Christmas Pictures

Every year, shortly before Christmas, I take pictures of the kids. And every year I am reminded of why people are paid good money to do child portrait photography.

This year the most fun was in trying to take a group photo of them. I never did get a good one; I recognized my own limitations at about the same time as my camera battery died. But I thought I’d share some of the results.

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Halloween

I forgot to take a picture of the kids in costume until after we got home, and the boys shed their costumes within seconds of coming in the door. But Mica has been so delighted with her witch costume that she wanted to wear it to school every day, and was in no such rush. She looks dour, but that is only because she has not yet mastered the art of smiling on cue.

I love trick-or-treating with the kids. It was warm and cloudy tonight, and since the kids are now fully capable of managing the process, my job is only wander up the street after them and remind them occasionally to say thank you. I said hi to the neighbors I knew, listened to Mica’s incessant, excited chatter, and came home with my pockets stuffed with her candy (her bag kept getting too heavy for her).

She Insisted

The first time Mica asked me to cut her hair with the trimmer, I managed to resist. She saw me cutting one of the boys’ hair and told me that she wanted to be like Dave, and inwardly I felt immediate conflict. On the one hand it was obviously contrary to my values to tell her that she couldn’t have her hair trimmed — after all, did I question the boys when they asked for a haircut? Hadn’t I let, even helped, Nathan dye his hair when he wanted to? And I consciously work on not emphasizing to her that she is pretty, instead focusing on how she is capable, always doing new and interesting things, and generous.

But there it was; the truth was that deep down I was relieved when she was diverted into letting me braid her hair instead. She would be like me instead of like Dave.

That could only last so long. Last week she saw me trimming hair again, and this time she insisted that she wanted to be like Dave. I tried to talk her into a longer length, at least; that backfired when she decided to go with the shortest length available.

And I can’t blame her. She doesn’t like having her hair combed — well, neither did I at that age. Long hair can get pulled, gets in eyes, and is generally a bit of a nuisance. She seems happy with her new haircut, and the boys love rubbing her fuzzy head, and I… well, she is adorable no matter what, and I love her.

But it does remind me a bit of Nathan’s first haircut, and the odd feeling I had, for days afterward, that there was a stranger in my house.

Bird Rescue

Recently the kids came inside, very excited, to tell me that there was a hurt bird outside, and that they were going to catch it and help it.

I had mixed feelings about this endeavor. I rather thought that harassing an injured bird was unlikely to make its life better, but I couldn’t fault the kids for their good intentions. In the end, parental expedience won out. The kids were outside in the sunshine, working together and problem-solving, needing nothing from me except to hand them a cardboard box. My all-too-human rationalization superpower decided that it was fine.

And they did manage to catch it, although it took more than half an hour. I don’t know what the bird had run into, but it was a mess — missing wing feathers and with its beak damaged, it huddled dully in the bottom of its box. I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to make it. But we gave it a shot by providing water and a couple of worms, and protection from cats for the night.

Alas, my prediction was correct, and by the following morning the bird was no more. I was relieved that the kids seemed to take this philosophically.

Crab Hunts and Parties

School is nearly upon us, and I was surprised, in finally coming back to the blog, to discover that I had a couple of posts from the summer, full of pictures but still patiently waiting for words. There is much that I like about being back at work, but I must admit that it can be easy for days to blur and slip past.

Our summer birthday trip to Grandpa’s house was full of things both familiar and new. New things included Nathan schooling his older cousin in chess and a long party on a boat on Hood Canal. Ryan also almost experienced his first clam, but despite the obvious enjoyment of family members around him, he failed to seize the moment and gave it to me instead. When he’s a bit older perhaps we’ll dig a geoduck.

Familiar things included the ritual of homemade ice cream and a lot of beach time. There had been intense and serious plans made for crab hunts, starting weeks before our trip, and Nathan even brought along a collecting container for them. They caught a huge mess of crabs and were only reluctantly dissuaded from bringing them up to the house by my flat refusal to tolerate the inevitable container of dead crabs. And I learned something new along with them, when another cousin showed us where the really big crabs were — under the concrete slabs. Big is relative, of course, but I’d had no idea that two-inch crabs could be found on our beach.

Baby

The kids recently got to know their new baby cousin, Jackson. Jackson seemed mildly interested in this; but my kids were utterly fascinated by him.

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Birthday

Mica is four. She is opinionated, increasingly independent, and articulate. She likes telling terrible knock-knock jokes, swimming, playing Minecraft, blowing bubbles, and pretending to punch people. (Sometimes she pretends too hard for comfort.)

Now aware of the concept of birthday parties, she was pretty adamant that she would have one. Fortunately there was a great opportunity for a playdate with some of her and the boys’ friends, and everyone was willing to call it a party in exchange for some homemade strawberry cupcakes. I missed it, since it took place during the week; but that weekend we celebrated by taking her to the park. Four is a great birthday to celebrate by playing in fountains.

Fortunately ten and eight are also, apparently, good ages for playing in fountains.