Monday, September 28, 2009

Moon Bounce

We went to another fall festival this weekend, which sounded good on paper but thhe reality was less exciting. The hayrides weren't really happening, you couldn't pick your own apples, and the live music was picturesquely located on some asphalt. However, there was a really cool moon bounce.

Tucker LOVES moon bounces.

But this was a new chapter in his love of moon bounces. This one had two different slides (that were really fast!), and ladder/steps to climb up, and lots of room to bounce. He was in little boy heaven. Austin and I had to tag team bouncing with him, it was so exhausting. Added bonus, of course, was that Tucker's friend John and his parents accompanied us so he got to moon bounce with me, Austin AND John.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tucker's best friend

Tucker sees a lot of kids in his day-to-day life, but there is one little boy that Tucker just adores, named John.

John hung out with us on Friday afternoon, and Tucker just about flipped out he was so excited. We picked him up on our way home from the doctor, and Tucker spent the ride home furiously kicking his legs in his carseat and being so loud that John was a bit scared. As soon as we walked into the house, Tucker brought every single toy out to show John, and wanted him to play with everything at once.

It is funny how kids' minds work, how they latch on to certain people/things and just talk about them over and over again. Even though John has long gone home, we keep hearing about him and what he's doing. Same with the lawn mower Tucker helped Austin load into the back of his truck last week, and the man riding the motorcycle that tipped over next to us (at a very slow speed)... these things come up ALL the time.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tucker at two

Tucker had his two year-old doctor's visit today, and it's confirmed: he's still a big little guy. He weighed in at 31 lbs (~80th percentile) and 37 inches (off the charts). He looks long and lean like his daddy, and has most people tricked into thinking he's a lot older than he is. It is amazing to me that a kid can grow 18 lbs in year one, and less than 5 in year two--and still be large!

In terms of personality, I think Tucker is pretty reserved and relatively cautious (as two year-olds go). He is really sensitive to noise, which is funny because he loves to shout. Several people tell me that he has a long attention span and is very focused. He is very much a collector/organizer; he is always carrying at least one sippy cup and a handful of cars... you never know when they'll come in handy.

He has a lot of words these days, and is just starting to string them together, though usually his "sentences" are a couple nouns stuck together, like today he said "roof wet rain" when what he is trying to point out to me was "The roof is wet from the rain."

He is definitely an outdoors boy. When we get home from an expedition in the car, it is close to child abuse to make him come inside right away. I frequently find him trailing after Austin in the garden. He finds peppers and peas and raspberries even when we think they're all gone. He also stands by the beans and waits for us to pop them open for him. (Tonight I couldn't do it fast enough and he ended up marching up to the house demanding more beans for supper.) He also likes sports... he watches golf with us and runs to the screen and shouts "more!" when someone makes a putt. Balls aren't nearly as cool as trucks, but he does love to make baskets, hit golf balls and kick balls.

Of course, the love of his young life is trucks and all things wheeled. I'm not sure that will be an enduring interest, but the intensity with which he loves them surpasses any other little boy I know, and I think reflects a certain fixation/intensity in him. He is a sweet little boy, and he has a strong sense of order and how things should be (but can be very stubborn about getting them that way)!

It will be interesting to see what of his traits now are phases/developmental and what are the essence of Tucker.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My buddy, my buddy

I think you have to be a child of the 80's to remember the commercial for the "My buddy" doll which is a mini-me doll for little boys. (There was a girl version, kid sister, but it never seemed as cool.)

Tucker is Austin's little buddy these days. Last week, I was the only one who was allowed to wash his hands, give him a bath, put him to bed. This week, the honors have gone to Austin in a big way, and Tucker has morphed into a mini-me shadow of his dad these past few days.

This afternoon, Tucker just about refused to eat lunch in favor of sitting in Austin's office. He said he was hungry, and asked to eat... but when he figured out Austin wasn't going to go down too, he chose hunger over separation from Daddy.

