Category: Family

Eight

November 29, 2012

Today, Graham is eight.  He is the age I was when my youngest brother was born.  It’s been three years since I first wrote about my first and oh so special child.  At that time, I felt just the slightest bit bewildered by him.  Crazy overflowing amounts of love with just the stirrings of fear about what the future might bring.  By the time I wrote my second post, a subtle impatience was starting to take up residence in my psyche.  I have written other posts to celebrate his successes and some to celebrate his birthdays.  You see him often in my Slice of Life posts.  But I haven’t written much lately about how is doing and how I am doing with him.  This is a hard post to write, as all of them have been.  How do you talk about your child?  How do you begin to explain someone who you think is so incredibly wonderful but who can be a never-ending source of frustration?

I had a complete breakdown moment soon after we arrived in France in June, for our month long vacation.  Randy and I had just made the difficult decision to move to the Bay Area after years in Seattle.  I had gone through all the pros and cons in my mind ad nauseum.  In spite of leaving family, an incredible network of friends, my career, and a wonderful elementary school, we decided our family was ready for a new adventure.  The breakdown came when I circled back to thinking about Graham.  All of our wonderful friends who have children around his age have known him since he was a baby.  Graham is just Graham.  His quirks are just a small part of who he is.  Children who have always known him can appreciate that he is a sincere and loving child who wants nothing more than to play and laugh and eat snacks.  He is a little different and that fact does not seem to phase those who have always known him.  What about a completely new network of people?  How do I explain my child to families?  Should I have to?

Graham is in second grade.  He has an undefined developmental delay.  He is not on the autism spectrum.  He has an IEP (individualized education plan) which allows him to get help in the areas where he needs it, but he is in a regular classroom.  His delay affects his speech and cognition and because those two things are integral in interacting socially, he is delayed in that area too.   He is shockingly good at math and puzzles and things requiring spatial awareness.  His short term memory is terrible, his long term memory is scary good.  (He won’t remember where he put his pencil, but will remember an event that happened years ago just from a glance down a street.  I operate this way too.)

Graham continues to be a very even keel child.  He almost never gets upset and almost always goes with the flow.  This is surprising considering he doesn’t always understand exactly what is going on.  He is very well behaved in his classroom and at home.  He loves people and will strike up a conversation with just about anybody.  Adults and older children are utterly charmed by him but kids his age – not so much.

I used to wonder at what age kids would start to notice that there was something different about Graham and it turns out that second grade is the age.  He has been teased.  The kids nudge each other and ask, “What did he say?”  Some of them have hidden his lunch box from him and, according to Graham, they make fun of his clothes and his skin.  (He dresses well because I still pick out his clothes for him and he has dark skin.  I wasn’t aware that those were things that were tease-able offenses.)  I have talked to many friends about what is going on and most of them are horrified.  Most schools have a strict no-bullying policy and I’m sure ours is no different.  I know that kids are cruel.  I see most of the girls in his class completely ignoring him while they are catty behind each others’ backs and I thank the universe, for the umpteenth time, that Graham is not a girl.  (Disclaimer:  we know some amazing empathetic and kind girls who are absolutely lovely with Graham.)

And where am I in all of this?  I am heartbroken for him.  The fact that anyone would make fun of such a sweet soul makes me want to scream.  I am grateful that he still doesn’t know that anything is different about him and that he misses most of the eye rolling and nudging.  I am thankful that (still!) every time a new adult helper comes into his orbit, the first thing they tell me is how delightful he is.  Graham handled a huge transition – a move to a new state, new house, and new school – with a smile on his face and adventure in his heart.

Our next steps are to involve the principal and his teacher as much as possible.  Our hope is that getting some awareness about kids who are a little different at this still young age might nip some of the teasing in the bud.  We also plan to enroll Graham in some social therapy.  The idea is that there is truly a social language that most children learn naturally.  I see this with Spencer.  The way he interacts with his peers is not something I or Randy have taught him – he just picked it up.  Graham tries, he is so motivated to make friends, but his language delay sometimes makes it difficult.  So we will get him in a supervised play group where he will learn about how to be a good friend, how to appropriately interact with kids, and how to walk away from people who are being unkind.  That is the hope at least.

