Neighborhood Friends

We've recently ventured into new territory as Henry has developed a friendship with a little girl that lives two houses down on our block. She's going into 1st grade in the fall and is very sweet and quiet and really good about playing with Henry and Silas. It's been so fun to watch Henry go from really shy to asking why "my friend isn't here" when we haven't seen her in a few days.

It's also nice because she and Henry can play in the back yard while we keep a general eye on them but they don't have to be 100% supervised-- this proved really helpful during the fence-building weekends. Alas, the friend has a cousin who is the same age but a much bolder little girl. She's not aggressive but frankly, she drives me nuts. She's very dramatic, very loud, and winds up doing the talking for A, who's English isn't great. The cousin lives close enough that she's over about every 3rd time we see A.

Beyond the issue of not necessarily being able to pick your children's friends, we've been navigating a whole series of decisions that probably should be easier than i'm making them. Like, how do you respond when A shares her Popsicle with Henry (oh, that's sweet), then shares her Capri Sun (hmm, THAT's a lot of sugar for today) and then goes home and gets two more-- one for each other them (okay, if i wasn't building this fence i'd definitely put a stop to that!) Should i react by banning her treats even though she's being so generous and nice to share her snacks? I'm thinking the better solution is to have some "approved" snacks on hand so that Henry can share next time she's over.

But then there's this existential issue of what kind of neighborhood mom do i want to be? Do i want to be the mom who's house is ground central for all the kids-- the more the merrier, we're happy to have them? I can pretty much say for certain i don't want to me that mom with those on-going responsibilities. But, do i want to be the mom who never let's her kids have friends over or won't "share" any of her property with kids in an ad hoc way? Not sure i want to be on that side of the fence either. I'm hoping to stumble into more middle of the road solutions like i found at our BBQ on Sunday.

A and J were playing out front on Sunday while the boys were napping and i was frantically sweeping and prepping for our BBQ. I told them the boys were asleep and that i was busy getting ready for a party so i couldn't chat. They went away and about 5 seconds later, J came back and asked if they could come to the party if their mom said yes. I was taken aback, not sure how to respond, and just said we'd have to see. They went back to their house and i finished readying everything before our guests came.

Sure enough, as soon as we opened the side gate and started welcoming folks into the back-yard they were right out in front. After conferring with my parenting sounding boards i took the suggestion to tell them that they could come in and play with the other kids, but when the rest of the guests arrived they'd have to go back to their house because there would be too many people for me to watch without their parents there.

It actually seemed to work like a charm. The kids all played happily in the "dirt box," i.e. the raised bed that was not yet planted, and they were very well behaved about going home when i told them it was time.

So, we'll see what new parenting issues they continue to raise this summer and i'll do my best not to overthink my 3 year-old's social life.


Infrastructure Built

To say we've been busy these past few months has been an understatement. I think it's fitting that we managed to cap the major infrastructure projects on the last spring weekend/kick off to summer. I hope to spend more of the next three months enjoying the fruits of our labor, kicking around in the back yard, harvesting veggies and cut flowers, and enjoying the neighborhood park and pool.

This weekend Troy ended his neighborly indentured servitude and will make sure not to volunteer to "help" again. We did make quite a team though-- our veggie planting box is filled with dirt and now with seeds and plants, we have new trellis on the side of the house planted with ivy, and we completed the picket fence in the front yard on Sunday morning. I know it's not the standard arrangement but my at belated birthday BBQ we discussed with our other couple friends how nice it was to do such a major project with a friend instead of a partner. I'm not sure what it is about loved ones that can ratchet the pressure on a project-- but working with a friend enabled us to stay calm and trouble-shoot steadily. All of our friends agreed that we should form work teams for big projects from now on.

Henry and Silas had a great time at the BBQ. Silas made some progress on accepting the texture of grass and discovered that he LOVES the little slide we have in the backyard. The scary thing is he can just about climb up it and go down on his own-- someone has to be there to spot but he's about 90% independent-- and then eager to go again. He also took his first steps at the BBQ walking from Tiffany to my arms. It was just a few steps but he took them very confidently and of course hasn't seen fit to repeat it since. I'm pretty sure that when he decides to start walking he'll figure it out pretty soon, but right now he's still content to crawl around at the speed of lightening.

We closed out the weekend with a trip to the zoo and Henry and Silas were angelic babies the whole time. Sweaty and hot little angels, but i couldn't have asked for more. They both took long naps and just couldn't have been more cooperative today. Tomorrow we're back in the 50s and back to school. It's also hard to believe that in a month we'll be on our beach vacation.

