Monday, September 24, 2012

The Aunts

The kids had a lot of fun with their aunts this summer.   You can see who consumes most of the physical activity in the house.

Charlotte got lots of snuggles.

This cheapy beach ball gets more playing time than most of his toys.

Racing on the Wii at Grandma's house.
Charlotte's first dress shoes - snakeskin from Sudan.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Raising children is terrifying. They are so needy. And there never seems to be enough energy, wisdom or patience in me to meet those needs.   Sometimes I wonder who let us do this!?!?

Terrified, but still having fun.
To cope with these feelings, I try to do things like walk in nature and take more deep breaths during the day.  I remind myself that parenting is about the cumulative effect, not a specific instance. I try to focus on my children's lovely smiles and enjoy an extra snuggle.  I remember my own parents' successes and shortcomings and see that I turned out OK.  (Whatever "turned out OK" means!)  And I wake up and start another day.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Negotiator

Desmond has avoided the "gimmes" for a long time.  I guess marketing or human nature or something has finally taken hold, because in stores he asks us to buy things more now.  Recently, it was the Hot Wheels Bubble-matic car wash .  We barely made it out of the store without a complete meltdown....but it was very close.

While I didn't like trying coax him away from this toy, I did enjoy his reasons for why we should buy it.  None of these are rocket science, but it's interesting to see his negotiation skill develop.

Reasons to buy the Hot Wheels Carwash-o-matic RIGHT NOW
- We can buy it now and wait to give it to me on my birthday
- What if someone comes and buys it
- What if it's not on sale anymore
- What if you can't find it somewhere else

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Four Years Old

Desmond turned four last weekend.  Despite not being able to have two friends over to play Wii because of our family's shared stomach flu, he still had a special day.  Peter was well enough to take Desmond on a Metro ride.  They even rode the green line, the only color line Desmond had not yet ridden.

I love this photo.  As many wonderful smiles as Desmond gives us, he has just as many contemplative moments.  He has learned so much about life in four years.  He has taught me and Peter even more.  We are so grateful for our little boy.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Garden

I took to the garden again this year.  We invested heavily in cucumbers and tomatoes.  I won't give you the blow by blow, but overall it was a great year.  41 pints of cucumbers, over a dozen quarts of pasta sauce, over a dozen pounds of frozen tomatoes.  No pesto this year, nor sun-dried tomatoes though.  Better planning next year.

Anyway, I am gratful I was able to see something through to its end.  I can start strong, but am slow to finish a project.  It's always gratifying when I can say I didn't let the garden be totally consumed by weeds.

Filling the cooler with cucs to make pickles.

Tomatoes and Desmond. 
I sometimes question whether or not the garden is worth the time, energy and money we invest. I'm still putting stock in the fact that it will be good for the kids to see how (some) food is grown - even if Desmond only seems interested in watering.  (Seriously -how is he not interested in picking?!?!)

Despite the bumper crop, the crowning moment was when my city-boy husband looked at our counters filled with produce and said, "Wow, I've never had so much respect for photosynthesis."  Booyah.

This is ONE cherry tomato plant. It grew even bigger throughout the summer.
I wanted Des to be able to pick and  eat something right in the back yard.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Keeping Charlotte Alive

I know this isn't a news flash, but it's much harder to contain the baby dangers after your first child.  At this point, I think I'll consider it a success if we just keep Charlotte alive until her second birthday.

Her bloody noses (from falling when crawling) are the least of my worries.  Desmond proudly told me he was protecting Charlotte on the stairs.  When he found her on the third stair, he put his legs in front of her and tried to push her down the stairs (he then used a rolling head-over-heels gesture) so she would be "safe" at the bottom.  At least he has good intentions?

Then there was the beaded necklace she broke. Not just any beaded necklace, a magnetic beaded necklace.  Yeah, magnetic. You know magnets, the kind of things that could kink your intestines if swallowed.  Thankfully she didn't actually swallow any of the beads.

Yes, I've become that mom who takes photos of her bleeding baby before cleaning her up.

So if someone falls and Desmond runs to them saying, "Oh God, oh God" when someone falls, you know who he's been listening to.  :-(

Thankfully she doesn't seem to be worse for the wear so far.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

It's Chinese

Since I picked up some hot and sour soup for lunch (yum!) one day, Desmond has been obsessed with things being written in Chinese.  It's interesting because I didn't make any observations in the restaurant that Chinese writing is different than English writing.  He noticed it on his own.

Since then anytime Desmond wants to justify doing something his own way instead of the traditional way, he comments, "Oh, it's in Chinese."   Practicing letters and he gets tired of doing it correctly - his are in Chinese.  Drawing a square Easter egg?  It's a Chinese Easter egg.  Typing nonsense words on the computer?  They are in Chinese.

Not related, but apparently styling your own hair requires
a massive amount of Brylcreem.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

An Earful

January and February of this year gave Peter and me a run for our money in the parenting department.  Desmond stopped napping for a while and his behavior reflected the loss.  I'm sure there were a lot of other factors at play (a new sister, being three years old, etc.).  It felt like every turn in the day I was battling with him.  It sounds bad.  Battling with your child?  But it really did feel like a constant test to see who would be dominant that day.  It's no fun to be "the heavy" as my dad would say.  But after a couple of months I feel like we won enough battles to convince Desmond that he really did need to obey us.

Fast forward a few more months.  Our newest parenting challenge is really fun and tough.  Desmond is brash and confident that he has the world figured out.  You've heard of 13 going on 30?  Try 3 going on 30.  If we make a decision he doesn't like, more often than not, instead of throwing a tantrum he will try to endlessly argue his position to convince us we are wrong and he is right.

His confidence and persistence are amazing.  His ability to reason through his position make me proud. At some point though, it becomes disrespectful and argumentative.  It's a delicate balance to encourage independent thinking and yet teach discernment as to when obedience and deference to parental authority is required.

Watching Desmond chafe under taking orders from us - especially when he has to submit and do something he doesn't want to do - is like looking into a mirror.  I see how badly I behave in my clever adult ways when I don't get what I want.  How I get angry and sulky when the world doesn't operate on my terms.  It's quite sobering.  My explanations to Desmond about not always getting what we want are also pep talks for myself.