Category Archives: Little O

Each Snowflake

The past four years of the bird’s life have been full of learning experiences.  Maybe that is part of being in your thirties.  It might just be life, no matter your age.  But the bird hasn’t been so in tune with it until now, until these years.  She is keenly aware that time passes whether or not you respect it.  That is motherhood, probably.

Watching your child grow forces you to acknowledge those four seasons going by over and over again.  The tiny lines appearing on your forehead and neck are a subtle reminder that you wont actually be ‘forever young’.

God chooses interesting moments to express his power.  The bird is not in control of all things.  The timing in this Universe isn’t up to any individual.  If the Parakeet could have programmed her life at this point – it might look a little different and a lot the same.  She loves her family.  She loves their urban life.  She loves their community of friends.  She loves working for herself and the varied routines of each day.  She would have had another child.  She’d be performing more. Maybe she’d take a few more fabulous vacations and decorate her house in a more stylish manner.  Some things people can change. Others they can’t. Or they shouldn’t.

Like her son, though, the Parakeet is growing up.  She is speaking her mind more each year, each month even.  She is asking for what she needs and saying no to things that don’t feed her.  She walked away from an obligation today and it felt great.  She is writing.  She is singing.  She is making plans.  She is appreciating small moments.  She’ll walk to school and pick up Little O today.  This way he can walk back in the fresh-fallen snow he’s been waiting for so long.  So long in his four-year-old world.  She’ll bring him snow pants and he’ll make a snow angel.  Her Florida-raised self will attempt to help him with a snowman.  They will be cold.  They will shiver.  They will laugh.  She will take pictures.  She will notice the moments.

Snow-flakes are important.  They mark the time as much as any clock. Maybe more so.  Lord, let the days be productive, but let no one miss the moments.

Pick Me! Pick Me!

The Huz had a very busy start to the year at work.  So, the Parakeet and Little O found themselves together most of the first half of this month.  They like each other – so it’s all right.

They planned a few activities,  Little O went back to school, and they also did plenty of fun things at home.

Hearing of his Dad’s overtime, O often wanted to play “work”.  He put on the Huz’ Union button from last year and set to making some scenery.  Happy to participate in theater of all kinds, the Parakeet was ready to help.  Because they had recently read Goldilocks and the Three Bears at school, Little O wanted to make that play.  (they also had a field trip to the Chicago Symphony where the story was told with music – super cool).  Little O was methodical about this work.

He wanted a table, chairs, and beds for the whole Bear Family.  They found 3 different size chairs.  They used 3 different pillows for beds, and then there was the issue of porridge.  Little O found some cardboard from their over-crowded back porch.  The Parakeet taped it together for him, but the issue of how to make the bowls was perplexing.  Little O thought and then said, “I have an idea!” He described to the parakeet how he wanted holes cut in the top of the table.  She did it.  Then, he drew three bowls of porridge with tabs at the bottom of each one on another piece of card board.  He asked her to cut those out and then he slid them into the holes on the table – not bad problem solving for a four-year old.

As he took a bath that night, the Parakeet told him, “Little O, I had so much fun playing with you today.”
“yeah, but you didn’t like when I got bossy with Parcheesi”
“No, I didn’t like that. But I loved making scenery with you. I thought it was super smart and creative how you decided to make those porridge bowls stick into the table”
“Why?”
“I wasn’t sure how we would make that and you figured it out.  I just think you’re a cool kid”
He smiled, “O”
“I’m really glad I got you for my son”
“but you picked me, Mom”
“I didn’t get to pick you, but I tell you what — God must think I’m pretty special that he decided to give me you.”
He smiled again, “And God must have thought GB was pretty special to give you to her”
The Parakeet smiled back at him.  Little O must think she is pretty cool, too.

Saturday

This Day.
It’s only 2:30.  Little O woke up at 6AM.  He is standing next to his mother’s bed and remembering two promises, “It’s a play-mommy day, right?”
The Parakeet nods half-asleep.
“We’re making cupcakes and going to the playground, right?”
The Parakeet smiles, “That’s right bud.Good Memory!”  She high-fives him and rolls out of bed.
The huz says good-bye to them both and heads to the shop.  The bird and the O eat a quick breakfast and are making cupcakes by 7:15.  There isn’t enough sugar, and with a little convincing, the O walks with the Parakeet to a local convenience store that happens to be open before 8 to buy a bag of sugar.  They have to walk to a second one two blocks past the first.
When Little O tries to protest, “How could that store not be open?” The Parakeet quiets him with a “Well, most people are trying to sleep”
They return home and finish their chocolate cupcakes before 9:00.  As they bake O fills the sink to play with dishes and the Keet talks to her own mother on the phone.
After that it’s a bike ride to a lesser-visited playground, a chance run-in with a little girl from his pre-school.  They play together for an hour just fabulously.  They meet O’s old babysitter and the bird’s dear friend for more conversation and walking and playground-climbing.
Little O and the Parakeet make ham sandwiches and eat them in the backyard.
They make pink frosting and their chocolate cupcakes are ready for tomorrow’s baby shower.  Little O eats ‘just one’ and covers his in sprinkles left from Christmas.
He plays quietly by himself while she calls the Huz to check-in and reads one chapter of a book to herself.
She reads him a Dr. Suess favorite and he settles in for a nap.
It’s just 2PM and the day has been so full.  She cleans the baking dishes and sweeps the kitchen floor with a calm feeling that’s hard to explain.  As she tosses the crumbs into the trash, she realizes she is so happy, so grateful.  What a Saturday.  And only half-way done.

