Rory’s Room

A Day in the Life

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He goes wherever he wants, these days. He stands up in the middle of the floor, walks across, and changes directions when something new catches his eye. If anyone feels like a little chase, he’s only too happy to run away. With a spotter, he can take the stairs, and with a little reminder he’ll even spin around to go feet first off of any elevated surface. Dangle dangle, little toes. Then grab the ground and sprint away.

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From his little front room, he can creep up the step stool we painted in the summer. It’s the perfect spot to view the neighbors walking up and down the sidewalk, the garden growing in our front yard, and the HUG farm volunteers checking in on turnips in the right-of-way. He sings a song to them, and sometimes taps on the window.

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Edie joins her brother to look out and to investigate the toys from his shelves. Seeing a big kid handling the treasures is a great provocation; he peers intently at pictures, or shape blocks, or animals she sets down. They talk together in a wiggly body language they both know by heart.

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Every day his world is getting bigger, and it all starts in his own little room.

Please Do Touch

A Day in the Life, Why

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It’s really really fall now, and that means more indoor adventures. We have a great collection of favorite places now that we have lived in Tacoma for a few years, and the top favorite remains the Children’s Museum of Tacoma. These days, there aren’t very many places where kids can practice making their own choices and controlling themselves without worrying too much about mistakes. We love the Museum because it’s a safe place to take some risks and jump into exploring. It’s full of things to touch, press, spill, climb, splash, pour, drop, paint, squish, and pile up.

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“I like painting and I like playing. And I like painting butterflies.” -Edie

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Our recent visits included some great interactive community sculpture. Above, Edie investigates a jump set where kids have been rolling wheels through paint and down the slopes. We check out the tracks left behind by everyone’s wheels. In another room, a potter’s wheel provides a spinning surface for bull’s eye drawings. Edie admires rainbow collection and adds one of her own, while Rory manipulates the mirrors and light tables nearby.

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Both kids work together on the dials and toggles in the cockpit. Rory throws a switch back and forth intently. Edie zooms in to count the numbers on a pressure valve.

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Rory discovered a new friend inside this under-stairs cave. He pops back out to introduce me and add his board to the peg panel just outside.

Each of our favorite places around town invite us to engage and participate in a different way. The Museum always provokes us to see the world in a new way. It’s so hard to leave, and we can never wait to go back!

Potato Day

A Day in the Life, Farm Book

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Once I was digging the potatoes with my mom.

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Um, my brother was playing in the dirt when my mommy and me were digging out the potatoes.
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I was touching my hands on the dirt when my daddy took a picture. It was soft and squishy like toilet paper. Rocks and dirt and roots and stuff.
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I found a potato in the dirt with my mother. Not very excited. I didn’t know we were not going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Because every year when summer starts we dig out the potatoes at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

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My brother was taking a bath in the dirt. My mom was cleaning my brother’s hands. That’s all for this weekend! -Edie

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Although it was a pretty drizzly, we knew we needed to get the potatoes in for the winter before they got soggy in the ground. Edie worked hard to help sort out the yellow balls from the clumpy dirt. It was the first day Rory tried on his rain boots, and he was not impressed. While we sorted through the dirt, Rory thrashed around the wet sidewalk and figured out how to get his boots off. It wasn’t exactly his happiest moment. As he settled into the weather, though, he crept into the dirt and squished his own little mud pile. Wet, but not too cold, we headed into the mudroom to strip down and pre-rinse for a nice warm bath. -Mama

Baby Party!

A Day in the Life

Last weekend, our sweet friend Jenn- who had been at Rory’s birth- organised a bunch of our neighborhood friends for a party to celebrate both of the little boys born in our community at the end of last year.

Everyone brought food to share, and the babies just played and played…

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It’s been such a blessing to be in such a supportive, loving community. Thanks to everyone who came and cooked, for being open arms to show our kids what love and community are all about.

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Arts and crafts

A Day in the Life, Art Book

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As we’ve settled back into a rhythm here in the White House, I have been able to get intentional about how we spend our time. While we never get through everything perfectly on time, Edie has come to expect her playtime with Mama, adventure time, and “preschool” to happen in a certain order, and she even color-coded her own chart so she can predict snacks, jobs, and bedtime.

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Like I said, we don’t always stick very close and most schedule items are pretty interpretive. But it helps us make sure we get through the stuff that’s important to us at least a few times each week.

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One of the best effects of getting more predictable and planning ahead is that we are finally making time for creative activities. Especially since I’ve been thinking about what our family needs from our home, a lot of those little personal touches are on my mind, and Edie is happy to pitch in putting some color in new places.  A few days ago we tried out some wax relief painting on canvases I had been holding on to for a long time. Today, we painted with cake tempera and glitter paints on a simple stool I picked up at an estate sale while in college.  It’s been waiting for it’s glitzy makeover for a long time:

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Unfortunately I never seem to have a clean hand to snap photos until Edie is off on her next adventure, but these shots should give you an idea of what she’s been up to.

