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Two kids are better than one

Zion is four weeks old today, and it seems like the time has passed rather effortlessly. When people ask me how I'm doing with two children, mostly I say "AWESOME!" Really, except for the fact that I haven't vacuumed the upstairs since the morning my water broke, and it's taking me more than a little while to get the food shopping schedule under control other than that I'm having a great time. I love being the mother of two.

Once when I was in college I had this awful migraine headache for like three days. I couldn't stand up, I couldn't even see straight. So I went to the health center and they told me it was a tension headache from stress. Then they gave me a shot in my butt. Literally, they gave me a shot of something in my butt cheek, I don't know what it was but I wish I did because I would totally buy it on the street. Because as soon as I got it I immediately fell asleep, and when I woke up my headache was gone. Gone! It was the most incredible feeling ever. I went from complete debilitating pain to totally lighter-than-air normal in what felt like the time it takes to clap your hands. It was amazing. Anyway, that's what it felt like to have a second child. It instantly killed my two-year parenting stress headache.

Look, I think I've been a pretty good mother to Harvey. I've tried to give him freedom to figure stuff out, make mistakes, get woefully dirty, pour water all over everything, break things, see animals, and interact with lots and lots of books. When other parents at the playground shoo their tots away from "big kid things" I give Harvey a hand to climb up the slide. But I have been woefully bad at giving him emotional space. I have loved him so big and so intently that I have held on rather tightly. This came through on issues such as co-sleeping and nursing. He needed a big-boy bed a month before he got one, and even then I cried and cried that I wasn't ready. He needed to learn how to put himself to sleep 6 months before I decided I could stand to hear him whine alone for 5 minutes. He needed to ween at 18 months and I should have given the opportunity then. But it was just too hard for me to let go.

Because what if the worst thing happened and he didn't show me every second that love me? Now I see that kids aren't supposed to love you like that. That's what a marriage is for. Kids are just kids.

When Harvey was an only child, the importance of our relationship rivaled that of mine and Dan's. Then Zion was born it ended the tyranny of our two dueling relationships. Suddenly it felt like Dan and I had KIDS. Together. Together we're parenting them (and not, like, dating them). I had been trying and failing to force myself into this model before, but somehow when Zion was born it just clicked.

Zion's birth seems to have re-balanced our family in a good way. It's impossible for Dan and me to fight over who's doing the most childcare, for example, because with two children we're both doing 100% child care for one of them all of the time. Zion's presence doesn't make regular life more stressful, apart from some added difficulty with vacuuming and leaving the house. In fact, because I'm attempting to do less and asking Harvey to do more for himself, it seems that Zion's arrival has made all of us more confident, more relaxed, and less tantrumy throughout the day. (On a parenting scale, of course, where stress and tantrums are a manner of scale.)

Anyway, for all these reasons I highly recommend becoming a mother of two. Happy one-month-when-counted-in-weeks birthday, Zion. I'm very very glad that you're here.


my family of boys, then and now

Sunday morning Dan came down the stairs for church wearing his blue collared shirt, and I noticed that Zion was wearing a collared shirt too, reminiscent of this photo of Dan and Harvey.

dan with baby harvey at church

2 cute boys

So I said, "Hey, you guys should take a picture!"

boys photo - trial 1

Can't you just stand here for like one second!

Unfortunately, toddlers turn out to be difficult to photograph.

boys photo 2

oh I give up.

Oh well. You get the idea.


can only think in lists today...

Things that are making me happy today:

- Cooler air!
- The view of our bright pink rhododendron bush, as seen from the hammock.
- The smell of my sweet baby's head.
- The unabashed cuddle of a big boy when it's his turn alone on my lap.
- How extreme exhaustion makes it feel okay to be lazy.

Things that are stressing me out today:

- Books with dust jackets that make it impossible to hold and turn the pages with one hand.
- Empty dust jackets on the floor masquerading as books.
- The oven all reaching into my back pocket for my wallet (only lights half the time, wtf?)
- How hard it is to vacuum upstairs when nobody sleeps at the same time.
- Too many things scheduled for every single weekend in June.

On balance, cooler weather and happy babies beat out messy house today.


It looks so perfect on TV!

Every time I have a baby I start to think about polygamy. Like, sort of wistfully. The company, the camaraderie, someone else to help meet the needs of the household. Doesn't it sound just lovely?

