Sunday, February 28, 2010

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 59

Happiness is:
The slumbering of a baby who smiles in his sleep (if you can arrange your own slumbering with said baby - double happiness!).
A toddler in over-sized goggles.
Two toddlers straw-fighting over lunch (you know, until someone pokes an eye out).
A first carousel ride not riding a stationary animal (oh the joy of horses ascending and descending to circus music).
A fourteen-year-old in footed pink bunny pajamas, who wears them all night to make your three-year-old laugh, and seeing the two of them side-by-side in near-matching ensembles.
The sight of your husband pushing through the arrivals doors at the airport.
Two thirty-something fathers revisiting their pasts with the help of Little Debbie and an Xbox.
An almost-finished project.
A full house.

And, well, that was just the weekend. Happiness is also the following:

Lately, when Audrey is asked a question, it is not uncommon to hear her say, "As long as my mom says it's okay." I have no idea how this came about, just that the first time she did it I was a bit shocked and tickled, simultaneously. On Sunday, while eating lunch, I asked Audrey if I could have an orange slice from her plate. "Yes, as long as my dad says it's okay," she said. Hmm...

Later that day while watching Dora, Jason laid down on the couch with his head resting across Audrey's legs. She bent over, kissed the top of his head and began brushing her palm across his hair. After a few minutes she said, " Okay, I have to move now. My feet hurt."

Sunday, at church, Nathan began crying. We had the good fortune of his cries being drowned out by a hymn. "Mom, he's just singing," Audrey said.

By Monday Audrey had changed her position. As Nathan cried she said, "He's yelling in the house."
"He doesn't know the rules," I said.
"Go yell in the basement. That's the rule!" she told him.

After dinner (while he was not crying) she told him, "You are the best little brother. Best. Best. Best."

Once again, by the next day she had rethought her former position. While completing a puzzle she sang, "I don't know why God gave us a baby," not in disdain, just as if pondering if over.

She had some thinking to do about her father as well.
"What is Dad about?" she asked.
"He's your dad and my husband," I said.
"Is he my husband?"
"You don't have a husband. You have to be old like Mama to have a husband."
"Who will be my husband?" she asked.
"I don't know. I don't know if we've met him yet."
"Maybe it's Santa Claus."

Wednesday, we drove Jason to the airport. As Jason and I debated about the best route to take, Audrey said, "You guys are funny."

On the same trip she told us that Nathan was "wide asleep."

We dropped Jason in front of the departures doors and pulled away from the curb. Audrey began to complain. Apparently, the airport resembles the Children's Museum to her and she was sure she was being gypped when I told her there were no dinosaurs inside to go look at (we made this up to her on Saturday when we met up with one of her friends at the museum).

We stopped at a few stores before driving home. While shopping I asked Audrey what she wanted for dinner. "Pancakes!" she said. Later, while walking past Panera, she got upset when we didn't go in to eat.
"You told me you wanted pancakes for dinner," I said.
"They don't have pancakes?!"

Thursday, Nathan began to cry. "Don't cry. You have a big sister," Audrey said.
"You think he's crying because he wants a big sister?" I said.
"Yes. But he already has one so he don't need to cry about it."

Friday, she began playing with my belt. "I'm going to put this (the prong on the belt clamp) in this (the eyelet) because I'm a big sister that can do stuff." Then she asked for help.

Friday afternoon, we drove to the airport to pick Jason up. We saw him walk through the arrivals door and Audrey began to cry, "It's so sad he wasn't here. I missed him."
Jason crawled into the front seat and I told him what she had said. She had been fine the last two days, never mentioning being sad, and now that his meeting was over and everything was fine, she lost it, I explained. Jason laughed. "Oh no. She's just like you."

A busy week. A busy weekend. But lots and lots of happiness. Not that the entire week was one happy-fest, there were times between Wednesday and Friday (my first two nights alone with both kids) when I thought I needed a clone, or more hours in the day, or a magic potion that would shrink us to carry-on size - nights when we ate bagels for dinner. But, thank goodness for bagels with Honey Nut cream cheese. Honey Nut cream cheese. Oh happiness. Let's focus on that.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fiction Thursday: Candle Piece

Today I set up shop early: fed the baby, got in some reading (two pages), grabbed a bagel and brought the computer to a hum in hopes of beating the garbage truck, the stacks (of dishes, mail, laundry, children's books, felt), the itch and inspiration for other projects, and dates with friends. Today, before my cup is filled to teeming (no matter how wonderful that might be), here I am with more words than yesterday, well, at least a paragraph or two more.

