the Lucas collection

The first thing that must be mentioned here is TODAY I SMELLED FALL COMING. This is news worthy of many exclamation points. On our walk this morning, Lucas and I basked in the warm sun, cool air, and the sound of crunchy leaves on the sidewalk. I am quite excited about the upcoming months. I won't have to come back from our walk each morning feeling like I just went swimming in a sticky pool of grossness. I will, however, have to listen to an hour of Lucas making his "brrrr!" sound every time a cool wind blows by.

Speaking of our morning walks, in the past two months Lucas and I have traveled 84 miles together. That is 84 miles of pushing his little red tricycle in sun and rain and dump truck dust, 84 miles of identifying the color of each car we pass and explaining the "WHY?" to the car's color [answers often include, "Pink might be the only color that car comes in," "Maybe the owner just likes green things," and "Perhaps the car feels fancy."], 84 miles of feeding Cheerios to birds, 84 miles of songs and games of I Spy and inane conversations about why car doors open and sometimes downright inaccurate factoids ["Tree stumps eat at night."]. Good times.

I have been trying to point out to Lucas the wonder of the soon-to-be-upon-us fall weather and how it affects nature. I show him trees that we pass every single day and try to show him how the leaves are changing colors. I point out the red and yellow and orange and brown leaves that are starting to pop up here and there and he will humor me and nod along with subdued excitement. And then he will shout out, "GREEN! Tree! GREEN." Yes, Lucas, but the RED... Sigh. The kid just doesn't get it.

Lucas's vocabulary continues to grow in leaps and bounds. He is still a man of one-word sentences, but they are pretty effective in making us understand what is going on in his head about 48% of the time. He is also finally picking up some verbs which has allowed him to begin narrating his life in real time. Sit. Turn. Stop. Wiggle. Stomp. Go. Tackle. Hug. The word and action go hand in hand. And he demands that you acknowledge each time he does each action. "Wow, you're sitting again? Who would have thought?!"

Jason and I often call Lucas "stinkoman," usually for pretty obvious reasons. He doesn't seem to mind and often takes up the cry himself with "tinkamahn!" But, alas, as we've learned over the past few weeks, stinkoman is apparently a two-way street. Now, if I call him Stinkoman, he will enthusiastically call me Stinkomama for five minutes. The unfair part? If Jason calls him Stinkoman, Lucas will still call me Stinkomama. WHAT ABOUT STINKODADO? Yet another lesson in Life's Not Fair.

In less stinky news... I love Lucas. I love him more than just about anything. We like to play a game of, "I love you more than...!" Lucas and I sit on the floor and he shouts out objects and I confirm that I do indeed love him more than the object. An incomplete list of things that I love Lucas more than is as follows:

  • Cups
  • Trucks
  • Food
  • Books
  • Puma
  • Magnets
  • Tables
  • Cars
  • Pens
  • Water
  • Basketball
  • Crayons
  • Orange dozer
  • Chairs
  • Balls
  • Floor
  • Windows
  • Shadows
  • Helicopters
  • Dirt
Dado is the one exception. Lucas seems to understand. 

And to wrap up this little collection of Lucas tidbits, here's my closer: The other day Lucas was feeding me Cheerios. Don't ask me why. It was just very important to him at the moment. Anyway, he was feeding me Cheerios one at a time and I was dutifully munching away, not paying much attention by the 20th Cheerio except to routinely say, "Another? Thank you." Well. He pulled another Cheerio out of his little bag, started to put it in my mouth, paused to sneeze on it, and then fed it to me. My life is glamorous, you guys. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Jason will blog again one day soon. Promise.



Sometimes I use Facebook and the never-ending "look what I just ate!" pictures to get inspiration for meals. Don't judge my social media stalking, judge my inability to meal plan.

Sometimes I say a little prayer that Lucas won't be called to a strong interest in the bug world. Please, Lord, you know I can't handle that.

Sometimes I try to think of how to make the world go back to horse and buggy but also have someone discover teleportation. Best of both worlds.

Sometimes I wish Lucas would ask why the sky is blue instead of why the car is blue or why the sign is blue or why the cup is blue. I DON'T KNOW THOSE ANSWERS. I do, however, know why the sky is blue.

Sometimes I daydream about the day Jason and I become rich, famous authors. Lucas is always requesting that I draw cats for him. So clearly our books will have to be cat-focused.

this will be our cover art, toddler scribbles and all.
Sometimes I feel Asian.

Sometimes I try to clean up the five different piles of toys strewn about the living room, but I have to do it sneakily and quietly or Lucas will hear me and decide that those five piles are the only toys he's ever wanted to play with in the whole entire world. The kid is a short-attention-span tornado. Once, Lucas came running into the room looking for me and I hid under a blanket on the couch hoping, hoping, hoping that the music ball I had in my hands wouldn't start singing and give me away. I was both ashamed and pleased when he left the room in minor confusion and I was able to hurriedly pick up the last few things before he became sad little I Lost My Mama boy.
sometimes tornado boy turns into contemplative, how-does-this-bell-work boy.
Sometimes a day is rough and I ask Lucas to tell me everything's okay, and he will give me three little reassuring pats on the back. It always does the trick.

Sometimes I really enjoy vacuuming, and I wonder why I only do it every six months.

Sometimes I read a book/series that really, truly engages me, one that I feel compelled to give five stars [though I never do for fear I will set an inaccurate perfection precedent], and one that makes me feel sad but completely satisfied when it ends. Despite the number of books I read, this type of reading experience is a rarity as I have weird/unrealistic expectations of my literature. However, with that said: Two thumbs up to The Knight of Eldaran series by Anna Thayer.

Sometimes you try to brush your toddler's teeth and the toothpaste just falls off the toothbrush onto his tongue and he just eats it.

Sometimes I try to convince Lucas that the picture below does not have a cat on it. It just doesn't. There is nothing that even remotely resembles a cat on this album cover. Lucas adamantly disagrees again and again. I give up.

a few hours of christmas music every day makes the summer heat more bearable.

Sometimes I look Asian.

Sometimes the approaching second birthday of my baby makes me feel like I'm losing my baby. When this happens, there are two options: 1) Recall the above toothpaste incident or 2) snuggle in for a nursing session. Somehow when he's nursing, this nearly 3-foot bundle of energy turns into the squishy, heart-squeezing baby of days long past. So, basically, this kid is going to get breast milk forever. Clearly that's the solution.

Sometimes it's hard to end a list of sometimes.



Well, Summer Break is officially over as Jason headed back to work today. Before leaving this morning, Jason explained to Lucas how he had to go to work again and how he would be back this afternoon and that it would be Mama and Lucas days all over again. He then explained to me how he had to go to work again and how he would be back this afternoon and that it would be Lucas and Mama days all over again. Lucas and I both understood to the best of our abilities and Jason left.

The rest of the morning was spent with Lucas asking for Dado at every chance he could justify it.
-Playing with his cars: Runs over to the front window. "Dada? A car? A car. Dada." Yes, Lucas, Dada went to work in his car. He'll be back sometime after your nap.
-Eating breakfast: Points at Jason's empty chair. "Dada? Dadaaa." Yes, Lucas, that's Dada's chair. He is eating breakfast at work. He'll be back sometime after your nap.
-Playing with his cars: "Dado? A car? Blue? Blue! Dado." Yes, Lucas, Dada's car is blue. He went to work in his car. He'll be back sometime after your nap.
-Reading books before nap time: Pats the reading chair. "Dada? Dada! Book book. Dado." Yes, Lucas, that's where you read books with Dada. You get to read books with me today since Dada's at work. He'll be back sometime after your nap.

grass, mama! GRASS.
As you can see, life with a toddler is full of repetition.