At every opportunity, I am finding Tucker climbing the stairs to Austin's office, narrating what Austin is doing when he is out of sight "Dada work... Dada truck...", and mostly just following him around and "helping" at every opportunity.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sometimes it's a two-tie day

As you can see, Tucker still has flair. He's wanted to wear his tie ever since church yesterday, and has thrown little tantrums when I insist on taking it off for naptime. It's hard having to give up your tie.

I also wanted to share this picture of the collection of things Tucker likes to eat with. I think the count this morning was one glass of milk, one glass of water, a water bottle, a duck, a pacifier, 2 motorcycles, several trucks, an airplane, a cereal bowl, a boat yogurt, and a placemat propped up on the tray to look at.

Tucker's favorite animal a train.

We went to a petting farm this weekend, that had everything from chickens to camels. The camel was a nice camel that didn't bite or spit (it does, apparently, like to suck hair but we didn't get a demonstration of that). There was a family of wallabies, as well as a HUGE pig, and goats, sheep, and ponies.

I seemed to be more impressed by the petting farm than Tucker. He thought the animals were pretty scary, and that the wooden train they had set up in the yard was a much better way to spend our time. We spent about 15 minutes with the animals and 45 minutes with the train.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

More Birthday Pics

These birthday pics are courtesy of PaPa! Thanks!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Birthday cake adventures

I decided to make Tucker a truck birthday cake.

The process started yesterday when I made the cake (so it'd be cool enough to cut out and frost today). I decided I needed to double the recipe to make a 9x13 sheet cake (necessary for the design I was doing), while the recipe called for a bundt pan. I've never actually used a bundt pan, but I know they're in the shape of a doughnut. I had it in my mind that bundt pans are a) smaller than usual pans and b) cook faster because of their shape. It turns out both assumptions are wrong. How did I find this out? Well, it started because I doubled the recipe, so I'd have enough for my 9 x 13 pan. The doubled recipe seemed like a lot. It seemed like too much for the pan, possibly. I ignored my intuition and put the pan in the oven only to discover 4 minutes later that it had already risen enough it was about to overflow.

It was early enough in the process that I simply scooped out enough for a dozen cupcakes and put everything back in the oven. Surprisingly, this didn't seem to hurt the result too much. What DID hurt the result, however, was assuming that a sheet cake takes longer to bake than a bundt cake. It turns out this is not true. Thankfully, the cake I was making was naturally really moist so the extra 20+ minutes in the oven didn't really hurt things too much, unless you knew how good the cake should've been if done right.

Fast forward to today.

Tucker was napping and it was time to make his cake. All was going according to plan, until I made batch #2 of frosting. I am still puzzled about this, but somehow I managed to curdle my frosting. Keep in mind that I'm making vegan frosting due to Tucker's allergies... and keep in mind that batch #1 and #2 had identical ingredients. The big question: how is it possible to curdle frosting? It was just confectioner's sugar, vanilla, Tucker's "butter", rice milk and a little crisco (I know, gross, but the recipe said it would really help the frosting be decent).

Anyway, everything curdled. At first I pretended that it was just a little thing that maybe only I would notice, or that would go away if I smooshed it on the cake. Not so. The rice milk and food coloring basically remained liquid while everything else precipitated out. A quick trip to the store for more confectioner's sugar, and a helpful hint from my friend that marshmallow fluff might be a good thickener for vegan frosting, and the cake making process started seeming more hopeful again.

The only problem with learning these lessons is that there is NO way I'm going to remember these little details by the time I bake my next cake in 6 months or a year.

But, all in all, the cake turned out well and at least Tucker was impressed.

Happy Birthday Tucker

Today was Tucker's second birthday, and we had a fabulous day. I only took a few pictures, but more are coming from David in the next couple days.

The morning started by opening presents from Austin and I in bed. Tucker is still at the age where he could spend 20 or 30 minutes on each present, so even opening 4 presents in a row was a lot for him. If you can tell from the pictures, it was serious business, and culminated in him shooting baskets outside in his new plastic hoop at 8 am (having still not eaten breakfast).

