Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chattanooga Zoo

About a week ago Shannon and I took Max to the Chattanooga Zoo. We have read countless books about animals of one kind or another. Max has perfected his monkey impersonation and lion roar, so we thought it would be fun for him too see some “real live” animals.

The zoo is open at 9am every morning. In order to navigat
e through the daily routine of meals, snacks and naps, we arrived right when the staff was opening the gates. Max is always game for a new adventure, so he was alert and talkative in his stroller. We entered through the gift shop. The little store was filled with stuffed animals and trinkets of all kinds. Immediately my son began his running commentary on everything we saw. “Monkey!” he would say, pointing to a furry puppet. “Jeep!” he said pointing to a safari playset.

I couldn’t wait to see his reaction to some of the live animals.

Because Max has always been a fan of monkeys, we began our tour at the chimpanzee exhibit. (Of course, it didn’t hurt that it was the first thing you come to as you enter the grounds.)

Shannon and I wheeled Max’s stroller close to the window so he could see the chimps. We anxiously waited for his reaction. The chimps were on the far side of
the exhibit, lounging on some rocks and eating some fresh fruit. “Look at the monkeys!” we said excitedly. “Breakfast” was my son’s response. “Right,” I said “they are eating breakfast.”
('Wow…monkeys sitting on a rock' I’m sure he was thinking.)
We made our way around the display until we came to the indoor portion that housed a 40-year old chimp named Hank. I don’t know if it was because Hank was in the A/C or because the wise old chimp was used to seeing people, but he was more active.

When we approached the window, the chimpanzee noticed us right away. Hank immediately made his way toward the large window we were standing in front of. The closer he got, the bigger Max’s eyes got. The chimp was right in front of the window when my young son began waving his little arms in front of his face. In a quivering voice he said, “ALL DONE MONKEYS DADDY! ALL DONE”.

“It's okay. Don’t worry son,” I said and we made our way out of the room.

We meandered in and out of exhibits pointing out the different animals. Max would repeat the names as we called them out. Eventually we came to a “farm” exhibit that was also a petting zoo. Using Max’s earlier reaction to Hank as a barometer, I decided we had better just look at the animals through the chain link fence.

Just as we pushed the stroller up to the barrier, a large potbellied pig began using the bathroom. Shannon and I looked at each other and then down at Max to see if he was paying attention. Max had an immediate reaction. He exclaimed, “Piggy poop!” Yes. He was paying attention. He repeated it over and over just in case we hadn’t heard him the first time. “Piggy funny!” he said. (Interesting how men of all ages naturally see humor in bodily functions.)

I was about to laugh myself when I noticed my wife looking at me. She was giving me that look, you know the one than means “don’t encourage him”.

Aside from the monkeys, snow leopards, red pandas, bobcats, snakes and other assorted creatures there was also an old fashioned carousel. All in all, it was a very nice way to spend a Sunday morning. Max had a great time.

On the way home my son was sitting in the back seat pointing out the different vehicles we would pass. “Did you have a good time at the zoo?” we asked. “Yeah” he said enthusiastically. “Piggy poop!”

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's still dark outside ...

One drawback to Shannon working out in the morning is that, very often, the sound of her leaving will wake Max up. As you know, getting up early is difficult enough for me and the extra 45 minutes after Shannon leaves are important. I mean, that is equal to 5 snooze buttons!

This morning I thought I would try something different to coax my child back to sleep. I turned off all of the lights so the entire house was nice and dim. I creeped slowly and quietly to his room. I gently picked up my son and with one arm free, felt around his crib for his pacifier and badeet. ("Badeet" is what he calls his little blanket.) He was barely awake and laid his little head on my shoulder. I tip-toed down the hall towards my bedroom. When we were almost to my door, he lifted his head and said, “dark DaDa”. I whispered, “yes Son.” And then said, “shhhhhh”.

I gently put him on the bed and then laid down next to him. His head was nestled in the crook of my arm. His eyes were open but his breathing was slow and soft. There was a tiny squeak coming from his pacifier. I was sure that if I stayed still and quiet he would drift back to sleep.

