Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Life Lately

Sometimes I feel like I have nothing to write because it seems like nothing happens.  Then I look back and realize that time is passing me by.  To a kid, time seems to drag on forever.  As an adult, it is speeding by.

I didn't write about Easter.  We kept it simple.  It was raining and a little chilly, so we didn't have an Easter egg hunt at home like we hoped.  Instead, the boys woke up to a trail of plastic eggs leading them to new sand buckets, bubbles, a book, and a few beach toys.  Eliot asked who brought the toys while he was sleeping.  I'm never sure how to approach the Easter Bunny and Santa....  I don't want to go out of my way to lie to him, so I kind of try to let him decide what he wants to think.  "Some people think the Easter Bunny brings toys on Easter.  What do you think?"  He said it was the Easter Bunny, so that is just fine for now.

Later we went to my parents' house for lunch with my sister's family and my grandmother.  The kids played, my mom put on an excessive scavenger hunt (that the kids absolutely love), and we ate well.  Both Eliot and Jack were so exhausted from the day that they took a nap together in my lap, which has only happened maybe once.  Eliot doesn't nap anymore--it completely throws him off.  When we came home, we knew we were in for it with him, but instead the four of us cuddled in bed and watched Transformers cartoons.  It took me almost two hours to get him to go to bed--it usually takes 20 minutes at the most.

Like last year, we took a family portrait.  As I compare the two, I'm amazed by how much we have grown and changed--each one of us.  Christopher has lost about 20 pounds since then.  He continues to work out every day and eats well.  Eliot has aged a year and matured--in the bottom photo, he threw a fit because we said we were going outside to "take pictures" and he thought we meant that HE was going to take pictures with his camera.  The only way we could get him to calm down was to let him hold a camera.  Obviously, Jack has grown because he is here now and is a visible, active member of the family with a clear personality. 

 Although it has been raining the past few days, it had warmed up for a bit.  We took full advantage of the weather with little beach trips.  We head out there and everything seems a little more simple.  Jack devours the sand and Eliot runs around building sand castles.

Chris and I have been working on yard projects.  It's kind of hard to do much in the yard with the kids around because Eliot wants to help and Jack eats (and chokes on) dirt if left to himself for even a moment.  So, one of us works while the other plays with the kids.  Chris and I managed to hang a swing, I planted some new plants, and we cleared out a bed in preparation for some new palms.  In a couple of weeks, it will all be looking completely different.  I'm so excited.

We've been lucky enough to have a few nice pool days with friends too.  Our backyard is mostly full shade, so the pool never actually warmed up last summer.  This year, we put in a pool heater, which was surprisingly affordable and hasn't affected our energy bill much.  I gotta say:  being able to swim comfortably in April has been amazing.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Dear Jack: Ten Months


You are getting so close to a year.  I had better start planning your party....

You are continually growing more and more mobile.  You can now climb up the stairs without slipping (and quite fast, mind you).  You like to climb up and play with the door at the top of the stairs.  It makes me nervous, but your brother insists that he is "keeping an eye" on you.  I stay close by, though, just in case.

Every couple of weeks, your dad takes you and Eliot to the library.  You love putting your fingers over all of the books.  You love for me to read to you, and your brother "reads" to you as well.  However, you are equally interested in eating the books, so we try to stick to board books.

I've mentioned this time and time again, but one of the unexpected blessings of having you around has been the joy of watching you and Eliot grow into best friends.  He loves babies, so I knew he'd love you, yet I didn't anticipate how my heart would flutter as I watch you wrestle him or when I quietly peek in on the two of you gazing out the window together or how I push the two of you on the swings at the park together.  I didn't think about how happy I'd be when Eliot insists on packing a special snack for you on picnics or when you bounce happily when Eliot pays you even the slightest bit of attention.  He sings to you in the car when you seem tired, and I think you like it.  You two love each other so much.  Sometimes it is hard when you both need something at the same time.  There are points when you both want the same toy, and someone has to give.  Overall, though, you two make the best team.

You are becoming more verbal these days as well.  You say "dada" and "daddy" a lot, and I think you say "diddy" for "kitty" and "dig" for "dog".  It certainly seems that way.  You reserve your "momma" for when you are particularly upset (or hungry).  You seem to say "ball" for balls as well.

You are getting a lot better about eating.  You love yogurt now and will eat pureed food if it has bananas mixed in.  You do not like tart things at all (unlike Eliot).  It used to be a struggle to get you to eat one meal a day, but now you are eating three usually.  You had been pretty fussy for a couple of weeks.  I couldn't figure out why and then, all of the sudden, you had a new tooth!  You have five total.

I think we need to have a celebration of some kind because you are now officially sleeping through the night.  It only took ten months, but, you know, it's much better than it could be--your brother still gets up.  You take two or three naps a day while laying on me.  If I try to put you down, you wake up.  You sleep in your crib in your own room at night, though, so that is the main thing I aimed for.  Sometimes you cry for just a couple of minutes and then go to sleep.  On occasion, you wake up once in the middle of the night, but you put yourself back to sleep after a moment.  I never could do this with your brother--letting him cry just didn't work.  I'm so glad that you are a better sleeper.  And I don't mind the naps with you too much.  Eliot always wants to play then, but I try to soak up all the cuddles I can get from you.  I know they won't last forever.

 You're growing, changing, learning, and loving.  I love each day with you.  You make our lives so much brighter.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Field

Yesterday, I drove out to a specific nursery in Virginia Beach to get a specific shrub.  I have been planning out a new flowerbed where our old, moldy shed used to stand.  Designing that flowerbed kept me going all winter.  I am quite close to finishing it, finally.

On the way home, Jack fell asleep after crying for about 10 minutes.  He hates the car.  Eliot had been asking me all kinds of unanswerable questions about the way of the world and life and why he has two hands instead of one.  I love that he talks (and talks and talks and talks), but eventually it is simply hard to answer all of the questions all the time.  About this time, though, he had quieted some and looked out the window reflectively.

That is when I turned left onto Salem Road.  There on my left stood my grandmother's old house--a white rectangle missing half of the front fence, grass growing high, and no hints of the all of the cement statues that my grandfather had collected.  For the first time, I could not pull in the driveway and walk out back into the seven-acre field.  The house and the farmland does not belong to her anymore.  It isn't our field anymore.

My grandfather died 13 years ago.  My grandmother lives in a great assisted care facility.  She has dementia, but is well-looked after.  She can't live on her own.  It didn't make sense to keep the old, failing house.  No one had any use for the land.  And if it changed hands, my grandmother couldn't just give it to anyone--she'd have to sell it full-price.  No one had the money sitting around to just buy the land simply for sentimental reasons.

The field was where I once played as a child.  We'd feed the goats and sheep.  We'd walk the fenceline to check for damage.  We swung on the tire swing.  However, the barns have been torn down, the animals are gone, the land has not been maintained, and it would not be safe to play in without caution.  It still breaks my heart a little that my boys won't run through that field like I did.

Last year, I was pregnant with our Jack.  Chris, Eliot, and I drove up to Memaw's house.  It was empty.  We walked in the back and took a few maternity photos.  I'll cherish them always since I carried Jack, but also because I stood in the field--my grandparents' field--for the last time.