Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dancing Man

When you really love someone, there's nothing better in the world than watching them do something they are good at and love. I could watch him for hours. He is so beautiful he takes my breath away.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Better than ever

Do you ever go to share something from your childhood with your kids that you thought was absolutely amazing and upon viewing it with adult eyes, you are left feeling like all the color was just drained from your rosy memory? Kind of a bummer.

But other things totally stand the test of time and, in fact, are even more wonder-ful with the maturity and experience to recognize what was truly being offered. One such shining example... Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. That man was brilliant with children, deeply respectful of their feelings, decades ahead of his time in understanding that the best learning for little ones comes through play, and a fantastic jazz pianist to boot!

But don't just take it from me. Here he is convincing a bunch of stuffy politicians to save PBS back in 1969.

While we are generally pretty strict about TV and video watching around here (I know, we're THOSE kind of parents), Mr. Roger's is a whole other category of entertainment. I have as dopey a grin on my face as Taran when Fred does his little shoe-toss trick at the beginning of each episode and Taran and I gleefully shout back to the screen "Howdy, neighbor!"

So I was kind of tickled when Taran started rummaging through his drawers this afternoon in search of a cardigan, which luck would have it, we had. After he had zipped it up to the top and then, carefully, 1/3 of the way back down, he informed me that the outfit was not complete without a tie. I told him that I had no idea how to tie one, but he ran to the closet and handed one over saying, "Think about it, Mama". Clearly I have some practice to do, but he was more than satisfied and felt quite dapper. I know he's my kid and all, but I'm inclined to agree. Perfect outfit for whipping up some gingerbread men. Don't you agree?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

By the numbers

Taran has been really into numbers lately. Throughout the day he'll hold up some fingers and ask how many there are, or ask "what's 3 + 4?", "what's 5 + 5 + 5 + 5?", "what's one dresser + one dresser?". Or he'll ask questions like "is 5 a big number?" and I'll say something like, "that depends. If you were talking about elephants in your bedroom, than five would be a huge number, but if you were talking about m & m's in your hand, I suppose you'd think it was pretty small". (He's really into m & m's thanks to Halloween).

Today in the midst of some such sequence of questions, he asked "What's two?", and in the vein of all the addition we'd just been doing, I replied, well, you have to add another number to it to get a new number. With hardly a beat, he shot back (almost snidely), "well, what's 2 + 0?". Hmmm. I stand corrected. I guess teaching him about zero wasn't too esoteric of a concept after all.

Taran: 1, Mama: 0

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A matter of life and death

Ok, so not really dead. Just a little tired. Especially after last night's clock shift. Whomever schemed up that evil plan did not have children in the household under five. Because you know what? Their awake time is invariant. Regardless of when you put them to bed. So remind me next year not to try to put them down an hour later to bed hoping that will shift them. All it does is get them one hour less sleep, and in the case of my son, who's usual 5:30 am wake time was now shifted to 4:30 am, this was just brutal. For everyone. OK, 'nuf grumblin'.

Speaking of the dead... this week marked Cally's first Halloween. Taran wanted to go as a white rabbit and seeing that we happened to have a hand-me-down pink bunny coat for Cally girl, we just made a whole theme out of it.

Even more importantly, we have arrived at Cally girl's 6 month mark (!!) - the duration of which I had braced myself for, having gone through it once with Taran. And yes, we certainly have had our rough moment or two (or five), but I'm also amazed at how much more smoothly it went then I anticipated. Maybe as second parents we just know to take things more in stride, that the phrase, "this too shall pass" is so apt when it comes to the lows (and the highs) of those first few months, when a baby's brain and body seem to be exploding in every direction like a touch-me-not seed pod.

With that six month mark has come rolling over from back to belly in either direction,

but no rolling from belly to back. This means we have become human pancake flippers around here, as she is super enthusiastic about rolling to her tummy but significantly less enthusiastic about consequently getting stuck there. And for weeks before this skill was mastered, in fact before we ever saw any outward sign that it was being worked on at all, her sleep went absolutely to hell. But now that she can at least roll one way, and has also learned to sleep in that position, things are starting to settle and a few long naps are creeping back in.

