Cast on. Cast off.

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First Day.

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Last Day.

 

If you ever have to put a cast on your 3 year old it would be prudent to remember that one day that cast is gonna have to come off.  That day was today.  Our conversation on the way to the doctor:

Me:  Well honey you’re getting your cast off in a few minutes, isn’t that exciting?

3 Year old:  No, I’m going to be so disappointed.

Me:  Why?

3 Year old:  Because I won’t be able to show it to my friends anymore.  Or strangers.

Here is what I learned:

1.  It would have been a good idea to hire a babysitter so that I could have left my 15 month old at home.  There was no reason to traumatize both of them.

2. Kids are positioned on their backs for cast removal.  In order to comfort them you must awkwardly collapse your body on top of theirs while making sure your face can be seen by your baby.   This is of course so that they will see you grinning like a psycho during the sawing and then possibly feel better about the fact that your mother is lying on your sister while a stranger goes at her with a saw.

Summer 2014 0063.  Even though we discussed how the cast would come off with a saw it didn’t really sink in for my daughter until that saw turned ON.

4.  Once the saw (which looked less scary than an amputation saw but more scary than an electric turkey carver) was in motion my heretofore independent child began howling, “Mama!  Don’t leave me!  Cuddle me mom!  Right now!  AAAAHHHHH! Mom mom mom mom mom!  NOOOOOOO!”  Tears poured down her face, and suddenly the novelty of the cast was over.  My heart broke for her and all at once parenting didn’t feel quite so thankless.

5.  When my child finally got the cast off the part of her body that was previously shrouded in Gore-Tex it stunk. I wanted to put my nose somewhere less foul.  Like my own armpit.  I didn’t do this of course but I really, really wanted to.

6.  I saw the cuts the saw left on my daughter’s arm and felt an overwhelming urge to launch myself at the technician and bite them on the face.  Instead I sang, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” to my children until the urge passed.

7.  Just because the cast is off the arm is not back to normal.  She is still holding it up like a bird with a broken wing.  “It’s stiff,” she tells me.  “You’ll have to carry me.  And lift me up to the table, and put me in my car seat.  I can’t do it.”  I wonder how long this phase will last….

The best part of the experience was that there were no ticks hiding inside the cast- only a lone pine needle happy to free once more.

 

 

Doesn’t It All Go By in a Blink

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Broken arm to start off the hot months.

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Baby’s first haircut. Goodbye curls:(

“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.” ― L.M. MontgomeryAnne’s House of Dreams

When every day of summer lasts a million years (this is how it feels anyway) I find myself forgetting that I only really get a handful of summers with my kids.  What I mean of course, is a handful of summers when they are still mine.  Before they’re begging to go over to friend’s houses and to summer camp and into the future without a backward glance.  It isn’t my wish to keep them little forever- little kids are an incredible amount of work.  But I do love the innocence.  I love the soft cheeks, the concept that mom and dad can make everything alright, and the way they sleep without anything weighing them down.

These are a few pictures of our summer so far- a blur of manic energy contained in a few photos.

 

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July garden.

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Calvert Marine Museum, terrapin.

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Indoor Beach Day

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The new balance bike.

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Water table fun and bug catching.

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First full family campout, Elk Neck State Park, MD.

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I capture the castle.

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I’m 3 today!

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Life is good.

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Oh yes we DID bring the clip-on highchair.

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The Quilt is Done

Summer 2014 019My mother did not quilt.  My grandmother did not quilt either.  My great-grandmother probably did quilt as befitted the time in which she lived,  but as we were not destined to know one another I can’t be sure.  What I’m getting at here is that quilting was not something I absorbed from my childhood surroundings.   I wasn’t mitering corners at grannie’s knee or using a rotary cutter in elementary school. It is rather baffling therefore that for my first quilting project ever I decided to make a queen-sized quilt for my baby daughter.  I considered the lap quilts but felt she would outgrow those too fast, and who has twin beds anymore anyway and so heck- why not just go big or go home?  So I went big.  I completed all of the blocks during her first year of life and even got them all put together with the inner borders.  We were living in Eugene, OR at the time and knew we wouldn’t be able to stay.  I chose colors to remind us of that place- the blues of the sky, the greens and browns of the earth.  For the background I chose a patterned fabric featuring bright umbrellas in front of a cloudy sky. Once the top was done it just sat.  And sat.  For 2 years.  I’ve heard this is common tale- the patchwork top is the exciting part and after that it’s just levels of tediousness.Summer 2014 018

Once I finally came to terms with this understanding I hired a longarmer.  In other words, one who possesses a long-arm machine.  It was a wonderfully freeing experience which has left me with a finished quilt, a sense of peace, and a neater sewing area.  Thank you Heidi Hendrix in Lusby, MD!

