Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Firm Full Names

Occasionally Brian and I will use the boys’ middle names to be firm. To be frown-y. To show we’re serious. The usual way people use middle names. I didn’t think the boys were even noticing our use of their full names until the other day when we were climbing up the stairs after a walk. As usual the boys were dallying near the bottom (where the swarms of mosquitoes wait for their supple toddler skin). I belted out a nice loud, echoing, “CLARK!” since he hadn’t moved a muscle. Both boys stopped in their tracks and yelled back, almost equally as loud, finishing what they assumed to be the rest of my reprimand “…Aaron Crosson!”

It has happened a few times now with, “Calvin Kenneth Crosson!” or Clark Aaron Crosson!”  being shouted by one of them after we start talking firmly. It’s funny but it also completely undermines whatever we’re trying to get them to do at the time.

This morning Cal was perched up on the counter, proudly helping me add vanilla to the French Toast batter, when he decided he needed to show off his position of kitchen-authority to the little girl I babysit, Alexandra, whom we all affectionately call Baby Alex.

“Hey, Baby Alex!” he belted in the general direction of where he assumed she was. Clearly, the freshly-turned one year-old was not going to answer or come sprinting to him, as he envisioned.

“Hey Baby Alex, come see me!” he demanded.

Still no acknowledgement.

He lowered his head and frowned.

“Baby Alex Aaron Crosson, come see me now!”

I love toddlers. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

How YouTube Sharpened My Scissors

I can cut hair. I've cut Brian’s hair for years. I run clippers over it and trim the stragglers around the ears and, ta-da, I’m done. We did the same thing for the boys for their first three or four haircuts—just with the clippers and a long attachment. Then the other night, after discussing options for Brian’s long-for-him hair, I looked up how to blend guys’ hair on YouTube. I had no confidence in my blending skills.

You know how it’s impossible to watch simply one YouTube video? You have to watch all the suggested, related ones until it’s way too late and the dishes are still dirty and your tea is cold and you promise yourself you will only watch one more montage with cute hamsters drinking out of straws, and how did you live your life this long without watching cats paint? But then somehow you find a video of the last out or run of all the past World Series’ wins and you’re crying into your cold tea because you love baseball and it’s almost October and why are you still awake? 

Well, it actually didn't end up that way for me this time because I was so motivated to get my blend on. I watched this series of short, dry clips of a stylist cutting a man’s hair, each clip a different step of the process. She made it look so easy to blend hair from the short, clipped bottom part to the longer top part! I could so do that. So I did it when I cut Brian’s hair. It wasn't quite as easy as she made it look, and it doesn't look quite as nice as hers, and I was thankful that Brian had football to watch while I cut because it definitely took longer than normal. I'm proud of myself, though it isn't amazing. He says he likes it. I’m still looking at in different lighting and imagining other approaches I could take while cutting it next time. Winning.  

Then Brian noted that the boys’ hair was a little shaggy and so the next day I surprise-attacked Cal. It was only me this time though, no Brian to hold him back. The scene is a blur in my head now. Cal was incredibly good, all things considered, but it took every ounce of my patience, every last minute of a Signing Time movie, and nearly every square inch of our living room covered in hair to give him a passable real haircut. By the end I was covered in hair and there was no way I was going to cut Clark’s too. But I think I did a decent job. Again, it’s not amazing. But it’s not hideous. A few days later I cut Clark’s too, and so now, thanks to YouTube, I have modest confidence in my hair cutting abilities. Thanks, YouTube! 

Freshly-cut Cal, shaggy Clark... and a chicken nugget on a head!
Addendum: Some other cool things that have happened lately: I was a featured blogger on the blog Multiples and More, I was interviewed by writer Anna Deskins for her blog, and I got to listen to and meet one of my favorite poets, Sherman Alexie, at the National BookFestival today. You Inland Northwesterners will appreciate his inscription to me:

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I Do All My Own Stunts- A Photo Story

Something about Clark wearing this shirt the other day made him act particularly stunty. And then Cal got into it too. Enjoy!

Friday, September 23, 2011

First Glasses Day

Today Cal started wearing glasses. A week ago we had yet another second opinion from another ophthalmologist because we weren't happy with the apathy our initial one was showing in regard to helping strengthen Cal’s vision as much as possible and showing any curiosity about what he can see rather than settling for knowing what he can’t see. So when we saw the new doctor we had the mixed blessing of finding out that he is far-sighted in his good eye and needs glasses to correct it. The silver lining to that news is that wearing glasses to fix the farsightedness could straighten out his eyes so he might not have to have an alignment surgery when he’s older. We are glad we took him in again. Second opinions, folks. Get them! Cal picked out frames that were black and thick because he said “Uncle A!” when he saw them. It turned out that the black ones were too big for him, but the brown ones that looked vaguely Uncle A-ish were his size. So we ordered them.

