Saturday, February 27, 2010

Love Letter.

Dear Alec John,
You turned five months old this week, and the time has gone by since you were born so quickly that we almost missed it. You are a happy, funny, unendingly pleasant little boy who is built so solidly- you are wide and long and dense feeling- it is fun to imagine how big and tall you will be in about 15 years.

You are a fully integrated part of the family by now; the newness of you has worn off on your sisters and of course no one can imagine life before you. I can now only measure time in the last decade by who I was pregnant with, who was I nursing, who was just-born. You were the best idea I ever had. I felt your little spirit for years before we had you, pushing on my heart, asking to join our family. I feel like someone is trying to come in, I told Daddy. We need to make room for this little person to be with us. And thankfully Daddy thought it would be a good idea, too, and now, a year and a few months later, here we are, all thoroughly in love with you.

And you are in love with us. You know me as your primary go-to gal and whimper quite plaintively if I put you down. You love to be held and cuddled and loved up, and if you are the least bit tired, you close your eyes anytime I kiss your forehead. You are the cuddliest of our three babies: Jenna only wanted to be near my boob, and Michaela was born with her legendary personal boundaries, and you are so fun to kiss and hug because you laugh and smile and try so hard to kiss us back. You love to use my hair as handles and while I fret that you are pulling my hair out strand by strand, I love your wish to be close to me.

You have started all kinds of things in the last few weeks: solid food, which you were not sure of at first; trying to sit up; and reaching for anything- anything- that is in front of you. You can now suck down a whole container of baby food in a sitting, and though you open your mouth eagerly for each bite, when the food actually gets in your mouth you make the greatest face of displeasure and uncertainty that makes you look exactly like Daddy. You are strong and solid and muscular, it seems, and you are always trying to sit up like a big boy. In fact, that is what people most comment on: your strength. From the nurses on the day you were born to the most casual observer, everyone sees your smile and your strength and is amazed.

Your newest way of interacting with the world is to reach for it and grab it- anything and everything gets wrapped by your little man hands and pulled towards your mouth. Toys, the computer, food, pens, hair- anything is fair game and worth investigating. And tasting.

Your favorite activity of the day is playing on the floor with Jenna and I, getting tickled and kissed and loved up and sung to and talked to. A close second-favorite is riding in your backpack on my back. The backpack was an item we registered for when we were pregnant with Michaela, and somehow thought we would take her hiking, which is especially funny because we've never even gone hiking in our 14 years together. Michaela tolerated the backpack, Jenna abhorred it, and you absolutely love it: being high, being part of the action, being in motion, being close to me, and you squeal and jump with happiness if we happen to pass a mirror and you catch a glimpse of yourself and me.

Overall, my dear boy, you are what is commonly called a good baby. You are easy to love, quick to smile, and easy to comfort when you cry. You make people feel good. You are flexible and laid back and tolerate a whole lot of everything from everyone. This may not seem like a big deal, but compared to one of your sisters, who will remain nameless, who stared people down instead of smiling, tolerated nothing from no one and almost drove me crazy- and not in an funny, exasperated way, more like needing-medication kind of way- you are a dream come true. So when people at a store or at church or at a party ask me, "Is he a good baby?" I glow with pride when I can answer, "Yes, yes, he is. He's a great baby." And everyone is happy and smiley.

Just like you.

Keep growing. Keep loving. And always, always know how much we adore you.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Snow Day!

Yay for snow... finally. My usually lolligagging-in-the-morning girls were up and out in the snow by 6:40am.

Then, of course, were inside by 7:10am.

I was still asleep on the couch with a restless Alec, so at least they had the good sense not to demand hot chocolate which they never drink.
And another storm is supposed to come later today.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Should be.

I should be cleaning up the mess of bill paying around me.
I should be packing some more boxes.
I should be vacuuming where we're getting the carpet cleaned this afternoon, should be making some chocolate chip cookies for the family to enjoy, should be fine tuning the last of the closet makeovers.
Should be, should be, should be.