She's also sitting up. For at least a minute or two on her own until something distracts her, or her unaccustomed muscles peter out. And then she lists towards the floor in any manner of unpredictable ways and directions. We just try to keep the path clear of hard objects along the perimeter and usually have our legs around her in a protective cage.

Most excitingly, eating has begun! Not surprisingly, she is an enthusiastic eater of everything - pumpkin, carrots, beets, oats, apples, vanilla bean pears. Well almost everything. Cinnamon sweet potatoes were intermittently spit out but I'm suspecting the lumpy texture was the culprit. As a family that relishes good food, it's gratifying to be able to share this slowly with her, even in the tiny increments that we have been able to thus far. This has been especially true when I found her swooning over the carrot-beet puree made from veggies which I grew myself in our own backyard.

As my father said when he saw a recent picture of her giving one of her patent earnest stares at my camera lens, "She's IN the world". That she is. Joe and I were talking about her budding personality the other day and we're still figuring it all out, but one thing we know for sure, being next to her is like soaking in the warmth and comfort of a slow-burning fire.

Taran has been no less rapid in growing and learning in his own way. There are the awesome things that just fill me up with pride and amusement - his imagination that pours forth in the stories that trickle over his lips in a semi-sensical babbling stream;

 his continuing consuming passion of music (he goes absolutely nuts for Glenn Gould's Goldberg variations);

his unrestrained physical expression of joy in movement when he hears that or any other music or when the song is some silent reverie in his own head;

 his increasing competence in the strength of his own body and what he can accomplish with focus and determination...

And then there are the more emotionally nuanced developmental leaps. Now that he is 3, and in preschool three morning a week, the making and maintaining of friendships has taken center stage, and all the parental heartbreak that goes with that territory. On one of the first days of school, while nesting under a blanket surrounded by his animal buddies he asked me

Taran: Mama, who are my friends
Me: Well, K Bear and Belinda, B Dog and Laohu.... [you get the picture]
Taran: No Mama, who are my REAL friends

Gulp. I think I need to be making more effort for play dates. This is hard when, as an extreme introvert verging on anti-social, reaching out to others on any sort of regular basis is not my style. Don't get my wrong, there are many people I love and am over-joyed to see. Once in a while. But most of the time, I'd rather not talk if I don't have to. This can pose incredible difficulties when you have a chatty three year old. By the time I get to his bedtime, I feel like I have spent every last ounce of social energy I have during the day being as engaged with him as possible. When Joe sits down next to me when we are finally alone, to chat about our day, it's all I can do not to give him the stink eye. Seriously, how do marriages ever survive the first five years of having children?!

Here's another snippet of conversation that kind of slayed me:
Me: How was school today
Taran: Fine
Me: Did you enjoy playing with anyone today?
Taran: I played with Andrew for a little bit but then he needed his spaces.

Taran is enormously warm, loving, friendly, enthusiastic.... and a bit of a personal space invader.

So THIS is what happens when I cross through the personal space bubble
So we've spent a lot of time talking about personal space bubbles - who is in the nearest bubble (family and very close friends), how to recognize when you are in someone else's bubble (if you reach out an arm can you touch them)? and how to kindly ask someone to give you space ("ok Cally girl, now you can stop touching my hair").

There is one developmental milestone that I've been fearing having to confront, his realization that I will someday die. And so will he. We've been circling this one for a while, like a plane waiting to land at the Philly airport. Some of his exposure to death has been in small instances that create only the tiniest of ripples in his emotional tide pool (the tomato plants didn't survive the hard frost, but we'll have more next year). Other moments, as in the recent and unexpected death of Joe's uncle, have left him with questions much harder to answer and answers much harder for him to comprehend. In this instance, he needed to ask again and again, what happened to Yu-sheng? Where is he? Why did he die? I'd like to say I had ready and reassuring answers to these questions. I did not. It's been a long time since I myself could find any welcome alleviation from fear of death through the belief in heaven or reincarnation. But as in all major life questions that Taran faces, I'd like to give him room to find his own answers without imposing my beliefs, or lack thereof. But I think it only leads to confusion to let a child know that "some people believe in heaven and some people believe that the soul comes back in another way and some people believe that the energy that is in your body returns to the earth to help other things to grow". Too many answers, none of them definitive and therefor satisfying to him. When he asked (again and again) why Yu-sheng had died, I said, "because nothing lasts for ever, darling".

