Sunday, May 25, 2008

good times

We've been crazy busy the past few days. Between a mad dash to get our current condo ready to go on the market, searching for the best flooring, appliance, and soundproofing options for the new house, and some insane yard work (long story, perhaps you'll hear it later) we have had very little time to devote solely to Mr. Riverman. The poor guy has been carted here and there, sent on playdates with the neighbors, brought along for endless errands, pushed from activity to activity with little time to switch gears--AND YET, he has been an absolute prince about it all.

I have to say I'm loving this current toddler phase. I know that it's very likely, in fact it is a veritable certainty, that we have not seen the worst. Still, right now River's attitude is not only okay, it's fantastic.

Rather than get into a laundry list of all the great things he's doing lately, let me give you an example from yesterday: River had already spent the morning at the sitter's, endured a very long car ride, and sat through an hour and a half of mom and dad examining appliances. Normally this would be a recipe for disaster and we would try to get home as quickly as possible.

But it was getting late, none of us had eaten dinner, and faced with yet another change of venue or the twenty minute ride home, we chose to eat out. A few minutes later we found ourselves at the Cheesecake Factory and were told it would be a half an hour wait for a table. Hungry and tired, I was sure more waiting would push River over the edge. Rather than stand in the entry with all the other bored parents and kids we decided go out to the courtyard to let him wander around and get some fresh air.

Blasting through the patio sound system was a Counting Crows album, and just as I was thinking how cheesy and loud the music was, River started waving his arms. Shake shake! Shake shake! Turn and smile. Shake shake! He was dancing!

He heard the music, wanted to move, and found a great way to entertain himself (and all the folks eating outside). And only moments before, I feared we would have to pack it up and move on before he had a meltdown.

Dinner wasn't the easiest--he needed lots of time in mom or dad's lap, he picked at his food, he wanted to wander around--but still we had no tantrums, no food throwing, and no embarrassing scenes. In fact he charmed everyone who came within three feet of our table. He flirted with the waitress, waving and smiling, stopping just short of asking for her digits.

These little changes have made all the difference. I love his newfound independence, his patience, his growing inventiveness. I love that he is happy and we are happy... even when we're crazy busy.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

tales of a button lover

One of River's latest interests is in buttons. He loves all kinds: buttons on the ice dispenser, buttons on the washing machine control panel, buttons on the automatic coffee maker. No alarm clock, elevator, or ATM machine can be passed without some attempt to push those ever so enticing buttons. I do let him push them when I can (after we've loaded the dishwasher, for instance) and hold him back when prudent (as he attempts to withdraw $100 from my bank account). But the one button he is most in love with these days is the Belly Button.

He is just obsessed. He attacks me four or five times a day--pulling up my shirt and examining my navel. He pokes at it and laughs as though it's the funniest thing he could have done. It was a grand day when he discovered his own belly button; the shock and joy that he too had a little inexplicable nubbin right on his tummy was overwhelming.

This afternoon he had a belly button jones and because of some restrictive clothing (damn those crotch snapped onesies!) he couldn't reach it. Try as he might, his undershirt wouldn't give him access to his tummy. He tugged and tugged and fussed and fussed until finally I stripped him down to his diaper, and then he had a grand ol' time--poke poke, giggle giggle. It was just about the cutest thing I've ever seen.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

meant to be

Well, here it is my friends, after three months, a million viewings, and two failed offers, we now officially have new home.

Here, Thom checks out the new neighborhood while River rummages through a bag of books and toys we got from a yard sale (just what we need: more crap!).

Cute street, huh? Still within walking distance of our favorite squares and Kevin and Crystal, so the location is great.

On Saturday we looked at a condo I had seen the day before, and though I thought it had potential Thom resolutely hated it (wow, sometimes we don't agree). I'm so glad he hated that place because it lead us right to our dream home.

While we were in the neighborhood, our agent thought we might like to see a house down the street that was in the process of being renovated. And when I say "in the process" what I mean is the house had been gutted and re-framed with studs... and that's it. We walked through the construction site armed only with a floor plan and our imaginations. Still, in spite of the exposed wires, plywood floors, and complete lack of walls, Thom and I both knew this was the place.

It's a four bedroom with a beautiful open plan, huge family room, and great backyard. And because it's so early in the construction process Thom and I will be able to have a hand in choosing everything from flooring to appliances to doorknobs (if we want).

We met with the developers yesterday--a lovely young couple who have quite a few houses under their belts--and we hit it off great. It was really important that we get along with them since we'll be working so closely together. They told us their ideas, we gave them some of ours, and at the end of the meeting we signed all the paperwork! It was so much nicer than the process we've been through twice before: giving our offer to our agent, staying awake all night wondering if they'll take it, only to find out the next day we've been out-bid by some crazy amount.

