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Sep 30, 2009

How to survive a headache

For reasons unknown to me, I've had a string of bad headaches. What's the deal? I want to know. Today, I'm employing a number of coping techniques.

1. Take Excedrin. The caffeine should help with the lack of sleep and hopefully take the edge off the discomfort.

2. Drink water (lots of it). In case I am dehydrated...I won't be anymore!

3. Contain the toddler. It's the only strategy in cases such as these.


4. Provide movies for the toddler. (Don't judge.) Baby Signing Time and Baby Einstein:Neighborhood Animals are current favorites, although certain Sesame Street segments occasionally provide effective entertainment.

5. Draw the blinds and curtains (where they exist). Turn off the lights. Light is annoying today.

6. Wear pajamas. And sunglasses. Only six self-portraits are necessary before finding an angle that eliminates the third chin. (There are no angles that eliminate the giant nose.)


7. Clean the toilet. Dry-heaving is less likely to induce genuine vomit if the toilet is clean.

8. Dress up the baby in butterflies. Adorable babies are good therapy.


9. Hope and pray for improvement. The head must feel better by the time the after-school/soccer/football rat race begins.

Sep 28, 2009

Daffodil Days


Last night Garry commented on the stacks of books on my nightstand. I have ADD when it comes to reading. I have a hard time sticking with a book long enough to finish it, especially if the book is non-fiction. So I have begun all of these books and finished none of them. It's a problem. I've vowed not to start another until they're all done. (Well, except the scriptures...they are never done, right?)

Despite the fact that the book club is reviewing "Homeless Bird" on Friday and I have only read the first page, my current favorite is "May Christ Lift Thee Up" (second from the bottom on the left), which is a compilation of addresses given at the 1998 BYU Women's Conference. Here is an excerpt from a talk by Virginia Pearce that resonates with me today:

"I was driving to work down South Temple Street in Salt Lake City. The sun was shining; the world seemed fresh and alive; there were daffodils everywhere and lots of that vibrant new green that we see only in the early spring. I was feeling good. It was one of those days when everything seemed to be right in my world. You know the kind of day. I was overwhelmed with love for my husband -- he seemed particularly handsome and good; my children seemed like they were going to make it in the world. And they were nice people, too. We were all in good health; in fact, at that moment I felt extraordinarily healthy and strong. I thought about all of the wonderful people -- friends, neighbors, associates at work -- who made my world so good. My thoughts went to the day ahead. Yes, it was going to be a good one. There was work ahead that I felt I could do -- work that was satisfying and interesting and that might even make a difference. I'm telling you, the cheerfulness in my car was almost edible!

"Yet even as I was reviewing how great my life was, part of me was looking on saying, What's going on here? None of the hard data in your life has changed that much, and yet everything seems wonderfully better this morning than it was last week! My analytical nature surfaced: Maybe the biorhythms are peaking; perhaps there has been a sudden change in serotonin levels; maybe I created extra endorphins on my morning walk. Anyway, even as I looked for ways to explain it (I didn't really care how it happened), the daffodils were catching the sun, and I was happy.

"...On that spring morning I reached for my scriptures, still thinking of my incredible sense of well-being, and started paging through the Topical Guide, stopping on the word cheer. As I read through the sentence stubs, I was surprised by a pattern:

"Be of good cheer: it is I" (Mark 6:50).
"Be of good cheer, little children" (D&C 61:36).
"Be of good cheer, for I will lead you along" (D&C 78:18).
"Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

"That touched a chord. Everything about my morning became an expression of gratitude to the Savior: the spring morning spoke of him, eternal ties and family relationships spoke of him, my health, strength, work -- all found meaning because of him.

"...Daffodils do bring gladness. Healthy, happy children cause our hearts to sing. Balanced brain chemistry and physical health maximize our enjoyment of this world. ... Economic security lightens our load of worry. Attentive husbands and the warmth of good friends bring contentment....but if some of these, if all of these, were to evaporate, to be snatched away from us, cut off at ground level, we could still count on Christ: the one who did only the will of the Father, the co-creator of all that is good, the one who knows every soul--yes, you and me."

