I Got You

Confession- I used to be a smug bastard-person.  I'd see people with kids going bonkers in Target, or pitching tantrums regarding their perception of appropriate cupcake portions, or, gawdallmightyhelpus HITTING other kids and I would smile sympathetically on the outside but inwardly make that sneer face Cinderella's evil stepmother makes when those bitches tear Cinderella's dress apart.  Smug. Smuggy Fitzsmugerson, with my total lack of experience divided by my calm knowledge that "I would never tolerate that sort of behavior"carry the 2 equals smugness.

Nothing pertaining to my experience with my first child did much to derail this smugness.  In fact, I daresay my preternaturally "easy" child went a long way towards fanning the smug flames into a fire of...-barf-....subconscious self righteousness, that most tedious of attitudes.  Having parented one small human through the so-called "Terrible Twos" and finding nothing all that terrible, I was serenely certain that my way of parenting was, in fact, The Right Way, and that if people with stinkers for kids would only sit at my feet and catch my pearls o' wisdom their little Damiens would transform into that kid from Jerry McGuire: amiable, yet charmingly precocious. Maybe with cute glasses.

And lo, the Lord did see my smugness and it did displease Him mightily and He sent unto me....Wesley.

Wes was my easiest birth.  He came wailing into the world with a couple of pushes and me actually laughing at one point.  He was a relatively mild baby, easy to nurse, quick to learn to speak his first words and crawl and walk, sweet and cuddly but also much more independent than Gwen.  He fit nicely into my views on "Good parents make good kids!'

And then he hit 18 months.  And the shrieking.  The face-melting, macaque-like shrieking when he didn't get his way.  That was the first crack in my veneer.

It turns out, he began the "Terrible Twos" about 6 months before schedule.  The shrieking evolved into tantrums, hitting, throwing, and a general grumpiness that permeated most of his days.  I pulled out all the tricks in my "loving but firm" arsenal- getting down on his level, eye contact, confident communication as I set "boundaries".  "We don't hit, buddy! We don't throw things when we're mad, buddy! Hair is not for pulling! Hands are not for hitting!"  Mommy needs a drinky.  Because none of it seemed to make a damn bit of difference.

Wes was (and is) a law unto himself.  In hindsight, I see that his mental capacity had out-paced his ability to communicate with us in a way that we could understand.  He would have something he desperately wanted/needed/wished us to comprehend, and no matter how he tried he could not make us see it.  And so, rage.  Violence.  A lot of time spent on the supermarket floor writhing about while I tried desperately to open a bag of Goldfish crackers to placate him.  And by the way, in the middle of all of this, I got pregnant with Owen.  Holy shit, you guys.

So now I was exhausted in addition to exasperated.  And still we toiled.  I read books.  I scoured websites.  We tried time-outs.  We tried just doing whatever he wanted for an hour a day.  Gentle play.  Horse play.  Ignoring bad behavior.  Making him apologize for bad behavior.  Time alone with Mom or Dad.  Gentle discipline.  Firm discipline.  And only one thing ever really worked.  And that one thing was TIME.

As he grows his verbal ability is growing with him.  It sometimes felt painfully slow to us, parents of Gwendolyn who practically came out of the womb talking in full sentences.  But every added word- every naming of a thing or emotion in a way recognizable to us is one more battle shut down before it happens.  I know when he's thirsty now because he tells me.  There's no need to hurl a sippy cup at my head.  It is a study in meeting your child where they are, when they are- not at some predetermined mile-marker you got from an "expert" or from what your other kid did or what might be convenient to your life at the moment.

There was very little we could control besides hanging the hell in there, holding onto our patience with both hands, and having faith that we'd come out the other side with him.  We weren't bad parents.  We weren't weak or over-indulgent.  We weren't too harsh or demanding too much.  We were just parenting the child we were given to parent, as best we could.  We couldn't magically turn our bear into a bunny, no matter how hard we tried to staple those big floppy ears to his hard head.

