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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Say cheese!

Henry's been rather elusive about picture-taking lately. Whenever I get the camera out, he stops whatever he was doing and makes a break for it.
Today he rummaged around in the drawer and pulled out the camera when I was sitting in the rocking chair, crocheting.

Henry: Mama! I wanna take your picture!
(The last time I let him try that, he pressed so many buttons and changed so many settings, it took forever putting it right).
Me: No, honey. Please put the camera back.
Henry: But Mama! You look so cute crocheting!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Burial Bunting Project II

My second burial bunting to be donated to a local OB unit.
Same popcorn stitch pattern with lilac ribbons

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Snake in the Grass

I took Henry to our family farm this weekend so Dada could have some "quiet-time" and so Papa could have some time with his grandson. Two birds with one stone. Excellent.

The truth is, I love to see Henry, decked out in his ripped & torn "barn jeans" and John Deere-green hat that says "Future Farmer," trudging down the lane between the farmhouses or striding across the hayfields.
He's just so determined to "help" on the farm and I love how he enthusiastically attacks every job, no matter how small. Sometimes he goes a bit overboard, like when he was tossing apples into his little Shetland pony's pen and he accidentally chucked one right at Pony's head. Oopsie.
Or feeding the barn cats and he wants to catch and pet every single one and the Mama in me screams, "Don't touch!" Nevermind that I swaddled whatever unfortunate cat I could catch in a crib-quilt and rocked "my baby" in the sweltering July heat when I was only slightly older than him.
How his face lights up with joy and wonder at seeing a brand-new baby calf wobbling around or discovering a new litter of kittens playing in the grass.
I see my whole family in him when he looks out over the tractor's steering wheel, safely seated on Uncle Nick's lap. I see 7 generations of "Henrys" before him working the same land that my Henry will own someday.

Then there's the "boy" factor- finding a dead snake in the grass, apparently not quite quick enough to out-slither the hay mower, and poking at it with a stick with Uncle Matt who shortly after that showed Henry how to survive in the wild by digging grubs out of rotted tree trunks, popping off their heads and swallowing them whole. It was like a freakin' scene out of "The Lion King." Ew. But they enjoyed themselves. I'm sure I'll be pulling frogs and toads out of Henry's pockets soon enough and I'll know exactly where he picked that up from.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Burial Bunting

I still need to add ribbons to tie it closed, but here it is, just finished.
My first one, and what an emotional project it was! My "Crocheting & Crying" post talks a bit more about this project.
Incredibly grateful and thankful for my two healthy, beautiful children and praying for the parents who will eventually receive this, whoever they are.

Now complete... purple ribbons for the hood, side and gathering the bottom.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Baby Bird

Henry was doing his "baby-bird" impression this morning while I was eating breakfast. When I gave in and gave him a bite of my Strawberry Frosted mini-wheats, he screwed up his face.

"Ugh! I don't like the HAIRY parts! I like da FROSTING!"

Life's not all frosting, buddy.

All Thumbs

Henry got his thumb stuck in his Slinky and started hollering for help.
"MAMA!! Some thumbs get stuck in Slinkies an' some don't! Yeah! Cuz dat's da way dey ROLL!"

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Disney overload

Too much Disney....While getting dressed this morning, I was on auto-pilot. "Arms up, Henry. Time to lift your shirt off."
Henry obligingly raises his arms and then starts laughing.
Henry: Mama! Lookit! I'm like CINDERLLA!

Yeah, sure- he kind of did look like that scene where she puts her arms up as she gets her ballgown.

I wonder....does that make me the fairy godmother?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Crocheting & Crying

I've been crocheting for 23 years now and frequently receive requests for blankets, scarves, shawls, or hats. My husband has patiently put up with my yarn addition for almost 10 years and I love to see my kids taking an interest.

Henry will enthusiastically push a crochet hook through one of my blankets, proud that he is "helping" Mama. Or he'll spend a minute unwinding a yarn ball before deciding it's WAY more fun to chuck it across the room, yarn gleefully trailing behind.
Kathryn doesn't get the same kind of free access to my works-in-progress because, while she's adorably cute with yarn draped over her chubby little legs and clutched in her equally chubby little fists, my yarn inevitably makes its way to her mouth and I hate the feel of wet acrylic. And I'm sure no one wants baby-drool pieces.