There was a chill in the room so I reached down and pulled the covers up to his waist. Just as I did Max’s eyes opened wide, he pulled the paci from his mouth, turned his head to look at me and said loudly, “Where did Max’s feet go?”

I pulled back the covers to 
reveal his lower half. Just then, his little legs shot up into the air and he cackled pointing at his bare feet. He put his legs down and then pulled the blanket up himself. Once again he said excitedly, “Where did Max’s feet go?” Then he kicked off the covers and laughed again.

This game continued for a few minutes until I finally said “How would you like some breakfast?” “Down please!” was his response. I put him on the floor beside the bed. “Nana!” he yelled, short for banana, as he ran down the hall towards the kitchen.

I sat on the edge of the bed and rubbed my eyes. Then I made my way to the kitchen. As I flipped on the light, there stood my son in his bugs and frogs jammies, smiling from ear to ear. Early or not, I wouldn’t trade this time with him for all the money in the world.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Even before the day I was born my dadda has been talking to me and planning to take care of me. I love the way he comes and gets me out of my crib in the morning when I wake up and he sits with me in the big blue chair in my room and reads stories to me until I really wake up. Then, he lets me help pick out my clothes and get dressed before he fixes my breakfast.

For breakfast, Dadda cuts up the bananas just the way I like so that I have something to eat while he mixes my oatmeal because sometimes I'm not very patient. (And he always remembers if I'm supposed to have medicine with my breakfast!) Then, on our way to school he listens when I point out every bus, RV, tractor and truck without ever telling me to be quiet. (And sometimes we see A LOT of those things!)

He works while I'm at school but sometimes when he comes home, Momma and I are outside and Dadda always lets me help him park his car in the garage. I LOVE driving his car! There are so many buttons and switches. And if I'm not waiting outside for him, he opens the door coming into the house very carefully because he knows I'm probably standing way too close to it and he doesn't want to knock me down. Then, he chases me all the way in the living room and wrestles with me like no one else does. My dadda is the best!

My momma says that my dadda learned so much from my papa which makes perfect sense because my buddy papa does some of the very same things. He sometimes stops to play with me on his way home from work, too and if I'm outside when he comes over, he lets me sit in his lap and drive his big green truck! (He has even been teaching me how to blow the horn!) And he calls to check on me when he knows I've been sick. I especially like it when he and Gigi come over and put me to bed. Papa is good at rocking me to sleep but sometimes I have to help him turn on the music on my iPod and remind him to turn off the lamp. When Papa tells me that I'm his little buddy, I can tell that he loves me very much.

I may be young but I already know I am very lucky to have Dadda and my Buddy Papa. I want to thank them both so much for everything they do for me and wish them both a Happy Father's Day!

- Max (with a little help from his mom)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Social Butterfly

Max's social calendar has been pretty busy over the last couple of weeks. Dan and I are perfectly content to stay at home on the weekends after busy weekdays, but we agree that it's important for Max to get plenty of socialization. Plus, Max really seems to enjoy being out and about.

We've been to a couple of 3 year old birthday parties. (I know, he's already running with an older crowd!) And we've played a little with a neighbor in the evenings. Last week, his Gigi and I even took him to his first Kindermusik class, which he loved. 

This weekend we went all out, though. We made our first visit to the C
reative Discovery Museum to have breakfast with Curious George on Saturday morning. Max wasn't the least bit intimidated by George and he loved the museum. He went from room to room eagerly checking everything out. He especially loved the water area and toddler room with the corvette! 

Today his Poppa and Gigi took him to the Tennessee Aquarium and he came home telling us how he saw the "fishies". I think everyone had a great time. 

At 27 lbs and 34 inches tall, he's a perfect 18 month old boy! 

Monday, June 1, 2009

How Cute! (for now, at least)

Max’s vocabulary grows daily. Each morning I'm amazed at the new words that flow from the mouth of my growing boy. Our conversations are less and less one sided with each passing day. My son has been content to listen to me talk as we go about our business getting ready for the day. Not any more.

