Happening So Fast

Some days I look at Alex and I’m shocked.

Scooter Fun

How is he so big? When did he get so tall? Are his fingers really that long?

Scooter Fun

He’s outgrown the clothes I bought him at the beginning of the school year. His pants are all hilariously short, and his long sleeved shirts aren’t so long-sleeved. He didn’t tell me, of course, but his shoes? Are crushing his not-so-little toes.

Taller, longer, leaner, and so independent.

And quite the goofball.

Scooter Fun

The Truth

For a few years now, Alex has been curious about the whole Santa thing. “Is he really real?” “How does he deliver so many toys?” “Do reindeer really fly?” “How does he MAKE everything?” “Does he really know when you are sleeping or awake? That’s creepy.”

My response has always been the exact same thing. Year after year, question after question:

“What do you think?”

And it works! Who knew that kids could be so easily tricked by simply asking what they think? “What do you think?” left Alex with the ability to keep believing, even though he had his doubts. He thought Santa probably didn’t actually know when he was sleeping, and he thought the toys were probably made in his toy workshop even though the same toys could be bought at any store. He thought Santa was real. The last few years, it totally worked.

“Mom. I was just remembering that time last year when I said I wanted a certain light saber and you told me, ‘maybe Santa got it!’ and then Santa did get it. I was thinking about that. And I want to know if maybe you got it and put it under the tree?”

“What do you think?”

“MOM. I’m asking you a question. Did you give me the toy?”

“…what do you think?”

Lather, rinse, repeat. I said “what do you think?” probably four or five more times as he asked me about this toy. I said, “what do you think?” when he blatantly asked me if Santa was real. I said, “what do you think?” when he asked if Santa was fake and again pressed on whether we give him presents and signed them as if they were from Santa. “What do you think, buddy?”

He got mad.

He told me I wasn’t answering his question. That he was asking me a yes or no question and that I was being mean and annoying and, “MOM! TELL ME! TELL ME THE TRUTH!”

So.

I told him.

Paris

“I’m a little sad. But it’s also really nice that you gave me all of those presents. This year, I’m going to ask who each Santa present is actually from so that I can thank them.”

I’m a little sad, too. Santa remained a Little Kid Thing. Alex’s belief kept him in Little Kid Land. He’s really growing up.

And Then? France

I sort of, kind of, (totally), forgot that I never actually wrote about the second half of our amazing trip to Europe in September. We spent a week in Italy, enjoying a little of this, and of course a little of that. Italy, to put it simply, blew my mind. I had no idea it was so gorgeous. I had no idea the people were so nice, so beautiful, so interesting. I had no idea that I could fall in love with a location.

Cinque Terre

After spending one night in Florence, we woke up early to catch a train. From Florence, through Milan, we landed in Nice, France. Nice was, well, it was nice. Very, very, nice.

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Found a Nice beach. (Tee hee.) (Sep 20)

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Unfortunately one night in Nice is not nearly enough time to get to know the city, so obviously I will just have to return again some day. We wandered around a bit in the evening, and even less the next day, but what little I saw was beautiful. The ocean, of course, was exquisite.

From Nice, we took a train to Avignon, another super cool walled in city, built with winding streets that made it nearly impossible to ever be conquered. We spent three nights in Avignon, visiting the Pope’s Palace, wandering the narrow cobblestone streets, and, of course, eating lots of food and drinking lots of wine.

Avignon

Avignon

Avignon

The views at the top of the Pope’s Palace were spectacular. I could have stayed up there for hours, just staring off into the distance, figuring out what each little village was, what role it had in various historical times.

Avignon

Avignon

Avignon

Avignon

The Pope’s Palace was an amazing thing to see. These two buildings were exquisite: at once beautiful and horrifying because of the clear strength of the fortress, not to mention the religious imagery.

Avignon

Avignon

Avignon

Three nights in Avignon was plenty, and we were all ready for the final portion of our trip: Paris!

Avignon

Unlike Avignon, three nights in Paris is not enough. Not enough by far. In all honesty, we didn’t do very much in Paris besides walk around and eat, and I probably could have done exactly that for another week or two.

