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”.