Sunday, September 16, 2007

Emmys

I am not a big fan of award shows, but I'm up waiting for Jim to return home from Karl & Heather's wedding and learned that I somehow missed the fact that Don Herbert died this summer. I seem to remember that my inspirational high school physics teacher (a.k.a. the one who shaped my college path and professional career towards science and engineering) was tapped to replaced him as Mr. Wizard back in the 80's. As one thing usually leads to another when surfing the web, I discovered that my former teacher co-authored a book. I think there are more than a few years to go before Spencer will read this, but I've tagged it to remember later.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Labor Day

For the long Labor Day weekend we got in a lot of family time, some social time with friends and a lot of cleaning up projects around the house. We toyed with going to Splashtown, but with the ongoing threat of rain (and plenty on our 'to do' lists) we ended up not making the trip. Today, Spencer informed me that "the reason we didn't go to Splashtown yesterday was because it was Labor Day. Labor means work, and Splashtown is lots and lots of fun, so that's why we didn't go there."

Friday, August 17, 2007

finger food

On Tuesday, Spencer had a fun dinner and got to try a few new foods with his hands. He had a chicken drumstick for the first time and really enjoyed trying to figure out how to eat around the bone. Afterwards, we shared a steamed artichoke and also thought that was great, learning how to pull of the leaves, dip them in melted butter with lemon, and scrape off the tasty part with his teeth. Now that he has gotten to the point of using proper table manners on a regular basis, it was a fun change of pace to encourage him to get messy eating with his hands.

Friday, August 10, 2007

singer, songwriter & scientist

I have always loved listening to Spencer sing, it is so darn cute. Especially when he goes for those high notes without fear!

Last week he made up a song on the ride home from school with Jim. He entered the house and started singing to me, to the tune of Beethoven's Fifth: "Hel-lo Ma-maaaaa.... I miss you much.... I want to go... to Tot Shabbat... It's at the teh-em-ple!"

Last night we were singing from a book of nursery rhymes that he has recently rediscovered (after not reading it for ~two years.) He giggled the whole way through Itsy Bitsy Spider and decided to change the last verse: "out came the sun and dried up all the rain, and then all of the water was evaporated!" Oh brother.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

the blue tube

The blue tube is what Jim was handed during the Rice commencement ceremony in early May, and the actual diploma was only ready about a week ago.

This past spring, Spencer became more tuned in to the fact that Jim was spending long days finishing up his MBA program. As graduation approached, we talked up the fact that Jim was almost done and wouldn't have to go to Rice University all the time any longer. Spencer asked quietly from the back seat "and then he'll be home more?" "Yes," I told him. And he cautiously asked "will you still be here too, mommy?" "Yes, baby, we're all going to be together." And he smiled big and looked out the window.

After Jim's last class, we explained to Spencer that daddy was going to go back two more times "so they could tell him 'Good Job!'" And Spencer took pride in the presence of the blue tube that appeared at the end of the day.

This Monday, a large envelope arrived from the business school with a class photo of everyone dressed in cap and gown. Spencer took one look at it and asked "is that from when you went to get the blue tube?" Our jaws dropped. He had seen the graduation gown hanging in the closet, but never even seen it worn. How he knew to tie those symbols together was a bit of a mystery.

And last night made me frown in sadness. Jim left for hockey after tucking Spencer in bed. But about 20 minutes later, Spencer was upset about something and when I told him daddy was out he cried "I thought that daddy didn't have to leave any more now that he got his blue tube!!" :( I guess that made much more of an impression on him than we realized...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

another swim day?

I think we should have accepted the fact that Sunday was supposed to be the only swim day this month for Spencer and me. Yesterday on the ride home from school he asked if we could go swimming, so today I sprinted home from work and packed up our swim bag before picking him up. I started to get a bad feeling watching the outside temp from the car display start to tick down 90-89-88-87 during the time it took to get to the Y. While we got changed in the locker room, the temps kept falling and the sun disapppeared. It was windy as we stepped into the pool, and a mere three minutes later we heard the lifeguard's long whistle telling everyone to get out. Spencer was so sad and ran over to Jim who had just arrived to relay the disappointing news. We changed gears and went out for a family dinner. But I wonder when, or if, we'll get to go swimming again this summer...

Monday, July 23, 2007

swimming!