These amazing words express how I feel today. As I am swept up in the grandeur of my blessings, in the hope of a brighter day, I am also reminded that the fundamentals of my life haven't changed. I still have challenges and limitations, stumbling blocks that will prevent me from achieving all of my ideals. But I take comfort in these words, also from Virginia Pearce's talk (originally stated by her mother, Marjorie Hinckley):

"We each do the best we can. My best may not be as good as your best, but it's my best. The fact is that we know when we are doing our best and when we are not. If we are not...it leaves us with a gnawing hunger and frustration. But when we do our level best, we experience peace."

Today is a day when I am enjoying the daffodils (or maybe the autumn leaves), soaking up the sunshine, and feeling content that my best effort is good enough. It's a good feeling -- and a good day.

Sep 27, 2009

Another day, another project

I frequently say (and think) that I do little else but the "Mommy essentials." I make sure people have something to eat, and something clean to wear, and a reasonably tidy house in which to live. I pick kids up from school and monitor homework and play dates and try to ensure that no one sets the house on fire. I try to hit the religious essentials, too -- scriptures and prayer and church and Family Home Evening. (Oh, and I blog. Is this essential?)

But really, very little else happens. Gone are the days of free time and exciting outings and creative outlets and sparkling bathrooms and regular exercise. It's all about maintaining the status quo.

Except that we can't seem to quit with the bedroom switcharoos.

In the 16 months our family has lived here, one bedroom in our house has been used for four different purposes. First it was a guest bedroom. Ah! A guest bedroom! It gave us its status for Gavin in preparation for Lexi's arrival. Then, when Gavin abandoned the crib far too prematurely, he moved downstairs with Tyler and Zachary came upstairs. For a while I've been itching to move the office upstairs and put Zach back in the basement in his own room. That was relegated to a "someday" project...and then our neighbor gave us furniture that was perfect for Zach. We decided it made sense to set it up downstairs.

So I made a trip to Home Depot, picked out a lovely blue shade to cover the ghastly orange I chose last summer for the office, and spent a couple of afternoons this week rearranging closets.

Garry got involved on Saturday for the furniture moving and electronics relocating and, of course, the painting. I helped (and took pictures).

Here we have the old office in its semi-torn-apart state, and Zach's new furniture hanging out in the family room downstairs.



Have you ever used this fabulous paint-plus-primer stuff? It's awesome!
Have you ever used this painter? He's even more awesome! (Side note: Garry and I were musing over our paint clothes yesterday, and the veritable cornucopia of color splatted all over them.)



Below: The new bedroom. Still to come: something interesting to hang on the wall.



Isn't empty space beautiful? Zach can't wait to clutter up the shelves. On the other hand, he has to share the closet with electronic gizmos, luggage, FHE lessons, and photography equipment. So far the only things in that closet that belong to Zach are a laundry hamper and a hanger full of neck ties.



The face says it all: Zach is happy...so we are, too!



Below: The new office. It is a work in progress, and the curtains need to be ironed. The closet is organized and the Internet is functional, so I can be patient with the rest!



In our last house we painted 12 times - every room, with three painted twice. We're up to eight paint jobs (three of them massive) in this house, and still have three rooms with white walls. I wonder how long it will take before "project mode" sneaks up on us again.

Sep 25, 2009

Who can resist this face?


This morning Gavin pulled a pink spatula out of the drawer. He waved in it my face and said,

"Bite? Yummy bite? Yummy bite please?"

Then, using his latest motivational tactic, he put his hands on my hips and pushed me in the direction he wanted me to go. He pushed me to the mixer.

This morning I had plans to mop the floor, but instead, I made cookies.

Gavin got lots of yummy bites, and so did I!

Sep 24, 2009

Talk therapy & walk therapy

I couldn't let that ugly post hang out in cyberspace too long without a follow-up.

First of all, I enjoyed all of your validating comments! Apparently I'm not the only one who has fallen victim to the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. And while I know my life is not the only crazy one out there, it's easy to get caught up in the drama within the walls of my home (and heart), to think that my wild child is the only wild child in the universe, and to believe that no one could possibly understand the intensity of my emotions.