With a smile on his face, Max will spout a new expression. More often than not, the new word will be shouted at me. Not as much as a response to my questions, but as a way to point out a situation that requires my immediate attention.

Just this morning I was feeding Max his breakfast. I mixed a bowl of oatmeal and placed it on his high chair tray. “Bowl” he said when I placed the cereal in front of him. “That’s right,” I said. “It is a bowl.” “SPOON! DaDa!” was his reaction. He looked at me as if I was crazy for not including the utensil with the food. I quickly handed him a small plastic spoon so he could begin eating.

Another example happened late last week. I was gathering our things so we could head out the door to daycare. I was standing at the back door with his school bag in my hands. I was trying to make sure that I wasn’t forgetting anything. Just then, Max walked up to me and said “All done”. “All done what?” I thought. He must have sensed my confusion because (as if on cue) “POOP!” he proclaimed while pointing at his diaper.

“Thanks for the heads up,” I mumbled under my breath. I decided leaving would have to wait for a few minutes. Also, he has been learning temperatures. When his mom gives him his supper, he almost always says, "Hot?" when she puts it on his tray. When she responds, "No, it's not hot." He says, "urm?" And when his mom reassures him that it's not even warm, then he finally says, "Burrrr."
Clearly, I need to be very careful about what I say around him. Who knows what phrase he will decide to repeat when we are in the checkout line at Target.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Helping Daddy Get Ready

I have mentioned before that Shannon goes to the gym in the morning. That means that I am responsible for getting Max up, getting him dressed, feeding him breakfast and then getting him to daycare. It sounds like a lot, but it is really no big deal. We have worked out a routine and I enjoy the father/son time.

Part of our morning ritual is that I get up early and get showered and dressed before Max wakes up. As you can imagine, it would be difficult for both of us to get ready at the same time. On occasion, like most toddlers, Max does not follow the schedule.

This was the case last Wednesday morning. I had finished showering but had not gotten dressed before I heard my son’s little voice over the monitor. “Daaaaaaddy,” he was saying. I quickly threw on some shorts and a t-shirt and snatched my son from his crib.

I dressed him in a super cool outfit (as only a Dad can do) and then fed him his breakfast. After I wiped the oatmeal and bananas from his face and hands, we retreated to the master bedroom so I could finish getting ready for work. I closed the door behind us so Max would not wander off while I got dressed.

While I was getting my clothes together, Max kept himself busy by taking things out of the vanity drawers and throwing them into the bathtub. “Uh oh,” he would say as the makeup brushes and assorted toiletries would fly into the tub. “It’s not an 'uh oh' if you do it on purpose,” I would respond.

Rather than spend time picking things up and putting them back in the drawers I decided to get Max a toy to play with. I went into the hallway and grabbed his little Leap Frog train. It is a little train that he can either sit on and scoot around or stand behind and push. That seemed to do the trick because he spent the next few minutes pushing it back and forth across the tile floor.

I was brushing my teeth and not really paying attention to Max. I could hear the plastic wheels rolling across the ceramic so I knew he was busy. Just then, WHAM! I got a full speed train right in the back of my ankle. “Ouch!” I screamed, hopping around on one foot, toothpaste dripping from my mouth.

I was fully prepared to scold my son, but as I looked down he was belly laughing and pointing at me. I’m sure it looked very funny with Daddy jumping around in his boxer shorts. I couldn’t get mad at him so I said, “That hurt Son, don’t run over my feet like that.” I don’t think he heard me through his chuckling because he reared back and took a run at my other leg. I must have looked like a matador dodging a charging bull as I continued trying to brush my teeth. Both of us giggling at the new game.

Needless to say, it took a little longer to get ready that morning. I know I should discipline Max for stuff like that because it wouldn’t be acceptable around other people. For now, though, I’m just going to enjoy his “help”.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Lawnmower! Bus!

My young son has developed an obsession. Sure, like most little boys he is fascinated with cars, motorcycles, trucks and heavy equipment of all kinds, but to our amusement it is lawnmowers and buses that have really caught his fancy.

