Monthly Archives: July 2013

Here Come the Bees…


After all the friends had left Robbie’s birthday party, we came inside, so he could show Nona and Pops his presents.  Robbie had been shooting Captain Hook’s cannons when he turned to walk to me.  All of a sudden, he screamed.  I assumed he had stubbed his toe on the ottoman.  Then the screaming took on a new pitch, and I knew something was really wrong.  Nona swooped in, just as I started to hear the buzzing and could finally understand what Robbie was trying to tell me.  He had stepped on a bee.

I grabbed him into my lap, trying to console him.  The stinger was stuck deep into his big toe, and Robbie was thrashing to the point of not being able to get it out.  Fortunately, Nona sprang to the rescue, running to get tweezers from her purse and making a baking soda paste.  While she did this, Robbie lamented, “Oh, my God!  Oh.  My.  God.  This hurts so bad!  This is terrible!  I hate bees!  Oh, my GOD!”  I may sound like a terrible mother, but, well, I had to laugh.  I’ve never heard anyone that dramatic in my life.

Eventually, the stinger came out, the paste was applied, and the Band-Aid was affixed.  Robbie had calmed down enough to start playing with some of his toys again and talk to his uncle Hunter on the phone for a few minutes.  As he was doing this, I looked down and saw it.  Another bee.  Crawling along the hem of his shorts.  There was no really good way to handle this, nothing I could do without alerting Robbie to the impending disaster.  All I could do was hope that neither one of us would wind up stung.

“Robbie, honey, please stay still,” I said quietly, hoping he would stay focused on his planes and phone conversation.  He didn’t.  Before I had even finished speaking, Robbie started screaming at the top of his lungs.  It was perhaps the most panicked scream I have ever heard from my child.  His body started thrashing, and I was trying to keep his shorts from moving, praying that the bee didn’t decide to sting him.  Once again, after what felt like an eternity, Nona swooped in with a tissue (how in the world she had tissues on hand to wipe away not one but two bees I’ll never know) and removed the threat.

Unfortunately, Hunter and his girlfriend, Laila, had no idea what was happening.  All they could hear was some sort of commotion and a blood-curdling scream coming from Robbie.  Poor Laila kept asking if Robbie was OK and no one could respond.  Robbie was too upset and I was laughing too hard.  Fortunately, that was the last bee we saw for the night.  Robbie is set to get four shots later this week.  I figure this is a good starting point.  None of the shots will hurt as much as the bee sting.  Right?


Happy Birthday!


It’s kind of like Christmas.  Robbie has been crossing days off the calendar, counting down to his birthday, all month.  Invitations have been sent out, a theme set and shopped for, the cake ordered.  Last-minute panic about not being ready for the party and incredible relief when friends and sisters come through to help make everything possible.  You do your best to soak in every possible memory.  And then, well, it’s over.

We started early today, with Robbie waking up at 7:10, asking if he was four yet.  Together, we waited for the clock to say 7:22, when he was born.  There’s something about seeing that minute hit the clock, remembering exactly what it was like when you first laid eyes on the beautiful child beside you.  And then you realize that you have less than seven hours to get ready for the pirate party to celebrate, wanting the first birthday that he will really remember to be perfect.

For the first time since Robbie was born – the first time in our adult lives, really – Justin and I had ample space to host a birthday party.  It was work (and I completely understand why people don’t do birthday parties at home!), but it was so nice to not be sweeping up a driveway and hoping to make it nice.  The lawn had to be mowed, the garden weeded.  Shark blood and sea water Jell-o had to be made.  Pools had to be blown up – thank goodness for friends nearby with an air compressor and a sister willing to blow up the rest.  Water balloons had to be filled.  Cake and ice cream and pizza had to be picked up.  Miraculously, it all happened by 2:00, when everyone was set to arrive.

There were kids everywhere – in the pool (with an inflatable slide – maybe the best $34 I’ve ever spent), blowing bubbles, throwing water balloons, playing corn hole.  There was laughing and shrieking – sounds of a perfect birthday party.  Half the kids were in eye patches, everyone was soaked with grass covering their feet and legs.  And there was Robbie, grinning from ear-to-ear, all of these people here to celebrate him.

