and then there were none…

It appears that Rainbow is now binky-free.

I had been giving him a gradual binkyotomy, which was going quite well, actually. Here’s the bink in question after snip #3, before it scampered off on the Binky World Tour:


He didn’t even comment any more on the binky’s reduction, so I figured I’d just keep snipping until it was pointless for him to put it in his mouth any more. However, when we had friends over for dinner on Saturday, we couldn’t find it. Of course.

He was just inconsolable. It was so pitiful: Mama, where’s my binky? I want binky? *sob sob sob* We were fortunate, in a way, that he had skipped his nap that day and was ridiculously tired. We did look earnestly, enlisting our friends’ help, but No Binky. I lay down with him after he quit flailing and finally, finally, finally, he fell asleep.

No nap yesterday either (it looks like maybe we’re done with naps, bummer) and he did ask for Binky a few times at bedtime. I suggested that Binky was on an adventure and having fun. He woke at 3:00 this morning, wanting Binky, but I quieted him down fairly easily.

This morning, he was all sunshine and giggles. He asked for Binky some more, then got with the adventure idea. Binky’s gone to Discovery Center! Binky’s gone to play park! Binky’s on a train ride and is GOING THROUGH A TUNNEL!!!

It’s a sad milestone, really: his first love is gone forever. (MUST make sure he doesn’t come upon Binky anywhere, at least in the next few weeks, and cancel out our progress.) But: HIGH FIVE, I think we are finally done with the pacifier.

In other news, I was trying to figure out what to get for his Halloween costume this year. I figured I’d try the size 4T/5T costume that I bought for him when he was an infant from the clearance rack at Gymboree. I had chalked it up to mama-purchase-dumbness and figured it was bound for Goodwill, because no 5 year old wants to wear a velvety lion costume, right?

But yes, it totally fits my big boy. RRRRAWRRR!

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weekend trip report

Daddy J had to leave town for business for several days, which, though infrequent, is always a bummer for me. I get lonely and stressed when I’m solo parenting for any length of time. SO! I whipped up a weekend getaway with my mother and the big boys. Her birthday is today, so it was good timing. We usually go somewhere every summer with Grandma MJ, but this summer she took the big boys to Yosemite and we didn’t get around to our Mama, Grandma, and boys trip.

Until now.

Poking around for places within driving distance, I came up Lexington, Kentucky. I’ve been to Louisville, but never Lexington. At 4.5 hours, it was sort of far away for a one night trip, but we pushed on. There was this Harvest Festival that we were really excited about. It involved re-enacters. Yay!

We went to Shaker Village in Harrodsburg, just outside Lexington. It’s a historic Shaker Village with buildings that date from the early 1800’s. Our suite was SO much better than I expected. Super roomy and comfy. Rockinrolla slept on the fold-out couch and housekeeping brought an inflatable mattress for Brad, so we were all set.



I had planned on getting there noonish, but we didn’t actually get out of the house until close to 9:00, which I thought would put us there around 1:00. The festival ran from 10:00 til 5:00, so I figured that would be fine. What I failed to realized, though, was that Lexington is in the Eastern time zone. With food stops and check-in, we actually set foot in the Harvest Fest close to 2:30. I wish we’d had more time, but whaddayagonnado.

The boys are now 14 and 15, so there were perfectly happy to branch off with some money in their pockets and go exploring. They reported that they loved the live music and holding the baby lambs in the barn. (awwww…)

I listened to this talented trio (Dad with 12 and 15 year old daughters) while I ate my fresh parmesan pasta with squash for lunch (yum):

My mother set off to pick some apples (sadly, the season didn’t cooperate for the apple crop) and I wandered into the Shaker Meeting House, where these ladies were leading a song and dance.

I sat down for about thirty seconds, and couldn’t stand it any more. Had to get up and dance. I will fail when I try to describe it, but I’ll try anyway: the dances I participated in had concentric rings of men and women who turned in opposing ways, and then another with a line of men facing a line of women. We did very simple steps (like, step, step, STOMP, step back) and various representative moves with our hands while singing repetitive songs. You hold your hands out in front, palms up, to receive the spirit.

