Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blood Mountain Adventure

So, I've already told you about our autumn hike near the Richard Russell Scenic Hwy. The next day we got up and headed out for Blood Mountain. It would turn out to be an epic excursion (and a long blog post). Typical for us, we had a rather late start- getting ourselves and the three boys up and fed, pottied or changed, packed and into the car takes determination. By the time we'd arrived at our destination, picked up some sandwiches, pottied or changed everyone again, and suited up for our hike, it was about 1:30 pm as we actually headed up the trail. Still, that gave us at least 4 hours before we expected nightfall- the hike is just under 2 miles to the summit, so we still felt we'd have enough time.
From November Hikes 2008

It was a chilly grey day, but we were well dressed in layers and the hiking soon warmed us up. It was perfect hiking- we were all in good spirits, enjoying the beautiful woods and the fresh, damp air. Littleman took the lead, and we continued on up the mountainside.
From November Hikes 2008

Damp autumn leaves covered the trail, and the air was thick with their rich, decaying scent. The palette of brown sparkled here and there with visions of color: flashes of fire, drops of golden amber, speckles of dessicated amethyst that delighted my eyes.
From November Hikes 2008

From November Hikes 2008

It wasn't long before we stopped for a quick bite. When hiking with kids, it's good to stop for snacks or sips of water pretty frequently. You don't have to stop long, but you will find they are much happier with frequent refueling in small doses. Happy kids make for a happy hike!

It was getting colder, so we were anxious to get moving again. Soon we could glimpse the summit of Blood Mountain looming over us. It looked so close, but we knew from long experience that it was probably further away than it seemed. We were having too much fun to mind that!
From November Hikes 2008

The trail gets much tougher as you near the summit. Before you know it, you are traversing steep switchbacks, climbing stairs and clambering up rock piles. I helped Billy put Mr. Sweetcheeks in another carrier, because it was getting to be a bit much for a 3-yr old hiker. Sweetcheeks probably could have done it all himself, but the pace would have been very, very slow- and we needed to beat nightfall. So we continued on up the mountain, careful not to slip on the piles of crushed leaves.
From November Hikes 2008

Unfortunately, my camera battery died sometime around then. I was SO disappointed, because the views at the top were stunning! Sigh. Sorry about that.

Anyway, we continued up, and up, and up. 2 miles is not far for us, but we'd forgotten how tough the trail is nearer the top. Littleman was fantastic, trooping right along, seemingly invincible. It was getting chillier, so we started pulling on hats and zipping up jackets again. Each bend we looked up the hill to see sky behind the trees, seemingly indicating that the end was just over yonder. But we knew that most likely, more hillside would materialize as we followed the twisting trail. We were all still feeling great, and the forest was gorgeous. But sunset was fast approaching, and we began to worry that we just might run out of time. Littleman started lagging at last, and near the top he began to cry. It was a tough hike for him!

But finally, we broke through the rhododendron thickets onto a wide rock face near the top of Blood Mountain. The dense grey sky overhead stretched toward the west, where clouds broke apart and sunlight streamed through in pink-golden splendor. The mountains marched away, ridge upon ridge, fading into sapphire sfumato. Light poured through the clouds in great shafts onto the hillsides. The wind was bitter, but everything was such a feast for the eyes that for a moment, there was nothing but elation. It was the sort of euphoric intoxication that makes all our toughest hikes well worth the trouble. When people wonder why on earth we would put ourselves through some of the conditions we face outdoors, I am at a loss to describe the pure joy and reward that such moments hold. The sense of accomplishment, of connectedness, of wonder- it defies description and simply must be experienced to be understood.

I did have a 12 month old on my back however, so getting out of the cold wind was a priority. Plus it was obvious that sunset was mere minutes away. Littleman perked up to see that we were almost there, so we pushed on to the summit and went straight into the shelter. The shelter on Blood Mountain was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps back in 1934. Inside it has two rooms with windows, a fireplace and a large sleeping platform. No fire for us, though! It was damp and chilly but at least we were out of the wind. We ate and drank, and made the kids run around a bit to keep warm. There was no time to explore the beautiful mountain top- that would have to wait for another day. Dusk was approaching fast and we needed to head back down the mountain. We knew it was more important to be rested and fed than to hurry, though- we could hike in the dark if we had to. The trail is well-maintained and heavily used, with clearly defined blazes all along- plus we are familiar with the terrain. Better to be fueled up and ready, hiking a little later, than to have cranky kids and our judgment possibly impaired by fatigue and hunger.