Free – the Second Half

Little O remembers clearly the Truck Cake from his second birthday.  In fact, on GB’s birthday this year – he suggested we make her a truck cake.  While the Parakeet wasn’t even sure she could do that again – she was very certain she could not MAIL a ‘truck’ cake to Florida. So instead they sent her a nice video text.
Anyway, this year Little O was very clear he would like a “train” cake and he wanted it to have “lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of cars”.  Well, the Parakeet became a bit fixated on making sure this happened for him.  In fact, she googled ‘train cake’ and wouldn’t you know that Betty Crocker has a nice little video on just how to make one?  Since the Parakeet had specific instructions that there be “lots and lots and lots of cars” – she went the cupcake route with a cake engine.
The night before “THOMAS!!!” the Parakeet made a LOT of cake batter.  She filled a loaf pan (or two) and two cupcake tins.  She planned to send the “cars” to playgroup with O on Monday for his bday celebration there.  When the cakes were finally done near 10PM or something ridiculous – she let them cool a bit and wrapped the little guys’ presents sent from far-away relatives.  About 10:45 or so, she went to the kitchen ready to assemble the most beautiful cake engine.  She tipped out the loaf cake only for half of it to remain stuck to the pan! She was crushed and frustrated.  When would there be time to make another cake??!
She crawled into bed with the Huz (who has passed out much earlier after a long week) and bemoaned the birthday celebration, “I just want him to have such a good time and love it all”.  The Huz mumbled something along the lines of “He’s three. Of course he’ll love it. Get some sleep.”

SO…..It was after the Thomas outing while the O-ster napped when the Keet got back to the Cake business.  She salvaged what she could and made a smaller engine.  She frosted the cup cakes with different colors and threw candy all over that thing.  It looked like a Sugar Explosion on rails.
Then she put all his presents on the table.  The Huz napped too – because he was in a bad mood from Thomas rain and traffic.  When he got up, he got Little O’s bike from the basement and put it in the living room covered with a beach towel.
The O woke up from his nap and discovered “Cake! Presents! A bike!” He was totally beside himself.  His godmother B and her friend C both came over to join in on the Birthday dinner and present mania.
Little O opened each present as if he had never seen anything more amazing in his life! He kept saying ” I wonder what it could be….” as he pulled the wrapping paper.  He got LOTS of pieces for his train set – that was just too much.  It was all quite adorable.
The ‘grown-ups’ had fajitas and cake and beer and smiled at the O.  The O had cake and tortillas and maybe a couple pieces of cheese and talked a mile a minute playing with everything at once.  A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY, INDEED.





Freeee! – Part One

This post is really about three and not free, but Little O pronounces it much closer to freee – so that’s the title.  August 20th was the big day.  It is so hard for the Parakeet to process that three years ago she was wheeled out of the OR and handed a screaming, wiry infant that instantly clung to her breast, quite literally, for life.  Just three short years ago.  How much has changed!

The birthday celebration was two-part for the O.  The first part was a trip to see Thomas the Tank Engine in Union, IL.  The second part was “cake and presents”.  Little O has known about part two for a while now, but part one was a SURPRISE until Thursday night.  The Keet and the Huz wanted Little O to be able to look forward to the trip, so they told him over dinner that on his birthday they would be driving out to take a ride on Thomas the Train.
HUGE SMILES. Endless questions, lots of talking….

In fact, he woke up at 4:30 on Friday morning asking if it could be morning, could it be his Birthday, is Thomas here? Oh.My.  They were able to get him to sleep a little longer and wait one.more.whole.day.

On Saturday morning, Little O watched Thomas while he ate breakfast.  He fingered the brochure that came in the mail with his tickets.  He pointed at pictures and referred to his ‘map’.  The family loaded into the car, coffee cups full to drive out to Union – the Huz expected it to take just over an hour.

There wasn’t much traffic.  They moved along at a clip.  As they were about to exit the highway, the sky changed.  It was quick and thick and gray.  Little O asked from his carseat, “Why is the sky dark, dad?”   Well, it appears there is a major storm coming.  Neither parent checked the weather.  Why wouldn’t it be sunny and perfect on the Saturday morning of the third birthday of non-refundable Thomas the Train tickets?

It POURED.  The radio handed out flash flood warnings.  The Huz followed the winding signs through detoured and construction-laden roads to the Illinois Railway Museum.  They parked in the flooded out field and watched it pour.  The Keet knew there was no option but to go for it.  There was an old box in the back of the car.  The Huz unfolded it and used it to cover he and O’s head while she RAN.

