Required Reading

Everyone should read this.

It. is. amazing.

It makes me cry. It makes me wonder what we have gotten ourselves into. It makes me yearn to return to simpler times. It makes me want to shout and scream and rant, to anyone who disbelieves. It makes me grateful for sharing last night’s sunset with the kids instead of worrying about bedtime. It makes me want to turn off the air conditioning and listen to the frogs in the creek. It makes me wonder how to get others to care.

So many blessings we all have, if we open ourselves to them.

Live simply so that others may simply live. – Mahatma Gandhi

Random Thoughts about Willow

Willow and I usually wake up together, but sometimes, every once in a while, I wake up before her. I get up with Owen, while she sleeps in, and he and I spend time together… or on even more rare occasions, Owen sleeps in, too, and I get time all by myself, as the toddlers like to say. In either case, when she finally awakens, she calls to me and I return to the bed and to her. On these days, she looks at me as if she is not entirely sure it is me. She stares, and I wonder what she sees, what she is thinking. “Is this really my mama?”, perhaps. After a moment or two, she always asks to nurse. She nurses, and my mind peacefully retreats until she is done. Then, finally, she has the look – “YES! That’s my mama!” and is ready to start the day.

Today, Willow was looking at a book with side by side images of babies and animals. She was holding it open to one of the pages where a sleeping, sprawling baby is contrasted to a similarly stretched-out monkey. She tells me this baby is “sleeping about an elephant”, which I at first take to mean “scared about an elephant”. (Willow was terribly frightened about an elephant some time ago at the San Antonio Zoo, and that event has replayed itself in conversations ever since.) So, I repeat this back to her, only to realize by her expression that that is not what she meant at all. She repeats herself, and I suddenly understand that she means the baby is dreaming about an elephant; she just did not have the vocabulary to express dreaming. Wow. We haven’t talked about dreams much, I guess, but at 2 1/2, she clearly has some consciousness about it. Of course, I knew she had dreams, I just did not know she thought of the act of dreaming while she was awake or was conscious of others dreaming. It blew my mind a bit. What is she dreaming about, right now, as I type?

Thinking about Christmas

Here’s a list of stuff that pops into our heads we might want for Christmas.  Otherwise, I forget…oh, look, a butterfly!

Stuff Papa wants: Travel alarm clock, new business casual shirts (from like Eddie Bauer or something similar)

For Owen: a very inexpensive digital camera, preferably one that is waterproof.

Big Thoughts

Tonight, Owen was full of intense whisperings and kisses to me as I lay nursing Willow to sleep and the light slowly faded from our room. Our lives have been touched lately by death. Geoff’s mother Judy passed away several weeks ago. My mom’s dog died this weekend. We found a dead rodent in our back yard this afternoon. I’m putting this all down so I can remember.

He started off kissing my hands, over and over. “Those are for you to keep.” Me: “Of course, I’ll keep them forever and always.” “I love you, Mama. I will always love you. Sometimes I say I won’t love you, but then I forget about that.” Me: “Yes, sometimes you’re angry, and you say things out of anger, but then you change your mind.”

“Later on, when I’m a grown-up, if the house next door is still for sale, I will buy it and live in it so I can be close to you.”

“Will you hear my whistlings when you die?” Me: “Do you mean will I still be able to hear you whistle after I’m dead?” “Yes” Me: “I don’t know, love… what I know of death is that you can’t move or speak anymore, and that the body decomposes and turns into tiny pieces that are part of the earth and air.” “But could you hear my whistles in your ears, like remembering when I was a little boy?” Me: “I would love to say yes, that I could hear you whistle, but I just don’t know. I don’t know what happens after death. I could think about you whistling as I’m dying…” And here I start quietly shedding tears, imagining that particular scene, and feeling sorry that the hard part about living is the dying, that death is the ultimate period to life’s sentence, that we all eventually have to say goodbye. I don’t ever want to not be here, away from him.

Already I forget what his last thoughts were just before he fell asleep… I do know that his mind moved away from this subject and that we talked of other things. My face is freshly wet again, though, writing all of this down. I feel so lucky to be here. What a miracle that any of us are here at all. I hope it’s a long journey.

Language Acquisition, Part I

We’ve used sign language with both Owen and Willow, and we have really enjoyed the experience. This is mainly because it gives us a way of communicating with them at a much earlier age than we would otherwise. Signs like “Eat” and “More”, “Cat” and “Baby” are ever-so-useful in everyday situations. However, every now and then, we’re blown away by some completely original thought, communicated via signing.

For instance, when I first got my hair cut last winter, I often put it up in pigtails to get it up and out of the way. The first time Willow saw me thus, she stared and stared. I figured she was noticing the difference and was getting used to it. All of a sudden, she started doing the “Dog” sign, panting with her tongue out. It dawned on me that she thought my hair up looked like puppy ears! So, basically, she called me a dog. Though it was in the middle of the night, we had a good laugh about that one.

We Are What We Eat

This is just a quick note, but I had to write it. When I wrote a post way back when, describing how I thought Owen was affected by artificial food colorings after his first encounter with them in Halloween candy, I thought many folks would scoff. It turns out that I was likely right… a scientific study has been published about it. Instead of re-phrasing everything others have written already, I point you to another mama’s blog:

http://katiemalinski.com/blog/?p=14

Hopefully, our grandkids will be able to enjoy commercial foods that have been naturally colored. Until then, we are trying our best to limit what Owen and Willow get each day. By making our own food as much as possible and shopping at our local natural foods store, we do pretty well. And, we won’t be able to shelter them forever, but we can certainly educate them, all the while trying hard not to make the forbidden multi-colored fruit seem too enticing…

Owen’s Belated Birthday Thoughts

Ok, so Owen is five! Actually, he’s been five for a while, and I’m just now writing about it.