Soon we bundled up for the hike down, back in good spirits and still ready for adventure. We'd hoped to start our descent by 4 pm, but it was closer to 4:45. Still, we figured that wasn't too bad. As we came out on the rock face below the shelter, I paused to admire the sunset- the sun was sliding down from a strip of clouds, moments away from the horizon. It blazed an improbable fuscia pink, turning the very air rosy around me. It was freezing though, and I turned back to the trail. Just as I left the rock, I heard a far-off rumble. I stopped to listen- it sounded like thunder, but that seemed so unlikely. No rain was predicted for today, it hadn't looked like rain when we'd set out, and I couldn't spot any rain clouds now. I shook my head and started off again, wondering if there was a quarry somewhere off in the valley.

Though many non-hikers find it hard to believe, hiking down a steep trail is much harder than hiking up. Billy was carrying Sweetcheeks of course, and Littleman was doing a great job at climbing down. It was slow going though, and the light was fading alarmingly fast. We began to realize that we'd not considered the direction of the sunlight this late in the day- we were on the shadowed side of the mountain, and though sun no doubt still shone on the other side, here we would very soon need flashlights. I was listening hard, because I'd heard another far away rumbling. It still sounded like thunder. At least it wasn't close. Suddenly I noticed a tapping noise, scattered all around through the leaf litter. It was sharp sounding, and it took me a minute to realize I was hearing light sleet. Ice was falling on the mountainside.

I exchanged a glance with Billy- he'd heard it, too. It was still very sparse, so we just continued on. Besides, we'd (uncharacteristically- we must be out of practice) forgotten to pack rain jackets or gaiters. Doh! Soon the sleet was getting heavier and the ground was getting wet. Littleman asked, "Is it raining?" in surprise. "It's sleet", I said, "frozen rain. It's getting the ground wet and slippery, so we need to slow down and really be careful when we're climbing down these rocks." I reminded him how to use his walking stick to steady himself and find solid footing before he placed each new step down. He took his time, and moved carefully. In situations like this, we tell the boys they are doing "commando training"- it appeals to their sense of adventure and accomplishment. They are more willing to make an effort and enjoy themselves that way, and to pay attention to our instruction.

We stopped to get out our flashlights. Billy, myself and Littleman each carry one. Unfortunately, Littleman's was not where it should have been- he must have pulled it out back at home. oops. Then we discovered that mine wasn't working! So here we were, in the gathering dark, in sleet and cold, no rain gear, miles away from the van with 3 young kids and only one flashlight. We couldn't believe that we'd put ourselves into this situation. We are seasoned hikers! We should know better! We were all too aware that this was just the sort of situation that can snowball into a true survival nightmare- even experienced outdoorsmen can die all too easily on seemingly innocuous outings. There was no need to panic, though. We knew that we'd be perfectly fine as long as we kept our heads and didn't get injured. There was no hurry- it was already dark, and we had plenty of nice warm clothes in the van. The white blazes were easily spotted and the trail was usually obvious. The only thing now of concern was to not get injured, and to keep the kids on our backs nice and warm. (Littleman's physical activity kept him comfortable.)

Slowly, carefully we made our way down the mountain in the icy dark. Babyman decided he had had enough of this nonsense, and started to cry. I talked to him, and we sang, and soon the music and constant motion had lulled him to sleep. An exhausted Sweetcheeks had also fallen asleep riding Billy's back. Being that I was in the lead, I carried the flashlight. On difficult sections Littleman and Billy waited as I hiked ahead, then I would turn and illuminate the trail so that they could traverse the rocks and roots. It was very slow going.

The light sleet tapered off, then came back, then tapered off again- it continued in this way before finally fading away entirely. The clouds broke up and dissipated, and as the nearly-full moon rose the forest was bathed in a magical, silvery light. The wet leaves and rocks gleamed; the light misty air played tricks on our eyes. One by one the diamond stars winked into view. Everything was fresh and beautiful, and otherworldly in a way only night can be. Littleman was obviously tired- he had to be vigilant to avoid a fall- but even so he kept pointing out wonderful details in the magical landscape around us: the moon gazing through tangled branches, crystalline drops sparkling on the rhododendron leaves, a twisty gnarled wizard of a tree. Billy and I were stunned with his fortitude, his vision, his ability to appreciate the wonder of the moment. Our hearts swelled with pride over this 5 year old boy whom we love so very much.

As I turned to shine our light on some steps, I noticed a shimmering black movement in the leaves. "Oooh, look!" I exclaimed- it was a black salamander. Gently we uncovered it and watched it hurry back to safety. "Cool!", said Littleman. I was so pleased- it's hard for us to get a look at salamanders in the wild, since they prefer dark wet places and are easily frightened away. The boys are just too exuberant. Night can be a great time to spot one, but we are seldom out in the forest at night with the boys. I was thrilled that our accidental night hike had provided this opportunity.

