Aaron is MIA until July 27 which is the last day of the Mississippi Bar Exam. Since our move to Jackson, he has studied no less than 10 hours per day almost every day. And because he is a total nerd who takes things to the highest extreme, last week he packed up three weeks worth of clothes and food and moved to a small cabin in the middle of nowhere where he is completely removed from any and all distractions. He has no internet, tv, and is screening his calls like he is being hunted by the mafia. This temporary living situation of ours completely stinks and I am beyond ready to bid farewell to the single mom lifestyle. It is hard.
My husband has traveled the world and we have had to say some very sad goodbyes approximately 4, 483 times throughout our relationship. It is never easy, and this past one was no different. Even though I knew he would only be gone for about three weeks, it was painful helping him packing his truck up and watching him drive off. Clark misses him in a huge way and points at every little thing that could possibly be associated with Aaron and repeats "dada, dada, dada, dada" two hundred thousand times per day. To say Clark is obsessed with Aaron would be a huge understatement. I don't even know if it's healthy. I'm not jealous at all.
Guess who just turned 18 months old? The answer is Clark. Our little man is a grown man now. It makes me cringe when I think about how fast the past year and a half has gone by. I'm starting to see some truth to the cliche statements such as, "before you know it, he'll be [fill in the blank]." Starting kindergarden? Going on a date? Going to college? Holy cannoli, it is true.
Clark has been on the move for the past nine months of his life. He started walking when he was nine months old and since then has not slowed down for even one second. This very mobile toddler has a personality that is out of this world and charms the crap out of everybody he meets. His favorite thing to do in life is to finish eating at a restaurant as fast as possible so he can get out of his high chair and run around giving everyone a high five. Fortunately for us, he has not come across a grumpy turd who refused to entertain him with a return high five. He makes people smile everywhere we go. He laughs a lot and it is the most contagious thing you will ever experience.
Clark's favorite things these days include anything and everything Elmo (pronounced Melmo) and Sesame Street. We watch it every morning at 9:00 and he has memorized every commercial leading up to the theme song. He gets more and more excited with each passing commercial and starts freaking out when 'Sunny Days' starts. It's nothing short of hilarious. He has several Sesame Street books and they are first thing he wants to look at when he wakes up in the morning. Before he even gets out of his crib, he wants me to give him a couple of his books so he can look at Melmo. It's kind of creepy, but I'm just going to go with it for now.
He's still pretty decent in the food category. He'll eat almost anything we put in front of him, but he will absolutely devour spaghetti, chocolate milk, fruit, broccoli, eggs, pasta, and fruit snacks. He is pretty good at using a spoon but it is not uncommon for him to hold a spoon in one hand and eat his food with his other hand, which is fairly counterproductive if you ask me. But whatever.
He loves to dance, clap, hug, kiss, spin around in circles, climb on the coffee table, anything having to do with water (specifically splash pads or spray grounds), and reading books. By reading books, I mean simply pointing to pictures and having us say the words. He is not fan of actually reading the story line. He is full of energy and it is a very rare occasion when he will sit still even for a minute. Unless of course Melmo is on and then the world and everything in it stops completely until its over. He also loves getting in and out of his Cozy Coupe car, beating the tar out of Jake, copying whatever we do and say, helping me empty the dishwasher, looking through the photo albums on the coffee table and repeating everybody's names, and did I mention Elmo?
As far as words go, I think he's doing great. He has a stash of about 30 words that he repeats over and over again and he learns new words fairly easily. Some of these words include hot (which he associates with any and all foods, whether or not it is actually hot), dog (pronounced doag), cat, baby, bye bye, water (pronounced wawa), car, shoe, sock, Melmo, Clark, and Jake. There are certainly more words, I just can't think of them at the moment. Of course he is proficient at mama and dada, and he knows almost all of his aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. He talks a lot of jibberish but I feel like it will all turn into something legitimate soon.
I would be a horrible person if I didn't take a second to expound upon the relationship between Clark and his father. It is one like I have never seen nor did I ever imagine. I mentioned earlier that Clark is obsessed with Aaron. Well, it is true. When Aaron walks in the room Clark is in, you would think Jesus himself entered. The room gets brighter. Angelic songs instantly play in the background of life. Its amazing, and I am only slightly exaggerating. They have a very special bond already and it makes me really happy. Reading together is their thing. Before bedtime (and before Aaron became a hermit), Aaron will plop down in the recliner in Clark's room, Clark will get a book and climb up in his lap and nestle into this nook of his arm and sit undisturbed for record amounts of time. Clark will point at every single thing on every single page and have Aaron repeat the word over and over again until they have "read" the entire book. And then he jumps down, runs and finds a different book, and repeat the process again. Reading really is their thing. It might honestly be Clark's favorite thing to do. Let me make this clear: Clark would never in ten million years sit in my lap undisturbed while I tried to read a book to him. Trust me, it would never happen. But with Aaron it is like a sweet reward at the end of the day. I don't want anyone to think I am sitting here throwing myself a pity party. I know Clark likes me and he may even love me sometimes, but it doesn't take a genius to see their is a clear difference with Aaron. I think it's sweet and I'm not going to deny it.
