Sunday, November 14, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Monday, September 06, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
When we bought our new house last summer, I knew we were near the creek. But I couldn’t figure out a very good access point near our house, since steep, often cliff-like banks surround it in this area. But one day last summer, Henry and I found a little path on the edge of a parking lot that led us down to the creek. We were thrilled with the new section of the creek that we had discovered, the bottom covered in shale for easy walking and the beautiful, steep banks rising up dramatically on either side. We visited the creek many times last summer, and while we saw deer and raccoons and plenty of minnows, we never saw any other people. With the sun filtering down through the trees at the tops of the banks, it seemed like our own little mystical world.
We walked down the creek many times last summer, and I let the boys swim in a deeper, dammed up area one day. But we never pushed past that place on our walks.
A couple of weeks ago, Luke had a friend over for the day. It was rainy for most of the morning, but when the rain let up, I insisted that we head out for a walk. They asked to go to the creek, but I was afraid that the steep path on our side would be too slippery after the rain, especially since I was carrying Silas in the baby bjorn. I convinced them to walk along the streets to another, tamer access point. There, they began to walk up the creek, discovering “fossils” and other magical objects. Then they got the idea that they would like to walk all the way up the creek to the spot near our house. I had the stroller along with us for Henry, and I had Silas strapped to my front, so I said no. They begged and said they could handle it themselves and I could meet them on the other side, and honestly, I was really tempted to let them, but since I hadn’t walked it myself, I didn’t know what they might encounter. So I said no.
A couple of days ago, Luke and Henry asked to go the creek. I tied Silas on with my wrap, and we headed out the door. Once we went down our steep path, we started walking down the creek. And after they begged, again, to walk the creek to the next access point, I decided that we might as well try. And so we did. And it was magical. I can’t explain why, exactly, it was so amazing to start out one place and wind up another by following the creek. It was like we were somehow transported, like it might feel if we were to travel in underground tunnels. At one point I fell backwards into the creek. I soaked my backside and bruised both elbows, but Silas was fine, if a bit startled. Henry fell into the creek, too. By the time we were walking home along the streets, Luke commented that we looked like a band of homeless people. I’m not sure about that, but we did look sweaty and disheveled, and I did look like I had wet myself.
It was a lovely hour, a timeout from reality. No phones ringing, no toys for distraction. No chores to be done, no fighting over the swing. Just me and my boys, forging throught unknown territory, scrambling over a log jam, slipping on algae-green rocks. Working together to explore an unknown, beautiful place.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Here is a great example of Silas's strong will: He was crawling over to me, the army crawl that he does, holding a plastic base for stacking bristle blocks. He was scrambling really quickly, but the plastic thing was causing him to slip around. I took it from him and placed it to the side, hoping to help him reach his goal more quickly. He stopped, turned around, scrambled over to the toy, grabbed it, and then started back toward me. Is it just me, or does that seem like a pretty distinct idea for a six month old? And you know, if Silas doesn't get what he wants, he screams. Loudly.
And I haven't even mentioned the eczema. I cry regularly about his eczema. He has it all. over. his. face. It looks HORRIBLE. He scratches at it constantly. It oozes and gets infected. When it started, I tried an elimination diet, which didn't help. We experimented with different lotions and bath regimens. We tried getting rid of all detergent in our house--not easy, let me tell you. And so finally, last week, I took him to the dermatologist, who put him on steroid cream, antibiotic ointment for the current infection, and an oral antihistimine to help with the itching. I can't get him to take the antihistimine (screaming! gagging! violent wrenching away from the doser!) and the other two medications don't seem to be working at all. It cleared a bit for a few days, but we are currently back to exactly where we started. Actually, scratch that (no pun intended). It is worse than when we started.
Add to all this the fact that it is summer break for the boys, and that Henry has gone from my people pleaser to a . . . challenging child (this is mommy code for something else that is not G-rated) and we've got ourselves in a rather exhausting place. I know this will pass. And I do try to enjoy the lovely times, because they do pop up. I'll write about one soon. But for now: I'm tired. I'm struggling. I'm feeling a bit on the verge, if you know what I mean.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
I would like to take a moment to insert a public service announcement: If you are so foolish as to become obsessed with buttercream while surrounded by the chaos of three little boys (well, four, see below) as a checking out/coping mechanism, do not accidentally get sidetracked and type "french butt" into a google search.
