Occasional Grace

What I lack in grace, I make up in gravity…

Alaska Parenting

Ethan at 5:30 pm:  “Mama!  I want birthday cake!”

Me:  “Sorry, little man.  You can only eat birthday cake when it is light outside.  Rule.”

Ethan:  “Okay.”

Winning in winter.  Will need a new strategy in the summer.


Ethan’s bedtime is around 7:30 pm.  We had just finished reading three stories, and I brought him a glass of water.  When I brought the water back, he sat up in bed and leaned toward me, whispering, “Mama!  It’s the middle of the night!”

(Someone might have woken up at 3 am a couple night before.  He was completely and utterly awake.  Like, I just had 8 cups of coffee and I am AWAKE! awake.  So he got reminded a few times that it was the middle of the night, ha!)


Last night around 1:30 am there was an earthquake.  The initial shaking was enough to wake Will and I up pretty much instantly, but it was still low level shaking.  I was just commenting to Will that it seemed to be lasting a long time, when the shaking became abruptly violent.  Less than half a second later, we both leaped out of bed and Will grabbed Henry and I grabbed Ethan.  Just as soon as we got the boys, the shaking had stopped, but my heart rate wouldn’t come down for another half hour.  A 7.1 earthquake is no joke.  I cannot imagine an earthquake lasting as long as 4 minutes (the length of time the 1964 earthquake lasted).




He is a sponge, this kid.  He picks up on everything.  I was trying to chill him out from being strapped in the car seat on our way home from daycare because he was whining and crying.

“Ethan, do you want to pretend to be an astronaut blasting off to the moon??”  He got silent.

“No, mama.  I’m in a carseat.”  Point taken, kid.

He tries to sound out words, but usually uses the context clues to figure it out.  For example, we have a “Happy Birthday” banner up for Henry, and Ethan will say, “It says ‘Happy Birthday, Henry!'”

He can put together 12 piece jigsaw puzzles together on his own, and he has (thankfully) gotten a lot easier to drop off at school.  Sharing toys with Henry prompts an existential crisis every time it comes up, but he is quick to soothe Henry if he is crying or upset.  And he is quite possessive of Henry if I carry him into Ethan’s room.  (The little girls and younger kids all race to ‘Baby!!’)

In an exciting development, Ethan will now tell us when he wants/needs his diaper changed.  It is encouraging, but I’m not going to work on potty training until March or later.  He’s still not too excited about underwear.  Even if it does have Lightning McQueen on it.

He got to stay home from school for a few days a month ago with his first bout of strep throat.  (Which I got too.  Maybe I had it before I can remember, but I don’t remember ever having strep throat as a kid.  It was miserable.  All thanks to my forest monkey daycare vector.)  He was definitely down and out for a couple days, but perked up quickly as only kids can.  We might be looking at a tonsillectomy at some point in our future, but we’ll see.

At school, they are exploring all the ways they are different, so they have been asking about favorite colors, foods, etc.   For Ethan, it is whatever he is seeing, doing, or wanting right at the moment.  “My favorite is milk!  It is SO YUMMY!!”

His favorite thing in the world is “helping mama in the kitchen”.  If I’m walking through the kitchen, Ethan will run to the kitchen table to push a chair over to the kitchen island.  All the stories he asks me to tell are about “Mama monster and Ethan monster*” making a cake, ice cream, cookies, or other treat.  He really loves counting and putting in all the ingredients and mixing them up.

He gets terribly frustrated when things tend to obey things like physics.  For example, when his books fall over on the shelf if there is nothing holding them up.  I think he gets that honestly from the both of us, and if that is true, look out 12.  But I’m glad he’s still all toddler.  He wants help.  He doesn’t want any help.  He wants the blue one.  No the yellow one.  I WANTED THE BLUE ONE!  “Mama, I bonked, I need a kiss.”   “Mama, can you hold my hand?”

For as long as you’ll let me, kid.  For as long as you’ll let me.


[* I have no idea where the ‘monster’ thing came from.  I imagine some kid at school.  I’ve gone to great lengths to “de-scary” monsters, ha!]



Wow, is this kid into everything.  Ethan was just a different kid, but Henry has zero fear about heights.  He cruises with the best of them, but he hasn’t been brave enough to take a step yet.  (Ethan was 15 months when he took his first step.)  He is like lightning when he crawls.  It cracks me up every time he crawls to me from across the room.  He’ll lower his head like it makes him more aerodynamic.  He’ll cross the room to give a high five, and it is remarkably easy to get a belly laugh from him.  He cries only when he doesn’t get his way, and he has a heck of a grip for a one-year-old.

