Archives for February 2006

“O” Is For Obsessed

Alex seems to be taking in information at a rapid pace these days, and I find myself thinking, “WAIT – how in the world do you know THAT?” And please know that this is not one of those “oh, my child is so smart” write-ups, because I have no idea if Alex is smart or not, but if I had to wager a guess right now, I’d probably say, um, huh? I think he’ll be capable, and I think he’ll have some common sense, but smart? I just can’t tell. He’s TWO, you know?

I recognize that my friend NK’s older daughter is smart because she can pretty much factor algebraic equations at age 3 1/2, and I knew that Merritt’s little boy was smart when he quoted Astounding Facts About Dinosaurs when he was only 4, but Alex, not so much. It seems to me that what Alex is doing right now is taking the fast track around the Catch-Up Curve. I’m pretty low-key about Alex’s academic future, really, because I never want to be one of those parents with unrealistic expectations…I figure it’s better to expect average, and then anything above and beyond is a happy surprise.

Mother Of The Year, ladies and gentlemen! Spurring my child on to greatness!

So anyway, Alex is currently obsessed with five things. No, six: 1) trains 2) Blue’s Clues 3) Cheetos 4) planets 5) letters and 6) numbers.

I’ve talked about the train thing a little – nothing to tell, really, because as best I can figure it’s just watching a little car go around a track or pushing a little car around a track and I’m bored with it in, like, six seconds and looking around his room for a book or magazine or something. Alex and his daddy can watch / play for hours, however. I don’t get it.

As far as Blue’s Clues goes, he seems to prefer the ones with Joe, not Steve, and that’s fine with us, because Steve, especially in his later episodes, gives off a distinctive air of OH SWEET MERCY I HATE MY LIFE SOMEBODY PLEASE OH PLEASE GET ME OUT OF THIS ANIMATED NIGHTMARE. So probably better for Steve that he moved on to bigger pastures and a brighter future.

Cheetos – well, I don’t think I even have to explain that one, especially considering the sheer volume of Cheetos I ate when pregnant. They’re in the child’s DNA – he can’t escape his Cheetos-eating destiny.

The planets thing seems pretty routine. Once or twice a day he insists that we put this puzzle together:

And then he screams – SCREAMS, I tell you – the names of all the planets while he points at them and jumps up and down. This exercise usually results in my having to put the dogs outside because they get so disturbed by the high volume of the toddler voice. Sometimes I want to go outside, too, but I can’t really do that without the authorities getting involved – something about “abandonment” or “negligence” or some such nonsense. So I just cover my ears.

Which brings us to numbers and letters, and the part where he’s scaring me a little.

As far as letters go, we’re just now pioneering that frontier. Last week he got fascinated with this letter board that Janie gave him…it has pictures of objects on one side, and the first letter of the object on the other. And all the pieces spin, as an added bonus. He’s caught on pretty quickly, but now EVERY TIME he sees a word, we have to go through the whole thing: “That’s an A, Mama! That’s a P!” and by the time we get to the “E” in “apple” and I’ve encouraged appropriately after each letter discovery, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt why I am not an elementary school teacher. It IS a very sweet time, though, to see how excited he gets over an “H” or an “R” – especially since Clueless Wonder Mama here didn’t know that he’d be able to do that before he turned 7. As a result, my den usually has some assortment of these on the floor:

And trust me when I tell you that we cover every. single. letter. Every. single. day.

Then the numbers. A few weeks ago he started counting everything: lemons, pens, shirts, letters on shirts, candy, sippy cups, and I did encourage the counting by pulling out all the books that have to do with numbers so that he could count up a storm. He’s been saying his numbers up to 20 for about a year, I guess, and really, I thought that was all he would do until, I don’t know, kindergarten? Honestly, I never knew or expected that children could count objects until they were in some form of math class (did I mention that I’m up for Mother of the Year?). Best I can figure, his Mother’s Day Out teachers have taught him some counting tricks. So hoorah for them. Money well spent.

