Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Great Pumpkin Metric

Ahhh – the Great Pumpkin Metric.  A sure sign that fall has arrived!  This is not to be confused with “The Great Pumpkin” made famous by Charles Schulz.  Nope – this is a bike (pedal – not motor) ride in Evansville Indiana.

We’ve ridden it in the past.  We’ve ridden the 100K route several times.  We’ve ridden the 50K route a time or two.  But we had never ridden the 25K route.

25 kilometers.  It works out to be about 16 miles.  It’s a route that many people ride with their children.  And this year – we decided to take OUR child on the ride!

We weren’t sure how it would go.  Mike had certainly enjoyed his rides in the bike trailer – but this would be farther (and longer) than he had ever gone.  So – with a “why not” attitude, we registered for the ride…

The morning of the ride was exceptionally nice!  The sun was bright.  Not a cloud in the sky.  The temperature was not to hot and not to cold.  It was going to be a perfect day for a ride!  We started unloading the bikes and the trailer.  As we unfolded the trailer – Mike wanted in right away.  We explained that it would be a little while before we actually started riding – but he didn’t want to hear it.  He was excited and ready to get started!

We finished getting the bikes ready.  Aired up the tires.  Picked up our packets.  Pinned on our numbers.  Stretched a little.  Gloves – check.  Sunglasses – check.  Helmet – check.  Hooked the trailer up. 

By this time, Mike was PAST ready to go!  He was ready to skip all of this silly nonsense and get on the ROAD!  So off we went on our epic journey…

I'm ready to go!

“Ummmm – can we go now?”


We had ridden about a mile.  That first mile.  On a long ride – it’s always the first mile that is the hardest – knowing that you have sixty-some-odd miles to go.  But for this short ride – it was the hardest because we didn’t know how Mike would do.  Then – all of a sudden – we heard it.  Mike.  In the trailer.  And he was….

…not crying…

…not screaming…

…not throwing a fit…

…not wanting out…

He was SINGING!  It was Old MacDonald (the Mike remix version).  “With a moo moo here and a moo moo here and a moo moo here and a MOOOOOOO!”.  At that point we began to relax a little and enjoyed the ride.

Halfway through the ride (about 8 miles or so) was our SAG stop.  SAG – Support And Gear – would be know to most “non-cyclists” as a rest stop.  A chance to get a bite to eat and a little something to drink (and a potty if you need it).  Since this was Mike’s first ride – he had no idea about SAG stops.  But he walked right in and handled it like a pro!

Mike at the SAG stop

“WOW!  This is a SAG stop?  I love it!”

Mike at the SAG stop

“Dang!  We need a SAG stop at home!”

Mike at the SAG stop

“Alright guys – let’s saddle up!  I’m ready to get back on the road!”

We finished up the ride with no problems.  Mike sang some more songs to us.  Some “Itsy Bitsy Spider”.  A little “Thomas and Friends”.  An encore performance of “Old MacDonald”.  He even took a short nap (one of the MANY benefits of riding in the trailer!).  Mike had a fabulous time – and “the mom” and “the dad” had a good time too!  We are looking forward to riding again next year!  And who know – perhaps we will take Mike on a couple of different rides next year!

Finishing the ride

Mike and “the dad” finishing the ride!  Notice that Mike is taking a drink from a cycling water bottle!  Gotta train them early…


“That was FUN!”


“All that riding sure made me thirsty…”

Pap would be proud!

Ok – I understand that it has been a while since the last post!  However, if everything goes right this week – then you might be in luck.  There may be another post or two later this week!

But that is for later.  And this is now…

There is SO much that has changed since August on the “Mike development scale”.  He really is – quite literally – changing every single day.  But if you are going to tell a story, you’ve got to start somewhere.  And since Mike truly is “all boy” – then we might as well start this story at “the boy’s store” (known to many as ‘Lowes’).

We had been working on  painting / remodeling the upstairs bathroom.  It was one of the first rooms we did when we moved in to the house – which means that it had gone the longest without much done to it.  Of course, that means that we needed to make a trip or two to to Lowes to buy some tools and supplies.  One of the things we needed to get were some new “white” plugs and switches and eventually found our way to the electrical isle.  Mike stood in front of the all those display light switches and said “WOW!”.  Twenty minutes later he was still flipping all of the switches on and off!

