_____" (sometimes "o", sometimes not) for a while now. Today though, he was listening to his Fridge DJ and when it got to the instrumental version of "Old MacDonald", he waited until it got to the part where you would sing "e-i-e-i-o" and then he SANG "e-i-e-i-o" very nearly on pitch. After my shrieks of delight scared him nearly out of his pants, he realized how happy it made me and he kept hitting the button to get that song to come around again so that he could do a repeat performance. Best. Boy. Ever.

1/22/2007 2:58:31 PM  

Yesterday was finally lovely outside. It's over though. We did manage to take Victor out on his trike for the maiden street voyage (he had only gone around the living room and the driveway before) and he really enjoyed it. He was even good about keeping his helmet on and was fairly good about keeping his feet from dragging on the ground while Daddy pushed him (with the handy pushbar). I took the camera along to capture the big moment but I got so busy admiring my big boy that I spaced out on taking any pics. When we got back from that little jaunt around the neighborhood, Victor ran right to his wagon and tried to climb in so there ended up also being a wagon ride. The fresh air really did him some good!

Back to cloudy and "cold" (by Texan standards) today so we've stayed in so far. Victor didn't take a very long nap even though I told him that I really wanted to take a nice, long nap myself. He just ate a good lunch though. His new favorite is fresh tamales. The beef in these is even pretty spicy but he just can't shovel it in quickly enough. He also really likes my pot roast so he definitely favors that kind of shredded meat texture. We've had some slight - albeit erratic - continued progress with the sippy as well. What else? Oh yeah, and he's an official Dora the Explorer fan now. If I'm being really honest though, he's really only happy when Boots the Monkey is talking.

1/19/2007 2:40:49 PM  

Huh. Well, James was back to work on Wednesday just in time for me to get hit with a rather unpleasant stomach virus. That kept me functioning at a very low level for about 24 hours. Yesterday though, I woke up feeling so much better and the roads were clear enough for errands. So naturally Victor napped for more than 3 hours right smack dab in the middle of the day! And now today, I had grand plans of a big, exciting trip to Target and Victor woke up with a very, very violently poopy diaper and has gone through about one diaper per hour since then. Why couldn't we have gotten this out of the way when we were trapped inside anyway?!?!?!?

Victor does remain in a relatively good mood in spite of his tummy troubles and only has a very slight fever. He even had a reasonable appetite this morning. So let's just hope that this too passes quickly. But hey, somehow it's the weekend again already. What a truly strange week it has been. I went to Whole Foods by myself last night and it was like an exotic paradise! Bring on February and that Texan spring we get to gloat about.

1/16/2007 11:03:05 PM  

We had a decent amount of snow today. It was very pretty and we enjoyed watching it come down from the front window. However, I want this ice storm thing to end right now! Getting more than a little stir crazy around here. My first instinct when I saw the snow was to bundle Victor up and take him outside but I thought it was probably still too slick even in the yard since it never warmed up much at all today. I guess I really should have just tested it out because it was really pretty snow. It was those big flakes that almost hang in the air as they come down. Tonight it's just plain ol' ugly freezing rain again.

Yeah, so we missed storytime today and I missed choir tonight and tomorrow we'll miss Music Together. Luckily our awesome teacher is extending classes for an extra week this term to make up for it. We'll still miss seeing our friends at class though. That and we might lose our minds being trapped inside for yet another day. And while it's fun (usually) having Daddy at home, the longer he works from home, the more buried he'll be when he goes back.

Tomorrow looks bleaker than ever though. School is already called off and they're still advising that everyone stay off the roads. I guess we'll try to just enjoy another day of playing in our pajamas. Even I'm sick of all of V's toys though.

And hey, the strangest thing happened tonight while I was curled up in my chair yet again, trying to tune in our DVR'd coverage of the Australian Open. UT has officially made me care about college basketball again. A triple OT nail biter will do that. And yes, I fear that I am more interested in UT than my beloved Illini. If the Illini could maybe start winning, I could be persuaded to get my priorities straight again. But wow, what a game against OSU. Durant is way too cool and only a freshman. He's really fun to watch. Is it time to change up my shade of orange (unflattering bright orange for putrid burnt orange)? Oh Eileen, I kid. Oskee-mostly-wow-wow.

1/15/2007 12:19:14 PM  

Happy Birthday to Grandmother! Hope you're having a good day and staying warm. We are enjoying a Daddy ice day here. Everything is pretty much shut down for today and possibly tomorrow. And we've discovered that Victor and Prudence have even more in common than we thought because they both become shameless cuddle seekers when it's this cold. That is not typical for either of them on a normal Texas day!

