first Easter with three

Every year I sew my children suits for Easter. I have great commitment to traditions I completely make up, you see. Especially if they make me look good. I gave up on the hippy ideal of sewing all my children's clothing myself, but if I make Easter suits and Christmas sweaters that's two major photo opportunities which make me look like a much more dedicated crafter than I am.

Harvey in his Easter suit atop a hay bale, holding PowPow

working hard to project my well-crafted image

With the brain-drain of a new baby this year I wanted to pick a pattern that I'd be sure not to muck up with mistakes. I used the pants pattern I've used for the past three years (from this book), and happily I dashed off two of them without having to rip out a pocket seem or anything major. I drafted new vest patterns since they don't come from a book, but having done the construction of these vests three years in a row I felt like it would be difficult for me to do anything stupid. In the end it turned out I was right. Suits went off without a hitch (if a little booringly) and I made it work in 30-minute increments when the baby slept.

Elijah also got a matching outfit, though I didn't want to mess with a 6-week old by forcing him into a vest. Instead I sewed a tie to the front of a onesie, and I made a coordinating pair of easy pants, also from Sewing for Boys, without pockets or too much fuss.

Leah holding LyeLye, who is sporting an orange tie

dapper baby

Oh, and both PowPows got new suits, with a simplified pants pattern this year. The pants were made in one piece as opposed to three, but I made up for it with complicated ties. The ties took me longer than the pants together, and I have ideas next year to simplify the process, if I can remember sewing lessons from one year to another, which is questionable.

I was pretty pleased with my ability to get stuff done, and I went to bed on Saturday night bursting with my own hubris. The suits were done, the house was clean, and I had fancy organic chocolate bunnies on the table in their hand-woven Easter baskets.

Zion in his Easter suit holding his basket

ready for egg hunt action

On Sunday morning however I learned that no amount of prep-work can make my life okay if my children, like, don't behave.

Zion woke up on the wrong side of several beds. He wouldn't eat, he ripped Harvey's artwork off the wall, he threw a decorated easter egg on the ground smashing it to pieces, and he refused to put his suit on screaming, "I DON'T LIKE YOU EASTER! GO AWAY EASTER!"

Meanwhile Harvey radiated gladness, cackling when he saw the bunny and begging me to button up his vest. That's why I have multiple children, I guess. One to tell me that the things I care about matter, and the other to assure me that I'll NEVER earn his love, NEVER EVER, so I shouldn't even bother trying.

And a third to make me so distracted with poop and puke that I can't get emotionally invested in the reactions of the older two. Altogether we make quite a family.

the five of us in our Easter finery, kind of looking at the camera and kind of smiling

family portrait: the best we're going to do for now

more

happy Patriots Day

an American flag

oh say

Marathon Monday for some, "huh?" for others; but today was Patriots Day for us! We went to a parade. More narrative—and variety of photos—later, but here are some images of us being patriotic.

We all got new little flags.

Zion, in a sun hat, holding a small American flag

having and holding

Harvey carried lots of supplies... most of the way.

Harvey with flag and backpack

marching along

Even LyeLye got in on the action.

Elijah lying in Leah's lap holding an American flag

the littlest patriot

It was a Patriotic time all around.

Harvey, Zion, and Nathan comparing their small flags to a big one

just like the big one


more

outing recap

It seems like all I can manage these days is posting contentless pictures. Not that that's a bad thing, necessarily: it means we've been doing things worth photographing, and also not spending too much time in front of the computer. On the other hand, I like writing. And the life of frantic and exhausted business is sometimes a hard one. But I don't let business stop me from doing fun things!

Harvey and Zion climbing up a wooded hillside with sun coming through the trees

mountaineers

Thursday morning the boys and I headed out to check out a garden plot we might be able to farm this summer. It looked good, but examining it took only two minutes; hardly a proper outing; so we filled out the trip with some woodsy exploring. The hard part was finding a way into the woods, but once we managed that we had a very pleasant walk of about a mile through an interesting boggy woods. The boys are starting to trust me when I say that, wherever we happen to wander, I'll be able to get us back home. They do still ask, though.

