a walk in the park

A couple of days ago, the Commodore and I went to a state park about a half an hour away. It’s in the town where I grew up, so it’s nostalgic. Every year of elementary school we’d have a field trip here, to this place of ancient Indian mounds.

It was so delightful, in just every way. We walked the mile and a half loop; it was crisp and sunny outside. The trail loops around by the river and the waterfalls. So peaceful and serene. I wanted to go around again when we finished (again! again! again!) but the Commodore was ready for a sweet and hot bev, which was also quite nice.

A wonderful thing about little nature walks like this is the non-necessity of talking. You walk, surrounded by beauty, and can chat about whatever comes to mind, or point out cool things you see, or just walk through the gorgeousness in silence.

A gold star day.

the ten month mark

I don’t know if it’s a function of age (EVERYTHING seems to be flying by nowadays) or just a general time-flies-when-you’re-having-fun thing, but this first year of Rainbow’s life with us is zooming by. He turned 10 months on the 26th.

Which reminds me: I’ve been thinking a lot about having babies at this relatively older age. I’m now 37. I was 22 when the Commodore was born. Being young-ish had its good points, certainly: energy being the main one. And it seemed that there were a lot more mamas in my age group, which was nice. But there was also a lot of financial stress and uncertainty. I had a lot of angst about not being in graduate school or having a job, when it seemed like my friends from high school and college were all in grad school or had promising jobs or were travelling to exotic places. I felt like the train was leaving me behind.

But got over it, certainly, and love the way things are and wouldn’t change them. Daddy J has the bacon-bringing-home career, and I am the Keeper of the House and Children, and this division of labor works great for us. And it’s awfully nice being young-ish while my big boys are getting older. Daddy J and I are having a great time with these almost-men of ours.

Anyway, with Wardie and now with Rainbow, I’m so much mellower and less stressed about the whole thing. The angst about the future is gone (I don’t WANT a job-job, at least not at this point) and I think I’m a more appreciative and more playful baby-parent than I was at 22, which is a good thing for Rainbow. Even if I’ll be – what? – fifty-one when he is fourteen.

I digress.

I may drag out the now-dusty What to Expect the First Year just to see how Rainbow’s tricks match up with those authors’ ideas of 10 month old baby tricks, but. Eh. I don’t seem to care so much. He’s clearly bright and healthy and vigorous and doing his own thing in his own time.

After an explosion of words a few weeks back, he’s backed off of the talking a bit. He still chats by himself in his crib before he asks to be retrieved (I heard him say HELLO two days ago, although I may have been dreaming) and says words now and again, but I’m thinking his motor skills practice is taking up a lot of his concentration. He REALLY wants to walk.

He’s eating finger foods and is kind of tired of me feeding him mushy stuff. I have to squeeze in the yogurt and fruit purees and macaroni as he’s grabbing for a baby crunchy bite. And we’ve started to do a little bit of Rainbow self-feeding with a spoon practice, a messy undertaking best done before bathtime. He can manage picking up cereal bits quite well, but doesn’t do well with banana and carrot and avocado – maybe dislikes the texture? So I pop in bits for him and he munches away. He’s drinking more bottle now as a result; those cereal crunchies are a lot lower in calories than Gerber #2 mac and cheese. Regular noodles seem too firm and non-melty, but I guess that’s where we’re headed.

He’s quite the slapper and scratcher now, and has been for the last few weeks. I know he’s just experimenting – you can just see his little wheels turning – but it will be a relief when he outgrows this stage. He’ll softly trace a finger down your cheek, while gazing adoringly, and then pull his hand back and slap you in the face as hard as he can. Or else try to claw your eyes. I know: Bummer.

We take his hand and very sternly, with a big frown and furrowed eyebrows, say: NO. And he melts down in tears. And then we take his hand and show him Gentle, Gentle, Gentle Touch on Mama’s cheek, and smile really big at him. And he pulls his hand free to slap again. It’s worse when he’s tired and annoyed.

