Barefoot on the Moon

Dear Love Bug,

This will be a quick one because I just took NyQuil in an effort to win the war against this nasty cold. 

We barely left the house today, mostly because it was rainy, chilly, and generally icky but also because I couldn’t much motivate to do anything other than nap while you napped. 

When you woke up this afternoon, we found ourselves playing in the basement–one of your favorite spots in the house–and I pulled out the rocket-shaped tent that Nonna got you for Valentine’s Day that you haven’t played much with since then. We set up the play mat so you’d have some padding, and you and Marshall hung out in there for a bit. 

When you were done in the basement, Daddy and I asked if you wanted to bring your tent up to your room, thinking it might get more use if it’s in a spot that you constantly inhabit. You were very excited about this, and once Daddy got it re-mounted in that location, you went about decorating it with blankets and pillows, invited your friends in, and grabbed some books and toys. Daddy read to you for a bit, his head inside the tent with the rest of his long body protruding. When he went downstairs to start getting dinner ready, I took his spot. I can tuck myself inside a bit more easily. 

We read and played. At one point, you asked if you could take your socks off. It was about 1,000 degrees inside that nylon rocket, so I could understand. Still, I asked why you wanted them off as I helped you remove them. 

“Because,” you said, “I want to walk barefoot on the moon.”

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

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Catch

Dear Love Bug,

Please don’t ever stop closing your eyes and scrunching up your face when attempting to catch a ball. It’s the sweetest thing ever. As is your excitement when you “catch” it, which is to say it bounces off of your hands and you run after it. 

But please don’t chase it into the poison ivy. 

Can’t wait for more evenings in the backyard doing nothing but playing catch and giggling until we’re called in for dinner. These are the days I’ll remember. 

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma 

Two Lips

Dear Love Bug,

We fulfilled what’s become an annual tradition today: visiting Sherwood Gardens, a blissful, green enclave in the heart of the city surrounded by mini-mansions, at the height of tulip season. It lived up to all expectations, and we were all drawn to a patch of nearly neon orange blooms. 

We met Aunt Danielle, Anthony, and Elisa there, and Daddy and I were looking forward to you and Anthony running around and tiring each other out. We brought a couple of balls and a frisbee with us to ensure this would happen. And at first, it seemed our plan would pan out spectacularly. Until you and A started fighting over the toys. A wanted you to chase him, so he’d grab a ball and run. You, instead, wanted to hover over your treasure trove of outdoor athletic equipment. So it turned into a morning of tears, hurt feelings, tattling and whining. Delightful. 

We were a little disappointed and a little concerned, since you’ll be starting preschool (for all intents and purposes) in about six weeks, and sharing toys to make new friends is going to be a big, important part of that experience. And you won’t make friends if you claim all the toys for your own. 

And honestly, you’re usually relatively good about sharing. You share willingly with Daddy and me. I’m not sure what was going on with you this morning, but it wasn’t an overly positive experience. I did enjoy seeing Elisa trying to keep up with the big boys, though. She’s a pistol, that one, and adorable in every way. Maybe some day you’ll pay attention to her. 

It took some cajoling to get you to sit down for me to take some photos with the flowers. In the end, what worked is promising to allow you to take pictures of your own on the big camera, in which you’ve never shown any interest. “I want to learn,” you said. So I showed you how to hold the camera (with assistance), how to put your eye up to the viewfinder and how to extend your little index finger to the shutter button. You took a bunch of photos and they’re not half bad. You may just have a Stieglitz gene in you yet!

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

Hot dog!

Dear Love Bug,

It was such an absolutely perfect spring day that we couldn’t not go to the playground after work/daycare. You wanted to bring your scooter, which I wound up carrying all the way there and all the way back. But when we got there, the sun hovering at that perfect angle where it comes streaming through the trees that surround the little mulch lot with its two jungle gyms, you took off to your new favorite pastime: walking the wood edgers of the lot as if they’re balance beams. And your balance is surprisingly impressive. You’re so capable now, so much braver than you were even a few months ago. You scramble up the monkey bars with no fear, not even a wobble. You perch on top of the spinning cylinder (the function of which I still can’t determine, other than to cause children to fall off and break their necks) as if it’s a pommel horse. You go down the slides–the one piece of playground equipment that you took the longest to warm up to–head first. And while I can spend a split-second being slightly sad that you’re no longer a wobbly toddler, we’re having too much fun together for me to mourn any passing phase for too long.

My favorite part was when you took off down the hill into the big grassy field at the bottom of the lot, running far ahead of me and yelling back, “Tag! You’re it!” I guess you haven’t quite gotten the hang of that one.

Back at the house at dinner, you pronounced, “I want a different one!” “A different what?” I asked. “Hot dog bun.” “But you have one right there,” Daddy said. “What’s wrong with that one?” You: “There’s a hot dog in it.”

I noticed today, probably because it was slightly humid and you’d been outdoors, playing up a sweat, that your hair is getting long again and taking on that waviness that I love so much. With your omnipresent Orioles cap pulled down low on your forehead, your hair sticks out in the back and kind of curls around the edges.