Gradually the trail became smoother and less steep. It wasn't long before we were hearing the cars drive by on the road below. As the lights of the Walasi Yi center came into view, I sighed- both with relief and just a little regret that we'd come to the end of our day's adventure. We helped the boys get dry and comfortable, and then bid goodbye to Blood Mountain as we headed for a celebratory dinner out. Until next time!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

Join Us for an Autumn Hike (pics galore)

Wow, I've been neglecting my blog lately! Sorry- I'm getting all swept up in holiday activities. It's been fun, not stressful (yet)- but it means I've not found time to blog. Which is why I am only just now telling you about some hiking we enjoyed in early November.

We love hiking in the fall around here- it is usually our most beautiful weather, and it's not too hot or buggy. We loaded up with plenty of clothes for the boys, and headed first for Richard Russell Scenic Hwy. There are a number of places to hike along that route, and the views are lovely.

From November Hikes 2008

I carried Babyman, of course, and the older boys hiked. They carry their own packs with snacks and water.
From November Hikes 2008

The weather was gorgeous!
From November Hikes 2008

From November Hikes 2008

Most of the leaves had already fallen, but there was still some lovely color to be found.
From November Hikes 2008

Littleman used his compass to show us the way.
From November Hikes 2008

From November Hikes 2008

It is very important to us that the boys have frequent experience outdoors, surrounded by the natural world. We take them out in all kinds of weather, to a variety of places. We want these experiences to be embedded in their very beings; to become an integral element of WHO they are.
From November Hikes 2008

We hope they will become comfortable and proficient in natural surroundings, and perhaps will learn to love- no, to NEED- nature. We can't give them daily exposure to wild places, but we do our best to offer natural experiences in every corner of our lives. For their part, the boys have made me proud. Children seem to take to nature easily, even happily accepting tough conditions that would discourage most adults I know. These boys positively delight in exploring the outdoors, and Littleman especially is turning into an impressive hiker.
From November Hikes 2008

We start them early, getting them used to outside as much as possible from infancy. (Isn't it odd that we have to think about whether they are getting enough outside time? What an insular, indoor existence we lead.)
From November Hikes 2008

The bonus is that Billy and I get to do something we adore. We need time outdoors as much as we need food or sleep. What a blessing that we get to share it with our boys!

A UFO crashed into a tree:
From November Hikes 2008

Mountains glimpsed through the wintry woods:
From November Hikes 2008

Beautiful details like roots stretching deep into the earth:
From November Hikes 2008

I hope you have enjoyed this hike with us. As it started to get dark, we returned to the car. The next day, we planned to head to Blood Mountain for a longer, much steeper climb. I had no idea how well Littleman was to prove his mettle that day!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Conversation: Diety at the Dinner Table

Littleman: "I'm glad I was born."

Me: "Me too, Littleman."

Littleman: "I'm glad you were born, Mommy."

Me: "So am I!"

Littleman: "And I'm glad Daddy was born, and Sweetcheeks, and Babyman, and. . ."
(he continues in this way with various family members and friends, while I agree, for awhile before settling back into contemplation)

Littleman: (after a pause) "This might sound silly, but I'm glad God was born!" (mischievous grin)

Me: "That's not silly." (pause) "But I'm not sure if God was born, exactly. . .

Littleman: (interrupting enthusiastically) "Maybe he just CAME, like magic!"

Me: "Well yes, that's possible. . ."

Littleman: "Oh, or MAYBE God's an ALIEN!"

Me: (slight chuckle) "That's possible. . ."

Littleman: "Or maybe he was MADE, by an alien!"

Me: "Could be, we just don't know."

Littleman: "Yeah. I think, if we asked God 'Where do you come from', I think God would say, 'You know.'"

Me: "We already know?"

Littleman: "Yeah. . ."

Me: (a little impressed) "You just might be right about that one."

Littleman: (turns to Mr. Sweetcheeks) "Sweetcheeks, what do you think God would say if you asked him?"

Sweetcheeks: "I think he would say, 'I was born in Rock City!'"

See Rock City

(image stolen from )

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Littleman's Life Lesson

Whew. I've been busy.

There have been a number of things I could write about- both Littleman and Babyman have had birthday parties (today was Babyman's 1st!), we went on an epic day hike with the boys, I've been planning holiday gifts and foods, and I've sorted through and given away all the baby clothes (save a handful of things for their memory boxes), which has prompted some wistful reflections in me. I want to write.

But, I am TIRED.

So, they will have to wait. However I can't let my fingers clack at the keyboard without relating this recent little gem:

Billy: "So, Littleman. You're a big 5-year old, now. You've lived on this Earth 5 years- tell me, what life lesson have you learned in those 5 years?"

Littleman: . . .

Billy: "What's the most important thing you've learned about life?"