Cal's glasses and band
Then the other day Cal’s bad eye seemed to be either having an allergic reaction or be infected. We took his contact out and expected it to clear up. When it didn't clear up overnight we both feared that it might be the sign of something related to the pressure in the eye, which led us to think glaucoma. He has been at high risk for glaucoma since his first surgery. Yesterday his retina specialist found a scratch on his cornea, presumably from something on his contact lens. With some antibiotic drops today, the eye has cleared up nicely. Next week he will have an EUA (exam under anesthesia) for routine measuring and pressure checking, but also to see if his contact lens strength needs to increase or decrease and to get a prescription for a progressive lens in addition to his contact on that right eye. Now is the time that his eyes are developing so we want to do all we possibly can to strengthen them. Once he hits nine or so the eyes will be done developing. We also found out that he needs to be patched more than he has been. Six hours a day while wearing glasses. Anything we can do to get this little guy the best possible vision is what we'll continue to do.

 Before we started this first day of glasses I looked up some helpful articles on getting toddlers to wear glasses and our day has been much better than I thought it would be based on his shrieking last night when we tried them on. We got a sports strap from a sporting goods store and this morning I made a stickers chart for motivation. Every time he wears his glasses for one “thing” he gets a sticker and he earns a sticker for Clark. I figured this might provide a little peer pressure for him to wear the glasses too. 
He kept his glasses on A L L through breakfast!

...and through watching home videos after breakfast
The chart has worked way better than I expected it would. First he wore them for a session of two Jimmy Buffet songs while riding the rocking horse. Then he wore them all through breakfast, during six stories, etc. He clearly can see better with them on. I put a bunch of children’s books about kids getting glasses on hold at the library and we looked at a photo gallery of a bunch of toddlers wearing glasses. Because of the eye infection we won’t start patching again for week or so. That gives him awhile to adjust to the glasses before he has to deal with both. What a trooper he is. Great first glasses day!

Playing music on Gammy's iPad

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thursday Thesicle

Corn on the cob deliciousness is directly related to the ferocity with which it is consumed. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Wild Toddler Love

During the past week the boys have had a nice reunion with one of their biggest fans, our good friend Margo, and were reunited with their long lost Uncle A, who has been away from home since June. Margo lived near us when Cal and Clark were born but moved away shortly after so she has had to get to know them via texts, email, blog, and Facebook. They know Margo primarily because she sends them texts of ceiling fans and her face riding her bike and her shoes and cat and things of that nature that they love. They also remember her from her visit in April because she gave them the mini cookies off her milkshake straw when we went to lunch. How could you forget anyone who gave you mini cookies? It's not likely. It is more likely to snag you some wild toddler love.

She was here for a short stay and they loved every minute of it. They especially loved staring at her phone at the same pictures of ceiling fans that she had sent to my phone that had kept their attention for the better part of the day before. It’s still weird, their ceiling fan obsession. I can hardly believe how strong it is still going.  After we had waved to her as her bus disappeared from view they kept saying,
“Margo went home,” in their saddest voices, and then,
“She’ll be back soon!” 

Margo love! (Yes, Cal is eating a wooden football in this picture.)
That night they lovingly patted the towel she used that was still hanging in the bathroom as they brushed their teeth with Spongebob toothbrushes, (They've taken to calling Spongebob, Mr. Bob) bristles out, because they think it’s funny.
“Margo’s towel!” they said, somberly, as if touching an ancient and valuable relic. I know they will be happy when Margo moves back. And they won’t be the only ones!

The reunion with Uncle A was one of extreme emotions. He only lives about 45 minutes away, but he has been gone all summer. The past year he has been great about coming to see us the boys almost every week and so his absence in our summer lives was acutely felt. They went through a phase when he first left of going to the door and knocking and yelling, “Uncle A?” When he came through the door last week, his hair all crazy-long from his summer of frivolity, they were a little bashful. But soon they warmed up and wouldn’t stop with their wild toddler love. 

