Since I was fortunate enough to be at home with Alexander, we were nearly always together which is one of the reasons I think his passing is especially hard for me. Everywhere I look and everything I do remind me of him.
Here are some of our favorite memories of our dear Alexander.
Picking out the Christmas tree
When we went to get the Christmas tree this year, we thought we’d let Alexander pick out the tree. It was cold and dark when we arrived at A&M, so Dan quickly picked out the tree but we let Alexander think he’d done it by asking him what he thought of the tree. A&M is a great place to get trees because they also throw in a free pie. Ever helpful, Alexander picked out the pie and then wanted to carry it to the car. He tried to carry it but the pie was a little heavy for him. So, I held on to one corner to help balance it for him to get to the car. He was so cute and feeling like such a big boy that he was doing his part.
Dan thought we should put Alexander to bed before we set up the tree. I told him no Alexander would be fine and he was. We got the tree up and Alexander got to see it standing tall before he went to bed. Now mind you, I did wait until he was asleep before I pulled out the decorations. Alexander surprised me again. Once the tree was decorated, he didn’t bother it too much. He would occasionally touch the tree as we were going in or out of the door or he might touch a ball but he never tried to remove any of the balls from the tree. He didn’t even try to mess with the presents when they were under the tree. It was as though he knew he was supposed to wait until a special time.
Holiday Open Houses
During the holidays, we attended a couple of open house with Alexander. One of those was at our friends’ Nicky and Susan home. I had bought Alexander an elf outfit to wear for our Christmas card and Dan thought it would be a good idea for him to get more use out of it so he wore it to the open house. Alexander was the only kid there but that didn’t bother him. He loves parties and could be at home anywhere. He ran around their house, chased the dogs and had the bes time dipping chips in the meatball sauce. We were thankful he didn’t break anything at their house. Although, he almost broke their irreplaceable wise man from the nativity scene but just touched it instead. I didn’t see it but I was told on more than one occasion he tried drinking water out of the dog’s bowl.
Alexander loved waffles. When I first gave them to him, he didn’t seem to like them so much. One day, while I was making him a sandwich for lunch, I heard Alexander say waffle. Before I could turn around, he was headed to the freezer. He took out the box of waffles, helped himself to one and took it to where we keep the toaster under the sink. The toaster wasn’t plugged in but Alexander didn’t know that. He just plopped his waffle in the toaster and after pushing it up and down a few times in the toaster, he thought it was “cooked” enough and he started eating it. I couldn’t believe my 18 month old was doing this. After I finally stopped laughing, I warmed the waffle for him. From then on, waffles became his favorite food. He tried his cooking experiment several more times before I moved the waffles up a shelf in the freezer.
Waffle making soon became our ritual in the morning. I would take out a waffle and give it to Alexander and he would hold it while I pulled out the toaster. Once I plugged the toaster in, I would pick him up and let him put his waffle in the toaster. Once the waffle popped up, he’d run to get his plate and bring it to me so he could eat it while it was nice and hot.
READ TO ME
Alexander enjoyed his books. I smiled the first time I walked by his room and saw that he’d climbed into the rocker and was reading to himself.
Dan and I had different styles when it came to reading to him. Dan always had lots of sound effects where I was a more steady voiced reader. Either way, Alexander enjoyed having one of his read and spend time with him.
One of my fondest memories happened during the week of December 15. Alexander and I were going through our usual morning routine: breakfast, Good Morning America, and Jack’s Big Music Show. While Alexander was watching his tv show, I was doing some banking online and answering a few emails. At one point, he got tired of watching his show and came over to me with book in hand. He put the book, Hand Hand Fingers Thumb on the table next to me and then tried nudging his head under my arm so he could get in my lap and read to him. With a request like that, how could I resist?
Cat In The Hat
I think our reading this book to him is how Alexander learned to ha(t). Once he started learning more words, he would “jump” when the Cat walked in on the mat or he would “No, no” when the fish didn’t want the Cat in the house.
This was another favorite of Alexander’s. He liked the red (bal)loon and could point out the bears, the kittens, the mouse, and the little old lady whispering hush. He would say “grrr” when he saw the bears and put his finger to his mouth to say hush.
Alexander’s favorite show was Wow Wow Wubbzy. I don’t know what he saw in that little yellow character but throughout the day he’d ask to watch Wow Wow. When it finally came on in the evening, he would just dance his little dance during the theme and yell Wow Wow throughout the show.
He also liked watching Wheel of Fortune. Dan was usually lying on the floor in Alexander’s kitchen play area and Alexander would climb on top of him and yell letters at the tv. He would get so excited when someone got a letter and everyone started clapping. He had no idea what was going on but he’d clap right along with them.
We probably let him watch too much tv but since both Dan and I like tv, we thought it a little hypocritical not to let him watch some. We did try to limit it because he would get easily fixated and ignore us.