And I realize now that in all likelihood, all those parents my 20-something smug ass had been judging were simply along for the ride with their own challenging kid, sweaty and embarrassed at Target, hoping there were no smug assholes like young-me looking down their noses at things that they couldn't hope to control.  So I'd like to say, "I'm sorry, moms.  I was an ignorant dick.  And I'm sorry."

This is not to say we are completely out of the woods.  My Wes is still challenging- most recently refusing to nap at all which leaves us at around 4pm with a emotionally brittle nearly-three-year-old,  just looking for an excuse to collapse.  He still has a problem with even approaching the concept of "sharing".  He still gets into everything (and I include, memorably, his own poopy diaper only yesterday.  Ermagerd.)  I still need to occasionally call my mom-friends to be reminded "It Gets Better". And may God above help me, we're about to begin potty training.

But there are good days now, days when he wakes up with a dimply smile, and tells me over and over "Thank you, Mom!" for some particular toy or favor that has tickled him.  He honest-to-God plays with his big sister- laughing, jolly, rough-and-tumble play like I always dreamed of for them.   And when he's having a really hard time, I can take him in my arms and hear him repeat to me the phrase I said so many times to him in those rough months when he was raging and flailing and making me question whether he loved me at all:  "I got you.  I got you, Mom."

I got you too baby, always.


In Defense of Mr. and Mrs. Arendelle (Elsa's Ma and Pa)

Hold God, with the Frozen stuff.  I mean, really.  Obviously, my 4 year old is, like all her cohorts, insanely obsessed with Disney's little flick about an emotionally repressed shut-in who has the power of ice (and also the power to create friggin life, but let's stick with ice for now because, like holy shite the implications of that, amiright?).  This whole winter it was all videos of cute kids scream-singing Frozen, and my own actual cute kid scream-singing Frozen, and this weird-ass video which starts out in Africa but ends up at the local rec center and features tiny Marie Antoinette and the bad guy from "The Princess and the Frog":

And then Travolta with Adele Dazeem and the feminists are debating whether Elsa and Anna are the greatest heroines since Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Gloria Steinem  or instead make girls into derpy princess-worshiping moron people and so much scream-singing and I'VE SEEN THIS MOVE 450 TIMES YOU GUYS.  So I think about it, like way more than I need to.  Let's begin from a place where I am aware none of the following matters and yet I'm blogging about it anyway because I have three kids under age 5 and don't sleep/get out much and this is the deepest stuff I have the capacity to think about right now, k?

One of the notions I've seen in commentary and blogs is how much Elsa and Anna's parents suck, having reacted to their daughter's incredible powers by locking her up in a room for all her formative years with a mandate to repress her emotions in order to control those powers, complete with cutesy rhyming pneumonic device to help her remember to hide her true nature and shove her feelings down into the place where ulcers are born. Like, essentially they've groomed her for her role as a basket-case barely keeping her shit together, who predictably breaks at the first test of her control and pretty much ruins everything (how many deaths are attributed to the freeze? In New York City, half a dozen people die every time it snows and we have plumbing and heat and Dominoes pizza delivery).  So yeah, her parents suck.  OR DO THEY?

Let's just break this thing down, from a parental POV.  You're asleep in your giant royal bed.  You are a head of state and you deal with heavy kingdom-ruling crap all day and besides, you've got two kids, so you really love sleeping, in a fervent, almost religious kind of way.  You are awakened from this sleep by one of your beloved daughters screaming for you.  You go hauling ass to the ball(?) room only to find the whole goddamn place is frosted over, your one kid is almost dead, and your other is apparently the cause of all of this. Really, it's very The Good Son:
  So you go visit the local trolls (ok- pause- can we all agree the troll thing is just....not very well thought out? Like, they don't fit, I'm sorry.  We are all in Norway or wherever and then we are just plunked down in Fraggle Rock a mere brisk gallop from the magic-phobic city? Feels a little shimmed in there, right? Anywho.)  So the troll wizard/patriarch guy does the VAGUEST DESCRIPTION EVER of what's going on w/ Elsa and her powers.  Like, he knows enough to be able to craft a Power Point presentation in the sky about the future, but not enough to simply say "Think happy thoughts, and you won't kill your whole family with your ice powers"? No, essentially what he does is say "DON'T BE AFRAID- OH, HERE'S A GLIMPSE OF YOUR ADULT SELF BEING CONSUMED BY RED FEAR-DEMONS! BWA HA HA!!" And then Mom and Dad come up with the great reduce-the-staff/ separate-the-sisters Rochester's wife plan, RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE TROLL.  And does the troll say, "Naw, dog, just use love to counteract her powers!"? Nope.  He just sends them on their way and presumably bills their insurance for the ice-removal from Anna's head.

So at this point, I'm thinking the parents are just doing the best they can with the information they have.  Because A.  They have to protect their youngest child.  B. They must know that the reaction of most of their subjects to uncontrolled freakish ice-powers will be similar to this guy's:
C. They love Elsa and want to help her but literally have no tools whatsoever to do so thanks to Vaguest Troll.  

I feel the Arendelles.  The Arendelles, they are like 1980s parents.  Confronted with the Gordian knot, they hack right on through.  Daughter has dangerous ice-powers and can hurt people with them? Lock that ish down, teach daughter self-control, set it free and hope it all works out.  Kids come home from school at 3 and you can't afford a sitter? Buy them some snacks,  and tell them to put on She-ra, Princess of Power and lock the front door.  You do what you gotta do and hope for the best, 80s style, like Don Johnson. And yeah, maybe your kids end up a little....wonky....but hey. They are alive. 

Look, I'm not saying it was a perfect solution, but really, what were they supposed to do?  "Conceal, don't feel" isn't going to sell any bumper stickers, but you know what, it kept her from killing anyone.  It's the available remedy to an unresolvable situation, one that was destined to come to fruition no matter what they did to prevent it, because really, Elsa needed to break bad, so she could choose what sort of life she ultimately wanted to have.  And also because if she didn't the movie would be called "Mild with Slight Chance of Showers" and be vastly less interesting.  

And really, they could have just abandoned her.  Instead they halted their WHOLE LIVES to attend to her special needs in the only way they saw possible. They named her their heir.  They loved her through the whole nightmare, despite being afraid both for and presumably of her. And despite their tireless work to keep both their kids and their kingdom safe, while all the time not thinking of their own personal safety as they continue to visit and instruct their daughter, when she went bonkers the first instinct the whole viewing audience had was to blame the parents.  Aint that just the way?

And plus *spoiler* they die in a freaking shipwreck.  So I think they've suffered enough. 

I think those stones say, "Here's Lies the Arendelles. They did their best."
PS: Just kidding, they do kind of suck. Gloves, Dad? Really? That's your plan?


Let us pray....

Gwen said the following at our dinner table last night, before we began eating:
"Before we start eating I'd like to make an announcement! Dear Mom, I love you.  You are nice to me and I would like you to come for a sleep over at my house.  Thanks so much! In Jesus name, Gwendolyn."

Basically she cobbled together all forms of formal speech she'd ever heard (prayer, letter writing, announcements) and made her version of the St. Crispin's Day speech before we began our turkey chili.  
Inspiring and awesome.  PLAY BALL!


Cutting the Cord

Hoo boy, have we done it now.  For the first time in about 4 years, we are going to live without cable television.  This choice was made with two major considerations in mind: 1. Cable is mighty expensive, and with the new house we need to trim some fat from the budget.  And 2. DEAR LORD THERE IS AN UNHOLY AMOUNT OF CRAP ON TV.  Like seriously you guys, there is a reality show about competitive taxidermy.  For reals: 

Any who, we came up with a couple of alternatives.  First, for only a little more than the cost of one month of our cable service we bought an Apple TV.

Basically it allows us to see content like Netflix, Hulu, etc. on our TV.  And because it's in with the Apple Cult to which we are fervently devout, we can listen to our music on our computer, and anything we download via iTunes is available on all our devices (laptop, phones, iPad-if-we-had-one).  So we are not bereft.