Whenever I write these posts about Graham, I get the most amazing and kindest comments and emails back.  Many of them applaud me for being a good mother.  Most days I feel like I am.  Some days I know I am not.  Graham tests my patience at some point everyday and sometimes all day.  I know we all get inpatient with our children and some of us yell.  When I get angry at Spencer, I rarely feel bad afterward.  He has done something he is not supposed to, he knows it, he does it anyway, and I get mad.  We talk about it afterward and we move on.  With Graham, the things that drive me to distraction about him are usually things he cannot help.  He doesn’t deliberately forget to bring home his jacket or the name of someone he has known since he was born – there is a section in his IEP about his memory.  It is truly impaired.  He doesn’t intentionally not listen to me, he only catches about three-quarters of what I say, if that.  He can’t help it if he just can’t grasp the concept of days getting darker, or geography, or many of the other things children his age just seem to get.

What makes me feel terrible about myself (at times) is that I believe that Graham tries his best at everything every day.  How many children can you say that about?  He is a first born, rule following, approval seeking, sweet-to-the-core kid.  Why do I feel embarrassed by him sometimes?  Why do I occasionally wish it was different in our house?  How can I hold him in my arms, almost unable to bear the sweetness, and then be driven to distraction by him not five minutes later?  Is it him that I wish was different, or myself?  I read something recently that said if we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we would grab ours back.  As much as I look to parents of typically developing children and envy them at times, I know that they have their own struggles, struggles I would not want.  And there are, of course, people who have it much worse than we do and those who have it unspeakably bad and when I think about those folks, I want to simultaneously squeeze Graham and hang my head in shame.

In all of this, I have to say a word about my amazing husband.  My Naval Academy educated, former Navy pilot, Harvard MBA, brilliant and athletically gifted husband.  If you had told me that we were going to have a child who had some undefined issues that would make school and team sports difficult for him, I might told you that Randy would would really struggle with that.  He takes great pride in his intelligence, his fearlessness, his drive, and his successes – as well he should.  I hope he also takes great pride in what a kind and loving father he is.  The man who tells you he has no patience is the one sitting with Graham helping him sound out his reading words over and over again.  He is the man taking him to Cub Scouts and soccer, helping him learn to ski, and is the first one to say that he doesn’t care if Graham goes to college at all as long as he is happy and healthy.  And out of the house by age 18.

This is a serious post.  So allow me to tell a funny story.  When Graham was in kindergarten, he was in the bathroom peeing and a mean boy pushed him.  This terrified Graham and ever since, he has sat down to pee.  (This is not the funny part.)  It’s not something we care about except when we are out and public toilets are sketchy, we are at a park and the restrooms are closed for the winter, or when we contemplate future camping trips with the Cub Scouts.  Randy and I have tried cajoling him, patiently sitting with him in the bathroom, bribing him, threatening him (I’m not proud), all to no avail.  Last week, Spencer wondered what would happen if we paid Graham a quarter each time he stood up and peed, with the promise of a toy when he reached eight times.  Wouldn’t you know it – he has stood up ever since.  Happy birthday my sweet eight year old boy.



She’s Leaving Home, Bye Bye

August 23, 2012

I remember, long ago, telling my dad one of my dreams as he drove me to school.  I chattered on and on about the crazy images I had seen in my sleep and at the end of my long tale my dad told me, very kindly, “It’s not actually that interesting to listen to someone describe their dreams”.

I think this is why I haven’t written that much about our big move.  A bit perhaps but not a lot of what I am thinking/feeling/obsessing about.  I’m not sure that reading about my excitement, fears and sadness would be all that interesting.  This is a food blog after all.  If you visit here regularly, chances are that you are looking for healthy vegetarian food or decadent treats.  Or perhaps you like reading a bit about my life.  Moving is a personal thing but not in the same way that having a challenging child is personal.  Moving is kind of boring to talk about or read about.  It is even boring to think about, so I haven’t shared much.