This Fiction Thursday piece began with a focus on using sentence fragments to suspend time (no verbs = no action or tense) and a memory from my childhood of a blue candle. Ironically, I wrote this about seven years ago, before the birth of Grey's Anatomy or reemergence of the name Addie.


The final deterioration had happened in this room. It had taken less than three months. It is odd to observe, to watch your mother weaken daily in this bedroom, as if it were these four walls and not the disease taking her little by little. The cancer had begun out in the fields before she knew to wear chemical-proof goggles or a full-face respirator and rubber gloves with extended cuffs at the elbows, before she knew the heavy white canister of anhydrous ammonia she pulled between the rows of corn while soaking the soil was poison to her lungs.

The deterioration began out there, long before any of us could see it. It concluded here. Here: her bedroom with walls like the whitewash of her youth. Clean walls with no memory of sunken cheeks and shallow breaths. No leftover notes of whispers, "Poor Addie." "Any day now." Only my memories of dim blue candlelight against stark white walls. Remnants of deep shadows, dustless nightstands. My hand on her dry wrinkled palm. My ear to her wrung-out chest. The lights off, the room soundless except for sporadic labored breath. Her extinguished eyes in candlelit glow.

And now, the room radiant bright as I pull open the dresser drawers.


Hidden in the two pages of reading I snuck in this morning was this quote from E. L. Doctorow, "writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." I don't know that I see this piece as part of a novel, but regardless, I'm seeking that next pool of dark-clearing light. I'm just wondering if this time around my car doesn't need to go in reverse. Hmm...

As for that Paris bloke, rewriting out that piece (and ruminating on it a bit all day) did give me an inkling of an idea about this fellow, but I haven't sat down to experiment further yet.

I promise more light-hearted fare tomorrow. There are laughs to be shared.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Inspiration Found

It's been a brimming cup day: time for activities, hugs, projects, books, a few chores. But little time left for words. So since I have few words to share, I thought I'd invite you to check out a blog I discovered recently, Soul Aperture. It's a little bit of sanctuary. Beautiful photos. Positive words. Checking in from time to time with Christina is like coming out of the damp into the shelter of a bright, full, richly-hued umbrella. And, when she wrote on February 4th, "come as you are february," well, hers is an umbrella I'd like to be under.

Until next time, wishing you warmth, wishing you beauty, wishing you sanctuary - by the cupfuls.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Imagination Blueprints

The beginning of a long-term secret project. Good thing three-year-olds are too busy to check blogs.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Weekend Blues




Funny. (He calls this his action shot).

Filled with things that may be, whimsy

and wonder.

Sometimes the blues are oh so good.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 58

We have been treading a path back to normal since Jason's surgery, catching up: on sleep, on chores, on family time. Of course, the funny thing about normal is it's constantly changing. Just when we think we've figured something out (how to manage a trip through the grocery store, the bedtime routine, how Audrey will react to a situation), the scales tip and we find ourselves scrambling to shift our weight and regain balance. I can find no greater example than our little girl, who is no longer so little, who daily surprises us with her quick wit and maturing reasoning abilities. Just when I think I've mastered the art of the "parental straight face" or "standard issue parental response", she nails me with one of these:

On Monday, Audrey and Jason were in deep discussion. I don't know what the topic was, only that it involved something Audrey didn't understand. Jason was asking her if she knew what something meant, and Audrey, whether for reasons of wanting to be seen as a big girl or simply in the know, refused to admit that she wasn't sure. It went something like this:

Jason: Do you know what that means?
Audrey: I don't um.
Jason: You don't know?
Audrey: I don't kn...uumm.

Tuesday, I caught her picking her nose. Knowing I would not approve of nose-picking, she tried to rename the action. "I just had an itch up there," she said.

She was working on a puzzle on Wednesday at the kitchen table. I was at the sink and heard her asking questions. Assuming they were directed toward me, I answered. "Now I'm just talking to myself," she said.