And then a couple weeks later, it came. The question that I think I dread above all others. When he asked, it was like you could see the dark realization of it slowly seeping across his body, wrapping him in the thick, sticky, awfulness of it all.... "Mama.... will you die?" And because I had known that the concentric circles leading to this defining moment had been growing smaller and smaller, I could say with calm clarity, "Yes darlin', I will die. But I hope not for a long time." Then several days later he asked again. This time at bath time with Joe present. When Joe heard the question, I could almost feel his intake of breath. This time it was followed with, "Mama, will I die too someday?". Slowly. "Yes sweetie, you will die too someday. Nothing lasts for ever." I looked up at Joe, the sick pooling in the back of my throat, and saw the tears well up in his eyes. I have often been amazed by the willingness of humans to love what they will inevitably lose, but never have I been so incredibly filled with the enormous insanity of it all as I was in this moment. And so deeply, deeply in love.

You are so in a rush little one - to be older, to grow faster. Every day you exclaim, "today I'm 4", "today I'm 7". But your Papa and I, we are clinging to these moments fiercely. Because we know that life if fleeting and this crazy, intimate, entwined-every-moment-of-the-day time with you is all too brief.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The brightmas and the darkmas

Are there some things your kid mispronounces and you wish they would never ever stop? I'll be just a little heartbroken when Taran realizes that he is replacing the "ness" in any number of adjectives with "mas". (The concept of lighter and darker seems particularly interesting to him now. As we head out to various places, an oft asked question is "will it be dimmer there?" I don't know why exactly, but this question both slays and perplexes me. One of the many questions that he asks that I have no ready answer for.)

Anyway, I've been thinking about his "brightmas and darkmas" lately because it so perfectly sums up our daily existence. This is what it means to live with a 3-something year old. Every day is filled with both the wretched and the wonderful, following in rapid succession from one minute to the next. By the end of the day, I have emotional whiplash. The other morning he walked with me hand-in-hand to the coffee shop for scones and conversation, pointing out the wisps of clouds flushed pink by the rising sun. We smelled the flowers and talked about the different bird songs we heard and stopped to look at the garden beds behind The Seasoned Farmhouse. We peeked through the windows, admiring the pristine, expansive kitchen, fantasized it was ours and schemed about taking a cooking class together.

Charming EVERYONE at the coffee shop

But, lest I get too complacent about the sweet state of affairs, within an hour, all hell broke loose. As we were playing outside, he insisted on peeing in the yard. Trying to dissuade this practice as a general rule, I tried to make light of it, scooping him up to run inside to the potty. Not liking to be deterred from his scheme, he thought it would be amusing to pee on me instead. It wasn't. Which I let him know very firmly. For which I received a smack. Off to his room he was sent until he could calm himself down, but after 60 seconds of screaming, a joyful proclamation burst forth from the other side of the door "Maaaaama, I peed!". And there he was, proud as a peacock amid his pee-soaked bedclothes. Luckily for me, Belinda Bear was accidentally among the wreckage. I have to say, I love natural consequences brought on by his own doing. It saves me the trouble of coming up with a context-appropriate consequence myself. The soiling of Belinda bear was particularly convenient because she can't be machine washed (she wasn't machine made) which meant I had to hand wash her, wring her out, and leave her to air dry. Of course, this also meant I spent an hour stitching all her semi-detached limbs back on whose seams don't hold up well to washing. But, it also meant that he didn't have her for 2 naps and a bedtime and thus, this form of retaliation has not repeated itself for the last few days. I'm not holding my breath it won't happen again, but at least we've been granted a small reprieve.