But the move is imminent and here is the deal.  I think I have readied myself for the big things.  I’ve been saying goodbye to my favorite places and my favorite people for weeks now.  I feel like I have been blowing kisses to Seattle for months now.  I said goodbye to my parents on Thursday and my brothers, sister-in-law and niece and nephew on Sunday.  I’ve been going through our house room by room, getting rid of all the things that we no longer need or will not have room for in our new, and smaller, house.  Randy and I have signed paperwork to buy and sell houses and we have gotten our kids into school in Oakland.  We have mapped out our route to drive south and secured temporary housing while we wait for our new house to close.  This move has been pending since June and I feel ready.

Except that Monday night I went to tuck both boys into bed and I realized, just as I was wrapping my body around Spencer’s, that it was his last night in his room.  This room that also happens to be the one to which that we brought him home from the hospital.  The only room that has ever really been his.  Where there once was a crib and a tiny bundle swaddled tight, there is now a big boy bed with Spiderman sheets (although he prefers Batman) and a big boy who got tears in his eyes that he tried to hide from me when I told him it was his last night here.  I said, “Spencer, moving is one of the hardest things that people do.”  To which he asked, “Harder than fishing?”  I cannot tell you how welcome that smile felt on my lips, so close was I to really losing it.

It started to become clear to me in that moment and more so later on when I went in to gaze at both of them as they slept, that it is not just my family, my friends, my house, my career, and our beloved school that I am saying goodbye to.  I am also saying goodbye to my past.  I have deep roots in Seattle, having moved here when I was five years old and lived here almost ever since.  I have memories in just about every corner of this city.  I bump into people I know all the time, from all walks of my life.  I’m saying goodbye to that past but also the more immediate one.  The one where I fell in love with Randy or was newly married or my children were babies.  That past is more tangible and it is hard enough for me to say goodbye to that I held onto tiny diapers in Spencer’s room, although he weighs nearly 50 pounds and hasn’t worn a diaper in almost three years.

I am writing this post late at night.  There have been many many nights that I have sat up late writing and writing, the only time I can find in my day to get my thoughts and my recipes onto the blog.  I finish, shut everything down, turn off all the lights, and make my familiar way up to the boys’ rooms to make sure their blankets are covering their ever-growing bodies, and on into my room and off to bed.  The next day holds certainty.  Boys I will wrangle, people I will see, errands I will do, food I will cook, exercise I will endure.  Now we shift.  Uncertainty for the next bit.  Until a time, hopefully not in the too distant future, that we will settle into new routines, a new life.

We will take three days to drive south.  We will spend the morning of our tenth anniversary river rafting on the Rogue River and then sleep at a motel in Chico, California.  We hope to move into our house in the first week of September.  I am not sure when I will be back in real time, connected once again to this blog, but I have some posts planned in the interim.  I know this year has been the Year Of Blogging Hiatus.  I promise I will be back soon.

 

 



Slice of My Life – A Month in France

July 17, 2012

Hello Friends.  I have missed writing my slice of life posts.  I have missed sharing the silly little photos (and some not so silly) that represent my week.  I thought about just picking up where I left off, ignoring, for the moment, that I just spent a month in France.  But last week consisted of a 10½ hour flight back from Paris, jet lag, coming back to a house that I dearly love and that now seems palatial, and going through this house, room by room, purging us of excess stuff that we have accumulated in 5½ years.  And then an impromptu trip to Lopez Island.  It has already been a week of relief (so nice to be home), sadness (how can we leave this city and that island?), and being overwhelmed (will we find a house in Oakland? are we doing the right thing? will the moving part of the move ever be over?).  In other words, not a week to share in photos.

So, I’ll share my month is France instead.  To make it a little simpler for myself, these are all photos I took with my phone.  If you follow me on Instagram (I’m @danatreat), you might have already seen some of these.

In case you didn’t read this post, we stayed three weeks in a lovely town called Cagnes-sur-Mer.  We found our place using VRBO.  It’s the one with the red flowers.

This was the view from the tiny deck off the third floor.  (Yes, three floors, but each one had two small rooms.)

Cagnes-sur-Mer really consists of three parts and we lived in Haut de Cagnes, or high up on the hill.  There were four or five restaurants up there with a beautiful courtyard and a boule court over to one side.  The view was spectacular.  We tried a Vietnamese place (fair) and ate several times at a pizza place (good).  The boys could come sit for a few bites and then run around.  It was ideal.

