Still alive and kicking in CA

Obviously we’ve been busy for the last 8 months. I hadn’t meant to be on a blog hiatus, but apparently it’s turned out that way. I will eventually clear the backlog of picture to catch up our family and friends, but here’s a quick post.

As people do, our friends and family often wonder who in the family tree our kids resemble. Satchel has alternately been a dead ringer for his Uncle Jeff and his Uncle Adam pretty much since he started to outgrow his baby pudge. Calla, on the other hand, we’re not so sure about. She has my coloring (but the Kizner blue eyes of her Great Grandma Ruth and Grandpa Neil, not the Umphress/Johnson blue eyes). But otherwise, she seems to me to be her own unique person. In any case, I’ve dug up some pictures of our childhoods to throw up with some old and recent pictures of the kids from this summer. See what you think.

josh & jeff
Josh & Jeff

Jeff & Josh

Jeff & Josh



satchel monster
Satchel, 1 year old

Satchel, post-haircut in Iowa this July

Satchel, enjoying 7-layer cake in NYC last fall

Satchel, fishing in Iowa in July

satchel owl
Satchel, dressed as an owl last Halloween

Satchel and the barn kitten
Satchel, playing with a barn kitten at a farmstand last fall

satchel dying eggs
Satchel, dying Easter Eggs in Kirkland at age 1.5

first day in florida
Calla (age 2) and Satchel (age <1) in Florida




Adam (with cousins Andrea and Scott)


Adam, Gwen, Jessica & Grandma Georgia

Calla and Satchel on a very early morning flight to Iowa in July

Gwen, Jessica & Adam

Calla & Satchel in Portland in June

Calla hiking in the redwoods with Uncle Adam in July

Madeline, Allison, Calla & Jessica at Sasha’s wedding in June (I don’t know why the girls were making such funny faces!)

Calla in Iowa in July

C first school picture 2012
Calla, kindergarten picture


Calla, 1-year picture


Calla in New Hyde Park, age 1.5

Jessica & Grandma Georgia

Calla and her self-portrait in June

calla practicing petals
Calla, in NYC age 3

Jessica & Gwen


Gwen & Jessica


The blog is officially being held hostage by my work. I’ve been under the gun all winter, and things won’t get much better until summertime. Ah well.

But, today Calla marked a big event, so it’s worth taking a moment to share. Apparently she kissed her first boy today. She’s been telling us lately that “Today I fell in love with so-and-so. For reals. We’re really in love.” And the cast of characters changes a bit from day to day (most days it involves her kindergarten teacher and her best friend, Mischa). But today it was a boy who she doesn’t see very often and apparently he told her that they could only get married if she gave him one real, live horse. He drives a hard bargain. But she says that they also kissed “for reals” and giggled and tapped her lips. So who knows what that really means.

But I don’t think anybody this little could be ready for kissing boys yet, do you?



At least I don’t have to worry about Satchel. He’s busy with things like his new bike that Grandpa Henry got him a few weeks ago.



Little boys never grow up to leave their mothers, right?

Thanksgiving/NYC extravaganza

I hereby officially declare that I can only blog a month in arrears. I just can’t seem to get to things any quicker than that… So since this is December, I now give you: November! Ta-da!

Our big November event was going to New York to visit family and have some fun playing with everyone out east. As usual, we managed to pack in a lot of things (although we never managed to get a very early start in the day…). There are easily enough pictures for several blog posts, but I should probably strike while the iron is hot, right?

Let me preface this whole thing by saying that we had our best cross country flying experience ever on our way out to NYC this trip. We tried out JetBlue, which had received many rave reviews from people we know, and I’d now like to echo every single rave review (although I’d like to add the disclaimer that we’ve only flown them once, so there is plenty of room for them to screw up in the future). The staff we encountered were really nice, and everyone was really family-friendly. The seats were the roomiest we’ve ever had on a long flight (and there’s only one class of seating, so everybody wins!). A wide variety of awesome free snacks were doled out constantly (the flight attendants actually kept coming back specifically to our seats to check and see if the kids were hungry or wanted something to eat or drink). There was free DirecTv in each seat, and I could actually turn off the kids’ TV sets so they didn’t spend 6 hours with commercials or crap flashing in front of them (but I could also watch a little bit of a movie in my seat once I got them settled with the iPad and some Little Bear episodes. Let’s hear it for some Eddie and the Cruisers on VH1 Classics!). And each person got to check a bag for free, which is really some great savings when you’re a family of 4 flying cross-country for more than a week. All of these services, which you get nickle and dimed for on every other airline, made it a really great flying experience on top of the stellar customer service. It was quite a let down when we had to fly another carrier home (we flew back on Black Friday and JetBlue didn’t have much service out of NYC that day). At this point, JetBlue ranks as the most family-friendly air carrier we’ve flown to date.

