Wednesday, August 31, 2011


We just finished a wonderful long reunion weekend. It is so amazing to have Casey back.

When Casey pulled up, we went down to meet him. Wes gave one little shy look away and then flashed his biggest smile. He was so happy to see his Daddy. He smiled and hugged Casey and snuggled up. It felt so good to be together again.

For the first couple of days Wesley wouldn't let go of Casey. Casey couldn't set Wes down, he couldn't leave the room, and every book was read by Daddy. It started to lessen a bit yesterday, and Wes doing fine today with Casey at work. It is clear that Wes had lost some of his confidence that Casey will "be right back" if he disappears--some of his constancy had waned. But, they have reconnected this weekend.

Our four and a half day weekend was filled with so much wonderful time together. I loved it. We are both in "get stuff done" mode in addition to relaxing. So we continued work on cleaning out our second bedroom, we pruned up our tomato plants (thank you, Casey, I couldn't bring myself to hack them back), we walked around town, and we played a lot. I'm happy that Casey's trip was a big success, that it went smoothly.

This past Saturday also marked ten years since I met Casey. Ten years ago we showed up at college to our accomodations in the same dorm, met eachother on Casey's first (my second) day of school. We became quick friends and then loves. I regularly feel like one of the most fortunate people in the world for having our relationship, for having a partner like I do. It is truly special. I would choose Casey again, a million times over.

We have changed so much over the course of a decade together--we are significantly different people at 28 than at 18, and we have helped one another to grow, have practiced giving one another the right amount of space and support transition after transition. I am thankful that through all of our starts and stops, through all of our wonderings about what path our individual lives should take, we were wise enough to continue to work at our relationship, to stay together, because it keeps getting better and better. I look forward to seeing what this next decade brings. Welcome home, love.

For the record, and off the top of my head,
We have lived in:
  1. Redlands, CA (dorms & house-sitting gig)
  2. Napa, CA (Casey's Mom & Don's house)
  3. Hostels & hotels across 9 European Countries
  4. San Rafael, CA
  5. Corte Madera, CA
  6. Oakland, CA
  7. Lopez Island, WA (camping at a farm, then housesitting, then in an adorable cob house)
  8. Fairfield, IA
  9. Petaluma, CA
We have worked as:
hot air balloon chasers, wine cellar worker, front desk at fancy hotel, documentary director & filmmaker (in Mexico), yoga studio front desk, Jobcorps records worker, administrative assistant at investment firm, landscaper, Lonely Planet warehouse worker, film editing intern, farm workers, documentary researchers, production assistant (in France), personal assistants, home builder, medical data entry clerk, counselor

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Adventure Update

Casey comes home tomorrow at dinnertime. It feels so good to say that.

He was able to call Tuesday via the emergency satellite phone that staffers are basically never allowed to use. It really helped to hear his voice, to have Wes hear his voice. I am so glad I answered the phone! Wes walked over to me as I was making breakfast and started saying "da-da-da" and then I could hear the faintest ringing from the phone on the bookshelf. With a massive surge of adrenaline, I dashed over in a slight panic and caught it just in time. I doubt I would have heard it if it hadn't been for Wes.

The days have gone pretty well, considering. Wes asks about Daddy a lot and usually gets quite upset about his whereabouts at least once or twice a day. Big breakdowns. He kisses his picture throughout the day and carries around the Magnadoodle when we draw Daddy on it. Wes has started calling every man we see "da-da". We watch the videos that Casey recorded for Wes. The video of him reading a book was a brilliant idea and works very well. Hearing his voice on the phone was helpful for both of us. I am thankful that Wes is old enough to be able to express that he is thinking about Casey when he is upset. It helped me to properly support him.

Night has been the most confusing for the little guy. Wes gets up each night for about an hour or an hour and a half which is extremely rare under normal circumstances. He bolts up in bed, looks around, says "da-da" then wants to get up. We then go to the living room where he intends to wait for Casey to come home, sometimes standing by the door. It's sweet and sad and happens at 2:30 or 3:30 AM. One night he went to sleep with a picture of Casey.

