This Moment – June

My calendar tells me that today is Fathers Day, so in the kind of translation that becomes second nature to queer families of any/every stripe, it’s Mama’s Day at my house. Although I’m getting extra love and attention all weekend, our official celebration was last night. The four of us struck out on our bikes (bike trailer for the boys) and made our leisurely turtle-spotting, fish-watching, bunny-finding way to our favorite family restaurant. Much guacamole and green salsa and black beans were consumed before our ice cream nightcap. We rode home with smiles and full bellies. The boys even managed to handle the close confines of the bike trailer peacefully, which may have been the very best part.

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When they see the camera they either make goofy faces or look the other direction. I prefer the latter.

Although it’s been more than a month now, I have yet to fully grasp that somehow….. this happened.

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Our baby is two. He’s forward-facing and sentence making and clearing his own place at the table. It’s lovely and crushing all at once.

Last Friday night was a first that my wife and I have been anticipating since before we were even pregnant. We had our first family movie night!!! A movie and popcorn on the couch night. After a startling (or maybe not) amount of consideration on our part, we finally decided to go out with Toy Story. It seemed like such a sweet movie. During the 91 minutes that I spent holding a trembling (I do not exaggerate) Yogi and assuring him that Woody would find his way back to Andy, I learned that suspense is an acquired taste. I also learned that Monkey will cut you for some popcorn and that Yogi believes that he would rather watch Charlie Brown and have chocolate-covered strawberries for snack next time. We’re learning as we go around here, that’s for sure.

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This picture was taken before the heart-stopping action really ratcheted up.

The boys and I have a new summer obsession. Watermelon smoothies. There is NOTHING better.

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If you’d like to make one, it’s super easy. The most labor intensive part is dealing with the watermelon, but it’s so very worth it. I buy a watermelon every weekend and cut it up in the backyard. Just me, a huge knife and a few freezer bags. If you initially cut your watermelon into fourths, you can do the rest of your cutting any way you like. Big pieces, little pieces, totally messy – the blender cares not at all. Cram all of it into a few freezer bags and pop it in your freezer. Done.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 banana (frozen)
  • Lots of watermelon (frozen)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add the milk, ice and banana to your blender and mix until smooth.
  2. While blending, begin dropping in your watermelon.
  3. Add watermelon until it looks yummy to you. I would guess I use almost 2 cups.

Our other summer favorite is the garden. Thanks to Yogi and my wife we have so many delicious things growing just outside our door. There is tons of basil (pesto!!!!!), mint (smoothies and infused water), cilantro (all sorts of things, we’re loving it on salad), cucumbers (straight up – yum!), carrots, and beets (smoothies and our beloved beet burgers).

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The boys basking in the glow of a very satisfying beet pulling.

We’re making our way into summer and finding it quite sweet, in spite of the bug spray and sunscreen.

The Love List – May 2014

 

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Strawberries!! Oh how we love strawberries. Mostly we eat them straight up but if you’ve never had a grilled peanut butter and strawberry sandwich, you must. Our Farmers Market opens in early May and strawberries kick off the season. This year we were there bright and early to choose the yummiest pints and the four of us settled down by the bluegrass band and got started. Many, many strawberries were eaten. Just yesterday we decided to take a family trip to a nearby farm and pick our own. What a blast everyone had and look at our haul!

Hug & Fall. If you’re not familiar with this game, I’m not sure where you’ve been. The boys are all about it. It’s very simple and very cute. First you bear hug your brother as big and wide as you possibly can and then you pull him to the floor so that you collapse in a giggling, wrestling heap. As soon as you catch your breath, you jump to your feet and begin again.

Almost 4. Something wonderful is afoot with Yogi and I think we can credit his emerging four-ness. His dramatic edges are smoothing a bit and he’s growing into himself with increasing confidence and independence. It’s lovely really. He’s truly a joy to be around most of the time. This is something that only months ago I never dreamed I’d say. Ever.

Golden Wellness

Golden Wellness Smoothie. This is my smoothie of the moment. You know what makes it golden? Turmeric. I wasn’t so sure about the turmeric at first, but it’s grown on me. It’s so good. Here’s the recipe.

1 large orange, frozen
1 cup almond milk
1 banana, frozen
1/2 tsp maple or agave syrup (optional)
1 tsp turmeric
a few pinches of cinnamon
a pinch of cayenne

Directions: Blend from low to high until smooth and frosty. A high-speed blender is needed to obtain a smooth blend with the fibrous orange. Adjust flavor: Add in more turmeric for a brighter yellow blend. Add in more banana, maple or agave syrup if you want things sweeter. If you do not have a high-speed blender, you can substitute the whole orange with 1/3 cup orange juice and a handful or ice – but the texture will be thinned.