It was one of the most joyful things I’ve ever done. I couldn’t stop smiling, I felt so full of happiness just being there. I wept and had to keep biting my lip and wiping tears away so I wouldn’t totally fall apart. It wasn’t so much that I was embarrassed, I just didn’t want to start sobbing and have to leave the dance. I thought, Holy shit! I’m a Shaker! and then, Damn, I bet there aren’t any Shakers around where we live.

Mostly I thought, I feel God’s presence here.

I thanked the ladies after the dance with a big smile and tear-smeared cheeks, and then floated out of the Meeting House.

Mom and I did a wine tasting for a local winery. (Yes, they had wine, beer, and hard cider at this event!)

The wine was actually great, but not as great as the winery owner’s daughter. She had painted three pumpkins and had a sign out: Hold a pumpkin for One Cent. Hold it twice for a dollar! I ponied up a buck to hold a pumpkin and get my picture with her.

We all got to see the sheep herding dog Cal, which was a huge highlight for me.


(Side note: The dog handler totally says “That’ll do, that’ll do,” just like in Babe.)

There were all kids of fun, gentle little kid activities at the festival involving pumpkins and hay bales and baby animals and face paint.



The boys wandered off to listen to music and do whatever teenage boys do at Shaker festivals, and Mom and I explored.




After the festival closed down, we had a little time before our 6:30 dinner reservations. The boys watched vulgar cartoons in the suite and I swung from a tree swing and did some reading outside. Mom read too, I think. Dinner was at the Shaker Village. We asked to eat outside under a tent instead of in the crowded building, which was a good call. The food was expensive and fair-to-middlin, but whatever. The scenery was great and we didn’t have to drive anywhere.





We considered driving into Harrodsburg for a movie or bowling, but opted to stay on site. We scoped out the common room, played a top game (skittles, I think), and a few rounds of Connect Four, then turned in.

Our goal for the next morning was Keeneland Race Track; they exercise the horses there from 6-10 am, and you can eat breakfast in the trainers kitchen. This is when I realized what a small town girl I am: I did NOT anticipate the Race Track being the size of a town. There were multiple grandstands, all sorts of buildings everywhere, and roads leading all over the place. It was incredibly confusing for a girl with a poor sense of direction. We saw the track where we thought the horses were exercising, but there was just one horse and it was obstinately refusing to run in front of us. We saw the trainer’s kitchen and drove there since we were all ravenous, and learned we’d miss seeing the horses exercising. That was a bummer. At least we got breakfast.

But! We scooted on over to the Kentucky Horse Park. That was a good call. There were two spots available for the trail ride, so I bought tickets for Brad and Rockinrolla to do that and Mom and I went into the park itself.

The Parade of Breeds show sounded interesting.

And yes, it was indeed fabulous. The stadium area was really small, and we got to be right up front. These young women in costume rode various beautiful horses around while the commentator explained what made each breed special. The sun was sparkling, the horses were gorgeous.




And again with the weeping.

I pulled out my sunglasses because I didn’t want to have to explain to my mom why I was crying. I didn’t want to spoil it with words. I felt again, God is here, and also, Wardie would have loved this.

And then realized,

Wardie DOES love this.

I felt him right there with me, part of God and part of me, laughing with pure delight at the talented, beautiful horses and their riders. I thought,

THIS is the way to keep him close; doing joyful, childlike stuff with people we love will help me feel his joy.

It was such a gift to feel him close again.

There was more to see at the horse park, but we were ready to get back home.

We had our cranky moments, our minor disappointments, but it was everything I wanted in a weekend trip.

So grateful for every minute of it.

Next year, a Rainbow three-year-old is coming along.

choo choo

So there’s this train museum that turned out to be really awesome. At first, I thought it was a weird, dusty, primed-for-a-horror-movie space, but no. One had to get past the weird collections and just accept that some people collect, like, a lot of stuff that might otherwise be discarded.


And build doll-houses of famous structures.

And create elfin railways around sheds of rusty farm equipment, weedy jungles, and wavy-bricked, yard-arted patios. That, too.