Our days on the Côte d’Azur went one of two ways.  We either did a beach day in our town or we piled into the car for an adventure.  Either way, each morning the boys and I would walk down our steep hill to one of the two bakeries we liked best.  (There were at least five others in our little town.)  I would buy the days’ first baguette and they would get a treat.  Sometimes we would walk back up the hill and sometimes we would wait for the little bus to take us back up.

(This photo is actually taken at the little stop across the street from our place.)

Beach days included slathering on lots of sunscreen and then loading up our bag for the half hour walk to the beach.  It was HOT, especially the second two of the three weeks we were there.  But the breeze at the beach was lovely and the temperature of the water was perfect.  The boys would spend hours looking for sea glass, playing games with rocks and sticks, and playing in the waves.

The snack shack at my childhood neighborhood pool had things like Fudgesicles and bad frozen pizza.  This guy had crèpes, delicious paninis, freshly made salads, and amazing granitas.  When they were going to get their “drink” became a point of obsession on beach days.

Orange was their favorite.

If it was an adventure day, we walked down to the town parking lot and loaded up in our rental Peugot.  We always brought Veronique – the France friendly GPS sister to our American Veronica in our car at home.  Veronique made driving and finding our way around about as un-stressful as driving around an unfamiliar, and very crowded, region can be.  We would pick a place we wanted to visit and let her guide us there.  Mountain towns, beach towns, large cities, small villages – we saw a lot.

Vence was one of the first places we visited and it remains one of our favorite towns.  This was the only cloudy day in three weeks.

I mentioned this in my last post but this is the Matisse chapel.  No photos were allowed inside.  It is magical there.

Windy back roads and the view of Nice from on high.  Our poor boys walked with us all the way up on a very hot day but we rewarded them with this.

I had never seen a carousel as pretty as this one.

We spent a day gaping at the beauty and wealth in Monaco.  They have a terrific aquarium there but honestly, I don’t feel a need to go back.

Probably my favorite thing we did was drive to St. Raphaël and then catch a ferry to St. Tropez.  St. Tropez is on a peninsula so it is difficult to access by car.  We knew it would be ritzy and it was but it was also small and charming and very beautiful.  It was over 100ºF that day but ducking in and out of gorgeous (and blissfully air conditioned) shops made it bearable.  As did ice cream.

The ferry back.

We went to so many sweet towns.  This one was on our way to Cap Ferrat – Villefranche sur Mer.  We ate over-priced pizza and just stared at the view.

We saw a lot of art on our trip.  Matisse is prevalent throughout small towns along the Côte d’Azur and there is a particularly lovely museum in Nice.  There was a Renoir museum in our town and we loved the Chagall mueseum, also in Nice.  I had a poster of this painting on my wall throughout college, so seeing it in person was a real treat.

The boys were relatively patient on our adventures.  Not that there wasn’t complaining.  We had to keep reminding ourselves that they are 7 and 5 years old and wandering through mountain towns in search of table linens is not really what they wanted to be doing.  So in addition to the beach days, we did two days at water parks – Aqualand and Aquasplash.  If you ask the boys, this was their favorite thing we did in France.

I just have to include this photo of Spencer.  This was our view of him for much of this vacation.  Long board shorts and just a peek of butt crack.  No matter how many times we pulled up his bathing suit, this was how it looked.

On many days, the walk back up the hill, or the ride up in a hot and crowded bus, was just too much to face.  So we would pause in the town square and enjoy a  beer (or an apple juice).

After three weeks, our time in southern France came to an end.  We celebrated our last night by getting dressed up and eating dinner at our favorite place on the top of the hill.

And then we went to Paris.

Where we rode the ferris wheel in the Tuileries.

Which is right next to the Louvre.

We went to Euro Disney – the boys’ first trip to a Disneyland park.

We went to the Musée d’Orsay where the boys lasted a full two hours before staging a full-on protest.

We ate felafel.  For an hour after lunch, Graham kept exclaiming, “That was SO GOOD!”  I was a proud mama.  Even Spencer said, “I tried that brown thing and it tasted good.”

This was our view from the living room window.

And this was the last picture I took before we slept our last night in France.