Littleman: (Thinks a minute.) "Don't get killed."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Unlocking Words

Blessed Samhain/Happy Halloween to you!
Have fun this evening, take care and take a moment to remember your loved ones who have already crossed the veil.

Most years Billy takes the boys trick-or-treating, while I (with any littleuns too young) stay home and pass candy to the ghosts and ghoulies who come knocking. I love passing out candy in my neighborhood- in some ways, it seems like trick-or-treating is a dying practice, and it makes me feel good too keep it alive. Plus, I feel neighborly.

This year however, I will be leaving the lame bowl of candy on the front porch, because Billy and the boys will be trick-or-treating with their cousins, while I drive to a friend's for some Samhain celebration with only ONE child to be responsible for. Hopefully I'll get some relatively uninterrupted adult conversation, and actually be able to reflect on the turning of the year as it draws to a close, and we enter the fallow time.

* * *

Meanwhile, (perhaps suitably, for this time of year) I have put down the enlightening non-fiction book I've been slogging through, and instead picked up The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice.

Surprisingly, I've never read any of Anne Rice's books before. So far, I am really enjoying this story. It is drawing me in, and opening windows in my brain that I hadn't noticed had shut.

You see, it's been quite awhile since I read a fiction book for pleasure, and I'd not realized how much I depend on it to keep a creative spark alive inside my head. I'm already aware that I need to write regularly to keep certain neurons firing, to make those verbal connections that give shape and form to the tides of my experience. But until recently, I hadn't really understood how very much reading for pleasure can have the same effect. In fact, I'm beginning to understand that neither can work effectively alone- I need to both immerse myself in the words of others, AND consciously create my own, if I wish to call the muse.

Since delving into Interview With the Vampire I've gradually noticed words coming to me unbidden, causing reflection. . . The words have nothing to do with vampires; they are merely subconscious thoughts and feelings that through words, are given the gift of life. Words give them substance and allow me to recognize them from the formless void within.

One thought that surfaced was a better understanding of my oddly polar existence as a mother: I am nothing before my children- a vast gulf of emptiness, their life force driving away my Self. Yet at the very same time I am everything, the whole universe to them, there is no one more important than I. I am a mote of dust in a forgotten corner; I am omniscient Goddess. All and nothing. It's a condition not unique to motherhood; indeed we are all a mysterious composite of dirt and divinity- but the utter surrender of motherhood has brought a deeper understanding to my contradictory position.

Or words unbidden in reaction as I step outside on a cool clear evening: reflections on the brittle beauty of crystal clear night air, a velvet dark sky and shining stars. What is it about a clear autumn night that calls to me, coaxes me like a lover, excites my senses? How can something so dark and cold stoke such fires in my soul?

Words, words, words. What would I do without them? How could I understand my own urgings? I'd be a painter without paint, a baker with no flour. A sunset void of colors. Tonight I am grateful for inspired words, unbidden.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


   /mæˈleɪz, -mə-; Fr. maˈlɛz/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ma-leyz, -muh-; Fr. ma-lez]
1. a condition of general bodily weakness or discomfort, often marking the onset of a disease.
2. a vague or unfocused feeling of mental uneasiness, lethargy, or discomfort.
1760–70; < F, OF; see mal-, ease

   /ɑnˈwi, ˈɑnwi; Fr. ɑ̃ˈnwi/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ahn-wee, ahn-wee; Fr. ahn-nwee]
a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom: The endless lecture produced an unbearable ennui.
1660–70; < F: boredom; OF enui displeasure; see annoy

dis·re·garded (dĭs'rĭ-gärd') Pronunciation Key
dis·re·gard, dis·re·gard·ing, dis·re·gards
1. To not be heeded, not be paid attention; ignored.
2. To be treated without proper respect or attentiveness.

   /ˈlæsɪˌtud, -ˌtyud/ [las-i-tood, -tyood]
1. weariness of body or mind from strain, oppressive climate, etc.; lack of energy; listlessness; languor.
2. a condition of indolent indifference: the pleasant lassitude of the warm summer afternoon.
1525–35; < L lassitūdō weariness, equiv. to lass(us) weary + -i- -i- + -tūdō -tude

* * *

wet blanket

noun, informal
someone who spoils the pleasure of others [syn: spoilsport]


* * *

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Kids and Doggies!

So, the other evening the kids were eating lasagna. It had been a really busy day- they were whiny, dirty and reluctant to cooperate. Littleman in particular was taking F-O-R-E-V-E-R to finish eating. Babyman was crying, more than ready for bed, and Sweetcheeks had finished eating. Finally I left Littleman to finish up while I ran Mr Sweetcheeks' bath and then put Babyman to sleep.

