Monday, December 31, 2007

Baseball Memories

The summer before third grade I turned 8 years old.
I was the catcher for my baseball team, the one with the light blue jersey.

The memories I have about that season are poignant, but as an adult, and as a parent, the things I don't remember about that time catch my attention.

I remember that I loved wearing the shin guards in the dug out while my own team was at bat, just in case I had to hurry onto the field to warm up with the pitcher.

I remember that all of those accessories meant to protect me from machine-pitch baseball also made me feel so important, like the biggest risk-taker for my team.

I remember that our team shared a catcher's mask with the other team, so we had to pass it off with the coach after each bat. The other catcher was eating peppermint candy during one game and made the padded chin guard taste all minty. I remember being surprised and delighted by that sweet taste in the middle of all that sweat and dust, and then immediately worrying that the other team's catcher was a BOY. Gross.

(this is me, John Stewart and James, our teammate)

I don't, however, remember the name of my team, the name of any team we played, or whether we won a single game all summer. I didn't even remember whether the roof portion of home plate pointed towards the catcher or the pitcher...after all of those hours spent squatting next to it and watching the ump brush the red dirt off of it each inning (I remember thinking that little brush was so nifty).

It wasn't until my brother made an iron sculpture, a tower of stacked home plates, that I realized home plate was the outline of a "home" anyway.

Henry vacillates between loving football the most, and baseball the most. We recently broke the tee at our house, so we've been on pitch-ball since. I tried to get Svea to swing at a few, but after she head-butted the tee (on purpose) then hit herself with the bat, I decided I'd let her take the lead with sports interests.
Anyway, Henry got a baseball "trainer" for Christmas that acts as a tee, or as a battery-powered pitcher. In two swings, he had it figured out.

Our cousins Kristin, Reggie, Carter and Graham stopped by and we had a little game in the front yard. Henry is still talking about how great that was.

As you can see, football helmets were part of the baseball game. The tiger-striped one was home plate for awhile, and the white one was on and off of Henry's head.

I think Henry shares my gene that claims Accessories Increase Feelings of Self-importance. It didn't even take years and years of aggressive marketing for him to understand that important relationship.
But I GET why the football helmet helped in baseball that morning...or the right color shoes, certain pants, or a light blue jersey.

I am flooded with my own childhood memories as I watch my children grow, and I remain grateful for that. Nervous for what's to come, but grateful.
I loved remembering that baseball summer - the sweet tastes, the dusty smells, the sense of importance.

Home plate's roof points towards the catcher. I looked it up. Now, as I play with Henry (and maybe Svea) I'll know where to stand if I'm ever the catcher.
Maybe we'll have peppermints too.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Luke and Caleb

We had a great visit with our friends Luke and Caleb (and Stacy and Chris, of course) this past weekend. Luke and Henry are a month apart in age, and Svea and Caleb are about a year apart. Doesn't matter - it's always fun to see your kids play with your childhood cronies' kids. In fact, Stacy loved the word crony so much in high school, she named her cat that. Right, Stace?

Apparently, Luke loves articulated vehicles as much as Henry loves sports. So they had some "car crashes" and then chased each other around some:

Then we went downstairs to the "pool room" and aimed for pockets, sometimes with our eyes closed:

That one looked like a bad hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil picture.

Then there was some more serious pool playing. So serious that both boys had their Bob the Builder hats on.

And some laughing at sweet Caleb:

So much will happen between now and the next time we see them (maybe in a year?) that I felt like I had to take pictures every cute or creative thing they did. Stacy's dad and my dad went to high school together, then Stacy, Chris and I were all Homewood Patriots, so maybe all being in Birmingham for a few minutes at the same time grips me with nostaligia and respect for legacy. I don't know.
Watching Henry and Luke and Caleb and Svea play together was really nice, and that too makes me want to take a million pictures.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I Laughed So Hard I Cried Today


- Svea fake-laughed at everything, just by exhaling really hard.

- Brian and I got to work on projects and Christmas presents for 5 hours this morning while the kids ate and played together. FIVE hours. (We were up at 4:55am).