On the morning of his birthday, Owen woke up and said “I’m so excited that I’m five! I’ve been waiting years for this!” So true, and spoken so earnestly, sweet guy.

As for his celebration, this was the first birthday where we let him decide exactly who would be invited, given a small number of invitations. Well, small is relative, I know. This year’s celebration was smaller than last year’s, when we tried out the open house all-day party idea, but once all the relatives and siblings and all were added to the mix, it was still sizable. And yet, we missed some folks that we had been used to seeing at his party. So, Geoff and I have vowed to start having more gatherings of our own so that we can see all of those people then instead of using Owen’s party as the excuse.

But I digress…. back to the party. It was pirate-themed, and we had so much fun with this one. Thanks to cousin Adam, who rigged the cannonball launcher to its maximum launching potential, the kids spent lots of time trying to lob balls through a hula hoop we had taped to the deck railing. We also had the kids dress up as pirates, if so desired, walk the plank, and then we topped off the festivities with a backyard treasure hunt where each clue was hidden in a bottle somewhere in the yard. Each clue led to the next clue, which ultimately led to the treasure chest buried in a pile of leaves in the garden. And, oh yeah, Uncle Roger read a pirate book, we had a treasure chest cake, and yummy food to top it off.

I am terribly behind on thank-you notes (from a person who got all the supplies for sending holiday cards out, albeit late, and then never did…), and at this rate may never do it, but I am so thankful to everyone who came and helped to celebrate his day with us. It was a lot of fun!

We also continued the tradition of letting the birthday person pick the restaurant on the actual birthday, and Owen chose our new favorite Thai place; Thai Titaya’s. I hope his love of great food never diminishes!

I also hope this coming year offers many bits of happiness… Happy birthday, Owen!

Pictures – Finally!

Life over the past 6 to 7 months has been crazy.  I took 9 hours of school in the summer, then I took 9 hours in the fall.  It’s been super busy and super stressful for me.  Oh, and then there was my wacky trip to Europe, with a long post in the works about that.

For now, I just wanted to get some pictures posted.  I owe you, my dear readers, a couple more pictures posts after this one, and I again hope to start blogging more as – let’s face it – as I get older, I will start forgetting stuff.

Oh yeah, I took a break over the holidays for basically my first time in years.  I mean, a real break, some real time off as it was nearly two weeks.  I need the rest and relaxation, and it was cool to spend a bunch of time with the kids.  Over that two weeks, Willow almost started walking and improved her vocabulary/communication at an incredible rate.  Owen continues to prove amazing in so many respects.  Between the two of them, I am in a lot of trouble when they are teens.  Otherwise, I spent a bunch of time just piddling around the house, working on little projects, cooking, and that sort of thing.  Oh, and watching football.  Oh, how I’ve missed it!

But, without further ado, pictures!

09/2007 – Willow’s Birthday

09/2007 – Willowbear and O-train

10/2007 – Halloween

10/2007 – Gettin’ Medieval 

12/2007 – Silly Willow Tricks

12/2007 – A Day at Mayfield

12/2007 – Layin’ Round the House

What I’m listening to 6/22

Because I know you so care.  But, hey, it’s a post, right?

The Ends

Blitzen Trapper

Hold Steady

Definitely in the “tender little love songs” genre.  Or not.

another kind of rain

OK… and then there is the other kind of rain, the kind that just sticks around, being quiet and lasting forever long, making me feel kind of mopey. It’s a great kind of rain for when you’re at home by yourself and you can make a cup of tea and curl up on the sofa with a good book, and perhaps a cookie or two. Or when you have a sleepy babe and you get to wrap yourself around his or her warm little body and nap. It’s not-so-great when you have one such babe and then a preschooler who wants desperately to do anything but nap and is literally bouncing on the bed and spinning round and round.

Is this the voice of experience? Oh, yes, it is. So, after a long morning of Owen contending with two sleepy kinfolk and one really long, gentle rain, I figured I owed it to him for a little puddle-stomping. So, out we went, with Willow in a high back carry in the Kozy and an umbrella overhead.

The snails were out in full force, and Owen found a good collection to take along for the walk. He eagerly showed them to several neighborhood girls, who were quite good-natured about ooh-ing and ah-ing over them. I was a little worried these particular snails were doomed to live out the remainder of their days in Owen’s bug box, along with the pill bug remains from last week (oops), but no, O found a good spot next to the deepest puddle on the street and set them all free, even the one he dubbed ‘the tiniest ever’, who really was amazingly small.

We ended up at the neighborhood plant store, where O got to feel the water in all the fountains (and Willow only got to wish she could) and then to visit his favorite stone kitty cat. This is something he dearly loves to do. Wherever we go, if there is some inanimate creature, Owen will take a fancy to it and want to carry it all around, caring for it as if it were alive. (Remember the lame Halloween duck??) It’s an endearing quality, and it shows his more empathetic side, which I try to remember when he starts chasing the real cat around at home. Speaking of, we wound our way back home just in time, before crashing blood sugar and dire thirst made the walk unbearable.

This leisurely trek was just what we needed to restore everyone’s good spirits. I’m thankful that’s all it takes, sometimes.

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