February 21, 2011

Sometimes I tell you stories…


There was an orangutan.  He lived in a zoo, and he was sad and a bit lonely.  The zookeeper loved him, and would bring music to play on his little stereo.  The orangutan enjoyed the music a lot, and one day, found that if he blew into a bottle just so, he could make a sound. One sound led to another until he could make his own music.

The zookeeper noticed and decided to bring him instruments. First he brought him a flute, but the orangutans fingers were big and clumsy and he couldn’t use it.  Because he was clumsy, he broke the guitar that the zookeeper brought next.  The zookeeper loved him, and so he went through the trouble and the expense and brought him a piano.

It was big and shiny and beautiful and it was like magic when the orangutan pressed a key.  He knew how to play right away, and played and played the most beautiful music.

People came from all over the world to hear him play.  Money was donated to the zoo, and they were able to improve the housing for the animals.  They were even able to bring in another orangutan.

But they didn’t get along very well, the orangutans.  So they have different houses and still the orangutan is sad and a bit lonely.

So he plays and plays the piano.  One day a stray kitten heard the music and found his way to the feet of the orangutan.  She loved the music so much that she curled up and closed her eyes, purring herself to sleep.

When he stopped playing, she followed him around, meowing, “Mew mew. Play more, play more.”

And he did.  He played for the kitten and she was happy, and she came everyday to listen and to purr at his feet.  One day, he found himself a little less sad and a little less lonely.

Over time, she stopped meowing at him, and over time, she made herself at home.  They spent every moment together, the kitten and the orangutan, and he no longer played music for anybody but her.  He was no longer sad, nor lonely, now that he found happiness in the little kitten’s smile.


All the baby pumpkin stacking and trick-or-treating and piano playing and your babysitters… it all seemed like so much to talk about, piling up in my head, but isn’t very important today.  We just got back from saying goodbye to Jasper, my sister’s yellow lab.  He has had fluid around his heart, and suddenly was in too much pain, and will likely be put to sleep today.

We drove down my favorite winding Humboldt road with the sun shining through the redwoods and the clouds breaking up the rich blue sky but everything was dull.  So dull and that road never seemed so long.  I looked at my phone but we’d only been traveling for 13 minutes and I swear it was twice that.  I didn’t want my sister to have to wait so long.  That 15 minutes took forever, but suddenly we were there, turning right on my sister’s street, and my chest was crushing and hurting and I didn’t want to cry.  You were saying funny things right then, but I can’t remember what it was.  You’re so funny, Sam.

Jasper was lying down outside and he lifted his head for us and I pet him and pet him and pet him and kissed him too.  (I never minded Jasper’s stink.  Though I did try to wash it once.)  His eyes were so black and he wasn’t smiling today and when my sister stood up, his head followed her anxiously.

His hair is on my sweater.

Jasper has always been a goofy dog.  A happy dog, clumsy and sweet.  You kids can climb all over him, and he might only sigh for help, and never make a sharp or scary motion.  He loves to chase sticks, more than anything, I think.  More than eating cat poop or taking toast from a baby’s hand. (He does do that, you know.)

He doesn’t like to give the stick back, so we have to get another.  And another and another.  And we throw the stick into the river, and boy, this dog can swim.  He’ll go after the stick, fighting the current, quite a strong swimmer.  But he won’t let go of the first stick, so he’s swimming against the current, stick in his mouth, and he gets the second stick, and then goes after that great big log that’s out there.

He’ll whimper because the log is stuck.  He needs that log.

Be careful when Jasper has a stick in his mouth.  He’s so happy that he’ll run right up to us, knocking down toddlers with the long branches hanging out of his mouth.  Smiling.  Always smiling.

I didn’t take enough pictures.

Sam, you asked about Jasper all the way home.  After your dad carried him to the car, we told you about his owie.  “Jasper hurt,” you said.  Yes.  “Where dog go?  Where Jasper go?”  And we told you that he was going to go for a car ride with Aunt Candi.  That he was going to see the doctor.

