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.

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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

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Craptacular

Well, I feel just craptacular.

It's as if someone pumped my sinuses full of glue, and let it set. Add to that my standard lack of sleep with Babyman (the teething wonder), and I am just in top form. Yeah.

However, I thought I'd subject you to a blog post anyway, since I can only neglect this for so long and hope to retain any readership (hi, G!) at all.

Oh, and Olga: I haven't forgotten your stroller question! I'm sorry I've ignored it this long. I intend to do a blog post for you on that. Long story short, the single stroller I can recommend with experience is no longer available. I have a few other things to say on that though, so stay tuned. ;)

Of course, the problem with blogging like this (on the fly, bit by bit in between laundry loads and the dog groomer and poopy diapers and cooking lunch and a broken air conditioner and oh yeah, feeling craptacular) is that I can't focus long enough to come up with anything worthwhile to say. I have found a number of blogs I really enjoy, and they all post much more frequently than I manage. A step up in quantity AND quality. Surely they have as many obligations as I? I wonder how they do it. Whine, whine, sniff. OK I am done with that.

ANYHOW, never mind everything I just typed, and look at this cute baby:

There.


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Oh, and here is a step-by-step illustration of painstaking restoration and reconstruction of a Jan Steen painting. I knew a little bit about art restoration, but this was really interesting to me. Perhaps you might enjoy it, too.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cityscape, and Neurotica

I have a few more pictures from our recent Florida trip that I wanted to share. See, I had a bit of a surprise when we arrived in downtown Orlando: the city had a skyline! It has been a number of years since I was last in Orlando, and perhaps I simply wasn't paying attention last time. All I can say is that I saw a number of beautiful buildings that I hadn't expected and didn't remember.



As a matter of fact, the whole downtown area where we were was quite pretty, and we enjoyed our sunset walk along Lake Eola (which I just discovered is technically a sinkhole). We didn't see any alligators, though I hear they've had to be relocated from that lake more than once. I am not surprised, as even the water hazards on the golf courses down there host gators sometimes! We did see some lovely black swans, but I didn't get a decent picture of them. They were giving us the evil eye, anyway.



The boys ran, climbed trees and charmed strangers as we moseyed from our hotel to a restaurant for dinner. Everything was so pleasant, I found myself thinking that Orlando might be a nice place to live.



Then I slapped myself. I was forgetting about summer.
And bugs.
And the stinky water.
And summer.
And alligators.
And hurricanes.
And did I mention the hot summer?
Yeah.
So, we LOVED our visit, but tourists we shall remain. As you can see, it's a very pretty city.

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Thumbs-up tonight goes to this bizarre little series of animations: Modern Living/Neurotica Series. They are addictively interactive. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bedtime Story

Careful not to bump my head, I duck into his domain. Awkwardly I get seated, back to the wall and legs stretched before me, feet thrust under the hanging sheet that defines our cozy little den. While the cat sniffs my toes, I reach for the first book on their stack, and they settle in on either side of me. Anticipation personified as little boys. The act of opening the book is the threshold of magic. Sometimes, I think the actual story is (at this age) of little consequence to them. It is language that enthralls: words, rhythm, intonation. The music of the printed page. Language and art, for picture books dominate our bedtimes still. I am as likely as they to get lost in an illustration, to feel the pull of these worlds conceived and translated so beautifully from the imaginations of others. And therein lies the true magic of course: it is my love, my admiration, my anticipation and satisfaction from these books that feeds my little boys. Without my presence and love, books would not hold such value for them. So the books bring us back again: a small tousled head on each mommy shoulder, three faces focused together on one book, marveling together at the beauty and power of the written word.

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Thumbs-up tonight for this commencement speech by JK Rowling. Scroll down to find the text of the speech. I really liked it a lot!
Find the NPR story here.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Simple Solution

It is easy to forget the simplest and best solutions, sometimes.

I realized this yesterday, while caring for Babyman. He'd been fussy all morning, not at all interested in letting me set him down and get any housework or office work done. He was discontent and demanding, and it was putting me on edge. I tried so many things to engage his attention away from me. I'd been nursing AGAIN, which probably helped me because of all the relaxing, feel-good hormones it releases into my blood stream. So I was supporting Babyman as he sat on my lap, rubbing his back and patting it softly. He was content for the moment, simply looking around the room. I was tired (as always) and relaxed, and started to lose myself in quiet, loving contemplation of my baby. I stroked his hair, and pressed my cheek to his, and admired his fat, fat little dimpled knees. He burped, as I'd expected him to, and smiled. Right about then is when I'd normally move on to something else, probably changing his diaper and trying to set him down somewhere so I could do laundry or whatever else. But right then, I was too tired and content to go anywhere. So I simply continued holding and loving Babyman, stroking his back gently.

Then, he belched. I mean, REALLY belched- the sort of primal release that still startles me to hear out of so small a person, even though he is my third child and I should be used to them by now. It was followed by a dainty burp, and Babyman laughed. Not to go all sappy on you, but it was ridiculously darling! (I know, I know, only a mother. . .) We enjoyed each other's company a little while longer, before I got up and put him on the nursery floor to play. He was happy there while I folded some laundry. Whether he'd been uncomfortable and fussy because he needed to burp, or simply been in need of a little undivided mommy attention, all I had to do was slow down, quit trying to do several things at once, and just BE with my baby. Such a simple solution, and yet so easy to forget.

Baby Time. Remember that it moves at a much more sedate pace than we do. To understand and connect with your baby, you have to slow down and focus on the present. It's a very Eastern mode of handling the situation, I think- and it really, really helps.