I just stood there and watched him with a big smile on my face.  Because in my heart – I know that Mike’s “Pap” was looking down on the two of us and telling all of the angels in heaven, “That’s my grandson!”


Mike likes light switches!

Off and on and off and on and off and on…

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mike learns to play Corn Hole!

On many evenings, Mike will walk over to you and grab your hand saying “Walk!  Walk mommy!  Walk!”.  He will lead you to the front door and proclaim that he wants to go outside.  Once he gets outside – he’ll announce that he is going to Todd and Maureen’s house.

This weekend, Todd and Maureen were having a gathering at their house (a small party for Angie) and they invited us over.  Mike grab our hands and said “Walk!” and we said “ok…”.  We went to the front door and Mike said “outside” and we said “ok…”.  Mike said “Go to Todd and Maureen’s” and we said “ok…”.

He was obviously only Todd and Maureen to be there.  At most, he was expecting Angie and her dog Max.  He certainly wasn’t expecting a house full of folks!  We actually got to see a small “shy” streak!  But it only lasted for a minute before he was socializing…

We made our way out to the deck and sat down.  Mike started watching on ongoing Corn Hole game.  Just in case you’ve never heard of it – it also goes by other names like Bean Bag Toss or Hillbilly Horseshoes.  The goal is to toss a “corn bag” (same as a bean bag) on to a board.  If it lands on the board you get 1 point.  If it goes in the hole on the board you get 3 points. 

Mike watched and watched and watched.  Teams changed.  New games started.  And Mike kept watching and studying.  He would occasionally point as if he was going to make a grand proclamation about what he was watching.  But then he would put his arm down and study some more.

He was obviously studying the game.  Learning the rules.  I’m sure he was doing “toddler level” calculations on inclined planes and projectile motion (Sid the Science Kid IS one of his favorite shows – and they have “toddler level” episodes on things such as this!).

After some time, the Corn Hole players took a break.  Mike grabbed my hand and said “Walk daddy” and he led me to the Corn Hole boards.  He stood next to one board for a few seconds – taking it all in.  Then he reached down and picked up one of the bags and studied it.  Then he looked down at the other board.  I said, “Go ahead buddy.  Give it a try!”

He looked up at me – then looked at the board some 30 feet away – then looked at the board right next to him – and looked back at me with a very expressive look that said “why throw it all the way down there when I can throw it in the hole right here”…

…which is exactly what he did!  And then turned and looked at me with his big grinning face as if to say “see daddy – that was MUCH easier”!

Mike plays corn hole

“This game is a lot easier using MY rules!”

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The first step towards potty training…

We’ve never been ones to rush Mike’s development.  Well – except for the walking.  But I’m guessing that everyone who might be parents to a child with clubbed feet would be at least a little anxious about that…

But as for everything else, we’ve completely taken the attitude of “it’ll happen when it happens” and we simply enjoy the current moment rather than trying to usher in the next.

And the same goes for potty training.  Sure - it seems like it would be nice to not have to mess with diapers anymore.  But that is the last little tidbit of “babyhood” that we are hanging on to.

However, Mike has certainly started to take an interest.  And while we don’t want to rush him in to anything – we also certainly don’t want to hold him back either.  So we have some “potties” (thanks Jim and Allison!) and we are take the first little step.

It’s not exactly “training” – at least not yet.  It’s more of an “introduction”.  Potty – meet Mike.  Mike – potty.  And there are already some funny stories to tell.

One of the clues we had that Mike was interested in the potty was that he started showing a keen interest when “The Mom” or “The Dad” went to potty.  It’s dangerous when he goes to watch “The Dad” potty.  He has seen shooting streams of water at the water park.  They sure were fun to play in!  Hey look!  Daddy can shoot a stream of water!  That sure looks like it would be fun to play in!!!

It’s less dangerous when he goes with “The Mom”.  But he is learning by observation.  So – here’s how it goes.  You sit on the potty.  And sit a little longer.  Then a second longer.  Then you grab some paper and throw it between your legs and in to the potty.  Cool – got it!

