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Little Brain Waking Up (or “Look at the Big Brain on Matthew”)

July 27, 2011 Leave a comment

As I mentioned before, every year, while on vacation, the boys seem to hit new stages in development.  I’ve also mentioned in the past that Matthew had been slow in his speech development and is very difficult to understand, at times.  During this years vacation, it seems, Matthew has taken huge strides in this area.

In the week before heading to Wildwood, Matthew would eat and eat and eat, giving every indication of a growth spurt.  Well, it seems that new areas of his little brain have suddenly turned on (this is the best way Andrea and I can describe it).  Not only has his speech been significantly clearer, but he is using a bunch of words he never used before, he is putting together very long sentences and putting together some very clear thoughts.  In addition, he has suddenly become scared in the dark, makes us close his closet and doesn’t like to be left in a room by himself, all indications to me that he has developed his imagination more.

One of the side effects of him talking more (and a week of vacation where the boys were constantly together) is more fighting between him and Benjamin.  They have gotten into full blown arguments on a range of subjects.  Ben is use to not having to compete with anyone to talk, but now Matthew has become more of a chatterbox and it has frustrated him.  It has gotten to the point where I had had to tell them both to just stop talking to each other because they couldn’t agree on anything.

It is very exciting to see Matthew “wake up” and has been loads of fun.  Andrea and I have been recording him because it is so cute and fun.  (I intended to post those recordings here, but I need to upgrade my account with WordPress first and I haven’t had a chance to do that.)  It really warms our hearts because it has been worrisome, at times, wondering if he would ever become easier to understand.

One of my favorite quotes from Matt came out of this.  Matthew did a project that included silhouette stickers of different sea animals.  Ben kept trying to tell Matt that the different animals were not what they really were because he has a new interest in certain animals.  So, for example, Ben really likes Sperm Whales now and kept saying, “Lets pretend the shark sticker is a whale.”  Matthew didn’t like that because he picked out the stickers because they were animals he likes.  Well, finally, Matthew yells to me, “Benjamin isn’t trusting me.”

When Ben tried to defend himself, Matthew replied, “Your not trusting me.  All you are doing is keep talking and that’s not fair.”  Very cute.

Also, Matthew has taken to replying to questions with “Yup” (pronounced Yee-UP) and “Nope” (Noop).  Very cute.

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I’m Just Going to Sit Here in My Own Stink

July 25, 2011 Leave a comment

A friend of ours once said, as she was struggling to stop procrastinating, get in the shower and then pack, “Vacation is over…I’m just going to sit here in my own stink.”  That about sums up my feelings right now.

I’ve written and re-written a couple of paragraphs talking about why and how much I hate vacations ending, but realized that, well, almost no one likes when vacations end and, for me to talk about it would be like spending time trying to explain how it was hot last week.  So I won’t…those paragraphs have been deleted.

We had a wonderful time and I already feel like I miss Benjamin and Matthew.  They were so sweet and I believe they really had a nice time.  Andrea and I from time to time will start talking about the boys after they have gone to bed and it will touch just the right chord that one of us will usually joke, “Let’s go wake them up!” so that we can have more fun with them.  And while I am tired and ready to move on with the summer, I feel that way as I think about the past week.  I want to wake up Andrea and the boys and head back to the beach.

Of course, I can’t.  It’s time to focus on what is coming up next, like Benjamin turning six, school starting up again for Andrea and Ben, Matthew moving into the next classroom in daycare, sporting events, birthday parties, etc.  There are plenty of things to be excited about and a lot of memories to be made…I just can’t help but miss vacation, already.  Oh well, I guess I’ll suck it up.

Bading Doop and Swimming

July 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Yesterday, Andrea and I suddenly realized that Matthew was saying “bathing suit” pretty clearly and correctly.  It wasn’t long ago that he really struggled with his “s” sound and so he would say “bading doop”. ..it was very cute and, as proud as I am of how well he has been speaking, it makes me miss how he said certain things.  Also, his classroom at daycare is called “Super Stars” or, as he called it, “Dooper Dars”.

Speaking of bading doops, when vacation started, Matthew would only go in the pool with both water wings and a noodle.  I encouraged him to give up the noodle and just swim with the wings, without pushing him.  I told him he should try it before the end of vacation.  Well, a couple of days ago, he asked me to take away the noodle and he swam around with just the wings, so proud of himself.  Then, he asked for me to take off the wings and just let him use the noodle.  Again, he was so proud.  Out of the blue, today, he asked to swim without either and he did so great.  I was really very proud of him.

On a different subject, after dinner and ice cream tonight, Benjamin (who is well-known to be the messiest eater we know) shows us his leg which is covered in chocolate.  He asked, “How did this happen?” To which Andrea said, sarcastically, “It’s a mystery, Ben.”  Without missing a beat Benjamin says, “Dum, dum dummmm!”

Tidal Pools, Part 2

July 20, 2011 Leave a comment

For me, there are few things as wonderful and amazing as a tidal pool.  When the fierce waters of the sea withdraw themselves from the beach, the leave these shimmering pools of water that are full of life and open to exploration.  With each cycle, they change shape and form and new magic emerges from them.  For me, tidal pools are vacation.