(On the way home I worried that you might think going to the doctor for an owie means you don’t ever come back.)

I’ve been missing Jasper for a long time now — been wanting to borrow him for a while.  I wasn’t sure if the landlords would approve.  They don’t want us to have pets here (and made an exception for our four cats).  I wish I had asked.

I didn’t spend enough time with him.  Such a good dog.

18 Months

October 10, 2010

Immediately after I wrote my last letter, I wrote down a list.  I wanted to append my last post with all the things you were doing that I had forgotten to write about.

A month has passed.  The list collected dust.  Now my scribbles don’t mean much to me.  That seems so long ago.


A month ago.


You’re 18 months now.  You gallop, you jump. You laugh hysterically.  You whine, you demand. In the last month you’ve cut at least five teeth (three molars, two canines that I can see — you won’t let me investigate further).

And boy, your words!  You tackle three syllable words now — basketball, soccer ball, ‘ketball hoop.  Your S words are adorably pronounced with an H.  Hocks, hoccer, houp, hoap, hpoon, and your own name: Ham.  Hoop sounds like soup which also sometimes sounds like poop.  You say sorry when you’re too rough, and just last night, in the tired ride home from your cousins’, you demanded more chips with a loud whine and “bitch!”




You’ll spend more time now eating at the table with us as long as we give you a couple forks and spoons and your cup of water or juice.  But you’d rather get down and follow your brothers around.

Your brothers.

I wish I could write more about them, but have little words to share about Max, and Matthew’s world is too private now to talk about.

Max is in that special time I call “between 6 and 10” which seems to challenge me more than I ever expected. He’s great at soccer, a perfectionist with schoolwork, and just started reading books like it’s his lifeblood.  He has loved you to pieces since before you were born, but will take it out on you when Matthew takes it out on him.  You love him, but are hesitant when he approaches.  He makes you laugh just as much as he makes you cry.  Some days you’ll stand back and watch him play with his things, and other days you’ll reach right in and swipe or scatter what you can.  You two are figuring it out.  Bit by bit.


Helping mama on the way home from the river.


Matthew is learning violin, picks songs from the keyboard, loves sports, video games.  Get his head stuck in a book and he’ll forget to eat, sleep, pee, and possibly breathe.  He’s a wonderful big brother to you, though sometimes will just drop the game you are playing and walk away to some other interest.  He just turned 11, and last night, at your cousin’s birthday party, he sat with us adults rather than at the kids’ table.  He makes you laugh like no other — deep belly laughs that make your eyes glitter and your cheeks sore.


Watching Matthew's soccer game.


You say “hand” when you reach up for a hand to lead us where you want to go.  You say “help” when you can’t reach the ball that’s rolled under the couch.  You tell me “couch” and “now nurse” when you want me to do those things with you. You say “watch” or “hee” when you want to see something, and “hup” when you want to be lifted.

You ask “ready?” (weddy) before any exciting motion — launching a toy, going down the slide, jumping off a table (holding our hands), pitching a ball, going to take out the trash.

You love animals.  You say “hi” to the chickens, to the goldfish.  When a dog is being sweet with you, you will lower your forehead on to its fur.  A Sam kiss.  You’ve shifted your attitude towards our cats recently — you love the reaction you get when you pull their tails, chase them from room to room.

“Hi bug” you say to the fly on the table.  “Hi” you say to your reflection.


I forgot the sunscreen that day.


You’re very observant.  You know the roads around our house, asking about the “beach” when nearing the river.  We mention a beer to the other and you run off to the kitchen to get us one.  You throw things away, your little feet pitter patter as you run to the kitchen with bits of trash you find in the house.  You say “mmm hmmm” when you don’t want to bother with yes.  You know that eggs come from chickens and we eat them.  You will eat a whole fried egg.

You throw, catch, swing and hit the ball.  You throw the bat down and run across the room.  “SAFE!” we yell.  You laugh and start all over.  You swing and miss the ball, or you pitch and we hit the ball.  You run across the room and stop, looking at us expectantly.  “SAFE!”

