Monday, November 30, 2009


One happy boy

Tucker is one happy boy tonight. He has his own school bus that we picked up at WalMart while doing our grocery shopping.

I had been intentionally NOT buying one of those Fisher Price plastic school buses with the people in it, because the church nursery has one, the gym has one, Beau Pre has one. I figured it kept those toys all the more special. But Tucker is totally fixated on buses and apparently the bus is now TOO special.

The nursery director at our church approached me with some concern this week that Tucker just goes into the nursery and hoards the bus week after week, sometimes just sitting there and staring at it and not even really playing. She was wondering if she should remove the bus to encourage him to be a bit more interactive.

Keep in mind our nursery director perceives very few things as problems, so when something rises to the level of talking to parents, something should be done. I don't think removing the bus from the nursery, however, would result in much more than sulking and a very sad boy. Tucker LOVES that bus. When Tucker passes our church in the car during the week he points to it and says "bus" because the bus is inside. In fact, when Tucker's friend Henry sees Tucker, Henry says "bus" because he knows Tucker is obsessed.

After much debate, Austin and I decided that we needed to have a bus at Midway Farm to hopefully over-expose our son to the yellow bus with the people that he loves so much, so that he will play with other toys while out of the house. I will also try to hype up the church nursery a bit and talk about the other things to do there as well.

Needless to say, Tucker is asleep with the school bus. (In fact, the school bus even participated in bathtime which didn't do good things to the sound on it!)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Blind Side

We went to watch the Blind Side this weekend, the story of the rookie left tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, Michael Oher. Austin and I barely ever watch movies, and when we do they tend to be the PBS documentary type ones that we check out from the library. I feel underqualified to be a move critic (or maybe that is my problem--I'm too critical!), but I really enjoyed this movie and highly recommend it.

This is a real-life story adapted from a book of the same name of a neglected boy taken into an unlikely family. It is incredibly powerful to watch Michael be incorporated into his new family and how his life changes.

As a mother, it is impossible to watch a child neglected like that and not to think of my own precious child. It is heart breaking to mentally put him in that other child's shoes; it made me want to go home from the theater and gather him up in my arms and hold him tight and keep him away from a cruel world. It is completely overwhelming to me to think about all the children that don't have that safe person to gather them up into their arms, the sheer amount of helpless innocents suffering in our broken world.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

We had everyone at our house for our first Thanksgiving as hosts. We had a great time and Tucker was a star (except for on our hike this morning when he was not enthusiastic). This holiday weekend was especially fun because he was so active and ready to give hugs all around and generally shower attention on everyone.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Recent pics

Since I lost our camera in July, we haven't taken very many pictures, and there certainly haven't been very many good ones. I've been trying to take a few more recently, and here are the highlights. Incidentally, it is really difficult to get Tucker to look at the camera. He has no interest in posing these days.

Tucker's friends

We have a picture of a couple friends of mine from the camp I worked with in Maine, who are missionaries. They visited us this past summer and gave us a picture of them to remind us to pray for them once they returned to the mission field.

Tucker LOVES this picture. He gets it off the fridge almost every day and brings it to show us, or just carries it around and talks about it. He looks at them and calls them "Tucker's friends"--before he could say that, for whatever reason, he called them Mama and Dada--and has learned their names now. He is just about addicted to this picture of people he barely met one time (he was actually very scared of them when they were here because he had just woken up from his nap!).

Once again I ask: what goes through that little head????

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bizarro sleeping habits

Just when we think that Tucker is too old to do something, he does it again. Yesterday morning, he feel asleep in the car on the way back from town, even though he categorically doesn't do this anymore.

He was so asleep that the dog jumping in the car and knocking his feet around didn't wake him up, so I picked him up and whisked him away to his crib where he slept for 3 additional hours in his shoes and raincoat (the hood even got pushed up because when we came in to get him, it looked like he wore it his whole nap).

Then last night, Tucker found an empty container of powdered gatorade, complete with scoop. He got so excited about this new toy that he spent his whole bath playing with it, and then slept with it. When we went to check on him before we went to bed the scoop was still in his hand, on his pillow. When he woke up this morning, the first thing he reached for was that gatorade container. Hmmmm....

Dear Ben

I'm sorry you object to wearing the invisible fence collar, and that you feel it is not enriching your life. However, when you disappear for hours on end and come back with large, grocery-store bought apples in your mouth, I get suspicious that you are not respecting our property boundaries.

