A Painted House

Archive for the ‘James’ Category





James’ room was the first room to get a makeover after our move (see: Room Reveal: James’ Room) and is one of my favorites in our house.   Not too long ago our little boy transitioned from a toddler bed to a big boy bed and so his room underwent its second revision in eighteen months.

Oh, how I loved James’ airplane themed bedding.  One of the biggest arguements I hear against buying baby bedding sets is that they’re so expensive and you don’t use them for very long.  And it’s true, they are crazy expensive.  As in, some people pay more for them than they do in deductible to actually give birth to the baby.  So when we were picking out a set for our firstborn’s nursery I deliberately chose one which was more Little Boy and less Baby.  I was determined even then that with a $180 pricetag, I’d use that sucker for more than the first year of my kid’s life.

Here are some snapshots of James’ teeny tiny nursery in our first home.  Sigh, sniff, nostalgia.



Gosh, I loved that little room even if it had no storage and barely any floor space.  When we moved in to our current house we kept the same motif, subtracted the crib and changing table, and added a cutey little toddler bed.  Again with the sighing and sniffing.

As the crib bedding still fit his toddler bed, nothing really changed except adding the moulding treatment on the feature wall.  (Which had nothing to do with his age and everything to do with my love for moulding treatments.)


So several months ago my big kid outgrew his toddler bed and it was time to change things up again.  The first step was to prepare his new Big Kid Bed.  We’d had this fantastically orange wood headboard in storage for years:

It was Travis’ when he was a boy and came with the entire set of bedrom furniture we’ve been refinishing one piece at a time over the years. (The dresser shown above was part of that set too, refinished to a dark cherry color.)  Rather than strip/sand/stain/seal this particular piece I decided to paint it white.  A little room rearranging placed it up against the feature wall and I love, LOVE how the white pops off of the color.



The bedding was not a cheap find…..but when you pre-determined your colors with an extremely labor-intensive feature wall and your theme from a pre-purchased bedding set, you have limited options.  So when you find a set that a) matches your existing color scheme and b) fits the airplane theme but ratchets the age level up a notch, you just buy it.  It was still less than half of the cost of the nursery bedding. I really love the vintage airplanes because they will carry the theme all the way through elementary age.  Plus oh.my.word. the comforter and sham are the softest, squishiest, comfiest fabric ever.


So back to that nursery bedding set.  It came with sheets, comforter, bumper, crib skirt, and window valance.  I was determined to use as much of it as I could and part of that was repurposing the crib sheets into pillow cases.  We had two sheets that matched the set so I cut off the elastic edging, sewed them into pillow cases, and now James has two that coordinate with his new bedding and are super soft from years of washing.


The crib bedskirt was repurposed into the new bed’s bedskirt.  Because crib skirts are four-sided and a twin bed only has three sides showing, I was able to cut the skirt apart and piece each of the four sides together into one long strip.  I then tucked it under the box spring and it just barely made it all the way around his new bed.

Next up, every big kid room needs a night stand.  This beauty just happened to be free on the side of the road:

I know, I can’t imagine why, right?  It was a garage sale leftover and it seems no one wanted it despite it’s insultingly low price of $3.00.  I’m never too proud to stop and pick up something free if it has potential, a trait which annoys the junk out of intrigues my husband .   I thought those little cubbies underneath were darling!

The table had a big hole in the top where I’m guessing a lamp pole used to be, but that was pretty easily fixed by plugging the hole, spackling over it, and sanding it down.  Once the whole thing was spray painted a semi-gloss white you can’t even see where it used to be!


And there you have the main players in your big kid room: new bedding, big bed, and night table:

The dresser and rocker stayed, though we removed the footstool.  The curtains remain from the original bedding set, along with the blackout panels I made years ago when James started waking with the sun.  Not cool, kid.

The quilt from his nursery bedding stayed as a wall hanging, as again, it’s more boyish than babyish.

The frames are new and started out looking like this:

They were $1.00 each at a garage sale.  I discarded the old artwork and painted the frames a white semi-gloss.  For the artwork I cut squares of fabric and several of the appliques from the crib bumper and framed them.

