Sunday, December 17, 2006

out of the mouth of toddlers

In the (yeah, I know) month since the last post, Spencer turned the big three! He counted down to the big day for weeks, and could not have been more pleased when the big celebration arrived! Now he walks around with a puffed up chest telling us he's a big boy.

The week before his birthday we celebrated Thanksgiving (with mom! not sure when we last were together for this holiday) here in Houston at Katie's house. Spencer was delighted to get to play with Henry's toys, and we enjoyed meeting Heidi's new baby, Milo, and also *finally* getting to spend time with Kim while she was back in the US.

Recently Spencer has just been cracking me up. His little brain is always whirling away and his crazy thoughts just come tumbling out of his mouth. Some of my favorites from this past week include:

"It's ok, I'm just licking the toothpaste now."
"Did you know that the bare necessities will come to you?"
"I'm just gonna hold my present and move some other presents over there."
"Oranges are usually living."
"I finished all of my food, now you can see my muscles!"
"I have a good idea: first I'll go potty, and then we'll watch a video. that's my idea."
"Actually, spitting is not a good idea."
"No, I'm not dancing, I'm just pretending to dance."
"When I become a man, I'm gonna get a cherry picker.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

the parent-teacher conference

Yesterday Jim and I had about 15 dedicated minutes to sit down and talk with Spencer's teacher. And it seems that we have two different Spencers to deal with. At school, Spencer is very attentive and well behaved (albeit a bit loud, she did add) but still struggles with potty training. At home, Spencer has even started using the potty without feeling compelled to tell us, but has been misbehaving a lot, and even announces "doing naughty things makes me happy." Hmm. At the end of the meeting we determined that more of a reward system needs to be put in place for both potty and good behavior. And, possibly some of the acting up at home may be due to boredom, so we need to figure out how to keep him more challenged. Sure, it all makes sense...

But later that night I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. I am Spencer's constant buddy, and recently the additional trips he's been taking to time out might have more to do with me than him. It just made me want to cry. More challenges? More challenges? I feel like I am constantly keeping him engaged. (Heck, I'm exhausted most of the time!) Maybe our playtime activties need to be updated. As for the bad behavior, Jim and I immediately put suggestions into actions this evening, and had some successes. It all makes sense in our heads, but it is also easy to not see when we are sending inconsistent messages. Parenting is tough work.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

I really enjoy Halloween, and October. Probably because growing up in NY it was the most awesome month of weather. Now, with Spencer, I love that he gets so excited about seeing pumpkins. When we spied the first few at the beginning of the month I explained "it's pumpkin time!" In the past 30 days we have been to many pumpkin patches, in TX and NY, and he got his first taste of apple cider this year! Tonight was his first time trick-or-treating and he had such a blast! After a couple of houses he was hooked! Here are Halloween pictures from tonight, and other halloween activies from the past few days, including making his costume, carving pumpkins, and working on an entry for a halloween dessert contest at work! (I won!) I have added more photo album links on the right with pictures from the past couple of weeks.

Friday, October 13, 2006

the classics

During our annual October trip to NY we drove all around listening to a CD of classical music for kids. And Spencer LOVES it!

Back to potty training... this is frustrating. I don't understand how Spencer can be accident-free for a few weeks in a row and then have four in two days. Maybe it's time to set up some type of rewards & stickers or something. Or put a big goal out there for him to achieve if he can stay accident-free. I dunno...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

choosing to be happy

The central theme of our Rabbi's sermon at Rosh Hashana services the other week was that happiness is something we can choose. Spencer's been a bit more of a handful in the past couple weeks, so I thought I'd give it a try. So far, so good. Now, he decides if he is still sad and wants to cry a little more, and when he finishes he announces "I'm ready to be happy now!" and then he is. I'm not holding my breath that this will last, but I thought it was neat to have learned a parenting trick at temple.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

thinking

Today I discovered another mommy blogger who writes some pretty funny stuff. That, and her triplets are pretty darn cute too. It got me thinking how incredible lame this blog has become. Yeah, she's and English major and I'm an engineer, so it makes it a little harder to measure up, but I found myself laughing at her thoughts. And then it hit me: I don't have time to think any more! Sure, I use my brain a lot but it's almost exclusively for planning things - 99% of which are for Spencer's benefit. I used to blog about my thoughts... but now I barely have time to keep a record of activities, which are not nearly as interesting to read: went here, saw this friend, spencer got a boo boo, etc. Before I had Spencer, I remember reading a friend blog that I thought was pretty lame, because all it did was talk about what she did with her kids! And now I fear, sadly, that this is exactly what my blog has become.

With that said, here are some thoughts. I love being Spencer's mom, but there is plenty I don't enjoy about these toddler years. It is awesome when he spontaneously announces "I really like you!" and not so awesome to constantly think "when was the last time he used the potty?"

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

back

Another work trip in the books, and Spencer and Jim had a fun week together. It's great having an older toddler who can enjoy talking on the phone. It really makes the whole day better to hear his little voice when I am far away.

Knock on wood, he is still enjoying his big boy bed. We asked if he shared the news with his friends and teachers at school and of course he told us that he had! When we asked "what did they say?" he replied "they said, 'you sleep in a big boy bed now! Spencer, that is excellent!'" And he just beamed from ear to ear!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

big boy bed

This weekend we *finally* made the move. After talking it up for a while now, Spencer transitioned from his crib to his very own twin bed. I took him to the store to pick up sheets and waterproof mattress pads and rails to prevent him from rolling out. The first nap didn't go that well - no crying, but he was more content to hang out in his chair than in his bed. Evening was fairly painless - of course it didn't hurt that we were out a little later, plus he had skipped his nap! Around 9:15pm last night, after being asleep for nearly two hours, Spencer emerged from the hallway clutching a book and a blanket and his puppy. I was sitting on the couch watching tv as he shuffled past me; his eyes all squinty as he said "mommy, you need to turn off the light, it's too bright here." Um, Spencer... you need to go back to sleep. It's night time. "No mommy, I already slept. Now it's time to play." Jim and I tried so hard to keep from laughing out loud. But Spencer knew he was still tired and didn't fight it when I put my hands on his shoulders and walked him back to the bedroom and tucked him in again.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

yeah, it's worth it

This weekend our big activity (after baking some granola) was checking out the annual Ballunar Liftoff Festival at NASA. Spencer and I drove down on Saturday afternoon and he had fun on carnival games (slides and jumping!) before we met up with one of his favorite pals, Landon. We staked out a spot at the edge of the field and had a great view of everything in the sky: parachuters, power parachuters, formation flyers, and, of course, balloons. Unfortunately, throughout the afternoon and evening Spencer spent a decent portion of the time with his hands on his ears. He seems to be so sensitive to low, loud noises. And balloons are noisy. After sunset was the much-anticipated balloon glow, and we were sitting right next to the feature balloon: Airabelle the cow. The whole glow event was simply amazing. Afterwards Jim met us at our hotel near NASA, so we could go back to the field bright and early in the morning to check out the competitve part of the festival. Here are our pictures from the weekend.

