Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What Scares Me

In a nutshell, my biggest fear is losing Conan. I'm not a big worrier in general, but sometimes, especially late at night, it just hits me that it's possible something terrible could happen to him, and a huge wave of fear comes crashing down on me. I work my way through all kinds of things that could happen - from the fairly common (car accident, playground accident, gardening accident) to the hypochondriac (leukemia, SIDS, cancer, genetic disease, e. coli) to the sensational (crazed meth-head home invasion, weird cult kidnapping, dingo attack, terrorist plot) to natural disasters (volcanic eruption, earthquake, sudden rise in sea level) to the downright apocalyptic (zombies, nuclear strike, alien invasion, Large Hadron Collider created black hole).

If I'm really in the grip of a fear fit, I may even start to worry about possible pitfalls in the future. What if Conan makes bad choices in high school, drops out, runs away, and overdoses in a flophouse somewhere? What if he texts & drives? What if he drops dead of heat stroke one day after football practice? What if he's struck by lightning, or a meteorite, or a chunk of the international space station? The list of things I could worry about just goes on and on.

This focus on the horrible and tragic may seem morbid, but I think it's actually an effective coping mechanism. Thinking about these things, accepting them as possibilities and then dismissing them as remote and unlikely, makes them seem somehow less scary. I have good friends who lost their son at 4 months, and know several couples who were devastated to lose a pregnancy. My cousin died in a freak snowboarding accident when we were in our early 20s. My husband works at the city cemetery. Reminders that death is a part of life are ever-present. No one knows what the future holds.

So whenever this most primal fear bubbles to the surface, I spend some time exploring it in my imagination. Then, I take a deep breath and remind myself that the fearsome possibility of losing something wonderful is no match for the joy of really, truly loving every minute that I have with my son.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Juice for Conan

Conan loves juice and milk, but doesn't much care for plain water. When we went in for his 18 month checkup in June, our pediatrician told us that we needed to

a) make sure he stayed hydrated during the summer heat
b) give him less milk (24 oz or so a day - including the bedtime bottle)
c) give him less juice

Even watered-down, no-sugar-added, 100% pure fruit juice which we had been giving him was more sugar than he needed, apparently. So what to do, when he just ignored sippy cups filled with plain water? I certainly didn't want him to get dehydrated.

Enter sun tea. I made the first batch for myself, then discovered that Conan loved it. Now I brew it frequently. "Juice! Juice! Jooooooooooooouice!" he says, and points enthusiastically when he sees me set out the big gallon jar on the fence to brew.

I usally use a fruity tea, like raspberry zinger or berry blast. These are caffeine free, brew up to a bright, deep red or purple color, and taste delicious. I don't add any sugar, of course, so it helps to choose teas that are naturally sweet and taste great all on their own. It also costs virtually nothing to make, and Conan happily drinks tons of it. Win!

You probably don't need instructions, but just in case you've never made sun tea before, it's the easiest thing in the world. You don't need any special equipment, although there are some lovely tea pitchers available if you want to splurge. The basics are as follows:

1. Get a big clear jar with a lid. Wash it thoroughly.
2. Fill it with cold water.
3. Put in some tea bags. I usually use 8 bags for a gallon batch. They don't all have to be the same kind, you can mix and match to create new blends. For kids, stick to caffeine-free types.
4. Put the lid on and set the jar out somewhere sunny for a few hours. You'll know it's done when the color is richly developed, or it's night time and you forgot to bring it in earlier in the afternoon. Taste it if you aren't sure.
5. Remove the tea bags, chill & serve.
6. Store it in the fridge in the same jar you brewed it in until it's gone.

You can add lemon juice, mint leaves, ice cubes, frozen or fresh berries, fruit slices, and even sugar or honey (for adults) to enhance the flavor. Drink up!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Visiting Plain


This past weekend Conan, Great Grandma Joy and I made the trek to Plain for a visit with my parents. It was a fairly short visit, but we packed in a lot of fun regardless. Conan was especially excited about the chickens and had fun going fly fishing in the pond with his Poppy. Dad even had a little toddler-sized pole and reel (no hook) all ready for him. Mom's garden is really incredible, and I came home with a carload of delicious fresh vegetables and garlic to supplement my own meager yields.

We also toured my brother Jon's house, which he is building next door. It's really neat to see it taking shape! It's simply an amazing project, the style of building, called timber framing, uses notches and pegs and mortise and tennons to fit together large, beautiful beams like puzzle peices. There's only 7 metal bolts in the whole thing! Not the easiest or fastest way to put up a house, but the craftmanship is incredible. When it's finished, the outside will be stucco'd over but on the inside the beams will be visible on the walls and ceilings. The beams and boards (including some beautiful fir tounge-and-groove panneling on the dining room ceiling) were all milled from trees harvested on the property, only the plywood subfloor came from the lumberyard.

Saturday afternoon many of my aunts and uncles and cousins on the Pobst side came out for a reunion/picnic, and it was great to visit and catch up with all of them. Conan charmed everyone with his cuteness and cheerful nature, and we enjoyed a delcious potluck meal followed by homemade raspberry icecream. Summer afternoons with family can hardly be beat!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Olympia


This past weekend we visited Gabe & Cynthia and baby Morgan for three days in Olympia. Bo & Charlotte & baby Bellatrix also made the trek to Oly and stayed over Friday night. On Saturday we all went up to the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Fair in Buckley, and met the Ericsons there. It was so much fun to see everyone, and we had a great time at the fair even with the cold drizzly weather. It was kind of an impromptu thing to go to the fair, but we all agreed that we should do it again next year, with advance planning so we can dress up! I took some pictures that don't really do the fair justice, if you want to see some of the fun your best bet is to click through the link above and watch the video.

Update: The best performance by far was the Ma'Ceo gypsy riders:

Monday, August 02, 2010

Hiking to Welcome Pass

Conan hiked to Welcome Pass on Sunday with his Papa, Grandpa Dave, and family friend Nathan.

He was supposed to ride in the backpack, but he insisted on being carried in arms or walking for much of the way up 68 switchbacks.

He had a great time in the meadow at the top, running around enough that he was willing to nap in the backpack on the way down.

He also had fun playing with Dave & Nathan's walking sticks. Or at least, that's the official story. The camera, on the other hand, shows a lot of alpine baby kung fu training...
video

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Family Picnic Fun

On Saturday we went to the Anderson-Syre-Etc Annual Family picnic. The big attraction was that my cousin Andrew and his family (wife Lollie and kids Andie, Nichole & Alex) had come up from California. We had them over for dinner on Thursday as well, and it was really neat to get to meet them in person. We've been internet buddies for a while, but it had been something like 15 years since I'd seen Andrew in person. I'd never met Lollie & the kids, although I felt like I knew them from seeing their pictures and reading their family newsletter from time to time. Really great people... glad we're related!

Now on to the pictures - this may be the single best picture I've ever taken. No photoshop, honest!
Playing on the swing was a big hit. Grandma Debbie had fun too.
Time with Great Grandma is always special.
Nichole, Alex & Andie picked lots of raspberries from the rows around the picnic area, and Conan ate a ton of them.
Sitting on the "choo choo" with Mama was extremely exciting. The bigger kids got to drive the tractor around the field all by themselves, which was a ton of fun.

Self-portrait!
This picture is actually from last weekend, at Odessa's birthday party. Look out ladies!