right now: summer!

As these weeks of summer continue to move us slowly and surely toward the first cooler breezes of fall, I am trying my best to stay present with what is happening, right here, right now. For, though summer is, of course, luscious, delightful and full of juicy goodness, by mid-August, I usually find myself daydreaming about crisper air, turning leaves, the unpacking of colorful woolens, apples fresh from the tree… but wait! It is still summer, after all… and rushing it away by moving into autumn in my mind, well, that’s not what I want to be doing right now. The sooner autumn starts, the sooner winter will follow, and while autumn is my favorite season, well, winter is not. So, right now, I am loving:

Playing in water: at the beach, in the backyard, and under raindrops… (It rains here! A lot! I love it!)

Looking for shells on the beach on Orr's Island.

"Look Mama! I'm surfing!"

Beans, our silly dog, waits patiently for Quinn to throw water at her. She loves it!

Berries! Picked and eaten fresh, by the handful; made, by Joe, into incredible toppings for cheesecake and ice cream; baked into muffins; and whatever is left over, tucked into the freezer for those cold days to come… We’ve gone strawberry and raspberry picking this summer, and plan to go blueberry picking this week, this time picking enough for more eating and baking, but also, I hope, making some jam!

We found an amazing organic strawberry patch within a half hour’s drive from our house. Acres of ripe, luscious berries… I only wish we had made it back a second time before they closed for the season. The jam we could have made! Next year…

Morning muffin making boys

On my birthday, I took the boys raspberry picking.

Isaiah picked raspberries with me for a while, until he discovered a huge sandbox at the end of one of the rows of berry bushes… and that was the end of my help with picking! He did help me eat lots on the way home, though.

Quinn wandered around underfoot, picking and eating berries, until he too saw the sandbox. The next night during a diaper change, Papa discovered that Quinn had eaten a green beetle along with his raspberries! Hmm… natural immune-builder, perhaps? Words cannot express how happy I am that the beetle made his appearance in the one diaper I didn’t change that day!

But I digress… Moving on to more of what I’m loving about summer:

Sharing some good old fashioned, small town New England summer fun with my boys…

Isaiah was so intrigued by the cotton candy, and sounded so wistful, asking if we could buy him some, "for a very special treat?" It's summertime, it's the fair, I loved it when I was four... yes!

Visiting with my parents and other beloved family members down in Rhode Island, a mere three hours drive away! This year we were present at my dad’s birthday in late May, and my mom’s in early August, with lots of visits from them (and help with childcare during our two moves!) in between! Such a gift, to live close to my family of origin once again. The boys are soaking up the grandparent-love…

Gramma has two helpers for breakfast-making!

Happy Birthday PePere!

Frosting Gramma's cake...

Happy Birthday Gramma! (Quinn, very concerned, is signing that the candle flames are "hot!")

I didn’t serve Quinn any of the chocolate cake, but he really enjoyed his first bowl of ice cream!

Summertime may be short, but it sure is sweet, don’t you think?

What are you loving right now?

the blessings of spring

We celebrated Easter yesterday, our first holiday in Maine! For us, Easter is a celebration of spring. It is another opportunity to express our gratitude toward the Earth and Mother Nature, for all of Her gifts: from the food we eat, to the flowers we are seeing blooming outside, to the cool, fresh ocean air we are fortunate enough to be breathing these days.

A few days before we left Boulder, we celebrated the first day of spring, the Equinox, with egg coloring.

Most of the eggs were eaten immediately after being colored, but a couple were left to grace our Nature Table.

In early March we cleared all of the wintry treasures off the Nature Table, and then Isaiah set it up for springtime. He spent a long time thoughtfully arranging all of his gnomes, animals, stones, shells, pine cones, and other nature treasures — and what a beautiful display he created in honor of spring’s arrival!

Last week, we finally unpacked the box containing the Nature Table, and Isaiah spent some time re-creating the spring scene. Yesterday, we colored some more eggs for Easter. A couple of hard-boiled eggs turned out to be a great mid-morning snack for Isaiah, to balance out the early morning jelly beans and bites of chocolate bunny that he began his day with.

The Easter Bunny visited our house while the boys were sleeping, and left some wonderful spring-inspired treats and treasures for them. When Isaiah was a baby, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to support a belief in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, etc., but after some thought and discussion, Joe and I decided that we wanted to foster in our children as much of a sense of wonder and belief in magic as possible. Our world, after all, is often sorely lacking in these things. So, we’ve invited them all in, and I’m so glad we did! It’s so much fun. Yesterday, Isaiah asked me, “Mama, do you think the Easter Bunny, like, travels?” After some musing, he decided that there are likely many Easter Bunnies, living in different areas, hopping around leaving baskets of treats and hiding eggs for children, with some help from the local spring fairies.

Isaiah’s basket was filled with all sorts of goodies: a set of child-sized gardening tools, gardening gloves, and packets of seeds, colored pencils carved from tree branches, a beautiful wooden swan for the Nature Table, a chocolate bunny, a chick sugar cookie. (I think our Easter Bunny shops for treats at Whole Foods. Thank goodness!)

Quinn’s first little Easter basket had a sweet little board book in it from a series of seasonal books that we love, and a little wooden gosling. Instead of things like jelly beans, chocolate Earth balls, and glow in the dark bugs (!) the handful of little eggs in Quinn’s basket were full of rice cereal puffs and raisins. (Isaiah thought this was very funny.)

Later in the afternoon, it was time for the egg hunt! The big, tree-filled yard of our spring home here in Harpswell was perfect for egg hunting. It had been raining, but it stopped just before we went out to look for the eggs, and was surprisingly warm outside. A beautiful spring afternoon…

After the egg hunting excitement, we had one final treat: sharing a delicious home-cooked Easter dinner with some of our East Coast family members. We are very blessed, indeed.


four!