Paris

Our visit to the Musee Rodin was a highlight of the trip. It was a cool, cloudy, day, and we spent our time wandering the gardens. Sculpture is one of my favorite (maybe favorite?) forms of art, so this was a really enjoyable experience. We weren’t able to tour the inside of the museum due to renovations, but the gardens were plenty for a tired eight-year-old boy anyway.

Musée Rodin

Musée Rodin

I had so much fun taking pictures throughout Paris, and I hope I really do return some day. There is so much more to see, to do, to experience.

Musée Rodin

Paris

Paris

I will keep my fingers crossed that this wasn’t a once in a lifetime trip. That some day, some way, we will return to Italy and to Paris. I still think about our trip on a near daily basis. I remember the beautiful trees, the amazingly old buildings, the gorgeous mountains, and, of course, the best coffee, wine, bread, and food.

What a trip.

Paris

He Has Great Ideas

“No, Alex, you may not have a fourth serving of fruit snacks.”

“No, Alex, you can’t have cool whip for dinner.”

“No, Alex, you may not throw your action figure at me. Or anyone.”

He almost always asks. I guess that’s a good thing. Instead of just doing something he knows he isn’t supposed to, he asks first. He generally still does it, and then gives me a look like what are you going to do about it, huh?

His obsession with candy and dessert is no surprise. Not only is he a kid (what kid doesn’t love sweets?), he comes by his love of sugar honestly. My weakness is definitely sugar-laden foods. Brownies, M&Ms, ice cream. If they are in my general vicinity, I have a really hard time not consuming every last drop.

This love of candy and sweets can make it hard to get him to eat anything real, so generally we bargain. Actually, we bargain everything. Or threaten. “If you don’t let me brush your teeth you don’t get to have story time before bed” works like a charm. “If you don’t let me get you dressed for the day I won’t wrestle with you on the bed” convinces him that getting dressed is a good idea.

He’s figured this bargaining out, though, and now tries to use it on us.

“I know what’s a good idea! I’ll go into the kitchen and eat a carrot, and then I can have the entire container of cool whip.”

More often than not, though, he goes straight for what he wants and doesn’t even offer up an enticing offer. “I know what’s a good idea! Let’s have cookies instead of chicken!”

Yeah, you wish, kiddo.

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Osmosis

Everything you say to or around a young kid is absorbed.

There is no such thing as them not understanding. They get everything. Alex may not understand the exact words, or get the sarcasm, or even know how to respond, but he still gets it. Everything sinks in.

At some point in the recent past, he heard a swear word. My best guess is that one day at daycare, he overheard one of his caretakers saying the word. It was probably when they thought no kids were around, or maybe they were heading up the stairs and assumed the kids couldn’t hear.

Zach was taking the diapers out for garbage night, and Alex ran up to him while he was walking them out and said: “Let me see the damn diapers.”

Um, what?

After asking him to repeat himself it was clear: he definitely said those words.

Alex talks like the people around him, whether that is good or bad. If someone says the d word, he will, apparently, repeat it. For all I know he heard that word months ago. For all I know I said it without even realizing it.

He absorbs it all, and I’ve definitely learned that I have to be very careful. No swear words. Proper grammar. Correcting any inappropriate pluralization or change in verb tense.

He’s not allowed to say “slippy” just because he hears other people using that word. “It’s slippery, Alex.”

He is, however, allowed to start most of his sentences with “so.” And correct everyone by saying “actually…”

But no more swear words. And definitely no slippy.

(I still love that he can’t say his ‘r’ sound. Cheese boogers are way more humorous than cheese burgers.)

I’m Probably Doomed

When I took Alex to his three-year well-child appointment, I expected the usual: Alex would refuse to talk to the doctor. He would probably cry as the doctor attempted to look in his ears, mouth, eyes. The doctor and I would have a hard time talking, as Alex would insist that I not talk to anyone but his small self.

As per usual, I was surprised. Every question that the doctor asked Alex was answered. When the doctor asked Alex to open his mouth, he did. Alex walked up to the doctor and initiated conversations about our plans for the day (playground), what he had for breakfast (waffles, three of them), and, the new favorite topic, farting.