For the last couple of weeks he’s been recognizing numbers when they’re in print – “that’s a 2, Mama,” or “hey, that’s a 5,” and I thought that was a good developmental milestone. But Saturday, he ventured into unexpected territory. We were in the car, listening to a CD of Veggie Tales songs, and he said, “Hey, Mama, I wanna hear 6.”

I sort of shook my head a second – “What, baby? You want to hear what?”

“I want to hear 6.”

OKAY. Why did none of you “friend” people warn me about this day, this day when he would suddenly associate the number on the CD player display with an actual song? I didn’t know he could do such a thing, and I thought I had at least three more years of peace in this area (is it painfully obvious that I have no child development background whatsoever? Merritt, would you like to chime in about this?).

I guess I’ve been running the occasional scam, because while A. has been requesting specific songs for a year and a half, if I couldn’t bear to hear “God Is Bigger Than The Boogie Man” one more time, I could say, “Oh, it’s not on this CD. How about [fill in blank with name of something that won’t make me drive my car off the side of Double Oak Mountain]?”

But the jig, it is up. He gets the CD numbering system. Now he’ll ask for 8, then 15, then 4, then 7, and the requests, they will never stop. And I can’t get around them anymore because he can “read” the numbers – he can see them on the little LCD screen with his very own eyes, and I can’t say, “there’s not a 2,” because he understands how numbers work.

In conclusion, I would like to say that learning, it is overrated, and I will be emphasizing sports and social skills from this day forward.

And y’all know I’m kidding, but…help?!?!

At Which Point Maggie Longed For Ye Olden Days

What you can’t hear is Maggie going, “GRRRRR! GRRRRR!”

The picture may look sweet and all, but the love? Totally one-sided.

He’s Pretty High On My List, Too

This morning Alex and I were sitting on the bed watching Blue’s Clues, and he tilted his head, looked me straight in the eyes, said, “Mama, you’re my favorite,” and then he threw his arms around my neck and buried his head beneath my chin.

And I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure that my heart exploded right there on the spot.

I should probably point out that he didn’t specify what kind of favorite I am – favorite mama? favorite friend? favorite co-watcher of Blue’s Clues? favorite person wearing a blue shirt? favorite person sitting on the bed? – but the whole thing is much sweeter if I pretend that he meant Favorite. Period.

Think he’s in the next room telling his daddy the same thing right now?

Probably. :-)

Because We’re All About The Science Here At BooMama

Yeah, whatever. But I did want to up the science ante a little bit today.

I’ve mentioned, oh, 647 times that D. and I saw a great concert this past Thursday night. Around the middle of the show, Louie Giglio talked for 45 minutes or so (I wasn’t timing him with my stopwatch or anything – that’s just a guess) about what “God of the universe” really means. He addressed how we tend to see God as just a wee bit larger than life, but if you look at the scope of the universe, the vastness of His creation, you can’t help but be awed. There is no way for simple-minded me to do his message justice…I just want to share one little part of it with y’all (and since the tour is over, odds are you won’t get to see him deliver the message in person).

Now I have NEVER been a fan of science. Physical science, biology, chemistry – didn’t like any of it. I liked physics a little bit more, but it was math, really – it actually made trigonometry seem useful, and I didn’t think, when I was in high school, that trig could EVER be useful.

But as Louie (Mr. Giglio? Dr. Giglio? LG? I don’t know what to call him, seeing as how we’re not, you know, buds) talked the other night, I was fascinated. It was so logical but so creative at the same time. He took us through various points of the universe and managed to put it all in perspective through some creative analogies (I didn’t feel like my head was going to explode or anything, which is to the great credit of my pal Louie’s teaching techniques).

Alex loves planets – loves to name them all, loves to see pictures of them, loves to talk about them. So that may be one reason why this topic resonated with me…because I knew that I could show these pictures to A. and talk to him about God’s creation. Even as I showed him some of the pics this morning, he was shouting, “It’s Uranus, Mama! Uranus!” and I hear y’all giggling, so just stop it right now. He’s TWO – he doesn’t get the joke quite yet.