Sometimes I feel like I have Jekyll/Hyde living in the house and I'm not sure whether it's him or me. There are certain things (purposeful peeing, hitting Cally, throwing his plate of food) that make me positively apoplectic with rage and I find myself stuttering and confused, my mouth opening and closing like a gasping fish, with no clue what to say or do. And then I utter one of the most inane sentences ever spoken by an overwhelmed parent.... "Why did you do that?!" Half the time (hell, 80%) he has no idea, so this line of questioning gets us nowhere.

And then when I feel at the end of my tether, he does something, so hilarious, so sweet, so tender that I'm hopelessly in love. Yesterday morning we sat in our front yard on a blanket watching people making their way to/from the farmer's market. As one friendly-looking couple were returning home with their loot of fruits and vegetables, Taran went running over to greet them. He informed them that he was trying to climb a tree, then dragged the woman by the hand towards our front stoop insisting he had to show her something inside. She gently told him she had to get her heavy bag of apples home.
"Don't worry, I'll carry them for you" he sweetly replied, to which he was rewarded with a honeycrisp. "She's my good friend" he announced to no one in particular as he watched her travel on up the street.

"Hello, Hello!"

While naps have always been a bit of a crap shoot, as of late, they seem to be completely out the window. Over the monitor we hear crying, wheedling, cajoling, all manner of excuses and exclamations in his attempt to avoid his nap
"Mom, I neeeed you."
"Actually, it's daytime."
"Hello, I'm all alone up here."
"The daytime bunny is on, Mommeeeee, the daytime bunny is on (it isn't by the way)
"I poooooped!"

and my personal favorite of the week:

"Mommy, I made some nice bread dough for you. Come try it"

Sigh. Trust me, the lack of sleep is doing absolutely nothing to improve either his or my behavior/mood come 5 pm at night. Hence the food throwing at dinnertime. As my husband keeps reminding me, It's a marathon. We just have to keep running this marathon. A good friend once told me that the key to a good marriage is a short memory and a good sense of humor. This is easily also the key to parenting a pre-schooler.

As for Cally. At least for now, she's all brightmas. She sleeps about 14 hours at night with one wake-up after about 10-12 hours. Wakes up smiling and squealing with delight at the sight of us. Looks around with an earnest expression and the occasional gummy grin for about 50 minutes and then back to sleep. Wash, rinse, repeat. And those cheeks! I'm obsessed. I can't stop kissing her cheeks. With Taran, it was this little warm, sweet, swirly spot of deliciousness on the back of his head, dubbed  "the eye of hurricane Taran" which I couldn't get enough of. But with Cally, definitely the cheeks.

I know she'll have her moments too - those, pull-my-hair, end-of-my-rope, shoot-me-now kind of days. But for now, I'm basking in the sunshine.

And for me and my many failed-parenting days..... As Anne Shirley was always wont to say "Tomorrow is a whole new day with no mistakes in it yet."

Friday, August 23, 2013

Seeing Stars

What a difference a month makes. I can't believe that I'm only just now sitting down to write. I've had a dozen blog posts running through my head over the last few weeks and each one slips through my fingers before I have a chance to capture the inchoate thoughts and set them down for posterity. It makes me sad to think of all those small memories already half gone in the fog of exhaustion that is two-time Mommyhood.

Cally has transformed from a mostly asleep larva to a sweet, smiley girl with an oft-earnest expression. She's so peaceful, serenely surveying the world around her but then you make a sudden unexpected sound or funny movement and her whole face is awash with glee. For weeks now I've been trying to make her belly laugh, but it was Taran who finally succeeded yesterday and how good it felt to all sit together and laugh and laugh.

The window of opportunity to laugh with her is incredibly small as the child sleeps 18 hours a day. On a bad day. I have a whole post about sleep, and it's actually written, not just in my head, I just haven't put it up yet for public consumption. Soon.

