Sunday, November 12, 2006

Grrr . . . I a LION!

Grrr . . . I a LION!
Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
Yes, here she is, the Queen of the World in her "King of the Jungle" attire. Don't be fooled by the illusion of humility implied by the lion costume. She just likes to put on the trappings of lesser beings sometimes.

The Halloween-Birthday extravaganza was a bit much for Lilah, who burst into tears at one point and sobbed, "I don't want to open any more presents!" Poor kid. Never fear, though. She recovered to enjoy her presents quite thoroughly, and is already anticipating getting more for Christmas.

Lilah's current favorite things, for those interested:

Nakey-time, the precious 5-10 minutes in the morning when she strips off all her clothes and gets to either run around naked or wrap herself in her beloved purple blanket before Mommy or Daddy insists that she gets dressed.

Her purple boots with chiffon-ribbon laces. Enough said.

Show-and-tell at school, during which time she insists on bringing a different "soft, tiny, baby" stuffed animal each week, no matter how much Ryan and I encourage other items. The best part is that the animals names change minute to minute, so pay attention or you'll accidentally refer to Bloop-Bloop as Hunga-Munga. "Honestly, Mommy," her tone of voice will clearly suggest, "try to keep up."

Posted by claycomb at November 12, 2006 1:19 PM

The cutest triceratops in the west

So . . . readers of this rather occasional, haphazard record of Collin and Lilah's adventures in life know that I like to blog about them separately. Here's the report on Collin, who is, as I assure him daily, "still three" as of October 30. Collin had a VERY exciting birthday weekend, since Mom-Mom and Pappy arrived on Friday night, our friend Nathalie came over to decorate cupcakes on Saturday afternoon ("BIG HUGE CHOCOLATE ONES!!!), and then he went trick-or-treating for the very first time. And this is all BEFORE the big party on Sunday.

So, here are some recent highlights from life with Collin:

Upon seeing Johnny, the sweet, long-suffering six-year-old who is Collin's greatest idol, coming down the stairs into our basement, Collin rushed over to me with a look of ecstatic panic on his face, rather like those girls clutching at bits of John and Paul's clothes through the fence. "Mommy!!! Johnny HERE!!!"

On trick-or-treat night, Collin wanted to give out candy (after he'd finished collecting and sampling his own). So he rushed to the door when the bell rang, only to fall back in terror at the sight of two WVU college students, both at least 6' tall and wearing truly grisly werewolf masks. Poor little guy. After that he let his daddy give out the candy.

The other day, coming home from a rather stressful grocery store trip, I forgot to lock Collin into his carseat (!!!) Fortunately, it was a short trip home on no major roads, and he did not get out of his seat at all. In fact, I wouldn't have known of my fault if he hadn't suddenly announced it from the back seat: "Mommy! You forgot-- strap me in!"
I thanked him for telling me and assured him that at this point (three blocks from home) we were better off just letting it be than anything else.

He was quiet for a minute, then he said, "Mommy, when I see my daddy, I'm going to tell him, I'm going to say, 'Daddy, Mommy forgot -- strap me in!!"

And yes, as soon as he saw Ryan, FOUR HOURS LATER, that is the first thing he told him. Sigh.

Posted by claycomb at November 12, 2006 1:09 PM

Monday, September 25, 2006

Collin & Gramps Fishing

Collin & Gramps Fishing
Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
This past weekend, Her Majesty was taking a tour of her realm (read: Lilah was visiting Mom-Mom and Pappy) so the vassals took a much-needed vacation and headed to D. C. to see family and friends. We had planned to hit the zoo with Gramps (my dad) on Sunday, but threats of rain led us to switch to the Museum of Natural History instead.

I confess, I was a little worried that Collin, who hadn't seen Gramps since we moved to West Virginia over a year ago, might pull his shy routine, at least for a little while. Boy was I wrong! Within a few minutes of meeting up with one another, Collin and Gramps were heading into the mammal exhibit hand-in-hand, while Collin roared his best lion roar and Gramps looked, frankly, a little alarmed. (Hey, we're alarmed a lot of the time. Such a small boy. Such a LOUD voice.)

We saw the big elephant in the lobby. We went to the potty. We saw a lion and some zebra, kangaroos, a walrus, giraffes, a tiger, and the bush babies. We went to the potty. We went across to the dinosaur room, where Collin nearly cleared the building with his triumphant cry: "CERATOPS!!!!!!" (Translation: Look, there is a skeleton of a triceratops. I am fond of it.)