After our swanky ride, we arrived fairly late in the evening, had some pizza and went to bed. The next day we took the kids to a park. Or was it the library? I can’t remember the order of events, but we essentially took it easy. Here are some pics from the library trip (which was an excellent thing to put at the front of the visit, so we had plenty of books to read while we were there. We’ll have to remember that for future visits):

Mom & Son


At the library

Also in the first few days, Calla and Satchel made friends with Boris The Cat:

Calla's friend, Boris

Boris decided that one-on-one, the kids were ok. Together, though…he turned tail and fled.

On our second day, Calla received her big birthday present from Grandma Lynn: her first Broadway musical. Mary Poppins!


Before going to the show, we ladies had dinner at the family dining establishment on the upper west side: Popovers. (The guys stayed behind in New Rochelle and ordered Chinese for dinner.)

Dining at Popover

Then Grandma Lynn had the idea that we should take a cab down to the theater and walk through Time Square so that Calla could oggle all of the lights and Big City Action. She definitely oggled!

Times Square

Then it was straight to the theater and our magical journey to London, where it rained confetti on us, a man walked up the wall and upside down across the ceiling, and Mary Poppins actually flew out across the heads of the audience (with her feet genteely crossed at the ankles so that we couldn’t see up her knickers).

At the theatre

Calla had neither seen nor read the story before, so it was a total surprise. Although right before the curtain opened, I realized that she had no idea what a nanny was and I had better explain it quickly in order for the story to make any sense. She got it and loved the whole show (except for the parts with the evil nanny who made the kids drink poison). Afterwards, Calla desperately wanted to go and meet Mary Poppins, because she was trying to figure out if she was real or a person pretending to be Mary Poppins. She wanted her to be real, and I decided to leave her guessing. Grandma Lynn suggested we write her a letter and see if we get a response. Which we might still do…

The next day Great Aunt Leslie came to play, and we took a trip down memory lane for Josh by taking the kids to a racetrack.


Apparently Josh, Uncle Jeff, and Uncle Brett used to spend a lot of time at this racing place when they were kids. They even had their own race cars. We had to settle for the rental cars, which are apparently slower. But it was still a lot of fun!





Day at the races

Afterwards there was pizza and then back home for naps, visiting, and then a beer can chicken feast whipped up by Joel and Grandma Lynn.

The next day we moved Base Camp out to Long Island to spend a couple of days with Great Grandma Ruth. We always enjoy spending time out there, and Josh was really looking forward to inhaling all of the Deli King corned beef he could hold. On our way over, we got a good look at some of the storm damage from Hurricane Sandy. It was about 3 weeks after the storm, but there were trees and limbs down everywhere. In some places, they’d barely managed to clear the roads enough for cars to pass. Grandma Ruth’s backyard hadn’t been cleared yet, so we put the kids to work burning off some energy by helping gather sticks and branches.







There was also plenty of monkeying around:




Back inside the house, Josh took them downstairs to the traditional kids’ play area in the basement, which included messing around with the pool table.

photo 3

photo 1

Along with our Deli King feast for dinner that night, Aunt Leslie brought along a family favorite 7 Layer Cake. Yum!




(this one is supposed to be Cousin Emily, but Calla was getting in the way)




Don’t you wish you were there?

The following morning Aunt Leslie took us to Satchel’s living dream: The Long Island Firefighter’s Museum.






