Friday, September 28, 2012

Tracking the Baby

Signs that the baby was hungry.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Getting out of the house with a toddler - Hopewell Borough, again

We don't get very far these days. We spend time locally with less time in the car, especially when it needs repair. Here, my husband and son admire the cars in the lot behind Castoro's while we wait for our tire to be patched.

I have NEVER met anyone who has had to have their tires patched as many times as our family's vehicles. Where is the bed of nails and glass and screws? Where? I would like to stop driving over them.

Neighborly native species in downtown Princeton.

The adjacent house had a nice patch of Echinacea purpurea which seeded into the gap around a street sign. My son and I enjoyed the flowers. I had one eye on my camera, another on him, and another on the traffic.

That's right. I have three eyes, I'm a mom. One eye is a lazy eye, unfocused on myself and my needs. It sometimes drifts and fixes a critical or admiring look at my hard working spouse. The other two eyes are focused on my son. May all my eyes work properly, especially if a car is coming.

Seed Season

Solomon's plume, also called false Solomon's seal, with Christmas fern
Fruit are red or white with red speckles

Jack in the pulpit fruits cling to a hollow cone. Fruits are fleshy and burn the skin after prolonged contact. We know, we've tried it.

 Maple leaf viburnum, pop them in the Cuisinart with the plastic blade.

Orange-fruited horse gentian supposed takes several years to germinate. My husband likes a challenge. 

Wild leek, beautiful shiny black beads.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Laport Preserve, Hunterdon County Parks, 9/15/12

 Gerardia, this plant is so hairy

Our picnic next to the parking lot was pleasant. Leftovers, watermelon, cheese sticks. Beren pulled bark off logs. I noted the signs of herbicide spraying also edging the lot. Jared laid on his back in the grass.

Gerardia and wool grass at the meadow's edge. Gerardia tends to occur in more open, more recently mowed areas of the meadow, and not among the densest stands of goldenrod.

The walk itself was rough. After much pinching (of me) and family-wide crankiness, Beren fell asleep in my arms while nursing. My arms wearied as we approached the car.

Beren is working on a couple molars and making us work, too. Naps are at odd times, or not at all. Bedtime ranges from 6:30 pm to 11:00 pm. Distraction is the best tactic, so we have taken many trips to the playground. He nurses very frequently and can be demanding and abrupt. One moment he is playing with blocks, the next he is in my lap and biting my nipple through my shirt.

This can make dinner with family difficult.

 Symmetrical dogbane

Next year's dogwood flower bud

Eastern Tailed Blue on my fall garden seedlings

There is not enough time in the day to do everything.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Autumn is Coming

A beetle with wasp or bee striping on goldenrod

While eating lunch on a bench in Hopewell, an acquaintance strolled by and greeted me. We exchanged hellos. I mentioned the arrival of autumn.

"Oh, this isn't fall," he said. I noted his clothing, slacks and a tired flannel shirt. Flannel is not the fabric of summer.

We returned from Virginia Beach on September 2. We left behind sun-warmed beers at the pool and fly bites by the waves. We traded swimsuits for fleece. New Jersey is heading into fall.

My tomato plants are dropping moldy grey leaves. Asters and goldenrods are in bloom. Resident birds of winter are flocking, and migrants are passing through - a sharp shinned hawk hanging around for a day or so, warblers of all types in the tree line. Virginia Creeper is brilliant red. Our goose down blanket is on the bed. We are unsuccessfully insisting our son wear socks indoors. I'm rummaging in drawers for blaze orange vests.

Autumn is coming.

Friday, September 14, 2012


Taxi cab was tough to share with a playdate a few months ago.

"OK, Mia, let the little boy get on the tractor," the nanny called as Beren and I followed a Canada goose. My child had come within 12 feet of another child. When polite, middle class (and their associates) central New Jerseyans who are supervising a child over 3 months of age notice their young charge is within this distance of another child, their mind becomes clouded by the "Sh" word.


In Kindergarten I received a "NI" (Needs Improvement) grade in sharing. "Rachel is not capable of sharing," noted the teacher on my report card.

When Mia and Beren circled around to each other again, Mia was inside a Little Tikes playhouse and Beren outside.

"Mia, let the little boy in. Give him a turn." Mia banged the door on Beren's arm.

"I think they're fine," I called.

