Winter in Indiana

Officially, spring is supposed to start on Wednesday. Maybe then we’ll start having spring temperatures. Today? It’s summer. Has been for over a week. We hit 80 at least, on most days, and the world is alive with birds and squirrels and bugs. Trees are in full blossom everywhere and there are daffodils in every yard. I should take a picture out my kitchen window. It’s a downward slope to the road about 20 yards, shaded with tall trees and popping with daffodils and little white flowers. Behind the house the grass in the courtyard could use a mower and the center raised bed is now prominently displaying a shovel plunged into its center. I spent the morning there uprooting dandelions and clover and beginning to work over the soil. I’ve been given permission to cultivate it, and they’re even paying me a bit. Assuming we can find a hose hook-up, I’ll be planting lots of flowers, and a few teepees of pole beans and peas, and a couple zucchini plants. I may or may not transplant my presently-potted herb sprouts to the garden… basil, oregano, rosemary, cilantro, parsley. I want to start thyme and mint too, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. On my porch are inch-tall lettuce sprouts waiting to be thinned and tiny tomato and bell pepper shoots. It’ll be quite a crop but we have quite the community in this little horseshoe of buildings, and many of my neighbors I am beginning to count as friends. They are all eager to share the wealth and one of them was out picking up discarded dandelions from the grass and playing with Jacob this morning. And if we can’t find a hose hook-up, it’ll all probably happen just the same, because I’ve got the idea in my head and I am stubborn to a fault in realizing plans like this.

Last week was Mike’s spring break and he observed it by working at least as hard as usual, though they were happy, happy days since he was at home most of the time. I didn’t get a break from nannying, but I “celebrated” spring break by spending as much time as possible outside, and when I was inside all the doors and windows are flung open. Last week I scrubbed all the wastebaskets and pails and buckets in our house, all the windows and screens of the bottom two floors, and the car. The neighbors get a laugh out of my system, since lacking a hose I have to fill a watering can at the sink over and over and then “water” my car with it. This week the garden prep begins.

I wish I’d gotten a photo of Jacob’s first soft serve ice cream at Burger King on Saturday night. We walked 2.6 miles as the day was ending, and Jacob was delighted by the french fries, also a new experience, until ice cream came on the scene. French fries are for deprived and unenlightened babies only, I suppose.

I wish I’d gotten a photo of him on his belly, chest suspended over the grass where he rolled halfway off the picnic blanket, fussing, afraid to touch that yukky, yukky stuff. He is afraid of the grass and won’t have anything to do with it, though the fear is melting quickly and today he (unknowingly?) ventured off the blanket as he walked around the garden in his socks, holding its walls. His little phobia has been handy for me since I can set him up with toys and he is a happy, unconscious prisoner while I scrub-and-water away.

I wish I’d gotten a photo of him giggling yesterday from his picnic blanket as Mike and I threw the frisbee back and forth over his head. And I wish I’d gotten a photo of him at lunch today with the denim fabric ball cap with the floppy visor, his curled sweat-damp hair poking out the edges, his red sun-kissed face and big tired eyes. And of his hat-hair when he finally succeeded in removing the offending article.

But I guess I’ve just been too busy living to shoot all these photos lately, though the sunny days and outdoor living are giving me more good photos than usual on my mediocre camera.

Today was just a full, lovely day. I was out the door at 6:50 for a physical therapy appointment at the hospital and then a luxurious grocery run with no kids in tow to pick up pork loin and steak at unbelievable deals. The pork loin’s in the oven now, roasting slow, seared with coarse mustard, thyme, rosemary, and salt and pepper. After Mike left for school at 8:50 Jacob and I putzed around, cleaned up some, and set out with the double stroller to fetch Svana at the bus stop. An old college buddy surprised me with a phone call along the way and it was great catching up with him. An hour’s vigorous walk with a double-stroller in the 70-degree morning sun made for a good warm up, and when we got home we set out the picnic blanket for Jacob, got a kitchen utility spoon for Svana and a shovel for me, and went to work, interrupted briefly for my first call to poison control and some clean-up after Jacob got the top off his diaper cream, which, great Mom that I am, I have let him adopt as a toy to his delight. Apparently the worst it can do is serve as a laxative, so we went back to our digging.

Jacob got tired of the sun and I put him in his high chair with a piece of cheese, filled the watering can, and went back to the porch to water Svana’s and my feet clean, and then we sat down to lunch. I had leftovers of yesterday’s spontaneous dinner: a steak sliced thin into a salad of orzo with Italian herbs, red wine viniagrette, chopped tomato, yellow bell pepper, and white onion, and fresh grated parmesan. Jacob finished off the corned-beef-and-veggie mush he’s been enjoying. It was St. Patrick’s Day, after all.

Now it’s only two more hours till Mike gets home. I have the house picked up and swept and dinner planned, and I think I’ll go see if Jacob is jumping in his crib as usual for this time of day and we’ll go play outside some more. After spending the epic winter of 2011 pregnant in Minnesota, I needed this one.

And as for the physical therapy, in case you care, and because I do… My OB prescribed it after I suggested that it’d be nice to maintain my ability to walk through this pregnancy, since I barely managed that the first time and never healed afterwards. The therapist, a tiny, sweet, Korean mom has found misalignment in my pelvis that has been triggering the lifetime of hip, knee, ankle, and spine problems I’ve just considered as my normal. She thinks she can give me a truly normal range of motion and get rid of all the discomfort and pain. Translation: Thank you, Jesus. I think this sneak-peak of summer has been that much happier just for the imagination I am enjoying that I will be walking and running and playing pain-free for the first time in my life with my two precious babies by its end.

Random thought of the day: Some time ago in my blurry past I remember hearing a jealous child self-righteously declare: “The Bibowl Says Shaywuh.” Whether it worked in the ascertainment of the desired object or not I don’t remember, but I do remember being singularly irritated by such a statement. Actually, I wanted to counter, the Bible rarely uses that word and when it does it usually has more to do with getting your fair share of something. Anyway, it’s just one more trite little platitude that All Good Christians should know and by that I mean it is an utterly simplistic, task-oriented concept that makes it all very trivial and nice. Trivial and nice: Not so much my thing. So back to my virtue list, and I’ve found myself adjusting my vocabulary lately with the perpetual issue of a 30-month-old who feels threatened by a boisterous, well-meaning 12-month-old. I don’t say “Share.” I think it misses the point. You can pout away the day AND let your friends have your toys. But the issue, as always, is a heart one, and it’s painfully obvious when you see a 2yo failing to enjoy a playtime opportunity because she is aimlessly walking around, with all her favorite toys hoarded up in her arms to protect them from an admittedly very real threat. “Do you have a selfish heart to your friend right now?” is a question I find myself asking often, though when its meaning will really sink in I neither know nor care. The other thing I’ve been saying more and more frequently is a bit more pre-emptive: “Be generous,” I remind one or the other, over and over. They don’t really grasp this yet, but generosity is the heart issue behind the act of sharing and if I can impress on them by sheer repetition that the heart issue is what I care about, I’ll have succeeded. I don’t see the point in mere behavior adjustment. Besides, the Bible speaks much more frequently and strongly of generosity: its virtue and its beauty and its reward. So that is our word, and the inevitable day I hear one of my kids stand up and preach “The Bibowl Says Shaywuh!” I will just have to sigh and laugh.

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