Monday, September 24, 2007

Birthday and rockets

It takes me forever to download pictures off our camera, so I tend to post a bunch of photos all at once. Here are some pictures from my birthday canoe trip with A, R, and my sister:

Here is evidence of why we don't have many good family pictures. Either we can't get R to sit still or my sister or I have our eyes closed. :-)

This is what happens when R misses his nap and we completely wear him out with excitement and fun.

This past weekend, we had another model rocket outing with our friends. We tried a new field that was next to farmland, which worked out really well (until A had to try to find one of his rockets amongst the cornstalks!). There were actually two other families there setting off rockets, and we ended up chatting and helping each other do recovery. Plus, there were a bunch of kids who were just hanging out and ended up being our fan club. It was a beautiful day, and we had great fun! I'm really getting into this hobby now. Mostly, I stand around, chat with my friend Lis (the only other woman there), keep the kids fed and hydrated, slather on sunscreen, and take pictures. But it's so nice just to be out in the sun with friends and to watch the boys (young and old) get so excited about the rockets.

R shows off his new purple rocket to the "fan club."

Prep time!

R and his friend Zachary share some snacks.

Our friends Mark and Pendragon

I love watching A and R working on the rockets together.

Triple rocket launch - before and after:

My best action shot! I love that you can actually see the engine firing!

Out of focus liftoff, but I'm still proud I caught it!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I miss my family

I've been missing my mom and my sisters a lot lately. I didn't realize how much until my youngest sister came to visit last weekend for my birthday. We had the best time together. We went canoeing on Sunday morning, which was absolutely beautiful and peaceful and perfect, but other than that we just hung out, went out to a breakfast buffet, ran errands at Target, and took R to the park. I just feel so comfortable and relaxed with my family, which unfortunately is a rare feeling for me other than with R and A.

So, when we dropped off my sister at the airport on Sunday, I was pretty down afterwards. I got really cranky and depressed and ended up asking A to cancel my birthday party. I eventually got over it late Sunday night, but later in the week my sister called to tell me that she felt the same way and was cranky after leaving us.

Both of my sisters used to live close by (my baby sister lived only a few blocks away a few years ago!), but then they both ended up moving far away (to PA and to FL) within a month of each other. That was really hard for me, but it's also what made me finally ready to have a baby - because I wanted to build up a family for me again, among other reasons. Of course, once R was born, I realized how very difficult it is to have kids without any family around!

I've definitely considered moving to be closer to my mom and my sister who has three boys around R's age. But I love our life here in New England too much.

To help me feel better, though, I've got a project! My mom turns 60 next year, and she told us a few years ago that what she'd like to do is rent a beach house where we could all stay and have a family vacation. And, she wants to use that time to hand down her memories and stories to us and to her grandsons. So I'm taking on the job of planning the vacation! Woohoo! I think we'll probably meet up in northern Florida somewhere because that'll be easiest for my middle sister and her brood to get to. I have to find a house big enough to hold at least 12 of us, and one that has enough stuff to do for the kids (and the adults) so that we don't start to drive each other nuts being in close quarters for a week. I'm very excited because our family hasn't all been together in one place in about four years, and it wasn't under the best circumstances the last time (i.e., family crisis). So, if you have any suggestions for a great family vacation spot somewhere in northern Florida, send 'em along!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Miracles of the vegetable kind

Tonight, A was pulling out a bag of frozen vegetables to have with dinner. (Costco has the best mix of giant broccoli and cauliflower florets combined with yellow and orange carrots!) R walked up to him and announced, "I like vegetables! I didn't know that before, but now I do." A sort of thought, "Whatever," because R hasn't knowingly eaten vegetables in probably a year, and proceeded to make dinner. We were having chicken breasts and rice with mushroom gravy, plus the veggies.

A mixed up a bowl of rice, cut-up chicken, and cut-up veggies in microscopic pieces for R, which is usually the only way R will eat anything green or orange (we have to hide it). He used to LOVE vegetables of any kind except tomatoes when he was wee, but then he just flat-out refused to eat them anymore. A couple of weeks ago, though, he reached for a slice of green pepper, ate it, and said, "I like peppers!" A and I looked at each other, silently yelled, "HALLELUJAH!" but didn't make a big deal of it in front of R because we knew it was a fluke. And it was ... until last night.

Halfway through dinner, R leans over my plate to examine my food, then leans back to look at his bowl. Then he says, "Hey! I want my vegetables on the SIDE like yours!" A and I looked at each other in disbelief, then pulled out the remnants of the whole veggies for R (two small broccoli florets and a yellow carrot slice) and put them on a little dish. R ate them all up, mumbling, "Mmmmmmm."

I hoped this day would come, but I'm still in shock. I told A, "Even if that's the only vegetables he eats for another year, it's great!"

Friday, September 14, 2007

Happy Friday!

