So I’ve been terribly remiss getting my pictures up and on the computer. With very little preamble, let me present to you:
– Pictures from Justice’s funeral
– Many neighborhood babies
– Mr. Toothless
– Adam’s birthday game night
– Thane’s fourth birthday
– Leaf raking
– A trip to Plimouth Plantation (taken today, in unseasonably delightful weather)
I love graveyards. I always have. I remember being 6 and visiting the graveyard in Bonners Ferry and thinking how pretty it was, and if I died soon I hoped they’d bury me there. I used to go hang out in the Mineral Cemetery to watch the stars on bright, clear nights. My husband proposed to me in the tiny graveyard we’d walked to on the night we met. I walked around the Wyoming Cemetery in Melrose the night I was in labor with Grey, and through Stoneham’s Lindenwood Cemetery the night I gave birth to Thane. I am often in graveyards, when I play taps for veterans funerals. I find graveyards lovely, peaceful, thought-provoking and restful.
On Saturday, we arranged with Coelynn McIninch to do our every-four-years formal family portraits. Coe had taken the Camp Gramp portraits two years ago, and I’d liked her work a lot, so it was logical to ask her to come and shoot us. But it was 4 pm on a Saturday afternoon in September, with fast-fading light. It was overcast, and a bit chilly. I’d _planned_ on going to the Middlesex Fells for the pictures, but suddenly that seemed a long way away. “Why don’t we just go to the graveyard?” my husband inquired, reading my mind. And so we went.
I should also mention that we are very respectful of graves, and we teach our sons to be as well. I never forget that a place of peace of me is a place of sorrow for others.*
Folks, the pictures are AMAZING. It was very, very difficult (nigh impossible!) to keep Thane looking forward and smiling, but she did it. Grey is adorably snaggle-toothed… I’m shocked that the front tooth has held on another few days! There were some pictures of us getting wiggles out, or being silly, or just being a family with a six year old and three year old (for a few more days!) I’m super pleased with all of them – both silly** and serious – and the hard part will be to decide which ones make it on the wall and in our Christmas cards!
That’s right, folks. The last game of the regular season is on the radio, so it is clearly time to think of Christmas cards!
I’m tempted not to share, if only so those of you who actually get Christmas cards from me are surprised, but that seems too mean.
*There was a guy there who was learning how to drive a clutch on the cemetery hills – loudly – and someone must have called the police because two cruisers pulled in just as we pulled out. I admit to being rather glad we were safely off by then!
**The ones where the boys are being zombies and eating Adam’s brains are AWESOME. I love the “Tomb of the Living Dead” some teenager scrawled on that wall years ago.
Thane has gone camping every summer of his life. He was born in October, and by the time his first May rolled around I decided that it was time to go camping! (As an aside: why did we NOT go camping for the 5 summers between graduation and having kids? What was I so busy doing? It’s a mystery.) I trundled the kids (and the pack ‘n’ play!) into a car and by gum, we went camping. His first camping trip was at nine months. We went camping when he was 18 months. And 27 months.
Last summer, my dearest husband and I began to wonder if we even liked camping (the answer being – we definitely like it by ourselves!) It was tough camping with such little kids. And as much as I love camping, it did require toughing. At 9 months, Thane wasn’t – you know – sleeping through the night. When he was 1, he would wake up at 5:45 hungry and bored. At 2, he still so desperately needed his naps and had such a miserable time taking them. There were the diapers. The constant vigilance. The sleep deprivation. The whining. By an objective measure, it wasn’t really… you know… fun. The kids were too small to swim unless we were physically holding them. Too small to go boating. Too small to go fishing. Too small to go for more than a mile-long leisurely hike. Too small to make them do the dishes. Sometimes camping was refreshing, or satisfying. There were glorious moments. It broke the tedium of every day the same. But by the time it was pack-up time, we were really ready to go.
But I had faith that if I just toughed it out, camping with my sons would eventually be awesome. I mean, I love camping. I love the tent. I love the smell of woodsmoke. I love the call of the loons on the lake. I love lying in a dewing field watching the stars come out. I love finding sticks for kindling, swimming, hiking, reading and discovering cool spiderwebs. I mean, isn’t this what having boys is supposed to be all about, this ecstasy of outdoorsiness? All I had to do was get to that moment – that trip – where it all clicked.
And folks, I’m here to tell you THIS WAS IT. We went camping this last weekend, and it was awesome. The weather was awesome. By dint of making reservations in January, we had a truly amazing camping spot. And the kids were so fun. We skipped naps. The kids slept until 8 am. They paid attention to our “how to make a fire” lecture. They entertained themselves. Grey rode a bike without training wheels for the first time. He read a chapter book. Thane used his “playing quietly by himself” skills. Grey swam without flotation devices, made friends, and periodically wandered back to the campsite to check in. Thane went the entire weekend without any potty training accidents. My sons summitted their first mountain (Black Cap Peak). It was just great. I sat by the fire, watching the water, listening to the loons on the lake, hanging out contentedly at the beach, and eating all the s’mores myself because for some reason my crazy children don’t like s’mores.
