No more nuh-nuh

I don't want to jinx it or anything, but it seems as if I may have weened Zion this week. He was only using nursing to go to sleep at night, and not every night because sometimes he fell asleep without remembering to ask. So it wasn't a very big thing to tell him no nursing and give him a cuddle or a bottle of juice. I think we have passed that magical five-day mark with no nursing, which means we're officially done? yes? But it looks like my breasts don't believe me. They have given milk non-stop for over four years now, so when I tell them we are taking a bit of a break they're like, "Haha, yeah whatever lady."

This does not mean I'm suddenly sleeping easy. Zion hasn't night-nursed for months now, but he still wakes up faithfully between one and four times a night asking for cuddles and sometimes "apppple juiiiiiiiiice!" Harvey also wakes up when he wets the bed, which is at least twice a week, so between changing sheets, running to the kitchen for juiiiiiiice, and giving two needy boys the love and affection they refuse to take from teddy bears, there's not much rest going on. Which is why weening doesn't feel so much like a victory as it does a coping mechanism. If they keep me up all night and then on top of that the little one is squeezing my tits? I can get a little yelly first thing in the morning.

The best emotional management tool I know after a terrible night with the children is to take a break away from them before they wake up. So if I find myself lying across the bottom of their two beds, a hand mechanically petting Zion's back, and I start to hear the birds singing? I quickly check if they're asleep and then I get the fuck out of there. I used to go running at 5am religiously, but the heat has been making me sick lately so instead I look at the computer or read or stretch. Sometimes I even read the bible, but Zion usually needs a half-hour of cuddling when he wakes up, and I try to do bible then or else it's so boring rocking a two-year-old and doing absolutely nothing else that I want to gouge my eyes out.

Of all the mothers that could be on the cover of Time Magazine, I am probably a poor poster-child for extended breastfeeding. I mean, yeah I nursed one child to 22 months and another to 27, through a pregnancy, in public when necessary. But I never, like, super-duper enjoyed it. I never felt like I needed or wanted to advocate for it. I never felt like it was anything more than feeding, anything bigger than pouring a bottle of juice (something I do probably twenty times a day now with very little sentimentality.)

I used to have big ideas about breastfeeding in the same way I had big ideas about home-birth or attachment parenting (whatever that is), and those big ideas included an unhealthy dose of EVERYBODY ELSE IS DOING IT WRONG. I don't feel so strongly about these things anymore. Breastfeeding or giving birth at home are things that I have done. Other people do other things and that's cool too. I don't feel that these choices carry more weight than other parenting choices. Parenting goes on for a long time and every day there are lots and lots of choices. How do I do discipline this moment? How am I going to love my children and also take a break to breath? What tone of voice am I using when I speak to them? and how can I wipe that holier-than-thou asshole expression off my face?

I don't know the answers to all these questions, but I do know that I've signed up for class at the gym at 8am, and I'm going to wear my sports bra ALL DAY until then. In my weird world that feels like a celebration.


work-life balance

We have a lot to do around here. Me, I need to keep up with the gardening and weeding, on top of the long-term painting project and other vague home-improvement type things I have going on. Then there's the preserving that needs to be done this time of year, and the baking tat always needs to be done. Leah cooks and cleans and does laundry, and the kids, dog, and chickens need very occasional interventions from us as well. There are days when I have high hopes of working non-stop all day, moving seamlessly from one task to another.

That never happens, of course. For one thing I think I'm constitutionally incapable of that kind of focus—my way of doing things involves a lot of standing around dreaming and planning for three projects down the road. But it would also mean missing out on some fun times, too. And when it comes down to it, I think that I need plenty of hippy relaxing to balance out my homesteader hard working. We spent five hours or something at Springs Brook on Friday and almost that long visiting with friends Saturday; yesterday we biked to church (well over an hour longer than driving, round trip) then hung out with Grandma and Grandpa all evening.