I can almost understand the bus thing. Max and I drive by multiple bus stops (and a couple of schools) on our way to daycare in the morning. The school buses we pass are large, yellow and have flashing lights on them. What’s not to like?

It would be comical to listen to a tape of our morning drive conversations. Anything I say (or sing) is constantly interrupted by my tiny son pointing out the big, brightly colored vehicles as we travel down the street. A typical exchange might be me starting to sing “the itsy bitsy spider went” about that time my son will yell “ A BUS!”. I then reply “that’s right son…a bus” followed by singing “up the water spout”. “A BUS!” Max will yell again. “Very good” I reply, only to resume my award winning rendition of the song. “A BUS!” Max will yell again. By this time I am thinking, “Wow! That one has to be a half mile away” This continues for another ten minutes until we get to the daycare center. Of course, what does the daycare center have in their parking lot when we get there? You guessed it, a bus.

The lawnmower fixation I am still a little puzzled about. I hate yard work and don’t even own a lawnmower, but the mere sound of one sends my son scrambling to the nearest window. He will point his chubby little finger and proudly exclaim “LAWNMOWER!” He gets even more excited if he can actually see the machine. He will stand mesmerized until whoever is using the contraption is done.

The obsession doesn’t end with actual lawnmowers. He has carried around an old Lowes Home Improvement Advertisement until it is tattered and worn. He would be happy to sit on your lap for hours looking at pictures of outdoor equipment. When you get to the page with John Deere tractor he turns toward me and says “John Deere”. He is so happy.

Right now it is very fun and cute to see him all excited. I am sure this will change by the time he is thirteen and I buy him a bright green Lawn Boy mower to push around the yard.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bottle No More (from a mother's perspective)

Max has been having a bottle only at bedtime for the last few months. He stopped taking bottles during the day, even at nap time, quite some time ago. He just preferred his sippy cup, which was fine.

I had decided that I would continue to give him a bedtime bottle until he was 18 months. I thought that was reasonable and had begun to prepare myself for the inevitable approach of that milestone. However, last week, I noticed that he really only drank maybe an ounce of an 8 ounce bottle. "Hmmmm," I thought, "I hope he's not getting sick or something." Then, the next night, Dan put him to bed and he came out of Max's room with a full bottle again. So, on night three, I suggested to Dan that we maybe just try it without a bottle, that we'd make one if he seemed like he wanted one. I would be on standby with a bottle nearby if needed. But minutes after the bedtime ritual started, Dan came out of Max's room. I anxiously looked at him and said, "Oh, do you need me to make a bottle?" Dan replied no that Max was already asleep.
Well, you'd have thought someone had just told me that my baby boy had contracted some horrible disease because I just lost it! Huge crocodile tears streaming down my face, I began to lament the fact that my baby boy no longer takes a bottle even at bedtime. I wasn't ready for him to stop taking a bottle. I thought as the mom I got to make some of the decisions! And I had decided he could have it until he was 18 months. I was supposed to have two more months to prepare. But it seems that Max had different plans.

We're going on a week without a bottle now. That phrase about things being much harder on the parents than the child suddenly has new meaning for me. Max has been relatively unphased by the entire thing, but I on the other hand, have cried a river. I shed a tear or two at Target yesterday as I passed through the formula isle without adding a thing to my cart. I guess it's particularly sad to me because I know it is such a milestone. He really isn't a baby anymore. And as our only child, I will never have the experience of giving my baby a bottle again. It has been such a wonderful experience, I truly leave it with a great deal of sadness.

I'm told by all my friends and family with older kids that there will soon be some new development that will overshadow this loss, but for now, I'm holding him just a little bit longer when I rock him to sleep at night because the foreshadowing suggests it won't be too long before I won't be able to do that anymore either. He's already spanning the entire width of the rocking chair across my lap and it's quite comical to see me trying to gently place him in his crib. I practically fall in on top of him since my 5'2" frame can hardly reach the mattress over the side rails.
On the bright side, I guess I can get rid of all the bottle paraphernalia and you all know how much I love to be able to get rid of stuff. Maybe that will make me feel a little better.