Having said all of this, however, I have no doubt that Lucas will adapt to the working year schedule quicker than I will. The question will be whether he develops another anti-Dado phase due to Jason being gone a lot after being home for so long. He's a funny kid.

Some other random odds and ends:
-We have a neighbor named Bill. Bill seems to really love his lawn. Bill mows his lawn much more regularly than we do. Whenever we hear a lawn mower, we like to joke that it is probably Bill. Lucas apparently picked up on these comments. The other day, we heard a lawn mower and we casually wondered aloud, "I wonder who is mowing their lawn?" Lucas immediately exclaimed, "Bill!" We can now add "Bill" to his ever-growing list of words that are of no help in normal conversation.
-We have been able to watch a good bit of Olympics lately, despite the lousy NBC coverage/scheduling of events. More than a few times, I have been struck with downright silly thoughts. "Whoa, how did that gymnast just hop up onto that block so easily?" or "Man, when they're running so fast, how do they manage to stay in their own lane?" I realize that the gymnast hopped up onto that giant block so that he could then do a ridiculous feat of strength and skill on the rings, and I realize that the runner just ran a half mile in well under 2 minutes, but somehow the little things keep sticking out to me as impressive. Other mentionables: How a diver doesn't fall off the springboard when he's standing on his tiptoes. How rider/horse remembers the appropriate squiggly course of jumps. How any athlete performs while wearing jewelry. How coaches/teammates don't cringe when they hug/smack/huddle with sweaty athletes.
-At the aquarium we saw an adorable beaver. A lady next to me told her companion, "Oh look! That's either an otter or a chipmunk!" Um, ok. Moving on.
-On our Tulsa trip, we found the proposal tree. The proposal bench was gone, but you cannot remove the proposal tree. Lucas was more interested in the river.

river > icky parents

Lucas is now waking up from his nap. He is making squirrel sounds. Or maybe chipmunk sounds. I must go retrieve him. He will no doubt be requesting the presence of Dado. Unfortunately, Dado is still at work. I will have to distract him with my awesomeness. Until next time!

beautiful child.



Pep talk time.

Sometimes I worry that Lucas won't feel loved enough by me. I'm sure it's a silly fear, but I have it. I worry that I'm too concerned with rules and schedules and expected behavior and that I'm too impatient, unimaginative, and distant. I know I'm at home with him all day long and we cater to his every need and most of his desires, but I still get hit with waves of feeling like it's not enough, like I'm not enough. I look at my phone too often, I'm too eager to pawn him and his needs and attention on Jason, I'm more concerned with him following his schedule so he doesn't interrupt mine.

I know I'm a good enough mom in that I have no doubts he will reach adulthood without starving or sawing his arm off. But am I a good enough mom that he will know he's loved beyond comprehension? That his very smile is enough to make my heart soar? That his well-being is willingly, eagerly, one of my absolute top priorities every single day? I want to be the mom he deserves. His sweet spirit deserves a selfless, patient, kind, and wise mom. And some days, it's hard to swallow that I'm the only mom he's got. It's ridiculous, I know. I just love him so much on the inside, I want him to see it on the outside.

But here's the thing: I am enough. Feelings aside, I am enough. My head knows this. I am a good enough mom to make him come running with glee when I call him. I am a good enough mom that I know when he needs that nap, that extra squeeze, that change in activity, even if he doesn't. I am a good enough mom that he knows whenever he needs a cuddle, he can come find me - me with soapy dishwater hands, me sitting in the bathroom, me trying to scrounge up dinner. He knows that I am enough for him. This should be enough for me. This is enough for me.

I was chosen to be Lucas's mom and this is a daunting, mind-blowing, and incredibly peace-giving thought. Some days feelings just need to be kicked in the face. Enough is enough. I may not be very good with creative meals or creative playtime activities or creative teaching methods [ha, creativity seems to be my issue...], but I am more than enough for Lucas, a mom hand-chosen by God despite my fears and insecurities and lapses of creative Pinterest-worthy life enhancements.

I wouldn't let anyone else dare to question my love and enough-ness for Lucas; why do I allow myself? Quit it. Pep talk over.

God, guide me. Teach me. Help me to love my little boy like You love me.

Come on, mama, don't be such a silly mama.


beautiful knees

Did you know knees are beautiful? Well, they are. I didn't know until about a month and a half ago.

At the beginning of June, Lucas was outside mowing the sidewalk. He got a little too enthusiastic and his knees bit the concrete. He's a pretty tough little guy though, and he honestly didn't seem to mind that he was bleeding. He just got right up and continued his mowing. The only time he cried was when we had to make him stop playing ["I wasn't done mowing..!] so we could clean him up and band-aid him. But then he went on his merry way. If only the story ended right there, with Lucas mowing off into the sunset. Unfortunately, what followed was six full weeks of band-aid-ed knees.

The first two weeks were torture. If a band-aid even showed the tiniest sign of falling off, there were meltdowns and freaked out wailing and panicked tremors and the need for a half an hour of soothing once the band-aid had been fixed/replaced. It was nightmarish. It got to the point where he didn't want to get wet [band-aids and water don't get along], diaper changes were an extremely stressful ordeal [he started equating the removal of his shorts/diaper to seeing his knees] and there had to be band-aids on hand at all times as literally nothing else would calm him down. It was miserable for everyone involved.

After the first two weeks, even though we knew his knees were completely healed up, we decided to stop fighting him. He very clearly "needed" the band-aids for his peace of mind. We had tried the Very Stupid Method of using reason with a panicked toddler and it honestly just made things worse. [Nothing makes you feel like a horrendous mom like having to bodily hold down your screaming kid just to get his diaper on so you can get his shorts back on so that his knees are covered again so that you can attempt to soothe him.] So instead we decided to be okay with this [hopefully] temporary phase and just let him have his knees covered at all times. I knew realistically that he wouldn't turn 12 and still require band-aids on his knees. I knew it, and yet it was still hard to know whether we were doing the "right" thing by allowing him to be afraid of his knees. Logic above all else? Apparently not when you're dealing with a toddler.

The next three weeks had Lucas getting better and better at dealing with his band-aids falling off/being replaced. No more curling up in a ball. No more shrieking. No more body tremors. If a band-aid started to curl up, he'd come running to find one of us and then sit in our lap "being brave" [read: squinching his eyes and looking away] while we fixed his band-aid. As soon as we pronounced him "good good," off he'd go happy as a clam [if indeed clams are happy]. Without us constantly trying to wean him from the band-aids through coaxing, bribery, and even a little trickery, he was able to finally be at ease with his knees again and, more importantly, was willing to trust us with his knees again.

Over time we transitioned him from big band-aids to smaller band-aids to, finally, tiny circle band-aids. He handled each transition well. By this time, it had been over five weeks of constant band-aids. Lucas would dutifully check his knees every morning, before and after each nap, before bedtime, and ten other times during the day. He would pull up his shorts, pat each knee, and declare each one "good good" in turn. Lucas was in a good place mentally, so we initiated Operation Give Your Knees Some Air. We knew that it was much better for him to be aware of a band-aid being taken off rather than him suddenly noticing it had fallen off, so anytime a band-aid started to show signs of falling off we would make a big deal over taking it off, exclaiming wildly about how good his knee looked, and then coax him to give his knee some air for a few minutes. The amount of air he would allow his knee gradually grew and eventually we had an hour or so of a band-aid-less knee. Success! However, he would inevitably remember his bald knee and ask for a new band-aid, and we would oblige.

