- Watching Harvey play imaginatively: making up songs, picking up sticks to "hunt" pretend fish, and baking invisible pies whenever he gets a chance. "Mama!" he says, "I made some dough for ya!" "Thanks Harvey," I say holding out my hand. "No, it's not weady. It's cookin. In an hour."
- Watching Zion do things our elder child never did, like play with rattles, cuddle blankets, and suck his thumb... And marveling at how we got a "real baby" this time.
- Eating lots of tomatoes, green beans, collards, tomatoes, and tomatoes. And watching the chickens run around outside in pure birdy bliss.
- Zipping up pre-pregnancy jeans! And then gladly taking them off three minutes later when they're covered with spilled milk.
- Not much blogging, I'm afraid, with apologies. Seasons in parenting are short, fortunately, and we beg your indulgences for this one.
Last Saturday we were helping a friend move, necessitating a rather urban car ride into the city. As soon as we entered the tunnel Harvey started panicking. "I don't like it! I don't LIKE it!"
"What don't you like sweetie?"
"Dis!" he screams. "In here! I want to go OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUT!"
And really, I can't blame him. I have no way to tell him it's going to be okay, you won't die in a cold dark tunnel, when every fabric of my being is also screaming "I WANT TO GO OOOOOOOOOOOUT!"
Harvey tends, you see, to be rather anxious. I know where he gets it from.
But let me give you another example. Last week Dan came home from a half day at work. I didn't know exactly what time to expect him, and I was upstairs putting Harvey down for a nap when he came in quietly. So when I walked down the stairs moments later and saw a person coming around the corner inside our house I startled and gasped and put my hand over my heart.
Now, Dan really hates it when I do this, when I act like he's a murderer in his own house. And that seems pretty fair to me. I always try to apologize rather profusely and swear up and down that One Day I will exorcise all my demons and be rid of this terrible stranger complex.
Except then half an hour later Harvey was awake and standing on a chair in the kitchen when Dan came up from behind and put his hands on Harvey's shoulders. Immediately Harvey pulled his hands in as if to curl up into a ball and his whole body started shaking.
When he isn't so personally offended, Dan just looks at the two of us and sighs exasperatedly, "My goodness you guys."
I has helped my parenting recently to think of Harvey as a toddler version of myself. He's anxious and shy. He desperately wants to be in control and desperately wants to be loved at the same time. Being a toddler, he hides all of this slightly more poorly than I do. So when I get irritated that he's demanding SO MUCH of me every second of the day, I just think to myself "mini me" and out spring buds of compassion. When I'm trying to project my authority by throwing him in his bed every time he hits the dog, I remember "mini me" and find a way to help him save face and get love without "backing down." And when he says "I neeeeeed uppy, mama" or "I want to go hooooooome" I muster all the courage I have to say No, despite how much I want to say Yes, because he is me, and we both need to accept that the world is a safe place and that being scared sometimes is okay.
Zion, on the other hand, wakes in the bed and looks about at his surroundings with wide open eyes. "What is this wonderful place?" he thinks. I and have hope for the future that we also have a child version of Dan.
Hi September! Hi blog! Harvey and I enjoyed a late summer Saturday recently with a trip to Concord's historic North Bridge.
Harvey's favorite part was the water and the statues.
I wanted to go to see what Katia and the remains of Lee did to the Concord River, and I was not disappointed: it looked about like spring flood levels. Not quite as cold, though!
On the way home we stopped at a special close-down-Main-Street farmers market in Concord center and picked out corn from three different farms (plus an apple for Harvey). All delightful, fun, and relaxing. I only wish I had remembered my camera and didn't have to resort to phone pictures.
We've been eating a lot of tomatoes around here lately. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner some days (alright, not many breakfasts... but I've managed at least two!). I have a couple sores in my mouth; I wonder if it's related. And yet, this afternoon at the farmers market I bought a couple pounds of paste tomatoes. Why?!
Well, the fact is that I didn't steward my tomato crop—any of my crops—as well as I should have. The Martinos Roma tomatoes, especially, never really got staked properly, nor pruned. As a result they weren't as big as they should have been and a whole lot of them rotted on the vine where they were in contact with the vine. And don't even get me started on the ones that rotted inside the house when I couldn't do anything with them in time.
