The Tovsky Tribe

Chocolates, Cocktails, Friends, Babies...A Girl Should Never Have Just ONE!!

Friday, July 31, 2009


Turner is 6 1/2 months old but is already showing signs of being a total animal. Still happy as can be he can't sit still for a second. If you are holding him his legs are going, quickly, like if you were to put him down feet first he would run across the floor like a wind-up toy.
When he is lying on his belly on the floor he is doing a baby version of boot camp push ups as he raises himself on all four then drops back down to his belly. Then repeats. He has not yet mastered the crawl, though he tries, but he can move like the most adorable inchworm . And he will. from one point to another. Motivating objects help, but are not required! He can manage his way across the room, no problem, resembling an 80's break-dancer reincarnated. If he breaks out a moonwalk or a backspin we may really start to wonder.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Letter to my Sons on (or near) their Three Year Birthday!

Today I am Three
Happy Birthday to Us!

Dear Chase and Ryder,

Happy Birthday to my big boys! Three years old!! Somehow, it seems as though you skipped a year as it all went so quickly. Just like the previous years, as your birthday approached you seemed to naturally mature, hit a milestone or age right before our eyes.
You are these unbelievable boys who continue to blow my mind with the things you say and the things you do!

We celebrated your birthday with a party at the house that included a Funbus. You both had a blast as did all of your friends.

Chase, you are all personality. You are verbal, always. You love to talk, to ask questions, and to talk some more. Sometimes, the questions you ask actually stun me as they are so well beyond your years. And, sometimes, I have no idea what the answer is. You are unbelievably perceptive, and don't miss a beat, ever! You notice the tiniest of details whether it is in a book or in our life, and it is the details you remember. Of course, you remember everything!! It is truly astonishing! You are an extreme charmer and a master negotiator and Daddy and I joke that you will either be a salesman or a lawyer. You are funny and silly and love to laugh. I wouldn't be surprised if you are the class clown someday! Everybody wants to be your friend and you want to be their friend in return. You greet strangers with a hello and want to know their name. You will always call that "once a stranger now a friend" by the name you just learned. You burst with excitement over the arrival of any of your "friends" and greet with hugs and kisses of the warmest kind. You are smart and funny and sweet. You have a contagious smile and an infectious laugh. You love your brothers and look out for both of them. You are special in so many ways and I know how blessed we are to call you our son.

Ryder, you have really come into your personality in the last few months and it is truly wonderful to see! Though you still like to feel out a situation before you start to "rock," I do not think shy can describe you any longer. Introverted, perhaps, but not shy. You are full of energy and personality, humor and passion. You are quiet yet boisterous and sensitive yet tough. You are a momma's boy and yet really independent. You can scale a wall or mellow out with an instrument. You are very bright, a problem solver, and often think a bit out of the box! You love your guitar, first and foremost. You love your brothers with the same passion you love everything, and you are well-liked by everyone who knows you. Sometimes you interact with the group, playing along side of the others. And, sometimes, you do your own thing, alone in the corner, be it strum your guitar or put together a puzzle. You do this with a contentedness and a confidence that makes me wonder if you will be a quiet leader when you are older.
Your passion for music has increased exponentially. You still love your guitar and play it wherever and whenever you can. You love to sing into your microphone and mimic the moves of Neil Young. Occasionally we can get you to perform for all of us! It is too soon to tell if a talent lies within you, but Daddy and I do what we can to foster your love of music. You are a lover who gives tight hugs and big kisses and always offer a smile to everyone. You too are amazing and special and I feel lucky and honored each day!