Unite the three so long dis-joined.
Aaron’s a big guy and they love to tackle and jump on and hug and kiss and plow over all of him. They were sweating from their uncle-romping in mere minutes after he arrived. They showed him their big boy beds (still just mattresses on the floor), their basketball hoop, and other new additions to our quarters. Since he helped make the mac n’ cheese, it was much tastier to them than when I make it by myself all Boring Mommy Style. When the tackling and shrieking had lessened we headed outside for a visit to the park down the street. I’m not kidding when I say they giggled the entire time they spent on the swings which has to have been 20-30 minutes, possibly even more. They love their Uncle A. Then they hit balls around with him.  After the park visit Uncle A had to leave and the boys fell asleep faster than they have in a long time, and all by themselves.
Wild toddler love Picture A

Wild toddler love Picture B
He said a visit with them is good for his self-esteem. He must walk away feeling like a million bucks, because he certainly is that in their minds. Well, if they knew about bucks. Welcome back, Uncle A! Let the wild toddler love continue. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Opposite of Trucks

It seems normal for little boys to like trains and cars and trucks and construction equipment. All the boys’ little male friends like vehicles. They will play for an entire playdate calmly making tractor noises and dumping imaginary dirt with the tractor, slowly maneuvering the (super cool) garbage truck I bought my boys, or dexterously navigating a train on the tracks. Cal and Clark prefer picking up a train track and swinging it like a bat or chucking a cement truck across the room. 

We went to a cool event for kids a few weeks ago with all kinds of vehicles for kids to see, and most of them you could sit in—an ambulance, lots of maintenance trucks, fire truck, bulldozer, mail truck, garbage truck, you name it. They didn’t care. While their friend Andrew watched, wide-eyed at the big excavator (okay, I don’t actually know what it is called… maybe that’s where they get their vehicular apathy) lifting and moving dirt, they practiced running away from me. They. Don’t. Care. So, they prefer whatever is the opposite of trucks.
Trucks? Nah. Give the kid a hat and a horse and some music.
Ah, but they love balls. They love bats and golf clubs and hockey sticks. They love books. They love their rocking horse. They love to swing and play anything outside. They love their hats. They love ceiling fans. Cal lately informed Gammy that his favorite toy is his little helicopter because it goes ‘round and ‘round like a ceiling fan. Aside from the ceiling fans these other likes are very boy in nature so I'm generally not too worried about them.

They've recently taken their affinity for balls and books to a new level. They want to not only sleep with their teddy bear, kitty cat, and panda bears, they want to sleep with footballs and baseballs and books. Clark insisted on sleeping with a pile of books at naptime yesterday. I love so much that they love books and so of course I lovingly tucked the required critters in next to the books with the beloved ones the most accessible.
Clark's naptime specifications

Every once-in-awhile I have a mini meltdown in my head, thinking that perhaps my boys aren’t developing correctly if they don’t want to play with trains and cars and such. So then I dump out their Duplo train set and try to set up the simplest track design before they can mess it up. It is all I can do to not scream and throw things at them as my structurally sound and architecturally magnificent bridge is ripped from the green base and my intricate weave of tracks is deliberately disassembled and spread throughout the house as ceiling fans. Then they go to sleep and I set up a charming countryside all over the living room with a train track and meandering cattle and horses for plowing. It is then that I must have the honesty to ask myself, “Who did you really get this train set for?” When they wake up I can’t stand to watch it crumble as they lick the blocks like ice cream cones and raze my countryside with one swipe of the hockey stick. For the record, I still think that Duplo garbage truck is awesome.

Look out, Mom. I need to hit things while wearing Dad's tie.
The conclusion I’ve come to is that all kids go through phases and maybe mine will either not have a trucks ‘n stuff phase or it will come later on. I think they’re developmentally sound. Perhaps my obsession over having my train station color-coordinated and my tracks symmetrical might present an equally curious question about developmental soundness. At least at Christmastime I can channel this strange need for control and order into my gingerbread houses. Maybe I should start meticulously carving some pumpkins.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thursday Thesicle

Occasionally, husking corn on the cob requires a hard hat and thick cargo pants. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Pillows Game

We used to call the game of playing in the couch pillows on the floor Sand Dunes. Now the boys call it simply The Pillows Game and nearly every day they ask me, "'Member that game, Mommy? 'Member that?" as they throw the pillows off the couch to prepare for the game. Yes, I remember that game where you bonk your heads routinely and make me wonder why I let you play it. It is now much more than the game where they bounce in the pillows. It is the game where they fling their bodies onto the pile of pillows from running starts across the house and dive off the couch onto the pillows. The other day when we had guests over, the boys were particularly passionate about it from all the attention they were getting. Observe. And observe Clark's red eye that will be a black eye tomorrow from a brutal collision with Cal in The Pillows Game this afternoon.

