IMG_0901.JPG, originally uploaded by MzMuze.

We spent most of the weekend at Walden Pond, enjoying our first (and maybe only? please not only) real glimpse of summer weather. I took about 400 photos, 30 of which are up over at Flickr. Because I could not bear to withhold from all y’all the cuteness of Serena throwing a rock in the water, or building a sandcastle.

The one cute photo I did withhold is the one of her five minutes of freedom, where she goes tearing through the waves naked with her arms out in true B-movie monster style, destroying every sandcastle in her wake. It was a great five minutes, cut short when the Even Bigger Sea Monster (aka lifeguard) came over and told her she was breaking an obscenity law and had to put her bathing suit back on.

Really people, she is not-quite-two years old. She weighs 30 pounds. By volume, she was showing less ass than the teenagers in string bikinis sunning themselves next to us.

I am too tired, and too enthralled with the beauty of the water and the child to really get my own knickers in a twist about this, but it makes me want to cry.

What difference is it really if she goes naked or wears her Strawberry Shortcake swimsuit? I think Thoreau would have understood the difference, and I’m pretty sure the trees do. We lose a little bit of the precious Wild when we insist on clothing for the little innocents who still live in their personal Edens. I think the illusion of safety we buy with that sacrifice is a cheap trade, and I don’t want it.

When we go camping in a few weeks at a private lakeshore spot, I will not be packing her swimsuit.



Fava beans, originally uploaded by MzMuze.

My garden has produced a small crop of fava beans. I grew these for their value as a soil soother in a bed that had tomatoes growing in it for many years. Fava beans and peas fix nitrogen in the soil, which tomatoes tend to deplete, so they make a good crop rotation.

I didn’t really expect to get food out of them, but now I have two pints of fava beans sitting in my fridge. What should I do with them?

(this is obviously from a few days ago, as its blessedly not raining now. but it’s still funny)

Rio, this morning, “Oh look! It’s raining again. Happy fun day.”

um…yeah, kid. Aren’t you too young for that kind of humor?

Definitely not too young for what followed:

“Mama, do you think the summer said, ‘Hey spring, I want to take an extra long nap? Can you do my job for me?’ and now it just keeps on being spring?”

Yeah, I kind of do kid. Summer is totally asleep on the job.

On the worst day, the day when I could not so much as whisper, I went to Whole Foods seeking throat drops. Ok, yes, I was secretly hoping they had a Magic Pill that would suddenly restore my voice, my health, my attention span, and my 18-year-old figure. But I was ready to settle for cough drops.

After flailing about in the expensive soap and “nutritional supplements” aisles for awhile, I was approached by a helpful Whole Foods employee.

“Can I help you find something?” she asked.

I gestured meaningfully at my throat while moving my mouth silently. I assumed this was the universal sign for “I want cough drops”. But I was wrong.

“You can’t talk?”

I nodded yes.

“Should you have a pen and paper?”

Shrug. Sure. I nodded. She started off in the direction of the help desk, chattering cheerfully about this and that and how awkward it must be and why didn’t I carry a notebook, etc. We reached the desk and she handed me a paper and then said she didn’t have a pen and she’d be right back. I took a pen out of my purse and waved it at her retreating back.

She returned, pen in hand, and was happily impressed with my ability to produce one from my own purse. Chatter, chatter, “Oh good, you found a pen, etc. Now I can help you…WAIT! Can you hear?”

um…

Really? Did you just ask me that? We’ve been having a conversation for ten minutes, and your side was entirely spoken.

“I have laryngitis,” I wrote on the pad. “I want cough drops.”

“OH! All the throat medicines are in aisle blah blah blah.”

“Bedtime”, that lovely two hour span after dinner before anyone actually gets into bed, is not more fun than I expected it to be. But between camping and sleepovers, we’ve only done it here twice, and for one of those times I had an assistant. Yes, that’s cheating. No, I don’t care.

But after bedtime, there’s the quiet space where they really fall asleep, and that happens with or without the hours-long ritual, whether or not I stay to see it unfold. Tonight I did.

Watching Rio’s face sometimes I see glimpses of her adult face peeking through, the clear set of her eyes around long cheeks. It’s a face very different from what I imagined on her. More of her father than I see in her now, as a kid. Quiet, serious, focused, but also joyful and deeply grounded. I’m wary, of course, of projecting my visions of her future onto the soft clay of her childhood, but it’s nice to imagine her strong, free and different from who I thought she’d become. Especially as I watch her drift helplessly into sleep, clutching her baby doll under her chin, losing her way mid-sentence as she tries to demand another bedtime story in sign language.

Serena is growing up too. Tonight she finished nursing (finally! Who knew there was an end?), and then rolled and flopped and wiggled and turned. Eventually she sat straight up in bed, looked around for a moment assessing the situation, and began very earnestly pushing me off the mattress. She’d pick up my knee and give it a shove, then start pushing my belly…I got the message and moved to the rocker. From there, I watched her writhe and wiggle and sigh and tuck herself under the covers and then kick them off and then pull them back up until finally she so very slowly dropped her eyes shut and was gone to dreaming, hands folded behind her head as if napping on a sunny beach.

