She gathers the colors she wants. Sometimes a rainbow has only one color in different shades. Sometimes it has every color she can find. She picks paper - usually construction paper, but junk mail envelopes and pages from her journal and blank white drawing paper are also popular choices. Then she draws a line. Then she scribbles little blocks of each color. And when she is finished, she puts her name in the corner of the paper and scampers to the fridge to hang up her masterpiece. I never want to forget what our kitchen looks like bursting at the seams with drawings of rainbows.
Evelyn’s first taste of food was a mulberry, plump and dark on my parents’ tree. Two weeks later, I found a ripe boysenberry perched in the middle of our bramble. I tiptoed through the patch and plucked it and squished it between my fingers and let the baby take it off my fingers at her own pace.
She has tried banana, tomato, carrot, mulberry, boysenberry, loquat, zucchini, and sweet potato. Boysenberry is her favorite. She likes them bitter and barely ripe and warm from the sun. And when her face is covered in the juice and she is smiling happily at me, I feel like the luckiest woman in the world.
Charlotte will be four in a few weeks. This year Charlotte asked us if we could celebrate her birthday and if she could have a party and if it could be like the circus. I said yes, baby, of course we can.
She is finishing up her first year of preschool and her French is phenomenal. We raised silkworms this year and gave some to her teacher for the class. They are all in cocoons right now, still and snug, and we are counting down the days until they burst forth. Charlotte is very curious about them and asks to see the cocoons every morning.
A few days ago, Charlotte learned how to catch a ball for the first time. We have tried to work on this skill before but she has never shown interest until now. Donald was over the moon. He bought a tiny little mitt for Charlotte and every afternoon they play catch together in the yard. Sometimes I peek out at them and I think that these moments are the reason I became a parent.
What a difference two years makes!
My e-mails tell me that people are wondering where we are and what we are doing. Some of you are worried that we are dead or that someone is ill or that something is very wrong. Thank you for your concern – and I am so sorry to leave you hanging!
We are busy, so there is less time to blog. We are tired, so there is less energy. And right now we are dealing with a very complicated personal matter, so there is less inclination.
But we are alive and we have our health and I miss blogging and our lives are mostly the same as always, so I will try not to neglect this blog quite as sorely in the future. Pinky promise.
To understand what happened to me this week, you need a little bit of background information and that little bit is this: I like the bathroom quiet.
Charlotte learned this much very early in life. She is free to be as loud as she wants in most of this house, but I reign over bathroom silence with an iron fist. I like my hygiene and bodily functions tended to in peace, thankyouverymuch. There is no unnecessary talking or noise allowed when: someone is on the toilet, someone is in the shower, teeth are being brushed, a diaper is being changed, or I am cutting Donald’s hair.
Yesterday morning I took the girls to a playdate at a nearby park. We left a little later than I had intended to, but I still made the decision to try to run a grocery errand on the way home.
It seemed like a good idea at the time, but within about two minutes of entering the market I was made acutely aware of the fact that the last-minute errand was actually one of the worst ideas I have ever had as a parent. Charlotte was so exhausted that she was just bouncing off the walls to keep herself awake. She pushed the cart into an unsuspecting fellow customer, went running down the aisle, and generally made me question why it is that preschool-aged children are allowed on the planet at all.
I mean, really.
So with superhuman speed, I gathered what we needed and wrangled the beast and got us up to the cash register. Charlotte’s behavior did not improve while we waited in line. She was just…awful. I love my kid, but let’s call a spade a spade, it was miserable. She was exhausted, I was frustrated and everyone around us was suffering because of my mistake. I am generally an exceedingly patient person with children, but I could tell that I was losing my cool and then Charlotte knocked over a display case and I lost every bit of calm I had left. I reached out, grabbed her wrists, and pulled her face within an inch of mine.
“I have had ENOUGH!” I hissed at her. “BE QUIET AND STOP THIS RIGHT NOW!”