The longarm machine is an invention which allows the quilter to spread a large portion of the quilt out while machine quilting the patchwork top, inner batting, and backing together with a set pattern such as spirals.  If your other alternative, like mine,  is using a small sewing machine shoved into the back corner of your loft, a longarmer might be preferable.

For the next quilt I will be using a solid color for the background, and instead of doing a sampler quilt where every block is a different pattern, I’ll just be sticking with the ones I like.  Rail fence is one of my favorites- nice and simple and best of all- no triangles!

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Will She Look in the Oven?

It is a rainy and humid day in Southern Maryland.  So humid that I feel moisture gathering between my toes as I sit here typing this.  I have lost track of the number of recent thunderstorms and every day it feels like we are walking through a thick pea soup.  The snack crackers grow soggy before you can eat them.  My hair is at its curliest this time of year and it seems that my son has inherited my humidometer locks.  This week he is all ringlets.  We have been attempting to air out our sleeping bags from a recent campout but the longer they hang over the upstairs railing the wetter they get.  You get the idea.

Clearly this was not the best day to mop my kitchen floor.  However it was long overdue and it had become so sticky that traveling through the kitchen felt like trying to fight my way out of a glue trap.  I was over it.  I would vanquish the stickiness.  I would beat it into submission.  Prying myself out of the wooden chair I went through the motions of mopping.  Then the water sat there.  For hours.  Not drying.  Perhaps even accumulating more moisture as it sat glistening at me in a mean-spirited kind of way.

Finally I took down the baby gate in order to make lunch.  Instantly one child went down.  Then the second.  Possibly both concussed from the wetness of my disgusting kitchen floor.  The baby gate went back up.  The dog towels came out so I could dry the whole thing by hand and even after all this the floor was somehow stickier than ever.

I opted to take my aggression out on the stove which I have not cleaned in two years of living in this house.  Why clean it now?  Because my mother is coming in 2 days.  My mother who always has a sparkling stove and who lives 3,000 miles away where she cannot regularly check mine.  Chances are that she will not, in her week of visiting, actually open my oven.  However we all  know that the only way to be sure is to clean it.  That’s the rule.

So the oven is clean, the floor is mopped (for all the good it did me), and the outdoor plants have been watered.  That’s the extent of it.  Everything else is grimy, smeary, crusty, and stinky.

Yesterday my daughter wanted to check her reflection as she recently ran through a screen door and landed on some bricks yielding an incredible fat lip that she has been diligently monitoring.  I followed her to the mirror and happened to notice that one of my fingernails, which I had just hurriedly trimmed, had landed in a highly visible spot in my hair.  Fortunately I was able to remove it before we set off for Target.

So it seems that I have landed myself in, “The Grimy Years”.  I get that now.  The area under my son’s clip-on highchair must be scrubbed by hand 3 times a day- 4 if we have a snack.  Oh yes, I could leave it but then he would track it all over my house.  Two nights ago I asked my 3 year old daughter to try to keep her mulberry jam off the white carpet.  She did.  But I forgot to mention that if you need to sneeze when you are chewing up beets be sure to contain the result.  Oh white carpet, why were you ever invented?

My toilet is sweating.  A lot.  The floor is uneven so all the sweat forms a river and the river leads to the low spot right in front of the bathroom sink.  When my daughter travels across the bathroom to get her potty seat (7 times a day?) she must walk right through it.  Sometimes she slips.  I wipe it up several times a day while glaring at the toilet and demanding, “Really?  Do you have to be a jerk?”

Grimy.   Humid.  Gross.  Motherhood.

 

Vacation Series: Richmond with Young Kids Part 4: James River Park and Deep Run Park

The fun in Richmond seemed never-ending until it ended.  After our morning at the Botanical Gardens we headed for the James River.  The temperature was 90 and muggy and we needed to get wet.  We found ourselves at a section of the James River Park called Pony Pasture which was advertised as being kid-friendly.

Well, the river must have flooded because those kid-friendly play areas could not be found.  We managed to find a shallow creek but the volume of poison ivy was causing such high anxiety I felt an eye twitch coming on. We got back in the car and headed for a flatwater area downriver called The Wetlands which was rumored to have a shallow sandy beach.  There was no beach.  Only mud.  And roots.  And a long walk from the car.  I wore the baby in the Ergo and pulled my daughter along by the hand.  It was the kind of thing that should have been fun but nobody seemed to have received the memo.

