Out for a backyard stroll on a warm(ish) fall day.
What do you do on a perfect fall Sunday morning in New England? You go apple picking with your good friends the Kohlers.
Out for a hike yesterday, the first day of fall.
More pictures here.
Yeah, it’s only late September, but the leaves are already starting to turn here — and the local pumpkin stand is already open for business. I drove past it this morning and had a flashback to a couple of years ago, when Sophie started to care about Halloween. Well, about pumpkins, mainly. See that painted pumpkin there? Sophie named him Carl, and she wouldn’t let us carve him, turn his innards into a pie, or throw him out when he started to get soft and cave in on himself.
I eventually chucked Carl into the woods, but he was out there a LOT longer than he should have been. It’s a good thing black bears aren’t attracted to the smell of rotting pumpkin.
Three years ago today, our little Sophie Bean made her debut. Happy Birthday, sweetheart!
Meet Chippie. He looks cute, doesn’t he?
Don’t be fooled — he’s really a boiling cauldron of rage.
How do I know this? I found out the other day, when Sophie, in a fit of anger, informed me (in a very calm voice, mind you) that “Chippie is going to slap you in the face.”
I used to let Chippie sleep in Sophie’s bed. Now he cools his murderous little chipmunk heels in the toybox, underneath all the heavy toys. Serves him right.
The calendar won’t announce the change for awhile yet, but as far as we’re concerned, this is the last weekend of the summer. Leah starts her annual back-to-school pilgrimage this coming week, with meetings ‘n’ such most days, and she meets her new students next week.
Oh, and speaking of school? Our little Sophie Bean (who is no longer so little) will be joining the pre-K crowd at the Orchard School after Labor Day. Yes, we’re about to become First-Day Dropoff Parents, and I’m sure it’s going to be terribly traumatic, even if (or maybe especially if) Sophie bolts from the car as soon as we pull into the Orchard driveway without so much as a look back over her shoulder.
But more on that later. For now, we’re enjoying the last fading rays of our family summer. I haven’t taken any vacation, but heck, I work from home — so even on days like today, when I’m hunched over the laptop trying to meet a deadline before 7:00 AM, I’m still here with everyone instead of toiling under rows of fluorescent lights.
We’ve had some guests, and gone on some adventures, and enjoyed our new “no work Saturdays” tradition. Yesterday, with our nephew Ethan and Leah’s sister Bethany here, we took a trip out to Stonewall Farm and enjoyed what was, weather-wise, basically a perfect day.
No, not just weather-wise. Just perfect. Late in the afternoon, I put down the magazine I was reading, roused myself out of my chair, and walked up the hill to get the mail. On the way back down, I spotted Sophie waiting for me on the deck; when she saw me, she walked out to the edge with her arms outstretched, gave me a giant squeeze, and shouted “I love you!”
The world, to borrow a phrase from Bob Schneider, continues to explode into love all around me.
Later: an update on our son the laughing maniac!
No, it was not supposed to be over a month before I wrote in here again. What can I say? The mind is willing, but the flesh is weak. Or maybe it’s the other way around. All I know is, after I spend the daylight hours writing about movie stars and new music, I find that the synapses in my brain aren’t good for much besides watching TV.
Also, I recently took a trip across the country with Sophie. That picture up there? That’s her, reading a story (it’s actually a coloring book, but whatever) with her Grandpa Jim. My little girl and I flew to California to help my sister celebrate her graduation from college, and it was absolutely wonderful — especially the part where I got to spend a weekend with my family, including the unexpected addition of my brother Rich and his fiancee Veronica.
Absolutely wonderful. But. Flying with kids will take a lot out of you, and by “a lot,” I mean “what feels like five years of your expected lifespan.” Our friends Rahul and Sarah are very nonchalant about taking their daughter Tatiana to all sorts of exotic destinations whenever the mood suits them, and Rahul is forever expressing surprise at my reluctance to travel with Sophie and/or Owen. This is just one reason why I hate Rahul.
