Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Merry

We've had a lovely day here, with a little snow in the morning and a little sunshine in the afternoon and a lot of fun in between.  Wishing all visitors to this space a joyful holiday.  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A solstice party

I've been casting around for years now trying to land on a tradition for the solstice and I think we've found one. . .this year we had our own spiral in the yard.  It combined the best of everything for me, candle light and homemade lanterns, outdoors at night, fire, neighbors, school families and kids running around, all of it.

We set it up as an open house so people could come and go.  We served soup and bread and a few other snacks and people brought sweets to share.  The spiral was beautiful and fun.  We had a nice fire on the back patio and people sat out and watched the spiral, and watched the fire, and ate soup, and stayed late, and the rain held off.  So, now we have it: winter solstice garden spiral and fire.  See you next year.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012


I am grateful for many, many things about Liam's little Waldorf-inspired school community, but I think most of all I am grateful for how it ties me every day to the wonder and magic of childhood.  I tend towards seriousness, and lists, and tasks, and thinking about the next thing.  I need these reminders to be joyful in and present to what is all around.     

Today was the winter spiral at school.   The spiral takes its impulse from labyrinth traditions and representations of growing along a thoughtful or spiritual path or journey.  The spiraling represents going inward — during the darkest time of the year — and kindling your own inner light. In Christian faiths spirals are associated with Advent and anticipating the arrival of Christ.   The apples remind us of the bounty of the harvest; the candles represent our individual and collective lights along the path.
Each child, one at a time with their teacher's help, takes an apple, walks the spiral, lights their candle, places their light along the path, and goes to sit down again.   They sing this verse.
The first light of winter is the light of stone–.
Stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones.
The second light of winter is the light of plants–
Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.
The third light of winter is the light of beasts–
All await the birth, from the greatest to the least.
The fourth light of winter is the light of humankind–
The light of hope that we may learn to love and understand.
A reminder of the beauty of all creation.  At the light of the "beasts" they make claw hands and sing the word extra short and loud.  They wiggle; they can't help it.  They threaten to fall off the benches because they're just not paying attention.  They glow in the candle light and reflexively hold hands with one another. 

These children, these little children are 4, 5, and 6. 

We are all knocked over this week; confronted by so much evil, pain, senselessness.  I have nothing to say about that.  No words.  I was driving home from a long meeting far north that day; listened with horror to the hours of news coverage.  Looked at the photos on the computer when I got home, and since then I have pretty much stopped.  It doesn't get any more understandable in the re-telling;  no amount of attention I pay to the details lessens anyone's pain.  I'm not saying forget -- as if anyone could.  I hope and pray that real gun reform comes from this.  But no matter what comes, it won't be worth it.  It is not near strong enough to say that the idea that we would measure the price of long-overdue policy reform in the lives of small children and teachers is completely and totally bankrupt.

For those of you struggling, and particularly for those struggling to be with small children in the face of this, I recommend this story.  The moral for me is that we cannot understand why; we aren't helped by trying to.  We can and must be with the sadness and pain.  We can and must offer our solidarity with those who are suffering.  And we, we grownups for God's sake, can and must make the world safer. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Making your 5 year old really happy

Turns out it's pretty easy: his own Christmas tree in his bedroom does the trick.  I don't like to bring the big tree in until after the 20th.  So big, so messy.  I like the idea of a big tree, and it's always nice to look at, but the actual mechanics of it are tedious.  Not, though, if you're five.  If you're five it is very hard to understand why the Christmas tree can't go up immediately after Halloween.  This is our compromise, a little Norfolk pine that (hopefully) will live for at least a few Christmases. The lights are on a foot switch so he can turn them on and off himself without dealing with the wall outlet. 

We're fine, just fine.  I have good intentions and lots of ideas to share here, but never seem to create the time.  Liam is singing Christmas songs continuously, which is sweeter and less annoying than it sounds, at least to me.  We're planning an open house for the solstice, I think.  I have until Monday to chicken out, but I probably won't, I think we can make it work. 