The only problem, Dan reminds me, is that more wives often mean more children, and there goes the helpfulness factor out the window. A maid might be more effective. But so much less fun...

Seriously. If we lived in Utah and had a much bigger house, and if we had that whole "income" issue figured out, I'd totally be cruising for a second wife. I'd want her to be sweet and good at ethnic cooking and perhaps infertile.

Maybe there are other means to an end we could think about that don't involve complex sleeping schedules. A farm blogger I read recently mentioned a work swap she's doing with a neighbor. Twice a month her neighbor comes over to help her with 2-person projects, and twice a month she goes to her neighbor's farm for the same. It's much easier to insulate a barn or clear a new garden when there are two people working on it. I would love such an arrangement with stuff around my house. I could use a day's worth of two-people's labor to organize all the toys in Harvey's room, de-clutter my upstairs bathroom, clean out the fridge, and hang about a billion things on the walls. And that's small potatoes compared with all the work outside that Dan asks me to help with, and then I do for approximately 4 and a half minutes before the baby needs nursing. But then again, how could I return the favor to a helpful neighbor if I have a baby that needs nursing every 4 and a half minutes? (He doesn't actually need nursing that much, but there's always SOMETHING that's an emergency every 4 and a half minutes.)

What I need, you see, is a second wife. Or a clone. Or a robot.


stitching the moments together

Harvey went to hug Dan goodbye this morning, got within a foot of him, and threw up. When you start the day by washing a rug and a couch, it really puts the normal laundry level in perspective. Meanwhile Zion is leaking every other diaper since we switched him to cloth (why does such a big baby have such scrawny legs?) and I really need a few minutes alone in the sewing room to stitch together some more onesies. They're really not that hard, all you need is an hour alone to yourself. Which is to say HAHAHAHAHA!

I made this onesie last week while Dan very kindly took the two boys for a walk in the stroller. Since I cut up an existing t-shirt, I leveraged laziness by using the existing hems everywhere but the bottom, which I left raw. (Hey, it's knit, it's not gonna fray.) I used velcro for the closure because, um, I have a lot of velcro on hand and no snaps. You know what? It works. I have a lot more t-shirts that could be converted to onesies this week if only babies would deign to be put down and older children would keep their breakfast inside their tummies. Which is to say, in my fantasy land. In my fantasy land there are a lot of handmade clothes.

At least now everyone has their own panda bear shirt.


trash clothes

Right after I swore yesterday that I would never find time to make another onesie... I made another onesie. All it took was a long Harvey nap and breaking the cardinal rule of parenting: never wear your baby while operating a rotary cutter.

It's a little messy at the edges, but Zion will only sleep while being held this week so I had to cut and sew the whole thing with him in the sling. Surprisingly easier than trying to unload the dishwasher while wearing the sling; that's a friggin nightmare! The subject for another post, though...

The material came from a men's t-shirt that came free with our trash can. No joke, Simple Human is a trash-can maker and they threw in a free shirt with Zion's diaper pail. I even used their catchy slogan for the back of the outfit:

If only grown up shirts were as easy to throw together as onsies, I too would have something clean to wear.


Tyler too

Having two kids under two doesn't seem like a lot of work, really; or at least, it doesn't seem hard. But it takes a fair amount of time, and so does keeping the garden alive and making dinner and applying for jobs for next year. Writing blog posts too, actually, but these days that's fairly far down my list of priorities. As you have seen! So are all sorts of other projects, including writing all the books I've been telling my students I'm going to write.

Because there are, let me tell you, some books that need to be read. The fifth graders are studying the presidents ("studying" in the loosest possible terms: they're each reading about a president and preparing a mostly context-free poster) and there is a definite lack of grade-level material available for their use. Sure, you can find plenty about the well-known presidents—Washington, Lincoln, maybe even FDR—but what about the fifth grader who wants to learn about John Tyler? The biography at whitehouse.gov, the approved source for the project, is all well and good if you already have a firm grasp of the platforms of the Whigs and Democrats in the mid-1800s and know all about the dispute over the national bank, but neither of those feature prominently in the fifth-grade social studies curriculum.

