May 19, 2010

January 14, 2010

When you were a newborn, you smelled like cookies to me.  A little bit spicy, a lot sweet.  Like an oatmeal cookie.  Or like a snickerdoodle.

You still smell like that sometimes, when we’ve washed all the food and dirt off but haven’t used much soap. The rest of the time though, you are all dirt and fruit and pasta sauce and oatmeal. You are river rocks and leather baseball gloves and rubber bouncy balls. You are cat fur and carpet fiber.

(Not Kitten’s fur though — that’s all skunk these days. Stupid cat. I hope he doesn’t forget that lesson.)

Pasta and blueberries

March 13, 2010, Pasta and marinara, blueberries

This week you are rain and snot. Today you stole half my sandwich and are mustard and rye, ham and havarti. Tomato.

(I wish I had tomatoes growing in our yard for you. Both your brothers spent their youngest summers eating tomatoes off the vine.)

Sam eating chili

March 15, 2010, Chili and Broccoli

This summer you’ll be thimbleberries and blackberries.  River water and sand.  Sunscreen and potato chips.

You have eight teeth. No molars yet.  I’m both thrilled and annoyed.  On one hand, that’s less time for cavities to form in those precious first year molars.  But it means your food choices are limited.

Isn’t that annoying?  You really like corn chips, and it frustrates you that we don’t give them to you.  Well, sometimes we do.  And then they get caught in your throat and you throw up on us.

(I love food, but desperately fall short in my abilities to keep the fridge full.  Your dad has no problem with that though.  I’ve become embarrassingly dependent on him, to the point that I barely know what’s in the cupboards most of the time.  He feeds us.  It’s lovely.)

It must be the salt that you like.  When Max was three, if I offered to salt his food, he would try new things.  Almost anything.  “Here,” I’d say to him, before he accused me of poisoning him with bland food, “do you want a little salt on that?”  And then he’d gobble it up.  Not meat though.  He’s never been a meat eater.  Just vegetables, really.  That’s all he likes.  And tofu.  Cereal.  Potato chips.  French fries.  Macaroni and cheese.  Applesauce sandwiches.  (Yeah, I know.  Matthew went through that phase too.  He’ll outgrow it.)

Matthew’s the meat eater.  He’ll eat the whole plate of BBQ if you don’t guard it carefully.

When you were a baby, you smelled like a snickerdoodle.


Missing you

May 18, 2010

You spend eight hours each weekday with your dad that I don’t see.

He takes you to playgroup, where you bounce balls and slide down slides and ride on toys.  I think.  I think that’s what you do there.  I think you sometimes walk up to other toddlers and take their balls but sometimes you might have two balls and hand (throw) one away. 

I know that he takes you grocery shopping and you love stores and when you were tiny you loved the lights and the colors — oh my god it must be psychadelic for a baby — and sometimes he would carry you and the groceries too and you would fall asleep in his arms in the store and someone else would bag the groceries.  Then when you were big enough to sit in the cart, oh what freedom for you!  And you’d point (I think) and make sounds and make smiles at strangers and when you started really eating food he would hand you snacks and you’d make a mess but you’d be content (I think).  I think that now, though, I think that you must be screeching for more independence, screeching to get out of the cart, get out of the arms, and off you’re running down the aisle, pulling things off the shelves. Maybe.  I can only imagine this you know.  But I bet you’re a handful in the stores.

Sometimes the two of you go to Target (there’s not a lot to do with a 1-year-old in this rainy country) and you love to play with the balls, but you want them all, right?  You want every single one to be within your grasp.  So maybe Target isn’t as fun as it used to be for the two of you, with you demanding that your dad take each ball off the rack for you to bounce down the aisle.  But I bet you’re happy there. 

But mostly you’re happy anywhere outside.  The rain doesn’t bother you much anyway.  You’d sit in a puddle and turn blue if it meant you could just toss gravel here and there with no limits.  When your dad took you to the river the other day (still too cold to swim and the river is too high to go near), I bet you were charging ahead anyway, so anxious to splash in that water.

You love to splash.

You and your dad go out every day.  If it’s not raining, you go for walks with the stroller all over town.  You come home sleeping sometimes.  (When I walk with you on the weekends, you rarely fall asleep — too exciting with your brothers around.)  In the afternoons you go on errands.  There’s always an errand to do, and if there isn’t, he makes one up.  I bet you love those adventures.

You two keep each other busy, in a quiet way though.  The hours must seem long some days, and other days fly by.  Come 5 p.m. the pendulum shifts, heavily, loudly, and then we’re all home, occupying the same square meter sometimes.  It can be chaotic — the five of us in a room… Ahh, I can’t wait for summer, so we can just be outside all the time. 

Except for me. I’ll still be inside. Eight hours per day.

I wish I could be there with you.  I miss you so much that I’ll often take you with me when I have to take the other two boys somewhere.  I’ll just grab you and go, and then I realize that I’m exhausted and maybe three kids at dinner time out-and-about is a bit too much for me to handle, but sometimes missing you is a bit too heartbreaking.

You love playing peek-a-boo.  You laughed for a solid five minutes last night, while eating bits of chicken from my enchiladas.  I stooped down below your high chair tickling your feet, then popped up to meet your eyes over and over. 

You love this game.  You love it when Max runs around the house, peeking out from edges of walls.  You love it when we hold an object in front of our faces, moving it in various directions (to mix it up a bit) and surprising you with funny faces.

