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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Small developments

My brother got L2 a little scooter for Christmas. At first L2 ‘s feet didn’t quite touch the ground and he preferred to double up behind L1 rather than ride his own tricycle. Just a few weeks later, he had grown enough that he could sit and scoot, but hadn’t figured out how to steer. A few days ago he mastered steering and now whizzes around the sidewalk. He is changing and learning so quickly; one day he can't do something, and the next day he can.

Yesterday, L1 learned to throw a paper airplane. We’ve played with paper airplanes before, but he always threw it into the ground. Yesterday, he “got” how to throw it. Before his breakthrough, L1 tried coaxing his plane (“Come on airplane, I know you can do this!”) and then yelling at it. Once he figured out how to make it fly, he wanted to show L2, who obligingly was excited whenever L1 threw the paper airplane. L2 follows L1’s moves like a dance partner: L1 stands up, and then L2 stands up. L1 takes a stance, and then L2 takes a stance. L1 jumps, and then L2 jumps. L1 sits, and then L2 sits.

With paper airplane

Today a maintenance man came to check my mom’s HVAC system, and both boys were fascinated with his work. They followed him when he went to check the outside unit and happily played, crawling on the grass, running around, and making loud noises. The worker commented how nice it was to see two boys playing so well together, and my mom had to laugh because this morning the boys were fighting non-stop. They are not yet best-playmates and friends as I would wish, but at least they have moments when they play well together.

Playing ring-around-the-rosie.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Good Decision

J is in New Zealand today and called this evening after a trip to Hobbiton. It all sounded wonderful, but I’m not sad that we are missing it. As we were planning J’s sabbatical, I spent weeks agonizing whether we should travel as a family to Australia and New Zealand. They are places on my life list; I could also have checked off being south of the equator and scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. I was afraid I’d regret not taking a leap of faith and just going, even if the circumstances were not ideal. But the timing wasn’t right and it was too expensive.

So we decided I’d stay in Phoenix with our parents while J was gone, and that decision has worked out really well. For all of J’s adventures, I’m not sad to have missed the long flight to Australia that was plagued with mechanical trouble, or the storms and leaches in Tasmania, or the heat wave in Melbourne, or the hours waiting in the airport. In addition, J has had the freedom to concentrate on work late into the night without the complications of small kids. 

The weather in Phoenix couldn’t be more beautiful and the kids and I have spent hours outside.  Any time they start getting wiggly or cranky, I say it is time to go outside. L1 often asks to go out before the sun is up. In the evening, we go out to look at the sunset after dinner, and the stars before L1 goes to bed. This week we are at Grandma Jenna’s house; the kids have spent hours playing in the gravel in the backyard, digging with trowels, industriously pouring the gravel on the other side of the patio, and digging up weeds. They have had a ball. I’m glad we’ve been able to spend a more extended time with my mom and J’s parents. And as for travel and memories this sabbatical, we will have plenty of adventures in Greece, and plenty of time waiting in airports, I am sure.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Brothers playing together

Jim is in Australia for the month and I’m settling into a routine with the kids at my Mom’s house for the time being. L1 and L2 are used to being in daycare with lots of other children and activities. I think L1 has been missing the play with other kids because his constant refrain has been, “Do you want to play with me?” It is the first thing he says in the morning, and the last thing at night. He wants his grandma or me to play with him, while L2 is usually the antagonist who messes up his train track or takes his cars. To be fair, sometimes L2 seems to deliberately provoke L1, as by grabbing a car and running to the closet to hide with L1 crying in pursuit. Lately, however, L2 is becoming a desired playmate and I’m so happy to see the brothers having fun together. Previously, there were occasions when they would play well together, but these golden moments were rare. Today, however, L1 asked me when L2 would wake up from his nap so they could play. Hooray!  They play together best when the activity doesn’t involve toys to share. But give them a box to jump off of or a bush to hide in, and they will play happily, if noisily, together. Their current favorite activity is to ride L1's trike around the neighborhood; L1 peddles and L2 rides behind. My hope is that this sabbatical time together will establish a great friendship between the two.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Ten things I love about Phoenix in the winter

Ten things I love about Phoenix in the winter:
10) Wearing sandals every day.
9) Eating Christmas tamales.
8) Every sunset is spectacular.
7) Enjoying 70 degrees F and no humidity while hearing of snowstorms in the rest of the US.
6) No mosquitos, flies, chiggers, or ticks to drive you inside on a beautiful day.
5) Picking grapefruit off the tree for breakfast.
4) Seeing hot air balloons in the morning and evening.
3) Seeing Orion in the night sky.
2) Visiting the Desert Botanical Gardens.
1) Sunshine, sunshine, sunshine.

L2 with grapefruit the size of his head.

The family at the Desert Botanical Gardens

Chihuly at the Desert Botanical Gardens

L1 as photographer
Saguaro and Chihuly at the Desert Botanical Gardens