Now today it is really spring; I have no excuses for not preparing my garden bed right this minute for the lettuce and edible flowers to be planted. Except that here I am on the computer, dinking around "talking" to you folks. And, I also tell myself, I should really do the gardening work when the children are with me, since they would love to participate. Jasper is napping and Lucy is at a play date at the moment. Before getting on the computer, I did penance by half-cleaning the bathroom. I am promising myself right this second that every inch of the bathroom will sparkle before I go pick up Lucy. Am I really writing about cleaning the bathroom? Is this the note-worthy occurrence of my day, my life? I could tell you about the sticky brown rice I also started cooking, since we are having rice balls (I'm still pondering what I'll put in the dipping sauce - how about tamari, brown rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, peanut butter, and coconut milk?), halibut (fried the way Lucy likes it) and left over sunshine soup for dinner.
In other not particularly notable news, Jasper and I had a magical walk through the forest today. We found a secret path into Carkeek park that takes us through a ravine chock full of ferns, nettles and salmon berries and slugs. And mud and birds singing. At one point, Jasper saw a bee on a big rock in the middle of the path. Hesitantly, he inched past the bee, saying "Excuse me." He ran mostly down, down, down to the wetland area and then up to the actual park. Two trains went by, he played and cavorted. We soaked up the sun rays. Then I threw him on my back in the Ergo, gave him the half of an apple that I hadn't eaten, and hauled booty back up the hill, so I could get in the cardio. It was very nice; I let my endorphine high carry us to PCC for tofu and turkey wraps and groceries for Le Weekend. Then I picked up Lucy and dropped her right back off at Tessa's house to play. Lucy asked if I would come with her to the play date and when I said no, she said, "Good!" This is after yesterday's play date with Juliette, after which Lucy said, "Mom, I love you a lot, but I love Juliette a little bit more."
So, partly thanks to my friend Jennifer who is as I type caring for my eldest child, here I am blogging away 20 minutes of my precious life. Thanks, Jen! Now I'm off to the breakfast dishes, the laundry, and the toilet-cleaning. How sexy is that?
The hugest news in our lives is the arrival of a little sweet pea named Teagan. My sister Em and her husband Kris have a new baby as of April 17th. He is a cutey and we are VERY excited to meet him in June. I am quite uncomfortable not being in Colorado with the new family, making chicken soup and such. But clearly with my own two kids in tow, I would be more of a burden than a boon under such circumstances. But Lucy and Jasper both love babies and we are all saving up our love for that little man.
In more mundane news, we've got kale growing in our garden window. Soon it will be in our garden; as soon, that is, as it stops snowing and hailing and being freakingly freezing cold. We have had several lovely spring days and many lovely spring moments, but they have been short-lived. Lucy is ever-hopeful, drawing and painting lots of flowers and sunshine. Pop Pop turned 66 last Sunday and we had a family gathering to celebrate. Those are not owies on Jasper's face -- just smoothie. We hadn't seen our neice Brianna for while; her beautiful 14 yr old self is now many inches taller than me. Oh well... We had a reunion with the famous four girls who have "known" each other since Penny Simpkin's childbirth class. Three of the girls anyway and one more joined soon afterwards. Now they all have younger sibs - including twin boys born in December. It was quite amazing to see the big six yr old girls running around together...
We took Lucy to an interesting new doctor yesterday. Her name is Johanna Steegmans and she was trained as a pediatrician in Germany, trained as a naturopathic physician here at Bastyr University, but seems to practice mostly as an anthroposophic physician, meaning she draws largely on the insights of Rudolf Steiner, creator of Waldorf education. I had heard of her and know people who have taken their children to see her. Then a month or two ago I saw her speak and I really liked her. She glowed for starters, but also just seemed the perfect combination of warmth and intelligence, wisdom and humor, compassion and insightfulness.
Lucy picks her thumbs, sometimes until they bleed. She picks at the sides of her thumbs with the nails of her index fingers, mostly just on the left, but occasionally on the right. She's been doing this for over a year. (I asked Lucy, by the way, if she was OK with me writing about this on the blog and she said she was fine with it.) She is usually too busy with her hands to pick, but at school, I think during storytelling and meal and snack times, she does this. She also does at home sometimes, usually if we are reading to her. After spring break, they were more healed than usual, but often they are at least rough and calous-y and sometimes they have small wounds or scabs. We've tried lots of things to stop it - nutritional interventions (is it a calcium deficiency?), giving her another object to play with (works temporarily), lots of Dora the Explorer and Fairy band-aids. The band-aids do help, of course. But she still picks when she doesn't have one on. So this is why we wanted to take her to see Dr. Steegmans. What would this wise woman healer have to offer?
