The days seem to be getting shorter quickly. It is easily dark by the time I put the toddler in bed in the evening, and the sun is often still not up before he is. I am finishing up the sleeves on my sweater (yes, finally!), but keep finding myself distracted by the thought that it is time to knit mittens again. There is a lot humming along behind the scenes around here these days; some of it wonderful, some of it challenging.
All of it is life, of course, in the way that it shows up at your door unannounced and wants things from you. Flexibility. Grace. The ability to make the changes that allow you to rise to the proverbial occasion and be your best self in spite of you know, your other self. All of which you are theoretically capable of. It's just that you were busy doing other stuff, right?
All of this is to say that there is a lot on my mind these days, but that I am mostly glad to find it there.
This past weekend, we made our first trip back out to Walden Pond since the end of summer. Even though fall is later to arrive here than what we were used to in Vermont, early October there does indeed look different than what we saw in August.
It seems lately that the weekends just keep rolling back around, with the weeks in between passing in a near blur. The week days just keep dissolving into this routine of walks to and from school, naps and laundry, making dinner, and reading bedtime books. No complaints per se; I'm just always amazed at the way that life appears to pick up pace as the school year gets going, I guess.
Mariam read her way through The Invention of Hugo Cabret in the first couple of evenings this week, and was completely mesmerized by it. The first night, she actually came downstairs about an hour after bedtime to ask me to come up and take the book away so that she wouldn't be tempted to continue reading. I had to laugh because I remember trying to hide books from myself at that age when I couldn't put them down at night but couldn't keep my eyes open either. It didn't work then, and it usually doesn't work now, either.
A good problem to have, I suppose.
You know that bit that everyone always launches into when they see you with a tiny kid? The one where you get reminded of how very quickly it all goes by? How before you know it, the tiny kid will be six feet tall and sending you email from their semester abroad in Ecuador and you will wonder where the time went and how you ended up with a no longer tiny person who is so independent and capable?
Well, I'm starting to think that there is a fairly straightforward reason for the fact that even strangers in the grocery store feel a strong compulsion to give this speech to bemused young parents when they catch sight of a toddler riding in the front of the cart.
It's because it's true.
Last weekend, we were lured to South Boston by the promise of close proximity to birds of prey. I am, after all, the sort of girl who braves traffic and distance for things like sea urchins and feathered predators. But we were predictably slow in actually getting out to the Boston Nature Center, in part because the previous week's schedule of work, school, and sick had left us a little lacking in oomph. By the time that we actually got there, it looked as if the visiting birds had been put back into their travel compartments for the return journey to the sanctuary where they actually reside.
Not easily deterred, the big kid and I hung around the bird table for a few minutes, asking general and seemingly casual questions of the guy working there. Eventually, I innocently inquired as to what might possibly be inside the boxes behind the table, and we were, in short order, rewarded for our curiousity with very, very close-up views of a couple of good looking owls. The screech owl, for her part, seemed to have a bit of an attitude problem. But what are you going to do?
After our owl viewing, we tromped around the woods a bit, and then headed home via a Chinese grocery store near downtown where we picked up fresh rice noodles and a hunk of taro root the size of my head.
Not a bad Saturday at all by my flexible and somewhat unusual standards.
Lately the littlest person in our house has been all about very industrious and mostly independent play with a small, but growing, collection of natural objects. He has a little pile of smooth stones, tiny pinecones, and acorns that he keeps on the kid-sized art table in our house. The "play" consists mostly of moving everything around inside the compartments in an empty egg carton. It is really good stuff to watch happening, and as so many things seem to be these days, a reminder of just how quickly very small people grow, change, become less small.
Z.'s allergy testing came back this week, and most of it revealed things that we expected. He is indeed, still allergic to peanuts, for example. Interestingly though, he tested postitive for a wheat allergy for the first time (his celiac panel was negative, but we were expecting that since he is so young and has such limited exposure to gluten). It is a funny thing, having a kid with a lot of allergies. You start to think that they are either allergic to everything, or to nothing at all. A bizarre paranoia takes hold where you start to convince yourself that they are having an allergic reaction to everything that they eat. Which then forces you to consider the fact that this is not actually possible, so they must therefore not be allergic even to all the things that you have been told they certainly are. And so on.