But John Tyler is worth studying, surely, if only just to fill out the time at the end of the year when it's not worth starting another new unit. So my job is clear: I need to prepare appropriate John Tyler material for students at the fifth grade level, and disseminate on the internet where it can be used and enjoyed by students all across the United States and at American schools around the world. As soon as we get that fence built.


mean length of utterance

It has been suggested that Harvey might be destined for a career as a sports broadcaster. He talks a lot, and more, he offers a constant running commentary on what he's doing. It's mostly in fairly short fragments, but the last few months he's been coming out out with some longer phrases; and we as competitive, data-driven parents are naturally counting how many words he can string together. Currently our data set for the language skills of almost-two-year-olds is basically him, but considering that the questionnaire for his two-year checkup asked if he was making two-word sentences yet we figure he may be a little ahead of the curve.

The new record comes from his comments about Richard Scarry's Great Big Schoolhouse, a terrible book to read aloud but a great one for him to look through himself, now that he's into that sort of thing. Mostly he just points to the characters and exclaims excitedly that "that cat from Ollie's puer, that bunny from Ollie's puer, that pig that pig from Ollie's puer" (puer being, naturally, computer; he occasionally watches the Richard Scarry tv show at his friend Ollie's house) but he's also branched out into describing the scenes being depicted. "That's a doggie givin ice cream to a cat," he told me this evening, for a total of either nine or ten morphemes (depending on whether ice cream counts as a compound word for him or not; I'm definitely counting the correctly deployed contraction as two!).

That tops the previous record-holder, "sit in mama bunny's lap read books", which is of course a description of the penultimate color spread in his perennial favorite, Runaway Bunny. You see that literature is often a topic of discussion in the squibix household, but not exclusively; there was another good one about Rascal scaring the ducks that I can't recall exactly, but I'm sure Leah will add it in the comments if I ask nicely.

Of course, I don't want to suggest that long sentences like this are the norm; or at least, that his long sentences aren't nearly all just breathless run-ons. Like how he described this afternoon's fun activities: "James jump in the pool, and Harvey in the pool, and Grandma on the chair and watch, and watch and watch and watch...". Running commentary, basically, or a review of recent events. So look for him in the broadcast booth in, what, 20 year or so.


technical difficulties

Our apologies for the recent technical difficulties we've been having with our SQL connection. Unfortunately, the problem is (as far as I can tell) beyond our capacity as hosting customers to fix, and it's intermittent enough that the support folks are denying that anything's wrong. If you're reading this you know that at least half the time the site is working, so if you get the SQL connection error message you can try again in, oh, 15 minutes or so. Know that it's just as annoying to us here trying to write blog posts as it is for you trying to read them! I hope and trust that everything will be fixed soon.

this is all I can write about today.

Zion is on outfit number 7 today. SEVEN! I am on outfit 3. Harvey is still on his first, albeit without the pants. We are like a lady Gaga act from a parallel universe of baby.

I'm settling into my new reality of washing and folding two bags of diapers every single day. It's no sweat really unless you have plans to ever leave your house. Baby clothes can go every otherday, as long as nothing precious like the bjorn seat or moby carrier gets soiled. Today I'm on my second load of Zion clothes already. Is this a boring thing to write about? I have two other blog posts started in front of my, but the reality this month is that laundry IS MY ENTIRE LIFE.

Well, not entirely true. We can't forget about vacuuming, can we? The two go hand in hand in surprising ways. For example, the other day while I was changing Zion this is what Harvey did to the kitchen.

That's corn starch, not flour. You can imagine it got a little sticky in the clean up.

I do understand why people say "Enjoy every minute of it! They grow up so fast!" It's for the same reason people say "Natural labor is not so bad!" Memory is a funny thing. Graciously selective.


we're (sort of) back

Hey hey, the site is working again... minus 13 days of updates. Oops.

On a related note, we're looking into changing our hosting provider!

trials and travails

So I've been having a bit of a difficult time over the past couple days. Obviously, the website has been having problems, and that's been a great trial to me; aside from how much I missed communicating with all of you via these pages (or, more commonly lately, watching Leah communicate) I also use squibix.net to record all sorts of things you don't care about: the weather, books I read, what's going on in the garden, and things like that. We had some really interesting weather the last few days, and I couldn't write it down... and now I don't remember it! Even worse, while things are now up and running again the site has apparently been reverted to how it looked on June 1 or 2, so all the updates we made since then have disappeared.