My birthday is in late November and at a meeting I attended in December, someone made me brownies. I brought the leftover brownies home. One night while I was out at a meeting, Dan was home watching Alexander. While Dan was downstairs watching tv, Alexander snuck upstairs, tipped the brownie tray off the counter and was eating the brownies crumbs and all as I walked in the door.
LEARNING NEW THINGS
Alexander was constantly learning new things.
We have lots of stairs and Dan didn’t want to have gates all over the place. I told him the only way to avoid that would be to teach Alexander to safely go up and down the stairs. Dan got advice from another father who had already been through it with his son and he set out to teach Alexander. Alexander was a quick learner and was soon going up and down the stairs on his own.
He’s mastered crawling up and down and in the last few weeks, he was gaining enough confidence to walk up and down the stairs (holding onto the wall or railing). He would also walk up or down if one of us held his hand. Sometimes, he would decide he didn’t want to walk or crawl and would stand there until I carried him.
Let there be light
I made the mistake one day of teaching Alexander to work the light switch. From that day on, he always wanted to turn the lights on and off. If he saw you standing near a light switch, he’d get you to pick him up just so he could turn it on and off. There is a half wall in our bedroom and he loved standing there turning the light switch on and off.
Whenever I showered and Alexander happened to be in our bedroom with me, I had to make sure to keep the cold water off or else I’d get a chilling surprise. Not to be outdone, Alexander soon figured out he could also reach the hot water and would turn that up as well.
DISCOVERING KETCHUP AND OTHER CONDIMENTS
Alexander and I were meeting with my friend Sarah for lunch. I got him some fries for us to share and as a special treat also got him some ketchup. He had never had ketchup but he’d recently discovered dipping chips in salsa so I thought he’d enjoy it. Boy oh boy did he love ketchup. Sarah had to share some of her fries he enjoyed ketchup so much. He just loved licking it off the fries. This was also the day Sarah told me she and her husband were expecting their first child. It was a happy day all around.
Another ketchup memory
When Alexander saw that I was making him chicken fingers or fish sticks, he would go to the refrigerator and take out the ketchup. He would then put it on the countertop next to me to ensure I wouldn’t forget to give it to him with his meal. I was always amused by this.
Alexander didn’t much care for mustard but he was always willing to try whatever new sauce I placed in front of him.
TENNIS WITH MOM
I started playing tennis a couple of years ago and when Alexander came along, it became a little bit of a challenge to play during the week. When he was younger, I could take Alexander along with me and he’d sit in his swing or his car seat.
As he got older, I did childcare swaps with a friend in the neighborhood and also luckily discovered that one of the local tennis clubs offered free childcare (for kids 1 and older) when parents were playing tennis. This was great. As soon as Alexander was old enough, I signed us up. It took Alexander a few times of going to the childcare room before he warmed up, but once he did he a wonderful time. We’d get to the tennis center and I barely had time to sign in before he was leading me around the corner to head off to play. When I picked him up at the end of my tennis drill, he always came running up to me as if to say, ‘I had fun today but I’m so glad you’re here mommy.’ Once out in the parking lot, Alexander always tried to make a break for it and run across the massive field surrounding the tennis center. We played our little game of me chasing him around the field before I got him in the car.
Dan and I both enjoyed throwing tennis balls to him in the backyard. A friend gave him a tennis racquet and he was starting to connect the ball and racquet.
VISITING WITH FRIENDS
In early December 2008, we went to our friends’ the Carluccis for dinner. They have a big dog named Jackson and our fearless Alexander decided to have a barking contest with him. After a while, Jackson won the battle. Jackson was so excited about Alexander playing with him that he accidentally knocked him down. Alexander cried because he was a little startled but he was back to playing in no time.
North Carolina – November 2008
Dan wanted to spend his 47th birthday in North Carolina for his fraternity’s reunion. So, we took a family road trip. We were a little nervous about how Alexander would do on the long trip. We should have known he would be a little trooper and handle the trip well. He didn’t cry or complain at all. We decided to break the trip into two parts and spent a night in Virginia.
Perhaps, it’s because he didn’t change Alexander’s diapers as often as I did or maybe they really were memorable but Dan seems to always have a diaper-related story on every trip we take. This trip he was thankful for the nice cleaning lady at an I-95 rest stop who unlocked the bathroom so he could change Alexander.
We hadn’t seen Dan’s friends Randy and Anne Moss Rogers in quite some time so we had dinner with them and their boys while in Virginia. Alexander was happy to stretch his legs and was all over the place in the restaurant. Charles (Randy and Anne Moss’ younger son) had quite a time trying to keep up with Alexander.
Our first stop in NC was Raleigh where Alexander and I would drop Dan before heading to Winston-Salem for the evening. After getting Dan settled at the hotel, we went out for some BBQ. It wasn’t the Lexington-style BBQ Dan had hoped for but it was ok. I’m not sure if Alexander was expressing his displeasure at the meal or just wanted attention, but he spilled a big glass of water all over the floor.
