Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Our Secret Garden

When we first moved to this town three years ago, we began walking the neighborhood, exploring our new space. I was used to walking a lot, since we lived in Chicago before we moved here. I pushed Luke and Henry in our double jogging stroller, often running for exercise, which allowed us to cover more distance. It was fun to discover the different neighborhoods near us, even magical at times. In our little town, we have a street of amazing, mostly stone homes on huge lots, and when we first stumbled upon them, we called them the “castle houses.” We also have a neighborhood of Frank Lloyd-Wright inspired homes in a wooded, hilly area with a creek running in and out of the lots. We call these “the funny houses.” But it was this creek that excited my boys the most, and we quickly found several places where we could access this creek around our town. This was the creek where we tried to catch minnows one warm fall day nearly three years ago.

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

Summer Fun

Life seems to be getting the better of me these days. Thus, the blogging silence. Silas is decidedly not an easy infant. He was fairly mellow as a newborn, but now he has strong opinions about what he wants to do and when he wants to do it. He will only be carried in the baby bjorn (he is nearly twenty pounds, and I have a lot of other more comfortable carriers and strollers). He doesn't go to sleep easily, and never for Craig. And yet he still needs three naps a day. Um, I'm tired.

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.