All of our “more experienced” parental friends have told us that you also need some sort of “reward” for using the potty.  Some sort of “incentive” so that they’ll keep wanting to come back.  Something like a sticker – or a small piece of candy.  Candy?  Mike?  Giving something sweet to Mike would be more of a punishment. 

But we do have a small “reward” for Mike when he uses the potty.  Something that makes him extremely excited.  So happy that he can’t wait to get his hands on it. 

What is it?

A single square of toilet paper for him to throw between his legs and in to the potty…

Hey - I'm busy here!

“Umm – can I have a little privacy please?”

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Shopping with Mike

This past weekend – JCPenny’s was having a white sale.  And we have been needing some new pillows for our bed.  And there you have it – supply meets demand…

We all three loaded up and headed to the mall.  Shopping with Mike has never been much trouble.  He usually enjoys it as long as you don’t loiter in one area too long.  And after loitering in the pillow section for longer than what we should have, Mike reminded us that it was time to move on.  “The Dad” took him out of his stroller and they went for a walk while “The Mom”stayed to search for that perfect pillow.

Mike wound his way through the bedding department.  After a few minutes, “The Dad” realized that Mike was stopping and looking at each of the display beds that were set up.  He would walk up to them, look at the design on the comforter, the pillows on the bed, and then shake his head and quietly say “no”.

After stopping by a dozen or so beds, he found the perfect one.  A simple, green colored comforter with green and brown pillows on it.  He turned around and looked up at “The Dad” with an excited look in his eye and began patting the top of the bed.  Even “The Dad” could figure out what that meant – so he picked Mike up and sat him on the foot of the bed.  Mike immediately made his way up into the middle of the pillows, rolled over on to his back, looked over at “The Dad” and said, “Night night”.  Then closed his eyes and did his best fake snore.

After a good chuckle (19 months!  Where do they get this stuff!) “The Dad” looked at Mike and asked, “Hey buddy – is this the one you like?”

With all of the seriousness of a jury handing down a verdict – Mike looked up and answered “Yep”…


“This is the bed that I liked the best!”

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Color Train

I’m sure that many of you have never heard of the book “The Color Train.  A First Book of Colors”.  As a matter of fact – you can’t even find out anything about it from Google.  And if it’s not in Google, then it doesn’t exist!

Except this book does exist.  I have a copy of it sitting right here next to me!  I’m guessing it’s about 37 years old (there is no copyright date in it).  It was printed by “Western Printing Company” before they became “Little Golden Books”.  It’s one of “the Dad’s” books from when he was Mike’s age.  So you know it has to be older than dirt…

And right now – it’s Mike’s favorite story!  He absolutely loves it and we read it to him nearly every night – at least once (if not two or three times).  And as soon as he sees it, he gets excited and starts bouncing up and down and clapping his hands and saying “Color Train!  Color Train!”.  You can’t help but to smile along with him…

This past weekend, we took a very rare trip to the mall.  We came in through a JCPenny’s entrance – wound our way through the store towards the mall.  As we were exiting Penny’s and entering the mall – there it was.


And it was chugging around the mall!  And kids were riding in it!  It had the red car!  And the yellow car!  And the blue car!  And the engine!  Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh!!!!!!

Mikes eyes were absolutely as big as pie pans.  He couldn’t believe it!  The color train was REAL!  For Mike, it was every bit as amazing as finding out that Santa Claus was real.  Of course, we had to follow it around the mall to find out where it stopped.  And as we walked up to it – Mike kept saying “Color train!  Color train!” as if he couldn’t understand why I wasn’t as excited as he was!  and then it happened.  He touched it!  It really was real!  Again – Mike was stunned with disbelief.  His eyes really WEREN’T deceiving him!  The color train REALLY WAS REAL!

It was absolutely the best trip to the mall I’ve ever had.  And I know it was Mike’s favorite too!

The Blue Car

“Holy cow!  I’m sitting in ‘The Blue Car’!  You never told me The Color Train was REAL!!!”


The Yellow Car

Mike sat and patiently explained about all of the cars.  “This is ‘The Yellow Car’.  Up there is ‘The Black Car’.  Behind us is ‘The Blue Car’ and ‘The Red Car’.  ‘The Engine’ is up front!”

