April 27, 2016

Boy's Gone Wild

In the last few months, I've discovered that having a five year old is a true revelation. I am certain that all mothers feel vitally bonded with each of their children, and my connections are not exceptional... but the relationship I have with this boy, my first baby, with whom I've shared each and every day of the last five years, feels remarkable. Seeing so many of the quirks, that were trademarked in his infancy and toddlerhood, feed into the personality of this wholly formed and articulate human being, is wildly surreal.

It seems as though I know everything about him, all his sensitivities... how he'll be bold and confident, but then suddenly shrink when confronted with an unfamiliar person or challenge, that when faced with a decision, he will always make the opposite choice first and then self impose a crisis before settling on his second pick, that asking him something head on is the fastest way to make him shut down. I know that he is surprisingly adventurous in exploring the world, climbing high and straying far, but that he can be trusted, always. He never gets himself stuck out on a limb and forever amazes me with how clearly and unconsciously he understands the edges and dangers around him. He's exceptionally tuned into his environment, yet often exceptionally tuned out to the people within it.

In the last five years, I've started to form my own narrative of the person he is, and as I am sure is true of many parents with kids that could be described as 'shy' or 'sensitive', I have also imagined how we will help him navigate the challenges that may emerge as he makes his way through the impending school years...

... So now here is the twist; yes he is shy and sensitive and a loner in many ways, and yes he is a very small kid, scraping the bottom of the height and weight charts since birth... but he is also a wild, silly, social, and increasingly aggressive boy. I have spent so much time imagining how I will defend him against the 'mean kids' of the world, that it's been more than a little disarming this year to get the teacher updates wherein he has pushed an unsuspecting kid, or to hear him make fun of the boys in his class who like princesses and 'girl stuff', or to listen in on the general tone of destruction and violence that prevails over all his imaginative play. I had a few weeks of crisis this past winter where I thought, 'what happened to that sensitive geek I have been raising, and who is this alpha male that's replaced him?!'... I'm sort of kidding. But there's a giant helping of truth in there too. 

Lately he seems to have mellowed out some, and I am seeing what I hope to be a healthier balance of wild and sensitive. Still, five has been a big reality check for me. As much as I think I know my child, and with everything that has been ingrained in him since birth and still persists as part of his character, he is obviously finding himself, testing new ideas, growing, and changing constantly... and sometimes radically. I'm bracing myself for decades of surprises from my predictable, routine-loving boy. 

*it's been a tough month, but i am still doing this! my sweet and faithful blog readers... this blog is happening this year (but just let me finish out the semester ;)

April 1, 2016

Easter at Home

Easter is that holiday, where every year I have visions of boiling red cabbage to dye eggs and personally felting special toys for each of the kids... then the inevitable smash cut to wandering the aisles of Target the night before, trying to piece together meaningful trinkets, and in an outright verbal battle for the final two wooden crates (they were entirely out of baskets- how?!).

This was our first Easter at home in many years, and I was really worried it would just be boring for everyone. I loooove (there can not be enough 'o's there) a quiet Christmas, but spring and egg hunts just seem to require family and friends. Spoiler alert, maybe we now have a big enough family of our own to carry that weight of fun. We missed hanging with our loved one's, but we truly had a great celebration all on our very own... thanks to Twister, fondue, and of course, Target.

We did actually use natural dye on our eggs, because we love eggs and buy them with care, and after reading a few articles on the typical egg dye not being good to consume, I got myself all freaked out. Still, there was no way I had time to peel a dozen onion skins or boil berries (all this might sound nuts to anyone not versed in Pinterest and Instagram, but I promise that everyone under the sun is all about that natural dye!). We cheated and bought our's from Natural Earth Paint, and having tried several other brands, this one is definitely my favorite. The colors are pretty. A bit muted on brown eggs, but the kids were pleased, and I felt good feeding them every last egg. 

The biggest key to our holiday's success, and Smith proclaiming it, "the best Easter ever!", was the bunny leaving a treasure (aka egg) map. James was initially skeptical in the late hours of Easter Eve, when I put on the pressure to hide real eggs inside, hide candy stuffed plastic eggs outside... and oh yeah, draw a treasure map indicating each egg. After some whining about my making 'too big a deal out of everything', he pulled out that pen and totally got into it. I knew he would! In the end, I think we could have skipped noting the actual location of the eggs, because the kids just ran around searching randomly for them... but oh my, they were impressed by that map.