It was so fun to go to her office, located in her beautiful house with a lovely garden. The whole family went to see her - Jasper and Lucy played and Rob and I talked with Dr. S. She asked so many questions, including questions about Lucy's birth and early years. Lucy loved her and told me afterwards that she wanted Johanna to be her regular doctor. Johanna does not act as a primary care doctor, so that isn't possible.
Johanna did ask Lucy lots of questions too. Two of them were especially unusual and interesting. The first was "What are you afraid of?" Lucy had to think about this. Finally, she said, "Panthers and Dragons." Then Johanna asked if that was all, adding that some children are afraid of the dark (Lucy says "No, not me"), some are afraid of water (Lucy says "No"), some are afraid of ghosts (Lucy says "Ghosts are just spirits; what's frightening about that?"). Finally, Jasper says, "I'm afraid of giants" and Lucy says "yes, me too, they can't get in the doorway, but they can lift up your whole house, but some of them are friendly." I have to say that now that I think of it, Lucy is afraid of very little. She climbs very high in trees, she plunges into deep water even though she can't swim yet, she walks along the top of our fence. She likes the dark. She talks to strangers freely.
The other interesting question Johanna asked was "If I had magic wand and could grant you three wishes, what would you wish for?" This one Lucy really had to think about. Finally she said, "I would wish that Jasper hadn't eaten the chocolate egg I was saving for Dad. Second, I would wish for a magic wand for myself. And third, I would wish for a crystal because I don't have one." Then Lucy waited expectantly. Johanna said she was the first child who actually seemed to believe Johanna could grant the wishes.
Johanna gave us a homeopathic remedy after all this; we give Lucy just one dose on Friday evening. And wait. We'll keep you posted...
I'm thirty-nine years old today. After getting pampered first by a trip to the Olympus Spa courtesy of my mom and then by a day out with Melanie and a family dinner prepared by Rob, I spent my actual birthday enjoying a low-key day with the family. And by the way the carrot cake pictured below was every bit as yummy to eat as it was to look at. I did get lots of phone calls from folks near and far. I liked that... Rob gave me exactly the book I wanted - the new edition of Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair - I'd donated my old edition to my sister Em. So far thirty-nine is remarkably like thirty-eight. And that is all I have for not-so-pithy commentary at this time.
Our lives have not been easy for me to put into words for the last few weeks. I can't yet really summarize all that has happened, so I'll just start with the picture. Rob and I got to join Lucy at school for her "golden star" 6th birthday celebration. It was so much fun to be with her and to see the kids in action over the course of the day. The class started the day spending over an hour kicking around in the woods, doing their work, I suppose, of sensory integration, socialization, physical exercise, and nature time - but the children seem convinced they are just playing and having fun. A bit of the backstory: the weeks leading up to her birthday had been fraught with sickness and troubles, involving a classmate of Lucy's strangling her, miscommunication with us about the event, Lucy getting very sick with a swollen throat, and then us almost taking Lucy out of school; many discussions with Lucy's teacher, other parents, the school's administration ensued. As it stands now the other child's family has chosen to leave Kinderhaus - much to everyone's dismay. But the birthday celebration did happen and we were all so pleased with it. We had a large family gathering the night of her birthday and her first real "friend" birthday party - with parents dropping off and us orchestrating the festivities. It was all a lot of work for Rob and me and we were pretty exhausted but also so proud of Lucy and so pleased to mark this time for her that feels like the threshold of a very different stage of childhood. We have to admit that Lucy isn't little any more. She has very strong and clear ideas and preferences that are truly all her own. She has self-confidence, clarity and a refusal to get caught up in or sometimes even to notice the reactions of others. She is utterly original, often surprising us with her spontaneous and sometimes, uh, unusual creations. We're still planning to home school her next year, but I waver as to whether that is really best for Lucy, or the rest of us. She is so social; can we find the right homeschool community? Will she and I drive each other nuts? Will Jasper drive us both nuts? Should he go to some kind of preschool? In theory, I love the idea of another year at home, to let us all have a break from days dictated by school schedules, traffic and the mini-van. And Lucy is quite clear she wants to check out homeschooling for one year. But we are leaving community and entering unknown territory. It is nice to know we can still bail back into Waldorf, or some other avenue we haven't even considered yet. But for now we move somewhat cautiously ahead... Today was the Spring Parade at Kinderhaus. All three kindergartens, with parents and sibs, walked, slogged and scrambled to Woodland Park to a little meadow. Then we sang songs, held hands and twisted in and out of a long spiral, and then had hot cross buns the children had made the day before. The children all carried God's eyes that they made. It was slightly rainy and cold, but still fun. The park is so beautiful with blooming trees everywhere. And it is fun to be there with a big, but mostly familiar, crowd, not doing too much - just singing and moving about, and then having a snack together. Now that the kids and I are home, we all feel so warm and cozy and happy. They always play very sweetly at home after a nice long outdoor adventure - something I have to keep in mind for next year's homeschooling plans!