Wednesday, December 31, 2008

speaking of home...


For several weeks now, whenever Sam and I leave the house by car, he makes sure to say, "Byebye house! Byebye home!" Last week I noticed, as we approached the third-to-last turn on our way home, Sam announced, "Home!" which he used to do at our old house but hadn't yet done here. I started asking him, "So which way do we go to get home?" and at each turn he would point in the correct direction. Until the other day, that is, when he started cracking himself up by purposely pointing in the opposite direction and saying, "that way!" and watching my pseudo-appalled reaction with glee.

Sam really seems to enjoy having guests visit our house. His energy while they are here can border on ecstatic, and then afterwards he seems to remember the visit fondly and often, by saying the person's name and "home," as in, "Grampie home," or "Mim home." This week he's remembering the two little friends who came here for a playdate on Monday.




In the backyard (see top photo), he is in near-constant motion. I think he likes his new room too. Here's another peek inside our new house:


Sunday, December 28, 2008

happy holidays!



We have had a wonderful holiday week seeing family, nesting, lighting Hanukkah candles, making homemade gifts, admiring our "bit-a wights" (Christmas lights), eating latkes, baking Christmas cookies, unpacking more boxes, and spending lots of time as a threesome. I was inspired to take these photos by two good friends with great taste, Trina and Carrie, who blogged their own beautiful holiday homes here and here. And then of course all the requests I've gotten for pictures of our new house. Here's a little peek!




Monday, December 22, 2008

a little girly

The other night I went out to see some live music, something I have done exactly twice in the past two years since lullabies and baby cries have become our soundtrack. This time I saw Girlyman, one of my very favorite bands, who describe themselves as "leading edge three-part-harmony folk-pop." Their harmonies take me to another place, their lyrics are smart, and their energy is both thoughtful and positive. I love everything they've done, but I am especially loving this song these days, and their live performance of it the other night had me practically falling off my seat with excitement. Sam and I like to dance to it in our living room too.

In other girly news, we are really excited about getting this kitchen for Sam for Christmas/Hanukkah. Whenever we go to one of our local playspaces, Sam gravitates towards their play kitchens, and loves opening the cabinets, turning the stove dials, putting play food in pots on the stove, and even feeding baby dolls in their little highchairs. I am not at all excessive about toys in our house (books, maybe); we really have very few compared to other kids. Like with so many other things, I focus on quality over quantity, and I think a play kitchen can have tremendous play value for children who are interested in kitchen activities (honestly it feels like we spend over half our time prepping and eating food together, so it makes sense!). Lately Sam has been carrying a little plastic easter egg over to the (real) stove and "cracking" it on the edge of the frying pan. This would be much safer if he had his own kitchen!

So I've been looking at play kitchens for months now. There are some gorgeous ones that are solid wood and made in USA, but they are quite pricey. Many are plastic and obnoxiously decorated, or worse: battery-operated, and I refuse to buy those despite their lower price. When it came down to finally picking one for the holidays, I enlisted Denis' help to balance all the factors of aesthetic, price, building material, size, manufacture location, and...girliness. Yeah, the girly factor. This one we picked is white (girly), has hearts (girly), and obviously it's a kitchen (duh, girly). Then it was delivered, and we realized that it even has some pink accent coloring (whoa, SO girly).

But so what, right? I have always, ALWAYS, said that I would not put my child in a gender box. Thankfully, my husband's values align with mine. As parents and as individuals, he and I will pursue our own interests and share those with Sam. When it comes to Sam's interests, we'll let him take the lead. For now, as he is getting really serious about imaginative play, we think he's going to love his wooden heart kitchen. I can't wait to see what he cooks up for the babydoll he's getting under the tree too.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

appreciation

Some things I am appreciating right now:
*the forced air heater in our new house
*the way Sam says "lion," which sounds like "yion"
*a dinner full of laughter with some other playgroup moms last night
*sleeping well since day 1 in our new home
*our kitchen counters have on top of them: a toaster oven, coffee maker, stand mixer, 2 weeks worth of mail, 2 fruit baskets, my bag, a clock, a dishrack of drying dishes, 3 small plants, a camera, Felco pruners, and a bottle of wine...and I STILL have plenty of room to prep a meal
*various Christmas-related projects are partially completed and covering the dining room table, but I don't have to move any of it
*Christmas decorations, old and new, all around the house
*the way my sewing machine looks in its new space (and using it too)
*my decision not to rush with Christmas stuff even though I am way behind this year
*Sam's excitement seeing Christmas lights, or as he says, "bit-mith wighth!"
*actually, my hair looks good today (this is rare, ever since pregnancy altered 2 of my best physical features: straight streaky blonde hair and never-been-on-a-diet skinniness)...(or maybe the light was just dim)
*spontaneous kisses from my little guy

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ObamaObama



This is what I often see in the living room these days: Sam on the couch, reading New Yorker magazine. I'll be in the kitchen using my spatial, organizational, and muscular skills to pack boxes, and Sam will be getting caught up on his east coast liberal print media.