Luckily, I'm blessed with friends and family who help me find my perspective. Just today, there were friends on the phone and friends in my Inbox. Friends on my couch and friends on the sidewalk. Friends that were once my day-to-day, shoulder-to-shoulder girls, but whose support now lives on through blogs and emails and Facebook. Tonight there were even friends at the dinner table. I've been thinking today how blessed I am to have this support network, to know that even though it's hard for me to pick up the phone and say, "Help!" I could do it, and get help, in a heartbeat.

So thank you, dear friends! I love you.

Now.

Today was a much better day than yesterday. Part of it was that I had different expectations. Part of it was that I cleaned my house and hosted playgroup. (A clean house is good for the soul, in my opinion, and talking to women is incredibly therapeutic, even if you aren't discussing what ails.) And part of it was that I took a walk.



It was a cool day, but at 2:00, I think that Gavin, Lexi, and I caught the best part of it. We were all kind of grumpy, but a brisk jaunt around the neighborhood set things right again.

And I got to enjoy these faces, plus two more.



Note to self: Take more pictures of Tyler and Garry.

The end.

Sep 23, 2009

I've already tried screaming into a pillow

Before Garry and the boys left this morning, Gavin colored on himself, his clothes, and his sheets with a marker; soaked a roll of toilet paper in the sink; tripped over my foot and split his lip; and suffered poopy diaper leakage in his pajamas. That sort of set the tone for the day.

Zachary and Tyler were late for school.

I learned that the two gallons of milk I bought at Costco yesterday (with four kids in tow) sat out on the counter all night.

Gavin ran off with my shoes, one of which I still cannot find (at 6:09 p.m.).

I pinched my finger in the swing harness, which is the same finger I stabbed with a fork on Saturday and subsequently became infected.

The printer jammed when I was trying to print a photo to take to the guy cutting my hair.

I got a haircut I'm not sure I like.

Lexi bit me while nursing.

Gavin fell asleep during kindergarten pick-up, making his real nap FAR less than long enough.

Three seconds after he got in the van after school, Tyler yelled at me for not arranging a play date for him.

Having a belt holding the refrigerator closed is extremely annoying.

The thermometer hovered under 40 degrees today, but Gavin wanted to play outside. He bundled up, went outside for three seconds, then screamed to come back in. (Repeated 16 times.)

I attempted to rearrange closets (we are doing yet another room switch this weekend) and got so overwhelmed I had to quit.

I attempted to take a nap (and even said a prayer that kids would sleep longer so I could), but they were both crying within five minutes of my head hitting the pillow.

I attempted to fold and iron laundry, but Gavin kept unfolding and unplugging, so I quit.

While folding laundry, I discovered two clothing items whose awful stains I didn't catch before washing.

Gavin stepped on my open scriptures and ripped a page. He ran off with the marking crayons and two are missing.

Gavin is so scared of the vacuum he won't go downstairs.

Lexi might be cutting a tooth. (Use your imagination.)

Zach and Tyler both had games scheduled for tonight. I made sack dinners for everyone. Zach f-i-n-a-l-l-y got ready and left with Garry for the football game. Tyler's coach called and canceled the soccer game. Tyler was devastated (I was elated). Tyler screamed about eating his sack dinner at home.
.
.
.

So I'm done. I'm punching out. Shift over.

{This post might only be up for an hour, but I had to get it all out. I'm venting. It's been a bad day. Tomorrow has got to be better.}

Sep 21, 2009

The cookie lady

This is my friend Melanie (and me).


In addition to many other lovely qualities, Melanie is a prolific cookie-maker. Chocolate chip cookies seem to be her specialty. They are delicious, and my boys know it.

Melanie lives near my boys' school, so it often happens that I return a borrowed book or deliver pictures or arrive for some other random purpose in the afternoon when my van is full of kids. She always comes out to the van and gives them cookies when we arrive.

So Melanie has become "the cookie lady" to my kids. It's kind of embarrassing for me that they beg for cookies whenever we drive up, but she is awfully obliging. The cookies have become a tradition. Occasionally she'll send us home with a plate full.