You know loud, wet, heavy, hot, cold, dirty, yucky, broken.

You know go, watch, catch, throw, push, run, walk, sleep.

You know hurt.

You know up, down, outside, inside.

You know poop, pee, and throw-up (the cat).

You know juice (juish), water (waadder), food (huud), cookie (coocoo).

You know truck, bus, bike, car, train, garbage truck.  But most of all, the school bus.

You know rain, wind, moon, sun, beach, river, ocean, rocks.

You know mama, dada, baby, brother, amma.

You know horse, dog, cat, chicken, frog, elephant, bird, owl, spider, bug, fly, fish, duck, so many others, and “brown bear brown bear what do you see?” (it’s a book).

You LOVE books.

You know more than I know you know.  You understand what we are saying when we explain.  You overheard me say I couldn’t find the phone, and you brought it to me from behind the living room chair.  You told me a long complicated sentence, and then said “I’ll go get it,” and headed for the house.  I stopped you when I realized you were going to go get the bag for the tent I was folding — I had moved the bag since you last saw it and didn’t want you to feel confused.

You are confident enough to go walking room to room without one of us with you.  So you pull a toy along on a string and make laps around the house.  We only notice when you stop making noise — most often you’ve become distracted by the toilet now that you know how to flush.  You are confident enough to walk out the front door.  We can send you into another room on a mission — go get us a new diaper from the diaper bag in the bedroom — and you come back and toss it to us.

You grab my hand and Max’s hand and pull us to the middle of my office.  Ring around the rosie… and you collapse to the floor on the fifth word.

You are a little boy now, but still so much our baby.


September 12, 2010

You are a character.  Funny, demanding, loving, smart little character.  You don’t use many signs now, and I guess we don’t either, since you pretty much TALK.  I mean, you do talk, and we pretty much understand what you’re saying.  At least 13% of the time.

“Sh’bella-bella bike?” you ask, pointing.

Yes, she rode by on a bike.

“Bella bella beach!”

Yes, we’re going to the beach.

And so on.  You pretty much say anything, and these days are very exciting as the words become clearer and the communication easier.

You spent the last month experimenting with all the sounds, at least the ones you can handle — the hard consonants and a few of the double consonants.  “Shush” to Matthew with your finger over your lips at story time, and “cheeees” to dada in the kitchen.  Dada, who is sometimes dada and sometimes gaga and often times mama, is the one you go to when you’re hungry, and I am the one you go to when you want to nurse, which you say with a word now, a gentle quiet word that is similar to “shoes,” you never yell it at me.  Though if I don’t respond, you will kick and pull my hair, or just work at my shirt your damn self.

17 months.

You will do it yourself, thank you very much.  You will climb the chair by yourself (and fall off) and you will get into the stroller by yourself (only asking for help when you get stuck) and you only wish you could dress yourself by yourself.  You push the sock towards your foot but it just doesn’t go on.  But you sometimes do show up in the room with your shoes on and your dad and I will look at each other just to make sure, yes indeed, you did it yourself.

Shoes.  You still love them.  Boots (you do know the difference) are your favorite, at least you can get them on easier.  “Boots,” you say at the neighbor’s, slipping them on and walking around (though they reach your midthigh).  And gloves too, you love very much.  Batting gloves, winter gloves, baseball mitts.  Any uniform or device that is worn on the body, must go on yours.

Bracelets.  Silly bandz (the latest trend with your brothers and their friends — silicone rubber bands, which are formed in different shapes, they cost a fortune and are lost quicker than they’re traded).  Hats. Necklaces. You love to dress up.

You put my hair ties on your arms and legs and wear them all day long.

When I was pregnant with you, I had only one dream of you that I remember.  You were about 3-years-old with long golden brown big curls.  We were in the water in a big swimming hole at a river.  I thought it was a lake, but it must have been a river, with the way that the water flowed by little islands for the kids to play on.  You could swim, and you came splashing to me.  I was shocked at how little I knew you, jealous of your dad for how well he knew your every move, expression… How well you two communicated without words.