“Wanna hear something?” Alex asked the doctor. He then pretended to fart, sticking his little hip out to the side and looking over his shoulder, laughing at his own humor.

When the doctor was finished checking him out and asking questions, he told me that the nurse would be in shortly with the vaccinations.

The nurse came in and gave Alex his two shots. One in each arm. When she left, Alex cried. And cried and cried.

“Mommy, it huwts. She put two big holes in my awms! Look!”

I tried to tell him that it would be okay. That the “holes” were covered by super! cool! bandaids! and that he would feel better soon. I told him that I knew it hurt, and that it was scary, but that it was all over and the nurse was just trying to make sure he didn’t get sick in the future.

“I don’t wike her. I don’t wike nurses. Nurses are bad. Dey are mean.”

I guess I shouldn’t tell Alex that one day I had to give a baby three shots, and that I will have to be that mean nurse over and over in the future.

Pretty much, I’m bad and mean in Alex’s eyes. Good thing I’ll never have to be his nurse.

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No One Prepared Me

No one prepares you for parenthood.

It’s not their fault. It’s impossible to prepare someone for it.

I was told, countless times, that having a child would change my life. That having a child would be exhausting. That having a child would be unimaginably difficult. That having a child would bring more joy, and devastation, than anything else ever had or would.

I listened. I nodded. I thought to myself, of course it will be difficult! I get that!

No one can prepare you for the sleep deprivation you face when your baby is a newborn. No one can prepare you for the tears you will shed as you attempt to take care of a small, helpless, being on two hours of scattered sleep over the previous four nights.

I listened to advice. I nodded. I smiled. I get it. I know having a baby is hard, I thought.

No one can prepare you for how quickly your baby will learn to crawl. And then walk. No one can prepare you for the fear that will race through your spine as you see your baby take their first nasty fall.

Over and over people warned me that these things would happen. I listened. I understood. Babies fall. They hurt themselves. They crawl, they walk, and then they run.

No one can possibly prepare you for the joy that you will feel with that the first smile, the first giggle, the first “mama” that comes through their little mouth. “It’s the most amazing feeling in the world!” I heard them say. I listened. I knew that it would be.

Everyone told me that two would be worse than one, and that three would be harder than two. I get it! Three is hard, blah blah blah. Three year olds will fight you to to the death, they told me.

No one can prepare you for the guilt you will feel as you attempt to raise that fighter of a three year old. The awful feeling of knowing you are doing the right thing only to have your child exclaim, “I hate you!” through tears.

I was told it would come. I expected it to come. I get it!, I thought, of course he won’t mean it!

Everyone told me that it would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, the hardest thing I will ever do. I thought, I get it.

No one prepares you for the laughter. No one can prepare you for how much joy you will take out of the silly things they say. “We weren’t very close,” Alex told me when I asked if he missed one of his daycare friends who had started preschool.

No one can prepare you for how much joy you feel for your child. How what they do is the most amazing thing any child has ever done. How what they say is funnier than another child saying the exact same thing. How when they say they love you it gets stored away forever, and how when they say they hate you it also does.

No one can prepare you for parenthood.

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Today More Than Yesterday and Less Than Tomorrow

Dear Alexander:


My little stinker. Stinker pot pie. Stinker the linker. Pooper. Schpooger. Booger. Booger the looger. Pinky. Boobers.

My little buddy.

Today you are three. Three! Can you believe it? It was three years ago that you were born, fighting to stay in the home you had known for the previous 9 months. You didn’t want to enter the world, but eventually you arrived, and boy was it beautiful.

The last 365 days have been quite an adventure. You went from staying home with me all day, every day, to going to daycare full time with me returning to school full time. You transitioned beautifully, and have grown even more beautifully.

You were talking at two, but now you won’t stop! There is a constant dialogue streaming from your lips, explaining every little thing that is happening. You not only talk, you ramble. You tell stories. Long stories. Almost every story ends with someone or something farting. Or pooping. This, of course, is hilarious to you, and pretty darn amusing to me. “Row Row Row Your BUTT!