This week, we discovered that Nathan's second newborn screen was somehow lost and never analyzed, requiring us to have a new screen performed. My mother graciously gave up her Friday afternoon off to watch Audrey while I took Nathan to the lab. While at the house, Emmy (our dog) jumped up on her. Routine trips to the groomer are just one more aspect of normal that I haven't quite figured out how to logistically pull off since bringing Nathan home. As you can imagine, a haircut and bath are well overdue.

"Emmy, you smell like a dog," Mom said.
"We want her to be a dog," Audrey said.

Jason arrived home before me on Friday. Shortly after he got there, he heard Audrey refer to my mom as "mama."

"That's not your mama," he said.
"Well, she looks like my mama," Audrey answered.
Jason and my mother laughed. "You're right. She does look like your mama," he said.

We don't have the most consistent of bedtime routines. Some nights Audrey gets a bath before bedtime, others, she doesn't. Some nights we read a story. Some nights, we don't. But one thing is always consistent. Each night before she goes to bed, I tell Audrey she makes me a lucky mama. Every night, Audrey repeats the things we say. Good night. Good night. See you in the morning. See you in the morning. You make me a lucky mama. You make me a lucky mama.
But last night, she changed up her normal.

"You make me a lucky mama," I said.
"You make me a lucky Audrey," she said.

Nathan is on the cusp of changing normal, too. He wants to roll over so badly. Tonight after a diaper change, he rolled onto his side. I lay down beside him, facing him. He moved his arm in an arc toward my face, his fist coming to rest at my mouth. I kissed his hand. He smiled and squirmed, and a new game was born.

It has often been said that the only constant is change. You've only to spend an hour with a toddler and newborn to feel cloaked in the sentiment. But for all of this growing and the accompanying family modifications, there are some things that I hope remain the same: Audrey's spunk and her ability to morph from full-on spunk to full-on affection in the turn of a page. Her smile that sparkles like a field of lightening bugs, making magic across her face. Her quick wit. Her kind heart. Her genuine laugh. Those grasp-you-to-your-core hugs. As for this little boy of mine, I can't seem to talk to him, or about him, without wanting to preface any mention with the word "sweet", and I hope I always will (much to his future teenage disdain, I'm sure). Even after being pricked at the lab, he quickly regained his calm demeanor, my sweet laid-back boy, so willing to accommodate the normal of the day - whatever it may be. Let's hope the trait remains. Goodness knows, he's going to need it:

She told her Daddy she was "sharing" her toys. Ahem.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Antidotes for Snow Upon Snow

Inside: Deny. Deny. Deny. Pretend it's spring.

Outside: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

(Ironically, we've been waiting to trample in the snow the last few days due to leaving our boots at Mamaw and Papaw's house. Of course, as soon as we got the boots back, Audrey decided she didn't need them for traipsing in the snow. Ahem.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Finger-Licking Good

On his birthday, Jason brought home a slice of banana cake baked for him by a coworker. It was good. Really, really good. Pull-out-that-banana-cake-recipe-I've-been-hoarding-for-months good. Purposely-over-ripen-those-bananas-on-the-counter good. (Okay, I didn't actually over-ripen the bananas on purpose, but don't think I didn't think about it.) Ooooh-and-ahh-and-gesticulate-over good. You get the idea.

So yesterday, I took said bananas and baked a cake - the Heavenly Banana Cake from Whipped. It's not the recipe that Jason's coworker used. Hers was distinctly banana-flavored and used sour cream (an ingredient that you should typically not tell Jason is in your cake if you want him to eat it). This one is much more subtle, very moist, and pours in the buttermilk (another ingredient Jason isn't always so keen on). Both are good (I think I'll have to see if Jason can swipe the other recipe for me, too). It can't hurt to have two banana cake recipes on file.

Today, Audrey and I made the cream cheese frosting to top our cake. While making it, Audrey asked, "Does it have raw eggs?"
I said no.
"So I can eat it?" she asked.
"Yes, you can eat it." She dipped her finger in, took a taste.
"This is my food," she said, dipping her finger in again, and after each addition of more powered sugar. (Someone needs to teach this girl about the rules of double-dipping).

Icing cakes brings out my clumsy side. My cakes look as if someone started with a crumb layer and suddenly remembered they need to hit the bank before it closes. Toddlers aren't adept at waiting for crumb layers to set, either. They are adept at walnut garnishing. (For those of you with nut allergies, the nuts are optional and only top the cake, although I did love the extra layer of flavor they provided. Not worth anaphylactic shock, but I'm just sayin').