Good night girls. I’m glad we had this moment together. You’re beautiful. I do love watching you grow, even if I’m grouchy about how long it takes some days.

I would like my cape and tights, please. In size extra-awesome.

Menstruating? Check.
Laryngitis? Check.
Solo parenting for the week? Check.
Sudden increase in workload with both my day job and my freelance writing? Check.

Did I manage, in the past 24 hours, to conduct an interview for a magazine, run a preschool day, learn how to use my new camera, pick up our farm share, take the kids biking in spite of a light drizzle and show up at a Canada Day party with fresh-baked banana muffins? Yes, yes I did.

Now I am going to collapse, so I can do it all again tomorrow. Possibly without the banana bread, but hopefully also without the laryngitis.

(What I really mean here is: how do you single parents do this day after day? I have had more help than I will probably ever admit to this past week, so much that it hardly feels honest to say I’m goin’ it alone, and I still feel like I’ve been hit by the baby train after only a few days. How do you survive? How do your kids? Does it get easier or do you just get stronger?)

Putting an inchworm on Mollys head

Putting an inchworm on Molly's head

{ETA: this photo is interesting because inchworms are awesome, but also because its the first picture I’ve taken with the big Canon that I really like}

Lost: my voice

Found: two deer ticks, one on Rio and one on me. Happily, the on site doctor let us know that deer ticks have to be attached to your body for at least two days before they can “do any mischief” (ie: transmit Lyme disease). So we all had a thorough “tickle check” before bed, and it looks like we made it out unscathed.

Taken: photos. many, with the amazing new-to-me camera that was placed under my care in the midst of the weekend.

Serenazilla!

Serenazilla!

We’re off to the woods for a weekend of wild childhood. Enjoy yourselves and your loved ones – I’ll be back next week with (I’m sure) lots to blog about after our adventures.

I don’t do bedtimes. A lot of parents talk about bedtime as some of the sweetest moments they have with their children – sharing stories, favorite books from their own childhoods, little good-night rituals.

Me, I am just violently allergic to the whole process. From getting my jeans wet kneeling beside the bathtub to wrestling my toddler into her PJs to reading Another F***ing Clifford Book to lying alone in the dark listening to the same soothing music night after night until my ears threaten to mutiny, bedtime fails to suit me.

Fortunately my girls have a Daddy who loves to read aloud and tell stories and listen to soothing music. He still reads aloud to his teenager on nights he can get away with it. He loves bedtime so much he spends three or four hours every night tucking our little ones in.

Unfortunately, said Daddy is about to leave town for a week. This is great for him, because he’s going to a work conference where he gets to show off the very impressive Science he’s been making all year. It’s kind of great for me because I get to be married to someone who makes very impressive Science.

It’s not great for bedtime.

Daddy recently began taking a Monday night drum class, and I put the girls to bed on those nights. Let’s just say I am not committing to four hours of baths, books and soft music every evening. I work the day shift with the kids; I write in the evenings or go mad. That’s just the way it is.

So this Monday, I said, “Hey girls. Bedtime is at 8:30. When that time comes, I am turning out the lights and leaving the room. If you want me to tuck you in and sing to you and tell stories, you need to get in bed early enough for that to happen.”

Can either of those children tell time? No. Were they nestled all sweet in their beds when the clock struck 8:30? No. Did I leave the room? Why, yes, yes I did.

I’m sure half of you are applauding me for sticking to my guns while the other half are probably echoing Rio’s sentiments when she shouted after me, “Mommy! You are such a bad Mommy for not taking care of us at all! Serena is a little tiny girl! She needs a grown-up to be with her!”

After about five minutes of violent protest, Rio curled up and fell asleep.

Serena, on the other hand, got out of bed and wandered downstairs. I put her back to bed. After a few rounds of this she came down very quietly and climbed into the arts cabinet. I pretended not to see her and carried on with my Adult Work (which at that point consisted of balancing my checkbook. Trust me kids, I’d have preferred listening to your nighttime CD again).

She fiddled around in the arts cabinet for awhile, and eventually climbed down very quietly with a small notebook and a marker. She sat at the crafts table coloring in a picture of a flower for about twenty minutes, then walked over and handed it to me. I took it, and she made the sign for sleep and reached out for my hand. She led me up the stairs to her bed, and signed that she’d like me to lie down with her. I did, telling her I’d be there for five minutes. She nodded, and lay very peacefully, curled up like a flower bud.

Until she chanced to roll halfway onto her stomach, at which point her half-concious body remembered that just a few hours earlier it had learned to somersault. She had to turn several sleepy somersaults before settling back down to sleep.

I’m not sure how the coming week will go, but this was certainly an entertaining start.

Flickr Photos

A little bird told me…

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