Kids with guns

Jonah woke up under the weather today, with a low-grade fever and a headache, and a lack of appetite that’s the opposite of everyday-morning-Jonah. We aren’t sure what brought it on because he was 100% himself all day yesterday, but I’m watching him sleep from where I’m sitting and have spent time alternately stroking his head and back and bundling him up in blankets throughout the day.

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Last night we attended a “crappy dinner party” at the home of some friends. It was raucous and lovely, a house full of kids (four of theirs, three of ours, and four belonging to another family) and was the first time that we’d met their oldest child, a sweet boy of nearly eleven. Jonah focused in on him as well as two other boys, and inquired about his nerf gun arsenal. Jonah couldn’t wait to show me the secret nerf gun cabinet (hidden in the wall of their midcentury modern home), and towards the end of the evening all but the two youngest children suddenly made the collective decision to play outside (despite the 40-degree temperatures).  Continue reading

Easter, and finding what we’re looking for in unlikely places

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It’s been a chilly spring. While it feels like an unusually endless slog, I suspect that this is the usual state of affairs in Michigan because all of the Easter morning egg hunts I can remember as a child were indoors. Maybe it’s just being at the tail end of six months of cold, grey, dreariness, but my spirit has been craving change in a big way. A couple of weeks ago I told Kristin that I’ve been feeling really lonely. Not doing enough to make and cultivate friendships here is finally weighing on me in a way that I can’t ignore. “What kind of friend do you wish you had?” Kristin asked. “Someone creative, to make things with or at least talk about that sort of thing,” I told her.

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It’s not that we haven’t met anyone. We’ve met a number of really lovely people, many of whom we’ve intended to get to know better. The problem is that we don’t follow through. I often think, “when the weather is finally nicer we’ll have them over for a BBQ…” but then the cold continues and my introversion gets in the way and sometimes the thought of having to start at the beginning with someone is just exhausting.

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I asked a faraway friend the other day if I’m a snob because I don’t connect in that meant-to-be way with very many people. “Your introversion isn’t unique,” she said, “I feel the same way. I know pretty quick if people are in or out.” It sounds judgy, but it actually has very little to do with sizing people up, and everything to do with chemistry in a way that I can’t entirely explain. I’ve met a number of smart, funny people I enjoy tremendously, but I miss the kind of close female friendships I had in New York.

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A day or two after I told Kristin that I was feeling lonely I went in search of a new bike trailer for the twins. Our neighborhood has a garage sale coming up so I posted in the Facebook group letting folks know that we’re in the market for a used one. A woman I’ve never met responded, not with a bike trailer, but saying that I should meet her sister who also has young twins and who is new to the neighborhood. It seemed unlikely that those two things would be enough, but I looked her up and reached out. We decided to grab a cocktail downtown on a Tuesday evening, and when she picked me up and came into the house I knew almost immediately. The kids were clamoring for her attention, this stranger in their living room. She and K found something to talk about within seconds while the kids danced around them shouting, “watch me!” and asking to climb her legs.

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More often than not I go into social interactions with anxiety, worrying that there might not be anything to talk about or that things won’t go well, but for whatever reason I had no such concerns. We talked non-stop through two rounds of cocktails and when I got home I told K, “I think this might be my person.”

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When you find something that you’ve been searching for there’s always a sense of relief, the falling away of fear that perhaps you’d never find it at all. But when it shows up in a time and place that you weren’t even looking it’s energizing in a different way, like the joy and surprise of finding a colorful egg in a place it doesn’t belong.

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I loved watching their faces on Easter morning as they hunted for dyed eggs throughout the house. Later in the day (after a mishap in which Vivi re-hid them indoors and we lost one for roughly three hours, certain we’d find it when it started to smell) we took all of the eggs outside and the kids asked us to hide them again and again, the thrill of finding them brand new each time.