We left the building (no rain, thankfully) and headed for the famous Smithsonian merry-go-round (check out that photo on flickr), but first, we went to the potty. The closest building was the Smithsonian "castle" building, in which Collin was distressed to find no resident king. He insisted on asking the ladies at the information desk, and they agreed with his theory that the king was out for a unicorn ride and would be back soon.

We rode the merry-go-round, then went for lunch at the American Indian Museum, where this immortal photo was snapped. Just two guys fishing, folks, concentrated, silent, communing with nature and one another, you know the story . . .

Anyway, soon after, we had to part ways, but not before Collin insisted on a Fam-i-ly Hug with Gramps. All in all, a very fun day, from our perspective. We just hope Gramps has recovered from all the excitement!

Posted by claycomb at September 25, 2006 3:07 PM


I see that sweater vests have made a return to the Claycomb males! Surprisingly, all the pictures are adorable.
Posted by: Leslie at September 25, 2006 3:54 PM

I heartily enjoyed the day with Collin and his parents and look forward to spending some similar quality time with Lilah. Collin takes after his Gramps in never passing up a public restroom. Who knows when you'll get another chance.
Posted by: Gramps at September 25, 2006 4:43 PM

Friday, August 4, 2006


Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
So the last entry was about Collin, who, when he grows up, "will be a man!" When Lilah grows up, however, she will be "a bunny."

What color bunny?

"A purple bunny." (Of course. So silly of me to ask.)

So, Lilah loved her recent vacation too, from swimming to boating to swimming some more to waking up in the morning to force her poor Pappy to read her a book without his glasses on. But what she really loved was having more customers for her restaurant.

Let me explain.

I recently taught the children (by modelling) the imaginative play game of "restaurant," where one person pretends to wait on the other person or people and bring them either plastic food on paper plates or even just imaginary food on imaginary plates. Lilah took to this game like a tyrant to a new and stricter regime, and in Canada, she had even more victims. Here is how the game proceeds:

"Hey!" Lilah declares at 8:00 a.m. as the rest of the cabin slumps blearily at the dining room table, "You want to play Restaurant-Restaurant?"

No answer needed. The game is on.

"Welcome to P-O-N-G-O Restaurant! What you going to eat?"

Suffice to say that her service-person demeanor lacks a bit of the humility and warmth that usually ensures a good tip, and also, yes, she did come up with the name of the restaurant herself.

Next comes the actual ordering and delivery of the food, during which she demonstrates her potential for world dominance once again, namely by occasionally telling people that the food they have ordered was unavailable EVEN THOUGH IT IS ALL IMAGINARY FOOD. She then sometimes simply throws the invisible food that she thinks the person ought to be eating ("You have peas!") in their general direction, and moves on to the next customer.

So, if you are not hungry, not in need of coddling or consideration from your waiter, and feel like sitting on the floor with a paper plate in your hand pretending to eat chocolate ice cream and lima beans for breakfast, make sure you try out P-O-N-G-O restaurant soon.

Posted by claycomb at August 4, 2006 11:18 AM


I love reading this blog when the jungle gets boring and the internet cafe has for some reason uninstalled its air conditioning.
Lilah's goals of becoming a purple bunny have reminded me of something. We have this home video from when we lived in northern California where mom asks me "What do you want to be when you grow up?" To which I answered, "a football player...AND the tooth fairy." What can I say? I was ambitious...

Posted by: Morgan at August 7, 2006 12:56 PM

Barbaric Yawp

Barbaric Yawp
Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
Yes, this is a picture of Collin, age 2 and 3/4, swimming in a Canadian lake at sunset. And yes, the expression on his face is one of pure joy, not--as you might reasonably think--shock at how cold the water is.

There is obviously a lot to tell those interested (i.e. those of you who read this blog either unprompted or when I send out reminders that you ought to read it) about our week in Canada with Ryan's parents and our good friend Erin. But since it's been a little while since I added a post, and since vacation stories are often so predictable (we swam, we ate, we applied bug spray, we swam some more), I'd like to do something different.

When Ryan first started this blog, he devoted a post to each child. Here's one to Collin . . .

"Mommy, hey--hey, Mommy, do you know what? When I was a little kid--(dramatic pause for effect)--I growed up to be a big kid!"

This he announces every day. He loves basketball, basketball shirts, basketball hoops, and basketball players (not that he knows any, but a random issue of Sports Illustrated in a doctor's office proved this). He also claims to love to swim, although he doesn't actually like to get his face wet or have his feet leave the ground. He would actually much rather stand ankle-deep in water (as he is in this picture) and throw rocks in the water ("I make BIG splashes!")