You enjoy this even more than, dare I say it, baseball.  But your love for peek-a-boo will fade with your age, and this love — obsession really — for baseball might only grow. 

Let me explain.

There’s not much else we do these days.  There’s baseball on the television, whiffle ball in the yard, games of catch in the hallway, driveway, car.  We go to practices or games 3, 4, 5 days per week.  Our house is littered with bats (five of them), balls (innumerable), gloves (five of them), and hats (who knows? they seem to be everywhere until someone needs a particular one). 

It’s no wonder that it’s all you want to do. 

“Help me learn this,” you tell us in your screechy way.  You hand me a glove (anybody’s, you aren’t discerning), and I squeeze my hand into Max’s tiny glove and attempt to catch the baseballs you throw from 14 inches away.  You hand me another glove (if it’s Matthew’s, than I can wear one on each hand), but then you screech, “No, that’s not right, Mom!” and take it away.

I encourage you to use a softer ball (I’ve only been hit in the face twice — I don’t dare look away again), but “No,” you screech, “that’s not right. Use this one!” 

You hand me the plastic bat and toss whiffle balls in all directions.  Sometimes I can hit it.  Sometimes you throw it at the cat.

You’re hand is too small for dada’s glove.  (Mine too.)  But still you wish to understand its function. 

“Hat,” you say, pointing to the baseball hat on the couch.  I hand it to you.  You put it on my head, then take it off.  You put it on your head, then take it off.  “Hat.”

Your word for “bat” is much like your word for “cat,” and your word for ball is “get it.”  But your word for “catch” is perfectly enunciated, each letter having a full sound, as if you know it has five deserving letters.


Your sign for music has changed.  It used to be just a wag of your hand, index finger pointing out at the imaginary orchestra.  You use your full hand now, much like you were dribbling a basketball.  And you dance using your full body.  Months ago you would sway side to side while holding onto the nearest furniture.  Now you bounce on your knees, both hands in front, perhaps signing “music” but looking like you own this dance floor and all the young ladies on it.  You seriously have some hip hop style, baby. 


We want to get this on video soon — this baseball play, these dance moves.  These moments are fleeting, I know too well.  Knowing this makes all these days bittersweet.

Pictures coming soon.

The Spotlight

May 14, 2010


November 14, 2009

Sam, this is a rough stage for Max. He’s 6-almost-7, and I imagine his insecurities are only amplified by being a middle child.  He wants to be in the spotlight, but clams up when it is on him.  In fact, have you noticed, when we all focus on him, he directs it right back to you?  And when no one is paying attention to him, he makes sure they do… by directing us to you.  Look at my baby brother, he shouts.  He walks down the street announcing to the world that you are here.  And he wants everybody to know his baby brother can walk and says “hot” and “hat” and “catch” and “cat.” 

He loves you to bits, ever since he knew you were on your way.  When I was pregnant with you, I would lay down with Max at bedtime, and he would scuttle right up to me, his back to my belly, and wait for your kicks.  They always started then — your kicks — right when his back would get close to me, close to you.

Last night, at Matthew’s performance, you sat on the multipurpose room floor with me and Max, screeching for Matthew. You wanted Matthew to come to you, and you were so mad that I wouldn’t let you go to him.  Matthew was up there, violin in hand, watching you.  He will come when he can, I told you. 

Max was trying to entertain you, and you know what you did?  You tackled him.  Knocked him right down to the ground.  Then you slapped his chest. Slap, slap, slap.  You smiling all the while, and Max laughing with tears in his eyes, loving your antics.  All of Max’s friends laughed and laughed. You did it again later, too, after Matthew had sat with you and then went back to the stage.

I know, I know — Max has some wild energy.  Exuberance, some call it.  I understand (completely) that it’s easier to tackle him than to cuddle up with him.

But I have to tell you this now, because I don’t think it will be like this for much longer. He won’t always be so here in your face, loud and attentive, desperate for you to smile, giggle, wrap your arms around him.  I need to tell you this now so you know that his love for you is deep deep deep, even when he’s running off with his friends, seemingly away from you.

Holding tight

May 13, 2010

Last night we watched Matthew strike out five batters in a row.  Five.  I had butterflies in my stomach that last inning.  The score was 7 to 6, top of the sixth.  Our team was ahead.  You sat on the top of the recycle bins with Max beside. I held you from behind. Max fed you bits of soft pretzel in cheese sauce.

I couldn’t move; I couldn’t breathe.

One player struck out.  Then the next.  The next batter.  One strike.  Then two.  I stood there, frozen in place, wanting to make it happen — that last strike.

But I couldn’t make it happen — I wasn’t holding the ball.  I wasn’t holding the bat.  I wasn’t holding anything but you, Sam, keeping you steady up on top of that recycle bin.  It won’t be long until I’m not holding you at all, until bedtime is just a simple goodnight, and barely a kiss. Until report cards come home, but I’ve long lost track of your subjects at school.  Until you’re riding off on your bicycle with your friends, calling me at dinner time to see if you have to come home.

I want to slow down time.  Already I miss your crawl, your baby babble. Already I miss the entire last year — where did it go?

I held you tight for that moment.  Matthew held the ball.  He pulled his arm back. He pitched the ball.  Strike 3.  I took a breath.