Our Garden. We have a lovely garden and I have one person to thank. My rockstar wife. Well, and Yogi helps too. He can water a garden like nobody’s business. Here’s what’s coming up at our house: spinach, kale, chocolate mint, cilantro (so delicious), cucumbers, beets, and carrots. Yum, yum, yum!

Boy Bonding. After months and months of being fairly certain that the boys were NEVER going to do anything but fight, the tide has turned.They are talking to each other!!! Working things out themselves. It is a miracle to behold. There is still plenty of fighting of course, but now there’s also working together and communal problem solving. It’s pretty awesome actually.

Claire Danes

Homeland. Finally we have a show again. It has been a LONG time. My wife and I just don’t have the same taste in TV shows. We have truly shared the love for only two shows: Six Feet Under and Twin Peaks. So, it’s thrilling that we’re both into this one. It’s a great mix of our interests: the CIA/political intrigue/suspense (her) and mental illness/relationship drama/Claire Danes (me). Nothing better than snuggling together on the couch after boy bedtime.

This Moment

Thanks for your sharing in the excitement of my last post! I really enjoyed the comments. However, there are things going on around here that have nothing to do with the third baby question. Here are a few of those things:

Dinosaurs. As part of Yogi’s ever-growing fascination with power (how it works, who’s got it, how he can get some) he’s got dinosaurs on the brain. Every library book is a dinosaur story (a really great one is Edwina: The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct (Mo Willems)) and most of his imaginary play features growling, crushing houses with his huge feet and telling everyone that he is a dinosaur who eats other dinosaurs. His favorite? T-Rex.

Sesame Street. This winter we started having some family TV time after dinner and the boys fell in love with Sesame Street. Now that we have more daylight and can get outside we’re trying to remind them of how fabulous the post-dinner family walk used to be. It’s a work in progress. Bert and Ernie’s Great Adventure, Super Grover 2.0 and Elmo’s World are hard to resist.

Repetition. Every word that anyone says is guaranteed to be repeated by the Monk. Not only will he repeat your words, but that repetition will echo. His little voice might be the sweetest sound I have ever heard, but there is such a thing as too much sweetness.

Yogi’s New Closet. He’s been choosing between two shirts every day since he was old enough to point, but until recently we called the shots on all the rest of his clothes. A while back it occurred to me that giving him a little more say might smooth out some of our getting-ready friction, so we rearranged his closet. Now everything is within his reach. He can choose shirts, pants, and socks. At night he picks out his pi’s. He looks a little eccentric much of the time, but he takes pride in his selections.

Evolving Values. I’ve been flirting with veganism for years. It’s the cheese that really stands in my way. I would miss fish and ice cream, but I could handle it. But cheese? Man would I miss cheese. And then last week I read this. I’m a long time Zen Habits reader and I’ve certainly read his ideas about living vegan before, but this piece really connected with me. The flirting continues.

Baffling Boys. The sibling dynamic is incomprehensible. I don’t think I will ever understand it. At 4:28 they can be shrieking and using every ounce of their strength to crush one another and then suddenly it’s 4:29 and they are belly laughing. I wasn’t aware that such radical mood shifts were possible outside of psychiatric facilities. Or maybe…… never mind. 😉

Another Big Boy Bed?! Grandpa has made it and brought it to our house, but I am NOT ready to set the Monk free. He, of course, feels differently. He spends much of his time trying to dismantle the crib himself. I guess we should be glad that we don’t have climbers, but climbing out of a crib might be safer than shaking the bars and jumping with such force that the whole thing crumbles beneath you. Ugh. We’ve got to do it soon.

This Moment

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  • It’s Thanksgiving and after an early family celebration last weekend, we are happy and home. My wife even has the day off! The boys and I made waffles this morning while the parade streamed in the background and after breakfast we bundled up and took a long, leisurely walk together. Yogi and Mommy are baking chocolate gingerbread cookies while the Monk naps and I send a long overdue smoke signal out to you. Later this afternoon one of our favorite families is coming over for the feast. Our feast will feature pizza, cookies and plenty of wine. Given that we will have five kids aged three and under between us, simple seems the only way to go.
  • I have a new favorite. I cannot overstate my love for this cookbook. It is beautiful, straightforwardly useful and the recipes are delicious. You may know Isa from her blog The Post Punk Kitchen. I’ve followed her blog for awhile and I admit to never being all that excited about it. When her latest cookbook came out I got on the hold list at the library and figured I’d look through, but I wasn’t exactly eager. Then I got the book. After making only one dish I bought myself a copy and now I’m hooked. So far I’ve made and can highly recommend: Bistro Beet Burgers, Pizza Bowls with Sausage and Kale, White Queso Bowls with Crispy Kale Chips, Cucumber Ranch Bowl with Breaded Tofu, Sinfully Wholesome Waffles and Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies. I’ve had the book two weeks. You’ve got to check it out. Yum!

