With summer already shifting to a close, I’ve been wondering how it all passed by so quickly and trying to recall what exactly I did all season.
Oh, that’s right… I had another baby boy. But that was back in March, and somehow spring quickly slipped away and Portland was suddenly all ninety degree days and hot baking sunshine. The boys and I spent our days looking under rocks and collecting roley poley bugs and worms. We talked about found feathers, and slowly ripening berries, and the dinosaurs at the local science museum, and why kitty cats are often shy, and how we need to wait for cars to stop before we cross streets, and that the shade is a shadow and is cooler than the sunny spots. Every morning we negotiated sunscreen applications. We wore sun hats and sandals. We had snack and lunch picnics at the playground. We pretended to switch places, me being the kid and the toddler being the parent. My son frequently cried about ladybugs that flew away, and I dried tears. We played in the sprinkler and the little plastic pool. We wrote our names in chalk, and drew hearts, and balloons, and smiley faces.
Of course, the littlest was mostly just along for the ride, thankfully able to take decent naps in the stroller or baby carrier or car seat.
Before number two arrived, my toddler and I were out of the house most mornings at various activities; music classes, sports, library story times, and play dates. After the baby was born, it was challenging for me to figure out how to find a new routine that got us out of the house and met everyone’s needs. At first, we just started by taking long walks together or strolling to nearby playgrounds. Initially, baby boy only wanted to be carried in the Ergo carrier, which was just fine. Still it was nice when, around twelve weeks old or so, he began to enjoy and even prefer the stroller. It happened just in time for the weather to warm up. Babywearing gets quite warm in the heat, and it was difficult to shield the little guy from the sun’s rays. Fortunately he now enjoys the view from the stroller, and it keeps my arms free for my older son.
Eventually it got easier to go on more elaborate outings. We resumed going to story times once the baby was old enough to enjoy sitting on my lap and watching the other children. We venture to other parks and play grounds around the city. We go for nature walks in the canyon on Reed College’s campus. Next month we start music and sports again. Now that baby boy usually only needs two naps a day and is just generally content to sit and watch his big brother, our daily rhythm is just easier.
I’ve had to accept a slower pace and far fewer organized activities and classes. Interestingly, the free range summer didn’t seem to bother my son in the slightest. He still enjoys story time and play dates, and we do plan to resume more classes and activities in the fall, but the unstructured rhythm suited him. And helped me realize in many cases the planned activities are just as much for me as for him.
Of course we also do plenty at home. Lots, and lots, and lots of play dough. Some baking, some crafts, some finger painting. Every now and then I stumble on an activity that engages my toddler’s attention for more than a few minutes and it feels like found gold. Happily there are lots of children in our neighborhood to play with outside so there is usually someone around if we are looking for a friend.
Have I completed any home projects? A laughable question and the answer is no, not really. Not like before. I bought some storage ottomans, baskets for toys, and new dining room chairs. At some point I turned the dining room table to run the opposite direction. I did a little gallery wall at the top of my stairs. I’ll take pictures and post about it, soon. Just keeping everyone happy and trying to make sure the house isn’t horrible is enough for now.
As for cooking, I have been making some delicious new crock pot recipes. I’ll often do a chicken recipe (BBQ or teriyaki) in the crock pot, and then quickly cook some rice and steam veggies at dinner time. I make some delicious Korean beef bowls about once a week. We grill frequently and just throw together a salad. I’ve also started to really appreciate just having sandwiches, or giving my son something easy and getting take out after the boys are in bed. Or a frozen pizza and a salad kit–done!