Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"I'm tricking ya"

Watching Rye play Star Wars guys is like watching someone totally in his element. It's like watching a cat lick its face or snow fall outside.

Tiny Lukes and Darth Vaders and Mace Windus and Obi-Wans dance across Daddy's back. They are fighting, and Rye is making the sound he thinks lightsabers would make if they were real.

He is hiding behind a corner of the couch and peeking one guy around. Now, he is making shooting noises, taking out invisible bad guys.

Daddy plays, too, but only sort of. This is Rye's show.

Tonight, he is tricking Mommy by dressing some guys in other guys' clothing.

Each time, he comes up with a guy behind his back and says, "Mommy, what do you think of this guess?" and then he pulls the guy out, a smirk on his face and looks up at me with a mischievous grin.

"It's Luke," I say, just about every time.

Ha-ha! he laughs as he reveals the true identity, screeching the name. "It's Han!" he says or "It's grumpy, naughty guy!" or "It's Obi-Wan Kenobi."

This is great fun.

The initiative he's showing and the creativity and the precociousness and the little personality is just about all I can take.

It keeps going. He's on about guy 15 now. Each time: "Who do you think this guess is?"

And then -- after the reveal -- ""Daddy, let's trick her again" or if he's busy and Daddy is interrupting, "Just a minute, Daddy."

Just now: "You must die you will, Master Yoda." In complete Yoda voice.

This is why people have babies.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

If Saturdays can be perfect

today was close to it.


Mainly -- the weather. It was perfect. Sunny but not hot. A slight, cool breeze. It's the kind of day that just makes me want to be outside all the time.

We weren't outside all the time today, but we should have been.

Still, it was one of those lazy, relaxing days where nothing really needed to be done. It was the sort of day where I might have laid outside and read a book and taken a nap if I'd wanted to before I became a parent. Instead, Rye played outside in between bouts of Disney movies on TV, I went shopping for a while and then we got takeout Thai. Now, Rye and Daddy are playing hide and seek in the backyard, their voices and laughter floating through the open windows.

Post-party last night, the no-pressure, perfect weather day was just what we needed.

I hope all of you had equally near perfect days.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Scissors? For me?

At the store last night, I stopped in the crayon and marker aisle. Rye's supplies needed refreshing, I'd been thinking.

So he got new washable markers ($1.50), a pack of four paintbrushes (just under $2), children's safety scissors (50 cents) and a pack of ABC flashcards (97 cents).

After I got home and had lugged in the groceries -- mostly pop and water and juice boxes and paper plates and chips for a party we're having tomorrow night -- I called Rye over.

Look what I got for you, I said. It was right before bedtime, but still I wanted to show him.

When he saw the scissors, you would have thought I'd just handed him Luke Skywalker.

Mommy! he said. What did you get for me? Scissors? For me? Can someone please open these for me? RIGHT THIS SECOND.

So I did and we got him a piece of notebook paper. We sat at the kitchen table and Rye got serious.

I showed him how to hold the scissors and how to watch out for the fingers of his other hand that are holding the paper. He did short cuts and quick cuts and little tiny cuts for about 20 minutes until he had cut up the entire piece of paper. Tiny shards of paper littered the floor around him.

After babies learn to walk and talk and use the bathroom by themselves, it's easy to forget that there are still a lot of firsts to come in their little worlds.

But there are.

Cutting with scissors was a first for Rye last night. And it was a fun one. We were both proud.


My sister got new kittens. They are adorable.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The fate of bad guys

Tonight, in the bath, Rye was playing with "white Luke" and "black Luke." He's given the Luke Skywalker action figures these names based on the color of their clothing.

I was sitting on the side of the bath, with my feet in the tub, and before long both Lukes were fighting on my left leg. They'd start on my knee and then "white Luke" would grab "black Luke" and throw him into the sea below. "White Luke" was bad, Rye said, and on this night "Black Luke" was good.

"Bad guys have to get hurt," Rye said the next time one Luke pushed the other over the edge.

They do? I asked.

He looked at me and furrowed his brow a bit.

"Yeah," he said. The future teenager in him was coming out. Duh, mom.

Huh, I thought. Do bad guys always get hurt? In life, it doesn't seem they do. I can think of plenty of bad guys who just seem to keep being bad.

But in Rye's 3-year-old world, that is just what happens. That's what keeps balance in the galaxy.