Granted, Gav is going to miss sports.  But he can watch quite a bit on the computer and, well, life is pain, Princess.  I think this will help keep our kids from being sold plastic piles of crap during their favorites shows and will help us to do more working on the house and less mulling over the woes of various Real Psychic Chef Runway Teen Moms of New York.  And oh, there's that 100+ bucks a month.  So yeah.

When I called the cable people to disconnect the guy acted like I was breaking up with him.  He tried to plead with me ("Ma'am, don't you think you'll MISS your local news shows?")  He tried to bribe me ("What if I can give you $75 at the end of a three month period?? THAT'S FREE MONEY, MA'AM!") Finally he resorted to scorn and sadness("I'm sorry, I just CAN'T BELIEVE you are not taking this deal.  With all due respect, I just don't get it.")  But finally, with a resigned sigh he sent a guy out to do the deed.

It's just been an hour since the roly-poly rosy-cheeked cable man took my DVR away, and...um....I do feel the beginnings of withdrawal.  Like, how will I watch Ru Paul's Drag Race and learn who is America's Next Drag Superstar? Or find out if they'll pick house number 3 even though there's no double sink in the master bath??    

I'm gonna go chew some gum and find some Steve Guttenberg movies on Netflix.  Wish me luck.



Oh, sooo belated in writing this.  But when you understand the scope of the past 2-3 months, you'll forgive us, won't you? Thanks!

Ok, so where were we? After that brat Sandy came in and pooped in our applesauce, we (Gav and I) had about 10 minutes of feeling deflated and shoving our move-in date to "some time in Spring".  You see, not only did we need to now work just to get us back to our pre-storm state, but everyone in my family who'd been helping us was now busily digging themselves out.

But we could just not get comfortable with moving the time table for so many reasons: we had set our hearts on Christmas in the new house and Gavin's parents were flying out to spend the holiday with us to that end.  It had been nearly nine months since we bought the place and those nine months had meant spending nearly every day off apart as one of us watched the kids while the other shlepped to the house to work.  And frankly, I was just about at the end of my tether, straddling two lives and being in complete control of neither.  And the biggest reason of all was a practical one- MaryJane and Michael (the Super Inlaws) flying out here meant we'd have live-in baby sitting during the move, which would damn near be impossible without it.  My mom's house was gutted from Sandy, so without someone to watch the kids at our old place, we'd be S.O.L.

So we made a big decision.  We had the guys who were finishing our Sandy-repairs complete the walls.  It killed our (5th) budget, and meant the impeccable job we envisioned for the taping was not likely, but it put us on track to be actually LIVING in the place we'd bought so long ago.  Enough, as they say, was enough.

In about 2 weeks time we had guys tape and prime the walls, the floor guy come in to finish all the floors, and another guy come in to install our new (!!!) lower kitchen cabinets.  I used "all my skills, and all my powers" to convince a fraught-with-storm dig-out National Grid to get their butts to my house and get some gas turned on.  Seriously, you guys, I ended up calling them dozens of times a day, got the cell number of a manager, flirted, cried, cajoled, whatever it took until there was a crew of hunky men digging a big hole in our yard and laying new gas lines.  Heat! Hot water! BAZAAAHHH!!

And then it was time for me to get serious on this house.  Gav and I decided that just as the first half of the reno needed his "man strength", this second half needed...well...me.  For six weeks I was there literally every spare minute of the day that I was not sleeping, working, or with my children.  Every surface, and I literally mean EVERY surface needed to be cleaned, painted, and generally made ready for human habitation.  My brother painted the ceilings so that when I came it was just walls and moulding to be done. And a rotating cast of friends and family (thank you Joy, Zac, Leigh, Kelsey, Joey, Kelli, and of course Uncle A) came in to have painting parties, nail-hole-filling parties, sink-installing parties until it started to feel that maybe, maybe we'd make our Christmas date.  I attached duct work in the basement that had been left dangling, and thanked God for Google.  Slowly, slooowly, our vision started to come into soft focus.

