Monday, February 29, 2016

This Weekend We

A Friday night trip to Pennsylvania to hang with some of our very best people, which resulted in Arlo and Felix playing so late into the night that I dare not publish the hour on the internet. They hadn't seen each other since Halloween, when they both showed up wearing matching T-rex costumes.They did their best to make up for lost time. Neither time nor distance hampers the bond that those two boys have.  They are best friends to their very cores. Is it possible this friendship could stretch through adolescence and into adult hood? Will these boys be each other's best men? The godfather of each other's children? 

As I mentioned, they didn't get very much sleep. So the next morning when we went to meet my friend Lorien and her little bitty baby at Oregon Ridge State Park for the Maple Syrup Festival, we had a very unenthusiastic Arlo to contend with. He wanted to spend most of the time looking at the taxidermy, the fox in particular. I tried plying him with maple candies, but it was all for naught. We left without doing much except for a visit to the sandbox.

Now on to a new week and warm weather. I'm choosing to completely ignore the snowflake marring the forecast. It can't be. It just can't be. It's time for green things and sunshine and longer days. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Renwick Gallery

Nothing makes me feel more accomplished than adventuring alone with four kids. Even when it doesn't go "well," I still feel a sense of pride. But fortunately, Monday did go well.

 When we pulled up to the public parking garage in DC, I discovered it was valet, which is always a little upsetting. Have you seen the inside of my van? I could paint a picture for you, one complete with banana peels, apple cores, spilled coffee and plenty of runaway trail mix, but I think we've all seen enough grimy mom-mobiles to get the idea. While trying to strap Alamae into the stroller and shove our things into the bag I brought, I discovered that Arlo took off his shoes and that the van, with the shoes, was gone. Luckily the attendant very graciously collected the shoes from the car, and we went on our way with nary another hitch.

We walked to the Renwick Gallery, which I have been wanting to go to since seeing it pop up over and over again on my Instagram feed. It seemed to me like everyone in the DC area had been but me. Its popularity since it installed the Wonder exhibit has actually been its greatest detractor. Strollers aren't allowed during weekends, and I heard that the lines were painfully long. However, on Monday morning, the crowds were thin and the kids had time and space to explore the installations in the manner they are designed to be.

Truthfully, I haven't taken my kids to that many art museums. But this exhibit was perfect. The nine site specific installations were built from all sorts of surprising materials: index cards, marbles, tires, and nets. The kids spent ample time in each place, but were excited to move on to the next. While Sena and I probably could have spent even longer in each space, the boys allowed us enough time to soak in magic of these pieces. If you haven't been, you need to go. (The second floor closes in May. The first floor in July.)

Like I said, I felt thoroughly accomplished. And also inspired. To go and do. Maybe even to create. But definitely to explore.

* Also, if you have any thoughts on good art museums between here and Boston, please let me know. The kids loved the American Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore, and I want to take them to the Hirshorn. If there are some hidden gems, I want to know about them. 

The morning ended with food trucks and take home fancy donuts. Because you can't leave Southern Maryland and not take advantage of the variety that exists in the great wide world beyond these small towns and suburban strip malls. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


For years, when asked what my favorite color is, I have replied, without hesitation, orange. It's warm and weird. The color of fall. And most importantly, the color of me.

I am an orange person, dwelling more towards copper than the citrus fruit, but orange nevertheless. The affinity I feel with sweet potatoes is strange even to myself. I feel that no other living thing is as good a metaphor for me as the yam.

So I was surprised how difficult it has been for me to find orange in the wild. I eat lots of the hue (clementine, roasted carrots, butternut squash). But I don't wear it. I don't decorate with it. And in these stylistically conservative parts, no one else does either. Aside from safety gear and traffic cones, I rarely saw it out and about.

Maybe that is part of it's appeal for me. The fact that it is under-appreciated and underutilized. Ignored at best. Scorned more often than that. I have always had a fondness for the underdog and in the color world, I'm pretty sure that it's orange.
renwick gallery // koi // more renwick // snack bowl // sena's suit // dinner prep
beachfront mosaic // new orleans throw back...because they ain't afraid of no color

Week 1: Red
Week 2: Yellow
Week 3: Pink
Week 4: Green

Project  from Hulaseventy and Xanthe Berkeley

Monday, February 22, 2016

This Weekend We // Great Wolf Lodge Birthday Celebration

This weekend we drove to Williamsburg, VA listening to back episodes of This American Life to celebrate Gus and his friend Felixs' birthdays at The Great Wold Lodge. On these winter weekends, it seems like most of the Eastern seaboard is also celebrating birthdays there The place reminds me of Chuck-E-Cheese on massive steroids. The chaos. The expense. Manic children as far as the eye can see. Parents watching in various states of nervousness.  We ran into the boys from Ocracoke and a family from the community theater. The warm, humid park lets us all pretend for a moment that we have flown south, but truth be told, it does make me wish we had a more laid back option.  If only the East Coast had an Ace Palm Springs  equivalent. Some place parents could still feel the least bit hip and relaxed while their children swam and splashed.

