Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Portrait of a One Year Old.

The Cupcakes!

He loved eating his cupcake.

He loves sticking that tongue out and touching his new teeth.
Happy Birthday to Alec!

Monday, September 27, 2010

I'll Be Thelma, You Be Louise.

My friend Angel got me hooked on a reality tv show called The Fabulous Beekman Boys, which airs on planet green on Wednesday nights. It is a, well, fabulous show about a gay couple from NYC who were looking for a place to go outside of the city and stumbled upon Sharon Springs, NY, a quaint, tiny, old fashioned little farming town and fell in love with it. They end up purchasing the Beekman Mansion and its surrounding property and becoming gentleman farmers. They embrace the simple life of a slower pace and set out to learn, I believe mostly through Internet searches, how to be competent organic farmers. They also have goats on their property, cared for by their neighbor Farmer John, and make cheese and soap from the goat milk. The show is addictive and super funny and smart and wry and touching. And Farmer John cries on camera in almost every episode, which is just beguiling.

So I have been watching the show, and checked out its website, http://www.beekman1802.com/, and saw that they were hosting the upcoming Sharon Springs Harvest Festival, which they promised to be HUGE. And I was sort of interested in seeing this HUGE harvest fest in a town of about 278 people. And, of course, I am more than slightly obsessed with all things harvest-related, especially Pilgrims, because I was one in a prior life. But I digress.

So I said to Angel, "Hey- do you want to go to the Sharon Springs Harvest Festival?" And she answered, "OF COURSE!" and we counted down the days 'til we could ditch our five children and our husbands and take off for our road trip to Sharon Springs. Which is only about an hour away from here, but since we were child-less and husband-less, totally qualifies as a Road Trip.

So we rode into Sharon Springs, and let me tell you: someone spent a sh*tload of money on pumpkins and gourds because the whole street was decorated to the nines and just looked gorgeous. The Festival was on Main Street, which features several business, lots of history and quite a few worn down empty buildings. The Beekman Boys are clearly the biggest thing to come here since Sharon Springs ran wellness spas in the 1930's.

The American Hotel, a beautiful old hotel on Main Street, was another sponsor of the festival and offered their grounds as a place for vendors to set up shop. There were craftspeople, farmers, quilters, painters, and all types of artists selling their wares and I could have spent about a thousand dollars. One of our favorite booths was manned by Farmer John's sister, who we could tell was his sister by the huge banner on her tent that read: FARMER JOHN'S SISTER. She was a quilter and had lovely things; Angel and I each bought some potholders from her. We also are such dorks that we asked to take her picture, which she seemed a bit taken aback by, but I loved it just the same. "Um, John's coming here around 2 o'clock," she told us, "He's supposed to bring me some lunch." WHAT?? FARMER JOHN'S COMING HERE??? We started giggling and she was clearly sort of frightened by us.

We wandered around, enjoying every moment, and then came back a little after two. AND THERE HE WAS!! And we giggled again and tried desperately to say something funny and friendly and Farmer John looked as surprised at our interest in him as if he'd never been on a tv show and we were just randomly coming up to him, introducing ourselves and asking to take his picture. The picture above is Angel and Farmer John and I think the only times I have seen her smile that broadly was when her two daughers were born.

After we calmed down from the Farmer John meet and greet, we continued to walk around and decided it was time to hit the Beekman 1802 Mercantile- please, don't be pedestrian and call it a store- but in order to do that we had to wait in line. To just get INTO the store.

And it was pleasant to wait- they had several of Farmer John's goats outside in front in a pen, so you could be amused by them as you waited- and did I mention we were two grown women, by ourselves, not having to listen to any whining or complaining or asking for treats or trinkets? And we moved through the line and watched the security men move people through and finally it was our turn. We went into the store- I mean, Mercantile- and it was tiny little basic store, about the size of my dining room, but lovely just the same. We bought some Blaack Onion jam and oogled the textiles and soaps and laughed at the tshirts. But alas, The Beekman Boys were taking a break from their fans and eating a very late lunch when we came through.
Later in the afternoon, when we felt we had seen all that the Sharon Springs Harvest Festival had to offer, we swung by the Mercantile again in hopes of seeing The Boys, whose names are Josh and Brent. They were out front, so after waiting again in a much shorter line, we got to meet them.

