Happy Birthday, Gavin!

I can’t believe Gavin is 2 already!  He’s such a sweet little guy with the most amazing giggles and guffawing laughs that you’ve ever heard.  “Goovin,” as Marcus has taken to calling him today, is quite thrilled to be 2.  When asked, “How old are you, Gavin?”, he responds with a very enthusiastic “I’m TWO!”, complete with a big grin and, if you’re lucky, a happy dance.  He loves to snuggle and be tickled.  He’s turned into quite the monkey, climbing and jumping on (and off) things with abandon.  He’s also very mischievous and gets into all sorts of antics with his big brother.  My dad actually said Gavin looked mischievous when he saw a picture of him . . . in my womb (it was one of those crazy 3D ultrasound images).  See that impish monkey face up there?  He apparently was baked that way.

Anyway, our celebration today was pretty low key as Adam was out of town.  Breakfast was eggs (soft-boiled “gooey eggs” for Gavin and hard-boiled for Marcus), bacon, pumpkin bread, and fruit smoothies.  We went out for lunch at a local NY-style pizza joint that turned out to be pretty decent.  Marcus had the standard pepperoni and Gavin asked for plain cheese.  Gav ended up ditching his cheese slice and eating my entire “Brooklyn” slice, which was pepperoni, meatball slices, onions, mushrooms.  Who’d a thought?  Then we popped over to a new cupcakery for some birthday cupcakes – vanilla with chocolate icing for Gavin, red velvet for Marcus, and lavender lemon for me.  The place is pretty fancy and there were all sorts of people just sitting about quietly enjoying their coffees and cupcakes.  The boys were quiet too as they made quick work of their desserts.  But then Marcus, out of the blue, says loudly (I think he only has one volume when he speaks), “I really have to poop.”  Before I could stop myself, I asked reflexively, “What?”  And he replied, “There’s a soft poop that wants to come out now, mama.”  Mmmm . . . enjoy your coffee and cupcakes, folks.

Dinner was a quiet affair too.  I made butter chicken with steamed broccoli dressed with a little butter and salt.  For some reason, the kids didn’t like the chicken that much (Gavin refused to eat it at all), even though they’ve had and enjoyed this particular dish and other similar ones in the past.  Even more strange  . . . they actually ate, enjoyed, and practically fought over the broccoli.  I was so confused.  But happy!

Here are some recent photos of the birthday boy.

Making a silly face while eating lunch.

Enjoying a book - love the crossed legs and exposed belly.

On a walk with Mommy.

"I sit on Elmo?" Indeed.

Biting into his birthday cupcake today.

Mighty pleased.



New Year Wishes

A favorite Tết custom of Vietnamese children all over is the giving of lì xì (lucky red envelopes containing money).  I have fond memories of giving my elder relatives and family friends traditional Tết greetings and then receiving lì xì in return.  I feel like a bit of a slacker parent on Vietnamese traditions as we’ve never really done this with Marcus.  Part of the difficulty is that we don’t live close to my family and have only been able to celebrate Tết with them in NC once (when Marcus was too young to remember).  Well, we finally got with the program.

Last weekend, we went with my friend D and her family to a local Tết festival.  The boys got dressed up in their finery and got to eat different Vietnamese foods, mill about with hundreds of Vietnamese people hawking various foods and wares, and watch some music performances and dragon dancing.  Marcus loves xôi (sticky rice), but Gavin wouldn’t try it.  Both boys loved the múa lân (dragon dance). Marcus and Gavin were coming down with colds, so they weren’t in the best of moods and we didn’t end up staying very long.  Some pics from the festival:

Truth be told, I think the festival was a little loud and overwhelming for the boys.  They were a lot happier once we got back home.

Yesterday we called my parents (out visiting our family in CA) so that the boys could wish them and our family a happy new year.  Marcus’ kept saying “Happy chúc mừng năm mới!” (which technically is “happy happy new year”) and Gavin was a total phone hog, grabbing the phone constantly and garbling out some crazy syllables that ended with “măm mới” (which technically, I think, is “new tray” or something like that).  Ha!

Then we got to the lì xì.  I had explained to Marcus that he would be getting the little red envelope of money after giving me and his dad some wishes for a happy new year just like in his Ten Mice for Tet book.  Now common wishes for Tết include things like long life, health, happiness, security, prosperity, success, etc.

Me:  Ok, Marcus.  What do you want to wish Mommy and Daddy for the New Year?

Marcus:  Uh, a rice cake.

Me (pause):  Thanks, honey.  Is there anything else you’d like to wish us for the New Year?

Marcus:  Um . . . I don’t know.

Me:  Well, what do you think Mommy and Daddy would want if we could have anything in the whole wide world?

Marcus (without hesitation): A COPY MACHINE!

I thought this was particularly hilarious.  I only found out later that he actually had said “a coffee machine!”  So while not as funny as I’d originally thought, Marcus is pretty darn observant.  At least where his daddy and coffee/espresso machines are concerned.