He dances now, which is super-cute. He sways from side to side with a huge smile. And he likes to be spun around in my arms until he gets dizzy. It makes him squeal with delight.

+++++

I just ran into a little girl and her Mama whom I knew from Ward’s preschool. The little girl, not surprisingly, didn’t seem to remember me, but I knew her well, not so long ago. When I would take Ward to school, I would read to him for ten or fifteen minutes in the reading corner, just to get him situated, and because I wasn’t ready to go. This little girl would crawl onto one side of my lap and Ward onto the other, and we’d read and read and read.

I wonder if she remembers him.

Ouch.

+++++

Sometimes it seems to strange to have all these connections, all this fullness, all this heart-throbbing wonder and pain, in our lives. But it’s the way things are, and it’s Good.

Really.

merry, merry, merry

at Grandma L’s house: Christmas #1

(note SOFT PUPPY, which has become Rainbow’s bedtime lovey. It is a flattened puppy pelt type thing, which used to be velvety soft, but is now sort of nubby from repeated washings, and often crusty, since there isn’t much of a window to wash it between naps. Ward had the original Soft Puppy, which he adored, and it burned up with the old house. L from the Cat’s Meow shop downtown very sweetly gave us a replacement after the house burned, but Ward was by then enamored of Green Blanket. So, this is technically a hand-me-down from Ward, although he never used it all that much. Rainbow enjoys chewing on Soft Puppy’s ears and using his head as a pillow.)

Rainbow was mightily enamored of the singing and dancing snowman.

Some pics in front of our tree. In the background, hear Mama Jamz exhorting Rainbow to not yank ornaments off the tree, and to smile: SMILE! for the camera.

And today, Christmas day, was really just wonderful. The big boys got special guitars and amps from Santa, along with new ipods and North Face jackets, so they were thrilled. Rainbow got his play table and three items in his stocking from Santa, and he was good-naturedly baffled by the whole thing. We had family, friends, and neighbors over this afternnoon and it was a total treat. We’ve done this the last few years, and each year I kind of worry that maybe I was insane to invite people over on Christmas day, and each year it turns out to be great. Hot apple cider on the stove, treats laid out on the dining room table, and two kinds of soup brought by my mother. Sublime.

Daddy J showing the Commodore some licks on the guitar.

O look, Daddy J gave me a harp for Christmas.

(No, I don’t play.)

(Yet.)

I gave Daddy J rattlesnake boots and an eco-sphere. He looks hot in his boots.

+++++

It’s been really peaceful and lovely. I’m hyper-aware of how good everything is: everyone is healthy, material needs are more than met, there’s a lot of love and warmth in the house.

I hope you had a very good Christmas day, too.

and yet, no cigar

So, I got an email today from someone who said she’d been fostering a corgi who matched our missing dog’s description. I emailed her back and called her and left a message.

She emailed back this picture:

I stared at it.

Hm.

That’s not her.

Hm.

Wait.

That sure looks a LOT LIKE her.

Same slightly manic eyes, same exact white markings around the face.

Hm.

How many missing female corgis can there BE? That MUST BE HER.

And I was all crying and frantic and called the woman back and said I thought that was her. She asked if our dog was spayed, and I said yes, and she said: Well, this dog wasn’t spayed – we spayed her – so it must not be her.

pfphewwweishhhhh….

And now, of course, I see that this dog’s hair is much shorter than Dana’s, and she lacks the black eyeliner around her eyes, and, as Daddy J pointed out, her teeth look a lot nicer…

So, no, yet I’m hopeful that friend L was right when she said, Close counts. She said this when we got the call about an adoption possibility we weren’t comfortable with a day (or was it two?) before we learned about Rainbow. Maybe, she said, things are lining up and zeroing in on you, and, even if this is not your baby, your baby is coming very soon.

It sure would make a great Christmas present to have her home.