Which reminds me, i didn't post last week because i was in Anaheim, CA for a conference. Professionally the conference went well and the boys did great with JT. Thankfully the day i left JT got out of his full cast into a split which made caring for the boys much, much easier. I brought home a few goodies but wouldn't you figure the free calculator from the conference has so far been the lasting hit and has earned a spot in the airplane carry-on for this summers' trip.



When i think about what i want to teach my children it's lots of practical stuff like how to iron, do basic mending, manage money and know at least some plant basics. There are bigger hopes as well of course; that they'll be observant, empathetic, hard-working young men one day. I might have said ambitious, but i have a little trouble with that word.

I was raised to do my best, to work hard and to always try to make things better than you found them. I still believe those things and try to live my life along their tenants. The word "ambition" was often thrown around when people described me and it felt obvious to be described as an ambitious person. Over time however, i've questioned the connotation of ambitious as someone that puts the striving, the accomplishment, above everything else. Maybe that's just my take, but that's the tenant of ambition to which i am not reconciled.

I hope to impart to my boys a blend of ambition and contentedness. I want them to want to make change for the better, to see how to fix things and do something about it, but i also want them to be able to say-- "things seem good enough right now so i'm just going to enjoy this time." There are always things to fix, some more urgently than others and i hope the boys see these things writ large and small and DO something about them. But i want them to find calm, some peace in their lives that let's them enjoy downtime without frantically looking to make things better. Some times things are just good enough.

I haven't figured out the appropriate way to "show" this skill- this life balance i wish for them. But i have a feeling it's a matter of them just living life like we try to-- balancing our striving times with our times of acceptance-- no needle-threading practice sessions involved.



Although our early-spring accidents put a kink in our step, i'd say that JT and i have found our way back to some routines that work pretty well. Tonight was a perfect example. By 5:30 we were all home and started doing dinner prep in the kitchen. JT made a prep list for Henry and I and Henry helped me with all of tonight's dinner parts-- making the hot dog buns, prepping the green beans and potatoes, and suffering in solidarity while i chopped the onion.

JT fed Silas while we finished our prep and then i gave Silas a bath while we waited on our buns to rise. While i bathed both boys and shepherded Silas to sleep, JT cooked everything. Henry, JT and I ate dinner together and then after dinner got Henry ready for and off to bed. Post clean-up and a few loads of laundry later, i'm catching up on this post.

I wouldn't want to have the same cooking responsibilities in perpetuity, but for now the system works. Hopefully in another couple weeks we'll be able to go back to our tried and true systems where i just tell JT how delicious his cooking is, and that's the extent of my meal prep.

Speaking of systems-- this time systems breaking down. We found out on Tuesday that the babysitter we've been using regularly for over a year is quitting us. She's moved on to a more demanding job and i assume is just phasing out of babysitting. Which is understandable of course, but so, so sad. Not only was she great and so good and dropping in, taking over, and shooing us out the door but Henry loves her. She's going to be sitting for us a few more times but we're on the hunt for a new regular sitter. So if you're local and you've got tips-- feel free to send them my way.


13 Months/ 3 Years

Finally-- some pictures! Nice weekend although not terribly nice weather. First-- some landscaping updates: the raised bed Troy and i (and Henry) built last weekend. The dirt comes next weekend and the veggies shortly thereafter.

Then-- i finished tearing up the front parkway and transplanted the shrubs from the front yard, numerous hostas and put down umpteen bags of mulch. It's a bit of robbing Peter to pay Paul, but i've made way in the front yard for the new fence we're hoping to start next weekend and the grasses we'll be putting in at the end of May.

Silas had an up and down weekend-- mostly up but irritable and crying inconsolably after naptime today. Not sure what the problem was-- a walk around the block and dinner out helped even out his temperament. His front top and bottom teeth are finally making some headway.

Henry got to spend some time with "Troy-ee" cashing in the "hide-n-seek pass" Henry received for his birthday. We also wrung some enjoyment out of the super stormy Sunday with a visit from Tabitha, Helen and Carys. They enjoyed the basement quite a bit and had a hoot in the dress-up box.


Stream of consciousness

At this point we don't really notice it, but Henry keeps up a pretty animated level of banter anytime he's around people with whom he's comfortable. Today Henry and Silas and I headed for our monthly visit to the chiropractor. JT was already there (he's going for stuff related to his arm injury) and once Henry saw JT he just launched into run-on after run-on that paid no heed to linear thought. I believe it went something like-- Oh, dad! Hi, i need to go potty-- but i want to wait and read this dinosaur book. You read the dinosaur book to me, what's his name? why can't we play the dinosaur game? You make sure baby doesn't get my water-- i want some water, i have to go to the potty with daddy...etc.