The rest of the crib bumper was cut up and sewn into pillows.  I just whacked them off at the right length, stuffed a little more padding down inside, and sewed the ends closed.  I stitched leftover cording from the bumper into the ends of my new pillows so they look finished.  I made two, one that sits on his rocker and the other tucked into the back of his nightstand.

The little end table next to the rocker is a square chest and was a garage sale find years ago.  I originally had plans to paint it and cover the rattan panels with fabric but for now it does just fine.  James loves that he has a treasure chest in his room!

The bookshelf display got a little makeover as well, adding a mirror salvaged from my Mom’s house, a framed drawing of James sketched by my Dad, and two wooden puzzles made and given to him by my grandfather.

The final change to James’ room is the one he found far and away, most exciting.  Anyone who knows my boy knows he has an obsession with ceiling fans.  And “obsession” is probably stating it far too lightly.   So much so that he has a “favorite fan”……which just happens to be the fan hung in the master bedroom at our old house, and under which my boy spent hours napping and playing in his first two years of life.  That same fan was on display at Menards for years and every time we went there James would ask to go visit his “favorite fan”.  So when Menards discontinued it and took it off display last year we had one crestfallen little boy.  Enter Daddy to the rescue….Travis ordered this ugly favorite silver ceiling fan online and then earned Daddy of the Year award by installing it in James’ bedroom.   Oh my, if you could have seen the elation on that boy’s face.   Daddy is his hero.

MY favorite part of James’ updated room is the saying above his door.  It was gifted to him by my Mom and truer words have never been spoken.


There you have it…..from nursery to big kid room.  May we not redo this room again until he’s old enough to pick out something hideous more mature for himself!


Dear James,

Can it be that you’re three years old?  Oh, how you’ve grown over the past year both physically (You outgrow pants in the amount of time it takes me to make dinner.  I start to brown the chicken and you’re appropriately dressed; I turn to put the casserole in the oven and you’re wearing capris.) and intellectually.  I started writing these letters to record the things about your childhood that you won’t remember, but I’m not sure there is anything you don’t remember.  Your mind is always churning, always processing, and you never.forget.anything.  We had not been to Grandma and Grandpa Pierce’s house for over six months, a pretty significant portion of your short life, and when we told you a few weeks ago that we were going to visit you immediately rattled off a paragraph about the ping pong table in their basement (which you had only seen once before), their ceiling fans, the DVD player you get to use in the car on long trips, and the toys Grandma has for you to play with.  Astounding. 

Speaking of ceiling fans, your obsession continues.  Three years in and you’re just as in love with ceiling fans as you ever were.  We were watching the movie Cars last week and during a pivotal scene you focused not on the dozen talking racecars on the screen, but on the animated ceiling fans whirring in the background.  And much to your Dad’s pleasure, your favorite store to visit is Menards because they have a gigantic ceiling fan display section.  You’ve even picked out a favorite fan…..which just happens to be the same fan that hung in our bedroom in our old house and under which I parked you every day so I could take a shower.  I don’t think you even know why it’s your favorite, but you gravitate to that fan every time.  It makes me wonder what else you’ve stored away in that brain of yours from these first three years of your life.  Do you also remember the hundreds of bowls of oatmeal you ate until you could tolerate solid food, the time you smashed your thumb in the door at the doctor’s office and had to get it x-rayed, or when I stepped out of the room for thirty seconds while you were coloring with markers and you turned your arms, legs, and neck purple?  How about the time you projectile vomited from the backseat of the van all the way to the dashboard, at seventy miles an hour?  Good times, sweet memories.

And it’s not just fans, you find anything that spins completely fascinating.  Pinwheels, the oscillating sprinkler, washing machines, my kitchen mixer….if you can turn it in a circle you’re enamored. Your tricycle spends more time upside down so you can spin the wheel, than it does upright.  You ask me every.single.day. if we can put the box fans up in the bedroom windows so the wind will spin the blades.  And every time we play with sidewalk chalk you ask me to draw you a fan.  We often wonder how this will translate into a career choice.  Will you be a washing machine repairman?  A helicopter pilot?  The person at Lowe’s responsible for turning off and on all the display fans?  Heaven help us if you become a professional ice skater; your long and lean form might not lend itself to triple toe loops but your spinning would be fantastic.