There was a memorial area dedicated to the victims of 9/11, especially the local firefighters who were lost that day. Calla wanted to explore every inch of it, videos and all. It was a bit hard to explain but her questions were fairly simple and straightforward. I gave her a pretty PG version of the events, pretty much leaving out the terrorist parts and focusing on the bravery and heroism of the emergency responders. But it was a reminder that we’re getting into trickier waters the older she gets and the more she encounters the world…

On the following day, Josh and I had plans to be in the city. I had a work meeting set up with a colleague at NYU and we built a whole day around it, with plans for visiting a craft shop, a bookstore and then a fancy dinner. We successfully got about 2/3 of the way through our agenda, and then on our way to dinner I felt a migraine coming on hard and fast. By the time we reached the restaurant I could barely keep my eyes open and spent most of the time with my head on the table trying not to smell or think about food. It looked something like this (Josh was bemused by the fact that we were sitting in a really fancy restaurant of my choosing and the only thing I could do was put lay my head on the table as they brought out an amuse bouche of sunchoke soup with crispy sage leaves. I really wanted to try it, but I just couldn’t!).


Josh hopefully and helpfully left me there for a few minutes to run around the corner and purchase some Aleve, but it couldn’t really make a dent in it fast enough. Josh ate a few bites of his steak and then asked for the whole meal to be boxed up. Truly a gentleman, though, he asked the server what kind of dessert would travel well and keep to the next day, and thus brought home some fancy donuts which I was able to nibble on a few hours later. We made it back to Grand Central and onto our train, and I spent the whole ride with my hood pulled over my head and a scarf over my eyes, trying not to barf on everything. A pretty seriously disappointing end to our grown-ups’ day out.

While we were in the city, the kids spent the day with Grandma Lynn and Joel. They got some exercise and fresh air at the park:

Explorers on the Sound

Calla collecting specimens

Chasing Canada geese

Future mountaineers

And then returned home for lunch in front of the television. An awesome treat!

watching TV at Gram's

And there was some snuggling:

Calla & Gramma Lynn

Are you still with me? Only a few more days to go.

The next day, my migraine gone and things back to normal, we went back out to Long Island for some more family time. And we finally got to meet Cousin Avery!! Calla was enchanted.


She wanted to hold Avery and carry her around like a doll. Or a pet. Avery, however, is very mobile and independent for her age…and also a very good sport.



There’s Satchel. He also thought Avery was pretty awesome, but he didn’t feel the need to grab onto her and try to manhandle her around the house.

Cousin Emily was also there again, and Calla was in heaven with both a baby and an Older Girl to play with.


Grandpa Neil was there, too, and I managed to get the squirmy bunch together for a quick photograph.


Followed by a Ladies Only photograph (at the insistence of Calla):


By that point, we were wearing out Great Grandma Ruth, so we gave hugs all around and called it a night. Aunt Leslie joined us for a good diner dinner, where we had the Best Waitress Ever and the kids scored some great desserts after they ate their meals:

photo 2-1

photo 1-1

Then it was home to bed. Because the next day, Grandma Lynn had gotten us tickets for the Big Apple Circus at Lincoln Center (are you tired yet?).

We arrived early enough that the kids had some time to play around the fountain outside:





And then we went inside to eat some hotdogs for lunch and find our seats in the Big Top. Say “cheese!”






We had excellent seats, and at intermission the kids got their first taste of cotton candy.




The circus was fantastic, and it gave them plenty to talk about on our looooong ride out of the city and back to New Rochelle that evening. It was the night before Thanksgiving, so we had to join the large exodus of holiday traffic on our way back home. But it was worth it. We loved going to the circus.

Our last day in New York was Thanksgiving Day. Grandma Lynn had some last minute baking to do, and Satchel turned up in the bedroom wearing some it:


Calla was running a bit of a low fever, so we had a very quiet morning watching the parade on TV while getting organized and packed up a little bit. Then we loaded up and headed back into the city for dinner at Aunt Dana’s childhood home in Chelsea.

Uncle Brett was Master of the Feast, and the kids helped a little bit with the salad.


Mostly we hung around and played and visited with everyone, which was LOVELY.






photo 1-2

Uncle Brett made roasted ducks for the meal, which were delicious!


As a side note, last year Uncle Jeff cooked our Thanksgiving Dinner, and this year Uncle Brett took his turn. Will 2013 be the year that Josh ties an apron on and does the honors? A girl can dream.




My family was not so cooperative with the pictures:



I tell you, I could have just packed Avery up and brought her home with us. She’s adorable, delightful, and delicious!