When we got the tree today we also got the garland and lights for the outside of the house, which creates a clear plan for tomorrow.  I'll try to post pictures; this tall old house looks its nicest all dressed up for Christmas.  

Monday, November 19, 2012


Sometimes even when it has been a long, long day at work filled with big drives through pouring rain to hard meetings, sometimes your child will not fuss when you pick him up in the evening.  He'll be ready to go and the transition will land lightly on him.  He will endure the errands on the way home happily and participate in the birthday present buying without fuss.  He will take with good grace the information that you are only buying things for other people tonight.

When the package on the front step is a book for you instead of a toy for him he will cheerfully say "look, a book for you" and hand it over.  He will have self directed play, and then he will eat dinner without complaining and without running around.  Sometimes you and he will make up a song about salmon, and then get out all his salmon books to look at them.  Sometimes you will not mind drawing the outlines of salmon for him to color in.  He will go to bed without chasing around the house and fall straight to sleep.

Maybe he will sleep all night.  Maybe he won't.  Maybe tomorrow will be the same; probably it won't.  But, maybe.  Sometimes you will see, just a little, that the things you are trying to teach him are sticking, at least a little.  And you'll watch him make them better; his own.

It's a little bit of an upside down week for us.  Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, but, of course now it also is the anniversary of Will's death.  So, you know.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy halloween

Five sure is a sweet age for holidays.  Liam has been decorating the house and singing his Halloween songs for a week.

He carved the pumpkin all by himself, thankyouverymuch.   And he was so, so proud.  When I watch him work on things like this I see a lot of Will in him.  He has great concentration for these types of tasks, and a pretty clear vision of what he wants and an ever growing ability to execute. 

This year's goldfish costume required some explanation on front porches.  "Goldfish." Liam would say firmly.  "No, not Nemo."  But Liam likes it and it was easy as anything to sew.   In an act of good fortune he lost his first front tooth earlier today, so he had a jack-o-lantern face to go with his fish costume.

Thanks to my mother for handing out candy at the house.  And thanks to Grandpa and GoGo for walking the neighborhood with us, including all the way the 8 or so blocks or so to Liam's school, where his teacher had hot cider and pumpkin pie waiting and a yard full of magic pumpkin fairy houses, all lit up.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Boys' Brunch

A few weeks ago Liam and I thought up the idea of having brunch for all the boys at his new school and a few of the boys he really misses from school last year.  Liam still needs pretty quick drop offs at school to make the transition easily, and I'm usually rushing to get to work in the morning anyway, like most of the other parents.  Pick up is more relaxed, but I do this only about once a week.  I wanted a chance to meet some of the other parents, and to spend a little time with these boys.  Liam just loves the idea of a party at his house. . .any party for any reason. We invited 8 boys and 6 showed up, along with some older and younger siblings and parents. 

I think brunch is the perfect party meal for little kids.  It ensures that boys show up already having eaten once, but it's not too late in the day where tired may have set in, and it lets you serve food guaranteed to please.  We served whole wheat waffles with butter and maple syrup, scrambled eggs, and fruit.  We offered "green juice" (kale smoothie) or water to drink.  I have learned that it is key to not try to do too much or have too many choices at these kinds of things.  A surprising number of  boys wanted green juice and pretty much all the parents did.  

Thank goodness that brunch went off with out a hitch, due in large part to significant advance prep work and the fact that my mother showed up at 9:00 am with the fruit plate, hung out in the kitchen pouring coffee for the parents, and then put the waffles in the oven to reheat and scrambled the eggs right on time.   It helps tremendously to have a mother who will cheerfully stop at the store for you the morning of the brunch to buy eggs when you realize you have run almost out, and then just as cheerfully stand in the kitchen and cook them for six 4-5 year old boys, and their siblings and parents.  Thanks mom!