From France, With Love

June 22, 2012

On Monday, June 11th, our little family woke up at the usual time. We ate breakfast and finished putting toothbrushes, stuffed animals, medications, snacks, and all manner of necessary things in our suitcases and backpacks. A lovely friend who is staying in our house while we are gone, came to get keys, information about garbage and mail, and where to get coffee and all manner of Tangletown things (that is the name of our neighborhood). And then, before we could really wrap our brains around it, we were off the airport for the long day and night of travel to France.

I realize that loving food and loving France is kind of cliche. There are a lot of Francophiles in the world. But France has been an important part of my life for much of my life, so I’d like to talk about France and what it has meant to me in my almost 42 years. I went for the first time when I was just under a year old. My parents tell the story of packing a full suitcase full of Pampers, because they were unavailable in Europe in 1971, and also of me making lots of noise in museums and eating tons of French fries. They went on to take me to numerous other countries over the course of a 3 week trip when you really could do Europe on $10/day, and I remember none of it.

The next time I went, I was 16 years old, on a bike with a group from my high school, three months riding along country roads, sleeping in tents, eating more bread and chocolate than I ever thought possible, and really truly, learning the language and also learning to love the French. We rode through the castles in the Loire Valley; the apple orchards of Normandy; startled goats off treacherous roads in Corsica (and had two solid weeks of sunshine); had snow-capped mountains as our constant companions through the Alps,; and tried to remember why it was that we chose the region of Auvergne, in the Massif Central mountains, until we came upon the Gorge du Tarn – a place so wild and beautiful that we frequently had to get off our bikes to just stare.

My next visit was when I was a junior in college and spent a semester in Paris. I decided that, in order to make the most of my 5 months and to learn the most Franch possible, I should live with a French person. My college teamed me up with a woman doctor who, for reasons unknown to me, was so depressed that she never left the apartment, had a dog named Ginger who would shit in the hallways, and who would give one sole dinner party the whole time I was there, telling me I had to stay in my room while the guests were there, and then would leave every single dish and platter in the kitchen for weeks so that, when I came in from class, I would have to cover my face with my shirt so the stench of rotting food wouldn’t make me sick. It is a true testament to the wonders of Paris, its beauty and the amazing food, that I left after that semester vowing to someday return.

Somehow, it took another 12 years for the next visit to France. Randy and I did a quick two nights in Paris on the tail end of our honeymoon in Spain. I was coming off some terrible bug that made me grateful that you can buy antibiotics over the counter in Europe. We made our way to a horrible hotel in the Latin quarter and ate the foil pouch of peanuts available in our room for dinner. That was about all my stomach could handle. But the next day, while Randy went to a business meeting, I walked the streets and eventually found myself in a brasserie, trying out my once quite-good but now-rusty French, and ordering a sandwich that had thin slices of hard-boiled egg, mayonnaise, tomato, and lettuce, on the perfect half of a baguette. I could not believe how good it tasted.

Soon after we were married, Randy and I moved to London for a year, and I went to France no fewer than 4 times that year. The last time was as we were getting ready to move back to the States. We flew to Paris, rented a car, and took our time driving down to Provence, with stops in the Loire Valley, Lyon, and my beloved and still-as-magnificent-as-I-remembered Gorge du Tarn, before meeting up with friends at a villa on a hillside covered with lavender. I was 22 weeks pregnant with Graham. I had felt his first kick sitting and waiting for our luggage in the Charles de Gaul airport. I brought a maternity bathing suit which I used daily at the pool onsite, and one cookbook, Patricia Wells’ The Provence Cookbook, and from that lovely book, I made dinners for a group of 8 every night. We all took the train back to Paris after our magical week and the group watched Llance Armstrong win his 6th Tour de France at the Arc de Triomphe on, or maybe the day before, my birthday. Randy went with me to an art gallery on the Ile St. Louis where my mom and I had seen some amazing paintings on a trip to Paris earlier than spring and, without me  knowing about it, he bought me a painting and had it shipped home. It is my favorite painting in our house, to date.

The next time I went to France, I was the mother of two, and getting ready to celebrate my 40th birthday. It was a seven year dream to go to Paris and buy copper pots and while I did buy a most beautiful copper double boiler (which I have only used a handful of times because it is so beautiful), I also got to go to Cannes on the Cote d’Azur – a region, in all my time spent in France, that I had never visited.