He apparently enjoyed one passage from our most recent issue as much as I did. It was written by Hendrik Hertzberg as part of his Talk of the Town piece celebrating the unlikely presidential election of someone with the name Barack Hussein Obama (sorry I don't know how to indent in html for such a long quote):

"...last week, sixty-five million Americans turned a liability---a moniker so politically inflammatory that the full recitation of it was considered foul play---into a global diplomatic asset, a symbol of the resurgence of Americas'a ability to astonish and inspire....Ten weeks from now, the President of the United States will be a person whose first name is a Swahili word derived from the Arabic (it means 'blessing'), whose middle name is that not only of a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad but also of the original target of an ongoing American war, and whose last name rhymes nicely with 'Osama.' That's not a name, it's a catastrophe, at least in American politics. Or ought to have been."

Well, of course. I can tell you of another little citizen for whom our new President's name is definitely not a catastrophe. "Obama" is the perfect name for a neophyte English speaker of the toddler variety. It contains only those very basic sounds that a toddler can easily pronounce. In fact, I hear it all day long, with lots of grinning and pointing at the New Yorker, "Obama! Obama! Obama! Obama!" That's right, Sam. A great name for an American President.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Sam!!!

A few thoughts and memories from a mommy-in-love...

Dear Sam,

Two years ago you were born. I remember seeing your beautiful face for the first time, holding your tiny body in my arms, feeling your little fingers and kissing your soft cheek.



Before I knew it you were a jolly 6-month-old and we'd spend hours hanging out in our front yard, taking in the sights of our olive and redwood trees, and listening to the squawking jays.



When you turned one you had already taken your first steps, but you were still a crawling machine, exploring the far reaches of your world. Very soon your feet would take you even farther.



By 18 months you were speaking several words and understanding so much more. We had fun reading books together and naming what we saw in the pictures.



And now you are 2 years old! I still marvel at your beautiful face and your strong little body. I still kiss you, and now you kiss me. We can talk together, and I see you learning new words and ideas every day. We still enjoy our time exploring the outdoors, and we still love to read together. I am so proud to be your mommy. Happy Birthday, Sam.

Love,
Mommy

Friday, November 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Grampie!


And from me, Happy Birthday Dad! We love you!

Sam I Am

I've become very interested in getting Sam to say his own name. For quite awhile now, when I've pointed to Sam and asked him "Who's this?" he's responded, "Baby." Cute, huh? This probably derives from a month-long serious interest in Pattycake sometime over the summer ("put it in the oven for Baby and me"). Lately, though, I've been trying to reinforce "Sam" by pointing and telling him, "It's you, Sam!" So now what does he say? I ask "Who's this?" and he cheerfully replies, "You!" Oops.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

little patriot



I may have missed Halloween with Sam this year, but I sure as hell came home in time for Election Day with my little guy.

But of course...

"I don't have to tell anyone who I vote for! Nobody does. And that's really cool about America."

Suck it, SP.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

three days away


Early tomorrow morning I am leaving by myself for another flight to Boston. I will be apart from Denis and Sam for three days, by far my longest time and farthest distance away from Sam. I plan to check in with the blog to see some pictures of my little boy while I am away. These are the images I want to see...taken two days ago, goofing around after nap, doing what we do every day, just having fun together.

playgroup birthday bash




Sam is almost 2! We celebrated with one big party for all the kids in playgroup, since their birthdays are all so close together. It was a gorgeous day in a festive backyard with a sandbox, slide, bubbles, presents, and ice cream cone cupcakes. I am especially pleased with the group photo above...Sam stayed sitting in his spot! Two kids ran away from that picture, but Sam stayed put. At last year's 1-year group birthday party, and for group pictures in general, Sam has typically been the one out of frame or out of focus, always on the move. It's awesome to see him lined up with his little friends. I am so proud of him.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

day-doe



These pictures were taken in September, but tomato season is still with us. The end of October is approaching, and yet temperatures reached the mid-80s last week . Harvests have slowed, but we still have baskets on our counter piled high with tomatoes, cukes, basil and beans from our community garden plot. This week's favorite salad paired cukes and feta cheese, with a dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano, red onions, and s&p.