Talking about the garden with Leah this evening she and I agreed that we've been well-supplied with produce, but I know that I could have done very much better. And I will, next year! Maybe I'll start by getting some garlic in the ground this fall.
Anyways, the farmers market tomatoes were to make a marinara sauce for dinner tomorrow. I count it as practice: one reason I didn't treat my tomatoes as well as I should have was that I've never canned tomatoes in any form, so I didn't even know where I should be starting. Now I know. And I was able to use my own basil and oregano in the sauce (along with onion from the farmers market), so that should count for something, right?
On Sunday afternoon Leah's brother Jake brought over a cooler-full of concord grapes that he picked in his Cambridge yard. Some people have all the luck: we slave over our garden for months in order to come up with a few tomatoes, and he moves into a place where he can pick over a bushel of grapes in an easy hour's work.
Happily, he decided to share them with us, if for no other reason that we have all the canning equipment. Over the course of about six hours we processed almost all the good grapes—neither green nor rotten—into almost two gallons of grape jelly and a similar amount of what we're calling grape juice concentrate. Leah finished up the juicing work on Monday. It was a whole lot of work, but also pretty awesome to bust through that much fruit at once. We're going to take some of the jellies, but Jake gets the majority as befits his status as picker and vineyard owner. I think he's now in pretty good shape for holiday gifts for this winter.
We served up some of the juice to our Bible study peeps this evening, and I'm not sure if it was a complete success. There's a limit to how much particulate matter you expect in your grape juice, and a different limit for a substance to be qualified as a liquid at all, and this juice might have exceeded both limits by a considerable distance. Call it country-style. Our friends are polite and they drank it; they may even visit us again one day. All I can say is that much concentrated grapey goodness must be good for you!
Our counters are stained purple, perhaps forever, and our compost is as well-enriched with grape skins as our minds our with delightful memories of grape canning. There were also a very many seeds down the disposal in the sink, most of which I had to pull out by hand since there were showing no signs of being disposed of by the machinery. I call the move my grape seed extract.
While there are striking similarities, they don't always look the same these two.
Here's Harvey in his 6-month-size MIT shirt:
and here's Zion:
Both super cute! Zion's got the cheeks, but Harvey had the hair.
... that some days "attachment parenting" is another word for torture.
... that your standards for hippy parenting are incompatible with your standards for household cleanliness.
... that your two perfect angel babies, your beautiful gifts from heaven, are sometimes rather difficult to entertain.
... that a big hunk of plastic which represents consumerism and escapism and lazy parenting and everything that's wrong with America, which will never biogdegrate in a landfill, which is thus DESTROYING THE WORLD... that some days this manifestation of evil can also be the thing that saves the world, for one very tired mama, in one very small way.
I bought this this week. Feeling kind of guilty that it makes me so happy.
The forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-30s overnight. Upon learning this I rushed out and picked all the mostly-ripe tomatoes and peppers in the garden, and then covered things up as much as possible with heavyweight row cover fabric (dreaming of high tunnels). Hopefully it'll be enough; tonight is forecast to be the coldest night in the foreseeable future, so if the summer crops survive it we should be good for a little while yet.
Not that we wouldn't, in some way, be glad to be done eating tomatoes. We've certainly had our fair share over the past month or two—the sores in my mouth testify to the effects of our current high-acid diet. But not really. Besides how delicious and nutritious our tomatoes and other veggies are, there's something wonderful about all the free food available right outside our kitchen door. I'm not ready for that to end!
Of course, even after the tomatoes are reduced to mush by freezing temperatures the carrots and collards will still be going strong. Hmm, I should have planted more cold-weather crops.
... both babies put on mama-made sweaters
we go apple picking!
that's the only picture with all four of us in it... i got low standards these days.
I look over from the stove to see Harvey sitting in his seat, blatantly POURING an entire cup of juice onto the floor.
"Harvey Douglas!" I exclaim.
His eyes gleam with excitement. "SAY ARCHIBALD!"
