Archive for the ‘Happiness’ Category


I wish I had made a note of the first time I turned the word “tuna” into a game. My best guess is that I was putting a can of tuna in the pantry, narrating the event like you’re supposed to do so your kid learns to talk all proper-like.

While I don’t know the when or why, I do know what I said. “Tu-nah, tu-nee, tu-nay, tu-nai, tu-no!” You know, like you do when you’re sleep-deprived and desperate for entertainment at three in the afternoon. The kiddo probably laughed, and I probably repeated the string of silliness a few times.

So now this is one of our go-to verbal games. The Boo or I will break into a string of tuna riffing from time to time, and then pause and look at the other player with a silly, expectant grin. We run through the list, usually ending with “tu-no.”

One day last week, I was the one to say “tu-no,” and then the Boo said, “tu-yes.” And giggled at his first joke.

My little boy, folks: Lover of language, maker of goofy jokes.

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Now that winter is beating a slow but definite retreat, we’re dropping by our favorite playground whenever it makes sense. It’s been really fun to see the leap in physical skills the Boo has taken since the fall, and he enjoys eating snacks at the little picnic table almost as much as he digs the ability to climb and slide on his own.

Playgrounds are surprisingly intimate spaces given that they’re open-air venues. I’ve seen children cradled after scary and/or bloody falls, witnessed dead-serious negotiations over balls and buckets and shovels, and smiled at babies nursing as their siblings run amok.

The other day as I was spotting my kid’s ascent on a metal ladder (!) I heard a snatch of Japanese, which I used to speak fairly well. I turned my head just in time to see a mom next to her daughter at the bottom of a slide. The girl was 4 or 5 (I’m terrible at gauging ages) and was in a lovely frilly dress and hair bow. Her eyes were closed, seemingly because of the bright spring sun. The mom placed her daughter’s hand on the slide and said, “1, 2, 3.” The rest of what she said was beyond my capabilities, but the meaning was clear to me once the girl flickered her milky eyes and smiled.

This is a slide, this is what you do on a slide. Someday soon when you’re ready, we’ll get you up there.

I hope I get to be there when that little girl is ready.

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You are two years old.

You get a monthly kids’ magazine called High Five and you know it’s for you as soon as it show up. You love the stories and songs in it, but the big surprise for us is that you can find about half the items in the hidden pictures puzzle:


You enjoy spinning to make yourself dizzy, washing things in the sink, and practicing your jumping skills.

You want to sing your water bottle to sleep when we put it in the fridge because Mama said it was going for a nap once when we laid it on its side. You now like to do this with certain toys, and last night you did it with a Cheerio that was apparently worn out from bring on your high chair tray.

You get rides in the laundry basket after Mama puts the clean clothes away.

You are learning how to somersault.

You have begun to protest diaper changes by trying to sit up through them. Often you can be persuaded to calm down with a song or the promise of playing with a favored object like a nail clipper (really), but on the night of your birthday you bumped your head, so sometimes Mama reminds you of that when you’re doing your Baby Abs of Steel routine.

You enjoy washing dishes so much that you sometimes have a meltdown if you can’t wash them when you want to. You also like scrubbing the shower floor, and often enlist the help of your bedtime buddy.

You have begun to state clothing preferences, usually by asking to wear your robot shirt.

You can get up on the piano bench and play by yourself.

You refer to yourself as “you,” often while pointing your chest for emphasis.

You refer to Mama as “I.”

You swiftly declare yourself done with your meal if told you can have something you want after you finish eating.

You have begun to deploy the phrase, “I don’t like it.”

You finally got to go out in a fresh snowfall, but refused to touch the snow. Mama suspects this was because you got a face full of it the day before when we walked to a neighbor’s house while it was falling. You stomped around in it a bit, but were disappointed that we couldn’t make a snowman from it because it was so dry.

You recently met a newborn baby, whom you studiously ignored except to ask Mama to put him down and to say goodbye to him.

