Not a baby

A few more pictures of my baby, before he stops being my baby. (He thinks he already has.)

I love it when he is serious and thoughtful. He is very deliberate in what he decides to do---he thinks it over first.

A little cautious, like Abe was at this age.

A little silly, like Seb was at this age.

He loves to point and pat my tummy and say "Baby! Mommy's baby!" But my shirt has to be pulled up first (apparently there's no baby on top of the shirt). He pats his own bare tummy and says "baby" too. We can only hope he manages to be that pleased about it all when he's confronted with an actual baby. :)

He's so sunny and cheerful, most of the time. One of the happiest little guys I've ever met.
He still sucks those fingers sometimes. Usually while holding his birdie, or feeling the back of his hair, with his other hand.

Long eyelashes. When he was born I was sure he wouldn't have any eyelashes at all. His cheeks were simply too chubby to allow for them. But they have come in, gradually, and now they're dark and gorgeous.

That chubby arm!! And those chubby cheeks! I love them so much!

Sprinkler Brothers

Playing sprinklers. Sebby is being a sprinkler that got stuck in the "up" position. Malachi is doing the same.

Abey takes good care of his little brother Malachi, but Sebby just treats him like a regular person. This means that Sebby shoves Ky around a lot, but he also expects Ky to be able to understand what he says and play with him just like Abe can. Ky, of course, loves this (the treated-like-a-person part). He adores Sebby and tries SO hard to do everything Seb does. He'll even laugh for Seb on demand ("Mal-chi, yaff!" Sebby will command imperiously. And Ky laughs.)

This hero-worship of Seb led to Ky saying "
fwuffball" as one of his very early words, and more recently, it has led to him being very interested in sprinklers, just like some other boy we know. Observe:

Ky also joins Sebby in frequently playing that he IS a sprinkler. This consists of running around in circles, twirling, splashing, popping up and down, and making many watery noises. It's really cute to hear Ky imitating Sebby's every little sound, and waving his arms around and falling over whenever Sebby does.
Sebby says he wants to be a sprinkler repairman when he grows up. I think maybe it needs to be a family business.

Dear Sir or Madam:

Yes, I have reached your website, whether inadvertently or on purpose. But this does not give you license to subject me to your music. I do not want to listen to your playlist. I do not like your music. No, not even your favorite super-hip indie band (which I am too uncool to have heard of, sorry). No, not even your beloved breathy-voiced inspirational singer.

Do you imagine that I am grooving along to your sweet tunes? You are mistaken. I turn my speakers off just to avoid your music. When caught off-guard by it anyway, I become resentful and often close my browser immediately. (I sometimes accompany this action with a muttered epithet.)

When did opening a new website become an action fraught with (musical) peril? All I want is a little peace and quiet.
Thank you.

Your uncool, ungroovin' friend,


We've been trying to get various things ready for when the baby comes---including buying a minivan (from the nicest family---thank you I love it!) and becoming, for the first time, a 2-car family! It feels very odd (but nice, of course) to not have to arrange our schedules around which day of the week we can be mobile.

This also means we actually have to fit two cars in our 2-car garage. So, we've spent the past week sanding, priming, painting, and putting up shelves, etc. to see if it was indeed possible to fit two cars and a bunch of other garage stuff in there together. This is the garage last year (after I cleaned it, mind you):
I would have been content to leave it unpainted and just install shelves, but Sam maintained that painting would be better (and he was right, of course).

Abe was a big help, which was great. I love having kids old enough to work with us!

Blue! Pretty.

And here is the final result! It's amazing how much the place can open up when you can utilize the wall space. I especially like the high un-boy-reachable cabinet on the back wall, for weed killer/bug killer/dangerous chemicals (they made one of the cabinets the wrong size when they built the house, so this has been sitting in our garage since we moved in) and the pegboard (what's a tool bench without pegboard?). I like the bike pulleys, too---they're amazingly easy to use.

And voila! Both cars fit. Hooray!

P.S. "So you've been doing some nesting," said my midwife. But I don't know. I don't think you can really call it "nesting" if it's in the garage. The baby isn't getting any special treatment yet for its room (a.k.a. the bassinet in the bathroom---for the first little while anyway), poor thing.