Smith is already an 'eagle eye' by nature, and spotted a bunch of eggs out his window before we even let him leave his room, in the early hours of morning. I had to stand on his bed and crane to even see where he was talking about. The kid is intense. Roo is a little less 'gifted' in egg sighting skills, but made up for it with candy enthusiasm. Together they were quite the pair, racing around our tiny yard to uncover every egg. The final treasure was hidden in their tee pee tent in the basement, a big crate full of board games and craft activities. I have to take the credit for that idea, and it really was perfect. We spent the rest of the day playing twister and beading necklaces... trust me, it was more fun than it sounds.

We ended the night with fondue, which is becoming a favorite celebration meal for our little family. It's so easy and there's a bite of something to suit everyone; winter veggies, spring veggies... every season tastes good dipped in cheese!

The kids actually cried on Easter night, wishing that we could do the whole thing again the next day. Five and two years old really seems to be the sweet spot for maximum magic and appreciation for these holidays. I'm trying to invent a few more, just to relish the moments. It's really good right now, and I'm soaking it all up and putting these memories in the reserves to get me through those impending preteen years. Maybe they will just stay sweet like this forever, but sleep more? Here's hoping.

March 26, 2016


James started a new job this week, and the decision to leave his previous company was one of the toughest that we've made as a couple. It's much harder to leave a position you love, and that was the best job he'd ever had, far and away. Frankly, it changed our lives for the better in so many respects, I actually marvel to realize that it only lasted a few years.

There's the expression that 'every baby is born with a loaf of bread under each arm', and I often think of how true that was with our little Roo. I vividly remember James fielding calls while we were in the hospital giving birth to her, fiercely negotiating his next move, after years of struggling to leave the architecture firm where he'd worked (slaved!) for nearly a decade. Caught on the losing end of office politics, and working 80 hour weeks with little compensation, and less appreciation, we knew a second baby meant that he had to make a move. He weighed offers from half a dozen architecture firms before finally deciding to take a plunge into the unknown (enemy!) world of construction. It was scary, but we were comforted in following a 'good guy' and former colleague, and ultimately we found that the payoff was about so much more than money. 

Finally afforded the respect and responsibility that he'd long deserved, James has matured so much in just a few short years, both professionally and personally. It is a beautiful thing to watch someone you love get all that credit you always knew they were owed, and to see the impact it has on every aspect of their being. And so, it was yet another leap for him to leave the comfort of that position, and again follow his mentor to a new and exciting project. I'm so proud of him, how hard he works, how he makes time to get home so that I can go out and work too... it's a lot of pressure and balance and responsibility, and I never take that for granted. 

We're looking forward to this next chapter, a big new building in the works, and another transition for our family. Any change is nerve wracking for this creature of habit, but mostly I am just feeling very grateful for it all. Cheers! (and happy belated St. Patrick's Day ;)

March 22, 2016

the Break

It's 1:30 in the morning. James started a new job today (yesterday now), and I got his abbreviated report, as we traded kid duty, and I headed out to teach evening studio (he says it went well, more on that coming soon). The sun was still up when I pulled out of the driveway. Daylight savings has been nothing but bliss in this house, 5am wakeups have slid all the way back to 6am- pinch me!

After a month of deferred transitions, James's limbo between jobs magically coordinated with my spring break last week, so we pulled Smith from preschool and headed out to my mom's for some down time. I am already dreading next year, when Kindergarten guidelines will make our lives even less flexible (homeschool?! James says 'no way'... but it sure is tempting me). 

We had intended to ski, but the crazy warm winter put an early end to the season (I tried not to add another parenthetical thought here... but I have to note that we now have several inches of fresh snow, in a predictably dramatic March twist... I'm only going to get a few hours of sleep, let me have my parenthesis!). So instead we played with Poppyseed the wonder dog, hiked, and poked around town. It was mostly relaxing, though the impending new job did have us more on edge than I would have liked. Considering we generally don't handle transitions all that well, I think it was a success. 

I watched Smith come to life, exploring nature without restriction, and did my usual hemming and hawing over whether we should be living in the country. Both kids fell in love with Poppy, despite the jumping and nipping, and have been begging to see her since our return, and for a dog of our own for next Christmas. James and I went out for a nice dinner to celebrate our 12th or 13th dating anniversary (he's going to kill me... but I really don't remember). My mom and I caught up on reality tv... so quite the well rounded spring break.

And now it's back to the not-so-usual routine. Updates coming when I can string together a few more hours of sleep!

*thanks iPhone for taking these pictures. I keep trying to use my real camera more. I have been better! But in truth, I need a new camera as mine has all kinds of issues, and that iPhone is always right there in my pocket ;)