Although I would love to say you are both perfect, of course you are not! Chase you are a bit of a tester. We tell you "no" and you will look right at us and do whatever we told you not to do, anyway! We have enforced punishments, which is to lock you in your room for timeout, and though you hate those few moments, indicated by the tears and fit that follow, you have not learned to stop testing your boundaries, yet! You are also a bit of a hitter, unfortunately. Luckily, it is usually just me you raise your hands at and not other kids or people, but it is something neither daddy nor I will tolerate. You are also a bit of a whiner. Perhaps it is not your fault as your father and I were both whiners as children, but that fact aside the whining is extremely irritating.
Ryder, although you are laid back and cool and calm, you have a stubborn side. When you decide against something it is quite the battle for us to overcome. You are strong so these stubborn fits do often involve some muscle. You are also, sometimes, a space cadet. Your mind will be elsewhere, perhaps listening to the music in your head, and you will not hear a word we say. I will need to look you in your eye and ask you to pay attention!
Despite these age appropriate flaws you both have begun listening much better than in the past, following directions some of the time.
You started school this year and you both did fantastic there. Miss Sue and Miss Richelle were your teachers for the dubeem (bears) class. Ryder, the teachers did say it took you a few weeks to start talking, but once you were settled you really fit in. You made friends and learned a lot and learned how to follow other people's rules. You were both very popular amongst the teachers and students at the school. You both seemed to enjoy it despite the show you gave me every morning.
This summer you began camp for the first time, Camp by the Sea, in Margate. So far you seem to love being a "sand shark" and I am thrilled you are able to start building such fantastic memories. Miss Maryanne and Miss Susan seem to have taken a strong liking to both of you and I can tell this will be a very enjoyable summer.
Interestingly, you seem to have taken a bit of a role reversal from the personalities you displayed at school, at least according to your counselors. Apparently, Ryder, you are the more dominant one showing independence and a protection over Chase. At school it was the other way around.

For the stats, you had your three year well appointment. Chase you weighed in at 30 pounds, and stand 36 inches tall. This lands you in the 25th percentile for weight and 15th for height. Ryder, you are slightly smaller and slightly lighter weighing 29 pounds and standing 35 3/4 inches.

Over the year you transitioned to beds. We did this once you were both climbing out of your cribs as part of a big game. The transition was smooth other than the fact that you will no longer get in your bed awake to nap and you join us in our bed way too early in the morning.
You also managed to potty train yourselves just in time for your actual birthday. Chase you trained first by waking up one morning and simply saying "I am ready for underwear now!". You were great at potty peeing instantly but as of yet you still have not pooped in the potty. Despite the promised visit to Chuck E. Cheese's once you do, you still prefer to poop in your underwear. Ryder you waited a few days longer to train but mastered most aspects almost instantly. You fought me on a diaper change on a Sunday morning then said "I think underwear will be much easier!" That was it, no more diapers. You both have had some minor accidents, but they have not been a big deal.

In the news: The Phillies won the World Series! Not only had it been 28 years since the Phillies' last championship, but as huge fans the championship came to us as a sort of a gift. We enjoyed the Championship Parade as a family on a beautiful Halloween day. Still high from that victory, four months later the Eagles surprised us all by, after a mediocre season, making it to the NFC Finals. Unfortunately they came up short for an appearance in the Superbowl but since no one, not the fans and certainly not the naysayers, expected them to get that far we had to be pleased we were even a contender.

Of course, in January of 2009 we welcomed Turner Luke as the fifth member of this family. He is many wonderful things and you both welcomed him with open arms. That same month, We, as a Country, inaugurated our very first African American President marking a historical moment you will surely learn about in your history books. We watched gas prices soar into the mid-fours (dollars a gallon) and then down below two. They are not so slowly creeping up again. We are in the midst of a terrible economic recession. People are unemployed and it is hard to come by someone not effected by the down economy. Luckily, your father's business is still hanging in there.
Also, in early 2009 a plane was landed on the Hudson River after a flock of Seagulls flew into the engine. Miraculously, everyone survived and the pilot, undoubtedly, is a hero.
We experienced one of the coldest winter's on record, including more snow than I remember us getting. And, we experienced one of the rainiest June's on record. 17 of the first 22 days had rain and the last 8 days of the month did not offer us much sunshine either. So far, however, July has been beautiful.
Sadly, Harry Kalas died this year, changing the voice of the Phillies forever. Gary Papa passed away changing the face of Action News. Michael Jackson also passed away, unexpectedly and on the same day as Farrah Fawcett. He was the self-proclaimed King of Pop and was a worldwide icon. Someday you will listen to all of his music and perhaps begin to understand why he was a phenomenon.
You are OK eaters. Chase you will try almost anything and do like a good variety of things, of course you mostly eat children's food. You prefer juice as your drink, you love tomatoes, you like crab, and are definitely more interested in what daddy and I eat. Ryder, you are much more particular about what you eat: pancakes, jelly, pizza (usually without the cheese), macaroni and cheese, hotdogs to name a few. You love milk, chocolate milk - which is regular milk with a squirt of Hershey's syrup but never shaken, not anymore. When you are hungry you sit and eat so nicely, but mealtime and hunger don't often coincide, and getting you to sit nicely when you are not hungry is an impossibly frustrating task.

