Monday, December 22, 2003

Stories (and portraits) from December

  Strider asked me the other day about Christmas and Jesus’ birth and how come He was a baby, and where is He now, and how come we can’t see Him, and where does He live?  Eventually the very difficult and confusing conversation got over to the subject of Heaven.  We talked about how God lives there and how we’re going to go there too.  Then he asked where Heaven is.  Although I knew it wasn’t quite necessarily theologically true, I told him it was above the sky, not knowing what else to say.  But THEN he asked, “How are we going to stand up on the sky??”  I told him there would be houses there, but that didn’t satisfy his gravity question and he finally asked me, “Is this for real, or for pretend?”

Another day, he heard me asking Pete what he wanted for Christmas this year.  Not to be excluded, he came running in saying “I want something for Christmas too!”  We had never asked him what he wanted before, or really even told him there were going to be presents, so I wasn’t sure what he would say.  He scrunched up his face for a minute and then said, “I think I’ll take…. a brownie.”  This kid is still a cheap date!

The other day on Oprah, there was an underwear fashion show at one point.  I was watching it and then realized maybe I shouldn’t be because Strider seemed to be watching rather intently too.  But as I started to change it, he asked, “Why does that girl have something weird on her hands?!”  (She was wearing funny mittens) So I guess he wasn’t too interested in the underwear part.

As I was cooking dinner the other night I heard Strider telling Rayna, “Rayna, don’t touch that.  I still love you, but I don’t want you to touch that!”

I came in Strider’s room the other day and found Strider and Rayna both on the floor, sitting facing each other.  They were holding hands and Strider had his eyes all scrunched up, closed, and was saying, “…. and please bless JT and help him to get better.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.”

Rayna’s favorite position these days is to have her head down on my right shoulder, with her thumb in her mouth and her other hand on the back of her head.  When I’m sitting on the floor, it’s never very long before Rayna walks or crawls over and puts her head right on that shoulder – always the right side!

Rayna still hasn’t mastered many of the normal “first words,” like ball, duck, dog, etc.  But she does say a couple of funny things:  “doi, doi” (to get us to sing the “I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy” song) and something that sounds suspiciously like “how YOU doin’,” (a la Joey from Friends).  Strider walks around saying that a lot, and I think Rayna is now too!

Monday, December 15, 2003

An Adventure with a Swan

Some of the birds on our pond

Today I was in a situation I never would have foreseen.  

When I went out to the curb to get our mail today, I saw that one of the trumpeter swans from the pond across the street was on the sidewalk in front of our house.  Well, apparently that guy is speedy because by the time I turned back around to come in the house, he was already between me and the door, at our front step.  I tried to go towards the door, but he seemed to be guarding it pretty well.  And since this particular one has been to known to hiss at people who get too close, I decided to avoid that the whole situation and went around to our back door. 

  Fortunately, I remembered, I had left that door unlocked on purpose earlier that day.  But, when I got to it, I found that it was locked again!  When I knocked, Strider came to the door (I was thankful he wasn’t at the other door letting the swan inside!) so I told him to unlock it.  

He got the all-too-common mischievous look in his eye and just shook his head “no.”  We battled through that for a few seconds and I started to worry because I realized I had no immediate repercussion to give him if he continued to disobey. 

Finally, though, he saw I was stern enough and unlocked the door.  Never thought I would be  stuck between a 3-year old and a swan!

Sunday, November 30, 2003

New Words

Strider's learning more about language all the time now....

Last night on the airplane Strider was going a mile a minute, standing up, sitting down, stretching to see out the window, kicking the seat in front of him (the man there loved that), putting the tray up and down, up and down, putting on the seat belt, taking off the seat belt, asking a million questions, etc.  Then in mid-breath, he added, “I’m SO wound up!!”  He paused and said, “What does that mean again?”

The questions with him are getting harder and harder to answer, too.  The other day he was walking around singing some song from church, and he came in to the kitchen to ask me, “Is glory a thing?”  Wasn’t sure how to answer that one…

When Strider doesn’t know a word for something, he just makes it up.  A couple of examples this month:
n  when we pulled out his jeans for the first time this season and he saw the zipper and button (he’s been used to elastic waist with his shorts), he called it a “button wrap.”
n  when he saw some of the neighborhood kids playing with boomerangs, he called them “booster crosses.”

This month we heard the return of “gobegotchenomenome” – Strider and Rayna’s favorite word that we had forgotten about.  Strider said it to Rayna and she immediately broke into gales of laughter again, just like she used to.  Sometimes when he says it and jumps around, she laughs so hard she falls down.