Even though he isn’t walking yet, that doesn’t stop him from climbing every vertical surface.  He has managed to traverse low shelves at daycare and they have to watch him like a hawk around chairs.  Thankfully, he has not yet tried to throw a leg up on the edge of the crib.  He has one love (beside mama, daddy, and Ethan, of course) and that is his pacifier.  He might be the baby who crawls around plucking pacifiers out of other baby’s mouths!

He is finally sleeping through the night, and he’ll take at least one reliable nap per day.  (The sleeping through the night happened a couple months ago and it changed our lives.)  He is still sleeping in our closet (yes, really), but I think we might move the boys into the same room in March.  He did finally stop spitting up around 8 months, and that has made a discernible difference in laundry.

In one stark difference from big brother, Henry will currently eat nearly everything put in front of him.  We’ve been calling Henry “Henry-bear” for awhile now, and he is a bear.  He’s one solid kid.  His one year appointment was pushed back to the beginning of February, so we’ll have to wait to see how he compares to Ethan.

He likes everything Ethan has, and he will use his brute force to try and wrestle a toy away (see above:  awesome grip strength).  It goes over about as well as you’d expect, ha!  But Ethan can always get a belly laugh from Henry, and Henry would follow Ethan to the ends of the earth.

I can’t wait to see how they both grow in the next year.  And I promise it won’t be a year before I write again!


[Pictures are still a problem.  I’m getting a new computer in a month or so and that will hopefully fix the issue.]




There were carrots on the walls

Just in case any one needs to see a happy baby.

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It was like a carrot crime scene.  He even got some in his mouth!

Quiet as a church mouse

My computer has jumped ship as far as pictures are concerned.  All of my pictures are still here, but I cannot upload any of them because of Steve Jobs.  No, it doesn’t make sense to me either.  And it makes it a lot harder to Google for an answer.

We took both boys to church for the first time this past Sunday.  Henry was passed out in his car seat for most of the service, so he was just perfect even with all the singing.  Ethan did really, really well considering his age.  I told him that churches are quiet, just like the library.  (It helps that we have a book, Mr. Quiet, one of Will’s old books.  The poor protagonist lives in Loud Land.  At the end, he finds a job in the library where he is very happy because everyone is quiet in the library.)  Ethan understood to be quiet, but he didn’t get the memo about whispering.  Every once in awhile, he’d make an observation out loud.  “Look at the flowers!”  And when I say “every once in awhile”, I really mean exactly the times when the church was completely silent, ha!  The best was when they rang chimes for the communion, and Ethan exclaimed, “BELLS!  That’s funny!!”  Ha!

He did really well though, and he spent the rest of the day saying, “I did a really good job a church today, Mama!”  Yes, you did, little man, yes you did.  Of course, now that the newness is gone, next Sunday will probably be more like I’d expect!

Ethan has been doing quite well lately from a loud, toddler, tantrum-y standpoint.  We hit a breaking point and made a sticker chart.  The kid is very motivated for a sticker.  The chart itself didn’t quite work out like we expected, because Ethan likes to rearrange the stickers.  Oh well.  He does like to admire his stickers from time to time, though.  (“Look at all the dinosaurs!!!”)


And Henry is a busy little boy.  I feel like he is way more into people’s business than Ethan was.  He likes to crawl all over you, climb up, topple over, and repeat.  (And I hear, on good report from daycare, that he is a binky-stealer!)  He also already knows what a snack-trap is, and if he sees Ethan with one, he’ll trail him to the ends of the earth.  This kid actually eats (as opposed to skinny as a rail big brother) so I’m shocked on a daily basis when I pick him up.  He is one solid kid!

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The struggle is real.

Ethan decided at the 11th hour, 59th minute that he did not want “astronaut suit”.  Instead, he wanted to be an Indian, because Hiawatha is the book he read 30 seconds ago.  I’m not terribly hopeful we’ll get him back into it for trick or treating tomorrow at the zoo, but I’ve got a sheet of dinosaur stickers and caviar dreams.

The alien is pretty happy, though!





"DA! DA! DA! DA! DA!"

“DA! DA! DA! DA! DA!”


