Sunday, February 20, 2011


Since the end of football season (for Finnan, when the Saints lost in the play-offs), Finnan has been talking about baseball.  He is a baseball fanatic.  Why?  I don't know.  Neither Atticus or I have any interest or skill in baseball.  My parents took him to his first game less than a year ago and since then he has been hooked.  He loves batting off of his tee and pretending he is a "glover" (I think that is too sweet to correct).

I made sure our trip to Florida coincided with a baseball game.  As luck would have it Georgia played Stetson three times while we were in Florida.  Finnan made it to two of those games and also went to his first basketball game. (Jude still has not been to a game.  All of them were during nap or bedtime and I know all too well what happens to Jude when we miss one of those.)  When Finnan was not at one of those games he was playing ball.  My dad spent hours (that is, hours each day) playing baseball with the boys in the backyard.  It is no wonder my children adore their Paw-Paw.  Below are some photos from their baseball adventures.   

At a game with Paw-Paw.
Beat after the game (after two late nights and a missed nap).  Five minutes after this photo he was in the backyard playing baseball again.

Loving the tee.

Even Jude now has a real swing.

After the games, Finnan wanted to forgo the tee.  "Real baseball players don't use the tee, Mommy."  Amazingly, he was able to hit the ball when it was pitched to him.

Both my dad and brother were ball players, so I guess it could just be in his blood.  I think I will be spending some Saturdays this summer watching 3 year olds attempt organized tee-ball games.

Favorite words and the "terrible"

 "Stuck!" is also one of Jude's most used words.  And, yes, his face is often that dirty.

Another favorite: "Help!"  No mom, I am just helping the birds by throwing the seed to the ground.
No! Mine! Ball!

Currently, those are Jude's three favorite words. He recently added to more to the mix: Why!?! and Self! I am sure you are probably cringing as you read this list. Clearly, Jude is approaching two. There are a few things that I think no mother should have to endure twice, no matter how many children she has. Teething and babies eating dog food fall into this category. However, there are many other things that I think are only fully appreciated after having gone through it once. For me, a newborn's first six weeks and (so far) typical "terrible" behavior fall into this category. The first time around, I suffered through the first six weeks and endured early tantrums with stress and worry. With Jude, I was able to treasure his warmth and the closeness of nursing despite the sleepless nights. And now, I am finding I can smile (or at least sigh without worry) as I watch my 21 month old try to assert himself. Of course, I have to say, my different outlook could have as much to do with my children's different personalities as it does with experience.

Right now, Jude will answer almost every question with a "No!" Do you want to go outside, Jude? "No!" One minute later he will be carrying his coat over to me saying, "Outside?"  Do you want some guacamole, Jude?  "No!"  But the chip he grabs will no doubt soon be covered in guacamole.

I can't blame Jude for any possessiveness he has. For his entire life he has had an older brother or one of his older brother's friends snatching things out of his hands. It can get really amusing when both boys, holding on to whatever it is they want to claim taking turns yelling "Mine!" at each other. They do enjoy playing together, but we have not gotten to the point of cooperating together. That is difficult when one child only wants to say "No!" They seem to enjoy each other best when racing, wrestling, or, quite frankly, when I am not around. However, I was encouraged two weeks ago at Gabriela's. Six boys were playing tennis in Gabriela's basement (with real raquets and balls, did I mention she is a saint?) and one of the older boys said Jude couldn't play because he was too little. Finnan immediately stepped in and told the boy (who is a year older than him) that Jude could play with him if he wanted. Boy, was I smiling from ear to ear!

I don't think Jude knows what "Why!?!" really means yet. But he sure does like parroting Finnan. We were reading a book a few nights ago and Finnan asked why the lion had bandaids on his knees. The following night just Jude and I were reading the book. As soon as we saw the lion, he started a rapid fire of Why! Why! Why! Why!..... (As an aside, Finnan has recently started responding to me answers to his why? questions with, "Why do you say that?"  Oh my.)

