Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Cloudy, rainy, end-of-summer days do this to me. A feeling that starts off just a little out of sorts, and leads to the kind of melancholy that feels like it will only be fixed by a big fat cry. Or a bubble bath.

No, nothing is wrong. Yes, I'm back at work in the mornings - that's going just fine. No, the boys won't take their naps. But that's ok too. Family and friends are dong well. Still deeply in love. Life's good in all the ways that count.

Don't know where these days come from. But you know, I just may give in to this one. Maybe we'll pop on a movie for Max, pop some popcorn, and knit as much as Luke's busy, exhausted hands will allow.

Edited to add: An hour later, and both boys are finally asleep. I'm on the couch lesson planning and listening to podcasts. Still a little grey, but trying to take advantage of a few moments of peace.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back to work...

You know, just when I start to feel like I've got a handle on this stay-at-home mom thing, it's time to go back to work. Tomorrow I head back to school - four days of prep work, and students start next Wednesday. Although I have the usual butterflies in my stomach, I am also not as stressed, knowing that I am working half-days this year.

But really, it's a pity - yesterday I felt like a mom straight out of a fifties sitcom. First of all, I sewed a cute little apron. Now, I don't know when I will ever wear said apron - I may take it to school to carry all my stuff around there, but at least now I have one. Secondly, we spent the day being domestic - car washing, park visit, laundry, buying some plants at the nursery, weeding the garden. Third was our dinner - I actually roasted a whole chicken for the first time in my life. Why didn't anyone tell me it was so easy?! And the evening wrapped up with some ironing and knitting (my other favorite new hobby).

The boys were happy, Dan was well fed, and I felt like I had figured out juggling productive time with enjoyment. Big win for all.

But now for the big shift. It's always a little hairy at the beginning of the school year. And, for the first time, my classroom is no where near ready before going back to work. In fact, it's still in boxes (I moved rooms). And truth be told, I'm just not sure the hours are there to get it all put together. We'll see.

I keep reminding myself that it always works out - we shift, find a new balance, create a new normal. The boys are back in the loving arms and capable hands of our favorite caregiver. I will be home by 12:30. We will still have time for craft days and music and parades in the rain (which is sure to start soon). And I will get to be spending my mornings with some of the most creative, intriguing young people our city has to offer.

It's not a bad deal. Now to get through the transition....

Monday, August 18, 2008

Now it begins....

I knew this day would come. I guess I didn't think it would be quite this soon. But now that Luke is in the full-on army crawl mode and yesterday learned to pull himself to standing, life has changed in a major way around our house.

Prior to this, Luke was an adorable lump that Max could love on whenever he saw fit. But now, he's the little brother capable of getting in the way, and causing destruction to anything in his path. That block house that took 20 minutes to build? Seconds to destroy. A parade of little people, animals, and construction vehicles? Watch out for the drooling beast that wrecks the path in an instant. I can understand why Max gets frustrated.

But that doesn't make the retaliation that is starting to happen acceptable. Laying on your baby brother is not ok. Yanking things out of his hands will not fly in this house. Screaming when Luke even eyes the toys will just get you in trouble yourself.

So I find myself now put in the referee position. Unfortunately, I'm a referee without a rule book. While I firmly believe that toys WILL be shared in this home, what about toys that aren't appropriate for the youngest child? Will they be expected to co-play, or is it whoever has it first gets to play with it first? Is there a safe zone where each child is guaranteed some space from the other? (And can you tell that this is coming from an older child who didn't love to share with her little sister?)

So what are the rules in your house? Help me figure this out - because the ornery look in their eyes only tells the beginning of the story!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Great investment....

One of my favorite things to do when I was a little one was to play "dress-up". We had a collection of old dresses and hats and shoes, and would create and assemble any number of costumes to help in our play. Honestly, I thought it was a girl thing.

But reading The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule reminded me that playing dress-up is just as appealing for boys as it is for girls. But I wasn't sure what kinds of costumes would be most appealing for Max and Luke.

In comes Goodwill. In one 30 minute visit, we found enough to fuel endless afternoons of pretending. A few hats, a construction vest (the definite favorite), scarves, scrubs, a jersey, ties, glasses, and leis. $34. From them, we have seen endless combinations and heard incredible tales. Sometimes they are the game itself, other times they are merely the prop to set the mood. And lately he is even involving Luke in play.

I can't wait to continue collecting. And I know that whatever we find will be used in ways I can't even imagine. Dress-up - I highly recommend it!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Fair...

Tuesday night we all went to the county fair. We saw the birds, small mammals, llamas, pigs, cows, goats and sheep. We ate fair food (a currywurst, curly fries, and an elephant ear). We saw the tractors, listened to some music, and checked out the 4-H projects. And we left with big, happy grins on our faces.

You see, it was a fun time, sure. But it was more than that. For me, it was a chance to start to share with Luke and Max something that was one of my favorite childhood experiences. In the scope of my summers, the fair was HUGE. GIANT. Absolute Heaven. And since the other night, I've been trying to figure out why.

Starting in the 4th grade, I was semi-active in 4-H. First it was cooking and sewing, and after a few years, I switched to raising market hogs. Now, anyone who knows me probably recognizes that there isn't all that much I miss about country life, and I never loved the work that went into getting a pig ready to show at the fair (as my terrible showmanship record can attest). Really, it was all about that one week payoff at the beginning of August.

