Saturday, June 30, 2012

Coffee, summers, and a toddler

Wow.  How time flies.  This time last summer, we were just saying goodbye to our life in SLC and heading out to the great Midwest.  Des wasn't walking yet, had a monk-like hair growth pattern, and could barely say mama.  Now here we are (well, Des and I), back in SLC for the summer and he's running around, has a snazzy little-man haircut, and says some freaking cute words.  Although we are staying the summer with my in-laws (Des's lovely grandparents Donna (Mimi) and Bruce (Boos)), it has been quite difficult living our lives without Bill, who is currently in Wisconsin doing a marketing internship for Kimberly Clark. 

At a park in Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin.

Real life Silence of the Lambs...freaking Desmond out. 

As many of you may know, living with and raising a toddler is not for the faint of heart.  Do you know that I, who have been up to this point strictly a tea drinker and who almost has a heart attack any time she even sips on coffee, is now drinking at least a cup of day?  My son, who isn't even 2 yet, has more energy than I have ever had in my entire life.  And yes, it has driven me to drink coffee every single day, even though it makes me sweat, makes my heart beat so fast, and pretty much sends me straight to the bathroom as soon as I finish drinking it if you know what I mean.  I don't understand how some people can tolerate more than a cup of this a's heavy stuff.   

However, the coffee does keep me alert and ready to keep up with Des for the day.  But you know what else it gives me?  A pounding headache by the time 4pm rolls around.  Which, fascinatingly, coincides with the time of day that Desmond just goes absolutely nuts and starts running around screaming (like, the type of screaming where you could feel your eardrums actually vibrating).  It gets intense.  Another scream inducer?  My cell phone.  The minute I pick it up to answer a call, his weird cell phone sense perks up and he drops whatever he's doing to come running over to me.  He pats his ear (his way of asking for the phone) and the second I shake my head no, he pouts and then starts to wail and scream.  Makes for very short conversations.  He also knows how to work my phone, too, and scrolls down the contacts list and looks for people's pictures and then calls them, usually unbeknownst to me.  This provides me with the opportunity to talk to people I hardly ever talk to and to apologize for my son's unruly behavior.  Thankfully, they all think it's cute.  That is, the first or second time he calls.  By the third time, they don't even answer the phone anymore.

Self portrait.  Taken while hijacking my phone.
He is also becoming so very bossy.  To everyone.  We all have our certain chairs we have to sit in in the living room.  He won't allow his grandpa Bruce to look at anything he's looking at and one time, when Des was bathing, Grandpa Bruce took his shoes and socks off and stepped into the tub behind Des.  Des looked at him with such terror and incomprehension and bolted out of the tub like kids bolting out of a swimming pool when it has been discovered that someone couldn't hold it in.  And he's very protective of his Grandma Donna.  Anytime Bruce even goes near her and, God forbid, touches her, it is the gravest injustice that has ever occurred in Desmond's lifetime and he proceeds to make it known to all of us just how wronged he has been.

But, as trying as it may be day to day, I remember my mantra: the days are long, but the years are short, and I think back to this time past year (and how very quickly this year has gone by), and realize that my beautiful baby boy is becoming a beautiful little guy.  On top of that, as I was thinking about how I hated hot summers, I realized that I only have 15, MAYBE 16 summers left with Des. 

And then my heart grows heavy. 

I realized that 16 years are going to pass by in the blink of an eye (I mean, I was in 10th grade 16 years ago and it feels like it only happened a few years ago) and so I take a deep breath, have another sip of coffee and remind myself that even though it could be trying and frustrating and yes, even boring, to be a mother to a crazy little toddler, it is also such a beautiful time in my life.  A time that he probably will never remember and so I have the privilege and the gift of carrying these moments and memories within me.  As long as I keep having my cup of coffee a day, since now studies show the positive effects caffeine has on memory.

My Dream Backyard

We were lucky enough to have a pretty nice backyard in St. Louis, with enough room for Desmond to frolic (ha!) and to throw a couple of balls around with his dad.  However, it wasn't very kid-friendly as far as backyards go and he would get pretty bored after a while (which means, he would start to do things that were bound to get him into sneaking into our neighbor's yard or trying to figure out how to open the gate that leads to our driveway).

In our backyard with our very own "sandbox": Flour mixed with baby oil.  Feels osfter than sand and can be easily molded into balls and sandcastles. Plus, it leaves your hands extra soft and smells nice. 

Because we didn't have a kick-ass backyard, we were so lucky to live in a neighborhood that has access to a community gym and rec center.  We are able to drop Desmond off at a great childcare service right in the gym while we go workout.  There is also an indoor pool, with a kiddie area, a library, and, best of all, a beautiful eco-friendly playground.  If we owned our own house, this is the kind of backyard I'd love to have for Des. 

The playground was made from recycled plastics, used steel rods, and tires. 

Everything in the playground was made out of reclaimed and repurposed materials, mostly wood.  I love the idea of reusing materials or buying sustainable ones to make a play area for Des, partly because of the feel-good-for-helping-mother-earth factor but also because a lot of these structures (for lack of a better word) encouraged Desmond to interact with them and have open-ended play (as much as a 1.5 year old can).  He can feel the different textures and climb on all of the wooden objects and see how things can be reused in different ways for different purposes.  I'm sure it hasn't dawned on him how awesome that is, but hopefully my enthusiasm will rub off.d

I remember being so excited for the plastic swing and slide set that my parents had bought for us when we were little.  We used them for maybe a summer and then "outgrew" them and they just sat there, bleached pale pink and green by the sun.  Even if Des does outgrow a backyard like this, I think it could be repurposed for other, more grown-up uses as well (like to finally have my own vegetable garden, replete with compost and rainwater collector!  And maybe an adult tree house.  And a hammock.)