..... And he's learning about seasons too...

Strider is really enjoying this fall, with the leaves changing and everything.  He’s starting to understand the changing of seasons and how it will all happen again next year.  But he still gets a little confused… Like when I was telling him about the leaves on the tree, how they would turn red, fall off, and come back next spring as little green leaves.  He thought this was amazing, but then pointed at the mailbox next to the tree and said, “And what will happen to that??”

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Autumn Stories


The other night Pete was trying to be cryptic as he was asking me whether the kids should take a bath together or if he should give Strider a shower.  He said, “Did you want both kids to take a “B" or should I take an “S” with Strider later instead?  Strider immediately piped up from the background saying, “I want to take an ‘S’ with Daddy!  I don’t want to take a ‘B!’”  We laughed at him and said “Strider you don’t even know what we’re talking about.  What’s an ‘S’?”  He answered a shower!  And then when we asked him what a “B” was he knew it was bath.  He’s getting too sharp for our own good.

Rayna, meanwhile, continues to be VERY easy-going.  We took her to the beach for the first time, which we expected to be quite a shock for her. I put her down on the sand and she happily walked along holding onto my hands, not bothered at all by the new texture.  We walked right up to the water’s edge and got her feet wet.  Then a big wave came along and water hit her up to her stomach.  And she was still nonplussed!  No big reaction at all… just a happy little smile as if that happens to her everyday!

In fact, Rayna’s only real tantrums this month have been when we won’t let her walk holding onto our hands.  She ALWAYS wants to do this, and sometimes it’s the only thing she wants to do.  If we put her down, or walk away from her, she freaks out!  She doesn’t care when she eats or sleeps or anything else… but the walking is top priority.

Speaking of freaking out, Strider recently came up to me out of the blue and said, “What the freak?”  A lovely phrase he has picked up from his daddy.  But when I tried to say it back at him later, he said, “No, Mommy.  Girls can’t say that.  Only mans and boys.”


Conversation between Strider and Me today: Strider:  I want to have a grand-daughterMe:  Well you have to have a daughter first!S:  I have a daughter – Rayna!M:  No, that’s Daddy’s and my daughter.  You have to wait until you grow up to be a man and then you can get married and then you’ll be a daddy and your wife will be a mommy and you’ll have a little baby.S:  Yeah!!!  I’ll have a little baby!!M:  And you can name her whatever you want. S:  I want to name her….  Nonna!M:  Ok.S:  I’m going to have a baby….  In a couple days… Rayna’s starting to hold her own against the big brother.  I’ve heard on a few different occasions now, “Ray-naaaa… No!”  And I walk in to see her grinning away and Strider in convulsions.  Other times Strider tries to take something from her or make her do something she doesn’t want to do, and she starts shaking her head vehemently saying no! Strider’s been walking the fine line between what’s appropriate and what’s not.  The other day he wanted me to leave him alone and he was reprimanded for telling me, “Go away.”  So he very sweetly asked, “May I have you go away please?”  Another day he was outside riding his bike and I told him to come in.  He answered with a loud “NO!”  Appalled, I reminded him that is not how he is to answer me.  He quickly thought and triumphantly responded, “NO, MA’AM!” We went shopping for a new car seat for Rayna the other day and we went to Babies R Us, having not been there before.  On the way home in the car, Strider sighed and said, “Whew.  Man.  There were too many babies in that store.  Some of those people should have stayed home!” I told Strider a couple weeks ago we were going to have a garage sale.  He thought that sounded like a good idea… but then said, “But, Mommy, it’s too big!  It’s too heavy!”  I reassured him that we were not actually selling the garage. Rayna’s getting more communicative these days…  Her new “words” are light, more, shoes, dada, and uh oh (which she does in her funny “godfather” voice).  She also still has her hilarious “funny faces” which she promptly does anytime she sees herself in the mirror – or sees someone else she wants to play with that she doesn’t know.  It’s so funny seeing her screw her little face up so seriously.

Saturday, August 30, 2003


This summer, Strider turned 3, I got some weird haircuts, we moved to NC, and then Rayna turned 1.  For some reason, I can't find any digital shots of Rayna's 1st birthday (but she had fun celebrating with family in our new home), but I did find some of Strider's party in VA before the move.

Father's Day gift.  (Rayna is almost 1, Strider is 3)

We had a "Blue's Clues" party for Strider since it was his favorite show.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

So it's not all just about the kids...

This summer Katie lived with us and it was such a treat!  She helped with the kids a lot, lent me clothes, and provided some general cheer around the house.

