Riding in cars with (a) boy

Despite what I have written in the past, if I had to make a top 10 list of reasons why living with someone who is discovering the world from the ground up every day is wildly rewarding, the ride home from school would be near the very top of my list. Where the ride to school in the morning can be a test of my motherly nerves, the ride home in the afternoons is like a little dose of this-is-what-it’s-all-about elixir. Asher is oddly forthcoming with his observations on things (“but I didn’t want to go up the slide and I said so and she said I had to and that hurted my feelings and didn’t make me feel good in my body.” or, “We live on the earth. Is it spinning right now? Is the sky, with the stars, is it spinning too?”) and he makes the sweetest expressions as he’s looking out the window and just sharing his thoughts.

Although he clams up a little whenever the camera is out, I had the idea the other day to try to capture a little of what life is like with him on these daily rides home with the thought that if the camera was going long enough he might forget that it was there (he did). If you’re up for watching the whole thing, I think it gets the best near the end, but of course, Drew and I might be the only ones that find this kind of stuff riveting. (A few notes? Betsy works in his classroom, the spider in question is a big paper mache spider that the kids made, and this was shot on a Friday.)

When I watch this, I am so clearly reminded of how my mom could ask me how my day was when I was in middle school and high school and the perfunctory grunt would head her off at the pass, but at some point the magic of the car would kick in and I would tell her everything at fire hose speed. I think I cried more to my mother about everything in my life in the car than I ever did otherwise…there’s something about the captivity and the moving scenery that can make it a confession booth if there are patient enough ears waiting to hear what’s going to come out. Now as a mother I’m really enjoying being on the receiving end of those thoughts, and I can’t get that kid out of school and into the car fast enough at the end of the day.

(For those of you worried about the safety of this activity, I used the ol rubber band (specifically a headband) on the head rest trick–my eyes were on the road, I promise.)

still celebrating

This is my Father’s Day post and it’s a wee late, but the truth is, every day is Father’s Day around here, so I’m counting this as being right on time.

Drew and I started dating at the end of my Freshman year of college, and while we were both much more likely to be thinking about what to wear to the next costume party than our one day distant family, I think it’s fair to say that part of our story is that we both knew.  I somewhat famously told my friends that if “that Drew Walton and I just had one conversation, I know that we would be together”, and as it turns out, I was more or less right.  What started out as a conversation around a fire pit (quick aside, WWC should take a poll about how many conversations at the pond have ended in marriage) has evolved over the last 10 years into our story and most notably into the creation of one shining little life.

Drew is an excellent father.  For those of you reading this that know him, I’m sure that your mind is flashing with little snippets of his quick laugh, his calming presence, his ridiculously charming childish sense of humor, his big grin, his quick hug and the way that he makes everyone feel as if they’ve just been brought into the fold.  For those of you that don’t know him, I think that his light glows through the pictures, and the take-home point is that everyone that meets him walks away thinking, what a great guy.

Meeting Drew and getting to be his partner in crime is pretty much the biggest jackpot of my entire life.  I knew that early on…but getting to see him transform so effortlessly into the roll of father was and is nothing short of awesome.  He not only loves Asher with every fiber of his being, but he’s also been 100% committed to being all in in the partnership of parenting.  He’s never one to pass the buck on a stinky diaper (although the stinky diaper running dialogue that he has is hilarious) he can do bed time, wake up time, bath time, play time…any time, he can step in and do it, and he does.  Asher moves between two parents with confidence because there’s not one parent doing everything and that is not only incredible for Asher, but it’s also incredibly generous towards me.  He constantly reminds me to express gratitude not just through his words, but also through his generosity of spirit, and there’s not a single day that goes by that I don’t think that I must be the luckiest woman alive.

So without further ado, I thought I would share some of my favorite pictures from the last 21-ish months of Drew and Asher, with a few pictures of us tossed in for good measure.  Thank you, Drew for being so rad, you’re the most (to say the least).  Love you.

