Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dear Tor

Two peas in a pod

As I did last year on your birthday, I tried to crystallize some aspects of YOU as you are at three years old. It’s a poor attempt, because you’re already a complicated guy, but hopefully one day you can read it with interest.

·         You’re an excellent big brother—not jealous when Col needs attention, eager to try to entertain him both when he’s happy and when he’s angry, quick to present him with your toys to “play” with, and declaring at least once a day how much you love your “bruzzer.” It melts my heart. I know it won’t last, so I’m trying to capture it in my memory and in pictures.

·         Your sense of time is developing, but it’s still got a long way to go. Everything before today is “yesterday.” Everything in the future is “tomorrow.” Various durations—hours, minutes, months—escape your understanding. The main surprise during the last few months has been you linking counting to elapsed time and sequentiality. For instance, you’ll say, “I’m going to count to seven. When I get to four, it’s time for dinner. When I get to five, it’s time for PJs. When I get to six, we can brush teeth, and at seven, it’s time for bed.” (Why seven? Why do events begin at four? Who can fathom the toddler mind?)

·         You. Remember. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. Example: the other day we saw deer outside in the snow stripping the bark off trees and talked about what animals eat in cold weather. Two days later, you were playing with your PlaySkool Nativity scene and had the angel climbing a palm tree. When I asked what the angel was doing, you said, “She’s eating the bark.”

·         You like reading Bible stories for kids. The David and Goliath episode is a favorite right now (although I have mixed feelings about its lessons). And especially this month, you’ve been sensitive to Jesus’s birthday coming right before your own. I’m praying we can find a Sunday school in Oxford as excellent as the one at our church in Newark.

·         You walk on your tiptoes in stocking feet. Like on the knuckles with your toes curled under. It’s weird.

·         Your imagination games continue to improve by leaps and bounds, facilitated by your expanding vocabulary and increasingly complex syntax. On the way home from drop-in daycare near Ah-Bee and Pakka’s house this week, I asked whether you played with anyone and you told me, “Yes. I played with a boy named Owen. He was littler than me. We made presents for Ah-Bee and Pakka and opened them, and inside Ah-Bee’s present there was a pogo stick. And when we get back to Ah-Bee and Pakka’s house, she can use the pogo stick to jump in the snow. But that might make a big hole in the snow, so you have to be careful not to slip, okay?”

·         You take a nap in the afternoon and go to bed at eight, and while you’re awake you have insane amounts of energy. Sometimes you channel this energy positively. See this video for an example from April:

·         When we chastise you or we say you can’t do something (like send Col flying in his swing), you pout cartoonishly—head down, shoulders slumped, lip out, shuffling feet, obstinate “hmph” noises. It’s hard not to laugh, because I have no idea where you learned it, but you’ve got it down pat.

·         You interact eagerly with kids from one to five years old wherever you find them: church, museums, libraries, and of course childcare centers. Sometimes they’re a little put off by your penchant for pretending you’re (variously) Spiderman, Batman, Mr. Incredible, and Luke Skywalker, but the cooler ones go along with it. (Also, when adults ask you your name, you prefer to give one of these pseudonyms.) You’re getting better about grabbing toys away from other kids when you want to play with them, but it definitely still happens.

·         You sometimes love doing crafty stuff like painting, making sticker pictures, folding “origami,” and cutting paper. At other times you don’t have the attention span. You like coloring in rather than just coloring.
·         Most of the time you have a great attitude and it’s easy to make you laugh. (One surefire way to get you in stitches is to feign ignorance of the next item in a sequence: “One, two, three, seven” is an absolutely hilarious utterance.)

·         But you’re still a toddler in many ways, with tantrums and illogical desires and fears. I sometimes catch myself being too hard on you because although you speak clearly and seem to reason, you are, after all, only just three years old.

The bottom line is that your behavior is frustrating at least once a day, but I absolutely adore you and love spending time with you. I can’t wait to see what the year ahead holds for you.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve was a full day: visits from aunties Mandy and Em (with Nolan accompanying this time), Chinese food for dinner, a goodbye to Chippy until next year, and the Christmas story before bed.

"Erm, I will have to mention to Santa that you did not share your muffin with me"
 Christmas morning began with Tor in our bed and the sound of jingle bells in the hall. By the time Tor got out to "go see Santa," Ah-Bee was peering out the window and waving goodbye to his sleigh.

Then we dove into the stockings.