This year, you have outgrown toddlerhood. You are officially a kid. Between the incessant chatter, including in depth conversations, the knowledge of letters and numbers, the ability to be taught, in an instant, the definition of a new word, the hopping, skipping and jumping, and the love of all things big boy, you are no longer a toddler. I look at you and see a child.

My child.

My Alex, you are my world. You make me happier than anything, and I hope that I can bring you even half of the joy in your life that you have brought to me.

In another year you will be starting school. Real school. You are ready in many ways now, but I know that the next year will prepare you for the beginning of approximately 18 years of schooling. You will grow more, learn more, mature more. And I will enjoy watching it all, because even the bad moments are only temporary. Every second of every day you are changing, and it amazes me.

This year has been a whirlwind, and I can’t wait to have the opportunity to spend more time with you in the upcoming years. I feel like I missed out on a lot, but as I look back at the year I know that I didn’t miss everything. We traveled to Florida together, and I came the realization that even though I may not be with you all the time any longer, something is going right because you were the most well behaved two year old imaginable.

You say please and thank you, and now excuse me. While you do not fully understand that “excuse me” is not an excuse to simply start talking or yelling or shaking or dancing in order to get someone to pay attention to you, you do know that there is some polite way to get their attention. We will work on that this year.

It isn’t something I am fully prepared for yet, but you are now lying. I know that it actually means you are learning, that you are comprehending the world in ways I didn’t think would happen quite yet. I heard you telling someone, “Mommy said when I woked up I could have fruit snacks for bweakfast.”

I certainly did not. But it’s cute that you thought you could get away with it.

You are smart. You are focused. You are extremely empathetic. Your hugs and kisses are the best ever. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

I love you, pooker. Sweetie. Honey. Honey bunny. Darling. Dear. My baby.

I love you, Alexander. Today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow. And I wish you the happiest of happy birthdays on this day.

Love,
Mommy

I Think This Means I’m a Fat Kid (With a Lot of Vices)

The souvenirs one brings back from a trip not only tell a lot about what that person values, but can also tell a lot about the place those souvenirs are from. Obviously it’s possible to get a magnet and a shot glass anywhere, but I easily could have purchased one hundred shot glasses per magnet. And 99 of those would have had the fleur-de-lis on them.

Here is what I brought home with me:

Crawfish mardi gras beads

Naturally, I had to take home some Mardis Gras beads. Fortunately, all I had to do to get them was go to Mardis Gras World. No flashing required.

Shot Glass

Magnet

A shot glass and magnet were mandatory.

The most appallingly delicious pie ever

The most appallingly delicious pie I have ever had. I ate two while I was there and brought two home with me.

Praline

A praline. I’m not a fan, but Alex insisted that I bring him home a cookie from my trip. So, I obliged. And of course, before even giving me a hug or a kiss when I returned he shouted from his seat, “Mommy! You bwought me cookies fwom youw twip? May I have dem now, pwease?”

SLAP YA MAMA!

“Slap Ya Mama!” Um, enough said.

T-Shirt for Alex

The only reasonable t-shirt I could find for Alex. Most of them were neon or said inappropriate things (even for the tots) or had too many sequins or more glitter than is appropriate for anyone, boy or not.

Save Our Shore

Save Our Shore

This beer is an attempt to help out with the oil spill. Remember: everyone drinks down there, so why not make a commitment to donate 75 cents for every purchased bottle? We drank one and then I purchased one to bring home.

Haunted History Tour Fan

The Haunted History Tour paper fan. I didn’t use it on the tour, even though it was hot, because I was too busy enjoying the tour guide and the beer that we, as a group, stopped to get half way through the tour.

Knight and Horse

The gift that my best friend bought for Alex’s birthday. Of course the knight and his horse have the fleur-de-lis plastered all over them.

Hand Rolled in New Orleans, Cigars

Cigars. Hand-rolled cuban cigars.

Louisiana Fish Fry

Some Fish Fry. It was super cheap, and now I’ll be forced to make some fried fish. Plus: YUM.

Cafe Du Monde Beignet Mix

Some Cafe Du Monde Beignet mix. Again, I’ll now be forced to make them. Darn.