ANYHOO, at the end of the sermon? talk? speech? (words are failing me today), we saw this example. It’s 28 million light years away from earth, which, as best as I could understand, is, um, really far away (he actually had an example to help us realize exactly how far away it is, but I can’t remember it right now). So here’s the Whirlpool Galaxy (photos courtesy of www.hubblesite.org/gallery/):

My homes Louie (really, I have no idea what to call him) said that scientists were blown away by the discovery of this galaxy, and while initially they thought it might consume the separate galaxy that you see to the right, they actually are millions of miles apart. So they’re pretty much huge. All those little red dots you see are stars waiting to be born (billions of them, in fact), and while there were all other sorts of nifty science factoids about this galaxy, I think you’ll be most interested in what’s at its core.

The Hubble telescope is apparently a pretty handy piece of machinery, because it was actually able to take photos of the very center of the whirlpool. Here’s what it found (and you can link directly to this photo here):

Pretty cool, huh?

Scientists call this discovery “The X Structure” – but, um, freaky, isn’t it? A friendly little reminder from God, maybe? Personally, I think it’s a big ole “HEY PEOPLE, I MADE ALL OF THIS!”

Just thought I’d share. Since Alex was interested, I figured some of y’all (and your young’uns) might be, too. If you have any questions, please direct them to, you know, a scientist, or to Louie Giglio, because I will be of no help at all.

At Which Point Ally Longed For Ye Olden Days

Because really, for her, life was so much simpler before we had The Toddler:

Enough About Me, Part IV

I write this one with the disclaimer that I’m going to have to take a break from these “friend posts”…I still have four or five more people I want to write about eventually, but 1) I don’t want to burn y’all out with the “You shoulda been there” stuff and 2) I have a TiVo full of programming that’s begging for my attention (it takes me a long time to write these posts – which is pretty pitiful considering, you know, the results). David said just a second ago that I’m so far behind on all my shows that I just need to give up on TV and wait for next season, but I am NOT a quitter, oh no I’m not.

All that being said, here goes:

7) Emma Kate – Now EK would tell you that the fact that she’s #7 is significant what with it being a holy number and all. By the way, David and I have had many laughs about what practical jokes I could play on EK when I finally wrote about her, with my favorite being his suggestion to say, “EK – y’all already know how sweet she is, so I don’t need to say anything else,” and then we would count the minutes until my phone rang and I heard EK saying, “Now, Missy, I’m not sure exactly what you have up your sleeve, but I’m not particularly fond of this little joke you’ve cooked up on the blog, and I suggest that you just head right back to the computer and try again.”

Because EK, you see, is SASSY. OH, she may fool some of y’all who mainly see her sweet side (which is very real and genuine), but Miss Thing is increasingly confident not only in her opinions but in her willingness to share them. After she had the twins she went through a year where she basically had no opinions and I got a little frustrated because it was hard to have a conversation with her. However, one day in April of ’03, she called me and said, “I haven’t been myself for the last year or so, but I’m back, and I want everyone to know it.” And the opinions, well, they’ve been a-flowin’ ever since.

EK and I met when we were freshmen in college – I have a vague memory of being at JC Garcia’s with her and our Chi O big sisters, but we didn’t really get to know each other until we were sophomores and were sort of thrown together as roommates second semester. I loved her to death before we lived together, but I didn’t really know her…I just knew that she was a really strong Christian, had very deep faith, and had never touched even a drop of alcohol in her life. I hadn’t, um, either, um, of course (ahem. a-HEM).

Most of you know that I grew up very, very Methodist, and EK grew up very, very Baptist. So while I had all these touchy-feely notions of God being all about grace and hope and peace and mercy, EK had a foundation of Bible drills, altar calls, and All-Powerful God (side note: growing up, I never heard the devil mentioned in a single sermon that I can recall. There was no talk of him in my hometown church, so to me the devil was sort of “the devil” – you know, the bad guy with horns, a pitchfork, and tail – but no kind of threat, really, because didn’t you hear the part about all the grace and hope and peace and mercy?). Anyway, I’ll never forget that EK and I talked on the phone over Christmas break, right before we were going to be roommates in January, and she told me this long story about a high school friend of hers who had an experience with some spiritual warfare and whatnot, and when I hung up the phone, I thought, “Okay, so that’s a WHOLE different perspective than what I’m used to…this living situation is going to be an eye-opener for me.”

