spring

Krohn Conservatory Butterfly Show, 2013

I was without a working laptop this past week, but a trip to the Genius Bar at the Apple store this evening and I’m back, with my first throwback post—this one to spring of last year.

Sophie knows her butterflies. She insisted on wearing a floral dress and bringing her own silk flowers, both of which the butterflies loved.

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” —Nathaniel Hawthorne

Things I’ve Neglected to Post (But Love)

A trip to Baltimore with …

jewelry-making with Grandma and …

ukulele-playing with Paw Paw.

parents’ night at Sophie’s beloved preschool

the delivery of a new-to-us swingset (with thanks to Craigslist)

and Easter!

“Time does not change us. It just unfolds us.” —Max Frisch

So …

As soon as I hit “publish” on that last post Owen started screaming. While in the sandbox. For Thomas. A Thomas train that shouldn’t be in the sandbox. Turns out James had taken his Thomas train and freight cars into the sandbox, filling all their intricate little parts with sand. I’m sure they’ll no longer work on their electrical train set.

And so it goes.

“The quickest way for a parent to get a child’s attention is to sit down and look comfortable.” —Lane Olinghouse

At Last

I’m writing this while sitting outside on our deck, in a chair gifted to me on Mother’s Day a couple years ago. My legs are propped up on the other chair, a pillow underneath for my bare ankles. Although rain was forecasted for today it’s all blue skies, mid-70s, idyllic spring weather. Whenever a soft, warm wind blows, little white petals rain all over the yard.

All three kids are playing nicely together, without me. They’re swinging on the swings, going up ladders and down slides, playing in the sandbox, coloring stones with chalk, barefoot.

I think back to last spring. And the spring before. And the spring before that.

Yes, in some ways, it gets harder.

But in many ways, it also gets easier.

Part of me feels guilty. Sitting here. Not in a cubicle. Not pumping milk. Not folding laundry. Not spooning baby food into a mouth. Not putting anyone into timeout.

But a bigger part of me feels deserving.

Two years ago I remember thinking, someday.

Today is someday.

It happens! It really does happen.

Grateful.

“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.”—Proverb

March Snow

This winter has not been kind to us in terms of sickness. Early December all five of us had a stomach virus (a nightmare). Early February, despite flu shots, we were all sick with something viral, which my doctor suspected was a mild case of the flu. And which, a week later, turned into pinkeye. Last week, something viral invaded our family again.

Late Tuesday night Sophie’s temperature peaked at 106.5°. We called the doctor on call. Gave her Tylenol and Ibuprofen. Woke her up every hour to check her temperature and make sure she was lucid (which was difficult to determine as she was groggy with sleep). Her temperature dropped and steadied (although it was still high) so we avoided the ER but took her in to see the pediatrician first thing the next morning. Aside from a cough, everything checked out—including a flu test. But later that afternoon, she started complaining about abdominal pain and her fever peaked at 104.5°. Back to the pediatrician again (same day). She was tested for a UTI—nothing. So we continued monitoring her, giving her Tylenol, Ibuprofen and Delsym.

Of course Owen and James also had colds and fevers, with Owen’s temperature peaking at 105° one night. And then I caught it. And then Andy. James started complaining about his ear, so back to the doctor we went—double ear infection and the start of bronchitis.

With sickness comes fussiness. Thursday morning, before I knew James had an ear infection, I tried to pick him up while he was throwing a terrible tantrum on the kitchen floor. He flung his head up and his skull caught my chin. It hurt, the kind of hurt that instantly brings tears to your eyes. I put him down. Walked to the bathroom. Shut the door and cried as a bruise formed on the underside of my chin and blood formed on my lip, where my teeth caught the skin. At that point I had a fever too. I was exhausted from overnight temperature checks. I wanted to rip out my lungs from coughing. I had three screaming children outside my door and all I wanted to do was curl up in bed. My phone rang. It was my mom calling me on her cell. She was on her way. With lunch. I did that awful cry-talk back to her, thanking her.

How do moms do that? She called at the exact moment I needed to hear her. I can only hope I’m able to do the same for my children when they’re grown.

And then today. Sophie’s temperature came back (low grade, 100.5°) and she was still complaining about abdominal pain. So back to the doctor we went. Next thing I know all four of us are downtown at Children’s Hospital so Sophie can have an x-ray done—poor kid has pneumonia, in her lower right lung.

This winter has been filled with over-the-counter medicine distributed in plastic alligator spoons, around-the-clock temperature checks, inhaler treatments, nebulizer treatments (we own our own machine now), bedroom humidifiers, middle-of-the-night-bundled-up-because-of-the-freezing-temperature porch sits for croup, fussiness, wiping noses constantly, reminding to cover coughs constantly, so many missed days at school. And all I will say about the stomach virus is the laundry. My God. The laundry.

Is this normal? Sophie’s in preschool. Even her teacher was noting how another parent, rightfully so, called the classroom a big petri dish. (And they have a strict sick policy, as well as strict hand-washing policies—every child washes their hands first thing when entering the room.) One morning when I called her in sick I discovered I was the sixth parent to do so that day, in a class of 20-something. I take the boys to Child Watch at the Y—when healthy. We go to the museum—when healthy. We go to the library—when healthy. But then, I can’t help but think doing these things leads to more germs and more sickness. They’re building up their immunity, yes, but it’s exhausting.

And now it’s March. Yesterday we got one last big beautiful snowfall. (And please know that if I had known Sophie had pneumonia, I certainly wouldn’t have let her play outside—for what it’s worth, we were only outside for about 20 minutes … despite the good half hour it took to get geared up to romp around in the snow.)

