Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day, II

As I mentioned, we had a great Memorial Day weekend. In the car on the way home today, Tucker was very dismayed when he learned we were going back home and asked to go back to the cabin. He's a smart kiddo, of course, because it was the perfect weekend for a little boy (and not too shabby for his parents! :). With six adults and a baby cousin to entertain him, a hot tub at his disposal, lots of interesting food, lots of new things to see... what's there not to love?

The highlight was getting to meet our niece Emery who is just over two months old. It is amazing to me how tiny she is--Tucker emerged on the large side and was out of 0-3 months clothes within the month. Emery just seems like a peanut, it is just amazing. She is also very alert when she's awake and is a little bobblehead looking back and forth at everything. Tucker wasn't too possessive of me, and liked holding Emery's hand, bringing her toys and even helped (ie watched) her get a bath. His addition was loudly commanding "Don't get the water in her eyes" (like he says every time he gets a bath). I find it endearing he was watching out for her, and interested enough to observe the whole process without trying to take center stage.

(By the way, I only took pictures on our outings, which Emery didn't accompany us on so I need someone else to send me cabin pics... hint hint!)

Other highlights included:

*Giving Tucker the Junior Naturalist Quiz at Grandfather Mountain. The questions included things like "Is it safe or not safe to run down a hill and feed a bear?" Tucker's answer: Safe! "Is it safe or not safe to pick up a strange snake?" Tucker's answer: Safe!

*Going into his room after his quiet time to discover he had productively used the time to disassemble the blinds in his room. He had systematically removed about a third of the slats from the blinds without breaking anything or making enough commotion to attract my attention. He happily showed me his work and ingenuity.

*Stopping at a boat launch on our way back home to find a delightful swimming area and letting Tucker go in on the spur of the moment, regular clothes and all... and then racing a storm to get warm and dry back in the car.

*Discovering that Tucker's hands get prune-y when he stays in the hot tub a long time... and trying to eat the "raisins" off of them.

And much more. :)

For the love of sticks

We had a great Memorial Day with Austin's family in a cabin in the mountains near Boone, North Carolina. Tucker has been eager to hike because he's been looking through our photo books from his first two years recently and has seen all the pictures of us going on hikes when he was little. We really didn't hike much last summer because he was so discontent being in the kiddie backpack but couldn't be self-propelled either because he fell and hurt himself on the trail (and just couldn't walk that far!).

So this weekend was Tucker's first "real" hike on Grandfather Mountain. He only made it a mile, but it was a tough mile--the trail was composed of rocks and roots and it was really a scramble for a two year-old. But he was game for the challenge and hiked for almost an hour and a half straight. We saw a snail, a neat rock overhang, talked a lot about bears, and collected sticks. Tucker tends to want me to carry all of his treasures that he collects on our walks, but I didn't feel like carrying a whole arm-full of sticks (especially because I needed to just about constantly hold his hand to help him on the trail). Instead we devised a system whereby he found a neat stick and I took a picture of him with it before leaving it behind.

The other very notable thing about our hiking trip was Tucker's constant narration. I don't think the boy stopped talking the entire time we were on the trail. I'm not sure what he talked about... mostly just exactly what he was doing, ("I be walking on the rocks. I be looking for a bear....") The one-sided conversation was truly remarkable, not for its depth but for its sheer duration and constancy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I never knew that a toddler boy would have so many opinions about clothes, but Tucker does. He now picks out what he's going to wear most mornings, with more or less parental guidance depending on the day. Inevitably, Tucker ends up choosing to wear the yellow polo shirt in the picture because he loves yellow or his Mickey Mouse t-shirt (which is green, a decent runner up in colors). If it's cold enough to wear a sweater he always chooses a really preppy Ralph Lauren yellow sweater I got him for church. On the day pictured, he managed to get his yellow sweater really really dirty so I told him he should go pick out a new sweater, trying to avert a meltdown over having to take the yellow sweater off. He tromped upstairs and emerged a few minutes later with a yellow sweater vest, having found no other articles of yellow clothing in his drawers. (And no, in case you were wondering, we were doing NOTHING dressy that day except playing in the yard, doing some errands and going to the gym.) Silly boy.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I fought the phone and I (finally) won... I think

All of you probably know that I'm not a phone person, and even more than that, am definitely not a cell phone person. I'm one of those people that really shouldn't ever give out a cell number, because people assume that if I have a cell than I check your cell. Ha! Sheer craziness.