To be sure, there were a few things that got done in a rather fly-by-night way.  We paid some guy like 600 bucks to case all the windows in the house so that I wouldn't have ragged holes around them with insulation hanging out like a fiberglass goatee, and his work was....well....good enough for now.  I slapped paint over things that were as ugly as Satan's heart and called it workable.  There were doors that should have been sanded all the way down to bare wood for a perfectly even surface but by the time I got to that point, I didn't care if I was painting over a corpse, just to be done enough to MOVE THE HELL IN FOR GOD'S SWEET SAKE.  But the progress in a short time was just startling nonetheless.

The best part was to see things actually start to go IN the house, rather than come out.  One day, there was a giant open shell of a kitchen, and the next, all my base cabinets were in.  And the day after that, the marble arrived for the island top.  I made the guys delivering said marble exceedingly nervous I'm sure by snapping pictures of them carrying the slab into the house, but I was so damn excited.  It was like a new baby coming home from the hospital.  Well, no, not like that, but lovely just the same. The day the floors were done I sat down on the steps and had a small cry.  It was just so freaking beautiful after so much ugliness. We were almost there.

The day before my inlaws flew in my friend Zac and I had a tying-up-the-worst-of-the-loose-ends fest. We hung light fixtures, a learning experience for us both, but VOILA! the lights came on when we were done.  And then on a whim I made a kamikaze run to Home Depot (where else? I feel like they're going to hang a picture of me up in that joint) to grab a late Christmas tree.  The only one left that wasn't 3 feet tall was a shaggy 9 footer hunched over in a corner by itself.  When I dragged it over to the guy who cuts the trunks he said "I was wonderin' who'd pick up that tree!" I felt like I'd saved a last-chance dog from the pound and happily crammed our shambling dinosaur tree into the back of our little SUV.  It smells like pine sap to this very day.

And then the move-in day actually came.  A cast of friends and family made it, dare I say, easy.  My mom's church donated a truck and 3 strapping gents to help with lifting, and between them, my friends, and my intrepid inlaws who managed to entertain two small kids in a house of total chaos, we were in before 2 pm.  Really, something I had absolutely dreaded for so long was the least painful part of the whole damn process.

And then Gavin drove back to pick the kiddos and their grandparents from Brooklyn while my friends and I ran around getting the house as "ready" as we could, so the first sight MJ and Michael had would be as perfect as I could muster.  Because, well, of all wonderful people involved in this project, those two have been our rock.  We simply could not, would not, have done any of it without them, and I will never forget the pride of getting to show them what their unwavering support had amounted to.

We flew around like manic elves, lighting the tree, cleaning the windows, even hanging garland and stockings on the stairs, and so when they pulled up that driveway, it felt as much like a home as we could muster.  And after a tear-filled tour, and a million hugs, and neighbors who showed up with wine and eggs from their backyard chickens (!), we dug into Chinese food and prepared to sleep in the house we'd gotten the key to nine full months before, on December 21st, with 4 full days to spare before Christmas.

On December 23rd, after much debate and trial and error (and a mental picture of what would happen if my poorly designed shelves were to collapse with all my china on them), we gave up on our "open shelving" concept for the kitchen and bought and installed the upper cabinets our damnselves.  As an aside, before installing cabinets from Ikea, get yourself a nice pint of something strong.  Drink half of it.  Save the rest for after.

On Christmas morning, we woke up in our own house.  I mean, we literally slept under the Christmas tree, having given Gav's folks the bed, and saw our small children toddle down their own stairs into their own living room to open gifts.  It was one of the best mornings of my life, and I can say now that this whole damn (ongoing) process has been utterly worth it.

This blog has been long and rambly and full of crap writing, because I'm trying to cram about a million things into one long overdue blogpost and because my kids are literally climbing my legs as I type.  So I'll cut it off here and let the pictures say the rest.  Below is some "befores" to get you in the mood, and then some "after a lot of progress" photos that show where we are now.  There are endless projects to do before these rooms are "done" (like, I dunno, decorate and finish painting and hang curtains) but I wanted to show how far we've brought them since March of 2012.  Oh, and I was gonna add some bedroom pictures too, but I hated how they came out (out of focus, bad angles), so stay tuned for those. Enjoy! :)

Foyer Before

And now

Stairs Before

And after four thousand hours of painting!