When we left, things were starting to go downhill for Spencer. He usually sleeps about 14 hours a day: 11 1/2 - 12 hours overnight and a 2 - 2 1/2 hour nap . But Saturday he fought his nap and never went down. And between staying up late for the nighttime events and getting up early again on Sunday he only racked up about nine hours over night. So, by ten in the morning, he had been up for a while already, several hours short of sleep, and severe crankiness set in. He perked up when we stopped at Central Market on the way home, but fought his nap again for nearly an hour before giving in for just a one hour nap. After Spencer's (early) bath we were all relaxing on the bed together putting on his PJ's and he turned to Jim and announced "I like you." Then he turned to me and said "I like you too mommy." He continued, "you're my friend daddy!" Awwww. It really does erase the memory of the frustrations dealing with a cranky 2 1/2 year old all day, and makes being a parent so worth it.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

"that makes sense"

Earlier this week I was having lunch with a friend and recounted the funniest moment from our trip to Pittsburgh. Even though we earned an extra hour moving from Central to Eastern time, we were still back at the hotel by 8:00pm each night to give Spencer a bath and put him to bed. His portable crib was in the same room with us, so Jim and I had some quiet reading time while he was falling asleep. Or, at least that was the plan. Spencer was so thrilled to have a captive audience and talked to us for quite a while.
"mommy, are you wearing your pj's?"
"daddy, is your light on?"
"this is a different crib with teddy bear sheets."
Eventually that gave way to talking to his bedtime buddies"
"puppy, would you like to do a somersault?"
"come here lion, i will cover you."
And finally he was down to talking out loud to himself, and it was this conversation which brought tears to mine and Jim's eyes as we quietly laughed so hard.
"we are in pittsburgh now."
"soon we will go back to houston."
"houston is very far away."
"we should take an airplane to get there."
"that makes sense."

Saturday, August 12, 2006

back in Houston

After the last post I spent the next three nights in Houston, then three nights in Boise, then three nights in Houston, then three nights in Pittsburgh, and the last three nights have been back in Houston again. Whew. I am SO thankful that we returned from Pittsburgh just hours before the new security restrictions went into effect. Ugh. That would not have been fun with Spencer in tow. It was bad enough that our final flight home was delayed 1:15, but we just took our time, watched a video in the gate area, had some ice cream, and rode the people mover back and forth a zillion times.

Our trip to Pittsburgh to see Jim's mom was a great one. We brought Spencer to the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh and the Phipps Conservatory which were both awesome. I have some grand ideas to frame some of the botanical prints, we'll see if that comes to fruition. Every afternoon we spent time at "the park" - a swingset and pool in his mom's backyard. Spencer was able to visit with his grandma and great grandpa, and had an absolute blast playing around with his uncle Robb and with Tara's girls Devon, Paige and "baby Emma." It was really cute to see them all play so well together. He was also excited to meet friends Karen and Jack who taught him more signs during our bbq - including hamburger, hot dog, and most importantly, chocolate cake!

Here are pics from the trip. (The album is quite long, and includes many plant pics w/o people.)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

potty talk

Just when I was going to blog I thought we had turned the corner on potty training, Spencer had two accidents yesterday. He only had one all of last week, and it was during naptime (yes, we are diaper-less for naps now - scary.) And then two in one day. Sigh. I don't think 'turned the corner' is even the right term, as this is a gradual process, but after two and a half months we have certainly come around the bend. Over the weekend he started announcing in advance that he needed to use the potty, without us having to constantly ask him. And another big plus was learning to pee standing up! Whoo hoo! I am hoping this will make it easier in public too.

On the subject of pee and poop and potties, I am completed addicted to the new show Dirty Jobs. I think I've seen five episodes (read: fifteen icky jobs) in the past 24 hours, during which I have never been so thankful there is no smell on television, or laughed so hard as Mike tries to crack jokes with folks who sometimes don't find humor in the situtation. Like asking the ancient Maryland crab fisherman about using chicken necks as bait, "don't those crabs wonder what a land-walking creature like a chicken is doing under the sea?" And received the flat response, "oh no, those crabs have never seen a chicken before." Or watching him try to keep a straight face as the young exterminator in Louisiana explains the natural balance of religion and nature and pests as he proudly holds up a huge dead mouse snapped in a trap.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

curse the automatic flushing potties!

(Knock on wood) we're doing pretty well using the potty, but we have had some inssues when out in public. While Spencer initially thought it was great fun to use different potties, and he was intrigued with the ones that flush automatically, but a few too many flushed while he was still sitting on them. Now we've reached the point where he is absolutely terrified to use a potty in public when he doesn't see a handle for flushing. He litterally screams and cries and absolutely refuses to pee. Yesterday afternoon he held it for for two and a half hours until we returned home! While I was impressed at his ability to do that, this is not good.

Friday, July 14, 2006

water, water everywhere

A few months ago Spencer became fixated on fire hydrants. And suddenly, he noticed them EVERYWHERE as we drove around and pointed out every one in sight. He is still not entirely clear as to what they do - first he told us that "they have fire AND water inside!" and more recently he repeats our corrected statement "there is water in there for the fire," but I'm not sure he really understands what the means. Last week the focus shifted to water towers - when driving to Splashtown and taking the ramp from beltway to 45 way up high in the air Spencer's head was on a swivel and he was delighted to be able to see at least a dozen at the same time!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

potty training update

While things have been going quite well (defined: 3 or 4 accidents a week) we hit a new low yesterday with a poo poo accident at school that yielded unsalvageable underwear. That was a first. And, Spencer's mood was genuinely off for the rest of the night because he was upset he had an accident. Poor guy.

Monday, July 10, 2006

back in TX

It was a fun time in NY for the week of the 4th. Spencer got to go back to the Burns Center a few times to see his favorite sculpture, mom went kayaking with Spencer on the lake, grandma got to show off Spencer to all of her friends during lunchtime, and Jim & I escaped to Karl & Heather's house for a few days to relax. Here are a couple of pictures in the kayak.

Our return to Houston brought us right back into some favorites - much to Spencer's delight - a birthday party on Saturday and Splashtown on Sunday.

Some of our recent laughs from Spencer have been when he thinks we're pulling his leg and just smiles and says, "no, that's not right! you're teasing me!"

And Spencer's teacher confided in us on Friday afternoon that his favorite little girlfriend M seems to have found a new pal to replace Spencer. :( Maybe she felt abandonded while we were away so long. We'll see if they reconnect this week, or if Spencer sets his sights somewhere else.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

swimming (again)

This morning I got a chance to go to pilates at the YMCA, and afterwards the three of us spent a few hours together at the outdoor pool. Spencer got to show off his swimming skills for daddy, and in addition to going down "the curly slide," Spencer thought that jumping in from the side of the pool was an absolute blast. We enjoyed using the new camera toy we bought this week too. As you can see, Spencer is quite fearless - and always smiling as he plunges into the water!