And that's an OK thing to believe.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back to nature

Today was my first Monday back at work after three days off at the beginning of last week.

I'm missing the freedom, the ability to wake up in the morning and say, "OK, what should we do today?"

On Wednesday, Rye and I went to a nature center in eastern Iowa and hiked along a ridge overlooking the Loess Hills. We ran and walked about a mile one way on a trail before winding up in a forested campground where we looked at wildflowers and butterflies and sat on logs. We talked about going camping there sometime, and we planned where to put the tent and what to cook over the campfire.

Rye picked up sticks and played. Outside. Which we don't always do enough.

On the way back to the trailhead, Rye asked me to carry him. And I did. And I tried to look around extra hard, to soak it in just a little bit more.

We were tired and hot when we were done. It felt good.

To get some semblance of that feeling -- just the tiniest bit -- I take my shoes off whenever I can. Especially on days that I have to go to work. I drive barefoot. And I generally go into daycare to get Rye barefoot. And I take them off at my desk whenever I can. No one knows the difference. And it just feels better.

The weather now feels like fall, and oh-so nice with its slight chill and mostly sunny days. It's got me thinking about pumpkins and Halloween already.

Next weekend, we may camp. In the backyard. And that will be better than nothing.

Here are some more pictures from our hike.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Last night, I dreamed that Rye went potty standing up.

You know, like an actual grown-up man.

I did not share this dream with anyone, nor did Rye and I talk about going potty today any differently than we normally do. Normal, by the way is usually something like this:

Me: Rye, do you have to go potty?

Him: No!

Me: OK ... I just don't want you to go potty in your pants.

Him: I won't go potty in my pants.

This conversation usually happens in the morning. You know, after he's slept 10 hours and obviously has to pee.

Anyway, tonight, he said, "I want to go potty standing up."

Out of the freaking blue.

And then he did it. Just like that. And then, later, before bed, he did it again.

These things don't just happen.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

In our neighborhood

We like Mr. Rogers.

On the days Rye wakes up early, (read: 6:30 a.m. or before), we turn on the PBS show from my youth. Rye always points out the trolley meandering through the toy neighborhood at the beginning, and he always seems mesmerized by Fred Rogers welcoming us into his home.

Dane asked the other day why Mr. Rogers changes from a suit coat to a cardigan. Really, I thought? Well .... just because he does. It's so he can be more comfortable at home, I explained.

Yes, Dane said, but he has a TIE on. Ties = uncomfortable.

I grew a little flustered. I don't know, I conceded, but don't mess with Mr. Rogers.

In September, PBS officials announced earlier this summer, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood will no longer be included in Monday through Friday programming that is given to local stations. While local stations could still choose to air Mr. Rogers, chances are good that they won't. Rather, most markets will get one weekend showing.


In a time when children squeal over Kung Fu Panda books and Lightning McQeen cars and Handy Manny jammies and all sorts of other manufactured, heavily marketed toys and licensed characters, we need Mr. Rogers. Maybe more than ever. He is a stronghold of sorts for parents concerned about the commercialization bombarding our homes and our lives.

He's also just a really nice guy.

A campaign has been started to save Mr. Rogers. Check it out here. There's also a Facebook group.

I plan to at least send an e-mail to the two PBS stations here. I'll tell them how much I want my child to get to know the man who taught all of us 80s children about sharing and kindness and tolerance and make-believe.

I went to the library two weeks ago to get books for me and Dane. But I secretly hoped they'd have a Mr. Rogers DVD, too. They did, and Rye has asked to watch it just about every day since then. Though I'm thoroughly sick of the Land of Make Believe by now, I'm happy to put this show on for my child.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Summer fun

Yesterday was one of those hot, humid late summer days that seem to go on forever.

Despite the uncomfortable conditions, we played outside a lot. Rye's highlight: the slip 'n' slide.

Even Mommy went down a few times.

Rye and Daddy also tricked out the old swing set with new swings and rock climbing wall handles on the stairs up to the slide. It's amazing how a little bit of time and money really makes something old and worn out much better. That lesson probably applies to other areas of life, too.

I pulled LOTS of weeds. So many that when I closed my eyes that night, I saw weeds. Not exactly the picture I want in my head! I learned, though, that when you pay attention to something, it starts to matter more. This is the case with our yard. With the time spent in it this weekend, I sort of like it more. If that makes any sense.

Here is some of the slip 'n' slide fun: