Monthly Archives: February 2011

cherry blossom breath and more

A wonderful morning with Papa on a Friday, now appropriately dubbed “Papaday” by Little Boy.

Delicious breakfast in fond company, a sewing machine fiasco (oh yes, sewing machines *can* do fiasco), eagerly watching four trains of varying sizes and speeds navigate through tunnels and over bridges in an elaborate setup at our local hobby shop, and a stop to race slot cars before home and lunch.  Papaday is a day we look forward to all week.

Hungry little eyes soaked up the trains and banking ideas, which made for a fun afternoon of reenactment on the floor with our own train tracks.

The other distinguishing moment of the day was this evening when I had the distinct experience of making my first call to Poison Control while  tucking kids in for bed.  Three years and ten months into this business of being a Mom and tonight was the dreaded night.  Thank goodness the phone number is on the back of the bottle.

The Littlest had been playing with toys in the (dry) bathtub and rolling around heavy bottles of bath wash just to hear them thunk.  At one point, a bottle opened up and gave a little squirt.  Putting it back away, I returned to goodnight preparation.

Fast-forward to tucking in bed, the Littlest smelled overwhelmingly of Cherry Blossom and Bamboo (because bamboo is a marketable scent you know).  Checking for tell-tale wet spots on his clothes and finding none, I asked my preverbal munchkin where the soap went.  He looked at me and dropped his chin.  Pointing one chubby pointer finger in he grunted, “Uh.”   Groan.  “You ate it?  You ate the soap?!”  Boo for eating body wash!  Ish!!

Enter Poison Control.  Fortunately, the kind lady I found on the other end of the line reassured me that he might throw up and have an uncomfortable tummy, but we didn’t need to rush to the ER.  Phew.  So, the Littlest is up there tossing and turning, smelling of sweet cherry blossom body wash and waking up intermittently to let out some soapy burps.

Hopefully (a mother can hope) he’ll remember that bubbles are ISHY next time!  Or I’ll have to start buying body wash that smells gross and unappealing.  Hmm….that might backfire too though…


cruncher the tortoise

A beautiful February day, filled with frosty air and sunshine.  And whipping, icy winds, but still…

The Littlest is my green smoothie enthusiast in the house.  Little Boy figured out a while back that some smoothies come out tasting better than others, and I think the lack of predictability, combined with some pretty funky combinations, make him a little more reticent to chug the whole glass on the first gulp.  But, for both of the boys, green smoothies has been a simple way for them to get some greens into their diet.  Today, the Littlest discovered the whirling tornado that creates them.

And today, continuing on my determination to get outside and remind my muscles that they exist, we loaded up in the bike trailer and went to the Nature Center about a mile away.  I could write a small pamphlet on why I love the Nature Center so much: the deep and dimly lit caves that excite the children, how despite the inevitable mess one employee continues to put out a giant sand table filled with sand and footprint casts….and lets us bring diggers and elephants in to roam the sandy dunes….hmmm…just realizing Mr. Elephant was left in the sand dunes today…but I digress.  The reason why Mr. Elephant was forgotten in the sandbox was because one of the other great things about the Nature Center is that there is a gigantic African Spurred Tortoise that we sometimes get the fun experience of playing with, and even feeding.

Technically named Chomper, Little Boy remembers him as Cruncher, and so he is.  The Littlest finally accepted that Cruncher wasn’t sturdy enough to ride, and chose instead to give him snuggles.

Cruncher did manage to wedge himself under the stroller’s front wheel and bar, which was humorous as it looked like he was hitching himself up to pull the chariot.

And when the Romaine was busted out, he knew exactly where he wanted to be.

Listening to this big tortoise crunch lettuce leaves in half, it was quite obvious how he got his name.

I am so grateful for the publicly accessible places that enable kids to have an interactive and fun experience without all the accompanying work of caring for your own turtles, frogs, fish, snakes, or tarantulas.  Seeing and touching these guys too is so vastly different and more engaging in real life, and the interactions spur imagination, conversation, and storytelling while giving the boys a point of reference for how a real turtle is it’s own unique pooping and peeing being, just like them.  This is a good point of reference for little people learning to separate real and pretend, alive and capable of being hurt, and toy, plastic, or inanimate.  Good stuff.

