Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother's Day

There was a baptism at church today. One of the mothers held her baby in her arms, three months old, who seemed to be asleep. As the pastor spoke about the sacrament of baptism, I noticed the mom start rocking and bouncing, very slightly, almost imperceptibly, but I saw and I knew that even though I hadn't noticed the baby move, that the mother was responding to the smallest cues from a tiny, indistinct person she has only known for three months. The pastor took the baby and woke it in the transfer and then made it cry out in little baby squawks when she blessed it's forehead with her cold, wet hands. Then she held the baby close, and she, too, bounced it. The pastor is a mother, a grandmother, and I could see that her movements were instinctive and involuntary.

And I thought, that is the thread that binds all of humanity together, this maternal instinct to rock and bounce, even if it is not life of our own flesh. This urge to keep creating life, and protecting it, and nurturing it. Other animals do this, but only for a short time. They kick their babies out of the nest, the herd, the pride, out of their hunting grounds. They don't have to spend so many months carrying their babies around, then teaching them to eat and poop and walk and talk. They don't have to shepherd them through eighteen-to-twenty-two-plus years of school and lessons and sports and activities and birthday parties and manners and social etiquette and responsibilities... Their animal babies don't call them when THEY have babies and ask how they're supposed to get their offspring to sleep, or to latch, or what is this weird rash or fever, or how do you cook chicken so you don't all get food poisoning. I mean, I know some animals carry their young, but only for a time. And some have to teach them to fly and to hunt, but then they are off. I guess elephant daughters have the luxury of their mother's guidance for an extended period, and maybe gorillas and lions and whales. But you get what I mean... Human motherhood requires an extraordinary investment of time and effort and energy.

Alice and Ivy woke me up at 5:45am this morning to wish me Happy Mother's Day. I told them to go back to bed. Then I told them to go turn on cartoons. I went back to bed. Ivy busted into Elliott's room and woke him up. Jon got up with all of them and fed them breakfast and I went back to sleep for another hour or so. When I woke up, Ivy made sure to tell me, again, Happy Mother's Day! and reminded me that they had a present for me. I told her I couldn't wait to see it, just as soon I went to the bathroom. She opened the door while I was peeing to tell me Happy Mother's Day. Again. While I was peeing. Hashtag motherhood, hashtag so blessed...

Alice made me a book at school that was All About Mom but really, kind of about Alice. "Mom, you are so special because you always love me!" and "My favorite thing to do with you, mom is go to the Disney Store." Which we've done like, twice, and obviously, is mostly only fun for her. My favorite food is pancakes (I do love pancakes), and my favorite thing to do with Alice is bake with her (I do enjoy that!), she tells me jokes to make me laugh "Ha Ha Ha," and my favorite place to go is the beach. Those were pretty good answers, not untrue at all!
Ivy took a bunch of hilarious photos of me reading through the book.

We got ready for church and everything devolved into a crying, screaming, shouting disaster. Ivy smashed Alice's finger in the locker at the gym yesterday and Alice was sobbing that she needed a bandaid and couldn't put on her tights with a wet, hurt, bleeding finger without a bandaid while Elliott was wailing and screaming because he needed to be breastfed. I sat on the floor with him in my bathrobe and fed him, my church clothes in a pile on the bed behind me, everyone else dressed and ready to go to church. Except for screaming Alice and her tights. I reminded Alice that this was the day we celebrate the fact that I grew three humans with my body and squeezed them out of it, so I was pretty sure she could tolerate her minor finger injury.

A few minutes away from church, Ivy said she needed "to go potty so badly." And Alice said she needed a drink of water to make her barking, resonant cough quieter (she might have croup? Apparently, she shared a popsicle with a sick neighbor on Friday). We finally made it to church and Alice had a drink while Ivy used the bathroom and we made it to our seats after the Call to Worship but just in time to sing this hymn. I sang while repeatedly putting Alice and Ivy back in their seats and getting them pencils to work on their children's bulletin. Jon and I literally laughed out loud at the first line of the third verse. It just felt so appropriate to our morning, by that point. Really, it's appropriate to every day in our house, and worldwide, too, it seems...