My first baby turned four years old last week!

Four is big. Much celebrating was in order, of course.

We had a little party for him, with some dear friends and a few members of our family. There was some playtime, chatting, eating, and birthday party-style merrymaking… and then we gathered together for a special birthday circle.

We sang our Hello Everybody song to start our circle, and I told Isaiah’s Birthday Story.

“Once upon a time, about four years and nine months ago, there was a beautiful little star in the sky…and this little star decided he would like to be born on Earth…”

This story tells briefly and simply of Isaiah’s journey into his body, his birth into our family, and then highlights some of the milestones of each of the years he’s been here on Earth with us. This year I mentioned things like… when Isaiah was a baby, we used baby sign language to communicate with him, and he knew more than thirty signs! He was always very curious and inquisitive, and after he turned one and started to speak with words, he was often pointing at things and saying, “that!?!” to ask what things were called. When Isaiah was about 18 months old, he used to strum his ukelele and sing, from beginning to end, his favorite songs, which were “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” When he was two, Isaiah discovered that he loved playing dress-up… and when he turned three, he had just become a Big Brother! His little brother Quinn is very lucky, because Isaiah is very kind, gentle, and patient with him, even when Quinn does things that are frustrating!

We’ve told some version of this story on each of his birthdays, and it feels like a lovely way to mark the importance of our sweet, sensitive, intelligent little boy’s life, and his specialness, his uniqueness, as Isaiah Joseph DelaTerre.

After the story, we invited Isaiah to walk around “the sun” in the middle of the circle, four times, because he has been on the earth, rotating around the sun, for four years now!

Four times around the sun...

Isaiah went around the sun on his Papa’s shoulders, as he felt shy about walking by himself. I had planned to make a larger wool “Earth” ball for Isaiah to hold, but since that project didn’t happen, he held a little chocolate Earth ball instead, borrowed from the party favors. (He asked if he could eat it first.)

Our sweet friend Mayla, holding the candle representing the sun.

Then, it was time to share the birthday cupcakes! Earlier, Isaiah helped me make them: “strawberry, because I love strawberries!”

Isaiah fell asleep that night (way past his bedtime!) reminiscing about his fun party, and marveling that he would wake up in the morning (his actual birthday) and be a whole year older than he was that night… The next morning, Isaiah woke to discover a few presents waiting for him…

Our dear friend Rachel made the beautiful gnome for Isaiah. I made his new crown with wool felt, edged with ribbon.

After some playtime with his new toys, we all had another strawberry cupcake, of course, for breakfast. (Well, first breakfast, that is. Second breakfast had a bit more protein.) Then we visited Isaiah’s grandmother, “Babi,” and headed into Denver to visit the aquarium. We had a fun afternoon checking out all of the interesting sea creatures, and also watching theĀ  tigers eat their lunch! (Yes, they have tigers at the Denver Aquarium!)

After his birthday celebrations were over, Isaiah said, “my birthday was great!

And it really was.

His Papa and I have both noticed something else that is great too — in this first week of Isaiah’s four-year-old-ness, we’ve been delighted and amazed to observe that Isaiah has completely stepped up, into his new Big Boy status, quite naturally and proudly, pretty immediately upon turning four! He is noticeably braver, and quite a bit more sure of himself, more secure in his being. This last year has been challenging for Isaiah, in many ways and for various reasons, and it seems that, in leaving behind “being three,” he has been able to let go of some heavier energy that hasn’t been serving him. He’s much lighter in his mood, yet also more grounded; more mature, yet also more carefree; and so very proud of being four years old! His Papa and I are so happy for him, for his ever-deepening sense of self, and for his continually inspiring, fresh approach to the adventure of each new day. We’re so very grateful that this beautiful little shining star decided to come into our family, and we’re looking forward to all of the new adventures that will surely come with “being four!”

my baby is one!

Our little Quinn turned one year old a couple of weeks ago. Hard to believe this little being has already been in his delicious little body for a full year! The memory of his birth is still so vivid: Quinn was born at home, in the water, after about 13 hours of labor.

Our midwife said he’d be a lover of water, and she was right, he really, really loves the water!

I remember his first smile, at just a few weeks old, followed soon after by his first laugh… a sweeter sound than this beloved boy’s laugh, I haven’t heard. He took his first steps about a month ago, and these days he’s walking across the room, a delighted grin upon his face. A few weeks ago he uttered his first word, so clearly (“Mama!”), and my heart melted, yet again. What a year we’ve had with him! So much growth, so many firsts, so much pure love. It’s a Quinny love-fest over here. I mean, those cheeks! Seriously.

Strangers comment on his beauty, his big, beautiful eyes, his easy smile. He loves to lay his head on our chests when we hold him, snuggling in for a long, sweet hug. His big brother can’t stop kissing him, forgiving him everything, so easily (from the rampant destruction of puzzles and block towers, to the attack of whatever Isaiah is trying to eat, to sudden hair pulling and banging on the head with hard wooden toys, to the division of Mama’s attention).

He’s lately taken to screaming and pointing to get what he wants (as opposed to the more dignified use of baby sign language, which he is understanding, but not so interested in using), isn’t much of a sleeper, climbs the stairs the second a baby gate is left unopened, and declares his meal over by spraying whoever is feeding him with his last bite of food (mashed carrot shower, anyone?) Despite these minor imperfections, however, you just can’t know Quinn and not adore him. He is a round, fuzzy-headed little bundle of joy, love, light and laughter.

Happy Birthday, dear Quinny!