Another Foyer view Before

And now- holy crap, so much brighter!

View from living room through pocket doors Before

And now.  Don't worry, the doors are still in pockets (but not yellow)!
Dining room before...
And now, complete with Wes photobomb!  And sliiightly crooked family pictures..
Living room into dining room

View from dining room into kitchen.  This was once the wall with the buckling chimney, etc.
Kitchen Before (blech)
Kitchen now! I did the tile a couple of weeks ago but still need to grout it and install range hood...
New Sink!

It's important to have standards...
Emmy seeks out the sun...
Bathroom before- try not to puke.
And now! Bright, white, and clean! And with our shampoo on the windowsill ruining picture(derp)!



I will preface the following with this: we are lucky.  Beyond lucky- blessed, privileged, and in no way entitled to pity or assistance or anything like that.  People all around us have been literally devastated by this storm, and by bitching about our experience I in no way mean to trivialize what those folks have been through and are digging out from.

So basically our storm experience was that many of the old trees around our property came down, domino style, with one big old tree belonging to our neighbors falling and starting a sort of chain reaction that led to 6 trees in our backyard, and a 75ish footer actually on our roof.  We didn't flood since we are, thank God, far above the flood table, and we never really lost power.  The roof ended up with about 6 puncture holes from the tree that hit it, and of course we have tons and tons of lumber to clean up.  The Nor'Easter that blew in the following week did manage to get some snow in the roof holes, but the water damage wasn't too bad.

If I seem stilted in the writing of this it's that I can't put much of a spin on it- this thing sucked, you guys.  My Mom's house had 6 feet of water in the main living space.  My brother's rental house is likely condemned.  Two of my cousins are gutting entire floors of their homes. Many businesses in our town were destroyed and many people are still without power and heat since they have to be re-wired due to the water in basements where their junction boxes and heating equipment were.

Our own small inconveniences (the subways were closed and Gavin walked into Manhattan over the bridge to get to work, we weren't able to get gas for our car until three weeks post storm, etc.)  pale in comparison to those who lost homes, lost livelihoods, lost family.  But all of it combined to create the surreal atmosphere of actually walking around a literal disaster area, and the feeling of vulnerability to your basic sense of security that comes with that.

The lighter notes- we got most of our damage dealt with already.  The roof has been patched and looks as good as new.  We had to go the cheap route for the clean-up, since insurance doesn't cover removing debris (!), but the trees have been chopped up and stacked in the backyard for later disposal (some for our fire pit, some to help heat my mom's house, some to ultimately be chipped for mulch when we tackle the yard).

We've begun regaining some of the pre-storm momentum, and lots of work has been done this week in the (probably naive, but tis the Season, yes?) hope that we can still be moved in by Christmas.

Our main issue now is that the gas company is so inundated with issues from the storm that getting them to deal with us has been a challenge.  I'm ready to send them pictures of our kids looking into the camera with sad eyes at this point (maybe with a c-note in envelope) to get our gas turned on.  Heat! Hot Water! MAKE IT SO!!

So we'll see.  Cautiously optimistic.  I'll post a far more shiny happy blog next week...Spoiler Alert: Our FLOORS ARE GETTING DONE!!

Anywho, here's a Sandy photo- montage:
That big tree on top of the house? Yeah, it's literally on TOP of the house.

View from the master bedroom

This is usually our driveway...

Fitz and Fitz Fine Lumber Inc.