Leah totally beat me to the punch with news of our apple picking adventure, so I figured I'd wait a little while more to put my pictures up here... but now Bridget has posted her own photos of the outing, and shamed me with what Leah calls "the best pictures ever taken" of her (and also some cute ones of Harvey and Ollie). But I'm the only one to get the apple bag!
I also took a moment to photograph all the apples on the ground, an impressive quantity from which we took all of what went into our half-peck bag. Not so much apple picking, then, as apple picking-up.
Harvey also enjoyed the hayride. Zion might have; it's not entirely clear.
Harvey was also a big fan of the hay maze, just like last year. Double fun playing on it with Ollie!
No applesauce produced yet due to catastrophic illness around here, but we did enjoy one very tasty apple pie.
Remember this outfit I made for Harvey last Easter? Well, Harvey leant it to his friend Noah for use at a wedding a few weeks ago, and Noah's mom just posted photos of the event on her blog today. I don't know why this is like the most exciting thing since radial-cut fabric, but seeing my clothes on another kid makes me feel like a real live seamstress. (I'd say "clothing designer," but I bummed someone else's pattern for the vest.)
Image does not want to load here so I'll just send you over to her site to see.
It makes me excited for next Easter and matching suits for Harvey and Zion! That is, if I survive Christmas first. Is it all crafters who start stressing about Christmas in September? Or only the insane ones?
Yesterday was a big day for Harvey—for our whole family, really. After well over a year of taking turns hanging out with him in the back of the sanctuary every Sunday, we took the momentous step of dropping him off at Kids' Church... and leaving him there.
Naturally, he did totally fine. Which is kind of amazing because not only was it his first time in any sort of formal child-care/education setting, it was his first time spending more than two minutes apart from his family at all. Yes, he's spent plenty of time with his grandparents, but apart from a few panicked minutes at Will's house (all the way across the street) before Will's mom brought him back home, he's never allowed us to entrust him to the care of strangers.
The Sunday before last I prepared him for the big day by getting him all signed up, introducing him to the space and the people, and staying with him through the morning. He was super nervous at first, but warmed up quickly when he saw all the toys that were available—and the bubbles at the end clinched the deal. It was also very nice that his best friend Ollie was there; and it was his first day too!
There were some anxious moments yesterday as we dropped him off. I had definitely hinted at it in the car, but he hadn't quite grasped the idea that we were going to be leaving him; no more did we quite believe that we'd be able to pull it off. But as Leah hung by the doorway watching him (I had given up and gone to church; we didn't need two anxious hovering parents!) he was doing so well that she slipped off without even saying goodbye. Goodby again, that is.
When I picked him up the staff said he had done great: not upset at all. Apparently he asked once after Mama, but when they told him she had gone to get him a bagel he accepted the answer and went back to playing. We'll take it! I'm looking forward to a few good months of sitting with my wife in church before we need to take turns removing Zion. Although there's always Baby Church...
After Zion was born I couldn't help but notice that he had a long way to go to catch up with Harvey in the blog post tag stakes. After nearly five months I'm afraid he's never going to make it. Sure, we've written about him a few times, but we've written about Harvey too; since Zion was born they've been roughly at parity. You're never going to get ahead that way, boy! Another tag, however, has leapt ahead: parenting.
I guess we called what we were doing with Harvey parenting too; I find there are posts with the tag way back when he was the only little one around here. But that was a lie, because with the first one you don't know what you're doing. I suppose we were able to describe what we were trying (or maybe just enduring) but if we thought there was any method to our madness we can now see that we were wrong.
Not, of course, that we're necessarily doing any better with Zion. But at least we've done these things once and can learn from our experiences. We're doing some things the same—holding him a lot, rocking him to sleep, nursing him exclusively (well, that one's not so much me)—and other things differently—not trying to get him into the crib. Also we let him sleep on his stomach sometimes.
Not unrelated to that last point, we're also continuing to not read parenting books... except when we do. I confess to some bewilderment as to how to go about beginning "potty training" for Harvey, and since Leah feels similarly she got a few books out of the library. One of them turns out to be a general book of tips, and it's completely ridiculous. It seems that other parents worry a great deal about many things, things that it never occurred to us might be problems. Leah worries, sure, but mostly just about keeping them alive (which is by the way a priority I wholly share). Whether they're properly dressed walking around the house? Not so much.