I was initially pretty sad to lose the blog posts, but then it occurred to me that they're all still there in RSS readers the world round—and, most pertinently, in the two RSS readers on my computer here. Even better, all your comments were also saved, though in that case I think only on my computer; I believe that I'm the only person anywhere in the world who subscribes to our comments feed. So even if the hosting company can't get their act together to repair the damage (I'm giving em another 24 hours or so), I'll be able to replace the missing posts and comments.

I was especially frustrated by the timing of the outage, because I've been putting my personal website on job applications, but I consoled myself with the knowledge that no one is reading those applications anyways (see the opening sentence of this post).

On top of all that, my bicycle was stolen from my workplace on Monday. I walked out at the end of the day and boy was I surprised to find it missing. Many people did many nice things to help console me in my loss—most usefully offering to lend me bicycles, more bicycles that I could ever hope to ride (and now I can say I've ridden a real single-speed; thanks Janice!). While not really holding out any hope that I'd ever see the poor machine, my prize possession, again, I went through the motions and filed a police report as well as making some very attractive posters designed to guilt the thief into giving the bike back to me, should he happen to return to the scene of the crime and see one of them.

Well, today the site works and I got the bicycle back. The thief rode it a couple miles and then dumped it in the woods, probably frustrated by the incredibly poor tuning on the derailleurs and the lack of adequate brake response. The police claim to have found it, but since I know for a fact that cops never go into the woods (proven at the afterparty following Leah's senior prom) it must have been someone else that stumbled upon it and reported it to them. Nevertheless, they were very kind and I was happy to get the call that I could come down and retrieve my wayward machine. Everyone asked me if it was damaged at all when I got it back, and I told them that it wasn't any more damaged that it had been while still in my possession.

So anyways, that's two things fixed at least in part (although I'm still looking into other hosting companies; not only did the recent difficulties not fill me with confidence in our current host, we're also continuing to have some problems with our email). They say things come in threes; maybe I'll finally get an interview somewhere next? Please?


life can be a bear...

As Dan mentioned yesterday, we went through a rather tough patch recently. In addition to Dan's woes, Harvey was sick for a a week while Zion peed through an outfit every twenty minutes. At one point I held up a basket said "Harvey, can you just vomit directly onto the clean laundry? It would save me the trouble of putting it away." And I don't even want to talk about the diaper and baby clothes laundry... the realization that 12 onesies is not enough onesies for 1.5 days... goodness.

At dinner on Monday night we sat down to pray and Dan took a deep breath and said "Lord, we throw ourselves on your mercy." I burst out laughing but upon reflection it felt about right.

Praise be to God, mercy seems to be arriving. Harvey is finally back to his happy healthy self, and while Zion is going through his own bout of intestinal distress, it seems blessed that at least they didn't both do it to me at the same time. Meanwhile Harvey has been delightful, reminding me that I did give birth to lovely little gentlemen, not whailing demons. And I have managed to routinize washing 6 loads of laundry a day. You know, as long as I don't have to ever buy food. It's a process.

It seems to go in waves, whether life is delightful or unbearable. So much depends on the weather and whether there are naps. Still, as the rhyme says, when it's good it's very very good.

Harvey and Zion in their panda bear shirts on the hammock

my bears

Today on the hammock, my two future animal rights activists, before Harvey spit strawberry juice down his shirt and Zion had a major poopy leak that also took the bjorn out of commission. Oh well, that's what cameras are for.


baby comparison

Who does Zion look like? Well, more like Harvey than anyone else. But not EXACTLY like Harvey. Here's the side-by-side comparison of my two babies at 5 weeks:

harvey at 5 weeks

zion at 5 weeks

On account of being much plumper at birth, Zion's cheeks are the dominant feature of his face, unlike Harvey who's cheeks don't reach quite far enough to remove those I-hate-sleep circles from under his eyes. Zion also seems to wear a concerned look about his eyebrows; it's present in almost all of Zion's photos but none of Harvey's. As a toddler, though, Harvey knits his eyebrows together plenty, so maybe Zion's getting expressive concern from his mother genetically, whereas Harvey's is a learned trait.

It's funny how they're personalities are completely different. Zion is mostly easy-going and complacent as a baby, whereas Harvey was, er, more vocal in his discomfort. Zion loves snuggling and being held sideways whereas Harvey hated cuddles and only wanted to be held upright. But who knows what that means for future personality? Harvey is a fantastic kid and pretty complacent as toddlers run. I keep looking at Zion and saying "Who ARE you, little guy?" He doesn't know any better than I do the answer to that question.


it's a wrap

I am officially a member of the tribe now.

