Monday, September 24, 2007

"I Did It!"

Helios' first word was, we think, "Dada." Almost indistinct from normal baby gurgling and syllabic stuttering, this was the sound he made most often. It covered the full range of emotions from "I want that sharp knife out of the dishwasher" to the more predictable "pick me up, big guy, and carry me around on your shoulders!" After a while, it became very specific to Daddy where he'd gesture and caterwaul when he wanted something or someone else, but saying "Dada" when that's who he wanted.

Hesperos has been a little more varied in his speaking, learning to say both "Mama" and "Dada" at the same time and interchangeably. But he doesn't really use them often enough or with any consistency for us to really consider them words so much as nonsense talk. So, when we finally heard his "first words", it came to us with startling clarity.

"I did it! I did it!"

Recently, Hesperos learned (to our dismay) to climb up the stairs, which he does with irrepressible glee generally when we're looking the other way. Then, he gets to the top landing, sits, stares down in a lordly fashion, waves his fist, and yells, "I did it, I did it!"

Now that he's finally interested in walking, Hesperos will creep across the wall. When he comes to the end, he'll turn his sparkling blue eyes toward some adult to look for praise, and gurgle, "I did it! I did it!"

Most amusing (and perhaps most characteristic of the dynamics of their brotherly relationship), Hesperos recently sat behind Helios while Helios was concentrating deeply on his trains. Helios lurched away for mere moments, giving Hesperos the opportunity he needed. With lightening fast movements that belie his pudgy size, Hesperos lunged in behind Helios, grabbed the treasured Murdoch, and promptly shoved it in his mouth, as though to hide it (or at least disgust Helios with enough drool that perhaps he wouldn't want it back).

And what words did Hesperos chew out around a steel toy train that was amassing drool in every gear and rotor?

That's right.

"I did it, I did it!"

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Bubbly Birthday

In a much-anticipated event that captured the mind, heart, soul, and attention of an almost-three-year-old for weeks, Helios finally officially celebrated his third birthday with a little pomp, a tiny bit of circumstance, but mainly with bubbles and cupcakes.

The themed party was kicked off early on with invitations made of bubble wrap and dye-punched circles, helpfully pasted on by Helios himself, and enhanced with a bubble wand on the inside flap. Each invitation also came complete with a little dusting of glitter for no real bubbly purpose except that it elicited a little sadistic smirk from Mommy when she thought of people opening the invitations to have glitter on their hands and clothes.

On "Birthday Party Eve," Helios indulged with gifts from Daddy Jane, Grandpa Mel, and Uncle Scooter, including two new friends from the Thomas the Tank Engine line and a new set of Geotrax, which accommodates fire trucks, trains, and police cars. Understandably, we were all pleased that Helios received another track set. From Helios' perspective, more is always better and nothing sets a little boy's heart atwitter more than having a track that accommodates multiple vehicle types. From the parents' perspective, we're happy because now we have the ability to have one fully functional train in every central room of the house (excluding bedrooms and bathrooms). It's every homeowner's dream fulfilled!

The actual birthday party day dawned bright and early, with much hubbub. Helios had previously seen the box that contained his gift from Mommy and Daddy, a two-seater Red Flyer wagon, so his excitement was uncontainable. Then, when he saw the cupcakes upon which he would later feast, his excitement grew.

The party was held at the local YMCA, where the cost to host the party away from home was well worth the paltry sum we paid. The Y provided a mini trampoline, climbing ropes, a parachute, balls, foam ramps, mats and pads, and balloons. Mommy and Daddy provided bubbles, punch balls, snacks, sugar, and toddler music on the CD player. The children ran around like little joyful screeching sprites. Apparently one of party's highlights was when the children ganged up on Uncle Elmo. By using their combined weight of about 250 lbs (which represents about 8 children), they were able to wrestle him down where they pummelled him with balloons and punch balls, making Mommy regretful that she'd never had that opportunity when she grew up with him. Meanwhile, Helios capered around the mats with one of his preschool friends, cheerfully oblivious to the padded violence occurring around them.

The lesson we took from this is that the adults should get party favor bags, too -- preferably filled with ear plugs and aspirin, and maybe some Bengay for those on the upper edge of parenthood. Maybe next time.

Happy Birthday was performed (a song that Helios had been practicing for weeks previous) and then the birthday cupcakes came which, although pretty, appear to have been a challenge for Helios to eat. Afterward, Helios opened his gifts to much ooh-ing and aah-ing, puncutated by the occasional, "WOW!"

Afterward, we pulled out the bubble-making machine which was the arguable highlight of the event ... at least for Hesperos who did his best to catch the soap bubbles that might've been as large as he. Whenever he touched one, it would, predictably, pop, making him chortle with glee.

Then, there was a little more sugar-induced frenzy before going home, where Mommy and Daddy put the kids down for naps before crashing. We breathed a huge sigh of relief, thinking, "yes, now we're finally done and can relax," before it hit us...

Now we need to get ready for Christmas.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Little Prayers

Normally, when we go to church, we find it easier to take the boys into the parent's/children's room where we can listen to the sermon while Helios reads a book or plays with a train and Hesperos drools and gurgles half syllables. But, recognizing that Helios is now three and should be able to compose himself appropriately as well as learn the liturgy and how to pray, we've started taking the children out of the "safe room" and into the pews with the adults unhampered by toys, blankets, and snacks.

While almost everything is equally interesting and chew-worthy to Hesperos, Helios is old enough to start appreciating the finer things of church attendance. If you were to take a moment to imagine yourself as a three-year-old, you'd know right away what these are: putting the envelope into the basket, yelling out "AMEN!", and fixing your hair with holy water. (Mommy knows that her hair always looks best when blessed.)

Helios has also taken a liking to kneeling and praying. Lest anyone too quickly assume that our son has a spiritual bent, consider that when kneeling he has the opportunity to move around and play with the kneelers, and when praying, he finally has the chance to talk without being reprimanded. And Helios loves to talk. In fact, Helios does in church what Mommy does during movies ... providing a running commentary about everything. Except whereas Mommy at least has the discretion to mutter sotto voce to her movie-going companions, Helios prefers to share his observations loudly with perfect timing the comments that you'd rather others not hear, like how the priest is bald or that the Jesus on the wall "is not moving, Mommy. Go wake him up and tell him to stop sleeping on the wall!"

But Helios is capable of prayerful solemnity at times. As some readers may know, one of the boys' grandfather's has been afflicted for many years with multiple sclerosis. Their other grandfather was recently diagnosed with cancer. So, every night and whenever we go to church, Helios includes his grandfathers in his prayers asking for their improved health.

Helios' prayer at church this past week was especially earnest and spoken without prompting or reminders from his parents. "God bless Grandpa Mel and God bless Grandpa Wil and make them get better soon so they won't have to take yucky medicine. And God bless Aunt Tiffany's kitty-cats. And God bless my big red wagon. It's a big red wagon and goes really fast! God bless my big red fast wagon...and my trains!"

Every little boy needs to have his priorities!