Wednesday, October 11, 2017

We've got a birthday girl in our house!

Terah's taking a restless/coughing nap here beside me while I snag a little work time and now shift gears to write about her! I figure if I'm taking a vacation day to enjoy her birthday with her, I should do something other than use her full nap for my CJP work like I normally do (plenty there waiting for me, but that won't change even if I devote the entirety of her nap to it...).

There's been a lot of birthdays around here lately and I think that has helped to keep it fresh in Terah's mind that hers was coming! And it is an understatement to say she has been excited. We've heard the phrases, "me birfday" and "tober leventh" a lot for weeks now. She only recently got it right that she was turning 2 (rather than 5 or 9 or whatever number came to mind first when we asked her how old she was going to be).

So 2 she is! As of 5-something this morning. Since her older sisters have soccer practice this evening, we had a little party last evening for her. The night before she helped decorate the room - which I suggested in a desperate attempt to think of something to keep her happy and awake a little while longer on a "no nap" day. She also designed the menu (roasted chickens, mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, pickles, applesauce and ricotta - which I made and forgot to set out). She actually sat in her chair for the whole meal which is unheard of for her and consumed more food too than is typical for her. By the time we got to her birthday cake she was excited about the idea of it and blowing out the candle and scraping off some icing, but I don't think she had much room left in her tummy for anything additional. The rest of us thoroughly enjoyed it - mom tried a recipe for a no sugar chocolate cake sweetened with dried fruits and it was yummy!

In the days leading up to her birthday, whenever asked what she wanted to eat on her birthday the answer was "meat." Her birthday brunch this morning included both bacon and chicken sausage. When asked recently what we were going to do on her birthday she said, "sing happy birfday me." I guess she had heard it sung a number of times in the last few weeks and most recently at her cousin Ivy's party. It had clearly made an impression and she was looking forward to the song being directed towards her. When it came down to it, it was really cute to see her response - it was almost as if she wasn't sure what to do with that much attention focused on her.

She has, however, been quite sure what to do with presents. She'll open something and pretty quickly say, "nother one." It doesn't matter what it is, really, she just seems to enjoy the process of opening things. We've been trying to spread out the few little packages we had but IF she sees something wrapped there is no distracting her. While I would dislike what appears to be a preoccupation with presents, it isn't really about hoarding anything. She opened a chocolate bar from Kali this morning and was quickly distributing squares around to everyone. In the end, I'm quite sure Alida ate more of the bar than Terah did. It was more about the chocolate bar being hers to do with as she pleased (and the fact that she used her very own muscles to break it apart for dispersing). It is clear she gets that this is a special day where she gets some special allowances and liberties. We'll see how she feels when tomorrow dawns!

I tried to keep my schedule mostly clear so that I would not be constantly trying to be productive with her in tow. I've done a little puttering with her, but have enjoyed taking our time when running chicken bones or persimmon pulp down to the pigs. It's been nice to have a day with just a bit more "space" in it, to soak up all the cute things she is saying and doing these days or to linger a little longer by the chicks or to sit and read books with her. It's also nice that we have a houseful of people wanting to help her feel special today so when I need to do something (like finish up her brunch or do some dishes...) there are other people she loves who are eager to put a puzzle together with her or build a block tower. She is pretty thrilled that Grandma and Grandpa are in their place upstairs this week. She is often asking about them and if we go upstairs it is not easy to extract her from their home to bring her back to ours. I think Mom and Dad are flattered, but the flattery might get old if they don't get much peace and quiet in the coming days!

I made one commitment around this birthday of Terah's - I want to write up more of her stories or funny/cute things she says and does. I will admit that I feel I can hardly squeeze out the few minutes a day or even a week that it would take to keep up with it, but I'm determined to try. I got her book down yesterday and discovered it had been about 6 months since I had put in any stories. Yikes! Her vocabulary and comprehension have exploded in that time. I'll just share here a few of the fun things she is saying and/or doing these days.

She loves to sing. As I was putting her down for her nap she was humming Twinkle Twinkle and then was trying to sing the Hokie Pokie but that is hard to do and keep the suction going when nursing. She knows her abc's and likes to sing Ba Ba Black Sheep. Happy Birthday has been added to the list very recently. She didn't quite learn it enough to be confident on my birthday but just this morning she was singing "happy birthday to mama."

She and Alida are quite a pair. She adores Alida, gets very annoyed at Alida, loves to chase Alida and get Alida all worked up, hates if Alida tries to get away from her when she desperately wants to be near her, at other times will say "go away" to her, giggles for Alida probably better than anyone else, is clearly distressed when Alida hurts herself or gets very upset (though not as much if she is the one causing the distress), and often goes looking for Alida to play with her. When they get along, it's wonderful! When they are at odds, it's not pretty!