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Trip to Lowes

Lowes Home Improvement Warehouse.  The quintessential “Man’s Store”.  Not saying that there aren’t plenty of women that shop at Lowes – there certainly are.  But it just doesn’t seem like the women in the store have that same gleam in their eye.  That little sparkle that all of the men have as they wander aimlessly down the aisles.  Like a kid in a candy store.  That “Wow – look at THIS!  And THAT!  Would you look at THAT!!!”

You might think that this is a “learned” behavior.  I do it because I saw my dad do it and he saw his dad do it.  And so on and so on.  Throughout the history of hardware stores.

But I’m here to tell you that this behavior is at least partially genetic.  And here is why I think so…

A couple of weekends ago we took Mike to Lowes.  It wasn’t his first trip – but at 18 months, it was the first time he’s been since he’s been “aware” of his environment.  We walked in the front door to be greeted by several shiny lawn tractors. 

“Tractor!  Tractor!” he announced and took off running.  Not once did he ever turn around to see that “twinkle” in his dad’s eye.  At that point – he didn’t even care if his dad had eyes!  He was 100% on his own…

“That’s right Mike!  And how does a tractor sound?”


We spent the next 45 minutes investigating every last feature of every last lawn tractor.  Tested every seat.  Kicked every tire.  Inspected each mowing deck.  Yanked on every steering wheel.  Mike pointed out every color – “green” and “yellow” (obviously for the John Deer’s), “red” (those were the Toro’s)…

And on it went until it was finally time to walk the next 20 yards in to the store (are those grills I see up ahead?).  Before we left, I asked Mike which one was is favorite.  Without hesitation, he immediately walked up to the Husqvarna and excitedly announced “Orange!”.

That’s my boy!  You can take him out of East Tennessee – but he’ll always be a Vol…

Mike on the John Deer

“You guys never told me that Lowes would be SO MUCH FUN!”

Thursday, June 30, 2011

What happened to June?

Boy it sure has been a while since I posted something!  So much has happened that I’d never be able to put it in one post.  And I’ll never get caught up if I put it all in separate posts.  So I’ll give you the highlights for June.

First of all, Mike, “the Mom”, and “the Dad” got to spend an unusually large amount of time together!  “The Mom” ended up not teaching for the first summer session.  And with some planning, and also some very “unplanned” trips, we all three got to spend most of the month of June together.  And what did we do with our time?  Why – we enjoyed being a family!

And here’s the where the whirlwind highlights begins…

We spent lots of time at parks.  Mike discovered slides!



We got a new train set.  Thanks Tanya!!!!  This has been a BIG hit!!!


“Now I can say ‘woo woo’ and ‘chugga chugga chugga’”!

We learned how to do some chores – like washing dishes!


“Washing dishes is fun at my age!”

We discovered (or re-discovered) the Fun Fountain…


“Wow!  The clown head sprays out water and lifts the hat in to the air!”


“I like to catch the water and eat it!”

We went to the zoo too!


“That red fox looks like our dog ‘Foxy’!”

We took Mike swimming for the first time.


“Look at me!  I’m fearless!!!”

And Mike turned 18 months old!  A year and a half.  How can that be?  He was just born a couple of weeks ago.  Or maybe it was a month or two ago.  Certainly not more than three months ago…


“I’m a year and a half!  And I’m growing like a weed!”

We did have on really sad moment during our “month of June”. Our Aunt JoAnne lost her battle with cancer. She always had a knack for making you smile – no matter how you might be feeling at the moment. And while we will miss her, we are so very thankful that she is no longer suffering.

That about sums it all up.  We had such a wonderful time together.  And we got to see a lot of friends and family too!  I’ll be sure to post more 18 month pictures (they turned out very nice!) and I’ll try to be better about keeping you all updated!

So – until next time – as Mike would say, “bye bye”!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Another trip to the Orthopedic Surgeon…

It’s that time of year!  Spring has sprung.  Trees have leaves.  Grass needs to be mowed.  Allergies are in full swing.

All of that can only mean one thing.  Mike is 18 months old!

And THAT means that it’s time to make a trip to see our favorite Orthopedic Surgeon for a club foot prognosis and update!