As I helped Sweetcheeks into his bath, I realized that not only had Littleman not come upstairs yet, it was awfully quiet downstairs. "Littleman?" I called. No answer. Uh, oh. I hurried into the kitchen to find this:
From assorted

He was sound asleep on his chair at the table.
From assorted

Poor Littleman. After hunting down my camera and checking on Sweetcheeks, I snapped a couple pics before helping Littleman off to bed.

* * *

In my previous post Moon Moment, I mentioned that we were at my sister-in-law's house that evening. Earlier in the day we'd been relaxing in their spectacular garden, enjoying the warm fall afternoon. They have two dogs, and one of them ("Thoreau") is quite the kisser. He honed in on Babyman right away.
From Lisa & Mark's 10/12/08

I'm only slightly ashamed to admit that we spent much more time laughing at Babyman's plight than we did discouraging Thoreau's lapping tongue!
From Lisa & Mark's 10/12/08

He expressed some displeasure.
From Lisa & Mark's 10/12/08

But was a very good sport, overall.
From Lisa & Mark's 10/12/08

He even showed off his own tongue tricks for us!
From Lisa & Mark's 10/12/08

* * *

Mr. Sweetcheeks loves his Aunt and Uncle's yard. He had a particularly nice time.
From Lisa & Mark's 10/12/08

Really, we all did.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Moon Moment

Hurrying to and fro, packing away leftovers, collecting toys, stray socks, and dirty glasses, stepping lightly over the dogs and the baby to drop everything in it's rightful place. Conversation, squeals and laughter fill the small space of my sister-in-law's house. Is everything ready to go? I glance around. There's nothing left for me to do, at least until we are ready to walk out the door. No one is paying any attention to me. The children are all attended to. My husband is in the middle of a story, sure to be occupied for a few more minutes at least.

I slip quietly through the sliding glass door, stepping out into the dark windy night.

The air is fresh, and just beginning to smell of dry grass and autumn leaves. Even though it's October, the night is warm and pleasant. The gentle breeze suddenly gusts, gleefully whipping the flower beds and making all the windchimes sound. I steal down the back steps and find my way along the rock path to the firepit's clearing. There, I plant my feet firmly and tip my head back to the sky. The moon's glow is just visible behind the racing clouds, perfectly centered in my vision with the waving pines all around. Stiff with tension, I stretch to loosen my muscles. As the wind whips higher, I throw my arms out and breathe deep, deeper. Suddenly the moon explodes through a break in the clouds, shimmering silver and blue. It's nearly full, and glorious. I drink in the sight. Feelings of peace, awe and gratitude mingle with sadness and longing. I want to stay right there, stay and listen to the wind in the trees. Stay to watch the clouds. Stay to talk to the moon. To feel the earth beneath my feet and remember what it's like to notice the subtle beauty. "I miss you", I tell the moon. I do miss her. I miss the quiet connection. I miss my spiritual self. I watch as the clouds hurry to veil her brilliance again. The wind whispers to me that I'm probably wanted inside. Still, I linger. The beauty of the night is a balm for me, a sip from the chalice to keep me going a while longer. Finally I turn back toward the house. As I near the door I can see the boys inside, bouncing and talking and hanging off their uncle. The shouts and laughter are audible long before I open the door. With a last longing look, I slip back into light and noise, love and chaos.

Until next time, moon. Until next time.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Littleman cooks: Grape Pie!

Littleman offered me another helpful recipe, this evening:

Grape Pie

- First, you take some bread that has been baked in the oven.
- You roll it out, then add some muffin batter and some grapes.
- Put it in the oven to bake, and
- ta da! You have grape pie!

* * *

Now, I have never heard of grape pie before tonight. But as I was writing this post, I decided to google it and see what I came up with. Lo and behold, there IS such a thing as grape pie! It is apparently a specialty of bakers in tiny Naples, NY. Here is one such recipe, courtesy of an article from the NY Folklore Society (


Even though they may be perfectly willing to share their recipes, the bakers of Naples have trouble letting outsiders in on the secret of the perfect pie because they never bake just one: they prepare pies in quantity. After much consideration, Irene Bouchard worked out the following for me:

5 1/2 cups Concord grapes, washed
about 1 cup sugar, depending on the sweetness of the grapes
1 tablespoon tapioca
Pastry for a 9-inch pie

Pop the skins off the grapes by pinching them at the end opposite the stem; set them aside. Put the pulp (without water) into a heavy pan, bring it to a boil, and let it boil 5 to 6 minutes. Put it through a colander or food mill to remove the seeds. Pour the hot pulp over the skins and let the mixture sit for 5 hours. ("This colors the pulp and makes it pretty.") Add the sugar and tapioca, then pour the mixture into the pie crust and dot with butter. Put on the top crust. (Irene uses a "floating" top crust—a circle of dough slightly smaller than the top of the pie—because it is easier than crimping top and bottom together and it also makes a pretty purple ring around the edge.) Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees and cook 20 minutes more until the crust is browned and the juice begins to bubble up.