Still, we changed our focus from swimming to hiking and with the added intrigue of the floating cottonwood puffballs my daughter became rather enchanted.  I was not but tried to keep my sneezing to myself for the sake of the group.  One day we shall visit these spots again but hopefully during a non-flood period.

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The thing about wearing a baby is that they get to smear you with whatever happens to be on their hands and there is nothing you can do. And they know this.

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The smell of the honeysuckle in the humidity was delicious.

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Wait a minute. Escaping baby!

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Intro to trudging.

Summer 2014 047 The next morning was our last in Richmond.  I took the kids to Deep Run Park in the nearby town of Short Pump and I was so glad we had saved it for our last day.  What a wonderful place.  In Southern Maryland where we live there are many nice playgrounds but few of them have any sense of imagination and they are all in full sun.  Deep Run Park is apparently where that imagination ended up.  There is a CASTLE.  A great one.  In the shady woods.  Behind it there is a smaller play area that features a stagecoach with separate rocking horses.  The bathroom is close by and there were no crowds the morning we were there.

 

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Deep Run Park, Short Pump, VA

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Vacation Series: Richmond, VA with Young Kids Part 3: The Zoo and Botanical Gardens

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Feeding the giraffes, a new experience.

Day 3 in Richmond…. what to do?  Time for the Richmond Metro Zoo!

Let me clear, I am not a zoo person.  I find them to be a completely depressing experience and before I ever had kids I wondered if I’d be able to one day bring myself to take them to a zoo.  That day is here.  I now have kids.  I have kids who do not get the opportunity to see many animals in a world where animals are quickly disappearing.  I am a parent and I am also a realist who wonders how much time is left to see these animals before they’re gone.  And so we found ourselves armed with a cup full of giraffe snacks at 9:15 this morning while waiting in the long line of children doing the pee dance until the zoo opened at 9:30.Summer 2014 504As far as zoos go the Richmond Metro zoo is small and manageable.  There is a playground, a jungle carousel, a ski lift (didn’t see it running though) and a zipline for the adventurous.

On Thursday we made it over to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens and wow, wow, wow!  We chose a very hot day for this event and could only stay a couple of hours but it was wonderful.  We spent most of our time in the Children’s Garden which has an incredible treehouse, a water play area, a big sandpit in the shade, and a number of small houses the kids can go inside.

Most of the property is quite sunny but there are a few pockets where you can hide in the shade.  The Children’s Garden was one but there were also a couple shady ponds.  If you’ve got young kids though, the earlier you plan to arrive the better. It’s a busy place for playdates and school trips. The Conservatory was gorgeous and filled with small waterfalls and orchids.  There is a butterfly pavillion but as it does not allow strollers (for good reason of course) we weren’t able to visit it this time.

This was a place that felt a little bit like a magical happy land.  Everyone walking around had a smile on their face.  Of course most of them were elderly and likely retired so what’s not to love?  They’re probably that happy wherever they go.  We would go back to this place in a second- I had to drag my daughter out of the mini house exhibit.

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Vacation Series: Richmond/Charlottesville, VA with Young Kids Part 2

On Tuesday the kids and I drove west one hour to the fantastic town of Charlottesville, VA.  Fortunately I lived there when I was younger and was able to turn off the GPS and just enjoy myself.  There is an incredible amount to do there with young kids so I had to pick and choose.  Knowing that we’d need to be heading back to Richmond by 1PM (sacred naptime) we only had time for a few activities.  The first stop was to pick up bagels from Bodo’s- a necessity anytime we are in town.

The 2nd stop was the VA Discovery Museum and it was well worth the drive. Summer 2014 496 Summer 2014 490 Summer 2014 471 Summer 2014 487 Summer 2014 482 Summer 2014 475 Summer 2014 480Everything is relative of course and if you are coming from a big city or if your kids are older than 6 this may not be worth your time.  For us, coming from rural Southern Maryland where there are almost no opportunities for young kids, this was a goldmine.  My almost 3 year old loved everything about this place.  She ran from the art room to the historic cabin replica, to the giant doll house, to the pirate ship.  My 13 month old loved the giant donkey/stable display, the garden (in which you can plant plastic carrots, etc.), and watching all the other children.  Right outside on the downtown mall there is a small merry-g0-round in which every seat is actually a small horse.  It’s free and my daughter was pretty sure she had never found anything better.

It was lovely to reunite with an old friend and take on Christian’s Pizza before our time in C’ville was over.    Here we are strolling along the downtown mall with our potty seat at the ready.

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