As you can tell from the slick fingers in the photo, this wasn't a sanitary cake. But it was a yummy one. And, now we know what Audrey's kind of food is: icing, heavy on the powdered sugar. Of course.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Little Valentine's Glitz

I'm typically not that big on Valentine's Day. I don't dislike the holiday, I just never felt a real need for it, either. Blame it on a thoughtful husband. Valentine's Day could be one of a number of days at my house - days I get unjustly complimented or thanked for things I should do anyway, or a surprise gift comes walking in the door on Jason's arm. So, we never really got into celebrating February 14th: my wardrobe didn't take on splashes of red and pink, the house didn't mysteriously sprout heart-speckled hand towels and candy dishes. Then, enter a three-year-old, one who thinks hearts and pink are things to be celebrated of their own accord.

We still don't do Valentine's Day in the hallmark, dinner and roses fashion. My wardrobe is still a sea of blue, black, and brown. But hearts - and pink - have found a little bit of celebration here lately. Mostly, for the love they remind me that we're so blessed to have. In the closing scene of Under the Tuscan Sun, the main character (played by Diane Lane) asks, "What are four walls anyway? They are what they contain." Our house? It just might be Valentine's Day.
And, we could all use a little more Valentine's Day - a little more love, a little more appreciation, a little celebration of the heart (and even a bit of pink, if you must).

*We found the idea above at the Crafty Crow - so many great crafting ideas for kids. You might be seeing a few more heart projects around here. It seems to be a perfect antidote for endless snow.

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Yummy Valentine

A heart-shaped pancake mold from HomeGoods + a traditional buttermilk recipe, topped with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and splash of maple syrup = one yummy Valentine for our little pancake. I just love a sweet Valentine.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 57

You don't always realize the routines you keep until faced with an atypical week (or a toddler who points them out to you). The last two weeks have been anything but typical, hinting at a break from routines planned and unplanned. But we are slowly finding our way back. Of course, one thing that remains constant regardless of our circumstances is Audrey's ability to call things like she sees them, ask the pointed questions, and keep us laughing in spite of ourselves. A few gems from the week:

On Sunday, Audrey was visiting time out. I don't remember her crime, but I do remember her yelling, "I have no future until you get me out of here!"

On Monday, Jason and I were discussing the Superbowl, analyzing the Colts' loss. Audrey had been playing quietly nearby before asking Jason, "Did they lose because they didn't pass it to you?"

While getting ready for bed Wednesday, Audrey said, "God must be tired from making you and me and Daddy and my big bear and all that stuff."

Thursday, I took Audrey to an indoor playground. Since Audrey's brother has come around and simple routines have changed, such as how we get in and out of the car, I find myself explaining in detail what's about to happen, wanting Audrey to know that even though I'm doing things differently, I haven't forgotten her and am not leaving her out. When we pulled into the parking lot on Thursday, I explained that I was going to get the stroller out first, then her little brother, and then I'd come get her. "You tell me that every day, do [don't] you?" she said.

On Friday, Audrey came up to Jason and me carrying a favorite stuffed animal: a leopard that Jason bought her last summer that the two of them named Tiger Woods. "He's my roommate," she said. Ahem.

Nathan has begun to develop his own routines: stretching as he wakes up, putting his hands in the way of his mouth every time we try to give him a bottle, smiling after he finishes eating as if to signify that he's full, smiling again right as he finds sleep. He's the strong silent type. He likes to hold his own weight and will stand and keep his neck straight if you hold his hands.

Yes, our routines have changed a bit over the last two weeks as Jason has been home in recovery mode and I've been searching for those nonexistent extra minutes each day to fit in new caretaker tasks and old tasks that he typically takes on for me. But some remain untouched. Before any car ride, no matter how short, I kiss each kid on the forehead as I buckle them in their seats and tell them that I love them. Just in case. I know the odds are good that each ride will be as typical as the one before. But I don't like to play the odds. I like to play it safe. I'm what you'd call an optimistic realist. I know that the occurrence of bad things is rare; I also know there is nothing special about me that makes me more invincible than the next guy. Yesterday marked the fourteenth anniversary of a car accident that claimed the life of a high school classmate and friend. Brian was a careful boy: careful with his actions, careful with his words, careful with the feelings of others. A careful boy who hit a patch of black ice. And much like September 11th now, or the Kennedy assassination for a previous generation, my classmates and I can tell you where we were when we heard the news. The days following are etched in our minds more clearly than some events that have happened in the last 48 hours. Brian was never given the luxury of adulthood and the joys that come with it, but for those who spent their childhoods around him, his presence - the way in which he chose to live his life and the unapologetic love he showed for those around him, helped to shape the adults we've become and the little rituals by which we live.