I’m sure not every camping trip will be this awesome, but this one really was. So for those of you wondering when it’s a good age to bring your kids camping… I vote for 3 and 9 months.
No, don’t worry. I’m not going to start talking politics. And no, I haven’t undergone a personality transplant to become one of the Permanently Angry. This ragey rampage is quite cheerful and happy.
On Saturday after Aikido we headed down to Providence to attend a game of the American Ultimate Disc League’sRhode Island Rampage. I’d been wanting to do this since it came to my attention that they existed a few weeks ago. Of course, they only STARTED existing a few weeks ago, which is my excuse. Part of my motivation for wanting to go is that one of the kids that I taught in Sunday School a million years ago is one of their players. (As he pointed out – embarrassed after the game – “In my defense, they also ran the after-church D&D game!”) There was no way I was going to miss getting to watch him play professional disc! So down we went.
It was a blast. Ultimate Frisbee is fun to watch, and the rules they’ve put in to make it more of a spectator sport worked quite well. But the distance between the players and the audience was so much less than at most college or pro sports – it felt more like high school. The athleticism of the athletes was astounding – those young men flew. And they did things with the discs that were astounding. The pacing and the scoring were good – enough scoring for American attention spans, but not an expected score per possession like basketball. It was also great for the kids, since they could wander the stands and yell cheers. One of the fun parts was that with such a young team – 5 games into existence – we were all sort of making up what it meant to be fans. A friend turned to me after the end of the third quarter and asked, “So do we sing Sweet Caroline now?” Well, maybe we do? Who knows?
And at the end of the afternoon – waning light on a warm Saturday – I was totally a RI Rampage fan. I really enjoyed myself, and I want to go again.
I had fun with my camera while I was there. The Rampage uniforms are awesome. The orange against the spring colors was very dramatic. I’ve also been digging the post processing filters on Picasa. Ok, ok, so it’s lame. I know. I’m not a real photographer, yadda yadda. But it’s fun when a picture you took of places you know suddenly looks like a pencil sketch. What can I say? Whatever artistic excesses you blame me for, I accept my guilt.
It was a busy weekend this weekend – even by my criteria. There were about 6 loads of laundry, 3 sets of dishes, two lawns mown, a three year old’s birthday, two aikido practices, one jello mold attempt and one 60s dance party. And that was just Saturday.
Today after church, I decided the weather was so lovely that I had to find my way down to the Arnold Arboretum for my annual sniffing of the lilacs. It was glorious weather, and glorious sniffing, for all it was two weeks before the planned Lilac Event, with the warm spring my timing was perfect. We wandered, romped, rolled, rough-housed, sneaked, ran and sniffed to our heart’s content. I realized, actually, that this annual event last year was just about the last time I walked without limping in the last year. I was much better, but very nervous on the rough ground today.
Anyway, the pictures I took reminded me that oh! I have a camera! And I should maybe download the pictures on it!
Yesterday was Piemas. For those of you not familiar with the phenomenon, Piemas, it is a complicated holiday with a long and extended history. It is a holiday we made up about 7 years ago to celebrate the eating of pie, and other pie shaped festivities. Mmmm pie.
This year, I made:
2 chicken pot pies
1 blueberry pie from farmshare blueberries this summer
1 lemon merangue pie (which I just finished – it’s my favorite)
1 pecan pie
1 Nutella crack pie (because I had an empty crust and needed a filling and I had Nutella lying around – this was a digestive bombshell)
Many other people brought many other pies. We had a 1:1 pie to person ratio, with the advantage slightly in favor of the pies. There were, as always, many delicious and exceptional pies. There was much talking, and much game playing. There were 8.5 kids, but their chaos generation fields were overwhelmed by the tumult of Adults Eating Pie. There were savory pies, sweet pies, ice cream pies & boozy pies. In an innovation this year, I also served fancy teas in my fancy silver tea pot in fancy cups, which was really fun. There were new people, and folks who’d been around since the thought first occurred that Pies were important enough to merit their own darn holiday.
The whole thing was really fun, and I didn’t make it to bed until 2:30 this morning and I regret not a whit of it, and I’m so grateful to everyone who came and brought pie and ate it with me – except for Josh was was CLEARLY cheating at 7 Wonders in order to beat me that badly. And for those of you who couldn’t be here – I missed you. Next year.
You can see full pictures of the festivities here: Piemas!!!
October is a busy month. Pretty much everyone has a birthday in October. So I’ve spent the last few weeks running around like a chicken with her head cut off. (Brawk!) In the brief gap between birthdays and Mocksgiving, I thought I might actually (gasp) give you an update.
As indicated, my sons are both now a year older! So I thought I would tell you about who Grey is at six years old.