We seemed to eventually reach a standstill with our weaning progress. He would sometimes go a couple hours without a band-aid, but come nap time or bedtime a "deb-bay" was insisted upon. We figured more time was needed. However, on Day 45, inspiration struck by complete chance. As Jason touched on in his last post, Lucas has a friend named Big Bear. Big Bear does everything with Lucas. His latest activity is sitting on Jason's amp while Lucas strums on the guitar or plucks away at the keyboard. Big Bear makes everything funny. Big Bear convinces Lucas that it's nap time or bedtime or time to go upstairs or downstairs. For whatever funny toddler reason, Big Bear has huge sway in reasoning with Lucas. On a whim, Day 45, Big Bear was astounded by how smooth and good Lucas's knees were while they were "getting air." Big Bear did a thorough examination of each knee, sniffed each one up and down, gave each knee a fluffy pat and "wooooooop!" and... boom. Lucas accepted Big Bear's expert opinion with a squeal of delight and went on with his day fully and completely band-aid-less. Nap time came, bedtime came, one day passed, two days passed. Not one band-aid was needed. The first couple of days Lucas would require another examination by Big Bear and his knees were always pronounced "good good." Lucas would nod in agreement and all was good.

It has now been almost two weeks since Lucas last had his knees covered. His beautiful little knees. The skin no longer has any marks from the initial injury or any rashy patches from constantly having band-aid adhesive on it. It has been over a week since he has had to check his knees for the "good good" confirmation. Big Bear has even been able to retire his Knee Doctor hat. Life has returned to pre-June-8th status. So.much.relief.

It is a bit weird how much pride I feel for Lucas's accomplishment. I'm just so incredibly proud of him. I know this is just Silly Mom-ness talking ["My baby is the best thing since peanut butter and bananas!"], but I can't help it. If you had seen how much fear and panic he experienced those first two weeks, it would be a little easier to understand why I feel so proud of his ability to now run around with his two little brown knees completely band-aid free. He totally conquered his fear and I could not possibly be more thrilled for him. Goodness, I love this kid.


Big Bear?

Lucas loves to understand, and he loves it if he can tell that we can see that he understands, and he loves for us to understand him. Sometimes some of those things are accomplished. Sometimes it takes a little bit of thinking.

On our recent trip to Branson, we brought a few stuffed animals for Lucas. He always has some animals in his crib when he sleeps, and he often plays with them when he wakes up and also throughout the day. Until just before the trip, he still didn't really have a favorite. He liked various animals more than others at various times, but no favorite. Well, just before our trip to Branson, Lucas finally settled on his favorite stuffed animal. His name has become: Big Bear.

Big Bear is not our biggest bear. Sharayah likes stuffed animals also, and she actually still had some from childhood (plus a few that I gave her), among them a panda about the size of Lucas, and a brown bear that is much larger than that. Lucas also has a panda bear that is tiny (about the size of a beanie baby, though it isn't one) and a medium panda bear that is from one of the Kohl's Cares series (that's meant to tell you how big it is, because most of their stuffed animals are about the same size). There are other various bears throughout the house. We have a lot of stuffed animals in our house, and a lot of bears.

The two pandas are among the animals that we would say belong to Lucas. I don't know how, beyond the few animals that still mean a lot to Sharayah and are thus hers, we decide which ones are Lucas's and which are just animals that live at our house and belong to... everyone? At any rate, some of the animals are Lucas's, and some of the ones that are his sleep in his bed with him, and two of those are pandas, a tiny panda and a medium panda (ok, if you really never have seen a Kohl's Cares stuffed animal, they're usually about a foot tall, or a little bigger).

Well, Lucas started taking a pretty fierce liking to the pandas, much to Sharayah's delight (don't forget about her big panda). So, on our trip to Branson, we brought the two pandas as well as some other animals whose identities have escaped my memory. The pandas did not yet have names, so we referred to them as the big panda bear and the little panda bear. Relative size is one of the things you unconsciously teach to your children, and I guess Lucas heard us enough times pointing out big and small versions of things that he caught on. When asked, he knew which was the big panda bear and which was the little panda bear.

Then. In Branson, one day Lucas brings the big panda over to Sharayah and proudly announces (with short vowels [I don't know any easier way to describe the pronunciation of the almost words that he says] "BI BE! BI BE!" (If I'm not describing it well, just think of "big bear" with the final consonants dropped [his second favorite thing to drop, after food]). We were suitably impressed. He was saying "Big Bear" for crying out loud! Or, we thought he was. So the bear's name became Big Bear.

The thing is, some time later, maybe the same day or the next, he made it clear that we had misunderstood. He brought the little panda bear to us and, leading to great confusion, said in a sweet little voice, "bi be! bi be!" What? He clearly knew which bear was bigger. We asked him to to find the big bear, and he did. We asked him to find the little bear, and he did. And then he said "bi be!" Or so we thought.

We eventually figured it out. He was not misunderstanding, and he was not saying the wrong size. We were just not understanding. As it turns out, when we described big and little things to Lucas, we unconsciously used a low pitch for big things and a high pitch for little things. We must have done it pretty frequently, because although Lucas did learn the actual words for big and little, he also learned that you can use low or high pitch instead. And eventually to him, since L's are hard and B's are easy, it seemed clear that even though you know both words, big and little, you might as well just use the word big for both concepts and distinguish which size you mean by altering your pitch. I don't remember exactly how we figured out he was doing that, perhaps when he described a pair of large and small things other than bears as "BI BI!" in a deep voice for the big thing and "bi bi!" in an impossibly sweet, high-pitched voice for the little thing (again, those are just big with the g dropped). At any rate, we figured out there was no "BIG BEAR." It was, in his mind, just "BIG! BIG!" He just wanted to show us that he knew which bear was big and which was little.

To this day (which makes it sound like that was a long time ago and not a month, although it feels like he's been doing it forever) he lets us know every time there are two of something anywhere that he knows which is big and which is small. Two green beans? One is BI BI and one is bi bi. Two sandwiches (we always cut his sandwiches into quarters and give him two at a time [that's another story], and he eats one exclusively until there is a clear big and small sandwich)? One is BI BI, and the other is bi bi. Two panda bears? Well, one is BI BI and one is bi bi. And so, Big Bear was born, although Lucas didn't name him like we thought. We named him and Lucas learned the name from us. Either way, he is Big Bear. And he has the coveted job of being cuddled all night by our little fellow.

Lucas reads Big Bear and Brown Horse a story in Branson.


summer shenanigans

Consider this the lazy-man's kind of post. There will be pictures. I will comment about said pictures. Okay now.

We have returned from our week in Branson. It was a good vacation. The resort was lovely, the pools were plentiful, and our sunscreen worked beautifully. Lucas tried his hand at shuffleboard, and while he didn't quite master the finer points of the game, he quickly picked up on the shuffling part. He was a fan.

We, of course, had to try out a visit to the Dixie Stampede. The horses and the giant star lights were a big hit with the munchkin, and I admit it all rather excited me as well. Despite only paying for two adult tickets to the dinner show [which meant Lucas had to be a "lap child" who received no meal but got in for free since he was under 2], since we went to a 3:00 showing on a weekday, the place was probably less than half-filled and our waitress let Lucas have his own seat plus offered him almost the full meal. Score. The food was nothing spectacular but the horses made up for it. Lucas loves to clap wildly whenever there is applause, so there were more than a few times during this dinner show where he had the agonizing dilemma about how to clap while clasping a fistful of food. His solution was often to finally fling down the food and clap quickly [and usually belatedly] and then resume munching. Oh to have three hands...