Highlights of Collin's Canadian vacation included the frequent consumption of chocolate ice cream, cart rides in Mom-Mom's golf cart, boat rides on Pappy's boat (including touching an actual, real-live fish), throwing rocks in the water, and, on one memorable night, refusing to go to bed and instead becoming the designated Yatzee dice roller in the game that Erin, Ryan, and I were playing. He was sitting in my lap while doing this so I didn't get the complete sense of how much he enjoyed rolling the dice, but Erin said the look on his face was close to maniacal. Look out, Vegas.

The final highlight of the trip was Collin's discovery, since we were mid-potty training when we left for Canada, that little boys can pee on the grass. And on trees. And in the lake. And on rocks. And on unsuspecting bugs . . . ah, nature.

Posted by claycomb at August 4, 2006 11:06 AM


Yes....this is what little boys do....
Ah....youth...what did they say about it...and the young...:-)
Posted by: Andy B at August 4, 2006 2:32 PM

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Thanks, Unca 'Nette!!

Thanks, Unca 'Nette!!
Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
Okay, so I just HAD to call your attention to this wonderful picture (and the others recently added to flickr) of Collin Claycomb in one of his many "dancing dresses." This is actually the top of a tunic/pants set that Paul and Nanette sent him from their trip to Vietnam last winter, but he has no interest at all in the pants (they restrict movement, which impedes his choreography.)

The interest in dancing is a recent development, but one that Collin takes quite seriously. He prefers jazz music or old standards to pop or rock, and, as he explained the other day, "I like to dance because I a boy."

Posted by claycomb at June 24, 2006 1:09 PM


Question of the Day: Will Collin and Lilah
inherit the mantles of Fred and Adele? Surely
the lad has dancing feet. To what tune was he
doing his thing? And do the cats sit idly by?
Posted by: Gramps & Lee Ann at June 25, 2006 5:51 PM

Has Collin been secretly watching Baryshnikov again?
Maybe he also likes the fact that the blue in the tunic brings out the blue in his eyes ;)
Posted by: Leslie at June 26, 2006 8:25 AM

I LOVE it! And somehow...I knew Collin would love it too. No worries...we'll find more and send them expecting some shoes to go with, someday soon!
Posted by: Unca 'Nette at June 27, 2006 7:03 PM

Dear "Unca 'Nette" Keep those "dancin' duds"coming.
And Please, Somebody introduce that kid to Elvis -The world will never be the same!!!!
Posted by: Mom-Mom at July 9, 2006 10:23 AM

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Mom-Mom & Lilah

Mom-Mom & Lilah
Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
Okay, so we've clearly got a glut of blog entries right now, but what can I say? I've just spent a week in my children's company non-stop, so I find that I have more things to say about them. And of course, it was a landmark vacation on many fronts: longest trip we've EVER taken in a car (and may it stay that way, please God), first trip to the ocean, . . . and the reunion of four people who are each other's biggest fans.

This trip to visit Don and Donna (Mom-Mom and Pappy) was the first time I've really gotten a chance to observe the (I'm borrowing a friend's word here) "transcendent" bond between grandparents and grandchildren. Not to get too personal (!!!), but I never knew any of my grandparents well at all, and so I guess I just didn't quite "get it."

Well. I get it now. The moment when the kids first saw Don, while they were still strapped in their car seats, they both literally tried to break the straps to get to him, while he was grinning ear to ear and enveloping them in the huge hugs only he can give. Then at the house, Lilah heard Donna's voice in the dark and wriggled straight out of my arms shouting: "I need to see her!"

What I wish we'd gotten some pictures of was the church service we attended on Sunday, during which Don played his trumpet and French horn and Donna sang with the praise team on the altar. Lilah and Collin stood quietly (well, sort of quietly) in the aisle and danced to the music, one in lavender velvet and the other in his polo shirt and khakis, and the look in their eyes as they watched their grandparents was pure worship, appropriate enough for the place, though perhaps not directed at the intended party.

I thought briefly, with a little sense of loss, of some other people who were missing out on this experience: of getting this over-the-top unconditional love when really, you haven't done a single thing to really DESERVE it. But I also thought about what makes the bond between Mom-Mom and Pappy and Collin and Lilah even more special. Don and Donna appreciate every moment of their relationship with their grandkids, and they are giving crazy, over-the-top unconditional love that Lilah and Collin don't really DESERVE right back. Everybody should have a relationship that works that way in their lives, and I'm really glad our kids do.

Posted by claycomb at June 15, 2006 9:17 PM


Wow...that is an indredibly sweet post. I'm so glad the kids have that and will hope for just a sliver of that, should I ever be lucky enough to have some of my own.
Posted by: Nanette at June 16, 2006 12:36 PM


Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
So. This is not the clearest picture of the batch we took at Don and Donna's house. For more, and many better ones, go to our flickr page.

