Thursday, September 30, 2010

sweet, sweet relief

The sun shines brighter, the birds chirp louder, and I am so much happier when

There is less of this:

And more of this:
Today was the first day in more than a week where nap time was not a huge battle of wills and testing of fortitude. The last two days, he didn't nap at all. Not so this afternoon. After a story, a song, and a brief complaint, he laid down and dozed for the next two hours. Sweet, sweet relief.
And because today must have been a Mama-needs-a-break kind of day, River was kind enough to nap at the same time. Magical.
I was even able to do some of this:
And later in the afternoon, they did this:
See? Birds chirping and sun shining...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

weekending and other updates

After Friday's mayhem and mental exhaustion, we all needed a good weekend. And I needed to remember the joy of sharing Liam's excitement.

So I brought him cleaning at the preschool with me and my mom Saturday morning. This is a big treat for him. Plenty of toys to play with, small brooms and vacuums for helping Mama and Grammie, tricycles to ride in the hall, and getting to help Grammie squeeze the mop. What could be better?
The forbidden fruit. Liam loves this shelf of goodies and other snacks I don't buy for him, but Grammie is always sure to share...
And the cherry on top: taking the trash out with the bye bye buggy.
River and Gabe stayed home for some special Daddy bonding time.

We woke up to Fall. Crisp cool air dense with mist. It felt fantastic.
And then we got in the car to go to church and the car didn't want to turn on. Our neighbor Trish came to our rescue yet again and let us borrow her car for a jumpstart. Trish, what will we do when your house sells? I'm not letting myself go there yet...
We went to Wal-Mart, because that is what you do here in Arkansas, and bought a new battery. By the time we got back into our car, the battery was dead again. So, we went back into Wal-Mart for some cheap pliers for switching out the batteries. Liam helped.

After church, we went to Gulley Park in Fayetteville for Ozark Natural Foods annual Co-Optoberfest. Yummy (dairy-free) food. Music. Wide open grass fields. Playgrounds. A rocky creek. It all added up for a fantastic, and slightly chilly, afternoon.
This is the Liam that keeps me going.

Our attempt at a family portrait. The camera thought the tree in the foreground was much more important. We didn't bother with a retake...
The perfect ending for a great weekend: the first fire of the season.
And an update:
After a week of dairy-free for both boys (and me), River is back to being blissfully happy, smiley, and just fun to be around. And Liam's appetite is definitely picking up. He has eaten at least some dinner every night for the past few days, and is even willing to try new things. He ate pea soup tonight... Clearly, dairy-free is working for him, too.
So, we will stick with the dairy-free diet for now.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Earlier this week, a huge garden spider set up its web right outside Liam's bedroom window. We have all enjoyed watching Liam's Spider as it built its web and then feasted on trapped flies.

And then Liam discovered that he can torment the spider: spraying the web with the hose, throwing sticks at it, and swiping the web down with his hands.

The spider quivers, seeking shelter. Running from the all-too-curious toddler.

And then it rebuilds right back where it started. I hardly notice the spider's return before the web is complete once again, and the spider is framed happily in the window.

I remind Liam that this spider is special. It chose to be in his window right where he can see it. It is a special gift that we don't want to destroy. But this message seems lost on my little one who seems to take such delight in destruction.

But despite his inhospitable host, this spider keeps coming back.

I need to be more like Liam's Spider.

To contentedly rebuild the messes he delights in making. To pick myself up after he swipes away at my plans for the day. And to hold fast to my composure after he tests me again and again.

But first, let's back up to yesterday. Liam did not nap. He was in his room for 3 1/2 hours. He still did not nap.

I felt frazzled, fed up, and exhausted.

Needless to say, we ate at the taco shop for dinner.

