Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fish Story

Last week, the kids and I traveled with my parents to our family cottage in Pennsylvania for some time in the woods. Here is a glimpse of our time there, a fish story in pictures.

Yes, we really caught one!

I got the book!!

I want to hold it!

Ahhh! It's dead!

Yeah, Grandpa, you hold it!

Put this one in my fishing album, Mom!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It's a Jungle Out There

Remember back on Mother's Day, when one of my gifts was a little vegetable garden?
Well, just a couple of weeks past Father's Day, and a season that has been filled with many rainstorms, that little garden that I never expected to yield much of anything has grown into this:

Holy wow, I'm not even really sure what to do with this. Obviously next year I'm going to have to scale back a little, or at least not choose so many vining varieties. My mom suggesting extending the garden the length of the house. I'd love to do that, except for the fact that the utilities for the house enter about six feet down from the edge of this garden, and I'd hate to see J. dig into something shocking.

The cucumbers have kind of taken over, so much so I was worried about my green beans. But we've harvested enough to have them for two meals now, so I guess they're doing okay. I'd prune, but I'm not even sure where to start. The cucumbers are all entertwined with everything else. They're so green and healthy and amazing the way they keep sending out tendrils it makes me feel terrible to cut too much of them. I keep pulling them off and training them along the fence, and thinking of pickles. My kids LOVE pickles.

And these have me dreaming of a roasted tomato sauce and some salsa. Can't wait.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

An Oh- I-Wish-It-Was-Shorter Bedtime Story

We're having issues with N. and bedtime lately. She takes more than an hour sometimes to get settled, meaning she's off and on calling for me and making requests for new animals, drinks, blankets and lights until 9:30 some nights. I'm going to go with the fact that it's hard for her to fall asleep when it's still light out, or she just enjoys manipulating me, and ignore the nagging idea that she might be outgrowing a nap. (This is me, sticking my fingers in my ears and saying "Nah-nah-nah-nah. I can't hear you!!")

Tonight, it's going something like this:
It's 8:20 and I'm lying in bed with N. this evening for the "will you snuggle with me Mommy?" time she's been requesting lately. This is no small feat, given the increasing size of my belly*, and the fact that her bed is really still a crib, with the front side taken off and the mattress lowered almost to floor level.

I complain that her bed is too little for me, and that she needs a big girl bed.
I've explain for the twenty-millionth time why New Baby will eventually need to sleep in her crib. This leads to a tangent about her wanting to keep her Strawberry Shortcake sheets. I tell her they are too small for her big girl bed, but she can use the Strawberry pillowcase if she wants.
"But what pillow New Baby dunna use?" she asks.
I remind her of the tiny one with the cow jumping over the moon that used to be O.'s that he has set aside for New Baby.
This leads her to think about the blue bib that O. also found that says Baby's 1st Birthday that is also in "New Baby's Pile."
"But Mommy, why is it blue? Because boys like things that are blue? Oh yes, and girls like things that is pink. But Mommy, why is it a boy?"
I tell her that I'm not sure, that's just the way things are in our family.
She decides she needs to go check on the pile of things for New Baby, and make sure it is all accounted for. I assure her that it is all fine, and she doesn't need to look at it right this minute, as New Baby isn't even here yet, and won't be for a while.
"But where is he? In you tummy? But why he inside?"
I remind her that he needs to keep growing bigger and stronger until the day he's ready to meet us.
"Can I talk to him in you tummy?"
I tell her that of course she can.
"Hiiiii. Hi, Baby. I have a toy for you in the car, you dunna like it. It is a baby duck and I will show it to you and you dunna laugh and laugh!"
She laughs to herself about this.
"Mommy, I should go out in the car and get that toy for New Baby right now."
I tell her that's not necessary, that it's time to go to bed, and anyway, New Baby won't be able to hold toys or play with things right away when he comes out.
"But isn't he gonna have hands like me?" she asks, incredulous.

Fifteen minutes later, I'm downstairs working on this post, and am not hearing anything on the monitor. I start to think/hope that I may just have lucked out tonight, that playing in the pool late afternoon has actually done the trick and worn her out so much that she's fallen asleep. I haven't even had to venture into the annoyed tone of voice with her yet, much less the "That is ENOUGH! IT IS TIME TO GO TO SLEEP" yelling and she falls asleep crying that so often ends the evening for us.

And then I see little blond curls peeking around the doorframe of the dining room. She has put on half of the jewelry from the jewelry box on her dresser, and is clutching a folded piece of paper in her hand.
I remind her that she can't wear necklaces to bed.