And here are other videos 1 & 2 & 3 and several still pictures taken at the pool, both in and out of the water.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

water play

Today, like every Thursday this summer, was water play for Spencer's class at school. Since water play is in the morning, the teachers request that we send the toddlers in their swimsuits to save a little time from having to change a whole classroom of kids in to, then out of, their suits. Spencer LOVES water play, and is acutely aware when Thursday rolls around. Jim, however, after rolling in late from Wednesday night hockey, forgot about this and started to get Spencer dressed in shorts and t-shirt after breakfast. But Spencer quickly corrected things and told him, "Daddy! We don't wear our shirt and shorts today! We wear our swimming suit for water play!" I guess as long as one person in the Leach family is keeping track of things then we're doing ok.

Monday, June 19, 2006

father's day

Last night we went out for dinner at Lupe Tortilla's which we like because a) food is yummy and b) they have a big sand area for the kids to play in. Spencer always says he's excited to play in the sand, but once we arrive he gets a little heistant once he feels the sand in his toes. After several minutes, he finally felt brave enough to wander in and play a little. Jim didn't exactly see what went down after that, but he saw Spencer's lower lip start to quiver and then suddenly Spencer was hysterical. It seems he put himself out there looking for a friend to play with and got rejected. We gave Spencer hugs while his whole body heaved and he sobbed repeatedly, "the little boy said 'no!' the little boy said 'no!'" My heart just ached for Spencer. Tears were flowing down his cheeks and he was so, so upset. We kept on giving hugs and telling him everything was ok, but seeing how devasted he was by this rejection (even if it hadn't been mean-spirited) was so crushing as a parent. My mind fast-forwarded a decade or so to a time when Spencer might face rejection from a girl he liked and wondered how I would be able to comfort him then. Last night he cried for nearly ten minutes over this incident, despite all of our assurances that he was all right. It really upset him to the core. Do kids learn to 'toughen up' or is this just an age-appropriate reaction? I guess rejection sucks at all ages.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

proud momma

Sometimes Spencer makes me so ridiculously proud, even for the little things he accomplishes. We just returned from a few hours at the YMCA pool and Spencer asked, again, if he could ride the "big curly slide." We learned on previous visits that he and I are not allowed to ride down together, but after his bravery at Splashtown last weekend I thought he would be ok to go down solo. Unlike the slide at Splashtown, this one empties into 3 1/2 feet of water so I put him in a life vest, and the YMCA requires any child wearing a life vest to pass a swimming test to prove they are able to swim to the ladder after sliding down. So, we asked the lifeguard to give Spencer the swimming test with his vest: swimming the width of the pool solo in 5' of water! And he did it! He did it! Sure it took quite a few minutes as he swam the best he could, more upright than horizontal, but he kept on going! He was beaming as he reached the other side and collected his bracelet to prove to everyone that he passed the test! I was so proud of my little big guy!

Monday, June 05, 2006

more catch up

In the time since the last post, Spencer and I went back and forth to NY for the long Memorial Day weekend. Some of the highlights from that visit included Animals & Acrobats at Van Cortlandt Manor, the local Chappaqua Memorial Day parade, and spending nearly an hour at the Jacob Burns Film Center just to watch this George Rhoads audio-kinetic sculpture. Here are some pictures from the trip.

This past Saturday was Jim's final class for the semester. After completing finals this week, he'll be able to exhale for about a month before jumping back in for the final year. Rice congratulated their accomplishments with a big end of year bbq for the MBA students. It was a family event, and Spencer had a blast - riding trains, watching a juggler, and eating ice cream on the lawn. I really enjoyed my time there too. Although I only knew about half a dozen people by name, it was easy to strike up convesation. Here are pictures from the Rice picnic.

And yesterday it was painfully clear that little Spencer is growing up fast. We had an absolute blast at Splashtown (stayed for four hours!) and when we were getting ready to go down a big slide together Spencer suddenly started to complain, "No, mommy, no! I don't want to go down together! I want to go down by myself!" I sat there stunned for a second, and asked the life guard if it was ok. He said 'sure' and off went Spencer - alone. He looked impossibly small on the great big twisty slide, but I could see a huge smile on his face from above as he rounded the turns, and when I arrived down after him he was so excited and beamed as he shouted "I did it all by myself momma!" Yes, you did, big guy!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

updates

Writing about Spencer's potty success did jinx things, Spencer's nine great days of being accident-free came to and end yesterday.

Monday, May 22, 2006

News

It's been such a while since the last post, and so many things have happened. We're still trying to sort everything out, but here are the highlights, and lowlights.

The Good:
- Spencer has been accident-free for over a week now (excluding sleeping when he wears a diaper.) I know writing this will interrupt his good progress
- We had a fabulous family outing last weekend to enjoy the art car parade and took some pictures of "all the crazy cars!" I was a bit anxious leading up to the event with the whole potty thing, but got there in time to secure a good place to watch and not too far away from the port-o-potties, including a nice, big handicapped-accessible one which Spencer used three times during our outing.
- This past weekend we had more fun together riding the trains at Zube Park and seeing tons of friends, and a family outing to pick blackberries at the King's Orchard.

The Bad:
- Spencer caught some stomach virus that was going around his school and got quite sick last Wednesday night. He vomited every half hour or so from seven until midnight. Our washer and dryer ran constantly for five hours washing bedsheets, PJs and his bedtime buddies (thank goodness he had at least one to cuddle each time we put him back to sleep.) Poor Spencer was not having fun and kept saying "I don't want to throw up any more." But he woke up just fine on Thursday, took a three hour nap in the afternoon, and was refreshed enough to return to school on Friday.

The ugly:
- Friends of ours suffered a house fire yesterday. Thankfully no one was injured. They, along with their two young sons, will be displaced for many months while it is being cleaned up and repaired.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Guess what I didn't do last night?

Laundry! Another successful day for Spencer whoo hoo!

This morning was Muffins for Mother's Day at school. We ran into his friend B and I told his mom that Spencer is still talking about B's birthday party from last weekend. Spencer repeatedly says "they turned out the lights and played the YMCA and the Hokey Pokey and the Limbo - it was CRAZY!"

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

potty training day 10

Today was a milestone - no diapers and no accidents! Whoo hoo! Obviously we know there will be plenty more accidents to come, but it is great to know that it is possible. We are all so proud, and Spencer feels great too. He is eager to tell everyone we come in contact with that he is wearing underwear and goes poo poo in the potty. High five, big boy!