Swarms of kids buzz around the hotel with magic wands in hand on some sort of magical quest. We Weavers walked around barefoot, although no one else appeared to do the same. Most of the time Sena and Gus were off with their friends, while Tom followed around an uncharacteristically enthusiastic Arlo, who clutched onto his velociraptor and robot most of the time. Alamae spent hours walks around the perimeter of the baby pool.

We packed food for most of our meals, in part to pretend to be a little healthier, but also because my cheapness goes out in full force in such environments. "They want how much for a cocktail?!" "That freakin' wand is thirty dollars!!" In an effort to save money, I went on a late night slide expedition with Sena because she wanted to forgo the arcade trip. Those moments walking up the fake log steps with her might have been my very favorite on the trip. Also, going down waterslides is a whole lot of fun.

By the time we got home on Saturday afternoon, I was more than a little exhausted, but Gus had requested bangers and mash for his birthday meal, and so I held on a little while longer before crashing hard with them as we watched Jurassic World with a couple of neighbor kids (birthday boy's choice).

Sunday was spent recuperating, begrudgingly doing loads and loads of laundry, taking a short break to head to the beach for a while before the rain chased us off. Tom and I snuck in a few episodes of Love on Netflix. Claire and Andrew came over for dinner. A slow end to a fast weekend.

Time, you are a cruel mistress. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

My Nine Year Old Son

Yesterday, my first born son turned nine years old. And if ever I am inclined towards cliches, birthdays are ripe with opportunity. Because how can you not, at the passing of another year, remark how very quickly it goes? How can you not proclaim how it feels like just yesterday that he was taking his first steps and speaking his first words?

And yet, it doesn't feel like yesterday at all because I can't bring up the memories with the precision I so desperately desire. I want to rewind so that I can remember clearly each phase, each age, each stage. Because the truth is, I just can't remember what he was like as he was toddling about. I have no strong associations with who he was when he was five.

Today, however, this freshly minted nine year old boy, is earnest and honest. He is a people pleaser to his core, who is prone to quiet tears when he is reprimanded or punished. He is easily frustrated, which is broadcasted with a shushing sound he makes that drives his mother absolutely bonkers. His prayers go on and on, thanking God for the air we breathe and the water we drink, for the food on the table and the sun in the sky. We all listen on, trying to muster his level of gratitude while also wishing he would wrap things up before the food goes cold.

He wants to be good, strives for it with his whole being. Our pickiest eater, he is always the fastest to suggest a food documentary of school afternoons when I am eager for a break. He wants the facts so he can make better decisions. He listens to the words and he applies them despite personal preference.  Like I said, he is so damn earnest.

And he is charming. Before knowing Gus, I thought that being funny was a necessary component of charm, but I have learned that it can exist without it. Although he has memorized a few jokes he recites with ease and the perfect amount of theatricality, he is too literal for sarcasm and I doubt that he has inherited his father's propensity towards hunor so edgy as to be completely misunderstood by most folks.

Gus has, however, has been trying on goofiness for size, but I think it's a product of age more than personality. I am certain it is a passing phase. Augustus is serious. He likes to talk to people.  He is good at listening. When the older lady who lives on our street calls him over to voice not so subtle complaints, he leaves the conversations perplexed, scratching his sun streaked hair.  "I think I liked talking to her," he will tell me. He enjoys all conversation, regardless of content. He cannot fathom that some conversations are actually unpleasant.

As the clock nears four each afternoon, he starts counting down till he can run down the hill to find his friends. He has a difficult time entertaining himself. He would much rather pass his hours outside with a gang of other children. He is a natural leader. Sena gets upset that he wins every election held among the neighborhood kids.

If I don't pay attention, he will wear the same outfit for days on end, once bragging this summer that he wore the same shorts for eight days straight.

He never complains when I ask him to take out trash, recycling or compost. I never have to remind him to put his plate in the dishwasher. He is good with his little sister, but he is even better with his baby cousin Jettie Blythe, maybe because she is easier to break into smile.

My main complaint with my blue eyed boy who has taken on a Southern Maryland so strong that it often takes me aback, is that he torments his three year old brother far too often and his older sister only slightly less often. But truth be told, I have no fears about the person my Gus will become.