While she was doing all that, I was outside encouraging the nature treasure hunt to go off, and watching bemused as there was both yelling of the "Don't follow me!" variety and crying of the "I just want to play with you!" variety.  So much for boys growing in friendship and community, as advertised -- by me! -- on the invitations.  Although the boys did get over it, and after they ate their weight in waffles happily ran around the yard and played "house fire" all together, including rescuing Oliver from an upstairs bedroom (by tramping through the house, I did not let them get the rope ladder out).  So much for nature treasure hunts, I guess.

I had a neighbor write me after the brunch and ask how these parties come together, and it really is just those three things: keep the options simple and limited, do absolutely every possible thing in advance that you can, and make sure you have help day of because once people get there you will be dealing with them and you will not easily be able to stand in the kitchen and scramble eggs, you just won't.  I've promised Liam we can do this three or four times during the school year.  I think the next bunch will be in January.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Happy Anniversary Will

It was a pretty normal day.  Work in the AM, lunch with the vegan, Shane, you remember, work some more, then make the pizza for Pizza Friday.  We celebrated my mother's birthday a few days late today.  I made most of the cake last night but left the making of the 3rd kind of frosting and the assembly for today.  Not sure that was wise.  What kind of birthday cake has 3 kinds of frosting anyway for crying out loud?  (A: German chocolate, David Libovitz's recipe, with the rum syrup on each layer, except we didn't have any rum, of course, so I used a tiny bit of vanilla.  It was delicious.)  Whenever I make a chocolate birthday cake I always think about how you professed to hate chocolate but would go through phases of eating kit kat bars as if they were going out of style.  

The birthday crown still looks good.  You were by far the best at cutting the letters for the crowns.  I still don't understand how you made that look so easy.  

Liam loves to choose birthday presents for his grandparents.  He is on a run of selecting from those little wooden animal figures they have down at the hippy import store next to the fountain.  He got her a gray cat; looks sort of like hers that died.  You should see his face when they open the presents, I can't really describe the expression.  Some combination of happy, proud, glowing and yet still a little bashful.  It's something. 

Now I'm making waffles, many, many waffles because Liam and I invited all the boys from his preschool and their families to brunch tomorrow and I decided that I didn't want to be dealing with a hot waffle iron anywhere in a house that was trying to contain 6-8 boys, and their families, in good humor and safety.   In between batches of waffles I sort out the paint chips and draw little leaf shape cards for their nature treasure hunt in the yard.  My gosh, Will, the chickens have destroyed the yard. They have dug the dirt and eaten the plants pretty much everywhere.  And yet I just realized that between the eggs for the birthday cake and the eggs for the waffles I am going to have to call my mother in the morning and ask her to stop at the store and buy eggs to make sure we have enough to scramble for the brunch.  Boys sometimes eat a lot. 

I hope the boys all wear boots tomorrow.  I think about what nice leaf and plant cards you would have drawn for a nature treasure hunt.  Mine are just black and white, done with marker, emphasizing general shape.  I'm not going to hazard any color. 

I have new glasses, I wear them when I type on the computer.  Except I'm not wearing them right now.  Your mom's in DC with your sister, who is expecting a baby any day now.  We took Liam to see the family theater production of Go Dog Go last weekend and he wants to see it again this weekend.  Mushrooms are finally out, we'll be eating lots of them soon.  I miss you. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What a 5 year old really wants

The vegan was working at a house this week where they were off loading cast away kid gear so when he came to dinner on Monday he brought Liam: a motocross helmet, a life jacket, some kind of walky-talky radio type thing that you wear on your arm and which Liam calls a watch, and a baseball glove.  He proceeded to immediately help Liam put them all on at once.  What could be better?  Liam declared them his penguin handling clothes "Because the penguins, you know, the penguins you know, they peck; they really do."  This was cause for great fun.

The vegan came to dinner on Monday because we called him on Sunday to ask him to please come over and check out the bee situation at our house.  We think we might have a bee nest up at the very tiptop of the house, right before the roof.  Of course, it's never someplace easy.  Liam and I thought we saw bees going in and out on Sunday, but by dinner time on Monday no one could see any bees.  Maybe they were sleeping.