A Happy Valentine's Day to you tomorrow. Be safe. Love well.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Forgetting February, or Why February Lasts as Long as a Stay in Rehab, Coincidence?

For being the shortest month of the year, February has some white-knuckle-gripped staying power. Perhaps, it's the encore of snow day-producing storms, my painfully dry skin that I can't seem to find the time to care for, or my daydreams of strolling two certain little ones through freshly green parks, but whatever the cause, I'm beginning to ache for the warmth of spring. So, in the spirit of optimism, I've begun to devise some non-rehab-inducing coping mechanisms to champion what's left of winter's final stronghold. Here are five:

1. Do something unexpected (or, bring the outside in). Bring in some potting soil and plants. Play in the dirt - at your kitchen table. Remind yourself of the outdoor activities to come. Find an indoor pool and splash around. Get some exercise. You know, just to show February who's boss.

2. Do something quirky, or downright ridiculous. Monday night, after both kids were asleep, I convinced myself to head down to the basement for twenty minutes on the elliptical machine. I took my phone and a book with me. I got on the elliptical and began pedaling. Then, I turned to distractions. I tried to return a call from a friend. She didn't pick up. I looked at my book, but after all the information coming at me all day, I didn't feel like adding more. So I turned on my ipod. I began to sing. Out loud. My high school gym teacher, Mr. Fallis, would not approve of such behavior, the theory being that all your energy should be focused on your physical motion, hence, the energy used singing could be better used in my legs. I remember my father sharing this opinion on one or more occasions while cheering for me at cross country meets. Every once in a while he'd yell some helpful advice to me as I ran past, something like "Push it, Kris!" I may have turned and yelled back once, or twice, "You push it," to which he'd reply that if I could yell, I could run faster. Like I said, helpful. But Monday, while exercising by myself and listening to adult music for the first time in days, singing out loud felt a bit empowering. You would not describe me as "in shape" right now. But those twenty minutes flew. Mr. Fallis can push it. Just kidding. He might show up at my house and snap me in half with his pinkie finger. Seriously.

Note: This might not be advisable if working out at a busy gym. Also, should you walk up the stairs from the basement still singing, your husband might mistake you for your sleeping toddler (after all, you were going downstairs to workout not put on a concert). He may start yelling for her to go back to sleep. Just a warning.

3. Take on a childlike perspective. Several times this week Audrey has tried to stick her bare feet out the backdoor and into the snow. On Monday, Mama Skeleton entered our lives. I'm not sure where Audrey met Mama Skeleton, but apparently, Mama S. has given her permission to race outside in the snow with no shoes or coat on. Having no flesh or sinus cavities, I'm sure that Mama Skeleton doesn't worry about such things as frostbite or runny noses. Children don't, either. While I'd like to hibernate indoors (and produce mass quantities of "most wanted" posters for the mysterious Mama S.), I'm trying to appreciate the weather that is now. I think of friends in Florida who drove to North Carolina recently so their children could see snow for the first time. I remember that first satisfying crunch of boots on hard-packed snow, the magic of a snowfall untouched, the fresh feeling of cold air against bare cheeks. I remind myself to savor the snow, to let her savor it. The best snowfalls are those from childhood. They will only last in our memories (and only then if we've taken advantage of them).

4. Take advantage. The long days of February are the perfect excuse to take in the comforts of the season. Layer on blankets. Drink hot chocolate by the bucketful. Stoke the fire again and again. Acquire more wool yarn than you can knit, more books than you can read, more boots than you can wear (okay, this may not be responsible, but February does seem like the perfect excuse to be excessive). Dress your table with comfort food. Let hugs linger, you know, for warmth. ;) Do not apologize for any of the above behaviors. Blame the weather.