It was totally great, and we will totally be back, if only for the deliriously addictive way that Rainbow gripped my hands as we went around the doll railroad track.

It’s pretty much the best feeling ever.

ch-ch-ch-changes

We’re changing preschools.

I’ve been waking up at night and fretting about whether it’s the right call, worrying that I will upset his happy little life for my own preferences, wondering if I’ll regret it.

But I’m pretty sure I won’t. His current preschool has been great; very nurturing and loving and stimulating. There is no drama here. I just found a place that suits a little better, driving convenience-wise, and there are a few other things I prefer a bit about it. He’s just now reached the age to move into a new age-bracket class, so I’m doing it. We are LOCKED IN. It’s happening, fo shizzle, in a week or two.

(grips roiling stomach)

Here is his school photo, taken at his current (soon to be former) preschool, where they magically got him to hold still, smile, and pose like a forty-year old:

At two-and-a-half, he just dazzles me. He acts perfectly two-ish (e.g. today I took him for a playdate to the bouncy inflatable place, got thoroughly exhausted chasing him around on all the equipment, and was totally ready for a nap, when he pulled a big H to the NO on me and proceeded to dump out all the toy bins and drawers he could get his hands on, in between flailing on the floor in nap-deprived misery) but he acts perfect, for a two-year old.

He’s funny and handsome and strapping, cuddly and squirmy, and again and again I get that weirdly comforting swoon when I play with him that tells me LORD but I’d do anything in my power for this child.

Bleary, but better

Whew, I’m feeling less maudlin today, so that’s good. The morning started on a shaky note when Rainbow woke at 4:30 and didn’t go back to sleep; I started his classical music cd for him after rocking him awhile, but as soon as the music ended he was ready to party.

So, yeah. Add that to the fact that we had friends for dinner last night (fun!) after Rainbow went down and I quaffed fancy wine with the meal (whee!), and I was ONE BLEARY MAMA in those predawn hours.

However, I got in a two hour nap after Daddy J took lil bun to preschool (YAY for daycare!) and am much more human-ish right now. I’ve gotten in a few hours of test writing and 80s work, and am working my way up to a shower before I pick little man up.

Brad’s friend is here for a visit, which makes the house a happier place. His good friend moved several hours away a few years ago, but they have stayed in touch (the miracle of Facebook!) and visit often. It’s so funny to me how these boys are cut from the same cloth; they are so similar in style and humor. Side note: his friend’s stepdad is one of my best friends from high school, so it’s REALLY amusing to us that our boys are hanging out together. Brad sets off in a few days for a canoeing trip with his school, and I will miss him so very much.

We took the boys (our teens plus Brad’s friend) out to Songwriters’ Night. It was so cool that it was at a restaurant and we could let the boys come; so often music shows around here are in bars. Daddy J was one of the featured musicians and he totally rocked. And looked smokin’.


nutritive matter

So, I went to the post office when Rainbow yesterday, as part of our frequent wagon ride/get a cookie at the coffee shop/check the mail/climb on the caboose loop. There is a free book bin that I let him poke around in, mostly so he will leave the shelved library books alone.

He pulled out this manilla envelope that I immediately recognized as a school report card and started running around with it like it was a piece of really great loot. I wrestled gently took it from him and told him it was not a book; it was something important that someone would want back.

As I pulled it from him, this fell out.

I was all, Huh, an angel…? I replaced it and peeked inside the envelope. The report card was for the 2008-2009 school year. I sort of figured no one would want it any more, but I put it up on the shelf of library books just in case.

We went and played on the caboose for a while, and I thought about the little metal angel charm. I thought about putting it in a collage painting. I wondered about the report card and what I would find in it.

I wanted it.

Feeling more than a little weird, I slipped back into the post office. I told Bonnie, the postal worker, that I was just curious about the report card. I looked closer and saw it was from Waco, Texas. I read the name out to her, and she said she didn’t know anyone by that name around here. I took it.

