October is Over

Sometime around Halloween, I usually start to despair. My life is such that I’m always busy. But between September and November I’m not just busy, I’m epically busy – and it’s been even truer than usual this year. Contributing factors include four birthdays in six weeks, apple picking and preserving, Halloween and the last good weather of the year (see also: raking time!).

This year I added to that normal busy mix a cat who requires tube feeding, soccer-which-requires-practices, a new role at work that has me travelling fortnightly and the World Series (I didn’t miss a game this year, at the cost of sleep, relationships and using my spare time for anything that wasn’t baseball). Somehow I felt just a touch busy, even with the strong effort by my husband (and mother-in-law for the past week).

So this is a catch-up post, where I get back on the horse and update on you a few activities.

Grey striking, surrounded by two of his good friends.

Stoneham has a great town Soccer club. We haven’t done it in the past because it’s on Sunday mornings. But this year, it really seemed like something we needed to do. (It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that all their friends are in the league.) We showed up to church in cleats a lot, and only missed a handful of Sundays. It was pretty great. Grey was on team Greece, who pretty much rocked it. They lost two games (I think) and won several quite decisively. By the end they were doing things like “passing” and “having a strategy” and “knowing what they were supposed to be doing”. There were a few actually thrilling moments of soccer! It did involve practices, but Grey’s coach understands that I’m coming from work, and so it was relaxing instead of stressful. Greece will hit the fields again in Spring, and I’m excited for it. Thane did soccer too, but his version seemed to involve a lot of falling down.

My best preserve, I think, is the autumn pear.

This year I made: 2 strawberry jam, 3 pesto (frozen), 4 plum jam (shiro, red, Santa Rosa & mixed spiced), 1 plum compote, 2 autumn pear, 1 ginger lime pear (remind me never to accept a bushel of pears again), 1 crabapple jelly (from wild crabapples on the soccer field), & 1 apple butter. I think that’s it. I missed making a second batch of apple butter (I usually make two) and pepperonata (the red peppers didn’t do as well this year). Next year I hope to have damson plums from my tree.

Thane listens to Grey read a very sick Tiberius a story about cats. You can see Grey petting Tiberius.

One of our new cats (what was I THINKING getting new cats at the beginning of heavy season?) developed fatty liver disease, and required a feeding tube. It was put in three weeks ago (I think?). For the first week, he was being fed four times a day and throwing up five. He was within two days of me deciding that this was no kind of life, and ceasing his pain. The second week we started getting some traction. It’s been up and down since then (it was a great day when I got down to three feedings a day, eliminating the middle of the night feeding). Today, for the first time, he started eating food. You’ve never seen someone as excited as I was about a cat eating cat food. He’s going to make it!

Best friends in line for a roller coaster

Grey’s birthday
Grey turned eight, and I took he and two of his best friends to Canobie Lake Park. I had a blast as we rode very mild roller coasters, hung out in the arcade and made fart jokes. Well, some of us did. Then we had sushi, followed by a Minecraft cake. It felt… older. It was the first time I’ve taken Grey and his friends out to do kid stuff and be kids. I loved it – they were old enough to have so much fun with, but young enough that all of them would hold my hand. Pictures here

Scary birthday goers!

Thane’s birthday
I will confess that I just threw an invite out there at the last minute for Thane’s fifth birthday, figuring I’d figure it out as I went along. Two days before the event, I panicked as I realized that it was EXACTLY THE SAME TIME as the Main Street trick-or-treating! I was going to miss it, and all these five year olds were going to miss it too. So I sent out a last minute change asking that the kids come in costume. We spent the first hour trick or treating together. We had a blast, and I felt brilliant. Let the record show that it took 5 years for a kid with a 28th birthday to have a Halloween/Birthday party. I held out that long.

(Does it say anything that I’m going through my pictures trying to remember what the heck I’ve been doing that’s made me so busy?)

Well, that’s about it. I think you’re caught up. Don’t get too comfortable with it though, because Mocksgiving is in (EEEEK!) a week and a half, so yeah…

Anyway, pictures of my super-busy October can be found here!

Grey is Five

Say, can you help me? I’m pretty sure I left a four year old around here somewhere. I know I saw him last night. I tucked him into bed and gazed at his sweet face. Maybe I even took a picture of him lying there, looking all four. But this morning, I can’t find him anywhere. I did find this neat five year old wandering around, but he can’t possibly be *mine*. I mean, do I look old enough to have a five year old? I think not.

Or maybe I am. It so turns out that the big five year old wandering around *is* my son Grey. And what a fine young five year old he is.

Last moments of a four year old
Last moments of a four year old

I did a big post not so long ago about Grey, and what he’s up to. In the incremental way of children who are no longer babies, he’s continued to build on those foundations. Emotionally, he’s more in control of himself. He is very empathetic and kind towards his brother and others (although he maintains a great dislike and disdain of ants). Physically, all his skills continue to come together towards a refinement of motion. I can see laid the foundations where he surpasses me, the vigor and sureness of youth overtaking the experience and practice of age. His balance is excellent. His fine motor skills are improving. He’s fast (although not QUITE fast enough to beat me in extremis… yet).

I’m very impressed by how Grey is doing at aikido. We had a period where we stepped back a bit from pushing it because, as Grey described it, there was “too much love”. He also explained that he was tired after school on Wednesdays. (Duh.) Now we have a rule that he should go once a week, but we never need to enforce it. we ask him if he wants to go, and he says yes. He goes with great cheer and no complaining. He listens on the mat. He sits still. He pays attention to the lessons. He runs hard. He laughs and has fun. He’s still a little goofier than martial arts call for, but I’m incredibly proud of the attitude he bring to it.

Grey's birthday party
Grey's birthday party

Reading is going from a task of great effort to a background processing activity. I admit that there are uncomfortable moments — he can totally bust us when we spell things out now. He totally knows what that sign says (Donut) and whether the flyer you just handed him is actually for him. (It’s not.) It’s a real joy to listen to him read. He’s playing a Bakugan DS game, and it has all these really hard quiz questions on the Bakugan. He’s asked me to read a few to him. I have no idea how he’s getting them, but they seem to make sense. His language acquisition isn’t totally perfect, of course. He still has challenges with the past tense. But he read all the birthday cards that were sent to him this year!

Grey can be super polite and considerate. It’s stopped being a constant nagging on our part, and begun to be a part of who he is and how he talks. Even when he doesn’t SAY please or thank you, his tone of voice is charming and pleasant (as he constantly begs for treats). And I LOVE his excitement. Tonight we went THE 99! He jumped up and down and clapped his hands and squeed and hugged my leg. He kissed me and said I was the BEST MAMA EVER. Honestly, I think I could win the lottery and be less effusive. But that’s to my detriment — I love his energy and enthusiasm and joy in life!

I think it might be a fool’s errand to try to encapsulate why I love him so much — the myriad ways he charms me. NPR today included a quote that says, “A beetle is a gazelle in his mother’s eye”. I think it is one of the blessings of humanity that mothers are so charmed by their children, and that children shine at least in the eyes of their parents. It’s one of the good things in life, this half-blind reciprocal joyful loving between parents and children (in between the patches where we drive each other crazy).

Every time I write a blog post about one of my sons I worry. I worry that the OTHER son will figure out that this son is my favorite. Of course, then when I go to write about the other, I have the exact same worry. In a mathematically and linguistically unlikely way, I’ve come to realize that BOTH my sons are my favorites. I just really like them.

Dinner tonight
Dinner tonight