Additionally, you are tawny like a deer and I would like you to live through deer season. Please have some sense.

xox Mom

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Marine Corps Ball

Last weekend Tucker visited his grandparents while Austin and I got a night out in DC by ourselves to go to the Marine Corps Ball with my college friends. What a treat for all of us!

Tucker barely noticed we were gone with Henny, Pa Pa and a new dump truck to play with. We did notice that Tucker was gone on our end though!

The funniest thing about the ball was the number of guttural noises shouted out in the middle of the ceremony. Apparently, it is totally appropriate, at all times, to say "ooh-raa" if you're a Marine. I don't do this justice, because the way they say "ooh-raa" comes out somewhat like a growl... Austin felt totally inadequate in his ability to make random guttural noises that night.


Tucker graduated from his egg allergy today. We celebrated by eating french toast with his allergist this morning! Just in time for egg nog and the holidays (not the real raw-egg stuff, of course).

Here are the things I'm excited to eat with him:
-real macaroni and cheese (the stuff that doesn't come in the box and needs egg)
-fried rice with bits of egg mixed in
-french toast
-egg salad sandwiches

This list is nice, but not as world-shaking as getting over his milk allergy. Still, what perfect timing to find this out now, before the holidays. Also, Tucker loves gathering the eggs from the chickens, so it is extra exciting that he can eat them now.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gluten-free living

A month ago I was talking with a friend at a Bible study I go to. She was telling me about how she used to be just exhausted all the time, and never able to feel rested no matter how much sleep she got. When she started telling me about needing a long nap every afternoon, getting 9-10+ hours of sleep at night and still feeling tired, she was describing my exact situation. She got her thyroid tested, but no problem there. She tried other things. Nothing helped. Finally, this summer she went to a chiropractor who suggested going off gluten. A week later, she said she was a different woman.

Tiredness is one of those non-specific things that is hard to address. When you have spent much of the past several years pregnant and nursing and living with small children there's a sense that of course you should be tired. But I have known for awhile that my level of tiredness is just not normal. I even had a sleep study last year to tell me that I don't have a sleep disorder. But if not that, what?

I went off gluten a day after talking with my friend, and although I'm still waiting for any possible placebo effect to fade, I am beginning to think this is for real. I have not needed a nap one day in the past month. I have been sleeping an hour or more less at night. And I don't go around yawning, feeling miserable and exhausted. It is amazing.

In fact, the past month has been so amazing in this regard, that I have absolutely no desire for all things wheat. If I can feel this good without wheat, it is hands down worth it. It actually hasn't been very difficult at all because we make most of our own food from scratch, I can grind my own non-wheat flours, and we tend to do leftovers for lunch rather than sandwiches anyway.

I've learned during this experiment that gluten sensitivity is most common among people with European ancestry, especially the Irish and Basque (I'm half Basque). I have also known since grad school that eating too many wheat products gives me heartburn. But to think that something I eat could be making me TIRED? Fascinating... and potentially life changing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Next Halloween: Football Referee

As promised, here is my little football referee practicing his officiating at breakfast.

When it rains, it pours

It's still raining in Virginia, and here's a picture of Tucker outsmarting his raincoat with the puddle out front. But the real subject of this post is how everything in our house breaks at once.

We have been waiting on a refrigerator repairman to install a new circuit board in our fridge so that the fruit won't freeze, and the freezer won't thaw and the ice machine won't leak. Then yesterday afternoon Austin casually mentions that our phone isn't working either. After a delicate pause he also suggests that this "might" be his fault. I guess he cut the phone line this weekend accidentally and water got into the splice yesterday, so we have to wait until it stops raining to do a new connection and reliably have a phone again.

And then, last night, I went up to the attic to look for a bike helmet for an object lesson at the preschool Bible study I teach, and I saw a huge roof leak. In our married life we have never lived in a house that didn't have a roof that leaked when it rained, but we also have never seen a leak as big as the one I noticed last night. In fact, the rain had already gone through the attic and damaged the plaster in Tucker's ceiling.

This is on top of the driveway that we had fixed on Monday because the rain had eroded the entrance so much that there was a significant drop leaving the road, and the shower fixture in our bathroom that won't turn and that we've been waiting on a plumber on for several weeks.

We are very blessed with our home, and the Lord knows we are not getting bored yet.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The limitations of rain coats

I joke that Tucker is my feral son because he prefers to spend all day outdoors if possible. This desire is not reduced by the rain, unfortunately, so what's the solution? A rain coat, I naively thought.

Well, Tucker turned into the best fireman he could in his raincoat today, but I'm pretty sure he arrived inside just as wet as he would've without the raincoat. It turns out that when you practically roll in puddles, even a raincoat can't help much!!