Today Melanie came to my house for a minute. As she was standing in the doorway, Gavin ran up and said, "Cookie?" For some reason Melanie doesn't carry warm homemade cookies in her pockets, and Gavin was disappointed. To him, the face and the treat go together; location and circumstance are irrelevant.

But I'll bet that some time in the not-too-distant future, we'll all stop by and get cookies for the road. Maybe even one for each hand!

Melanie loves my kids, and I am grateful. I think she is a friend worth keeping! (And not just because of the cookies.)

In-n-out

This is not a post about fast-food hamburgers, although I kind of wish it was.

This is a post about keeping up with the toddler -- about strapping him in or keeping him out.

I have said this before, and I will say it again, but Gavin is equal parts delightful and exasperating.

Today, the delightful comes in the form of wearing a coat and beanie around the house while pulling behind him a suitcase full of toys. And employing his new vocabulary by talking to my friend on the phone. And asking me to "kiss it" when he conks his head on the edge of the counter (he's the perfectly awful height for forehead bruises these days).

Today, the exasperating comes in the form of playing in the bathroom sink, Lexi's crib, and most especially the refrigerator. Last week Garry bought some fabulous locks for the pantry. They are the perfect solution for the bi-fold doors, the perfect way to keep Gavin out of the goldfish crackers and the flour and the granola bars. I love them, I love them, I love them.


Have I mentioned that I love them?

I also love the new high chair in our house -- the first high chair we've owned, which we purchased for Wild Child #3. This high chair is akin to Fort Knox. It keeps Gavin IN. He can't get out. Meal times are more peaceful. He doesn't throw his tray of food across the room. And it comes in handy when I need a shower or want to sweep the floor. IN is a good thing.


But I digress.

Because pantry locks have kept Gavin out of the pantry, he has been on the hunt for new forms of mischief. Today he has remembered the refrigerator. It's a treasure trove of naughtiness-in-the-making -- bags of grapes and other fresh produce, eggs, condiments, milk, and leftovers. Gavin knows he can't just walk up to the fridge while I'm in the room. So he waits. The second I move to switch the laundry or make a bed or change a (smaller) diaper or answer the phone, he's in the fridge. Last time I used the bathroom I came out to find three bottles of salad dressing, BBQ sauce, and mustard on the kitchen table. I found a tomato and apple on the floor, one bite taken from each.

Enough!

In the absence of a better solution, I have resorted to creativity born of desperation.


This is a belt, folks.

And it works.

And Gavin is not happy.

(But I am.)

Sep 20, 2009

He speaks

Before nap time, when Gavin was trying to get out of bed...

Garry: No way!

Gavin: Jose!

Garry: (uproarious laughter)

Gavin: Jose! Jose! Jose! Jose!

Garry: (uproarious laughter)

Gavin: Home Depot!

Garry: (uproarious laughter)

Gavin: Lawmow scawy...lawmow scawy...vavoo scawy...vavoo scawy!

Garry: (uproarious laughter)

Sep 19, 2009

Saturday Harvest

One of the many things we have learned since moving to Colorado Springs is that having a large yard requires a large amount of work.

Today's chore: picking (and picking up) crab apples. By the hundreds. I might have some guilt about throwing them all away. (But apparently not enough.) And it might be a week to tip the garbage man.



Garry mowed the lawn. And Gavin cowered on the porch, chanting, "lawmow scawy." He seemed truly petrified, but, sensitive Mom that I am, I thought it was hilarious and tried to capture video. Gavin has been obsessed with the scary lawnmower all.day.long. Hilarity has given way to fatigue. Enough already!



video

I ripped out the summer flowers. After a brief post-Labor-Day reprieve from their pathetic state, they were pummeled by hail this week and had to go. I think I'm glad, since they were a constant reminder of all I couldn't/didn't do this summer. Flowers be gone! We will do better next year.



Zach and Tyler played most of the day with the neighbor boy, Tyler. Those boys love to climb trees, and we have plenty!



And then I experimented with Lexi's silly hair. Even sillier than the natural Mohawk, I believe!