Yay!! My "baby" sister just arrived in Boston (up from Pittsburgh) for the weekend. We'll be seeing her later tonight - woohoo! She's going to babysit tomorrow night so that A and I can finally go on our date that was planned for 6 months ago! We're going to dinner at Smith & Wollensky. I even made a hair appointment and bought a new outfit for our big date - that includes a SKIRT! That's two skirts I have purchased in the last month. This is history in the making. (I only own one other skirt, and that one goes down to my ankles - it's so long that I can actually wear long/thermal underwear under it and no one can tell. So it's not exactly reeking of femininity.)

And, tonight, our friends are taking me out for dinner at a nearby Japanese steakhouse. I think R will enjoy seeing the chefs with their fancy knife tricks. Hopefully, that will also entice him to eat. (Although we're bringing a back-up sandwich just in case.)

On Sunday, we're planning to go canoeing on the Concord River. It's supposed to be a beautiful sunny, cool, fall day so I can't wait.

All of this is because ... I'm turning 35!!!

I'm actually excited about it. Well, until I got an email from HR at work telling me that my life insurance rates are going up because I'm now entering a new age bracket. LOL.

Happy weekend, everyone!

P.S. NoVA Dad introduced me to the sermons of Frederick Buechner awhile ago, and I'm so grateful. This passage from Buechner's sermon called "Hope" really spoke to my heart this morning [italics/emphasis mine]:
I think it is hope that lies at our hearts and hope that finally brings us all here. Hope that in spite of all the devastating evidence to the contrary, the ground we stand on is holy ground because Christ walked here and walks here still. Hope that we are known, each one of us, by name, and that out of the burning moments of our lives he will call us by our names to the lives he would have us live and the selves he would have us become. Hope that into the secret grief and pain and bewilderment of each of us and of our world he will come at last to heal and to save."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Happy happy joy joy!

Congratulations to Linda who gave birth to a baby girl early this morning!

Today was just a great day. It was a perfect, fall-like day here: sunny but cool, with the brightest blue sky and beautiful puffy clouds.

When I left the house this morning to catch the bus, R ran out the back door to yell across the street to me: "Be careful, Mommy! Don't fall down! Don't run! Don't step in any gum!"

At the Downtown Crossing subway stop where I change trains, a man was singing, "The Garden Song" - one of my favorite songs to sing with R. It made me so happy to hear it, I was seriously tempted to stand next to the guy and sing with him.

Work was busy and productive (woohoo!). I finally finished this really annoying project that has been on my to-do list for weeks.

I met A and R after work in Davis Square for BBQ at Redbones. R and I shared catfish fingers, macaroni and cheese, and cornbread. A and I shared a big ol' side of collard greens. And, I washed it down with a HUGE lemonade. Yum. R ate well (in terms of quantity) for the first time in what seems like weeks.

And, to top off a wonderful day, I didn't have to bring any work home with me!! Yay! That means I got to enjoy the bedtime routine with R (all 3 hours of it...yawn) without being stressed out.

I hope everyone has a day full of simple joys this week.

p.s. A's MacBook has this really cool built-in camera. Add to that Apple's Photo Booth program, and here are some self-portraits that don't make me want to cry. I even like the eerie blue computer glow in the first one. ;-)

Saturday, September 8, 2007


Today was our town's "Town Day." It's basically a giant street fair, complete with booths, music, carnival food, bouncy houses, library book sale, pony rides, etc. The festivities are kicked off the night before with music, fireworks, balloon rides, and this crazy tradition of the middle school and high school kids having a mass shaving cream fight (I have yet to witness this part, though).

It's a lot of fun. Normally.

Today it was 95 degrees, sunny, and humid. In September. In Massachusetts. (!!!!!!)

We were there for close to 2 hours, but probably 1.5 hours of that was spent sitting in the shade, panting, and drinking as much water as possible. By the time we were heading home, all three of us were cranky. We spent most of the rest of the day recovering inside with the A/C on. The heat completely wiped us out. (R was asleep before 9 pm tonight!)

It's scary to me how many times this summer I've talked to my mom in Florida and discovered that it's hotter here than in Florida. Florida, people!!!

Cute God notes of today, though:
  • This morning while I was brushing my teeth, R was hanging out in the living room. I heard him talking, but I couldn't figure out what he was saying so I asked him, "What, honey?" He answered back, "Nuffing! I'm talking to God!"