(fyi, this little spayed female corgi is available for adoption. The woman offered her to me, and I did consider it, but told her that since we have a baby in the house, I’m not up for taking in a dog who we don’t know right now. If you are interested, please let me know and I’ll send you the contact info. The dog is near Memphis, TN.)

whew.

Well, it’s Monday morning Wednesday afternoon now, and it’s all sort of a mildly crabby blur, but the work is almost over. Pretty much.

It’s such a bummer that there’s so much to be done at Christmastime.

(and please NO, don’t chime in and say it appears I haven’t grasped the true meaning of Christmas, because I think I can reach your shins from here and give them a sound kick)

There just IS a lot to do, and when you have kids home from school and a relatively smallish and needy person who requires lots of surveillance and cuddles, there’s not really enough time to do it all.

I wish we could do some kind of charity activity as a family at Christmastime, but the days are honestly just packed. The kids have done some fun stuff with friends and other family members, and I’ve frantically shopped and wrapped and cleaned while they were gone, and the littlest bun makes any sort of outing extra complicated. I bought several bags of chocolate chips and pecans and cans of condensed milk and bread yeast, and all this stuff is mocking me from the pantry. You thought you’d have time to BAKE, foolish girl?? bwah-ha-haaaa….

In the last few years, we’ve read aloud from the Christmas story in the Children’s Bible and from various other Christmas books, and had the boys read what we thought were important Christmas stuff, but we haven’t worked that out this year. After dinner and Rainbow’s bedtime, we’ve been chilling out with books and TV and the computer. I feel like I should try to work it in, but it’s just so nice to let the kids do what they want at the end of the day when the chores are done. I do think I’ll try to make that happen tonight; some pass-the-book Christmas story reading sounds lovely.

And, of course, it’s all good, really. I think the kids are having fun and Rainbow is a little love as usual. I did try to streamline this year with a multitude of magazine subscription gifts and several mailed-straight-from-the-company gifts, so I suppose I have been doing less than in previous years. And I get little doses of impossibly-sweet Rainbow time and laugh-til-I-cry time with the big boys.

But, whew.

And on to the Question of the Day: Are you both exhausted and frantic, or are you somehow magically able to hold it all together and be gracious and charming and fun? Are you fitting in some really meaningful activities in this last little countdown, or are you trying to wrap up loose ends and make sure you’re not forgetting anyone or anything important? Have you pared it down this year (or have you always been sort of pared down) or is it the wild and crazy business as usual?

decadent Christmassy evening with the family

So, we went to see Louise Mandrell’s “A Country Christmas” at the Opryland Hotel, and it was awesome.

I have affection for the Mandrell sisters because of their TV show when I was little. Especially Louise: not only was she smart and beautiful and played a million instruments well, she was a brunette, thusly figuring into my little girl’s personal dreams of perfect, possibly attainable feminine perfection. Perhaps not quite as great an influence as Susan Lucci’s Erica Kane, Vivien Leigh’s Scarlett, Jaclyn Smith’s, uh, Brunette Angel, and Catherine Bach’s Daisy Duke (whose show my parents didn’t let us watch, but my brother and I supped of the forbidden fruit occasionally at other kids’ houses) –

– but, nonetheless, in a childhood world where it seemed that most of the glamorous celebrity women were blue-eyed blondes, I did love Louise Mandrell.

It was an extravagant night, a pretty rare treat, but I indicated to Daddy J that I really wanted to do something special with the big boys this Christmastime, and that I knew they were old enough to appreciate something like this. So, a month or so ago, he bought tickets online and was told that our seats were the best available at time of purchase.

The Opryland Hotel, by the way, is this fairyland of delights. It’s like a theme park, with a little elfin city under a glass dome.

Oooooo!!

We got there, Daddy J picked up our tickets at the Will Call booth and they were… not what we expected. They were HOR. IB. BLE. Like, just a couple of tables were worse than ours. We were trying to make the best of it – whee! no one else at our table, we don’t have to talk to anybody else! – but it was pretty much a bummer.