She's got quite the little shake when singing/doing the Hokie Pokie - esp. on her "put your booty in..." verse. I could watch her do that for some time without tiring of it. She has to be with people she feels comfortable around to go to it, so it's fun to be in the inner circle that has enjoyed it multiple times. I imagine a Hokie Pokie party might need to be on the agenda before her birthday comes to a close. 

Probably one of her best birthday presents this year was that she got to enjoy some baby holding this past weekend (though not as much as she would have liked). She and Ivy are just starting to do more parallel play and are on the cusp of actually playing together. Terah no longer seems scared of Ivy's mobility but does seem to be grieving that she can't snuggle/hold her cousin like she used to be able to. So what excitement there was for her to meet her new baby cousin, Meri, this past weekend. I really was worried I was not going to be able to extract Meri from Terah's arms without Terah clamping down and squeezing her. Meri was rooting and clearly wanting to eat, and Terah was sure that she didn't need to be anywhere but in her arms. We made the transfer to her mama, but not without tears on Terah's part. She adores babies!! 

She really likes "baby things" in general. She gets a high squeaky voice when she is talking about little or baby things. She would say "baby Meri, very very cute" or "very very tiny" with such adoration in her voice. She has extended similar types of expressions to our baby chicks or even a baby potato we pull from the ground. All of us are inclined to pass Terah the littlest things of anything we can find because I think we all get a kick out of her reaction. Kali made a point of putting a "baby bow" on one of her presents!

She loves reading books. She is rather obsessed with Curious George - especially Curious George and the Puppies. I'm wondering if this story will actually be a therapuetic one, maybe working at, in a very gentle and fun way, her fear of dogs? We'll see. I'm trying not to tire of reading it at least once daily, if not more than that. At bedtime, she has gotten into this thing of letting Alida sit on my lap while we read and she sits beside me. It cracks me up to have this very big girl on my lap and a little one squished beside me, but I'm also thrilled as I need more cuddle time with Alida!
When I am rested (which feels like not very often these days), I am enjoying this spunky gal a whole lot. Our family really does feel complete with her and I can't imagine our home without her energy, curiosity, laughter and, yes, even intensity. I love when she brings something to me and says, "what dat called mama" or when she sees Jason doing something and asks, "what ya doin dada." She really doesn't want to miss anything and is normally excited about being in the middle of the action.

She is not a fan of limits, even ones that are set for her own safety. We try to say "yes" to our kids when possible. But we do have some non-negotiables. Terah doesn't seem quite ready for sharp knives, for example, and I did put my foot down recently when she wanted to have the tape dispenser all to herself (not just because of the little cutter on it but I really didn't feel like having no tape left by the end of her session with it). I would say she doesn't let go of her frustration or being upset very quickly and last night proved to me that she takes some of that emotions to bed with her to work out at night. I was woken in the wee hours of this morning to her having a mini-tantrum in her sleep, complete with kicking her feet and being inconsolable even with mama milk. The only thing she kept crying over and over was "me hold hold dat." I honestly didn't know what to do. She wasn't waking up. She was clearly upset and was getting louder. I finally just started saying "you can." Upon recounting this story, Jason reminded me that I have no idea what I told her she could hold. Ok, so I wasn't thinking long term in that moment, I just wanted to get back to sleep!!

I better wrap this up so I'm ready to turn my attention away from a screen when she wakes. I'll end by just noting how odd the weather has been of late and how very different today feels that the day of Terah's birth. We had a wood fire in our stove the night of Terah's birth and I'm sitting here sweating in a t-shirt. It's been warm and muggy and we've even run the window AC this week a few days. It didn't feel like potato digging weather the other day either and I think we would have lasted out there as a family a little longer (than the time it took me to take these two pictures) if it had been cooler. Sometimes our "family work" ends up being "Jason's work with maybe Kali's help" while I go back to the inside tasks. There are plenty of those but I do still feel eager for the ability to do more of our projects together!
Potatoes out and working to get barley in!
But we are (ok, I am) trying not to think too much about big projects today. The cover crops will get in when they get in, the garlic will get planted in time, and we'll get to raking leaves and stockpiling them eventually. We are working hard at those things but also trying to take time for other things that nourish us (beyond just food). We enjoyed another date evening with Ivy recently and took advantage of the warm temps to cook over the outdoor fire again. And, for today, we are savoring the littlest member of our family's life and feeling grateful for her!
P.s. a few more baby pictures from this past weekend and grandma/granddaughter time! 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Our kind of birthday presents!

Last day of September! It's a cool morning and I'll don my "soccer mom's cap" here soon. Before the rush lead up to heading out the door - waking kids, doing hair, getting breakfast in them and them into their soccer clothes - I thought I'd put a few pictures out there from Jason's birthday and the tail end of mine and mention two of the best birthday presents Jason received.

As alluded to in the previous post, I enjoyed getting to see one of my birthday buddies on my birthday. The only two babies I've been with at their births other than my own daughters both came on my birthday. Pretty special I'd say (but I'm very happy to be with other mother's giving birth at a time other than my birthday!).

It was a late night - I think I almost was able to wish Jason happy birthday before going to bed. And, as it normally does, my mind had quickly shifted to the celebrations of the coming day, which I was looking forward to facilitating and being a part of!
The first tasks of the day were to crank out some pie crusts and make a funny cake for breakfast (not a bit of leftovers from that one) and 3 grape pies (all from our very own grape vines) in lieu of a birthday cake for the evening festivities! The crumbs were largely made of ground sorghum and it worked (no sugar but some dehydrated pecans for a little crunch - enjoying a piece now for breakfast as I type!). After my morning (large) burst of chopping vegetables (had a 21 quart canning brimming with chili), I got in on a little outdoor family fun. It was sweet potato digging time! With a sub 40 degree night in the forecast it was time to get them out of the ground - we don't risk much when it comes to sweet potatoes! About 7 bushels of sweet potatoes is a pretty special birthday present! We picked all our remaining peppers since the sweet potatoes formed their understory. So fermenting some green peppers is in my future.

All throughout the day while we were moving rather quickly to get the potatoes in and other things done to be ready for Jason's party, there was peeping in the house. Jason's first round of chicks for his large Shenandoah hens order was hatching. And what a hatch! As of this morning there are 6 hatched under a mama hen and 34 in the house. One more looks very likely to get out (2 others less promising). So it might just mean that for Jason's 41st birthday, 41 chicks hatched. I think that's fun! Jason hasn't had much time to ogle them just yet but we had a little holding and admiring session late last night before calling it a day!

In the evening Jason was joined by a dozen plus friends for some work, some food and some play! He has been itching to get the rocks for seating and play placed in Nora's garden before her 10th birthday (a month from today) and it seemed like a good occasion to use the extra muscles around to collect a bunch. They not only lined her garden with selections for him to choose from, they even got to largest set in place and it's a lovely two-seater. How special!

They came in about dusk for a haystacks meal (and the aforementioned grape pie) along with lively conversation. Then those that could linger got in on some equally lively (or more so) ping pong playing. Once the guests cleared out it was time for Terah to get to enjoy her promised chick adoring session before she sacked out easily and quickly nursing!

Ok, time to wake the littlest (the soccer players are up - but still snuggling in bed together), and get this show on the road. I'll just end quickly with a little Terah tidbit. For as much as I note that this gal is our wild child and wearing her mother out, she is also a pile of fun! She is so spunky and full of crazy ideas. One of those seems to be that she loves putting things in her shirt. Here she was loading her front up with lots and lots of blocks. She also does it with markers with the lids off. Sigh! The other fun thing we are really enjoying is her language acquisition and her curiosity about everything around her. When she sees something that she doesn't know what it is, she will bring it to me or point to it and say, "What dat name mama?" I love it!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

A quick update in between birthdays...

I'm sitting outside by the fire listening to Jason play guitar and the girls recounting the events of our day to Jonathan (ok, mostly Terah is with Kali helping her remember things - Alida is snuggling with my leg and ready to sack out for the night). The dishes are waiting this evening. The air is cool, the sky is clear, the moon is bright, and it feels good to linger by the fire. We enjoyed the last chestnuts of the season roasted over the fire, after a round of pizza pockets and roasted corn on the cob (we were joined also by Emily, Jonas and Ivy, who turned 1 today!).

Side note: after an incredible chestnut season, it came to a rather abrupt halt this week (the squirrels and worms took the end of the crop). That's ok as we are now into persimmons so haven't had time to miss them!

We are about to turn the page from my birthday to Jason's. But first I'll share a few updates from recent days as one of my hopes for the day was to get a few pictures up on the blog and bring it up to date. Things have been hopping around here (what's new?!).