Shooting the moon

I can do complex reconstructive surgery, but getting both kids down for a nap at the same time?  BOOM!!!  It’s not weird at all to flex, yell “BOO-YAH!” and hop around in a quiet house, is it?

And, because I have a free minute, here are some reasons why marrying an architect is something I highly recommend.

Will found this:

The wardrobe in the center.  It was made in Texas in the 1860's and was in a museum before the antique shop curator bought it.

The wardrobe in the center. It was made in Texas in the 1860’s and was in a museum before the antique shop curator bought it.


And he fell in love with it.  (It is pretty amazing.  It has two rows of handmade wooden hooks inside, plus a shelf (probably added later) and a large drawer in the base.)  But where to put such a large piece?

Before you know it, we’re knocking out closets and laying down tile.  Such is life with a man who owns more power tools than a high school shop class.

Bye-bye closet!

Bye-bye closet!


We put down a new subfloor, because peeling the vinyl flooring off would have been a pain in the rear.

We put down a new subfloor, because peeling the vinyl flooring off would have been a pain in the rear.


We decided to put down slate tile, and it needs this special mat before you can mortar the tile down.

We decided to put down slate tile, and it needs this special mat before you can mortar the tile down.


Whoever says laying tile down is "easy" is a rotten liar.

Whoever says laying tile is “easy” is a rotten liar.  Will cut all the tile himself.  It took a good three or four full nights of work to get it done.  


Will is replacing the baseboards and trim, and next week we’ll paint!  We finished tiling and grouting a couple weeks ago, but now everything is taped off and floor papered to prep for painting.  Hopefully there will be a finished product to show after next week!

Last one for now, this was Wednesday

I actually cried uncle and cancelled my clinic today. I pulled a muscle in my back wrangling a hysterical Ethan and we both collapsed on the ground in tears. Of course, it is the one day Will leaves at 4 AM to work in a city 4 hours away.  (Poor Will called right after my back had spasmed so hard trying to pick up Henry that it knocked the wind out of me.  He was ready to turn around, but I knew I could power through.)  After a bunch of ibuprofen, I managed to get the kids into their carseats and hauled them to daycare.  I had to have the front desk staff help me carry my kids in.  And, of course, Ethan was throwing a massive fit, because I let him watch Mickey Mouse to get him to calmly climb in the car without his usual fuss.  And now I’m at home with a spasming back, feeling guilty that I don’t have my kids here and that I had to cancel clinic.  Oh, working mom guilt.

[And, of course, I was going to use that time to update the blog, but I couldn’t get it to upload new pictures until today.  My back is feeling much better.  It must have just spasmed and not truly pulled a muscle, because I’m nearly back to normal.]

Every vertical object must be climbed!

Every vertical object must be climbed!


"Mama make a CAKE!"  (Not really, but every time I pull out the mixer, Ethan likes to help make a "cake" :) )

“Mama make a CAKE!” (Not really, but every time I pull out the mixer, Ethan likes to help make a “cake” :) )


Someone LOVES baths.

Someone LOVES baths.


In fact, he has to stand up, just to splash the water outside the basket, too!

In fact, he has to stand up, just to splash the water outside the basket, too!


Happy Ethan after an epic meltdown.  I'm sure he scared away every bear and moose for miles.  Making the trail safe for our fellow hikers, that's us.

Happy Ethan after an epic meltdown. I’m sure he scared away every bear and moose for miles. Making the trail safe for our fellow hikers, that’s us.






Wacky hat day

I couldn’t get a good picture of Ethan in his, but I made matching hats for “wacky hat day” at school.  (I sewed the teeth down after this picture, so it actually looks a bit more polished, but I’m just here for the cute kid.  :) )








Never a dull day

I haven’t been able to wear my wedding ring lately because of a tenosynovitis.  (English:  My knuckle was too swollen to even get my rings on.)  Just the other day, I was seeing a precocious and delightful 12 year old who is just a bit developmentally delayed.  I finished my exam, and he said, “Sooooo, I see you aren’t married!”  I told him I was, and he was dejected.  He’s trying to find a red-headed girlfriend for his older brother.  Ha!



New party wagon!


I also finally joined the future and traded in my 12-year-old Honda.  I’m still giddy about heated seats.  And did you know you can use your phone through your speakers?  The future is here!  Who needs flying cars?  Even better is the remote start (de rigueur here in Alaska) and the fact that I’m not practically sitting on the ground any more.  We needed a taller and safer vehicle for the kids and we finally pulled the trigger.  Not thrilled about the additional debt, but the Honda wasn’t exactly going to stand up to a moose.


