Monthly Archives: July 2012

Robbie the Fish

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Today I took Robbie to the same pool we’ve been visiting every summer for the past two years.  When he was one, it was where he took his first few steps.  Last year, it was where he splashed around and went down the little kid slide.  This year, it seems to be where he has learned how to do the little kid swim.

You know what I’m talking about, right?  Putting your hands on the floor of the baby pool, sticking your legs out behind you, and kicking with all your might.  He figured that one out today, delighted by his ability to motor around the baby pool.  This eventually evolved into throwing himself around in circles, making the biggest splashes he could manage.  He spent some time jumping in the pool, laughing every time he surfaced.

I love watching this, the evolution of Robbie.  Seeing him discover new things, new ways to approach problems.  It’s amazing to watch him enjoy the same things I did when I was his age.  If only time would slow down a little to let me relish it even more…

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My Birthday Boy

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How in the world was it three years ago?  It seems like only yesterday that Robbie was a not-so-tiny baby, IV attached to his arm.  How we were afraid the nurses would yell at us for dressing our child in our clothes the night he was born.  I remember loving him immediately but needing a few weeks to actually like him, something you can’t truly understand unless you have children.

And now, here we are.  I have a wonderful little boy.  One who loves to laugh and grab every adventure life has to offer.  One who lives to drive me crazy – throwing my Nook out of the third floor window, smearing my Macbook with a thick hand cream resulting in $800 worth of damage, snapping Justin’s glasses (and mine) in half.  One who gives the fiercest hugs and the most kisses.  One who I can’t imagine my life without.

Robbie has been looking forward to his birthday for months.  Yesterday, he ordered his birthday cake (“I want a green cake!  No, Spiderman!”).  Today, he ran around while we cut watermelon and tied balloons to the deck.  He tried to break into the laundry room where  Aunt Halaree was wrapping his presents.

We had a birthday party in the back yard – complete with a slip ‘n slide, Robbie’s first time on one.  He finally figured out how to go down on his belly.  He blew out his candles – a few times before we actually got to sing “Happy Birthday.”  He tore through his presents, more delighted by each one.  And then we went to a movie with Pops.  Finally, it was off to PetSmart to get Robbie his present from us: a fish tank.  I’m not sure what I expected from him but he was sure excited to get them.

As I tucked Robbie in tonight, I was taken aback by how grown up he was.  He told me he was really tired and needed to get some sleep for some adventures tomorrow.  And I can’t wait to see what they will be.  Or what “three” holds in store for Robbie.

 

The Move…

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So…  Here we are.  In Kentucky.  And while I probably should have written while the emotions were fresh, there just wasn’t any time.  There were trucks and moving crews to reserve.  Boxes to pack.  Utilities to cancel.  Friends to say good bye to.  And, at the end of the day, I just didn’t have the energy to write about it.  It was all just too raw.

The good byes started well over a month before the move, with my students graduating and leaving for the summer.  And then, as I had my last moments with people.  Spreading them out as much as I could, trying not to see more than two people for the last time on any given day.  Realizing I hadn’t made the most of the time I had with friends was painful.  Not getting to say good bye to others was eye opening.  As were the ones who went out of their way to make sure we had a chance to say good bye.

And then there was Robbie.  Not sure how to really explain to him that we were moving for good, I talked to him about it a little every day.  The last day, he said good bye to our house, all the fire stations, Arlington (once he realized we were leaving and Arlington was staying).  And, when one of our good friends dropped him off, he hugged her tights and said, “Have to say good bye.  QiQi move Kentucky.”

The actual day of the move was brutal.  Waiting for the movers to come – they were almost three hours late – and not really having anything left to do.  And then, all of a sudden, we were done.  The house was empty, just like it was when we moved in.  Except it was so full of memories from the past five-and-a-half years.

The place in the basement where I called Justin for the first time to tell him I was standing in our basement.  The exact spot where my mom saw Robbie for the first time.  Where our Christmas tree stood.  The kitchen sink where Robbie took his first bath.  And now, all of a sudden, it wouldn’t be ours anymore. 

It was all more dramatic because it was dark when the movers finally left at 10:00.  Turning off the lights in each room had a much greater sense of finality because it was completely dark.  And closing the door for the last time, knowing I would never be back, broke my heart. 

And yet, here I am.  Three days later and in Kentucky.  It still feels like I’m on vacation.  But things are looking good here.  We found our perfect house.  Our buyers signed a purchase and sale on our condo today.  And we get to be with family again, which, as I watch my son practice “running hugs” in the backyard of his aunt’s house, means everything.

Pillow Talk

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Every now and then, Robbie has one of those special bedtimes.  The one where he looks at me, grins, and exclaims, “I love you, Mom!” while touching my face.  The ones where he wants to have special talks about everything he wants to do.  Tonight was one of those.  Our conversation went a little like this:

“Mom, need to go fishing tomorrow.  ‘K?  I share with Pete.  First my turn.  Then his turn.  Then Mommy’s turn.  Then Daddy’s turn.”  I actually have no idea what this means, but I tell him how proud of him I am when he shares.  This seems to be an acceptable response.