After the presents were opened, the cake was eaten, and the friends had gone home, Robbie changed his clothes and crawled into my lap.  “Mommy, I hate it when my friends leave.  This was the most awesome birthday ever!”  I’m not sure I could have asked for much more than that.


The Last Bit of Three…


Robbie has been counting down to his birthday for the past month.  Every morning, he wakes up and asks if he’s four yet.  Finally, we got the calendar and circled the 28th in bright green and started crossing out the days.  And now it’s almost here.  When getting dressed this morning, Robbie grabbed his “I am 3” shirt to wear one last time.  As he fell asleep, I held him a little bit longer, since I’ll never hold him as a three-year-old again.  Two was tough – brutal even – for so many reasons.  Three, however, has been incredible – for the most part.

  • Robbie started pre-school.  Sure, it started out rough, getting called in for a parent conference after four days.  But he has learned so, so much.
  • He had his first “real” Halloween.  We musth have celebrated all month, planning pumpkins and costumes and candy.  We moved into our new house two weeks before and spent the time decorating for Halloween and getting ready. Robbie trick-or-treated with friends.
  • For the first time ever, Robbie woke up in his own house for Christmas morning.  He got to see what Santa brought him under his own tree, and Justin and I got to get everything ready for him.  What’s more, we didn’t have to face a 16-21 hour drive in winter weather.
  • Robbie learned to write letters and spell his own name.
  • He started doing things for himself.  Using the bathroom, brushing his teeth, getting dressed, fixing his own glass of water, grabbing a snack.  All the things that make my life so much easier.  But kind of break my heart because he doesn’t need me to do them for him anymore.
  • We started swim lessons.  I have never been so nervous in my life; we signed Robbie up for advanced beginner even though he had never had a lesson in his life because there were no beginner openings.  We started a week late, and Robbie simply clung to his instructor.  But, three weeks later, he was swimming the better part of 20 feet to the rope by himself.  Under water.  I don’t know that I’ve ever known pride quite like watching Robbie figure out how to swim.
  • Robbie decided that he wanted to start sleeping without a shirt on.  I’m not quite sure where this came from, but he announced the change to me last night.  When it was time for bed, he came in only wearing his pajama pants.  Robbie looked at me and said, “Mom, I’m going to sleep with my private parts showing tonight.”  I must have looked concerned because he immediately pointed to his chest, saying, “I mean these guys right here!”

I look at him and there is no remnant of baby left anywhere.  All I see is a little boy desperate to be a big kid but still sweet enough to give me hugs and kisses and make bead bracelets for me.  I wasn’t sure I would like Robbie so much once he wasn’t a baby anymore.  In all honesty, I’ve always been a baby person; pre-schoolers were just not really my thing.  Thank goodness I was wrong.  I can’t imagine anything better.



It all started a few months ago, when I sensed Robbie was getting a case of the “gimmees”.  (Have you read the Berenstein Bears Get the Gimmees?  You should!).  A commercial came on for a new Mickey Mouse movie, and Robbie jumped up and down, pointing at the screen, crying, “I wanna get that movie, Mom!  Can I get it?  Please?  Please?”

I was so put off by the sound of his voice, that I almost immediately snapped that he absolutely couldn’t have it if he behaved like that.  However, I knew that would only result in a meltdown and more trouble than the video was worth.  I also didn’t want to wind up breaking down and giving Robbie the movie on a whim or out of guilt.  So, I devised a plan.

“Sure,” I replied.  “But you have to earn it.”

All of a sudden, I had Robbie’s attention.  And I wasn’t at all sure what to do.  We had tried writing check marks on his hand when he did good things, but I also wanted to be able to take them away when he wasn’t behaving.  That’s where the unused-except-for-Robbie-to-scribble-on dry erase board came in.  It was perfect for a chart.  But what to put in it?  X’s seemed negative and checkmarks aren’t very exciting.  Stars.  Even at thirty-three, I still want my gold stars.