I can honestly say that since that rainy January day when we moved into the Chi O house, the main thing that has been “eye-opening” is that EK has loved me unconditionally and selflessly. It caught me off-guard how openly EK encouraged me and looked after me and pretty much thought I was the cat’s pajamas…she would laugh at every thing I said, compliment me for no reason at all, and basically tell me how wonderful I was just because I liked to change my sheets every Monday. I’m a tad sarcastic, as most of you know, so EK’s pure encouragement – with no motive behind it at all, no hint of cynicism or irony – was a revelation to me.

EK, as long as I’ve known her, has never waivered in her faith. The verse in the Bible about “hold[ing] unswervingly to the faith you profess”? That’s EK. She has never, ever compromised. When we were roommates, she had a verse on the bulletin board above her bed that said, “For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” and I used to wrestle with that verse a lot in my head (keep in mind that I didn’t have a very strong theological background). I just didn’t get it – I thought that the sentence structure was confusing – I mean, couldn’t Paul have been a little more clear? How were the Philippians ever supposed to know what he meant?

About two years ago, the meaning of that verse finally clicked with me (yes, we’re talking about ten years later, but I’ve never professed to be a wizard, people). For Christ to be really evident in our lives, we have to die to our selfish needs (um, DUH, you’re thinking, but I am SLOW, I tell you – SLOW). And as I thought back on EK’s example during college and the years that followed, that’s exactly what she did. There must have been a thousand times when she watched me and thought, “YOU STUPID, STUPID GIRL” – but she never said a word. She died to her need to say her piece (I have a much harder time with that, as y’all know)…she died to her need to set me straight or tell me a thing or nine…she died to her need for being out with the girls and never compromised by experimenting with the “fire water” :-) …she died to herself over and over again so that God would be glorified through her actions. I did NOT have that kind of spiritual maturity in college – but I was so blessed to live with someone who did. EK took care of the praying and let God take care of the convicting – and I’m still experiencing the harvest of that, almost 15 years later.

EK and I have propped each other up on many occasions…you name it, we’ve covered it. If I’m dealing with something that I can’t really talk about because the details are too private or because sharing those details might betray someone’s confidence, EK never presses…she just says, “I know this is hard for you” and manages to find something uplifting in the situation. She typically relates the situation to something from the Bible – usually a person in the Old Testament whose name I couldn’t pronounce if I had to – and she always, always sees the things that I’m missing.

It’s surprisingly hard for me to write about EK, because so much of what she and I talk about is not exactly stuff I can discuss on the interweb. We’ve had our share of goofy moments, for sure, but mostly we talk about Serious Things. EK is my “iron sharpens iron” friend, so we don’t spend a lot of time on trivial stuff – we generally jump into the Issues Pool and try to wade out of it together. There have been circumstances in her life, health-wise and otherwise, that have created some difficult situations over the last couple of years. In true EK fashion, though, her faith has only gotten stronger. She praises God regardless – and she continues to encourage me every step of the way.

Bottom line: EK is a forever friend. She’s the person you want sitting beside you when life is shaky. She’s the person you want praying for you when you don’t know what to do. It’s not that she has some magical, direct line to God – it’s just that she’s faithful. SO faithful. I’ve said before that “everybody needs an Emma Kate” – somebody who will love you and encourage you (and above all else, she will have the very best shoes and purses, and she won’t share them with you, so don’t even ask, because while she’s generous beyond measure with her prayers, she’ll snap your head right off if you mess with the merchandise).

I can’t wait to tell her children about…the time at the end of our senior year at State, when EK came back from a weekend visit to Centrifuge, and she looked at me and said, “I met the man I’m going to marry.” Lo and behold, just a little over a year later, she did. And he is wonderful. Wonderful. Also, David wants me to include one other little detail: for the longest time, EK believed that the lyrics to the theme song from The Love Boat were, “I said of course for adventure, your mind on a new romance,” and that is classic EK.