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  • I cannot wait for December 1. I finally have a kid that’s old enough for an advent calendar and I can’t wait!! I’ve spent much of November getting everything together and even the preparation has been fun. We’ve got a special activity for each day and I only hope the boys are half as enthusiastic as I am. I am a bit tradition obsessed. Lots of winter adventures ahead.
  • The Great Room Sharing Experiment has been a total win. I never imagined the transition would be so smooth. Not only has it not been challenging in really any way, I think both boys are sleeping better. Can you believe it? They love sharing a room. We’ve shifted into a new bedtime routine and I like it much better than our old divide and conquer approach. We’re still not able to do story time with two boys (way too much book grabbing and lap hogging), but we are in the same room. My wife and the Monk read and do Mommy milk in the chair while Yogi and I snuggle under the covers in his bog boy bed. Bedtime is (for the moment) a sweet, sweet time at our house.

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  • Monkey is coming into his own. It struck me yesterday that he is only three months younger than Yogi was when he was born. How did THAT happen? This guy is talking and laughing and running faster than I can chase. He’s got more than a little naughty in him, but he’s so sweet that you just immediately forgive him. I think I’m in for it with this one.  I mean…look at that expression.
  • My Memoir book club is off to a great start.  We had our first meeting at a neighborhood coffee shop and I’m happy to say that we closed the place down. The conversation was interesting and insightful and everyone actually read the book. Now I’m looking to get a list of titles together for the coming months. Anyone have recommendations?

 

The Great Room Sharing Experiment

This is either a stroke of genius or the worst idea my wife and I have ever had. We are four nights in and what this will ultimately look like is impossible to imagine. In this moment it looks like chaos. Some of that chaos is likely attributable to a few factors that we really should have considered.

1. Yogi is no longer among the napping. We had initially counted this among the pros as there would be no opportunity for mutual napping shenanigans with only one napper. This is true, but it introduces another wrinkle. Yogi is dropping his nap. Present tense. He hasn’t dropped it, he’s just in the process. This means that he’s mostly ok without those extra hours, but sometimes he’s not. Every minute after 5 o clock on those exceptional days life is miserable. For everyone. Which makes our new two-boy bedroom routine even dicier.

2. We’re creating a new bedtime routine. This involves getting things started a little earlier for Yogi and a little later for the Monk. It also involves reading stories as a family (previously we had paired off) and that isn’t so easy. Everyone wants to sit in the lap of the storyteller and no one wants to share their seat. Additionally Monkey doesn’t want to take the book at a standard pace and he’d really rather not move in a linear fashion at all. Yogi finds this deeply offensive. It’s not exactly the relaxing send off that we were going for.

3. We decided to take the plunge during the time change. This was just nuts and further evidence of my lack of attention to detail. I’m trying to convince myself that we’re saving ourselves future headache by shaking everything up all at once, but so far the argument lacks conviction. Mostly because everyone in this house was out of bed and going about their business by 5 this morning.

I should also mention that my chaos threshold is extremely low, so in reality all of this is going fine. So far the two things that we were the most concerned about are not happening. They aren’t keeping each other awake for hours after bedtime and when one of them wakes in the night it doesn’t seem to disturb the other. So clearly we had a rough night and an early morning and I’m catastrophizing. It’s what I do best actually. I think I need a nap….

The Farmer & The Barnyard Dog

Life with children just amplifies everything, doesn’t it? Whatever there was before, now there’s more of it. More joy, more worry, more chaos, more, more, more. Well, except sleep and sex. There is not more of that, but I digress. I’m trying to talk about Halloween. I thought Halloween was pretty fabulous before kids, but now I’m hooked. Perhaps it’s the social psychologist in me, but a culturally sanctioned opportunity to play with a new identity is brilliant. Looking for a little more power? Be a superhero for the evening. Eager for competence? Be a doctor. There’s no harm in it. It’s just good clean fun. Plus there’s candy.

This year Halloween lasted an entire week at our house. We kicked off the week with a Monday morning party with our playgroup that was both fun and almost painfully cute. The party was attended by two pumpkins, a pirate, Curious George, a fairy princess and one small Superman. In addition to friends there were the kind of Pinterest-y snacks that in spite of their cuteness I will never actually get around to making. Again with the village. Thanks to other Moms my children get to experience craftiness. Go team!

