Friday, July 30, 2010

Slow parenting

Thursday I predicted a 10-pound weigh-in for Salvador's one-month appointment.
At two weeks he weighed 8 pounds 2 ounces and he ate without ceasing for the two weeks following that. So at one month old he weighs 10 pounds, 9 ounces. Is this some kind of record? I am pretty sure it is, in our family anyway.
Also? His belly button is a perfect little cinnamon roll. He sleeps like such a boy with his arms flung up and his t-shirt riding high. His hair is spiky and wavy after a bath. He's a precocious smiler and cuddly as can be.
Another thing I know: I won't always be this exclusive in my focus. One day, fairly soon, I'll remember that I have a garden to tend (or put to bed, at this rate) and a bunch of animals to work with and school curriculum to choose and laundry to do. But for today, and probably tomorrow too, I'll keep watching the baby's eyelashes grow. I'll measure his growth by ounces in my arms.
Blink and he'll be 20 pounds. Blink once more and he'll be reading Tom Sawyer.
So I'll try to blink slowly. Like the slow food movement, only for parenting.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Happy campers return

Gracie said she didn't miss them. And it's true that while Madeleine, 11, and Sarah, 10, were gone to camp Grace, 6, was princessa numero uno of the household. She happily took over chicken and kitty cat duties while I was in charge of horses and rabbits and the big girls' gardening chores in addition to whatever else I could squeeze in between Salvador's nonstop nursing nonschedule.
That boy will weigh 10 pounds at his one-month check in today. You heard it here first.
I missed the big girls so much, and not just when I was stalking them. I mean delivering care packages to camp. I recognized, not for the first time, how much they do at our mini farm and I appreciate even more who they are as fantastic individuals. My favorite part of picking kids up from camp is the chattering that goes on from the moment they disembark the bus. Sarah didn't stop talking for 36 hours and Madeleine corrected every single story she told. It's wonderful and hilarious, this stage of girlhood. How did I get so lucky?
Since returning home tan and exhausted they have suffered through their chores once again so I have even more time for feeding the unfillable newborn. They've returned to their art notebooks with a vengeance. Madeleine's got a short story going on but I'm not supposed to know about it. The neighbor children have all been over for a run through the sprinkler and our children have all trekked down the road to those neighbors' new pool. Exciting times in the boondocks.
We were planning a big blueberry outing with friends this morning but we have to take Salvador in for his appointment this afternoon and I am finding myself still a little handicapped in the multi-event day category so we're home instead. Let's just say there are no triathlons in my summer schedule. In fact we're calling it a banner day when we're fully dressed. (There's an embarrassing story in there about my famous drop-in house and being braless in the afternoon, but I'll not cause you to suffer through.)
So that's all the news that's fit to blog around the Suite place. How are you passing your summer?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Inspiration point

Do you have a place you go to reconnect with your self? A thinking rock, a cozy chair, a pond in your backyard? The driver's seat of your car, the corner table at Starbucks?

Sometimes this reconnection requires a journey. Sometimes it's too noisy, even in the wingback chair in the back of your den. Sometimes the pull of a to-do list is too strong in your own house, hometown, county.

Sometimes it's a road trip that's called for. Almonds and dried cherries and chocolate chips in a little paper sack. Licorice too maybe. A huge iced tea and a full tank of unleaded complete the preparation.

(Of course in my particular situation there's also a diaper bag or three, sand toys, color crayons and books for the back rows, a camera and lenses, a baby sling, a cooler stacked with yogurts and bananas, and a zipper baggie full of allergy medications. You pack according to your needs andmayGodblessyouifthey'reanythinglikemine.)