Monday, May 08, 2006

week one: potty wrap up

Well, this weekend added a little more excitement bringing Spencer around to places outside of home and school. He wore underwear at the YMCA, at Costco, at a friend's house, and at a birthday party (where we nervously brought him to use the potty three times during our two hours there!) The weekend was not accident-free, but they all took place at home so we'll happily take it.

Yesterday afternoon Spencer was put to work shucking corn for dinner which he thought that was tons of fun. He thought it was even more fun eating it off the cob for the very first time and giggled as he said "did you hear that? it popped in my mouth!" Here are pictures from yesterday.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Baby Shower

Today I was at Kate's house for Ping's baby shower, and I hadn't been there in what seemed like, and probably was, years. I was speaking to mom on the way down and she even said, "ooh, party at Kate's - you're going to eat well!" And we did! And it was so much fun to celebrate with my hockey buds and share in the joy and excitement of first time mommies. I forgot my camera, but hopefully Ro will soon share her pics from the day - especially Natali's home-made mobile with hockey action figures!

While I was out, Spencer played with Aunt Ronnee and was accident-free! Yeah! And later in the afternoon Spencer and I had a blast playing around in the pool for the first time this year and capped off with a picnic dinner at his new little table outside. On our way to bath in the evening, Spencer glanced at the pool through the window and said "we had lots of fun!"

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

seven

That is the number of pairs of underwear worn by Spencer yesterday that were washed last night (along with assorted other shorts and socks.) Since most folks wear one pair per day, quick math tells you there were six accidents. Yesterday's daily report card had two happy faces in addition to the four frowny faces, and there were two more accidents at home after dinner. Sigh. We thought we were doing so well with the Day 1 report card showing four smiles, one frown, and no accidents at home. But as his teacher reminded us, some days are better than others. Sigh.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Splashtown is open!

Spencer and I checked it out yesterday and had a blast! Thank goodness they don't operate on the "Memorial Day to Labor Day" schedule. That made sense growing up in NY, but it ridiculous here in Houston because it is definitely swimming season already! I was thrilled because now Spencer is tall enough and steady enough to play in the water more than three feet away from me - so it was nice to wait at the bottom of the slide while he scrambled around and climbed up over and over again!

Saturday night we celebrated Lori being 50 and, more importantly, being cancer-free for five years. Yippee! After the party was my late night hockey game and since it was a consolation we were a little short on the bench and Jim was able to help fill in. It was the first time we were on the ice together in more than three years.

Today is Day 1 of potty training for Spencer. Unfortunately, he woke up in a foul mood this morning. He didn't want to eat his yogurt and didn't want to wear the underwear he has been so excited about all week. He looked so darn grown up wearing briefs and carrying his Thomas the Train backpack (loaded with six sets of extra clothes!) And, turns out his best friend M at school is also starting potty training today too! I hope they help each other through this!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tuesday Freebies

Yesterday after picking up Spencer from school we dropped off some knives at Sur La Table for their free sharpening promotion, and then went across the street for free ice cream day at Ben & Jerry's. Not a bad deal! The two of us shared some coconut almond chocolate chip. Mmmm. Spencer accidentally dropped a spoonful on the floor because he didn't want to put so much cold in his mouth! But we both thought it was quite a delicious treat.

Driving home down 1960 afterwards, an ambulance passed us with lights and sirens going off and Spencer asked "where is the ambulance going momma?" and I told him that it was going to an accident. He immediately responded "it is going to clean up the ice cream!"

Monday, April 24, 2006

Monday wrap up

Now that half of the candidates from The Apprentice have been fired, I'll go on record saying that I like Allie and Roxanne to be around for the end.

We had our parent-teacher conference at Spencer's school this morning. And while it was wonderful to see his progress documented on paper, what hit us the most was being told that Spencer's days in diapers are numbered. Ack.

Tune in next Monday night for Apprentice and Spencer follow ups.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Swim season is here

It's already getting to be pretty hot and sticky here in Houston. Today Spencer and I cooled off by meeting up with some friends at a splash park. The kids had an absolute blast - Spencer told me excitedly at least 50 times "I got wet all over the place momma!" But while the park is in a generally nice area of town, there were far too many unsupervised children that appeared to either have been dropped off or walked over from the nearby apartments. While it wasn't 'threatening' to have seven year old girls hover around for snacks, it was 'unsettling' to have them following us around. But Spencer could not have been more pleased about the whole afternoon - pics are uploaded here.

Friday, April 21, 2006

world geography

Spencer has always enjoyed staring at the giant world map on the wall every evening while getting into PJs. But now that he's getting older we (geeky parents that we are) add in some timely geography lessons. When he was captivated watching the Olypmics (namely curling!) we showed him where Italy was and now he too states the obvious "it looks like a boot!" And when the Peter, Paul & Mommy CD was in the truck for a few weeks in a row and he was learning "Puff the Magic Dragon" we showed him where to find Hanalei. But, I think the recent international trips for Jim and me really helped bring it all home in his mind. In March he learned to identify India while I was there, and all this week he has been telling me and showing me on the map that "daddy is in Amsterdam!" As cute as that is, I can't wait until this weekend to hear him exclaim "daddy came back from Amsterdam!"

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Family Movie Time

Well, we tried again, and again confirmed that Spencer is still not quite old enough to enjoy going to the movies. We went to see The Wild, but Spencer needed a break walking around in the middle, and also needed to relocate to a new seat at another point towards the end. He still talks about the "tree falling down and the lion got a boo boo." And he really enjoyed when I dropped him off at school this morning and told him to have a "Really Nice Day."

This is the fifth of our five weeks juggling Spencer and travel. He has been bouncing around with a single parent for most of this time. With any luck, after next weekend all three of us will be in Houston together for at least a month, and within a few more weeks Jim will be on a short summer break and we will be able to kick back and relax.

And Jim and I also got to sneak in a visit with Katie to visit 12 day old Henry. He was sleeping sweetly the whole time we were there and just seeing all of the 'baby gear' around brought back memories...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

NY visit

Spencer and I are in NY for Passover. So far, it has been quite a trip. His most impressive new vocabulary word is "forsythia" - and gets to practice often as they are omnipresent with spring right around the corner.

It's funny how trips to NY can make me feel so comfortable and out of place at the same time. I can't help but feel frumpy at the park, as I see all of the other mommies in their oh-so-hip casual wear, and the kiddos in pint-sized Merrills. But, I also felt like I fit in knowing my Spencer was one of at least three tots there who had that name. Or at Big Truck Day on Tuesday (how cool is that we were here for this awesome event!) where my POS Graco stroller stood out like a sore thumb amidst a sea of Maclarens and Combis and Peg Peregos. Yesterday I went into the city (without Spencer) for a hair appointment Devachan which is known for curly hair. Instantly I felt at home. After doing some shopping at H&M in Soho (which I was secretly hoping to squeeze in on this trip after seeing that store as a favorite on What Not to Wear) I felt great walking around Manhattan. Really, really great. The city is so energizing, and despite having made recent comparisons when I was in India, the flow of the street traffic for cars and pedestrians was quite orderly. But then had to admit that I was indeed out of my element as I had to place a call to find out where to head to pick up the correct subway line (because I was confident I could make it around with no map.) Karl and I ate lunch outside at Le Zie and again it felt like this was an every day event to grab a bite. At the end of the journey, when I got back to Chappaqua, I realized it had taken all day to simply get a haircut and have lunch, plus $25 for transportation.