First, the facts. Grey is in Kindergarten – the second oldest kid there – with Mrs. Carrozza. She is a delightfully experienced, take-no-prisoners model of a Kindergarten teacher. Grey is 46 inches tall (3’10”) and weighs 45 lbs. Perfectly balanced now, in not too long he’ll tip over into more pounds than inches for the first time. He has reddish hair, the only blue eyes in his class and a little red mark on his right cheek.
Grey’s favorite things right now are Collectible Card games (Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh – doesn’t really matter), DS games (he’s particularly enjoying Pokemon Soul Silver and Scooby Doo First Frights), and Kidz Bop music. He likes to read and reads everything around him, but prefers to stick to picture books. He’ll read a chapter book if you get him hooked, but he’ll rarely pick one up and tackle it himself. He’s spending a lot of time drawing detailed narrative pictures and labeling them appropriately. He adores Legos, and will build extensive Lego edifices. He never likes to break them up, so they linger in piles around his room.
Grey has also started telling intricate and often compelling stories. Last weekend we went hiking in Octobrish woods, exchanging spooky stories about what lurked in that pond, what was buried under that stone, and who we just saw vanish into a hole in the ground. Grey got really into it, telling terrifying stories with aplomb and timing. He’s at that delightful period of imagination after all sorts of possibilities have been introduced to the mind, but before you start living by the tropes and unwritten rules that so often govern grown imaginations.
He also has already put on his Gamemaster hat. I gave him his own set of dice for his birthday. Just like his father, he has a gaming notebook full of dungeon maps and notes. He’ll walk a party through the labrynth, usually with many explosions and all-powerful devices and incredibly rich rewards. It’s very fun, and a joy to watch. I imagine a day some day a few years in the future when Grey is running the “kids game” in the kitchen while we play the “grownups game” in the dining room.
Grey does aikido once or twice a week. He has a yellow belt, although sensei threatened him with its loss if he didn’t remember all the yellow belt techniques. Grey took the threat in the productive way, and spent all week working on tsuki kotegaesh with his father. Grey did swimming lessons all last winter and through the summer at summer camp. He can paddle around ok in the water, although I would not consider him a strong swimmer. I have no intention of doing swimming lessons again this winter. Getting them in conjunction with summer camp works out very well for me, thanks! He’s an excellent walker and hiker. We try to walk to school at least once a week, which is .7 of a mile. He’s gone on walks of nearly 5 miles in length in the past.
At Sunday School, Grey is really learning and paying attention to the teachers. He retold the whole story of Isaac and his sons the other day. He’s a bit rambunctious in combination with the other boys, alternating as a follower and a leader in their light mischief.
Grey dislikes being alone, except in his room during quiet time. Whenever possible he will be wherever other people are. He refuses to brush his teeth at night by himself, even if he has to sacrifice story time and even if I’m just a room or two away. He’s quite independent skills wise: he will set the table by himself, work on his homework, put away his clothes, feed the cats, brush his teeth, etc. But he will not do these alone.
Grey is particularly fond of cute things. He has a collection of stuffed animal friends who are not lovies, but who are treasured for their cuteness and relationships. They are, with hardly any exceptions, named AnimalName-y. So we have Puppy and Tigry and Liony etc. He also like cute people. One of his favorite people is the year old son of friends of ours, whom he dotes on as adorable. (Which, by the way, is totally true.)
So far, Grey seems to get along well with others. He has friends at home, at school, at church and at afterschool. He seems to make friends pretty easily. He doesn’t have one single best friend forever, but had plenty of people he wanted to invite to his birthday, and plenty of them came. He and his brother have started playing in more intentional ways, although Thane will still drive Grey nuts by taking whatever toy Grey’s playing with, or knocking down their shared block tower.
When I asked him how he would define himself, he said, “Grey is the person who loves.” Also, “Grey is the one who makes new friends, and visits his old friends.” Those are some pretty awesome things. (He would also like to tell you that one of his cats is stinky. It’s true!)
By the way, I recently posted a bunch of our pictures. You can find them here: Late October 2011
So I have learned through many long years that you should never, ever go apple picking on Columbus Day weekend. However, timing (and knees) being what they are… once again we found the only good weekend day for apple picking to be today – one day after Grey’s birthday party on an 85 degree October day.
It was packed. The traffic jam to get up the road to the orchard was the first of many lines. However, we eventually worked our way to a point where we could hand over our money and wander to the remoter parts of the orchard. It was a lovely (if tiring) time. And yesterday was Grey’s birthday party! There was a large number of young folks wandering around, playing with legos and hitting each other with cardboard tubes. Then I fed them large amounts of sugar. It was fun.
This is all a lead in to say… I actually have pictures. I mean, this is only like 6 weeks worth of pictures on one of my two cameras. It includes: Hurricane Irene, walking in the Fells with Laureen, first day of Kindergarten, my “Last Ambulatory Weekend” party, Grey baking my birthday cake, Grey’s birthday party & apple picking.