Tonight the kids are having CYO (choose your own) for dinner. Zach and Gavin chose macaroni and cheese. Tyler had cereal and toast. After the kids go to bed, Garry and I will get take-out and watch something on TV...the best attempt at a date we've had since....well, probably our wedding anniversary in June.

It's a Saturday to remember.

Sep 17, 2009

This is the month...



Lexi is four months old! This is a day that has arrived more quickly than I imagined it would. What a sweet baby we have!

In thinking about the last 30 days, I always want to remember that this was the month that Lexi learned to roll out of tummy time.

This was the month she discovered her hands and tried to eat them.



This was the month of belly laughs and high-pitched squeals.

This was the month of discovering the "sweet spot" in the corner of the crib that reinstated all-night slumber and inaugurated scheduled afternoon naps.

This was the month of breaking into 3-6 month clothes, and of putting away lots of tiny pink things.



This was the month she started scooting backwards and in circles and wore a bald spot on the back of her head.

This was the month we decided she'd inherited her father's thick and wiry hair (for better or worse....).

This was the month she started outgrowing her stylish headbands...but still wore them.

This was the month of attending football practices and soccer games.



One year ago, this was the month we found out our dearest Lexi was on the way (although we didn't announce it for a bit). Back then we were so surprised, but now we can't imagine life without our little girl.

We love you, Lexi!

Sep 15, 2009

Lessons from the laundry pile

OK, so I know I post about laundry too often. I seem to do it a lot. (Laundry, that is.)

But today (laundry day) I have made some decisions that feel noteworthy.

One: I will never buy Zachary a white t-shirt again. He is my messiest child! Wearing white is asking for disaster.

Two: I am done with flat sheets on little boy beds. Why fight it? The boys won't pull up the flat sheet when they "make" their beds in the morning. The sheet is crumpled in a wad at the foot of the bed, either under or on top of the comforter. Today I am washing sheets and remaking beds with fitted sheets only. (Except for my bed. As my mom would say, I have learned to be civilized in my old age.)

Three: Tyler needs new socks.

Four: I still love washing and folding pink and flowers and ruffles.

Five: Taking boys to church is not for the faint of heart. No pens will be allowed on our pew anymore. I am tired of drawings showing up on size 8 slacks and shirt sleeves. However, I am very proud of the khaki hem job I mustered a few weeks ago.

Six: Dawn dish soap is my newest, favoritest stain remover. It is especially excellent for bodily fluids. I'm so glad I have a friend with a PhD in stain removal.

Now that I have emptied my brain of such silly information, it is time to empty the washing machine. The white load is next. Exciting, no?

Sep 14, 2009

Churchy conversations

Before church

Dad: Tyler, will you go find some black socks for you and Gavin to wear to church?

Tyler: OK.

Dad: Why did you bring me tan socks for Gavin? I asked for black. You brought black for yourself.

Tyler: I looked for black, but all I could find were tan, white, white with gray heels and toes, and old navy blue!

Dad: (stifling laughter) There's a store called Old Navy, but this pair is actually just navy blue.

Tyler: Really??? That's weird!

.......

After church


Mom: Tyler, tell me what you learned at church today.

Tyler: We played a game that was a crossword puzzle and the teacher gave us clues for each word.

Mom: What were some of the words?

Tyler: Hmm....prayer, rejoice, some other words.

Mom: What was the clue for "rejoice"? That's a cool word.

Tyler: Alma and the sons of Mosiah were missionaries, and they came back together and rejoiced because they were still brethren in the Lord. (He actually used that phrase!)

Mom: (Feeling proud of her son's scriptural knowledge) That's a great story! So can you tell me what "rejoice" actually means?

Tyler: It would be like if it was Sunday and we finished all of our jobs, and you actually let us play with friends. We would rejoice!

.......

The day after church

This isn't so much of a conversation, but rather a story that needs to preserved...

Over breakfast this morning, as is our tradition, I was reading aloud to Zachary, Tyler, and Gavin from the Book of Mormon. Zach was kicking the table, Tyler was making farting noises with his mouth, and Gavin was banging his spoon on his tray. Mosiah 23 was apparently not stimulating enough for the younger set. Gavin expressed his disapproval by throwing his bowl of milk at my head, splatting the pages of my new scriptures with milk droplets.