You also have a strong affinity for music, James.  This is one talent I can get behind. (Though not one on which you may try to base a career.  Unless of course you’re good enough to qualify for American Idol, in which case I’d get to live out every mother’s dream of having her son’s beautiful face flashed up on a TV screen, swooned over by preteen girls nationwide, and associated with a cutesy four digit phone number…To vote for James, text the word VOTE to….Really, it’s all a Mama can hope for).  Anyway. You have a large repertoire of songs stored away in your head and often break into song without warning.  And you’re pretty good too; you can hold a tune, recognize songs just by the notes even without words, and remember a seemingly endless stream of lyrics. You can also hum the tunes, in order, from every musical toy both at our house and your friends’.  You know everything from Old McDonald to Jesus Loves the Little Children, but nothing holds a candle to your favorite song: Jingle Bells.  It may be April but that doesn’t stop you from bursting into Christmas Carols while taking a bath.  You’re a boy after my own heart.  The most impressive aspect of your musical education comes straight from your favorite TV show: Little Einsteins.  You’ve learned the musical terminology for fast, slow, and everything in between.  And I love the look on peoples’ faces when we’re swinging and you ask me not to push you faster, but to push you Presto.  In fact you ask me to start you out Adagio, then Moderato, then Allegro, and finally Presto!  Or when you start humming classical music.  I just soak in the moment of motherly pride and don’t tell them that all the credit for your genius goes directly to Disney Junior.

In the year since I wrote your two year letter you’ve received a promotion, James.  You’re not only my firstborn son, you’re also now the oldest son.  You’re a big brother to Edison who was born just after you turned two and a half.  Kid, you are the best big brother.  You’re sweet to Edison, including him in conversations and asking him to play trucks with you.  You get concerned when he cries and are very upset if you don’t get to be the first person into his room in the morning to greet him.  A couple of weeks ago Edison was fussing after being laid down for a nap and then a minute later I heard your voice on his monitor, too.  I clicked on the video to see your head and hands peeking over the edge of his crib as you checked to make sure that he was ok.  And just last night as we were taking a family walk with the double stroller, you heard him start to whine a bit in the seat behind you and maneuvered yourself around to ask him, “What’s wrong, Edison?  Do you need your paci?”  And then you reached back and gave it to him.  Melt.my.heart.  Your little brother adores you, James; all it takes is a word or a glance and he wiggles and grins with all his might.  I’m a big sister myself so I know the responsibility that comes with having younger siblings who look up to you; everything you do, he will want to try and how you treat him can make or break his spirit.  It’s my hope that you continue to embrace your Big Brother role as he grows and becomes increasingly annoying in your eyes.  And then someday you two can work together to turn on every faucet we have in this house simultaneously and flood every level at once!  Hurrah for brotherly love!

If there’s one negative to your turning three, James, it’s that you’ve discovered your physical and mental independence.  It’s as if you realized that for three whole years you’ve been compliant and sweet and obedient and have decided to test the waters and see what else is out there for you.  The past couple of weeks have been challenging as you push the boundaries to see how much, if any, defiance will be tolerated.  (It would save both of us a LOT of headache and in your case, bum-ache, if you would just accept that that amount is NONE.)  It’s been hard for me to see my sweet child turn argumentative and to have to intervene with correction when you decide to tantrum rather than obey.  But I know that testing the rules and learning to submit your will to that of your parent is all part of growing up.  And I figure if God can be so gracious as to put up with me and my never ending string of defiant thoughts and disobedient actions, despite the known consequences, then I can do the same with you.  It seems that three is the age at which you begin to find out what it truly means to be an individual, a person, sin nature and all.  And nothing is more important to me, James, than that we work through that learning process together so that you come out with a strong sense of your self, a firm grasp on what choices God would have you to make, and a love for Him that helps you to make the right ones.