Baby's First Christmas--and stocking to prove it happened

The Hansen guys in order of size

Little Drummer Boy

Tor helped Pakka deliver presents to everyone from the tree. This is the first year that Tor can read his name, so he got very excited every time he read "T," "O," and "R" together. The catch was that all the tags started with "T" and "O," but usually those letters preceded someone else's name. He was pretty gung-ho about helping other people open presents too, though, so that was all right.

Christmas cheer

Family tableau

Bows for all!

Pouring the eggnog, which Tor immediately chugged

Trying out his new headphones while watching Star Wars with Star Wars action figures

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

...and I haven't posted since before Thanksgiving! Turns out we've amassed a lot of photos in the interim.

The one-week countdown to our Newark departure began with a visit from Josh the Godfather and his far saner fiancee April. No sooner had they arrived than Josh bestowed this little gem on Tor (but mercifully removed the "Batteries Included!"):

Dendro earning his epithet "the Noseless"

Sure to be the most popular kid in the UK

Though they stayed less than 48 hours, it was great to connect. And now we know that we can carry on our chainsaws instead of checking them.

Baby Whisperer

We expect playmates soon, guys

Lars's last week at work flew by and before we knew it the movers had come, packed, and shipped. Then it was off to Orinda for Thanksgiving dinner with my family, assorted Karpluses, and Mormor.

Gave the turkey a run for its money

Cuddles with Great-Uncle Richard...

...and Mormor

After dinner, we headed to a vacation rental in Discovery Bay with just Opa, Oma, Caleb, Christina, Caitlin, and Tim. It was excellent to sit back and come to terms with the fact that all our possessions were on a boat and we didn't need to have anything more to do with them until mid-January. The house was huge yet cozy and also located immediately above the inlet to the bay, with its own dock and kayaks. We played games, caught up, cooked together, decorated a gingerbread village, and enjoyed our last California sunshine for who knows how long.

"Beats the hell out of that infant life preserver"

Tor and his kayak chaperone


Stalking that elusive imp, the ideal family photo
Impending sugar rush: now in Technicolor!


The most and least hirsute family members

Played "Scrabble" (i.e., identified letters and built "words" with them) with Aunt Caitlin for hours

About to punch through his sleeper feet

 Finally, on December 1, we drove up to Ah-Bee and Pakka's NEW HOME in Genoa, NV, and here we remain until the 30th. We'd never seen the interior before and It. Is. Awesome. Tor sleeps on a chaise lounge in the office and Lars, Col, and I share the guest bedroom. We've been walking around town, getting some snow play in, attending local events (in a town of 225, everyone shows up to everything), preparing for Christmas by making cards and ornaments, and enjoying the town church, which has the tiniest Sunday school ever and Tor loves all the attention he gets there.

Oh, and Lars has been working his tail off. Because, you know, we're about to move to England so he can plunge into a new job. At least he got a shout-out in the Tahoe Daily Tribune.

Loves his grandmas in equal measure
And then he pooped in the bubble
Photogenic again post-diaper change
A stroll with the boys before the snow hit

A revelation: pockets keep your hands warm!

But pockets just don't cut it for snow play.

"Ah-Bee! Look at the cake I made ALL BY MYSELF!"

Rocking his hottest holiday look, "The Rudolph"
"Spiderman" photo bomb
Best. Haircut. Ever.

Debuting the new 'do at Ah-Bee's favorite Chinese place

"I'm going to lie with my little bruzzer because I LOVE him.
Col is the BEST."

You don't stomp bubble wrap after your bath?

Hasn't licked a frozen pole yet

Gnome home outside Ah-Bee and Pakka's

Watching The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition
with the eponymous elf, whom Tor dubbed "Chippy"
Col is not yet much involved in cunning nightly elf placement...
...but Pakka has taken to it with a vengeance.
(And yes, that's Santa in the pink convertible)

The cast of the next Christmas misfit special

Breakfast with Santa (as syrup kicks in)

Col's first photo with asleep

Tor refused to mount the stage to see Santa, so Santa came to him

Toting the Christmas tree from the local lot

Heading home to set it up

Putting together a few Christmas cards

Train table at the Carson City Children's Museum

More Christmas crafts, this time with the smock on

Auntie Em and Auntie Mandy came to visit, to everyone's delight
Another day in paradise

Cuddly chunk

Backgammon shark

Bubble wrap again
Placing the first ornament

The piece de resistance

Finally starting to get some good smiles here and there

Happy last Sunday of Advent tomorrow! We'll aim to post a Christmas photo here in just a few days.