I won’t hem haw around.  Or beat around the bush.  Or unduly draw out the conversation.  Or add any extra words.  Or be redundant.  I’ll just come right out and say it.  Spill the beans.  Give you the full scoop.  The truth – the whole truth.  For better or worse.  Through thick and thin.  Straight from the horses mouth.

We had our usual anxiety with this appointment.  But we were relieved that Mike has done so well walking!  And because of that – we were cautiously optimistic. 

Of course, Dr. Crawford noticed right off the bat that Mike was walking (even a non-trained observer can see that!).  He asked how long (4 weeks) and he was stunned!  He said that Mike had the balance and ability of a toddler that had been walking four months rather than four weeks.  And our cautious optimism stepped up a notch.

Off with the shoes.  Off with the socks.  Poke.  Prod.  Twist.  Turn.  Stretch.  Squeeze.  Rub.  Pull.

And it was time for the prognosis.

Dr. Crawford:  I can tell you’ve been very religious with the brace!

Us:  Yes we have.  Every day.

Dr. Crawford:  It shows.  Mike’s feet have better flexibility than a child without clubbed feet.

Us:  Wow!  That’s great!

Dr. Crawford:  His feet are so good and flexible and the muscle (the one that helps keep the feet from turning back) has good strength.  I think we are ready to try it without the brace!

Us:  Really?

Dr. Crawford:  Yep.  He is walking so well that the time he spends on his feet will be a substitute for the time in the brace.

Us:  Cool!

Dr. Crawford:  Unless there is a problem – I won’t need to see him again until is 4.

Us:  Four YEARS????

Dr. Crawford:  Yep

Us:  Wow!  But if we aren’t comfortable or if it looks like something isn’t right – we can come before then – right?  I mean – you’ll take our money – right?

Dr. Crawford:  Ummm – sure!  We are always happy to take your money!  And certainly come back if you see his feet start to turn in.  But of the hundreds of clubbed foot babies I’ve treated – his feet look the best and he has responded best to the treatment.  I’m quite certain that you won’t have any problems whatsoever.

Us:  Wow.  That’s great!

And so it is.  Mike spent the first weekend ever sleeping without his brace.  How did he do?  He flopped all over the bed!  And we were happy for it…

Is it over?  Not yet.  We still keep a close eye on his feet – more now than ever.  And will continue to do so.  Looking for the slightest relapse.  But our hopes are high that we have hiked up this clubbed foot mountain and are most of the way down on the other side.  He’s been in either casts or foot braces since he was 16 days old.  What a better way to celebrate 18 months than to sleep without shoes or socks and flop around on the bed!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Easter!

Easter has come and gone.  Well – unless your Catholic in which case you are in the second week of Easter.  Or I’m sure that other religions might do something similar.  But I’m certainly not a Theologian…

But we certainly celebrated Easter at our house!  We started by getting all dressed up for church.  Mike even wore a vest and tie – which is somewhat a big deal.  He isn’t much on buttoning that top button on his shirt!  But he decided to let “mommy and daddy” play their little dress-up game.  And the result?  A very handsome young toddler!

Mike and dad!

Mike and ‘the Dad’ are ready for church.



Hey ladies!  Mike is here!

“Stand back ladies – there’s enough to go around!”


While we were at church, the Easter Bunny mysteriously broke into our house and left an Easter basket.  This wasn’t your traditional Easter basket.  No chocolate bunnies.  No peeps.  No jellybeans.  Nope – nothing like that at all.  It was almost like the Easter Bunny knew that Mike doesn’t like sweets!  Instead, there was a variety of Nutri-grain bars and Pepperidge Farms Goldfish (two of Mike’s all time favorites…) along with some great new outfits for the summer!  He loved digging through the basket!

The basket...

The Easter basket!



For me?

“All of this is for me?”



Nutri-grain bars!

“Wow!  Nutri-grain bars!  I love Nutri-grain bars!”

(and yes – Mike’s shirt says “Girls Dig Me”!




“And Goldfish!  I love Goldfish!”

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rain, Rain–GO AWAY!

Sorry folks.  This isn’t a post about Mike and how much fun he had over Easter.  Once again, I’ve ran in to that age old issue of “the computer is in one state and the camera (along with it's memory card) is in another”.  And while I’m not sure that many of you often have this same problem – I’m sure that you can all relate…

Instead, this is a post about water.  Lots and lots of water.  Not quite record breaking (at least not yet – let’s hope it stays that way) – but its at least epic in proportion.