Happy third birthday, Sweet Pea.

Love, Mama

I hate unloading the dishwasher (though thankful to have one, as we didn’t for our first several married years) so instead how about a bullet post?  I think so.

  • Point of order:  we paid off a chunk of debt this week!  SO exciting to watch that balance drop to $0.00.   Only med school and the house left to go. 😉
  • THE SUN IS OUT!   That is all.
  • We leave tomorrow for my parents’ house!  I’m so stinkin’ excited to get out of town a bit.  We haven’t left the city limits since September of last year.  Having a winter baby = hibernation.
  • I haven’t packed yet.  As we’ll be gone five days and we’re taking four people, two of which are under the age of three, I’m considering just stuffing the entire house into one of those extra large vaccuum seal bags and calling it a day.
  • If only we’d bought the standard length van instead of the shorter one.
  • James has been counting down the days for two weeks.  Fourteen sleeps.  We don’t tell him we’re going somewhere until the day of to avoid just that experience, as he still doesn’t have much of a sense of time, but somehow he knew that this trip was coming.  Fourteen days of, “Should we go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house today?”   But now there’s only ONE sleep left.  And it’s all he can talk about.  He’s walking around the house changing, “Just ONE sleep left.  Just ONE sleep left.”
  • We made it through a haircut last night with NO crying.  You have no idea what an accomplishment this is.  James was born with a lot of hair and by ten months either he had to have his first haircut or I needed to invest in some (manly) barrettes.  He’s been screaming, writhing and snotting his way through haircuts ever since.  It’s really just such a pleasure; not at all embarrassing when your toddler acts, in public, as if the hairdresser is cutting off his ears.  But last night we revisited a sweet girl who lets James spray her squirt bottle at the mirror the entire time she’s cutting.  And gives him stickers, asks him questions, and still manages to give him a decent haircut.  Thank God for you, Kayla.  My Public Embarrassment quotient just went down.
  • And I could use the help, because I dropped a gallon of milk in the grocery store yesterday and it cracked open.  Milk, everywhere.   
  • Baby E turns four months next week.  WHERE is time going?  He’s doing a ton of funny and adorable things but I’ll save them for his four month letter.
  • What he’s NOT doing?  Sleeping through the night.  Or more than three hours in a stretch, ever.  Unlike the half dozen other babies we know born after him who sleep hours and hours.   Just, Ack. 
  • Mental note:  never, ever, ever buy a used Boppy pillow.  I have a fairly eager eater and he still decides to look up and smile at me just as his breakfast really lets down in force.   Again, with the milk, everywhere. 
  • If I’d taken him to the store with me yesterday I could totally have blamed it on him.  He owes me.  (See:  the not sleeping at night.)
  • There is a tent in my Reading Room, Hot Wheels and a changing table in my dining room, a play kitchen and a bouncy seat in my kitchen, a plat mat and swing in my living room, bath toys in my tub, a pack-n-play in my bedroom, and train tracks, a slide, and an airplane rocker my basement.   We may pay the mortgage on this house but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t belong to us.
  • I gave up chocolate for Lent this year.  I know, predictable and cliche.  But it’s my first year trying it so I decided to start with something small.   Except we’re introducing potty training to James and our motivation at the moment is M&Ms.  If he goes potty he gets three M&M’s…and therefore by extension each time I go during the day he thinks I should get to have three M&M’s.  He’s made the connection between the action and the reward and gets SO excited for me.   How exactly does one explain to a toddler that a Lenten sacrifice takes precedence over a pottytime reward for someone whose been pottying for twenty-eight years?   So I’ve given up chocolate for Lent, except when I’m busted in the act of pottying.
  • I bet God understands.

Several months ago we asked for suggestions regarding Christian kids music for James.  LOTS of you suggested the Hide ‘Em In Your Heart CDs by Steve Green and I’m so glad you did.  They’ve been playing in our car pretty much ever since, to the point that James can sing along with most of the songs.  There’s something so pure in hearing your toddler’s sweet little voice singing from memory, the words God gave us to live by.  It makes me feel like we’re doing something right.