 I think Wes really missed Casey, but I think he felt connected to him via pictures and videos and Casey's things, so I don't think he felt abandoned and I don't think it'll have any lasting negative effects. I think we managed it well. This all sounds so sad, but actually, we did have a lot of fun these past nine days, too. We read a lot of books, played with water. We didn't go to town much, but we danced a lot and had slews of fun playtime. We saw friends and family which was really nice.

I feel disembodied right now. I can now feel tiredness creeping in now that the finish line is in sight. This family may have a very sleepy Saturday.

I can hardly wait for our family to be together tomorrow night. I am so excited for Casey to be home. For me and for Wes. I look forward to melting into his arms in that way which happens after long separations. Goodnight.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Full Range

I uploaded my pictures and was struck by these images. I like them side by side.

Wesley has a wonderfully silly, playful side...

and he is often focused and serious...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

13 months

This month was full of "dat"s (thats) and gaining speed...

Sing Songs
One of my favorite new activities this month is playing Ring Around the Rosie. Wes often gets the "fall down" right, and he thinks it's so fun to walk in the circle. Then he stands right back up and takes my hands. It's a great game.

Somehow, lately"Old McDonald" has become our bedtime nursery rhyme. It seems a little ridiculous, but I suppose it is repetitive, and I don't know many other songs that can be so lulling. Much to my surprise, Wes pays attention and does the relevant animal cue. So if I say "and on his farm he had a chicken" Wes starts saying "bock-bock-bock". He does this for two or three animals and then starts to lull off on our sleepy walks or in the car.

The word of the month is "Dat" with pointing. Some days I think I hear about 800 "dat"s a day. He really wants to draw our attention to things, and he really wants to know what stuff is.
He now says "bye-bye" while waving
He says ba-ba for sheep
He has a cute new meow for cats that sounds so soft and like "mah-mah".

Wes is still ravenously consuming books on a daily basis. He has developed an interest in Dr. Seuss books which last month seemed to either bore or disturb him. One morning this month he laughed all the way through Green Eggs and Ham. Funny guy.

Physical Feats
It seems like Wes can walk forever without getting tired. I haven't had him ask to be picked up because he was tired at all this month He walks continually when we're outside, and we're frequently outside for long stretches--often over an hour and a half.

Wesley continues his climbing adventures. He is great at climbing on & off of his trike. He's really good at getting on and off couch now. He just pops right up there.

He loves to rock on his rocking horse and is great at rocking back and forth on it.

He walks backwards. He spins in circles. The circles is a new dance move--so cool. Also, this month he has  incorporated the upper body into his dance moves. He sways back and forth with his upper body in addition to the deep knee bend which are classic. I love it.

He can now stack two blocks.
He puts his blocks on the pegs of his stacking train with ease.

Wes loves to push his tractor and trucks around and go "vrrrm". He flies his airplanes or objects he's pretending are airplanes through the air. The boy LOVES motorcycles and trucks and tractors. He loves them on the street, he loves them in books, and he loves them as toys.

He has finally had some success with his puzzle. It has big knobs and three animals. It is still really challenging for him, but sometimes he can get the pieces in their spots. He can also put the little circle and triangle magnets back in their spots on his magna-doodle.

Body parts: nose, eyes, ears, toes, fingers, hands, mouth, bellybutton (preferably someone else's), hair, foot
Animals and objects: It seems like he can point out almost any animal or object shown in his many books.

Direction & Response:
He tries to direct our actions more specifically now. He will take my hand and bring me across the room to touch something he wants me to open. He takes my fingers and rubs them on surfaces so I can feel different textures (in books or oddly textured objects).