There are a few things he does that makes my heart melt on a daily basis. Every night when we put him in his crib, he folds his hands together and we pray. We thank God for all of his family members and the babies that will be born soon and pray for healing for people that are sick. For a reason unknown to anybody but Clark, every time we pray for Drew or Chase (my brothers), or Ryan (Aaron's brother), or Geez (Aaron's dad), Clark starts laughing. He cracks up at even the mention of their names. There is no explanation other than he thinks these four people are just hilarious. Another thing he does that melts my heart is when I get him out of his car seat and put him down, he automatically reaches up to hold my hand. He knows he has to hold my hand if we are out in public and he never protests. Holding his hand as we walk through a parking lot, a store, or really anywhere at all is one of my all time favorite things in the world to do. And another thing that has become more of an addiction than anything is when I sneak into his room before I go to sleep and stare at him for a few seconds as he sleeps. I do this every single night and nothing could ever stop me. I love to watch him sleep. Creepy? Yes, probably. At least I'm not taking pictures of him anymore, but I'm not promising it doesn't happen on rare occasions. Clark sleeping is one of the sweetest things I can possibly imagine, especially when he has his little butt stuck in the air. I'll take a picture next time it happens and you can see for yourself how sweet it is.
My biggest regret over the past couple of months is the lack of pictures I have taken. I recently got a new phone that takes pretty good pictures, so I tend to forget to bring my awesome camera everywhere I go. Starting today, I'm going to do better. That is a promise.
So there is Clark in a nutshell at 18 months old. He will always be my little man. I can't wait to see him as a big brother, as long as he doesn't treat the new baby like he treats Jake. That would be bad on so many levels.
I am trucking along with the pregnancy just fine. At almost 17 weeks, I look like I'm 39 weeks but at least I have my energy back. We are finding out in 48 hours if this little person is a boy or girl and I think it is going to get A LOT more real. Not that it isn't totally real already, but assigning a gender is a lot more tangible of a concept to grasp. Not referring to our baby as "it" will be nice.
Aaron will not be with me at the ultrasound because of his complete isolation from society, so I am going to ask the nurse to not tell me what it is but write it down and put it in an envelope so I can't see it. Later that evening, I am going to drive to the little cabin where Aaron is hibernating and we are going to have a nice dinner, then open the envelope and find out together. When I get back to civilization on Wednesday night, I'll be sure to announce to everyone whether Clark will have a little brother to beat up on or a little sister to beat up on.
In other news, we are finally feeling settled in and at home in Jackson. My goal for this week is to hang pictures and remove all of the boxes that are piled in corners around the house. I might even get around to sweeping/mopping, which has not happened one time since we have been here. Clark's feet constantly look like he lives in a mud puddle. I love being in Jackson because we are a stone's throw from most of my family and soooooo much closer to Aaron's family in Hattiesburg. Clark and I recently had a blast hanging out with the entire Rice family over the fourth of July, and I'm waiting for them to get off their bums and post pictures on Facebook so that I can share them on my blog (ahem, Haley, Audrey, Hannah, Daniel, etc). Sadly, Aaron had to miss the big Rice party event because, well, you can probably guess by now. He was studying. But in a short three weeks, he can return to life and all will be well in the world again.
All will be well, indeed. Three days after he finishes the bar exam, we will spend seven wonderful days in beautiful Jamaica where we will celebrate the end of an era and anticipate the next (very busy) stage of our lives. And when I say we, that excludes Clark the Dark Shark. He will be having his own lavish vacation with his Geez and Gam and I have no doubt he will spend hours and hours enjoying extended four wheeler excursions around Sumrall, MS. I'm getting so excited about our vacation and even though I will be approximately four thousand pounds in weight, I will expose my huge pregnant belly to all of Jamaica as I plop myself on the beach and sleep all day and all night and eat tons of pretty fruit. We deserve this, people.
Well that is about it for the Aaron Rice clan. We are doing well, just ready for Arnie to be back. The next three weeks will include a lot of me trying to keep a dark shark occupied, so any ideas would be greatly appreciated. I must go now because as I type this outside on the back patio, I just realized that Clark has locked me out of the house. I'll let you know how this turns out.