I'm blogging this one because it perfectly captures Lilah and Collin's first experience at the beach. It was an absolutely beautiful day, about 75 or 80, clear and sunny, and crowded enough to feel like summer without being overwhelming. We set up camp with an umbrella, a blanket, coolers, sand toys, towels, sun screen . . . and Pappy took the kids down to the water.

They were both very excited at first, but after the second time that a wavelet dumped him on his butt, Collin had had enough. He stuck close to Mommy for a couple hours after that and refused to go back in the water. The only things that really got him excited about future trips to the beach were watching the teenage guys playing football and sampling his very first Thrasher's french fries. And yes, he likes them with vinegar. That's my boy.

Lilah, on the other hand, . . . well, let's say that she took to the water, if by "taking to the water" I mean that she stood in the surf for something like three hours over the course of the day, blue with cold, shivering so hard that she couldn't stand up straight, and shrieking at the top of her lungs with pure, unadulterated joy every single time another wave rushed up to meet her. If we'd been indoors every single person within ear shot would have gone deaf. As it was, I wish I'd gotten it on video.

Here's what we've got, though: Collin, pointing to some football players up on the beach and Lilah running full-tilt back to the water. As Donna observed, if we'd let her, she would have kept on going all the way to Europe. Maybe next time.

Posted by claycomb at June 15, 2006 9:01 PM

Purple Baby Takes a Break

Purple Baby Takes a Break
Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
The drive from West Virginia to Milford Delaware should take about 5.5 to 6 hours with no stops. I budgeted 7 to 8 hours to drive the kids there by myself (Ryan was at a dear friend's wedding).

I was wrong. It took 12 hours.

That's right. Twelve. We left the house at 9:45 a.m. The first delay was that I packed everything under the sun, including three different kinds of sunscreen, but forgot my wallet. So 30 minutes out we turned around. Us leaving: take two, at 10:45 a.m. An hour or so later, we changed diapers on the side of the highway. We made it to our lunch spot at 1:30 (an hour and a half behind schedule) and had a lovely meal.

Then we hit the beltway at 4 p.m. And rush hour. At 4:30 Lilah threw up. At 4:45 we got back on the road. At 4:55 Lilah threw up again.

In certain Victorian novels, readers are spared some scenes by the author's drawing of a metaphorical curtain over it. So shall I spare you the details of the hours from 5 to 7, which included much clean-up, even more crying, some running around, MANY bathroom trips and/or diaper changes, and a very bad open-mike night at the New Deal Cafe. There was also the immortal moment when Lilah turned to me and said, "Mommy, I not get sick again, I promise."

"No, no, sweetie," I said, "I know you won't. But it wasn't your fault you got sick."

She thought about that. "I think it your fault, Mommy."

We pulled into the Claycombs' house at 9:45 p.m., not a one of us having napped a wink all day. (Well, it's good that I didn't, but you get the idea.) As the children flung themselves joyfully into Mom-Mom and Pappy's arms, I sat in the driver's seat of the car and thought--for a moment, just a moment--"Hey! I could just peel out right now and no one could catch me!"

But I stayed. And eventually I, like Purple Baby (Lilah's dearest friend, pictured here), got to sit on a lawn chair in the sun and watch my children happily eat sand. So it was all worth it.

Posted by claycomb at June 15, 2006 8:52 PM


Ann, I just nominated you for mother of the year.
Posted by: Leslie at June 17, 2006 1:53 PM

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Intrepid Explorer

The Intrepid Explorer
Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
Big holiday weekends with the kids have, until recently, mostly meant an extra day at home with the kids doing the usual weekend routine. It has just been too much effort to get out the door to do anything special, and most people who would've done something with us, had kids of a similar age, so it was a big pain for them to get out and do anything, either.

We were very happy, therefore, when our friends Cari and Eric invited us on a picnic to Cooper's Rock State Park, about 25 minutes from our place. But we had some reservations...

"Is this a hiking trip?"
"No, you can park right next to the picnic area."
"Are the bathrooms?"
"Yup, right there."
"Portajohns, or an actual building?"
"With sinks and everything."
"We're in."

The kids had a good time, and the actual overlook (a short walk from the picnic tables) is stunning--I've done my share of hiking in Shenandoah, so I sort of suspected to be underwhelmed by the view, but it was gorgeous. For some reason, I didn't actually get any shots of it, though. Probably because I was busy keeping one toddler or other from falling to his or her doom.

The kids had a good time, though...With a water fountain, a tree stump and a small boulder nearby, they were content. It's nice that the twins are now old enough that we are able to finally do things that normal people do on holiday weekends, like picnic in gorgeous state parks, for example.