Since I am talking about the beginning of the "terrible" phase, I might as well mention tantrums. So far, it seems that he will respond to one of three tactics: distraction, a break in his crib, or he really just needs to go to sleep. I was outlet shopping with my mom in Florida this week. Jude was fed up with the stroller so I let him walk with me. He was doing a great job. That is until we entered the stores. The stores were wonderful playgrounds for him. He started his adorable toddle run with his playground screams while he played either hide-and-seek or peek-a-boo among the clothing racks. We were only in kids stores, so I didn't think it was too bad until his screams started to get louder and clothes came off the racks. As soon as I picked him up, he started screaming bloody murder. I took him outside so he could run around there, but the second I put him down, he threw himself to the concrete thrashing his limbs. In this case, all it took was me pointing out an alligator on a Florida Gator sign.

Our trip to the Central Florida Zoo was another story. I knew he was exhausted. But my mom wanted to take the kids back to see Maude, the elephant, as she is leaving the zoo soon. I am thankful he remained quiet while we fed and pet the elephant. Unfortunately the elephant exhibit is the farthest from the car. As soon as we left the elephant he started screaming and thrashing in my arms. I had no choice but to hang on and trudge through. He didn't stop until I pinned him in his car seat. About 30 seconds later he was asleep. But it was one of those moments where I hope the people surrounding me had already learned my number 1 parenting lesson: Don't be quick to judge other parents, you are not currently in their shoes!

Not the best picture, but since I mentioned Maude...
 Now if only three year old tantrums were this easy.  Now those are something to worry about :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

"I eat deer."

In November, Finnan still appeared unsure about the goose Atticus had shot.  Now, he is a self-proclaimed hunter.  Tonight on Skype, he announced to my mom, "I shoot animals in the forest."  "Excuse me?  Why?" (I had to be sure this statement was in fact okay.)  "To eat.  I eat deer."  

I support this (even as a former vegetarian!).  Not only do I want Finnan to know where his food comes from, I want him to be eating the healthiest meat possible.  I also want him to have a deep curiosity about nature and to respect it.  This may seem counterintuitive, but over the past couple of years, I have come to realize that these are in fact qualities of hunters.

Of course, I know my blessing would make little difference.  Finnan watched in awe while Atticus roasted a whole pig in our backyard last year.  This weekend, Finnan could not seem to get close enough to Atticus while he was butchering a deer leg and eagerly ate the cooked samples.  Instead of bedtime stories, Atticus and the boys will occasionally watch YouTube fishing videos.  As the boys grow older, I have no doubt that I will be left behind while they join their dad, uncles and grandfather on their yearly hunts.

In hiding

Right now, I am hiding in my bedroom.  I have learned that if I sit on the far side of my bed with all of the doors closed and the obnoxiously loud bath fan on, the cries become barely audible.  For this, I am thankful.  If I did not have this hideout, I would be sitting out in the cold or driving aimlessly around Atlanta questioning my mothering skills.  At least now, I am warm.

For months, I have praised Jude's sleep.  I would tell Jude it is time for night-night, he would ask for his 'raffe' (giraffe), a book and some water.   I would lay him down while singing a verse of 'Down to the River to Pray,' and I would leave.  That was it- for naps and at night.  For the past week, he has screamed.  And screamed.  He is not sick or teething.  He just screams.  The first night I was alarmed and got him.  But as soon as I put him back down, he started again.  So now I leave him.  I must win this battle, but he is breaking me down.  Tonight he screamed for an hour.

Clearly, he is in a testing phase.  I wish I could say the second time around is easier.  But, to tell you the truth, I had to read past entries of my blog to even remember I went through this before.  I am sure I will soon forget this even happened.  Even now that the crying has stopped for twenty minutes, my anxiety has faded and my outlook improved.  His pre-bed screaming and increased use of the defiant 'No!,' really do not compare to the wonderful things he is doing.  Right now, his favorite activities are reading, playing ball and wrestling.  I love playing ball with him so much, I had to lift my ban on inside throwing.  He likes to count: two, two, two, two....  Although he hasn't yet gotten it, he is working really hard at figuring out how to hold up two fingers correctly.  Right now he still holds up one finger and says, 'Two!' He has even started learning many of his letter sounds.  Really, he is just fun to be around.

As you can see from the picture, he also remains a good eater.  The first bulldozer loaded bite of flour did not deter him.  He just kept shoveling it in.