The sermon was lovely, and really spoke to me about the power of a mother's anger when her children are hurt being akin to God's anger at the injustices we inflict on each other, but my brain is too mushy to organize my thoughts into words. It was about the anger of a mother bear. The quote on the front of the bulletin spoke to me as well, thought I don't feel like much of my anger is a "good anger" these days...

I snagged a picture with my littlest baby in his suspenders on our way out the door, but neglected to get one of all my offspring together. He's just the most delicious.

During the Children's Moment, the kids all got a rose to give to their mother. So I came home with three really beautiful roses to go along with the lovely herb garden that Jon and the kids planted for me. Luckily, everything is cat-safe, because Eli's been snacking on everything all day. I'll be surprised if there's anything left and the vase is still in one piece tomorrow, he just knocked it over - again - as I sit here typing this. 

Kids. Jeez.

I hope your day was full of love and hugs and thanks. Let's do it all again tomorrow! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Spring Break!

Alice had spring break last week, so we totally went on an exotic vacation! Just kidding. We had no plans. We talked about going somewhere new and nearby for a few nights, but in the end, we didn't have our act together and Jon ended up getting a ton of work that kept him busy all week. 

Another mom on Facebook said that her four-year-old woke them up on the first day of spring break to ask "Is it spring break? Where are we going?" because one of the kid's classmates was going on a trip to China... This mom asked us what we all had planned for spring break. I mentioned that I was on my way to the gym so my kids could run wild in the "Adventure Zone" and I would get a little break from their whining and crying. I definitely think that spring break was invented to torture parents...

Anyway, we made plans to go to the zoo with friends on the first day of spring break. We've lived here for a year and had somehow not been yet! We got an annual pass, so we can make sure to go more often now! 

Right off the bat, we got up close and personal with a gorilla. Elliott loved it. He was patting on the glass and laughing and even waved "hiiiii." 

Before we entered the zoo, we could hear a peacock crying and soon after the gorilla, we crossed paths with one. This gorgeous guy strolled along in front of us and hopped up on the rock next to us so we could admire his fabulous plumage. Seriously, I was fixated. I could not stop staring at all of his beautiful colors and patterns. My unedited photos hardly do him justice, obviously, but I kept thinking that I wanted a luscious bed made out of these colors and patterns and silky textures.
He was not shy at all and didn't seem to mind me getting close to take his photo. I was a little nervous and tried to keep a safe distance, just in case he decided to claw my eyes out or something. He finally hopped down and made like he was going to stroll away, and then instead, he fanned his glorious tail. I was so excited. 

Alice was standing in front of me, right up close with Mr. Peacock, and got some nice shots with her little camera. 
Pretty pretty peacock.

I thought the zoo was nice and intimate with really accessible exhibits. They also had some cool animal sculptures and other interactive displays that the girls were super excited to play in and on. In fact, Alice was a lot more excited about those things than the animals... 
Ivy rides a hippo.
We saw the lion triplets, born in October 2014, lounging around really close to the viewing areas. They were probably the most alert lions I have ever seen at a zoo, except for the one in Amsterdam, who actually devoured a steak while we were watching... 

 We finished off at the carousel, which the girls loved at the LA Zoo. This was the first time Elliott got to sit on a carousel horse! I didn't get to watch his face during the ride, but Jon assured me he loved it.  Luckily, I got a few photos before we started.

Our friends took us to a great taco shop nearby for lunch where we finally had some decent Mexican food. I was stuffed for the rest of the day and fantasized about going back all the next day. I can't wait to go again. 

We had a few boring days after that, with a few trips to the gym, and then on Friday, Jon was able to get away from his desk long enough to go to the aquarium. The octopus was putting on quite a show for us, changing the color and texture of her skin, and swimming upside down. I was SO excited. Her circular enclosures are super hard to photograph, so my pictures are never great. 

 Elliott loved patting (or smacking) all the glass on all the exhibits. Pat, laugh, pat pat, laugh laugh laugh. He loved it.

