Category Archives: Brandt
My baby boy turns 3(!) this Friday, so we celebrated with some of his little friends yesterday. Since cars of all kinds are Brandt’s passion right now, I made that the party theme–using retro aqua and red, black and white checkers, and a road painted on a white paper table cover. And since his favorite foods are yogurt, sausage, and donuts, we had the party in the morning and served breakfast.
After everyone had eaten, we took the kids down to the basement, where we had set up a pretend car wash. We used plastic sheeting (leftover from a house project) to make entrance and exit flaps, and then hung streamers and balloons in the middle, with a fan at the end to “dry” the kids off. They had a blast running through it again and again!
I had so much fun putting this together; perhaps in an alternate life I could have been a professional party planner. Brandt’s summary of the morning says it best: “It’s my favorite party!”
Recently, Brandt’s imagination has burst forth, and I’ve had so much fun watching it. He engages in all sorts of pretend play these days. His games run along three themes: music, baseball, and transportation.
He uses anything stick-like as a bow for imaginary violins and cellos. Items he’s turned into bows include thermometers, measuring tapes, and curtain rods. Sometimes he does air violin, and sometimes he pretends his toy guitar is a violin or cello. Here, he told me he was holding his instrument on his neck (close, son), and he’s using a still-packaged curtain rod to bow:
We live across the street from a small community baseball field. During the first half of summer, Brandt constantly wanted to walk over to watch the games. His enthusiasm for the baseball players generated his first foray into dress-up. He of course needs his baseball hat, which he’s decided must be worn forward for throwing and hitting but backward for catching. Sometimes, though, a plastic firefighter hat makes a superb baseball helmet. Then he adds whatever accessories he deems necessary for the game: sunglasses, Daddy’s work glove, even an airplane held between the teeth. Once attired for the game, his play is punctuated with shouts of, “Run!”, ” Safe!”, “Field!”, “Home run!”, and “Going, going, gone!”
If frequency gives any indication, his favorite imaginary realm is filled with things that go. We build construction machines out of any sort of blocks – bristle blocks, Mega blocks, wooden blocks. Brandt tells me what we should build (“tuck dum,” “excalalaler,” “mint kicker,” and so forth*). I devise a sturdy base suitable to his truck of choice. After that, Brandt overrides my attempts at realism with abundant towers and arms, getting ever more precarious. But in his eyes, the original truck is still there (usually with a seat for a doggie or a guy).
Brandt also likes to create trucks out of pillows. When he first started doing this, I thought Aaron must have shown him the idea, but Brandt actually came up with it on his own. He clambers onto our bed and starts to arrange our four pillows. He declares the vehicle he wants (“Loader!” “Fire engine!”) and solicits assistance (“Mama help”). I prop the four pillows into a square, and he gets in and out until it collapses. Then we start all over again.
The Boppy pillow also makes excellent vehicular source material. Added to the four bed pillows, it can be the drum of a cement mixer. Or, on its own, it functions as a “moker” (motorcycle). The other day, Brandt strapped his baseball hat under his chin, declared it a “holmp” (helmet), and rode that Boppy full throttle.
With a little imagination, chairs become pretend transportation, too. I showed Brandt how to line up a row of chairs as a train; he quickly realized this works just as well as a plane. He puts stuffed animals in each seat (leaving a spot for himself, of course). He or I will serve as conductor/pilot/flight attendant, calling, “All aboard!” or offering (pretend) lemonade to passengers. Good times.
What a treat to watch a little mind full of big possibilities.
*translation: dump truck, excavator, and cement mixer
Brandt, you’re 2 years old!
Mama recently had an appointment with the doctor who delivered you. The doctor talked about how vividly she remembers your birth, how dramatic it was. Honestly, I was surprised by her comments. Though your birth day was obviously dramatic and memorable for us, I assumed it may not have seemed so to someone who delivers babies for a living. But, no; this doctor thinks of your birth often.
“Most of the time,” she went on to say, “when I see babies in that situation” – faltering so desperately in the womb – “it’s too late.” Oh, how that statement pierced me. At the time of your birth, nine weeks too early and so sick, I couldn’t really let myself think about how close to death you were. Realizing two years later how perilous your premature birth actually was, I’m filled with awe for the miraculous gift of you. We waited so long to have you, and then we nearly lost you. The story could have been so different. God was so generous to give you and to spare you.
