Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fingers and Toes

There is just something absolutely delectable about tiny baby fingers and chubby baby toes...








...and babies in general for that matter!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Big Brother

When I was pregnant with Ari I wondered how in the world I could ever love another baby as much as I love Riker.  He's such an awesome child - curious, engaging and clever and we are delighted by him every day.

What is it about sunnies that kids love so much?
At the fountain in front of the National Library.  Note mom's sunglasses in hand :)

When Ari came along I found that I somewhat miraculously had the ability to feel the same depth of emotion once again.  I read a nice analogy recently to explain to children how there can always be enough love to go around.  Love is like the sunshine – sharing the sun doesn't mean you get any less of it. 

Sharing the sun

It's still difficult to know how Riker feels about Ari, however, and it can change from minute to minute.  Sometimes he starts calling out for him as soon as he wakes from a nap.  "Baba!"  When Ari cries, Riker has been known to point to my chest and then to Ari to let me know he needs milk.  He shows him things and pulls at his arms and legs as if to say "play with me!"  But that soon turns into frustration as of course Ari just lies there (often looking at Riker with something resembling fascination or adoration).  There are also plenty of angsty moments where he seems to feel jealousy and resentment and these can lead to hitting or scratching at the drop of a hat.  Fair enough.  Who wouldn't feel upset if the most important person in their world brought home a new someone special?

Two special someones

Despite the hitting episodes, I can see affection developing and it's my greatest hope that they grow up to be playmates, confidants and friends. 

We turned our backs for a split second yesterday and found this scene! 

Any outbursts of hitting or scratching are usually promptly followed by a make-up kiss and while I don't want to send the message that anything goes as long as you atone for it afterward, it's very sweet! 

Smothered

In general, Riker is mostly affectionate with Ari, kissing him all the time and not just after he's hit him!  Sometime it's all a bit much for the little guy and while he's having a totally different babyhood to the calm and quiet life that Riker knew at this age, I think it'll be a good life. And as for the mama, I've got my hands full, but I remind myself that full is better than empty!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wrapped in Love

Ari's great aunt Nancy in Cleveland sent him this gorgeous afghan and I just know it will be a favorite for years to come as it's so big and soft and cozy!


And just for fun, here's Riker at about five months old with his coordinating afghan from aunt Nancy:


Big hugs and thanks to Nancy for sending hand crafted love to keep the wee ones warm and snug! 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Puppy Feet

Riker was given an adorable sleeper with monkey feet as a gift and now Ari has one with puppy feet from Grandma Betty.  I couldn't pick just one photo to share!



Friday, December 09, 2011

Australian Rainbow Gathering

We recently returned from a somewhat epic camping adventure to the Australian Rainbow Gathering in the Hunter Valley region of NSW.  We had to travel to Sydney to get documentation of Ari's American citizenship and to apply for his passport (both of which involve lots of paperwork and an incredibly annoying trip to downtown Sydney) so we decided to drive the two hours north out of Sydney to get to our first Gathering in about six years!  The site was on private land and about 130 people came together to camp, eat, swim, workshop, converse, make music, relax, retreat and rejuvenate.  It was good fun as usual and we ended up camping for nine days, in part because the road out became impassable in a two wheel drive vehicle for the last few days of our stay due to heavy rains!  I didn't take very many photos but here are a few of the best:

A camp chair makes a great improv bassinet!

It was a beautiful site and we spent lots of time by the river to keep cool and splash with the other kids in camp.  Brian and Ari enjoy a swing in our hammock. 

Our little mimic washes his shirt in the river.

Wirunga, an aboriginal elder, kindly led a children's ritual similar to one he experienced as a small boy.  The children all sat together on a blanket while parents daubed dots of red, yellow and white ochre on their faces representing earth, sun and spirit.  When he finished he gave a gift to each child, boomerangs for the boys and small paintings for the girls.  Very special!

The youngest child at the Gathering, Ari slept through the ritual but was painted just the same. 

Dad has a cuddle while mama has a swim

Sleepy smiles in mama's lap

All tuckered out in the tent.  Thanks to Beth for loaning us a family sized tent and toddler gear for our first family camping experience!

Going to a Gathering with children was a very different experience to what I've known previously. Normally I'd get out and about a lot more (working in the kitchen, drumming, socializing and dancing after the evening meal circle) but I spent a lot of time at our camp nursing babies and getting them to sleep. There were good things about that too though in that we really connected with the other families and enjoyed making new friends.  It wasn't an easy nine days though - some extreme heat (for my Minnesota blood anyway) and some rainy days stuck in the tent proved difficult for me.  Not to mention the fact that I had two little people glued to me almost nonstop including a toddler who was ultra clingy, presumably from being in a new environment and still adjusting to life with a sibling. People keep commenting on how brave we are to have taken a newborn backcountry camping but at least at a Gathering, all necessities are taken care of - yummy food twice a day and filtered water for example, so it wasn't as difficult as going it alone would be.  Nonetheless, it's good to be home! 

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Octriplets

Riker turned two on October 29th and he shares his birth date with his two little friends Jago and Imogen. This year we once again marked the occasion with a joint fiesta for the three toddlers. Here are the highlights:

Jago, Riker and Imogen are TWO!

Opening a gift with Coral and Ariella

Helping Imogen with her new bicycle

Contemplation

Jumping castle fun!

Mmm ball pit

A little bit of rain and a stunning double rainbow to end the day

Perfect for puddle jumping!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Quick Update

My friend and colleague Su stopped by the other day and snapped this photo of the boys and I on her phone.  Thought I'd post it as a quick update and let you know that there are several new blog posts in the works to tell you what we've been up to for the last month. Stay tuned!