The rest of the week was filled with a lot of pool time, Riding Ducks [which was much less duck and much more bad jokes than you would hope/expect], eating vacation food, and a little mini golf. We braved the heat and humidity, ate a few pints of ice cream, and even made the entire 4 hour trip home without needing to stop [Lucas gets three stars and five cool points for being such a great traveler on the way home]. It was a good time all around. Oh! And I collected two more squashed pennies for my squashed pennies collection. Always notable, no?

So, now we are home. No more traveling. No more vacations. Back to the good ol' routine. Routine is good. We like routine. Routine may sound boring, but let me give you a little peek into the adventure that is our daily routine and you may change your mind about that.

First, you wake up and do a little light reading before breakfast. Lucas finds the Creator or Liar? tract that Jason picked up during jury duty quite fascinating due to the color blue [refer to Jason's last post] and the classic horned and pitch-fork carrying devil representation. 

Next, you settle in for a relaxing back massage. Have you ever felt a deep tissue massage given by a toddler? It's excellent. This is just another example of how Lucas loves mimicking anything we do. He will now climb up on my back and start pinching me with his little warm, chubby hands if I ask for a back rub. I'm going to work on teaching him to feed me grapes while I lounge about...

Nap time comes around 12:30 these days. Lucas naps. Jason and I sometimes nap. Puma usually takes his third nap of the day. It's a napping kind of environment. And as you can see above, sometimes nap time comes smack dab in the middle of play time, and Puma has to pay the consequences. Who says Mega Bloks aren't cozy?

So, what is this picture showing? Post-nap stretching? Well, that would be a good guess, but the real answer is much, much better. We can now ask Lucas, "How much do you love mama/dada?" and he will stretch his arms out as wide as they go as if to say, "Thiiiiiiiiiis much, mama. Thiiiiiiiis much." Good stuff.  

Dinnertime! Anytime there is food involved, you know a mess is just right around the corner. However, there are the few special meals where, instead of a mess, you get an artwork of sorts. Examine the picture above [you can click on it to make it bigger, I think?]. What is on his nose? Is it just your typical yogurt splotch that any generic toddler would be able to create? No! Look closer! It is, in fact, an exact replica of the Mercedes-Benz logo. This child is a marketing genius as well as an artistic protege.

And of course, no day is complete without a round or two of, "Where's dada's nipples?" Hilarious game. I can't even describe the joy that I get from watching this game take place. You can clearly see how much Jason enjoys this. It's basically the highlight of his day, rightly so.

So, as you can see, a routine day is a day filled with all kinds of new and fascinating things. A routine day is a good day. The end.

Oh! right! One last thing before I sign off on this post. Lucas has been trekking along in his development, seemingly something new popping up every day. One of his latest achievements is the ability to draw more than scribbles. Okay, well, that's not entirely accurate. He is still only capable of scribbles, but now he knows to scribble in a specific spot. Which.... really doesn't sound all that amazing. But it is! For instance, in this picture, we gave Lucas the base picture of a circle head, two eyes, and a smiley mouth. On a whim, I then asked Lucas where the man's nose was, and he drew the nose you now see. I asked about the man's hair and poof! hair appeared in the form of an Alfalfa/Charlie Brown sprout. I asked about the man's ears and one ear and then two ears showed up. Lucas's second ear attempt [the left] was clearly much better than the first. I had no idea the amount of pride and exhilaration there would be watching this kid master the scribbles. Parenting is the best.

p.s. We have apparently referenced Lucas by saying "The Boy" so much that now I have to show him genders by saying "this is the girl" and "this is the man" so that he doesn't just keep pointing to himself when I say "this is the boy." Other phrases that elicit the immediate chest poking indication are "little tyke" [He will point to the Little Tykes logo on his swing and then point to himself. He will point to the Little Tykes logo on his lawn mower and then point to himself. Identification at its finest!] and "Who has the little bitty belly?" Have I mentioned how funny this kid is? Hilarious.


Some things are blue.

I never really noticed how many things in everyday life are blue. Blue is all around us. It is everywhere. It is on our clothes. It is on our food containers. It is on our books. It is on our cars, our toys, our toy cars... I never really noticed. I do notice, now. Blue is everywhere. It is all blue.

How do I know this? Because Lucas loves blue. He loves blue almost as much as he loves bananas. He's been distinguishing colors for a while now, pretty much once he figured out what we meant when we asked him to point at the green this, or the red that. A few days ago, though, he decided blue is best. Or, "bue" is best. "L"s are hard. Everywhere we go, he points out all the things that are blue and excitedly tells us, "bue!" I had no idea. I mean, it's a common color and all, but he finds blue everywhere. It's like the whole world is a "Where's Waldo" book to him, except Waldo isn't Waldo, he's blue. And blue isn't hiding, it's all over all the things. It's like suddenly Lucas's whole world turned to gray-scale, except shades of blue still appear blue so he has to excitedly point them out. Daaaa! Momom! There are blue things here! Did you see that lady running over there? Her shirt was blue! It was BLUE!

Lucas starting to talk more has really been fun. Sharayah talked about his odd choice of words to learn last time. He really does like that Grover fellow (who is blue, by the way). I love hearing his voice. I just want to have a whole conversation with him, but whenever he says enough words for a conversation, they are mostly gibberish. Still cute, but just indecipherable. Every parent must love the sound of their kid's voice, but I have to tell you: he has the best voice! It is the best. The search is over. Anyway, at some point I guess a switch went off in his head and he realized that, hey, if he understood most of the words anyway, he might as well try to mimic us when we say them. We're always saying words at him, maybe he should say some words back. So now he tries to do that. Sometimes the words stick (he's still talking about Grover and Zoe), sometimes they fall out of his repertoire as fast as they entered, but he is copying us and trying to say words, and we love it.

One of the games that Lucas plays... what should I call it? What would you call a game where you run back and forth between your parents, and each time you reach one of them you dive into an epic hug, giggle crazily like you're being tickled, frantically escape, and run back to the other parent to repeat the process? If you continued that routine for several minutes as your happy parents just sat on the floor, patiently waiting their turns and catching your epic, might-as-well-be-tackles hugs, what would you call that? Anyway, that is a game that Lucas plays. It's ok, I guess.

I'll end with one more story about blue (because all is blue and blue is all). There is this shirt. It's a really cute shirt. It's like, a big kid shirt. It has a little pocket on it. We really wanted Lucas to wear it. Lucas would not wear the shirt. Lucas cried if we put the shirt on him. Lucas hated the shirt. We began calling it the acid shirt, because he refused it so resolutely we thought he must think it was going to melt his skin. We tried and tried, every few weeks, to get him to wear it. We included it in his shirt choices many times. He stood firm in his convictions. We gave up. We stopped trying the acid shirt. Well, here's the thing. The shirt in question, the shirt made of burning acid which we cannot allow to touch our skin, is blue. It's kind of a gray blue, with white at the top, and on the pocket there are blue and white stripes. So I had an idea a couple days ago. Lucas loves blue. Maybe if I offer him this shirt the right way ("Hey Lucas, do you want to wear this shirt? It's blue!"), maybe he would wear it. And it worked. He loves blue more than he hates burning acid shirts. It looked good on him. He got food on it.

This shirt is not blue.


tubas and tanning

Yet another installment of the Here's and There's of Lucas's Life.