And then today, he spent 2 hours in his room, not napping, before I went in and discovered him standing on the changing table, filling the fish tank with all of River's cloth diaper wipes, a tub of rash cream, and the rest of the fish food

I began the process of cleaning the mess, and he took that as his cue to run around the house, pulling out everything he could get his hands on

He was a tornado of destruction. A living terror on a radio flyer scoot bike

I nearly came unglued. I was debating between laying down and crying face first on the hardwood floor or calling Gabriel and telling him that I needed him to come home now! when I noticed that my neighbor Trish was home early from work

And that is how I got through the afternoon: Liam went to play with Trish while I cleaned up the mess. I think I owe her my sanity

Both kids are in bed now, and we are getting ready to watch the SEASON PREMIERE! of Grey's Anatomy with a bowl of (dairy-free) chocolate ice cream.

What a day. What a day.

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thanks goes to Amanda for such a lovely idea.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

in case you were wondering

they are still ridiculously adorable...

Monday, September 20, 2010

It was fun while it lasted...

For the past few weeks we have been getting raw goat's milk from a small farm in nearby northeast Oklahoma, and for the past few weeks River has been increasingly irritable and gassy.

I am embarrassed that it has taken me this long to figure it out: River is allergic to dairy, which includes goat's milk.

My selfishness is shocking sometimes. I so wanted him to tolerate goat's milk because I wanted real milk, real cheese, and real yogurt.

Apparently this is the lesson I am still supposed to learn: parenting is all about self-sacrifice. Just when I think I get it, I am humbled again. So, parenting is also all about humility. Realizing just how dense I can be at times.

So, the goat's milk was fun while it lasted. We all fell in love with the farm and the goats. So, allow me to indulge in one last hurrah.

This is Nuby
the nubian goat

This is Blondie
the kid

Every time we made the drive out to Leach, OK (yes, the town is apparently named after a blood-sucking parasite...), Mike the farmer was more than happy to stop whatever he was doing and let us visit with the goats.

The goats were all friendly and obviously well-loved. Liam especially enjoyed seeing the goats every week. We're all sad that we can't drink their yummy milk anymore.

Notice I said we.

Liam may be allergic to dairy as well. Last week, I was talking with a woman at our church who has two grown children with dairy allergies.

She was able to give me lots of advice, start probiotics for both kids, wait until River is at least 6 months before introducing solid foods, and she suggested that Liam's poor appetite may be an indicator that also is dairy-allergic.

Liam isn't just finicky. He doesn't eat dinner. And if he eats more than a bite or two, we are impressed.

And it would also explain his constant crankiness from infancy, regularity issues, and frequent stomach aches.

So, we've cut him off from dairy, too.

Gabriel is the lone dairy-drinker in our house now, and once he finishes the goat's milk we had already brought home, we'll all be dairy-free at home. At least for now.

We are all working on adjusting. Adjusting meals. Adjusting flavors. Adjusting expectations.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


The more time I spend with both a baby and a toddler, the more I realize that I prefer infants.

Do not get me wrong. I love Liam. Fully. Desperately. Unconditionally.

But taking care of a baby comes much more naturally to me. It's easy.

Liam is not. He is a lot of work. All of the time.

I struggle to keep up with him. The messes he makes. The path of destruction he so gleefully leaves in his wake.

In the past few days, he has pried off the wood trim from the bottom of the living room window twice with his play tools, emptied a bottle of lotion into the fish tank, and ripped up a book (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish) and dunked it in the fish tank.

He whines. He yells. He refuses to eat his food.

He is a two year old.

I find myself struggling. Struggling to clean up after him all day long. Struggling to show him patience, and yet I expect it from him.

I whine. And I yell. I refuse to stop and consider that he is still learning. Still learning how to be.

Messes can be cleaned. The house can be straightened. The fish can get new water. We can start over. Again and again. Because that is what it takes to learn.
And then the day is over. We go to sleep, and then awake. Ready to do it all again. Maybe with a little more grace this time around.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Look who we found, sliming through the kitchen:
It gives me the heebie-jeebies.
Please focus on the outrageously huge slug, not my funky feet, which my mom says are cute, like a hobbit's without all the hair. Thanks, Mom.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

tummy time

Friday, September 10, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thanks goes to Amanda for such a lovely idea.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

apples, apples, apples (and pears)

This summer seemed particularly hot. Hot, humid, and hot some more. It may have had more to do with feeling cooped up indoors with a newborn who just couldn't take much heat. And, let's face it, summer is so much more enjoyable when I am feeling good in my swimsuit. Thank you, post-baby body. So this sneak peek at fall weather that we have had the last week or so has been more than welcome.