One Saturday she even bravely babysat both kids so Pete and I could go into D.C. for a special date day.

We toured around the various touristy places, then went home to feed Rayna, and went back out for the evening.  Very fun!

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Fun with friends, grandparents, and cousins

During those first few years our kids' lives, we had fun with a lot of different kids.  I can't dates associated with many of these pictures, so I thought I'd just group them altogether.  :)

Natie, Eden, Strider, Rayna
Strider and Ellie
Three Frank Men
Deb and Sloane in Old Town Alexandria
Eowyn, Evan, and Strider

And there were plenty of times these just these 2 buddies, too!

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Springtime silliness


Strider was trying to whistle like Daddy the other day.  After trying for a minute, he pointed at his mouth and proclaimed, “It’s broken!”

My list of favorite words has been growing.  (Recent additions have been “Childcare available, and “ok, Mommy.”)  Now I heard Strider walking away from me as he was going to follow through on some instruction I had just given him, saying, “Whatever you say Mommy.”  Didn’t know he even knew that phrase, but I think I’m going to encourage that one to be more common!!

Rayna is definitely more feminine than Strider was at this age.  When she bounces in her Jumpster, her little toes point down then out, just like a little ballerina. (I remember Mom and Dad saying Karin used to do that, but I never believed them – until I saw Rayna do it!)  Strider used to just hang around in the Jumpster, sometimes jump roughly a little, but saw little point in it.  Also, he used to scratch furiously with his nails – grabbing his face, or someone else’s.  Rayna likes to touch faces, but she does it nicely with the flat part of her fingers so it doesn’t hurt!  And while Strider used to like to shove both fists in his mouth when he wanted to suck on something, Rayna just daintily plugs in one little thumb and is content.  Funny how different they are!

Strider has fallen FIVE time on his chin over the last few weeks.  It currently has a massive bruise on it (looking a bit like a goatee from far away).  It bothers him to look at it, but I didn’t realize how much so until we found he had taken down the little mirror in his room because he said he didn’t like to see it!

Yesterday a few different times when Rayna was sitting on my lap on the floor, Strider came up and hugged us both and said, “My girls.”  Maybe I’ll have to add that to my list of favorite words too.

There is a commercial on the food network (tv) that Strider likes.  It’s for worcestshire sauce or something, and the big voice says, “I made you juicy!”  So Strider plays a game where he says “I made you____” whatever (silly, happy, etc)  One time though, I responded, “I made you Strider.”  He quickly got very serious and said, “No, Mommy.  God made me Strider!”  Then after a pause, “But…. Who made God??”

Rayna apparently forgot to go to “Angry Baby Class.”  When she gets mad, she doesn’t make noise!  She just scrunches up her face, tucks her chin into her neck and strains all of her muscles.  She does this if I’m trying to feed her a food she doesn’t like, if the sun is in her eyes when we’re going for a walk, etc.  Pretty funny looking, but not annoying to listen to!

Strider is in a funny phase.  He knows when he shouldn’t do something, and he knows I shouldn’t catch him doing it, but he doesn’t know enough to not tip me off.  So sometimes he comes up to me and says, “Mommy, go over in that room.”  I ask him why, and sometimes he tells me it’s because he wants to whatever the thing is I told him not to do!

One day during naptime, I heard Rayna start fussing in her crib.  I gave her a few minutes and pretty soon I didn’t hear her anymore.  I came up about 10 minutes later, and found Strider in her crib with her!  (He had heard her crying, left his room – which is strictly forbidden, but apparently the temptation or need was too great – and climbed in with her.  The 2 of them were happy as clams just looking at each other and smiling!

The big fascination around here for the last couple of months, at least for Strider, has been our parking lot, and the cars in it.  Every morning it’s the first thing he does – immediately get out of bed and stand at the window to check and see who’s car is still here.  Then all day at approximate 5 minute intervals, he runs to the window closest and checks, and then gives us the full report.  (“Miss Joanne is at work.  Mr. Mark is home though!”)  He’s started to learn the different models of cars, but for a while he was calling 2 cars across the street “the bumps!”  They are Jeep Wranglers, and I guess he was referring to the tire on the back.  He also says a car is upside-down if it parks backwards.  So it’s so funny to hear him coming running up to us saying “The bumps are back!  And the Taurus is upside-down!”

One of Strider’s famous phrases these days when he’s mad about something is, “It’s tired around here.”  Pete and I have started using it too – must be said in a pouty voice of course.