Holiday-wise, this trip has been great. We celebrated two wonderful seders with fabulous food and friends and family. And Spencer was a huge hit each night asking (part of) the four questions in Hebrew. He was such a show off with a captive audience!

Here is a photo album with pictures from NY.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Healthy Kids Day & Bluebonnets

Saturday was the second annual "Healthy Kids Day & Bluebonnets" outing for Spencer and me. The weather could not have been any better at the YMCA's Healthy Kids Day. Spencer had a BLAST swinging golf clubs, throwing baseballs, throwing footballs, dribbling soccer balls, coloring kites and puzzles, checking out a fire truck and science tricks. After a glorious morning, we headed out to Brenham to take pictures and stop at Bluebell for some ice cream. Horrible traffic 20 miles from our destination forced us to turn around and discover a wonderful new field slightly closer to Houston. Spencer was not at all cooperative taking pictures (more or less refuse to sit down) so I'm glad we didn't spend the extra time/gas to continue our journey to Brenham. There are a few really nice shots of Spencer in the pictures from our wonderful day.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Henry is here

After a valiant effort, Katie delivered Henry via c-section on 04/05/06 (cool b-day!) The big guy weighed in at 9 pounds and 12 ounces! Oof. Get some rest momma - you earned it!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Reverse Psychology

Every time we enter into this battle of wits with Spencer, my mind always flashes to Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd arguing about 'wabbit season.' Like any two year-old, Spencer can be amazingly stubborn. But it (almost) never fails that when we can't get him to yield by asking politely, we can take the opposite stance and he immediately delivers what we want. For example, yesterday, no amount of coaxing could convince Spencer to eat the potatoes on his plate. But when we said "Spencer doesn't know how to eat potatoes" he instantly shouted "YES! YES! YES! Spencer knows how to eat potatoes!!!" and then stabbed a piece with his fork and shoved it in his mouth, as Jim and I grinned across the table at each other.

It is great to have our little family all together in the same city after several weeks apart (and after this we will be spilt again until late April.) On Saturday Spencer and I checked out the Houston Children's Festival which was amazing. We primarily went to see Rachel from Signing Time and I don't think it could have gone any better! Spencer was called up on stage to sign and sing along to a few songs he knew, and I got to talk with Rachel afterwards and was pleased to hear that she had nothing but good things to say about the Baby Signs Program. Spencer also saw his first juggling act ever and was completely mesmerized. He has been practicing juggling at home every day (video will follow soon.) Just wait until he gets to to see his cousin Michael again! Sunday was family time together picking strawberries up at King's Orchard. It took Spencer a little bit of practice to not shove his thumb into them, but he was a champ by the end and thoroughly enjoyed the day. Here are pics from our great weekend.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

home in Houston, looking back

It's good to be home. At breakfast, Spencer paused while eating and said, "mommy came back from India!" That's right, baby.

The travel was rough, to say the least. Flying home took just shy of 24 hours - 16 hours from Delhi to Newark, almost 4 hours laying over, and almost four more hours on a plane back to Houston. Not to mention the incredible amount of domestic travel we did while we were there, an additional four flights in seven days. Ouch. I think we added up that we spent about the same number of hours in meetings as we did in planes.

A few thoughts on the journey:
- Simply driving around the cities was such an experience. Transportation and traffic in India is governed by a completely different set of standards that can only be experienced first-hand. I had heard all of the stories from co-workers about cows in the road, and anything with wheels is fair game, but until you feel what it is like to be a part of it, the description doesn't make sense.
- Some of the hotels there were the most fabulous ones I have ever seen in my life. Absolutely stunning. I had no idea that level of opulence would be found on the trip.
- Dining was its own experience. I kept an open mind and tried many new dishes - some I did enjoy, others not so much. I was laughed at once by my co-workers when I thought one of the side dishes on a flight was too spicy, only to learn that was supposed to be the 'refreshing element' of the meal!

As my boss joked, I did quite poor with jetlag management. I'm still not fully adjusted, but am glad daylight savings time has arrived this weekend, because I am tired!

Although it is long as we visited many cities, the India photo album is updated with pictures from our final days in Delhi added at the end.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Blogging from Delhi (again)

A return trip to this city for a few days, and now it's time to head home. In a about 30 hours I'll be back in Houston. Last set of pics will be uploaded then, including ones from todays visit around the city seeing a few cultural points of interest including India Gate and a Gandhi monument and shopping for crafts in the Dilli Haat. It's been an awesome trip. Really great to meet co-workers and spend time traveling around the country. But looking forward to returning.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Blogging from Bangalore

Bangalore has been great. I arrived Friday night in time for our team dinner where I got to meet many of my co-workers resident here who I have only communicated with via phone and email. Our hotel was the nicest one yet (see pictures added at the end of the India photo album) with a terrific Szechwan restaurant. We also had some time to do a little shopping. Bangalore is quite different than the cities we've visited so far - seems much more modern here. It was so relaxing to have a couple of days off from working, and to leisurely wander around our hotel grounds, as well as visit the amazing Leela Palace hotel. Suddenly it's 1:00am Tuesday, and we are getting ready to leave work and head back to the hotel to catch a few hours sleep before heading to the airport in the morning.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Blogging from Hyderabad

I am getting ready to leave Hyderabad, and it has certainly been my favorite city so far. It is just as crazy and busy as Delhi and Kolkata, but far cleaner. Seven of us flew together here on Wednesday, and six departed on Thursday for Chennai. I remained behind in Hyderabad to continue working. But this was a good thing because a) I *finally* had a day without flying to get out and see some sights (we work evenings here, but have been flying each day so far) and b) I was really excited to spend extra time with this partner focusing on improving HP eSupport (chat & email.) It was very special of the partners to include us in presenting awards to outstanding agents during their reward and recognition ceremony. Today, one of the managers from the partner guided me all around the city. We toured Golkanda Fort, saw the Charminar in the middle of the old city, viewed the giant statue of Buddha on Hussain Sagar Lake, drove around upscale neighborhood of Banjara Hills, checked out Hitech City where many companies are setting up shop, and made sure I didn't get ripped buy buying pearls (which Hyderabad is famous for.)

