Monthly Archives: November 2010

Late Nights


Robbie had to stay at daycare late tonight. Super late. 7:30 late. I haven’t gone that long in the day without seeing him since I was taking classes last spring. I rushed all the way from Lawrence to get there, even though I knew he would be asleep. And he was. Zhining was waiting for me, so I didn’t have to ring the doorbell. She slowly opened the door to the room where Robbie was sleeping, and we peaked in on him.

Robbie rolled over and briefly opened his eyes. He slowly closed them. And then quickly opened them. If he was coordinated to jump to his feet, that’s what he would have done. He ran to the side of the crib with an award-winning smile on his face. It was one of those I’ve-been-waiting-to-see-you-all-day-and-you’re-finally-here smiles. I picked him up out of the crib and he threw himself at me. Then he pulled back from me and just looked at me, a slow grin spreading across his face. He touched my cheek like he wasn’t really sure I was there and then hugged me again (Cuddle Baby is really working!).

I’m not saying that I would want to have Open House every week. But, it was nice to be gone long enough for Robbie to really miss me. Usually when I pick him up from daycare, he opens the door, looks at me, and runs the other way. But not tonight. Tonight, I was the one person he wanted to see. And, at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.


Cuddle Baby


As you may have guessed, Robbie does not have any tolerance for cuddling. He’s down for kisses because they are quick and he can be on his way. I also thinks he gets a kick out of how kisses sound. But hugs? Forget about it. They require actually stopping what he is doing. He can kiss and walk, which is acceptable.

I, on the other hand, have always dreamed of having a baby (err… little boy) who loved to give hugs and cuddle. So, being a mom who likes to conform others to fit her expectations, I have begun training Robbie to cuddle with me. How? (I know you’re out there! The other moms with kids who don’t want to give hugs) Easy. I made it a game that involves rapid movement, one of Robbie’s favorite things.

I started a few days ago hugging him close to me, saying “Be a cuddle baby!”, and swinging from side to side so his legs bounced around. There are a few key things here. First, it was important to hold him close the way I always pictured my little boy hugging me (you guessed it: head on my shoulder). This way, he knows what to do when I say the trigger word (can you tell I’m the one who trained the dog?). This leads me to the next point: you need to have a name for the game. For us, it’s “Cuddle Baby”. This lets Robbie know what he should do when you say that word. Kind of like he’s figured out how to bow when Zhining says, “Thank you” in Chinese. And, finally, I swing him from side to side because he thinks it’s hilarious. That way we both get something fun out of the experience.

Is it possible that this actually works? Yes. Well, most of the time. There are times when Robbie is too busy to even think about Cuddle Baby. But then there are the times that he thinks it’s fun, and I love that he leaves his head on my shoulder for a few extra seconds after we finish playing. Soon enough, he’ll be crawling into my lap to cuddle while we read books together… Right?



Justin worries that Robbie doesn’t miss him when he’s gone. Robbie doesn’t always look up and come running when Justin walks in the house. After all, sometimes a toy that lights up and plays music is more exciting than a dad walking up the stairs…

I’ve been trying to convince Justin that this is not true, that Robbie does really miss him and love him and know exactly who he is. But, what do I know? I’m just the mom who listens to the kid say Dada every day Justin’s gone. I’m just the mom who watches Robbie lift up the sheets and look for Justin.

The proof came today. I was in the kitchen getting dinner ready when Robbie came running down the hall with Justin’s shirt in hand, gleefully yelling, “Dada! Dada! Dada!” Now if only I’d caught this on video for real proof…



I’ve been waiting for this phase for quite some time, and I think it’s finally here. That’s right. It looks like Roberto is in the repeating phase. In the past, when I asked him to say a word, he just laughed and said, “Da” (is this as irritating to other mothers as it is to me?). It occurred to me that this must have changed when Zhining told me she was teaching QiQi to count. I nearly did a double-take. This kid just says ma, da, dog, cat, ball, light, and (how could we forget) hi. But, as usual, she proved me wrong. Zhining called out, “Yi” and my child looked up and called out, “Er”.