Find your inner X-chromosome

Before. Sad. :(

Well, this post is from about four months ago, but I got tired of waiting for the final "after" pictures . . . Sam . . . so I'll put it up now.

So, it was the weekend for letter X (we were nearly through the
alphabet again) and it was my turn to choose what we did: "Find your inner X-chromosome." Sam kept referring to it as "Unleash your inner X-chromosome," which seemed like it might be going a little too far . . . but . . . anyway, we did our "unleashing" by shopping, decorating, going out for Japanese food, making brownies, and watching a "chick flick" (well . . . that was the idea . . . except it ended up being "Chuck" on Hulu). I threatened to paint Sam's toenails for him but somehow that part never materialized.

The beneficiary of this shopping and decorating spree? Sam's office, which was abysmal. (I mean, it wasn't overrun with Star Wars figurines and comic books; it had that going for it. But other than that, nothing.) He spends enough time at work that I felt it ought to be at least a BIT nicer. And he's an artist, right? He needs a creativity-fostering environment and all of that. I hated thinking of him holed up in there like some kind of techno-mole. We didn't do much, but it's amazing what lamps, a plant, a couple organizers, and some bright cushions (thank you IKEA) will do to cheer up a place. I think he'll be happier working in there now (anyway, I would be).

After. Much better!

He's added a few more finishing touches since---hooks and a mirror and such. (Not, however, the cocoa mugs I suggested, unfortunately. "Just think, you could sit in those chairs and talk with someone and drink Red Bush Tea, just like Mma Ramotswe in the books!" I said. But he said he didn't see it happening. I'm going to do it next time I go to visit, though.)

What I wish I were holding right now

My new baby nephew, Benjamin! Isn't he adorable? I love him already.

Lucky us

We have the best babysitter. The boys absolutely adore her. Last night while we were out, they did the following:
  • Played Battleship
  • Went on a walk
  • Played with balls in the backyard, losing a few over the fence (hence the walk)
  • Made a cake
  • Made a milkshake
  • Roasted marshmallows on the stove
  • Read stories
  • Cleaned up the kitchen and washed the dishes (actually she had Abe wash them---good for her)
(This represents more fun than the boys usually have in about a week, I think.) AND everyone was happy and ready for bed when we got home. Wonderful.

The new recruit

Another addition to my child labor ring.

In a few years, when they've perfected their technique, I'll start renting them out for the use of other homes and businesses. They're quite thorough, really. You might want to get on the waiting list.

Sour milk

I have some sour milk that I've been using up in things like muffins lately. I asked Sam to draw an "X" on it for me so I wouldn't get it mixed up with the good milk. This is what he drew instead:

Now I'm kind of afraid to keep using it, for fear of ending up like that guy!

An accomplishment

We had a joint piano recital with some cousins last week, which served as Abe's debut into the performing world. (He played beautifully.) It was a great excuse for me to get something ready to perform, as well---an opportunity that comes (or at least that I take) quite rarely in the last several years! I keep wanting to get practicing more and prepare for a real recital of my own, but it's so hard to find the time---or the energy---so it keeps getting put on the back burner.

Anyway, several months ago Sam informed me that he would be in charge of changing diapers, supervising tooth-brushing, reading stories, etc. every night so that I could have a chance to practice the piano uninterrupted. So every evening, the boys all head upstairs and get ready for bed while I have the living room to myself---no one trying to "help" me with the pedals or pull my music off the bookshelf, etc. It has been so great--just having the ability to get consistent practice in, even on the nights that it's only for a half hour or so. Even though I'm making such slow progress, it feels great to be making progress at all!! And it feels great to have my fingers working again---not so clumsy and sluggish as they have felt before when I try to play music I haven't played for so long. (About the only part of me that isn't currently clumsy and sluggish, I might add.) I was able to get one piece memorized and polished to play at our little recital (it was Ritual Fire Dance, by de Falla, if you're curious---a loud and furious piece, and good thing I like it because I now hear it being hummed by the boys at all hours) and it felt like quite an accomplishment.