Sam's favorite crop has been the one plant we have at home: a potted sungold cherry tomato. He's helped with planting, watering, and harvesting, and whenever we pass by, he asks for a "day-doe" or two or three. There are fewer ripe ones each day; Denis and I don't even eat them anymore so as to save them all for Sam. I am starting to explain, when he asks for more, that tomato season is slowing down and pretty soon there will be none left until next summer. It's pretty abstract for a toddler, I realize, but I'm hoping some of the concept gets through. We'll pull up the plant and put it into the compost together when the time comes. Little does he know that at our new house the entire front yard will be planted with food. We'll have a bunch of sungold plants next summer for him to fill his belly if he wants to. And in the back yard, we'll have berries. My dream of seeing Sam run outside in his pj's and barefeet to pick berries for breakfast has just gotten a lot closer to coming true.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

pumpkin patch


If you didn't have a child, you might not realize that our town is a pumpkin patch destination. We have many to choose from, and this year we discovered a great one: organic, mellow, and fun. A couple weeks ago Sam and I visited with some friends, and today we went back as a family.

Our visit started off with a hayride, but Sam was eager to get down to pumpkin business, so we hopped off the wagon and hiked out the the fields. We picked out 3 pumpkins and of course Sam helped.




We thought the sunflower maze was really cool.



Sam climbed right up this strawbale mountain.



Sam learned how to say "cheese" during a photo session at playgroup the other day. Perfect timing for his Pumpkin Patch '08 headshot.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I-beam

Today started before 5am with a little squirmy boy who wouldn't go back to sleep. At some point this afternoon, too tired for activity, I was lying on the couch reading the New Yorker. Sam had finally given up crawling on my head and was sitting on my shins reading a magazine of his own. Hidden as I was by my propped-up magazine, I allowed my eyes to droop closed. I really wanted to keep drifting off to a sweet sleep, but in order to completely relax, I would have to lower my arms and thus my cover. It was an internal debate for several minutes: enjoy the peace and quiet indefinitely but without being able to "go all the way," or allow myself to drift and risk everything. The pull towards rest was strong, and eventually my arms and magazine dropped. Not 2 seconds passed and I realized it was all over; Sam was on his way up to my head and the peace was broken. Of course.

Sleep-deprivation casts a powerful spell, and my coping mechanism today became a rare mid-afternoon treat: ice cream. We don't even buy ice cream usually, but we had it around this week to celebrate impending home-ownership. Dog-tired and desperate, I pulled out two little bowls and the ice cream scoop. Told Sam to climb into his highchair for some ice cream, and miraculously, he complied at first request. Did mommy just say what I think she said? he was probably thinking, looking hopefully at the unfamiliar carton on the counter. I put the bowl in front of him and he recognized its contents right away. I-beam. No little tip of tongue tastes required; a big spoonful went right into his mouth. For a few minutes things were quiet again...until the bowl was empty. "Mo i-beam?" Of course.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

sale pending


When we first saw this house, the owner, a stay-at-home-dad with a two-year-old son, told us that five years ago he and his wife looked at 139 homes before finally picking this one. As if on cue, our agent said, "We may have you beat."

I actually stopped counting a few months ago, when the number went well over 50. We have been seriously looking more than 6 months, and casually looking for a year or so. This was our 6th offer, but it was the first one I really wanted. With all the others, I felt like I could walk away, like I knew something else would come along if it didn't work out. Here, though, I could not stop myself from really wanting it. I felt like now it was our turn.

Apparently the owner liked us...maybe it was Sam's Scotland jersey (coincidentally worn that day--they are Welsh), or maybe they just liked the idea of another 2-year-old buying their home...I'm sure the credit goes to Sam somehow. Apparently there were at least 4 offers on this property, and we learned later that one of them was identical to ours. They picked us. We had to agree to a shortened contingency period, but after such a long haul, the choice was easy. Move in by Thanksgiving? OK! We found out the day before my birthday. Yesterday we removed contingencies. In 3 weeks we'll close. Time to start packing!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

airplane!


One of the new words Sam learned last month on our cross-country trip was "airplane," and it has become a favorite of his. His pronunciation of it has evolved; just today I noticed it sounded like "ay-bame!" whereas for awhile it was more "bay-bame!" which sometimes reminded me of Fantasy Island from the 80s.