The bicycle expedition was a great example of the value of not being too driven (haha, pun totally intended). We left ourselves plenty of time, and since there was no kids church Sunday we knew that if we were a little late it would even matter. Of course, since we're totally awesome cyclists we actually made the trip in much better time then we expected, but it still seemed pretty relaxing (mentally, that is; physically it was fairly taxing, especially for Leah on the big bike with the kids!). Even as we were riding Harvey was exclaiming at how much fun it was to be cycling in new territory: he commented a few times on how he really liked being able to see things from the bike that he wouldn't be able to from the car. After church, as we played in the playground, he told me to make sure we went home the same way, because he enjoyed the route so much on the way in.

Note that I am not saying that you, reader, need to take more time doing fun things and less time working—much less that I do myself. I would probably be safe working a little more and relaxing a little less. But you know, it's all good. Maybe each day has a different balance. Hopefully, we can all figure it out without stressing too much about it.


stuff i made

I'm planning on posting a few crafting entries this week: short blog posts with pictures of some stuff I made over the past month. I have mixed feelings about doing this. I've recently fallen out of love with craft blogs. All of a sudden I decided that posting pictures of stuff you make seems so... so... self-congratulatory. Like, did you enjoy making it? Is it useful? Great, why not just leave it at that. Why does it need to be also: and then I made my friends and family feel inferior by cataloguing my creative gifts plus my perfectionist drive to do hours and hours of extra work while healthy people would be resting.

But whatever. I made some shit and I took photos. And I may want to have a record of my projects for the future. So I'm gonna post them in the hopes that my stuff is so low quality that no one reading this blog will feel at all inferior.

In that vein, let's start with the quickest, lowest quality sewing project of the month. Ninja turtle masks. This was a birthday present for our neighbors who asked for them specifically. I took about an hour-and-a-half to make four of them. Not too bad.

heroes in a half shell

They tie behind like the real masks on the cartoon characters. How did mothers accurately recreate superhero masks before Google image search, I'll never know. Here's a lame picture of me squinting into the sun while trying on Raphael's.

cool but rude

The kids looked much cuter in them, of course, but I didn't bring my camera to the birthday party. Because I have a very low level of commitment to my craft blogging.


dehydrator cover

A few weeks ago I got a free dehydrator from my sister-in-law. Well, I should back up in this story. A few months ago I was standing in front of two large bunches of kale looking like they were too big to ever fit in a pot, and I was thinking to myself, "I want a dehydrator. I want to make kale chips. How come everyone else can buy all the stuff they want and I can't get a dehydrator?"

And then I didn't even look up dehydrators online. Because we don't actually buy things.

Then we were in Ithaca and my sister-in-law whipped out this old dehydrator from her closet and said, "Do you want this? I bought it for $10 at a yard sale and I never use it."

Suddenly there were A LOT of kale chips.

After a few hundred kale chips I realized why someone might want to GET RID of a dehydrator. Because while it's awesome for dehydrating food and all, it's not awesome for constantly being in the middle of your kitchen and being the size of a small oven.


I decided I needed to make a dehydrator cover.

"You should make it quilted!" said Dan, who still hasn't gotten his custom queen-size quilt that he asked for over four years ago. I don't love quilting.

But because it would be pretty in the kitchen, and because it's quicker to make than a queen-size quilt, I set about to make a quilted dehydrator cozy. Here is how I do quilting:

First, I look through my shelf of cotton fabric, which is mostly tiny pieces of fabric that other people have given me, and I hold up colors together until I have chosen five or six fabrics that look lovely in a stack. Then I congratulate myself on a project started and go do something else. This step is marked with elation and over-confidence.

A few days later I set about cutting the fabric into strips. This is where I start to get disheartened about quilting. Cutting up all this fabric? Only to sew it up again? Everything is meaningless! Also, I realize some of my fabric isn't big enough to stretch across the dehydrator, and I go to choose more fabric, and then I don't like the colors of the second string fabric, and then I start to complain, "How come everyone else can buy all the fabric they want and I have to sit around piecing scraps of fabric?" And then I remember: because that is the actual original purpose of quilting. To make bigger things from scraps of fabric. In my cheapness I am like a reborn pioneer! The feeling of smug self-congratulation carries me to the next step.