Wesley now tries to communicate more complex demands upon my behavior. Sometimes he takes my hand and shakes it around and clearly wants me to do something, and I don't always know what he's saying. He gets frustrated and complains when this happens, but so far not a full-blown meltdown. Like if he sees a picture of a bus, he'll start shaking my hand because he wants me to sing "wheels on the bus" (this is a simple example, one that I understand). Or, he'll be pointing at something saying "dat" and trying to get me to do a specific action with the object. Usually we can figure out what he wants through a guessing game if I'm not clear on what he's saying. Sometimes we have a more difficult time.

It's interesting to see him developing a more complex idea of the way in which he wants things done. He also seems to be realizing his own agency more. He's wanting to share his thoughts, to show us the things he notices, and to have us play in the way that he wants us to play together and this desire is being expressed in more contexts than last month.

On the following directions front, Wes is actually somewhat effective in cleaning up now. He'll take toys and put them on his shelf (and leave them!). He will take food out of the grocery bags and give them to us to put on the shelves. He will take his shoes, walk them across the room and put them on the shoe rack if we ask him to do it.

He enjoys dipping his food. I started saying "dip dip dip" when I first showed him how to dip. Now every time he does it he says "duh-duh-duh".
He likes to pick tomatoes in the garden. We have had some success in teaching him not to pick the green ones.

watering with a stick
Our new evening routine often involves walking downtown by the waterfront for an hour or so before bedtime. I basically just follow Wes around as he walks back and forth and all around the plazas, or across the footbridge, or around the cobblestone paths. He is so tiny and driven and capable and busy. People get a kick out of seeing him walking around. I love watching him.

A new challenge, however, is that he hates to be taken away from his walking or from wherever he is if he's enjoying it. And, I do try to be flexible, but sometimes it gets cold and late or is too sunny or whatever. Oh, he screams. Loudly. And thrashes. And arches and is really hard to get in the Ergo, or even to keep a hold of. He is great at making his body slip right through your hands. I officially look like one of "those Moms" who is torturing her child who is screaming bloody murder and throwing himself on the ground. Goodness...but it is still mostly fun.

Other delights
Wes gives hugs. He kisses his stuffed animals a lot, but prefers to hug humans.
Wes continues to love to talk on his phone (which is actually either his ipod, his calculator, or the stereo remote). He gabs on it then puts it up to our ears so we can talk on it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

An adventure

This morning we dropped Casey off at work at 6:30AM.
He will be gone for ten days on a wilderness backpacking trip for work.

He's hopefully either asleep or snuggled in my sleeping bag under a spectacular star-studded sky right now. That is after driving five hours and packing in and setting up camp with twelve teenager girls, many of whom have never before gone backpacking.

I saw the packs all lined up this morning when we dropped him off. It made me want to go backpacking. With Casey. Not so much with the others.

Wes and I made it through Day One. Wesley appears to be teething now with the tell-tale stream of drool purpetually hanging from his chin. We had dinner with Auntie Lisa and Uncle Jesse, which was so delicious and an excellent evening treat.

It should be interesting to see how Wesley does without Casey. I am confident we will be fine, but I am still a little nervous. I know I miss Casey a lot when he's gone for half that long. And I understand where he is. Wes is very attached to his Daddy.

Last week pretty much every day there was at least one episode of him being worried about Casey's absence. How do I know? Often, Wes will start saying "da-da-da" and then go knock on the bathroom door, then go to the front door crying. Or, he picks up his little magnet with a picture of him and Casey, kisses it (a favorite activity), and walks to the front door and starts crying. We had one of these sessions today, but it wasn't a severe one.

We've recorded videos of Casey talking to Wes, so I can play that for him tomorrow. I plan to fill the week with family, friends, and plenty of outdoor time.

I guess I'll go to bed. Normally I stay up and wait for Casey to get home from work, but now I might as well stock up on sleep. I miss him already.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Doodle n Guess

One of Wesley's favorite games right now involves his erasable doodler. Though he frequently draws on it himself, a game he really enjoys is a game I call Doodle-n-Guess.

