One Sunday afternoon Abe and I took the boys to the Snake River for a little exploring. We discovered some very strange little water critters called Tadpole Shrimp, played with a friendly little snake, threw rocks in the water, and wandered around in the woods. It was a lovely day.
Abe, Briar, Ivy, Soren, and Brenda (my mama-in-law) went to Yellowstone. I had visions of Liam running away from me, giggling wildly, and leaping into a scalding hot spring, so I kept him behind and hung out with my brother, Scott, his wife, Amanda, and their kiddos, who were visiting from Texas. I didn't hear much about the trip, though Abe did say that it was a lot of time in the car and that Soren talked the entire time.
Abe's mother and his baby sister Ivy (who is now ridiculously 18 years old) came to visit us for a few weeks. It was fabulous having them here and we begged them to stay, but for some reason (something about Abe's father not being 'regular' when his honey was away) they felt like they needed to go home. So back to New Hampshire they went.
We tried to do some fun, touristy things while they were here, so my next few posts will be about that.
These are the two semi-decent pictures we got from our trip to 17 mile cave. I had only vaguely heard about this place, so it was fun to actually drive out and visit it. It's a huge underground cavern hidden right off the Arco Highway outside of Idaho Falls. The sign outside it says that Native American tribes used to use the caves as shelter as they traveled across the desert. I loved imagining the cave lined with families gathered around fires, little children skipping around in the cool, damp darkness, women visiting with each other while they cooked and sewed, men doing whatever it was that men did when they weren't hunting.
The layers and layers of graffiti were also interesting and delightful. We were all surprised at some of the places people had reached with spray paint. It's amazing the energy and effort shiftless hoodlums will expend in the name of vandalism.
The cave entrance.
Inside the cave. Yes, that is a camera strap. Yes, I am thinking about going pro.
I'm sitting at the breakfast table with Liam, who has persuaded me to let him break his fast with Ritz crackers. He sits in the morning sunlight, swinging his feet, and holds up a cracker. His little mouth shapes itself down into a scrunchy "O" and he speaks in a squeaky voice. "Hi, Mommy!"
"Hi cracker," I say.
"What you doing?" squeaks the cracker.
"I'm eating breakfast. What are you doing?"
"Liam is EATING you?"
"Mmmhmm!" And to demonstrate, the cracker jumps into Liam's mouth. Now just a crescent of its former self, the remaining bit of cracker waves at me, and continues to talk through Liam's puckered lips.
"Hi Mommy!" The cracker is cheerful as ever.
"Do you LIKE getting eaten?" I ask.
"Mmmhmmmm!"' says the cracker enthusiastically.
"Is it nice in Liam's tummy?"
"Mmmmmhmmmm!" And with that, Liam pops the remaining bit of cracker in his mouth and swallows it down.
"What a lucky cracker!" I tell him. Liam beams.
Liam boards the big preschool school bus and sits down just as it is pulling away. He looks out the window and finds me. He is smiling. I blow him a kiss. He blows one back. Still smiling. We wave. The bus pulls away.
Liam is writing on a piece of paper. He is making what he believes to be letters. When he is done, he says, tapping the paper with each syllable, "S.O.A-- Liam. I did it!"
A typical conversation:
"What's Daddy doing?"
"Daddy's at work."
"What's Soren doing?"
"Soren is eating a cracker."
"What's Mommy doing?"
"Mommy is talking to Liam."
"Mommy is talking to Liam? What the-- are you kidding me?"
Briar is sitting in the computer room. It is after 8 PM. The door opens, just a crack. Bright little eyes peek in. She knows she should tell him to go back to bed. But he looks so hopeful. "Oh, come in," she says. The door opens more to reveal a smiling little Buddha. It's impossible to send him away. She pulls him up onto her lap and he contentedly leans into that comfy spot between her arm and her chest.
It's morning. Liam is stretched out across Abe's mother's lap She is playing his little belly like a bongo drum. He is delightedly singing a single long note, in love with the percussive cadence made by his voice and his belly. They are both smiling.
A not-uncommon scenario:
Soren: Mommy, can I have some water?
Liam: Mommy, can I have some water?
Soren: Are you copying me?
Liam: Are you copying me?
Soren: Stop copying me!
Liam: Stop copying me!
Soren: Mommy, he's copying me!
Liam: Mommy, he's copying me!
Sound of a fist connecting with flesh. Ear-shattering wailing.
One evening as I was tucking him in to bed, Liam said, "Mommy, I sosty." ("Sosty" means "thirsty.") Sure he was stalling, I decided to ignore him, hoping he would forget he had asked.
"Go to sleep, honey. Can I have a kiss?"
Kisses. "Good night, angel!"
"Mommy, I sosty a water. Pleeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaasssssssse?"
As I walk into the kitchen, I hear him say to himself, "Yessssssss!"
Liam is wearing my hoodie. I don't remember why. But obviously it looks more like a dress than a jacket on someone his size. He's got the hood up. We just came home from somewhere so Abe and I are standing in the driveway. Liam wanders off and we find him tiptoeing down the sidewalk in an exaggerated sneak motion. Abe called it a "weird creeping Yoda walk." We both think it is adorable.
Everywhere we go, Liam runs. He's got this little trot that he does, not much faster than the grown-ups walking. He holds his arms up high, so that his hands swing more by his armpits. His shoulders swing back and forth. The little wiggle he does is cute. Even Soren says so. He can go and go and go. Often, he likes to run away-- down the hall at church, out the front door at home, into the baseball field, into a different section of the store-- giggling wildly, contagiously, so that the adult chasing after him won't scold him too hard when they finally catch up.