(Our beautiful street for 3 weeks.)

And here I am again. 3 weeks in Cagnes-sur-Mer. A small town between Cannes and Nice. Small enough that it is easy to find our way around, large enough that almost everything we need is here in our town. Including a beach. We have been here a little over a week and have already done day trips to Nice and Antibes, the hill towns of Vence and Grasse, as well as a day at the water park known as Aqualand, in addition to plenty of time spent at our town’s somewhat rocky but still totally acceptable, beach. We visited the small chapel that Matisse was commissioned to create the murals and stained glass for – a chapel I remember studying for my term paper on Matisee in senior year art history, and when my little family and I walked inside, I immediately started to cry. Seeing such works of beauty in person, when you never thought you would actually see them, can be very overwhelming.

The Cote d’Azur is warm. Hot even. Our little place is sweet and, um, little. We are almost at the top of a hill of such epic proportions that we usually opt into taking the free shuttle (the Navette) to it each day. I have been cooking dinner almost every night. It’s not so much that I am inspired by the produce, which – truly – I am not, but that it is relaxing for us to be at home and not trying to figure out whether the boys should eat pizza or pasta for the umpteenth time. At home, we vegetarians can make sure we are getting nourished. It’s not that bad for me – I am happy with salads, but my kids, especially Spencer, are having a harder time. My little kitchen has two burners and I am putting them to work, mostly making simple, but delicious, things. Polenta with cream and Comte cheese stirred into it and topped with homemade ratatouille, omelettes with sautéed mushrooms and radicchio, lots of salad, curried couscous with Le Puy lentils and chickpeas, tagliatelle with goat cheese, oil cured olives, and basil. Nothing fancy but all delicious, made even more so by the fact that we are depleted by the sun and by all the beauty we are seeing each day.

We still hope to see St. Tropez and Monaco. We need to check out the chateau at the top of our extremely steep hill because the town’s Renoir exhibit is temporarily housed there. We might get on a train for a day trip. We might not. We might go to a relatively nearby town in Italy for the Saturday market. We might not. We are going to eat a lot more pizza and a LOT more bread. Spencer has decided that he likes goat cheese and pizza with olives on it and that is more than I could have hoped for him. Graham ate most of a cheese crepe without being too sure about it and I am proud of him for that. They have already been on a 100 year old carousel and, if you asked them, them are hoping for more beach time, more carousels, and more ice cream.

Randy and I have had time to process all that awaits us when we return home. I have already freaked out a couple of times. Being far from home can sometimes make me crave home – stability and things that are known instead of unknown. We will return to Seattle and a brief lull of calm before jumping into a full blown move and throwing our comfortable worlds into chaos. There has been some second guessing, some tears, and finally, the very real thought that this move is the best thing for us at this time. How do you reconcile feelings of caution? When do you say ok, I am just feeling anxious about this big change and when do you say, this is too much for me? That question is what kept me awake for the first 5 nights we were here. Ultimately, I am choosing to move beyond the doubt and celebrate the positive. A friend asked us, as we were trying to make the decision about whether or not to move to San Francisco, if we would regret it someday if we did NOT move. I have come back to that question time and time again. When we were trying to decide whether or not to move to London, I was having a hard time with that decision. Now, looking back 9 years later, there has never been a moment when I have thought, “Wow, we should never have moved to London.” I get it – this is different, kids and schools and jobs and buying and selling homes and 3+ years vs. 1 year makes it all different. But I can’t help but think that if we don’t go, we will both regret it.

We have another week and a half in Cagnes-sur-Mer and then we head to the Nice airport and fly to Paris. We will have six nights there. I hope to do another Cote d’Azur post before we leave. I am having a heck of a time uploading photos so I’m sorry there aren’t more in this post. If you are on Instagram, I am @danatreat and I post photos each day. A bientot!



Five

February 3, 2012

Lately I have been telling my children that I am going to start feeding them donuts for breakfast, ice cream for lunch, and cake for dinner in an effort to make them stop growing up.  Because nothing else seems to be working.