- Henry had to keep getting up at lunch to swing his arms in a circle (back to front) and convulsing his body. No explanation. Just this circle-arm-convulsing-torso move that gave us all the hiccups we laughed so hard.

- I did all the piles of laundry.

- Henry's body art time involved new green eyebrows:

- Our neighbor who now lives in our old house delivered all our Christmas cards from friends we had forgotten to tell we'd moved.

- Svea colored with marker over the poster I had been working on for three days for Lydia. I didn't really laugh at that one - just cried. Couldn't punish her though - how did she know that I had put it on HER art easel to dry before I wrapped it? And don't I always say, "Let's color! Only draw on paper!"?

- Lilah showed up at the play date with this face paint:

- Kai thought "shuckamanolla" was the funniest word in the world. It's the one Pops taught Henry (and Meredith, John Stewart and me as children) to say when the ball doesn't make the goal. Henry played a version of basketball in Kai's room today and entertained with his lamenting SHUCKAMANOLLA each time his ball missed the toy-box basket.

- Henry sang the "Sister Suffragettes" song from "Mary Poppins" on his own, complete with, "Our daughter's daughters will adore us, and they'll sing in graaaaatttefuullll chooooorusssss: WELL DONE! Sister Suffragettes!"

- Svea's acrobatics continue and I catch her "swinging" on her kitchen chair or balancing on her belly on the seat back of a spinning office chair, trying to spin herself around.

- Svea ended the day with a headband made out of a cut-up onesie, hammering the wall with marker all over her face and shirt, laughing like an old man, of course:

Overall, is has been a great day. Lots to celebrate around here...especially Henry and Svea.

Henry's New Signature

Completely melts my heart:

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sunday Discussion Gone Wild

Our routine on Sundays has been to go to chapel and then back home for lunch and discussion with a handful of people who are interested in that sort of thing. Sometimes we discuss liturgy or scripture or political issues. Sometimes we discuss vocational crises, family strife or share recipes.

Sometimes we just listen to Ruth.

We all love it when Ruth comes because you just never know what she's going to say, or what recent article in the New York Times has her in a tizzy, or what poem she has recently written that will move us to tears. The kids love her too as she will play endless rounds of Tackle Football or build a tower with round objects or give them plate after plate of ice cream without asking any parents' permission. She once taught Calvin to say to his mother, "I don't need no stinkin' nap."

You can tell why she's the favorite.

So this past Sunday, she was spooning ice cream into Calvin's mouth and then into Henry's. She said, "This is like a train."
Well, this reminded Calvin that he had trains on his underpants! On this day! And he must show Ruth! Right then!
So he did.

Which gave Ruth the giggles.

And convinced Henry that his Spiderman undies would be just as funny.

Once we all calmed down from the show, Henry wanted Ruth's attention again so he could tell her that she needed to go get one more scoop of ice cream for him, please.

Monday, December 17, 2007


I forgot that I took this picture a few days ago when I was trying to get them used to posing together.

Usually it turns into a tackle-and-run, so I thought we should practice before we tried on Christmas clothes.

I picked out Svea's pants, shirt and vest. She chose her shoes.

Henry chose his entire "uniform" including the lake shoes that we had to buy in purple and pink due to size availability in mid-August.

We got no comments while we were out and about that morning...which I guess is a good thing. I definitely want to support wearing what you FEEL. You go, kids.

Worth a Re-post

The ONLY time Svea has made a face that resembles someone on my side of this family:

Thanks, Uncle Johnnie.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

These Rules Are Hard

Brian said that tonight. For us, as parents. For the kids, as kids.

I am so done this week. Done, I tell you. I have repeated myself more times than I promised myself I would. I have punished and rewarded to my limit.

When we moved into this "new" house in August, Brian and I talked about having more rooms that did not have toys, more rules about "where things go." So this week when I happened upon Babydoll Napping Scenes in every room of the house,

I just had to let it go. I'm done. This is not one of the rules I need right now.

