Friday, July 24, 2009

7 Quick Takes-On The Road Again...And Again...And Again...

Once upon a time, there was a woman named TwoSquare who had a blog, but she got a serious case of summer and was never heard from again.

It feels like I have been away from this space forever, and I won't be back anytime soon. It is mostly for good reasons.

1. I say mostly because my husband has been working crazy hours and his software job, and I have had a lot of LONG days alone with the boys. We are tired and crabby. All of us. Except Linus, who is perfect, as always. (And who ate a huge jar of baby mac & cheese, two egg yolks, and half a slice of cantaloupe for lunch. He only weighs 15 pounds at 7 months. Where does he put it?)

2. So we have been spending a lot of time at the pool. Yes, I have lived there this summer, and it is starting to show. The boys are tan, and Calvin is swimming on his own. Once he learned, there was no stopping him. Wednesday, we were there with a friend, and he was jumping in and swimming to her while I had the two other boys in the baby pool. At some point, I turned around to see him diving into the water! She had not told him to do that, and she was just as surprised as I was to see him try. Apparently, he just decided it was time.

3. Speaking of Calvin, he will be FIVE in a week and couple of days. FIVE! How did that happen? In honor of his birthday (or maybe just because we all need it and it was planned months ago), we are going to the beach for a week with my family. I can't wait! After that, the boys head home with their Nana for a few days, and I get some time with just the baby, hopefully to get some projects done around the house in time for the Fall.

4. Not that we are sitting still until school starts. After the beach, we have a crazy long weekend trip to the midwest for the hubby's Grandma's 90th birthday and a big family reunion.

5. And somewhere in between there and school starting, we need to get back to the homeplace and visit my Grandma, who decided to get chemo and is doing pretty well, though her prognosis is still only for a year at most.

6. Oh, and then there is the little matter of getting ready to move to Asia. When that is going to happen, I am not sure. But our dear friend who has been there for two years was home on a visit and with us a couple of days this week. She said the phrase "put on my face" (in reference to her make-up), and Hobbes thought it was great. I heard him in bed last night saying, "Calvin, I need to put on my face. I'm putting on my face. Look at me put on my face." Funny. Since I haven't purchased makeup since my wedding seven years ago, he would have never heard that from me!

7. With all of this moving around, we need a little time sitting still to read. I am re-reading The Brothers Karamozov in the best translation, and I am taking The Last Chinese Chef to the beach, along with a stack of books I may or may not get to. And the boys and I are really loving Tomie DePaola lately, especially the Strega Nona books.

What about you? Where have you been traveling and what's on your summer reading list? Visit Jen for more Quick Takes.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

7 Quick Takes, Ending With a Calvinism

1. We are in the verge of a lesson in "Nature, red in tooth and claw" at the Two Square house. A bird built a nest in our very dead hanging plant on our front porch, and we noticed Wednesday that the eggs had hatched. They must have hatched a while ago, because yesterday we had a fledgling trying hard to learn how to fly. The boys and I have loved watching the mommy bird bring food to her babies and encourage them to fly.

The problem? Our neighbor's cat has also enjoyed watching them, a little too much. So we spent yesterday helping the fledgling back to its nest every time it made a failed attempt at flying. We would take the hanging basket down, let the bird hop back up, and hang it back on the porch, hoping the cat didn't see its next fall before we did. Unfortunately, we came home from dinner out to find the fledgling missing and the cat waiting eagerly for another one to fall. Could get interesting today.

2. Speaking of hungry animals, I have enjoyed making lists of all of the foods Linus has tried at this point. I wonder how he ever survived just on breastmilk, honestly. He has tried all of the major fruits and veggies, rice, barley, oats, yogurt, chicken, beef, and turkey. That's the short list. Some of this is store bought baby food. Some of it is made by me. Seems the store bought kind is too smooth for this bottomless pit of a baby. He likes it as close to the real texture as he can get. In fact, he was happy to down some banana pudding and blueberry batter pie at our 4th of July picnic. And plain rice cakes that he can feed himself? Those are good for 30 minutes of entertainment, at least.

3. This constant eating is finally producing better sleep. Though Linus is not completely sleeping through the night for 10 or 12 hours, he is usually only waking once. Bliss!

4. Have you heard of this book? I have been thinking a long time about how our culture tries to turn motherhood into a profession that can be perfected and about how the attachment parenting movement, despite its good intentions, has left so many mothers feeling like failures because they can never give enough of themselves. Seems I'm not the only one. I'm looking forward to reading this and seeing what she has to say. I don't know if she explores the effect this type of over-anxious parenting may have on our kids, but I would be interested to know.

5. Speaking of parenting books, has anyone read Siblings Without Rivalry? If so, do you recommend it? Calvin and Hobbes are driving each other (and me) up the wall. I know some fighting is normal, especially between two boys so close in age, but really, does every playtime have to end in a fist fight? Mothers of boys, how much should I just overlook?

Lest you think they are terrors, here are two cute moments from yesterday:

6. Today's the day the dinosaurs have their picnic...

I love my boys' growing imaginations. This was set up before breakfast this morning...before I even got out of bed. Apparently, dinos eat Nerf balls. Who knew?

7. And, saving the best for last, a Calvinism for today:

Me (talking on the phone to my mom about my mother-in-law's fam): "They're great problem solvers. They'll figure something out."

Calvin: "I'm not a great problem-solver."

Me: "Yes, you are, Calvin!"

Calvin: "No, I'm not a great problem solver. I'm a problem maker."

Truer words were never spoken. For more quick takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Men in My Life

There are so many moments I want to remember from this weekend.