So a few mornings ago when I was feeding the baby in our bedroom before coming down for the day.  (Stay with me, I promise my abrupt change in subject does relate.)  Normally I get James setup in his chair with his breakfast before sitting down to nurse Edison, but this morning Edison was the hungrier of the two.  James, finding ways to amuse himself upstairs, opened my nightstand drawer and found two tubes of chapstick.  He can’t get the lids off without my help, so I let him play with them because it beats having to holler at him from my immobile state to TURN OFF THE WATER in the bathroom.  Anyway.

So while he played and I nursed, I asked him if he wanted to sing the Fruits of the Spirit song from the aforementioned CD.  (See?  I told you it would come back around.)  “Umm, ok!” he said and we sang together, “The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness.  The fruits of the Spirit are faithfulness, gentleness, and self control!”  He knows all the words by heart.  Melt MY heart.

Two days later I was once again feeding Edison before we came downstairs for the morning.  Ever one for repetition, James went to my nightstand looking for the chapsticks.  Only they weren’t there.  Immediately he turned to me and asked, “Where are the Fruits of the Spirit, Mama?   Want the Fruits of the Spirit.”


Yep, my two-year-old thinks chapstick is the Fruit of the Spirit.  Maybe we’re not making quite as much progres in his Spiritual Formation as I thought.

Either that or he’s inherited my marketing genes and he’s brilliant.  Coming soon to a Family Christian store near you, the Fruits of the Spirit chapstick line …..Lovely Lemon, Joyful JuJube, Peaceful Peach, Patient Pear, Kindness Kiwi, Goodness Grape, Faithful Fig,  Gentle Guava, and Self-Control Starfruit.

Collect all eight.

Note:  Readers from my former blog will be familiar with the monthly letters I write to my babies for the first two years of their lives.   As each new letter will be posted here I will be moving over all previous letters to my archives for continuity.  Thanks for your patience as I work on all this administrative stuff!

Original post date: April 16, 2010

Dear James,

Happy second birthday, James boy!  And a little boy you are, no baby left in sight.  You charge full-speed-ahead through your day, alternately narrating your (and my) every move, and begging for things we were stupid enough to let you try once.  Your Dad and I have made many rookie mistakes in parenting you these past two years, James, but none quite so big as assuming that if we let you try something once, you would then forget all about it.  Hah.  Hah hah.  Poor naïve first timers, we are.  Turns out if I let you sit on the counter and splash in the water one time while I do dishes, you will want to do it every minute of every day for the rest of your life.  You’d think we college educated ones would have picked up on this trend when we let you touch the ceiling fan just once before you turned one and now, over a year later, alternate responding to your consistent requests to “Touch it?  Tooooouch it?  Touch’a da faaaan?”

This month we marked another stage of your growth into a big boy by switching you into a toddler bed.  I was a little worried how that transition would go, as you’ve been emotionally entangled with your crib from an early age.  It’s the only place you’ve slept soundly since you were just a few months old and you frequently ask to be put inside during your waking hours, just to play in there.  Yes, for the record, that’s a little weird.  Not that I’m surprised, I happen to have an unhealthy dependence on my bed and you know those kind of addictive behaviors are genetic.  But all my worry was for naught, as you latched onto the idea of a Big Boy Bed with glee.  You looooove being able to climb in and out by yourself and have even nixed our nightly rocking and singing routine, to expedite the process.  Sniff.

Not to say the transition has been completely smooth.  We made it three weeks with only the occasional bedtime snafu, where you’d come waltzing out of your room minutes after being put to bed.  But earlier this week you made up your mind to see if perhaps Mom’s limit for naptime indiscretions was lower than you thought and you were only two tries away from covert playtime.  WRONG.  And yes, that was me laughing into my arm out in the living room after busting you out of bed and watching you turn and hightail it back, pop gun trailing behind you and toy hammer tossed over your shoulder like discarded dead weight.  Turkey.