Clark's developing black eye from today's Pillow Game

Monday, September 12, 2011


The boys have their own language. They enjoy making up and using nonsense, or apparent nonsense words. I guess it’s possible that they have meaning to them, but I doubt it. They think they are hilarious to use and they usually use them when we’re asking something that we truly would like to know the answer to. The predecessor to this behavior is when they used to say to each other with enthusiasm, “Yucky diapers go outside!” over and over in public, like there was some hidden meaning in the phrase. It was kind of embarrassing. They don’t do that anymore. They’ve moved on to more frustrating “words.”

New example number one: Bee-DAY-dus. They say this word as they make some weird hand gesture that looks vaguely like gang signs, done with both hands at once. I do not know where it came from, but I wish it would go back to wherever it was. The context is typically something along the lines of we’re leaving someone’s house and we ask them to say goodbye to the friends, we ask them if they finished their dinner, where they hid the remote control, etc. They answer with Beedaydus and laugh. This weekend we went to a children’s consignment store by our house in search of some pants. We ended up walking out with Cal clutching some firefighter rain boots, Clark leaving his cup on the pretend school bus, and no pants. While we were there Clark was playing with an older boy, probably 6 years old or so, at the pretend grocery store. The boy told his mom, 

“Hey Mom, I’m playing with this little boy!” 
His mom came over, browsing the clothes, and asked, 
“What’s his name?” 
The boy asked. Clark looked at him, dropped the fake apple, and said, flashing his double-handed gang signs, 
The mom frowned and said quizzically, 
Clark shouted and grinned mischievously, 
Then he enunciated it even more and the mom repeated him exactly, visibly stumped. 
That’s where I had to jump in and explain his weirdness. I'm glad I overheard or the boy and his mom would probably have called him Beedaydus until we left. Then Cal walked over and I saved her some time by introducing him with his real name.

Here Clark says Bee-DAY-dus when asked to say cheese
Second and newest term: “DEW-dis NEWdis.”  This serves the same purpose as Beedaydus. A word to drive us crazy when we want real answers to our questions. Fortunately there are no stories of them saying this in public…yet. Stay tuned, for I am sure it will come out soon. And I'm sure it will involve someone thinking my boys are talking about nudists. 

Third word: Toe-MAY-toe. Clearly they did not make up the word tomato, but they stripped any meaning from the term by saying it in the same context—to annoy us and entertain each other— as with the other words. This one comes from a home video that we have from a couple months ago. Clark said “Toe-MAY-toe” and flashed his gang-ish signs, then inexplicably collapsing on the floor. There are no bigger fans of Cal and Clark than Cal and Clark, and they love to watch the video clip, and any video clip really, of themselves. So now they quote themselves like normal people would quote a classic movie. A tad on the narcissistic side but we tell ourselves they’ll grow out of it and instead develop healthy self-confidence that will propel them forward in life. Here’s hoping.

Public adventure with Toemaytoe: Yesterday we went to the driving range for Clark and Brian to hit golf balls and Cal and I to chase after each other and dodge swinging golf clubs and play in the gravel. Okay, mostly for me to chase him, keep him out of the gravel, and loudly encourage him to dodge the swinging clubs while sweating profusely. On one such dash behind the golfers, Cal stopped to talk to an older man and his wife who were fawning over him. The man had obviously been out in the sun for awhile and was quite red in the face. He smiled and said hi to Cal. Cal responded, flashing the gang signs to the man with the red face, and saying, clear as a bell, 
Hey Clark, are you poopy? Toe-MAY-toe
 Ug. The woman chuckled and said to her husband, 
“Well, you ARE pretty red from hitting golf balls.” 
I don’t think the man was appreciative and the woman seemed a little thrown off by Cal’s frankness. I’m sure there was no connection in Cal’s mind to the hue of the man’s face and a tomato, but it was agonizingly ironic and I didn’t even bother to explain, rather I kept a safe distance pretending not to hear, and tried to change the subject with Cal.

I wonder if most kids do this with language, or if it is specifically common among twins to create words.  I do remember making up words with my brother, so perhaps it is simply something that creative, linguistically-advanced children do. J I’ll keep that in mind when DEW-dis NEW-diss makes its debut in public. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years

I feel that I shouldn’t be silent as a blogger on the anniversary of our nation’s tragic day ten years ago, or simply write about something like boogers and rashes and not acknowledge the day.

I was not affected directly by any losses of friends or family, for which I am grateful, but my heart still breaks for the many who were affected in such horrible ways for hateful, senseless reasons. I remember that day clearly. I was a tired student teacher, writing on a whiteboard and preparing for class as the pink sun rose in Meridian, Idaho. The principal told us to turn on our TVs. I watched in horror at the smoking building as the second plane hit the other tower. It was difficult to keep composed around middle schoolers who were asking about it, especially when I knew little. It was supposed to be a testing day but the school cancelled all the testing. After first period a teacher poked her head in and told me that the Pentagon was bombed. I remember being glad I was in little Idaho, but immediately thinking about my friend and future roommate, Missy, in DC.