P.S. We had a lovely bath last night without any signs of fear or crying. I think that crisis has passed. Oh, and these photos are from The Primrose Easter Bonnet Parade earlier today.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

First Haircut

We have successfully completed our first haircut without incident, unless you consider Max flirting with everyone in the salon as an incident.

I picked him up from his school on Thursday and took him to see Anjie, our hairdresser and long time family friend, at Jessie James Hair Studio. I was prepared for a meltdown since we've had such trouble with anything to do with water lately, but it couldn't have gone any better. Max behaved like a perfect gentleman.

Anjie had a little case to use as a booster, a cape with penguins on it, and some shiny hair clips for Max to play with while she worked. A few snips here and a little buzzing there (which kind of tickled Max's neck) and Max had a new 'do!

He was smiling from ear to ear as all the ladies in the shop admired him. And I'm pretty sure I was smiling from ear to ear with the relief that only a mother can have as her baby boy achieves yet another milestone.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Max and Gigi

When my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of months ago we were all very concerned. Cancer is very scary no matter what form it comes in. The whole family has held their collective breath as we waited for details of the treatment and prognosis. As a son, I have tried to be strong and supportive. I feel it is important for me to be upbeat and positive when I talk to my Mom. I admit, however, that I did break down at least once or twice when we first heard the news.

One of the drawbacks to a family member having cancer is the illness becomes the elephant in the room. We all know, but it becomes difficult to talk about it. No one wants to broach the subject for fear of facing the possibilities. It has become even more difficult as my Mom began suffering the side effects of chemotherapy. It was quite shocking for me to walk into the room and see her when she began losing her hair. (Although not as shocking as the first time I remember “catching” her coloring her hair. I had come inside for a drink of Kool-aid and there stood Medusa in front of the kitchen sink, strands of hair sticking out of her plastic coloring cap.)

A bright spot during the last several weeks has been Max. He really loves his Gigi and is too young to understand what is happening. He loves her unconditionally and just beams when she is around. He didn’t seem to notice when Mom began losing her hair. If he did notice, he didn’t care. He has taken a shine to her colorful hat collection, though. As with all hats (and glasses) he will snatch them off of your head and attempt to put them on.

The first time he did this to Gigi I gasped wondering what my mother’s reaction would be. You see, my Dad has been “follicly challenged” as long as I can remember, but my mother was very new to the concept. As with all things, my mother handled the event with grace and class. She went along as if nothing had happened.
Mom has been amazing through every step of her treatment so far. With three chemo sessions down and one more to go before surgery and radiation, we are all in awe of her strength and courage.

Many times I have thanked God for this gift I call Max. His happy disposition and childhood innocence will often put things into perspective for me. I believe that the Lord uses my son to help our family focus on what is important. We are thankful for what we have and just enjoy being together. We should all be content with the little things like sitting on your grandmother’s lap and reading a book.

Monday, March 9, 2009

What do you mean you don't want to take a bath?

At some point during the last month Max has decided he hates taking a bath. This is very troubling to Shannon and I because up until now he has loved playing in the bathtub. He cries at the mere suggestion of a bath. The sound of running water sends him into a panic.

The other night I just said “bath time” and he replied with a pitiful “no”. Then he started waving his arms in front of him like a sailor on an aircraft carrier trying to flag down a plane. It was pretty clear how he felt about the whole idea of getting cleaned up. I probably would have let it go if he hadn't had dried snot on his upper lip and dried sweet potatoes on his chin and neck.

Gone are the days when Max would splash in the tub and play with his toys until the water was cold. He sobs from the time you get him undressed until he has been slathered with lotion and is in his footie jammies. It makes us feel awful.

I don’t know what triggered this aversion to water and we are at a loss as to what to do. We have tried a different bathtub. We tried a shower instead of a bath. We have tried just sponging him off in the sink. We have even tried getting in the tub with him. (Granny Alice even put on her bathing suit and got in with him in an effort to convince him it was just swimming.)

Nothing works. He just cries the whole time.