Look! An otter!!
The otters were putting on quite a show, too!!
 In one of the exhibits, I saw the tiniest sea star I have ever seen. It was smaller than Alice's little pinky nail. This isn't a great photo, it was white, so very hard to photograph!
 The Lionfish is one of my very favorites, even if they are a horribly invasive species that is terrorizing Florida right now... 

After the aquarium, we made our way to The Crumpet Shop for lunch. Alice and Ivy love crumpets, so we were excited to try it. 

We all got crumpets with egg and cheese, Ivy also requested a tomato, and Jon and I got ham. They were delicious. We also got another crumpet for dessert with ricotta, and the girls asked for orange marmalade. They loved it. I don't love orange marmalade, and though I do love ricotta, it just wasn't my favorite combo. I'll have to try something else, next time!! 

After lunch, Jon was still craving something sweet, so we stopped at Le Panier - our fav - for treats. Alice asked for a macaron but at the last moment, like the very last moment while the nice boy was waiting behind the counter, she changed her mind and asked for a "cinnamon fluff." I had no idea what she was talking about, so she had to drag me over and point to the lovely meringues. She wanted the one dusted with cocoa powder. She loved it. Man, I love eating in the Pike Place Market.

So, it was a low-key, but fun spring break. Jon had too much work to squeeze in the Tulip Festival this weekend, but we're hoping to go one of these days soon! 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

9 months!

Elliott is 9 months!

He can wave "hello" and "bye," and makes the cutest little breathy "hiiii" sound to go along with it. He waved to the gorilla at the zoo the other day and I couldn't handle the cuteness. He hasn't figured out how to move his knees and crawl, but he's mastered the army crawl and can get anywhere he wants - and fast! Just yesterday, he tried to pull himself up to standing in his crib, I know he'll get the hang of that in no time at all.
Or, he's just going to walk on all fours like Mowgli.
Just as I suspected from his early sleep laughing, he is quite a jolly little joker. Laughing is his default response for everything that he enjoys. Elevators, fish at the aquarium, slapstick... His favorite word is "stinky." He laughs like crazy when we say it, even if he's mid-wail. He's also super ticklish, so I can always get some good belly laughs that way. He loves playing peekaboo, and think it's hilarious when I dance or make any kinds of sign language signs.

I think he's figuring out that he can make me laugh, too. He makes faces and funny noises, just to see me react.

He loves his sisters, they can always get a laugh out of him. He loves his kitties, too. He likes to pat them whenever possible, and Jon thinks he's also trying to say "kitty." Eli has taken to napping on Elliott's rocker while Elliott naps, which I think is just the sweetest.

Elliott LOVES to eat. Loves it. I'm not sure he's met a food he didn't like. He loves carrots and apples, and has just learned to like broccoli, though I don't think it's his favorite. Really, his favorite is meat. Chicken, pork, salmon, turkey, beef. He loves it all. He frequently shrieks with sheer joy, and now throws his hands straight up in the air when he's satiated, and you better watch out if you have food that you aren't sharing. Babyled weaning is my favorite.

Look at the Little Buddy having a picnic with the big kids! So cute. I can't handle it.
Give me the breakfast. Give it.
Happy because his belly is full of pesto pasta.
This was like a cartoon.
All of my nicknames for him are food-based: Biscuit, Pork Belly, Pork Bun...

Look at that tasty ham hock.
Just this last week, he popped his first top tooth - not a front tooth, but the one just to the right. And then maybe a couple of days ago, his right front tooth finally popped. Still waiting on those top lefties, but now it's really going to hurt when he bites my shoulder...

I took some pics of him rolling around in the playroom the other day, and they make my ovaries hurt.

He is just the sweetest thing, and we love him so, SO much. Often, he is the brightest spot in a day full of his whining and fighting and arguing contrarian sassmaster sisters. I want to eat him alive. I think I'm getting enough sleep now that I actually miss nomming on his tasty face after he's gone to bed at night. I make sure to get lots of nuzzles in overnight, I love his smooshy sleeping face. I mean...