I love that this artistic outlet serves a practical purpose. Everything I make fulfills a function and hopefully brings a bit of beauty too. Every piece I make is unique. Even if I duplicate the pattern & yarn, no two pieces are EXACTLY the same size, shape, style. The repetitive nature of the whole crochet process gives me an outlet to the day's frustrations and allows my high-strung nature to unwind, like Henry's yarn ball.

I like to think that as I make a ruffle scarf for a friend or a baby blanket for charity, that my thoughts & musings are woven into the creation so that every piece becomes like a prayer shawl. I think of the person who will use my creation, whether I know them or if it's something that will be blindly given away like my masses of baby caps. I saw one of my favorite pieces, what my midwife dubbed a "watermelon" cap, a while ago on a stranger's newborn and felt quietly content and gratified.
Definitely not a steady source of income but it makes me happy. Then a friend of mine came to me with a new request. Something I had never heard of before and it left me feeling both proud to be asked and shattered for the necessity of it.
She's an OB nurse and she asked me to make bereavement wraps for the babies who pass away in the hospital. The stillborns, the ones lost soon after. I agreed immediately to take on the project.

Then as I started my first one in my favorite color (lilac), my thoughts strayed inevitably to who would use my creation and of course this train of thought didn't lead me to laughing infants peeking out from under my ruffled caps, or someone snuggled under one of my blankets, reading with a hot cup of tea close at hand. It sunk in that this soft little wrap would hold someone's precious lost baby.
Just when I thought I couldn't BE any more thankful for my crazy-wonderful children...

God's Treasure Chest

I was reading "All Things Bright & Beautiful" by Herriot while putting Henry to bed tonight and got to the part about this being the best time in your life and you don't realize it. When your children are young and all the wonderful discoveries and pure joy that can be found amidst the sleep deprivation, revolving diaper changes and temper tantrums.
I just HAD to hug Henry then and I said, "Thank you God for my son" and absolutely, whole-heartedly meant it right then. Henry looked up at me from his nest of blankets, pillows and stuffed animals.
Henry: You said, 'Thank you God for your son?' Mama?
Me: Yes, honey. I did. I'm so happy to have you.
Henry: You didn't have a Henry an' you wanted one an' God opened his treasure chest an' der I was!
(He waves his little arms around and says, "Hi Mama! Here I am!")

I kind of like the idea that baby-bellies are God's treasure chest.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sounds & Memories

Inspired by the familiarly simple sound of putting my glasses on the wooden nightstand before getting into bed. Hopefully after I transfer these thoughts into my blog, my mind can settle down to sleep.

The thump,thump, pitter-patter sound of Henry's feet hitting the plastic sides of his enormous firetruck bed and scampering into our bedroom, seeking company in the wee hours of the night.

The softer, muffled thumps of Kathryn tossing & turning in a semi-awake state (this could occur at any hour of the night but usually at that exact moment when I DO NOT want to get up).

Kathryn's brief squawks announcing she is in fact awake and someone better do something about it. Squacks increase in volume and intensity until her bottom is in a clean, dry diaper and she's clutching a warm bottle.

Kathryn's blankies rustling and her snorty, little self-satisfied laugh when she hauls herself up to peer over her crib at me in the morning. Definitely prefer this wakeup call to the indignantly commanding squawks.

Our dog's collar jinging as she scratches an itch before settling down for the night.

Our car door shutting, signaling Dada's return home from work, or the longer drag of the van door opening as we load the kids & gear for the day.

The scrape of our door on the uneven floor of our entryway as Dada walks in.

The gurgle-drip of our tempermental coffee-pot- "Will there be grounds in my morning cup or won't there?"

The sucking pull of the fridge door being yanked open by an inquisitive Henry. "Mama! I want an orange juice box, PLEASE!!" as he helps himself. Then the slam and subsequent "pop" of the freezer door opening. Ugh, remember to close it.

Haven't heard these sounds in a while, but they're still every bit as familiar....

The cows impatiently mooing at their suppertime, building to a demanding crescendo, not unlike Kathryn's morning squawks.

The chickens crowing at all hours. Roosters DON'T only crow at daybreak!

The cats' light & quick steps as they chase each other, occasionally the ripping sound of fabric as one seeks to escape by climbing a piece of furniture.

An old tractor reluctantly starting up and then chugging along with intermittent roars with shifting gears.

The gigantic pig's greedy grunts as we walk across straw-padded floors to toss spoiled apples into her pen.

The back room door being slammed shut, glass rattling, after the boys come in from chores.

Then there are the sounds that are painfully absent.