Swiss buttercream is made with a meringue that is first whisked over a pot of simmering water. Such a task is not something that one should attempt while bouncing a fussy baby and hosting yet another boy for a playdate. Just to be clear, this upped the boy total in my house to four, ages 4 months, nearly 5, 7.5 and 8. I was also making steak, roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes, steamed green beans, and (boxed--homemade would have pushed me into the range of certifiably insane) macaroni and cheese for dinner.
Thinking back on last night, I wonder why I attempt such things. (The buttercream, by the way, didn't turn out quite right. I think I didn't whip the meringue enough before adding the butter. But I added some powdered sugar and managed to turn it into a fine regular old buttercream.) Here's the thing: my life is chaotic. I think I try to find some calm in the madness, but it is filled with a lot of noise and activity. It isn't that we are over scheduled--in fact, I think I keep my boys' activities to a minimum--but my children are full of energy. They are opinionated. They speak loudly. They rise early. And when I put too much effort into calming the storm, so to speak, I just become depressed. What saves me is going about my own business within the chaos.
And so I bake. I cook. I research buttercream. I scrub the floor. Because it all makes me feel like I am accomplishing something. And I like eating good food and having a clean house.
And you know what? Sometimes within this chaos that is my life right now, I am able to step outside of it all for a moment, and see it for what it is: beautiful, messy, joyful life that is racing along faster than I know.
This morning, we were downstairs looking for Luke's scrapbook. He is apparently having a drawing smackdown with one of the older boys at his school. Luke says he is a better artist than this 10 year old. Luke has challenged him. An outside judge (the 10 year old's brother and Luke's classmate) will determine the winner.
So we were late for school, and we were running down to the basement to find the scrapbook, Henry helping, me carrying Silas. We found it and were running back up the stairs, Luke in front, Henry next, and me in the back, carrying Silas facing outward, as he now prefers. And I saw my little brood, lined up by size, running up the stairs. And I could see them next summer, all three of them with Silas following them himself. And I could see the next summer, with Luke nearly 10 and wanting his little brothers to leave him alone. I could see my life, lined up on the stairs.
And it is amazing. Even if I never master swiss buttercream.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
My Henry. He is a mystery to me in so many ways. Luke is predictable. I know when he is going to explode. His patterns are recognizable. I usually know what is going on in his head.
Henry? Not so much.
This morning I was kissing Silas in the folds of his neck while Henry ate his breakfast.
"Mmmmm," I said. "I'm just having a little neck for breakfast."
Henry wanted in on the fun, so he moved in for some kisses.
"You know we are only pretending to eat Silas's neck, right?" I checked. After all, Luke bit Henry's tummy when Henry was about Silas's age after Craig had been blowing raspberries on Henry's belly.
"Of course!" replied Henry.
My Henry, you see, doesn't get carried away like Luke does.
"I can only bite someone's neck when I'm an adult," said Henry. "And that would be a bad choice."
Ahh, the adult choices, adult consequences speech, coming back to haunt me. I hadn't thought Henry was listening as I lectured Luke.
* * *
I have been feeling sad lately because Henry has been such a little boy. His new haircut only confirmed the obvious to me: gone are the days of princess crowns and polka dot pants. Henry is all boy.
But again, the mysterious workings of Henry's brain have surprised me. We were in Target yesterday and Luke was drooling over superhero action figures. Henry glanced down at a display and said, "I have always wanted one of those."
"What?" I asked. I couldn't see anything on the end display that seemed like it would appeal to either of my older boys.
"One of those dogs," said Henry, pointing at what can only be described as a Paris Hilton dog.
"A Tini Puppini?" I asked, reading the label.
"Yes!" said Henry. "They come with so much stuff!"
Stuff like a tiara, a curling iron, a carrying purse.
I have since looked on the website, which I invite you to do for yourself. There is a lot of talk of fashion, doggy divas, and the like.
I just can't wait to see what Henry will be up to next.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I guess I'm doing something right in feeding my boys. Yesterday, we were on a tight schedule in between school pickups with swim lessons to directly follow. We had just returned home from Henry's school, and I needed to nurse Silas, so Henry offered to pack the snacks for the afternoon.
"Just wait a bit and let me help," I said.
"Mom," said Henry, "Will you just let me do it all by myself?"
"Sure," I said, figuring I could always re-do it if necessary.