Zion in the Moby

fresh as a daisy at 5:30am

Unlike Harvey who was a bear to put to sleep but slept solidly after he went down, Zion is a fitful sleeper and during the day with all the toddler noise in the house it seems that he can only sleep well while being held by his mama. Not an easy thing given the aforementioned toddler. I wore the sling a lot, which Zion loves, but I was getting cramps in one shoulder from the lopsided weight bearing. So I called my mom and asked her to pick me up a Moby wrap. This brings the number of branded baby carriers in our house to 4: bjorn, ergo, sling, and moby. For people who say that babies don't need a lot of stuff, that's a little embarassing. The truth is, they DON'T need a lot of stuff, but man oh man do you just keep buying stuff until you find the RIGHT stuff.

So anyway, the moby. It works really well for carrying a fussy baby, if you don't mind looking like a ginormous hippy.

The concept of attachment parenting has hurt me more than helped me in my parenting journey. (did I just type parenting journey? I guess I am a hippy.) When Harvey was a baby I felt like a terrible mother whenever I put him down. So I waited until Dan could hold him to do absolutely anything... fold laundry, go to the bathroom, eat. As a consequence I felt totally trapped, panicked, and hungry all the time. I didn't really get over the feeling until Harvey got older and more independent naturally. With Zion I've tried to re-wire my brain to think logically; holding him is good, but so are clean dishes, so holding him and then putting him down to wash dishes is good too.

I am a little wary of touting the promises of babywearing. Every how-to-tie-a-wrap video ends with the reassurance like: "Now you're baby is tied to you and you're ready to go about your day doing work around the house or whatever you need to do!" Awesome... if your house work only involves picking up with one hand things objects that are already at eye-level. Don't try to get anything off a top shelf, bend down to pick something up, or do a task that requires bringing two hands together, like washing dishes. Two hands free is rather a mis-nomer if they can only come together a foot in front of your body.

Still, I've gotten rather good at the grand plie toy pick-up (the baby's legs need to swing over your midline, that's why you can't bend down like regular or you'll smush them) and it must be toning my butt in the process! And most importantly, Zion isn't crying because he desperately needs to nap and can't.

Harvey has gotten a little jealous from time to time about the baby wearing, and he often asks to go up in "Harvey's born" which he also calls "brown thingy"... I have indeed carried him in the ergo carrier from time to time this month (Harvey's confusing the brand names when he calls it his bjorn, but I'll let that slide) but mostly I just say no. It's a whine that is not easily sated. The only time Harvey got as much time as he wanted in the carrier and voluntarily asked to get down was when I walked the dog pushing Zion in the stroller and holding Harvey in the carrier. That was 40 minutes and 2 miles, and I prefer not to repeat the feat. At home, 10 minutes in the carrier does not fulfill any desire for Harvey, and only makes him whine for it more. So no uppy for you, mister. Which is all to say that these days I make my decisions on how to love my children based on minimizing the sound of whining and maximizing my hands-free time washing dishes. At least it's a method I can stick with!



Harvey is two years old today.

harvey next to his birthday bunting

"DFD say Happy Birthday To Harvey?"

We started the day off with a breakfast of Harvey's choosing: oatmeal and spaghetti followed by a piece of birthday cake. Then we packed up for a big outing. I gave Harvey the choice between Drumlin farm and the zoo, and he picked zoo without hesitation, adding "see amimals? no amimals in dere? amimals all gone? cage empty?" Indeed, the challenge or trying to spy animals in re-created habitats is that more than 50% of the time they're hiding and not visible. Still, to Harvey pointing out an empty cage seems to be half the excitement.

We did indeed see many empty cages, but we also saw lots of birds, a moose, and a cougar that wasn't doing so well. When we walked up to its enclosure the cougar was pacing rather non-majestically, when suddenly he crouched over and threw up.

"Just like our dog at home, huh Harvey?" I remarked.
"Dat amimal few up?" he said.
"Yeah, he threw up."
"onna gas?" Harvey said pointing.
"Yes, on the grass."
Harvey paused for a second.
"Mama, get a towel? wipe it?"

No sweet heart. I don't have to wipe the throw-up when we're at the zoo.