A few days after our return flight, Sam and I took a walk up the street, as we often do before dinner. Our street ends in a cul-de-sac on a hill, with a wide open view of the sky. To the East lies a flight path, and Sam spotted two planes on that walk (one a bi-plane), completely on his own. Ever since, his ears seem to be constantly attuned to the sound of planes overhead. One time, during a full-on screaming fit at the carseat, he suddenly stopped, turned his bright red and tear-streamed face to the sky, pointed straight up, and, with only the slightest quiver of his still down-turned lip, screamed "BAY-BAME!"

Last week, amid increasing activity on our real estate search, I brought Sam to our local city airport to watch some small planes take off. I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with such a killer activity for the little guy; I mean, I had been carting him around to house-showings and document-signings, and Denis and I were quite preoccupied with all the drama in the world and in our life right now. I was amazed how many small planes are parked at our small town airport. In the space of 20 minutes we saw two of them take off. We'll definitely be back.

Sam's airplane-love continues. Every time we're outside, looking out a window, talking about leaving the house, or even at random moments indoors, he is listening for that distant hum, and looking for that flying object in the sky. It doesn't matter if it is a lawnmower, a turkey vulture, a tree trimmer, or an actual plane; Sam's focus on, attention to, and enthusiasm for planes are expressed with a big loud "AY-BAME!" every time.

Monday, October 6, 2008

developmental update

This post is more of a record-keeping tool for myself, perhaps not so interesting to others. Consider yourself warned: lots of toddler detail ahead.

Language is the big thing these days. As of today (one week shy of 23 months) Sam speaks over 110 words, including nouns, names, verbs, onomatopoeias, expressions, a few adjectives, and at least one pronoun (this). He also has just started putting 3 words together, such as "open garage door" or "mommy daddy phone." He was 20 months when he first put 2 words together, and 21 months when word duos were happening regularly. For the past couple of months he has acquired approximately one new word each day, and I am relatively conservative about counting them...meaning that if he only says it for part of one day and not again the next day, I don't count it.

Physically, I am totally curious what his stats are. Folks tell me all the time how tall he is, though at his last checkup (18 months) he was only around 75% for height (much less for weight). It will be interesting to see if he's moved up in percentage. He loves to say "RUN!" when we are holding hands and taking a walk together, and then we run together and he giggles the whole time. He still enjoys stroller walks, though he will often ask to "walk walk walk" for a portion of our outing. We rarely do ergo walks anymore. And now that I think of it, since our regional parks pass expired (and house-hunting ramped up), we haven't done as many hikes.

As for food, he is much more picky now. I have taken to hiding vegetables, something I had hoped never to do. He still loves his breakfast of oatmeal that he's had every morning for over a year now, and fruit is a big hit. He also enjoys brown rice, tofu, whole wheat pasta, sunbutter and jam sandwiches, yogurt (his after dinner staple), eggs, crackers. Sam still sits in his highchair, though those days are numbered...we really need to move him to a booster, if we only had a third chair. Waiting to see where we're living before investing in new furniture; that's the story there. He uses a spoon pretty adeptly by now and still uses his hands for some things. With a new or potentially hot food, he will test it with the little point of his tongue before committing. And when his hands get dirty with food, he sticks them out to be wiped. Sometimes he even asks for his own napkin too (and puts it in his lap!).

Emotionally, we are seeing more meltdowns lately, in proportion to his growing awareness of his own strong desires. Our previous technique of simply explaining what we are doing before we do it (for example, "It's time for a diaper change now Sam. Mommy's going to pick you up now and change your diaper.") is no longer enough to prevent protest. These days, I often give 1-minute or 5-minute warnings, which helps sometimes, but not always. He certainly has a mind of his own!

Sleepwise, Sam has been getting up on the early side lately, before 6 sometimes. Nap is creeping later, starting sometime between 12:30 and 1:00 and lasting 2 hours usually. Bedtime was 8:00pm but we've been making it earlier, 7:30, to see if that helps with his early wake-up (counter-intuitive yes, but the concept has been right on in Sam's sleep life since birth). Overall he sleeps really well. We have the same routine we've had for quite awhile, and although I am a bit concerned with his pacifier attachment (I was told it intensifies at 18 mos and that is exactly what happened! should have weaned him of it earlier), I really have no complaints about his ability to fall asleep on his own.