“Want to ride a shark tomorrow.  OK, Mom?”  I’m pretty sure I do a double-take at this one and tell him that might be dangerous and, other than the great whites out at the Cape, I’m not sure where to find any sharks.

“Well, want to ride an alligator.  PLEASE, Mom?  Pleeeeaaaase, can I?”  Again, I tell him this might be dangerous, which gets us onto a new tangent.

“Dangerous to run away.  QiQi run away.  Get in big trouble.  Mommy ever run away?  Daddy ever run away?”  He doesn’t actually want to pack his bags and run away; I figure we still have a few year before that.  He just gets in trouble when he runs down the street after I ask him to stop.

“Want to ride a zebra.”  I tell him this could maybe happen; after all, it did in Swiss Family Robinson.  Although I hope we’re never stranded on an island that pirates frequent…  Before I can even finish my sentence, he’s moved on.

“And an elephant.  Need to ride an elephant, Mom.”  Here, I finally have something to add.  I actually have ridden an elephant.  He’s pretty impressed.  It’s kind of a big thing if your mom has ridden something like an elephant.

“Daddy ride an elephant?”  When I say we’ll have to ask, Robbie takes this in for a minute before asking, “QiQi need to ask?”  I told him I would check.  And, no, Justin hasn’t ridden an elephant.

“Need to go on a picnic tomorrow, Mom.  At the small beach.  And get ice cream from ice cream truck.  Gotta catch the ice cream truck. But first go play playground.  No, first wake up.  Then get dressed.  Then have picnic lunch and get ice cream and play playground.”  Sounds like a pretty good plan to me, although I still don’t know how he learned about the ice cream truck…  Neither justin or myself has ever taken him to get ice cream that way.

Shortly after, he asked me to sing, “Edelweiss”, rolled over, and went to sleep.  And I hurried down to write before I forgot any of it.

Livin’ the Farm Life

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Determined to continue our Boston adventures, Robbie and I went to Davis Farmland today with our good friends, Pete and Rebecca.  We had been last year, but it was a totally different experience with two big boys.

We fed and brushed month-old calves.

Held some two-week-old goats.  Until they ran away.

Fed a few sheep.

And a few goats.

Took a tractor ride around the farm.

Rode a horse.

There as swimming, bouncing, and a general good time.  We went for ice cream with an incredible view.

It was the perfect afternoon.  The boys got along brilliantly.  Well, until Robbie called Pete a baby, which created a whole new set of problems and ultimately resulted in me being called a baby as well.  It’s so wonderful that the boys get along so well, especially since Rebecca is one of my best friends.  But it’s heartbreaking, too, because it’s one relationship that probably won’t foster for the boys the way a lifetime friendship since birth should.

And then, blessedly, the boys collapsed in heaps of exhaustion.

 

Happy Fourth of July!

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We’ve lived in Boston for seven years.  We have never ventured into Boston for the Fourth of July, citing crowds and tourists.  After all, July is hot enough as it is.  Who wants to battle hundreds of thousands of people?  Not us.  Until this year, our last opportunity to see the Boston Pops in the Hatch Shell.

Not knowing what it would be like, we headed down at 8:00 in the morning, dragging folding chairs, a blanket, and  very cooperative toddler.  We stood in line for about twenty minutes before getting our wrist bands and scoping out the perfect place.  Our seats were fantastic, right next to the camera stand.

At this point, I assumed we were going home.  I was dressed in jeans and a heavy t-shirt.  Our phones weren’t fully charged.  We had nothing to entertain Robbie.  And we had eleven hours until the show started.  Instead, we stayed.  We had brunch at the Trident Bookstore, and I made my first ever purchase on Newbury Street.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t an awesome purchase – just a pink, sleeveless shirt with a blue shell and “Life is Good” in the center.

Robbie ran around like a mad man for hours: visiting the playground five times, walking around the oval; running back and forth to the chairs to get things he as just sure he had to have.  By the end of the day, his hair was thick with salt.  He stopped wearing shoes around 4:00 in the afternoon.

Robbie hung in there like a champ.  It was hot.  He didn’t have any toy or phones to play with.  Despite all of this, he hung in there until around 6:00.  He started crying for milk and cereal, his usual bedtime routine.  After about ten minutes, he finally sat down as his last tears slid down his filthy cheeks.  Robbie looked at me and said, “I can’t cry anymore, Mom.  I’m a big boy, not a baby.  No more crying.”