The largest change to happen to our family this month will have perhaps the biggest effect on you, James.  A few weeks ago we found out that in seven short months we’re going to welcome another member of our family!  I’m not sure how you’re going to feel about this addition come November, when suddenly you are not the only small person requiring Mama’s time and energy and attention.  To be honest I’m a little nervous about how it will affect you; I’m afraid you’ll be resentful of the new baby and upset with me for turning your world upside down.  But I also know from experience that siblings are the greatest long-term gift a parent can give their child.  The brother who shoves you and tries to stand on your head will someday stand next to you at your wedding and nudge you forward to take your bride’s hand.  And the same sister who calls away your Mama’s attention will call you on your birthday long after your Dad and I are gone.  So James, I’m willing to risk some of your two-year-old resentment in order to assure that for the rest of your years you will have someone bonded to you by blood and a mutual love of nacho cheese.

Love, Mama

Note:  Readers from my former blog will be familiar with the monthly letters I write to my babies for the first two years of their lives.   As each new letter will be posted here I will be moving over all previous letters to my archives for continuity.  Thanks for your patience as I work on all this administrative stuff!

Original post date: March 26, 2010

Dear James,

Last week you turned 23 months old.  This month has brought the outdoors back into our life which is a more welcome addition than a swimming pool filled with nacho cheese.  You had completely forgotten that a whole world of play exists outside of our four little walls and watching you rediscover it with full abandon has been a joy.  The first time the snow melted enough that you could see the edges of your outdoor toys you took off in a dead run across the frozen yard yelling, “Lawnmower!  Laaawnmooower!” with all the elation of a reunited long-lost family member.  And then you mowed nice neat little rows in the snow-dusted driveway, much to the pleasures of your vacuum-lines-in-the-carpet lovin’ Mama.

Last year your Grandpa Pierce made a wagon for you for your birthday.  We’re only two weeks into what is now being called “wagon season” and I’m pretty sure you’re going to owe me for shoulder surgery sometime in your early adulthood.  You’re a wagon addict, James.  The second your feet hit the driveway you begin begging for the wagon and before the garage door is all the way up you scoot under and start pulling on the handle.  If only Grandpa had installed an odometer on that wagon because I have a feeling there’s a record somewhere for most miles covered in a Radio Flyer and we could give it a serious run for its money.

This month we’ve made some serious strides in your eating habits, James.  Last week I watched you shove forkful after forkful of green beans and mashed potatoes into your mouth and then hand it to me and ask for more. And make no mistake, that sentence reflects more celebration than if you’d suddenly started reciting the Periodic Table.  Your Dad and I realized that we’d become guilty of leaving the TV on during each dinner; a technique that once provided a good distraction as you’d mindlessly shove bites into your mouth.  But now it had become a distraction from eating so dinners have become a quiet family time where we talk and concentrate on eating and each other.  And surprisingly, you’ve responded so well to our new routine.  You eat without complaint, you try almost anything on your plate at least once, and you’ve even eaten the occasional vegetable or fruit without throwing it back up.  That’s progress, I tell you.  And each time I see you put that fork in your mouth willingly and without coercion or tears, I thank God that it’s one less time we will have to wage a battle of wills to ensure you get adequate nutrition.

An added reason for restricting what you see on TV is that you’ve become a little parrot.  You can sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Jesus Loves Me, Itsy Bitsy Spider without prompting and spit the entire verbiage of Goodnight Moon back to us verbatim.  You can imitate almost any sound and we have great fun hearing you try and repeat “rhinoceros”, “refrigerator”, “helicopter” and “Worcestershire”.  What we did not expect was how quickly you’d pick up phrases from our TV shows.  A couple of weeks ago your Dad and I were watching a sitcom and one of the characters used God’s name in vain.  And you, playing with your refrigerator magnets in the kitchen, loudly repeated the phrase in perfect diction.  My eyes shot to your Dad’s, he clicked off of the TV, and just like that we were done with grownup TV while you’re around.  It’s our job as your parents to protect you from negative influences, James. Even as we coerce you into repeating, “I have a booger nose” just one more time.

Love, Mama

Note:  Readers from my former blog will be familiar with the monthly letters I write to my babies for the first two years of their lives.   As each new letter will be posted here I will be moving over all previous letters to my archives for continuity.  Thanks for your patience as I work on all this administrative stuff!