And they were absolutely lovely and adorable. There's me, and Josh, and Brent and Angel, all color coordinated in our harvest oranges and tans and grays and the sun shining on us, clearly direct from heaven. Just LOOKING at this picture makes me happy. They asked us where we were from, and we told them and they said, "Oh! You're close! You can come by anytime!" and Brent started telling Angel that she needs to come back in December for their Victorian celebration, and she said Of course! and He said You have to wear your Victorian clothes and she said, Well, obviously! and then later on realized that she actually does not have any Victorian clothes whatsoever, but since Brent had PERSONALLY INVITED HER TO COME, she could whip some up lickety-split. And then she rubbed it in my face the whole ride home that clearly Brent loved her more than Josh loved me since Brent had invited her PERSONALLY to come back.
Well, not to be outdone, I told her how Josh looked RIGHT INTO MY EYES and asked with grave concern and caring, Did you have a good time? How were the vendors? Were they okay? And I answered Oh yes, they were just wonderful and we even bought things from Farmer John's sister. It was just lovely! And so I told Angel the whole ride home that clearly I looked like a discriminating customer to him, someone with wonderful taste, and that's why he asked me if I thought everything was nice.
So she said Well, look how Brent has his arm around me in the picture! And I said But see how close Josh is standing next to me? Not much personal space there!! And we declared it a tie and then talked the rest of the way home about who we thought was cuter.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy 1st Birthday to Alec John.

Dear Alec,
Today marks one year since you joined our family and brought all of your easygoing charm and open-mouthed-kisses love with you. You have been a blessing to us and we- especially your sisters- have so enjoyed watching you grow this year.
And that's all I can write to you for now, because you are due for a nap and crying and whimpering and hanging on to my leg.
Happy birthday, my precious boy, and we wish you many decades of happy birthdays ahead.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Baptism Dress.

I packed away my babies' baptism dress today.

Months and months ago, I found an archival-safe box and acid free tissue paper at The Container Store and bought it just for this purpose. It has been on several to-do lists that I've generated in the last few months, and every time I open Alec's closet, I see it in there, waiting patiently for me to attend to it.

Yesterday I washed the dress and matching lined jacket and dried it on the lowest possible setting.
Today I stuffed it with the tissue paper, carefully folded and arranged it this way and that and finally popped the lid on, sealing that stage of my life.

I sewed the dress myself while I was pregnant with Michaela, unsure if we were having a boy or a girl. I remember going to the fabric store, pouring over the different patterns, trying desperately to be realistic about my sewing abilities, but loving dresses that were way above what I could reasonably accomplish. I loved the long gown styles, and even though Dan is super traditional, he was okay with a son wearing a baptism dress. I remember picking out the fabric and the ribbon and the trim, which is a satiny brocade, suitable for either a boy or girl. It was a dress of promise, of devotion, of formality.

I worked on it off and on during the pregnancy and then had to finish it by December, when Michaela was baptized on Christmas Eve eve. I remember getting ready for the party we had after she was baptized; the flowers and the favors and the food and joy of bringing my child to God. I remember how excited I was to be up in front of the church, sharing her with my church family. It was a ritual I had seen dozens of times growing up and now, here I was, finally in that same space and loving every minute of it.

After Michaela was baptized, I washed the dress and hung it in her closet, patiently waiting for the next baby to come along and wear that dress.

Three and a half years later, Jenna Alicia came along and I went all out. She was baptized in August, and I spent a ridiculous amount of money getting beautiful custom invitations designed and printed for the baptism and celebration. I had the baptism dress professionally photographed and it was the centerpiece of the invite. It was gorgeous. I remember the joy of that day, a warm August morning, with our friends standing next to us as her Godparents, and the excitement that we were tying our families together forever. And then the overwhelming poignancy of having my brother assist in the baptism itself and preach the sermon of the service. What a gift, to have him there, holding my child and blessing her, and all I could think of was how many hours we spent playing matchbox cars together growing up and now here we were, consecrating a child related to both of us to God, performing a ritual and a sacrament together.

We had a party afterwards at our house, and I remember watching Michaela open the gifts. She wore a beautiful pink sundress and every time she watched the video of the baptism, she always noted how pretty her shoes were.

After Jenna was baptized, I washed the dress and hung it in her closet, patiently waiting for the next baby to come along and wear that dress.