* * *

Thumbs-up tonight for grape pie! I am SO going to have to try it out. (The Naples NY kind, not Littleman's!) I wonder if our local muscadines or scuppernogs would work? Yum, yum!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Breezing by

First off, I'd like to announce that Babyman MIGHT be getting the right idea when it comes to sleeping at night. MIGHT. Maybe. I hope. He (and therefore I) have slept well the past two nights. Aaaaah. (I won't dwell on the fact that it's taken 10 MONTHS to get this far. . . No, I won't.) Combine that with the first handful of nice, cool days we've had this year and I am feeling quite sunny. :)

* * *

Babyman now has three teeth, and though he doesn't yet crawl in the typical, cross-crawling formation on hands and knees, he can drag himself around quite sufficiently. (It's pretty funny looking!) The other day he surprised me by using a sound effect while pretending to drive a toy car on my shirt. Just like his older brothers! And now, if you ask him if he is a doggy, he will gleefully hang his tongue out and pant like a dog. (LOL! I guess he picked that up from Gypsy and Gimli.) On the one hand I am always hoping for him to develop faster to make some things easier for me, but on the other hand I am amazed at how quickly it seems to go. Like watching paint dry while you sit inside a speeding rocketship.

* * *

I am in love with fall weather. Give me the first couple breezy, sunny cool days and my whole soul feels different. It's a remarkable (and sometimes much needed) attitude adjustment!

* * *

I'll close now because I want to ride my fall weather high (and had-enough-sleep energy level) for more productive pursuits. I'll leave you with a fun link:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Scatterbrained Mini-musings

Ohhhh, I have a migrane.

The wild grapevines are starting to gild the foliage here and there, in tangles by roadsides- the first sign this year of Autumn. I welcome thee!

Babyman slept soundly last night from about 9:30 pm till about 3:30 am. 6 hours! A record. He then slept on, till about 7 am. I am very pleased- it's a sign, I hope, of better nights to come. A light at the end of the tunnel. A knot at the end of my rope. And so on, and so forth. Too bad I stayed up late. DOH!

My new favorite drink at Starbucks is a tall soy chai latte, no water. Yum.

Littleman's favorite phrase right now seems to be "You don't underSTAND me!" (~rolling eyes~) The kid is 4 for heaven's sake!

Sweetcheeks had a fun birthday. (Thank you all, who came out!) He's 3! I think he had a blast, and really felt special. I was glad to see that. It's tough, being the middle kid.

Babyman LOVES to wave these days. Smile and wave, smile and wave. Politics? Hollywood? He laughs a lot, loves to hang upside down and is trying to figure out the whole crawling thing. He likes cheerios and can really pack away some baby food. (I think it's all stored in his fat little knee rolls.) Still nursing, too. He loves music and singing, and will "sing" along with a CD or "sing" himself to sleep. He loves books and no paper is safe in his reach. He's still quite demanding, but will play by himself for short stretches now.

Thanks to a Wendy's kids meal prize, the boys have discovered the joy of books on CD. (So something good came out of that trip, besides convenience!) We have been listening to Magic Tree House books on CD just as fast as we can check them out from the library. It's been great!!

On that note, I've completely run out of steam. Besides, my head feels like it is imploding and I'm a little nauseous. I'm going to go to bed and pray for a repeat sleep performance from Babyman tonight. Is there a Native American dance, like a rain dance, to encourage babies to sleep at night?

Did I jinx it?
Babyman wakes.
Dammit. And a whole host of other expletives.
Ah, well. Off I go.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

Creation Myths

Myself, Littleman and Electra (our cat) are having a snack in the kitchen.

Littleman: "Where did the first people come from?"

Me: "You mean the very first people anywhere?"

Littleman: "Yeah."

Me: "That's a good question." I'm impressed- I guess he's figured out that people come from people, so the first people present a bit of a puzzle. It's the old 'chicken and egg' conundrum. "No one knows for sure", I tell him, "but there are a lot of good ideas."

Littleman: "Like what?"

Me: "Well, there's evolution, for instance. One idea is that before people, there were other animals on Earth- like monkeys. Over time, the monkeys changed little bit by little bit, becoming more and more like people. Eventually, after a really long time, the monkeys were more like people than monkeys. Those were the first people."

Littleman: Thinks about this, then nods. "Cool."

Me: "There are other ways of looking at it, though. You see, people have been trying to answer that question for a really long time. So over the years, different stories have been made up to help explain where the first people came from. A story that explains where people came from, and how the Earth was made, is called a 'creation myth'. Just about every religion on Earth has it's own idea of where we came from- it's own creation myth. The Christian religion believes that God made the first people. He made a man and a woman, named Adam and Eve, and they were the first people."