Sam's play is still very focused on doors and keys. We finally gave him his own ring of real keys, which he carries around, loses regularly, and (recently) successfully slides into locks around the house (though they don't turn, being the wrong keys for the locks). When we were staying in an inn in New Hampshire, Sam locked us out of the bathroom twice! We had to call the front desk and it was a little embarrassing.

I would say that he is slightly less interested in books than he used to be, though he still "reads" every morning for a half hour or so, and loves storytime before nap and bedtime.

There's more to say, but this will have to do for now.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

that's funny

If there's one thing I love about my child it is his sense of humor. He laughs so easily and so sweetly, it is enough to make anyone feel like an amateur comedian. I remember being a quite young and very serious and principled 20-something, reading about the importance of sense of humor in relationships, and I protested internally that a sense of humor could not be nearly so important, and that an agreement of ideas and principles absolutely superseded anything else. Well, as I got older and more free with my own joking around, I finally realized its importance. And when I found my husband I marvelled that I got such a perfect match of ideals and sense of humor in one person.

Sam makes us a perfectly, happily, laughing threesome. Just the other day I was watching the VP debate while feeding Sam dinner; I actually had it streaming live on my new wireless laptop since we don't have tv. The next morning at breakfast Denis and I were enthusiastically mocking Palin's performance, not as well as Tina Fey of course, but we were cracking ourselves up. And Sam? He had only heard about one-third of the debate, but it was enough to put his political views in order. He knew exactly what we were talking about, and laughed right along with us. "I will answer that question, Gwen, and the answer is no. No I do not like jam with my oatmeal. But let me talk about something else: (look directly at imaginary camera) I am a maverick and I will stop this corruption on Wall Street for all Americans!"

When we were on the east coast recently, on a long drive from the mountains of New Hampshire to the narrow, map-defying streets of Boston, Sam began to fuss. When I exhausted my usual arsenal of distraction techniques (singing, reciting favorite books, telling stories of all the fun things we've done recently, pointing out the passing trucks and counting wheels), I got a novel idea. I began musing about what our cat (whom Sam adores of course), Taimi (pronounced tie-me, it means seedling in Finnish), might be doing right now. "Sam, do you think Taimi is at home right now, sitting in your highchair?" Quizzical look from Sam. "Sam, do you think Taimi is playing with your blocks?" Unsure upturn of the corner of his mouth. "Sam, do you think Taimi is...(big emphasis) brushing his teeth?" Non-committal short chuckle. "Do you think Taimi is reading a book?" Definite laugh. "Do you think Taimi is going for a walk in the stroller?" He gets it now. Laughs and laughs. "Sam. Do you think Taimi is at the park going down the slide?" Ha! Mommy's funny. Hearty laugh. "Sam. Do you think Taimi is getting his diaper changed?" Omg! Can't stop laughing! "Sam. Do you think Taimi is using his keys to open the door?" You're killing me! Keys and doors are my favorite things!

And this kept going with constant laughter from all three of us. Brushing his hair, eating yogurt, playing with mirror-pound-a-ball, washing his hands, all these crazy things Taimi was probably doing at home in our absence. And then, at one point I realized that Sam had said something in the middle of all his giggles. "Bath," he said. And I knew. Sam was making a joke of his own, "Bath! That's right! Sam, do you think Taimi is taking a bath right now?" Giggles and giggles and more giggles. Let me tell you, I CANNOT WAIT for Sam's next joke. Bring it on, little boy.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

late afternoon soup


An overused phrase I like to share with non-moms to describe my new life is: "the hours are long, the months are short," and the longest hours of the day are between 4 and 6pm. By 4pm, Sam has been up from his nap for a couple of hours, had his second lunch, and exhausted the day's favorite toys. If it's a day we're staying home, I can count on extra crankiness and neediness during these hours, often causing me to curtail dinner preparation and just throw together something easy. Obviously I'm not alone in this; I have new appreciation for the previously-snubbed concept of 30-minute meals. Where I once spent considerable time and attention on dinners with multiple dishes, perfectly paired and totally from scratch, I now focus on a good healthy toddler dinner for Sam, and whatever scrap of energy I have left goes towards something pretty simple and/or store-bought for us adults.

