Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dear Tor

Today it's been two years since we first met. That day is hazy, but I know that I love you even more now than I loved you then, because now I KNOW you. Since my memory of this day will eventually fade too, I'm writing a few things down about you. As if I could capture even a bit of you with words.

You are a big boy and you remind us all the time: "I big boy, Mama! I big, DaDa!" (You also encourage DaDa that he is "big boy" too.) You say "I" instead of "Tor" now. When you want us to come watch you do something, you say, "Ven, Mama. Ven, DaDa. Ven. Ven. Ven." You wear 24-month clothing with the pants hemmed. You haphazardly initiate peeing on the potty, but you are decidedly still in diapers. You bask in every moment you get to spend with your extended family. You ask about your friends at day care when you're not there for a while. You are curious about strangers but usually take some time to warm up to new people.

You're drawn to media of all sorts. You love getting new books and reading them with us, but at the library, you prefer to pull DVDs off the shelves rather than sit and read. You like to watch Elmo's World or The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse after a meal. You can hit the space bar to pause the computer's video play but you look at me guiltily when you do it. Your favorite marker is the orange one, and it has nearly given up. You usually choose plain paper over a coloring book when scribbling. You've learned how to peel stickers off their backing, and you stick them wantonly everywhere. You bang on any musical instrument handy (most recently the ukelele) and are tickled to learn new songs (most recently "Ring around the Rosy").

You have the goofiest sense of humor and you crack up at your own jokes, sometimes to the point where it totally incapacitates you. If you get a laugh, there is no stopping you from repeating yourself again and again. We taught you to say "REDRUM" in a creepy croak, and you've figured out that everything you say in that voice is hilarious to us ("IT SMELLS GOOD" was the favorite this week). You make a farting noise with your mouth and variously say, "I poop on DaDa!" "I poop on ocean!" "I poop on people!" or whatever's around. You've reminded me that delivery is the key to a joke's success, and that pee and poop are inherently funny.

You always want to play outside, so California weather has been a blessing for you. You love to hang on anything you can grab: the countertop, your crib, the hangboard in the garage, and all parts of every jungle gym. Your favorite games are imagination games; we never know what toys you're going to like because they all get used as props in your stream-of-consciousness toddler fantasies. Playing with you can be like dreaming because you scenario-jump so abruptly: first your stuffed "bat" (which is really a stuffed vampire) is eating a green frog, then it needs a diaper, then it's flying to steal your PJs, then it's sneaking through the closet, in which it then opens a pizza store with you. But you refuse to sell pizza topped with noses.

Your moods are still mercurial, but there's a strengthening reason and regularity to the things that set you off. When you learn new skills like opening a water bottle or putting together a puzzle, you like to "do it 'self" instead of getting shown how. At bedtime, you try to manipulate us by changing your mind over and over and over again about whether you want your blanket or your agua. You want Mama more often than you want DaDa, which can frustrate everyone, but I bet you'll have a DaDa phase at some point soon.

I pray every day that you will love God. Sunday school still gives you separation anxiety, but when I come pick you up you're happy. When we say grace before eating and before bed, you squinch shut your eyes to be like us. You got super excited about singing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus on Christmas, and you read your Christmas books and set up the nativity scene again and again. And because I think you can wrap your head around love at least a little ways now, I'm just going to keep on telling you daily that Jesus loves you, Jesus loves everybody, and Jesus wants you to love everybody too.

Happy second birthday, little man. Even though I snap at you sometimes and wish I were more patient, I'm always proud to be your mama, and I always love you. I hope you always know it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

End of the Term

End of the term! End of the term! For me, that means no more teaching until mid-January--and what chaos will I sow with this sudden glut of free time? For Lars, as my previous post mentioned, that meant heavy-duty conferencing at the American Geophysical Union. So on 12/2, we sloshed through the sodden streets of San Francisco to meet some Wyoming friends for brunch. Then Lars watched Tor so that I could attend an engaging public lecture on Mars. Quid pro quo and all that.

Dipping bacon in syrup: some things don't need teaching

Unfortunates sans plaid were barred at the door
The rest of the week was drizzly, but the elf and I still had a good time. I'm continually tickled by new things he's doing, some of which are obviously thanks to day care.

--While we were driving, Tor started singing "Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the waaaay," which marks the first time that he sang a song learned elsewhere and I actually recognized it. (Because of the words. Definitely not because of the tune.)