Littleman: Thinks some more. Nods again. "Oh." He seems satisfied with my explanation. "Well", he decides, "I think the first people were made by a bear."

Me: (a little stunned, then a little impressed) "That's a good creation myth."

Littleman: "Yep. But Electra thinks the first people were made by a cat."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

An afternoon several months ago

Wow, so I'm now posting monthly? Or just about. . . apologies, for my absence. (again). Been busy. Yadda etc. Sigh.

As busy as I have been however, I recently unearthed a reminder of how busy I am NOT. I happened to pick up my Sudoku (Yes, I Sudoku. When I can, anyway. It's relaxing- Try it.) book, and flipped through it. In the back, I found a hastily scribbled account of one afternoon a few months ago, when Babyman was still pretty brand new and Sweetcheeks was still potty training. I remember grabbing the handy Sudoku book to write it down, as a means of release and to remember the nitty gritty of daily life at that time. Here follows that record.

Mr. Sweetcheeks, who should be napping but isn't, dumps a large box of cards out while I am nursing Babyman. I am temporarily immobilized, so all efforts to get Sweetcheeks to clean them up are ignored. He wanders off.

Babyman poops in the fresh diaper that I'd just put on him, and then promptly falls into a sweet contented sleep that I am loathe to disturb. I lay Babyman down so I can get Sweetcheeks to clean up the cards. After one brief stint in time-out, we finally get that done.

Babyman begins to cry. At least I can change his diaper now.

Freshly diapered, I lay Babyman down awake. I'm folding laundry. Sweetcheeks wants to pet the baby. His hands are quite dirty- I tell him that if he wants to touch the baby, he must wash his hands first. He tries several times to pet the baby anyway, then finally agrees to wash his hands. We go to the bathroom, where he decides he wants to go potty. I help him remove his pants and diaper, and he manages to pee a few drops in the potty. Yea! I help him wash his hands. Babyman starts to cry, so I let Sweetcheeks stay naked the waist down. [note: I used to do this a lot, as it helped a great deal with the potty training. Most of the time, it went well.]

I go pick Babyman up; he poops. As I am changing his diaper, he poops twice more- and pees too, but I have a washcloth strategically placed so at least I don't get showered. Halfway through all this Sweetcheeks begins to scream. He's in the bathroom. He comes to me crying about his eyes, which (when I mange to get his hands away from them, all while in the midst of the ongoing baby diaper change) I see are covered in soap. It's ALL over his hands and eyes.

Babyman chooses this moment to pee again, and this time he sprays all over my shirt. I get Sweetcheeks to sit still and not touch his face while I finish putting a diaper on Babyman and lay him down, half-dressed, indignant and screaming.

I take Sweetcheeks to the bathroom to clean him up and doctor his eyes. Babyman screams.

I finish finally, and rush to pick up Babyman. He wants to nurse, so I settle in for that. Sweetcheeks comes in and lays on the floor to mope. Next thing I know I look over to see him rubbing baby's blanket on his naked penis. I scold, because he knows he isn't supposed to play with Babyman's things, and probably knows I wouldn't want him using them like that. He is maddeningly unrepentant, in such a way that leads me to believe the activity was intentional just to annoy me. I am temporarily immobilized nursing though, as he is well aware.

Sweetcheeks then comes over and stands next to me with his head in my lap. He says, "I wuv you, Mommy". I rub his head gently, telling him that I love him too, and I that I need his help- that even though I love taking care of them, it is hard work, and he needs to help by being a good boy and trying not to do things that he knows I will not like.

We all remain that way in companionable silence for just a few moments, when I hear a suspicious sound. Do I really smell pee?? I can't believe it. I wrack my brain for another explanation. It had sounded like a lot. I can't see over the baby to check, so finally I ask Sweetcheeks, "Did you just make pee pee on the floor?"

"Yes", he calmly replies.
AAAAAAAAAAAARGH! <<[That was just my mental reaction, luckily, along with a small internal explosion. I don't now remember what I actually said, but I bottled the explosion in until I could grab the nearest paper and writing instrument- sudoku book and pencil- to record my, er, difficult afternoon.

After reading this little bubble of memory, I actually felt quite grateful for my current tribulations with my boys. We've come a long way in 8 or so months!

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Thumbs up tonight for the free online Sudoku puzzles!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Back, and Skills to master

I'm back! It's been a disgraceful absence, as far as this blog is concerned. Sorry about that. What can I say? I've been having some trouble keeping up. (Just the simple logistics of everything I have to do.) Ho, hum.