Original post date: February 18, 2010

Dear James,

A couple of days ago you turned 22 months old.  And in many ways this has not been an enjoyable month.  Not at all due to your age, in fact every new month seems to bring out a new little facet of your personality that leaves your Dad and I shaking with laughter or shooting each other sentimental glances over your head.  This month has just been plagued with sickness, even more so than the last, and so when I look back on it my largest memory is of holding a feverish and wimpering you as you shifted and struggled to get comfortable in any way.  You had a nasty bout with RSV, a respiratory virus that left you coughing and gagging, unwilling to eat and unable to drop into uninterrupted sleep.  And no sooner did you start to feel better than I came down with a stomach virus that put me flat on my back.  But as of today we’re virus-free and feeling good and life, like the sky outside, finally, finally looks a little sunnier.  So let’s move on, because frankly I think reliving those weeks of misery is making me all twitchy.

Your Dad is immersed in his last weeks of being overworked on call at the hospital so you and I have spent a LOT of time together this month, just the two of us.  It thrills me that for the most part, you don’t seem to have grown sick of my company yet.  You always want to be where I am, see what I’m doing, touch what I touch.  You’re my constant companion, James, ever curious and eager to narrate our days as we go.  You’ve learned the concept of helping and anytime you see me trying to accomplish a task you try and try to find a way to get in on the action.  When I’m dusting you grab any cloth you can find and dust with me, when I’m sweeping you wriggle in to hold the broom too, and should I be loading the clothes washer I better keep a diligent eye on what else might be added to the load because you’ll pick up anything in reach and toss it in. And though I’m sure my tupperware, your blocks, and various canned goods could all use a good scrubbing, I’m not sure that our clothes need to be washed with a can of tomato paste.

Oh, are you going to miss the canned goods cabinet when we move.  Right now our house doesn’t have a pantry so the biggest lower cabinet in our kitchen is where I store all nonperishable food items.  You absolutely love playing in that cabinet, stacking and rearranging the cans.  Often you’ll pull them out one or two at a time and run them into the living room.  Thirty minutes and twenty trips later you’ve created for yourself a little grocery store of teetering canned goods, stacked one on the other until to your delight, they come crashing down.  (And yes, we’ve had more than one toe-squashing incident when a particularly dense can landed on your tootsies.  Much crying ensued and we thought you might learn the lesson not to stack them so high.  But no.)  So we’ve added grocery stockboy to your list of potential careers.  We figure with your penchant for sweeping, dusting, and stacking we might someday be the proud parents of the Kroger Employee of the Month.  Be sure to get Mama a bumper sticker.

James, you are such an obedient child.  Several times in the last months we’ve left you with friends for a couple of hours while your Dad and I breeze through many potential houses at a much quicker pace than if we were buckling you in and out and keeping you from shoplifting from strangers’ homes.  You love to play at friends’ houses and with other people your size, and most of the time don’t even look up when we arrive to retrieve you.  And the thing I love to hear the most when we pick you up is how good you behaved.  You’re polite, saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, ceasing to do things when you’re told not to, and coming when called.  We’ve worked so hard on raising you to be a respectful, obedient, joyful child that to hear from others how well you’re doing makes my heart swell.   I’m probably daring God to prove me wrong, but I honestly can’t remember the last time you threw a tantrum.   Not that you don’t have a defiant nature at times; your little sin nature shows through loud and clear now and again.   One of the funnier parts of raising a toddler is how clearly your thought process is written across your face.  Often when we tell you to do something, to come here for example, you tilt your chin back, raise your eyes to the ceiling and very visibly consider whether you will obey.  And should you be leaning toward ‘no’, you enact several techniques to draw our attention away from that fact.  First, you act cute; smile and bat your eyes and do a little dance.  When that doesn’t work you switch to diversion tactics.  “Look, a light!”  Nice try, dude.  Your parents may be getting old, but you have a long wait before we’re senile enough that a lightbulb will prove so distracting that we let you run around naked in February.

Love, Mama

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