Avery & Aunt Jessica

Too soon it was time for desert, and then we needed to pack up and get back home for a decent bedtime ahead of our early morning flight the next day.

Satch having dessert

We clearly had a full trip, and the kids were starting to drag and whine a little, so it was definitely time to say our good-byes and get back on a plane. We made it back home, where Uncle Adam was happy to see us.

Josh took these pictures on our bus ride back from the airport:

photo 3-1

photo 2-3

photo 4-1

And it seems like no sooner had we unpacked the suitcases and gotten everything put away, and then I was pulling it all back out again for our trip to Iowa for Christmas. But I guess you’ll have to wait for those adventures until next month…which apparently starts tomorrow! ;)

Cleaning out the archives

We just returned from our fall 2012 NYC trip, and I have tons of pictures from our adventures. So I need to finish cleaning out the archives from the last couple of months. Here are the rest of the odds and ends.

Let’s see…Josh went to Las Vegas with Jeff for a weekend in September (and there are no pictures from that weekend of excitement), so I took a weekend in October to go to Seattle and visit Auntie Sasha without the kids. My first adults-only weekend since having children!! Highlights of the weekend included a girls’ day of leisurely hanging out and visiting with Sasha and Aunt Allison. We took a ferry to a little island, which felt very Seattle.

On the ferry

With Sasha in Seattle

With Allison in Seattle

We also celebrated Sasha’s birthday that weekend, and on my last morning there, I got to have brunch with the whole Seattle clan, which was a wonderful bonus.

Seattle Kizners

That was the weekend that Josh took the kids to the pumpkin patch AND Uncle Brett came to visit AND Uncle Adam finally moved to California and joined our merry clan of Unicorns. The only picture I have of any of that is of Uncle Adam’s arrival, which was just a couple of days before I left.

Uncle Adam Arrives

Backing up a little bit, a week or two before that, we had a visit from Grandpa Henry when he was in the area on business. As soon as we knew he was coming for the weekend, Satchel ran to get his baseball glove and started talking about playing catch. Grandpa obliged.

G Henry playing baseball

He was rewarded with an impromptu “show” on the sidewalk.

Callas performance on the lawn

group performance on the lawn

While we had extra hands, we made an attempt to get the four Unicorns in a picture together…

family picture

After dinner we were treated to some apple crisp, which was made that afternoon by Calla with the help of Grandpa Henry. Calla chopped the apples using her budding chopping skills that she is acquiring in kindergarten.

calla and grandpa make apple crisp
(Sorry for the less than stellar picture, Grandpa Henry!)

And speaking of performances, here’s another one:

Dress up kids dancing

Let’s see…here’s just a picture of the kids being cute at breakfast one morning.

breakfast kids

And sometime in September we met our friends Beth and Corey and their daughter Lucy for some play time at a children’s museum. I was totally lame at getting pictures that morning, but I did manage to get this one of them doing some arts and crafts.

Kids with Lucy at discovery

And this one of Satchel looking in a tide pool thingamajig.

Tide pool Satchel

Jumping forward quite a bit, Grandma Georgia was here for a visit around Calla’s birthday, which was a very busy time. We were so busy that I barely managed to get any pictures, other than the Halloween pics I already posted.

But I did catch them together for a few minutes one night shelling our scarlet runner beans that I harvested.

harvesting beans

Oh, and there is one picture from the weekend Josh went to Las Vegas:

Kids in bath

Last, but not least, we recently enjoyed a family day of hanging by the fire, hulling our popcorn harvest.

shelling popcorn

Following that activity, we had an early dinner and then bundled up to head outside for an improvised Lantern Walk. Calla’s kindergarten was supposed to have their annual Lantern Walk to mark Martinmas and the changing of the seasons the previous night but it was rained out, much to Calla’s extreme dismay. So we promised her our own version. We didn’t have lanterns, but I made some hand-held luminaries out of Shabbat candles and paper cups. We walked all around the block, singing the lantern walk songs that Calla had learned in her class. It was pretty fun.


And that brings us up to our recent trip to New York, which I haven’t even downaloaded off the camera. Maybe this week…

Halloween 2012

Just a quickie post since I am still on the iPad.