Turns out it’s a report card for a little boy in Catholic school. Oddly, I can’t find his grade on it, but the school was for grades K-8, and it included an graduation angel pin and a little photo. (The angel had broken off of the pin, so it was just a flat angel shape.) Based on the subjects he’s graded on, it looks like he had finished kindergarten. The boy has some learning delays, it seems; his report card has not-so-many S’s for Satisfactory, and then a split between I’s for Improving and N’s for Needs Improving. There was also an appointment sheet for speech therapy at a university. I half-heartedly googled his name, but I guess Texas is a big place, and I’m not going to get all stalkery about a little boy.

I wondered what to make of it. It’s just a random report card, after all.

But you can make of it what you want to. You can let it mean whatever you want it to mean. You SHOULD.

So, okay.

I will.

Does it mean that I’ve graduated from grieving? Can one even graduate? I certainly feel better than I did five years ago. I feel very sure that Ward is happy and bathed in love and joy. I feel very, very blessed with my family and my faith. Yes, I’m prone to outbursts of laughable dumb-assedness and flagrant bitchiness and sleepless, neurotic fretfulness. But whatever. I’m human. I’m mostly nice, most days.

Or does it mean that Wardie has graduated? Is he thrilled that something new is going on for him? Is he one step closer to that gleaming source? Or is he being held in some lucky mama’s arms right now, milky-sweet and blinking at this shiny bright world?

I like to think of my faith like a dense cloud around me, not sharply focused on one particular direction. Just padding me with gentleness when I need it, insulating me with warmth, giving flashes of inspiration at times.

Or maybe it’s an amorphous blob, squishing around and absorbing the nuggets that suit its specialized needs when it comes upon them, and leaving the non-nutritive matter behind.

The teacher’s parting notes:

Way to go! I am so proud of you! Keep up the good work and improvements!

I’ll miss you this summer but I’ll see you next year. Practice and review what we’ve learned this year. You’ve come out of your shyness and talk quite a bit (speech is showing improvement – keep it up!)

Always keep GOD in your heart and be the best that YOU can be!!!

I love you!

balancing

It’s been a wildly productive week. One of my big accomplishments was learning that three days in a row of daycare for Rainbow is JUST TOO MUCH for me. I thought I could handle taking him four days a week, but I… just can’t. I miss him too much and feel all agitated thinking about him being away. I think it’s too much for him, too; I considered taking him on Wednesday this week, after having taken him on Monday and Tuesday, but he seemed a little out of sorts and I really wanted to hang out with him. So I did. And yesterday, too.

(Yes, I’m feeling incredibly blessed that I have that option.)

So, there ya go. I think we’ve found the sweet spot for now: daycare on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with flexibility built in since we went ahead and paid for five days a week and Goonie still keeps him every now and then.

I played taskmistress today and had the big boys clean the downstairs windows, and it’s amazing how much nicer the world looks. I can’t stop myself from taking a deep, contented breath when I look at that sparkly-clean glass. They were good about it, really; I only had to crack the whip a tiny bit to get them going. They were firewood stacking helpers for Daddy yesterday, too; we’re stocking up for the winter.

Knoxville cousins (at least one set) are coming in this weekend. There’s a town cookout and fireworks on Saturday, then a family/friend’s party on Sunday night. Party, party, party. It’s the full summer social season around here, which is nice.

(hmm, I’m ready to have a cookout…)

And I’ve been working a lot on the 80’s site this week. Here’s a new piece about makeovers in TV and film with some fun musical clips. And I’m about to wrap up another and send it off before I go collect a little honey pie.

And… I feel like I’m catching my breath a bit. I’m getting more of a handle on the work/childcare/housework balancing act. I was pushing it a bit after our DC trip, and I think I’m going to pull back and shoot for three solid days of paid work a week and play with Rainbow on the others, reserving those days’ naptimes (when they happen) for housework and cooking and that sort of thing. And if some sort of work crisis or deadline pops up, I can always work more.

The work from home thing is awesome; it just takes pruning and tweaking to get it just right. The nicest part about it is the way-cliched “quality time”: Like, I get it now. When I’m with him, I’m totally more fun and engaged and appreciative than otherwise. And when he’s at daycare, he’s with loving adults who are fully attentive as well. It’s leading me to be more in-the-moment and less assertively multi-tasking when we are together, and I’m so grateful for that.

It’s a wonderful summer.

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