Archive for the ‘Elena’ Category

Elena is 86 Months Old Today!

Posted by julie on Wednesday, 14 October 2015, 23:57

Still at it

       SONY DSC

Dear Elena,

You look so old these days, with your long, long hair and long, lean legs.

You spent your last days as a 6-year-old in New York; actually, you spent nearly four weeks there this summer. Not only did you love it, but my parents and my sister loved it—and you. You were helpful, charming, responsible, playful, and you didn’t want to come home. You swam, climbed, had a pedicure with Aunt Jenny, went to yoga with Gramma Mia, hiked with Grampa Dick, put together puzzles with Uncle John, taught Miss June to swim, picked veggies, and went to horse camp (you and Gramma even found jodhpurs at a 2nd-hand store!). You never once caused a problem for your grandparents; not once did they notice you being stubborn or finicky or unkind. Darling girl.



You have started to recognize wit and to tell jokes. Sometimes those jokes fail, and even that’s funny: Instead of “Dad, can you make me a sandwich?” followed by “Abracadabra, you’re a sandwich,” you said, “Dad, can I have a sandwich?” followed by the punch line that no longer makes sense. Which cracked all of us up.

You’ve recently turned the corner and discovered that the street is lined with books you can read! You now spend road trips going carefully through Highlights magazine, reading all of the stories when previously you only found the hidden pictures. You finally get it, why the rest of us are so enthralled with books. They’re full of stories!


You play soccer like a girl on fire. A few of your teammates have noticeably improved their ball-handling skills and have an intuitive understanding of where they should be on the field in a given situation. What you lack in those areas you make up in sheer speed. The other day, the assistant coach said, “You know, they’re going to have to start watering the field; otherwise, you’re going to set it ablaze.”


Elena, you have been reminded by your new teacher to be kind with your words and actions. When I told her that I hoped that wouldn’t continue, she said, respectfully and calmly, “Oh, I bet it will.” Then I told her that you’d chosen the nickname “Spicy” for yourself that very afternoon. She laughed and nodded. She understands you.

Other kids’ parents say things about you like “assertive,” “go far,” and “knows what she wants.” And they’re right. You are fiery, and sometimes—especially when it comes to sibling relations—that’s challenging. But what more could I ask than a hot-pepper daughter who knows what she wants and laughs while she goes out and grabs it?





How we dress for ballet in Eugene

Posted by jonesey on Friday, 24 October 2014, 5:41
girl wearing ballet clothes and rain boots

swan puddle?

Happy Birthday, Elena: You’re 6! (and a month)

Posted by julie on Wednesday, 17 September 2014, 12:40

Elena, Sally Mann-style


Silly serious faces at the ball game


My two favorite little sisters

Dear Elena,

Nearly every morning, you wake me up: “Mom, I’m hungry.” I open my eyes to your smile, sometimes on the pillow next to mine, but more often hovering in the doorway. I prefer those mornings to my early-run mornings when my alarm jars me awake at 5 a.m.

Your little face lost its baby-tooth grin when you lost your first tooth less than a week after your 6th birthday, just a month ago. When I compare photos from your first day of Kindergarten at Edison to your first day of Kindergarten at Waldorf, this year, I notice how much you look like a big kid now: lost tooth, thinner face, longer body. The little kid is gone, but, thankfully, her sparkliness persists.


Waiting for the teeter totter to drop

You entered the Eugene Waldorf School this fall, and your summer birthday means you are in Kindergarten again. Transferring you to the Waldorf school was a hard decision for me; I know you didn’t want to leave your old school, especially your friends. But you are social and fun, and I know you’ll find some new friends (and play soccer with the old friends). You were also really enjoying the academic work that Edison gave you. You were learning to read, add, and subtract. Those pursuits will be put aside for two years for you as you enter the Waldorf world of imagination, cooking, and playing outside. It’s true that I look forward to the day when you will lose yourself in books…

At the Jog-a-thon last May. Elena ran 4.5 miles in an hour. Yes, I was impressed.