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Today's thumbs-up goes to this site's ideas to help one be more present, or "in the moment":
http://zenhabits.net/2007/07/5-inspirations-for-being-in-the-moment/

Friday, June 6, 2008

My Umbrella

Last month I was reading Shade and Sweetwater, and came across this post and this one about her lost umbrella. It brought to mind a story from my past (cue Wayne's World transition, doodly doodly doodly as the scene fades. . .)

* * *

I used to have an umbrella.

Not just any umbrella, but an umbrella I loved. It made me happy any time I popped it open on a grey, wet day. There were a few things that made this umbrella so special. First of all, it was big. No tiny, folding, purse-sized excuse for shelter was this. Oh, no: when you popped that baby open, it expanded like a parachute and there was no need to prioritize which part of me should stay dry. It sheltered all of me and my ridiculously overpacked college bookbag, as well. Secondly, the umbrella was long, straight and sturdy, with a strong metal tip and a classic curved handle that was carved to look like bamboo. This umbrella doubled gracefully as a walking stick (which I used often) and a self-defense weapon (which I never had to try, thank goodness). I can be very hard on things- shoes, umbrellas, jeans, cameras, bookbags, you name it- and other than a slightly loose shaft (easily shored up with clear packing tape) and a scratched-up metal tip, the umbrella remained as good as new. Finally, it was whimsical. Rather than a typical umbrella-shaped canopy, it blossomed into a bright sunny roof of tropical leaves, translucent to let the light shine through. It was like popping open a little bit of paradise to shield me from a wet Georgia winter.

I loved that umbrella.

My umbrella served me very well marching here, there and yonder from class to class on a large campus. Unfortunately I can be a forgetful person: more than one umbrella has fallen victim to my distraction, being left lonely and forgotten somewhere in my daily wake. Luckily this umbrella was large and useful enough that I kept track of it for a long time. Despite a couple close calls, I always managed to collect my umbrella and bring it home ready for another rainy day.

Until one fateful afternoon.

After a long class (I just realized a little joke: if I remember correctly, it was a Meteorology course. HA!) I gathered my things and wandered outside. I’d left my umbrella by the door when I’d arrived, so that it would not drip all over the place. By the time I left, the weather had cleared up nicely and my wonderful umbrella slipped my mind. I had to hurry to catch the bus if I was going to make it to my next class on time. My lovely, loyal umbrella was left propped in a corner, unnoticed and alone.

Well, it wasn’t long before I figured out what had happened. My schedule was packed however, and I had to rush from class to work and then home before it got dark. (My cheap little apartment was fine for what it was, but I didn’t have a car and I had to walk through some chancy neighborhoods before I’d reach my front door. I never walked home at night.) Retrieving my umbrella would have to wait until tomorrow.

Tomorrow arrived, and during my brief lunch I rushed over to the Environmental Sciences building for the reunion. When I reached the classroom corner however, it was empty. I looked all around, and asked anyone I saw if they had seen it. I checked the building’s lobby. I asked the janitor. No luck anywhere. I was beginning to think the worst: someone else had seen it’s value, and picked it up for their own! I was very upset. I couldn’t believe that after all that time, I’d simply left the poor thing behind to be picked up by a random stranger. I know it sounds silly, but darn if I didn’t love that umbrella! The store where I’d bought it had closed a few years earlier. I tried to find a new one on the internet, but it was nowhere to be seen. I was simply out of luck.

So, fast-forward a few weeks. I was walking through another part of campus, on my way to work for the afternoon. It was a grey day, lightly raining on my hunched shoulders and bowed head. (I’d still not gotten around to replacing my umbrella.) Suddenly a cheerful flash of green catches the corner of my eye. Looking up, I spot MY UMBRELLA! Held aloft by a tall woman, it was making it’s way across campus right toward me. I could hardly believe my luck! To think we’d be reunited after all! I was delighted.

The woman noticed my obvious happy interest, and she stopped with a guarded, questioning glance. Almost laughing, I exclaim “That’s my umbrella!”

Upon hearing that something about her face just slammed shut, like a cold metal door. Slowly, she began to shake her head. I couldn’t believe my eyes, and persisted hopefully, “I left it in the Environmental Sciences building weeks ago! I was so upset, I love it and . . . I’ve had it . . . for a long time. . .” My words were faltering as she continued to shake her head.

“No it cannot be yours”, she told me firmly, and moved as if to walk away.

“No really, that’s my umbrella that I lost!” I stepped in front of her again and ducked my head to look at the umbrella’s shaft, where my telltale repair of clear packing tape could be seen. “See where I fixed the shaft! It was loose and I used packing . . . tape. . .” She was shaking her head again, more firmly this time.

“No, this was a gift from a friend.” She looked uncomfortable, like she couldn’t wait to be rid of me. Maybe it’s my overactive and self-righteous imagination, but I thought she looked guilty. “It is not yours.”

“Well maybe they found. . .” I started, but she shook her head one more time and shouldered past me to continue on her way. I was left staring after her, dejected and bewildered. It’s one thing to keep a lost item you find, but it’s another thing entirely to refuse to return it to it’s rightful owner, if said person shows up and proves ownership. She could have at least taken my number, if the “gift” story were true. But, no. I watched her walk away, my shining tropical shelter aloft, fading into the grey foggy afternoon.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Babyman's First Swim

I was gone again, and now I'm back again!

I thought I'd show you a few pics from Babyman's first swim, when we were in Orlando a couple weekends ago.



The water was so pleasant, and Babyman loved it.



(Check out his delightfully ridiculous hair.)



He did some splashing about and kicking, and enjoyed playing with the bilibo minis but mostly he just enjoyed being in the water and watching his brothers.



As always, Sweetcheeks was hard to catch with my camera. But I tried. Then I put the camera away and just played with my boys.



They had an absolute blast.

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Thumbs-up today to bilibo! We have a big one and a couple of minis. They are a really cool toy!