Posted by claycomb at May 29, 2006 2:18 PM


Looks like the Munchkins know how to enjoy a picnic. Bet their appetites for picnic fare matched their love of adventure. Hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend. Apparently summer has arrived ahead of schedule.
Posted by: Gramps at June 1, 2006 12:33 PM

Sunday, May 21, 2006

May 21, 2006: CoCoPaBaBa

For several nights before Ann left for Ireland, Collin had had a bit of trouble settling down for bed, and so more than once, one of us had to go into his room at 8:30 or 9:00 to soothe him down. On a couple of occassions, Collin had whispered something incomprehensible to me through his pacifier. Unable to figure it out, I usually said something like, "OK, buddy, go to sleep." While Ann was gone, it so happened that one evening Collin was having a bit of a hyper bedtime, and so I ended up staying with him a bit longer. And there it was again, the same syllables whispered through his pacifier--cocopababa, cocoba pa na.

"What are you saying pal?" I asked, and popped the pacifier out of his mouth.

He rolled over onto his tummy, and pulled up his shirt and said it again...

I knew that he wanted me to rub his back, and it dawned on me that he wanted me to sing something for him (which his daycare providers do when he's having trouble napping).

"Buddy, do you want me to rub your back and sing 'Copacabana'?"


He was asleep in five minutes.

Posted by claycomb at May 21, 2006 10:34 AM


The lad has great taste in music! Maybe tonight you can try Mandy?

Posted by: Mary Hekl at May 24, 2006 1:52 PM

Or, if its an afternoon nap The Pina Coloda Song...:-)

Posted by: Andy B at May 24, 2006 4:53 PM

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Collin: 3; Panera: 0

Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
Ryan gave his final exam today, so he was out of the house at 7:30 a.m. Anticipating trouble getting both kids going by myself on a rainy morning, I took them to our local Panera for breakfast. Lilah ate the blackberries I'd brought her from home, drank some milk, and delicately nibbled at a pumpkin muffin top.

Collin ate his blackberries from home, drank all of his milk and the rest of Lilah's, and ate TWO chocolate chip muffin tops. TWO. Then when I wouldn't get him a third, he got down on the floor under the table and tried to pick up the (many) crumbs he had dropped. He was particularly sad to see that some chocolate chips would be headed for the trash.

He got me back, however, for depriving him of his crumbs of breakfast when we went into the restroom so Lilah could "pee potty"--a necessary activity every 30 minutes or so, just to be safe. Collin wandered around drinking his milk, and then spilled some on the floor. Busy as I was with helping Lilah wash her hands, I wasn't quite fast enough to stop him from flinging himself prone on the bathroom floor and--brace yourselves--licking up the milk.

"I like a puppy!" he says. Indeed. Let's hope his immune system is up for it. And let's hope Panera lets us come back. At least they make money off of us!
Posted by claycomb at May 3, 2006 9:07 AM
Hi there, I thought I'd better post a comment so you would know definitively that we are indeed keeping up with the twins renewed site.
I have to a healthcare professional, the thought of Collin licking milk off the bathroom floor gives me serious pause. I'm sorry, that must have been traumatic for all of you.
I'm sure Panera will have you back - Collin is mopping their floors!
Posted by: Nanette at May 3, 2006 7:29 PM

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Spring Photo Shoot

Just friends
Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
What warranted the lovely new shots you can now find on Flickr? Well, The kids both got haircuts (Collin's first by a professional, and Lilah's first that wasn't just a trim), both were in good moods after nice naps, the flowers around the yard are in full bloom, and it was a gorgeous day. Sound like a great day for photos to me! We'll likely post a couple more over the next few days.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Big-Boy Bed!!

The Big-Boy Bed!!
Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
As I warned you, more posts were sure to follow once I figured this out. So here we have a self-explanatory picture of Collin's latest landmark in his journey away from babyhood and into the land of, as he puts it, "my all-by-self."

Lilah's latest milestone, dare we call it that, is less visible, and frankly, less fun. She is the proud possessor of many new pairs of big-girl underpants, which she wore to the park today. She soon perfected the just-got-off-a-horse wide-legged stride of someone who has peed all the way down her legs and into her shoes (three pairs of underwear and pants in one hour, I kid you not) and the look of puzzlement has yet to leave her face when this happens. Here's hoping.

If you check out the latest pictures on Flickr, however, you will see that Lilah is quite zen about a lot of things, as she loves to practice "Echo," otherwise known as "Yoga." Collin has less patience for the poses, and insists on turning them all into launching positions for sommersaults.