After three house of walking around and around and around with two children and three hundred pounds of diapers, we finally called it a day and drove home to our own animal who needed walking. By that time Dan was almost home from work, so we waited for him and took a family outing to the local ice cream store!

harvey eating ice cream on his birthday

"go to ice cream store and rascal come too and mama and baby Zion come too?"

And since the play ground is on the walk home, it would be cruel to our little birthday boy if we didn't stop.

harvey climbing up to the slide

up up up!

Since he's two now we let him climb all the way up to the top of the big slide, but once there he tested the wind conditions and decided he didn't really want to go down by himself after all. Luckily dada was there to help him down.

harvey sliding down the slide with dada


I don't know if it comes through from the fact that I gladly walked seventeen thousand miles today carrying snacks and necessities and another 11 pound child, but I really love this kid. Keep on growing up, my big boy. You only get awesomer every day!



We're staying up late to celebrate midsummer. I made bread and cookies and Leah is hard at work on a shirt for herself. Things are much more relaxing than they were this time last year, except when I think about the fact that we haven't yet managed to go strawberry picking and I remember that I'm very concerned about our future jam security. It's on the schedule for Thursday morning; lets hope the supplies in the fields will last that long.

But, as I say, except for that things were wonderfully calm and pleasant here this evening. Harvey and I played catch outside—he worked on getting his catching hands down by his belly button instead of right under his chin, a position that caused me some concern for his nose and teeth. I only hit him on the head once, which is a good thing since we were using a baseball. I guess Zion was doing a little fussing inside, but hey, that's what babies do, right?

Outside is, of course, beautiful this time of year. The only possible downside is the insect situation—the mosquitoes and flies are pretty startlingly numerous, and bother Leah so much that she bought a big sprayer and some liquified garlic from the internet. It hasn't been applied yet, but once she gets out there to spray we'll let you know how well it works. Harvey and I mostly don't mind the bugs, and you can even say that they have their advantages.

I guess the firefly flashing right over our front steps, while exciting, doesn't qualify as the sort of insect we're talking about, but even the flies provide their amusements. Rascal is firmly in Leah's camp vis-a-vis biting pests, and the flies especially drive him to distraction by circling around and buzzing in his keen doggy ears. This sends him into a frenzy of chomping and leaping, which this evening amused Harvey so much he was literally doubled over laughing, holding his stomach. I don't know that I've ever seen that outside of a cartoon. I wish I'd had a video camera on the pair of them, and I also wish I could communicate to Harvey the nuanced understanding that, while it's ok to laugh at Rascal for flailing around after bugs, Mama is not similarly fair game.

Tomorrow is the last day of the 2010-2011 school year in most of Lexington. As usual I don't know where I'm going to be next year, but with sweet evenings like this I can ignore that and look forward to a few months of summer fun.


it's not a party it's an intimate get-together

a half-eaten pink birthday cake

looks like a birthday

We celebrated Harvey's birthday last Saturday. Unlike last year we didn't make a big production of it: it was strictly a family-only affair. The highlight of the afternoon, as far as I'm concerned, was the cake. I made it and it looked and even tasted like a real cake, just like one from a mix! Harvey approved:

Harvey taking a big bite of birthday cake

bad photo, good cake

I should also note that he easily blew out the two candles on his first try.

Grandma Beth took charge of the present-opening part of the entertainments, so we got to sit back and relax as Harvey opened a new potty, camping chair, scooter, and train set. Also french fries and bubble stuff which, honestly, would alone enough to satisfy him that birthdays are totally awesome. Which isn't to say that he didn't appreciate the other stuff!

Harvey looking at his new trains

The possibilities of each new item are very much still bring explored.

Harvey ready to take off on his new scooter

stand onna scooter


summer vacation?

On this rainy first day of summer vacation Dan managed to pick eight quarts of strawberries while I did some knitting, finished reading the book of Ezekiel and sewed a vinyl bib for Harvey. In the evening we folded 25 diapers, made and ate a big chicken dinner, and now we're just getting set to mix up a big batch of jam. Plus I got in a long run! (okay, so long these days is only 4 miles, but I'm starting from a big fat hiatus.) Summer vacation is rather exhausting! But fun. very very fun.

validating my existence

I left Dan alone with the kids for over an hour this morning, first so that I could run and then immediately following so that I could shower and drive down to town hall to pick up Zion's birth certificate. When I came back Zion was sleeping and Harvey was on the couch playing with Dan's iPhone.