One of the reasons I have written so little is that we were with family for 15 days and for the first eight I had no husband to co-parent which left little time for leisurely blog writing and for the last 10 of them, I had no internet connection. We returned a few days ago and I have to say... I need a vacation from my vacation. I made the trek to Ithaca via plane solo with my two kids in tow, prompted by a research trip that Joe had to Canada for 8 days. I just wasn't up for single-parenting a 15 week old and a wild child and I was sorely missing my family. The plan was to stay with my Mom for the time that Joe was away and then have him join me in Ithaca where we would move the kids into a boat house on Cayuga Lake that a friend of my Mom's had offered for our second week in town. The first few days in my mother's tiny condo was more chaos then I could have possibly imagined and after 3 days, I was a woman on the verge. My baby monitor was on the fritz and I couldn't keep Cally in range during her naps while playing with T man outside which meant we were dreadfully cooped up most of the day (Cally has a 50 minute awake period, MAX, before she is ready to conk out again). Taran was reluctant to go anywhere without me so there were very few occasions when Grammy was able to tempt him out. As a result, Taran was an absolute maniac and completely rebelled to the constant "Taran, inside voices, Cally is sleeping". On numerous occasions, he went out of his way to wake her from her naps and I was ready to hang him from the rafters.

What, me? I'm just a calm and collected guy.

I can't tell you how relieved I was when we received a call mid-week informing us we could move to the boat house 5 days early. The property sits directly adjacent to one of my Mom's close friends and two houses down to one of her oldest and dearest friends (whom I consider family and who married Joe and I). My point to all the particulars of the social network surrounding the boat house? Taran had ample outdoor space to roam and explore across all three beaches and a bevy of loving company, and I could wander along with him from beach to beach with a constant eye on the boathouse and a monitor that was always in range (After one day of ours not working, I caved and ordered a new one which arrived the day after our move to the lake). We kayaked

and collected shells; played bongos

and watched the rain come down;

skipped rocks and swam in the cold lake - him riding on my back like a baby dolphin; caught toads and fed the ducks (although personally I was not thrilled with the aiding in their domestication); and hosted many, many dinners dockside with numerous friends and family.

I even had a chance for a couple of early morning adventures with Taran while Cally was sleeping, including a climb up the Cornell bell tower to hear the chimes. This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. As a morose and always-pining-for-romance teenager, I remember standing under the gonging bells on the cold balcony at the top of the tower, looking out on stormy clouds and dreaming that someday I would get married at the small chapel below and the bells would ring for us that day.
Eventually, this is exactly what happened, and so, standing there with my son two decades later, I was brought to tears. He on the other hand was just terrified by the incredible din and wanted to go below.

So we went one level down to watch a young man named Eli playing the bells on the clogger which Taran was absolutely enthralled with and determined to learn to play. Right now.

The other highlight was a conversation I had with a friend that inspired me to sign Taran up for Capoeira upon our return. I was discussing his love of dance and music and telling her that  while he enjoyed gymnastics and movement, I was reluctant to immerse him in dance and gymnastics culture because, in my experience, they are extremely competitive and promote twisted body image. She asked me if I had considered Capoeira which is an awesome combination of drumming, singing, dance, gymnastics, martial arts, language, and community. Although I am familiar with the art, it was sort of off my radar. When Joe arrived I discussed it with him and he seemed game. When I showed Taran a youtube video, he was absolutely hooked. And has been doing his own version of Capoeira ever since.

In a few weeks Taran and I will be starting a parent/child class together and I can't wait. I used to dance for years: ballet, jazz, modern, tap, African and I miss it like crazy. I get such a high from the feeling of power that comes from being connected my body and expressing myself through free movement and it pleases me to see Taran share in this experience. Plus honestly, I just laugh my ass off over some of his inventive moves.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sticking close

On this rainy morning, we took a walk to the "Farmer's Market" - aka our backyard garden:

And then stayed a while to play in the rain:

Even had time for Taran to have a quick photography lesson before Cally woke up from her nap.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Achy Breaky Heart

What absolutely slays YOU as a parent? One thing I've talked about in the past is Taran's open-hearted nature. How he'll walk up to a perfect stranger, grab their hand and say "come, let me show you something." Ok, not only is this terrifying as a parent because you never know what crazy creeps are out there, but it's also terrifying because when you are so open to the world, inevitably you will find that it is not always a kind place, and this will change you. Maybe dim your light a little. How do you shield a child from this without squelching their joy, kindness, and exuberance for life?! I have no answers to this question, but it's absolutely crushing to think of him having to go through this experience. Perhaps many times over until he builds a defense.