 My Grandma hollering exasperatedly (and in vain), "Take off your shoes! I just mopped the floors!" as we come in for a snack, dusty & dirty from the barnyard.

My Grandpa saying all he wants for Christmas, his birthday, Grandparent's Day, whatever... is a hug because you can't buy those. So true.

My Nana's voice, answering her phone, and then her "Goodbye. Love you too, baby."

My Grandpa Jake saying, "OK, toots."

Jim's Grandfather stubbornly arguing, adamantly refusing to back down for even a second. Two peas in a pod, they were.

My best friend, Kat talking, just talking. She's been gone for almost 13 years now and I can barely remember the sound of her voice.

To intervene or not to intervene

Yes, I know, touchy subject...but what parenting topic isn't?

Playgrounds seem to be the testing ground where coping skills are developed. Kids interact in free play, utilize their imagination and creative thinking skills....and deal with differences in that direct, often brutally honest way.
We parents who watch our kids at play often feel that slight edge, like "Will my child shove another kid out of the way in their determination to be first down the slide?" "How should I best handle it?" "What if my kid is the one being bullied?"

I for one am NOT comfortable stepping in to police another child's behavior and often simply remove or redirect Henry from a potentially confrontational situation, saying something indirectly like, "We all need to play nicely" unless I see actual aggression or physical danger and then the situation definitely calls for an adult-intervention.
 And then I see those who have no problem whatsoever correcting another child's behavior, whatever it is, regardless of the parent's presence. Seriously? Give me a chance to respond before you jump in and give MY child a lesson in manners.

So when Henry was recently playing with some kids a few years older than him, I was the only adult nearby, off to the side, watching to make sure he didn't wander away or decide that it would be AWESOME to dive from the tallest surface. They were all gathered around and I heard Henry getting all excited and start his familiar 3 yr-old stuttering, "Um, um um..." Then I heard one kid laugh and repeat Henry's "Ums."

My Mama-hackles rose. Who the heck is this kid and how dare he make fun of my Henry?! I started towards the kids when I saw Henry laugh delightedly and continue playing, absolutely unfazed. OK, he's not hurt or upset and he's never been shy about coming to get one of us if someone's pushed him or said something mean.
Correcting that kid would draw attention to the fact that he mocked my son, even if Henry didn't aknowledge it. This kid's parent is NOWHERE around. So I decide to stand closer and pointedly watch them to determine if I do in fact need to intervene.
Nothing more is said and Henry's being included in the group play.

I decided my closer proximity was sufficient and I didn't say anything in this case. I'm sure one of you will think I should have. Maybe you're right. But I also realize that if I intervene in every single incident, no matter how minor, how will my child learn to deal with others when he's apart from me? I can't be there every second to protect my son from every single situation, no matter how small (and no matter how much I want to). If he had acted hurt or upset, there would have been no question that I step in- he is only 3. But at some point too, he has to figure things out for himself.
Where is that line, anyway??!! Where is that elusive spot between "Helicopter Parent" and "Man Up"?

Friday, June 15, 2012


I took Henry to see a hands-on reptile show in our local park tonight. It was awesome- lizards, turtles, and lots & lots of snakes! Henry LOVED it! Especially the stickers- thank you, Steve!! :o)
I tried to let him run around and just have fun with the other kids and the sidewalk chalk but when he was wobbling backwards on the bench with imminent danger of falling straight back onto the sidewalk...well, there are times to intervene. Kid thinks he's invicible. Then they were all petting the turtles who were scurrying around as fast as I've ever seen one move. When I heard the guy say be careful around their mouths, I was convinced that Henry would be the one flailing his arm around with a determined turtle fastened to his finger. That didn't happen, thankfully. Apparently he does take some cautions to heart and kept his little digits away from the busily chomping maws.

Then he was intent on coloring every single square of brick solid blue and ended up with solid blue palms with smears on his shirt, shorts, legs and face for effect. Yep, straight into the tub when we got home.

It was so amazing just watching him interact with the other kids and to see his face light up when he saw a friend.  I also loved watching him discover "hopscotch." He was just so adorable, enthusiastically hopping like a bunny rabbit over the squares, not really getting the whole gist of the game but knowing he was doing "something" right.

Henry's favorite part of the show? The first one shown was a tortoise and as the speaker was describing what they do, the tortoise sprayed all down the front of this poor kid's shirt & pants. Just soaked him. Of course, the kids all thought that was the most hilarious thing in the world. I give the kid credit; he didn't drop the tortoise and rapidly retreat to clean up, as I probably would have done. That is one dedicated volunteer.

