Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Last weekend I had a conference for work in Kiawah Island.  Casey and the boys joined me for some fun at the beach.  Kiawah is one of our favorite places and is also special because it was, I believe, the first place Casey and I ever vacationed together on our own.  Alligators roam freely in Kiawah, part of its charm, but also somewhat scary, like when you round the corner and see a 16 foot alligator about 10 feet away from you sunning itself on the bank of a pond.

Riley and Chase were fascinated by the alligators.  Riley was fearless in his attempts to get a good look at them -- right up until one of the ones he was watching much too close for our comfort started moving slightly... to accommodate his MUCH larger friend who appeared out of nowhere and climbed out onto the bank of the pond right next to the guy he was watching.  After that, he was not too keen on getting close.

Chase calls alligators "chomp chomps".  There is a great pool area for the kids at Kiawah, complete with a water slide designed for toddlers that requires the child to climb stairs positioned in the middle of an open alligator mouth.  Very cool design, but Chase was not enthused about its teeth.  After standing somewhat nearby and staring at the chomp chomp for at least 20 minutes, we made a game out of playing with chomp chomps teeth.  I would stick my hand in its mouth, yell "ouch" and then tell chomp chomp that it's not nice to bite.  Chase thought this was delightfully funny.  (He also eventually worked up the courage to climb into its mouth and go down the slide, all of which he loved.)

With that background in mind, the boys now think that alligators live in every pond in the United States.  On our drive to Chicago over the weekend, any time we passed a pond, Riley would ask about alligators and Chase would shout from the back seat, "Ouch!  Not nice chomp chomp."  Never mind that this would be his first full sentence...

Casey, being the nice daddy he is, bought Chase a new cup while in Chicago.  The new cup has a dinosaur on it.  Chase thinks the dinosaur is a chomp chomp.  As a quick aside, in visits to Casey's parents at Amelia Island, the boys awesome grandparents rent a golf cart for us to get around in while we are there.  We all love it -- an awesome way to get around and see things that you would never notice in a car.  Not sure how it started, but Casey tells the boys to put their feet up every time we cross over a bridge in the golf cart.  Somehow that has carried over to every day car trips as well, so any time we pass over a bridge of any sort in any type of vehicle, you'll hear them yell, "Feet up!"  If the adults don't have time to lift their feet up, Riley passes out pretend paper towels so that we can wipe off our wet feet.  Half the time we don't realize what Chase is even saying since it sounds more like "Eee yuh", so this is not really a fair game.  Anyway, during our long trip home from Chicago, we would occasionally hear Chase shout, "Eee yuh, chomp chomp!"  Guess he does not want his friend to get his feet wet either.  Could not be more adorable.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Faithful Friend

I know I have said it before, but these dogs really do love these kids.  Tonight Chase started screaming hours after he'd gone to bed.  Wrigley ran into the family room with her tail tucked between her legs.  I was thinking he had either scared her or that she was annoyed that he'd woken her up from her peaceful sleep... right up until I opened the door to his bedroom and went in to soothe him.  She snuck in the room behind me, laid down at the side of his crib and refused to leave.  Loyal companion doesn't even begin to describe it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Oftentimes I will dance and sing in the car trying to make the boys laugh.  This afternoon was no exception.  Casey had picked up Riley from school to take him to baseball practice, so Chase and I were alone in the car.  He was in the back seat clapping his hands and moving back and forth, clearly enjoying the "Happy" song.  I decided to join in.

Chase: No, no, no, no.
Me: No what?
Chase: No dans.
Me: No dance?
Chase: Yeah.
Me: Is Mommy embarrassing you?
Chase (at 21 months with very little grasp on the English language): Yeah.

If he is this embarrassed by me at 21 months, I can't wait until he's a teenager.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Please Slow Down

Even though two full days have passed, I can still see it very vividly each and every time I close my eyes.  A parent's worst nightmare: a car barreling towards my child with nothing I could do to stop it.

We were out for a walk like we are nearly every weekend morning.  We were on the back roads in our neighborhood where, at this time of day, we hardly ever even encounter a car at all in our trek to Whitaker Elementary School (the school where Riley will start kindergarten this fall).  The dogs were off their leashes, as they almost always are.  Chase was dawdling, as he almost always is.  Riley was riding his scooter a decent distance ahead of us, as he almost always is, working on perfecting the foot brake.  Casey and I were discussing where Chase might end up for school this fall if the boys' current school closes or if the transition does not goes as we hope.