Four and a half years later, Alec John came along and we could plan another- our last and final- magical day with that dress. We decided to have the party at a local country club, and it was the best choice we could have made: the setting was beautiful, decorated for Christmas, with inch of newly fallen fluffy snow covering everything outside. I was relaxed and joyful on that December day, again blessed with a happy and healthy child, again able to bring him in front of my church family to become a child of God's. And this time, my brother baptized him and lead the worship service, and when we stood up for the baptism, Alec, in the baptism dress, was surrounded by his uncles and aunts and sisters and parents and all their love at the font.

The party was fun and delicious and elegant and full of love and laughter for everyone. Michaela, now an old pro at this baptism thing, carried Alec around and showed him off. The girls wore their Christmas dresses, made of red velveteen and satin, and looked beautiful and happy. When the party wound down, and we pulled away in the car, listening to Christmas carols on the radio, I looked around to memorize that moment in time because I was so happy and full with my three babies riding in the back seat.

And when it was over, I hung up the baptism dress in Alec's closet and waited to pack away the dress for my grandbabies to wear. Today was that day.

I thought of all these things while I was wrapping it in the tissue paper, carefully arranging the sleeves and the jacket and the ribbon tie. The memories of special days and blessings from heaven. The joy of family and the gift of faith.

And I wondered what our lives will be like when I open the box again.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

An Open Letter to Mom.

Dear Mom,

Hey! How are you? I just thought I'd drop you a quick note about what's been going on around here lately.

Sooooo... my sisters are gone. I don't know where they go, or what they do, but now it's just you and me, mano-y-mano, all day long. I'd appreciate it if you'd just carry me around now, like, all day, since you're not doing too much of anything else.
And what the heck is going on with my mouth? It just hurts all the time, like something is poking up through my gums or something. Weird. But just so you know, that's one of the reasons why I've been waking up at all hours of the night. It hurts.
Of course, I've also been waking up because when I sit up and cry in my crib, you come get me and then we lay down on the family room couch together and snuggle and sleep. Good times. You're like my own personal mattress. And it doesn't seem to matter when I do it- sometimes I get up at 1am, sometimes 3am, sometimes I get up at 10:45pm and you still come in. You don't seem too happy when I get up at 10:45pm, though. Maybe you should get a little more sleep. You'd feel better.

I hear you and Dad talk about this thing called Ferber-izing me but I don't know what that means. Hope it's something good.

Please stop changing my diaper and getting me dressed. I think I've made it pretty clear by the kicking and crying and screaming that I don't enjoy it.

And what do you think of my stairclimbing? Pretty good, huh? I've been working at it as much as possible when you forget to close the darn gate. Why are you always trying to foil me? I'm safe on the stairs... I even stop at the bottom and make noise so you know I'm about to go up. And I always turn around and look to make sure you're right behind me.
And I love how you cheer for me when I get to the top. I also love, love, love standing at the top railing and looking down on the hallway below. Super cool. And when I stick my foot in between the spindles... is that awesome or what? It's like I'm trying to step out into space. I'm an astronaut!! Sorry if that freaks you out a little.

And seriously, you have GOT to ditch giving me those baths. They are HORRIBLE. Can't you see that the whole time I'm trying to climb out of the tub? I mean, I fight you as hard as I can. I know, I know, most kids love the bathtub, love to "play with the water", love to "splash around", but I hate the whole thing. From the time the water starts running to when it's all over and you're getting me dried off and dressed, it is just heinous. HEINOUS. I don't mind being smelly. Really. I'm just more of an "au natural" kind of guy.

Other than that, life is pretty good around here. I'm enjoying the "big boy" food... the pasta, the peas, the puffs, the cheese. Mmmm. I do love that cheese. And the waffles and Cheerios. I love playing ball with you, I love dancing to music (I've got pretty good rhythm, eh?), love swinging on the swingset. You guys are fun to be with. One thing- could you maybe give me the phone and computer to play with a little more? I love jamming my fingers on those glorious buttons and you're always taking that away from me. But I like you. You're good people.

We've had a good first year.

Alec John

PS- No matter how many times you try to feed me those disgusting pureed green beans, I will never eat them. Give it up already. They're gross.