You speak in full sentences about 20 percent of the time.

You began eating pasta a few weeks ago, but once again refused to touch or taste your birthday cake.

You know how to get down from the big bed safely.

You delight in playing hide and seek with Mama, especially when you’re in your looniest pre-bedtime state and thus most likely to run into walls and furniture while scurrying from room to room. But she has a hard time resisting your requests because of the pure joy you radiate when you find her and throw yourself against her, squealing.

You enjoy sitting in a big boy chair when we have snacks at the mall.

You made your first attempt to sing an actual song on your birthday. It was “Happy Birthday,” and you took artistic license with the lyric, proudly warbling, “happ burfday for you.”

You are two years old, and it’s a struggle to refrain from calling you “baby.”

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You are 23 months old.

You received a wooden train set for Christmas. Your favorite thing to do with it is flip up the arms on the crossing gate.

You also enjoy fitting together two or three random pieces of track and dumping all the pieces out of the huge basket where they live.

You know when Mama skips a page of your favorite book, and you do not hesitate to tell her so.

You have learned to ask, “May I?” while grabbing things off the countertops. Sometimes you add a “please.”

You started saying the Telugu words for “what” and “hang on” during a recent Skype call with your Indian grandmother.

You have known for a while that sheet music is to songs as books are to reading. But now you try to pick out the songs after Mama finishes playing.

You adore packing and unpacking things: the matchbox car carrier, groceries, the dishwasher, a case of MP3 player stuff.

You talk around things that are in your mouth: straws, toothbrushes, your thumb, your bottle. And so now we ask you to take things out of your mouth and repeat yourself so we can understand you.

You have counted to four once, and to two once, both times while picking things up. You also count along when Mama counts the stairs as we go up or down.

You do not like Mama to carry you up or down the stairs, and will yell “walk!” in protest, but you often hold your arms up for Daddy to carry you.

You are roughly 34 inches tall and somewhere between 25 and 26 pounds.

You cried as soon as you saw the nurse at the doctor’s office, refusing to get on the scale and weeping your way through an armpit temperature reading. As far as we can figure out, she give you a shot a long time ago.

You know there’s a camera in your room, because daddy told you.

You are still an angel on the changing table, though you have begun to twist from side to side as you try to see things on the floor.

You have a five-syllable word: peekakabaga, your mashup of peekaboo and kabaga, which is your word for kaboom. You also have many new words, chief among them: booger, medicine, snot, kaboom, game, really, bless you, peanut butter, wallet, careful, broken, fixed, better and booty. You have also begun to string two and three words together: Hi bug, open Sesame, goodbye daddy, may I please.

You have seen three snowfalls this winter but have yet to play in the snow because every time, you’ve been sick, or Mama’s been sick, or the temperatures have been deadly.

You respected the Christmas tree while it was up, helped put the ornaments away, and asked after it when it disappeared from the living room.

You were shown “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and wandered out of the room after 5 minutes.

You repeat words in conversations that take place while you are concentrating on something, the most stunning example being at a kiddie art class where you were talking to Grammie and Mama and stopped to repeat a color uttered by a kid across the room.

You’re very, very good at repeating a word after hearing it for the first time.

You are beginning to attempt to sing and for a while you said “la-la” if Mama asked you to sing a song. This week, you began to actually vocalize, sweet little lines of “ahhhhh.”

You said “sorry” to a boy you bumped with a piece of gym equipment — your first spontaneous apology.

You are 23 months old, and sometimes you still fold up your legs and feet exactly like you did when you were a newborn.

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Every day since we put the tree up, often more than once a day, the following conversation takes place.

Boo: Moose!

Me: Yes, that’s the moose! Hi, moose!

Boo, holding out one hand: Meet!

Me: Nice to meet you, moose!

Boo: Ainge!

Me: Yes, that’s an angel. Where are the other ones?

Boo pointing to one of a dozen other tiny straw angels: Othe! Ove!