Then today we drove over to Lexington to take in some early Patriots Day festivities. The Army Old Guard reenactors were in town, and we enjoyed the show once Zion was convinced that they weren't shooting at us, nor would they come too close.

some US army reenactors firing their guns

boom

Leah stayed home on the first occasion to talk the the midwives and confirm that Elijah is growing at a tremendous rate, and on the second to clean the house for the big party tomorrow. Despite appearances, I do have some responsibilities, and we do do some things together. But not in the last couple days!

more

lost and found: on PowPow and loving things

Last night we lost Harvey's PowPow. I had spent an hour sewing two very minuscule ties, one for each of Harvey and Zion's PowPow dolls, and when it came time to fit the elastic we could only find Zion's Powey. It was getting close to bed time, so I assured Harvey I'd look around the house. The boys went to bed and I looked. And looked and looked and looked.

I found an overdue library book under the couch. I found A LOT of little legos. I didn't find PowPow.

Even thought I was pretty sure he came home from Whole Foods, I went to bed a little panicked.

I spend more time panicking about PowPow then Harvey ever does. Dan makes fun of me, Harvey doesn't care that much, but if I lose track of PowPow it's like we're at DEFCON 5. I like to say it's because I'm the mother and it's my job to keep track of things. It's my job to protect my child from emotional pain.

But that's not even true. It should be his job to keep track of his things, especially if he's going to cart them everywhere all over the world for heaven's sake. And it shouldn't be my job to shield him from emotional trauma. How is that a way to teach him resiliency? How could that prepare him for life?

In truth I'm using PowPow to try to fix my own "issues."

When I was four I lost my favorite lovey, a stuffed bear named teddy. We were driving to New York to visit my grandparents and I had to bring teddy along. Of course, there were a lot of other things I wanted to bring along too: my magnetic writing pad, a dozen books, five other stuffed animals whose names I couldn't remember, along with some random shit I picked off the floor of my bedroom. I walked down the hall with a huge paper bag filled to bursting. My mother frowned and remarked forebodingly "that looks like a lot to keep track of."

I remember the big paper bag at my feet in the car. My toys and books and games spilling out everywhere. Candyland game pieces rolling under the seats. I had everything I could ever imagine wanting.

At some point between Massachusetts and New York I opened the door and teddy fell out. I didn't even realize with all that mess on the floor of the car. Too much visual clutter. I never saw teddy again.

Of course, for a four-year-old this was devastating, but doubly so because I had no one to blame but myself. My mother had frowned at that bag of toys and washed her hands of the matter. It was all on me.

It was my greed that made me lose teddy.

And so now as an adult I keep a careful watch of the toys, the precious ones, while secretly culling the things I can't stand. I walk around with a trash-bag when the kids are out, clearing the visual clutter, as if disposing of things will somehow save me from my own sin of greed. I think of this as a spiritual act, something called simplicity, when in reality it is a hege against my own fear of chaos, of uncertainty, of loss. This is a fucked-up version of minimalism, I know, where I have fewer things not to dis-attach from things, but because certain place-holder things are impossibly SUPER DUPER IMPORTANT.

Meanwhile, greed is something I can't stand in my children. When Harvey tries to steal Zion's dessert, or hoard all the trains, or tell me what he wants for HIS birthday, I turn into some kind of monster nun. "GREED IS A SIN!" I scream. "I WILL NOT HAVE THIS DISGUSTING SIN IN MY HOME!"

Emotional clutter.

So last night, after cleaning the downstairs and not finding anything, I prayed.

God, I said, forgive me for losing teddy. Forgive me for my own greed. And I pray that you'll protect Harvey's heart. Thank you for making him not like me. Thank you for making him him able to move on, to deal with loss, to be a person who doesn't ascribe human emotions to inanimate objects such that he feels a responsibility to them because he has trouble dealing with responsibility to real people.

This morning Dan found PowPow. He was outside on the lawn.

I imagine a magical room where the toys change every day, a heaven shaped after the play space at Whole Foods. In this heaven I sit peacefully and watch my kids play. They play with abandon. They see the toys there, the toys that are new each time they enter, and they love them wildly and passingly. They enjoy the shit out of each toy until it's gone. They enjoy them more even, more violently and more freely, knowing that none of the toys really belongs to them. Knowing that in a day they will be gone.

Holy crap, that is a metaphor for life, isn't it?

where he belongs

Today on Good Friday may we all love our little ones in their little ties. For as long as they get to be little. For as long as we get to love them.

more

this moment

Harvey and Zion in winter clothes looking in the door of the chicken coop

winter reprise

A moment from the week.