It didn't strike me as unusual-- that's just the level of chatter to which we're acclimated. But, the receptionist was laughing about how Henry went from quietly looking at books to an uninterrupted stream of thoughts as soon as JT walked in the door.

Speaking of books-- i've mentioned several times that Henry is big into reading. He's also very interested in just about everything-- but lately a lot about the natural world. We got on the topic of the seasons and the role the sun plays in determining how long and warm, or short and cold are days are. I gave a simple explanation and then said-- i bet you'll get to learn all about the planets at school. To which Henry replied-- i don't want to wait to learn about planets at school, i want to learn about planets myself. So-- we made sure to fit in a trip to the library today and found several cool books about the sun, moon, and all the planets.

I've heard a lot of mothers with similarly aged kids mention how the younger one wants to do everything the older one does. We see that some with Henry and Silas-- if Henry has a toy Silas wants it, although about the time Henry starts to complain about how Silas isn't sharing-- Silas usually crawls off to something else that's caught his eye.

Silas does however have to have a book to look at in the car just like Henry. Lately he's taken to holding it up in front of himself-- usually upside down and babbling along as if he's reading the story.


3 Years, 13 Months

I know my posting rate has certainly declined and the photo frequency isn't quite what it used to be. Although the dust has settled on our injuries, my free time has been curtailed. Coupled with spring garden season and i find myself sharpening my garden shears at 10:30 at night instead of plotting out a good post.

For now i'm aiming for two posts a week-- ideally one that is topical and one that has updates on the boys. I'm just squeaking in with my second post this week and wanted to try to catch up on the developments i've failed to document.

Silas is climbing the stairs like a pro now and if we don't keep the baby gates locked at all times the second you turn your back he's up half a flight of stairs. I'm not so worried about him going up but he tries to go down either by just walking down (!) or scooting forwards off the step. Neither method are particularly foolproof and as our steps are very steep we have to be there to catch him. He's similarly fearless in the bathtub, constantly trying to scamper up the slippery tub walls-- not deterred by nightly face plants into the water. He generally still loves the bath and likes to splash around and put bowls on top of his head-- and then initiate peek-a-boo.

Speaking of peek-a-boo he's obsessed. Henry was a jolly enough kid but Silas starts games like there's no tomorrow. And, once you've made something a game-- for instance while he's looking at the ceiling you tickle his belly, he'll remember and initiate the game on his own months later. He's still not walking but pushing anything he can get his hands on around the house. He has a few walkers and uses them but just as quickly abandons them once they hit a wall and goes for the kitchen chairs or step stool. Brenda told me she bought a walker for him to use at school and after 3 minutes he was back to pushing the kid-sized chairs around.

Henry alternates between very loving, very obstinate, and very inquisitive. Why is still one of the questions we entertain minute by minute in the course of our day. I have figured out that i think part of his whys are aimed at enforcing consistency. He will ask the same "why" question at the same point in a story, song, etc. I've started asking him why he thinks and he seems quite pleased to give you the answer he was expecting. Which is great until he asks "why" essentially wanting you to explain all over again.

He's always loved books, loves anyone and everyone reading to him, loves to look at books on his own in the car and now to listen to stories on cd as well. He's also getting more interested in "reading" the words-- asking how to spell things, what words say what on books, yogurt containers, etc. For his Birthday Henry got a big magnetic board with magnetic letters and we've been trying to spend frequent bouts of time spelling out words he's interested in. Brenda told me he's the only kid that asks to do "homework" at school and gets upset if they don't have time to do it.

We had his 3 year Doctor appointment a few weeks ago and all systems were go. He was 31 lbs and some amount of height that put him in the 50-75% for weight (we'll take it!) and the 75% percentile for height. We have some skills he needs to accomplish by the end of the summer (walking up and down stairs like a "big boy", i.e. one foot one step, pedaling, and jumping.) If we don't seem him improving on these tasks-- especially the jumping and stairs we're probably going to have him evaluated for physical therapy again.

So far we've made pretty drastic progress on the stairs. We got his tricycle out today and he got frustrated but i think if we work on it consistently this summer he'll make progress. Besides the coordination though, you can tell it's really hard on his legs to push himself. That lack of strength is what we have to take pains to improve and if it doesn't improve enough, we'll probably need some extra help!

Okay, consider yourself updated. Even if there are no new pictures.