Or, maybe some of Liam's bee elimination tactics worked. These he explained in great detail and with great seriousness to the vegan over the phone on Sunday and included:  hammering on the side of the house (at least 40 feet away from the nest if-it-is-a-nest) with his plastic hammer to send a sound signal to the bees to tell them to leave; putting the plastic hammer in the end of a 8 foot plastic pipe so he could hammer closer to the bees; and, using the bicycle pump to "shoot air at them. . .which I really thought would work, but it did not work."

The vegan is very careful during these conversations and, except for a small cough-type noise at the bicycle pump idea, did. not. laugh.  Instead he said something like "Oh my, well, you know I think we'll need to look at it together, we maybe need to get a little bit up closer to the bees so we can figure out what is going on."   It was a very sweet conversation to witness, and it was almost just as sweet on Monday when Liam wanted to explain it all again: "Well, I know, I know I told you on the phone but I want to tell you again how I tried my best, everything I could think of, but I couldn't get rid of the bees.  I tried. . .."

Monday, October 8, 2012

Liam's pictures of chickens

Lately, every few days Liam will come bursting into whatever I'm doing to announce that he needs to use my camera right away, right now.  (Why he can't use his own camera I'm not quite sure.)  So I always say, yes, of course you can use it, just please put it back where you found it when your done.

He has been taking pictures of chickens.  Somehow, they are amazing to me.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A little trim and a little lie

Tuesday I came home to scissors on the kitchen table and a lock of hair on the kitchen floor.  I didn't notice it right away.  Liam was overtired and having a fit over something when I got home, he wanted extra TV (I am so temped to just get rid of TV entirely) and he wanted a snack "Not dinner!" and who all knows what else.

When I finally got the dreaded dinner on the table and things calmed down a little, I noticed.  I looked at Liam.  He still looked like he had a lot of hair.  I looked at the lock of hair on the floor more closely and hoped it hadn't come from the neighbor boy who had been over for a play date.  It didn't look blond enough.  I decided to say something, and Liam and I had the following conversation.

Me: Liam, I see some hair on the kitchen floor, do you want a shorter hair cut?

Liam: It's not hair; I mean, I didn't; I mean. Oh mommy, I just wanted to see what it was like.

Me: I'm so glad you told me the truth!  So you cut your hair.  What was it like?

Liam: Oh, you know, no big deal.

Me: Yeah, pretty boring.  You know, Lynette is the one who cuts our hair, if you want a hair cut, we go to Lynette.  Got it?  No more cutting it on your own, you could hurt your ears or the skin on your head and it makes a mess.  Plus, you'll never have a pony tail if you cut your hair.

Liam: Okay.

To me this is very interesting.  You read about little kids and lying (Well, I mean, if you're me and you obsessively read studies on little kid behavior.) and how experimenting with lying is normal, the way questions are asked is really important, and it's important most of all for them to understand that lying doesn't work to get what they want or avoid consequences.  I thought I did pretty well with my initial question; but, still the reflex was to deny, and it took a few seconds for the truth to kick in. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Saying "thank you"

I've never, so far up to now, had myself sufficiently organized to start to build a habit of thank you notes with Liam.  If I'm being honest, my own track record for written thank you notes, which 7-8 years ago was pretty reliable and natural, has fallen by the wayside more than I would like.  Same with my ability to remember most birthdays and other memorable days with sufficient clarity or advance warning to do much about it.  Another change. 

A digression: both these things fell away when Will first started getting really sick.  There were all these appointments and treatment so get through, and trying to understand it all so I could be a helpful and responsible advocate took so much bandwidth, really it took all I had left after work.  And for pity's sake that was just me.  I wasn't sick, or facing painful and unpleasant treatments, or confronted so baldly with the uncertainty of my life span and future. I shudder whenever I think about what it must have taken from Will, and remain amazed at how resilient he was.