Words words words

Now that we have Asher more or less walking, I have of course started to apply my parenting neuroses to the next big thing and have started focusing on words.  The family story goes that I came out of the womb talking (and have clearly never stopped) and so it stands to reason that Asher, while not much of a biped, might air on the side of being an early talker.  At least in my head it does, though professional I am not.  So, when we were at our 18 month checkup, the doctor was impressed with Asher’s vocabulary and asked if he was stringing any words together yet.  I said that I kind of thought that he was, but wasn’t totally sure, and Dr. Ogan said that we should keep at it and that by his 2 year well baby visit, Asher should be putting at least a couple of words together.  Then I remembered my mom telling me a story about how she realized at some point in my early life that I had memorized ALL of The Cat in The Hat, (cleverly duping a couple of folks into thinking that I knew how to read, I might add) which made me think that since the only book that Asher will sit through right now is Green Eggs and Ham, maybe we could start there.  I’ve been waiting to say anything about it (other than mentioning that he can say Octopus on occasion) because I didn’t want to put the cart before the horse, but we’ve been reading the book about 100 times a night, carefully stringing the words together super slow and making Asher repeat them back every time.  If he starts to babble or say the wrong thing, I just stop him and calmly ask him, “what do we say?” and he will start over and pick it right back up.

Ya’ll.  He can say “I will not eat them” and “Sam I am” and “Not in a box”, and I think that last night he tried to say the part about the fox.  I almost fainted the first time he did it, and Drew has been at work all week, so he didn’t really believe me.  Drew was home last night, so he finally taped it for us and of course I have to share it with you.  It starts with me reading, and then Asher.  Watch out world, we’ve got a full blown talker!

Potty all night long!

We decided that it was time to buy a potty for Asher to have around the house to start warming him to the eventual prospect of using that in place of his boring old diapers.  Of course I went about this in my usual fashion and googled “best potty on the market”.

Ya’ll.  It’s a strange, strange world out there.  Here’s what I learned in my searching: the training potty has come a long way since my days with it in 1983, parents oddly put pictures on Amazon of their children using potties, companies go to great lengths to not actually talk about anything potty-related in their discussion of potty training, and most importantly, kids in America appear to be incapable of learning to potty unless their toilet seat sings to them.  Did you know any of this?  I most certainly did not.  I have complied my top favorites for you and in an effort to get into the minds of those that get paid to create these amazing contraptions, I’ve tried to put my own spin on the marketing lingo.

Here are my top 3 favorite potties so far taking aesthetics, form, and function into very serious account:

The Potty Scotty Riding Potty Chair:

Have you ever thought that going potty would be a lot more fun if it felt like riding a bike? Then consider the The Potty Scotty Riding Potty Chair!  This ergonomically designed potty will provide your son with comfort grip handles for those times when he needs a little extra push and will additionally inspire a life-long love multi-tasking on the go!

Prince Potty Chair:

Enjoy introducing your little prince to his kingdom with Prince Potty Chair!  With a lid that masquerades as a regular seat, this cleverly designed throne will fit right in with your living room decor and will not in any way teach your child that all wooden seats actually have hidden potties under them!  Added bonus?  Your little prince will enjoy hours of entertainment unrolling the conveniently attached roll of toilet paper and spreading it all over his royal court.

And finally, my absolute favorite:

The Jack Potty:

Worried that your child might gamble and lose?  Well look no further than the Jack Potty!  This light up potty* will guarantee that your little risk taker feels like he’s hit it big as soon as his or her little tushie makes contact!  Added bonus?  Whenever your toddler succeeds, the whole family can join together in yelling Jack Potty! before moving on to the black jack table conveniently located in the family room.
*baked in cigarette smell and demoralizing sense of futility not included

I could go on, but the Jack Potty seems to say it all, doesn’t it?

One of my favorite things about the whole search process is how desperately ambiguous the language is surrounding the potties.  It’s as if the entire industry has forgotten that parents are up to their eye balls in poop 24-7 and that we are much more likely to purchase a potty that is sold on its merits for containing the goods than its ability to ribbit when your child walks into the bathroom.  One thing that I read said, “Toddlers are rewarded for contributions with 4 fun musical sounds”.  Contributions?  I’m not entirely sure that I want Asher to think that’s how he’s contributing around the house, you know?

Another fantastically ambiguous sentence about a particular potty said something like, “holds up to 50 lbs.”  which promptly caused me to make this face:

before realizing that they were talking about the size of the child it would support and not…um…the potty’s capacity.

In the end, we went with this boring old (but honestly, kind of cute) Baby Bjorn potty with the understanding that when we start potty training in earnest, we very well may end up with some kind of singing, sticker dispensing, panini making training toilet, because if parenting teaches you anything, it teaches you to check your ego at the door and go with what works.  We’ll see.  I will tell you this though: when that fateful day comes, keep an ear out, because I’m pretty sure that you’re going to be able to hear us yell JACK POTTY!! no matter where you are.