You see – a few weeks ago here in southern Indiana (once upon a time we used to call it “sunny southern Indiana” – but it lost that title some time ago) it started raining.  And it’s rained and rained and rained.  For days and days and days.  And I’m not talking about the “Seattle  style drizzle”.  No sir.  I’m talking about several inches per day (along with a tornado or two per week).

And the epic part?  The flooding.  I stopped by some of my childhood stomping grounds – the park by the Newburgh Lock and Dam.  Ahh – the days of playing Lazar Tag at that park.  But I digress…

I’m sure that not all of you are from a river town.  A quick course on the “lock and dam”…

Most folks know that a dam is a solid structure that holds back the water.  In this particular case, it’s concrete “weir” on the south side of the river with “Tainter gates”, located in the middle of the lock-n-dam structure.  The gates control the upstream and downstream water level while the weir is the overflow spillway.  Raising the gates lowers the upstream level and raises the downstream level.  Lowering the gates causes the opposite.  The “lock” part of the lock-n-dam (on the north side of the river in this case) allow all river traffic to pass from one side of the dam to the other.  For example – a barge enters the lock on the upstream side.  The lock doors are closed, and the water level is lowered to match the downstream side.  The exit doors are opened and the boat steams away.  It works remarkably well – and when a series of “lock-n-dams” are placed along the length of the river, water flow can be controlled very well – preventing droughts and floods.  Unless…….

Well – every lock and dam has a maximum capacity.  Once the water level is higher than the “dam” portion of the lock and dam then the water simply flows over the top and you can no longer control the depth.  This is currently the situation for most of the dams along the second half of the Ohio River.

Normally, this isn’t too big of a deal.  The walls that make up the lanes of the lock are significantly higher than the dam so river traffic isn’t affected.  Low lying areas around the banks of the river begin to flood, but that isn’t all that unusual.

But every once in a while, it continues to rain and the river continues to rise.  In Newburgh, the “flood stage” is 38 feet.  This is when minor flooding in the low lying areas begins to happen.  At 46 feet, some primary highways and secondary roads begin to flood.  The current reading is 48.2 feet – the seventh highest level since things like this have been recorded (somewhere back in the late 1800’s).  And if anybody is an Evansville history buff – you’ve heard of the “ ’37 flood” – the highest on record at 56.6 feet.  Or possibly the more recent “ ’97 flood” which crested at 50.5 feet. 

And right now, I can hear the thunder of the next approaching storm – predicting another 2 to 5 inches of rainfall with this one…  So – if anyone has plans for an arc, please let me know.  I’d like to begin construction right away…


The Ohio River at US HWY 41 between Evansville Indiana and Henderson Kentucky.  The tree line is the southern bank of the river.

An “unflooded” picture of the Newburgh Lock and Dam.  You can see the nine large “Tainter gates”in the middle (notice they are lowered in the water to control the upstream and downstream levels) and the “weir” to the right of them.  The “locks” are in the foreground of the photo.  You can see the tall walls that make up the lanes with the control house sitting in the middle.


A “flooded” picture of the Newburg Lock and Dam.  You can see that the gates are raised up completely out of the water and the weir is completely underwater.  You can also see that the walls that make up the lanes for the lock are nearly under water.


You can’t hardly see it – but the sign on the control house reads “47.1”.  That’s 47.1 feet deep as of yesterday.  It’s up to 48.2 today.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Language Skills–Stage 2

Mike has been building an impressive vocabulary recently.  I would guess that the number of words that he can speak is now over 100.  He’s full of the single word sentences.  Some of his favorites are mommy, daddy, Izzy, Foxy, Harper, Avery, fish, bath, outside, pacey, hungry, eat, juice, milk, fish, and snack.

He has started learning body parts.  He’ll say eye and point to his eye, or teeth and point to his teeth, or nose and stick his finger up his nostril up to the second knuckle.  Or sometimes he’ll say nose and try and stick his finger up YOUR nostril!  We try and tell him that he can pick his friends – and he can pick his nose – but he can’t pick his friend’s nose (or his mommy’s or his daddy’s).