So Liam is working on thank you notes these days.  I outline the letters and he colors them in.  This note is for his lovely school teacher who gifted him a piece of rose quartz.  On the inside he tends to draw a picture. These days trees are popular.

On the back he writes his name and I usually write a short note.  We've made 3 or 4 so far and I hope to continue.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

RIP Reddie the Fish

Liam's little beta fish Red, "Reddie for short, Mommy" died yesterday.   We made the unfortunate discovery, unfortunately, very near bedtime, resulting in a rather late evening.

Once we were sure (by shaking the tank) that Reddie was gone we brought his tank into the kitchen and made him a burial box out of a cardboard berry pint.  We put Reddie's body in the bottom with some of his rocks, and then a layer of cotton, and then his fish tank plants.  Another layer of cotton.  Liam chose a spot in the yard next to some Japanese anemones and we dug Reddie a small grave.

Liam and I held hands and we said a few words about Reddie.  Then we covered the box and that was it.  Liam sobbed and sobbed, but seems to be recovering.   Reddie was, of course, Liam's "replacement pet" recommended by the counselor when we had to re-home Mollie the dog.  I guess nothing stays.  This transition seems to be made easier by the fact that sudden fish death is a pretty common occurrence among the 4, 5, and 6 year old set.  Liam described to me two other children at his tiny school who have had fish die on them, plus the neighbor-girl, who was just here the other day looking at Reddie and explaining how her beta fish had died.

Still, it was sad.  He wanted to color a picture of Reddie in his tank "So we can remember him always, Mommy" and so I drew the outlines and he colored, and we taped it up near where Reddie and his tank used to be.  And today after school he painted some flat rocks to mark Reddie's little grave.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A few things I want to remember

Our kitchen windowsill.  From left to right: jar of sea glass; plastic platypus the vegan brought Liam from a garage sale; tomatoes; star mirror which lives there to boost something based on feng shui principles, but I can't remember what; parsley waiting to be eaten; Liam's back up plastic fish; playmobil milk cow set milk hauler; water for Liam's primary fish (a beta fish), it needs treated room temperature water; a rock; beta fish water treatment. 

For some reason I've just been too tired of thinking at the end of the day to get things together in this space.  But there have been a few things lately I really want to remember.

First, Liam has had no crying at school drop off, at all.  He was nervous before the first day but we talked it through and he has been fine ever since.  Better than fine, during the first week he asked if he could go to school 5 days instead of 4, because he didn't want to miss Fridays.  So, he's a 5-day a week kid now.  (Half days, but still!) 

Second, the babysitter is now able to pick Liam up at school when needed.   She has the extra booster seat, and he just gets in her car and they drive the 6 blocks home and here they are.  Liam is totally fine with it.  (This is despite the fact that as late as August he was swearing and crying that he would never, ever get in her car.)

These two things are in such contrast to last year, when he cried every day at drop off for the first month and at least once a week for pretty much the entire year, that I still sometimes can't believe it is my life. 

Liam has had play dates after school at least one day each week.  These are so far mostly initiated and organized by him.  It is great. 

And, finally, today one of the neighbor girls stopped by after dinner to say thank you for the leftover birthday cake we sent their way last week, and she and Liam got to talking about legos, and she said, well, I have a bunch of legos I never play with want to come see them?  And Liam said "Yes! Right now please!"  So he came and found me and said "Mommy, can I go over to (neighbor girl's) house with (neighbor girl) to see the legos?"  And I said, "Sure."  And then, "(Neighbor girl) please hold his hand when you cross the street; Liam, you have to cross only with (neighbor girl)."  And then I went out on the porch and waived to her father across the street and watched them cross.  And off he went, happy as could be, without a backwards look. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fall birthday #1

We are hurtling towards the fall birthdays around here.  All four grandparents have birthdays within the next six weeks, about.  Starting with GG, celebrated today. 