  • During grace before dinner, I asked God to send us some rain. (It's been a LONG time and everything is brown and crispy outside.) Within five minutes, the sky got dark and we heard a loud rumble. I told R, "I guess God was listening!" He thought that was very funny. (It took a couple more hours for the rain to show up, but we did get a little!)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

My Day Off With R (in pictures)

Today was one of my Thursdays off with R, and it was absolutely wonderful. I thought I'd document it with my mostly mediocre, sometimes out of focus pictures. :-)

I woke up around 7 or so, and the house was quiet. I took advantage of the time to myself to read my devotions and pray (at my desk).
After that, the house was still quiet, so I had time to do YOGA!!!! It's been eons since I had a chance to exercise (beyond chasing R around). I will spare you pictures of me in my yoga poses, though. ;-)

I finally woke R up at 8:30 (woohoo!). We had a mostly lazy morning that included cereal, dumping out toys all over the living room, and taking some silly pictures. Normally, I would NEVER share pictures of me pre-shower and pre-makeup, but R looks so darn cute that I had to make three exceptions.

After dropping A off at the T, R and I headed to the Children's Discovery Museum, which is about 20 minutes from where we live. We haven't been there since R was about 18 months old, so he didn't remember it at all. I was a little worried that he'd be too old for the part we were going to, but he LOVED it! It's an old Victorian house that has been converted into a multi-room, multi-floor playhouse. Each room has a different theme: trains, balls, water/bubbles, jungle, sensory, colors, a play diner (complete with booths, jukeboxes, and lots of plastic foods to play with), etc. R's favorites were the train room, ball room, and water/bubble room.

When we first arrived, though, R spotted this huge tube "instrument" set up near the parking lot.
The ball room is filled with lots of tubes and tracks for balls of different sizes. There's a little treehouse in one corner of the room where the kids can start balls on two different tracks that traverse the entire room. I was so proud of R because he was up there with a few kids and was so great about sharing balls and taking turns and saying "thank you" and "excuse me." A couple of the other moms even commented on how nice he was.
Next was the water table room. The water table is huge, and they have lots of excellent water toys. R looks sad, but he's just concentrating.
An hour after arriving, we took a break for lunch. I had packed a cooler with PB&J sandwiches, cheese sticks, grapes, and water and juice. We sat at a picnic table outside in the shade. The weather was perfect! I think R was getting tired of the picture-taking.
Near the picnic tables was a ginormous sandbox, full of great digger toys.
R latched onto one particular truck and rode it all over the sandbox and yard for a long time. He was "making a road." My job was to hold onto the rocks and sticks he picked up along the way.
After spending 3.5 hours at the museum and missing R's nap, we headed home to relax for a little while, have popsicles, and play with Play-doh before going to pick up A at the train station. I found R crashed out on the floor at one point. He was happily exhausted.
On our way to pick up some Indian food for dinner (R has been requesting chicken tikka masala for a few days), A snapped this one of R making crazy faces in the back seat.
I couldn't have asked for a better day with my boy. It's exhausting but exhilarating for me at the same time. And I didn't have to think about work at all - yay! I'm so thankful for this day and for the time I was able to spend with R (even at bedtime when he finally had his meltdown due to being completely wiped out).

Monday, September 3, 2007

Stress and release

This week has been an emotional rollercoaster. I spent a significant amount of time in tears - between sadness for what one of my close friends is going through and turmoil from something I've been struggling with personally. So, I definitely needed some time to relax and heal and breathe. And, I got it!

On Saturday morning, we met friends at nearby Castle Island. It was an absolutely beautiful day - sunny but cool and dry. We walked with the kids way out on the jetty, watching boats and diving birds and the sun sparkling on the water, then we stopped for a snack before walking back and letting the kids have some fun on the playground. When our friends had to head home, we hung out, ate our picnic lunch, and explored some of the huge Revolutionary War fort that is the focal point of the island.

In the evening, we had a great dinner under the stars on our patio. A grilled steak wrapped in bacon, corn on the cob, and beans. Then we let R experience toasting marshmallows over the fire to make more s'mores. It was wonderful.

On Sunday morning, we woke up late (woohoo!), had homemade blueberry pancakes for breakfast, then met one of R's classmates and his mom and dad at a nearby park. R and his friend were CRAZY. They had so much fun, but we had to step in a few times to keep them from monopolizing the playground with their boy-ness (including spitting, yelling, and wrestling). I almost didn't recognize my normally sweet son! He wasn't being mean or anything like that, but when he gets together with other boys, they seem to feed off of each other's questionable behavior until it gets almost to a frenzy level. It's hard to strike a balance sometimes between letting R have the freedom to be a boy and explore, run, and be crazy and reigning him in so that he's a considerate member of society.

Anyway, it was another beautiful day, and we had a great time. In the afternoon, we played in the yard and got ready for dinner because our friends Art & Alicia were coming over. A grilled a chicken, country-style ribs, and corn on the cob. I made baked macaroni & cheese, plus we had watermelon and s'mores for dessert. Everything was delicious. Except for our toilet overflowing unnoticed for an hour and flooding down our basement stairs, it was a perfect evening. :-)

These two days were just what I needed.

Happy Labor Day!