My Boy

When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do was dig out my "baby book"- the little album where my mom recorded my milestones, stuck my hospital bracelet- all that parental jazz. My siblings each had one too, but with each subsequent kid, there was less in the book.  I now think I understand why- it was more than just a lack of time with each child or that a new baby is no longer novel after the first.  It's that when you are immersed completely in the day to day existence of not one but two or more small humans, after you finally tuck them into bed at night and wearily pick up the clothes, cheerios, and assorted tiny foot-killing toys scattered about your floor, you become, for a couple of hours before your own bedtime, YOU again- the individual you.  The you who goes to the bathroom in privacy, the you who swears (too much) and drinks a glass of wine and maybe has a couple of friends drop by to watch zombies eat people on tv.

It's not that this you loves your kids any less, or even that this you is any less absorbed in their every breath (I still sneak in to check on my 3 year old every night and lay my hand on her back to feel her rising and falling breath).  But being this version of you for a couple of hours is what re-charges yourself for the next day, for the next round of being a SOURCE for someone else; a source of comfort, knowledge, food, tushy-wiping.  You love giving to these little people- you love it more than anything you've ever been privileged to do, but if you don't collect and reassemble that essential you, there simply isn't anything left to divvy up amongst them.   Sooo...this is my long winded way of saying that some days the friggin' last thing I want to do post kid bedtime is write about them! But this has short-changed me.

My sweet, sweet Wes.  My darling dimpled little boy.  I feel like I have scrimped on the chronicling of his first year.  So to make up as much as I can for lost time, here's 10 things about Wesley:

1.  He cries inconsolably at the part in Lady and the Tramp where they yell at Lady, and the part where the dogs are sad in the pound.  His little shoulders begin to heave, and his lower lip quivers, and the next thing you know he's just in pieces and I scoop him up and cuddle him until the dogs are all happy again.  He's only 15 months old and I can see his good, kind heart just beaming out of him.

2. He is in love with a blue blanket square that has a bear head sewed on it that we call "Claude".  Claude came into being when Wes as a tiny infant would rake his little sharp nails over his face until he had something soft to rub between his hands.  I told Gavin to get him a "lovey" and he came home with our blue friend, who is called "Claude" since it prevents Wes from "clawing" his face.  Claude is carried around much of the day, and whenever Wes is feeling blue his holds it up to his nose for a quick "hit".  If I dare launder it (which we MUST do from time to time, as you can imagine how dingy this thing can get what with Wes dragging it through the dogs water, or the mud, or peanut butter and jelly) he gives it a sniff and throws it down in disgust and rejection (but not for long).

3. He poops like 40 times a day. What. Are we feeding. This kid?

4. He says "DADA!" when he's happy to see anyone come through the door having associated Dada coming home from work as a wonderful thing.

5.  He sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night to laugh hysterically, and anything I do to lay him back down and get him back to sleep results in more insane laughing.

6.  He knows many words.  I was told that since he's a boy not to expect him to be as verbal as Gwendy but he's really an incredible imitator of sound.

7.  He likes to walk around with a Matchbox Car in each fat little hand and hope you'll ask him about it:  "Whatcha got, buddy?"
"CAR! VROOOOM!!" and then he rubs said cars on his tummy.

8. He is huge.  Like wearing size 24 months at age 15 months.  Gavin's hoping for professional basketball. I'm hoping we can afford to keep him in shoes.

9. He loves to read like no baby I've ever seen.  He comes up to you with a board book and hits you with it repeatedly shouting "BOOK! BOOOOOK!" until you capitulate and then he chortles smugly as you settle him on your lap.  His current favorites are "Are You My Mother?", "The Story Of Ferdinand", and "The Best Book of Sharks".  That last one requires a lot of skipping around as it is a science book written for school age kids.

10.  I love him, in a completely separate yet equally mind-blowing way from the way I love Gwen.  I love Wes for Wes.  For his bravery and silliness and goofy reckless way of getting into things and his volcanic temper and his sweet shy smiles and for falling asleep while I hold him every so often.

So here's hoping I set aside some more chunks of time to chronicle my sweet kiddos, because when I look back over the past three years and read what I've written, it's a little terrifying how fast the time is flying.  I only get to borrow these children for a spell, before they become their own people and write their own stories.  While I get to be the author, I'd better write it down.