Friday, November 26, 2010

... and oh yeah!

How could I forget one of the most memorable parts of our Thanksgiving, our annual trip to the fire station!?  This was the third year we've gone on an after-dinner walk to the firehouse to bring dessert to the guys (and gals!) and say thanks. The firefighters are always so nice, showing us around and letting River climb on the trucks.  They seem to appreciate the visit as much as we enjoy making it.

As we arrived last night two of the trucks had just gone out on an alarm, but there were a couple guys still on duty.  They seemed excited by River's enthusiasm, and he had a great time asking questions and checking out the equipment.

I'm so thankful for the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to protect us - firefighters, police officers, our military - no matter what the day.  I know they must miss being with their families, but their work is appreciated.  THANK YOU!

Scenes from Thanksgiving

We celebrated Thanksgiving at home this year; just our little group, including Megan.  We had a lovely, mostly mellow day.  Some of us are still recovering from colds and River has completely given up sleeping in his own bed - preferring instead to kick dad in the head and suffocate mom all night.  Lots of sleepless nights plus no outdoor time made River a wee bit manic, but we managed to corral him, play with Lila, and cook a 10-dish meal!  And we made it to the table only an hour and a half past our estimated dinner time!

River and I made these pumpkin centerpieces yesterday.  He did a great job arranging flowers and loved the cat tails.  I love that he's big enough to do these arts and crafts projects with me.

 After wrestling him out of his pajamas (around 3pm) he sullenly agreed to help set the table (by which, I mean he threw the place mats on the floor and let Megan and me set it).  Did I mention the kid hasn't slept in a week?

 Megan looking lovely with my little fox.

 Now here's someone who enjoyed the whole day.  My sweetie Lila.

 Yup.  The best group shot we could manage. 

 Lila needed a little cranberry fix before dinner.  After watching The Walking Dead, all I can think is BRAINS.

 My handsome chef.

 Ornery booger.

 Aaahhh!  Get the giant forks away from him!

 Our massive feast... for three adults, one preschooler, and a baby.  Even after taking part in so much of the cooking, River stuck with rolls for the night.  Thank goodness we love leftovers!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Doyles!  Hope your holiday was as fun and memorable as ours!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

River's Gallery

With two years of art classes under his belt and now daily access to art at preschool, River has made countless paintings, sculptures, and collages.  I can't bear to throw any of his creations out just yet, but we are amassing quite a pile and more comes home everyday.  I display what I can and store the rest, but I was inspired to take it a bit further during a conversation with the little artiste last night.

He was telling a story in which one of his sculptures was displayed in a museum and everyone came to look at it.  I told him we could do that at home: pull key pieces of his work out and display it like a gallery.  We could even have an opening with hors d'oeuvres and cocktails.  With the mention of snacks he was sold and with the thought of cocktails I was.

Together, River and I worked on choosing the artwork and hanging it (at least until he got bored).  Then the whole family assembled to mingle and enjoy his hard work.

 Thom and River prepare our snack table.

 Helping to pour sparkling cider.  One wall of paintings in the background.

 The sculpture table.  The clay piece is entitled "a-bug-a-bug"

 "Good guy ship with rain protection"

 "My Family" from this September and two untitled finger paintings from 2009 (his early work)

 River's favorite, "Untitled" in sand

 Our sitter, Megan, joined the festivities. 

Lila was very "into" the art; her brother was patient with her hands-on approach.

Overall it was a great success.  We had a wonderful time looking at some of River's past and current creations.  He really enjoyed talking about his work and I loved celebrating it in a memorable way.

If I had planned this more in advance, I would have taken the time to make cards with the name of each piece (if titled), the medium, and the artist's thoughts.  As it is, I think this will be just the first of many gallery openings our home will see.

Monday, November 01, 2010


Somewhere between chopping veggies, keeping Lila away from the oven, and picking up dropped crayons, River asked me whether a person could bleed so much that they died*.  Perhaps if the usual dinnertime chaos swirling around weren't so, well - chaotic - that question would have set off alarm bells; but as it was, I said, "Yeah.  If they lost enough blood a person could bleed to death," and went back to chopping and guarding and helping.

*(edited:  This might seem like a bleak and startling question for a 3 year old, but River is very curious about physiology and we often have frank discussions about how the body works.)

Flash forward a few days and River is getting a much needed haircut.  I finish up, brush him off, and start to vacuum when I hear a shout of alarm.  He's staring at his thumb and saying, "You cut me, mom!"  I KNOW his fingers weren't anywhere near the scissors but he does indeed have a little nick on his thumb.  I examine it and proclaim, "It's not too bad.  Need a kiss?"  Usually that would be a perfectly acceptable remedy, but today River seems really freaked out.

"No mom!  You cut me!  I need a band aid!"

Still not sure why this particular scratch has him so stressed, I patch him up and we all move on.  Later that night I'm sitting on the couch working on a photo project when River brings me a mushroom slicer from the kitchen.  I have no idea why he's brought it out, but I tell him it's too dangerous to have laying around and he needs to bring it back to the kitchen and put it away.  A few minutes later I hear shrieks of alarm.  Thom gets to him first and then calls for me to help.  I see blood gushing from River's index finger and realize he's cut himself on the slicer.

We get the cut washed off and it's a tiny little thing, but it's a bleeder.  River is screaming and clawing at his dad, and when he says, "Make it stop!  I don't want all my blood to come out and die!" it suddenly hits me.  That little throwaway conversation we had days before was not such a throwaway.  We get the cut cleaned and bandaged and River calms down measurably.

I do my best to explain that he can't bleed to death from little cuts like that, but he's having none of it.   The idea of mortality has hit him hard and reassuring words are not helping.  His fear of blood has gotten so extreme that River made us come home from Trick-or-Treating to get a band aid for the minuscule scrape he got from falling on his hand.  There wasn't even any blood.

I'm not sure what to do about the cloud of doom hanging over my little boy's head.  We started having conversations about death a few months ago, and while it often makes him sad to think of other people dying, this is the first time he's really started understanding his own mortality.  In the last two days I've heard him say, "I'm going to stay downstairs in my room all the time.  There's no sharp things down there," and "I'm not going outside.  I might fall."

If you know what an adventurous, rough-and-tumble boy he is, you understand how out of character these statements are. I know it's important for him to work through these ideas in his own way, but I sure wish I could save him the trauma of it.

This kid's got way too much adventuring to do to live in a plastic bubble.

P.S.  Here are some before and after shots of his hair.