With Austin's work in high gear, his cell phone minutes have gone through the roof and he has needed to switch his work phone onto his company's network, which left me the sole member of our family plan.

Cell companies don't cater to people like me: people who use maybe 50 minutes a month (without trying to conserve), who almost never text, and have no aspirations to use a Blackberry/iPhone/etc.

The companies that DO cater to people like me are the prepaid cell carriers, which apparently are going more mainstream for those of us low-techies. So, a few weeks ago I researched companies and made the plunge to go with a prepaid Tracfone. I bought a phone, activated it, put on a year's worth of service and minutes for what would have been less than four month's of the cost of my part of our old plan.

And then I figured out that my phone barely gets reception in our house, or in the tiny town right nearby (where we spend a lot of our mornings). I also found out that only the phone was returnable, but the minutes/year's service was not--which of course made up the huge bulk of what I had paid for. Conclusion: I needed to get a Tracfone cell that got better reception.

It turns out that better reception Tracphone cells exist. Tracphone has two different wireless networks that they buy time on, the GSM network and the CDMA network. The CDMA network works everywhere; the GSM network does not. BUT the GSM network is cheaper for Tracphone to operate on so their policy is not to cell a consumer a CDMA phone if they are located in a zipcode that a GSM one will work. Conclusion: I needed a CDMA phone.

It turned out that getting Tracphone to sell me a CDMA phone was next to impossible. According to Tracfone's maps, I had adequate service--which is true, in some parts of our zipcode... but not true in the rural part of the zipcode that I live in. I was on the phone with customer service a total of SIX AND A HALF HOURS over the course of five different phone calls in order to successfully get a CDMA phone activated with the minutes and service I already bought. I am not exaggerating; it was totally absurd, and awful beyond description.

The lowpoint of everything was after three phone calls and three hours and forty-five minutes on the phone I got them to send me a new phone which they promised would be the different kind that I needed--and instead they sent me the EXACT same phone I already had. I then had to call back customer service and spent another TWO AND A HALF hours on the phone with them in one sitting getting them to send me the right CDMA phone.

I have never encountered a company with this level of inept customer service. I mean, does it really take an hour and a half to reset a cell phone and check it out on the phone to make sure its settings are correct? Do you really need to require ALL technical phone calls begin with this step--even those customers that can prove with a case ID that they've already gone through this step--before proceeding with the issue at hand?

Anyway, I finally have a new, activated cell phone with the minutes I paid for. I feel victorious having triumped over the machine. I also find it funny that Tracfone was so inept in our last conversation that they accidentally doubled the number of days of service I have, so I got something for my pain. But absolutely nothing is worth the six plus hours of agony I suffered on the phone. I mean, have you ever hear of a 2 1/2 hour customer service call??????

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I asked Tucker to clean up his videos

...and next thing I knew he was washing them and their cases in the sink!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"I lost my bonus kisses"

-Tucker, at bedtime

Tucker typically requires a few hugs and a few kisses at bedtime, and then several more bonus kisses and hugs. Unfortunately lately, some of his kisses and hugs have been getting lost. They get given, but when I go to walk out of his room, somehow they have already mysteriously disappeared and Tucker needs new bonus ones.

It's pretty cute.

Sometimes Grandma Really Does Know Best

My mom took Tucker to the library last week when she was here, and they looked at a book promisingly entitled "Oops." It was a book with no words, just pictures, of a house built on ridiculous stilts on the side of a hill that falls down. My mom quickly put the book away at the library so he wouldn't be scared, thinking that houses falling down is not a great subject for active two year-old imaginations.