Which is sewing. Sewing can happen only when the children are awake and happily occupied without me. If they are asleep the sewing machine will wake them up, and if they are bored they will try to destroy the office until I yell at them. So I do my quilting in 20-minute increments right after they have a snack.

At some point I have made enough quilted fabric to sew up the dehydrator cover. I do the final steps at warp speed while Dan has the kids at the library. I hastily sew the sides and hastily hem the bottom. Turns out the cover is a bit big because I didn't account for the stretch in the fabric. Too bad! I'm not redoing jack! I am already 100% fed up with this project.


After all that cursing, the final project blends in with our kitchen almost (ahem) effortlessly.



train basket

Harvey chooses pieces carefully

Using up the last of my 1/4 inch flat-oval reed, this basket is just big enough to fit on the shelf while holding all our train tracks. It's a pretty big basket.

going in for a closer look

I have sworn I won't buy any more basket material until two thing happen: 1) I clean and organize the office, and 2) I get some extra money somehow. Neither seem likely, so it looks like a break from baskets is in my future. Unless I can figure out how to get my small scraps into two Easter baskets for next year. If I can use 1/4 inch flat for stakes and weave with seagrass, then the answer might be 'maybe.'


our free CSA

As much as I love the food pantry, it isn't always the best thing for us health-wise much of the year. We do generally give back the store-brand canned ravioli and chunky soup, but I'm unable to resist the allure of the white bread and Ritz crackers, to say nothing of the occasional Panera cookies. This time of year, though, the situation is totally different. Thanks to the fine folks at Gaining Ground Farm in Concord, we get to go home every week with a very respectable selection of local organic vegetables. Just this past week out take included swiss chard, beets, potatoes, basil, parsley, two kinds of summer squash, beefstake and cherry tomatoes, and a whole watermelon. Not too shabby!

Just like with a CSA, we don't have much idea what we're going to get from week to week, but that's no problem: this time of year we're more than happy to build menus around whatever fresh veggies we have in the house. And between the food pantry, the Lexington farmers market, and our own garden, we have plenty of veggies. Eggplant and tomato sandwiches, curry, beet greens and beans... summer time and the eating is easy!


country close to home

the big bike heading down a narrow country lane

hard to believe this is in Bedford

In the absence of the camping pictures, which it occurs to me I neglected to finish posting, here are some shots of our most recent adventure. A few days ago I discovered a hidden treasure right here in town (well, mostly: it's on the border of Bedford and Billerica), a narrow country road that wends its way between woods, mansions, and several horse farms. Seeing the horses, I knew I had to bring Zion out to see them, since he's definitely a fan. So yesterday we headed over that way for a late-afternoon ride.

several horses in a small pasture

horsies for Zion

Zion was pretty excited to see the horses, even if we didn't indulge him in the opportunity to ride one—or even to get out of the bike to get a closer look, poor little guy! He fell asleep on the outward leg of the trip, but luckily the road past the farms was so bumpy that he woke up on his own and didn't miss a thing.

just another horse in a pasture

horses everywhere

It's pretty amazing to me that there's this totally rural corner of town hiding out there that I didn't manage to learn about in the first eight years or so that we've lived here. Aside from being very indifferently paved the roadway is barely wide enough for one car, at least in the northern section, and it's just the picture of a country lane. Further into Bedford it gains some width and a double yellow line, thanks to the condos that infiltrated the neighborhood when one of the horse farms divested of some property. But things are still pretty horsey even at that end of the street.

the big bike passing by a sprawling horse farm, with white barns and fences

the posh sort of farm

Though there was much more to explore—the road goes by an area of town forest adjacent to the Great Meadows preserve, and there are some nice looking paths back there—but we decided to save further adventuring for another day. It was already very much the longest purely recreational ride that Leah has taken on the big bike, and we were also drawn home by the thought of supper. Everybody else was doing it!

