Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sweet Pea

She turns seven tomorrow.  It's our first birthday with her, our first kid's birthday despite her being the younger of the two.  I talked to her the other night about what a big year six has been.  New family, new country, new language.  Plus lots of other more typical, but still huge, developments.  Learned to ride a bike.  Learned to sound out words.  Learned to whistle, to snap, to turn a cartwheel, and to crack an egg into a bowl.  Lost teeth, grew new ones.  Seven will hopefully bring more stability, but just as much learning.  At the rate she's going, I won't be surprised if she's reading chapter books by this time next year.  And, we all hope, her bangs will have grown out and she'll no longer look like an English Sheepdog half the time. 

Tonight I'm up late because I couldn't start the cheesecake she requested until after bedtime, and then it turned out I'd forgotten a few key ingredients (like, um, cream cheese and graham crackers) and had to go to the store first.  As she was crawling into bed (late, of course, because I had things to do once she got to sleep), she added casually, "And I need fun erasers for my classmates since we're not bringing cupcakes."  This came from a conversation we had about two months ago, when she anticipated bringing in treats for her birthday, and I reminded her of the letter home we got the first week in school asking families to not do that.  I could easily have just said, no, we're not doing erasers either, but what the hell.  (Or, as Sasha inadvertantly says, "Mutt the heck.")  It's her first birthday here.  Dollar Tree is open late, it turns out, and I figured it's worth the 3 bucks for the 3 dozen silly erasers if it makes her feel magnificent on her birthday.

Besides, it's a long honored Falconer family tradition that Mom be crabby on special occasions because she stayed up too late the night before trying to finish up some handicraft that no one will fully appreciate until years later, if ever.  Am I right, sisters?

(Who are all those skinny, dark-haired young women, anyway?)

This child. 

She's been through a lot.  I have not always been the Mama she deserves, which breaks my heart.  She's still not 100% sure what the purpose of a Papa is, which breaks Jon's heart.  She is gonna have some stuff to work on as she gets older.  But she has a belly laugh that is full of joy.  She is a willing helper, and her help is actually helpful.  She is a persistent learner.  She is a loving friend.  She takes things seriously, and she tries so hard.  She's a rule follower, and she's a peace lover. 

We took her to the Trillium Festival at Tryon Creek a few weeks ago, and on the guided hike, she told the ranger, "I have a question!"

"My middle name is Trillium!"  He was bemused.  I was bowled over with love. 

Then on our way home, she said, "I love being in the woods.  It makes me happy."  Oh, sweet girl.  I am so glad.  Let's go hiking again soon.

Happy Birthday, sweet pea!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Tom Sawyer's Fence

Things have felt challenging lately.  The kids keep fighting.  I keep losing my cool.  Jon's been sick.  Inesa's been sick.  Work is overwhelming, the house is a mess, there are repair jobs undone, the cars need to go through DEQ and we have a birthday party to plan. 

Then there are days like today.  I get home to a quiet house.  I hear voices outside.  While I put away yesterday's dinner dishes, which the Dishes Fairy washed while I was at work, I see the kids and Jon weeding.  They are soon joined by our five-year-old neighbor, Inesa's buddy from kindergarten.  The three kids dash back and forth between the weedy yard and the piles they are making on the deck.  I peek out the window at two small girls tugging determinedly at a patch of grass under the apple trees.  Jon calls out, "There's a big bunch of weeds over here!" and all three kids tear across the yard to him.  Inesa throws open the door and announces it's a contest, boys against girls, to see who gets the bigger pile. 

I "make" dinner.  Jon made a huge batch of lentil soup yesterday, so I heat that up for us, and microwave burritos for the kids.  I make a green salad and a fruit salad.  When I announce dinner, they all want to know who won and gets a prize.  I wrap up two brownies for the neighbor, spotting a ribbon (on the floor...don't judge) to pretty it up.  We eat dinner, and as Jon slips away to watch the game (me: "What sport?"...don't judge that either), the kids ask what their prize is.  In a moment of brilliance, I reply, "Well, you didn't have to help make dinner, and you won't have to help do the dishes."  I am declared their favorite mom (which actually is a little weird, seeing as how they do have another mom to compare me to), hugs all around.

Since dinner prep was so simple, we're done by 7:00.  In a rare move, I grant permission to go back outside to play with the neighbors for a half hour.  Sasha joins forces with the 3rd grade girl, and they kick a soccer ball around.  Inesa dashes over to her buddy's house, and they play on the trampoline.  Nobody's feelings are hurt.  Nobody is competing for attention.  There are about three dishes to wash--the knife, cutting board, and ladle--and I get time to reflect on how gosh-darn pleasant this evening is.  In a few minutes I'll call them in, Inesa will start getting ready for bed while Sasha does his homework, we'll have a little dessert, then the nighttime routine will kick in.