I guess it reminds me again of what I wrote about here and here: that even slow improvement, working little by little, is fulfilling and enjoyable. I'm SO glad Sam is so willing to help me and listen to me and prod me occasionally so I can do it. And maybe one of these years I'll even be able to get a group of pieces all ready at once for a whole recital. (Expect some serious pianistic regression come mid-August or so, though.)


Last week I had the unusual responsibility of spending five hours taking passengers up and down in an elevator. I kept wishing my boys were there to help me (they would have loved it) but other than that I really enjoyed myself, not least by finding myself able to quite cheerfully endure 5 straight hours on my feet (something I was by no means sure I'd be capable of).

It was basically five hours of extreme social intimacy interspersed with brief periods of total privacy. An odd combination, but strangely exhilarating: Smiling and making (very) small conversation. Then total quiet, and the types of grimaces and leg- and toe-stretching exercises one only does while alone and wearing dressy shoes. Then smiling and crowding and friendliness again. I felt like I was experiencing several months of human contact in the space of a few hours: not a bad feeling, for someone who doesn't get an excessive amount of human contact in the normal course of things.

Hands and gloves

The other day I was sitting by an older lady at church, and Malachi was grabbing her hands and kissing them. (He could tell she was a Grandma, I guess. He liked her.) And then he'd grab my hands and kiss them. So there we all were, sitting there looking at each others' hands: Ky's tiny pink dimple-y ones around my long brown hangnail-y ones and the lady's translucent papery ones. And the lady said to me, "You have such pretty hands. Even when mine were smooth and not old and wrinkled, mine never looked like that." I had been thinking that my hands didn't even look like mine, they looked like they belonged to someone else. And I suddenly had a distinct memory of sitting in church playing with my mom's hands, pushing the veins around, and her saying, "I used to sit and play with my mothers' wrinkled hands, and now look, yours are the young ones, and mine are the ones that are getting old and wrinkled."

And it all made me think of another Leslie Norris poem. Here it is:

Gardening Gloves
by Leslie Norris

Mild, knob-jointed, old,
They lie on the garage floor.
Scarred by the turn of a spade
In hard, agricultural wear
And soiled by seasonal mould
They look like animal skins---
Or imagine a gargoyle's hands.

But not my hands I'd swear,
Being large, rough and uncouth;
Yet the moment I pick them up
They assume an absurd truth,
They assert I have given them shape,
Making my hands the mirror
For their comfortable horror.

And I know if I put them on
I gain a deliberate skill,
And old, slow satisfaction
That is not mine at all
But sent down from other men.
Yes, dead men live again
In my reluctant skin.

I remember my father's hands,
How they moved as mine do now
While he took his jokes from the air
Like precise, comical birds.
These gloves are my proper wear.
We all preserve such lives.
I'm not sorry to have these gloves.

I like the implications here: the way the gloves, the things we inherit from our parents and grandparents, first seem grotesque and foreign to us---but as we take on those traits ourselves, their shape changes---as, simultaneously, does ours---and they can become comfortable and even natural. (For good or bad, really---there are plenty of "parental" things I didn't want to find myself doing someday, that now I do without any embarrassment at all---and other things that I am embarrassed about, but I find myself doing them anyway.)

And I like the way the poem shoves itself somewhat awkwardly into a form (the odd seven-line stanzas, and those unobtrustive, alternating slant rhymes: old/spade/mould, floor/wear, mirror/horror, etc.)---just the way the speaker's hands fit reluctantly, but somehow reassuringly, into the gloves.

And how it captures our own transformations: the things that weigh on us from the past, the things we wish we could discard, the things we finally accept as inevitable, even the things we gradually learn to respect.

Like my Grandma's hands, those wrinkled creases and purpley veins. I know I'll be looking down at those same marks on my own hands someday---I knew that, even back then as I looked at my own mother's---and I know it won't even be long from now---but it's still hard to believe. And yet the thought isn't as alarming to me as it used to be. I guess I have more appreciation for all the things that go with that "knob-jointed" oldness. The deliberateness, the satisfaction, even the slowness sound better to me now. And I think, like this poem says, I'm not sorry to have those things in my future. And in my past.

No turcks need apply

Another sign I saw recently:


Kind of racist, isn't it?
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