My pictures from India
are finally uploaded and captioned.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Blogging from Kolkata

Another day, another city. I have been taking my malaria medicine on schedule, and I sure am putting my faith in it because the car ride back to the hotel this evening was shared with many mosquitos. I have taken a few photos, but we haven't actually gotten out and about to sightsee yet, and they are all from the back seat of cars. Which is a bit distracting because there are so many other things to focus on. Like not hitting the dogs or cows, or bicycles, or trucks or potholes. Flying domestic in India is a bit interesting. But after tomorrow's flight it will be 48 hours before I get on another plane. What a welcome respite! It's 2:30am here, and definitely time to get some sleep!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Spencer's Greatest Hits, Vol.1

While Bonnie is away in India, Spencer decided to serenade her via video. He was in rare form tonight, and bounced (literally) from one song to another... He warmed up with Twinkle, Twinkle... and then broke into The Star-Spangled Banner. His grand finale was reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. I uploaded the video for Bonnie to check out, but I don't think Spencer would mind sharing it...

Blogging from Delhi

It's been a very long day. Actually, that's not quite right because it's already Tuesday here, and Monday only lasted about 10 hours or so, almost all in an airplane. Whatever the case, I have made it safely to India, and am told that Spencer misses me. Of course, the past two weeks he's been a daddy's boy, but I guess all that has changed since I left. No pictures from here yet, stay tuned.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Zube 2006

Although a family outing did not materialize today (Jim was stuck in an accouting review at Rice) Spencer and I headed out to Zube Park to ride the trains for the first public run day of the season. Sadly, we were not able to get through the afternoon without Spencer going to timeout (after throwing playground mulch for the third time after being asked not to) but overall it was a pretty great afternoon. But I still wish we had more consistency in our days. Breakfast was simply awful this morning - Spencer didn't eat a single bite of pancakes or strawberries, which he loves. And he melted down at bathtime too. I guess we're making progress over where we were last month, but I miss that agreeable little guy who was my buddy last summer.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

funny man

We've always found Spencer to be quite goofy. But now that he's talking, and singing, his comedy is brought up to a new level. Last night I was hoping he could show off his rendition of The Star Spangled Banner to mom (because it is truly awesome when he goes for those high notes!) and he just wanted to sing the song his way. Essentially, he sang along until something caught his eye and then plugged that noun in instead. So it sounded something like "Oh say can you ICE CREAM! by the dawn's early ANIMAL HOSPIAL! what so proudly we SCARY BEETLE!..." Oh brother.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Happy Purim

Last night we went to temple to celebrate Purim and Spencer had a blast! He spun his gragger so enthusiastically he even bonked himself in the head once! And he loved watching the Lion King version of the Purim play. Here are pictures of Spencer from from last Sunday's Purim carnival!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Bada Bing!

Man it was awesome seeing the gang back on The Sopranos last night. Even more amazing than last season (almost two years ago!) since now we watched them in HD on a huge widescreen tv. Just like Tony was in my living room! But somehow during the time off I forgot how disturbing it is to watch the show. How it turns my stomach just watching people get beat up, and how it bugs me long after the show ends that people are powerless to control their destiny.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

i hate salespeople

and yesterday I had to be one of them. Although I was pleased to have the opportunity to set up at table at Babies R Us and share information about the Baby Signs Program, I really hate trying to foist stuff on strangers. As Jim noted, it's pretty close to bottom of the barrel cold calling (well, maybe warm since they are already in a baby store) and even though most every one was indeed interested and glad I had stopped to talk with them, I still don't like the whole deal very much. Hopefully this generated enough interest to encourage folks to sign up for workshops for more information, but most likely it ws just one more of the required seven touches before they come knocking.

HUGE thanks to Lori and Michelle and Jennifer who helped me so much this week!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Work Night

Tonight was 'work night' in Spencer's class at school. What this meant was that all of the parents were invited to drop by at the end of the day and spend a little time with their kiddo while he or she showed off their skills doing some work. (Note: 'work' is the Montessori term used for most of their activities, puzzles, etc.) Spencer was just delighted to have the two of us there as a captive audience to show off his (almost!) mastery of different skills. But it was also quite a sight to see other parents, and some older siblings, huddled around to check out what the kids were working on. And everyone in the room was just beaming with pride. Awww.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I want to be a...

This evening we were reading a book about Dora, who was talking about all different jobs people do and explaining that we have choices to be whatever we want when we grow up. Spencer identified the pictures of the doctor, the policeman, the soccer player, the train driver, the teacher, etc. I asked, "Spencer, what do you want to be when you grow up?" And he looked at me and responded, "I want to be a ladybug!"

Saturday, March 04, 2006

resurfacing

The last few weeks have been outrageously busy. I though all would be calm and quiet once the exam was behind me, but that didn't exactly happen. Last weekend we had a fabulous visit with mom down from NY and fabulous weather to enjoy here too! We went to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (just the livestock show, actually) and Spencer had a blast seeing all of the "chickens and eggs and ducks and llamas and chicks and pigs and chickens!" as he was still recounting this morning, "and dinosaurs too!" Umm, no.

Spencer also had his first sleep over last weekend as a trial run to prepare for later in March when Jim will be in class and I'll be out of the country. Fortunately, it was a huge success. Spencer had such a blast, ate everything that was prepared for dinner and breakfast (not a big shocker) and behaved very well. At least that's what our friends told us, and we believe them because they are looking forward to the next sleepover!

Here are some pictures from the livestock show and a trip to check out Oprah's efforts to create Angel Lane.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bonnie Leach, PMP

I did it! I passed the PMP exam this morning!!! Gosh it feels great to have accomplished something significant outside of the sphere of parenting!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Terrible Twos

We thought it might not happen, but for the past month Spencer has indeed been exemplifying the frustrating behavior of a terrible two-year old. Last week was really the breaking point for both Jim and me. On Wednesday I had two honest and open conversations with some of my mommy friends who have already gone through this phase. Confirming that it is indeed a phase helped me feel better, and they offered some specific suggestions as well. That evening I also spoke with Spencer's teacher at school for strategies, and to make sure we are consistent between home and school. Even though I had already had simliar conversations two times earlier that day, suddenly I found myself getting very upset and a bit choked up when talking to her. We discused Spencer's behavior for quite a while, and I left feeling encouraged and empowered with information. I also left with a copy of Supernanny, which the school keeps on hand specifically for the purpose of lending out to parents. It is so reassuring to know that Jim and I are working as a team with the teachers and the school. We have already begun modifying our behavior, and hope to see incremental improvements in Spencer's behavior as well.

I noticed after the original post that Spencer's age today is two years, two months, two weeks and two days. Argh.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Rose-colored glasses

As a momma, like any other momma, I just can't help but think that the child we have created the most beautiful one around. Sure, other people have cute kids, but ours is exceptionally handsome. I remember when Spencer was tiny, I said to Jim with complete seriousness that we should investigate modeling options. Well, last week I was looking through some pictures of Spencer from that age I couldn't believe my eyes. He was just as strange looking as the next! Good grief! What kind of hormones pump through the body of a new mom??

