Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer days

It has been too long. Life has been good, but very busy and summer seems to be sizzling along at an alarming rate.

The big news is that I got hired to stage manage "The Producers" (the Mel Brooks musical) at Seattle Musical Theatre. I have been wanting to get back to work in my field for what feels like forever now and it is very gratifying to be doing so. Rehearsals are in the evenings and on weekends so it's not affecting my daytime jobs too much, which is good. And Jacob has been very supportive with me taking this step, happily taking over care for Joris. Even though it seems slightly insane to be doing this while also dealing with my other three jobs (not counting motherhood), we all know that it will only be temporary. The show opens mid September and only runs for three weekends, so it really only affects a couple of months.

Jacob is plugging along on his dissertation and might actually have his prospectus officially approved.

The weather this summer has been just absolutely gorgeous we've been enjoying the variety of parks and beaches Seattle has to offer, bike rides, flying the kite and farmers market bliss. Joris can be entertained for hours when there is sand, water and rocks involved, so we've been frequenting Matthews Beach and Carkeek Park quite a bit.

We've also been spending a lot of time in the backyard, playing and eating, watering the plants and reading stories in the hammock, and I'm still amazed each time of how nice it now is to hang out there. My parents came over last weekend and my dad built Joris a little playhouse for in the backyard. It is the most adorable thing you have ever seen and pictures will follow soon (I hope!). It has windows with shutters, a Dutch door with his name on it and inside are astroturf carpet, curtains and pictures on the walls. Joris absolutely loves it.

Joris' language use has really accelerated again in the last few weeks. He has figured out his genders and pronouns, mostly, and will proudly say things like "That girl has bike. She has bike. That her bike". He has also started referring to himself as "I" and "me" and recently uttered "I love you" for the first time.

He can string together several thoughts and sentences now, too. This morning for example he told me "Mama, you make oatmeal for you and Coco and you make oatmeal squares for Joris. And I will give Coco a bite and he will say "mmmm, that yummy"!" and last night he told Jacob "Daddy, take my sandal of. There's something in there."

Interestingly, with all the new language developments, he has started defaulting to English even more, even with me. He still does talk to me in Dutch and he will usually repeat the Dutch version, when I confirm his English, but it looks like English is the easier (or more accessible) language to try out these new grammar rules. I'm assuming he'll get back to his regular bilingual state when he's had the chance to sufficiently practice.

The things Joris remembers and the conclusions he is drawing astound me every day. And today he walked up the stairs without holding on to anything, without ever having to catch himself. I am glad for the time I have with him, because really, it's already going by too damn fast!

We are eagerly anticipating a visit from Jacob's sister Micol and her family next week. They will be in town here for a few days and then we will join them in Portland for the weekend. I'm excited to have the cousins get to know each other and it will be nice to catch up with Micol and Richard.

My script writing job seems to be going well, although I still often have to guess at what it is they want exactly. There isn't a lot of feedback one way or another, so I'm having a bit of a tough time figuring out what I'm doing right and what I could improve on.

I've been able to go on a couple of dates; one with a friend to see another friend's band perform and the other night with Jacob to celebrate our 8th (!!) anniversary.

Like I said, life is good and I'm trying to enjoy it as much as possible.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ejelok Naps

About a week and a half ago, Joris stopped napping. At first it seemed like he was still giving it a good faith effort and then got frustrated when he wasn't falling asleep, but as of late it seems like he has stopped trying altogether.

The two times that he did indeed fall asleep, were short little 30 and 45 minute naps. And, judging by his perfectly happy and cheerful behavior throughout the afternoon, it seems that maybe the Naptime Express has reached the end of line.

There could be other causes, I keep hoping. His final molar is making its appearance, so that could be it, right? And Isla's mom told me that Isla has finally succumbed to naps again, after a month long hiatus and friend's child had done the same, right around 2 years of age.