I do realize that things would be easier if I made everybody the same food. As summer salads evolve into fall soups, I'm hoping to find more crossover. With that in mind, I spent this morning peeling and chopping veggies for a huge pot of fall soup. Inspired by our (still) healthy supply of homegrown summer squash and 5 leeks grown by a fellow gardener, I incorporated leeks, celery, carrot, ginger, garlic, zucchini, yellow pattypan, and two butternut squashes, with some white wine, butter, canola, salt and red pepper flakes. Blended it in a flash with my new immersion blender and it is not only yummy but also quite pretty! For Sam's serving I added a splash of half-and-half, for flavor and extra fat and protein, which caused some excitement. Sam saw the cream carton and started pointing and exclaiming "Coffee! Coffee!" In his toddler dialect this actually sounds like, "Boppy! Boppy!" but it is no less exciting since Sam continues to try to get sips of our morning coffee no matter how long we've been refusing. Adding "coffee" to something he could taste? Oh, yeah. I served it with homegrown tomato slices (rejected) and leftover sunbutter and jam sandwiches (rejected). As for the soup, Sam tried it, liked it, and even had seconds...amazing.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

life resumes


Since I last posted, we've been having a great time: a brand-spanking-new computer, two weeks vacation in the northeast, a beautiful wedding, grandparents, 2 great-grandparents, 4 college friends, and lots of blueberries by a pretty little new england pond.

We are now back home, still looking for a new home, resuming playgroup activities, nodding at "he got so tall!" exclamations, and sighing at current events. If every day I make 4 healthy 3-part portable toddler meals, change 5 diapers, redirect 20 inappropriate behaviors, calm 6 meltdowns, play intellectually stimulating games and sing funny songs, wipe a little face and hands 12 times, wash 30 dishes, reinforce 100 words of language, wrestle a 3-foot long kicking and screaming body at least once, read 6 books out loud, hand over my keys on demand, and explain my actions every 2 minutes...do you think this will pay me enough to cover a mortgage? Because I don't personally need a bailout, I just need a little home with a sunny yard.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

driveby posting

We ordered a new home computer, but it will not arrive for another week still. The internet cravings are subsiding, and I am making great headway on my current book. I have come into Denis' office this afternoon to catch up on email a bit and post this update, but what's with all these typos I keep having to correct? A week or so without a computer and my speed and accuracy are down?

I'll just chalk it up to another thing breaking. Seriously it feels like everything has been breaking down lately. Remember the day I broke a bowl and the breadbox within hours of each other? Well that's nothing compared to the expensive fixes, replacements, and tests we have had to pay for during the past few months. First, our tv. Not an essential item in our world, but we thought it would be fun to take the opportunity to upgrade to a flatscreen (a small one, but we like it). Then the Subaru clutch and a bearing, whatever that does. Then the truck needed a new oxygen sensor. We had some pricey medical testing. Some dental work needs to be redone thanks to a quack dentist who took lots of our money for nothing but pain. Then we had to call a plumber for some ongoing issues. And of course the computer virus problems. And finally a broken driver seatbelt on the truck, which is of course an uncommon part that took 3 days to deliver.

All of this hasn't helped my attitude towards the properties our realtor has been showing us this week. Oh, it just needs a new furnace, water heater, kitchen, bathroom, windows, and floors? And it costs us our life savings? Ok, sure, I'll sign up for that.

Then I realize that those expensive medical tests turned up nothing. We are all healthy, and that is no small thing to be grateful for. So go ahead mechanical, electronic, material world, go ahead and break. It doesn't really hurt us after all.

Stay tuned for news from Boston after I take a 6 hour flight alone with Mr Squirmy!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

summer soundtrack

A recent walk up the street involved lots of pointing and sounded like this:
Door!
Garage!
Car!
Trash!
Wheel!
Grass!
Byebye door!
Byebye trash!
And each exclamation required an affirming response, or else it was repeated with increasing intensity until one was given. I have been making an effort to give these affirmations more vocabulary than simply repeating what he has just said. So my side of the conversation sounds like this:
A red door! It's closed!
Big garage!
Someone else's car! Where did they go today?
The trash can and the recycling can!
Two wheels! One two!
Nice soft green grass! They must water it a lot!
Byebye door, see you later! Oh, there's another one!

Today, delightful observations of what we see in the neighborhood... Someday, discussions about community, the environment, current events, and culture.

Friday, August 29, 2008

technical difficulties

Apologies for not being around much lately. Right after our trip, my computer problems were revealed to be multiple virus infections. My little laptop is not working properly even after getting it looked at. It may be awhile longer before we are up and running on the internet again.