It has been well over a month since Spencer and I have gone swimming due to the ridiculous amount of rain in Houston during June and July. So when temps hit 90 and the sun peeked out a little yesterday afternoon, we quickly put on our swimsuits and dashed off the the YMCA. It even rained during our short drive there, but was sunny again when we arrived. It felt great just to relax and enjoy the water and the sunshine. We played together in the deeper water, and I watched him entertain himself in the shallower kiddie area - where I needed to keep reminding him to pull his swimsuit back up after standing under the waterfall! He went on the slides, and I asked as we waited on line if he wanted me to go down first so I would be there when he got down. He turned around and said "Well, here's the thing. I'm in front of you in line, so that means I go before you do." Duh, mommy.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Happy 4th

Luckily, the morning rain didn't prevent Spencer from having a blast swimming with friends in the afternoon. He helped decorate some chocolate haystack firework cookies to bring to the party. They were tasty & festive. It was the first year Spencer was old enough to stay up until dark to watch fireworks, and he was impressed and amazed.

I thought of a few more recent conversations with Spencer that made me laugh out load.

The set up: driving to school one morning Spencer asked "where are the dust fans on that truck?" I kept repeating "dust fans?" to make sure I heard correctly. "Yes," he insisted "dust fans." I was completely at a loss, until he continued, "you know, so that they don't get other cars dirty." And then the lightbulb went on for me. "Ohhh, Spencer, you mean 'mud flaps?'"

The set up: For now anyhow, Spencer loves helping out out trash days. Full cans are a bit heavy, but he insists on bringing the empty ones back to the garage in the afternoon. One morning, the can was already at the curb and I sent him down with a small bag containing his overnight pull-up. As he opened the lid to toss it in he announced "trash sure is smelly!"

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

"Did you hear what Spencer said?"

The set up: Jim and Spencer were playing in the living room with an inflatable ball. Jim sent the ball over his head, and Spencer explained that was not the correct way to pass it to him. He exclaimed, "No, no, no, no, NEGATIVE!"

The set up: at the end of a fairly typical weekday, we were all having dinner together and Spencer was running his mouth non-stop. It was humorous as he told stories and probed for answers (why? what does that mean? is tomorrow splash day?) Suddenly, he stopped and announced "I'm sure asking a lot of questions!"

The set up: Spencer opened a door a across his sandal foot and did a little damage to his big toe. He told Jim, "I lost some skin on my toe. Can you help me find it? I think I left it in Galveston."

This weekend I took Spencer to Moody Garden to give Jim some dedicated time to do demo and construction in the guest room. We had a blast with friends at their man-made beach and water areas. Here are some pics of Moody Gardens.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

graduated!

Jim is now a Rice MBA grad! In addition to the excitement of the investiture and comencement ceremonies, this past month we also celebrated this accomplishment with no less than six different parties! Travel will consume most of the upcoming month, so I think we'll have to wait until July to start enjoying all of that free time together folks keep talking about.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Why we like Houston

Saturday was an awesome day, and reminded me why I love living in this city. Now that Jim has finished up all of his course work the three of us had some fun as a family. We went downtown to the Texas Dragon Boat Festival - the weather was simply perfect and the event itself unlike anything we had seen before. We cheered for the boats in the bayou as they sprinted across the finish line in front of of every 15 minutes or so. We also enjoyed some music and dancing from the Korean Farm Dancers (a hilarious group of feisty senior citizens) and the Polynesian Cultural Association. One of the many booths at the festival was especially for kids, where Spencer decorated a traditional Japanese carp kite, in honor of Japan's Boy's Day, and they wrote his name in Japanese. Here are pics from the event.

It seems like there is aways something fun going on like this in Houston. After we left downdown, we drove a short bit to check out a vegetable co-op I learned about from Katie's blog, and then on to lunch at our favorite Greek restaurant. In the evening Jim and I had a night out to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with some of his MBA clasmates. Overall, a pretty awesome day.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Fetch!