As I mention before, we have taken our vacations in North Wildwood, NJ.  Before that, we went to Wildwood Crest for long weekends.  And these vacations just might be the most important thing for our little family from year to year.  With both of us working and the boys in school/daycare, our time with them is, to a certain extent, limited.  These vacations give us a chance to be together for a much longer period of time then we are use to and it allows us all to learn a little more about each other.  I know that must sound weird, but at home, there are so many other things going on like work and it’s residual stresses, yard work, chores, bills, school, daycare and so on.  Being able to spend time together in a virtual vacuum where we can just be with each other and not be distracted with everything else going on is absolutely priceless.

With each year, our vacations seem to bring out new milestones with the boys.  We have seen developments as important as speech and walking to the more mundane like eating a certain food or swimming without water wings.  Now, I am not saying that we went on vacation and one of our boys got up and started to walk.  It’s been more like seeing them take more confident steps or working through words a little more clearly.  In some cases, and it is sad to say, they may have already been doing these things, but vacation slow things down enough for us to take notice.

Like other things in our lives, the beaches of Wildwood are marking time for us.  We can’t walk around here without noticing the area where Ben crawled at full charge into a wave with a huge smile on his face at 10 months old.  Or the spot where Matthew splashed and played in a small hole I dug for hours when he was just over a year old.  There is the pool six blocks away where they both let go of us for the first time and the spot two blocks away from there where they both insisted they were done trying to ride bikes and made Andrea and I carry them home (they can’t all be happy time markers).

I can’t help but wonder what the future holds and the memories to come here at the beach.  I imagine the day when the two of them go fishing together or wander off to the boardwalk on their own.  I dream about the day I get to sit with them on a balcony looking at the sea and share a beer with them.  Of course, I don’t want to rush things, but these are the things that I am allowed to think of while on vacation.

It is amazing to think about how these two have developed in the years since we started coming here.  Even just thinking about what we pack for a trip like this is a bittersweet thought.  Portable cribs and diapers got replaced by bicycles and ice cream makers.  As I was writing this, Andrea pointed out how our vacations have become less the two of us and the two children we produced and more about four individuals living together in the best sense possible.  We talk together and laugh.  We share jokes and discuss the days plans.  And it is such a truly wonderful thing.

As I mentioned in my first post this week, I decided to start writing this blog while on vacation last year…I wanted to be able to capture these moments and not let them go.  I don’t want to lose them, because they are fleeting like the tidal pools.  The ocean batters the shore for hours a day before it finally pulls back and allows tidal pools to form.  These tidal pools are born from, yet exist in stark contrast to the raging ocean that is sometimes, mere feet away.  They are calm, peaceful and so full of life.  They are there for exploring and playing.  In them there is a reflection of life.  From day to day and year to year, they are always different as the ocean shift and rearrange the sands.  They are beautiful in both their complexity and simplicity.  They are a great metaphor for our vacations.

Sausage Arms

July 19, 2011 Leave a comment

So, back in January, I started dieting with the goal of losing 35 pounds.  In the process, I got Benjamin and Matthew involved and they were good in helping keep me in line.  During this time, I have been self-deprecating about my weight that the boys picked up on.  Today (with me 30 pounds lighter), for some reason, I became the intense target of these jokes.

Earlier, the boys heard a loud rumble from outside as I was still walking up from the pool.  Ben observed, “Daddy, we either heard thunder or you walking up the stairs.”  Later on, I made a joke about Andrea having “twig arms” to which Ben replied, “well, you have sausage arms.”  And in case the implication wasn’t obvious, he said, “I said you have sausage arms because you are fat.”  Matthew, of course, had to get in on the action and decided I had a “meatball head.”  Ouch, but we all had a good laugh.

Apparently, I Rock

July 19, 2011 Leave a comment

As the dolphin boat made it’s way back to the dock this evening, the crew handed us a bunch of bread to feed the seagulls off the back of the boat.  I decided to try to feed the birds by hand and held pieces of bread that the gulls came and took from my fingers.  Benjamin loved it and after several birds grabbed the bread, he shout, “Daddy, you rock at that!”

Benjamin also rode his first wave on his new boogie board that his grandmom bought him.  He loved it, but on the next wave, quickly learned that the waves can be finicky and we were done for the day.

Matthew was initially very nervous on the boat when it got into the open ocean and hit the big wave, but after a few minutes, he finally went to the rail and had a huge smile on his face.  The poor guy was exhausted, however, by the time we got back.  After a day at the pool, beach and on the boat without a nap, we couldn’t get him in bed fast enough and he fell asleep as I was tucking him in.

Introducing Squeaky

July 17, 2011 1 comment

As we got on the beach last night, I started to hear some high pitch noises.  I frantically looked all around to find the dolphin that might be making that noise…it was would be way close to the shore if I was able to hear it, so I thought it must be in trouble.  But, alas, it wasn’t a dolphin at all, but another aquatic mammal (at least for the week): Matthew.

Of course, from the first high pitch squeak, I knew it was Matthew.  It has been something he has been doing for a few weeks, now.  When he gets really excited or really happy, he, apparently, tries to hold it in for a moment and all that escapes is this series of squeaks that I am certain must bother the neighborhood dogs.  Usually the squeaks develop into full fledged squeals and laughs, but when he gets super excited, the only thing that comes out are the short bursts of squeaks.

So, I have taken to calling him squeaky…and it makes me feel good as a daddy that the squeaking is very common around our house.