I took comfort in the verses I read a moment later:

(21) Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith.
(22) Nevertheless -- whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day.

The moral of the story: My patience has officially been tried, but I'm still trying! I look forward to being lifted up at the last day, should I survive the days between now and then...

Sep 13, 2009

Kids in the morning

There are still moments, when I see all four of my kids together, that I think, "Wow! I have four kids! How did that happen?" This morning we made them all sit on the couch to capture a photo...and got a decent one on the first try! We didn't take any more. So, with pajamas and bedhead included, here are the four kiddos.


Plus one of Lexi by herself because...well, just because.


Lexi is a girl on the move. This three-minute video might only interest the grandparents, but I think it's awfully cute. There is rolling and cooing and smiling, a great shot of her crazy hair, and lots of obnoxious Mommy talk. Enjoy!

video

Sep 10, 2009

Adventures in parenthood

This morning my boys embarked on a new adventure: riding bikes to school. Garry fixed up his own bike (and bought a helmet) so that he could ride to school with the boys and then on to work. There was excitement in the air as they rode away at 7:55 a.m. Tyler was especially enthused this morning because his class is taking a field trip and the outing includes a sack lunch.



After the boys left I took a shower. I checked my phone for messages when I got out; it seems someone always calls while I'm in the shower. Sure enough, I'd missed a call -- from the secretary at the boys' school. But there was no message. I was somewhat alarmed, so I called back, but I had to leave a message. Then, of course, I forgot about it.

While nursing Lexi, I watched as Gavin grabbed the open container of homemade strawberry jam from the counter and proceeded to drink the jam. He was remarkably careful with his slurping. I can't believe I didn't stop him, but I was somewhat entertained. Later, though, he started scooping the jam out with his hand. That's when his shirt got dirty, and when my line in the sand became apparent. I took off his shirt and cleaned it up and sent Gavin to fetch another. He brought a space-themed, long-sleeved pajama shirt. On it went.

While on the phone with a friend around 9:00 a.m., I ignored an incoming call. I didn't recognize the number, and I figured if the call was important the person would leave a message. The message I picked up later went something like this:

"Hi Heidi, this is Mrs. Yowell, Tyler's teacher. I wanted to make sure you knew what was going on at school today. Tyler wasn't supposed to be here until 9:00 today. Tyler was surprised you had forgotten, since he has a lunch and said you had a conversation about today's field trip. Please don't come to pick him up at the regular time, which is 11:20. Please pick him up at 1:00. Not 11:20. We have a field trip. I just wanted to make sure you understood. Bye!"

Yep, I understand. You think I have far too few brain cells to be a successful parent. You are absolutely correct. See you at 1:00! Or was it 11:20?
.
.
.

Post Script:

Before typing up this post, I put Gavin at the table with a cup of applesauce. He was hungry, I needed him confined to one spot, and since he insisted on wearing an apron, I felt the mess would be kept to a minimum.

Ten minutes later, this is what I found. I knew it was too quiet.


I'm especially fond of the applesauce-encrusted scissors.

Sep 9, 2009

Sometimes it's hard being the Mom

The Secret Garden

Here's a dirty little secret.
My flower garden mostly looks like this:

(Hopefully my blood relatives with greener thumbs won't faint on the spot.
I have been taught better gardening principles.)

I had high aspirations for this flower garden of mine.
On the night back in June when I planted
marigolds and zinnias and impatiens and salvia
I dreamed of full, healthy foliage and bright, happy blooms.

Then real life hit,
and the heat came,
and I didn't water enough
or weed very frequently.
And the flowers
did
not
thrive.

And I was sad.

Every time I looked out my front window,
I saw the droopy flowers
and the ugly weeds
and the stagnant dirt.
The grass beyond the planter looked pathetic, too.
(It still does, much to the chagrin of the neighbor we pay to aerate it.)
I told myself, "Tomorrow will be the day I rescue the flowers."
I kept saying that for a lot of days.