But instead I am trolling the Internet, reading new blogs, wondering when these moms have the time to be such good writers and sighing with contentment at Container Store pornography: organized closets and home offices.
(I wrote a paper in grad school once that featured the phrase "I should have..." and my professor hated it. She said it denotes too much self- judgement. I don't remember much from the class, but I remember that and like it.)

The kids are great: two safely back in school after a playdate-filled week off and one taking a nap after a surprisingly good night's sleep. I only woke up once at 2:30am, practically hanging from the ceiling like a ferral cat, convinced Alec was dead. He's not.
Dan is back at work.
The house is quiet.

Life is good.
And it should be.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ashes, ashes, and I feel like falling down.

This week was an interesting one for many reasons.

First of all, Michaela saw on a calendar that Tuesday was called "Fat Tuesday" and thought that was quite possibly the funniest thing she's ever heard. FAT TUESDAY! HAHAHA!

Second of all, Jenna was pretty preoccupied by the whole getting ashes thing at yesterday's Ash Wednesday church service. "What are they? What are they made of? What do they look like? Do I have to get them? How do they come off?"... I must have answered these questions (the best I could) about 5 or 6 times. Michaela helpfully volunteered that she was getting ashes so it couldn't be that bad.
In the end, Jenna came up with this answer: "I'lll get the ashes if they are pinkt."
"They don't come in pink," I tried to explain.
Then in the beginning of the service last night, an anxious Jenna is listening to our pastor, who announces that the colors of Lent are purple, black, and white. Jenna turns excitedly towards me and whispers: "Oooooohhh... I'll get the PURPLE ashes!"
In the end, she decided not to get ashes at all, but we put in a request with the pastor at the end of the service for pink OR purple ones next year. Either one will work.

Third of all, it is vacation week, so everyone (well, 4 of the 5 of us) is home and spending LOTS of time together. The time is actually going pretty quickly and the break from the structure and routine is a welcome one. It's nice to not have to rush around in the morning and let the girls stay up a little later at night, as well as not have activities or homework. We've had several very nice playdates with more to come.

Fourth of all, we put in yet another offer in on a house that we ADORED and didn't get it because we have to sell our house. (The owners have been relocated and the relo dept. of their company won't even negociate without a signed contract on our end.) After being stymied twice because of our current house, we have decided to place our house on the market, probably next week. So you can imagine what I've been up to the last few days: packing, decluttering, de-picturing, and organizing our stuff and cabinets and closets. We've packed away multiple boxes of toys and the girls have been pretty good about this. We are painting the girls' room a pretty light yellow (the likelihood that the new owners would like a pink room with MICHAELA painted on the wall is slim), doing some touch up painting, and cleaning this weekend. We are hoping to sell quickly so we can try again to get the second house we bid on. If not, we are waiting for something good to come on the market. I am terribly conflicted about leaving this house: we brought our babies home here and have been here for 10 years. I know every nook and cranny of this house and have painted it all. It's a great, sturdy, well built, welcoming house. But we are out of room and need to spread out. We are just so ready for an upgrade, a new space and a new adventure.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Funny Valentines

And, of course, Dan too, but he didn't dress up in a cute pink/red/white shirt for Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The First Great House Fiasco of 2010 (and it won't be the last).

This week, we found a house, fell in love with the house, figured out we could indeed afford the house, planned the next 30 years of our life in said house, put an offer on the house, put yet another offer on the house, and then lost the house.


It is a beautiful house: full of light and windows and shiny things like faucets and granite and pendant lights and hardwood floors and a big, roomy laundry room that made me close my eyes and smile with happiness every time I walked into it.

But we lost it to someone who doesn't have another house to sell and can close right away.