Meanwhile Rory has been adapting well to having a bit of rhythm as well.  Since I have him in the Ergo (thanks again, Uncle Patrick and Auntie Kim) for a few predicable portions of the day, and lay down with him at least part of the time Edie naps, he’s beginning to settle into a three nap day, as well as sleeping beautifully next to me all night. You know, most  nights. More importantly, he gave a really solid, hilarious giggle yesterday, which Edie and I both found intoxicating and addictive in the best way. Since then we have been speculating on what exactly could be funny to babies, because we simply must get him to replicate that laugh. Oh man.

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Book Nook

A Day in the Life, How

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I had been meaning to deal with the book situation for a long time, and with a Christmas money and a new years resolution about the play room, we packed up Grandma’s car and headed to IKEA.

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Before: a repurposed mail sorter fit behind the playroom closet door, but failed to showcase the books or attract Edie to the titles I visually “suggested.” Meanwhile, adjacent low shelving constantly exploded books into a walkway, and the awkward, tight vertical arrangement ensured she could never put them away properly on her own. It was a disaster, and most of last year I just left it like that. But no more: it’s time for fresh starts and good intentions to blossom!

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These picture display rails make perfect bookshelves for this funny little space. I also moved the rest of the book storage to a top shelf, freeing up play space and allowing me to rotate through the book collection. This can help to emphasize a theme, limit repetition of the most annoying stories, and protect great older stories from competing directly with flashy holographic scratch-and-sniff pop-up books for attention all the time. Also, the bottom shelf will be easy access for the littlest book worm when he starts scooting around this summer.

While we were there, we picked up some other stuff to perk up the play kitchen, streamline bath time, and provide a work space for playroom projects. Our other great find was a simple, sturdy red plastic table with screw on legs for storage, which came with two benches for only fifteen dollars! We bought two sets, so we’ll have plenty for play dates or for outdoors in the spring. They have already become the best Tea Party Doctor Office I’ve ever visited; Edie’s cupcakes will trigger diabetic shock, but she also has the syringe to revive you.

Yay for simple solutions! And a big Thank You to Grandpa Bill and Nana, the great-grandparents who sponsored a post-Christmas shopping spree to get our play room all set for the New Year!

Rory and Edie, potty buddies

A Day in the Life

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We have been enjoying our diaper service, blending with paper diapers when we travel, and this week, Baby Rory started on option three: elimination communication. This worked well for Edie, who was out of diapers at eighteen months, so I was excited to try with Rory. We’re starting a few months earlier this time, and so far it’s been really encouraging.

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Rory quickly relaxes when given a chance to sit on the potty at certain times a day, like right after nursing or getting out of a sling or backpack. It’s been fun to try out potty choices and save diapers by putting waste where it belongs, in the toilet. Edie helps by getting fresh diapers, checking if baby is wet, and making the hushing sounds we will teach him to associate with relaxing on a potty. He appreciates the help keeping clean… Most of the time.

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It’s not always easier than just sticking a paper diap on, but I like the trade off. It takes more intentionality right at first, and since the convenient supplies are different from things used for conventional diapers and potty training, it takes some resourcefulness and experimentation to get started. For us, the rash prevention and the diaper savings are worth it in the long run. It ends up feeling much simpler and less wasteful.
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Edie still uses her own potty at night since our only bathroom is so far from the bedrooms, and we keep some around the house for baby potty ease… For a little while it will be quite the potty parade around here!

Edie’s First Ballet

A Day in the Life

Earlier this month, Edie got to see Iris’s performance of the Nutcracker, and last night Edie got to do her own performance. During our month in Bremerton waiting for Baby Rory, Edie was enrolled at the ballet class at Mimee’s Ymca, and this show was the season finale for the class.
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It was also our last opportunity to get our ginger bread houses decorated with Iris… So unfortunately we had a bunch of candy instead of a nap. That set us up for a more chaotic evening than necessary. If it wasn’t for Poppy helping to wrangle the three kids, we would have been sunk- thanks, Poppy.  However, it was all worth it, as the ginger bread and the ballet came out super cute. I didn’t get a photo of the houses, but fear not, I will.

The show involved three short acts in different locations around the Y. The video on the huckleberry school Facebook page captures the first act. As you can imagine, the nap /snack combo forced Edie to slowly devolve by the final act. It was kind of like me in preschool soccer, but please enjoy the proof that Edie learned some great dance, had fun, and jeteed her little heart out.

Meanwhile, Rory visited with a bevvy of ladies whose babies were now three to five year old ballerinas, inspiring a baby fever epidemic.
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Welcome, Baby Rory!

A Day in the Life

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All through November, we waited and waited. Mama’s belly was so big and round, and no one was allowed to jump on her. You’re growing the new baby, Edie knew. Most days, Edie went to the YMCA with Mimee, while Mama rested and put the finishing touches on the newest little one. We didn’t know if it would be a boy or a girl. Sometimes Mama had gentle feelings in her uterus, contractions, that let her know the baby would be coming soon, but they weren’t strong enough yet to get that baby out.