When fair rolled around, the rest of life stopped. Erin and I were on grounds most days from early morning until late in the evening. From barn duty shifts, taking care of our animals, showing our animals, and working in the 4-H food booth, we were busy. But there was also a huge element of freedom that didn't exist anywhere else in our lives. Mom would arrange check-in times, and sometimes I was responsible for my little sister. But there were hours every day that we got to wander the carnival, hang out with friends, and revel in the warm weather. There was also a sense of responsibility and a feeling of being an important part of our community. Heck, even now, I can't stop grinning, just thinking about it.

That's something I want for my boys. No, there isn't space in our backyard to raise a 350 lb pig, and I don't even necessarily mean a love of a county fair. What I mean is a time in their summers that fills them with joy, freedom, value, and pride at doing something outside their "regular" lives. Involvement in something that makes them happy. Memories that last forever. A grin as they tell their stories to their children driving home through a warm summer evening.

That's what I want. And maybe another elephant ear...

PS. - Thanks, Mom. I'm just starting to get what a headache fair must have been for you!

Monday, August 11, 2008


Don't I have two kids?

Don't worry - I haven't forgotten about Luke. Truth be told, he just doesn't say or do as many funny/crazy/frustrating things as Max does (yet!), so I don't post about him quite as often. Isn't that the truth of the second child? I'm sure my sister would attest to that.

Really, Luke is a great kid. Over the last month, he has moved out of the easy-as-pie happy go lucky lump mode, and is starting to really express himself. First of all, his facial expressions kill me. He has this great fully-wrinkled-nose, sparkly eye grin that cracks me up. And that toothy smile (we're working on tooth number 8) is quite cute - until it latches very firmly onto my shoulder. Biting is becoming a bit of a problem, but fortunately I'm usually the only victim. We're still waiting for our "Charlie bit me" moment - but I'm sure it's on the way.

Food has also been an adventure with Luke lately. At first, he took to solid foods (baby purees) like a champ. But a few weeks ago, he totally rebelled. It took some real trickery to get him to even open his mouth for the spoon. Because he's such a big guy, we didn't really worry about it, but it was getting frustrating. Well, turns out, he will eat just fine - if he can do it himself. Load the spoon up, hand it to him, and he's good to go. A little messy, but he'll eat plenty that way. He also has embarked very happily on the journey towards finger foods. Chunks of fruit and veggies on the tray are a hit, and oatmeal is so much more fun than rice cereal. What can I say - that stubborn, independent streak shows up early in my kiddos (they get it from their mama!).

Probably the biggest change in our world lately is the increased mobility of this youngest Young. He can now army crawl with the best of them, and scoots with rapid precision right into whatever it is that big brother does not want him in. We are definitely entering a new stage with all of that. Luke loves being able to move around more - the jury is still out for how much Max and I like this change.

Here are a couple recent pictures of our cutie - and thanks for indulging me the update!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Three... a magic number! At least we're hoping so. Max turned the big 3 yesterday, and what a fun and busy affair that was.

On Monday night, we had a small family gathering for dinner and marshmallow cake. It was funny - we had asked Max what he wanted for his birthday dinner, and suggestion number one - leftover noodles. Suggestion two? Tomatoes, white rice, and animal cookies. While that may have been amusing, we were happy when he came up with suggestion number three - hamburgers. Dessert was also his choice, and there was no dissuading him from his desires for a "marshmallow cake". Now, I wasn't sure what that was, so we improvised - fudge cake with marshmallow cream and fudge filing, and decorated with marshmallows. It seemed to meet his approval.

He had a wonderful time opening presents, and the hardest part of the day was convincing him that he needed to go to bed - after all, he had all these new presents that needed to be played with! He got some wonderful gifts, including a fun dollhouse (my craigslist find), a great paring garage and fire station, some new Thomas Train toys, and a bubble lawnmower that he couldn't wait to run around with.

Yesterday several of his playgroup friends came over to play, and although I was trying to get away without throwing a birthday party, they brought some very thoughtful gifts, and enjoyed cupcakes. Max was thrilled to pass out birthday hats to everyone, and was so excited to have his friends over.

Last night he recieved his "big" present from us - a big boy bike. Though he's an inexperienced peddler, he enjoyed coasting through the neighborhood before busting out the bubble lawnmower and running through the sprinkler with it. All in all, lots of fun.

I have to say that this was my favorite birthday yet. He was so into it - had definite wants (the birthday banner, marshmallow cake), presents he hoped for and received, family and friends that he adores. It was really cool. Maybe we'll do it again next year...

Oh - and the sweetest thing? As I put him to bed last night, he says "Mama, I want to be two again - that was a pretty good year..." Sounds like he's just as ready to grow up as I am to have him grow up.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Not much to say - just had to share this picture. THIS is my oldest. A manic, crazy, passionate ball of energy with a grin that can thrill and terrify me at the same time. Oh - and at this time he was busy being his current favorite superhero - STICKERMAN!

Need evidence? Here ya go:

Beware - he can break hearts and litter your floor with gooey pieces of paper in a single bound!