Saturday, December 24, 2011

"Just pretending"

"You're just pretending," Bob says when something starts to scare him a little.

It's cute that he understands the nature of pretend now, and it's super fun that he actually does a lot of pretending himself.  I'm still sometimes surprised that my baby is a kid.  (Tonight he insisted that he was a "big kid;" I said, "Do you poop in a diaper?"  "Yes."  "Then you're not a big kid.  You're a little boy."  Maybe that'll sink in sometime.)

Today I was working on my 2011 slideshow dvd for the family's christmas presents and Bob was amusing himself with his Little People.  I had to take a break to spy on his pretend time banter...

A couple of my favorite lines, just in case you missed them:
"How was your day, guys?"
"Are you okay up there?  I am Bobby."
"And don't walk up there.  It's dang-- peligroso.  Peligroso."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wolf pup

I wish we'd get some snow before Christmas!  What is going on with this climate?

It has been pretty darn cold, though.

Yesterday Bob and I played outside for a while.  He chose his outerwear and "accessories" himself, minus the mittens which I forced him to wear, but he didn't mind.

Coat: Old Navy Sherpa Lined Canvas Jacket for Baby.  (Bob wears it in 18-24 month.)  I love this coat.  It's warm and nice and long so that it doesn't ride up over buddy boy's pants.  The lining so soft; Bob normally hates hoods but he loves his "sheep hood" as we call it because it's so snuggly.

Jeans: Old Navy Performance Fleece-Lined Jeans for Baby.  (Bob wears 18-24 month, dark wash.)  Love these, too.  I think every kid deserves a pair.

Work boots: Wal-Mart, last fall.  The toes scuffed up immediately, but they cost under $10 as I recall and other than the toe scuffs they're still in great condition a year later.

Wolf pup hat:  Rite-Aid.  Bob saw it and had to have it and since he looked so friggin cute Ben and I couldn't say no.

Sunglasses: Don't remember.  Some cheesy store like Special Thoughts I think.  Bought them way back when Bob was a newborn and they're still too big.  He really wanted to wear them, but they didn't stay on for long.

Mittens: Koala Kids.  They stayed on through the entire play session, so I give them one oversized mitten thumb up.

Our no-snow winter adventure consisted mainly of playing ice fishermen in this frozen puddle for almost an hour.

On our way in for hot cocoa Bubbs stopped and dropped to the ground...

Bob: "The wolf pup is laying on this pile of leaves."
Me: "Is that comfy, wolf pup?"
Bob: "No, it's not."

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Hot cocoa is messy business.

In case you feel like hanging out with Bob for four minutes while he drinks his cocoa...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gram's funeral

It's hard to get started on this.   I can't find the opening sentence that captures my feeling right now.  The house is quiet; Bob is still sleeping at 10:20 am (he awoke suddenly crying this morning at 5:45 -- maybe a nightmare -- and wanted to come snuggle in my bed; he lay there quietly nuzzling into me, touching my hair and my cheek, not letting even a sliver of space come between our bodies, for twenty minutes, and then he sat up suddenly and said, "oh, shushie wushie," abandoned his blankie and sucker, and climbed down off the bed.  his good mood ended abruptly, however, when he thought ben's jacket zipper was change jingling in the pocket and decided he needed more money for his piggy bank -- newly inherited from gram -- but dad wouldn't give it to him.  so i settled him back into his crib, and ben left for work, and i went back to sleep.  i woke with a start at 8:30 after a very disturbing vision of my boy being catapulted through the sky, and my legs just not working fast enough to get me there in time to catch him.  just a dream, i told myself; but my heart pounded and ached just the same.  two hours later; i now hear him waking up.  must go hug his tiny body.

went into his room and the first thing he said was, "but i want to go on a treasure hunt.  i really want to do that right now!"  i grabbed him up but had to swoop him back down to grab his piggy, who was also to go on the hunt...

i think earlier that stream of consciousness was going somewhere... but now it's hours later; liza's gone and ben's home but outside at the moment and bob's naptime is coming to an end; and maybe i should just get to the point because if i don't now, will i ever? ...

and now it's hours later yet again -- 10 pm -- the boys are asleep and i am sitting here by the christmas tree in front of my imac with a mulled cider candle to my left.  too much?  yes.  but i just can't stop and get to the point because... whatever, just do it.