And so all our stories go— the shock, sadness, horror, anger, surging through our bodies in rapid succession and repeatedly. Glued to the television. Racing to the gas pumps. Flying flags. Talking to strangers. Calling family. It really was, as Alan Jackson said in his song, the day the world stopped turning. I’m thankful we have not had anything happen on that scale again and that we’re not too far away from the completion of the tallest building in the world being built right next to Ground Zero in New York. I am proud to be an American. And, though the risks of being involved in some kind of attack are much greater here by DC than they are in the mountains of Idaho, I am proud and blessed to live here.

Missy and me, teeth chattering, Inauguration '05

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Water Wars: The Season Finale

All smiles, ready for the boat ride
What began the swimming season as a huge water meltdown for a pilot episode (as told in my post Pool Wars I and II), fizzled down and became more of a manageable dislike of large bodies (natural or man-made) of water. We never took the boys back to the pool or the ocean (read about the ocean here) but they have had several encounters at the lake (read about it here and see pictures here) where I believe small victories have been won. Their desire to stay in the sand on the beach and to do no more than barely poke their toes into the water made it extremely easy to watch them at the lake on our last lake trip of the summer. I remember last year that it took constant vigilance by two people to keep them from toddling into the lake water. I'm a list-maker, so let me break it down for you: 

Water encounters they enjoy:

Hitting golf balls into the water and retrieving them from shore
Washing sand off their hands in the shallowest water possible
Jet skiing
“Steering” the paddle boat
Talking about going to the pool
Talking about when Clark fell off the dock
Throwing pinecorns (acorns) into the lake
Splashing other people with water
Bathing in the tub, but only their tub, not Gammy’s
Drinking water in a cup

Water encounters they still cannot handle without screaming maniacally like crazed monkeys: 

Going into a BBOW (Big Body Of Water) past their shins
Watching Mom jump off the dock
Bathing in someone else’s tub on the first try
Putting a single toe in a kiddie pool
Being splashed by a sprinkler or any other form of water

Overall as you can see, they enjoy more water encounters than they hate. We hope to get them to the indoor pool regularly this winter and start them in swim lessons next summer when they’re three. Baby steps, right? Our Labor Day lake trip was a pretty good season finale after the disastrous pilot episode in June.

Clark beach-golfing

Boat ice cream faces

Calvin went in this far all by himself!

Thursday Thesicle

Cooking, coring, and peeling tomatoes for tomato sauce takes an inordinate amount of time. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Welcome, Rainy Autumn!

Autumn arrived yesterday. How wholly unexpected it was for me! We spent a summery weekend at the lake over Labor Day and woke up at home the next day to drizzly, wonderful autumn. And here it is again today. I had to turn the heat on last night! The boys have a Signing Time video that is about the seasons and so they were as thrilled as I was that the weather seems to be turning autumnal.  

Words that make me think of Autumn:

Moth balls

Yesterday morning we walked to the Best Friend Nick’s house and on our way home the downpour drenched us. The boys were a little scared at first as the rain seeped under the stroller sun shades and formed puddles on their sweatshirts sleeves, but soon thought the whole thing was hilarious. I borrowed a blanket for their legs and it was soaking wet by the time we got home. The puddles then called to the boys and they spent some time outside our building doing some serious damage to any standing water and their clothes and shoes. Later after naptime when Brian came home, all four of us took to the puddles. Cal and Clark quickly found the biggest sidewalk puddle and then got running starts from all different angles to make the biggest possible splashes. Dad’s splashes were the coolest and Mom’s were funny and Cal claimed the puddle water tasted good.

I put up my autumn-colored candles and fake burnt orange flower decorations extensive interior autumn d├ęcor and took down my summer door wreath. I was tempted to take out my box of sweaters, which is when I realized that my sweaters haven’t fit since I was pregnant oddly shrunk a while ago so I don’t own a box of sweaters anymore, but rather a couple sweaters folded in my closet.  I’m content with sifting through boys’ clothes and putting aside smaller and summery ones.

Farewell Summer and welcome Autumn-full-ness! I will be disappointed if you are merely hurricane fragments  and Summer is still lurking.

Prepping for Puddle-jumping...we couldn't find Clark's boots!

Cal calls his rain boots his rainbow boots

Action shot


Cal prepares to drink puddle water

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