So, I figured I would try this out with Robbie over the course of the evening. We tried out car, cheese, and, much to Robbie’s delight, cookie. I’m sure he has no idea what they mean really. He just enjoyed the sounds. There’s one that I know he does understand. But it’s a strange one. One I’m not sure I should admit that my kid knows. He knows what sound a fish makes. How? Well, every night he feeds Jake the Fish (he figured out how to shake the food over the bowl awhile ago and has to feed Jake the Fish every night before he’ll go to bed).

Since we got Jake the Fish, I’ve been making fish noises whenever he eats. Partially because it entertains me and partially because Robbie gets so tickled. Tonight, when Jake the Fish grabbed a flake, Robbie looked at me and, with a huge grin on his face, yelled, “Gulp!” I have a feeling I’m going to have to watch what I say much more carefully.

And in other big boy news… I discovered that Robbie’s streak of independence has extended to the Halloween candy I thought was hidden. He came into the kitchen waving a Tootsie Roll pop. Since it was wrapped, I didn’t think much of it. Until he came back to show me that he’d gotten it unwrapped and he was enjoying it. I’m just not ready for this… Talking? Sneaking his own candy? Can I just have my baby back?

Excused Absence…


I’ve been MIA since last Thursday… And, in all honesty, it’s all Justin’s fault (as are most things in his life). We actually got to have a family weekend, and I got so caught up in actually living my life that I forgot to write about it. It probably won’t sound like it was anything that fabulous, but Justin hasn’t been home for a full weekend in a month. In the past two months, I’ve only actually had him home two weekends.

Friday night we took Robbie to his first high school football game. It was the first high school football game Justin and I have been to since we moved to Massachusetts. And, let me tell you, it disappointed. High school football in Massachusetts cannot, in anyway, compare to high school football in Georgia – or even Kentucky. When we lived in Georgia, it was an event. The entire town came. Teachers went. Students went. Parents went. Alumni went. The stands were packed, especially if it was an in-town game. At Lawrence? Not so much in regards to attendance. There is a beautiful facility, and it was mostly empty. The visiting team had more fans at the game.

It wasn’t just the attendance that made it so different; it was the whole atmosphere. We’re used to football and cheerleaders and marching bands. Sure, there was football. Mediocre football that no one actually paid any attention to. And there were cheerleaders who could barely do toe-touches and took five girls to put one girl up in the air. You would have thought I was there coach (and, in the shocking revelation of the day, I actually was a cheerleading “coach” for the freshmen at Houston County). And the band? Oh, the band. How disappointing it was for Justin, who was most excited about the band. They played once, between the first and second quarters. There were no uniforms. There was no marching.

I’m still glad we went, though. Robbie actually tried to run away from me (surprise, surprise!). When I got to him, I heard someone yell, “Mrs. Manna!” When I turned around, it was one of my favorite students who pointed to the guy standing next to me and said, “That’s my dad!” I got to meet my first parent (to my teacher friends out there, I haven’t gotten any emails or phone calls complaining about my performance as a teacher – A.Mah.Zing!). It was nice to be able talk to a parent, especially when I had so many good things to say.

Last night, Justin and I had a date. Not the pathetic excuse for a date we had last time (massage – not pathetic – followed by rushed grocery shopping – pathetic). We went all out last night after Justin got home from class (so we missed him for Saturday). We went to get massages and then out to Tango for a nice dinner together. It was so strange to sit and talk over a leisurely dinner. We had a pitcher of sangria. We slowly ate our meal (what I wouldn’t give for another filet…) without moving the plate from groping fingers. There was no rush to leave because someone got antsy. There was no mess to pick up under the table. Well, other than the mess Justin left… We even had time for dessert. And, you know what? We still like each other! There are still fun things to talk about. Every now and then I worry that we will run out of things to talk about. And one day we might. But, thankfully, that wasn’t last night.