Chicken expert

Marcus was showing off some of his artwork this morning.

The proud artist

Me:  What’s this, honey?  A turkey?

Marcus:  No, it’s a Japanese chicken.


Me:  Ah.  Is that why it has green hair?

Marcus:  Uh huh.

A Japanese chicken. Of course.

Marcus on flies

Marcus joins his Dad in the bathroom to relieve himself.  After they’re done, Adam helps Marcus zip his fly and buttons up his own.

Marcus:  Daddy, you have two buttons on your fly because your penis won’t fit in your pocket, right?

Adam:  Uh…

Squeaky clean

It’s Saturday morning and Marcus has climbed into our bed for a little snuggle time.  Gavin is still snoozing in his room, and Adam is in the bathroom getting ready for the day.  Suddenly . . .

Marcus:  What was that noise, Mommy?

Me (trying to keep a straight face):  What noise, honey?

Marcus:  That noise from the bathroom.

Me:  Hmm…I don’t know.  What do you think it was?

Marcus:  It sounded like Daddy was rubbing dishes or something.

Ha ha ha!  Classic Marcus.

Marcus on revenge

So we clamber out of the car after a 4-1/2 hour drive down to NC to see my parents for Xmas Part III.  Gavin drops his bunny (“Bina”) onto the driveway.  Just as I’m groaning to myself about the bunny getting dirty (Gavin chews on it, buries his face in it, can’t sleep without it, etc.), Marcus purposely comes over and stomps on the bunny with both feet, grinding it into the driveway.  We’re appalled.

When Marcus remains unrepentant despite much effort on our part to show him the error of his ways, (a perhaps slightly frustrated) Adam plucks one of the many stuffed animals Marcus is clutching in his arms (a small, scared looking lion named “Mia”) and punts it down the length of the driveway.

This is what Mia looks like.  You sort of want to kick her too, right? I’m kidding!  (Mostly.)

Anyway, Marcus stomps off to retrieve the lion and then huffs his way back.  We brace ourselves for a huge outburst as he looks like he’s about to erupt into a huge crying jag.  Instead…

Marcus:  Daddy.  Daddy!  When you do something, and then someone does it back to you, do they do that in Italy?

Me (in an aside to Adam):  Is he asking if there’s revenge in Italy?

(a regretful) Adam:  No, Marcus, they don’t do that in Italy.

Me:  It’s too bad for you that we’re not in Italy though.

Christmas, Part I

We’re having Christmas three times over this year!

For Christmas Part I, we traveled up to see Adam’s parents in the Cape.  The travel itself was ok overall.  Marcus was a total sweetheart, but Gavin was another story.  He’s developed a horrendous, piercing scream that he employs with way too much regularity and for no apparent purpose.  It’s not so bad when he does it at home, but it’s unbearable when you’re locked up in the car with him and downright embarrassing (and alarming) when he’s doing it on the plane.  Anyway, we made it to the Cape fine and in one piece.

The boys had a ton of fun this year with their Grammy and Grampa, their Auntie B and Uncle M, and of course their favorite cousin, A.  Gavin in particular was enamored with A.  He loves attention and playing with other kids.  Marcus rarely gives him the time of day, so he was tickled pink when A played with him.  So cute!

This was also the first time we bunked the boys together in the same room.  Gavin was in a crib, and Marcus was next to him in a twin bed with guardrails.  We were worried that they wouldn’t sleep, especially since Gavin is teething and he’s been fussy lately at night.  But things worked out.  We would get the boys ready for bed, then Marcus would climb in and I’d sit on the bed with Gavin.  I’d sing them ‘The Eskimo Song’ (a.k.a. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…), or as Gavin calls it, “Eh-mos,” three times following by ‘White Christmas’ (“Wit-mit”) three times.  Then I’d pop Gavin into the crib, instructed Marcus what to do if Gavin cried, left, closed the door, held my breath, and hoped.

[Gavin starts crying.]

Marcus: It’s ok, Gavin.  Don’t cry.  I’m here.  It’s ok.

[Apparently unconvinced, Gavin continues crying.]

Marcus: You want me to sing?

Gavin: Sing?  Sing.

Marcus (a bit off key): Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. [Pause.] Sorry, Gavin.  I don’t know the rest of the words.

Gavin cried at first every night, and Marcus sang to him every night.  Adorable!  Makes me think we should bunk them together for a little while.

Anyway, some pictures:

'Twas the night before Christmas...

My in-laws always do such an amazing job with the Christmas decorations. The tree was amazing!

Stockings on Christmas morning

Eating a hearty breakfast to sustain him through The Unwrapping.

One of my favorite presents

All cleaned up after presents and naps. With much cajoling and promises of cookies, we tried to get photos of the kids in their Christmas outfits. I like how they each are looking in a different direction. Classic.

Handsome little fellas, aren't they?

Enjoying the promised cookies