First Days

Mica

Mica seems overall to be a fairly calm baby. She didn’t even cry when she was first born — just lay on my chest in the birth pool, coughed a few times, and squinted around at things with her dark eyes. Eventually she thought to utter a cry or two, but where Nathan had been clearly tired and unhappy, and Ryan simply mad, Mica seemed caught between bewilderment and mild annoyance.

It wasn’t until a couple hours after her birth that something disconcerting happened to her bottom and caused her to utter the first major complaint of her life. Being diapered was clearly not on her agenda — the previous arrangement of naked snuggling had worked just fine for her — and her little face afterwards, as she let herself be soothed, was somehow incredulous. “Good lord,” she seemed to say, “what the heck was that indignity? Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again.”

She’s been disappointed, and so far is not reconciled to the prospect.

Though it was late when she was born, the boys had not been able to sleep for all the excitement, and when their grandma heard the first little baby cry she brought them in to meet their sister. This was perfect for me; in those quiet moments after the birth I wanted very much to share her with the rest of our family. They stayed up for a while, looking at the baby while I showered, coming to see me after I was done, and (in Nathan’s case) taking a few pictures, including of the placenta, which clearly was a fascinating subject matter for him.

Nathan likes his sister a great deal, and is happy to stroke her little hands and arms and head and spend time smiling down at her, although not nearly so much time as any of the adults in the household. The fact that her tiny hand will close around his finger is something that makes him smile every time. Ryan is less enamored; he was as excited as Nathan initially, and is still interested in touching her sometimes, but he told me yesterday that he was done with having a baby around. Apparently she made noises that disturbed him while he was trying to play a video game. This is from the boy who can carry on hours of loud running commentary while engaged in his own activities. I’ve helpfully informed him that, regardless of his feelings, there’s no going back to our baby-less state.

…And Done Waiting

Linda

Nathan

Dave

Holly

Waiting

pregnant

I didn’t have time to become impatient over Nathan’s birth, since he proved himself a well-ordered baby and I went into labor right on his due date. With Ryan, despite being two weeks late, it didn’t bother me; I had faith that he would come, I had nothing else scheduled anyway, and sure enough he came when he was ready.

With this one I’m having trouble being quite so accepting.

I’m not sure why, since I’m not all that uncomfortable — even that ravenous appetite that got me up in the middle of the night has tapered off. And everything that was true with Ryan is still true: it really is easier to take care of a baby when it’s on the inside, and this delay is, perforce, of limited duration anyway, so why stress over it?

I’m not stressing, exactly. I just keep envisioning the next day being The Day, and it keeps not being true. Dave is wise enough not to ask me too many times a day how I’m feeling, which is good because I feel exactly the same as I did a week ago. Mostly this post is to show off the enormous bulging belly and confirm that yep, we’re still waiting…

Woven Bracelet

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I really intended to make a much longer version of this woven bracelet that could be worn as a necklace. But because of limited bead quantities, I ended up with a bracelet after all. It was a fun and fairly quick weave, and I do like the look of it — I just never wear bracelets, that’s all. So far its major use has been as an anklet for Ryan.

Desultory Gardening

Early this spring it was suggested to me that, given the fact I’d be heavily pregnant and then with a newborn this summer, I should cut down on my garden ambitions for the year. This was good advice; I even recognized it as good advice at the time. And of course, it made very little impact. At the time I could still bend at the waist, and it’s amazing how that creates a sense of optimism.

raspberry

An objective judge would probably admit that my garden is not exactly in tip-top shape this year, that a great deal of weeding and watering and even planting is not being pursued as avidly as it has been in years past. (“I hope it rains soon,” I’ve thought often, with a vague glance at seedlings that I decided were probably fine.) I have been eating greens from the garden, but they were all overwintered spinach and romaine, which is now dwindling and/or trying to go to seed. There are very few new seedlings, partly from lack of planting and partly because rain apparently failed to fall at the right time. It seems that gardens don’t just spontaneously feed one without some effort.

garlic

As though to drive that point home, this year has been my first experience with garlic rust. I reacted to it in roughly the same way as I did when I discovered that mint, of all things, fails to thrive in my herb garden: outraged disbelief. Really?! This crop, which I’ve long been touting as the Easiest Crop Ever, it too can suffer from disease and death?! And now I shouldn’t plant garlic in those beds for three years?! It didn’t help that I didn’t discover the problem until it was well advanced, since I haven’t been spending much time in the garden. Theoretically gardening is supposed to teach one a certain amount of patience, acceptance of the vagaries of fate, and tender stewardship of the land. I have a ways to go yet.

corn

For all that, there are of course many wonderful things happening in the garden, and I know that as soon as I dish out snap peas for the first time at the dinner table, I’ll forgive the garlic for getting rusty and the spinach for going to seed. Or possibly I’ll be forgiving myself for unreasonable ambitions. Whatever — there will be forgiveness involved, and it will be tasty. Just the other day I pointed out to Ryan the first tiny green furls of corn seedlings, and the eternal flame of Gardening Hope flared brightly within me, and I began to consider whether I shouldn’t plant some more beans…

Friends

Several weeks ago we were in the park near our house, and Nathan made friends with a girl who lives nearby. We’d seen her before, of course; she lives in the apartment complex between our house and the park, no more than a block away. But somehow she and Nathan had never previously connected.