I find my inspiration where I can. But when I can choose, it's the ocean that unfailingly fills that cup. For my husband, who grew up at the ocean, it's rugged mountain terrain or high desert that he craves.
This last weekend our whole family visited the ocean thanks to Mr. Suite's new contract at the coast. The girls and I lounged at the public library and walked the tourist routes while he conducted site visits and presentations. It was a perfect mini-vacation with a three-week-old baby in a sling.
Clam chowder in a bread bowl. New literature stacked high in my bookbag. The sound of crashing waves recorded in my heart.
My children in Saltwater sandals and my ever-driven compulsive and compelled self left behind for just a day. This is inspiration, spirit breathed into everyday life and tranquility overflowing for the crazy days that follow: Nurse the baby sixteen times a day. Change diapers at least that many times. Remember rural art camp. Remember to sign up for swim lessons. Fertilize. Water the garden. Feed the horses, the chickens, the bunnies, the children. Fill out a 22-page form. Return a call. Pay the electricity bill. These tasks, simple and pleasurable each on their own, can easily create traffic jams at the intersection of peace and calm.
A little time at inspiration point was called for.
How do you recharge?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hay. It's hot.

Our haying season in Western Oregon suffered from a very, very wet spring and early summer.

My photography season suffered from a very, very long pregnancy.
But the ground and skies dried and the baby was born and, hey, there's hay on the ground and more importantly in the barns. And it's hot outside.
So of course I'm headed for the ocean today. Isn't that what everyone does when haying season is about done? (Not that I bucked a single bale, steered a tractor for a scant moment, or stacked anything whatsoever. I didn't even have time to take pictures of the sweaty workers. You know me and the postpartum excuses.)
Have a beautiful weekend!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

They are partying

Did I mention that Madeleine and Sarah are at camp for a week?
I miss them. I am fairly sure they don't miss me, although Madeleine's letters will profess otherwise. She is the mom pleaser in this aspect. Sarah will likely fail to write to me at all. That's how much she'll miss me.
They left on that party bus and a couple of days later I stalked them.
No, really.
My good friend KL and I imposed on our good friend Cara's husband to give us the top-secret directions to the girls' hideout. (Or to print a Google map to the camp.) The errand was ostensibly about delivering care packages ... I had forgotten to mail things ahead of time and would hate for the girls to be mailless. After all, as I mentioned, they miss me so terribly.
Even with the aid of insider information we managed to get lost. That was okay, though, because it was beautiful countryside. We saw actual bison and bison babies. Except I called them "buffalo" and they got offended. Did you know it's so totally not okay to call them buffalo? Yeah. Me neither.
And then we saw swans, a real live pair of swans on a gorgeous pond on what was definitely not on the camp's private road. Oops. Sorry 'bout that, nice ranch dwellers there in the close-to-camp but not-camp bajillion-acre spread.
When I'm stalking my daughters, I'm all stealth like that. Disturbing the livestock and trespassing and all.
So then we finally found the camp (right about where the dozens of big "camp" signs were), drove in on the proper private road, delivered the mail and skulked outta there for ice cream with the little children.
Don't tell my big girls but I miss them.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tiny toes and baby bums

Weeks two and one-half are past, passed, over in the way that makes new and hormonal mommies misty. And not just from lack of sleep. It's that eternal conflict: looking for new milestones while striving to live in the moment.

Madeleine and Sarah are gone to camp for a week. They are shooting arrows at the bull's eye and jumping off the diving board and in general having the time of their lives.

I'm still in the back yard, metaphorically speaking, and most days I'm literally lounging there as well.
I move pretty slowly in decision-making and I find I move pretty slowly physically too. This may be age. It may be postpartum. It may be a new me. A more peaceful, less driven kinda me.
Or! Maybe I've gained a tiny measure of that patience I was trying to learn in waiting for a past-due baby. (Hmmph. Ask me again in a couple of months maybe.)
Oh. And: Why is it that three children seems so vastly fewer than five? (Vastly fewer? Did I ever really work as an editor?)
Discuss amongst yourselves. I'm going for the jar of sun tea.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The dog days?

During our recent hot spell it became evident that Jake the dog was a little too aromatic for mixed company.

No time for the groomer. No interest in infecting the Suburban with his royal stinkiness. (And, frankly, no $60 for the groomer either.) The only problem, er, challenge, with this set of circumstances was that I was not interested in either of the bathrooms getting covered in dog hair nor in the lingering wet dog scent that would of course follow an indoor canine bath.