Gosh, you’re cute. (P.S. I said that to you today, and you said, “I’m not cute. I’m a dog.” No idea.)

Love you like crazy, kiddo.

Mamma

leaps and bounds

21 months

The hubbub in the house has died down post-Memorial Day cookout. The dishwasher’s running. The living room has been picked up. Food’s put away. My tummy and my heart are full. There’s something about having a lot of activity in the house that makes me feel satisfied, and the calm that follows it is even more satisfying.

You’re fast asleep–for hours already. I still wonder what you dream about–if you can remember the details of your day enough to recall them in sleep–and maybe the multitude of adventures we had this weekend are shaping your night thoughts. I’m glad we had the extra day off; without it, I would’ve been completely wiped out.

Between the outdoor time in the stifling heat, the pool, the sprinkler, the birthday party, the multiple meals out, the playground, the gardening and everything else, you’re exhausted–and so am I. You took a few marathon naps this weekend, and you’ve been crashing well before 8. This intensive time with you has felt like a luxury; our weekends are usually so rushed, trying to squeeze everything (chores, errands, play time) into two days. Having an extra day makes all the difference. Does anyone want to offer me a four-day-a-week job?!

We’re gearing up for more uninterrupted family time, as we’re off to the beach–for a full week this year!–with Nonna and Opa on Saturday. That gives us four short days to get everything prepped, packed and crammed into the car. And this after we packed and unpacked just a couple of weeks ago for a trip up to Massachusetts to visit Uncle Eddie, Aunt Lala and Hazel.

What a treat for you that was: You chased their chickens and collected their eggs; you rode in a wagon that Uncle Eddie pulled with his tractor; you had room to do nothing but run (through the sprinkler, even–a first!) on their huge property;  you had a built-in older sister to entertain you (I’ve decided that rent-an-older-sibling is a fantastic business idea); you ate delicious homemade ice cream and played on a couple of playgrounds; you hiked along the Mill River. It felt so good to breathe that fresh mountain air and to bask in having nothing in particular to do and nowhere especially to be. You had a ball, and Daddy and I had a chance to be grown-ups with our grown-up friends, which we think is important for our senses of identity and our happiness.

In getting to and from Massachusetts, you took your fifth and sixth flights, respectively. We managed to do it pretty cheaply (and they were easy-peasy, less-than-one-hour flights) with you flying as a lap infant, and it marked the last time we’ll be able to take advantage of that option. Next time we fly, we’ll be paying for a seat for you because you’ll be TWO. That happened extraordinarily quickly.

And as we enter the last quarter of a year leading up to that milestone, you’re growing by leaps and bounds. I’m fairly certain you’re stretching in your sleep; each day, you seem taller and more little boyish. We caught you with your leg slung over the top rail of your crib in attempt to escape, so we lowered it yet again–and this is the final frontier, the lowest setting. Next stop: toddler bed.

You’re getting excellent practice at climbing (and also running, jumping, galloping, hanging, crawling and shimmying) at the playground, where you spend most of your days (natch) now that the 40-Day Flood has ended and summer seems to be here to stay. And you work that playground like a boss. You’re up and down stairs and ladders and all other climbing implements effortlessly, and the other day–straight outta nowhere–you walked up to the slide, sat down, turned yourself around and went down backwards and on your stomach. What?! You were down and up again before I could figure out what had just happened. You’re also starting to make contact when kicking balls, your throwing arm ain’t half bad and you’re maybe (kinda) starting to figure out how to make significant forward progress on your riding toys and in your Cozy Coupe (as opposed to just pushing yourself backwards).

Other recent interests include coloring with crayons (rather than eating them, although you sneak an occasional waxy bite, still, here and there); playing with stickers; and preparing elaborate spreads of fake food and then demanding that we eat them. “Sit,” you say, pointing to the pouf in the living room. “Eat.” And you shove a wooden lemon toward us or, if we’re lucky, some “bread” that you’ve “buttered.”

Your language skills continue to floor us.

We’ve caught you responding to the TV when the characters–presumably either in Elmo, Super WHY! or Yo Gabba Gabba, the shows you request regularly–address the audience with a question. “What’s your name?” they ask. You’re very emphatic: “Ethan!”

You speak in full sentences, although much of it only you can understand, especially when you get going fast. Some of your latest gems include:

“Ethan push button and watch Nemo on the iPad.”

“Mamma, flip-flops hurting Ethan’s feet.”

“There’s a hole in the bucket” followed by insane laughter.

And–first words uttered upon waking up in the morning–“I need chocolate cake.” (You are my son!) This has led to some bargaining when I respond by saying there’s no chocolate cake. “Cookies?” “Nope.” “Goldfish?”

You talk so much, in fact, that we’ve realized we’ve gotten to the point that every parent, I imagine, gets to eventually: We respond exasperatedly to the endless “Mamma? Mamma? Mamma?” or “Daddy? Daddy? Daddy?” with a “Yes, Ethan, WHAT?”

I have to remind myself that you talking all the time is awesome because you’re able to express yourself using words and not by screaming or crying.

And that, Love Bug, is something to celebrate.