close-up of a black horse grazing

nom nom


once bitten twice shy

Poor Rascal has not been having the best summer. Between heat and rain in July there were lots of days when he wanted nothing to do with going outside; and on top of that our schedule has been so unsettled, for reasons both pleasant and otherwise, that for a while he pretty much gave up on getting taken out. The last week or so was better—it's been beautifully cool morning and evening, and we've all had time for some nice long walks—but then yesterday he got bitten by some sort of bug and ran home immediately. And today he wouldn't go out at all. After dark, trying for the third or fourth time to walk him, I finally realized that he was still worried about bugs, and that feeling the leash against his shoulder made him think that they were after him again. Poor little guy! We ran around in the yard instead, but it's not the same. I suppose we'll see over the next few days how good his memory is; how long will it take him before he's ready to brave the wide world again?!

untended mental gardens

I tend not to dream at night, or at least not to remember my dreams—unlike Harvey, who's been praying lately to not have any dreams or nightmares, poor guy. But last night was an exception, and one feature of my nighttime revery was noticing that I had a whole section of garden plowed and prepared but lying fallow. This isn't the first time something like this has occurred to my subconscious brain: a while ago in a similar dream it turned out that I had forgotten about a whole side of the yard—a half-acre or so—prepared with beds and, in that case, even some plantings (which were doing well).

There's an obvious connection to real life here. First of all, I think about my garden a lot, and in the spring at least I'm constantly wishing I had more room to play with. At the same time, the size of the yard we have here also means that I do end up neglecting big swathes of it for considerable lengths of time. This year, for example, I put in a pair of elderberry bushes against the fence at the far side of the yard and then forgot about them entirely for well over a week. Happily, they survived, but it was kind of a jolt when I finally did remember them (in the middle of the night, naturally).

Beyond that, though, I also can't help but thinking about metaphorical meanings. Do I have resources available to me that I'm not taking full advantage of? Maybe my subconscious is mad at me for starting to write history books for kids—and even registering a domain name for the purpose—and then abandoning the project. Or maybe I should be praying more, or baking more, or applying for more jobs... good heavens, who knows. In the dream the discovery of the extra beds is a pleasant one, since it means I can grow that much more than I had thought, but in real life that sounds kind of like extra work! You know, I'm beginning to think Harvey has the right idea about dreams after all.


let's walk

Apparently Americans don't walk very much. That's actually not really news to me, and not only because the article I linked there is a year and a half old; monitoring the sidewalks around town makes it clear that most people in Bedford, at least, don't like to use anything other than a private automobile for purposes of transportation. That doesn't mean that people aren't out and about: there are plenty of joggers, dog walkers, and couples taking romantic strolls. But all that is recreational; whenever folks want to get anywhere—even if it's the Whole Foods less than a mile away—they hop in their cars.

Though I suppose I can't blame them. According to famous walkability-rating website Walk Score our address comes in at 43, which is defined as "Car-Dependent". "Most errands require a car", the report tells us. Whether that assessment defines or reflects people's behavior, they're going to be driving most places. Which is kind of silly, because as well as the Whole Foods we can also walk to another grocery store, a library, a post office, a wide variety of restaurants (including an excellent ice cream store), playgrounds, and swimming, all in under a mile and a half. What else? Hardware store, office supplies, two TX Company clothing stores, even auto parts are within striking distance of our little suburban home. Sure, a mile and a half takes up to half an hour each way, but think of all the interesting sights you'll see as you stroll. And if things were any closer, it'd feel like we were living in the city. We don't really want to live in the city, see, and we'll walk a bit more if that means we can keep our big yard.

Not that we always have to walk. Thankfully, we also have bicycles, and today saw an important first for our family: we took three bikes out on an errand. Harvey is as yet limited to not much more than two miles round trip, and to the sidewalks and bike paths (he's also not really a fan of big hills right now—though, to be fair, neither is Leah when she's hauling both boys), but that's enough to get him some useful places. Even better, the rack on his bike lets him bring things home with him—today his cargo was only a real-estate flyer, sure, but the concept is sound.