Sophie, it turns out, dislikes planes. She’s a lot like me in this respect, with the subtle difference that I don’t freeze in place and start screaming bloody murder as soon as I step into the aisle, ignoring my sweating, red-faced father, who is standing behind me, holding my carseat and buckling under the weight of two duffel bags slung over his shoulders like a pack mule, pleading with me desperately to just move already.
(Also, I have never peed in my seat on a plane, but based on some things I’ve recently read, I’m relatively certain that my daughter has plenty of grown-up company in the whole “unplanned relieving of one’s self while flying” department.)
Anyway, in case you were wondering, it is possible to survive three hours in O’Hare with an unhappy little girl, two bags, and a carseat. It is also possible to remove 99% of the vomit that comes spewing out of said girl and into your mother’s car with less than one box of wipes. Finally, provided you have a portable DVD player and some well-timed nachos, it is also possible to get that girl through a college graduation ceremony.
What you may not survive, however, is the week it takes to rid the girl of the supervirus she picks up somewhere between California and your home. Whoooooooooooo. She’s back to normal now, but let me tell you, Sophie does not like to be sick, and she will do everything in your power to make you understand how deeply displeased she is.
Really, though, Sophie did a tremendous job on the trip. Sitting on an airplane for six hours is difficult for me; I can’t imagine how crappy it must have been for her. And then with the disruption in her routine, and the barfing, and all the moving around — well, she was a real trooper.
And what about our boy?
This little guy has a terrific personality. He’s always laughing and smiling and babbling happily. There are a lot of times when Sophie, in the midst of some terrible-twos tantrum, will cross into Owen’s line of sight and his face will light up. He just loves people, and he’s particularly fascinated with his sister. She, of course, wants little to do with him. I keep telling him it’ll stay this way for probably the next 16 years, but I don’t think he understands me yet.
In terms of developmental milestones for Owen, I don’t think there’s anything to report here, other than that he’s branching out into non-breast-derived foodstuffs for the first time, and they have affected his diaper output accordingly. No crawling for him yet. I’m pretty sure that when he does turn mobile on us, no one will hear from me for quite awhile.
I haven’t even written about the birth of my son yet. Owen will be 5 months old tomorrow and I haven’t typed one word.
(Owen, this in no way reflects how much I love you.)
(Sophie, don’t go thinking you are more important than your little brother.)
Is it silly to write about Owen’s birth? Maybe, but I will. I guess whatever facts remain memorable after 5 months are the important ones. I never went into too many details here about Sophie’s birth because it was horrific. Blindingly horrific. Not so with Owen’s. It was ideal in every way.
Final thoughts as my children came into this world:
With Sophie-This is the last push. I am either going to die or she’ll come out. Either way this pain will be over.
With Owen-Holy crap. I just launched him from my loins.
Owen’s birth was rather quick and it was painful, but only the you-know-it’s-supposed-to-feel-this-way kind of pain. I loved the nurses who cared for me and I swear I felt like I was in a bed and breakfast the entire time. (Just dial “chef” to order room service!) If ever you find yourself ready to have a baby in southern NH, I highly recommend the Monadnock Community Hospital.
There have now been three times in my life that my heart has completely filled and overflowed with love. When I returned home from the hospital, all I could do was look at Sophie and cry. She suddenly seemed so grown up. And in my arms I held my son.
It’s been 5 months and I’m already forgetting the torture of being up every hour for days on end. I vaguely recall feeling trapped in some kind of hopeless, sleepless, life-sucking place…but it’s fading. Now we mostly smile. We know how fortunate we are.
Owen couldn’t be sweeter. He is so easy and happy. He giggles and coos and makes funny baby noises at us. And have you seen those blue eyes? HE’S SO FREAKIN ADORABLE.
And Sophie…where do I even start? She’s our little pal. There were about 2 weeks that were rough after Owen was born. That really threw her for a loop and she sure let us know. But that has passed and she’s back to her amazing self. Making us proud every day.
We’ve spent the winter inside growing and tending to our little family. Now it’s Spring and it’s like we are coming out of a little cocoon. We’re happy and fluttering all over the place.