Me: Yep, there’s one over there too.

Boo: (unintelligible)

Me: Yes, that’s the squirrel! He’s eating a nut! (Here I mime eating a nut.)

Boo: Funny! Meet!

Me, shaking his hand: Nice to meet you, squirrel!

When he gets to the penguin, he never fails to mention that Daddy put it up, and that it’s up high (relatively speaking).

We’re all going to be sad to take the tree down.


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You are 22 months old.

You love picking out Daddy’s coffee mug every morning.

You beg for your vitamin…. all day long.

You do not enjoy having your hair washed, despite the purchase of a device that keeps your eyes and ears free of water and which you were happy about (for one bath).

You attended your first holiday party and were respectful of the hostess’ belongings while enjoying the raisins from the snack mix.

You enjoy applying lotion. Well, if you can call slapping yourself applying…

You played with a parts organizer for half an hour the morning Mama ordered your Christmas gifts.

You went straight to one of your gifts at Gymboree a few days ago and had to be wheedled away from it when our class was beginning.

You use a potholder correctly when you play-cook along with Mama.

You love to climb up on the rocker in your room, and insist on sitting next to whoever is reading to you (NOT on their lap).

You are beginning to say “milk” instead of “meeps”

You say “kabaga” instead of kaboom, usually when you’re flinging yourself on the floor during the hour before bedtime commonly referred to as Tasmanian Devil Time.

You have a renewed interest in your boy baby doll. In particular, you like to take all his clothes off and then have Mama put them back on so you can take them off again.

You are very keen on the 8-minute cartoons we let you watch when we brush your teeth. (Silly Symphonies, early Disney work, very cute and funny stuff.) Your current favorites are the Three Little Pigs and the Cookie Carnival.

You like the Christmas tree, occasionally inquire if it needs a drink, and insist on having it plugged in when you’re around. You’ve taken a few ornaments (“oms”) off but otherwise leave it alone because you know it’s pokey. You also enjoy saying hi to certain ornaments, and shaking Mama’s hand after greeting each one. You were not interested in decorating it, though you did enjoy instructing Mama and Daddy to put things up high.

You are 22 months old, and we can see the two-year-old in you.

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This is the story of two Facebook posts, one of which contained a challenge: post a thank-you to someone who did something, however small, that affected your life in a positive way.

The other one was posted a year ago, maybe more. A friend’s kid whom I’ve known since she was Baboo’s age posted a Zen motto. At least I think it was Zen — it’s hard to recall what with the time and my sievelike brain. Anyhow, the motto was illustrated with an elephant and a mouse. Let go or be dragged, it said.

I laughed, and then I started thinking about it. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I needed it. I got out a pen and drew this:


It’s been on my fridge for over a year. Some days, I just laugh at the mouse hanging on for dear life. But most days, it prompts me to drop things that don’t matter so I can move forward with a lighter step. Mostly, it’s little things: Baby isn’t napping? Let go, take him out where you know he’ll be happy. Or stay home and wrestle with him and stew.

But practicing letting go of little things primes you to let go of bigger things. Very recently, my husband proposed repeating an experience that, last time around, was difficult at best. (No, not another baby!) At first my brain went straight to resistance, clinging to it and turning on itself. Old anger woke up and began to claw at me. I was surprised by that. I thought I’d let it go. I looked at the elephant and the mouse and understood the weight being generated by holding on to year-old negativity and resentment. I started working on a strategy to really let it go.

When he first brought it up, I asked for time to think before we talked. When we talked, I asked a few simple questions and listened. I heard longing and love in his words, and recognition of the follies of the past. As I sat there, I realized what an opportunity this would be, even as it presented difficulties. We would get a do-over, a chance to make it what we wanted it to be the first time but just weren’t able to. We would be free. Light. Leading the way instead of being dragged.