When we got home, Henry told Dada all about his favorite part.
Henry:  An' then the man was holding the tornado an' the tornado PEED all over his shirt! It was 'susting! Yeah!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Precious

Getting Henry dressed this morning - he's extremely reluctant to wake up.
Me: Good morning, my precious baby boy.
Henry (scowling): I'm NOT your precious baby boy! I'm a big boy!
Me: OK, good morning, my precious big boy.
Henry (scowling deeper): I'm NOT precious! I'm JUST A BIG BOY!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Sitting with Henry in his quiet, semi-dark room and rocking him, feeling content and peaceful. Grateful to be able to hold my healthy little boy and thinking of how lucky I am. Just our typical bedtime routine and he's almost drifting off when he suddenly sits bolt upright in my lap.

Henry: MAMA!
Me (rather alarmed): What?!
Henry: Do girls like flowers?
(THIS is what was so direly important?)
Me: Yep, some do like flowers.
Henry: Do YOU like flowers?
Me: Sure
Henry: You like TOO MANY flowers?

Why he suddenly needed tips on wooing women, I don't know.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I've noticed that Henry has appeared to have honed his acquisition tactics. Quite successfully, I might add. Case in point....

Henry: I want some candy, please, Dada.
Dada: OK, buddy. Nice manners.
(Henry throws his arms around Dada's neck and presses his soft little cheek against Dada's scratchy, unshaven one.)
Henry: Thanks Dada! You're the best!!

Sure, it could be that his wish was granted on a whim by Dada who was leaving for work in a couple hours and could escape the sugar-crazed 3 year old. I would be doomed to watch him bounce maniacally around his bedroom while alternately pleading, threatening and ultimately leaving him to his own devices as he catapaults himself into Henry-hysterics because Mean Mama LEFT HIS ROOM. That happened to not be the case in this instance and Henry fell aslepp fairly quickly tonight, but still...he got his candy.

I've also taken note of his various responses to us. A refusal could have sent him into a full-blown, crocodile-tears tantrum but lately he's been pooching out his lower lip and gazing soulfully up at me with his big cute-kid eyes. If that doesn't work, he stomps in exasperation, throws up his arms and says, "Aw, man! You gotta be kidding me!" which makes me laugh and hand over whatever he's demanding. OK, maybe not whatever, but you get the picture. And yet through all that, (Grammy even bought him a real, live PONY), he's remarkably good-natured and relatively unspoiled. We'll see how long that lasts before I have to mend my ways and become "Mean Mama" more often.

One Moment

You ever have that one thing that you always seem to be doing? That one moment that seems to drag on while the ones in between speed up and you're back to doing that again?
 I'm ALWAYS driving to work.
Driving home from work.
Feeding the baby.
Changing a diaper.
Taking out the garbage.
Brushing my teeth with Henry.
Laying out their clothes for tomorrow.
Hitting the snooze button 3 x before I get up.
Grocery shopping.
Pumping gas.
Folding laundry.
Cleaning hair off the white bathroom floor.
How can you ALWAYS seem to be doing so many different things? I believe that's what they call "stuck in a rut." :o) It's not necessarily a bad thing and I'm not complaining- it just hit me that these single moments seem to blur together into one unending task, like a sci-fi time loop.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The ants go marching

Henry & I came across some ants swarming in the sidewalk cracks on our walk tonight.
Henry crouched down to look at them. Then he had to poke them with a flower.

Henry: Lookit Mama! They're having a PARTY!
Me: Yep, let's leave them alone so they can have their party.

(Meanwhile I'm thinking "please don't touch them! I don't know if they bite/sting or whatever self-defense mechanism ants have!" If I say that to him, it's guaranteed to propel his little fingers right into that angrily morphing dark mass). 

I'm also desperately trying not to be one of those hovering, anxious mothers who constantly admonishes her poor child to "Put that down! Don't touch that! You'll get FILTHY!"

I want him to find joy in little things and I love seeing him in awe of those simple little things, from ducks landing with a splash onto the canal, to crossing a liftbridge "WAY UP HIGH IN THE AIR!"

Then again, he finds joy in things like ant swarms and colonies of snails sliming their way across the path after a rainstorm.

 So, I restrain myself from bodily removing him from his newest discovery and....much to my surprise, Henry pushes himself up and is happily trudging away until he looks back, disappointed.