Mostly pictures. Hooray for pictures!!

We carved our jack-o-lanterns just a couple of days before the holiday, which was good because they quickly grew moldy in the warm weather.

Uncle Adam helped!

papers for pumpkins

carving pumpkins

carving pumpkins 2

carving pumpkins with flat stanley

Too bad I don’t have any pictures of the kids getting their pumpkins. The big pumpkin patch trip this year happened under Josh’s supervision the weekend I went away to Seattle. Oh well…

Satchel could hardly wait for the big night to finally put candles in them.

jack o lanterns

Calla was a Tooth Fairy, which was completely her own idea. Grandma Georgia executed the costume, with some help from Calla on the crown, wings, and giant toothbrush.

tooth fairy

tooth fairy trick or treating

kids trick or treating

People on the streets and at homes we visited really got a kick out of her costume.

Satchel was an owl, which was all my idea. He wanted to be too many different things, many of which weren’t feasible or were beyond me. He resisted being an owl right up until it was time to put on his costume. But once we trick-or-treated the first couple of houses, he was all in.

I didn’t get a very good picture of the costume, but here are some attempts…


owl trick or treating

(Grandma Georgia was actually there with us for trick-or-treating. super fun!!! Especially since she made ghoul-ash, aka goulash, for dinner when we got home.)

These are all of the pieces laid out on the floor before I had them sewn up.

owl feathers

I had plans to make a mask for him, too, to complete the look, but I had a serious lack of cooperation from him so I didn’t push it.

satchel owl

Too bad that it started to rain pretty much at the exact moment we were ready to go out that night. But we endured getting a little soggy, and it wasn’t really so bad to have a good excuse to cut things off after an hour or so anyway. How much candy do parents kids really need?

So that was Halloween 2012, in a nutshell. It kind of flew by us in the rush of everything else this fall. Come to think of it, I didn’t even take a picture of our front window which the kids worked really hard on decorating for Halloween this year. It had spooky lights and everything!

Maybe next year… Who knows what the kids will want to be then?!

Birthday #5

Calla turned 5 at the end of October. 5!?!?!?

It seemed kind of superfluous, though, since the bigger milestone was starting kindergarten in August the day after Satchel’s 3rd birthday. By the time her birthday rolled around, I, for one, had already made my peace with her being another year older.

Calla first day of kindergarten

Since I am making this post from the iPad while we are on another family excursion away from home (Thanksgiving in NYC!), I am going to keep it brief. The iPad is great for many things, but I really don’t enjoy typing on it too much.

A few thoughts about kindergarten or age 5… She’s attending a public charter school that is a Waldorf model (there’s lots I could say about that, but it’s for another time). School for her is only a half day, after which I transfer her over to the kids’ preschool where she continues to spend her afternoons (except on Wednesdays, when I get to keep both kids at home for the day/afternoon). Calla just made the cut to start kindergarten this year by 2 days. Had my crazy labor lasted much longer 5 years ago, she would have had to sit out another year. Her school has a two year kindergarten program, though, so it’s very likely that she’ll be there for another year before moving on to first grade. As I said, more on that at some future date.

C first school picture 2012
(First official school picture.)

Getting her ready to start kindergarten was really where the major changes were this year. Over the summer we eliminated pretty much all TV watching, her afternoon naps (which her body still wants even if her personality does not) and moved up her bedtime to 7:30 pm. She is in charge of brushing her own hair in the mornings and getting out her clothes for school the night before. She has other new chores, like helping sort, fold and hang the clean laundry each week. And she helps to set and clear the table for meals when asked.

Calla 5 Pumpkin Patch

K class PP trip 2012
(On her actual birthday, she lucked out and her class took a field trip to a bee farm/pumpkin patch. Pretty fun!)

That’s not to say that her new responsibilities are always carried out graciously or without huffing, complaining, or even some tears or stomping of her little size 11 feet. But she knows the new rules/routines, and she accepts them as part of the right of passage for going to kindergarten, which she L.O.V.E.S. She actually cries on days when she doesn’t get to go to school.

Calla at LO
(Sitting on a bench on her school campus the day we dropped off her things to her classroom and met her new teacher.)