Little Boy announced he wanted to eat salad for dinner too, just like Cruncher.  Well, twist my arm!

Thank you Nature Center!

just do it


Winter has this spectacular way of garnering our affection with visions of bright sunshine on fluffy white snow, snow days, sledding, snowmen and angels, hot cocoa and fires. 

It also has it’s own unique way of driving us nuts with shoveling, rescuing our car, pondering what to do about the ice dams ruining the gutters, and most recently, fervent cabin fever.  (Though to be honest I don’t mind the shoveling).

Cabin fever hit me hard.

Days ago in the mail, I received a catalog full of women built like thoroughbred racehorses.  And, like racing horses, these women are spectacular examples of what devoted training and athletic commitment do to one’s appearance.  Flipping through the pages was stunning, but more than that, they reminded me that they are active because they *enjoy* it.  I am less active because it hurts, and seems futile with kids crawling on me.  It planted a seed.

The next day, we ended up at REI for fun to let the kids climb on “the rock”.  REI supplies “the rock” for those considering a shoe purchase and want to know how the shoe will feel while actually on a real rock. Perfect for a munchkin.

There is more fun to be had though with small children at REI.  What better than a 30′ long hanging rack of bicycle tires to go spelunking in with your matchbox car?  (Yes, the associates were right there.  No, the kids were not destroying things 😉 ).

This is how I found myself supervising children amidst kayaks and canoes mounted along walls, jogging strollers, bicycles, running, climbing, and hiking equipment.  The longer we spent, the more I felt closed in on.  Every week in my previous life in Alaska was spent biking or hiking with my dogs, snowshoeing in the mountains, kayaking across the lake…going and doing!  Even with one child back in MI, I would toss him in the Ergo on my back and we’d go explore the park.  But with two littles, in the winter (read: nano-attention spans for any focused activity outdoors), I don’t go at my pace anymore, I go at theirs.  I love going at theirs.  This is what gives my life value.

I found myself craving to go at mine again.

Feeling sorry for myself, I wallowed in self-pity convinced that all my friends who want to work out or go do stuff un-kid-related just make plans with their spouse and do it, and I can’t because my wonderful husband is 2000 miles away working his butt off to create a life for us.  Boo-freakin’-hoo (insert dripping sarcasm).  I realize this is a gross oversimplification, but when I’m wallowing, logic often takes a back seat to my own misery.  I surely felt pathetic and hopeless that night.

The next day I remembered to have my green smoothie and my mindset did a 180, as it usually does.  I decided I could choose to feel sorry for myself, or do something….but I didn’t know what….I still had two kids and still have always disliked running.  Seeing that the product of the two choices ended up with me essentially still out of shape, bitter at becoming the human jungle gym any time a workout tape was thought about, and eating chocolate for comfort at night again, or I could buck up, do something scary like attempt to contact a real runner as though I could actually become more than a duff in my office, dive into the unknown and see what I came up with.

These are the ladies I found that night…the ones sponsored by the catalog I’d received. (click on sentence to take you there).

Freaking awesome.  These are some can-do ladies.  These are women with families, with commitments, with visions.   They are making things happen though!

I am going to be a can-do lady too.

Thirty minutes of snow shoveling allowed the gates and shed doors to swing open.  A bit of grunting drug the bike stroller several hundred feet through a foot of snow.  A LOT more grunting, sliding and slipping brought us through the unplowed streets to the park (which had plowed it’s paths!).  I was going for a walk come hell or high water.

Feeling the burn was glorious because I was OUTSIDE!!!!!   Going as fast or slow as I wanted.  It was pure heaven.

There is nothing more encouraging than getting a tiny burst of energy to jog 20 paces and hear your 3yo son yelling, “Weeeeeee!  Whoa, Mom!  You’re going SO FAST!”, nor so encouraging as hearing, “Mom!  Mom!  Go fast again!”  each time I stop.  Oh, pshaw…if you’re enjoying it so, then perhaps…

Getting in and out of the park was no job for ninnies.  Tonight we told stories of “boofing” through the snow burms to get into the park.  Our attempt to get out of the park required all hands on deck, and out of the buggy, too.

