summertime and the living is easy

For the last couple months, our neighbors have had to bear the cross of looking at our messy front lawn littered with two to three times more bikes than there are people in the house. Last night I finally, for the first time since the snow melted enough to let us get in the shed, put them all away (well, not including the plastic ones that don't live in the shed, but you know). As I considered this triumphant success, it occurred to me that there was a reason it finally happened on the evening of May 4th: it was finally warm enough that I enjoyed being out in the evening.

Usually, putting bikes away is close to the last chore of the day. And even on warm days this spring it's been pretty cold in the evenings, and the last thing I want to do after a hard day of... doing whatever it is I spend my time on, is mooch around in the cold shoving 14 bikes under the porch. So I didn't. I got to the more valuable or vulnerable ones most nights, but the broken tricycles and plastic scooters—all the ones that the kids like to use now and again, but that I don't care what happens to—they pretty much lived on the front lawn. Sorry neighbors. Now that summer is here it's a new regime of cleanliness out there.

Not that I'm all in favor of this sort of heat so early in the season (it must have been in the 80s for the second day in a row today). It's kind of a shock to the system, both for me and for the plants I'm trying to get in the garden. But on the other hand it sure is nice to be able to walk outside any time, from before sunrise to just before bed, without having to worry about adding clothes or catching your death. It makes those 5:24 am chicken chores just that much nicer! And having the windows open and fans running upstairs while we put the kids to bed: very pleasant.

Yes, summer in May. Swimming yesterday, ice cream store this evening... why do I still have to go to work again?

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suddenly beach

the three boys digging in the sand with water behind them

beach boys

It got really hot all of a sudden, so this afternoon we went to the beach.

Harvey and Zion running out of the water

cold!

The air said summer but the water said early spring, so the grownups didn't do too much swimming. Harvey was happy to play in the water lots, though. Elijah, in his first trip to the beach as a sentient being, was also a big fan. He wore the same swimsuit his brothers did for their own first pond adventures.

Elijah sitting at the edge of the water in his swimsuit

following in the footsteps

(Here they are for comparison. Zion:

Zion sitting in the water of Walden Pond

I think he likes it

And Harvey:

Harvey in the waters of Walden Pond

ooh, that's chilly!

Lijah was smiling in most of the pictures, but I picked the one that most matched the others!)

Zion celebrated his birthday by getting sick, but even though he threw up a couple times in the morning we couldn't keep him away from the first beach trip—on his birthday no less—so he came along. He was pretty whiny at first but revived in the cold water, as pictured above; and as his energy ran down amused himself by making a sand castle.

Zion sitting next to his sand castle

working through it

Lijah was charmingly independent almost the whole time; he loved the water, he loved the sand, he loved the shovel he got to hold. Totally content!

Lijah playing on the beach, far away

independent enjoyment

Of course, I couldn't stay that far away from such cuteness for very long!

Lijah smiling at the camera

he likes it here

As we tried to get his swimsuit off he let us know loudly that he liked the beach and didn't want to leave; here's to lots more beach days to come!

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Zion's blue monkeys

When asked what he wanted for his birthday this year, Zion would pout and mutter, "Everything," or "Nothing." Sometimes he would just put his thumb in his mouth and scowl at me. To other people he announced that he was turning two, not four.

The pour child. He has some issues.

Despite his obstinant regression, I still wanted to make Zion a present to commemorate his birthday. I still love him, even if he's not the baby anymore. Even if he craps his pants four times a day and tries to kick me in the tits when I unbuckle his carseat, I still love that little gremlin. He had asked a while back for a sock monkey just like Harvey's, only BLUE, so I whipped up this striped lady.

blue because Zion likes blue

But that didn't seem to be enough, given the emotional intensity of the situation. So I sewed an additional component. Zion had a pair of wool socks he never wore. He is super particular about his socks; they have to be dark blue cotton with scratchy letters on the bottom. Indeed, he's said to me, "Even when I grow as big as you I'll still wear socks with scratchy letters." So in honor of Zion's definitiveness on this and every other subject I took his non-standard wool socks and turned them into a baby monkey.

baby because baby is an important concept in our emotional universe

Mama and baby monkeys both have velcro hands and feet, so that they can hug Zion or each other as he sees fit. It's my subtle way of saying to my stubborn child: You can't get rid of me that easy. Hit me, hate me, my love for you is like mother-f-ing velcro.

i love you Mama monkey

Zion is going to be okay in the long run. I's legitimately hard being four. It's hard not being the baby, being little, being bossed around by the person you love most in the whole world, your dominating older brother. Zion's anger is good and honest resistance to the difficulties he faces. As a resistor myself I want to tell him something like: Go on with your bad self. It's okay. Just come to me when you need a hug. You crazy little monkey.

i love you baby monkey.

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Zion starts to turn four

the cake: white frosting with blue sugar and blueberries

blue cake

We had Zion's "friend party" today, kicking off at least three days of birthday extravaganza for our favorite middle child. Should be four days, now that I think about it. Since he's a little brother, the red candle in the cake pictured above is a hand-me-down, but the rest of the cake is blue to his specifications; those blodges on the top are meant to be flowers.

There were 15 kids kicking around at one time or another, but it felt like a pretty small, relaxed gathering. We started off with lunch: spaghetti, chicken nuggets, and quesadillas as requested, plus watermelon and chocolate milk. Ollie made sure to get a good seat for the feast.

Ollie enjoying lunch on a big lawn chair

concentrating on the food

Then we opened presents—we decided to do it before desert when we found Zion sitting on the stairs inside. "I'm lookin at my presents," he told us. From his friends he got bubbles and a golf set, a pirate puzzle, and a popgun that instantly captured his attention.

Zion shooting his new popgun, birthday guests in the background

pow!

I didn't have anything for him, but Mama more than made up for me with a pair of beautiful blue sock monkeys (I also expect she got some good pictures that she'll put up here soon!). Both of them are tucked in bed with the birthday boy now, along with the blue cow that Harvey sewed him last year.

I suppose my part in the celebration was the cake, and I had a great time making it with lots of help from Zion this morning. The frosting was a great frustration later, but I'm almost ready to let that go, and I'm grateful to Zion that he happily accepted my icing "flowers", never mind they don't look anything like the ones on the cakes at Market Basket that gave him the idea. I bet they were a lot tastier, though.

While he enjoyed the flowers and the top layer of blueberry cake, though, he saved most of his desert appetite for his true love.

Zion concentrating on his chocolate ice-cream cone

that's the stuff

Over the past couple weeks Zion's been showing some apprehension about his birthday, so we were glad to see him having fun. When I asked him at bedtime what was his favorite part of the day, he said, "my birthday party" (never mind that he could have picked a more specific moment out of the five hours of fun). He also said, earlier, that he didn't want his party to end. I had good news for him on that: there's lots more celebration to come!

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this moment

Lijah in the cage tube at the playground, reaching for the camera

my playground buddy

A moment from the week.