The other thing that is heartbreaking, but in a bittersweet, wonderful way is watching him grow more into himself everyday and know that in the long run, this means that he will grow away from me. The insanity of the human condition... that we allow ourselves to love so, so deeply someone whom we ultimately have to let go!

This past week was Taran's third birthday and so I've been reflecting a lot on how he is evolving as a person - things that I've witnessed from the first days are deepening and new traits are emerging. Taran has always been voraciously curious how things work, the "ins and outs" of things. As a new talker, his first handful of words were "see", "hold it", and "open" and he'd get incredibly frustrated if the object of his fascination could not be opened and explored. That hasn't changed. He's constantly trying to open up pens to see what's inside and when there are ones that are sealed on one end and can't be opened he'll exclaim, "I just want to try" as if by sheer will and determination alone, the task can be done. He can't get enough of new building materials and so, from various friends and family who know him well, he received a few great ones for his birthday this year: a new set of magna-tiles, squigz, tinker toys. I could watch him build for hours. He's so incredibly engaged and focused and I'm fascinated by his descriptions of his works: "a leaf blower", "a skyscraper with a water pipe that goes down into the ground", "a piano", "I don't know Mom, you tell me".

I've also come to realize that he's quite a non-linear thinker. He'll happily make up a story and it's not always clear that he is able to distinguish his own fiction from the truth or whether he just gets a kick out of pulling people's leg. The other day as I was pushing him in a cart through the market, his curly-topped, smiley self caught the eye of a passing elderly lady. As she turned to look at him he informed her "I have cavities". You have what!? Since when?! A few days later he asked me the origin of one of his "owies". When I told him I wasn't sure, he solemnly replied "it's an old basketball injury. 

Then there are the truths I wish he wouldn't tell. Like informing the checkout clerk that "Mama and Papa's room is a mess. They need to clean it up." It is, and we do, but Good Lord child! Next time you are just staying home with Papa while I go shopping.

He's such a wonderful, perplexing blend of wild and exuberant, observant and reflective. He's social and then suddenly deeply introverted - he often prefers to stay home and snuggle in a blanket happily building things over what I would expect to be far more exciting choices like play dates or going for ice cream cones. He can be fiercely independent ("I want to do it myself, Mom") and a total barnacle ("Can you stay here in bed with me a long while, Mama? 'Til morning?). I am absolutely enthralled with my child and the process of learning more about him every day.

As I've mentioned before, he loves having his posse near, so what better way to celebrate his birthday then to have Cleveland family come to stay for the weekend. We ate lots of good food all weekend, woke up Saturday morning and made a trek to my favorite metro park to stomp around in a creek and then grilled out with family and friends. As the rain came and went, came and went, people milled under the magnolia tree, chased rocket balloons through the yard,

and ate cake. Lots and lots of cake.

And speaking of birthdays, today marks the end of the "4th trimester", Cally's 3 month birthday. She helped us celebrate by letting me put her in her crib drowsy but awake this morning, where she proceeded to nap for 1.25 hours. Whoo hoo. Of course, the next nap was 7 minutes in the crib, followed by 90 minutes in the swing, and now she's asleep on my shoulder. Baby steps I tell you, baby steps.

Today also marks moving the co-sleeper out of the room and putting her in her crib at night. This for me is a huge heartbreak. I love her breathing next to mine in the night. But every day she gets more wakeful, more alert, more aware of her surroundings. This is wonderfully delightful as we are beginning to see more and more gummy smiles and hear all sorts of cooing an a strange wheezy inhalation of breath which I'm sure is meant to be laughter. But, it also means that her brother's joyful wake-up flight into the room and crash landing onto our bed is wreaking havoc on her sleep (and ours, but that's a whole other story), so it's time for that transition. So many transitions.