He has recently been picking up animal sounds – words like woof, meow, baaaa, grrrr, and roar.  You can ask “what do cats do” and he will say “Meeeeoooooowwww” or “what do sheep do” and he will say “baaaa  baaaaaa”.

His all time favorite (and his answer to nearly every question you ask) is “no”. 

Us:  “Mike.  Are Izzy and Foxy dogs”?

Mike gets a serious look on his face as if he is seriously pondering the question.  Then he looks up and answers “no”.

Us:  “Mike.  Do you love mommy?”

Again – the pondering expression for a moment or two followed by his answer “no”.

Us:  “Mike.  Do you like playing with your toys?”

Pondering look followed by “no”.

Us:  “Do you like the word no”?

Ponder for a moment.  “No”.

Us:  “Is ‘no’ your answer to everything?”


Us:  “Do you want some yogurt?”

Quickly, with no hesitation – “Yo!  Yo!  Ungree!  Ungree!  Nack!” all in conjunction with the sign language for hungry, eat, please, and more.  This loosely translates into “Yogurt?  Why come to think of it, I am a little hungry and could use a small snack.  Thank you mom!”

But recently, he reached a new milestone in language development.  He has begun to put words together.

Which brings me to the biggest smile I’ve ever had.  I recently walked in to Mike’s playroom where he was happily playing with his toys.  He looked up at me with his bright blue eyes, smiled his big seven-toothed smile and said “hi daddy”!

Mike’s First Bike Ride

Last weekend, the weather was gorgeous!  Warm sunshine.  Not a cloud in the sky.  Leaves coming out on the trees.  Dogwoods in full bloom.  A wonderful site to see!

It was absolutely necessary that we take advantage of this beautiful weather.  Somehow.  Someway.

Mike was there to encourage us.  “Outside?”, we would repeatedly ask in his own little way (which comes out sounding more like “ow sigh”).  “Yes honey.  We are going outside today.  And we are going to do something NEW!”

We had decided to take Mike on his very first bike ride!

And by “bike ride” – I mean he did just that.  Ride.

A couple of weeks ago, our good friends, Matt and Karen, let us “borrow” the bike trailer that there son had recently outgrown.  It was a fabulous “try before you buy” offer.  Especially important since Mike seems to have become very opinionated about things.  If Mike liked riding in the trailer – then it was ours for the asking.  If not – then we would simply give it back.

So we loaded up the bikes and the trailer and headed to Third Creek Greenway.  A nice, wide, paved, mostly shaded trail that winds along Third Creek through west Knoxville  We hitched the trailer up to “the Dad’s” bike (“the mom” wasn’t quite ready to try towing mike…).  We strapped Mike in.  Made sure he had his sippy cup in one pocket and his goldfish crackers and pacey in the other.  And then we headed off!

We rode at a nice, leisurely pace from the trailhead to Tyson Park.  Along the way, the trail snakes along, climbs up and down some small hills, and is full of joggers, walkers, and other cyclists.  Every time we would go down a little hill, Mike would shout out “WEEEEE!!!”  or “WWWOOOOWWWW!!!”.  Perhaps the cutest thing of all was – he didn’t know the word “bicycle” so he called it the “daddy go”.  He would periodically pull out his sippy cup for a little drink or take a few nips on the pacey (he’s taking it less and less these days…).  All in all, he rode in the trailer like he was a king being served by his minions.  And perhaps that’s not too far from the truth…

Once we arrived at Tyson Park, we stopped and let Mike play for a little while.  Swing?  Check!  Slide?  Check!  Big thing that looked like a boat that he could climb around on?  Check!  What was his favorite thing?  The pea gravel.  And interestingly enough – he didn’t call them “rocks”.  He called them “bubbles”.  And he had a whale of a time grabbing handfuls and pouring them over his head!

Then we all mounted back up and headed back down the greenway.  Mike still had a few “WEEEEE’s” and “WWWOOOWWWW’s” in him.  It turned out to be a fantastic afternoon!  And it sure did feel good to be back on the bike after a long, cold winter.

So – Matt and Karen – it looks like we’ll be taking that trailer off of your hands!