The real problem (besides feeling terrible that my son is wailing) is that he is mobile and active during his every waking moment now. He is working on feeding himself with a spoon and enjoys playing outside. Both of these new activities are causing him to be dirtier than ever. Now that he actually needs a bath, he doesn’t want to take one.

We will have to find a way to work through it because I don’t want to be the father of the “smelly” kid.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Getting Home

My baby boy is growing up fast. It seems like just yesterday he was taking his first steps. Now he is toddling around the house like a pro. The best thing about him being mobile is when I get home form work at night.

Our driveway curves around in front of our house. There is a big window in the library that looks out onto the driveway. Max spends a lot of his time in the library “reading” books and playing with toys. Most evenings when I pull into the driveway, I can see him through that big window. He is usually busy pulling books off the shelf and “stacking” them on the floor. As I slow down to pull in to the garage, I can see the big smile on his face when he notices my car. I watch as he points a chubby little finger in my direction and I can see him mouth the words “Da Da”.

By the time I park the car and make my way through the garage door into the back hallway, I can hear him squeal and see him waddle around the corner as fast as his little legs will carry him. He looks like a little version of Frankenstein as he ambles down the wood floor, arms outstretched in front of him.

“Hello Baby Boy!” I say, as I scoop him up in my arms. He giggles while he squirms to get down. When I let him down, he takes off in the direction of the living room rug. He is making a mad effort to get away and wants me to chase him. (chuckling the whole time) The ultimate goal is to get to the soft, comfort of the area rug so we can “wrestle”.

When I get to the living room, I flop down on the floor so he can jump on me. As he crashes down on my back I shout “oh, you got me”. He just laughs.

I have forgotten about the stresses of the day. The only thing that matters at that moment is me and my boy. What could be better?

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Max is growing fast and his personality has started to really blossom. He walks everywhere and jabbers the whole time. His vocabulary increases every day. One thing that makes me chuckle is his use of the word “there”. Out of the blue he started using the expression to mark his accomplishments.

The most common example is when he is struggling to move something heavy. For instance, he will grunt and groan trying to lift the lid off of one of our ottomans. All at once the lid will come free and fall away from the base. Max exclaims, “there!” to let us know he has succeeded.

It is not always limited to heavy things. If he puts a book on the shelf or removes the lid from a piece of Tupperware he will say “there” as if everything is now right with the world.

Like the period on the end of a sentence, the word “there” also marks the end of his task. Then it’s on to another important mission…

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday with Max

The day started out like any other day with Max...very early.

We had breakfast with our friends Nathalie, Jeff, Ian and Audrey at the Blue Plate restaurant in downtown Chattanooga at around nine o'clock this morning. It was very nice to see them. Max was excited to see his little friend Ian. (It didn't hurt that Ian had filled up the pockets of his jacket and cargo pants with matchbox cars and tractors.)

After breakfast we took Max for his first trip to the drive through car wash. It was all smiles while the machine squirted, scrubbed, slapped and swished daddy's car. (Until we got out, that is. Then daddy noticed he had paid $10 to have dirt just smeared around. He wasn't smiling anymore.)

In the afternoon we all got bundled up and went outside for a walk and to play on our swing set. Max had a great time swinging in the "toddler bucket" with Dad along side him. Then Dad put him up in the fort so he could stand like a big boy. It didn't take long for Max to see the big green slide. He marched right over to the top of it, threw one leg over, turned around backwards and then slid unassisted down the slippery, plastic tube. He doesn't seem to be afraid of anything. I hope he grows out of that because he sure makes me nervous.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

He cleans up good.

I would say that Max is most comfortable in jammies or comfy clothes.

This is straight out of the JC Penney catalog.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Max's Happy Feet

Max gets more mobile every day. It really adds some excitement to spending time with him. He has always been a little ham, but now that he can stand and walk, Max is a real show off.

He also started doing this "Lord of the Dance" thing we have dubbed "happy feet". Then, of course, there is his obsession with moving our furniture around. Non-stop entertainment!

Max's Second Christmas

This year was Max's second Christmas. He enjoyed it much more this year. It was fun to have Grampie, GiGi and Granny here to watch him open presents.