Liam is playing with a little stuffed cheetah and a little stuffed bear. He hides one under a blanket. The makes the other one hold its paws over its eyes and count to ten. When the counter's eyes are uncovered, it immediately looks under the blanket. "I found you!" it exclaims happily.
Liam loves eating outside. He'll take his meals out on the balcony whenever he can.
Ear-splitting screams come tearing through the house. "MOMMY! MOMMMMMMYYYYYY!" The boys have been playing outside and I was sure that Liam had fallen off the swing and had stopped breathing. I run up the stairs to see Soren standing at the top of the stairs, bright red blood dripping over his lips and chin. He is catching it in his hands while the neighbor girl looks on in what appears to be confusion, mingled with horror. "MY NOSE IS BLEEDING! Soren shrieks. "MY! NOSE! IS! BLEEDING!" He is shaking his head back and forth, sending blood splattering all over the walls and floor. This is a typical nosebleed at our house and I've learned how to handle it. Mostly it involves avoiding carpets. Speaking in a soothing voice, I hurry and shuffle him off to the bathtub, where blood can be washed down the drain. I help him get his clothes off and sit on the edge of the tub. Gently, I try to assure him that it will be okay but that he just....needs...to calm....down. But nothing I say matters. (Once, though tears and tripping blood, he croaked out "Mommmmmmmyyyyyyy" like he was dying and actually blew a blood bubble.) In the bathtub it takes about a minute to get the bleeding to stop and he calms down. "I just hate bleeding," he tells me emphatically. "Me too," I say, as I get out a rag and a bottle of bleach.
We are in the park. He is holding the handle of his brand new kite. It is a perfectly windy day. He lets out the string and runs, little legs kicking out at angles. His face is lifted to the sky. The wind blows against his face. He is smiling. Laughing. Aglow.
Soren is playing in the yard while I weed our flower beds. He follows me around while I work, as he often does, chattering away. He is imagining creatures that might exist that no one in the world knows about yet. He tells me about a whale that lives deep in the ocean and is so big that "a blue whale would look tiny next to it." He says it's covered in lights like an angler fish and that it has scoops on the bottom of its body.
We are taking a walk as a family. Soren has brought his tricycle but remembers, after we've crossed the street, that he's not wearing a helmet. "You'll be fine," I tell him, but a half a block later he stops his trike, folds his arms, and bows his head. He is praying that he will tricycle around the neighborhood in safety.
Soren and I are in the bathroom at my office. It is a Saturday, but I'm on a payroll deadline, so following a free breakfast of pancakes and ice cream (courtesy of Reed's Dairy), the boys and I have come to work. Soren has pulled me away from my laptop to help him with a mess. "I accidentally got some soap on the floor," he had told me. And, indeed, lo, there in front of us was a little pile of foamy soap. "Well, just wipe it up with a paper towel," I tell him. "I can't," he says. I roll my eyes. "Oh, sure you can." "See?" I say, and I rip off a paper towel and clean up the pile of bubbles with a single swipe. But just as I wipe it up, the soap dispenser sensor picks up on the motion and immediately ejects another squirt of soap, right into the spot where the previous pile had been. "See?" said Soren, giggling a little. I giggle a little too. "Maybe if I do it faster," I say, grabbing another paper towel and going for a quick swipe. Squirt. More giggling. "Maybe if I do it from this side." Squirt. "Or in super stealth mode from above!" Squirt. "What if I cover up the sensor?" Squirt. By now Soren and I are laughing hysterically, sitting side by side on the bathroom floor.
In the past couple of months, Soren has:
-Told me that a lady we were talking to did, indeed, look like a grandma "because she has wrinkles."
-Loudly remarked on the odd shape of a co-worker's head (for the record, in my opinion, said co-worker has a perfectly normal shaped head).
-Asked his auntie why she has red dots on her face.
-Asked me if the person standing next to us in the produce department was a boy or a girl. Multiple times, as I tried to quickly shepherd him out of hearing range.
Two sets of words that Soren gets mixed up:
-Blister and Splinter
-Modest and Honest
Soren runs inside and slams the door behind him. He runs a few steps into the kitchen and then stops, looking at Briar in horror. "What have I done? What have I done?" He runs back and opens the door again. "I'm so so sorry, Liam. I'm so sorry I closed the door!"
If he is not the source of Liam's suffering, Soren often cries alongside his brother when he gets hurt. Abraham's mother was watching them one morning when Liam was stung by a wasp. She reported that at the end of the affair, it was Liam comforting Soren, hugging his upset brother and reassuring him, "I okay, Soren. I okay."
Abraham, Soren, and Liam are watching a youtube video of a monster truck rally, at Soren's request.
"When are they going to start fighting?" he asks.
"Monster trucks don't fight," Abe tells him.
They watch for another minute.
"When are they going to start fighting?" Soren asks.
"Monster trucks don't fight!" Abe says.
"When are they going to start fighting?"
"MONSTER TRUCKS DON'T FIGHT!"
Even after a ten minute long video of monster trucks who didn't fight, I'm pretty sure Soren still believes that, in another time and another place, there are monster trucks fighting.
We all had a nasty stomach bug a while ago. Poor Soren got it the worst. He couldn't even hold down water for a couple of days.
Soren and I made some homemade slime.
Soren's end-of-the-year Kindergarten concert. It was a Sesame Street theme. His nose was itchy through the whole thing, so he spent a lot of time scratching it, but he was otherwise delightful.
Soren made me a present one day and even crafted his own wrapping paper. The wrapping paper is above; the gift is below. Isn't it so cuuuuute?