To play the game, I draw a picture of something with which Wes is familiar. Typically, an animal. Then I show it to him and say, "Do you know what this is?"

He studies it, then one of two things happens. Often, he makes the corresponding animal noise and is delighted with his recognition ability.

Or, he looks at it with concentration and then looks to me for help. If the latter happens, I tell him what the drawing is supposed to be. He then lights up in recognition and starts smiling or laughing or pointing to the object (or stuffed animal or photo) somewhere in the room. Either way, it is a lot of fun involving plenty of silliness and laughter.

I like the doodler because it enables drawing with more relaxed supervision. We don't have to worry about crayon eating or coloring on the carpet.

Fruit of Summer

This is the first harvest of our full-sized tomatoes. They are so delicious. The medium-sized orange tomato? Not sure if it came from our plot or our neighbor's plot. I turned around, and Wes was standing there with it in his hand. Oops? We'll pretend it was not the only tomato to start ripening on our fellow gardener's vine.  

We also picked some blackberries which were growing right outside our home. Casey made this tart. He just whipped it up "eyeballing" all the ingredients. I love that man. Not his most attractive lattice work, but oh my was it good! This is what I envisioned when I put "pick wild berries and make tart/cobbler" on my Summer To Do List. What a breakfast treat.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Elk Trek

This weekend we went to the Tule Elk Reserve at Point Reyes National Seashore. Wes slept the whole way there and home and had a nice time on the hike. It was quite foggy but cleared up some on the hike back. Wes was a little concerned that he could hear the ocean so clearly but could not see it (because of the wall of fog). He kept pointing, sort of worried, saying "dat" (that). The fog was rolling over us, but it wasn't too chilly.

We walked for a couple hours and saw three herds of elk. I think this was the first time I'd ever seen Tule Elk. The Point Reyes Elk Reserve is the largest population of Tule Elk in California and has significantly helped increase the overall number of remaining Elk.

I was happy to see the coast and to have such a successful family adventure.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Summer Safety

This week I have been feeling like the world is covered in danger with nowhere safe to let my baby play. That probably sounds like the ravings of an overprotective mother. And it may very well be just that. But maybe not.

Wesley is now very mobile. I like to give him space and time to explore outside. I trust his abilities and feel comfortable spotting him as he climbs up playground equipment, races down hills, explores the many treasures in the organic garden. But I have worries.

Sunburns and Herbicides.

After 12 glorious months of happily wearing a hat at all times, Wes has finally started throwing off his hat. I always thought "put a hat on that baby" when I saw a hatless child. But, *educational moment* they don't always keep them on. They slam the hats to the ground. They twist and knock themselves sideways trying to take the hat off if it's fastened on. What to do with my little walking bald-as-can-be redhead?

There is no way to keep him in the shade when he's walking. Should I slather his head with SPF? Just let go? We typically try to stay out of the sun during the heat of the day and wear sleeves when possible, but morning and evening sun are often intense, and he sometimes needs to run off energy during the day.

I'm aware this is just a phase and that eventually he will wear his hat again...also that this is a phase of mega-worry for me and it will likely pass, too.

Then there are the poisons.

I can hardly believe how many neighbors I've seen spraying herbicides along the edge of their lawns right before or after we've walked by. It makes me cringe to think of letting Wesley walk on the sidewalks. He does touch things along the way. He sometimes tastes things. Or smell flowers. Or blow on dandelions.

This week the city sprayed Round-up at all the schools. Posted signs about herbicide on the playing fields. I am for some reason shocked that such a "progressive" community is managing the land that way. To spray it at schools? To not connect that what quickly kills plants is harmful to the delicate tissues of our children? To plant permaculture landscapes at the community center directly across the street from the sprayed elementary school?

I've become wary of our parks as I see suspiciously cleared weedless circles around all the trees. The trees that Wes walks up to and hugs on a regular basis. My child is hugging poison-drenched trees.

It makes me sick.