Monday, September 13, 2010

First Day of School: Kindergarten (sniff!) Edition

My baby girl Nenna is off to Kindergarten today.
She woke up at 6:44am, came downstairs where I was sleeping with Alec and woke me up to tell me that she was going down to the play area in the basement to get her brush because she didn't want to "go get it later and miss the bus."

She got herself dressed in her picked-out-the-night-before outfit of her new plaid tunic shirt and jeans and, of course, her new sneaks.
We packed her enough food in her lunchbag to last her 'til next week (I can't have my baby be hungry!) and reviewed what was for her morning snack, what items were for lunch and what she could have for her afternoon snack. I'm pretty sure she just "yes, Mom"-ed me when I was going through the whole thing.
We waited outside with Daddy and Alec (who was in the same stroller that Jenna was in on Michaela's first day of kindergarten... awwwww) and the neighbor girls. Jenna was excited and eager and happy.
When the bus came (on time, incredibly), she screamed and laughed with excitement and anticipation. She hopped right up, never looked back, and I strained to see her through the tinted windows, but she was on the other side and out of my sight.
We waved furiously at the bus as it pulled away, and I felt good and so happy for her.
If someone had told me three years ago that Jenna, my shy, fearful, clingy, quiet Jenna, would get on the bus for school facing a whole day away from home with that much joy and anticipation, I would have laughed and laughed and laughed and said it's impossible. But she did do it, and she was happy, and therefore I am overwhelmingly happy.
It is a good day.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First Day of School: Fourth Grade Edition

Waiting in front of our house with the neighbor girls

The bus! The bus!
The new kicks

Michaela did great this morning, hopping right on the bus with her sassy new haircut and on-trend menswear style shirt. She sat with her friend Danielle from up the street who also waits at our house for the bus.
Daddy was able to hobble out and see the whole thing.
Jenna was disappointed that she has to wait until Monday to get on the bus.
Alec couldn't figure out why we were all outside so early, but enjoyed the fresh air.
Mommy doesn't know how the years have gone so quickly and how one of her babies looks so grown up.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Promises Kept.

Some kind of normalcy is returning to my household: Dan is working from home today. He is off the heavy duty pain meds, sitting in the study with his knee iced, leg propped up and thankfully has something to engage his brain with again.
So here's how the last week has been:

We casually sauntered into the surgery center on Wednesday, thinking, so naively, that things would be all better soon. Dan tore his ACL and meniscus playing softball and we were hoping both could be repaired using part of his hamstring for the ACL. The surgery went swimmingly, on time and uncomplicated, which was wonderful. One of the funniest parts of this whole thing happened when the surgeon came out to report on the repair: "Most hamstrings are 7mm and your husband's was 9mm! That's awesome! The biggest one I've ever seen was 10mm!" So now I'm all, Oh yeah? My husband has 9MM HAMSTRINGS!! I bragged to the nurses and everything.

I knew we were in trouble as soon as I saw Dan in the recovery room. He was shaking, shivering, grimacing and in more pain than I had ever seen him in. They gave him tons of meds, gave us the discharge instructions, and sent us on our merry way on crutches with the knee wrapped in an Ace bandage and a knee immobilizer on it. We came home and he went straight to the couch.

It was not good.

There ensued a few days of icing, wrapping and rewrapping, arranging pillows, timing the meds, following him everywhere, helping with the crutches and watching him try desperately to get better. It was not fun. Especially for him.

As you can imagine, between the pain, the discomfort, the boredom, the not sleeping, and the -horror of horrors- having to ride in the car with me driving, he was a touch cranky. (And that, my friends, is the understatement of the decade.) At one point I told him, "I took a vow before God that I would stay with you in sickness and in health... and that vow is the ONLY thing keeping me here right now."

He did go to church, which was great for him, but wiped him out. He started tapering down his pain meds yesterday and is narcotic-free today for the first time. He can occasionally walk with just one crutch. He is working from home today, which is so much better for him than watching bad television. He starts PT tomorrow and goes back to the doctor on Friday to get his stitches out.

I am looking forward to getting my hubby back, who has two working legs and can go to work and help me with the kids and have fun and is fun to be with.
And did I mention... he has 9MM HAMSTRINGS?!?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Taking a Break.

Blogging will be light for awhile as Dan had knee surgery on Wednesday and is pretty banged up. I'm holding down the fort with the kids and playing nurse.
I am holding on to dear life to the assurance of the doctor that Dan will be able to go back to work on Wednesday.