Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ten Thousand Words

yellow-rumped warbler

 The days are so warm and welcoming with the sun peering through the trees.  The boys smell like sticky sweat and dirt. D is hosing off the car and singing a banjo song. I'm holding the dog's leash.  Big brother is bouncing his basketball.  little brother is frantically displacing water from his wading pool as the sun makes a line down his bare back.  I move closer to shade him from the beams, and now he plays in my shadow.  The dog laps water from the little pool.

I hum along with D and follow the dripping toddler through the grass with the dog at our knees.  little brother plucks dandelions from the grass. Big brother is off chasing a ball somewhere. I feel the slightest breeze across my face and smell lilac.  I hear mother wren in the magnolia tree.  She is warning us that we are too close.

black & white warbler

Sometimes Big brother is flipping logs to find salamanders.  Sometimes he is half over the edge of the koi pond with a net, focused in on a frog that turns out to be a toad and thank God! because toads shouldn't be in the water. His fingernails are dirty and his glasses are slid halfway down his nose, but he can't push them up because his hands are full of ramps and leaves and something is in his boot.

Sometimes I'm chasing the dog. Did I mention we got a dog? Sadie is her name. She's a mastiff, only a few weeks old. She's gentle and tough and wild and exhausted. She is a contradictory lady, full of energy and then utterly comatose for hours on end.  Her paws are floppy. Her ears are floppy. Her skin is floppy - and it's all so darling.  Sometimes she trips over those paws. Sometimes she tries to eat rocks or pine cones or birdseed.  She likes to chew. She only barks at our fat cat, the Queen. She snores like a chainsaw, and is so dear.  Anyway, sometimes I run in the yard and she runs alongside me and when we stop running, she flops over onto her side and I rub her pink tummy and she lays like that until the sun makes it so warm.

We eat dinner every possible night together at the table. D asks Big brother what his favorite part of the day was. It's almost always extra recess or no homework, but sometimes it's baseball or pizza or a joke someone told him at school. little brother picks at his plate and one of us leaves the table to makes him a meal of simple things that he'll actually eat. He eats, and is covered in whatever it is. Generally, head to toe.


D gives little brother his evening bath.  They sing and splash and - no matter where you are in the house - you can hear them squealing.  It's little brother's final surge before going to bed for the night. He waves night-night and likes to lay on his left side.

palm warbler

I make the bed so we can lay under the layers without clumps. D and I lay flat on our backs, allowing the weight of the day to sink deep, deep into the mattress to stay. Cats crawl on our legs. Sadie burrows her muzzle into our pillows, our necks, our sides. The window at the head of our bed shows a darkening sky and treetops swaying themselves to sleep.

red-breasted nuthatch

Big brother kisses us good night. The family tenderly sleeps. Nightly disturbances inevitably occur - a mouse sneaks in, a cat catches it, little brother cries out in his sleep, an ornery owl has something to say in the middle of the night. We do our best to hush the racket and deal with it in the morning.

To be honest, we only have so much emotional and intellectual energy to spend on the world around us.  I would much rather expend it on our own little piece of the world, and so I try my hardest to do just that.  Maybe I am small-minded.  Maybe this is evidence of a narrowness of my views. Maybe there will come a time where I see it as a flaw and will feel compelled to change it.  But right now, I am certain that by not allowing my energy to be diffused by a whole world of events that I am powerless to affect, I have more energy to immerse myself in family. Maybe if more people did this, the world would be better off.

I can't know for sure, but I think it's true.


-happy birthday. i love you.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Ill With Want

 We apologize for the long hiatus.  Winter was cold and long, but we're done hibernating now.  Thank you for coming back.  A recap on our end of winter, beginning of spring adventures:


When we couldn't stand being in the house anymore, on a mild Sunday in March, we took the kids to the Curious Kid's Museum in St. Joseph, MI.  It was little brother's first trip, but Big brother had gone before and was decidedly too old for most of it. He was an excellent sport for little brothers sake, though, and the family was in complete bliss, just being together and eating junk.  We all needed it.


On Valentine's Day, D and I drove downstate to see our all-time favorite band ever, The Avett Brothers.  It was the best show I have ever been to, with the most handsome company and peaceful drive. 