We had a rainbow birthday (Liam's suggestion) and I wish I had thought to take some pictures because I think it looked nice.  We had pretty much the entire rainbow represented on the table with green bean and fig salad, nectarine salad (scroll down for the salad), tomatoes salad, purple potatoes, corn and zucchini succotash, and steaks.   My mother made fully half the food, which is a big help, of course.

The birthday cake was homemade rainbow chip, and I think I liked it best of anyone.  I loved making this cake; I love making almost any birthday cake, but this one really said birthday to me.  The frosting is over the top sweet, but the cake has a great texture and flavor.  From here, again. Plus, when the play date activity is making rainbow chips from melted white chocolate and food coloring you get a lot of fun mom points, which is good.   As soon as everyone left we took half the leftover cake to the neighbors.

Liam is all about choosing what he wants to give for birthdays and he had a very specific idea for GG.  Last year he gave her a small wood cat which sits on top of a picture frame in her kitchen.  This year he wanted to give a little bird for the cat to look at. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

65 pounds of tomatoes

They are out of the boxes and into the jars and I am too tired to take any pictures of them, trust me.  This is the most tomatoes I've put by in at least 10 years.  And the skins and juice and random bits are in the crock pot cooking down to become. . .wait for it. . .ketchup.  Liam has zero interest in tomatoes or tomato sauce, but he is crazy about the idea of making our own ketchup.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Faces of the 5-year old

When we were in Washington DC a few weeks ago, I caught three of Liam's most common faces when he was looking at the moon rock at the air and space museum . In order I call them: (1) the tough yelling face, I think he was saying "moon rock!" in this one; (2) the sweet petting face, he also uses this one when he wants me to think he's being nice to the cat; and (3) the "Oh dear, what did she just say?" face.  Missing is the one where he is sticking out his tongue and making a rude noise.  Also missing, stubborn face, sleepy face, and silly face.  So far five is a very expressive age.

He is doing so well at school this week.  We've had virtually no crying at drop off time and today he told me that he might like to go to school on Fridays too.  So proud of his effort on this!

Monday, September 10, 2012

First day

Putting on shoes before the first day of school.  Liam started at his new school today.  His past school, which we loved to distraction, has closed.  The teachers were ready to move on and do something else.  His new school is also a home-based, Waldorf-inspired, preschool / kindergarten; about six blocks from the house and less than a mile from his past school.  I dropped him off this morning and then had to hurry east of the mountains for a work thing.  Will's mother picked him up and reported that he:
  • Held not one but TWO baby chickens  (he told me: Mommy! They say "peep, peep, peep, peep.")
  • Drew a picture of a rainbow in a blue sky AND got to bring it home (at last year's school all the art stayed at school until parent conferences), the rainbow is beautiful
  • Did part of a puzzle
  • Played a game but he can't remember what it was called
  • Watched a puppet show about a buzzing bee -- this year's teacher does lots of puppet shows and felts her own puppets; so fun
When I picked him up after dinner (East of the mountains is somewhat far from here, it was a long day.) he told me that he had eaten black beans and rice for lunch -- his favorite lunch.  There are four other kids from his old school who moved on to this school, including the two children with whom he was the closest last year.  So, we lucked out there and I am very, very grateful to have found him this wonderful place and to have so many factors that eased the transition.

Still, he was very anxious about starting school, and scared, and has been saying that he won't go and can't do it and similar for at least two weeks now.  I deflect these fears as best I can by inviting him to remember other things he was concerned about but that went just fine; by explaining that EVERYONE is a little nervous and excited before the first day of school, even the teachers, it is normal; and, when all else fails by saying that one of the jobs of the mommy is to know for sure when the child is ready for something even if the child doesn't know it yet. 

He wouldn't hold still for an outside picture but he would jump.  A note: he is growing his hair on purpose; he wants a ponytail.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Windsor, Ontario

Traveling for work this week.  So far Windsor looks like the inside of every crummy hotel I have ever stayed in.  See, e.g., this post.  Outside, I crossed a 4-lane road populated almost entirely by semi-tractors to pick up the copies for the meeting this morning.  (I volunteered for this duty; at least it was a walk.) 