We still do the same nap time routine and keep Joris in his crib for about an hour and a half. Sometimes he plays quietly with some cars, or looks at books, or, like today, he spends most of his resting time whining "Joris all done sleeping".

Avery's family has been on vacation and so we have not experienced the no-nap situation at her house yet. I'm curious to find out how it will go. Peer pressure is a very useful tool, but I'm trying to wrap my mind around the fact that perhaps Joris is just done with napping. I hope it's not the case, but it would certainly fit with his sleep history...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Reclaiming the yard

The summer that we left for the Marshall Islands we did not do much in the way of gardening. During the year we were gone the yard got overgrown with weeds and the only plants to make it out alive were the five lavender plants that apparently thrived on neglect because they grew from modest potted-plant size into actual shrubs.

I was pregnant when we returned and we were busy dealing with reverse culture shock as well as holy-hell-we're-going-to-be-parents shock, so again, not much yard work was accomplished. The following spring Joris was a newborn and we felt pretty accomplished if we had managed to take a shower AND unload the dishwasher on any given day, so, once again, the yard remained neglected.

Last spring, Joris had just started walking and although he was still putting everything in his mouth, we had actually gotten somewhat of a grasp on this managing-the-day-with-an-infant thing and we could have actually done some gardening. And we wanted to. Very much. But the sheer size of the weeds and the seemingly unending list of what we needed to accomplish was just utterly overwhelming. We did manage to make the front yard somewhat presentable and every now and down we would fight our way through the spiderwebs to sit out in the backyard, but it was never a relaxing experience; all the weeds and the overgrown bushes just seemed to shame us for sitting down instead of grabbing the pruning sheers and gloves and getting to work.

This year, we were determined to take back the yard, especially since we will be around all summer and want to be able to enjoy our outdoor spaces.

This is what it looked like before we got to work:

One of the biggest problems was the ivy since it's a plant that just keeps crawling, taking over space and killing everything in its path. If you have never tried to pull up ivy, just take my word for it that it's really freakin' hard. We ended up hiring a guy off Craigslist to help us pull everything up - and it still took 8 hours to get it all (and we keep finding more roots each time we're out there).

We pruned the trees and bushes and removed an ugly, crowding butterfly bush (discovering a white rose still clinging to life in the middle of it).
We pulled up all the weeds from the flower beds.
We removed all the weeds from in between the patio stones.
We got a free load of arborist wood chips and although it by no means compares to beauty bark, it does a good job preventing weeds and giving the flower beds a more uniform look.
We discovered we have 13 trees on our property, not including the landscape trees on the outside of the fence, along the driveway.

The most awesome project however, was the vegetable boxes that Jacob built. He used the wood from the crawl space that we had to remove when we put the new insulation in, years ago. And then he filled it with dirt from a big compost / dirt pile from the backyard. Not only is the unsightly pile gone from the backyard now, the soil is proving to be super fertile and perfect for growing vegetables.

Joris cooperated awesomely by being able to keep himself entertained with a stick, digging in the dirt, transferring worms from the yard to the vegetable boxes and looking at roly polies.

This is what the yard looks like now:

One of Joris' favorite activities is helping me water the plants.

The first vegetable! (The starts when I bought them were labeled sugar snap peas, but I think they might actually be snow peas). Other veggies we're growing include tomatoes, bellpepper, broccoli, zucchini, yellow and acorn squash.

I'm also trying my hand at growing some perennial flowers, with varying degrees of success so far. (With three varieties I can't make out the difference between the flower starts (if there are any) and the myriad of weeds, but others are more distinct.

Jacob and Joris also built me this potting table:

We have enjoyed multiple gatherings in the backyard on the patio and the back yard is a much nicer place for Joris to play now since we don't really have to worry about him being attacked by rats in the ivy or simply disappearing in the thick curtain of weeds.

So, we are no longer ashamed of having people join us in our outdoor spaces. I'd love to have you over for a barbecue, some lounging around (we put up the hammock, too!) or a play date involving perhaps a kiddie pool... Come on over!