My thoughts are turning from lemonade, simple salads, and outdoor grilling to my favorite flavors of fall. Bring on the sweaters, falling leaves, and fires in the woodstove. I'll take some brisk morning air, thank you.

And there is no greater hint at the glory of the coming season than bushels and bushels of apples.

We picked a box full of them at the farm in Iowa. I know, here I go again about our farm trip last month. Yes, it really was that good.

Liam especially enjoyed the treat of picking and eating his own apples.

We ended up with quite the sinkful. Jim and Janelle weren't sure about the variety. The tree is old, and they usually don't bother with harvesting these ones since the apples aren't very pretty, they are kind of sour, and they are prone to worm-invasion...

In other words, they're perfect for apple butter.

After a thorough washing and removing of yucky spots, Gabriel and cut them into large chunks, skins, seeds, stems, and all.

I cooked them until the apples broke down. The smell was fantastic.

After a run through the food mill attachment on my KitchenAid, I returned the apple puree (nearly 2 gallons worth!!!) to the stovetop along with 1 1/2 cups of sucanat sugar, two cinnamon sticks, two slices of orange peel, and a good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. The sauce simmered away on the stovetop for the better part of the afternoon, resulting in wonderfully spiced apple butter.

We ended up with a dozen jars, canned and ready for all the pancakes we can make...

This Sunday, after we got home from our weekend camping trip, we went and picked more apples along with some pears from some neglected trees that were just brimming with fruit.

Gabriel did most of the work, picking bag after bag of the tasty fruit.

And when he had picked all he could reach from the ladder, Gabriel did the next logical thing.
Up, up, up.
All of that hard work payed off.

The pears need a while to ripen, but, oh, do I ever have plans for them. And we went through one bag of the apples and cam eup with 8 ziploc bags of apples, sliced, sweetened, and spiced for apple pie. All they need is a crust to cook in.

Okay, fall, we're ready for you...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

weekend camping

Is it really already Wednesday? This week has been slipping through my grasp. So many things to do, and not enough time to do them.

Despite the hectic start to my week, we had a wonderful labor day weekend: camping out at New Life Ranch. The Maples invited the Francos who invited us. We are so glad they did.

We set up our tents at one of the ranch's camping sites, tucked up in the hills and just a short hike from the creek. A 2-year old boy's version of heaven.

Splashing in the creek with his buddy, Sage, and a friendly canine friend, Kelty.

Liam's first canoe ride.

This was River's first camping trip (not counting our trip while I was 37 weeks pregnant...).
He loved it.

Especially since Grammie was there to share it with.
And camping wouldn't be camping without the Franco family. This picture cracks me up. Everyone really was having a good time. Really.
Sage and his Granddaddy Longlegs...
Ever the little extrovert, Liam loved all of the commotion and play that came along with the four Maple kids. (That's Sage in the foreground, saying good morning...)
All of the commotion and play.
And some tent-style snoozing...
An evening spent around the campfire
(this is the proverbial gun on the mantel... you've been forewarned).
S'mores. Liam-approved.
The bedtime plan for Liam was to let him have a late night, enjoying the campfire, smores, a night under the stars...
But as soon as he ate his last bite of smore, he hit major meltdown mode. I need a nap! I need to go to bed. I need to sleep in the tent. Now! All screaming, flailing about. I couldn't get him to bed fast enough.
Much better.
The best thing about early fall camping: needing something warm to snuggle upon waking...
And the pancakes.
Okay, remember the gun on the mantel?
We didn't light a fire in the morning, instead cooking over our campstoves. But the ashes and coals in the fire pit were still hot from the night before. Liam discovered that he is not a firewalker after all.
He's fine.
His feet are fine.
No blistering, just some swollen tenderness.
And a lesson well-learned: we do not walk across the fire pit. Never ever.