We went into town and met all three grandparents for a morning trolley ride around town. Tucker LOVES buses, so what could be better than riding the bus with all his favorite people? Not much. We got on two different trolleys and each time as soon as he sat down he started shouting "Bus! Bus! Bus! Bus!" Incidentally, he got a little matchbox car cement mixer this morning, and we managed to spot SIX cement mixers while we were on our way to and from town, as well as a dozen school buses and city buses. As I said, it was a very good day.

We had a wonderful lunch in town (I was concerned Tucker might try to eat nothing but sugar today, but he actually ate a whole hamburger), and I enlisted the help of a lollipop to keep Tucker awake on the way home. In retrospect, I'm not sure it was necessary, because he was so excited about the bus ride and playing with his grandparents.

After a decent nap, the festivities began again with all the grandparents showering Tucker with their gifts. He was positively delighted (and a bit overwhelmed!) with everything--he decided he liked his train table so much he needed to sit in the center of it. He liked his tricycle so much he decided it was actually a motorcycle. Aunt Liz's garbage truck had to accompany him inside and outside all afternoon. And he is currently asleep with Uncle Mike's motorcycles. This video shows what he thinks of the motorcycles....

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Harvest Festival

We went to a local harvest festival this morning, put on by a local seed exchange company. It was on a private mountaintop overlooking our town, and it was a glorious day. Unfortunately, I am out of practice with remembering my camera, so you'll have to take my word for it.

Some of the highlights included
*Tucker trying to shake a gourd to help with the live music
*Hot, fresh apple cider donuts (honestly, I've never thought much of apple cider donuts before, but these were really spectacular)
*Tucker running down the big grassy hill like a maniac
*Lots of samples... everything from butternut squash soup to tofu mint brownies and all sorts of varieties of tomatoes, peppers, vinegar, apples...

On our way home, the exit looped through a vineyard where there were several dogs spread out lazing among the grapes. It looked like they were strategically placed guardian hounds (we saw a plastic dog kennel set up for one of them). It was bizarre. Who has ever heard of dogs guarding grapes? To scare off deer???

Telephone Tucker

Tucker loves talking on the phone. He grabs our cell phones at least once a day and runs through the list of everyone he wants to call. Today we called Liz, and Tucker proceeded to run away with the phone into his "office"... the corner of the room, behind the coffee table. Last weekend he played forever back there. I also enjoy this set of pictures as a good illustration of what it's like to watch sports with Tucker. He is essentially sitting on Austin's neck in one of those pictures, as Austin tries to watch football. Tucker has a unique sense of personal space.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bear sighting

No, we didn't see a bear, but our neighbors did. A juvenile black bear approximately 200-250 lbs was sighted yesterday crossing the mouth of the private road that leads the last little bit to our house. There are lots of bears in the mountains but it's apparently been several years since one was sighted in the neighborhood.

Pretty cool. Though I do admit I'm not sure I'd want to encounter one on one of my walks with Tucker.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sweet Pea

I like to call Tucker "sweet pea." I'm not sure where that came from, but it has become my little nickname for him. The only problem is that when I start using a pet name like that, I tend to use it ubiquitously. What's the problem here, you ask? Well, I start calling Tucker "sweet pea"... and then suddenly I'm calling Ben the dog "sweet pea"... and then Austin "sweet pea." Which is where the thing ends, of course, because Austin refuses to be called the same name as Tucker AND Ben. This isn't the first time this has happened. I call Ben "buddy"... and then Tucker "buddy"... and then Austin "buddy"... you get the idea.

There was even one time a couple months ago when Austin made some smart remark and I cried in outrage all three names before I got the right one: "Ben! Tucker! Austin!"

Even I admit this is not good. I'm trying, really trying, to keep each name specific to ONE person (or canine). I'm sure this will work well, if I could only find those brain cells before I open my mouth.