But Tucker spent all of last weekend talking about the book, and whether his house was going to fall down. I thought the subject fascinated him, and so when we went to the library this week, we checked it out.

It turned out my mom was right.

He has not wanted to read the book one time, even when asked on numerous occasions (after all his talk about it, Austin and I are interested in reading it--it'd be a good break from Thomas the Train).

Fast forward to last night... we were having a thunderstorm complete with some impressive hail. I went up there when the hail was coming down loudly on the metal roof; Tucker was really crying and all he wanted to know was if his house was going to fall down. He calmed down, I went back downstairs. Next time he started crying, Austin went up and had to reassure Tucker once again that his house was NOT going to fall down.

Thankfully, the storm (eventually) ended, Tucker fell asleep and that book is going back to the library ASAP.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Strawberry Picking

Tucker likes strawberry picking a lot. Even more than last year. And it was made even better this year because GoGo got to come along. Tucker is really at the perfect age for this kind of fun, (though maybe not the perfect age to actually accumulate a lot of berries!).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A successful rest time?

I think Tucker is really done with naps. Cold turkey, two weeks ago. I'm still in shock. He is getting better at staying in bed and not shouting during rest time, which gives me a little bit of a break. I felt like today was a particularly successful rest time because I didn't have to go up there a single time to give him a warning, even though we had a workman installing carpet and being noisy within earshot.

...That was until I went into his room and noticed that all the framed pictures within reach were all hanging precariously askew, apparently having withstood Tucker's attempts to systematically a) hang from them, or b) rip them off the wall during rest time. Ah, good times.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Walking the Dog and Other Activities

Ben is such a good sport. (Except when he's gorging himself on old piles of seed for Austin's work and giving himself a bad tummy ache, and giving us BIG messes.) But otherwise, Ben really is a good sport. He lets Tucker walk him, and he doesn't pull on the leash with Tucker. With me, he may go after a good smell with some gusto, but he is really gentle with Tucker. In fact, sometimes Ben listens better than Tucker does, and so if they are going astray I can call Ben and Tucker will come along behind him with the leash. All in all, boy walking dog is pretty cute.

In other activities, we went to a little parade on Saturday. It was truly a tiny parade, but Tucker was absolutely delighted. He got a pencil and a few lollipops (all but one of which we promptly hid), and has been talking about it ever since. There were kids on bikes, a marching band, a fire truck... and that's about it.

Here's a random pic from the other weekend of Tucker serving Austin tea while Austin was trying to nap. He also likes to pick flowers and give them to us--the other day he picked flowers and brought them upstairs and put one on each of our pillows. Awwwww.

Big Basket O' Trucks

I think I've mentioned before that Tucker has a lot of trucks. I think I should rephrase that: Tucker has A LOT of trucks. Recently, they have all come to inhabit a basket that Henny and PaPa gave him. Apparently, the basket is just the right size to completely fill up with Matchbox cars, and yet not too deep to bury any of them. Of course, the trucks do migrate to other containers now and then--in fact, I just noticed that the blue bucket for blocks is what is holding them in the pictures.

Anyway. Tucker has taken to gathering all the Matchbox trucks into one container and toting them around with him. The basket must weigh at least 10 lbs when full, but I've caught him trying to lug it up the stairs (scares me to death!), and it comes outside with him, into bed, and sometimes in the car when I can't avoid it.

Tucker looks wherever he and the cars go for "roads" to drive them on. We went to a birthday party at a friend's house this weekend, and he took his basket of trucks and lined them up on the deep window sill "road." He finds roads on cracks, on patterns in rugs, and especially on ledges. The sandbox lip is one of his favorite roads. He one by one takes all the cars out of the basket and puts them in the sandbox, then one by one takes them out of the sandbox and moves them along the lip of the sandbox. It's very serious business (and it also takes a lot of time.) :)

The only drawback is that the car/basket combination becomes a car/basket/sand combination which is not so great when the next place he dumps them all out is your bed (ie this morning).