Even with a four-year-old moving under his own power our cycling speed beats walking (to say nothing of the reduction in effort required), and when he's riding with Leah our rate and range is obviously improved tremendously. That means that, contra Walk Score, we don't require a car hardly at all; as it is we largely only drive to the cheap grocery store the next town over, to church, and to outings in the country. "Only"—it still comes out to an outing by car at least every other day, enough that I don't have any desire to join the ranks of the "car-free". Plus, how would we go on vacation?! Which is all good, because I recognize that my own limits are just as arbitrary as those of my neighbors who want to drive around the corner. I could do without a car altogether, but it would make my life harder; they probably feel the same way about walking to Whole Foods. Totally fair—to each his own. I'm just glad we live in a place that makes it so easy for those of us who want to to buck the non-walking trend.


amateur hour

the front of the house, half-painted

work in progress

We're painting our house this summer. It was well overdue for it, with paint peeling and bare wood showing all around. We have to do all four walls so we decided to change the color, since we didn't pick the old color to begin with. Family and friends have expressed some skepticism about our decision to do the work ourselves, and they're entirely right to do so. I don't know the first thing about painting, and I don't think that my internet research made me any more qualified. But finances didn't allow any other choice, and with the bees coming back in May we knew we had to get started (I didn't relish climbing up a ladder set over their hive).

Who knows how long our amateur paint job will last. But even if we have to start touching it up in a couple years I won't mind too much. The whole thing is a wonderful learning experience! As of today we're almost finished with the third side, and I've done a better job scraping and painting on each one. The last wall is going to be a thing of beauty. I'm told that my maternal grandfather painted one wall of his house every summer, which seems like a reasonable rate; if the back of the house, where I started off this year, starts to go bad right away, I'll be happy to do it over next summer and start the incremental cycle myself.

The nice part about doing it ourselves—besides saving several thousand dollars, of course—is that it's a learning process. I like learning, because when I learn I know more things. Skills particularly often seem devalued in our specialized society, which seems like a shame even if you do happen to have the funds to pay people to do everything for you. If I never had the option of taking my car in to get fixed by a mechanic I'd know a lot more about how it worked, and be happier for it. Of course, it's hard to gain those sorts of skills without someone to teach you, and in the case of automotive repairs the consequences of failure are pretty high (remember I don't want to be car-free). Painting, though, is more tolerant of failure, because we can always just do it again.

When we were deciding what we could do about all the peeling paint Leah's dad actually suggested he might pay for professional painters to come and do the work. Among the reasons we decided not to follow up on that idea was that I was afraid that, if I couldn't even paint a house, I wouldn't be able to do anything. That's not entirely fair, I suppose—despite not being brought up handy I have managed to build a chicken coop and change my car battery. But still, the bar moves ever higher and I didn't want to balk at this simple task. It's nearly done now, so I'm full of confidence for the future. What feats of manly vigor will I accomplish next? Patching the rust holes in the bodywork of the car? Replacing the rotted-out window sills and frames on the north side of the house? The possibilities are endless!


hammering out discipline and forgiveness

Harvey ran into the house looking for me. He found me upstairs folding laundry. He had run all the way from the garden up two flights of stairs to give me a red cherry tomato. From HIS OWN garden bed.

"There's even one for Dada!" he exclaimed gleefully as he ran back downstairs.

This is my four-year-old: perfect sweetness and light.


Because there are other times he gives me the only ripe cherry tomato, and then he asked for half of it, and then Zion asked for the other half of it, and I then I just get the bit of juice that goes in my mouth when I bite the tomato in half before distributing it to the children. (What, you don't cut up your children's food by biting it? What are you like a knife-wielding madman all the time?)

Or like the other day when we got into a big fight over the screen door. Harvey wanted the screen door open and Zion wanted the screen door closed. So Zion was trying to shut the screen door but Harvey was standing in the doorway blocking its passage, and both of them were screaming. I saw both the potential for injury and the potential for breaking the door, so I demanded Harvey move. He tried to tell me the whole story of what he wanted and what Zion wanted, and I told him to get out of the door first and then tell me the story. He protested louder and Zion tried to bite him, so I pulled Zion away and Harvey fell out of the doorway. Which didn't make him happier.