A manager came to our table to ask Daddy J for a form that he’d been given by the ticket counter that the office needed, and he expressed (super-politely – he is SO good at this kind of thing) his disappointment and confusion that we’d bought tickets a month ago, and it appeared that people who had bought tickets on this very night had better seats than we did. The manager checked out his online verification, and said that their box office didn’t actually work with this ticketing agency, but that she could move us, if we’d like.

(At which point one of the big boys piped up: MOVE us? Like, we have to MOVE? But I LIKE this table! And Daddy J and I were all: Hush up!! TRUST us, boy!)

She whipped out her clipboard and showed us the table diagram. I could move you here, she indicated, pointing at a table just one table back from the stage, but not here, indicating the table right in front of it, that also had some empty seats circled.

SCORE!

The take home messages, obviously, are A. Don’t trust online ticket sellers unless they give you a table or seat number and B. Nice complaints can yield great results.

We gathered up our bevs and sashayed on past rows and rows of tables to our premier, almost stagefront seats. And just as the lights went down, a little group of four people slipped in to that first table in front of us. My eyes widened.

Ooo-ooo-ooo!!! It’s BARBARA!!! I stage-whispered to Daddy J. There was another woman with her, with choppy, short brown hair. Hmm, Irlene in a wig, perhaps?

The show itself was just great, all around. The big boys loved it and it was awesome to be so close to the stage.

And dang, but Louise Mandrell is a talented, beautiful, and energetic woman.

***edited to add**** THAT’S BARBARA’S HEAD RIGHT THERE IN THE PICTURE!! AND PAM TILLIS RIGHT BESIDE HER!!

There was one hokey part where she did a comedy shtick about being the North Pole mailman that we could have done without, and a part where her backup male dancers flip her all over the place and she cartwheels, where we were all kind of nervous (PLEASEdon’tfallandbreakahipPLEASEdon’tfallandbreakahipPLEASEdon’tfallandbreakahip) but overall, it was GREAT.

And sure enough, at the end of the show she called up onstage her sister, Barbara, and her friend, Pam Tillis.

Which was very much a treat, because it’s fun to be in close proximity to famous people (whee!! They were right at the table in front of us!!) and all the ladies were super charming and funny. We had heard about a dire car crash that Barbara had had (although I don’t remember that from my childhood) and that it might have had some bad physical consequences for her, so it was nice to see that she was so pretty and witty and sweet.

The woman on the right was Louise’s special guest and Barbara’s daughter in law, a modern Christian singer.

+++++

Rainbow, by the way, had decided that he wasn’t quite up to the show, seeing as it was past his bedtime and crawling around and shrieking would probably be frowned on. He stayed home with Papa. He had fun.

Thanksgivingish Picturama

For starters,

here’s a Rainbow with his Papa.

…swoon…

Allo!! I am Meester Standee Stand Stand, soon to become Meester Walkee Walk Walk. Allo!!

And this fellow, in whom Wolfric was very interested, was who we thought was Karen’s baby daddy.

Mais non. Just a wandering vagabond, seeking love where none was to be found.

Hola!

And…

in case you were wondering..

Zee food, eet makes me cuh-razee happpee!

(note: We’ve moved on to some ground up foods now, and he LOVES the gerber crunchy cereal bites and baby cheetos. Mmm-mmm. We have us a finger-food-eater, folks.)

+++++

And then we had Thanksgiving at our house, and it was just lovely.

Here’s Rainbow and my mom’s sister, my Aunt S. He was very taken with her.

Daddy J and his mama…

A coupla disarmingly good looking grandparents…

And another coupla disarmingly good looking grandparents…

mwah mwah MWAH!!

Yes, yes, quite the handsome youngster, no?

But: whassatchusay? Still slightly orange-nosed??

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