Haven't we done this already?

Tucker is back to the separation anxiety stage, after being totally fine about being dropped off at the nursery in church or the YMCA for ages. Only this time he's bigger, stronger, and much more dramatic. He also is a lot less easily distracted.

We walk into a nursery setting and I see a fun toy that Tucker would love. Tucker obstinately refuses to look at it, just waiting for me to leave so he can pitch a fit.

Two minutes after I'm out the door, he's fine.

I personally don't think it's separation anxiety at all... maybe the new term should be separation obstinancy?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Our hike, x2

We went on a family excursion to Western Augusta county this morning to take advantage of another day to play. We decided on a little hike-and-picnic, and picked a 3 mile loop that looked like it might be relatively accessible for Tucker.

Since it was only 3 miles, we didn't take the hiking portion of our morning very seriously. No compass. One water bottle for three people and a dog.

Our hike was going great; in fact, we were laughing about the excessive signage. Usually most trails only have signs at junctions, our trail had several signs in between that seemed totally unnecessary.

Everything was going smoothly until it kinda felt like we had been going too long. We had expected to meet our trail junction awhile back and it had never appeared. Suddenly we were at a parking lot and campground that apparently was not marked on our map. We couldn't figure out what had happened, how we had missed the junction, or where the mysterious campground was in relation to the trails we were supposed to be on. Our only option was to turn around and retrace our steps, turning our 3 mile hike into an almost-six mile hike.

The kicker was that when we got back to the starting place, we saw a woman who we had passed on the trail who had obviously been able to complete the loop and had not had to backtrack.

We're still not 100% sure what happened, but our leading theory is that the parking lot/campground we encountered was actually just a different part of the parking lot/day use area where we parked, and if we had just come out and walked a tenth of a mile, we would've been at our car.

The only problem with that theory is that the parking lot we came upon had a bright blue port-a-potty at the trail head, and we found what looked like the exact same spot afterwards in our car, but it didn't have the port-a-potty. Austin thinks the port-a-potty was magically removed on Labor Day, during the hour and a half between our first and second visit. I think that's virtually impossible.


Tucker has lots of entertaining things to say these days, but I especially love it when he points out mokeys (motorcycles). For the longest time I thought he was saying monkey. Incidentally, he loves motorcycles so this word comes up a lot.

He also talks about airplanes a lot, but can't bring them up without talking about the video he saw of the monster truck jumping over (and onto) an airplane. The matchbox airplane he has lives on our floor with a miniature monster truck on top of it.

*I posted this half an hour ago, but in the meantime Tucker found the keys to my car, and figured out that if he presses the lock button continually, it makes the car beep. He also, of course, needs to remind us that GoGo's car in Vermont beeped, and that he saw a truck crush an airplane in Vermont. Hopefully this video doesn't take a lifetime to load.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Back in action

I just bought a digital camera for $25 on craigslist, so I'm back in action for pictures. Of course, Tucker is still sleeping and Austin is fighting with the new front door he's trying to install, so there hasn't been many good opportunities for pictures. Still, I'm thrilled to have a working camera again. I think it did a good job capturing the frustration on Austin's face as he slumped on the couch.

(On a sidenote, the door IS in, just some minor problems now like a lock that isn't working... but who wants a Saturday morning project to extend till Saturday afternoon at 3:30 on the first day of college football season???)

This post wouldn't be complete without mentioning that I got to see a 3 day old baby at the house where I picked up the camera! Awwwww...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Austin's new coach

Tucker is Austin's new weightlifting coach. He watches Austin workout and likes to tell him to get to work. Okay, so really he just repeats the word "WORK," demanding that Austin get back into the shed. He pushes for Austin to have longer workouts, and less rest. It's pretty funny.

Tucker and Austin also have a new game where Tucker rides on Austin's back around the house. It looks like Tucker gets the better part of that deal.

Also, on a completely different note, our fantasy football draft just ended and I am projected to beat my husband in Week 1. Thank you very much.