If you were talking with me on skype this afternoon -- before the hotel internet started blinking in and out -- this is what you saw.  Minus the phone of course; and occasionally minus the smile.

Back this weekend; more then.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Where we were and home again

We are home from ten-ish days visiting Auntie Chris in Washington DC.  By far Liam's longest plane trip ever and he did great.  Also great with the time change going west to east and here's hoping that the east to west version will sort itself out too. 

This was mostly a trip to visit family. Auntie Chris, of course; but Will's sister and her family also live in the area, so we were able to (how wonderful) spend two lovely afternoons at the pool with them.

Aside from all that, there is a lot to do in the DC area and we tried to fit at least some of it into this trip. A few highlights.

Baltimore Aquarium, where Liam saw dolphins for the first time.  Note, they don't do a dolphin "show" any more at the aquarium; instead they let people view a "training session," one every hour.  Thank God in the training session we were able to view they were working on standard captive dolphin moves like jump in the air and spin around.  Hate to be at the training session where they are working on things like pull over to the side of the pool and show us your flipper so we can do a blood test or whatever.

Air and space, both flavors.  At air and space at Dullas airport Liam saw an actual space shuttle (In person it is somehow both bigger and smaller than I expected it to be.) and about a million aircraft and all manner of aircraft engines. It is a very huge, very air conditioned space and was not very crowded when we were there on a Friday afternoon which made everyone feel a little relaxed about letting Liam run up and down the long ramps.  Lots of exercise on the first full day in town = good for staving off jet lag.  At air and space on the mall Liam saw the actual Wright brother's plane and touched the moon rock.  Also saw a movie in the planetarium about which the docent assured me "It is perfect for a 5 year old -- it gives a real sense of wonder about space." and about which Liam said, 5 minutes in when the first star blew up, "Mommy!  I am not ready for this movie. This is the scariest movie I have ever seen and you should not have taken me here."  Great.

National zoo, of course, which we got to early.  The grounds open at 6AM and the animals start to be outside in their enclosures by 8 or earlier; we got there at 9ish and it was cool and perfect.  Otters, lions, orangutangs, and fishing cats were particularly active.  The otters were amazing and numerous, running and swimming all around and going down their water slide. We did not see the baby cheetahs, but we did see the panda, so all good.  Liam climbed on every animal statue in the zoo, which must be what they're there for.

Butterfly room at the natural history museum, where to my dismay butterflies landed on me and on Auntie Chris, but not on Liam.  Damn butterflies.  He was pretty disappointed but recovered with ice cream.

It was great fun, and we are so glad to be back.  The air at our house even on days that pass for hot here is salty and cooled by the sea.  As much as I loved, and often still miss, living in DC whenever I get here I know I'm home.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

We are not at home this week. . .

Where we are it's sunny and warm and full of interesting and new things to see and do.  Any guesses?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Canning peaches

Once a month work takes me over the mountains to Wenatchee for a meeting.  It's a 3 or 4 hour drive, but through mostly beautiful country and when you finally drop down in the valley you are surrounded, just surrounded on all sides, with fruit trees.  Apples and pears and cherries, of course, for which the area is famous.  But also peaches, nectarines, and apricots this time of year. 

I still sometimes think about Liam's first peach; what a miracle it was to him.

Every year I buy more peaches than we can eat and every year we put up peaches.   Despite all this practice I'm not that great at it. They tend to float and they can get a little mushy at the top.  Maybe next year I'll try hot packing them.  But, no matter what they look like they always are a welcome bit of summer sun in January and February when it seems like, in the words of Jim Weiss, "the sun has forgotten the way to our neighborhood."


This year Liam helped.  He peeled most all the peaches and helped to pack them into the jars.  He washed the lids and the rings.  And he helped put the finished jars away.  A little bit of summer, on the shelf.