The weekend before last, Matt bought some cedar wood chips. A lot of wood chips. A truck came, and after Matt sawed a couple of branches off a tree in the front yard to accommodate the dump truck as its front rose about 20 feet in the air, deposited this pile into our driveway:
Matt had warned me about this, and I had warned him back that he better have a solid plan to get the driveway cleared quickly. If we park our car on the street, we have to move it from one side to the other twice a day or it could get towed, so having the driveway obstructed is not cool. And I have to give him credit. The pile arrived on Saturday morning, and by Sunday evening there was a major dent in it. But on Monday Matt got sick and then had some work obligations in the later part of the week, so progress stopped. By the following Saturday evening, the car was back in the driveway so it wasn’t too bad.
Here’s where it went:
But I’m getting a little ahead. Rewind to the previous day. Sorry the picture below is terrible. I took it through a smudged window with a baby on my hip. Matt did his best to level the ground, put in juniper edging, and covered the area with hardware cloth to prevent grass from growing up through the wood chips.
And one week later, it was all done and Emmett and I were out testing his new rain boots in a light drizzle. I think he really likes the wood chips. It’s like a big playground.
This is part of a bigger plan for the back yard. I won’t reveal any more right now. I thought it would be good to provide some evidence that we are still working on the house.
My child’s current favorite toys are the dogs’ orange Chuckit balls (which causes a little bit of consternation because those are the dogs’ favorite toys too and also because we usually don’t allow them to be played with in the house). He frequently enters dog crates and sometimes shuts the door behind him. When I let him help feed the dogs he tries to sneak a taste for himself.
15 months old and still the cutest, sweetest little boy I’ve ever met. His walking and running abilities are improving. He does better with stairs and climbing up and down in a somewhat safer manner (though he still doesn’t seem to totally understand that stepping forward off a 2 or 3 foot high surface is not going to work out). I taught him to get on his tummy and lower himself feet first off the bed or couch, but he hasn’t generalized that technique to other locations. He’s getting pretty good at throwing balls. In new, unsafe skills, he is attempting to climb things. And this:
The deadbolt is usually locked and he doesn’t have the strength to open the door at his angle yet, but we’ll have to do something about that.
Pictures really don’t do him justice at this age, and it’s not always easy to get good videos. I’ll try. He’s in constant motion.
Multitasking: trying on Mommy’s shoes, carrying a ball, enjoying pacifier (he must have just woken up a few minutes before this, or I wouldn’t let him have a paci).
Checking out the cherry tree in our back yard:
Sharing Daddy’s cereal:
And I am so happy to report that he is finally getting more interested in books again. When he was just a little baby, Emmett would focus intently on the pictures in our bedtime books. Once he learned to crawl, his attention span for books was very short. We kept reading at bedtime, but he would often play with whatever random object he could find on our bedside tables. Recently I started giving him a bottle of milk to drink at bedtime, and now he drinks that while he pays attention to the books.
Last night I started to read a book to him. After a couple pages, he pointed to the shelves and I let him go over and choose the book he wanted. It was Llama Llama Red Pajama, which he loves because I make some sound effects that make him laugh. After we finished it, he chose Pat the Bunny and was engrossed with it, turning the pages himself and playing about 30 games of Peekaboo with Paul. This makes me so happy because reading was one of my favorite activities as a child, and I hope Emmett will love to read too.
Ever since I’ve become a mother, I am extra sensitive about certain things. Human suffering in general, but especially children. I think I’ve always been a pretty empathetic person, but now I find that news stories involving violence are even more disturbing. There have been some stories that affect me deeply and stick with me for a long time. I’ll think about it frequently for the first few days or weeks, and then periodically after that. I try not to dwell on these things so much but I can’t help it.
I now avoid reading the news or watching TV shows that I can surmise will be too hard on me. Fictional shows or books that include violence can go either way. If it is unrealistic (vampires, aliens, etc.), it doesn’t bother me much. But if it is something that happens or could happen in real life, it can eat at me the same way a true account can. The combination that really gets me is suffering that is perpetrated by someone. For example, on a fictional show, if someone is shot and dies instantly, it makes me sad, but it isn’t gut-wrenching because there isn’t much suffering (though there probably is for the victim’s family). Or on the other hand, a person dying of cancer is very sad, but doesn’t give me that horrible feeling like when it’s a person making someone else suffer. Why do they do that? How can they do that? I just don’t understand how there can be so much evil in people. Both parts are disturbing: that there are people who act callously toward others, and that people are suffering because of it; but the two together upset me to no end.
I wouldn’t say I’m paranoid about something happening to my family. It’s unlikely, and we do what we can to protect ourselves while enjoying our lives. The fact that something bad could happen to us is only a small part of what upsets me so much. My real problem is that I can’t help putting myself in the place of others and imagining what they are feeling, to an extent that it really weighs on my mind. Empathy is a good thing; I wouldn’t want to lose it, but sometimes I feel like it affects me too much. Recently I was reading a novel, and most of it was fine. But there was a small section in which refugees are fleeing a war zone and some brutal acts are mentioned. It’s fiction and it’s not even described in much detail, but those events or similar ones happened to real people and are happening to people today. That part sticks in my head and gives me a sick feeling that is hard to shake.
It’s kind of out of control. A few of the shows I had to stop watching are: Southland, Battlestar Galactica, and Damages. I recently started watching Twin Peaks at the recommendation of several people. It’s darker than I expected. I’m pretty hooked after two episodes in that my curiosity about what will happen next is outweighing my suspicion that it might be more emotionally draining that I want in my entertainment, but we’ll see how it goes. The Newtown shooting was pretty hard to deal with. I won’t even mention a couple of news stories I’ve read because honestly I wish I could erase them from my brain and I don’t want to inflict them on anyone else.
I’m curious whether other mothers have felt this way. And if so, does it ever get better? What do you do about it?
I am late posting this, but we got some photos of Emmett playing in the sprinkler for the first time. He loved it! He’s gotten really good at walking and running.
Whenever Max thinks he’s about to get a bath or have his ears cleaned, he runs and hides in his crate. The other day we were all playing with the hose in the back yard. Matt tried to get Max to come over and enjoy a refreshing mist of water that felt so good in the heat. Of course Max thought this smacked of bathtime and found a place to escape. Can you find him?
How about now?
Oh Max, you silly boy. Come on out from under the wood pile.
What’s so terrible about a bath anyway?