He hung in there through the concert (amazing, by the way – Jennifer Hudson is unreal in person), the mandatory evacuation, and subsequent return to the oval.  But, bless his heart, he fell asleep before the fireworks started.  The one thing he waited for all day.  And, just as the fireworks started, the deluge began.  There we stood, the three of us, crowded under an umbrella, watching one of the most spectacular fireworks shows I’ve ever seen through the trees.

Was it worth it?  Absolutely.  Would I do it again?  Maybe, but differently.  And with more preparation.  But Robbie?  He was up at 9:00, asking to do it again.

The Res

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We started going to the Reservoir right before Robbie turned one.  The first year, he crawled around and ate sand.  He tried to walk in the water, taking his first stilted steps from me to Justin.  Last year, he went into the water but only with one of us with him.  He needed constant supervision.  This year is, well, awesome.

Rob loves going to the “small” beach.  He builds roads and sand castles.  He goes swimming in the water. He still steps on other kids’ sand castles, which we’re working on.  The other day, we took a picnic and stayed for the whole day.  There is nothing like watching this kid play.

 

Animal Adventure

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About a year ago, I bought a Groupon for a place called Animal Adventure.  It looked pretty awesome; the website boasted exotic animals.  I figured it was like a zoo but maybe a little more hands-on.  It was nothing like I expected.  Well, except for the animals.  Those were pretty much what I expected.

When we drove up, I was sure we were in the wrong place.  There were two other cars in the parking lot, which was in front of a green trailer.  What in the world had we gotten ourselves into?  Two chickens and a wooden alligator greeted us.  We stepped inside to a tank of alligators – and no people.

Eventually, someone found us and put on on a tour.  We saw the reptile room, where Robbie pet  snake, much to his delight.  We looked at horses, sheep, and pet a goat.  We traveled over to the tortoise pen where Robbie got a little one-on-one time with reptiles.  He also tried to sneak into the fox enclosure.  Twice.

When we headed back inside, things got a little more interesting.  Here, Robbie got to pet some pretty awesome animals: chinchilla, baby bunny, and hedgehog.  And then he asked to pet the rat.  Of all things. I’m not sure how to feel about the delight with which he pet the rat, playing with it’s tail.  Robbie talked to a parrot who professed her love to him, saw some kangaroos, monkeys, alligators, and crocodiles.

 

Now, while I was somewhat disappointed, Robbie thought it was incredible.  He went to bed asking to go on another animal adventure the next day.  I love that he doesn’t notice all the little things that detract from what he thinks is incredible.

Potty Training – Or Not…

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As I start to look into pre-schools for Robbie, I have come to a startling realization.  My child needs to be potty trained.  Desperately.  He cannot start pre-school and still be in Pull-Ups, which means we have a problem.  A friend emailed me the potty training bible, and , last Friday, I set out, determined to be done with diapers.  After all, Robbie uses the potty at daycare; he just doesn’t at home.

Robbie and I had a long talk about underpants and being a big boy.  He proudly marched into his room, sans pants and diaper, and threw away all of his Pull-Ups.  He was ready.

Ready to med with me.  I pumped him full of fluids, talked to him about rewards and being a big boy, and told him to let me know when he had to use the potty.  Thirty minutes later, we had our first accident.  And then our second.  And our third.  Within an hour and a half, we had six accidents.  One on the couch.

We realized fairly early on that they weren’t really accidents, but Rob really hammered that home when we put him in time out.  After about five seconds, we heard a flood hitting the floor.  Yup, accident number six.

At this point, Justin and I made an executive decision.  We knew he was messing with us, and we weren’t going to give into his game.  So, Robbie went back to Pull-Ups.  We’re doing a lot of talking about being a big boy and going to pre-school.  And I know he’s going to do it.  Except he’s going to do it on his terms, not mine.

Quality Time

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This may come as a surprise to you, but Justin and I don’t get a lot of time without Robbie.  And we never get time together without him in our house.  For the first two weeks of summer, Robbie went to daycare a few time, and Justin and I relished in the quiet and the chance to actually spend time together without being worried about getting home in time for a babysitter.

The first few days, we mostly stuck around the house.  Lunch out.  Drinking coffee without anyone sticking their fingers in it.  Ice cream that we didn’t have to share.  And last Wednesday, we did something totally out of character.  At the last minute, we bought tickets and went to an afternoon game at Fenway.  They were the best tickets we’ve ever had – right behind home plate.  We grabbed lunch beforehand.  I learned how to keep score at a baseball game.  It was the perfect day.

Thursday, I went to the beach at the reservoir by myself.  I read a book.  I took a nap.  And then, after a few hours, I got Robbie and brought him back to have some fun together.  Believe it or not, it’s much easier to be a fun parent when you don’t have to see your child every second of every day.

I told Justin it felt like we were dating again; it felt like time before kids.  Except something was different; this time we actually appreciate our time together.  We know how precious it is and are able to enjoy each other as something other than parents.  What a magical gift that is to see after all these years, to remember how it used to be and know that it’s even sweeter now that the time is so rare.