I'm thrilled and daunted by the prospect of designing a new space. It's going to be a lot of work in the coming months, but I'm always happy when I have a big project in front of me.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

raising my own 40 year old virgin

We've had a very busy weekend gardening, house-hunting, and keeping River from imploding from his insane teething pain. I hope to have some fun news in the next couple days, but in the mean time I just wanted to let you know what a huge geek I am (and by extension, what amazing geek cred River is going to have):

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

hello class...

Today we're forgoing our usual lecture and instead viewing a documentary about a young man on the run from his family. He takes his cousin under his wing, and together they hope to find a better place. Their journey is marked by challenges, triumphs, and above all else, perseverance. It is a heartbreaking and enlightening story, and I hope you take from it the beauty of the human struggle.

Following the film, there will be some questions for further discussion. Consider them carefully.


1. What emotion is the director trying evoke with the first "sideways" half of the film?

2. What keeps these two young men together? Is it simply circumstance? Familial bond? Love of adventure? Something deeper?

3. Who is "The Man in the Blue Shirt"? Is he an actual person or simply a construct of the boys' minds? Do you think they ever escape him?

Please present your answers in essay form, no less than 1000 words.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

this, and opposable thumbs separates man from beast

We've had more than a few requests here at The Wyrd Sisters for video footage of our little Riverman performing the amazing feat of WALKING (okay, okay it was one request, but it was a very emphatic one). Here is such a gem for your viewing pleasure:

Directed and shot by Summer Doyle
Edited by Thomas Doyle
Starring River Doyle

Happy Mother's Day

How time flies! This time last year my little pumpkindoodle looked like this:

A mushy, gushy cute little thing. And look at him now--all grown up and playing chess!

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all the great mothers in my life! I love you!

Friday, May 09, 2008


River and I went for a nice stroll this morning, first to our favorite cafe for some breakfast then over to the park. He's getting so amazingly stable on his legs, I can just let him run around (or drunkenly toddle, as the case may be) and not have to hover too close. If there are any bigger kids nearby I try to keep a pretty close watch so he doesn't get pummeled, but generally I hang back and let him explore.

River likes to do all of the usual playground things--climb, swing, slide--but he's also really interested in figuring out how it all works. He'll stand at the swings, pushing them back and forth just to see them move. He'll kneel down next to the slides to see what's going on underneath. He'll push the gate open and closed, open and closed for as long as we'll let him.

After the playground we walked home and spent some time just hanging out in front of the house. He loves exploring plants, and we've been pretty good about teaching him to just look, smell, or touch gently. But he so obviously wants to dig in and play, so I've come up with a way to let him do that without destroying every pretty flower he comes across.

I've given him the express permission to pick any dandelion he sees. He gets to pick flowers and I get the yard weeded: it's a win-win situation! Since I've shown him how to do it, he's taken to it like it's his job. He now can't pass by one of those little yellow weeds without attacking it. Must. Pick. Flowers.

He likes to collect them all together, see them pile up, and admire his good work. This was todays take:

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Monday, May 05, 2008

a love letter

I just talked to my very best friend in the whole world. Actually, we were IMing (that means instant messaging, grandma). It's the first time we've IMed because, as I've mentioned, I might as well be living in Victorian England for how well I get along with technology. As it turns out, I didn't have to do a single thing to get this IM thing going. A message from her just popped up on my new email service and BAM! hello twenty-first century!

But the point of this post is not to once again point out my technological deficiencies; it's really to say how very much I love my best friend.

She, who puts up with me even though I never update my MySpace page (see, does it even look like I have a kid there?). She, who knows my every secret and loves me anyway. She, who always calls me first when some new joy or hurt comes into her life. She, who is going through some very large, very difficult hurt right now and is facing it with grace and beauty.

My best friend lives five thousand miles away and I only see her once or twice a year, but when we're together it's as though nothing has changed from those silly days in high school when we would lounge on her couch discussing our latest schemes for getting on Oprah or figuring out the next color I should dye my hair. We are girly-girls together, opening our hearts, conspiring with adolescent enthusiasm, figuring out how to save the world over a tub of peppercinis and a cheese log.

As I've gotten older, moved from city to city, and expanded my family, some friends have come and gone. Evolving with each new phase of my life, many friendships serve a purpose for some time then fade away. But with this woman, I know no matter how far I move or how drastically my life changes, I will never lose her. It is a simple fact of life: she will be there for me as I am for her when we are old and gray (or old and red as the case may be...).