At the Jog-a-thon last May. Elena ran 4.5 miles in an hour. Yes, I was impressed.


Mom, do I have fern water on my head?

Although you aren’t reading full books yet, you can still entertain yourself for hours. Sometimes I find you drawing, or creating something with stickers, or setting up an art sale on the street corner, or arranging small items on your floor in ways that make sense only to you. While you love other people’s company, you are also one of the most independent people I know.

If we let you, you would play four sports, sing in a choir, dance, and take gymnastics classes, leaving time only for eating and sleeping. I am not a fan of overscheduling, but that becomes difficult to tame when you have a child who wants to do it all.


West coast mermaid


Blowing out the candles on the lime cousins’ birthday cake that Gramma made

You and Sylvan have started to have a real friendship, wherein you create imaginary worlds, dance, and pretend that you’re a fairy princess marrying a boy in a tutu. When that playtime works well, I am charmed. More often than not, it ends with you whine-screaming, “Sto-o-p!” after some perceived or actual injustice. I won’t miss that whine-scream when you grow out of it; I promise.

You have known how to ride a bicycle for over a year, but you are still struggling with starting and stopping. I’m considering picking up another small bike, so you don’t have far to fall and you’ll feel more comfortable (We gave away your small, training-wheel bike during a garage purge. Sorry!).


Putting together her bro’s Ikea nighstand

You, my dear, like dresses more, perhaps, than anyone I know. I don’t know why you have any trousers at all. My advice to you: keep wearing dresses and being a tough, outdoorsy chick. People will use words like spunky to describe you (in fact, they already do!).

Your Mom



Don’t mess with me, or I’ll shoot you with my bear popper

Passing along dad’s cultural history

Posted by jonesey on Tuesday, 11 March 2014, 5:23
Her favorite one is about Kevin McHale.

Her favorite one is an ancient tale, circa 1987, about Kevin McHale playing for months with a broken foot and leading the team to the Eastern Conference title.

Happy Birthday, Elena! You’re 5 1/2 (okay, and nearly a month; I’m a mom)

Posted by julie on Friday, 7 March 2014, 12:09

SONY DSC        elena_yoda

Dear Elena,

Sometimes I look at you and I can’t believe you were a glimmer in our eyes six years ago (well, you were a glimmer and a tiny peanut at that point). You are so completely breath-taking and self-possessed, it’s hard to believe you didn’t spring fully-formed and perfect from inside a cabbage leaf.





You learned to ride a bike last August, and you learned to START a bike on Saturday. Those first few pedals are always the hardest.

You are fearless. You should retain that; it will come in handy later. We had to remind you of that bravery when we recently tried downhill skiing again–rather, you had to remind yourself. Once that confidence returned, you simply pointed your skis down the hill and said, “Okay, where do you want me to turn?” You were a bit terrifying to watch, but you were nearly always in control. Then you went up on the lift by yourself! Okay, you don’t have to be THAT big.

You have the world’s most charming little voice. Sometimes I wish you knew how to turn it off, but I love its word-choice mistakes as well as its mispronunciations and impediments.



You are learning to read. Learning to read seems like a miracle to me. Learning a new language does, too. Our brains pliably wrap around the new information, prodding it like a curious octopus until–pop!–the brain and the information become one. To prepare for reading, you learned all of your letters last fall in Kindergarten. While you knew some of them already, you hadn’t absorbed them like your brother did when he started to read. You know what sounds most letters make, and now you can sound out many words and sight-read some, too. You’ve read books to me! If there are words you don’t know, you attempt them based on context, sometimes with funny results that collapse us into giggles. It’s such a pleasure to watch you figure out reading. Your process is different from what Sylvan’s looked like. You’re more of an experimenter.



While you have always wielded a pencil with grace and care, you’ve started trying cursive, because that’s what your brother’s doing. Second child: “I will not be left behind!”

I don’t love your stubbornness, your ability to look me in the eye as you’re jumping on the couch. You are fast to frustrate and fast to cool down. Your brother and I probably taught you to blow up, and now you’re a master. And we’re both calmer. I apologize. We’ll continue to hug you and try to understand your feelings.