Bob had a grand time at the funeral home for the viewing hour before the graveside service.  which was a little surprising because the past couple wakes we've been to he cried pretty much from the moment we walked in the door.

I gave Gram's eulogy at her graveside last Thursday.

the pallbearers

while everyone was assembling bob came this " close to falling into the grave.  but he recovered and found himself the perfect front row seat.

Over the years I've written down some of the things Gram has said to me.  I shared three.

You're only young for a few minutes.  Most of your life is old, it seems.

I tried to tell the youngsters -- and everyone who still feels the least bit young -- to cherish their youth; to take it from Gram, who lived 90 years and knew how short that time really is.

Then I told about a moose that was wandering around Richmond some years ago; he had his picture in the paper several days in a row; he seemed to be lost or something.  Gram was very concerned about the moose; she cut out the articles and showed them to everyone.  About the third day or so she said to me, and I never forgot,

It must be awful lonesome being the only moose around.

Gram felt for people, and for moose i suppose, who had lost their way.  She knew how lonely they were.  She was a fountain of sympathy and empathy for everyone.  In her final years, she was very much like the moose, the only one of her peers left, lonesome and lost in a world of younger generations.  But she always thought of others first.

The third quote I shared was from a day I had taken Gram to the cemeteries to plant flowers.  On the drive home we were quiet, but finally Gram broke the silence with one of the most open and honest things she ever said to me:

They say time heals all, but they are wrong.  It gets harder every day.

She was speaking mainly of losing Pop I think, but also I'm sure of all the others she's had to say goodbye to.  In a way, that truth from Gram is hard to swallow; we want to believe that after some period of time we will "get over" our loss.  But the other side of it is this: we can be happy for Gram, because finally, after seventeen years of living without him, Gram has been reunited with her life's companion and come face to face with Jesus.  She will never be lonely again.

Finally I shared the following, because in hard times it's been of great inspiration to me.

You must not be frightened when a sadness arises within you of such magnitude as you have never experienced, or when a restlessness overshadows all you do, like light and the shadow of clouds gliding over your hand.  You must believe that something is happening to you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand.  It shall not let you fall.

Why should you want to exclude any anxiety, any grief, any melancholy from your life, since you do not know what it is that these conditions are accomplishing in you?

Rainer Maria Rilke, in Letters to a Young Poet

Somewhere near the end there Bob struggled free from Ben's arms and came over to me saying in his teeny voice, "Are you otay, Mom?  Are you otay?"  He must have asked me that twenty times or more in the days leading up to the funeral; he inherited Gram's empathy I think.  Several people commented to me afterwards how touching and beautiful it was; he is a touchingly beautiful boy, I must admit.

The following quote by Stephen Grellet (a Quaker missionary) that Gram's had hanging on her living room wall forever served as the benediction and I'll let it do the same here:

I shall pass through this world but once.  If, therefore, there be any kindness I can show or any good I can do, let me do it now.  Let me not defer it nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Goodbye, Gram

My Grammie is gone.

The feeling is strange.

One minute I'm okay, distracted by funeral to-do's and everything else in life, and then it hits me again -- she's not coming back.  Not at all.  Not in the least.  From now on, she is a memory, not someone whose soft cheek I can kiss goodbye.

Never again will I hear her, "Well, by gully," or her singular answering machine message, "Okay, call me," or, "You'd better have something to eat," or, "Lilly!" or, "Well isn't he something?" (speaking of my boy).

Bobby most likely won't remember his "Dwam."

I take a little solace in the few photos I have evidencing their special relationship.

And I know that we will always have pieces of Gram in my grandmother and my mother...

and in me, too.

Our Gram -- our matriarch and everyone's favorite family member -- is a part of who we are.  She's in our genes, she's in our history, she's in our memories and in our hearts.