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We spent Easter dinner at our new friend’s house, crappy-dinner-party style, and met her husband and kids who are equally lovely. Jonah finally got to watch the Captain Underpants movie, which made his night, and Vivi swooshed around the house with two more Elsas. The four adults sat on the dining room floor drinking wine and talking for probably an hour before moving towards the kitchen, and afterwards Kristin and I talked about how significant that felt to both of us; the intimacy and comfort of sprawling on the floor (right next to a table and chairs) as kids dashed in and out of the circle for snacks.

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Easter is a time of renewal, of beginning again, and I’m feeling hopeful that perhaps the kind of friendships we have scattered across the country will happen here too. Starting over requires patience and a lot of faith that it will all come together eventually, and a hefty dose of gratitude for the good things that come our way.

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A hint of spring

It finally warmed up a bit this weekend (50s, but that’s good enough for me in March). While I don’t expect it to stay that way quite yet, it was wonderful to feel just a hint of spring to remind us that it really is coming if we can just be patient a little longer. When I lay down next to Jonah at bedtime tonight it was still light outside, and we talked about what that means and how amazing it is that the light changes as the earth orbits the sun. And sure, daylight savings time, but I didn’t go there.

We had a nice weekend, and today we made it out to the Delano Homestead.

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A million jumbled thoughts about kindergarten

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Last night was kindergarten orientation, and I’m not ready. I’m not ready to have a big kid; I’m not ready for him to not be a baby any longer. I’ve been dreading this day for well over a year, ever since we attended last year’s orientation on the slim chance that we might send him early (but didn’t, because why rush them through their childhood if we don’t have to?). It was clear to us then that he was beginning to really thrive in his Montessori-style preschool and that he would do far better there for another year than in the outrageously disappointing public education system. But we knew even then that he’d end up in public school the following fall, because the public schools are a big part of why we moved here, and this particular public school is a part of why we chose this neighborhood. Continue reading

Learning to sew

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I may have mentioned before that my parents bought me a sewing machine for Christmas. Every Halloween I call on my mom to bring hers over and handle the non-cardboard-and-hot-glue portions of the costumes, and while I believe that she really loves spending that time crafting with me, she also knew that it would be worthwhile (and fun) for me to learn how to do it myself.  Continue reading

The twins turn three

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Jude and Vivienne turned three on Wednesday and we celebrated with some of their preschool friends today. They are growing into such funny, interesting little people. I’m really enjoying those rare moments when I’m able to give one child my full attention and really see who they are at this moment in time. It doesn’t happen often enough, but I’m committed to creating more space for it somehow.  Continue reading

The thrill of a new sled

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A couple of weekends ago, after a big snowstorm, we took the kids to the golf course to go sledding. There were lots of families there and Jonah immediately zeroed in on a snowmobile-style sled with a steering wheel. He went over to the family and asked where they’d gotten it, and the grandpa told him that he’d had it in the attic. “That’s funny,” I said, “we had the same one when I was a kid!” They let Jonah take a ride on it and he was hooked. I called my dad to tell him the story after we got home and he recalled having found ours (with a broken seat) and only having thrown it away within the last year or two. He decided that Jonah should have one, and he ordered a similar model on Amazon and had it sent to us for Valentine’s Day. Continue reading

The meaning of quality time

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If things people write on the internet are a good barometer for the collective consciousness, absolutely no one was disappointed to see January come to an end. While the latter portion of winter is always rough for me, I don’t remember past Januarys feeling quite this gloomy. For much of the month I found it challenging to create magic or even come up with ways to spend time together that don’t involve folding laundry or yelling at the kids to stop vaulting onto the couch. Continue reading

Celebrating thirty-nine with a special cake and my favorite people

I turned 39 yesterday and I have to say that I feel perfectly at ease about it. Some time ago I expected that when I reached this year I’d have a longish list of goals to achieve before turning 40, but I have surprisingly few. It’s not that I have nothing to work on; there are plenty of things I’d like to be better at (less yelling, being a better partner) and things I’m looking forward to doing this year (learning to sew, improving my photography, learning how to properly edit photos, finally getting some indoor plants for the house) but I don’t feel a great sense of pressure about doing everything before I reach my fourth decade. I feel grateful for every year that I get on this earth and for exactly where I am right now. Continue reading