5. Be confident (or, talk yourself down from the doldrums ledge). The snow will melt. February will end. The sun will put on her brightest frock, strut, and begin to show off. Be confident. The flowers will come.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pork Vegetable, The Other, Ahem, Chicken Noodle

I have a full-service mother. While in college, she sent enough goodies (snacks to keep us fed and other items like bubbles or silly putty to keep us laughing) in care packages to feed and entertain not only my sister and I, but all our friends as well. My parents were those that drove in separate vehicles to drop us off at college so we could haul all our things, unloaded all our stuff, assembled loft beds my father had built, and then took us out to eat before making the two-hour drive home (most likely leaving a stash of homemade cookies or brownies behind). My parents came over last Friday to take Audrey off our hands so I could focus on taking care of Jason's bum knee. They also brought along a pork loin to eat for dinner. Like I said, full-service. We ate half of the pork loin that night and had half left over. The meat was so tender, it fell apart when touched with a fork, which gave me an idea.

Last summer while eating at Patti's Restaurant (well, we actually ate at Bill's - same food, shorter wait), Jason and I tried a Pork Vegetable Soup. It was fantastic. I kept meaning to attempt some sort of rendition once we got home. I never did. Until Friday. The soup I made isn't the one we had at Patti's. Patti's had lima beans in it and didn't have several of the items I threw into the mix. The soup I made could just as easily be called Pantry Soup or A Handful of This, A Smidge of That, because I basically threw in whatever we had on hand. So here it is, by the smidgen and handful:

I started with 2 quarts of chicken stock brought to a boil and added:
Half a diced onion
3 hearts of celery diced and an equal amount of diced carrots
Several cranks of fresh ground pepper and sea salt
At this point, I turned the soup down to a simmer, letting the veggies soften a bit before adding:
The pork loin (probably a pound), shredded
1 cup of elbow pasta
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 cup of frozen corn kernels
Then, I tried to think of what seasoning to add to give it some pizazz. Sage is a common herb used to compliment pork, but it can decrease a nursing mother's milk supply. So, when all else fails, I figured I'd toss in a bay leaf (it seems to work for Racheal Ray) and let the pot simmer just a bit longer.

The recipe was a success. Definitely something we'll bring to the table again and play around with depending on what we have on hand the next time around. You've got to love a dinner that just comes together, especially when your mama has done half the work for you.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sowing the Seeds of Love

Audrey came home with a note from school last week asking her to bring Valentines the following week for her classmates. So yesterday, we got down to the business of creating some Valentine's cheer. First, some coloring (of course, the real objective is to get as much green ink on one's hands as possible),

followed by taping (not always in the right place),

tapped off with an abundance of glue,

and those Valentines practically grew themselves. I love, love, love the ones she assembled with the hearts upside down (who's to say they aren't right-side up?). LOVE. She signed them with an "A" and I filled in the other letters for her.

Some toothpicks from the kitchen cabinet, an old grocery bag, scraps of pink felt, fake grass recycled from the Easter basket stash, and a handful of eight-year-old (seriously!) construction paper, and Audrey's ready to sow some Valentine's joy, as only a three-year-old can. I wish I could eavesdrop to watch her hand these small cards out to her friends, whose names she excitedly recited as she made each one - to see her pride in giving a little of herself to her friends - Valentine's Day uncontrived.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Finding the Pony

Jason's first boss following college, the brilliant and much-loved Mr. Sims, relayed a story to him (which he later shared with me) that has stuck in my mind the last eight years. The reason for the telling of the story (as well as some of the details) are a bit fuzzy, but the tale goes something like this:

A group of scientists were doing a study to monitor the different behaviors of children. Twin boys were taken to a horse farm and led to the stalls. Each boy was taken to a different section of the barn, but both were left alone in a horse stall, empty except for manure-laden straw. After a while, the scientists came back to observe each boy's behavior. The first boy was angry, kicking the straw with his feet, voicing his disappointment for the disgusting environment he'd been left to. They found the second boy covered in dirt, laughing as rolled around in the straw, tossing some up in his hands. When they asked what he was doing, he replied, "With all this crap lying around, there has to be a pony somewhere!"

We have often thought back to that story, and "finding the pony" has become a catchphrase at our house. Last week was a straw-rolling-child-seeking week. As we dealt with numerous things medical and more things tiresome, finding a gem amidst the dirty straw moments of the week was needed.

Hello, pony.