It's hard to imagine life without her, but then again we don't have to imagine.  It's hard because I never wanted this day to come, but I'm doing my best to be happy that Gram has finally been released from her weakening body and reunited with her love.

And now I really need to get some sleep.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Counting butterflies

Bob can read the numbers, so he knows how many there are, but he gets to the answer in a bit of a roundabout way.

Jammies and crazy bed hair -- that's how we roll, usually til about noon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bob on a log

The woods are so lovely and fun in the fall, eh?  (that's my french canadian side coming out.)  Crunching leaves, beautiful light, awesome outerwear like work boots and denim jackets.

Bob is of the age now where a walk in the woods pretty much can't be beaten.  Swinging sticks, throwing rocks, jumping over "rivers," climbing on fallen trees -- I have to carry him away kicking and screaming when it's time to go back.

This is one of my favorite autumnish photos of my boy that I haven't posted yet... linking up with i heart faces for this week's contest, "autumn splendor," just because I haven't in a while.

Monday, November 14, 2011

"Sensory boxes"

At the risk of sounding like a total nerd, I've used the term sensory box just because I don't have anything better.  I got the "sensory box" idea here doing some blog-hopping one day.

The first we one we made is sort of a construction zone -- we call it the rock box.  It's just a shallow plastic tote with black and natural aquarium gravel plus a collection of "special" stones from various beaches and whatnot, plus a bunch of trucks and machines and guys and a couple ladies too.

Bubbs is past the put-everything-in-mouth phase, which obviously you need to be to play with aquarium gravel, so my biggest worry was that he'd just chuck the rocks all over the place.  But he's been good.  Before I take the lid off I always say, "What's the rule?" and Bob says, "Rocks stay in vuh box."  And if he gets too crazy and careless or occasionally just straight up dumps the rocks on the floor, I just help him clean it up and put it away.  And he can try again the next day.  We've had this for a couple of months now, and he still plays with it almost every single day.  A bit hit.

My niece Bailey loves it too (she's almost three).  She just kept freaking out saying, "It's messy in here!"  And she'd pour the rocks on her hands and smile a sneaky smile.  Messy is fun.

For Bobbert's birthday we made another box -- he refers to it either as his rainbow or his rice.  It's both.

I got the rice-dying instructions here except I used way more rice so I also needed lots more food coloring and Purelle.

For now the implements in the box are random extra things from my kitchen plus a couple of dollar store items.  We need bigger funnels because these don't let the rice fall through smoothly.

The rainbow rice is super fun, but so far it is a thousand times messier than the rock box.  Bob can't help it; he just gets crazy with the scooping and pouring practice.  He fills the a funnel and the rice hesitates just long enough for him to move the funnel so that it's no longer safely over the box before it pours out onto his lap or the floor.  I made the mistake of letting him try this out on carpet the first time, and I don't think I'll ever get all those grains out.  Whatevs -- we'll just call it the new rainbow look in the play room.

Now we play this in the kitchen instead, which is at least easier cleanup.

And it seems like he's learning, so I won't retire the rice box just yet.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fall so far... aka Every day is a photo shoot

Here comes a super long, super random post.  I've got tons of photos from this fall that I haven't used at all, so here's me doing something with them.

I've been watching my cousin Tab's baby Eternity Jewel Lizella Beth (we call her "Liza") three days a week, to help her out and to earn a little dough.  Liza's a little doll.  And Bobby's pretty darn cute helping take care of her.  Makes me even more excited for baby brother to arrive.

One day while Bobby was playing outside I brought Liza out to snap a few pics since it was such a beautiful day (yeah this was over a month ago -- now we've got snow).  Open shade (meaning places that are shaded but not covered overhead, or right at the edge of covered shaded areas) is perfect for outdoor portraits in the middle of the day when you don't have the lovely slanty sun rays.  Here Liza is lying under the maple tree in our yard.  You have to be careful under trees not to get splotches of sun and shade, but if you find a good spot it can be perfect.  Move yourself around to get a couple of different angles -- get high, get low, put the bright light in front of your subject and put it behind -- you never know which will provide the best outcome until you try (or at least, you won't at first, but you'll learn to anticipate what will make the best shots).