Anyhow, I finally got my hands on a copy of A Thomas Jefferson Education from the library, and I finally finished reading it. I have a number of thoughts about it, but it's late and I need sleep. (OH, how I need sleep!) There is however, something I particularly wanted to share: a list in the book that's originally from the Harvard School of Law.

Harvard Skills
10 things deemed necessary for success in the job market of the 21st century

1) The ability to define problems without a guide.

2) The ability to ask hard questions which challenge prevailing assumptions.

3) The ability to quickly assimilate needed data from masses of irrelevant information.

4) The ability to work in teams without guidance.

5) The ability to work absolutely alone.

6) The ability to persuade others that your course is the right one.

7) The ability to conceptualize and reorganize information into new patterns.

8) The ability to discuss ideas with an eye toward application.

9 & 10) The ability to think inductively, deductively and dialectically.

I leave you with that this evening, because it is well worth pondering.

* * *

And, for fun!

I've missed you all. I'll try not to stay away so long. :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

We have your biopsy results back. . .

I had an unexpected phone call today.
Actually I expected the call, it was the content that was a surprise.
Let me back up just a bit.

I am a very fair-skinned person. Fair skinned, dark haired and freckled all over. I sunburn easily and almost never tan. I live in the Southern USA, where the summers are hot and the sun is blazing. I grew up around here.

My husband has encouraged me many times to get a preventative check at a dermatologist, just to be sure none of my bazillion little moles and freckles have anything to do with skin cancer. I agreed, but since the only odd mark I could think of was a mole on my ear that appeared sometime in childhood, I figured if it hadn't killed me yet it wasn't likely to do so anytime soon. So I put the check-up on my mental back burner, until I finally got around to it last week.

They took a small sample of the odd mole for a biopsy, but didn't spot anything else particularly suspicious. They weren't actually too concerned about the sample either, but it was different enough to warrant a test. So anyhow, today they called to tell me the test results.

"Kit ___?"
"Yes, this is she."
"Hi this is Dr. ___'s office, just calling with your test results."
"Oh, OK!" (expectant pause)
"Could you hold just a moment please?"

That's where I thought, "Uh oh". Because if they have to go get the doctor to tell you the test results, you know they're not going to say that everything's just fine and dandy.

And well, it's not. But it's not that bad either. That wierdo little mole is actually basal cell carcinoma. It's the most common form of skin cancer, and it's usually easy to treat. It's almost never life-threatening. I'll be going back to their office in a week and a half or so to have the rest of the mole removed. Hopefully it doesn't go too deep, because I'd rather not look like someone took a bite out of my ear. ;)

It's an odd thing, to be told you have cancer. Thank heavens it's something small, common and easily treated. But it's still a knock upside one's complacency. As a friend teased (with typical good humor), "you KNOW you're getting old, when things start turning up cancerous!" 31 isn't old of course, but I do feel the differences in my body. We are not young forever, and while that does not bother me (there are aspects of my crone years that I quite look forward to) it's still mournful to feel youth slipping away.

Isn't it funny: no matter how trite or cliche a common wisdom or common experience may be, when you find yourself in the midst of that awakening, it is nevertheless fresh and raw to you?

However even though this shines a spotlight on my body's inexorable march through time, it is juxtaposed with a recent evening of joy, rhythm and dancing. We went to a drum circle in a nearby park, and I danced for hours. It felt SO GOOD! I haven't danced like that in years. I woke the next morning sore and spent in the best way possible- the kind of spent that replaces energy with peacefulness. That evening gives me fresh hope that I can hold onto some of the vigor and joy, the vitality of youth, even as I embark on adulthood. Perhaps it took a funny little mole to remind me how very important it is to cultivate one's own joy and vitality, even in the throes of other responsibilities. It's a small reminder for a small adjustment, but OH! What a difference it makes.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I am stealing a moment to type. Something, anything!

I am still sick. Babyman is still teething (and not really sleeping). We are back from a trip and before I know it we'll be leaving on another one. I can hardly keep up. And I miss blogging, but sleep (and the occasional shower) have precedence in the few moments I can take for myself.

Even though traveling with kids can be difficult, and preparation and unpacking almost always falls solely on my shoulders, I generally enjoy going on family trips and adventures. However: just for the record, I prefer fewer, longer trips. Lots of short yet involved trips in a short amount of time is tortuous. I can hardly catch my breath! This has been the summer of family reunions. We have no trips planned next month, and for once I am looking forward to that. Whew.

Anyhow, I have new pictures for you, and some baby/kid gear posts, and some stories to tell, and whatever else pops into my head. But right now I am going to try for a shower before Babyman wakes AGAIN.

* * *

But I'm not leaving before I give a solid thumbs-up to my newest favorite blog. Good writing. Imaginative. Funny and profound. It's all there! Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008