So what’s happening at this point in your story, as you turn 2? Well, you’re certainly playful and silly, like most toddlers. You love when your daddy chases and wrestles you. And you’re definitely starting to show the willfulness of a two-year-old. You have opinions about what you want to wear, what you will and won’t do. I’m finding that it helps a lot to let you make choices where I can. You can’t escape a diaper change, but you can decide whether it will happen on the couch, the floor, or the bed. You have to wear shoes, but you can pick which pair you want. Some of the battles seem so silly, but I’m trying to grow in compassion and patience as you go through this stage.
For a toddler, you’re very pensive. Several people have commented about how thoughtful and deliberate you are when you play. For instance, when you play with trucks or trains, you like to indicate in advance where you intend them to go, either by pointing or saying something like, “Up.” And just recently, you started doing something new with your shape sorters and puzzles. You grab a piece and, with a twinkle in your eye and a satisfied little grin, deliberately put it in the wrong place, shaking your head and saying a slightly sassy, sing-song-y “Nooo!” After doing this once or twice with each piece, you put it in the correct spot and clap for yourself. It’s delightful to see your mind at work, making up your own games.
Another recent development in your life is a fascination with the alphabet. A couple months ago, you suddenly started identifying the letters “I” and “O.” Then you wanted to read and re-read books featuring the alphabet. You somehow figured out the difference between letters and numbers; for a while, you would always guess “O” for letters and “8” for numbers. (This happened a lot in grocery store aisles, as you pointed at words and quantities on boxes.) Now you know almost all of the letters; you name them in just about any circumstance, not just in the regular order or in your familiar books. It astounds and excites your book-loving mama to see your mind latch onto these rudiments of reading!
The last notable thing in your life these days that I’ll mention here is your attachment to some little stuffed friends. A few months ago, you became devoted (for no clear reason) to a stuffed bear wearing a bunny suit. “Bneee!” you call him, and he does everything with you. He sleeps with you, he plays with you, he sits at the table with you. If you’ve left him across the room and then encounter him again, you crow, “Bneee! Hiii!” Bunny also stands in as your surrogate sometimes. If you need a diaper change, you typically offer Bunny to get his diaper changed first. And you instruct Bunny in the same way I instruct you. You have held Bunny’s paw near an outlet, written on Bunny’s hand with a pen, and made Bunny throw toys, all while chiding him, “No, no.” It’s revealing to see how much you understand and comical to watch you seek to assert authority over your little inanimate pal. Second only to Bunny in companionship is a petite plush monkey, “Ah-ah.” Before every nap and bedtime, you ask for “Bnee” and “Ah-ah.” Other animals rotate through the gang; sometimes an owl (“Hoo”), sometimes a dog (“Oof-oof”), sometimes a wee chipmunk (high-pitched squeaky voice). I love the glimpses I get into the landscape of your imagination through your interactions with these “friends.”
I can’t wait to see what the coming year holds for you, my sweet boy!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I wanted Brandt to send a Valentine to his grandparents this year, but I quickly realized most of the crafty valentines were a bit beyond his current skill set. Then I saw this idea and thought it would be a doable team effort for the two of us:
However, someone preferred looking at (and bending and eating) the signs I crafted for him to hold, rather than displaying them for photographing. I tried having his favorite stuffed animal hold a sign. I tried taping signs to the door for him to stand by. All I got was outtake after outtake.
I was ready to give up when Brandt decided to play a favorite game: namely, walk through a door, say “bye,” close the door, then return and repeat. “This could be magic!” I thought, and I set myself in front of the door to snap continuous pictures as he walked in and out. Magic, indeed!
A little printing, cutting, gluing, and folding later, we had cute cards for Grandma and Grandpa and Beppe and Papa.
Happy Valentine’s Day to them and to all of you!
We have a few guitars around our house–Aaron’s two bass guitars, a very beat-up electric guitar, and an antique Gibson acoustic guitar that belonged to Aaron’s grandpa. Brandt asks to play them regularly. While I’ll let him plunk the strings of the electric (or a bass, if Aaron’s left one out) anytime, playing guitar while plugged into the amp is a special Daddy-time activity.
And playing the Gibson? Definitely reserved for special time with Daddy! Many evenings, Brandt does ask for it (taking us by the hand to the high shelf that holds the case and pointing up), and Aaron usually pulls it out and strums a bit while Brandt plays the tuning pipe like a harmonica. They make a pretty good duo.
(I bet you didn’t know playing the mouth organ required such fierce focus.)