Up ahead of us, there is a stop sign.  Between the stop sign and our current location, there is a bend in the road.  No car should be able to work up any amount of speed before reaching the bend in the road since the car would have just stopped at the stop sign.  Casey and I must've seen the car at the same moment.  It was barreling around the bend in the road, and I really do mean barreling.  If the car was doing less than 50 miles an hour around a bend in the road on a residential street, I would be stunned.  As fast as the car was going, the whole world suddenly was in slow motion.  Although we could see what was happening unfolding, there was nothing we could do to stop it.  There wasn't even a chance to yell down the road to Riley, not that he would've heard it even if we had.  All I could see was a huge SUV and our sweet, almost 5-year-old boy on his scooter way up ahead of us sporting his tiny little Lightning McQueen helmet that could've done absolutely nothing to save him had he been hit.  I was paralyzed.

Casey swears the car saw Riley and swerved.  I think it swerved only because it was going so fast around a bend.  Either way, the car did not hit him and we had time to spring into action before the car made its way down the road towards us.  I instinctively grabbed the dogs and pulled them to the side of the road while Casey corralled Chase.  Both of us screamed at the car to slow down.  It was only later, when it was too late, that we thought to write down the license plate number.

When I turned my attention away from the driver of the speeding car, and was able to focus my eyes on our sweet, precious, rule-following Riley, it registered that he had stepped off of his scooter and had pulled it to the side of the road, like we had practiced countless times as we'd seen cars approaching while he was riding.  I am certain he is safe only because he saw the car coming before we did and did exactly what he'd been trained to do.  I doubt he realized that the car was traveling way too fast and (happily) I doubt he realized he was in any real danger.  Still, at that very moment, I found myself realizing that we, as parents, don't make and enforce arbitrary rules just to make our children perfect little mini adults.  We do it because we want them to be safe.  We teach them the rules and then give them more and more freedoms, hoping that they'll remember those rules as they gain their independence.  On Saturday, I was glad that we are fairly strict with our rules compared to most.  I don't regret for one second giving Riley the freedom to ride his scooter ahead of us, but I do regret that someone felt that her hurried life was more important than my family's safety, and I will be forever thankful that Riley emerged from the situation unscathed, thanks to his understanding of how to stay safe on the road.

It took me almost ten seconds to gain the ability to breathe again after I saw that Riley was safely standing on the side of the road.  Riley, bless his heart, was worried that he was in trouble somehow -- thinking that we were yelling at him and not the car.  Casey somehow had the ability to move and made his way quickly to Riley.  Tears welling in my eyes, I took my time to catch up to the rest of them so I could regain my composure.  Casey took one look at me and knew something was wrong, so I guess I didn't do that very well.  We spent the next few minutes of the walk telling Riley how proud we were of him and how we were so very glad that he got over to the side of the road when he saw the car approaching.  We also discussed how the driver of the car was not being safe.  We didn't dwell on it too much with him, but did want to make the point that he had done the right thing.  I will never forget the look on the driver's face as she passed us -- she put her hand in front of her face and looked in the other direction, clearly embarrassed by what she knew she had done (and almost done).  I hope she learned that there's no hurry and no distraction worth what she had almost done.  I know I did.  Please slow down.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sunny Days

Riley (while we are sitting on the front stoop before school waiting for the dogs to come inside): Mom, I really like sunny days.

Me (thinking he was enjoying the warmth or the almost picture-perfect green grass against the bright blue, cloudless sky):  How come, buddy?

Riley:  They really make me want to wear eye black.

I cannot make this stuff up.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Batmen

After nearly five years of waiting, his dream has finally been realized...  Riley is on a "real" baseball team.  As if the excitement of playing on a real team wasn't enough, I wish you could've seen the look on his face when he found out he was on "The Batmen".  I mean, really, is there anything better than combining baseball with his favorite superhero?!  (As an aside, how do boys who do not watch anything on TV except baseball and the morning news even know that Batman exists?)

After three fairly comical practices (comical in the sense that none of the kids -- well, except for Riley -- really know how to throw, catch, hit, run the bases or follow simple instructions), last night was The Batmen's first spring training game (or, as any other child would call it, scrimmage).  Riley was the lead off batter for The Batmen and crushed the ball into the outfield for a stand-up triple.  By "crushed", I really mean that he hit the ball generally well (although not nearly as good as I know he can -- he's still getting used to hitting off the tee instead of the overhead fast balls that Casey has been launching at him since he was 3-1/2) and that it bounced past the open gloves and outstretched arms of what felt like at least 10 kids who then proceeded to all chase after the ball and tackle each other so as to be the one who picked it up and (sort of) threw it back to the infield.  Frankly, it would've been a home run and should've been a home run had it not been for the fact that almost all of the opposing players stood (unknowingly) directly in the baseline and interfered.  But I digress.  Riley was undeterred and stood proudly on third base clapping his hands in a very nonchalant, self-congratulatory way.  On the next play, not surprisingly, a very wobbly "hit" that landed no farther than 10 inches in front of home plate sent Riley sprinting home for his very first "real" run.  To say he was excited doesn't really do it justice, although to his credit, he just passed home plate and casually jogged off the field towards his teammates.  I only know with certainty that he was excited because he glanced my way out of the corner of his eye all the way up at the top of the hill where I was watching (read: chasing after) Chase, and gave me an ever so slight grin and head nod.  I swear he is already 15 instead of just shy of 5 years old.