You both love watching television, particularly Chase. Your recent favorites
include Hi-5, Barnyard, Mickey and Barney. Though Mickey and Barney seem to be watched much less often these days. Slowly, but surely, we are turning you into Phillies fans. You are both obsessed with High School Musical. This is a questionable interest. You both love anything with singing and dancing, and somehow you have even adopted the thrill of basketball from watching the movie.
Dancing to HSM3

It's been a year of exponential growth and development. The things you have learned go way beyond the words of this letter. But, you are not the only one learning. Being the mommy to the two of you and to Turner has taught me more about myself and life than any other combined experiences. In an effort to honor the privileged title of mommy I strive everyday to be the best person I can be and give you the most that I can so that you can become the best people you can be. Because of you, I am stronger, wiser, nicer. Because of you I've learned to be brave when I am scared, calm when I am nervous, and to be strong when I feel weak. Because of you I allow myself to be the student and you the teacher. You teach me to laugh at the silliest of things and to remember the tiniest of details. You show me enthusiasm like I have never seen. You've taught me the joy of dancing around the house in your underwear and singing at the top of your lungs. You taught me that spilled milk really is no reason to cry and that there is a reason you crawl before you walk. You've shown me that silliness is always funny and laughter does echo. You've taught me that gourmet food is not always better food and that just because it is the first meal of the day doesn't mean it can't be called lunch. You are responsible for my learning of the lyrics of songs like powderfinger, sugar mountain, squeezebox, and high school musical! And, more than anything, you've extended the depths of my heart and taught me there is no limit on love.

Every year I say I would like to freeze time, and this year is no different. Only I know that I can not. So, instead, I cherish the days we spend, the moments we share, and anticipate what is to come with pure delight.

You are my big boys and every moment of every day, I love you so!


Family Picture on their birthday!

Who Likes to Laugh?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Don't Let the Pretty Purple Packaging Fool You!

We keep M&M's in our freezer. We do this not because the only woman in the house is a bit of a chocoholic, which she is, but because these M&M's were part of the potty training process.
Despite the fact that the boys are trained, well usually, they do still, occasionally, ask for their M&M's after a successful trip to the toilet.
Only, we ran out of M&M's! So what if we ran out because I snuck a few here and there. So, what? The point is we had no more M&M's. So I bought more.

Only when I hit the candy aisle at the local Genuardi's my choices were Dark Chocolate with peanuts, Milk with Almonds, and peanut butter. What? Why were there exactly zero bags of original, milk chocolate M&M's?

So, I ventured out from the norm and went with the bright purple bag, dark chocolate with peanuts. After all, isn't dark chocolate supposed to better for you? You know what? They are not nearly as good. Nope. Not even close. Healthier, schmealthier, this is chocolate we are talking about not vegetables. Why mess with the original. Couldn't we just leave well-enough alone?

No More Diapers (at least not for them!)