The way forward

Several months ago I started downloading podcasts to listen to on road trips, and I discovered that there are a ton of really interesting free podcasts available online. I love listening to People's Pharmacy from NPR, This American Life is usually pretty good, I'm becoming a sucker for James Dobson's Focus on the Family, and we have a local public radio station that has a great program interviewing various people from around our region.

Hearing the same quasi-country songs over and over again or bad talk radio really doesn't compare to these podcasts available online. However, burning them onto CDs for my car is such a pain. Each CD only can handle 1 or 2 podcasts at a time because I need to burn them in an uncompressed format for the car stereo to read the CD. And you can't use CD-RW discs in a car stereo. What a waste.

Here's the solution for people like me without an iPod or other means to easily play a podcast in a car: Soundfly SD WMA/MP3 Player Car Fm Transmitter

It came in the mail the other day and it's this little device that plugs into the cigarette lighter and has an opening for a regular USB disk to fit into. It broadcasts to the car's radio, so you just need to tune the radio to an unoccupied wavelength, and tune the Soundfly to that same wavelength, and you can listen to whatever podcasts are on the USB disk.

I would be less impressed if this was expensive technology I'm talking about. It's not. The Soundfly was $40 with shipping, and required about 30 seconds of setup/manual reading.

The ironic thing is that I really wanted to have a car ride yesterday so I could listen to it, and it was the only day of the past two weeks that we were in the car less than 15 minutes!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Tucker went to the dentist for the first time today, at the urging of his pediatrician who noticed lots of tartar on his front teeth at his annual check-up. Since Austin and my dentist has a hygienist that inflicts severe pain (neither of us have ever had one this bad!), our dentist was not an option. I don't know anyone else in our town who goes to one of the two remaining dentists (well, there's really three but we don't want to go to our next door neighbor either!), so finally I just picked one and scheduled an appointment.

Tucker is not a seize-the-world type of little guy. He doesn't run charging into every new experience; in fact, his modus operandi for something new tends to be in my arms, with his feet clutching me so tightly I can't put him down. He also really doesn't like noise. I wasn't sure a stranger would get very far putting a whirring piece of dental machinery in his mouth.

I was planning on building up this dentist concept and checking out a book about dentists from the library, and a book about alligators so he could know how to open wide like an alligator. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and no books ended up getting checked out.

So what happened? The dentist and his staff were amazing. They saved the day. Beth, the hygienist, polished Tucker's finger nails with the teeth cleaning machine, and sprayed water on his hand and let him play with the suction thing to suction the water up. She complimented his smile so much that he let her count his teeth, and then (gasp!) clean almost all of them with the strange whirring machine.

I am VERY impressed. I could barely get Tucker out of that office this morning, because he was having so much fun. I really think he would've stayed to play with Beth and her toys over going to the park if he had had the option. Instead he walked away with three stickers, a rubber ducky and a big smile.


Friday, November 6, 2009

New skills

Tucker is learning lots of new things, but prominent among them this fall are his football skills.

1) Tucker knows that Saturdays and Sundays are about football and popcorn. He frequently wakes up from his naps and asks for both.
2) Austin has taught Tucker how to tackle and he enjoys running up to us and yelling "tackle" and expecting us to fall over. He is really good at getting tackled, too. In fact, he loves to yell "fall down" and dramatically hit the dirt randomly.
3) Tucker is working on his refereeing... he knows the sign for false start, and touch down, and we're working on face mask and holding.
4) His throwing is also improving. This is potentially the most useful skill of all the ones being discussed, but I'm not sure it's the one I enjoy the most. Tonight he was practicing throwing toys out of the bath. Hmmmm....

When I get a video of his refereeing, I'll post it!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tom and Pippo

Tucker basically only reads books about vehicles (his recent favorites are about race cars), but occasionally we hit upon another subject that will hold his attention.

We've found a series of "Tom and Pippo" books by Helen Oxbury that Tucker loves. They feature a little boy and his stuffed monkey doing various mundane things (...make a mess, ...see the moon, ...go shopping, etc.). They are sweet, very short (one of my criteria for a good naptime book!), and Tucker is obsessed.

So, if you have a little boy and are dying to read anything besides trucks, trains and cars... try Tom and Pippo. At this point, unfortunately, I have read these books so much that the car books are starting to look pretty good again to me... maybe this is the point?

Pumpkin Protein Iced Tea

Just in case you're wondering, it is not a good idea to put pumpkin, protein powder, wheat germ and flax seed into iced tea. It does not make a good post-workout shake. Austin learned this the hard way today.