Spencer, Jim and I were having a blast together playing ball together after dinner. We were rolling and bouncing an oversized super ball to each other and laughing our heads off. In my mind, I was having some flashbacks to the fun times we had with all of our foster dogs in the years before Spencer entered our lives. And with those thoughts in my mind, I tossed the ball past Spencer so it could roll and bounce down the length of the hallway. He jumped up and took a couple of steps to chase it when suddenly he stopped and spun back around and asked me "mommy, why did you do that?" I felt a little bad that I was trying to make my kid fetch a ball, but by then he had already turned back and was happily chasing it.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

sports-fest

This weekend Spencer watched three different sports for the first time and had a blast. On top of that, he was well-behaved which meant Jim and I were able to enjoy the weekend with him that much more! Spencer sat on the sidelines watching his very first soccer game (under 5 league) and was delighted to no end that he had the chance to dribble all around during halftime and after the game. He is already asking when he gets to be part of a team. Answer = in the fall. Today we soaked up the spectacular Spring weather watching about half of the Rice baseball game. Spencer excited clapped along with the crowd for good plays and runs scored (of which there were many!) and enjoyed learning about aluminum bats, foul balls, and singing 'take me out to the ball game.' And, finally, Spencer got to watch his daddy play hockey. It took a few shifts before he was able to identify Jim in his gear and then would excitedly shout "hi daddy! hi daddy! hi daddy!" each time he skated by. Teaching hockey rules wasn't too different than soccer he had learned the day before: "this team is trying to score a goal in that net, and the other team is trying to score a goal in this net." It wasn't really that tough a concept to explain the few penalties he witnessed either: "that player pushed another one, so now he is sitting by himself in time out for two minutes." Very familiar concept for a three year-old!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

who needs Websters

I think we have always talked to Spencer like a big kid, and ever since he began signing/speaking, his vocabulary has increased at amazing rate. He is constantly asking for definitions of words he is unfamiliar with, and it is so funny to hear some repeated back that he learned elsewhere. This weekend was Jim's birthday. Spencer was SERIOUSLY upset by the fact that not only was Jim not having a party at a jumping place, but he was not even going to have a cake with candles! I explained to Spencer that "unfortunately, daddy has to go to Rice University on his birthday." Spencer stopped and informed me "unfortunately is when you wish you could do something, but you can not."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

milestones

I have hesitated posting this recent accomplishment, not wanting to be too much of one of those blogging mamas bragging about their kid all over the web. But after sharing with a couple of friends, it was pointed out that this blog IS Spencer's "baby book" - his journal for recording all of his greatness, so it would be remiss not to write about the fact the SPENCER IS READING AND SPELLING! We discovered this last month when parents were invited to school to observe some of the work the kids had mastered. Spencer's teacher brought over a box that had several objects along with laminated cards that had the names of those objects, and gave him simple instructions to match them. We stared as he sounded out each word and then located the object to put them together. Our kid is really reading - not just sounding out m-i-l-k on the carton at breakfast when it is already obvious what is contained inside. Next, his teacher came by again with a box of (sorted) letters and requested a couple of words for him to spell. Jim and I sat there thinking we might have to prod his thought process, but we just waited and watched in silence, our jaws agape, as our son picked out letters from the box and lined them up on the carpet to spell the words she had requested. Our kid is spelling. Holy cow. As we were leaving the school, the staff in the front office was just bursting "we've known about Spencer's work for about a week now, but we didn't want to ruin the surprise of letting you two to see for yourselves!" They were so proud and pleased with his work. And, most importantly, Spencer feels really good too.

Monday, April 09, 2007

the pictures i didn't take

We were in NY for Passover last week when that huge springtime front came through and brought flurries in April. Spencer enjoyed the change, and didn't mind the cold. But before the temps dropped, Spencer and I enjoyed a terrific day together in the city at the beginning of the week. We rode the train in to Grand Central (an adventure in itself) and then walked up Fifth Avenue enjoying the sunshine and 60 degree temps. We stopped at Rockefeller Plaza to watch the ice skaters, and after perching him on the (wide) ledge to take an awesome picture of him smiling with the colorful flags lined up behind him, I discovered that the camera had a power issue and locked up after I turned it on. So, I missed that photo, and many more great ones.

We admired the grand statue of Atlas, and continued walking up to Central Park. This was our destination, and the primary purpose for making the trip in the first place. Earlier this year Tracy sent Spencer a copy of And Tango Makes Three which quickly became one of his favorite books to read at bedtime. We talked about going to the Central Park Zoo so we could see the penguins (and the red panda bears and cotton-top tamarins.) It was great and Spencer absolutely thrilled to point out Roy and Silo and Tango to me.

After the zoo we walked to FAO Schwartz where Spencer played the giant floor piano for over 20 minutes. He thought it was amazingly cool. Next we stopped to walk around the first floor of the World of Disney and finally ended up back at Grand Central Terminal to take the short train ride back to grandma's house where he crashed hard!

