Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Up North

I read something recently that said we are so busy taking pictures, we aren't making memories. The article explained that memories form more fully if you actually live in the moment, rather than try to capture it on your camera (or your phone, in my case). I thought about that a lot a few weeks ago when I was on vacation in northern Minnesota.

We stayed at Golden Eagle Lodge on the Gunflint Trail. We've been there before, and it was just as lovely this time. It was cloudy and cold, but so beautiful. The colors on the trees were beginning to turn, the air was crisp and fresh. My in-laws were with us as well, and we spent a lot of time reading, playing cards, hiking and canoeing. I tried to really be there, to be present in these small moments with my family.

The first morning , Clare was in a great hurry to go down to the lake. I walked with her, wearing a hat and gloves and counting the minutes until I could go back to the warm cabin. Her excitement was contagious, though, and soon we were standing on the dock looking at the trees surrounding the lake. Clare was talking about everything she saw. Then, I noticed a loon swimming about 200 yards way. I crouched down next to Clare, whispered in her ear, and pointed. When the loon dove underwater, she was full of questions. What kind of fish does the loon eat? Where did it go? Suddenly, it surfaced, a mere five feet from our dock. "There it is!" Clare whisper-yelled. It was just really cool.

It was cloudy most of the weekend, but when the sun broke through on Sunday afternoon I grabbed my coat and Christopher and hiked down to the lake. The sun was hitting the trees at the perfect angle, making them somehow sharp and soft at the same time. The late evening light shows the beautiful north woods at their best. The lake was calm, the water reflecting the sun and the trees. I looked down the lake at the docks with the boats anchored to them, casting their shadows on the water. It was quiet, except for Christopher chatting and laughing in my arms. I kissed his cold nose and turned around on the dock, taking in as much of the lake as I could see.

That night, Ben's parents came to our cabin and ordered Ben and I down to the lake. We stood on the dock, staring up at thousands of stars. The Milky Way was crystal clear. Ben saw a shooting star. We tried to pick out constellations. Nothing compares to the night sky when there is no light pollution. It makes me feel so small, but also so awed. It is almost spiritual.

I don't have pictures of any of these moments, but I want to remember them. Writing things down helps me remember things in a way pictures can't. I suppose in the act of writing, I may also be altering the memory in some way. I just know that sometimes feeling present in the moment means putting away the camera.

Oh all right. I took some pictures too.

Clare at the top of Honeymoon Bluff.

Ready for the woods.

Clare on her canoe trip into the BWCA with Ben and my in-laws.

Fascinated by our fox friend. She helpfully informed Christopher not to be scared, because we were inside the cabin. 
My little man.

At Gooseberry Falls on our way home. Clare was thrilled by the "big lake." Christopher was not.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

First Day of Preschool


She did great. I barely slept last night (partly because of nerves, and partly because of a sick baby), but when I woke her up she seemed refreshed and happy to get ready for school. When we got there, she charged into the building like she owned the place, without so much as a backwards glance at me. I didn't even get a chance to give her a hug. When I picked her up, though, she came running into my arms. We went out to lunch (her pick: Noodles and Company) to celebrate. She told me all about her day, which included art projects, Spanish class, time on the playground and the all important snack. (Cheese crackers.)

I think this preschool thing is going to work out just fine.

Yesterday, I was not so sure anything was going to work out fine. Christopher woke up with a fever of 102.5 and was obviously sick. He was not himself at all. While at the doctor to check for a possible ear infection, Clare received her flu mist and acted as though her arms were being cut off. I had to pin her down while Christopher screamed in the arms of the nurse that was brought in to assist us. Later, Clare fell flat on her face, resulting in a bloody nose and lots and lots of crying. (I was worried she would look pretty gruesome for her first day of school picture, but her nose doesn't look too bad - just some slight bruising.) Dealing with all of this on top of some projects and housework I needed to do, it was a day. 

And Christopher. The poor baby has six (!) teeth coming in right now. I don't think that caused his fever (teething can cause fevers, but they are not usually that high). He seems much better today, but we had to miss our first day at ECFE. We went shopping instead. I don't think I should make a habit of this, but it was nice having just one child along for errands. Especially one that I can contain in a stroller.

We are going up north this weekend. I am looking forward to breathing some fresh, crisp air and celebrating Clare's successful first week at preschool. Assuming all goes well on Thursday. I think it will.

This silly face had Christopher in hysterics. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

11 Months

Eleven months. Sigh. My little (big?) baby is eleven months. I know I say this all the time, but he is just so happy. Nothing phases that kid, except hunger. Clare sitting on top of him doesn't bother him at all, but do not get in the way of him and his snack cup. This morning I was getting ready to go to a friend's house and I looked down to find that Christopher had dug his snack cup out of the diaper bag and was helping himself to some wheat puffs.

He has learned that he can take toys back from Clare when she takes them away. This weekend, she was trying to prevent him from crawling down the hall and he was actually dragging her along with him. It will not be long before he is sitting on her, I think.

Christopher said his first word at 10 months. "More." I guess I shouldn't be surprised by this. After all, eating is his favorite hobby. That, and trying to get the TV remotes off the couch or table. He desperately wants to play with them. When I take them away he acts like it is the worst thing that has ever happened to him in his life. Which, in his mind, it probably is. He also says "uh-oh" and "nana" (banana). He gives long speeches that are sprinkled with laughter. Whatever he is saying, he finds it very funny.

Christopher waves hello and goodbye, and waves when someone says the words hello or goodbye, even if they are not directed at him. He is into it.

He pulls himself into a standing position. He is still amazed by anything and everything. When he sees something he wants he throws his hands up into the air before slamming them to the ground and crawling as fast as he can toward the object. When he dances, he waves his little butt in the air.

He gives me kisses when I ask for one. Big, wet, slobbery, open-mouthed kisses. They are the best things in the world.

He has started showing some jealousy - if Ben takes Clare outside and he doesn't get to go, he cries. He tries to crawl after the big kids when we are playing with friends. It is hard to imagine him walking and running and playing with the other kids, but I know he will be doing all that before I know it. I just hope I can still convince him to give me a kiss.