Thursday, July 31, 2014

Regression all around -- it's hard to be the mom

This week, week two of day camp, I cannot leave my house without all three children crying.  Maeve hits hysteria.  Eden becomes weepy and clings to me.  Silas broods with angry tears pinned to being unable to read together (we are reading Percy Jackson, which is hard to put down).

Last night Ben and I left for a date to see Magic in the Moonlight.  It took me 20 minutes of fury at Ben for blaming me for badly handling everyone's tears as I squeezed out the door (which he wasn't exactly doing, more what I was doing) and the pungent smell of popcorn finally to calm and settle into being together.

Today all I tried was to go to yoga.  Maeve and I talked about it all the way there.  Last week she reluctantly leaned into the woman's arms and I left without a scene.  Today, as we walked in with her giant book and tiny doll, she screamed a beet-faced cry as if I'd just left her for life.

After Eden's dance camp --she is carrying herself with a whole new posture, head right up in the stars readying some internal posture for her performance tomorrow -- she spoke baby talk for an hour -- "me ga ga want ga"  Really?

At bedtime, Ben  becomes almost invisible, though his kind voice walks through books and he lies next to kids asking about their day.  Where's mom?  Is she coming?  I need her to tuck me in?  Can you read me a book?  Dad already read to you.  I want YOU to read to me!!!!!! And then the crying and clinging.  At 5am, after a trip to the bathroom, Eden appeared at my bedside with alligator tears, but I want to get in bed with YOU.  The three of us squeezed like sardines under the covers.

And so we hit mid-summer.

This is the note I found next to Eden's face on her pillow last night:
Mom, I am 
terribly missing you
today and all
month and all 
year can we 
have some 
special time

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

the sauce (spicy cilantro sauce for everything)

  • A few weeks ago my sister-in-law and I sat on the basement floor among piles of laundry and flipped through recipes.  It was a rare moment, our kids in camp together, when our our daily overlapped.  We both pulled out Sunset magazine's Chicken Steamed Over Ginger-Garlic Rice.  The rice was great (recommend).  Steamed chicken left a little something to be desired, would grill it next time, but what was amazing was the sauce.  I used only one green jalapeno (no red) and seeded it almost completely.  I've made the sauce for steak, too, and it would be great on grilled chicken,kabobs, fish.  

  •      Sunset, July 2014 (photo from Sunset)
  • ~2 in. piece ginger, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove
  • green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • tbsp. lime juice
  • green jalapeño chile, sliced and stemmed
  • (1 red jalapeño chile, sliced and stemmed)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

  • Purée all ingredients plus 2 tbsp. water in a blender. 
  • Transfer to a bowl and serve with most everything.

on the porch swing

Is everyone in their 30's tired?  With one child, five children?  Are people with no children exhausted, too?  Is it this decade of building life that is just tiring for all?  Or is it more the repeated impossibly-pounding footsteps of a child down the hallway at 5:43 in the morning each day that does it?

I don't know.  What I know is that every day around 1pm, I could easily crawl into my bed and stay there for a few hours, which, unfortunately, is also nap time when I could most do something creative or productive.

Do the creative and productive hit in the next life stage?

Tonight I am sitting on a porch swing while my one year old niece, who is trying to pull an all-nighter, chatters and chomps a cracker, wearing a diaper and blond curls.  We are all spending the night tonight together at my parents' house.

Maybe it is the combination of camp "carnival," of wild face painting that actually made our kids look like different people, of giant plates of pie for dessert, or the pure intoxication of being with each other, but the cousins are w-i-l-d tonight, which is why I am on the porch.

Mosquitoes are biting my bare legs and arms as the woods chirp and buzz with evening.  The crepe myrtle is perfectly still, as are all of the leaves on the trees towering above.  It was another California day -- weather breaking records for DC July with this perfection (or the polar vortex...).

Today Silas busily devoured a Hardy Boys graphic novels.  Eden suddenly looks two years older as she leans over Maeve giggling.  And Maeve spent most of the day, as many days, pushing markers and shoes, sunglasses, keys she shouldn't have, tiny teacups or bears into bags and carrying them over her shoulder.

The sky is shadowed with clouds again, but there is no sign of rain tonight.  The deer poke along the edge of the woods, unhurried.  The chain of the porch swing creaks, and somewhere inside, kids scamper into pajamas and loose sheets for bed.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

June and July in Pictures

In early June, Eden turned 6 with a spa science party
and an ihop breakfast in Philly
where we rode the Philly Ducks...

Then school ended
and it was summer:


Camp Thor hair

Saturday Mornings

Saturday mornings started with Smurfs, Snorks, and Gummy Bears.  Then the Top 40 Countdown with Casey Kasem.  Eventually they were married mornings with newspaper, coffee filled and refilled, hawaiian bread french toast.  Baby Silas breakfasts were at any place opened by 7, and with Eden in tow, we met families on chilly patios where the up-and-down-spilled-water-syrup-hands was permitted.

DC brunches instead of breakfasts, so our Saturdays often land on Breakfast at BB's, with my brother's family, always coffee and bacon.

Maeve has not coordinated with the rest of the family on Saturdays -- no plotting to watch Phineas and Ferb, or to sleep until someone makes her wake, or to read alone with tea. She just wants breakfast.  So on Saturdays, like every day really, we sit at the table together.

Today we've been up for what feels like ages.  I've poured bowls and bowls of Spoonfuls, waved to her through the window while filling the bird feeder, drank tea, watched milk drip down her elbows as she insists on eating cereal with her hands...

One day I probably will sit here for hours alone while the rest of the house sleeps, busy with growing and dreaming.  Hard to imagine such things.  In the meantime, I will sit listening to Maeve name the house asleep in a forced whisper:
Dada sssssssss (sleeping)
Hiya (Silas) ssssssss
Doda (Eden) ssssssss,
again and again as the morning brightens.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I am standing on the front porch, bare feet on the tiny square of pavement that isn't being bombarded by rain. It's another afternoon downpour that began with low mumbling thunder that suddenly turned to rain so hard it's blurring the woods like fog.  It's something to be living beneath hundred year old trees that bend and stretch their massive bodies in the wind.

Some days the DC heat stagnates, presses in so close it makes the city hum with impatience.  Last night when I went to bed, the humidity was at 97%.  Even the air was ripe for this downpour.  Today what I love about storms is how they interrupt, they break in, even if it's just for the minute when water hits the skin, when thunder roars louder than a stadium of our voices and leaves us standing quiet.  

A fawn darts from the woods, bucking, prancing and stops.  I can't tell if it was a game or he was startled, but now, with his nose to the grass, he doesn't even seem to register the rain pelting his back as he slowly walks back into the trees.

So far Maeve has stayed asleep. She is the first child I have had who is terrified of thunder. She makes her sound for truck and points her little finger to the sky, then clings to my leg and begs to be held.

Maybe she is the only one of us who really gets it – power so much stronger than we are.

The wind is splattering the street with leaves and sticks.  It makes a mess of the city -- power outs, lines down, branches cracked -- and cleans us, too, rushing in new air, a new weather system, the smell of grass, steaming concrete, dirt.  

We are midsummer now, breathing easily outside of school's rush, lounging on my bed reading books.  We are gorging on cantaloupes and peaches, filling and refilling the bird feeder, shuttling to and fro for a week of camp. There isn't a lot else -- some baseball and art, iced tea, a couple cousin sleepovers, Maeve's constant hitting, exhaustion by dinner.  

I can feel my first waves of regret that this will end and school will start again, that our time together will be clamped by homework and activity.  I want to stay here, in the wind, watching the rain blow and the leaves wave like wild flags of surrender.