Today involved a failed attempt at church. We had to make a break for it after the homily when Robert melted down. And then it was chore time. Major chore time. I’m talking shampooing the upholstery. I’m talking raking leaves. And bagging them. Thirteen bags worth. We even swept. It looks like fall never even happened at our house! Justin and I got it knocked out in about two hours. Yard work is so much more tolerable when there’s someone doing it with you. It also helps when a certain baby takes a nearly four hour nap…

I told you it wouldn’t sound like anything super fabulous. Of course, I left out some parts. Like that I’ve taught Robbie how to give hugs and play “cuddle baby”. He’ll throw his head on my shoulder and laugh. Since Robbie isn’t really a cuddler (or affectionate beyond blowing kisses), this is a big step. I’m hoping at some point he’ll move to spontaneously giving hugs and not trying to wriggle his way out of them after five seconds.

And now I need to go. After all, family weekend isn’t over yet. There’s still dinner with the Sillettos and bath time. Oh, and laundry to put away and the house to get picked up before it gets cleaned tomorrow. And then a clean couch to lounge on while I work on finishing the Christmas stocking I started making for myself five years ago…

Toy Stealer


I arrived at daycare to a very concerned Zhining. I could tell she had something to tell me, but it didn’t occur to me what it could possibly be. And then she showed me Robbie’s hand, which was covered in teeth marks. From Addie, the two-year-old girl at daycare. Apparently, young Robert decided that he wanted the toy Addie was playing with. It’s actually a battle we’ve been fighting at home, dealing with temper tantrums when Robbie doesn’t get the item he wants. Well, Addie figured out how to deal with Robbie when he wants something that isn’t his. Just bite him.

Being the good mother that I am, I couldn’t help but laugh, much to Zhining’s relief. I’m not sure how she thought that I would react. She had Addie apologize to both of us, and I had Robbie apologize (as well as he could with his limited vocabulary) for stealing Addie’s toy. Then they gave each other kisses, which nearly melted my heart.

Zhining and I spent a few minutes discussing the situation. She told me QiQi had “big song” when Addie bit him. Shockingly, he didn’t recover well… I guess he gave quite a performance. While we were talking, I looked over to see that Addie had picked up a car to play with at the table. And Robbie was in the midst of trying to pry it from her fingers. All of a sudden, I saw a gleam in Addie’s eye as she opened her mouth wide and leaned in to teach Robbie a lesson about stealing toys.

I’m not really a big fan of my kid getting bitten, but I’m even less of a fan of him stealing toys from other kids. I can’t really go around biting my kid every time he steals a toy or throws a tantrum. And hopefully I won’t have to. After all, he sees Addie at daycare every day.

We Made It!


Justin has been gone since early Sunday morning, and, while I’ve actually enjoyed having some downtime to myself, I am so ready for him to come home tomorrow. I miss having someone to talk to in the mornings when I get ready for work and to recap the day before we fall asleep. With Justin being in California, there’s the three-hour time difference, too. So we don’t get to talk until 3:30, and even then it’s only for a few minutes. Robbie hasn’t actually gotten to talk to Justin on the phone for the past five days because he’s asleep by the time Justin’s finished with the trade show and we get to catch up with each other.

Justin called last night and left a message for Robbie. I wish I could have taped his face when he heard Justin’s voice on the phone. It was a full body smile, from his eyes right down to his toes. He was so tickled to hear Justin talking just to him on the phone that it made me melt a little. I’m not sure who misses Justin more because Robbie keeps running around saying, “Dada! Dada!” But, we made it through (hopefully!) the last trade show of the season. I think we’re both ready for some family time with Justin.