Meanwhile, I'll be wilting in the heatwave (and buying a thermometer to track the temps inside our house), waiting for Sam's new haircut to grow out, putting in more hours on my househunting job, eating 5 homegrown tomatoes each day, sewing stuff for our Boston trip, and trying to understand my suddenly very verbal but not always comprehensible toddler. Do you know what "raish" means? I don't either, and it's making someone really upset. See you soon I hope!

Friday, August 22, 2008

goodbye pajaro, until next year

We're back from 5 days at Pajaro Dunes and a wonderfully relaxed visit with D's side of the family. Miles of uncrowded white sandy beach, gently crashing surf, otter sightings, deep-fried artichokes, big family dinners, olympics, cousin-bonding, barefeet, doggy licks, snickerdoodles, and a happy, sandy, beloved toddler.
Sam called the ocean "a-wa," his word for water. Do you think he enjoyed getting surprised by a wave?
video
This visit to Pajaro was Sam's second.(Click on photos to enlarge image)


Can't wait until next year!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

pickles and other garden bounty


You know it's harvest season when you stay up past midnight with a canning project. Last night we made some sweet dill pickle spears and some dilly beans, all with produce from our garden plot. A week ago we also canned some bread and butter pickles. Eighteen and a half pints of garden goodness! And there's more coming...hopefully tomatoes soon, and more pickles.

Three weeks ago or so was our first green bean harvest, and I hadn't been so excited to see garden bounty in quite awhile. I drove over to the garden after Sam went to bed (which is a thrill in itself, to be out and about past 7pm, seeing people walking and biking and enjoying a summer evening, I have been so out of that "nightlife" loop since Sam), and pushed aside the plants to see the long green beans hanging below...and I found myself smiling widely saying, "Yeah, baby!...Yeah, baby!" I never use that expression anymore, and that's probably a good thing, but man, I was a happy gardener.

Sam has actually been eating the narrow french green beans (we're also growing blue lake standard type), which is incredible because he's been turning up his nose at anything green lately. Such a surprise to have to hide his veggies after he ate them so freely in his babyhood, though I hear it's typical. But with these french green beans cooked to perfection, he just pops them right in his mouth.

I'll take a guess as to where my particular green bean pride comes from. In recent years I have not grown them, and even at my former job I grew scarlet runners instead. So my most powerful memories of green beans go all the way back to my 3rd and 4th seasons of farming, when I was just part of the crew on a 100 acre diverse organic farm back in Massachusetts and marvelled at my good fortune to have such an amazing job. This farm was big enough to have rows of veggies that could take over an hour for one person to pick or weed. Green bean picking is particularly tedious and was not a favorite job for many on the crew. It requires a lot of bending over, tugging at the beans with enough force to get them off (even better if you could get a whole handful at once) yet not so much that the weak-rooted plants pulled out of the ground, a good eye to discern the beans through the same-hued leaves without missing any, and some resistance to the midday heat and post-lunch fatigue since beans are not fragile enough to get picked in the cooler morning. We would all hop off the truck at the particular rows we were picking that day, check the clipboard to see how many bushels we needed, and then each of us would start at the end of one row and not look up until we were done. At least I didn't look up, because the way that I made this job fun for me was to try to finish my row before anyone else and have a fuller crate. This would mean that I was fast and thorough. And most of the time, I did win my little unspoken competition. Maybe this year, growing my own and seeing the bounty, brings back some of that happy pride.

I hope our tomato harvest will bring a similar sense of accomplishment. So far we have only picked less than 10, all from our New Girl plant (a substitute for Early Girl, which I could not find). I must admit that I am a bit disappointed that it is already halfway through August and most of our tomatoes are still green, but it looks like everybody in the community garden is experiencing the same wait, possibly due to the fog we had for a couple weeks recently. It's a particular type of impatience, this waiting for harvest...

We have had a lot of success (in addition to cukes and beans) with lettuce (earlier in the season), basil, parsley, zucchini, pattypan squash, and even a couple of green peppers. Pretty good for the weediest, buggiest, most theft-prone garden I have worked in. The proof is in the pickle jars.

Friday, August 8, 2008

grocery store giggles


Sam's favorite little friend is Sadie. They see each other at two weekly playgroups and occasionally at home. A few weeks ago we had a family picnic with our Monday playgroup, and Sam had fun pushing Sadie around in her stroller (photo by Carrie). It's been interesting watching them interact more and more as they get older. One day at playgroup, an older boy was repeatedly trying to grab a toy from Sam, and Sadie actually kept blocking the older kid, protecting Sam. She also says his name, "Sam," with the cutest little voice.