And that is a wonderful feeling.

I love you, my sweet, sweet dear. And I hope reading this makes you smile. You deserve it.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

River News: Month Thirteen

Oh River my boy!

How have you grown? Let me count the ways... This month you went from taking your first tentative steps to becoming a full-blown walker! Walking is your primary means of transportation now (well, that and being carried by mommy and daddy), and you become more confident and more reckless every day. You can get up from a sitting position, bend down and pick things up, pivot, duck, and I swear you're trying to run. You still fall and bump into things all the time, and you have no concept of watching where you put your feet. But you're generally so unfazed by bumps and bruises, you're more likely to laugh than cry when you tumble.

As much as I feared walking would make our life more difficult, it's actually been a great joy for all of us. Rather than following me around whining to be held all the time, you enjoy the freedom of seeing where your own legs can take you. Obviously I now need a fourth eye in the back of my head (I already have the third) to keep track of your machinations, but generally having a walker is a grand thing.

As you become more confident physically, you seem to take greater and greater risks. This brings us to Willful Toddler Episode #139:

After your father got home from work a few nights ago, we all went up to the deck to enjoy the warm evening air. Your dad and I sipped our beers, relaxing in our comfy lounge chairs while you explored the rest of the deck. Eventually you came to your River-sized lawn chair, and climbed up in it facing backwards. That in itself would have been fine, but you then proceeded to rock the chair back and forth. Anyone (besides a little stinky boy) would have understood the precariousness of this situation. When I told you to stop, you did what you usually do in these circumstances: paused, considered how serious I was, smiled, then continued what you were doing with even more vigor.

About the moment you smiled I knew what was coming, and I shouted "NO!" as I jumped up to restrain you. Of course I was half a second too late, and in that blip of time you fell with a tremendous SPLAT right onto your face. The cries were instantaneous and furious. A bloody nose and fat lip were the worst of your injuries and I'm sure it's not the last we'll see of either. It was a big shock for you, the kind of hurt that can't be fixed with a hug and a little distraction. We rocked and rocked, then nursed and nursed, and finally, you were ready to face the world again.

This is one of those moments that I feel completely justified in saying, "See? If you had listened to me..."

It is in your toddler nature to test your boundaries, to see just how far you can push me and yourself, and it's through these experiences that you will learn (for instance, not to rock in a chair...or at the very least to break your fall with your hands, goofbutt). As your father said afterward, half of me is proud to have a son who balks at authority and forges his own path, but the other half JUST WANTS YOU TO LISTEN TO ME, DAMNIT!

While you show greater and greater obstinacy in some instances, you have also become so amazingly cooperative in others. You respond incredibly well to rituals and routines. For instance, you know that when we put on your shoes and coat we're going to go outside (which you LOVE!), so you never fight me and will actually hand me a shoe to put on. If I give you something interesting to play with during a diaper change, you'll sit there patiently forever, even raising your legs and lowering them at the appropriate times. You love to help me empty the clothes from the washing machine and close the door when we're done. Perhaps the craziest example is what you do at mealtimes. Now, they're not completely mess-free yet, but at the end of a meal you give the "All Done" sign then reach out for a washcloth and wipe off your own tray. You'll even attempt to wipe your hands and mouth on occasion. It blows my mind!

I think you do most of these things because you're so interested in mimicking right now. You're learning about your world by copying what you see, and that can create some very funny moments. One favorite is that you've stared blowing on your food (you know, how dad and I might if we were going to give you a bite of something hot). Strawberries, crackers, doesn't matter if it's cold, as soon as you have a bite in front of you your mouth puckers up and you blow furiously. We have also taught you to clink glasses (or sippy cup) and "cheers!" at the start of a meal. You love doing it so much, you often raise your cup three or four times during the course of dinner.

This interest in mimicking means that your dad and I need to be really careful about what we say and do around you. Before we know it, you'll be sitting in your carseat telling other drivers that "Green means go, dumbass!" if we're not careful.

My great relief is that you have learned the need to be gentle to other creatures. It's not something you do all the time, but generally I can count on you to pet the kitties softly and nicely. You took this a step further last night when we had your cousin over. At one point in the evening you walked up to him sleeping in his mommy's lap and you began petting his leg ever so delicately. Little Finn: your new pet!

Oh, my boy, there is so much you've learned this month--how to put simple puzzle pieces together, your appreciation for big kids on the playground, a new passion for riding escalators--and I have had so much fun watching you. It's not simple or easy running around after you, showing you the world, and teaching you right from wrong, but it is incredibly rewarding.

I love you my stinky-butt!