Leaning my shoulder into the stroller to plow through the snow on the streets and pushing my load of sweet, smiling goodness, I couldn’t help but think this was the most fun I’ve ever had trying to run.  I still wouldn’t say I’d gone for a run, but I promised Little Boy that if we practice, before long Momma’s muscles will get so strong I’ll be able to go fast the whole way.  He liked that.

And somehow in the whole thing, the very source of my initial frustration was transformed into something new and unexpectedly inspiring and pleasant.  I guess growing up happens in the doing and the action, not just the thinking and plan-making….I forget that sometimes.

I’ll let you decide what the kids thought of the outing too….no tears here!

the indoor beach

We’ve had such fun this year with a gift that keeps on giving.  A gift for Christmas, we have the much appreciated freedom to spend the deepest and snowiest winter months splashing at a local pool.

Fearful of the destructive mix between chlorinated water and cell phone, I have refrained from getting any cute shots despite the groan I find myself emitting each time we enter the pool area and I find beautiful evening sunlight filtering through the wall of windows.

Today was the day I dared.

Pooching tummies, inflatable feet and little poofy britches made it irresistible.

First tentative steps onto the cement shore, cautiously assessing water temperature, and then Little Boy is off and running, sending sprays of water across the shoreline, gleefully watching backlit water droplets explode from his feet like jewel explosions with each step.  Unfortunately, jewel explosions necessitate the camera’s hasty retreat to a fold in a towel.

The Littlest (who is growing, my goodness!) takes some cautious steps.  Then in an uncharacteristic move, which reminds me he is still more tiny boy than the precocious daredevil he more often appears to be, his little lip separates from it’s partner and begins to pooch out while he tries so hard not to burst into tears.  Diligently urging me toward the locker room, I feel torn.  He is afraid.  This is not too surprising since one of his favorite games last time seemed more water swallowing than tentative exploration, but we will stay.  We talk, about what he wants, what he can do (stay with Mom or be in the water…poochy lip), we see all the kids playing.

Finally I sit on the edge of the pool with him.  This is a previously unavailable option as the Littlest’s usual sense of adventure has landed a life jacket from the pool attendants before, and we sit.  Snuggled in with a little bare boy, marveling and wondering when his legs started to grow lean and long enough to dangle off my lap, and we watch.

Eventually we spied another baby coming to the pool.  Then another getting in the water.  Pointing back and forth, baby to baby, he seemed to like that other babies were there too.  Tentatively a toe touched the water.  After a bit, two feet gave a little splash.  Oh!  Back to Mom’s lap.  Oozing…oozing…toward the water…splish!  Splash!  Check in with Mom.

Slowly and tentatively, he found his courage to try the water.  So much so, by the time this little brother was having his hair styled into a mohawk in the shower room, he had successfully rediscovered his joy in the water. 

I’m proud of my Littlest today for finding courage.

I’m proud of myself for staying and helping him find it rather than calling the pool hour quits.
Oh, the many things older brothers are good for.  Mohawk tutorial is definitely on the list.

gabe and the grateful dead

So, the Littlest loves music.  He’ll randomly sway his head back and forth, or start clapping spontaneously with inner delight when a song pops on.  We went with his Grandmother to Christmas Mass and any time the congregation would stop singing, he’d look to me fervently and sign, “More, more more more more!”  More singing?  “Yes!” pumped his little fist.  Littlest is ready to go on tour.

But today his connection to the music world was slightly different.  In my goal to release from my life projects I have been toting around unfinished for years or finish them already (the proverbial “crap or get off the pot” department), I found an old Grateful Dead shirt that had been slated for the “Momento Quilt for when I’m retired and have time” project.  Pondering what an asinine destination this actually was, I decided instead to make the Littlest some sweet tie dye pants.

Because really, the window one can actually wear tie dye pants and look charming is quite small.  Surely it is only when you are quite small.

Once the first cut was made, it was easier to cut through the shirt as it was no longer a virgin garment.  A current pair of pants was eyeballed as a pattern.  Coaxing a half-dead sewing machine, I was determined to actually finish a project…even if it meant sewing my green pants with black thread on the bobbin, red thread on the machine, and of course a bouncing boy in my lap.  Sometimes, it’s just go-time and time to figure it out.  This often means repressing any perfectionist gene itching to rear it’s head.

Fortunately for me, the wearer of the britches is where the charm is.

I’ll try not to save these forever…you know, not for that silly retirement project scrap quilt.