I read this great post about determining our distance with our children by Barbara and I was moved. I really think about that daily - in the car, in the playroom, at the table eating - I have no idea how much to intervene in the arguments and how much to interrupt the hugging. Mostly I want to be a fly on the wall and feel proud of my work, but that may be just from lack of Alone Time too, so how do I determine the distance?

We had some rules for awhile about washing hands in the sink - you know, trying to get the routine of wetting, using soap, rinsing and drying without wasting too much water. But Henry has is down pat, and Svea, well, she's still learning. And I'm just thinking that these things take some time.

We had some rules about standing on furniture,

but now I am choosing to enforce the rules about NOT riding the boogy board DOWN the furniture or walking on the back ledge of the couch instead of sitting down for the love of GAWD.

So now we paint WHILE standing on furniture WITH paint that does not come out of clothes.

I'm just going to type it out loud: These rules are hard.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Our days seem to run together lately and the camera has rarely made a debut, or it has been in Svea's sticky hands. The furniture acrobat that she is, the sneaky manger scene re-arranger that she is, the feisty molar-cutting toddler that she is, she ALWAYS finds the camera.

She loves chapstick and lipstick and for some reason still calls is Minamiss. She digs for it in my purse at all times.

So in this winter season when all of our lips are peeling, and we juggle Advent and Santa and Christmas, I got this moment of chapstick application while we listened to songs in the library during Music Mania.
This IS my life.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

On This Day...

...six years ago, Brian and I were married.

Happy Anniversary, honey.

From iHusband:
Those pictures are nice. Look at how quickly we move without children. Almost ninja-like.

Six years ago, we shook hands with 4.3 million people (most of them, I'm convinced, we will never see again) and ate really fancy finger foods while a big band played and I wore rented clothes. This weekend, we ate hot dogs and watched "Transformers" because I am actually eight years old.

Six years ago, I thought romance was the product of a carefully orchestrated environment where every detail was "right." Our wedding felt a bit like a coronation ceremony. A full six years into the Erickson kingdom, stepping over (and occasionally on) toys, waking up at 5:30am to pour orange juice into sippy cups, and both being exhausted at the end of a very normal day, I've realized that genuine romance thrives despite the details.

A nice wedding is tough to pull off. A good marriage is grace beyond measure.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Breakfast Convo

Henry: Mommy, I'm a boy and you're a girl.

Me: You're right.

Henry: And some people are big and some people are small.

Me: You're right.

Henry: And we don't talk about how big people's bums are.

Me: You're right, honey.

Henry: Look at me, Mommy. Look at what I'm doing.

Me: (Looking at him doing nothing but looking back at me) What are you doing?

Henry: Look at me. I'm not saying "sucks."

Me: (Turning my face so he can't see me laughing. Speechless).

Henry: Mommy, I'm not saying "sucks" because it's rude and inappropriate.

(Did I mention how much I'm learning from my kids?)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Welcoming the Winter

The days have felt more full around here as the weather moves from crisp to downright biting.
It is officially cold.
I have noticed that as the weather changes this time, Henry and Svea are noticing and are affected by it. I LOVE that. I want so much for them to live lives that are affected by environment, that are adaptable, that are aware. I want them to learn that self-care changes with the seasons too, and it will be that way their whole lives.

Henry has fingernails that grow at different speeds and hangnails that crop up after each bath. I trim 3 different fingers every so often and then the other 7 about every 2 weeks. He picks at his fingers when he's nervous or distressed, which seems more noticeable this winter.

They both have dry skin and sometimes eczema along with it. Svea loves wearing a hat and Henry loves being cold. They love puddles even in the freezing rain and have commented on the falling of the colored leaves now leaving bare gangly branches.

It's dark a lot more now and their naps and bedtimes are shifting from that. Their energy levels and food cravings are off kilter and all of these things would have sent me in a tailspin a year ago, checking out books on how to Get Back On Schedule or How To Let Go Of Controlling Every Move Your Child Makes. But this year, the coming of this season, watching their bodies and minds change with it has been fascinating.

So, welcome Winter. We are ready for you this year.