Monday, February 13, 2006

Torino?

Last night while putting Spencer in his PJ's, we referred to our big world map to show him where the Olympics were being held. We looked all around Italy, but couldn't find 'Torino' on the map, and Jim and I decided that it must be 'Turin.' Tonight at dinner, Jim said he heard that NBC had decided to use 'Torino' because it sounded better. Torino, Italy. Good grief. As we discussed this a little bit more, Spencer decided he wanted to add something relevant to our conversation and piped up, "wanna go look at the world map?"

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Spencer's first concert

Well, Sesame Street Live isn't exactly a concert per se, but to me that was the feeling at home getting ready to leave for the big show. Maybe it was the fact that this was one of the few times Spencer needed an actual ticket to attend an event, or maybe just the fact that the pair of tickets themselves cost nearly $50! I was concerned that he still might be too young, but he was delighted to see everyone dancing around and singing, and thoroughly seemed to enjoy himself. This morning he told Jim about the long list of characters we saw last night, and this afternoon when we were watching Olympic ski jumping he noted, "they are flying like Grover!"

Thursday, February 09, 2006

time outs --> cooking

Yesterday after we returned home from school, Spencer approached me as I was sitting on the floor and asked "want to go to time out?" Sigh. "No, Spencer. You're a good boy. We can play together now. You don't have to go to time out." Then he repeated his request, "want to go to time out?" after which he took a few steps closer and smacked me a few times on the leg!!! What the hell, Spencer?? I just stared back in disbelief and disappointment. "Now go to time out?" he asked. Still stunned, I just pointed my finger as he marched off to designated spot, turned around, and sat down.

I can't help but feel like these issues we are experiencing with time out are completely bizaare!

So, what happened next? While he was in time out I thought back to a conversation from 24 hours earlier with my mommy friends at our monthly dinner out. I was venting that this week has been a bit more of a struggle with Jim traveling, as I have to divide time after work/school between playing and getting dinner ready. One mommy to four little ones responded quickly, "have him help you make dinner." Hmm. I love cooking, and fully planned to raise Spencer to be comfortable in the kitchen, but so far his involvment has been limited to playing with dough scraps. I just didn't think he was old enough yet. But in an effort to avoid any more time outs for the evening, I decided he had suddenly reached the proper age to assist.

When time out was over (and after an apology and a hug and a kiss) we went to the kitchen together. I asked Spencer if he could help me make dinner and he immediately seemed interested. With time being short, I decided the menu would include salmon croquettes. He was a champ at cracking the egg, mixed like a pro, and scooped matzoh meal from the canister into the bowl. And he was having a blast - grinning hugely and oh so visibly proud. Especially when it came time to shape the sticky mixture with his hands! I held him up to watch them cook in the pan, and he ate the final product with much delight (ok, so that's not a deviation from the norm!)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

the art of the deal

At the tender age of two years and two months, Spencer is becoming a masterful negotiator. And while it scares me to think about what we're in for in the coming months & years ahead, I have to confess that I am so incredibly proud!
The situation: Spencer had gotten as much YoBaby yogurt out of the cup as he could manage (the straight sides and squarish bottom do make it tricky) and now daddy had the spoon to help get that very last scoop out.

The offer: "Spencer, do you want one big bite or two little bites?"

The counter offer: "I want one big bite AND one little bite."
I think even The Donald would be proud.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

teething: the final round

The two year molars are arriving. Finally. It seems ridiculous to put in print, lest I lose any credibility as an astute mom, but I think that Spencer has been in the process of getting his final molars for the last four months! I can't believe I posted back in November thinking they were right around the corner. Last night I tried using some disposable kiddie floss thingies for the first time. When he opened wide I could see a HUGE molar about 3/4 of the way through his poor, mangled gums which had recently ripped apart. "Poor baby!" I said. "Why didn't you tell me you had more teeth in your mouth?" One down, almost, and three more to go.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Champions!!!

I just started one more load of laundry, even though we washed everything earlier today, so that Spencer can wear his (MVP!) Hines Ward " 'eelers jersey" again tomorrow, for the fourth day in a row! (Thanks, Karl!) Right now, he is sleeping soundly in his crib tucked in beneath a Terrible Towel. (Thanks, Karl!) Life is good. Life is great! I think I just saw Cowher smile.

Friday, February 03, 2006

time outs - what did we do wrong?

OK, I thought we were on the right track Wednesday putting Spencer in time out for unacceptable behavior. He cried almost the whole time, and thoroughly understood why he was there. But apparently, we screwed something up. Last night at dinner Spencer asked for it! "Want to go to time out? Want to go and sit on the floor?" Hmm. Why is he ASKING to go to time out?? We told him he was a good boy and didn't need to go to time out. This morning he asked AGAIN if he could go to time out!! I just don't understand!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

time outs have officially begun

When I picked up Spencer from school yesterday, his teacher took a little extra time to talk with me and share that Spencer had gone to the "think about it table" for time out a few times that day. The offense: shrieking inside during line time. She said last week he had been getting warnings, but his lack of adherence led to a zero tolerance policy. Good. We talked a little more about how we handle his behavior at home, and while we have recently halted any fun activities when unacceptable behavior occurs, we had not set up a designated location for time out... until last night.

I think toddlers, by nature, go around doing things that are generally unpleasant to their parents, but they can't spend every waking moment in time out. So we're taking a look at different behaviors we don't particularly care for and starting to develop some "house rules" as Super Nanny would say.
No Shrieking: Highly unpleasant, painful, inappropriate, and Jim's pet peeve. This is definitely on the list of rules that earn time out.
No Hitting: Ah, the hitting phase has returned from about a year ago. Fortunately only Jim and I are on the receiving end (he's not hitting teachers or friends.) This is definitely one of The Rules, and violations will earn a trip to time out.
No Throwing Toys: While this isn't good behavior, I don't think we will put it on The Rules.
I think we've got a good start - immediately stop whatever is happening, explain why that behavior is bad and why he has to go to time out, and when time out ends ask him to explain why he had to be there.

On a silly note, last night Jim was blowing bubbles and Spencer was naming them as planets according to their relative size! "That's a Jupiter! That's a Pluto!" It was really fun and funny, right up until he shrieked and the bubbles were put away and he went to time out. Sigh.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

phalanges

Last month Spencer was playing around and said something that sounded like "phalanges." Jim and I both looked at each other with the "what did he say?" expression. We asked him to please say it again, and again he said something that sounded like "phalanges" and went back to playing with his toy. After hearing it twice I said, “It sounds like he’s saying phalanges!” Jim said, “That’s what I thought I heard too!” Certainly we were making this stuff up in our heads. To test it out, Jim asked directly, “Spencer, what are phalanges?” And he explained, somewhat exasperated with us, “phalanges are fingers!” Duh, daddy.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

15 minutes of fame

Well, this might be as close to internet fame as I'll ever get. My favorite baby blog did a feature post on *me* - how cool!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Where are the Steelers going?