Hobbes saying "I hope you have a good time!" as we walked out the door to a lovely dinner date at a local French restaurant.

Sitting for a couple of hours with my dear husband as we enjoyed fine food, good wine, and an evening without spilled milk or messy baby food. Walking around downtown and holding hands when the dinner was done.

Taking in all of the sights and sounds of the farmer's market with Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin choosing the sugar baby watermelon to buy and Hobbes carrying a big bunch of zinnias in front of his face as we walked through the market. Getting samples of farmer's cheese from our favorite cheese vendor.

Watching the boys shuck corn from the market and then get distracted by the caterpillars who were sharing our bounty. Hobbes running in to tell me to come and see what Calvin had done. "He put the caterpillar in the tree, Mommy! Now the caterpillar can have a happy life and become a beautiful butterfly!" Calvin's (very grown up) face of joy as he watched the caterpillar climb up a limb of the tree, looking for food.

Husband working on a digital painting on the computer while Calvin had a drawing lesson from him, working on copying a man in armor from a book on the middle ages. Hobbes very happily finger painting while I cooked up some baby food delicacies for Linus. All of us creating in our own way.

Linus relishing the chicken, broccoli, squash concoction I had just cooked up for him, crying the instant his mouth was empty.

Linus again, squealing and smiling and kicking and laughing, enjoying every moment of an afternoon home alone with Mommy and Daddy while his brothers were off at Gram's farm. Those big, blue, beautiful eyes adoring us as we adore him.

There were plenty of difficult and ugly moments, too, I suppose. But I am choosing to remember these. These moments where we were thoroughly enjoying one another as a family. These moments when I was able to stop and look and give thanks for these good gifts, these four men in my life.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Calvin Doesn't Have the Monopoly on Funny

I know I share A LOT of Calvinisms around here. He is such a precocious kid with a habit of rattling off very grown-up phrases. The truth is, I only record a tiny portion of the hilarious, bizarre, and surprising things he says.

Hobbes' memorable moments are more-involved and don't translate well into blog posts. But he can be just as funny and charming as his brother, often even more so. His imaginative play has reached a new level lately, and he tells the most complex, interesting stories or sets up these incredible scenarios for us to play out on our adventures. I have yet to figure out how to blog about these.

Since he gets so much less press than Calvin, I had to record these funny stories from the weekend.

We spent the 4th of July at my husband's relatives' house. It was a backyard cookout complete with a pool. There were drinks set up in those little pitchers with spouts at the bottom. Hobbes came up and mentioned that he was thirsty. My mother-in-law went to get him a drink. I was busy with the baby, and didn't notice what he was doing. I knew there was tea in one pitcher and that the other contained margaritas. When I turned around, Hobbes was holding a glass full of yellow liquid.

Hobbes looked up with a big smile and said, "Mmm! I REALLY like this lemonade!" Poor guy, he was a bit bewildered when we all laughed and then threw out his "lemonade" and made him get tea. (No, it was not tea from Long Island.)

Today, on the way home from church, I asked Hobbes what his story was about in children's church today.

"There were bad guys and a good guy. And the good guy was Jesus. But Jesus didn't have any weapons."

At this point, Calvin interrupts, "That's because God doesn't need to use weapons."

"God doesn't need any weapons, Mommy."

There you have it. If only I could use words well enough to convey Hobbes' sweet, adorable, quirkiness and his adorable misarticulations, you would have many, many more stories of this amazing middle child. For now, those will have to do.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

7 Quick Takes-Too Much, Not Too Much

For more 7 Quick Takes, visit Jen's blog.

1. Too much to do. I am just overwhelmed these days. There seems to be no way to get everything done that needs to get done in order for us to do anything more than just make it through the day. And you can say all you want about taking it one day at a time, but we do eventually have to get on a plane and move overseas. Insurance bills do need to be straightened out. Some friendships do need to be maintained. Possessions do need to be purged. The dirt and dust under the furniture? That can stick around a while.

2. Too much stuff. I alluded to this in the first one. I have never been so aware of how much stuff we have. I look at everything in our house and ask whether to toss it, give it away, store it, or take it to Asia. I know we still have a year or so, but if I don't start now, it will never get done. Really, compared to most of America, we have very little. It all fits into a 1180 square foot home with small closets and no attic or basement storage space. But when you are moving around the world, it suddenly seems like a lot!

3. Too much cuteness. That is what I think about my kids when I am not thinking about how rotten they can be. Linus knocks my socks off every morning with his smile, Calvin is blowing me away with his new feats of daring and his Lego inventions, and Hobbes' creative mind and imaginative play are in full swing these days.

4. Not too much food. Not for Linus. I finally broke down and made him some homemade baby food last night. Chicken, carrots, and apples. He was getting less than enthusiastic about most of the overly pureed baby foods. He would basically only eat the meat and veggie combos, so I made some of my own. He LOVED the texture. If he could only sit up and would get some teeth...then he would eat anything.

5. Never too many blueberries or peaches or muffins. I found this recipe on the Stoneyfield Farms yogurt container and have used it for strawberry, peach, and blueberry muffins. Yum!

6. Definitely not too many Legos, at least my boys don't think so. My mother-in-law saved the Legos from all four of her kids, so my husband and I estimate there are between 5 and 100 thousand of them. It's kind of hard to tell with Legos. Anyway, we decided it was time to introduce the boys to something greater than Duplos. They are in heaven. They played three solid hours without fighting at my in-laws' yesterday.

7. Absolutely never too much water in the summer. The pool. Didn't I mention that we go there a lot. Thought so. And we are off for a family vacation at the beach later this month. Yeah for water!