Rayna was very sweet for her baptism.  She fell asleep right beforehand (she had a fever too) so for the first part of the ceremony she was sleeping.  But as we reached the important part, she must have sensed something, because she suddenly woke up and looked around.  The pastor took her and started to put water on her head.   She gave him a funny look that said, “What do you think you’re doing?” but then quickly followed it up with a big grin.  Then she couldn’t take her eyes off of him, playing with his hair and smiling like crazy.  So cute!

Monday, March 3, 2003

Winter in our cozy little townhouse


Today I turned on the TV and tuned in to PTI, a show that Pete likes on ESPN.  As soon as Strider walked into the room and caught one glance at it, he adamantly told me, “No, no, no Mommy – that’s Daddy’s!!”  I laughed at him, but then he said it again, very vehemently – like I was doing something very wrong!

For the last couple weeks Strider has been a full-time Mommy to Cyclops (his action-figure man).  Whenever I do anything with Rayna, he has to do the same thing with Cyclops, but even when I’m not paying attention to Rayna, sometimes he’ll pick him up and start talking to him anyway.  Some of my favorites are:  “Oh, Cyclops, Cyclops, Cyclops, what’s the matter?”  “Do you want to go in the swing, Cyclops?”  “Oh – it’s time to feed Cyclops – some la leche de la madre.”   Sometimes I go to put Rayna in her bouncy seat, but Cyclops is already there… same for the swing, car seat, etc.  And sometimes I find him all wrapped up in one of Rayna’s blankets – or her jacket or whatever he can find.  J

Rayna’s way of telling me that she’s hungry these days is this:  If she’s lying on her back, as soon as she sees me, she lifts her legs up in the air, opens her mouth and eyes all the way, and says “Ha… ha…. ha… ha…”    Gets the point across!

The butterfly works again!  When Strider was a few months old, whenever we would want him to stop crying (particularly in the car), we would show him this little butterfly that lights up and plays music, and invariably he would stop.  Now we’ve pulled it out for Rayna and we get the same results.  This toy is magical!

Tonight I was making salad dressing and Strider wanted to know what I was doing.  I told him I was making something, and then I started talking out loud as I gathered the various ingredients.  I was making it up as I went (of course) so I was saying, “Let’s see… we need some Dijon mustard… and some honey… and some vinegar…. maybe a little sugar…” and then he said, “Oh, and olive oil!”  He was right – the dressing turned out great. 

Usually, though, whenever I get out the olive oil, he refers to it as “EVOO” – because that’s what Rachael Ray calls it on his favorite cooking show.  (Stands for extra-virgin olive oil if you didn’t get that…)

The other day he picked up 2 empty cardboard tubes.  One was from a wrapping paper roll and the other from a paper towel roll.  He held the big one on his shoulder and brought the little one on it perpendicularly and then said he was playing the violin!  We went to a Christmas concert with him where there were some violins recently, and ever since then he’s been fascinated by them.

We were playing a little game the other day as we were talking about all of his cousins and aunts and uncles.  I had told him that one of them liked to play the trumpet, another likes to play soccer, etc.  Then he asked me what Daddy likes to play.  So I told him he likes to play basketball, and he likes to read.   Then I asked him what Mommy likes to do.  I was quite dismayed when his first answer was “She likes to sleep!”  I asked him again what else I like to do…  He answered, “Play with Daddy.”  Guess that’s a better answer.

Strider’s favorite Christmas song:  Jingle bells, Jingle bells, Jingle all the way… who’s fleece was white as snow.


While we were “doing crafts” the other day, Strider kept all kinds of fun comments coming at me… like “That’s beautiful!” and “This is awesome.”  Sometimes he was complimenting my work, and sometimes his own…  he gets so excited!  His phrases in general have become so funny lately…  The other day he was having a little dialogue by himself, and I overheard him saying “Pardon?”

 We were recently trying to encourage Strider to eat bread again (he had gone on strike) so we introduced the great snack known as “bread and butter.”  This was a huge hit, and was soon a very requested item.  One night, though, he had had enough, in our opinion, so we told him he couldn’t have any more bread.  He was undaunted by this, and so replied, “I’ll just have butter.”

The word “underwear” has now become a fascination to Strider.  (What is it with boys??!)  He and his cousin Natie were arguing about what they wear:  underwear or punderwear.  Later I asked Strider about that conversation and he told me that Mommy wears “overwear.”  Hmmm.