I love snow, I do. Even today my heart did a little flip flop when I saw our cardinals flit about the snow-covered branches. It was beautiful. They were beautiful. The boys squealed with delight, calling them friends. But I felt less giddy than usual as the big flakes fell this time. I sighed heavier as I dressed the kids in layers. I’m ready for Sunday’s time change. I’m ready to play outside daily. I’m ready to open up all our windows and air out our stuffy, germ-filled house. Even the kids ask daily, “When can we go to the big park?” I want to go to the big park. I want to go to the park sans coats. Sans runny noses. Sans cringe-worthy coughs.

I just hope Punxsutawney Phil was right.

“Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered into her heart. She withers the plant down to the root that she may grow it up again fairer and stronger. She calls her family together within her inmost home to prepare them for being scattered abroad upon the face of the earth.” —Hugh Macmillan

An Early Spring

It’s cold tonight. This should feel normal—it’s March—but it’s not normal. Not this year. Sophie’s birthday is Friday. In my very first blog post, here, I wrote about spring. It arrived while I gave birth to Sophie. But this year, it came early.

It’s a gift I’ve gladly welcomed. I like winter. I like seasons. But this winter has been so mundane. Chilly. Rainy. Slushy dustings of snow nowhere near enough in volume for a snowman (this, despite Sophie decorating our front door with snow-themed stickers in an attempt to make it snow).

Early March I found myself in the attic, digging through bins for summer clothes. Fearing it would get chilly again I haven’t packed the winter clothes away. As such, every bedroom is filled with boxes and bins, and the closets are becoming a mis-match of seasons. The boys still wear different sizes. And both wear smaller pant sizes than they do shirts. So I’m dealing with four different sizes, lots of hand-me-downs (which I’m so grateful for) and numerous seasons. The task to sort it all out has become so daunting that I’m avoiding it, which is just making the entire situation worse.

The flowers that graced our backyard trees eventually fell. To there.

And here.

And everywhere. Some nights, at dusk, I watched my children play as a warm breeze blew petals around, as if soft pink were falling from the sky. It was so idyllic.

I mean, at one point they were sliding down the slide into a pile of petals. 

A gift.

The previous owners must have loved birds for there are gorgeous birdhouses all over our backyard.

All three of my children love to feed the birds. They each take a turn with a small, metal bucket and spill seed all over the feeder, Tucker and grass. And laugh.

Lately Sophie has perched on top of our play set pretending to be a bird. She tweets, loudly, talking to them.

We found this lovely nest. There are two cardinals that swoop low while we play outside. I love that. The children love that. Tucker really loves that. Sophie recently found two red feathers in the yard, which I later discovered she decided to store in a plastic container full of M&Ms. “So the boys wouldn’t take it.”

Of course.

Today was chilly, though, as was tonight. The boys, however, played outside in their sandals. They had no choice. Last week I took all three children to Stride Rite for summer shoes. Another woman was there, with a daughter a little older than Sophie, twins a little older than my boys and a newborn. (I can’t imagine.) Every time the salesperson asked any one of the six children to run around the store to try out a pair of summer shoes, the five remaining children followed suit. It was loud. Totally chaotic. And there were boxes everywhere (in part because I asked the woman to kindly try several different sizes/widths for each child considering the boys will only have one pair of shoes each and they’re expensive and I want them to be exactly right). I know. They had to hate me. Anyhow, as I was rescuing tights hung on a wall from James while simultaneously stopping Owen from going into the back room, I noticed the salesperson collecting our boxes. I had assumed she put the boys’ winter tennis shoes in them. But that wasn’t her job. That wasn’t her responsibility. And frankly, she was probably exhausted from the 30-minute chaos before. So I paid for the shoes. Left the store. All three children rode home in their new sandals. Sophie’s winter shoes somehow made it into a box. The boys’ did not. And the boxes sat, in our entry, for two days before I opened them and realized what I had done. I called the store. They were there, with dirty socks still stuffed in them. And I still need to pick them up. But the idea is kind of exhausting to me. So I haven’t. But I should. I’m sure the boys had cold toes today. And I’m sure the people who work at Stride Rite don’t need two random pairs of shoes, and dirty socks, lying about. Tomorrow. I will tomorrow.

New sandals. The wisteria is blooming. I’m (slowly) cleaning out winter-ravaged leaves from beds. Open windows have allowed us to air out the house. The children are happier. Dirtier. And the inside of the house is cleaner. Calmer.

A gift.

“Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day.” —W. Earl Hall

Tutus & Galoshes

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Warm(er) weather, bottles outside, sidewalk chalk, tutus and galoshes, a smile and a smile and a smile. (Thinking of all this on this cold, spring morning.)

“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.” —Mark Twain

Welcome, Spring

Today included:

• breakfast at a table that also held a daffodil in a glass baby food jar

• short sleeves, no jackets

• muddy knees (for everyone)

• open windows next to diaper pails

• the dreary work of clearing out last summer’s sad leaves from budding beds

• a long-awaited inaugural ride on the shiny, new, pink (why of course) tricycle (a Christmas present)

• chalk on the sidewalk, play set, outdoor chairs, tree trunks and (regrettably) the boys

• the sweet surprise of perennials planted by our home’s previous owners popping up

• a later-than-usual bedtime because of time that got away from us while (finally, finally) outside

“Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.” —Rainer Maria Rilke