More hilarity ensued for the next sixty minutes it took to get through each team's batting order twice (seriously?!).  Most kids didn't know how to swing a bat.  Many would swing so hard that they would completely miss the ball (on a inanimate tee, no less) at least 10 times before finally making accidental contact.  Some kids would run straight to second base, skipping first base entirely.  The funniest part about this is that they would still have plenty of time to run back to first base with ease and not be thrown or tagged out since barely any of the kids can field, throw or catch the ball to make a play.  It was basically the batter versus whatever kid picked up the ball racing each other to first base to determine if the batter was safe or out.  And there was a lot of sliding, mostly without justification.  Is this a boy thing?  I don't get it.  Sliding seems painful to me.  I'm not sure why, if I were a 4-6 year old boy, I'd choose to slide into (near) the base when the ball was at best 10 feet away, but it happened with enough frequency that I concluded it was intentional.

Riley finished the night with a triple, a base hit, a few fielding errors, a few throwing errors (although in his defense, the throws were spot on, it's just that the kid at first base liked to catch them with his face/head instead of his glove because he was almost always looking in the entirely wrong direction), an enormous grin, and a whole lot of enthusiasm for this great American pastime we call baseball.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Ever since he really woke up at 3 months of age, Chase has been a noisy guy.  He cried a lot as an infant, screamed a lot as a baby, and in his current toddlerhood, never misses an opportunity to let you know exactly how he feels when you encourage him to do something besides what he thinks he should be doing.  As a result, the dogs have spent the last 20 months in survival mode.  Winston stopped eating entirely back in August unless I would sit and protect him from the noise while he ate.  Wrigley runs upstairs and puts herself in bed at the first sign of impending screams.  Apart from being a bit comical, it's actually quite sad.

I have spent the last 20 months talking to them about how lovely Chase is, how much he loves them and how much better things will be when he can communicate with words instead of cries and screams.  They often look at me seemingly unconvinced.  I will admit that this has caused me much guilt over the past 20 months.

Chase clearly loves them.  He constantly wants to be petting them, licking them (yes, really), feeding them, climbing on them, hugging them and giving them open-mouthed kisses.  I'm pretty sure he also thinks he's part dog -- on more than one occasion, I have found him lying flat on his belly lapping water out of their water bowls.  When he gets home from school, the first thing he says is "Wee-wee" (Wrigley) or "Weh-ie" (Winnie) and then he jumps up and down and points when he sees them come out the door.  His complete infatuation with them makes their apparent fear of him almost heartbreaking.  And then Winston surprises me.

Winston has been somewhat obsessed with Chase's things practically from the first moment he came home from the hospital.  I'd come home from work to find one of Chase's super soft blankets in odd places.  He'd steal his soft toys and then proudly march around the house with the toys in his mouth.  At night, Winston would take his time coming up to bed, and just the sound of his paws hitting the steps took on a different tone.  He'd then appear in our room with either a blanket or soft toy in his mouth, climb into bed, lay down and rest his head on top of the blanket or toy.  I was convinced that he just liked how soft they were and how good they smelled.

Recently, however, his obsession with Chase's things has really ratcheted up a notch.  One night Casey and I were watching TV after the kids went to bed and heard a loud crash from somewhere close by.  About 10 seconds later, Winston walks into the family room with Chase's bib in his mouth, clearly very proud of himself.  The crash?  The sound of a place setting which had fallen off the dining room table while Winston was retrieving the bib.  This is not the only bib incident.  The bib has turned up in our bed, on the floor of Chase's room and in other odd places.  The weirdest thing is that he doesn't lick the bib or try to get the food off of it.  He just likes to lay with his head resting on top of it.  I think it's his way of saying that he really does love the noise-maker an awful lot.

What about Wrigley, you might wonder?  Well, she is more discreet about her fondness.  If you come home unexpectedly in the middle of the day, you will almost always find her sleeping on the floor at the side of Chase's crib.  She also thinks she is his mother and will lick food off his face, herd him if he's attempting to venture too far off without adult supervision and will almost attack his face with relentless licks in the morning when she first sees him.  Her favorite thing, no doubt, is sitting at the foot of Chase's chair during meals.  I think she just likes the closeness to him.  Surely it has nothing to do with the extreme amount of food that winds up on the floor.