Robbie and I agreed that twenty stars sounded like a fair number, and, just like that, we were off.  Robbie had exactly one week before the movie was released.  I wanted to make sure he was able to earn it the day it hit stores to get quick positive reinforcement for his behavior.  He got stars for things like sleeping in his bed all night, having a good day at school, helping with chores around the house.  He lost them for not following directions, having time-outs at school – typical losing-a-star behavior.  Miraculously, he was able to earn 20 stars in ten days.  Almost as miraculously, Target actually had the video on shelves.

Did Robbie love the video?  Not really.  He’s watched it a few times.  Did he love the stars?  Absolutely.  They have changed our lives.  In the past three months, Robbie has earned trips to Monkey Joe’s, Gattitown, and the movies.  He has also earned three fish and souvenirs from Disney World and Myrtle Beach.  And now he gets stars for things we are working on, like ordering food with polite manners and jumping into the pool without holding on to my hands.  In fact, the promise of a star was the only thing that got him to even try swim lessons (afterward he told me that swim lessons were “awesome, dude!”).

We’ve also noticed that Robbie loses stars much less often than he used to, and we’ve talked to him about it.  Robbie told me that he likes it better when he’s good and earning stars.  So do I.  In fact, on occasion, we’ve even substituted stars for an immediate reward.  At Target one day, Robbie picked up a piece of candy and said, “May I please have this?  I’ve been really good.” (Yes, he says may instead of can.  I couldn’t be more proud!).  I thought about it and replied that he could have the candy now or a star when we got home.  Much to my surprise, he picked the star.

The star plan has worked beautifully for behavior (most of the time) and has had an added benefit.  Robbie doesn’t ask me to get him anything anymore.  Today, after he went to see Turbo for earning 20 stars, Robbie asked if he could please earn stars for soccer equipment, something I had planned to buy anyway.  But, who am I to crush his dreams?



Rob Manna asks more questions than anyone I have ever met in my life.  It came as no surprise, then, when we saw a picture on Facebook yesterday claiming that the average four-year-old asks 437 questions a day.  All of a sudden, I didn’t feel so alone in my constant answering of seemingly inane questions.

“Mom, are there sharks in the pool?”

“Mom, why can’t my baby be born yet?”

“Mom, am I four yet?”

“Mom, what is Barkley doing?”

“Mom, what is my dad doing?”

You see where we’re going here…  And those are just his questions in the first 90 seconds after waking up.  Listening to Robbie, I suddenly understand how Justin feels when I attack him with my morning-person-ness every morning (although, in all fairness, I do wait until I’ve been up for at least an hour before I even attempt to talk to my wonderful husband).  So, armed with this bit of trivia about how many questions kids ask a day, I approached Robbie.

“Rob.  You really ask a lot of questions.  Did you know that?”

“Yeah, Mom.”

“Any idea why?”

“There’s just a lot I want to know,” he replied, climbing up on the couch to curl up with me.  “Like, why is waiting so hard?”

That caught me a little off-guard.  I hadn’t expected him to hit me with something so profound, but he has been doing a lot of waiting lately – waiting for his birthday, waiting to get the fish he earned for good behavior, and waiting for his little brother to come.

“Well,” I started, “Waiting is really hard sometimes because there are things we really want.  And when we really want something, we feel like it should happen right now.”

“Yeah.  Like my birthday.  Can it be my birthday today?  Please?” he begged, before giving me a kiss and sliding off the couch, in search of some better adventure.

As you might expect, there were about 396 additional questions throughout the day.  As we were pulling into the Kroger parking lot to pick up dinner for tonight, Robbie asked me about the construction that was going on, curious about why it wasn’t finished.  I must have sighed while trying to formulate an answer.  All of a sudden, I heard him say, “I’m asking a lot of questions again, aren’t I?  I just want to know things, Mom.  That’s all.”

And there it was, all put into perspective for me for the second time in eight hours.  Robbie only know what he can figure out if I’m not willing to answer his questions.  Sure, they may not all be important and many, many of them may be redundant.  It’s about more than that, though.  It’s about building an environment where questioning in encouraged, so Robbie knows how to get information when he needs it and that it’s always OK to want to know more.