These dino socks are made for walkin’

If any of you are interested in investing in a “sure thing,” I can offer you a hot tip– put your money in children’s footwear.

Though my own earliest memories of shoe shopping were limited to that scary metal foot measuring device (which STILL creeps me out), I have no recollection of the conclusion Brian and I came to when we sought out Alexander’s first sneakers– tiny shoes are REALLY expensive! Sure, there might be a cute (or not-so-cute) puppet dancing in the shop window, Raffi playing quietly in the background, and lollipops handed out freely. They also might as well be offering small bank loans for shoes for little kids who can’t even walk yet!

Practicing his "Passport smile" for his mama

Practicing his “Passport smile” for his mama

I was nearly sold on the siren song of adorable footwear as I held up tiny boat shoes during a recent trip to the mall. Thank goodness, Brian was there to talk me down and have the chutzpah to ask about the location of the clearance rack.  Though the shoes were unquestionably adorable, the cost of these tiny shoes were roughly comparable to those Brian or I might purchase as an investment pair.   I would LOVE to see a unit cost comparison marked like you see at warehouse stores. “You are paying roughly $50 for less than one square foot of manmade materials that your child will outgrow in a month or so.” Sure… we’ll take 2!

I was able to calm myself from a near crazed impulse mama purchase, and I am grateful that I did. It’s only taken a few outings with a “shoed” kid to understand that you shouldn’t spend too much on footwear.  I know it’ll happen at some point, but we’ve had several close calls where Alexander has managed to unvelcro both shoes and wing them to various corners in our car, all while strapped safely into his car seat.

I'm taking requests!

I’m taking requests!

Even though we’ve managed to shoe him for several outings and inside play, most days he just sports his colorful socks.  He usually gets to pick out his own socks in the morning– we pull out his sock bin, and he excitedly pulls out a pair and hands them to us. (Full disclosure– he usually reaches for the most colorful pair on top, so we have to constantly mix them up to avoid him wearing the same 5 pairs.)  Now that he’s on the verge of full-scale walking, his daily selection is often reviewed to ensure that he has little nubbins or treads to ease his attempts at bipedal movement.

While we’ve watched Alexander move from sitting up to crawling and eventually cruising, I wondered what his first real steps would be like. Would it be a dramatic event with lots of onlookers? Would we even witness it, or would I leave the kitchen to see a toddling kid falling gracelessly onto his backside?  Though it’s a bittersweet benefit to watch our nearly two year old child experience developmental milestones much later than most children, it’s still exciting.

The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain!

The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain!

On Sunday evening, after we spent almost the entire day looking at refrigerators to replace our 23-year old broken one, it happened when we least expected it. Brian and I were playing with Alexander on the floor. Brian put out his hands and said “Walk to daddy!” like he’s done several times before. This time, however, Alexander hiked up his butt, steadied himself on his feet, and ran full-tilt into Brian’s arms.  I might have cried a little. And just maybe, Brian did too.

Alexander has spent the last week really testing out his newly forming skill.  He’ll walk a few steps then crawl the rest of the way. He’ll grab my hand and walk assisted around the livingroom, then let go and try toddling off on his own. Just today, I witnessed him get up by himself in the middle of the floor and walk to the kitchen gate without any prompting from me. The cats are understandably terrified, as they see this little stranger move from 4 legs to 2! We’ve caught Valentine on more than one occasion with her front paws on Alexander’s walking toy unintentionally flying across the room, but thankfully, our cats are not evolving faster than nature has intended.

I’m sure that we’ll be purchasing shoes for Alexander in short order now that he wants to explore the world on two legs. It’s easy to carry a crawling kid in socks, but once he’s walking, especially in cold weather, a boy needs his shoes.  Add in the fact that Alexander’s tiny feet are sized much more appropriately for non-walker crib shoes, it’s even more of a challenge. Nonetheless, we rejoice in watching our little man gain his land legs!

A very close friend of ours spent the summer and fall recovering from a serious ailment, which seriously limited his mobility. We have joked lightly that we would celebrate when both he and our son were walking. Though we can’t compare Alexander’s development with our dear friend’s slow but sure return to health, we will all rejoice to see both of them walking hand in hand this Christmas. We continue to thank you all for your support, prayers, patience, and friendship as we help our little boy gain strength and bloom in confidence. Let’s all just hope that he doesn’t become a tiny shoe snob!





Another Guest Commentary: Free Kokkinisto!


Free Kokkinisto! : A Special Commentary

By Alexander the Great, Regional Correspondent in the Crib Upstairs



Dear friends, I share with you today yet another horrific injustice about which I can no longer remain silent. For the past five months, while I have been encouraged to explore my home, my trusted friend and colleague Kokkinisto has had to remain in the crib. I repeat– Kokkinisto has been forced to stay in the crib despite my protestations about freedom for all stuffed animals and beloved blankets. Granted, Kokkinisto doesn’t have legs, but I don’t think he’d allow such a technicality to keep him from the great beyond.