1/12/2007 9:20:47 PM  

Only 17 months old and already headed for therapy! ;) Well, the good news today was that Victor's hearing is really quite stellar and his ears actually look healthy finally. Barely even any fluid this time. He did really, really well all through the testing too. To celebrate his excellent hearing and to reward him for being such a big boy about it, we went to Kerbey Lane afterwards for -you guessed it- pancakes. Needless to say, a long nap followed.

Since there seems to be no hearing loss, the ENT concurred with what we already thought and encouraged us to get Victor evaluated by a speech therapist ASAP. That's already on the calendar for mid-February. I've talked to this SLP quite a bit on the phone too and I am really impressed with her and excited about working with her to help Victor start talking. In the meantime, we're trying to be really consistent about signing to Victor when we talk to him. We're also trying to motivate him to communicate more by making him "ask" to get some of his needs met even though we anticipate and know pretty much everything he wants. It's hard to make that change but we're already seeing a little progress with it.

I sure wish Auntie Leener was closer so we could work with her. She's not doing much travelling these days though. Speaking of which, woo hoo for 32 weeks! Little Laverne (my nickname for Eileen's unborn daughter) will be here just in time for March Madness. Here's hoping the Illini don't let us all down too early in the tournament.

[Back again an hour later]

And oh yeah, Victor has started actually coloring a little. As one might expect, he tries to eat the crayons when he's not "coloring" with them but he is getting the concept. And I found these really cool coloring printouts at http://www.haringkids.com/master_act_color.htm
to use. OK, so I got the idea from Parenting magazine but it's pretty cool. Plus, it reminded me that I want to get to AMOA while the "Radical NY" exhibit is still there! That might be a good yucky day activity this weekend.

1/11/2007 10:13:56 AM  

Where to begin? I had hoped to get some pics at music class yesterday, especially since Victor was wearing his cute train outfit that his Gaga got him for Christmas. He was just too wild for that though. He probably sat down with me for all of 2 minutes during class. He seemed pretty excited about seeing so many other kids again. I guess that's further proof that we need to stay on the preschool search. The next 6 months will fly by, sadly.

We've discovered that Mommy is really not a necessary part of the bedtime equation after all. On Tuesday night, the guys were on their own without me for bedtime and while Victor refused the bottle (as expected), he went down for the night without needing to nurse and he slept through the night.

We figured a repeat sleep performance would be too much to hope for last night when we left him with his babysitter Angela for the first time. Once again though, while he still refused the bottle, he went right down and slept all night. She even put him down at 7:45. Unheard of! So it's nice to see that he can function with a babysitter. We just need to work on this whole alternative sources of fluids thing. I have no intention of forcing him to wean before he's ready but it's time to have some more "variety" for his own sake! That and it would be good if he could drink out of a cup before kindergarten.

1/9/2007 12:12:07 PM  

Victor has started doing a happy dance. It just really caught on yesterday. He runs in place, stomping his feet wildly and sometimes even works it into a spin. It's definitely an indication of happiness and/or excitement. It's probably the cutest thing he's ever done and it came just at the right time because it mitigates the sleep issues.

Yeah, sleep issues. Our perfect sleeper didn't sleep very perfectly last night. He refused his usual nap time yesterday and then napped late in the afternoon so that may or may not have something to do with it. At any rate, he woke up at 12:00, 2:00 and 4:00. At 4:00, it was obvious that he was not going to settle down so I went in there to find him happy dancing in his crib when he saw me. He was squinting and keeping his head down to shield his tired little eyes but he was happy dancing all the while. Luckily some milk and rocking convinced him to sleep for several more hours. I have every hope that it was an isolated incident but something is definitely brewing, whether it's teething or a growth spurt or something else entirely.

1/8/2007 12:42:21 PM  

I can't believe James didn't beat me to this because he was so excited about it. Victor was nice to the cat last night for the first time ever. He was actually petting her gently all on his own and he snuggled his face against her fur in a non-tackling fashion. It was a major event!

Mommy got a little carried away with this whole "making time for myself" in the new year thing. I signed up for Mommies' Choir on Tuesday nights at Heartsong (Victor's music school) and that lasts all the way through May. I hope that James & Victor will survive bedtime without me once a week. I know for certain that one or both of them will be very happy to see me come home! I also signed up for an Ashtanga series at yoga that meets every Sunday for 2 hours for the next month. I must have lost my mind. The good thing about leaving for a while though is that I'm so happy to see the guys when I get back. They always look like they had so much fun without me too!