At farmsuite we can meet these challenges with a rusty clawfoot tub, the garden hose, and some intrepid junior groomer types in colorful outfits and rubber boots:

Thanks, Laura, Grace and Mr. Suite, for taking care of that little dog days of summer problem. (Er, challenge.)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Spunky and the gang take a walk

My girls and our favorite neighbor boys like to take Laura, the two-year-old also known as "Spunky," for walks in her wagon.

Until little Ryan gets tired and decides the two-seater wagon has room for him too.
And that's when Spunky shows her stuff: Without a fast shutter speed you'd never know he didn't walk the whole way; he was only in the wagon a split second. And if only I'd had a longer lens on the Nikon you'd be treated to a glimpse of the patented FACE that bid him back afoot in a hurry.
Oh, friends, what's a mom of five to do when her fourth is so clearly another firstborn?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More summer loving

Laura said it's time to come in!

But the big girls didn't want to come in... because they were enjoying KL's homemade ice cream, delivered into the water just like our rural version of a swim-up bar.

Meanwhile Salvador slept in his basket.

And the junior lifeguards went back to their duties.

While Gracie denied being tired. Or hot. Or anything but quiet.

Someone was always ready to pick up the baby.

And ice cream lured Grace and Cameron back out of afternoon exhaustion.

Sweet friend Emily turned out to be a baby whisperer.

And food. Oh, the food! Pulled pork sandwiches, pesto pasta salad, watermelon and berry salad.

We hated it to be over. And that's why you have to suffer through two posts about the big birthday bash at the lake.
After the water adventures the big girls returned home with us to attempt to stay up late in our glamper (Glamorous camper? Glamper? Anyone?) with movies and snacks.
They slept like puppies in a pile and woke to homemade waffles and more blueberries. Also to the little girls clamoring to join them.
Don't you just love summer?
What are your traditions that let you know it's summertime for sure?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A decade, one-tenth of a century, ten years of joy

Sarah is 10. But she's not really as short as she looks in that picture with her friend Charlotte. She is, actually, that happy.

We spent her birthday afternoon doing Sarah's favorite things: splashing in the water, playing in the sun, and eating yummy food in the shade. The truly short ones shared an inner tube. That's Laura, friend Emme and Grace floating (sort of) in the blue water of contentment.

And from left to right: the goofing-off oldest sister Madeleine, friends Nicole and Zoe, the birthday girl herself, and Charlotte in the goggles. Doing their synchronized sunbathing impersonations?

Madeleine, Sarah, Laura (who used the life vest for an impromptu nap pillow) playing in the shade while Salvador slept in his basket. The day could not have been more perfect. We enjoyed the company of friends and the last day of Grandma and Nana's visit, and then we threw the paper plates in the trash and came home a little sun pink but a lot relaxed.

It was a good day. It's been a great decade.

And my water baby is prepared for many, many more days at the lake.

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Seven wonders of the weekend

Salvador is nine days old.

The second planting of corn is finally showing up after birds found nine-tenths of the first planting.

Our weather is 90 degrees of summertime bliss.

Salvador's maternal grandmother and great-grandmother are visiting for the weekend.

Sarah turns double digits on Sunday and we will be at the lake with friends to celebrate.

The raspberries are on.

Mr. Suite learned today he has a new civil engineering and planning project at the gorgeous Oregon coast -- and it will likely require some future weekend site visits.

There are more wonders than seven, by far, in our world. But I have to stop somewhere or I'll be blogging this entire blessed weekend away. I hope yours is wonderful as well.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

One week in

I can't seem to find the proper balance between experiencing the moment and recording it.

The newborn sweetness is intoxicating. Time holds its breath while paradoxically flying by.

And then the beginnings of interaction and emerging personality tiptoe in to surreptitiously albeit joyously replace the milk-breath exhilaration and exhaustion of new life.
I know these minutes and days go too quickly; I am determined to memorize them.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Rolling right along, take three

Just kidding!

I'm no longer "rolling along" as the perpetually pregnant blogger, but now debuting as the mother of four gorgeous girls and one beautiful new baby boy.

Thank you for all of your messages and prayers. The Suite family is very, very happy and more than a little awestruck.