Then came Labor Day.
The boys had earned some chores,
so I had them tackle the flower bed.
Once the weeds were (mostly) gone, I did the rest.
Out came the wilted peonies, the bushy lilacs,
the super-sad bleeding hearts.
I raked the dirt.
I dead-headed the flowers.
I fertilized the plants.
I gave the whole garden a great big drink.

Summer is pretty much over; we're moving into Fall now.
There's not much time left for my little flower patch.
But I'm trying to see the good and appreciate the bright spots in my garden.
Maybe next year will be the year for a blue-ribbon display.

For now, I'll quote a wise lady, who once said,
"Life is good. The zinnias are blooming."

Because it is. And they are.

Sep 8, 2009

This boy

How I adore this little boy.


Gavin is as mischievous as he is adorable, as busy as he is happy. But oh, how I love him.

Today while I was nursing Lexi we played a game. While I sat in the rocking chair in her room, I tossed her binky into different corners and he fetched it. (See? I don't need a dog.) Gavin found this game delightful, and I was highly amused at each rescue mission and triumphant retrieval. Then he put a collection of binkies in a little plastic jar on her desk. We counted as he put them in. I paused after each number, and he filled in the blank (I cannot believe how this boy can count!). Then we counted toes. Over and over and over again. Tiny Lexi toes and dirty Gavin toes and even red-painted Mommy toes. (Survey says: we each have ten.)

The letters L and F have broadened Gavin's vocabulary, as has the introduction of two-syllable words. Quite suddenly, Gavin can say things like:

laundry (lawdwee)
blanky (blayhee)
close (clo)
hello (hello)
help (hell)
please (plee)
Zachary (Zawee)
Tyler (Tylah)
Lexi Lou (Lelli Lou)
Karlie (Karlie -- a favorite babysitter)
Home Depot (Ho Depot)
salsa (sosa)
oh no! (oh no!)
oopsie (oopsie)
vacuum (vavoo)
thank you (gaykoo)
football (foo'fah or foo'ball)
lawnmower (lawmow)
flip-flop (flih-flah - the word for all sandals)
open (opeh)
outside (ahsigh)
see ya (see ya)
up/down (up/down -- always together)

Gavin loves to putter in the back yard. He loves to ride his bike. He loves to play with a squirt bottle (it's a wonder mine is always broken). Gavin loves to be where his brothers are, or where the action is. Containment in the port-a-crib only lasted a few weeks; if he senses he's missing out on something, he climbs right out. Gavin loves
Baby Einstein movies and often requests a show. He loves milk and goldfish crackers and grapes and bananas. He loves Russell and Elmo, his stuffed sidekicks. He loves to suck on his toothbrush and my toothbrush and everyone else's toothbrushes. He comes to me with a random toothbrush and the toothpaste about ten times a day. (He hates having his teeth brushed.)

Last week's toilet training efforts fizzled out. He's not ready to commit, and neither am I. But Gavin still enjoys using the potty when Garry is around to take him. (He
never asks me to take him). Yesterday he went four times. I think he just likes getting M&Ms. But since he also tends to announce when he's going potty in his diaper, I think he's making connections.

I'm amazed at Gavin's coordination. He can kick a ball and throw pretty well. He can climb up and down a flight of stairs unassisted (no rail!). And his dexterity is quite remarkable. He often switches hands when eating. Is he ambidextrous or just left-handed? Maybe he can't decide.

I love to tickle Gavin in the spot on his chest that garners his signature belly laugh. He can't help it, and
I love it. It's a sure-fire way to make me laugh, too. The other day Garry tickled Gavin under his arm. Gavin laughed. Then he raised his arm and said, "Ticko 'gain?" He wanted to be tickled again and again.

A friend commented today that if Gavin wasn't so good-natured, he just might kill me. I think she's right. But today was a very, very good-natured Gavin day, and I'm glad we're both alive.

Special delivery

Dear Aunt Angie,

I got your package in the mail today.







Mommy really loves the headbands.
(And me.)

Love,
Baby 'rado

pass it on!

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