While I wouldn't say that Lucas's vocabulary has exploded or anything so gusto-filled, I think it's fair [and exciting] to say that he is now much more gung-ho about randomly trying out new words and sounds. And by randomly, I mean truly, truly randomly. For instance, words that we have said probably thousands of times by now [cat! Puma! love! bird! stinkypants!], he's got nothing. And words that would be helpful and useful in daily life, [food! diaper! want! bed! all-I-want-is-for-you-to-touch-Fao-Bear's-nose-to-the-color-wheel-and-I-won't-be-sad-anymore!], zilch. He doesn't even contemplate trying to say the word. He pretends he has no idea what all of our coaxing and prodding and "c-aaaaaa-t/foooooooooood"-ing could mean. But you point out a tuba in a new book? Suddenly, it's all, "Tu-bah! Tu-bah!" And that little blue monster you offhandedly introduce as Grover? "Go-vah! Go-vah!" It's pretty awesome. Sometimes he'll put considerable effort into forming the word. He gets all still, purses his lips [you can even watch the little muscles around his mouth twitching], and then proudly bursts out some sound that usually isn't even close to the right one. 

I never realized how difficult words are, how talking and understanding speech at all is a massive accomplishment. So many words sound similar to each other but mean something different. Or the words are the same but they mean something different. Or there are fifty words that all mean the same thing. It's all quite confusing. A recent example of this would be his latest verbal aquisitions, Grover and Zoe [the little yellow Sesame Street character]. Did you know that Grover and clover are virtually identical to a 20-month-old with sandwich in his mouth? You probably did. BUT, did you know that Zoe and sewer also sound the same, even minus the sandwich? Yeah, me either. But they do. So you just have to figure out by context that when you're outside, "Zu-ah" is sewer, and when you're inside, "Zo-ah" is a yellow monster. Got it? Okay. 

I also feel the need to mention how ridiculous it is that the words ball, bowl, book, bye, blue, and a large assortment of others sound nearly the same and yet somehow distinctly different. It makes me feel like a supermom every time I win at the "What Did You Say?" game with Lucas. Skills, yo. [And when in doubt, just say, "tu-bah!" and he'll giggle and hopefully forget whatever B word you were unable to identify.]

Oh! I absolutely cannot write on and on about Lucas's words without quickly mentioning his most recent accomplishment, one that will undoubtedly catapult him to the top of the 2016 Cutest Kid Ever rankings: Lucas has discovered "Uh oh." I'm not sure I've ever heard anything so cute in my life. I know millions of kids discovered uh-oh way before they were as old as Lucas and it's old hat to every parent out there, but I don't even care. It is the most adorable sound in the world. Mr. Frumble lost his hat again? Hand gets dramatically placed on the side of his head and the clearest little "uh-oh!" comes tumbling out. The pig falls into the water? "Uh oh!" You go for a bike ride and pass by a fire hydrant? "Uh oh. Uh oh. Uh oh!" It's excellent. I love this kid.

Ok, moving on. So! We recently got back from a pretty awesome Vermette family vacation. We took a 7-day cruise down to the eastern Caribbean islands and Lucas had a blast. He carousal-ed on bears and tigers and frogs and deer. He mini-golfed with gophers and turtles. He beached it like a pro and fell in love with sunscreen. He ate bananas like they were going out of style. Reggae music became his jam. He made grumpy people happy and 10-floor elevator rides packed with strangers less awkward. And, to top it off, right before the cruise, he finally decided to sleep through the night. We're talking nearly 12 hours straight every night [with one exception] for the past two and a half weeks. It has been glorious

Jason and I had resigned ourselves to the fact that Lucas would always wake up in the middle of the night. He would be 14 years old and wake up for a 3 am snack. We told ourselves we were okay with this, we could totally handle one wake-up a night, as long as it was only one. I think we had forgotten what it was like to actually sleep from night to morning without interruption. But now we remember. And boy are we loving it. It took just over 20 months for Lucas to figure out this whole sleeping thing, but he did figure it out. Take note, Future kpluBlet #2! You need to beat Lucas's time. Thanks!

As one last note about the cruise, here's a riddle: What can make Jason sad, impressed, and jealous all at once? Lucas's magic tanning genes. We slathered that kid with sunscreen; kept him shaded with clothes, hats, stroller sun shades, and our own shadows; and really only let him outside in the heat for very limited amounts of time, but somehow still Lucas came home with pretty defined tan lines. How can tan lines be cute? How? Somehow they are. It's ridiculous. 

And thus ends my ramblings. Life has been filled with fun times and exciting new developments. We will soon be heading off for our second vacation of the summer, a week in Branson. It will be our first family vacation with just the three of us. I'm looking forward to it muchly. Jason has grand plans for his garage organization. Puma is as fluffy as ever, if not fluffier. Lucas will no doubt be starting up his own Nature Treasures gift shop soon [expect a lot of clover and dandelion stems]. And I have high hopes to finish my research on the vast field of construction vehicles. By the end of the summer I will be able to distinguish between a skid steer, a front loader, and a bulldozer. Just watch.



The school year is now over. The last final exams have been graded, course grades have been turned in, and I can now stay at home most days with Sharayah and Lucas. There is still some work to be done during the summer, but most of it can be done from home. I'm really excited to have more time at home this summer. I have a ton of projects around the house that I've been wanting to tackle pretty much since we moved in. I also have a lot of books I've been meaning to read. Mostly, I have a Boy to watch learn and grow. I've talked about my nice schedule before; I already get more time at home than most full-time jobs would normally allow. Still, during the summer I'll be home almost always. Sharayah has had a monopoly on Lucas time that I plan to take over for the next few months.

It's about time, anyway. He is really digging her lately, and I want a piece of that pie. Lucas, as we have mentioned, is developing all kinds of preferences, and they are only getting more frequent and well-defined as time goes by. Currently, he's firmly in the middle of that phase where he consistently wants a particular parent to do (or help him do) each particular thing throughout the day. For most things, that's Sharayah.

She's mentioned that during breakfast, I am not allowed to identify the things in his book as he frantically points at them. If I do, or if I look like I'm going to, he will wave his arm at me as if to shove me away (even though I'm clearly too far away to be shoved). We have a post-meal routine for getting him out of his highchair and cleaned up which used to involve her taking his tray and me unstrapping him and carrying him to the sink, where I hold him while Sharayah washes his hands and face. No longer. If I start making my way behind him or reach to unstrap him or pick him up, cue the grunting and attempted shoving. Sharayah has to do the whole thing on her own, now (don't worry, she's quite good at it from doing it alone while I'm at work, anyway). Sometimes, Lucas won't even let me take off his shirt at bedtime. I say something like, "Ok, Lucas, let's take off your shirt," and he grabs it with a death-grip and runs to Sharayah, saying "Momom! Momooomom!" Of course, you know what he does if I reach for his shirt anyway. Shove. There are many other examples. It's fun to sit and think about them. He's such a funny kid.

I take all these things in stride. All the wobsites say it's normal for toddlers to strongly prefer one parent or the other for various tasks, and it's best not to try to force them to do otherwise. It's a passing phase. Besides, there are also things he prefers me to do. At bedtime I sit in the rocking chair in his room and read books with him. He wants me to read the books to him. At various times, he chooses me to carry him when we're going somewhere (this one's kind of a toss-up - we never really know who he will want to carry him). Sometimes he wants me to push the shopping cart. If that's his choice, what happens when Sharayah tries to push? Yeah. Shove. Getcho hands offa my cart, Momom. I want Daaa. Ah, it's nice to sit and think about the things he wants me to do for him, too.