 Baseball season has started again for Big brother.  So has salamander-hunting, driveway basketball, fishing, drive-in movies season.  He joined the Running Club at school and is currently working on building his endurance.  He has grown so much in the last few months, we can hardly keep him clothed.  He's been pitching more at baseball practice and games and is really doing a great job. He has been doing great in school, all A's and B's - and is almost done with 5th grade ALREADY!

Sometimes we have him watch little brother while we shower or do dishes and he does an amazing job.  I listened as he changed a stinky diaper a few days ago. He asked for a gas mask, but then told little brother "It's ok! Everybody poops!" and when little was too squirmy to get his pants back on, Big made a decision: "alright! It's NO PANTS DAY!" which was pretty awesome. 


little brother is almost 18 months now!  Can you believe it?  It warms and saddens my heart, but is lovely just the same.  His vocabulary has tripled in the last few months.  He has gotten taller, but stayed a slim 24 pounds.  He went on his first sled, his first fishing trip, had his first haircut, we bought his first toothbrush, and his grandparents got him his first Columbia jacket. He sees deer in the yard and points and says "duhr!".

He puts on our shoes and slides across the floor and tells us "sthoesth! bahbye."  He sings and climbs and laughs. He doesn't like to eat, but his favorite food right now is clementines. If anyone opens the refrigerator, he beelines to the clementines.  He'll take a bite right out of the peel if you let him. little brother loves books, and being outside and sometimes - if you catch him in the right mood - he loves sitting on your lap. He is the happiest human I know.

Oh yeah, and he LOVES his binky.  We're working on that. Sometimes he'll have one in his mouth and find another somewhere in the house.  He picks it up and yells "TWO!" and shoves it in his mouth, too.  He is the happiest human I know. Sometimes at random times during the day, he'll say "Happy!" and it's so adorable.


 D and I have been counting our blessings as several family members on both sides have gotten ill over the last few months. As hard as we try to remain optimistic, sometimes it is sad to feel so blessed when those you love are struggling.  We just hope they know we love them dearly, and not a day goes by where we don't pray for them, hurt for them, think of them, and remember every happy time because those are what counts.

summer tanager.

pine siskin.

red-breasted grosbeak.


pileated woodpecker.

 As you can see, we've had so many birds migrating through.  It's difficult to identify them all, especially the warblers, but I have been keeping a list of all the birds we've seen on the property this year. D and I believe we have even seen Penny! Which makes me far happier than is reasonable.

sunny jack.

 I started our garden seeds a few weeks ago and they are sprouting beautifully in a darling little greenhouse from the boys for an (early) Mother's Day gift.  I can't wait to till the garden - which is something we've been putting off- and get them in the dirt.  I am praying for a successful garden this year.  Last year's garden taught me so very much.

palm warbler.

D led a hike yesterday at Moraine for a local land trust in an effort to make our neighbors more aware of how beautiful and diverse of an area we all live in.  Big brother, little brother, and I tagged along and it was obvious to see why he was chosen to lead the hike.  Aside from being easy on the eyes, he was so knowledgeable and kind and approachable. I was proud watching him explain native plant species to a group of our neighbors, down ravine slopes and through the woods. He is really doing what he loves every day.



I have been working three days a week for a few months now.  I got a job in an effort to help with bills and to allow the boys more opportunities than they had before.  So far, we've been able to find a hectic balance and it's really helped the family.  Plus, it feels really good to contribute.

Summer is coming and we are hopeful that the pace around here will let up a bit.  D's bosses were gracious enough to allow him the flexibility of taking Friday's off work to be home with the kids.  Add in the two days a week I am off work, and we are only away from them two days per week.  We've asked family to help on those two days and soon we will be able to take little brother out of daycare.  I cannot explain what a relief that is - if only for the summer.

bluebird optimism.


Our married Cardinal couple is expecting!  They built a nest in the shrub right outside of our kitchen window and we keep an eye on it when they flutter over to the other side of the house to hit the bird feeder for a dinner date. I cannot contain my excitement! I'm so happy for them.  They are registered at Wild Birds Unlimited if ya'll would like to purchase a shower gift. haha


I am feeling very optimistic for the upcoming seasons and all the beauty they have to offer. Eating fresh food, growing fresh food, watching the boys grow and learn, and whatever else is in store for us.


"Temporary is my time. ain't nothing on this world that's mine - except the will I have to carry on. Free is not your right to choose, it's answering what's asked of you: to give the love you have until it's gone."