"They" say boys potty train around the age of 3. Since "they" claim to be experts, parents of appropriate aged boys start to feel angst over their three year old diapered sons.
Every parent may take a different approach, choosing the one(s) they feel best matches the personality of parent and child alike. Bribes, diaper fairies, and the cold-turkey approach are amongst the few.
Although a bit of each of these methods were employed in our situation, ultimately the approach used was the boys simply being ready.
There were times when I was in a hurry for them to train, becoming fed up with the factory line of triple diaper changes. But, partly because I believe kids do things when they are ready not when their parents are, and admittedly, partly because I do not have the patience nor the personality to do the "three day train method" putting them in underwear and dragging them to the potty every twenty minutes, I did not force them to train. I followed their lead.
Of course there were many times when I was fooled by the signs and would put them in underwear only to discover ready they were not.
But then, one day they were. For Chase it was a Tuesday morning exactly one week before their third birthday. He had woken up just a little bit before and was watching TV. He looked at me and said matter-of-factly, "I want to wear underwear now!," like the idea came from him from one of his TV heroes. I obliged. And so it went. He no longer wears diapers. Well, sort of. I'll get back to that.
Ryder watched as we applauded each pee made and awarded Chase with M&M's, and he just waited his turn. Five days later, also in the morning, he fought me as he often did on a diaper change then said, "I think underwear would be a lot easier!".
I wanted to throw a sarcastic "oh, do you think?" at him, but instead I smiled and said "good idea Ryder, I think so too!" He has not worn diapers since. We gave all of their diapers to Turner.

But, it was not this simple.

I was not above bribing. I tried it. Two M&M's for every pee and four for every poop. Not that pooping was really an issue, at least for Chase, but I will get to that. I also talked about the diaper fairy, who was Elliott, the magical dragon from the movie Pete's Dragon, which the boys were obsessed with at the time we were discussing potty training. A visit from the dragon meant a donation of diapers to their baby brother and a delivery of a potty present. They got to choose their potty presents. Chase chose a visit to Chuck E. Cheese and Ryder chose a strap for his acoustic guitar. I agreed to these presents and said after three days of underwear and one poop on the potty they could have these gifts.

Chase did fantastic on the potty right from the start. On day one I felt the need to set a timer and take him to the bathroom every 30 minutes. He did not need that and on day 2 he told me so, "Mommy, I do not need to go, stop asking me!" With that, he also started going alone to the bathroom and still, when at home, rarely needs his mommy to escort him. Unfortunately, however, he can't poop on the potty. Perhaps he can and won't? I am not sure. What I do know is he only poops in his underwear and it's a good thing Mom-Mom Joan bought the boys a lot of underwear because we go through it! Lately, we have had minor improvement in this area in that Chase will now ask for a diaper (a pull-up) to poop in, which is much better than his Handy Manny panties. He says he is not ready yet, he also says it will hurt. Despite my telling him otherwise, I know he won't do it until he is ready! As a result, we have not yet gone to Chuck E. Cheese's. He wants to go, but apparantly that Is not enough to get him potty pooping.
Ryder also has done fantastic. He pees and poops on the potty pretty much all on his own and he has from that very first day. He gets so excited every time he poops that i am a little surprised that Chase has not wanted to try it just to see what it is that makes so much for fun for his brother. And, with his successes came his potty present. His guitar now has a strap! He can play and sing and use the microphone all at once. Though, he does not seem to want to play as much as he used to!!

All of this has not happened without some accidents. Of course. They have peed on every floor in the house and in every shrub in our yard. Sometimes they are accidents, other times I think they just do it to do it, to press my buttons. They really do know what they are doing.
Amazingly, they are both night trained. Two days in to the underwear wearing Chase insisted on sleeping in underwear because, afterall, "I do not wear diapers anymore!" So, I let him. And, he was dry. And he has been dry every night since. Ryder too. He went right to sleeping in underwear and despite waking up wet twice, it has basically been a breeze.

Another transition complete. Now, if only I could get them to go to bed at night?!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Frustrating, er, Frustrated Alter Ego!

