Monday, June 22, 2009

The Great Outdoors

Last weekend we went to DeSoto State Park to attend the Knox family reunion. Mom was a Knox before she married, and boy, are those genes strong. Every one of us is a nutjob. ;-) But we are darn adorable. Poppie's jovial presence was palpably absent, but I like to think he was observing us all. I could almost picture him there, chatting and cutting up and telling all those well-worn stories everyone's heard at least a dozen times. We used to laugh every time.

Steve and I decided to add extra spice to our experience by attempting our first tent-camp Saturday night. I had a tiny bit of anxiety about how it would play out, but things really went fairly smoothly. The kids adored their breezy accomodations, and Connor was overjoyed over having full license to pee in the grass whenever he felt the urge. We ate wild blackberries, we hiked trails (bunnies!), we visited the Nature Center and observed all the stuffed creatures. The scenery was breathtaking. Maintenance of two wandering wee ones made things a little less relaxing than the ideal, but we would attempt another excursion in a minute.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Most folks would describe me as fairly hardheaded. I have had this adjective attached to my name since my tender years, and I never realized what grief it caused the majority of my family until my son came along. The male version of ME. Poor, poor Connor.

Somewhere along the time he turned two, Connor began developing anxiety around water. He's just fine in the bathtub (unless you attempt to shampoo his hair), but get him within twenty feet of a larger body of water, and his little hiney cheeks clench. Drag him into the water and he becomes an octopus, wrapping himself multiple times around the nearest adult and howling until they take him out. It's ridiculous, really. Previous attempts to acclimate him to the pool have ended in mutual frustration, lots of tears, and no fun. Picture me at age four, and you've got an idea of the source from whence this behavior was inherited. I can't explain it. I was just plumb terrified of drowning, and I didn't trust a soul to keep me afloat. Consequently, Connor will not be convinced that we have his safety in mind. I don't think I've projected any latent fears onto him, though. I did eventually learn to swim, and I try my best to show Connor that it's fun. He won't be moved.

Well, two can play the stubborn game. I arose this morning, and whether it was by sheer determination or gluttony for misery, made the decision to carry both my children to the YMCA pool by myself. We stopped at Kmart to purchase a float suit for the wee one and a Spider Man kickboard for the big boy. I really hoped that would serve as incentive.

We arrived at the pool, everyone hopped into their suits, and I yanked Mia's float suit out of the box and cringed. It required a manual pump to inflate. What the??? Well, after a thorough inquiry at the front desk (surely they've got one, right? Don't they have to blow up basketballs and junk? This is the Y, for cripes sake), there was no pump to be found. I gritted my teeth and dug a fingernail into the valve to release the pin, wrapped my mouth around it tightly, and blew until I turned purple. Success. Enough to keep her afloat, anyway.

We marched back thru the dressing rooms, I flung open the door to the pool room, and Connor froze. The next 45 minutes was all about me coaxing and dragging a flailing four-year-old into the water while I balanced an ecstatic toddler on my hip. Oh yeah. Mia loves the water. A picture of contrast, she's a regular little goldfish. Splash, splash, jump to Mama, dunk under and swim to the surface...this child will be dog-paddling by summer's end, mark my words. Now back to Captain Hydrophobe. The fact that he was wearing water wings and clinging to a kickboard made no difference to him. He was convinced he was drowning. I tried everything to get him to relax. No go. Finally, he announced he had to pee. I told him I'd take him, but by golly, we were not leaving until he started enjoying himself. He gave me one of his famous "growly faces." We trooped out of the pool, took care of business, and made our way back. As an afterthought, I suggested Connor snag a couple "funnoodles" from the bin for himself and his sister. He did. Tucked one under his armpits and cautiously waded into the pool. This time it only took him about thirty seconds--he sailed out past the steps and paddled around in a circle, astonished that he was upright. "Mommy! Am I swimming?" He asked, his eyes wide.

"Yup, Baby! Is it fun?"

"Yes! Look! Watch me! I can do it!!"

It was the first time he's let go voluntarily. Ever. We spent another hour in that pool, until our toes were white and pruny and our stomachs were growling. Connor kept motorboating around in the shallow end, triumphant and radiant. He didn't want to stop. I hated to end it. Then Mia caught sight of a large man with b-cup breasts and about six teeth (the heated pool attracts the elderly like flies to a bug-zapper), and started pointing and asking questions. Clearly, our time was up. What fun, though!

And on the way home, Connor asked when we would go back. Sweet progress. We are going to take it slow, but I am hopeful. I am not giving up on this child. We're cut from the same cloth.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A look back a year...and 58 more.

I guess coming up on milestones in our household automatically makes me yearn to archive. I'll do it every which way I can: scrapbooking, journaling (hello!), photography, digital scrapbooking...It's truly a love (one of these days I'll take another stab at logging our family tree online. Last time I had a few hundred names/dates compiled, and my computer crashed. It was too sickening to think about for a while). Well, I'm way behind on Mia's stuff, since I've been concentrating on C's latest accomplishments. Now it's Sister's turn. Here's footage from her first birthday celebration, which was almost a year ago. Wow. Those chubby cheeks and hands. Baby, baby.

And just for fun, here's a picture of my mom in October of 1951 when she turned one. Oops, I just broadcast her real age:

There aren't any pictures of me at my first birthday, because nobody loved me enough to photograph the occasion.

Ok, I'm kidding. Mom's got my baby book in Alabama.