"I'm going upstairs for a little bit" Dan said. "I need a break. From Harvey."

And then he paid me the best compliment a stay-at-home mother could ever receive. "I don't know how you do it all day."

As Charlie Sheen would say, it's called winning.

mobby ruby and chicken

We are in a bit of an imaginary hippy race with a couple out in Ithaca. The gentleman is a childhood friend of Dan's, and their Christmas card always seems to one-up us in terms of alternative parenting. Two years age the shot of their three kids featured one boy naked and the other wearing a dress. Add this to their pictures of farm animals and we're clearly falling behind. They also added to their family recently, and our "born at home" birth announcement crossed in the mail with their "born at home on the farm." poo.

Anyway, I wanted to make something for baby Reuben, and I thought a recycled sock toy would be just the hippy thing. So one day while the children napped I whipped together this bunny-type creature.

striped sock-rabbit posing in the grass


When Harvey got up from his nap, however, he snatched the toy still in process right out of my hand. "Das mine?" he said.

"No, that's for baby Reuben."

Harvey looked at the toy again. "Mobby Ruby," he said definitively. "Das Havey's?"

Then as Dan and I both patiently tried to explain how the bunny was going in the mail to baby Reuben, Harvey ran around the house hugging the toy singing "Mobby Ruby, Mobby Ruby, das Havey's!"

And in the end, I had to let him keep it because it's the first toy he named.

So while mobby ruby moved into his new home on Harvey's bed, I made a new toy for a present, this time keeping each step in the process hidden away in a bag. Yesterday Dan went on a Harvey-less errand to mail it off, a new chicken for their farm.

the stuffed chicken roosting atop the cucumber trelis

bawk bawk

In retrospect, this was probably more appropriate to begin with, and I'm kind of glad I didn't end up sending a pair of Dan's old socks.

I bought an online pattern which is how I roll for 3D stuffed toys. It's worth it to me not to spend 5 hours pattern drafting, although I think some people really like that kind of thing. For me it's enough to think about how I'll alter the pattern next time I make it, which means there is probably a stuffed chicken or several in Harvey's future.

Oh, and a baby chick.

the little stuffed chick and her green egg

tap tap and crack

Although one stolen toy is enough for him right now.


6am conversation

Harvey: "It's rainin onna birdies?"
Mama: "Yes, it's raining on the birdies. It's raining on everything that lives outside."
Harvey: "Onna famingos?"
Mama: "Yes, on the flamingos too."
Harvey: "It's rainin onna famingos."

applying myself

Job hunting can be kind of addictive. At least, that's my excuse for still being up at half-past eleven on a Monday evening. Sure, I'm on vacation now, but I vowed that I'd get to bed early in order to be able to enjoy the sunny part of the summer to the fullest (and my family would like to have me awake and alert to do chores with them too). But there are still new jobs being posted, so I apply and apply. Seven more tonight, bringing the total to over 40 applications sent in, some of them for multiple positions. No bites yet.

I heard from an administrator that he got 400 applicants for one position earlier this year. I figure that means that if I apply to 400 openings myself I'm a shoe-in for the last one. A tenth of the way there!

Of course, that's only true until December when the next crop of ed school graduates gets their degrees and the game resets. How many new elementary teaching licenses to you thing Massachusetts issues each year?


Harvey-ese evolving

Long gone are the days when Harvey said "Gi-gup" (origin unknown) in place of "take this." Now when he wants to be rid of a cup he says "Mama want it" and holds the thing out at arm's length.

For politeness sake, he has also stopped saying "moof" (or move) to everything in his way. He now says "coo-me" as in "coo-me table, coo-me dis." At the beginning I found this adorable, since it came at the same time as "thanks" and a well timed "thanks mama" can mean the difference between a rotten morning and a lovely one. Now, however, "Coo-me mama" is something I hear a bit too frequently, and it is often answered with "Excuse YOU! I was sitting here first!" On the other hand, I did crack a rather large smile the other day when we were downstairs doing the laundry and Harvey, in an effort to reach the detergent and pour it all over the floor, looked at the baskets in the way and said, "cu-me mama's 'aundy."