I am THAT woman. That woman I peered at. That woman I despise. Yes, sometime between incubating my third born and the twins shit slinging phase (and here) I became the harried, tired woman from the grocery store who speaks negatively to her adorable kids and unsuccessfully uses rough and tough love to force them to behave. Only, I still have long hair.

I do not want to be her and I know I swore up and down I would never be, but somehow the easy-going, laid-back me morphed into someone new. Or worse, a scarier version of myself. She isn't always there, oh thank god! But THAT woman loves to poke her head into my happy world.

Today was a great day. I went with all three kids, along with my cousin, Miriam, and her three boys to the Children's Museum. Of course, in this case, museum is very much a misnomer. Children's area, or kiosk, may be more apt. But, we went to the designated area in the Shore Mall and the boys, well-behaved, had a great time playing with their "boys," as they refer to their male cousins.

We left there to head to Genuardi's. I knew I was pushing my luck. It was 3pm and though they would never admit it, they needed a nap. I had little choice. I needed Milk. Bread. Baby food. So we went and it was bad and then I became THAT woman.

So, I welcome solutions to the problems that cut my temper short and send my frustration level through the roof.
How do you stop the child who whines incessantly from, well, whining?
What do you do about the child that thinks it is OK to hit his mother in order to get what he wants despite the fact that hitting lands him punished every time?
How do you handle the rambunctious little one that darts through a parking lot to get to the race car cart?
How do you deal with it when it all happens on the same shopping trip? Oh yeah, and the baby is crying. The baby who rarely cries is sending his ear piercing shriek over the PA, or so it seems, of Genuardi's letting me and all of the shoppers know that in addition to the red-light special, he is tired!

Bribes worked once I actually gave them the lollipop, but the promise of one was about as useful as a broken thumb. Once I got to the candy aisle and gave them the lollipop, it was too late! The harried woman was now the one buying level 2 winter squash.
The threat of a punishment once we got them home sent them into such hysterics that I thought there was something on my face. Maybe there was?
The yelling does not work. All that does is make my chronically raspy voice even raspier reminding me that I have an ENT appointment to make. The yelling also reminds me of times and places that I have no interest in remembering.
Oh, and what about the ten dollar extra-large birthday card with the high school musical characters on the front and the catchy tune on the inside? That helped stop the whining but the dancing that followed with each opening of the card did nothing for expediting trip. Because remember, Turner was shrieking!

I know, ten bucks!! Right?! For one, I did not know the cost when Ryder picked it up, nor when he began to slowly crease and fold and bend the card out of excitement. I only found out the price when I looked at the receipt once I was home...well, it was cheaper than a babysitter?!

Not every moment of every day is like this. Most of the time we are all having fun, laughing instead of whining, high-fiving instead if hitting. Most of the time a promise of a bribe is enough to sustain them so long as I hold up my end of the bargain. And, often, it is just me, me as you know me, as I know me, hanging out with my adorable boys.

Then there's the moment on top of that other moment on top of two or three other moments and suddenly, as if I went into a local phone booth to change out of my Clark Kent, THAT woman appears. She's frantic, Chase is whining, Ryder's scurrying, Turner is trying to get someone's attention, and that becomes the moment that determines how the day went. The arrival of THAT woman

So, the hard moments pass and are sandwiched between the good moments and though I may have already marked the day as shitty due to the mountain of episodes, due to the happiness and laughter that likely followed I can't really remember why. Until tomorrow, or the next day, when THAT woman pays a visit.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Three Year Portraits

A year ago we went to Portrait innovations for Chase and Ryder's 2 year portraits. The boys cooperated pretty well and we ended up with a ridiculous number of photos, many of which are still sitting in their original packaging.

For their third birthday we tried again, only this time there was a third boy to photograph. Turner's 6 month birthday conveniently coincided with his big brothers' 3rd birthday and so we did portraits of all of them. For reasons I will never understand the boys cooperated so well for the photographer proving that they can listen and that, when they want to be, they sure do know how to ham it up.

Here are the best of the results:

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