What a gift, the idea of fixing the past by simply moving into the future. And for this, I owe thanks to my friend’s kid, who I now count as a friend. Marlowe, honey, thank you. Your post helped me so, so much.

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I’d never seen one like it. Petite and golden-haired and fluffy, the blue service dog vest seemed incongruous on his little back. As I brought the stroller even with his elderly mistress, I complimented his good looks. We chatted about him, and her disability, and then she remarked that I must be a fan of small people as well as dogs, nodding toward the stroller.

And then I was crying.

I suppose I could blame the full moon, or the first Santa sighting of the season, or the upcoming holidays and all the big historical feelings they dredge up combined with my sentimentality about the first Christmas my son is likely to remember. But I think what really happened was much simpler: I met a soul sister at the mall.

She talked to me about feeling my feelings to get to the reasons behind them instead of pushing them away, and encouraged me to take deep breaths. She spoke of emotional sensitivity as a gift to be shared with the world, which only made me cry more. She looked as deeply into my eyes as any dear friend would. When she reached for my hand, we naturally fell into a hug. It felt like being held by family. She thanked me for saying hello, and I thanked her for her words.

And then I went into Eddie Bauer to return a pair of pants.

All of this would be weird if it didn’t feel so right. I don’t routinely go around weeping in front of complete strangers, but this woman didn’t feel like a stranger. She felt like a gift plunked down in front of me. I’m just glad I had the good sense to open it. And glad I had the good sense to compliment her dog.

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In a seize-the-good-weather moment, we (my mom and I) took the Boo to a pumpkin patch for the first time. That’s right, I did not take him last year — don’t know if that makes me a lame mom or just wise with how I spend my energy, but there it is.

At first, he wandered hesitantly around the outside of the main pumpkin shed. My mom introduced him to the giant inflated scarecrow, which he liked very much. Eventually, we got him inside to look at the approximately 8,000,000 pumpkins, but he was far more interested in pointing out that the doors, propped with cement-filled buckets, needed to be closed.

I plunked him on a bale of straw and got a few really nice photos during the few minutes he was enjoying the novelty of being up there. He patted a few pumpkins and took a liking to one that was off to the side on its own next to a planter he decided was a trash can. My mom fetched a little red wagon, and Boo leaned against his pumpkin, a tiny man of leisure in a festive rolling Barcalounger.

But what he really went apeshit over was the ducks. Between the shed and the actual patch (which we did not ever get to because DUCKS!) they had a few large pens with the aforementioned ducks, chickens, bunnies, a turkey and a pig. He stood watching them, making the happiest noises I’ve ever heard come out of him. I didn’t even take pictures (one of my main motivations for the trip) because I was having such a good time watching the joy pour over his face. Also, I didn’t want to be the parent whose kid gets his finger gnawed by a farm animal while she’s busy taking photos.

The ducks were the epicenter of the rest of the visit. He would run around and put rocks in trash cans (a favorite pastime), but he kept wanting to circle back to those ducks. And his attentiveness was rewarded when a lady came by on a four-wheeler and threw a few heads of lettuce in the pen, causing a really cute feeding frenzy.

The first time we stated talking about going home, he looked up and sweetly asked, “ducks?” and we said sure, let’s go see the ducks again. The second time, he started crying a bit while semi-whining, “ducks!” We were able to placate him with (semi-true) promises of seeing Daddy at home and pointing out that his pumpkin was in the car. Most of the way home, he patted it happily and babbled about his “pop.”

The next day, I decorated it with a Sharpie (I plan to bake it):

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Some kind of miracle has occurred, i.e., the baby is still napping, so I’m going to try to crank out a quick post.

The Boo has begun to manufacture his own words for things. See if you can guess what each one means. (A great way to get an idea of what my days are like.)


Chuck, our neighbor, much adored by the Boo.


Yellow, his favorite color.


Music, duh.


Ned, his beloved bedtime buddy.


Yeah, I don’t get that one either, but that’s definitely what he means.

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