Bonus Content!

keep calm and carry on.

Hi patient friends!  So…we’ve had a month in these parts.  A peace-out-ciao-seeyawouldn’twanttobeya month.  It’s done, it behind us, and I am looking forward to April showers and big spring flowers.  In the midst of the madness, I wrote this post but decided not to publish it on the main page because I was so emotional as I was punching it out and…I don’t know…I want this space to tell our truth, but some times enough is enough.  I will conclude the dreary part of today’s post with this awesome little quote though, because it says in a few sentences what I’ve been mumbling about for a few weeks.

I don’t know how delicious the ambiguity always feels, but I do know ambiguity to be a very real truth of living, so I’m rolling with it.  Also, I personally think that Gilda Radner is high on the list of clever, hilarious women, that’s all.

Now down to the nitty gritty.  Ya’ll.  We cut the mullet

Of course I don’t have a good picture of the new doo because my video camera and still camera batteries are dead (it really has been that kind of month), but I have to say, I like it quite a bit.  Our yoda hair days are coming to a close and Asher looks like such a little boy now.  He’s amazing.  I’m biased.  It’s all ok.

I posted this to facebook, so my apologies for blathering about there and here, but on Monday Asher just started walking around the house.  It’s just like everyone says, he just kind of did it.  He’s going to be 18 months tomorrow, and I am totally getting a chuckle out of how hell bent I’ve been on him walking by this birthday, so of course it happened this week.  I would not go so far as to say he’s a walker, but he’s certainly walking unassisted and outside of the context of Drew and I kind of pushing him back and forth .  WHEW.

I would say that I attribute this development to the human drive to eventually walk upright and to the toy parking garage that Jo Ellen (Drew’s awesome mom, hi Jo!)  bought for Asher while she was visiting.  At a height that is lower than the table but higher than all of Asher’s baby toys (we call it his first “big boy toy” because we are dorks) he was standing there playing with it without being able to brace his belly against something like he normally would and the walking just happened. Thank you PlaySkool for your plastic genius, and of course, thank you Jo Ellen for knowing that Asher has graduated from teething rattles.  Drew and I missed that memo, and so this week we’ve loaded up on sidewalk chalk, big thick crayons, and a play kitchen from Craigslist because we’ve got a little boy on our hands.

I will wrap this up with this final thought: I remember my step dad talking to me when I was younger about how the pendulum of life swings from one side to another, and that we look for our balance lingering somewhere in the middle of that gentle swing.  While I would like to live in the land of unicorn tears and strawberry scented rainbows all the time, I really do appreciate the necessity of life giving us a chance to appreciate both sides of the coin as we glide back and forth between our highs and lows.  And the fact that my lows mostly exist in the cerebral realm is a luxury that I’m not sure I’ll ever fully appreciate.  I just wanted to throw it out there that I’m thankful for every day, every chance, every opportunity to be here, and that I want to honor both ends of the spectrum by cherishing that peace that lives in the middle.  Thanks, team.

Progress Report.

I know that while all of you were sipping/downing your coffee/tea this morning, you were overcome with the nagging sensation of a burning question that you just couldn’t quite put your finger on.  What is it? You kept wondering…what is that I’m trying to figure out here?

Well look no further my friends.  I’m sure that feeling was just your desire to know whether or not Asher has taken his long awaited first steps!  Hmm?  What’s that?  You just remembered that actually Drew and I and maybe a few select grandparents are the only ones spending time over the rim of a mug pondering this?  Surely not!  I’m sure that you’re all just desperate to see what’s happening in the world of biped-dom at Casa Walton.  Well far be it for me to keep this vital piece of information from you, so without further ado, I will tell you that Asher has taken his first steps…


He walks between us, though he’s still not doing a lot of standing on his own (read: any?) and he’s not really initiating going from squatting/sitting to walking/standing, but he has taken steps on his own and I’m rolling with it.

Wanna see?