Robbie celebrated tonight by organizing his shoes before bedtime. It was a pretty detailed operation he had going on, but I’m not really sure what the madness to his method was. Or, for that matter, what the method to his madness was. But he was determined to move every single one of his shoes from under his rocking horse to, get this, the Diaper Champ. He piled them up on top and then around the base. And then started taking them back to the rocking horse. Not having time for the whole process again, I interrupted him with a hug and tickle session distracting him from the shoes. What in the world am I going to do when zerberts don’t do the trick?

Still Falling…


I’ve had over 48 hours to get used to this whole time change thing. But it isn’t working. I think the problem is that we do the time change over a weekend. You know why they do that right? It lulls us into a false sense of security. We sleep an hour later than normal. We think it’s a little cozy to curl up on the couch Sunday night when it gets dark later. It’s a good excuse to get to bed a little earlier. Maybe we’ll get up earlier in the mornings to enjoy the sunlight then. And then Monday hits. And Tuesday.

Yesterday was much rougher than I anticipated. There was the faculty meeting that went until 4:20. There was the pouring rain. There was the pitch black. And it was only 4:38. Pair that with not having glasses, and it was like driving in a fish bowl. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that it wasn’t 7:30, as I rushed to daycare. I was no later than I’d told Zhining I would be, but I felt like I was hours behind.

And then there was today. I got out of work on time. I picked up Robbie on time. We went to the gym. And, of course, it was pitch black when we left. “Taps” hadn’t even played yet. Of course, there were still two errands to run before Robbie and I could get home. It wasn’t terribly late, but I still had that horrible feeling of being late. I just really hope this doesn’t last all winter.

In Robbie news… I put him to bed easily, but he started screaming about ten minutes later. It sounded a little distant, so I went upstairs to investigate. His door was still shut, which seemed odd. Usually, when he gets upset, the first thing he does is open the door. It turns out that was exactly why he was screaming. The door was stuck shut, and he couldn’t open it to see what was going on out in the hall. As soon as the door was open? Happy baby! And off to sleep he went. Thank goodness for easy fixes!

Monday Morning Blues?


Not with Roberto in the house. I’l be honest; I always do a double-check when the alarm goes off on Monday mornings. I love my job, but I also love my weekends with my family. And I hate to see that time end. Needless to say, I was caught a little off guard with Robbie’s approach to Monday morning.

I first heard him at 5:52, even though my alarm doesn’t go off until 5:55. Today, though, I didn’t mind. Robbie was cheering, “Yay!” and clapping. Then he waited a few seconds and started all over again. He kept it up for thirty minutes until I went in to get him dressed.

I don’t think I’ve ever had someone cheer me awake, but I’m hoping it happens again tomorrow!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…


At least that was the plan today… Get a head start on the Christmas shopping. Maybe get a few decorations. Leisurely stroll the Boston Christmas Festival. And that’s exactly how it would have been. Except my friend Amy and I took our little boys. And nothing is ever leisurely with one little boy. Two of them? Ha.

It started out well enough, the two of us managing to maneuver the crazed shoppers with ease. After all, we have over a year’s worth of experience. Three years if you combine us. We made a few key purchases early on, and, as much as I would love to, they cannot be disclosed here. There’s always the off-chance that my Godmother and father-in-law might read this… We smartly made our way to the gourmet food aisle, ripe with samples. The boys devoured them with such gusto that we decided it must be time to get lunch, which is where all hell broke lose.

The boys were done with their strollers. They batted away any food that was offered to them. They spilled their drinks down their fronts. My child fussed and carried on so loudly that I’m sure the people who let us share their table were regretting the decision. And, yes, I let Rob drink Diet Pepsi. From the bottle. In public. It was the only thing he would ingest. And then the crowning blow, so to speak. A blown out diaper. In the stroller. And no wipes.

Thank God it wasn’t my kid because he would have been forced to ride back to the car in a clean diaper (I did remember to bring two of those) and his coat. Fortunately, Amy is a much better prepared Mom than I am, and her child was able to make it back to the car in a completely clean set of clothes. It was mothering at its finest.