I don't know how he chooses. Some of the things are obvious: habit, or routine. He wants whoever he is accustomed to for a particular task to be the one who does that task. For some things, though, he has recently made us switch (ok, usually when we have to switch from a set-in routine, it's because he's choosing Sharayah). Interestingly (but possibly coincidentally), he shifted several tasks to Sharayah around the time I went back to work after spring break. My theory is that he got used to me being home all day, and then he was mad at me for leaving everyday again when break ended. Or, you know, that just happened to be when he entered this phase. For still other things, he might choose either one of us for the same task at different times, depending on who knows what. Once he does, though, there is usually no convincing him otherwise. Although, now that I think of it, sometimes Sharayah can get him to let me do stuff by giving me "permission" to do it: "Lucas, you can let Dada put your socks on. Then we'll go outside and play." It doesn't always work, but sometimes.

At the end of the day, he is just a really funny little guy. He's so often a little ball of energy and sweetness packed into a package small enough you wouldn't think it would all fit. I can't wait to spend all summer with him. Maybe by the end he will let me look at him during breakfast.

Disclaimer: Lest anyone think otherwise, Lucas is still ridiculously sweet. It's just funny to talk about the silliness above. As earlier chronicled, he loves to obey us. He's super affectionate with Sharayah, and very huggy with both of us. Sometimes he'll run up to one of us, shout his name for us, grab our hand, and lead us away somewhere (or no where in particular, just walk around holding our hand). Yesterday while we were all playing, he suddenly stopped, ran over to me, and gave me a kiss on the cheek. Then he ran over to kiss Sharayah. Then he just picked up playing where he left off. Gah.


two sides of the toddler coin

In celebration of warm weather, outside exploration, a freshly mowed lawn, and everything spring, Lucas is the ecstatic owner of a brand new lawn mower. It does not blow bubbles but by golly the pull cord [starter rope? varoom thingamajig?] makes a noise that simultaneously fascinates the Boy and scares the whiskers off of Puma. Score. This little green lawn mower also comes with a miniature gas can that fits conveniently in a notched space on the back of the mower. [This space can alternately be used instead as a storage spot for any number of other important life items, like colorful Easter eggs, hotwheels, or a peanut butter sandwich. Versatility!] And this gas can is the star of the latest installment of Life with Lucas.

Topping the list of Lucas's many heartwarming attributes is his sweet desire [some incalculable percent of the time] to dutifully carry out whatever task you ask him to do. In hopeful-parentspeak, he loves to be obedient. Sure, a lot of the time that he is sweet and dutiful about obeying is when he is being asked to do something that he has no reason or desire to refuse to do in the first place [confusing sentence!]. And granted, he has not reached the age where he questions everything before he agrees to do it, which is a good thing since we ask him to do a lot of inane things just for the sake of watching him do it. Like I said, he is a pretty sweet kid. Anyway. All this to say, more often than not, Lucas seems to love to do what we ask, as long as what we ask does not interfere with the consumption of his bananas.

So. The gas can story. The little green lawn mower came packaged in a frustrating mixture of cardboard and a dozen absurdly tight zip ties. Things were zip-tied that had no reason to be zip-tied. There was even a zip tie that was zip-tied. Seriously. Ridiculous. [First takeaway from this story: If you think you can quickly remove this toy from its packaging in order to discreetly shoplift it away, think again. Trust me, just spend the $25 and save your integrity and sanity.] Lucas was in toddler agony trying to be patient as I manhandled those never-ending zip ties one by one. Each time I successfully removed one, he would think it was finally time. But no, cutie, there are still a gazillion more. Sigh. 

One of the first removable parts I managed to get loose was the miniature gas can. He held it reverently in his hands as he watched me wrestle with the rest of this menace-disguised-as-a-toy. Finally, it was finished. I assembled the four pieces of plastic with minimal pinching of toddler fingers [he insisted on sticking his fingers in each and every spot that I was focused on because, well, you know, curiosity] and presented him with his very own lawn mower. He was gleeful. I explained to him what it was and showed him the various parts. In conclusion I pointed to the gas can clutched in his hands and said, "Lucas, that's a gas can. Gas can. Gas can." And the turmoil began.

What turmoil you ask? My thoughts exactly at that moment. Lucas became clearly bothered for a couple of seconds. He hesitated. His face got that serious, decide-y, pondering look to it. He was clearly bothered. But why? When a toddler becomes bothered, it is sometimes quite hard to pin down the reason. Did he not get the concept of a gas can? Does he not know how to hold the gas can and push the mower at the same time? Is the gas can's color too red for his liking? Did my mention of the gas can bring to mind a previous babyhood trauma involving a scrap of carpet fiber, applesauce, and an unwanted diaper change? Did he suddenly realize it was an election year? Who can say. This is life with a toddler. 

A moment after the turmoil-filled pause, Lucas turned around, gas can in hand, and waddled off into the kitchen. After the past fifteen minutes of anxious excitement to get his hands on his new toy, I found his wandering off a bit odd. But, a few seconds later, he returned. Empty-handed. Gas-can-less. And then it dawned on me. You see, one of the various requests we make of Lucas is to throw things in the garbage can. He gets a big kick out of it and loves to find dirt and crumbs on the floor to throw in the garbage can of his own volition. It is such a big kid thing to do; I love it. Well, apparently with all of the excitement zooming around his head, Lucas misheard what I said. He saw me pointing at the gas can in his hands and thought I said "garbage can" instead of "gas can." The poor kid was torn between doing what he thought I asked him to do and keeping his new toy, and he chose to dutifully do what he thought I asked.

I love this kid. You have no idea.

The gas can was rescued from the trash, the difference between gas can and garbage can was explained, and the entire main floor was mowed about thirty times in the next thirty minutes. In the middle of his mowing, with his eyes closed tight, he gave me the sweetest little kiss, smack dab on the chin. For the rest of the day I marveled at what an unbelievably sweet and good little boy I have. I win in the kid category.

Just in case anyone gets the wrong idea or thinks I am epically naive about my child, I suppose I should toss in here that I am quite aware of the other side of a toddler's behavioral spectrum. Lucas is by no means perfect and his sweetness isn't always apparent 100% of the time. To prove my point, here is an abbreviated list of some of his quirkier moments:

  • During breakfast, if Jason [yes, this is particular only to Jason and only during breakfast] looks at him too long or identifies an object in a book, Lucas will thrash about in his chair and sometimes even start crying. Why.
  • The classic Back Arching occurs if he doesn't want to put on his shoes or his jacket or if he doesn't want a diaper change at a particular moment. 
  • Lucas loves being outside. Playing in the yard is one of his favorite things to do. And if he isn't ready to come back inside when you insist it's time? Cue Armageddon.
  • There is one particular shirt he refuses to wear. Refuses. If you try to put it on him, he acts like it is made out of acid. That's right, we bought an Acid Shirt for our son. 
  • The correct parent has to push the shopping cart. If the incorrect parent attempts to push the shopping cart at any given moment, get ready to be that family with that kid in aisle 12. Sometimes you've just got to choose your battles...
And the list could go on. But I think I'll stop there, because, really, Lucas is such an amazing kid. He has the sweetest heart. He is incredibly empathetic. He looks adorable even with drool crusted on his face and his hair doing some kind of weird toddler comb over in the back. He laughs heartily whenever we're laughing even though he has no idea what we're laughing about. He laughs when he hears us say the word "funny." He laughs when I say the word "potato." He gives hugs that speak volumes and volumes. He emanates such joy.

Being Lucas's mom means I get to see and experience and, yes, sometimes just simply endure every moment, every mood, every side of his personality. It is a privilege that no one else gets to experience, and it is a grand, grand way to spend my days. 


the Boy and the pig

There once was a boy. He had many friends of the stuffing-filled type. One of these friends was a small, red-bandana-ed pig named Alfred. The Boy and the pig got along splendidly.