I love you, Miss E.



Girls hikin’!


Happy Birthday, Elena! You’re 5!

Posted by julie on Tuesday, 20 August 2013, 11:20

This is you, standing in Fish Lake (there’s water there in the winter) after you’d just turned 4 last year.

This is you this summer, blowing away the competition in the 200m.

Dear Elena,

You’re starting Kindergarten in less than a month! You are excited, and so am I. You are a bundle of social energy, and I think you’re going to really love being in school. It’s fascinating and fun to parent two very different children and observe how you both interact with the world. When Sylvan entered school, a year older than you, he was definitely reticent and nervous, and he was also already reading, although he wouldn’t admit that (he read signs to us, but he refused to read books). You are enthusiastic and ready to go; you probably know most of your letters, but we haven’t tested that; and I couldn’t imagine holding you back to prepare for another year, despite limited but available empirical evidence that students older within their peer group outperform the youngest students. I have no fear that you’ll succeed, Elena, really at whatever you put your mind to.

On the Merced River.

Half Dome from the other side and some wind-blown kids.

You are a master of Vision and Action, one of NOLS’s seven leadership principles. When something needs to get done, you simply buckle down and do it. If it’s time to put on sunscreen, you find the sunscreen and have it on before I can pack my pool bag. If you want to create art, you walk in and cut and paint and draw and paste until it’s time for a snack; then you get yourself a carrot. Getting things done is a crucial and healthy trait, a characteristic that will serve you well as a student, as a grown-up, as a partner, and simply as a successful human. I could probably serve you better by making art supplies more available to you­—­­or cleaning supplies, for that matter. The house would sparkle if I just stepped back and let you at it. As a student, I think you would thrive in a Montessori setting. I hope Edison’s Kindergarten is hands-on enough for your sensibilities.

The other thing I hope is that this hitting phase subsides as you gain more and more coping skills. You get frustrated with your brother—as any human being would when confronted with big sibling cruelty (sorry, Jenn)—and you just haul off and whack him. You went through a phase like that a year ago in pre-school, and then it passed as your communication skills improved. Please don’t let your Kindergarten teacher call us because you’re beating up your friends.

Can’t have too many plungers on this blog.

You’re changing your child-logic verb tenses to grammatically-correct ones these days, inserting “went” where “goed” used to sit, for instance.

Right now, you’re motivated by being a “big girl.” I try not to utilize that too much, because it’s nice to have a little girl; but I don’t mind telling you that 5-year-olds can use Hideaway Bakery’s bathroom alone.

I love this photo. Two of these kids will be in Kindergarten next year. Two of these kids love to read and have water fights with each other.

Yesterday, four days after you turned 5, you went down the big blue slide at Amazon Pool by yourself, without the lifeguard catching you at the bottom! After your first ride down, when the lifeguard caught you and then helped you swim to the side, I saw the disappointment in your eyes. “Go back!” I suggested, “Tell them you don’t need a catcher.” Big girl, you just zoomed out into the water, put your head down, and swam like a fish to the side. “The current helped me,” you said.

I love you, Big Little Girl.


Fun at your birthday party.

I don’t tell you very often that you’re beautiful, because I want you to know that being generous and clever and funny are more important; but, Elena, you are lovely.

Happy Birthday, Elena: 4 2/3!

Posted by julie on Tuesday, 16 April 2013, 22:52

Dear Elena,

My little spitfire. I definitely wonder how Kindergarten will treat you, my little free-spirited wood sprite. You’re observant and a quick learner, and you love to be a good role model. Those qualities will treat you well as you enter school. You’re also a chatterbox and stubborn as that gluey residue left over from masking tape that’s been through the dishwasher. Kindergarten will be tough when you’re asked to zip your adorable lips.