Friday, March 30, 2007

the complimenter

I'm not sure if this is learned behavior, or just part of Spencer being a 'nice guy,' but lately the compliments have been flying and it makes me feel great. "Mommy, I REALLY like your red pants!" "Your skirt and shirt are pretty!" "Mommy, you have nice lips and teeth." "This meal is delicious!" "Mommy, I like you a lot PLUS a little. Daddy, I like you a little PLUS a lot." Who knew having a kid could be such an ego boost?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Being different

When Spencer was in the 18-24 month classroom at his school, there were two girls in his class both named O. As they all turned two, they were assigned to one of the two different toddler classes for the next age grouping, and the O's were split up. Spencer isn't particularly close with them, but we hear about all of his friends from time to time. Yesterday he was telling me a story about "the O that is in my class, not the O who is in the other class." He continued on "the one that is in my class is a little bit different." And at this point I froze and sucked in a breath. O in his class has a (repaired) cleft lip, and I was horrified to think that at this age kids (my kid) were already focusing in on something like this and categorizing it as different. It didn't really make sense either - his school (and Houston) is so ethnically diverse Spencer sees so many "different looking" kids all the time. I was trying to gently ask what he meant by different, without encouraging him to focus on a birth defect. He replied "Well, they are similar. But one has brown hair and one has black, so they don't match. They are different." Oh.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

delayed gratification

Tonight at dinner Spencer was dipping veggies into some dressing and he informed me, "I didn't use any dressing on that last bite so I would have more left for those later." And I was filled with so many emotions, not sure exactly what they all were. It made me a little happy, a little proud, a little content, and a little at peace. All for a seemingly silly comment from a toddler. It just seemed so 'mature' for this little guy to be thinking these thoughts and see a small glimpse of some day graduating from "everything! me! now!" And a part of me projected far into his future and it felt good to think that being able to exert self-control and being able to delay gratification will serve him well in life. Then I laughed at myself for reading so much in to it.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

do we really talk like this?

Tonight it struck me as funny hearing myself tell Spencer "you need to wear underwear if you want to help me cook dinner." But, as usual, he managed to take the prize(s) for unique utterances for the night by blurting out "awesome mommy!" in praise of our meal. Then while getting ready for bed he informed me "there are FOUR O's in 'poo poo!'" And as I was saying goodnight he stared back at me and declared "your hair is REALLY BIG!"

Thursday, February 22, 2007

nerdy spencer

Of course, that is meant in an endearing way. Last weekend Spencer and I checked out the Frog exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and it was as cool and impressive as I had hoped it would be. But, almost better than that, was the fact that there was a big event going on for GEMS and there were exhibit tables set up throughout the length of the museum lobby educating kids about different sciences. Quite a few interested Spencer, but the Robotics Academy captivated him for more than half an hour. Their 4'x6' table displayed legos with servos, and Spencer was fascinated. He has played with remote controlled cars at home, and only seems to drive them in circles or straight into the wall. But at the museum as I watched him control an 'excavator,' requiring two separate levers, without a false step. I was stunned. Spencer was hooked. Pics from our visit (and photo albums from the past three months) have been added on the right.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Deep Thoughts, by Spencer Leach

After tucking him in bed in the darkness, Spencer inhaled deeply through his nose and informed me "if you stick two fingers in your nose you can not do that. you can not breathe through your nose if you stick two fingers in it. that's why you should only stick one finger in your nose."

Friday, February 16, 2007

swimming class

We signed Spencer up for swimming classes to get ready for summer. Now he's old enough to take the classes without mommy or daddy in the water. Man, oh man, it hasn't been pretty. Jim and my mom have taken turns bringing him, and neither came home with good reports. Including horsing around to the point he fell underwater and had to be rescued by a lifeguard. That experience of watching him in class was so bad it ruined Jim's mood for the rest of the evening through hockey, which is tough to do. I was so nervous going for my first class with him last night that it would be too frustrating. Sticking to the 80/20 rule of expecting good behavior from a toddler, I think we hit that mark ok. He certainly wasn't the shining pupil, but with the promise of a chocolate brownie as a treat after dinner, he did well. I don't like having to resort to bribery, but I feel that happens more often since Spencer has become a toddler.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

valentines messages

To get ready for the Valentine's Day celebration at Spencer's school, we were asked to send in enough signed valentines for each friend in the class, plus some stickers to be used for a project. I found some fun puffy stickers in the $1 spot at Target - a bunch of different cute and colorful drawings of animals with hearts. Jim and Spencer were looking over them together and talking about the different stickers. "This one says puppy love," Jim told him. Spencer scanned across the row to another animal and announced "and this one says monkey love!"