Aside from her nascent teenage moments, in her free time Calla can be lots of fun to be with. She loves playing games, although she is a sore loser (something I hear she shares in common with her Uncle Jeff). In the Waldorf spirit, we are working on playing cooperative games with her, where the object isn’t for a single player to win, but rather for the whole group to strategize how to achieve some goal. It goes against every fiber of Josh’s being, and it’s more challenging to play strategically as a group at this age, but I think it’s also more fun.

She really wants to learn to knit and sew, and do some independent baking. Those will be things that we work on over the next year.

Callas K pillow
(Clutching her pillow that she made for/in kindergarten for their rest time. She and I partially made it together before school started, and then each child had to stuff and sew their own pillow closed at school this fall.)

(Practicing sewing by weaving yarn through berry baskets at preschool.)

She cracks us up with her crazy language skills (I love it when she says things like “indeed” or “precisely”) and she loves to give impromptu performances of dance and song. Speaking of songs, she has a crazy knack for memorizing lyrics (and books) on her first hearing of them.

Pink, pink, pink, pink, pink. Enough said about that.

Callas BFF
(At preschool with her BFF, Mischa.)

She is a prolific artist, churning out dozens of drawings each week. Often, she draws representations of things she wants to have/play with, and then cuts them out with scissors and carries the drawings around and “uses” them. There are so many iterations of telephones and lunch boxes filled with candy floating around our house…

Voting 2012
(I took her with me to vote in the general election the week after her birthday. She patiently endured a feminist tirade about how it’s our responsibility as women to vote, because can you imagine that there are countries in the world today where girls can’t vote just because they are girls?!?!)

Calla votes
(Voting together 4 years ago. It was so much different this time around!)

Professor is still her bosom companion, although she doesn’t usually spend much time with him during the day.

She can write her name (usually backwards, which is common for lefties) and most words if you spell them for her. She is still a story junkie, and will do anything to have a book read to her.

Calla 5th birthday party
(Lined up for birthday cake at her party. She got to invite old friends from preschool and new ones from kindergarten, so it was quite the mash-up party. And I had a terrible cold that weekend and was essentially high on cold medicine and remember very little about any of it. This is about the only picture we have from the party, when another mom thought to grab my camera and foist it on Josh.)

I am sure there is lots more to say. About princesses and fairies and goblins and other things which inhabit her little 5 year old world. But typing on this thing sucks. How about one last picture instead?

C 5th birthday celebration K

We were invited to attend her birthday celebration in her classroom, which took place on Halloween–5 years to the day from when we brought her home from the hospital.


Calla 5th birthday celebration

Birthday #3

Somewhere in a galaxy far, far away, in a time long, long ago, Satchel turned 3.

And this is the reason I haven’t blogged it before now.

Satchel in his toddler bed

Right before his birthday, while Grandma Lynn & Joel were here, Satchel moved into his new toddler bed. Which seems like a big deal! Moving out of the crib and into a bed officially marks a major transition!! But the stinker wouldn’t let me get a picture of him actually in his new bed–which he calls his “firetruck bed” because he chose that bright red paint color (which was then lovingly applied by his mother).

Josh finally got tired of this single excuse standing in the way of my posting more updates about the Unicorns, so he took out his beloved iPhone and snapped a few pictures of Satchel playing in his bed at bedtime a couple of nights ago. So now I have no more excuses…

So, this guy turned 3 back in August.

monkey satchel

For his birthday dinner, he requested spaghetti and meatballs, which I happily made for him. But since we were having his birthday party the next weekend and it was a bit of a busy week, I skipped making a cake for the actual day and instead made lemon jello with floating pineapple rings in it (it happens to be a tasty combination. try it.). Satchel was thrilled to have anything with candles in front of him.

Satchel candles

And we made up for it the next weekend with plenty of cake.

Satchel cupcake candles

He requested chocolate beet cupcakes with pink frosting and jelly beans on top. We needed to get some more jelly beans, and I needed the kids out of the house for a bit while I worked on party preparations, so I had the genius idea of sending Josh and the kids to the candy store to pick up jelly beans and “a few other candies” so that the kids could each decorate their own cupcake at the party. Josh compounded my genius by bringing home more than a few different candies…

Satchel cupcakes

There were lots of presents for the birthday boy, and they arrived in a steady stream for several weeks. He generously let Calla help him open them (he’s always been a good sharer).