It’s birthday party season, and at a party this past weekend, I was chatting with a mom about schools, because that’s all we can discuss when our babies are turning 5 and we want what’s best for them. I told this mom that you’d recently said you’d draw and paint all day, if given the opportunity. She said, “Yes, until college, and then she has to major in something that will make money.”

My expression must have illustrated my discomfort. Elena, you can go to college if you want. And, if you choose to go, you can major in art if you want. Or dance. Or theater. Or photography. Or religion. Or physics. Or chemistry. Or astronomy. But this you’ll never hear from me: “Consider pre-med. Doctors make more money than artists.” First of all, life’s too short to do something you think will make you money rather than something that will make you happy. Secondly, some artists actually make more money than doctors. And thirdly, it’s your life. You have this fantastic opportunity to make your own decisions. You will realize that some of them turn out to be ones you wouldn’t make again.

One of the biggest gifts my parents gave me was complete support. I was never made to feel like I wasn’t making the right decisions; they were my decisions, and I knew I was loved and that my family had my back. I should have asked for more advice, though. I still should. Like me, you are independent to a fault. You don’t have to take other people’s advice, but sometimes it’s good to hear it.

The first of two years of $5 annual ski passes at Willamette Pass. It’s good to be 4!

Right now, you love: pink, purple (you say it’s your favorite now), glitter, anything shiny (maybe you’re a magpie), playing with letters, drawing, collecting tiny objects (again, magpie), swinging, helping, running, dance class, saving food for later (sometimes later doesn’t come), cheek kisses, and amazing us with how big you are.

While we were sorting socks the other day, you said, “Yuck, this sock smells like rice. Italian rice.” Better get over that one, lady, because risotto’s delicioso!

I love you,

Pale not only because we’re Oregonians. Jumping waves with a fever. Yeah, I’m a good parent.

Wait, what lava? We’re making silly faces.


Helping Daddy Run Too Far

Posted by julie on Monday, 20 August 2012, 0:04

Chris ran the Waldo 100K yesterday. It was more than 100K; you’ll have to ask him about it.

The kids and I supported him, but only a little. We really just wanted to get out of town and go swimming in a beautiful mountain lake. We succeeded.

We thought we might have missed Chris when we got to Charlton Lake, after some road construction and VERY slow trucks. Made it, though, with time to spare. I almost missed this photo, though.

Mostly cloudy, drizzly, with brightly-colored children

The Outdoor Program was out of rental kayaks and stand-up paddleboards on Friday, since the weather has been so utterly delectable. So, on a whim, I bought an inflatable kayak at REI. I hope it lives up to its great start. The kids and I took it to the island in the background, both kids inside and me pushing from behind.

By the time we'd found the Shadow Bay swim area on Waldo Lake and inflated the kayak, it was 80 degrees and sunny, perfect for boating or swimming in remarkably clear and cold water. This beach is great, because the water reached my chest only after I'd walked out 150 feet. Perfect for new paddlers.

Found this little amphibian swimming near shore

Had plenty of time at the finish line to ask repeatedly to ride the gondola, drink lemonade, eat veggie burgers, drink hot chocolate, and only watch about 15 runners come in (in 3 1/2 hours; 100Ks aren't really spectator sports)

"Who wears the pants in this relationship?" Or, perhaps, "How does he wear the pants?"

Families on bikes!

Posted by jonesey on Friday, 13 July 2012, 6:37

The Sightline Institute’s Daily Score blog posts thoughtful research about transportation, land use, economics, climate change and other environmental topics, with a focus on the Pacific Northwest.

Today’s post is about transportation. And cute kids. You may recognize a couple of them.

A Wednesday Afternoon and Evening

Posted by julie on Wednesday, 30 May 2012, 23:05

After spending a very long, very glorious weekend in the Redwoods with our glorious friends (photos will undoubtedly follow), today was a little quieter.

Sylvan read a whole book this afternoon. It wasn't short; it did have lots of pictures and jokes about toilets.

Despite the fact that there were cupcakes with whipped cream for dessert to celebrate a certain 39-year-old's birthday, someone fell asleep at dinner. It's so hard to be 3.