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Pluto

Last January Spencer learned about the solar system at school, and shortly after that came the stunning announcement that Pluto was no longer considered a planet. We decided not to share this news with Spencer. And I was secretly hoping that before the subject rolled around again at school this year that perhaps the scientific community would reverse their decision. We know that has not happened, and yesterday Spencer proudly brought home a solar system mobile - sans Pluto! We put it next to the solar system project from last year, but so far he hasn't commented on its absence. I'm still hoping that Pluto might be re-elevated and right things in Spencer's world because I doubt he will be as amused by the new word Plutoed as the rest of us.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"our bed"

Spencer doesn't sleep with us. He never has. But in the past few months, post transition to the toddler bed, he nows comes into our room when he wakes up during the night. And he complains of having a bad dream and then announces, "I just want to sleep here in our bed." Um, no Spencer. This is OUR bed. The first time we heard it at 3:00am Jim and I cracked up, but it is not so funny any more.

Friday, January 19, 2007

he's not two any more

This morning Spencer sweetly came in to wake me up as he does most mornings, but today he had some pretty bad breath. We love our babies through all of the perfunctory nastiness like poop and boogers, and I did manage to smile back when he said "good morning, i love you" just two inches from my nose. But man, it did not smell good. (Let me go on record, which I feel I need to after my earlier post, and say that brushing teeth every morning and evening is not something we have relaxed on.) I'm told we're just a few years a way from truly stinky sports gear too. Sigh. I think some of his baby cute-ness is starting to lose an edge.

Monday, January 08, 2007

letting go

I remember having a conversation with a co-worker last year about our kids. At the time, Spencer was two, and her boys were three and one. She was saying how things seemed easier the second time around, but mostly because she was much more relaxed. "You know, as long as they get baths every couple of days it's all good." I thought smugly to myself "my son gets a bath EVERY day." Well, now that Spencer and I are both older and wiser, I too know that the world doesn't crumble if Spencer doesn't get a bath every day. We got home late after temple Friday night and skipped bath, then skipped again on Saturday because we stayed out late for a play date and dinner with friends. Last night I finally got a chance to scrub him up good, wash his hair, swab the gunk out of his ears, etc. and it made me happy to have a clean, good-smelling child to tuck in to bed. But, I no longer worry if that doesn't happen every day.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Good Friday

Today was a good day for Spencer and me. After inviting an old Rice friend to meet us for dinner before Shabbat services this evening, she reversed the invitation and we joined her plans to meet up with four other moms who each had their own three year olds. I was initially embarrassed inside the restaurant as Spencer turned screechy and clingy and kept whining that he wanted to eat while sitting on my lap. What??? When has my child ever sat on my lap to eat a meal? Why would that thought occur to him? I know I shouldn't care so much, but I couldn't help but feel we were making an awful first impression. By the time we finished eating and wandered over to TCBY, he had made fast friends. The kiddos were all really well behaved at temple, I can't help but think that we all dodged a bullet by filling them up with sugar beforehand.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Happy 2007

I should just re-title this blog a monthly update, because that is all I seem to manage any more. I do think about blogging almost every day, wanting to share Spencer's antics and accomplishments (like reciting the blessings for the hanukkah candles!) In the last month he has gone ice skating and bowling twice, and even used the potty at a friend's house without announcing it until the fact. He has become intrigued with the concept of rhymes and after a few stumbled attempts like "puppy dog" rhymes with "uppy dog!" he did get the hang of using actual words, but it's been a fun road.

And then there are the many, many things I don't blog about. How life with Spencer can be unbelievably frustrating. That when we think he is playing nicely with a game and we find out he has jumped on its box and mangled the corners. Or snapping his sunglass stems off the frame for the umpteenth time. And we always make him ride home complaining and squinting into the sun before repairing them for our next ride, but the consequences don't sink in. Or letting chewed food fall out of his mouth at the dinner table while he laughs. Grrr. But reading this post made me feel much better that even on my bad days I'm not alone.