1/6/2007 12:04:25 AM  

Wow. It was a pretty busy week considering that we are still on break from music and yoga. We capped off the whirlwind of a week with a nap strike today which resulted in Victor literally passing out during dinner. I guess the fresh air during our park date with Ruth & John finally knocked him out. He actually slumped over in his booster chair and didn't even wake up when I removed him. Changed his diaper and put some jammies on him and he still snoozed away so I put him into bed sans bedtime nursing. I thought he'd probably sleep for a few hours or so. Nope, he slept for almost an hour and then woke up screaming in agony. Nursed for 45 minutes before he finally succumbed to slumber. Mommy is tired.

The little guy is headed to the ENT this next week to get his ears checked out and to get his hearing screened since we're concerned about what seems to be a speech delay. No idea quite what to expect. It is possible that he needs tubes and we're to the point now of being OK with that idea if it comes to it. I don't want him to miss swim class in February but it will be a small price to pay if that turns out to be the case.

And in non-Victor news, I got bangs. It was an impulsive decision and one that I was happy about until this morning when I suddenly was reminded of how bangs look in the morning when you get out of bed. So yeah, I'm having some slight bang remorse. Victor was completely flummoxed by the change and stared at my forehead in disbelief.

12/30/2006 12:47:00 PM  

Victor just went on his first chaperoned date to his first real concert. It was awesome! We went to the Biscuit Brothers' New Year's Eve Eve Countdown to Noon at the Scottish Rite with the Bieris (Linnea and her parents Tammy & Eric) and it was a really cool event. It just long enough to feel like a big fun thing without going too long. Victor passed out in the car from all of the excitement. He's snoozing away, still covered in confetti.

Here's some pics from the concert. There are more close-ups of Victor in the regular gallery, as well.

12/30/2006 12:35:57 AM  

Happy 57th Birthday Grandpa! Hope you have a fun birthday. Your present is on top of the CD player. ;) And these pics were taken just for you..........

12/28/2006 6:19:59 PM  
[Now Dawn with some additions]

Favorite books: Llama Llama Red Pajama, When Sheep Sleep, Miss Spider's ABCs.

Favorite music: Almost any classical, Biscuit Brothers, some of his Music Together CD songs (but he does dislike some of them), Beatles. Oh, and he still seems to like Coldplay even though I really don't.

Favorite shows: Sesame Street, Sesame Street, Sesame Street. He also still likes Classical Baby and he likes Biscuit Brothers. Enjoys Signing Time if he's in the right mood and Mommy is animated enough. Sometimes likes Curious George, sometimes not. Starting to like They Might Be Giants - Here Come the ABCs but still doesn't like it nearly as much as Mommy and Daddy do.

Favorite animals: Monkeys, of course. He also really likes his stuffed lion and camel and thinks it's fun to imitate Daddy making the camel sound. Seems to respond to cows on TV.

Favorite pajamas: his red fleece Christmas pajamas that Daddy made fun of for looking too much like a smoking jacket.

Favorite toys (currently, that is): Sesame Street Pop-up Singing Pals, Fisher Price Learning Home, electronic keyboard, electronic maracas that count and say colors in Spanish, his new hammer. Notice that TMX Elmo is not a favorite.

Favorite rituals: naked time after his bath, getting "vacuumed" after he eats, sneak splashing Mommy at the end of his bath, getting thrown on the bed after he gets pajamas on, Vicks rubdowns from Mommy (especially when he gets to inhale the fumes off Mommy's hands), playing the guitar at the end of music class.

12/28/2006 2:11:53 PM  
[James here]
I would like to record some things about Victor as of Christmas 2006 while I'm thinking about it.

Favorite Characters: Cookie Monster (growls at him), Slimy (little worm that says "Read, read" in a tiny voice), Elmo (likes the end of his song).

Favorite Activities: opening and closing cabinets, doors, and drawers; walking and running to different gates in the airport (or any new big space).

Fun games: Where's Victor (stands behind you while you sit on the floor and turn your head to see him - "There he is!"), Daddy Fell Over (Daddy lies on the floor and makes a croaking sound that incites Victor to tackle - flipping and rolling ensue), Mommy Pets (he takes Mommy's hand and puts it on his head so she will rub and scratch), Mommy or Daddy Claps (if you put your hands in front of him in clapping position, he will make you clap your hands repeatedly), Daddy Scratches the Couch (if he's on the couch, he will grab Daddy's hand and carry it over to the arm of the couch so that Daddy will make loud scratching noises), Daddy Says No! (he pushes the framed Woman's Declaration of Independence that is hanging on the wall and Daddy sternly says "No!" Then he smiles, pretends to move away and does it again.)

Newest Skills: walking backwards, crawling up stairs, spinning in a circle around one foot (can do either direction), turning light switches on or off, opening or closing anything (can't quite turn knobs yet), standing on tip toes (calf raises), pulling cord on Frog block, putting