Some other phrases reveal exciting new cognitive developments for Harvey, like the ability to make similar comparisons. Dis-similar comparisons came months ago, like when he would hold a lego and a duplo and say "little one - big big one!" But the other day Harvey put one foot up on a rock and said "Havey like statue man!" Impressive. It's less exciting when used as a bedtime stalling tactic, though. When Zion was about two weeks old Harvey lay awake in bed sending out all the regular stalling lures: "I'm Awake! Mama I'm awake! Havey wan some wadah!" when he boldly shouted out "I'm cryin like baby Zion, WAAAAAA!"

I told this story to his grandmother, by the way, and she said "oooh. poor baby. Did you go in and hug him?" And I was like, "Pssh! Or course not! He's supposed to be going to sleep!" Distance from parenting breeds sympathy with the children, apparently.

When we aren't too exhausted that it's irritating, Harvey says some pretty cute things while he's yelling himself to sleep "Dada, what's happening?" and "It's time for bangin' a drum!" and sometimes just "I'm all done!"

No Harvey, it's 8pm. I'm all done.

We should be commended that the exclamation Harvey turns to these days is "Oh my goodness!" or "Oh my gracious!" and not something stronger. Although he has turned to saying "That was easier" about everything, and I have no idea what he's trying to say by that.

But I have confidence that one day all will be revealed. Harvey was talking about "deena dina doony" for a long time before we realized my mother showed him a cartoon called "Teeny Tiny Tony." Really, it was cuter when we though he was making it up.


missing post update

The lost posts from the first half of the month are back, as are your wonderful comments. Yay. The photos from that period are still missing, but will be restored presently. The only thing is that the post and comment IDs have changed, so if you happen to have bookmarked or linked to any of them (haha, as if) you will need to update those links.

As to what happened in the first place, I'll tell you someday over a beer. It's too hot and frustrating to go into it now!

it's easy being green

At least, it is this time of year. The weather has been pretty good for the garden, and it shows. Peas are going grand.

a few of the sugar snap peas

plump and sweet

We're also harvesting basil, arugula, lettuce, and raspberries; radishes, spinach, and strawberries are done.

a mass of arugula

succession planting number 2

closeup of basil

closer to pesto

(Basil has come quite a ways in a month!)

But although we're still waiting for tomatoes and peppers, not quite everything is green:

closeup of red and orange marigold flower

attractive natural insect repellent

Of course, Harvey is a great help, at least in intention. He hasn't yet pulled the peas off the trellis trying to pick one...

Harvey in the garden

in the midst of it all


a good day for jam

some finished strawberry jam in jars

another year's worth

Just under the wire June-wise, I got the strawberry jam made. And boy, is it a relief. You may recall my concern, which was briefly alloyed when I picked eight quarts of strawberries but then returned when the jam I made on Friday didn't set properly. That's what I get for trying a new recipe, and for picking berries after a couple consecutive days of rain. Fearing there wouldn't be any picking days left (and disappointed at the prices for pick-your-own: $3.00/lb is hardly worth the driving and effort) I picked up three quarts of local berries from Wilson Farms. Those, plus the leftovers I picked and left to dry out in the fridge for a week, are now eight quarts of delicious, traditional recipe, sugar-filled jam.

strawberry jam bubbling on the stove

bubble, bubble

Luckily, it was a fine day for jam cooking: which is to say, for having three pots of boiling liquid going on the stove at once. The sun was hot, but there was a wonderful breeze and we kept the house open all day to blow away the steam. Much better than the first time, lo these many years ago. (What I was doing with four boiling pots back then I have no idea.)

What I made today alone is enough to take us through until next year. In addition there's also the four and a half quarts I made on Friday using liquid pectin (for strawberry jam I usually use Sure-Jell powdered), and the five-plus quarts I made from this recipe from Food in Jars (though without the vanilla beans; I never have vanilla beans). The former eventually did set, roughly, after 48 hours or so, and the latter I will attempt to re-cook to make it something more than lemony strawberry sauce. It is not now jam.

But regardless, I have eight solid quarts. Phew. I celebrated by dining on a peanut butter and jam sandwich made with the foam skimmed from the top of the jam, which is really more like a peanut butter and strawberry-flavored sugar sandwich. Just the thing. We still have about half a jar left of last year's strawberry jam, and it'll be back to finishing that up with the next sandwich, but today had to enjoy the new.

And there's still almost a full pint of strawberries left. I guess we'll just have to eat them, you know, raw.


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