In retrospect, this should have been enough of a lesson in listening to Mama. (Don't listen, and you clearly might fall out of a doorway.) But I was peeved, so I opened up a big tirade about disobedience. It went something like this: "It is my JOB to keep you safe, and that's means safe from being HURT. But I can't DO THAT if you don't LISTEN TO ME when I tell you to MOVE." And Harvey did what he always does when I scold him which is to close his eyes and put his hands over his ears. Which made me pissed-er. So I told him he could come inside when he was ready to listen and say sorry.

He yelled. He told me he had already said sorry to the closed door. We had a little disagreement of how saying sorry works. I left him outside for a bit longer.

Then I heard some hammering. I wondered if Harvey was trying to break the house to spite me. I decided to let him alone for a bit anyway.

A few minutes later Harvey came to the door and yelled, "I WANT TO SAY SORRY TO YOU!" He came in with a big smile on his face.

"Do you want to see the thing I made?" He asked.

"Did you have something to say to me?"

Harvey looked at his feet. "srry..." he mumbled, followed immediately by a loud "DO YOU WANT TO SEE WHAT I MADE???"

He brought in a board on which he'd hammered four nails and two smaller pieces of wood.

"I made this for you," he said, "So you would forgive me."

Harvey's guilt offering

Okay, so my heart got a little bit of a pounding too.

From a "gentle parenting" prospective, I come off sounding like a monster. If my child thinks he needs to do something to win my love or forgiveness, I'm only teaching him manipulation, aren't I? At the very least I'm not succeeding with teaching him the concept of "sorry."

But this is also maddening! What I'm trying to teach him isn't terribly hard! "Harvey!" I said, "I love what you made, but you don't need to make me a present for me to forgive you. You just have to SAY YOU'RE SORRY!"

What's the moral of this story?

I get that children need to be emotionally supported, need to be heard, need to have their stories understood to the fullest sometimes stupidest sometimes door-breaking-est detail. I also think that they need to obey parents sometimes. Not all the time, and not often without a discussion, but sometimes, when there's danger involved or the likelihood of breaking stuff, they just need to shut up and move.

But whenever I get into a "you need to say you're sorry" battle with one of my kids, I end up feeling a little sheepish. I'm secretly praying for it to work out in my favor, and while I'm doing so I'm pretty sorry that I got myself into this mess. Don't get me wrong: I want them to listen, to say sorry, to learn how to be in relationship with other people and to not act like little despots. But I don't want them just to learn how to survive under a different despot, ie their mother. So when they end up saying sorry I feel both grateful and guilty at the same time.

Which is why the board creation is almost too much. It's like a guilt offering in a perverse system of emotional codependence that I seem to have unknowingly created.

Or maybe I'm reading too much into things. Maybe he was just mad and he just wanted to hammer. When he was done maybe he just wanted to show me. Maybe he knew a present would make me happy. Maybe a present after you've been a jerk is not such a bad relationship strategy.

Maybe a totem of forgiveness is sometimes what we humans need.

"The Lord said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." (Numbers 21:8)
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him." (John 3:14-15)


shopping adventuring

Harvey in a modernist kids chair, Zion waiting his turn

as fun as a playground

Yesterday we went to Ikea with Grandma Judy. She'd never been, and wanted some help navigating the store; we could have just pointed her to the famous walkthrough, but we're always up to a trip down to our favorite furniture-store-slash-theme-park.

Zion on a mattress under a low lofted kids bed

a favorite spot for kids

It was Zion's first time too, thanks to the fact that since he before he was born our house has been full of furniture and also we're poor. Perhaps due to poverty I still have the same phone now as I did then, though its camera seems to have declined in quality since the other boy played under that same bed (that was another fun and well-documented trip). The picture of Zion above isn't that good, and I include it only for historical comparison; this one is better.

Zion lying on a bed with flowered sheets

even comfier

It's not like the only thing they played on was beds; that's just the only time either one of them stood still enough for my lousy phone to capture. But beds were an appropriate theme, because one of the few things we brought home was a new pillow for Zion, whose old one is made out big feathers and pins and knives. He was involved in picking the new one, naturally.