One morning, the Boy determined that the pig was hungry. Knowing pigs do not care for rice cakes, the Boy searched for an appropriate pig food. He discovered a large bottle of Bar Keepers Friend underneath Daaa and Momom's bed. He decided this would most certainly do. Yes, most certainly.

The Boy carefully balanced the pig on his tiny pink haunches on the edge of the bed. He then used both hands to heft the heavy bottle of household cleaner up to Alfred's snout, tipped it up, and started feeding him. To ensure an authentic feeding experience, the Boy diligently made many lip smacking and slurping noises on behalf of his porcine friend.

The Boy's parents saw this outrageously cute play unfold and pretty much declared the Boy the best, most hilarious, sweetest child alive.

The End.


*No Bar Keepers Friend was actually consumed or even opened by any party*
*No stuffed pigs were harmed by the imaginative ingestion of Bar Keepers Friend*
*If you write Bar Keepers Friend too many times, it starts to look like a tasty ice cream flavor*


Daaa beats the system

Sharayah has documented many of the ways in which Lucas is developing his own little personality and preferences. Occasionally this means crying for no apparent reason (or for a seemingly irrational reason, if we guess correctly what he's upset about). It reminds me of this list that I read before he was born. That list really gives a peek into the mind of a toddler (although I don't think he's cried for any of those particular reasons yet). Mostly, though, he is just learning how to play and explore his world on his own. It's been really fun. He is such a sweet little guy. He loves to transfer things from one place to another (often the "another" is a person, and if they put down anything that he gave them in a given round of transfers, he stops his transferring to pick it up and give it to them again [or pushes them to pick it back up on their own] and then resumes transferring without missing a beat). He loves "reading" probably more than any other activity. Many times throughout the day he will suddenly run off to another room, stop, and shout "Daaaaaaa!  Dadaaa!" until I come find him. It's the best (although it makes me a little sad that when I'm at work he will pound on the door that leads to the garage and shout "Daaa!" in the futile hope that I will come rushing in to find him). That's pretty much how he always calls for me: loudly shouting "Daaaa!" In contrast, when he wants Sharayah he says "Momom" (yes, he ends his "mama" with another "m") in the sweetest, calmest voice you can imagine.

We are getting a passport for Lucas for an upcoming trip. Did you know babies need passports? The requirements for the picture are not easy for a toddler. Mostly the hard part is that he needs to sit still, look straight into the camera, and not have any expression on his face. Lucas was actually really cooperative, and also demonstrated to us once again that, while he is a man of few words (at least, few real ones), he probably understands pretty much everything we say to him. Sharayah told him to go stand with his back to the wall and look at her for the picture, which he did promptly without hesitation. We have never told him to do anything like that before, so I don't know where he picks these things up. He kept looking away or looking down, so I told him to look up and he looked at the ceiling. I guess I should be more specific.

Passport photos are stupidly expensive to have made, but they are really just 2 inch square pictures with the head filling a certain portion of the picture. No place will print that without calling it a passport photo and charging a lot (think $15 for a single print), but you can get a 4 inch square picture for less than 25 cents. So we just made a 2 by 2 grid of the 2 inch picture that we actually wanted to print. So we got four times the picture for less than 1/60 of the price. It turns out Lucas is pretty cute even just standing there with no expression on his face.

So this is what it would be like to have quadruplets staring at you...
It also turns out that we misread the requirements on what size the face should be within the picture, so we ended up having to pay to get another picture remade at the post office anyway. So much for beating the system.

Right now it's spring break at MBU, and I've loved having the week off to spend all day with my little family. There are only 5 more weeks (and finals, and grading...) left before summer vacation. I am very excited to have a few months in a row to stay home almost every day and watch my little guy get bigger. Not to mention going on the grand adventures that require baby passports. Being Daaaa is pretty great.


seventeen months going on irrational

Suddenly, Lucas has opinions. What. Kid, you're just barely 17 months old, you still pee your pants, and you find specks of dirt fascinating. You're not old enough to have opinions and preferences and unbelievably specific demands. You're not.

Before becoming a parent, I liked to ruminate about the age at which one goes from "baby" to "real-life tiny person." As we are now finding out, it is so much sooner than I imagined. Seriously. I was under the impression I would have a much longer period of time to impose my desires willy-nilly on this child. Alas. Lucas has other ideas.

Some of Lucas's budding opinions are more obvious, and slightly more understandable, than others. For instance, he has opinions about food and opinions about whether or not he wants to get his diaper changed. Fine, so that food doesn't taste as good as last time - noted. Okay, so you weren't done playing and don't want to lie down for a diaper change - I understand. But then, there are the much more... random preferences. 

Explain to me again why it is imperative for you to hold my left hand? What's wrong with my right hand? And while we're on the subject of hands, do you not realize that it is physically impossible for you to hold both of my hands to dance since I need at least one to hold you up? Also, would you mind enlightening me about how you decide who has to hold out your plate at mealtime? What is so unacceptable about me offering the plate as opposed to your dad? And why does your preference change five times a meal? I understand you like cats, but you can't wear your cat shirt every day. If you remember, it is unwearable because you kept patting it with your food-smeared hands at dinner. Plus, I hate to break this to you, but the cat shirt is really a TIGER, not a cat. So... there. How do you decide who you want to lift you out of your crib? Or whose lap you want to sit in at night? Or which plastic chicken deserves to be in the barn? Or which pot is allowed to have a lid and which is not? Or whether you want your socks on your feet, on your hands, or nowhere within a 10-foot radius of you?

I suppose I can't fault him for his preferences and opinions since, well, one's preferences and opinions, almost by definition, don't necessarily have to conform to any sort of sensible, logical reasoning. But come on, why is it so all out important that the now unrecognizable blob of food go only in my mouth? Why can't it stay on your tray, or be given to dad, or placed in the bowl with the rest of your discarded leftovers? Why do you demand that that piece must be fed to me? Sigh.

Lucas seems to basically understand 85% of what we tell him. It's crazy. His ability to understand longer and longer strings of words is amazing. But, of course, he is still just a little kid. And so when I'm trying to talk him through why I would rather he place the food blob somewhere other than my mouth, he starts getting super frustrated. "Mom! You don't understand! This food has to go in your mouth right now. Can I be any more specific about what I want?!" It's hard being a tiny person who doesn't verbally communicate and who cannot parse his parent's statement of "I don't like to be fed cold squished foods." I can already hear it now: "But why, mom? Why won't you eat it?" Because it's GROSS, kid.

We "read" books all day long. We have about 45 books checked out from the library at any time. It's fantastic. Lucas will run to the door and attempt to leave the house when you say, "Let's go to the library." He will take my hand, walk me over to one of his specific reading spots throughout the house [because, no, he doesn't want to read in the chair in the living room; he wants to read in a particular spot on the floor in the dining room BECAUSE PREFERENCES], position me just so, and back up until he plops down in my lap. And then we read. And identify every animal, goldbug, and familiar picture. Two or three times. Rinse and repeat.

Luckily, I love reading and I especially love reading with this warm, sturdy little body sitting in my lap. It's the best. But, I'll be honest. I'm not a huge fan of reading a book fifteen times and still having no clue what is going on because of page skipping, absolute obsession with only the first three pages, absolute disinterest in the last four pages, or only spending 1.3 seconds on a page. Do the chickies ever go to bed? How does Clifford get home? Why is it important that the bear now has a rabbit friend? I don't understand the knitting penguins AT ALL. Sigh.