"But Mommy, princesses have to wear jewels! Ariel wears a necklace!"

Not to bed, she doesn't, and neither do you. And what is that piece of paper in your hand?
She shows me that it is her prized wallet sized photo of her cousin at age two, folded into fours. She shows me the writing on the back that details her cousin's name, the date, and age.

"This has sense (sentence) on it tells me where I can go. It says I sposed come down here. It's directions. Hey! Is that my Elmo underpants? What they doing on a floor? They sposed to be in my room with my other underpants!"

I walk her back upstairs, tuck Elmo in safely in with the other underpants, and tuck her in under her favorite blanket. She wants to know why I wasn't in O's room, and why his door is closed. I tell her he is asleep because it is late. I tell her she is supposed to be asleep. I tell her no more getting out of bed.

Two minutes later, she is back downstairs.

"Mommy, which leopard is mine? (she and O. have identical stuffed leopards and they were both lying in the upstairs hallway at bedtime tonight) This is costs money." She holds out the folded picture again for me to see. "This is my costs money that I can buy a leopard. I keep costs money right here in this book so I can get it."
I'm stern this time, and send her up to bed alone.

Three minutes later:

"Moooooom. Mooooommm-y! Moooooo-m!" comes over the monitor.
I go upstairs and stand in her doorway, asking her what is wrong, and tell her it is seriously time to GO TO SLEEP.

"I can go to grocery store in my bed? I dunna buy something. amimal. Like...a pony. I get one at nastics. (gymnastics) There not any kids there, they all ponies. I just pretending."
I ignore this discussion, tell her to go to sleep and not to call for me anymore. If she needs something, she can get out of bed and get it, but then she needs to get right back in bed.

She comes down the next time wearing her plush Hello Kitty backpack backwards so that it is covering her belly.

"Look, I have New Baby in here. Want to see?"

She produces her stuffed horse from inside the zipper.

"Isn't it so cute?"

I'm thinking that nothing about this is so very much cute anymore, especially since I started putting kids to bed at 7:38 tonight, the time they BOTH started requesting their bedtime books be read to them. It is now 9:39.

"Mommy! Moooo-m. Moooooommmmy!" The monitor again.

What, N., What! What is it you want? It is TIME TO BE SLEEPING!

"I need a pacifier for my baby. It is sick."
No. you. do. not. need. anything. from. downstairs. You need to sleeping. You are not to play, you are not to call out. You need to be in bed, and you need to be sleeping. Do you understand me? She puts her hand up over her eyes as if to shield herself.

"Fine. It's not fair."

9:57. She can still be heard talking to herself over the monitor, though it is mumbles now not animated pretend voices for stuffed animals talk. There have been a couple of yawns. I'm hoping this is it for the night. If not, I'm not sure I want you to read a transcript anyway.

*Two different people asked me today if I was about to give birth any day now. No, unless late September has decided to arrive early. Only 25 weeks here, thankyouverymuch. Even J. asked this week if I was sure about the due date. As if he had no participation in its establishment.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Jesus Post, Trying Not to be Sacreligious

It seems that after last night, the drive north on I-75 to my parents' house will be a little sadder.

Ever since O. was old enough to talk, we'd spend the 40 minute trip looking out for sights such as backhoes, cranes, and dump trucks.

And then when we approached the Monroe, OH exit, we could always count on spotting the many giraffe statues on the roof of Trader's World flea market.

"Where's Jesus?" would always be O's next question,
and it wasn't a metaphysical one. Right next door to the flea market is another hallmark of Midwestern culture, a non-denominational mega-church. Complete with Ohio's own version of Touchdown Jesus:

But after last night's powerful storms, the statue was apparently struck by lightning, and now looks like this:

A little bit sad, because the statue did always inspire some thoughtful questions from O., ("Is Jesus all around us everywhere?" "How can Jesus be so big but also be in my heart?").

However, I've never been sure that this is what I want my children picturing in their minds' eyes when they think of God -- a little too cartoony, too ostentatious. Perhaps they'll rethink their design when planning to rebuild?

Monday, June 7, 2010


After a bit of an absence, it appears my Girl Fearless is back.

N., who walked at 10 months, and then basically moved right on to running after her brother, used to always be my child that I worried would get seriously hurt because she simply had no sense of what was dangerous or beyond her abilities.

Last summer, before she was two, I was constantly hauling her off of the ladder on our swing set. She got four stitches in her upper lip because she was running at top speed on a boardwalk by the lions at the zoo and tripped. As soon as we found the ladybug lifejacket for her, it was impossible to get her out of the pool, except so that she could jump in again.