The reality is, I think, somewhere in between. Yes, there are some things that Z. is truly allergic to. And, there are some that he is perhaps sensitive to now, but as the growing and the changing and the now continues on, that may not always be the case. That is how things work. They continue on being the same, until the day that you discover that they are now different.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is just what I get for feeling all smug about my ability to joyfully knit away with skinny yarn on tiny needles. Yep. I am referring to the realization that I only thought that I had gotten the right gauge with the size two needles I was using for my handwarmers. In fact, I was off. Consistently off over many, many rows of striping. By the time that I had knit six or so inches of handwarmer, I realized that they were quickly beginning to look like something that would fit a person with much larger and more industrious hands. Like maybe a giant carpenter or something.
(If you are thinking, at this moment, that the knitting for giants problem has come up here in the past, then you are both correct and in possession of a stellar memory!)
Indeed, this business of not realizing just how many needle sizes I need to come down to accomodate my tight and tiny stitch habit seems to come back to bite me repeatedly. And yet, I never seem to learn my lesson. That fact alone is some sort of mini-marvel.
Yarning along with Ginny today.
The first week of school has come and gone on its way. And, by all accounts, it was a good one. My girl seems to be finding her place in her new school, and came home each afternoon with news about cool and interesting things that had happened that day. There are gluten-free lunch options for lunch. There is woodworking. She learned that Texas gets to fly its flag at a different height from other states because of the fact that it was once its own nation. Goodness, there is a lot to learn in life.
For his part, the toddler misses his sister even more than I expected that he might. Here and there throughout the day he asks where she is, and when I tell him it is time to go get her in the afternoon, he makes a beeline for the stroller. This is a child who normally insists on walking independently everywhere he goes, refusing to even hold a hand. Hopping into the stroller for sister retrieval? An act of overwhelming love and affection to be certain.
Well, I suppose we didn't actually go much of anywhere. I mean, not so much that it then seems necessary to use a such dramatic title for this post. There were day trips, yes. And there were more forays out onto local beaches for purposes of making sand castles and searching for particularly nice little sea shells. But mostly we have been here, having our summer behind the scenes.
But come tomorrow morning, summer officially comes to a close. In the vacation sense of the word anyway. The big kid begins her new school year. She's got a reasonably new pair of pink kicks with matching laces and, thanks to a weekend shopping trip with grandma, some new socks to match. We are ready. Ready, I might add, to begin the fourth grade year. Yep. Fourth grade. I would wax philosophical about that one a bit if I were even the least bit capable of coming up with words to explain how I feel about my tiny little girl waking up one morning as a fourth grader. But, no such words are available just right now.
And while his big sister is off all day doing what fourth graders do, baby Z. and I will settle into a new routine of our own. It has been months since we had days without Mariam around the house, and I expect that at first he will miss her a not inconsiderable amount. But he will probably nap a bit better as well, and that will mean that I can resume my regularly scheduled posting here. Which is to say, my posting that follows no schedule or organized theme whatsoever, but is at least somewhat more frequent than these summer months of slack have led you to expect.
In other words, I'll be seeing you again soon. And then I'll be seeing you a little more often too.
In the meantime, I totally forgot to mention here that I have been running an Alphabet Glue back to school sale for the last week or two. Um, sorry? But since this is the first you have likely heard of it, I'll extend it a bit. Enter "school" at checkout between now and September 9th for 20% off all issues.
We arrived home last night from a relatively unplanned weekend away on the coast of Maine. Visiting Vermont friends arrived Friday evening and suggested that we head up to their family's place near York the next day. So Saturday morning we packed up the beach bag, along with such practical considerations as tortilla chips, diapers, and everyone's toothbrushes, and headed north.
We stayed in a house perched above a salt water river, and spent the weekend procuring boxes of steamed lobsters and soaking up the last of summer's sunshine on the beach.
I have thoughts of attempting a return to the more regularly scheduled program here soon. Library Mondays, posting more than a couple of times a week. That sort of thing. But in the meantime, there are seafood suppers on the patio and sunny days spent not wearing shoes, and it seems wise to make the most of those before the coming of school routines and fall temperatures.