One of the high points of Ike's summer was his first "swim" in a big pool.
He's started to feed himself with utensils. With great enthusiasm and minimal good aim. We've found it's usually best to strip him down to his diaper first.
We visited Dave's uncle and aunt for a few days at the beginning of July.
They live on Cedar Lake in Indiana, about an hour south of Chicago. Dave's grandparents' house used to stand just a couple lots over. They both passed away within the past few years. Dave's uncle owns the property and is soon going to build a new house on the old site. Dave spent many summer days at this lake as a kid, often with his dad. The circle of life; bittersweet, amazing.
We went to a couple flea markets while we were there. One find was this furry rocking bear. Have you ever seen such a thing? I wasn't sure Ike would play with it, but Dave's aunt said that for the $5 price tag, it was too cute to pass up. It is.
Ike went cold turkey off his pacifier after the Cedar Lake trip. He hasn't seemed to miss it. When he was about 15 months old, he stole a pacifier from our friend's baby's mouth. So Dave and theorized that if we wean him off them now, he won't be interested in stealing them from his new baby brother. We don't actually know what we're doing, though.
I recently bought a new lemon-scented dish soap. It has no phosphates or dyes, which appealed to my tree-hugging side, and the label was vintage-apothecary pretty, appealing to my flea-market aesthetics. Unfortunately, it kind of sucks, performance-wise. Doesn't seem to suds up well. But, it smells divine, just like the "lemon ice" I used to eat in New Jersey. I suppose it's what's widely known as Italian ice, but I remember my family and others calling it lemon ice, no matter the flavor, as in, "What kind of lemon ice do you want, raspberry or coconut?" Kind of like how southerners use "Coke" as the all-encompassing term for soft drinks. "What kind of Coke can I get you, Sprite or Dr. Pepper?"
Every time I washed a dish, I couldn't stop thinking about lemon ice, or Eyetalian ice as I imagine folks around here say, and the unlikelihood of finding some nearby. But it turned out that Ritter's, a frozen custard stand near my mom's house, has it. So I dragged Ike and my brother John along, not that they protested overmuch.
They had frozen custard, which is excellent in it own right, and normally preferable, but I got my wished-for tart, creamy lemon ice. Lemon-flavored lemon ice.
I don't know the science behind this, but pregnancy heightens my sense of smell. I crave nice scents--the definition of "nice," inexact. Sometimes I stand in front of the spice cabinet and wave ground ginger, cinnamon, and allspice under my nose. I recently found myself huffing basil and mint in my mom's garden. I also have a nontoxic almond furniture polish, which smells just like a rich marzipan. When I was expecting Ike, I used to let myself sniff it once a night as a bedtime "snack." I raved to Dave about it and exhorted him to take a sniff. He thought I was off my rocker.
The smells of gasoline and paint also seem delicious, but I do have a bit of sense remaining and I try to be judicious about purposely inhaling them. The downside of my temporary bloodhound sense? One open beer on the other side of the house makes me feel like I'm bathing in a keg, and I can tell you when a mouse farts under the front porch.
A number of untended, overgrown areas surrounding our property were recently studded with ripe black raspberries. Nothing smells quite as wonderful as sweet goods baking in the oven, so I decided to see if I could gather enough berries for a pie. While Ike took his nap, I took a bowl and foraged. As I pushed deeper into the weeds, I found a dead animal (opossum?), mostly skeleton and hair, and almost fell into a giant hole or den of some sort. My cat, Chun-Li, who must have been chasing her tail when God handed out stealth and other catlike attributes, lumbered through the brambles like a bear. It rained a little, barely getting through the treetops to me, and the greenery as I stepped on it smelled so fresh and alive.
I love real berry pies, ones whose fillings aren't far removed from the actual fruit, not the kind with wretchedly sweet canned fruit fillings. I decided this when I was maybe nine or ten years old, hanging out at Uncle Mike's cabin in upstate New York with most of my dad's side of the family. Uncle Jack had bought a pie at an auction, to benefit a local school or something like that. I remember him saying his bid was $7, which I secretly thought was insanely expensive! It was blackberry and I thought I had never tasted anything so perfect before. I savored it slowly at the table before going outside to poke at the campfire with my cousins.
I thought of that long-ago pie as I made this one, which, sadly, turned out much prettier than it was tasty. I put some Chambord (black raspberry liqueur) in it, but think I erred on the side of too little sugar. By the way, I've been thinking of adding some recipe posts to the blog, since I'm over-interested in food right now and find myself cooking even more than usual. I'll forewarn you if I do, in case you want skip over those entries in favors of Ike-centric ones.
Last weekend, Dave and I loaned Ike out to his grandma and Uncle John and betook ourselves on a quick getaway to the Saugatuck area. We stayed at this darling place, the Hunter's Lodge:
It's an old, rambling log building, restored by the couple who live on the premises, John and Paul. Our room was small but immaculate. There didn't seem to be anything extraordinary about the bed, but I woke up both days without any aches and pains, which hasn't happened in months at home. We took a sunset cruise on a big sternwheeler; watched Lake Michigan on a windy night; went to the movies; had some really good food (prime rib at the Butler, cinnamon French toast with fresh fruit and crème anglaise at the Elbo Room) in addition to our crappiest restaurant experience of all time (Kalico Kitchen).
Dave and I couldn't believe how simple it was just to take care of ourselves with no toddler in tow. We laughed about what, pre-parenthood, we used to think we were taking vacations from. It was a good breather, just to be "boyfriend and girlfriend" again for a bit. But we tripped over each other a little to get back to Ike.
'Cause he's just too awesome.
Then my brother John--that formerly wee lad who recently turned 15--drove. As in, conducted a motor vehicle. He bravely went out for a land-cruise with Dave in the Roadmaster, then came back and switched to my mom's Kia and took us downtown for lunch. I could hardly believe someone whose diapers I used to change was driving me around. (I'm sure he appreciates me putting that out there.) I admired his calm; he's only been taking driver's ed for the past few weeks. Like a crazy old lady who repeats the same stories over and over, I keep telling him that I was such a Nervous Purvis when I was learning how to drive, I used to dislocate my own shoulder from tension. He humors me, though.