Over the winter, though, my little daredevil became a bit of a shrinking flower. When we'd go to the indoor playset place, she wanted nothing to do with anything more wild than a baby swing. Wouldn't go anywhere a slide or a climbing contraption. And although she'd go into a trampoline for a few bounces, she would only do so if there were no other children anywhere nearby.

Anytime we went to friends' homes for playdates, she wouldn't leave my hip or my lap. It was as though I had acquired a new shadow. I understand this timidity -- it's certainly more my own tendency. I also get that there's probably some connection to her awareness that she won't be the baby of the family for too much longer. I have tried to be patient with this new version of my girl, hoping that it was just a phase she would move through. Or at least that it would not always involve her acting like human velcro.

We've seen some glimpses this spring. The tumbling class when she actually joined in with the "pile up on top of the tumbling mats" activity with the bigger kids. And the visit to the inflatable place when she went down a giant slide as long as her brother and ten year old cousin accompanied her.

But as of our trip to my sister-in-law's lake house over Memorial Day, Miss N. seems to have gotten her brave groove back. Not only did she spend extended periods of time out of my arms' reach and even eyesight playing with the crowd of cousins, but she also quite literally jumped back into the water.

Here she is, jumping right off the diving board on the end of the dock, into water that is over her father's head.

And then, she was off to run back around to do it again...
We couldn't get her to stop repeating "I jump off diving board??" She went down for her naps saying it, and woke right up after requesting her life jacket. After a while, J. got tired of getting dunked everytime she jumped to him. So he decided to just let her go under once, figuring she wouldn't like getting her entire head wet, and would cool it for a while. Not so much.

After that, we just started to let her jump in on her own and paddle over to the boat ladder. Hours were spent in this manner.

Oh, and she also wanted to go on the big inflatable tube behind the boat. We finally convinced her that her dad had to go with her.
Yes, I think Girl Fearless is back.

In the Good Ole Summertime

Even though O. has been finished with preschool for nearly two weeks, (on his way to kindergarten -- what??), today really felt like our first day of summer. And the weather wasn't even that warm.

We went away for an extended Memorial Day weekend, and spent the end of last week playing clean up and catch up. I had my end of Bible Study party at our house on Friday, and there was a lot of clutter to clear out before that could happen.

So, today was the day to get into full fledged summer activity mode. Nineteen years of life as a student and ten others as a teacher have trained me to still think in terms of a school calendar year, even though I stay home and my kids are not yet in school full time. So those last few days of a school year and the first few days of freedom from a schedule are particularly thrilling to me -- like that first day you can drive along with the windows down and the radio cranked up. I'm actually glad I forgot that the first session of swim lessons started at our pool today, because I'm kind of glad that we'll have some flexibility about what we want to do with our days now, rather than having to be at the pool at 11AM for the next two weeks.

Today we went to the Nature Center and it was just about the perfect day you could dream up to start your summer. Sunny, but not too hot: a puffy paint cloud in a blue sky kind of day. We took a little hike with good friends, feeding the turtles and fish and stopping to use magnifying glasses to look at daddy long legs (one with only four legs!) and red ants along the way. N. pulled off every leaf she could reach from her stroller (no poison ivy, I'm pretty sure). We ended up with a up close encounter with a corn snake in the visitor center and a snack of Jello Jigglers before we headed to the library to sign up for the summer reading club.
It was delightful to watch O. with his good friend from his preschool class, in what must have seemed like a reunion to the two of them after not seeing each other for nearly two weeks.

"Look! A clue!" he shouted looking up in to the hole in a dead tree.

"Mom, don't you think this is just the right spot for tadpoles, and that mud over there is the place for their dad to be?"

When I was teaching, one of the saddest parts of my job was working against an attitude of apathy. Trying to get my high school students (sophomores mostly) passionate about something, anything even if it wasn't a book, seemed at times nearly impossible. I determined at some point that really it wasn't really necessary for students to enter my classroom with too many skills. Teaching them to read faster or more carefully, or write more smoothly was something I could work on. What I couldn't teach, and what I really hoped they still had a glimmer leftover from childhood, was a sense of curiosity.

I see glimpses of the teenager my son will someday be in his proclamations of "That's not fair!" and "Why don't I ever get what I want?" and "This is gross!" and even, horror of horrors, "This is boring!" However, the enthusiasm my son can still show for the discoveries of a day fills me with optimism and hope that I'm doing something right as a parent.