Someone got a new hat. The striped hat is becoming somewhat redundant around here, I know. But I do love a baby in sweet soft stripes, and this one knits up so quickly, it's perfect for a little waiting room downtime. Oh, I do love a good pony.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 56

What can I say about last week? Last week was not a time for note taking (at least not notes related to nonmedical issues). So I have no anecdotes for you. What I do have is the good fortune of two healthy, vibrant children, who have been doing the following over the last week:

Audrey has begun referring to herself in third person: "Audrey wants donuts," "Audrey does." She is also quite the storyteller (and much better at writing dialogue than her mother). We walked down the street on Friday. We passed a neighbor playing basketball. She created a short story about the situation before we made it to the next house. It went a little like this:

Audrey: Why is he playing basketball?
Me: I don't know. I guess he just wanted to play.
Audrey: I think he asked his Mom if he could play. She said no but he came out anyway because he wanted to. Now he's in trouble.

Every time Audrey and I spend time apart (after preschool, for instance), she gives me a full report of things as she sees them when she comes home. It goes something like this:

She returns from preschool. She tells me who got mad at who and why, peppered by several, "then he said, they she said, then the teacher said." (Yes, I can only imagine what form these stories will take in middle school - and I'm sure by high school I will be wishing she would tell me something, anything, with any sort of dialogue tag attached).

Nathan does not have his sister's gift for narrative yet. But he has also expanded his methods of expression this week. In smiles! Smiles!! New, huge, open-mouthed smiles. Those little smiles? They have been the best medicine this week. Much, much needed good medicine. Oh, the privileged life we lead.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Quick Update

Thank you to all of you who have been sending your thoughts, prayers, and generous offers of help our way. We are doing well. Jason was blessed with a wonderful surgeon, helpful medical staff and a quick surgery. (And a HUGE thank you to Julie for hosting a sleepover, which lasted well into today, for Audrey last night and to my parents for entertaining her tonight so she didn't clobber Daddy with too much love, and to that little guy of ours who slept from the moment we went to bed until our alarm went off at 3:30 am - a whole SIX hours! - this kid's a keeper.) Everything looks good at this point. We are home and resting as much as we can, and hoping that Jason will make a full recovery soon. Poor guy, he's in for an achy few days. So if you have a few good thoughts or prayers to spare, send them his way, would ya? Thanks. You're the best. Now back to that resting...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Know When to Fold 'Em...

I never thought I'd write the following sentence. I am so happy to have just had food poisoning. The alternative - exposing two little ones to the stomach flu - is a little more than I could bear this week. Between Jason's purple toe, Nathan's congestion, my food poisoning, and getting ready for Jason's knee surgery tomorrow and everything that comes with an active Daddy being in a state of recovery for a week, I think this is where I admit I've been bested and take the rest of the week off from this space to recuperate and prepare for the week ahead. Audrey, for her part, is moving at full tilt, wondering just what's wrong with the rest of us.

Wishing you an uncomplicated rest of your week, and if you must have complications, here's to the best-case scenario.

Monday, February 1, 2010

There Will Be Days...

There will be days when you will wake up (and remain) tired...

:: because the night survived was one in which your congested newborn never found comfortable rest.

:: because your husband, already scheduled for knee surgery, will most-likely have broken his big toe (on the other leg) while playing soccer with your daughter.

:: because your toddler (the only one to get rest) will find a pen you didn't know was sitting around with which to doodle upon the freshly-painted wall, or will find new creative uses for soap, or both.

:: because you may find yourself chasing your dog down the driveway.

And, on those days, you will find comfort in small, sometimes unexpected, places...

:: locking eyes with your newborn as he breaks into his first (albeit, probably gas-induced, but wide-eyed, nonetheless) awake wide-mouthed grin after a much-needed peaceful sleep.

:: the call from your husband informing you that he plans to hobble his surely-broken toe to a restaurant to grab dinner because he wouldn't expect you to cook on a day such as this.

:: an "I love you" from your energy-overwhelmed toddler, just after you've disciplined her, no less.

:: the warmth of your dog's head rested against your thigh.

:: a voicemail from a friend (who you are too tired to call back) just calling to check in before she catches a plane.

:: the soft feel of yarn, and the whimsy of a striped pattern coming to life.

:: a stolen moment to sneak in a few pages of reading, which reminds you that (for us) medical attention is a short drive away, warm beds and blankets are waiting just upstairs, and that somewhere, your rough day is someone else's dream.