She cud choke!” He then replaced the plug and didn’t utter another word for three weeks. What he lacks in verbal skill is made up in physical prowess. By 2½, Joe could ride a bike, roller blade, mount a trapeze, and scale a 6′ wooden fence! Doug made partner in his anesthesia practice January 1st. Even more welcome than the increased income was the unlimited vacation, part of which he used right away to have a long overdue tonsillectomy. He was trading stocks at his computer within hours of the surgery, which must’ve kept his mind off the pain, because he never breathed a single complaint the entire two weeks he was home convalescing. Doug and the kids took the wheels off our skateboards when it snowed this month and went snow boarding down the school slopes. I’m glad they seized the opportunity while they could — the children may be grown and gone before it snows in Tyler again.
We thought he might spend most of his earnings before leaving the store, given his new employee discount, but he saved a good portion to use at Lowe’s, having lately become enthralled with carpentry. He built himself a workshop in our attic, convinced Papa to install some electrical outlets, and spent the rest of the year stocking it with power tools and scrap lumber. David turned eight this month. He loves to build, too, but his preferred medium is LEGOS. Our decision to spend spring break at Legoland, California, was due almost completely to his lobbying efforts.
Joseph was determined to potty train this spring, despite Jennifer’s vain attempts to postpone it for a more convenient time. He changed from diapers to brother’s underwear every time Mom’s back was turned and spent his days trotting from toilet to toilet with his pants around his knees. His persistence paid off, and by the end of April he actually had something to show for his efforts. What’s more, he figured it out for himself, right down to replacing an empty roll of toilet paper with a full one when he’s finished (wish he’d teach his siblings that trick)!
Life marched on…. Jennifer and Bethany hosted their traditional Back-to-School Brunch in September, the same day Girlie-Girl celebrated her first birthday. Doug claims Rebekah looks more like her mother every day, but he’s usually staring at her dimpled thighs when he says it! No longer does she perpetually smell of sour milk, having finally outgrown the exasperating habit of spitting up as she’s lifted out of the bathtub, which had for 12 months been her knee-jerk reaction to smelling clean. We wrapped up a study of the American Revolution with a two-week tour of the East Coast, leaving town on Bethany’s 11th birthday. We had scarcely driven out of Texas when Jennifer discovered the diamond was missing from her engagement ring — an irreplaceable heirloom that had been in Doug’s family for generations. When our eagle-eyed David spotted it a week later amid cracker crumbs and crayons under the back seat, Doug dubbed him “Diamond Dave.” Jonathan originally balked at the idea of dressing in Colonial garb to tour historic Williamsburg, as if doing so might embarrass him. (This, from the child who used to traipse all over Mesquite wearing mirrored goggles and a one-horned Viking helmet strapped to his head with a leather belt!) He really got in the spirit of things once Mom finished the costumes, though, and didn’t want to take his off. We were stopped innumerable times by tourists who wanted to photograph or videotape our family.
Curiously, this phenomenon continued even when we were in street clothes. Foreigners would indicate in broken English they wished us to line up, then would snap several pictures, presumably to show folks at home what a typical American family looks like. Rebekah didn’t travel well this trip, due to a lingering ear infection and emerging molars. It’s a good thing we had John Denver in the glove box. She didn’t care for any other song on the CD, but would immediately stop crying, cock her head to one side, and grin from ear to ear every time we played (and replayed) “Thank God I’m a Country Boy!” We took Staten Island Ferry in New York to get a closer look at the Statue of Liberty. When we got caught in rush hour traffic afterwards, Jon and Beth reached under their seats, pulled out two scooters they’d smuggled from home, and coasted along the sidewalks of Manhattan next to our Suburban. We signed up for a four-hour whale-watching expedition while we were in Plymouth and were treated to magnificent views of several humpbacks. Doug and the children seemed unbothered by the wild rocking of our boat, but Jennifer was eventually forced below deck to be closer to the trashcan. There she developed a new appreciation for those long months the Pilgrims spent at sea. We found ourselves in Canada admiring Niagara Falls the day Samuel turned seven. In lieu of a birthday cake, Doug ordered snails, and with the exception of Jon and Ben, we all had our first (and probably last) taste of escargot.