Yesterday we ran into Sadie and her mom Carrie at the grocery store. Sam and Sadie couldn't have been happier with the chance encounter. As we moms discussed fruit prices, the kids kept pointing at each other and laughing with glee.

Since then, Sam can't stop talking about it. This is the conversation we've had several times since yesterday afternoon:
Him- 'tore? 'tore? 'tore? 'tore?
Me- Store, yes, we went to the store.
Him- *nods* 'adie? 'adie? 'adie?
Me- Sadie, yes, we saw Sadie at the store.
Him- *nodding and laughing*
Him- 'tore? 'tore? 'tore?...
*repeat*
*repeat*
*repeat*

Sam, dear boy, may you always have friends who make you happy, and may you always have memories that make you laugh.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

gratitude

After my rough days and desire for wine, I must mention the absolute angel that Sam was on Monday, the day of four-plus-two house visits over 3 hours, and Tuesday, the day of the conference room (again). Let me explain: Sam and I are househunting together. Of all the estimated 75 houses I have seen, Sam has seen most of them too. We are blessed with a realtor who is also a mother and a kind person, in addition to being a first-class realtor. She (K) greets Sam each time we meet, and she offers him her keys, her cellphone, her realtor-electronic-key, and she follows him through the properties keeping him safe while I take my time to see what I need to see.



The other day we went to see 4 houses, and then we went back to see 2 of them a second time with Daddy. Three out of four were vacant, so Sam could run free, K's keys in hand, opening and closing doors, exploring to his heart's content. Actually, he was wonderful. And then, when we finally stopped to have dinner at the local Whole Foods, Sam said "hi" to every passing person as we fed him yogurt and pasta salad, receiving many smiles and compliments, as Denis and I discussed our house choices and our possible future.

The next day, while we made our third (probably futile) offer on a house, in the conference room at Denis' office, Sam was again wonderful. Much credit goes to our realtor K, who provided him with keys, iphone, even a dollar bill rifled from her purse. As we signed and initialed that stack of now-familiar documents, Sam circled the room, pointing keys towards doorknobs and holding iphone to his ear, allowing us to do what we needed to do.

Thank you, sweet boy, for being my steady companion in this search for home. Your smile melts me, and I want nothing more than to give you one of these backyards to explore and many doors to open and close. We'll get there, I promise.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

summer day


I was bad: I had a glass of wine at 3:30 this afternoon. I had been wanting it for a few hours, and even though it has been two weeks since weaning, I still feel like it's not quite right to have a glass of wine during the day. I'm working, after all. We wouldn't do this at a regular job...or would we? I've lost perspective, but it did take the edge off this day that started before 5am with some escalating cries from the crib, and continued with kicks and squirms and whimpers in bed with us, as we tried without success to catch another hour or two of sleep. There were the usual interruptions every time I tried to take a bite of breakfast or a sip of coffee, and the typical injuries sustained when Sam tiptoed onto my bare feet or swung his skull into my nose. All this is wine-worthy on the best of days, but why today? I'm not one to say things like, "There are two kinds of people in the world..." and then make some random distinction...but sometimes I feel like I can divide my days between the ones where something gets broken, and those where things stay intact. Around 10 this morning Sam broke a plate by pushing it from the counter into the sink. At lunch the breadbox door splintered and fell off as I had to dart away without closing it properly in order to prevent another mishap (that detail now lost without physical breakage to remember it). At this very moment he is alternating between swinging a red spatula around the room, and grabbing the lamp-chain from the corner of this desk. You see what it's like. If one more thing breaks I'm definitely having a refill.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

hot

Since my persistent efforts at house-hunting have yielded no real results so far, we are stuck in our little rental inferno during this most recent heat wave. As the all-day sun beats down on our uninsulated roof, the temperature inside climbs even higher than the reported high of 96 outdoors. Yesterday I stripped Sam down to his diaper and we had some fun in the front yard. The camera came out because he seemed interested in his sunglasses, and it has been my mission to get a shot of him wearing them.

Alas, the sunglasses were not tolerated for long. Filling Taimi the cat's water bowl seemed much more fun. Even more fun to keep spilling it and refilling it again and again.

Our Sungold patio tomato needed some water as well.

We barely water our lawn, but Sam couldn't resist.

Not a bad way to spend a hot afternoon. Today we're headed to a friend's pool for our first swimming lesson. Ah, I feel cooler already.