"We're trying to teach her sharing," she replied.

I nodded.

A moment later Beren and Mia were inside the house together, both trying to squeeze into the window with the shutters.

I mumbled, "Give Mia a chance," and cursed myself for my unconfident, nagging tone. The kids scowled and elbows flew. Like a paper match, the fire was quick and extinguished. Mia and Beren moved around the house, each on their own task.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Getting out of the house with a toddler - Hunterdon County 4H Fair

Frankly, I thought this would be a hit. Fiddle tunes, tractors, animals, other kids. Beren had a low grade fever (prelude to his killer growth spurt - already described in my post about Virginia Beach). He was spacey and hesitant about petting the animals. The bandstand featuring live country music - we were just like everyone else - politely sitting. The trucks were a bore. While he and Jared watched the kiddie ride featuring race cars and fire trucks spin, I bought a fresh squeezed lemonade with ice. Beren sucked it down.

I watched the kiddie ride spin and commented to Jared that this was the same set of sparkly painted vehicles that I rode in Seaside Heights as a child. I think he said, "Oh wow." I probably said, "Maybe we should go," for the tenth time. "Oh some more cars." Jared silently followed, Beren switched from my arms to Jared's.

At this point, the 4H Fair was clearly a bust for all but my nostalgic sentiments for Seaside Heights. We drifted towards the Flemington Speedway tent, and Beren gazed at the cars glassily.

"Maybe we should go. Let's stop by the animals again," I said. Our final stop, the alpaca agility demonstration, proved that alpacas are not agile, at least not this unruly group lead around short orange cones, across plywood see saws, and over six inch high 'hurdles' by pre-adolescent 4H-ers. The scene intrigued our sedate family. Beren continued to nurse his lemonade.

Having got our $10 worth of parking fees (partially benefiting local fire companies) out of the afternoon, we headed home.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

August Was A Vacation Blockbuster Month

 Just back from a family reunion in Virginia Beach. My father and his brothers... my uncles, aunts, cousins, their partners and spouses. Sixteen of us spread out in a big house that was built upon dunes that were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

As the only parents among the cousins, I realized the following:
  1. I'm not a kid anymore. 
  2. I'm a parent.
  3. Though I didn't regret missing out on the jam band that the younger set ventured into downtown Virginia Beach to see, I did miss out on the bonding experience... which may have been my husband and I bonding over our dislike of jam bands as we prowled outside the bar for harder edged sounds. Instead, our son was a clingy, clingy baby who was thrown off by nearly everything - growth spurt. No way could I ask Oma to attempt bedtime.

 Our son emerged from his growth spurt as he always does, with hiccoughs, usually several bouts over 24 hours. The Hiccoughs make us pause and say, "Oh, that was a growth spurt, not Mr. Hyde." Growth spurts turn us into the Hyde Family.

He also came out of it with an ability to imitate sounds. He's not a talker, just a few words occasionally.  On the ride home, he repeated "Wow" after me. He also imitated the Uhhs and Ahhs and Ows of a reggae singer. At home, he's repeated "No" after me twice. Uh oh.

Twice I found him awake in the morning, playing with toys. He hadn't come to find me, as he usually does at home. This was a mental growth spurt primarily, but alas, he's out grown all shoes but his Crocs.

 Great Dismal Swamp Palamedes Swallowtail fallout. Many of my family are interested in the outdoors, from different angles.

I have always enjoyed the Family Reunions, except that one in Virginia when it rained all weekend and my cousin Leigh made my brother cry by kicking him in the crotch and then I made my cousin Eric cry by kicking him in the crotch. If memory serves, it wasn't really malicious. We were really cooped up. 

My Mom, also called Aunt Bunny, stormed down the steps to the finished basement which was our pro wrestling arena and shouted, "OK, EVERYBODY SEPARATE. EVERYBODY IN SEPARATE CORNERS." Not corners of the squared circle (pro wrestling lingo), but good old fashioned punishment separate corners. The younger cousins were not subject to punishment, to my dismay. They continued to play as we sullenly sat. It was good for us anyway. No more fights for the rest of the weekend.

Which way's the beach?

First Landing State Park, Virginia Beach

Check it out. A nice hike, no bug bites, nice and knowledgeable staff, well kept trails along some beautiful habitat. Sorry we found it only on our last day.