Somehow blankie and suckie got snuck outside one day, so before I brought them in I took the opportunity to get a nice photo of some snuggle time.  As much as we wish Bobby didn't need/want these guys so often, I know one day we'll miss this little blankie-toting boy.

Shooting in the woods is a little tricky because there is relatively little light.  Success is achieved with a combination of waiting for the right moment to press the shutter and taking lots of shots and getting lucky with a few.

Bobby loves to hop and jump off everything nowadays.

There are a few vines of concord grapes growing in Gram's yard.  When they were finally ripe, Bobby loved searching for the black ones and eating them, skins and seeds and all.

In this rainy fall, Bob has spent quite a lot of time on the front porch at Gram's, playing out his fantasy as a football-playing trike cop.

Bubbs had a fever a month or so ago.  But that meant he got to take medicine sitting on the counter, so it was pretty much a winning situation for him.  He just saw me looking at this and I told him, this is when you were sick, and he said, "I need get sick with my blankie and suckie again!"

Adding a little fancy artistic angle to a photo like this can make it a little more interesting and help you include more of your subject in the frame and less of the boring stuff like kitchen cabinets.

One warmish weekend we finally got around to taking Bobby to play mini golf.  Wish we had done it sooner because it was a huge hit.  We've had endless requests for another round, but unfortunately for Bobby the place is closed for the season.  And unfortunately for us it's right on the way to Gram's, so we pass it all the time, and oh yes, he remembers.  Pepere came over one day and informed Bobby that there's indoor mini golf at the Cove in G.B., so ever since Bob's been saying, "One mini golf door is still open!  I can play mini golf!"  We'll have to go down there sometime soon.

Yes, we let him climb on a couple of the obstacles.  Whatever, he weighs 22 pounds.

Sometimes it works better to just throw the ball through...

A new hobby Bobby acquired this fall is skateboarding.  This mini thing belongs to one of the neighbor boys and Bob is obsessed with it.  The kids told me they got it at Five Below so I got one for him for his birthday (don't tell) so that he can break his neck inside on the carpet instead of outside in the street. We also got him a helmet -- to reduce the chances of the cracked-open head scenario and because Bob thinks helmets are the coolest.

Here's his "I'm such a tough cool strong skateboarder carrying my awesome friend Travis's awesome heavy skateboard across this dangerous street after I just finished doing some stunts over there" look...

This is a sky that Bobby pointed out to me saying, "It's boo-ful sky right now, Mommy!"

Bailey's over-excitement about this hug made Bobby extremely under-excited for it to continue.
Also, this is where Bob was watching me work on this for a minute, and offered his own captions for the photos.

bailey is not squeezin me too hard anymore

The boy loves climbing trees.

Also, trees make lovely photo ops.

Since we have Liza at our house so much we've brought out some of the old infant items, like the bumbo and the bouncy seat -- the froggy chair as Bob calls it.  He loves this stuff so much more now than he did as a baby.  He bounces on the froggy chair like a maniac and he snuggles in there with his blankie.  On the front it says "Calming Vibrations"; tonight we finally put a battery in and Bob turned it on and sat on it and said, "Is it calming, Mommy?" which means he wants me to say, "Is it calming?" to which he replied, "Zes."  Oh, brother.

bobby sittin in vuh bumbo chay-ah

This thing's been at Gram's forever; it's supposed to be a remote control toy I think, but the remote's long gone.  Bob rides it all the time.

widin my tiny motah-cytle

Bobby loves puffers.  Well, I'm sure that's not really the name for them, but I don't know what is.  He had tons of fun searching for them around the yard and then puffing them into the sky and all over his face.

pwayin outside at dwam's

Along with the funny moments like "I'm tuttin my hay-ah"...

I love to capture Bobby in those moments that happen all the time, that right now are so everyday but not long from now will be long gone, like my tiny standing at the door asking, "Mommy, pwease tome pway outside wif me!"