Watch out Carl Lewis! (And quick shout out to babies in striped one pieces. How old do you have to be before people start calling these outfits unitards?)
***If you’re reading this in your email browser/RSS reader, you may have to click the image to actually see the video***

Year in Review

Team.  I did what every other blogger on the planet is doing right now, and put a year’s worth of pictures of our family into a photo montage set to music to share with our extended family, and possibly a stranger or two somewhere in Des Moines.  Is the awkward photo montage the awkward Christmas letter of the Internet?  Anyway, in doing this I realized two things: 1. I can look at my kid’s face all day long, and 2. We only have pictures of my kid’s face.  Goal for 2011: Take a picture or two of something other than Asher’s eyelashes.

This montage is long, but you know, years are like that, and I’m making no promises on entertainment value, but if you like our mugs, and seeing an infant start to emerge as a little boy, you might get a kick out of this.  Also, a few notes on the music: The first song, Mykonos, by Fleet Foxes is not really family-montage-appropriate-music, but it is the song that Drew and I listened to as we drove the incredibly, amazingly, never endingly long 1.7 miles to the Birthing Center to bring Asher into the world, and it gave me peace like no other music has.  It is galvanized into my brain as our Family Song, despite it’s very heavy undertones.  The second song, Home, by Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros, has been played so many times that people will probably be thinking, oh no, not that again! but here’s the thing.  The week that we brought Asher home, my friend Katie came to meet him, handed us a CD and said, listen to song number 6,  which was “Home” and I don’t think I stopped listening to it for 6 months.  It sounds like early morning feedings, and dancing with a little lump of love in the afternoons, and like our big future, and lots of love, and in my mind it will always sound like this year.  So there it is, you get to hear it again.  And the final song, Got to Get You Into My Life, by the Beatles, was the song that I hummed to Asher over and over as I waited for him to arrive.  Because that was true.

So there you have it!  365 days, 9 minutes, 3 songs, a thousand laughs, an equal amount of tears, two holiday turkeys, many grains of sand between the toes, one dog costume, two elf costumes, 3 birthdays and a partridge in a pear tree.  The Waltons are prancing into 2011 with our heads held high and sending you lots of lovelovelove.

Happy New Year!

Who’s training who?

Also titled, We’re Using Our Words.

Asher has a couple of words that he throws around these days.  By our best estimate he has said (though that does not mean that he will say…) Daddy/Papa, Mama, Dog/Doggie, Cat/Kitty (which, sorry to break the general PG-ness of this blog, but it sounds an awful lot like Dolly Parton’s greatest asset(s) when he says kitty), Diaper, Ball, Bye Bye, Bed, More, and…I think that’s it.  Oh, and he did say Banana a couple of times, but we’ve yet to get a repeat performance on that one.  I give these words the capital letters that they deserve because he says them so emphatically and generally with such zeal that you just know that he’s probably not going to be speaking in lower case letters for many years to come. We are predictably ga-ga over this stage, and we’re making an effort to always use the real words and not his version of them, despite how crazy cute his language is.  For instance, he says “Ca!!” whenever he sees cheese, and so of course Drew and I both feel compelled to start calling cheese “Ca!!” whenever pulling it out of the drawer, but we are resisting the urge as best as possible in an effort to combat all of the other strange things that Asher will likely learn from us over the years.  All this Asher-speak has definitely kick started some good behavior on our part because we’re becoming increasingly aware of how much we’re being watched/listened to at every turn.  So for those that are interested, here’s a little video with some Asher speak…please forgive me if the next time I see you I ask you if you can say Dog a thousand times, and then squeal and clap in your face when you deliver before asking if you want any Ca…

This Just In

This little video just came in from my Mom…

Please note that we don’t force Asher to exclusively play with rocks and potatoes.  Asher’s Depression Era mentality about playtime is something that he has brought into the world with him, even if it comes at the cost of all of his perfectly good toys silently pouting in the corner while he plays with a potato! or the trash! or a rock! and of course, he’s the boss, so we let him have at it.

Like sands through the hourglass…

I’ve been thinking a lot about  moments.  I love being human and alive and I love all of the unkowns that come with and from that, and I especially love what I consider to be the knowns.  I feel rife with memories and words, and I just want to always keep the feeling of my collective moments all around me like that oversized sweater that we each reach for on that really cold day.  Really, I think that we all know that I’m just over the moon for my nostalgia.

So are these folks.  Here’s a Friday treat from a group called Everynone.  The film is called Moments, and pardon the pun, but I think that you’ll enjoy taking a moment of your own to watch. (slightly annoying, but you have to click the link to watch…totally worth it!)

Moments from Everynone on Vimeo.