Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Very Thomas Birthday

On the 21st of September Joseph will be three years old. We are celebrating a few days earlier though, so the family can be here together on a sunday. Besides, this is the day he should have been born if he had not been stuborn enough to keep mommy in three days of labour. Not that I will keep that hanging over his heard for the rest of his life of course..... but I just thought I'ld mention it.

Last night, my wonderful Husband spent his evening and part of the night putting together Joseph's birthday gift: an Imaginarium Train table. Joseph, as you may know is utterly insane about trains, particularly Thomas the Tank Engine. Ama (Joseph's name for my mother) and Bill worked together for two hours to get the table done, then I helped the last hour after my mother went to bed putting some of the smaller things together. We applied some magic and wall stickers and.... presto we had a Thomas the Tank Engine traintable!! Hurray! It was well past midnight when both of us saw our bed, but it was worth it.

This morning Mommy, Dadda and Ama gathered around Joseph's bed to sing happy birthday and then he was carried downstairs to discover his birthday surprise. I wish I had words to describe his delight. I have however a video and if I can manage to upload it, you will see what I mean. He was not just happy, he was over the moon. He kept looking, touching, running his trains over the rails. We had serious trouble convincing him of the necessity to actually get dressed to go to mass!

At Church several people wished our boy a happy birthday, but his main interest remained getting back home to play with the traintable. Even the arrival of Aunt Sarah, Mimi and Pa, his aunt and paternal grandparents just meant that there were now more people to drag along to come and admire him as he raced around, pushing trains on the tracks, through tunnels and over bridges.

After everyone had gathered, the trains had been admired we made ready for a birthday tradition: pictures at JCPenny! But even here Thomas the Tank engine could not be excluded.

We skipped naps today, always a big risk, but a present from Mimi while at the restaurant made Joseph behave well and stay on his side: Cranky the Crane, a college of Thomas at the docks and a take along set provided lots of fun while the rest of us played pass the baby with Michael and ate.

Then finally we could go back home to play with the unbeatable train table again. I am convinced Joseph has run more than a mile in small circles around that thing today. Even the Thomas cake and further Thomas presents (Thomas boots, a Thomas rain coat and an umbrella, together with some fun grow along toys) were only sufficient for a break of half an hour, before the race began again.

That cake was a story by itsself. We wanted to order one at our local Publix store and asked for some information. We needed to decide between a pull apart cupcake cake and a cake. When I came back, they informed me, three days before the birthday party that they were out of Thomas the Tank engine kits. And I already had promised my little boy a Thomas cake. Oops. And I have never in my life decorated a cake. Double oops! I decided to be creative. I asked the bakery to make a plain round cake, with happy birthday on it, and red and blue (Thomas' colours) icing around it. Then I had the genius idea (if I say so myself) to use the heads of Thomas the tank engine Pez candy dispensers for decoration. The only thing I needed to add were some tracks.

Reluctantly we said goodbye to Mimi, aunt Sarah and Pa shortly after the cake and presents and played with the trains till it was time for the bedtime rituals to start. Mommy even snuck in a nap!
James received the honour of going with Joseph under the blankies and Ama read a Dutch story about, what else, a train, and then Joseph went off to the land of Dre.... well.. the island of Sodor I am sure, in his Very Thomas Bedroom.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Joseph loves Thomas the Tank Engine. Joseph loves playing with the Thomas the Tank Engine table at the toy store. Joseph loves it so much that he will ask to go there a few dozen times a day. Since we do not want to aggravate the people of the toy store by playing there every day and never buying something, we ration visits to once every week or two. I try to explain Joseph how this works by using the calendar and showing him what day we are and when we will go. He dutifully listens and then just ask again.."Shall we go to the Thomas Table?" "Shall we go in the car and go bye bye to the Thomas Table?" Needless to say that today when we actually DID go to the Thomas table, I almost felt a sense of relief. Yes.. we are going to the Thomas Table.

Unfortunately, we did not stay long at the Thomas Table.

Joseph knows he needs to be gentle with his little brother. He also knows that he can not just do anything, or there will be a consequence. If he deliberately crashes into his brother when we are all playing on the bed, mama takes the little brother away. This is a big punishment and usually followed by wails of "I want him. Mama needs to come back!" He knows that if he throws his toys, they get taken away. (except for squishy toys that are allowed to be thrown). And he knows that kicking, hitting, or blatant disobedience mean time out. He knows all this.

So I do not understand why, after two warnings, he decided to deliberately push down his little brother, who is just learning to stand, while he was holding on to the Thomas table. "Michael can't play." is just no excuse, right?

So... up we grabbed Joseph, Michael went in the stroller and we moved out of the store, with a screaming and crying todler in his fathers arms who kept wailing that he wanted to go back to the Thomas table. His cruel parents however did not relent, and just kept saying that he should not have pushed his little brother (after two warnings, where we had intervened no less). Once at home I tried to explain to a still crying and hicupping Joseph that this was a "consequence" (hey, if he can learn the word metamorphosis, he can learn this one). If he pushed his little brother down, he was not a good boy. And if he is not a good boy he can not play with the Thomas table. Through hiccups and crying he told me he wanted the consequence. I guess he did not really understand. Ah well, he will in time. And one day he will thank us, right? Right?