These two at the door shots are perfect examples of why you need to switch to manual mode on your DSLR if you haven't already done so.  In auto modes, the camera will always underexpose backlit shots, making the potentially best images way too dark.  In manual, you control how much light is getting in.

spwashing in vuh puddles

Bob recently got over his fear of this car; it used to scare the crap out of him.

pwayin his twut

We all love to go out to eat, and Bob is usually really fun to take.  Here he is at breakfast at the Misty Moonlight Diner...

havin sip of miwt

We have our electronic keyboard set up practically on the ground so that Bobby can play it.  Or, play with it anyway.

Every single one of Bob's sleeping poses is the most precious thing I've ever seen.  Every now and then I have to get my camera and turn on a light and take some pictures.  It's better to use a lamp in the room than to use the flash, even in a super dark situation like this, because a flash will make a sleeping in the dark shot look completely unnatural.  Just up the ISO, open up the aperture, slow down the shutter speed and lean on the crib rail to keep yourself steady.

We take Liza for walks occasionally.

The owner of this shop heard Bob admiring his motorcycle from inside and let him sit on it.  Huge thrill, trust me.  And no, I would not normally dress my son in socks and sandals but he insisted on wearing them both.

I don't get myself into as many photos as I'd like (except on those far too frequent days when I don't even look in the mirror and I haven't showered and I'm wearing a sweatsuit in some form, on which days I am glad the camera is firmly clasped in my fingers).  Reflections make for some cool opportunities.  Because I do want everyone to remember that I was there, too.

And once in a while I do take a photo of something other than my son.

Sometimes (or maybe just this once) Ben gets home early from work and helps with Liza.  So darn cute.

My two loverboys...  Can't wait til I have three to snuggle!

This car belongs to a little boy who lives in our building but I have never once seen him ride it.  We keep it on our side of the house and let it be Bob's pretty much.

Some sun flare is cool every now and then...

"My suckies can drive this Jeep!"  At least someone in the family still has a Jeep.

He rubs his ears with his blankie.  Could he possibly be any sweeter?

Liza's a cutie-patootie too.  This shot's taken with just window light -- some of the best portrait light there is.

One day when we were stranded with no car and no food in the house I pushed Bob in his stroller all the way to Donut Man.  I say "all the way" but in reality it's just a little over a mile and a half.  About halfway there I seriously wondered whether I'd be able to make it all the way back.  I did make it, by the way.  After powering up with a bagel sandwich.  

Bubbs loves donuts.  So much.  He never forgot his first taste and since then he can spot a donut shop or a bag of donuts from a hundred yards.  For a while after that first Saturday that Ben went out and came back with donuts and Bob got to have one, he'd say, "Where's Daddy?" and I'd say, "At work," and he'd say, "Eatin donuts?"  Like that was Ben's job.  Hah.

Bobbert likes everything to be clean.  Here he's very serious about cleaning out the wagon and apparently disgusted with the state in which he found it.  He usually asks me to clean it for him, but on this occasion he took the initiative himself.  Atta-boy.

Bobby lives for every sport.  He doesn't really care what it is; if a ball is involved he's in.

An  unsolicited hug for Grammie; how sweet.  This is the sort of shot you can only get if you are a freak like me and your camera is almost always within arm's reach.

Playing flashlight outside in the dark is super fun to an almost two year old.

One day we found this "lots to love" baby doll up in the attic and bobby wanted to play with her.  I asked what her name was and he said "Abby."  He tried hard to change her diaper.

(I love how in the bottom left he's looking to Liza for some advice.)

We play play-doh pretty regularly.  Bob asks me to make a dog, then a ball for the dog, then a cat, then a toy for the cat.  And then he plays with them until they no longer resemble their intended shapes whatsoever.

Here's, "okay, mom, stop taking pictures and come play this with me."

There's an old mill right near our house that provides for some good photo ops...

Pushing Liza...

Spots like this are great for taking pics of toddler people like Bob because he loves to climb on stuff, and then once he's up he thinks he's super cool.

So, there's fall part one; before the winterfall came.  With little photo comments and tips interjected.

Hope your weekend's swell!
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