While in NC for the weekend, Alexander and I stayed in Winston-Salem with Dan’s mother on Friday night. She was going to watch Alexander when I went to meet Dan on Saturday night. On Saturday, she and I took Alexander to the Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem. He had a great time.
Dallas – May 2008
Dan and I lived in Dallas many years. In fact, volunteering for an arts group in Dallas in where we met. The name of the arts group is The 500, Inc. and one of the events they do is called Artfest. It’s a huge arts festival which occurs during Memorial Day weekend. Dan and I had been planning to take Alexander for a visit to Dallas and thought this would be a good weekend.
Alexander enjoyed his time at Artfest. He danced to the music (http://www.totsites.com/tot/dodsonemerson/movies/19258) and got to meet the Shinedling girls, Tatum and Rubie.
It was a whirlwind trip for him. We saw lots of friends and Alexander got to meet his Great Uncle Michael. Since Michael and I are the same age (we were born only 2 weeks apart), it sounds so funny to say uncle much less great uncle.
Alexander got to see where Mommy and Daddy had their wedding reception and he also got to experience the Texas heat. He was not pleased about that. We had to make sure to keep him shaded and hydrated.
All in all it was a fun weekend.
Click here to see more photos from that weekend: http://www.totsites.com/tot/dodsonemerson/photosS/g135072
Killington – March 2008
We went to Killington in March to visit friends Susan and Steve. Somehow, they’d missed the news about Alexander so we were combining a ski trip with their meeting Alexander for the first time.
Dan had a couple of memorable experiences on the trip:
Changing Alexander’s diaper in the cramped bathroom in the restaurant in Killington
Pulling Alexander around on the sled in 4 ft. of snow at Susan and Steve’s house
Atlanta – July 2007
We went to the Emerson Smith Family reunion in July 2007. Alexander was just 2 months old. He had a lot of firsts that weekend: his first plane ride, first ride on a train, first visit to the zoo, and first trip to the High Museum. Alexander was the youngest attendee at the reunion and my relatives loved pinching his cheeks.
At the MLK Museum there was a bus exhibit. Dan and I watched as the children walked through the bus that showed them whether or not they would have to sit in the back of the bus.
Pancoast – Broad Wedding – May 2007
One of Alexander’s earliest social outings was attending the wedding of our friends Danny and Sarah. He was only 9 days old. We got a little lost and got there late. We quickly found th last two seats and hoped Alexander wouldn’t start crying. We didn’t need to worry as Alexander was the perfect guest.
OUR LITTLE HELPER
Alexander was true to his name: Helper of Mankind. He always wanted to help. Whenver the two of us were out, if Alexander saw the keys before I had a chance to unlock the door, he would reach for them so he could unlock the doors for us. Once Alexander was walking, if I got something small at the store he could manage, he would insist on carrying the bag to the car. Or, when we’d bring in the groceries from the garage, he’d stand on one side of the cart and I’d stand on the other and we’d roll the cart into the house together.
If Alexander spilled a glass of water or milk, he would gladly help you clean it up if you handed him a paper towel. He would just mimic Mommy and Daddy by using his foot to move the paper towel around the mess to clean it up.
I saved loading the first of laundry for when Alexander was awake. After I sorted the piles, he would help put clothes in the washer. Once done, I’d say close the door. He then held up his arms so I’d pick him up to turn on the washer. With me holding him, we’d stand there a few minutes and watch as the water begin to fill and clothes would swish around. We’d start all over again when it was time to move those clothes to the dryer and add new clothes to the washer.
One task I have to do on a regular basis is to get the balloons blown up for the monthly meeting of a local volunteer group. Alexander really liked the ‘loons and would go with me to get them blown up. Again, my little helper wanted to carry them once they were blown up. Because they were tied with a long ribbon, I could let him hold them from the bottom and think he was carrying them to the car but I always held on up top.
LEARNING TO TALK
After taking a few sips of water or juice, Alexander loved to stick his hand in the glass and get a piece of i(ce).
Asked what shoes he wanted to wear after getting up from a nap, Alexander often wanted his boo(ts) and his ha(t).
Apple was probably the first two syllable word Alexander could say. Whenever I offered him an apple for a snack, he would say “appoo” and head to the utensil drawer to get a knife so I could cut it up for him. Alexander was becoming a lot more independent in the last couple of months. One time I saw him go in the drawer and get a knife to try and cut the apple slices himself. I didn’t mind when he got the forks and spoons out of the drawer but once I saw him getting the knives, I knew we had to secure the drawer a bit better.
Once he discovered how to open the refrigerator, Alexander was always helping himself to chee(se). I started putting milk in a small sippy cup on a lower shelf in the fridge and he’d help himself to that during the day as well. Thankfully, he couldn’t open the cabinet where I kept the juice boxes but several times during the day, I’d see him standing there and ask for jui(ce).