--Every day, Lars goes to work. It appears that every day, he also waves and says "Bye!" before closing the garage door, because that's the behavior Tor has started imitating over and over in our coat closet. Then he busts out with "I'm HO-OME!" Punching a clock probably seems the height of glamour to him, but the wisdom of a few more years should complicate that perspective.

Underbite indicates full concentration
His sustained entertainment is worth the
inevitable future hand-in-the-door moment
--Tor only consistently identifies a few alphabet letters (B, O, S, T, X, and Y), but he's started to point them out on signage around town. He also recognizes his name if he sees it printed somewhere, even without prompting or context.

--Most of all, I love that we have little conversations. Today when we pulled up at day care, ours went like this:

Me: What are you going to do today at Sonia's?
Tor: I learning.
Me: You're going to learn?
Tor: Mama learning.
Me: Yes, Mama's going to learn today too. Mama likes learning.
Tor: Everyone learning.
Me: Right, everyone is learning every day.
Tor: Snowman is decoration.
Me: Okay, let's go see the snowman.

I admit the cohesion fell apart at the end there, but it was legit for a minute! He even abstracted!

We're working on recasting his utterances as full sentences as models for him, and encouraging him to use full sentences when he knows how. E.g., "More Mickey Mouse Clubhouse!" becomes "May I please have more Mickey Mouse Clubhouse?" "May I please have more ___" is a favorite formulation of his, although the beginning sounds more like "Maymai plees" at this point.

Our budding omphaloskeptic

When Lars came home from San Francisco, his folks came with him, so we all got to hang out Saturday morning and decorate the tree, to Tor's delight. Thanks to Pakka for sharing his photos!
When asked to make a snowman, he produced a carrot. Obviously invoking synecdoche.

An antique St. Nicholas, circa 2004

Repping our dual Scandinavian roots

The finishing touch

Surprise! This approach failed.

Plan B

Flush with bandana and Babiators

Teaching swing safety with Ah-Bee

On the didge:

Tomorrow we head to Kauai for ten days with Oma, Opa, Caleb, Christina, Tim, and Caitlin. Mele kalikimaka!

Monday, December 3, 2012


Lars spent much of November in Minneapolis conducting experiments in his PhD adviser's lab (since yes, there is some equipment Stanford doesn't have), and Tor and I flew out for Thanksgiving to enjoy the company of friends before all three of us headed home on the 26th. We were floored to arrive in sunny, 60-degree weather--what's happening, Minnesota?--but took full advantage of the outside time it offered.

Chucking Owen's ball...

...and diffusing Owen's parents' leaf pile

On Thanksgiving morning, we hung out with Dave, Lindsay, and Owen before others arrived.

"Dropped your mustache, Mr. O"
Like taking camper from a baby

Boys of Autumn
The Thanksgiving meal proper (hosted by Lindsay and Dave, contributed to by all comers) was a little too nuts to yield postable photos, not that any could capture the cozy revelry of eating and drinking with old friends and many, many children. It was still warm, but the next day, the temperature finally nosedived, and we holed up at the Burnetts' with leftovers and pajamas for a sleepover. It took way too long to get Owen and Tor down in unfamiliar surroundings (and Tor slept in MJ's room, so she also didn't get to sleep right away), but the four hours of adult time afterward were well worth the effort.

Even with two remotes going, Apple TV is a wash

Sleepover hangover

As seen by the Predator
Another highlight was our brunch with Melissa and Ulises, Tor's erstwhile daycare providers and generally wonderful people. Buffet-style dining is decidedly the way to go with a nearly two-year-old.

Hopped up on whipped cream waffles

Opening early birthday/Christmas presents, the lucky dog

"Yep, it fits"

The insulin spike reaches its apex
That evening, after his nap, Tor threw up a few times and was just out of it. So while several friends came over to say goodbye and have dinner, Tor and Lars watched Elmo videos in bed. After a couple of hours, he seemed himself again, but then it was time for bed--we all had to get some sleep before traveling the next day.
There's a lot more to be said for being a sick kid than being a sick adult
We headed in to campus before our flight the next morning and got to see Lars's former research group. Brian kindly gave us a ride to the airport, and we were all home together for five full days before Lars had to head to San Francisco for the annual geophysics conference.

Two seconds before the hands popped out again

"Take me with you!"

Why toddlers don't get to self-accessorize

Showing off his new bib from Mormor

When Lars gets home Friday, along with his folks, we'll decorate the tree. Tor and I put it together (yes, it's fake) yesterday for the first Sunday of Advent, and he also set up a brilliantly unbreakable creche set from Oma and Opa.

Next, he baked pizzas for the whole gang

Practicing for the weekend