Here is what he packed for two little boys: three yogurts, three apples, two oranges, grapes, six foil-wrapped carrots, and two baggies of homemade caramel corn.
I immediately realized two things.
Henry has a good understanding of healthy eating.
And I am clearly starving him.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Wow, it has been three months. I just decided that I was too busy and preoccupied to blog there for a while, but I find that I’m beginning to feel the longing to think again. Just a little bit, though. My writing for the next few months won’t be profound or anything, but I just need to get back to it, you know?
The last few months have been filled with a whole lot and a whole lot of nothing. We’ve gotten back into a routine of sorts, although Silas still isn’t on any kind of predictable schedule. My days involve a lot of baby bouncing with some dishes and laundry thrown in for variety. I think that if it was just Silas around, I could get him more settled into a routine, but with two older kids, it is hard to follow his rhythms in between the big boys’ commitments. Welcome to life as a third child, kid!
Silas is so big now compared to last time I wrote here. He smiles. He laughs. He coos and babbles. He rolls over. Silas adores his older brothers, and watches the world with wide eyes. He is nearly four months old.
I am much more mellow this third time around, but every now and then, a little bit of the crazy creeps in. With Silas, I have fixated on his skin. He has fairly bad eczema on his face, and I get really freaked out about it sometimes. I am constantly second guessing myself, trying to figure out what I’m eating or doing that is causing the rash. The other day I actually spread peanut butter on his leg to see if he broke out in a rash. Yah, I guess I’m not completely the cool, relaxed third time mom that I would like to be.
I’ve been thinking about food lately. I’ve been hearing a lot about the show Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, so I watched an episode on Hulu. I liked it, but it made me so upset that I’m not sure if I can watch any more. Some days I think I’m doing really well with feeding my family as healthfully and as ethically as possible on our budget. And other days I think that I let my kids eat way too much processed junk.
Here’s how I’ve taken a small stand lately: Recently, I have decided to never buy a lunchable again. My kids beg for them—I don’t know why—and I used to let them buy one per week. But I’m putting my foot down. Secondly, I will only let Luke buy school lunch once per month. He thinks I’m soooo mean (since there are two school lunches per month that he would like to buy) but until our school district starts providing lunches that don’t include disturbing offerings like the “chicken hipdipper” and a foot-long hotdog, he’s only getting one per month. I know, I know—I need to work on changing our district’s lunches in some way, but I’m giving myself until Silas turns one. These things I’m doing are tiny little steps, but they are my recent attempts at improving our family’s health and our impact on this earth. And we are still doing all the other stuff we’ve always done. Trying to buy mostly whole foods. Trying to buy as locally as possible. Trying to garden (we aren’t great at it, but I figure that we will improve each year, right?) Oh, the garden. I need to work on that. Right now it is a pile of compost. I’m feeling the crazy lurking over my shoulder, the I-have-a-baby-and-won’t-ever-accomplish-anything-again crazy. Like make a new banner for my blog.
Okay, now I’m really rambling. So much for thinking again.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Life is sweet these days. I have always found the newborn phase to be quite challenging, but this time it is wonderful. Silas is a sweet baby, and—aside from a very little fussing when he has gas—he is content to hang out with us when he is not sleeping. But he does an awful lot of sleeping, something neither of my other boys did. And—get this!—he even stays asleep when we put him down. And really, instead of looking at the clock and wondering why time is passing so slowly and when he will get a little bigger, I am gazing down at him today and wondering where the past two and a half weeks have gone.
Silas is our last baby. Of course, this is probably not something one should publicly declare, since public declarations of this sort almost beg for the fates to smite one’s hubris (or something like that). But we are planning on him being our last, so with each little phase that passes I mourn a little. Also, he is our third child, so we are quite relaxed this time around. And then there is the fact that he is so easy. Add to this that my boys are quite enamored of him—I found Henry lying on the bed with him saying, “Hellooo Gorgeous!” over and over the other day—and the fact that Craig was off work when he was born, and that my mother came to stay for ten days. Oh, and my sister comes to help when my mom leaves. And my lovely little community has been so wonderful, with showers before and dinners now, a friend taking our older boys overnight and another giving Luke rides home from school. Do I sound like I’m gushing? I am. I feel like I am living a charmed life at the moment.
And I know that at some point Silas will get sick or Luke will scream that he hates the baby or everyone will have a meltdown the day my mom leaves. But now? Right now is perfect.