What in the world?

“This isn’t my regular stroller!  What in the world is this thing?”

Hitching up

“Am I hooked up to the ‘daddy-go’?”

Pre-ride hydration

“Mommy and daddy say that pre-ride hydration is very important.”

Ready to roll!

“Let’s get this party started!”

Playing with "bubbles"

“Rocks are cool!”

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Springtime at the zoo

Ahhhh – spring has sprung.  Or at least it is springing.  And after our long winter hibernation, we decided to go out and see what was happening at the zoo!

It’s been several months since we took Mike to the zoo.  It just didn’t seem right to take him over the winter.  After all – it was one of the coldest winters on record with now than we’ve had in recent memory.  Needles to say – Mike is significantly more aware of (and interactive with) his environment.  So we were excited to see what his new reactions would be to all of the animals!

He wasn’t much on the black bears.  And he only had a passing interest in the elephants.  He started to get a little excited at the zebras.  And he was still interested in the meerkats.

Look at that meerkat!

"Look at that meerkat!”

Then we moved on to the Giraffes.  I’m not sure who was more interested!  Mike LOVED the Giraffes – but there was one Giraffe that was just as interested in Mike.  It cam right up to the edge of the fence – peeked over and said “hi”!  It hung out with us for a little while – but then it was time for dinner (you really should see a Giraffe trot at least once in your life…)


“Howdy Mike!”


“Whoa!  Look at that!”

After the Giraffe – it was “game on.”  Mike started paying attention to all of the animals.  Especially those that are in the books he “reads”.  Things like lions, tigers, birds, snakes, monkeys.  You could see that he was really making the connection between the animals in his books and the animals he was seeing at the zoo.  It really was a fantastic moment.

And speaking of the monkey’s – we’ve been keeping track of the “newborn” chimp at our zoo.  He’s about a year older than Mike and the first time we saw George.  The first time we saw him, he was nursing with his mommy “Daisy”.  It was pretty cool because it was during the time that Mike was still nursing.  During our most recent trip – there was apparently a “family disagreement”!  One of the “teen” chimps was jumping around and causing a ruckus.  Eventually he started running around and he chased George around.  Daisy came in a scooped George up and ran outside with him.  The other chimp ran outside too but there was a surprise waiting for him.  The other chimps did not like the fact that he was scaring baby George!  They chased him all around the entire compound until eventually he settled down.  In the end, everybody was happy (even if some of the older chimps were a little out of breath!).

Daisy and George

Daisy with baby George

George and his blanket

George with blanket!

Ack!  No No!

Mike telling the chimps “ACK!  No no!”

By the time we got the the red panda, Mike was getting a little tired of being in the stroller.  It’s the perfect place to let him out to wander around.  It’s a relatively small area and he can’t open the doors to get out of the area.  Apparently, door that are good for keeping red panda’s in are also good for keeping little boys in too!

Red Panda

The cute little red panda

Mike in the red panda cage!

Mike in the red panda cage!



Strike a pose!

Mike strikes a pose while he’s in the red panda cage!

On this trip, we decided that Mike was big enough to go to the petting zoo.  He got to pet goats and sheep.  One of the workers put some “Mardi Gras” beads on one of the goats.  She immediately fell in love with her new “bling”.  The worker had to chase her around the pen for about 20 minutes to get the beads back!  It was a riot and Mike loved watching them all run around.  They also had a nice play area.  He got to play in some “animal houses” – which were eggs, nests, and even a tree stump!  He had an absolute BLAST playing in them.  In fact, he had so much fun that “The Mom” decided to join in!

Goats love bling!

Goats love bling!

Mike meets the goat

“Mike – meet Goat.  Goat – meet Mike…”


Mike LOVED petting the goats!

Mike in the stump

Stumps are FUN!”


Mike in a nest

“And so are nests!”

Mike and mom in nest

“Come on in mommy!  It’s a blast!”

Mike and mom in the egg

“Wow!  Eggs are fun too!!!!”

It was a wonderful day.  One of the many wonderful days that we get to share!  The only unfortunate part?  Mommy and Daddy had to wait until they got back home before they could do this…


Mike fell asleep

Mike fell asleep on the way back to the car.  It was a big day for a little boy!