I woke up assuming that we had split up in the dream — your dad and I.

But these days, I wonder if it was merely a premonition of what it’s like to be the sole working parent.  Lately I’ve been consumed by work, sometimes working 45-hour weeks.  I’m always tired in the evenings, lately even more so.  Just following through the motions until bedtime.  I promise you that it’s temporary (I so hope so), and I promise that I don’t mean to be distant (I don’t mean to be).  I promise you that I love you more than the moon and the stars, and if I send you away from my office too much, it’s not without a bit of a break to my own heart.

Our house

August 8, 2010

You’re 16 months now, and it’s time I showed you where we live.  I’ll start here in the living room, this half which is currently designated as yours.

Not shown: you climbing on the chair, standing, rocking. Climb down. Repeat.

The other half is roomy enough for the rest of us, being larger than our living room at the old house.  See all the light?  It’s a bright house.

Not shown: The bigger free T.V. we were gifted by our friend when she left to Portland. Also not shown: the dozen or so balls that normally litter the floor. We play baby baseball frequently. You can hit! You can catch! And you like to throw the bat and run. (You also like to pitch the ball, from two feet away. I strike out every time.)

Here’s the kitchen. 

Not not shown: The piles of dishes. But don’t worry! We have a dishwasher (a real mechanical unhuman one), so this is only a temporary problem.

Here’s the kitchen from the other side.  Look at all that floor!

Not shown: you spilling water on the floor just to clean it up with a dishtowel.

This is where we eat.  We get flowers every week from the farm-share. 

From 2010-08-08
From 2010-08-08

Here is the middle room.  This is actually the middle of the house.  I love this space.  The door leads to the boys’ room.  Behind me is the living room, kitchen, and first bathroom.

Not shown: the boys playing games on the computer.

This is where we sleep — you, me, and your dad. 

Not shown: piles of clothes on the bed.  Also not shown: the closet, four feet deep.  You know, the closet could be your room someday.

Here is your brothers’ room.  It’s at least 15×15, with built-in bookshelves, built-in trunks, and built-in desks.  A huge closet too.  Perfect space.

Not shown: the piles of clothes on Max’s bed, the random nerf gun, plastic sword, or scattering of pokemon cards.
Your brothers play the keyboard a lot. 

They have their own bathroom!  (Beyond the bathroom is the back closet, where we have endless cupboards and drawers and can actually store things and have nice organized linen (yeah, right).

From 2010-08-08

The boys’ room leads out to the backyard.  There were planter boxes here when we moved in.  We took out half of them for more yard space. We grow tomatoes (not yet ripe), sugar snap peas (almost ripe), and strawberries (slowly ripening).  The tomatoes want to take over the yard.  They belong in the Little Shop of Horrors.

From 2010-08-08
From 2010-08-08

Here you are eating a tomato that we didn’t grow.

From 2010-08-08
Almost ripe.  Water play table, sandbox, play tents seen in the background.
From 2010-08-08
From 2010-08-08

Not shown: the sandbox that your daddy built for you, the sand that he collected from the beach with you (don’t worry — the Parks Department told me it was OK), the trash and recycle bins, and the rest of the junk we store for no good reason. Also not shown: the bicycles (you mimed bicycle the other day, hands way up above, legs pumping imaginary pedals).

I didn’t take a picture of my office — I figure you don’t want to ever see that thing again, the place that steals me away for too long (45 hours this week!!!).  I promise, it’s a good thing.  Not shown: the desk suddenly cluttered with sticky notes because I can’t keep it all straight this week, the boxes still unpacked, the bookshelf still disheveled, the big empty space which is calling for a nice couch.  The office is 13×13, after all.

On a side note, blueberry-picking is tough on tall people.

From 2010-08-08

And pretty cute on small people.

“Why can’t I carry the big bucket?”
“Because you dumped all the berries out.”