Ask Spencer this question and he will repond with certainty, "to the Super Bowl! They are playing in the Super Bowl!" At a boy!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Extreme Makeover Home Edition

Over the weekend Spencer and I checked out the construction site outside of Houston. It took just under an hour from our house and was an easy ride. The weather was gorgeous - tons of sun, bright blue skies, and crisp temps in the 50's. AND we were rewarded in seeing several members of the design team! Although Spencer's highlight may have been riding the school bus between the parking area and the construction site. Here are some pictures from the visit.

Friday, January 20, 2006

actually

This is Spencer's new favorite word. His sentences are hilarious as often he tags the word on at the end of a sentence. "That's a pinky finger... no, it's an index finger, actually!" While playing with a soccer ball last night he suddenly announced "those are pentagons!" and then looked closer and decided "those are hexagons, actually!" Daddy joined in the fun, "actually, Spencer, they are pentagons AND hexagons!"

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

...ten, eleven, twelve...

Last night Spencer and I spent the evening together and he was quite a pill. He alternated between happy and frustrated all evening. Saying 'no' and then 'yes' and then 'no' again. When changing him into PJ's, I decided to check him temperature to make sure nothing else was wrong. After initial giggles sticking a thermometer in his tush, I told him to count to ten while we waited for the beep. He reached ten, still no beep, and to my complete disbelief - so he kept on counting! "Eleven, twelve, thirteen, nineteen!" I had no idea he knew what came next! He was so proud, and I was so proud too!

It made me think back to a counting post that made me laugh out loud from one of my favorite bloggers.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Happy Birthday, Dr. King

At school Spencer has been learning about Dr. King and they even sang happy birthday to him. Spencer also told me that "Dr. Martin Luther King" once said "I have a dream." I hope that as he grows up and learns more about him that the very concept of racial inequality will seem completely ridiculous.

Yesterday Spencer and I headed out early to watch the Houston Marathon and cheer on our friends Michelle and Andy who were running. With a course map and live updates from the web (from Jim,) we zig-zagged around the city and were able to show our support waving and cheering every couple of miles during the second half of the course. It was exciting to be part of such a big event. Spencer was great at practicing his cheering "Go Andy! Go Michelle! You can do it!" After they ran by Spencer would ask "wanna see them again?" So we'd get back in the car and drive to a new intercept location. When we saw them afterwards wearing their medals and FINISHER jerseys, he gave Michelle a big hug and said "You did it!!"

Planet lesson from Spencer on Friday: "We live in the Milky Way."

Thursday, January 12, 2006

nap mats

I've been feeling like an awful mom ever since I found out last week that many of his classmates at school have big quilted blankets and pillow rolls. They are called all-in-one nap mats. Or something like that. And I never knew they existed. After a numbing hour surfing the net, I was frustrated, and in sticker-shock! Plenty of stay-at-home moms selling them online, and a few online retailers, but practially no stores carried them. After losing one ebay auction, I bit the bullet and went to a hoity-toity baby gift shop in Champions at lunchtime to fork over nearly $50. But now Spencer is the proud owner of a fabulous grey quilted mat roll with colorful power tools printed all over, and a charcoal fleece blanket attached along one edge. When he got home this evening he was so excited to lay on it and put his head on the pillow and have Jim cover him with the cozy blanker. I know I certainly could have made him one from scratch, but I just couldn't bear for him to go without one for another day.

Today's planet lesson from Spencer: "Mecury is a planet too. We live on Earth."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

sharp-dressed men

This morning I after I helped get Spencer dressed in a blue and white striped collared shirt with khakis, he annouced, "I look so handsome!" I couldn't help but laugh and smile and agree. Just then Jim emerged from the bedroom wearing a blue and white striped collared shirt with khakis!

Today's planet lesson: Jupiter. Spencer told me "it's a big one and has a red dot."

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

planets

Yesterday when I picked up Spencer at school he informed me, "Earth and Venus are planets." Then he pointed at the wall behind me at the pictures of the solar system. And suddenly, a light went off in my head. When we went to the train show downtown on Sunday he pointed at the Toyota Center and said something that sounded like "that's a planet" but I didn't know he knew that word. And now that I think about it, the Toyota logo sure does look like Saturn! It always amazes us to see how their little brains try to make sense of the world around them.

Monday, January 09, 2006

snow & trains

This weekend Spencer saw snow for the second time ever and had lots of fun, despite needing to take some breaks to have his hands warmed! We also checked out a hobby train show which was a bit hit for Spencer too. The attendance at the show could be split into two very distinct groups - moms & dads my age with little kids who were there to see Thomas the Train and all of his friends, and middle-aged men who were serious train hobbyist and paid close attention to the demos how to get their scenery to look as realistic as possible. Here are some pics from the weekend.

I knew that our trip to Atlanta ws Spencer's last free plane trip as a lap child, but I was still hit with sticker shock last night when I saw what it will cost next time we get on a plane.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

"Guess what?"

On our way to play in a man-made patch of snow today, Spencer repeatedly piped up from the back seat "guess what?" Of course we asked him "what?" But he had nothing to share, and simply repeated "guess what?" This was amusing for about 30 seconds before it was painfully obvious we needed to teach him a little more about conversation.

What is indeed amusing is how Spencer has now mastered singing a few songs on his own, from start to finish, more or less correctly. Today there were lots of spontaneous "Twinkle, twinkles" and "ABC's." I swear there are few things cuter than listening to kids signing.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

Second and third celebrity sighting in Vegas: Paris Hilton. We (Jim) practically bumped shoulders with her Friday afternoon while shopping in Caesar's Palace. I completely missed the fact that we had walked right by her, but as Jim explained, "don't look for celebrities because they blend in, but the bodyguards stand out!" A few hours later that evening, I nearly collided with her inside the casino at the Venetian. Seeing the same famous person up close (very close) two times in one day was unexpected. Maybe we need a bodyguard to keep her from following us around! ;)

We came up with a short list of what we believe Spencer's favorite things to do and see in Vegas would include:
- The fountains at Bellagio. Heck, Even I had a blast watching five shows.
- The many escalators inside the casinos and outside on the strip. We think he'd have an absolute blast endlessly doing two-footed jumps down as they moved up.
- The extensive amount of construction equipment always present, working on the next new hotel.
- The tigers at the Mirage and the sharks at Mandalay Bay, can't go wrong with animals.
- The casinos themselves would provide and endless source of stimulation from lights and sounds. But I think it will be quite a while before he sees those!
- Buffets!

We made it back to Houston in time to have dinner with Spencer, and ring in the new year playing Mah Jong with mom and Ellen. We took a break at midnight to see the spectacle in and around our neighborhood. It's been a great start to what we hope will be a great 2006!