Happy birthday, shiny boy. 

Happy birthday milky girl.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Getting some fun out of life

I'm not going to lie. Things have been a bit rough around the edges lately. We have reached the six week mark and along with it, the sixth week growth spurt. If you've never nursed, this entry from a fellow blogger sums it up fairly well, although I think the writer brings a little more sweetness and humour to the situation than I've been able to bring into my own experience this week. My perspective has been somewhat skewed by the fact that half the household is sick. Luckily, Cally and I aren't in the sicky half. Yet. But for the last three days she has stopped nursing only long enough to be burped (i.e. 10 minute intervals max) - for hours - and Taran can't be anywhere near Cally. Neither can Joe. As a consequence Taran is not only a mess because he's sick and is constantly being dragged away from his sister, but also has very little access to me. "I want you to put her in the bassinet", I've heard about a million times this week. Yesterday I walked around the house pant-less for hours with spit-up down my bra, gazing longingly at everyone else's plates of food with no hands to eat my own and wishing desperately I could take a shower. So you know, it's been a barrel of laughs around these parts.

Even prior to the nasty virus, we have been on the bumpy road of adjustment to being a foursome. Mainly we've just been hunkering down at home and trying to get to some semblance of normalcy back around here. As Taran would say, we are snuggling in the womb.

Taran: This is my womb
Me: This is a gigantic, random pile of junk that I dread straightening up

 One thing that has helped is to have some family projects.... gardening, cooking, crafting.... something mellow that we can do together, puttering around the house at our own pace.

A couple of weeks ago, to give Taran some special solo time with me, I hopped in the bath with him. On a whim, I picked up one of his bath toys and started to play the didgeridoo on it. Taran lit up, so after the bath we found a didgeridoo video on youtube and now we are all hooked. A couple of weeks ago we all went out and picked up some pvc pipe, beeswax, acrylic paint and some gyros at the drive-thru (who thought up this brilliant set-up?!) and then set out to make our didgeridoo, or as Taran calls it a "didgawarydoo". I had a number of photos of the process, but they all seemed disturbingly phallic, so I'll just show you the finished product - non-traditional colors and all.

This morning, on top of the endless snot, we are also having endless rain. So we made play dough face collages with beads, buttons, yarn, tissue paper and various other random doodads. Taran has been channeling Picasso I guess on this particular project.

On one particularly beautiful morning last week, we decided to rally and venture outside the home to check out a non-profit educational organic farm. Aside from a few minor meltdowns, in our own ways, we all had a fantastic time. Cally was soothed by the warm sun and fresh air

Taran had a great time wandering through the tall grass and exploring the old farm equipment

and Joe and I? Well, we have been dreaming of expanding our backyard "farm" ever since.

We have various chicken coop plans sketched out on scrap paper strewn about the house and I'm dreaming of Araucanas and blue eggs. We've been talking about this for four years and I'm really hoping that the scheme comes to fruition this summer. In all our free time.

And overall, how's Cally doing you might ask? She's amazing! She has almost doubled her birth weight in 6 weeks and has practically outgrown most of her 0-3 month clothes.

She's a real chunk-a-munk with a super sweet temperament and besides her love of eating, she seems to be a big fan of sleeping too (insert a big cheerleader "Hurrah" here). On some nights she has "slept through the night" (i.e. 11:30-5:30) while Taran has run in on multiple occasions. Clearly he could take some sleeping tips from his baby sister.

Overall, despite the chaos of this week, I would have to say things are settling down. I no longer feel like body-snatchers have captured our son. He's started to settle in and show glimpses of his happy self. And while Joe and I have no sense of a routine yet, we find ourselves shaking our heads in amazement on how we managed to have two such wonderful kiddos. Life is good. And even fun once in a while these days.