They made the most of the morning and got matching blue ponchos for everyone.  The company was nice enough to be selling those at half-price.  Little O skipped a lot of the tents and they made sure to take the Thomas ride.  He was super agreeable and they were grateful for his happy personality watching MAJOR TODDLER meltdowns from so many other children in the park.  The Huz and Keet were definitely crankier than the Kiddo.  He was a superstar.

They drove home with a fun stop at Steak ‘N Shake where Little O was very excited to order a “grilled cheese please”.   He was just non-stop chatter and happiness.  It made the Huz and the Keet sooo happy to see him this way.  It seemed like he knew this was a very special day and he was a very special kid.

see..how soaked?
riding Thomas…through the corn…O found the whistle a little loud
so so happy!

so dark at 10:30AM, but still so crowded

Oh, Thomas…


HE. WAS. THERE.

Did She Really?

The Parakeet said two things to Little O today she was hoping to never say.

She was sitting at the dining room table and Little O was going to the bathroom.  He ran out with his pants around his ankles saying, ” I went a little potty on myself”.  He was trying to get a big laugh, so the Parakeet calmly answered, “go get a little piece of toilet paper, clean it up, and pull up your pants”.

She went back to her book.  A few seconds later Little O was standing next to her holding the toilet paper he had unrolled all the way from the bathroom.  This toddler habit of unrolling toilet paper drives the Huz crazy.  The Huz was outside prepping some paint samples for a client before he had to leave for a 4 – Midnight shift.  He was ‘on the edge’ and didn’t need un-rolled toilet paper.  Before she could edit herself the Parakeet hopped up, “You don’t want your dad to see that buddy! Roll it back up!”
Little O scurried back to the bathroom trying to re-roll and mumbling ” I don’t want my dad to see this…”
Oh jeez. The Bird had always hoped to be a firm parent in her own right and never to make the Huz the bad guy with “wait till your father comes home” talk, but oh well…3 years was close.

Then, as she was getting Little O ready for bed she asked him his favorite part of the day.  This is their routine leading into prayer so they can mention the things for which they are thankful.  Little O wasn’t  having it, ” I don’t want to pray”.  Mom leaves right after prayer and the sleeping is supposed to start, so praying is often an “I don’t want to” type thing.
“You don’t have to, bud, but Mom will pray – what should I say was your favorite part of the day?”
Little O reached up and put his hand over the Keet’s mouth.
WHAT???  She was soooo taken aback.
“We don’t do that, O.  You don’t put your hand over Mommy’s mouth”
He looked surprised, “Well, ____ does that to his mom when he doesn’t want her to talk.”  ______ goes to playgroup with O.
” It’s rude, O”
“Well, _______ does it”
” Well, Owen does not do it.  You don’t put your hand over your mommy’s or anyone’s mouth.  If you want me to stop talking you say, ‘Mommy, please stop talking’.  ”

It wasn’t quite “I don’t care if so and so gets to stay in a hotel after prom, you are going to be home by midnight “…..but she felt it coming, in her gut.

Yearbook 2011

Little O started going to a co-op preschool playgroup daycare type thing just a few short weeks ago.  It was so exciting for him and his mom.  He has taken to it really well.  He is there two full days a week while the Parakeet works.  He is with other children ages 2-4.  His teachers are lovely – one in fact has been a dear friend of the family for about twelve years.  The other parents have been so welcoming. The whole thing has just been a blessing from the start.  As a family, the Russells are thankful about how it is all working.

Little O transitioned into his two full days, first attending song-time with his mom, then staying through lunch, then staying through nap, and finally a full day.  This four day process made the whole thing go very smoothly.  Obviously, the coordinators have been at this for a few years.

After about his second full week, some of the older kids were “graduating”.  The teachers created ‘yearbooks’ for all of the enrolled students.  Little O was included in this special tradition.  The Parakeet now has his hand and foot-prints forever in posterity – which feels very fitting on the eve of his third birthday.  The graduation was really informal and sweet and pot-luck and outside and all things that seem like preschool and family.  It was lovely.

Little O also got to bring home a yearbook.  The Parakeet has decided to share the list of “favorites” he gave his teacher at the time of putting the book together.

favorite toy – train tracks (not a surprise – he is playing with them when he is dropped off and picked up)
favorite song – where is thumbkin (the keet and huz have not gotten to hear this one yet)
favorite food – bananas (not sure where that came from – he now tells the Huz it is waffles)
favorite book – digger truck book (also not a surprise)
favorite playgroup activity – playing play-doh
favorite costume – ” i dont have a costume” (he has since decided robot)
the most important thing in my cubby is – all my sleeping stuff (oh man, not sure he’ll ever not use that ‘cozy’ blanket or his pac)
my favorite playgroup room is – the kitchen
my favorite outside activity is – driving the big car (surprised? anyone???)

that’s all for now.  Cant wait to see how next year’s answers compare

also of note was a picture that Little O drew of playgroup.  there are lots of colors and scribbles on the page and at the bottom one of his teachers wrote, ‘this is not playgroup. this is a zig-zag hat’.   It seems Little O had a different interpretation 🙂