Clearly, we are doing very well as parents. Our older son is able to play independently for the better part of an hour at a time (some days), he is kind and generous to both friends and strangers (after we've convinced him to acknowledge their presence), and he's a devoted lover of literature. Seriously, you should hear him reciting books to himself as he plays with his legos. Our younger son can eat with the best of them, and sucks his thumb like a champ. Maybe we should be writing the books! No, we don't have time for that. I guess we'll stick to blog posts.
And they'll mostly be about both boys at the same time. Sorry, Z.
At Dan's prompting I will write a post only about Zion, the cutest child to ever grace a Moby, the best baby I know, the only baby I've ever met that's perfectly happy just being a baby.
He loves his mama, his dadda, and his thumb. But he just lights up at the sight of Harvey or Rascal. Just looking at either of his two brothers makes Zion giggle to absolutely no end. He can be entertained for minutes upon minutes by these proxy babysitters, which is very helpful to his mama yet sometimes dangerous given the number of toys with which he may be forced to engage.
He is silly and sweet. He loves cuddles, he loves being carried, and he indicates tiredness by giggling fanatically. Come on; what baby do you know gets really sleepy and then just giggles?
Okay, so he doesn't nurse to sleep and he needs a clean diaper every 30 minutes. Nobody's perfect, right? But on all other counts he is what any mother would wish for. A perfect blessing of a second child. An angel of babies. A pure delight.
My hope, my joy, my Zion. He may not get all the tags around here, but he certainly gets a lot of love.
While we were stopped at a light on the way home from small group this evening Harvey pointed out the water feature—a fountain waterfall thingy outside a hotel or office park—that he enjoys seeing every week. "There's the water!" he said. For my part, I was amazed at how loud the crickets were at that particular intersection, so I mentioned them to him. "Crickets in the water." he said.
"No," I told him, "Crickets don't live in the water. They need air like we do. They live in the grass."
"And trees!" he said. We've talked about this before. After a moment or two, he adds, "Crickets aren't fish."
I have to say I was kind of impressed. It sure is fun to watch his ability to think abstractly—and to express his thinking—grow by leaps and bounds. I don't hang out with a lot of two-year-olds, but I'm going to go out on a limb anyways and say that ours is particularly exceptional.
The Occupy Wall Street protests are slowly infiltrating our consciousness here at the squibix household, leading to an above-average amount of angry political discussion. Angry at other people, that is; we're pretty much in agreement amongst ourselves (though I'm not sure what Zion's position is vis-a-vis the potential inflationary dangers of vastly increased public spending and whether higher inflation might actually be a positive at this point).
At this stage my rage is still too inchoate to be neatly expressed in a blog post, but I would like to note a couple things. First, there are folks who say that, while they agree with the protestors that some things might need to change, they need to be presenting specific policy suggestions rather than the variety of aspirational demands currently being proposed. Yeah, because our congressmen would love to do something about the problems facing our country, if only they had an idea that would help! Note: that's not actually true. Also, congressmen historically have a poor record of taking policy suggestions from hippies.
Even worse are people who suggest that, if they really wanted to make a difference, the protestors would try and work through existing political channels. I don't know, volunteer for a campaign or something. They point out that in the United States it's only the government that makes the kind of changes the protestors are looking for. At least since 1775, that is. That completely misses the fact that no changes get made at all unless social pressures force the government's hand. Do you think the New Deal was enacted because politicians' hearts were bleeding for the poor? No, it was because if they didn't do something they would have had a revolution on their hands.
Not that we're ready for revolution yet; too many people are more concerned about what's on tv (or if their neighbors will be allowed to get abortions) than they are about their social and economic well-being. But protests put pressure on the system, they change the terms of the discussion, and they help crystallize a society's generalized grievances. I don't agree with everything the New York protesters are saying (nor do I think they're even speaking with a unified voice themselves) but I love that somebody is out there saying something.