We are into the fall soccer season. Both Alida and Kali are playing again on girls' teams with the local community league and loving it. Terah is their faithful cheerleader and loves coming along to practice and games. It makes for a full day for me on Wednesdays - I head to work for a long day, come home about 10-20 minutes before taking off with them for practice, only to get home around dark. I'm grateful their practice is on the same day and time, since game days are not quite so convenient. We head there around 8:30 for Kali's game, get home around 10:30 and turn around and head back for Alida's at 11:15, arriving home right about the time Terah is falling apart and ready for her nap. But, as I've noted in other recent seasons, it feels very worth it. The girls enjoy it so much and I'm really enjoying watching them play.
Another new thing this fall is that the older two girls are taking an art class in downtown Harrisonburg at Larkin Arts. They have just had two classes thus far but are loving it. They go with another friend, get to play some after the class, and it being on Wednesday they get home with just a bit of turnaround time before soccer. So the week has a bit of a different feel with that and also that their regular playdates have changed in that one of their friends has transitioned from homeschool to going to school away and so we are working to make sure we can get them all together at other non-regular-school times. At a recent playdate/sleepover, we roped all the kids into joining us for our Adopt-a-Highway run. It's great that every time we do it we seem to be finding less and less trash and recycling. Yay, we may be actually making a dent - happy to work ourselves out of this job!
The free little library is getting some attention! :) We have taken the liberty to remove proselytizing tracts...
This past weekend we took our annual trek to West Virginia with friends - I believe it was our 5th year going with grandparents, parents and kids and it is a tradition worth keeping. I so look forward to it each year. I can't say that I look forward to getting our place ready to leave for 3 days, or packing up kids and things, or the drive over the mountains. BUT once there, it's delightful. This year held much of the same - hikes and uninterrupted conversations for the middle generation, great food with the preparation and clean up shared around, picking cranberries, games, playing outside, going to Senaca Rocks for a picnic and time in the river - and some new things that might become traditions - making pizzas and roasting chestnuts in an outdoor oven, and us getting there a day early and me getting completely stuck in a book until I finished it! not sure how I feel about the latter thing (I loved reading a book but would enjoy it more if I didn't feel any sense of guilt about "checking out" for awhile - I really am good for nothing when I start a book that is hard to put down! I was able to finish it just before the crew arrived and then was more present to the relationships in front of me for the rest of the time - I had them hide another book by the same author!

Ok, my concentration on this blog post is shot (it's a rather typical occurrence that kiddo needs are trumping my desire for some writing/reflecting time). Terah is now begging for milk and pointing to the pictures on the computer so I'll end with just a few pictures from today. We took a little family outing to the Luray Zoo using the last (phew) coupon from their summer reading program. We are pleased to report that Cookie Dough, one of the goats we donated to them, is still as feisty and interested in people as ever! Terah was NOT equally interested in him and Alida was frightened initially by the very enthusiastic baby goats. She got more comfortable but Jason took Terah to look at other things while we fed the goats. We never got a glimpse of Oreo but they assured us that he is still there and doing fine, just keeps his distance a bit more from the action as he has more of the fainting gene and so keeps to the calmer places more regularly. It was nice to feel once again how happy I am NOT to have goats!

Most of us agreed that our favorite animal was the little monkey pictured here. He was really carrying on with Jason at one point. It was cute and entertaining. Terah, for some reason, was really interested in seeing a tiger. I'm not honestly sure where she got the idea she was going to see one, but they do in fact have a bengal tiger. But it was in its house so we were about to leave when one of the owners came out and got the tiger out. What a beautiful creature. We thought it rather interesting how scared Terah was of the goats but as calm as can be feet away from the tiger or the pythons and rattlesnakes!
On our way home we checked out Storybook Trail. We had learned about it some time ago from Samuel and Margaret, as one they loved to take their kids to when they were young. We hardly ever drive to go hiking but I really wanted to go, especially after Samuel died, knowing it was one of the last outings he took with the family (as the trail is wheelchair accessible). It was a delightful little trail - only 1/4 mile to a beautiful lookout, with lovely rock outcroppings all along a paved trail. We brought bikes and a picnic along. We pushed the envelope on Terah's afternoon nap as long as we could and I saved my birthday chocolate bar from Alida to help us make it home. Between offering small morsels back to the girls and then offering my phone with an Ivy video to entertain Terah, we made it home without too much fussing.
And now here we are! Time to get to bed so I can get up and get things rolling for the next birthday! More on that in a later post...

(and someday down the road I'm going to find/carve out/take the time to actually try to do more than slap up a few pictures with captions here - right now if I had enough time to write something more in depth I'm not sure I could actually articulate many of my swirling thoughts and emotions that accompany these days. The child at my breast right now seems to be sucking not only all the milk out of me that my body can make, but some days it feels like brain cells and my normal functioning capabilities too)