Zion putting his new pillow into the shopping cart

it was too heavy to carry

To break up the shopping we ate a great deal of delicious Swedish food, including authentic Swedish chicken fingers for the boys. Since Grandma was treating us, we also sampled several of the deserts for the first time and were not disappointed. I didn't take any pictures because I was too busy enjoying and being a normal sociable human who doesn't take picture of food.

Much fun, all told; we'll have to go back in another year or two.


Walden, late August

Walden Pond, late August 2013

cool and inviting

Summer seems to be winding down, but we don't want to let it go so yesterday we headed out to Walden Pond. We haven't been there as much as we could have thanks to paying up for Springs Brook, but with the exodus of college students that local swimming hole is closed, so we get some more chances at our real favorite pond. This particular time we invited our Small Group friends along.

Zion looking at the empty State Police horse barn

"wheya da mama hoassie?"

Of course, before he could get into any beachy activities Zion had to go check out the State Police Mounted Unit horse barn. The horse was out, so we only stayed to look at the barn for five or ten minutes. Back at the beach our attention turned to trying to catch fish—the boys have done much playing with their birthday nets at home, but they haven't really been used for their intended purpose so far this year. But with Harvey's big kid friend Lucy to encourage him—she's going into kindergarten and has all kinds of skills—he was able to concentrate on the pursuit. Some said netting the minnows that swarm the edge of the beach was impossible but we proved them wrong! Here's proof:

an orange bucket filled with water and sand, with two tiny fish barely distinguishable

they're in there, I promise

(I say we because every time I added a fish to the bucket Lucy ran to show it off, shouting "Look, we caught another one!")

The smaller children enjoyed the fishes' company. (Not Zion though; at that point he was mostly enjoying his Mama's company.)

two smallish children playing around the fish bucket

playing with the fishies

It wasn't really warm out, and certain of the children were starting to shiver, so I thought it best to get them involved in an activity out of the water. We had plenty of awesome sand toys to use, but while the structure below started off with elegant square walls the pure kinesthetic excitement of trying to keep the water in trumped any pleasure that might have been obtained from tool use.

the kids working on their sand structure, a raised pool

not a castle, but a pool

Sadly, not everybody can hang around the beach idly as long as the Archibalds, and our friends all eventually departed. Despite all rational expectations the boys weren't at all cold, and would have stayed in the water til it got dark if we had let them.

Zion (foreground) and Harvey (background) swimming

in their element

We tempted them out by promising to play in Henry's cabin, which is always fun.

Harvey and Zion sweeping out Thoreau's cabin

they don't even charge the park service

And then eventually, if you can believe it, we went home. Was that the last swimming of the season? Time will tell.


3rd time's the charm

We have a tiny little baby growing inside my belly. There's no denying it anymore; today we heard its tiny little heartbeat. Harvey said it sounded like, "shh shh shh shh."

I'm sure he'll hear a lot of "shhhh" after the baby is born too, haha.

Yes, we are pregnant. Feel free to add the word "again."

I have not felt very excited about sharing this news so far. I mean, yeah we did it on purpose, get pregnant and all. We know how this works. It's just that being pregnant this time around has been, how do I put it? Nightmarish. I dread someone looking at me with bubbling anticipation and saying, "Awwww, a new baaaayby!!!" Because for the last three months it hasn't felt like a new baaayby. It's felt like a horrible crippling sickness that makes me think that dysentery might be preferable to gestating a child.

But today we heard a heartbeat and Harvey got excited, so that's worth the sacrifice of my digestive tract. Not to speak of my poor body that has already gained and lost 100 pregnancy pounds in the last four years. Yes, let's not speak of that.

Let's change the subject entirely! Let's talk about the cute things my children say.


Harvey: "The kind of sprinkler that we don't have, that goes in and out of the ground like magic, that doesn't connect to a hose? That kind of sprinkler takes a minute to decide whether it's turning on or turning off."


Zion (while Dan is changing his diaper): "I want my other Mama! I want my REAL Mama!"


Harvey (just now, while trying to convince Zion to come upstairs to bed.) "Every day has an end!"


Yeah, they're pretty cute my kids. This third one has a tough act to follow.