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Then, very early one morning, the strong contractions started coming. Mama worked on her own for a while, and ate a blueberry muffin while she waited to see if this would be the baby’s birthday. When she was sure, she called the midwife and the helpers that would come to meet the baby with us. Then it was time to wake up Daddy, and Mimee and Poppy. When Daddy started putting warm water in the pool, Edie woke up. It was still early and dark, so Edie came up and hugged Mama. “It’s the baby’s birthday today!” She sat with Poppy to watch while Mama sang to the baby, at first gently, then louder and louder.

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When the pool was ready, Mama rushed down and sat down deep in the warm water. Edie and Katy lit candles on the candle tree, and we made a calm, warm place for the baby to come as the sun was rising. Once Mama was comfortable in the pool, the baby was really ready to come out. It happened so fast! Mama pushed hard, so hard that she made her most powerful noises, and so fast that the baby came out in only eight minutes. The waters around the baby came out with a swish, and the baby came right after. Mama lifted and wrapped the baby with a cozy wet blanket.

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After a few minutes, everyone was curious: Mama asked Edie to come help her check if the baby had a penis or a vagina. It’s a girl! Edie told everyone. Those pesky baby parts can be hard to tell. Mama took a look too: “Oh, no, it is not!” We were all surprised. Mimee told Edie, “You have a little brother!”

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What is his name going to be? His name is Rory Evans, Edie told us, remembering the plans we made while we were still waiting for that little guy. We all got in bed and snuggled up: it was time to rest and celebrate! Daddy read a special message he made for the baby, and we toasted a hearty early morning toast. Edie snuggled Mama and held the baby close. I love you, baby brother.


If you were at the Rory’s birth, please share any special memories in the comments below!

Waiting for Baby

A Day in the Life

At the very end of October, we moved back to our old downstairs at Mimee and Poppy’s house, because last time we had a baby, it worked really well to do it there. Of course, it was really exciting to be getting closer and closer to baby time, but at first, Halloween was more urgent:

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Edie wore her Fairy costume that she picked out with Mimee, and Iris was a raccoon. Once the trick-or-treating was over, we spent a few days hopped up on skittles and jolly ranchers, as tradition dictates, and got to work setting up the room like our own family birthing suite. The girls were enthusiastic supporters of the birth pool inflation operation:image

It took a while to get everything just right, and once it was all set up, the tea lights everywhere were awfully tempting to play with. Edie doesn’t have very clear memories of the long ago days when we lived in this room, but it was still kind of like coming home for all of us. Being in the big family is always special, and especially for a life transition like welcoming a new baby, it is such a blessing to have a family home to return to. Mimee and Poppy’s support was so important during this time. Besides helping out lots with both the kids after baby arrives, they helped keep us distracted during the Long Wait.image

We went for beach walks, all together. At Illahee, we took off our shoes in the cold sand. The girls climbed over logs and branches, set sticks tall like trees on the beach. The sand was fluffed up somehow, and when we ran through the surf, our footprints bubbled with each wave as though there were deep sea vents below us.image

 

Mimee and the girls took turns leaping into Poppy’s arms from high above. At first, Iris and Edie were a bit concerned, but Edie screwed up her courage with some crazy face making, and soon Iris was assured it was safe. Mimee gave them each some pointers and they all refined the art of jumping. Poppy made sure everyone landed safely, setting them in the soft sandy fall leaves.image

 

Another day, another beach walk. Baby was still not ready to come down and play, and I was wearing pretty thin. Or rather hugely thick. Every chance we got, we headed out to some nature, especially water ways, to keep my spirits up and to call down the water baby. One day, after a great French Dip at Grub Hut, we tromped over to Point No Point for a different kind of beach. The large pebbles helped me stroll the aches out of my hips, and we saw handfuls of huge beached red jellyfish. As we approached the middle of the walk, an animal I first took to be a dog skittered itself off into the sea and we realized it was a sea otter! None of us could remember seeing a sea otter in the wild before, and as the creature swam alongside our adventure, I couldn’t help thinking it was bringing a happy message. I watched the sunlight through small green rolling waves, and saved the image in my heart for when the baby would one day find a way out.image

About this picture, Edie says, “I like me! I look cute. No Point, Yes Point. We’re riding on the favorite thing I always wanted to ride on. It feels good. I like it. I want to ride on it again some day. Side to side to side to side. You stand like this on the edge and you hold a hand and the one that rides you does this: rock rock, rock rock. Mama’s rocking baby. I love you, Mimee and Poppy. I really want to go to class.”image

We got pretty silly.

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One of the really great opportunities Edie had while waiting was joining Mimee at her job at the YMCA, where she could join the children’s classes, Ballet, Tap, and swim lessons. Edie’s second swim lesson, Iris hopped in with her after class for extra playtime. We haven’t had a lot of time in the water before, so this time it was Iris’ turn to help Edie feel safe in a strange situation. Mimee and Poppy each took turns playing in the pool with Edie, so she got lots of time to get comfortable. She’s already kicking herself around with just a noodle to help.image

Little did we know, that second swim lesson was to be Edie’s last night as an only child!

Stay tuned for the next episode: Meet the baby!