Instantly, Charlotte responded. “Why, Momma? Are you pooping? In your pants? At the grocery store?”
And then, looking more scandalized than a three-year-old ever has any business looking, she yelled out. “MOMMA! WHY ARE YOU POOPING IN YOUR PANTS AT THE GROCERY STORE?!”
The cloud of sickness that has been hanging over our home started abruptly a few weeks ago. Charlotte spent the morning playing at a park and gathering maple seeds with me and even though it was barely noon, she wanted to nap.
If nothing else, I am an opportunist. I jumped all over that nap like white on bread.
She napped for several hours that afternoon. When Donald came home, she woke up and helped him prepare dinner. As soon as we were finished, she brushed her teeth and asked for a story and fell back asleep.
The next morning she woke up feverish. By midday she was complaining of a stomachache. She spent most of the day sleeping and vomiting. One minute she would be running a fever, lying listless on the couch, shivering under a pile of blankets. The next minute she would be running around the house like nothing was wrong, coughing but otherwise unaffected. The entire time she resisted eating and drinking.
It went on like this for nearly a week with no noticeable decline or improvement. Nobody else in the family was showing symptoms of any sort, so we thought the most likely explanation was heat exhaustion. Charlotte has always been very sensitive to heat and prone to heat exhaustion.
But then one morning Charlotte woke up with a red swelling behind her ear. “Momma,” she said nuzzling against me. “Please make them stop hammering.”
It was seven o’clock in the morning. I could hear the birds twittering their morning songs outside. I could hear the baby babbling happily on a quilt on a floor. I could hear the dishwasher running in the kitchen. There was no hammering. I called the doctor, made a late morning appointment, and slowly got Charlotte ready.
She had a raging throat and ear infection and mastoiditis. The doctor prescribed antibiotics and ran through a list of symptoms to be on the lookout for, symptoms that could indicate either a brain infection or meningitis. I felt like a Class A idiot for not taking her in sooner. I gave her the first dosage of antibiotics a couple hours later. She immediately fell asleep. The doctor checked in with us twice the following day and once each day for the next week to make sure that Charlotte was responding to the antibiotics. The swelling behind her ear went down. By the time we went in for a follow-up appointment her infections were tamed. The only evidence left behind was scarring along her ear canal and the ordinary consequences of antibiotic usage that we promptly set about addressing.
Before Charlotte’s infections cleared up entirely, the rest of the family came down with some sort of flu bug, a hacking cough, and pink eye. The baby spent three consecutive days only sleeping two or three hours in the night and napping fitfully during the day. The congestion and the sleeplessness were forces to be reckoned with. I coughed so hard I pulled a muscle and hurt my ribs. Then, because I was holding the baby differently to accommodate my tender ribs, I developed two plugged ducts.
It was every bit as awesome as it sounds.
But the days have marched by and we are finally on the mend. One of the children is still dealing with conjunctivitis in one eye and the other child is still a hacking, sputtering disaster…but we’re resuming normal life activities and beginning to imagine a life outside of moping around with fevers and chamomile tea again.
This morning I am taking the children for a neighborhood nature walk. And I am thinking over and over and over again just how lucky we are to have our health the vast majority of the time.
1. About ten days ago, Evelyn cut her first tooth. It took us completely by surprise, but after a series of rough nights there it was, spiky and sharp and pearly white. Yesterday morning she cut its twin. Side by side, her right tooth ever so slightly taller than her left. I will miss the pure adorable that was my baby’s gummy toothless grin, but I am absolutely smitten with the new one that has replaced it.
2. Grandma is visiting! Charlotte is beside herself with excitement.
3. For the first time ever, Donald and I tried grilling asparagus with just a little bit of olive oil. It was unbelievably delicious.
4. We recently purchased six one-month-old turkey poults from a turkey farmer (rancher? breeder?) in the desert. We are hosting Thanksgiving this year and I cannot wait to see one of our birds on the table.