Satchel opening presents

We like to joke that birthdays in our house last for at least two weeks, because living so far from family and friends means that presents arrive by mail. The kids don’t get to open anything that arrives before their actual birthday until their actual birthday, but we let them open the late arrivals (usually about 40%-50% of gifts) as they appear on the doorstep. It’s a system that I’ve embraced up to now, because it’s fun to make things last a little while longer and it also means that there isn’t an overwhelming amount of gifts all at once for the little people. Satchel LOVED that his birthday kept going and going and going this year. That is, he loved it right up until it was Calla’s birthday last week, and then his 3-year-old brain short-circuited and things got ugly when the packages on the doorstep were for his sister and not for himself. In a move that shocked us all but served as a blunt reminder that he is only 3, he threw an out-of-character epic, nasty tantrum on Calla’s birthday when he couldn’t rip open and claim her presents and when the birthday candles were for Calla’s dessert and not his (Calla, very unruffled by the whole thing, graciously agreed that Satchel could have candles on his dessert, too, so that he wouldn’t feel so left out). So on this occasion, Satchel’s long-lingering birthday worked against us. But next year he’ll be 4 and ready to understand when it’s time to cede the floor, right? Right?

One of the exciting things that happened around his birthday (as in: the day after his birthday), was that Calla started kindergarten. We expected more mourning from him on the loss of his sister during the mornings, but for at least that first week he was fine because there were awesome toys to distract him.

In the ensuing weeks, he’s lost some of his enthusiasm for Calla’s transition to kindergarten, but it’s good for him that he now has to operate independently of his sister 5 mornings each week. He’s making new social connections at preschool–although you wouldn’t know it to hear him talk about it. At the dinner table in the evenings we’re working on his retrospective narrative skills by asking him to talk about his day. And the only things that he ever recounts are what happened at preschool after Calla arrived there in the afternoon. But I have photographs and anecdotes from the teachers, children, and other parents that Satchel is, indeed, playing with other other kids who are actually in his peer group and not Calla’s.

See for yourselves!










Something that I love about our new routine is that on Wednesday mornings, I have Satchel all to myself. Calla goes to kindergarten and Satchel stays home to play and run errands with me until it’s time to pick her up around lunchtime. Satchel and I haven’t had days to ourselves in over a year, and it’s fantastic to have that luxury back, especially now that he’s even more fun than he was when he was a baby.

We can play and go have adventures, like the morning we went over to a ranch to harvest some lavender:

satchel in lavender

Or sometimes we snuggle on the couch with warm tea and sneak in some illicit TV time with Little Bear dvds. Occasionally we trek over to a farm/farmstand and pick up some fruits and vegetables. It’s just really fun.

Satchel and the barn kitten

I think that’s just about the best way to describe him these days: Fun. He’s definitely 3–and he definitely does things that I wish he wouldn’t. Like screaming, pushing, and pouting when he doesn’t get what he wants. Like ramming into my legs/feet with toy cars, trucks, fire engines, and cranes. But he’s also quite the jokester and the little comedian. His language skills continue to improve exponentially every day, so he’s still constantly surprising us with what comes out of his mouth. He’s becoming more pliable in terms of his willingness to read new, unfamiliar books. For reasons unknown, he generally hates it when people sing and will shriek for them to stop. But he routinely bursts out with his own little songs all the time. As much as he loves to play and roughhouse, he also loves to just lay in bed/on the couch/in the recliner with one of us and quietly snuggle (which Calla has never really endured, much less enjoyed).

On Sunday morning, when the time had changed and the kids were awake but not supposed to leave their bedroom because their miraculous clock hadn’t changed colors yet, Calla climbed into his bed with him and the two of them lay there snuggling, whispering, and giggling together until they were allowed to get up.

He loves his sister, and his daddy.

And when I bend over to kiss him goodnight in his bed every evening, he hugs me tight and whispers with a giggle, “Mama, I love you so much!”

So that’s pretty great. :)

"Unicorns are a challenge to maintain, so there's really no point in having one unless you have a wide repertoire of troubadour's ballads up your romantic, trailing sleeve to go with it." (How to Live with a Unicorn, Moseley, 2007)

February 2016
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