Obviously my brain can't handle this many incomplete stories, so sometimes I take matters into my own hands and try to read the book on my own. Sixty seconds, that's all I want. Sixty seconds to quickly read through this undoubtedly predictable children's book so I can have my peace of mind again. Fine, I'll settle for thirty seconds and a general idea of everything that occurs. Is that so much to ask? Yes, yes, it is according to a certain 32-some-odd inch person. As soon as Lucas spots what I'm doing [especially when this is a book that he has deemed not fit to read ("Child, what are you basing this on?!")], he runs over and closes the book. If I try to read it again, he closes the book and takes it away. If I keep doing it, he starts to get frustrated. But, but, why? His consistency in doing this is pretty hilarious, though I really have no idea why he does what he does [this is becoming the case more and more often]. He's a barrel of laughs and perplexity. I love him so incredibly much.

Every so often Jason will ask me, "So, do you like your life? Is it everything you hoped?" My answer is always a soul-resounding yes. Even on the fragile, on-edge days with all of the food thrown on the floor; the Boy in his mismatched, not-so-clean, sock-less attire; and the eighteen perpetually unfinished books strewn about the house and my brain. Even then, or perhaps even especially then, it is absolutely everything I have ever hoped or imagined. 



Recently, we have been teaching Lucas sign language for various simple things. He obviously knows a lot of words and understands much of what we say to him, but since he's so far reluctant to speak, we thought that signing would allow him to communicate to us what he wants sometimes. Plus, you know, a baby doing sign language, right? That's pretty cute.

Among other things, we taught him the sign for "more" so that at mealtime when he finishes his food, he can tell us whether he's done or if he wants more. We learned two things: First, a baby signing for more food really is very cute. Second, he always wants more. He is not ever really done eating. What's that, you say? He finished all the food we prepared for him? But that's not all the food in the house, right? There is applesauce in the fridge, right? Yeah. Go get him some applesauce. Kid's not done. He wants... more.

With very inconsistent results, we have been asking him to "be patient" when he wants something that we plan to give him but don't have ready yet (or for some reason don't yet want to give him) if he's fussing for it. Sometimes he will stop fussing, sometimes not. Usually it at least causes a pause of a few seconds (maybe he thinks "be patient" means "ok, I will give it to you, but only if you stop fussing for just 2 seconds, man!" [which, now that I think about it, it sort of does mean]). Still, he can only be patient for so long. Then, if his mood is right (wrong?) he's right back to fussing for it. I guess I can understand. It's not like he can just tell us what he wants. But he wants us to know that he wants something. Telling him to be patient acknowledges that we understand him, but it doesn't always work. However, what's usually more successful is that Sharayah taught him the sign for "please." If he's asking for something and we ask him to say "please," he stops fussing and does the sign, and then looks at us expectantly. Of course, this only works for things that we plan to (or are ok with) giving him anyway, but it's very effective and he seems to like that he can express his desires.

Hold on, though. It gets cuter. Lucas really likes cheese sticks, so sometimes for a snack or (more commonly) with a meal we give him little pieces torn off of a cheese stick. He loves it. A lot. Enough to ask for it frequently. Enough to drive home the "please" sign. He started just walking up and signing "please" instead of fussing and being asked first. Then Sharayah taught him "thank you." So he would walk up, sign "please," get his cheese, and (upon being prompted) sign "thank you." Then. He starting walking up, quickly signing "please" and "thank you" in quick succession and holding his hand out expectantly.

So maybe he doesn't quite understand the intricacies of language. Maybe he thinks "if I do this motion, they get all happy and give me cheese and applesauce!" Still, being played by a polite baby is better (and more adorable) than having him fuss at you. I call it a win.


two things, and then one more

2016. Here we go. Goal: Blog more than once every four months.

So much has been going on, so many good and tiring and exciting and stressful and fascinating things, but Life [read: Bedtime] demands that I only touch on a few of them in this post. I will touch on two of the Things. Two Things and One Random Factoid. 

First of the Things: We live in a house. It is a pretty house. It is the perfect house for Us Now and Us Down the Road. We have a master bedroom [which took several nights to get accustomed to since it felt like "the parents' room"] with a vaulted ceiling so high that Jason's best leap cannot even get him close to the center beam. We have a garage [Lucas loves opening and closing the garage door] and a backyard with a giant play set and two trash cans to drag out each Tuesday and Wednesday and a finished walk-out basement and bedrooms galore for future kpluBlets and so many other good things. We Christmas-ed with just the three of us and our house. We survived the never ending rain and were grateful to not be in a flood plain. We celebrated the beginning of 2016 by going to sleep before midnight. Already, we have had such good times in our new place. It is a good house. We feel at home already.  

Second of the Things: The door leading to the basement has a cat door. It is a perk that has been amazing. We now have all things related to Smelly-Cat-ness located in the bathroom in the basement. This is something we have always wanted to do. Success! Anywho, this cat door fascinates Lucas. He loves to peer through it and see if Puma is lurking on the steps. He loves to stick his arm through and feel around for the fluffy tail. It's pretty funny and cute, right? But then, the other day, Lucas discovered he could meow. The cutest little meow you ever did hear. So now he squats in front of the cat door, opens it up with his little arm, and meows for the cat. You know, because he wasn't adorable enough. Plus, any time Puma meows, Lucas will meow back. Puma is generally unimpressed and I am usually dying from cute overload. 

In case you are wondering, nothing ever really gets done in our house. We mostly just stare at Lucas and try to wrap our brains around how smart and hilarious he is. The floors go un-vacuumed, the dishes go unwashed, and there might be a trail of kindasorta used tissues strewn about ever since Lucas found out he could blow his nose, but boy is there a lot of clapping and laughing and high-five-ing every time the Boy learns something new [basically, every 15 seconds]. It's a grand time. I love my family.

The Random Factoid: **obligatory TMI warning** Earwax. Everyone does not have the same kind of earwax. Truths.

I never knew that earwax could be yellow and wet and sticky and all-around gross. Never knew. The only earwax I was familiar with was my own and, in the past year, Lucas's. We both have, what I always thought was, "normal" earwax, the dry and flaky and whitish earwax. The earwax that doesn't seem any more gross than, say, scraping a dried squash seed off the floor. Jason has always made comments about his gross earwax and he always made a big deal about cleaning off his earbuds before each use. I just figured it was because he's a little OCD about things and made fun of him as was appropriate.

But then, sometime after the arrival of Lucas, we actually had a discussion about earwax [stemming from my obsession with cleaning out Lucas's ears while he nursed]. And we discovered that Jason's experience with earwax was not at all like mine. And so we dug further [ha, gross pun!]. And we discovered that Lucas and I have a different earwax than Jason, in color, consistency, texture, etc. Weird? Well, I kiddingly attributed it to our awesome Asian genetics and left it at that. But the other day, I suddenly remembered that I had wanted to google this earwax topic but had never gotten around to it.

Jackpot: What Your Earwax Says About Your Ancestry

If you don't care to read the article, here's the summary: East Asians [and Native Americans apparently?] seem to have superior genes that allow their earwax to be dry and smell-less and not gross. Not only that, but the same genes are also responsible for the lack of armpit smells. It's going to sound gross but I have to say it here, once and for all: This explains why I only use deodorant MAYBE twice a year. See, it sounds like a gross thing to admit to, but come now, it's actually the exact opposite... Am I bragging? Yes, yes, I am. Don't judge.

Okay. I'll leave it at that. Two Things and One Random Factoid. You're welcome.

Here's a hamster. To un-gross your minds.