Yesterday, February 2nd, my baby turned five.  If you have a baby, five probably doesn’t sound like a baby, but he will always be my baby.  Five is a big birthday.  Five is the year children start kindergarten.  Five is officially the end of toddler-dom.  Five is a kid.  I could say a million other things but it all boils down to the fact that I can’t believe my baby is five.  Five years ago, we took Graham, then aged 26 months, to a friend’s house so we could go the hospital and have a baby.  I sobbed with guilt in the car on the way.  Spencer was a planned for and wanted baby, but I felt almost that I was betraying my beloved first born by bringing another child into our little family.  I had no idea, of course, that Spencer would complete our family and that he would become an amazing playmate for Graham.

So my (not so) little baby, who are you at five?  You are an incredibly independently minded person who can carry on a full and engaging conversation.  You still, however, need help buttoning your pants.  You have just started to write your name with the “p” backwards and the letters very large.  You are s-m-a-r-t.  So bright and interested in everything.  You ask me what a word means and I see it just sucked right up into your brain.  You have a temper and hate to be embarrassed.  You love school and ask me every day if it is your show and share day.  You still want to do everything the same way Graham does – you idolize him.  You also squabble with him.  A lot.

(This is one of my favorite photos of my Seattle baby.  You are about 14 months here.)

Your hair can really no longer be called blond but I hold out hope that it will lighten again in the summer.  You are still a big guy – people rarely guess your age correctly.  Your cheeks, arms, and legs are still squishy.  Your belly is just big enough that it kind of pushes down your pants so you have a perpetual plumber’s crack going.  It may be time for a belt.  You still allow me to pick out your clothes each morning but if left to your own devices, you would wear “cozy” pants every day.  Your voice is still raspy and high, surprising for such a big boy.  And adorable.

You still like vehicles but no longer carry one in each hand everywhere.  You really like tape and making little projects out of paper and various things you find.  You call it “artzuka” from one of the shows you watch.  You are obsessed with Batman and love this shirt that comes with a “cake” (that would be a cape).  You do not, however, want to put the Batman sheets that Santa brought on your bed because they are too scary.  You continue to be a much pickier eater than your brother – carrots and celery are the only vegetables you will touch.  You are a big snacker and love yogurt.  Treats are a big part of your life and your current favorite is “mommy’s homemade ice cream”.

At night you like me to lie next to you and rub your back.  My own father used to do this for me – I know how lovely it feels.  All animals are banished from your bed but they do sit on a chair nearby.  We talk about what the next day brings.  Some nights, when you are very very tired, your eyes will flutter closed while I lie next to you.  I remember lying in my bed with you during your colicky months, trying to nap along side you, completely exhausted from caring for a baby who cried from 5pm to midnight non-stop every day.  You were tiny, of course, and I would pat your back, silently begging you to sleep.  Your eyes would flutter in that same way and I would hold my breath, willing them to stay closed.  Now you almost never cry (and when you do, it’s a big production), and sleep comes easily to you.  I almost want your eyes to flutter back open so you will say goodnight to me one more time.

I’ve been keeping track of some of the cuter things you say.  You were telling me about the Zamboni at the ice rink and you called it a “tromboni”.  We broke through a spider web and you said, “Looks like we need a web repair”.  Melted frozen yogurt looked like “a yogurt swimming pool”.  People don’t litter, they “glitter” as in “that man is glittering”.  Stupendous is “dependous”.  You think driving school has little mini cars and pretend stop lights.  I was roasting beets one day and when they came out of the oven you asked, “Are those sharks?”  “Sometimes, when I have a headache, I pretend to pull my head off.”  And my favorite – one day we were about to pull into an intersection after our light turned green.  A guy came through, completely running his red light.  I cried out and you asked me why.  “Because that guys was going really fast and he went through a red light – that is not safe!”  To which you said, “Well, maybe he had some ice cream in the back of his car and it was melting.”

I have written so many posts about Graham, one might wonder why there is so little of you here on my blog.  The truth is that my love for you is so uncomplicated.  There is that age old saying that you love your children the same, just differently.  I love you the same amount as Graham but with less frustration, less guilt, more ease, and more humor.  Every year brings new wonders in being your mother.



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