In the mysterious way that these things happen, the circle of neighborhood kids we knew grew almost overnight from zero to four. She and her brother and two other kids from the same apartment complex suddenly started coming to our house every day. There are six kids around now (not always at the same time) ranging between four and ten years old. They play Minecraft, tag, hide-and-seek, a game involving an invisible monster (I’m not entirely clear on how that one works), and a huge variety of other things.

This has completely changed the tenor of our lives. Overall it’s an awesome development. One of the ongoing uncertainties I’ve had about homeschooling has been the difficulty of getting the kids together with other kids on a regular basis. This became more challenging after both of the older kids in our old playgroup went to kindergarten. Occasional playdates were insufficient for Nathan. Attempts on my part to get us together with other homeschoolers haven’t led to any ongoing relationships — not because the kids were particularly averse to each other, but because the kids could only spend as much time together as the mothers were willing to sit and chat. I tried, but I am not by nature much of a chatter.

This is different. These kids drop by whenever they’re around, and although I still expect that to taper off as the novelty diminishes, right now that means every afternoon and evening after school and practically all weekend. We’ve had to set some strict limits on how early they can come on weekend mornings, that they have to give us half an hour for dinner, and they must leave when we start our bedtime proceedings. They play, fight, scream (usually for fun), argue, and endlessly negotiate the rules of whatever game they’re playing. It’s precisely the kind of ongoing social engagement that Nathan seems to have been wanting.

There are some challenges for me, too. Some of these are obvious and logistical: six kids is more than two, and despite the fact that they are all nice kids, every child comes with its own share of entropy. The rope swing is highly contested, as is computer usage. I have to be careful not to assume they’ll understand our rules and boundaries, and also to be sure I’m being fair during those (frequent) times I’m asked to mediate.

But more than that, I spent much of the first week fighting simple anxiety. I did not generally have drop-in friends when I was young, or many friends at all for that matter. I was always more comfortable one-on-one than in groups, and home was more of a sanctuary than a social gathering point. Despite the fact that I’m now theoretically in a different role, the old social anxiety is still triggered when I meet new kids and has to be worked down every time. I’ve started to acclimate, but at first I would watch Nathan run delightedly for the door at every knock, take a deep breath, and try hard not to feel that my house was being invaded.

But as I said, overall it’s a good thing. At the moment Nathan is out riding his bike with one friend, and Ryan is playing on the computer with the oldest boy in the group. (Oddly, the latter two are often on the same team in their games. Maybe it’s because they’re both more interested in guns than anyone else.) Life is definitely different than it was a month ago — busier, more varied, slightly less comfortable on my part, but I think generally better.

Tie Dye, Continued

Inspired by the success of our first try at tie-dye, we set up a tie-dye extravaganza a couple weeks ago with playgroup. I still had a bunch of dye, and I invited everyone to bring shirts or whatever else they’d like to dye. We even had a sunny day, so we could set up tables outside. My theory was that the kids would be done quickly, and then we moms could get down to serious tie-dye business with whatever remained.

As expected, the kids showed minimal interest. They were already hard into playing by the time we were set up, and although three of them spent some time at the tie-dye tables, they were never there at the same time and most of their attention was elsewhere. That was fine; they were not my primary targets anyway. My primary goal was to make more onesies.

tiedye1

I did learn some lessons, though. I learned that there’s only so much tie-dye one can do at a time, and scaling up the amount of dye and clothing by a factor of three or four is maybe not the best idea ever. Conveniently, I also think that having too many colors available is less than useful; a small selection of nicely correlated colors, as we’d used the first time, made it nearly impossible to do something horrible, while a larger selection gave more room for bad combinations.

tiedye2

But overall it was fun and exciting and I’m very happy with most of what we made, and appreciate the help that the other women in the group gave me, since I had by far the vast majority of things to dye. And I got a chance to try out some of my new fabric paints on a couple of the onesies, which added a nice layer of icing to the fun cake.

tiedye3

Best of all, I was unable to resist doing some socks. Tie-dyed baby socks. These give the onesies a serious run for their money.

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