Rayna was just waking up from a nap in her crib when Strider and I went in to get her.  She looked up at me, kind of squinting with that “Am I really ready to get up yet?” look.  Strider reached in and put his hand on her head and started talking to her with his high-pitched voice.  Rayna apparently decided that this was too much to handle too soon after waking up, so she turned away, scrunched up her face and gave a little mad cry.  Strider’s response was to just walk away and announce, “Rayna’s crabby.”  Ah, sibling relations.

About a month ago I was sitting at the table reading a newspaper column and apparently I was laughing out loud because Strider asked, “What’s so funny, Mommy?”  I told him, “Oh, it’s just Dave Barry – he’s funny.”  Then yesterday, several weeks later, I was reading a different newspaper and was laughing again.  Strider came running up and asked me something I couldn’t quite discern at first.  On his second time asking it, I realized he was saying, “Is it Dave Barry, Mommy??”

Whenever one of us is getting ready in the bathroom, Strider always wants to get some hair spray too.  We have been just pretending to spray it on his head, and we thought that was good enough... until this morning.  As I was getting ready, he said “I want some hair spray.”  He quickly followed this up with a very stern face saying “Don’t pretend.  I want real hair spray.  Daddy did pretend hair spray yesterday!”

Pete has taught Strider that his favorite football team is the Cowboys.  So I’ve told him that our favorite basketball team is Wake Forest (even though Pete would probably prefer for him to say it’s the ‘Cuse).  He says this all the time now, but he was asking the other day what his favorite hockey team is.  (He only knows about hockey from watching SportsCenter with Pete in the mornings)  I didn’t have a good answer for this right away, so Strider suggested it might be “Good Night Forest!”  It took me a minute to follow his line of reasoning, but I eventually got it…

Strider and I were talking about light today, and how much he likes lights.  I told him that someday we could all go to Heaven to live and there would be a lot of big light.  We had the following conversation:
Strider:  “I want to go to Heaven!”
Amy:  “I know – we will in a little while.  And we’ll get to see Jesus and God there.”
Strider:  “Oh – and there will be cookies there??!!”

Sesame Street has become quite the institution in our household.  Every day Strider has a little routine that goes along with his viewing.  At about 20 minutes into the show, I invariably hear him go running into the kitchen and then go running back to the living room, and I know without looking up that he has just gone to retrieve the “Letter of the Day” (magnet off the fridge).  He proceeds to pretend to eat it, just like Cookie Monster does.  Then, later, he stands up at his imaginary piano (our coffee table) and, along with Elmo, gets ready to sing and play a song for the day.  And he always prefaces it with, “Everybody ready to sing?” even if no one else is in the room.

But I’m thinking maybe this kid is exposed to a little too much TV.  Today we were playing a game and at the end of it he picked up all the pieces, put them in the box, tucked the box under his arm, and as he walked away, said “I’m all done for today.  Thanks for watching!  Bye-bye!”

When we were singing “Shine Jesus Shine” the other day, Strider wanted to sing it again, this time with the line, “With Margaret and mercy” in stead of “with Grace and mercy.”


Strider brought up the whole potty-training issue this month and thought he might like to give it a try.  When it came right down to it, though, he decided he was very attached to his diaper and not ready to give it up.  So now every once in awhile he mentions something about going potty.  I ask him, “Do you want to go potty now?”  And he always says, “Not now, maybe next time.”   This began to remind me of our uncle who has never had coffee in his life, and anytime someone offers him some he says “Maybe later.”  So one time when Strider responded with his usual line, I said, “Ok Uncle Mark.”  Very seriously he looked at me and said, “No, Mommy – I’m a BOY.  I’m not Uncle Mark.”

The other night I was looking around the kitchen trying to figure out what we were having for dinner that night.  I yelled out to Strider, “Are you going to eat chicken and rice with us tonight?”  He responded, “Probably not.  I want a different dinner.”  Well I guess I asked didn’t I.

In the church nursery a few weeks ago, I saw that the adults in there had done a Bible story with the kids.  This was Strider’s first-ever Bible story, so I asked him about it later that day.  He said it was about “Jesus, and a basket, and some bread, and some goldfish.”

For Valentine’s day, we made a card for Pete together.  Strider glued on the hearts and did some of the stamps, and I wrote the words.  When we gave it to Pete later, Strider wasn’t really paying attention, but when he saw it displayed up on the bookshelf he was all excited to look at it.  He came over and asked me what it said, so I read it to him.  Later when Pete came home, Strider frantically ran to get the card before running to the door to meet him.  Excitedly he said “Daddy – we love you Daddy!” as he gave him the card.  Pete said thank you and went to put the card down, but Strider wanted him to carry it around with him all day—didn’t want him to put it down!  He knew it was very important.  J