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On Wednesday our central library hosts a party with a Halloween themed story time and trick or treating with the librarians. The boys loved wearing their costumes and seeing their favorite puppets dressed up alongside them. Yogi is still laughing about it. It’s pretty packed, but it’s been a good introduction to trick or treating. Familiar, lighted surroundings and not a candy in sight. Just erasers and whistles and book-related tattoos. This was our second year and we’ll definitely be back next time.

IMG_1465Halloween was a stormy, howly-wind kind of night for us. Perfect for the holiday, not so perfect for the holiday activity. Our neighborhood decided to postpone until Friday. After the vomit-fest that was Halloween last year, I was a little leery about striking out in the dark with two kids. We live only blocks from one of the trick-or-treating mecca’s in our town which means crowds of people and entirely too many cars. My wife suggested a to-go cup and I was immediately glad she did. Alcohol does help.

Both boys were in rare form. The Monk was focused like a laser on the candy. He knew exactly what it was and what to do with it. While his older brother when handed a pack of Nerds gleefully shouted “Shaker!”, Monkey gnawed through the box before anyone could stop him and downed the whole thing. There is no way of explaining how he understands exactly what to do in novel situations except to imagine that he just feels it in his bones. The Monk knows things, particularly things about food.

Yogi had another focus.

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I know! Can you believe it?! And that expression?! What possessed him to do that with his mouth? Admittedly, this little pumpkin is one of his favorite people, but this was a little much. He grabbed her hand as soon as we spotted her family in the crowd and they took the houses as a team. Yogi appeared considerably more enthusiastic about the hand-holding then she did, but she didn’t resist. They helped each other navigate tricky steps and agreed entirely on which houses to pursue and which ones to skip. It’s wonderful to be surprised by your children, but it’s also unsettling. Who are these people? Hoping I’ve got a long time to work on figuring that one out.

This Moment

  • I just made a smoothie with mango, basil and cinnamon and I’ve got 30 minutes until I pick up the boys from school. At drop off this morning, no one cried. All of this means, life is good.
  • My wife has begun making a list of the things we need to do before the new baby comes. No one is pregnant.  I am thinking this list is not hypothetical. It may even exist somewhere on paper.
  • After falling hard for his voice as a high schooler I will soon be in the same room with Pat Conroy. I can hardly believe it myself. I get to hear the man read. In person.
  • It’s Halloween and not even the impending rain can dampen my excitement. I mean, I get to hang with these people.

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  • I just finished How to Talk so Kids will Listen & Listen so Kids will Talk (Adele Faber) and I’m all in. What an excellent resource. I’m going to start from the beginning and make some notes soon so I don’t forget it all immediately. Cannot recommend this one highly enough.
  • After playing with the idea for years and years, I’ve finally started my own Memoir book club! We’re starting with Abigail Thomas’s A Three Dog Life.
  • Although their shirt sizes have some spread, the boys are very close to the same pants size. Oh Yogi, my sub 30 lb three-year old.
  • Potty training has proven itself an effective strategy for facing not just Yogi’s shit, but my own. Struggle is a generous giver, isn’t it? More on this soon.
  • We’ve got letters on the brain around here. Yogi is very enthusiastic about each and every Y he encounters. All this wordiness just makes my heart sing.
  • We have moved a pack and play into Yogi’s room. For Monkey. The new set-up happened yesterday and we’re looking at a mid-week kick-off. Room sharing here we come. Intimated by the potential for chaos, but excited. Mostly excited. For now.

The Boys Want to Read You a Story

My boys are reading!!!! Well, they’re not actually reading but they’re making their way and it’s a wonderful thing. If you need a little cute today, check these boys out.

The Monk using his very favorite word

Yogi reading in his “story time” chair at Nana and Pop’s house. This is the book that inspired Halloween costumes this year. Yogi is a Farmer and the Monk is his Barnyard Dog. There is lots and lots of twirling going on.

Brother Love

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These boys are wild about each other.

All of this wild love is new. The Monk had been the prime irritant of Yogi’s life and then….. the little dude started walking. Now he can be chased and made to laugh hysterically and taught endlessly entertaining tricks.

Yogi’s first question upon waking (whether from nap or nighttime) is always, “Where’s Monkey?”. If by some miracle the answer is “In his crib”, Yogi must call on all of his small powers of restraint to allow his brother a touch more sleep. The world just isn’t as much fun without a sidekick.

What kinds of tricks has he learned? Well, he loves to walk his newly changed diaper to the diaper pail for drop off and give an exuberant high-five when his mission is complete. Just this morning he walked the thing all the way up the stairs. He also likes to shake his head like a crazy person upon Yogi’s hysterical giggling command. This happens most frequently at the dinner table and in the bathtub. As his age would suggest, he waves like he invented the gesture and believes himself to be the Master of Peek-a-Boo. There is no one more skilled.

Mostly I’m just in love with them. Brother love is the best.