So long, Honda!  Thank you for taking me from Texas to Maryland to Pennsylvania to Georgia to Alaska!

So long, Honda! Thank you for taking me from Texas to Maryland to Pennsylvania to Georgia to Alaska!

FINALLY figured out how to upload pictures again…

[Technical difficulties, ya’ll.  Apparently Apple thinks they are soooooo smart.  I like my laptop, but they really do make things harder than they should be sometimes.  Anyway.  I wrote this three weeks ago.  Everything I added to update it is in brackets.]


We had Ethan’s biannual “parent/teacher conference” meeting this week [which, should be noted, was at the beginning of October].  Most of the teachers are early childhood education majors or graduates, so they like to evaluate every little thing.  Even Henry got evaluated on “Cognitive Reasoning” and “Math/Science skills”.  I cannot imagine how on earth they evaluate an infant for their progress in “science skills”.  For Ethan’s room, they have sheets of letters, numbers, and shapes, and they mark the ones each child knows and does not know.  The “shapes sheet” had the basics:  square, circle, triangle, etc.  But it also had hexagon, crescent, pentagon, etc.  I’ve not exactly had the opportunity to point out a “crescent” to Ethan, so of course he doesn’t know what it is.  (He called it a banana, ha!)  They must have showed him the sheet right before we met, because yesterday afternoon, Ethan was pointing at his banana* saying, “Crescent!” and chanting, “Hexagon! Hexagon!” at random intervals.

[*  I’m kind of sad about this, but Ethan has finally included the last syllable in banana.  He used to say “ba-NA!”  My little boy is growing up!]



They also told me he doesn’t know the number “14”, which is also kind of weird, because he says “14!” every time we walk in the building, because it is “building number 14”.  I wondered if their “evaluation” was really the 5 minutes before the meeting.  He must’ve skipped it when counting to twenty.  He usually skips 13 and 16 or 17.  [One of the teachers told me that they were learning numbers on a whiteboard and she would keep writing random numbers on the board and Ethan knew them all.  When he actually counts objects, he’s more hit or miss.  He has been getting better just more recently.  He gets carried away and starts shouting out random numbers, like fifteen, sixteen, seventy, eighty, eighty-one, eighty-two, eighty-three, and so forth until he gets to 89, ha!]   But, he knows all his letters, the sounds letters make, can count to twenty, knows his colors, and basic shapes.  So, he is pretty set.  Now we’re working on getting him to tell us why he is mad or upset.  When I ask him why he is mad or upset, he says, “Yeaaaah.”  Which is actually quite cute.



He definitely has a knack for memorizing things, but of course he doesn’t quite understand that numbers mean amounts of things, or that sounds of letters come together to make words, as he’s a little young for that.  [He does try to sound things out, though.  He has a “Mickey Mouse ABC” book and I was listening to him sound out letters today in the car.  One has a picture:  L is for lemon.  Ethan was reading it: “Lah – eh – MM – ah – NNN…..lemonade!!!”]  It is exciting seeing him take everything in.  The kid is truly a sponge.



Henry is pulling up to stand, and he is like greased lightning on his belly.  I don’t think he will ever learn how to crawl on his hands and knees, because he scootches on his belly using his left toe to push off.  [He exclusively used his left toe to move around.  I figured at some point he was going to sprain the poor thing by using it to scootch around as much as he did.  But of course, I have to update, because he is now finally crawling on hands and knees.  He didn’t even consider it until I had taken off his shirt one day, and he didn’t like sliding around on his belly on the wood floor.  SQUEEEEAK!   SQUEEEEEAK!  Ha!]




And this is kid is a climber.  Ethan never tried to climb on anything, but to Henry, everything is fair game.




Henry also wants to be everywhere Ethan is.  This is one busy kid, and if he can be right on top of Ethan, all the better.  Ethan, of course, is not quite as thrilled.  He is firmly in the middle of the “I want it!/I don’t want it!” stage, which is as wonderful as it sounds.  The kid can remember every single train name in How to Train your Train, but he can’t make a decision as to whether or not he wants milk.



“A moose!”

I’m not sure if I posted this one before, but it is mighty cute.  An older one, but a good one!



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