In a hilarious moment that will go into the permanent collection of Great Stories From Our Life Together, as Dan was walking up the stairs of the house for the first time, he said to Michaela: I will get you anything you want if you agree to switch schools so we can buy this house.
And Michaela wisely asked: ANYTHING??
And he answered: Yes, anything... how about I get you a puppy?
And Michaela's head exploded with happiness.
And that's when Mommy whipped around and exclaimed: WHAT DID YOU JUST OFFER HER???
And then Michaela, sensing resistance, immediately exclaimed: Daddy, you PROMISED!!

So now, if we find a new house outside of Michaela's current elementary school boundaries, we're also adding a puppy to the mix. Because I really, really don't have enough to do during the day and taking care of a puppy will help fill the time.

We are sad and disappointed, but are sure that there is a reason why this one didn't work out: most hopefully because there is another house right around the corner that is an even better fit for us.

God has a plan.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


You know about Shangri-La, right?

My concept of it was mostly formed by context... "That house was like Shangri-La" or some concept of a utopian place. I never knew what Shangri-La was in reality, but had the idea that it was a idyllic dwelling or plot of land, filled with pleasures and conveniences and luxury; sort of a hedonistic wonderland.

Then, at 4am the other morning, I was feeding Alec and stumbled upon a documentary on PBS about the real Shangri-La. Archaeologists were searching through ancient hand-dug caves cut into sides of cliffs where people used to live, worship their gods and bury their dead. Skulls, skeletons, artifacts, altars, and manuscripts of ancient texts were found and photographed to be further studied. It was an amazing find.

It turns out that Shangri-La went through a fairly difficult transition in history, and I am not doing it a bit of justice here. But the main idea, the point that struck me so hard that early morning, was that the luxury of Shangri-La was being able to use metal not for weapons, but for implements to help harvest their crops.

The utopia was safety and serenity and plenty, not riches or extravagance or gluttony. It was about not living in fear. It was about enjoying peace and being able to do something as simple as feed their children.

I really liked that and thought about it's joyful simplicity all weekend.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Separated at birth.

Uncle Michael and his nieces
Gotta love the matching Libutti mouths!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Influential reading.

Dan told my mom a few weeks ago: "I don't know... Cheryl read a book and now we buy BROWN eggs."
The book I read was The Omnivore's Dilemma, and it was fantastic. It looks at what we eat, where it comes from, and what it does for us (or against us). He follows three meals: one from McDonald's, one that is organic and one that he hunted and gathered himself. I found it a bit dense in parts, possibly because we were Ferberizing Michaela at the time and I was reading by flashlight while sitting in the doorway of her room, convincing her that she could, indeed, fall asleep by herself. It really makes interesting, thoughtful points about what is good food, what is junk and he puts forth the most wonderful advice for eating without being preachy: "Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much."
Ahhh. If we could all follow that advice.
The best part of it was that it helps you understand how your food is grown and processed and gets to you. What is healthy? What is sustainable? What is worth paying more for?

The points of the book dovetailed really nicely with another book I just read: No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process by Colin Beavan. This guy in NYC tried to live a carbon-free life for a year- no car, no electricity, no garbage, nothing disposable, and eating only locally produced food. Yes, it's a bit schticky, and clearly is an attention getting premise. And yes, most people did ask him how he lived without toilet paper. He had some interesting ideas about living in a more sustainable way, some easy, some drastic, but my favorite parts of the book were when he peeled back the layers of his life that were cluttered by tv and eating out and working and driving and travelling and being on a never ending treadmill of life and really examined what life is about. Why do we work? Why are we so busy? What makes us truly happy? Are we really looking at how we spend our resources of time and money and energy and attention, as well as natural resources, and are we being good stewards? What makes a good life?
I'm not interested in getting into the environmental debate about global warming and all that jazz. But I see no harm in using resources wisely. If it helps the world, great. To me, it's not political, it's being grateful for the gifts God gave me. I have clean water and clean air and enough food and reliable transportation and heat and shelter. These are my blessings, and millions of people don't have them.
So check out his book. It's funny and thought provoking. And does make me recycle more.