June's Simple Pleasures

"Is this Heaven?  It's Iowa.  Iowa?  I could've sworn this was Heaven.  Is there a Heaven?  Oh yeah, it's the place where dreams come true.  
 Maybe this is Heaven."  

-Field of Dreams, 1989  

Last night, as I was tiptoeing my way around the house getting ready for bed, I heard soft lullaby music coming from Cruz's room.  I pushed my ear against his door and sure enough, the sounds of Rock-a-Bye Baby were playing from inside.  As I was just about ready to push his door open and see what he was up to in his crib, I heard him pull the blue stuffed elephant's tail again, signaling another verse of the song.  There I stood on the other side of his door, waiting for my sign to go in, smiling at the thought of him entertaining himself in the middle of the night.  I never did go in his room, and never heard another peep.  I now wonder how many times that little tail gets pulled during the night, and how many times Cruz falls back asleep to sounds of his crib music.  

The story I tell is an illustration of how I'm feeling this summer.  These are the days I've been waiting for.  If I was up past 11 during the school year, it was probably thanks to a pile of research papers I was already behind on grading, and a little lullaby from my son's room would only signal that Cruz was up when I wanted to go to bed.  Now, the sounds from Cruz's room make me stop, smile, and stand by the door of his room, soaking in another moment of this stage in our lives.  

I am so thankful to have these days at home with Cruz.  It's been such a blessing to see his routines on a day-to-day basis, and really focus on being a mom without so many of the distractions that exist during the school year.  The two of us have connected on a whole new level lately, and I've fallen madly in love with my boy's budding personality.  

We've been having such a good summer, just enjoying the simple things in this stage in our lives.  Spending nights on a blanket in the backyard, grilling on the deck, and taking Cruz on stroller rides through our neighborhood or bike rides around town.  Cruz loves being outside, loves exploring new territory, and loves being with his mom and dad...we've been trying to give him as much of the three as possible this summer.

Enjoyin' the simple pleasures of summertime... 
...Like Tropical Sno.  There we sat on a quilt in the back of the Kia, taking turns giving Cruz small samplings of the melt-in-your-mouth summer treat.  Cruz was a fan.  A BIG fan.  He started screaming when we refused to give him more, so while Beau risked a major brain freeze and ate his as fast as he could, I ate the rest of mine on the way to the trash can.  We were afraid Cruz wouldn't sleep due to his first possible sugar high, but it didn't seem to affect him.  And for fellow Tropical Sno fans...pink lemonade, lemon, orange, and guava...deliciously refreshing!

...spontaneous backyard grill-outs with friends.  Our friends, Mike and Donna, have a killer backyard.  A pergola straight out of HGTV, wine bottles transformed into citronella candles, a tree house with a rope ladder and rope message system, and a gorgeous garden.  We sipped Skinny Girl Margaritas, munched on guacamole, pita chips, and bing cherries, and watched the kids take each other down in tug 'a war contest.  Cruz sat and watched from a blanket and munched on his first ever graham cracker.  

Cruz and his friend, Sparkes with Abbie and her friend.

...a glass of iced tea with a sprig of my very own, home grown mint.

...fresh fruit for breakfast.  There have been many 'food firsts' for Cruz the past couple of weeks.  Last summer, I craved fresh fruits while I was pregnant with Cruz, and I think it paid off.  He LOVES fruit, especially when he can pick pieces up and eat it himself.  We started with bananas, and have moved on to strawberries, peaches, and mandarin oranges.   

I'm still making baby food, too, and now get a little shaky if my freezer starts to look bare.  I'm digging the endless options of fruits available right now at our local grocer and have gradually been devising my own concoctions.  Sometimes, as I'm pouring the latest smoothie into the ice cube tray compartments, I'm tempted to stick in some popsicle sticks...they look so good! 

...the simple pleasures of our hometown.  If someone who has never been to Iowa were to ask me what it's like in the summertime, I would get my magic ball and show them last Friday night.

We went to Movies Under the Moon, an event our town holds on a few Friday nights during the summer.  They have bands, serve Maid-Rites and homemade pie, and at dusk, play a family-friendly movie on a projection screen.  Families are welcome, picnic baskets are encouraged, and blankets and pillows are an absolute must.  So, Friday night, we packed pajamas for Cruz, a cooler and a bottle of wine for us, and enough blankets to sleep under the stars if we wanted to.

Friday night proved that even a picture can only do so much.  The weather was perfect, the first fireflies of the season lit up across the big projector screen, and popcorn popped from the shelter house.  Babies curled up against their parents' chest, restless toddlers danced with their mamas, and people of all ages shared pie and beer and conversation.  A fireworks show lit up the sky, providing quite the 'coming attraction,' before the feature presentation.  And as Cruz fell asleep on his tummy between the two of us, we were reminded of why it is we live in one of the greatest places in the world.  Field of Dreams, baby.

Oh, how I love our little town.  It's truly the perfect place to raise a family.  Big enough to keep busy and have options, small enough to feel the community.  And if I wasn't still slightly terrifed by the flying monkeys in Wizard of Oz, we'd be attending the next Movies Under the Moon event ;).

...sweaty babies on swing sets.  It was the best way to cool off in the middle of a heavy, humid bike ride on Saturday.  It was also a chance to 'cool off' after an Oriole dive-bombed my head and attacked my ponytail while I was riding my bike.  I must have been threatening her babies or something, because this bird meant business.  It was terrifying and hilarious, or at least Beau thought so.

...when I asked Beau how we wanted to celebrate his first Father's Day, I wasn't surprised when his idea of celebration involved his grill, a drink, and some time with family.  Saturday, we made fajitas.  We ate an entire bowl of homemade guacamole.  We poured margaritas in fancy glasses and garnished them with a lime wedge.  We made a fajita bar, a ramekin for roma tomates, and one for cilantro.  We pretended we were Picasso as we created our 'masterpiece on a tortilla shell' and went on and on and on about how good they tasted.  Either we don't cook as much anymore, or I need to marinade my steak in Italian dressing and a fajita seasoning packet every time we make fajitas.  

...and dessert.  It was the only way we could keep a happy baby while we happily finished our food.  In nothing but his diaper on our back deck, Cruz got a preview of what his first birthday will entail.  A tiny chunk of angel food cake, followed by, what do you know, a spoonful of strawberries.  There he sat on the deck, devouring his strawberries, oblivious to the fact that he was the only one out there while we cleaned up dishes inside the kitchen. Every now and then, he'd stick a strawberry in his mouth and look around for someone to observe.  We laughed and said that if DHS drove by and saw a naked baby abandoned in a high chair, we'd have some explaining to do.    

...early evening walks with pajamas and cozy blankets.  My favorite are nights after his bath, bundled up in a fresh blanket, during my favorite part of the night.  The sun is just setting, the wind has died down, and all is peaceful in the neighborhood.  Cruz usually doesn't make it past Del Matro Street, and sleeps sweetly while I water my flowers.

...and SWIMMING!  Although still a little timid in the water, Cruz is definitely intrigued by the water - that is, if I'm in it with him.  Not exactly what I had planned, but I guess it's a sacrifice I'll make to model courage and bravery!