KokkoSure, one might argue that Kokko is a veritable petri dish of germs without even being allowed beyond my bedroom door, but why is that his fault? Besides, it’s not his choice that his soft ears are so useful for teething.  And for the record, it seems as though when my beloved friend begins to show his wear, the next time I see him, he smells of fresh laundry and dryer sheets. I do find it odd that the one time The Management removed a rather dirty sheep blanket from my hands, almost instantly he was returned to me fresh and new. Granted, he looked a tiny bit different, but who can blame him for all he’s been through??

Again, I implore you, on behalf of Kokkinisto and all trusted security blankets/animals everywhere, free them from the shackles of their non-dropside cribs! Who is there to comfort us when we’re falling asleep? Kokko! Who is there for us to teethe on when we wake up in the middle of the night with painful gums? Kokko! Why are we wailing in darkness at 2 am just enough to wake up The Management? Because we can’t find Kokko! And who are we forced to “drop in the crib” when we’re cruelly woken up at the uncivil hour of 8 am every morning? Oh Kokko…

There has to be something in one of these Childcrafts about unlawful incarceration!

There has to be something in one of these Childcrafts about unlawful incarceration!

Someday, Kokkinisto, my companion and comrade,  I will make a stronger case for your freedom. I will ensure that you can roam the pastures in freedom and peace. But until then, I will fight on your behalf.  Wait, what’s that? Naptime is over? It’s snacktime? Why yes, some applesauce does sound fantastic! Kokko, I won’t let these temptations of nutritious snacks and educational toys separate me from your cause; there just might be a little delay. I’ll be back, I promise. Most likely at bedtime.


Post script- The author of this editorial in no way represents the opinions of Have Stroller, Will Travel. We also respectfully request that our guest contributor not look in the second drawer of his dresser to find Kokko’s long-lost brother.

Falling Forward


It’s been quite the summer and early fall at our home.

I love a good alien cat photo. Here Valentine tries hiding under a toy-- bad move.

I love a good alien cat photo. Here Valentine tries hiding from the boy under a toy– bad move.

This whole “new parent” thing has been quite the experience thus far. Aside from our grand voyage to bring Alexander home, we’ve survived two fairly large surgeries, evaluations, and enough doctor’s appointments to last us until… well, probably another few months or so. We’ve consoled two terrified felines and have babyproofed our home at an alarming speed. We’ve learned our way around UChicago hospitals enough to know the “good” restrooms, the better-than-average food spots, and have figured out about how long it takes to get into town during rush hour given various morning departure times. We’ve explained cleft palate to a ton of strangers and have learned more child development lingo than we’d care to know. (Did someone say parallel play? How about cruising? Stage three food?)

Both of these sweaters were gifts to Kelly men. Yet, it seems as though Brian and Alexander are developing unintentional matching wardrobes.

Both of these sweaters were gifts to Kelly men. Yet, it seems as though Brian and Alexander are developing unintentional matching wardrobes.

Now, after having just wrapped up our second post-op appointment for Alexander’s lip surgery, we’ve been told we have a few months off. The feeling of relief and the ability to just sit back and enjoy the upcoming holidays is almost too much to handle. Getting to watch Alexander experience so many “firsts” amid the inevitable stress and pain involved with surgeries has been surprisingly manageable, and we can only credit the resilience and tenacity of our little boy.  Sure, we’re trying to handle everything as calmly as possible, but he still continues to amaze us with how joyful he proceeds through life, even when he’s got tubes stuck in his nose and little cuffs on his arms– and you can imagine how many times he inadvertently bumps his little nose.


Check out my new smile!

Check out my new lip!

For those of you who’ve asked how the second surgery went, the answer is two tiny thumbs up. Alexander has a new complete upper lip and a brand new second nostril (and THIS time it is staying!) It’s been more than a little arduous trying to keep a kid’s new nostril clean (insert any number of jokes here), but we’re doing our best.  He didn’t miss a beat when he came home and seems to enjoy having a new and much more usable upper lip. I’ve just started working with him on how to use an open cup and a little bit of utensil use. It’s definitely a challenge given his still burgeoning fine motor skills, but he’s getting there. After a few days of tears at the sight of the cup, today, he actually applauded after successfully taking a drink all on his own.

Amidst all the craziness, it’s been an incredible fall. Alexander was baptized at the end of October surrounded by family and friends, he experienced his first Halloween, and he seems absolutely mesmerized by the colorful falling leaves in our neighborhood. He enjoyed his first bowl of liver dumpling soup and applauded the hunter’s schnitzel  at one of our favorite German beer restaurants, the Bavarian Lodge (You may see a trend here– there’s a lot of clapping around our house these days).  Though we’re trying to live in the present as much as possible, we’ve seen his response to Christmas trees in stores already, and we know this winter is going to be one to remember!

Lt Commander Alexander with his mama

Lt Commander Alexander with his mama

His first leaf collection is underway

His first leaf collection is underway

No autumn is complete without a trip to our beloved Bavarian Lodge

No autumn is complete without a trip to our beloved Bavarian Lodge. Also, note our favorite coaster klepto hard at work.

As I’m wrapping up this post, Alexander is motoring towards me with a tractor in one hand and a push toy in the other. I feel as though it was such a long time ago when first I cradled him in my arms, and he weighed less one of our cats! Now, this little man is flying through picture books and zooming up our staircase.

This kid is going places, and Brian and I are enjoying every bit of this incredible and wild ride.