Henry: Mama! The ants aren't FOLLOWING ME!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Happy Birthday, Baby Kathryn!

Henry stumbled, sleepy-eyed out into the living room and climbed up in my lap this morning.
Me: Do you know what day it is today?
Henry (his face lights up): Kaffryn's PARTY DAY?
Me: Close, buddy. It's her birthday today! Do you want to say Happy birthday to your sister?
Henry (shakes his head and crawls up onto the couch): No, you do it, Mama. I'm going up here to relax.

Mean Girls

watching "Sleeping Beauty" with Henry.
Henry: "Lookit Mama! Here comes Malificent! She's my favorite MEAN GIRL!

My son, he loves everyone, not just the good guys. Malificent must be one of those "seriously misunderstood" characters. :o)


Henry's all curled up on the couch, snuggled under a fleece blanket.
Henry: Can I have a juice box, please, Mama?
Me: Sure, sweetheart. Do you want apple or orange?
Henry: We got ORANGE JUICE BOXES? Aw! You're kidding me!
Me: Yep, we were out for a while and now we have more. Which is it, buddy?
... Henry: Apple.

Of course.

Princess Leia

Kathryn spied Henry's foam pirate sword down within her reach and went for it. Predictably, Henry got it away from her.
Henry: I don't like her, anymore, Mama. She's not my sister anymore.
Me: Well, who is she then? (this should be good).
Still not sure if that was supposed to be a bad thing.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


This past year has simultaneously dragged on and passed in the blink of an eye. Yesterday was the anniversay of Kathryn's due date and I was just thinking how incredibly fragile I felt then. I can't believe she's going to be 1 on Tuesday.

When did the fragile feeing start? Car accident last December? Cyst on Kat's brain in January's ultrasound? Or was it when my school district notified me April 13, 20011 that I would be laid off at the end of that school year? I even remember the outfit I was wearing when I was called down to the principal's office that day to meet with the HR director. Bright red roses on a white background, empire cut to fit over my 33-week pregnant belly. I never wore that shirt again. I wanted nothing that would invoke the memory of sitting at the conference table while someone who made over $100,000 told me the district couldn't afford my $13,000 salary. I remember seeing that strategically placed Kleenex box and thinking no, I'm not going to break down and sob here and now. I'll save that for the car ride home. I felt coldly logical. Questions about how my maternity leave was affected and my health insurance coverage, and severance pay? Yeah, there was no severance pay. Couldn't afford that, either?
My librarian sat with me through that, at my request. She was there at my hiring interview; it seemed fitting that she see firsthand their reasonings behind letting me go.

I started having contractions that night and continued to contract every 2-3 minutes for hours at a time until Kathryn's delivery on June 5th. I even called my midwife, packed a bag and went to the hospital in mid-May, convinced it was "time" but it was unproductive labor and I never progressed past 2 cm. I'm still thankful for my friends and family, who came to offer their support and encouragement and even massages while I was waiting, waiting, and for my extrememely patient midwife who came in at dawn that day for a false alarm. She did see me through another natural childbirth, albeit a few weeks later.

The school district expected me to work up until my delivery date and I was there on June 1st, feeling everyone's eyes on me as they expected me to drop that baby right then and there in my school library. Then I was done. I've been back a couple of times, showed off the baby, brought Henry in for lunch with Mama's friends, but it truly broke my heart to lose that job. I was entirely content and satisfied to work as a library clerk in an elementary school, even at that poor pay rate. The people were incredible, especially my librarian, and the students definitely kept me on my toes. Never a dull moment.


This is the first time I've written about that in depth and was just in the mood to write after my nightly walk with Henry. Today also marks 8 years since my grandpa Henry passed away.

We made our circuit around the block and on a whim we wandered onto the cracked paved path of a local cemetary. The sun was setting and it was just cool enough for me to wear a sweater. My kind of weather.

The most recent gravestones I saw there were dated in the 1950s and most centered around the mid to late 1800s. Everything from glossy finished grave markers to the pale white, pitted stones reminiscent of Salem-era ghost stories.

As Henry & I meandered through the cemetary, I had a moment of utter clarity. Every one of those forgotten gravestones represented a loss, a burial, someone mourning a loved one. I pictured black-clad figures with heads bowed standing around each plot as I passed graves marked "Aged 28 years" "Aged 32 years" "Aged 34 years."

I'm turning 31 next month. Makes me even more thankful for my life, my family, my friends and I intend to cherish every moment left. Except for maybe the temper tantrums and blow-out diapers.