Archive for October, 2008

Almost Eponymous, a Debut Album

Posted by julie on Thursday, 30 October 2008, 16:30

Have you ever tried to fit a marimba into a 90s model Camry? No, me neither, but it can apparently be done. Elena, Sylvan, and I watched a man (a marimbist?) pulling the last of his accessories — blocks of wood, drumsticks with yarned-over hitting ends, a Hansen’s soda — out of his car in preparation for some busking on the Park Blocks in Portland last week. His marimba, half as tall as the Camry, stood on the sidewalk. Live music grabs Sylvan and holds him close, so we stayed and waited for the concert to begin.

The marimba player, Michael Charles Smith, played songs from his new album, Melodies for Wooden Children. Marimba Mike named each piece as he played. If Sylvan missed the song title, he asked me what it was. I don’t pay much attention to much of anything anymore, as my dear husband will tell you, so I made up some song titles. I’m sure Sylvan noticed, but he played along. I mean, he does the same thing himself. These are the tracks from Sylvan’s latest album, played on harmonica and ukulele (not at the same time, but he’ll eventually get one of those Dylan harmonica stands):

  1. The bugs catch me
  2. Stars in jar
  3. Pillows catch the chair
  4. Giraffes catch the arm
  5. Chairs dump over
  6. Switches reach the ceiling light
  7. Saker Jones

We’ve voted. Have you?

Posted by jonesey on Tuesday, 28 October 2008, 6:28

I’m not going to tell you who we voted for, but Sylvan might give it away.


Sylvan and McCain

Note Sylvan’s eerie McCain tongue jut.

Happy Birthday, Elena: 2 Months!

Posted by julie on Saturday, 18 October 2008, 23:28

Dear Elena,

You found your hands! While you don’t cry much anyway, you’ve found another way (other than just sunny disposition) to soothe yourself: sucking on that big, index-finger knuckle. Your flailing hands aren’t always reliable, but you’re slowly bringing them under control. Well done.

Elena shows off her eyelashes

I remember how Sylvan struggled with tummy time. Most kids do, now that babies are put to sleep on their backs. While you don’t revel in it like you did at two weeks of age, you’re still pretty good at it, and, if I give you enough time on your round belly, you’ll probably flip right over here pretty soon.

Elena flashes her charming smile

On the day you turned six weeks old, you smiled at your faithful friend, the shiny toilet. Two days later, you smiled at me. Now you’ve even smiled at a few lucky strangers who probably look particularly pleasant to you.

Elena and Sage display their Princeton loyalties (or is it OSU?)

Two weeks ago, you and I boarded a bus for our commute to work for the first time. Since then, we’ve taken the bus once more and driven twice. You sleep and eat throughout the 55-minute bus ride up the McKenzie River, the river sparkling in the morning sun, hiding redds of fresh salmon eggs. When I look up from my morning reading, the quiet but powerful Strange as This Weather Has Been, bigleaf maples brighten to yellow as the days close in on winter. You and I surprised a pileated woodpecker as we walked up Barry’s drive the other day; he called as he flew from tree to tree, slightly farther from us with each flight. You bent your head back from me, listening.

Elena shows us how to really relax

You’re a great baby to bring to work. You can put yourself to sleep, you’re rarely upset for long, you let me know when you would like a diaper change (now, please), you’ll sleep on the seat of a bus, and you don’t mind if I bonk your head as you eat while I type.

You’re a dear one.


Happy Birthday, Sylvan: 37 Months

Posted by julie on Thursday, 16 October 2008, 23:32

Dear Sylvan,

“Mommy, why do fires sometimes burn?” you asked as I pried my eyes open from sleep this morning. I could almost focus on your little bowl-haircut head above my mattress as I mumbled “fuel and oxygen.” (sorry to the scientists; I know now that I missed “ignition”) Your mind whirs along, considering possibilities and pondering which questions you’ll spring on me. Do your Mom a favor, huh? Wait until I’m awake.

Sylvan eating at Waldo Lake shelter

We hiked at Waldo Lake last week on a foggy, rainy, chilly fall day. You ran down the trail, blazing the way. You stopped at a bridge over a dry streambed. “That’s a stream.” Daddy asked how you knew that, since there was no water in it. If I recall, you looked at him a little funny; I mean, there was a bridge over it, after all. Then Daddy asked why there was no water in it. “Because it hasn’t been raining,” you replied. And now my three-year-old will lead us in a discussion about intermittent streams. Thank you, thank you, thank you for expressing interest in what interests me.

Sylvan practices his gentle touch

You are quite interested in Elena’s breastfeeding — getting Mommy milk, in our parlance. I’ll admit, it does seem like magic; I eat waffles, and Elena gets milk. You always want to know whether Elena’s eyes are open when she’s eating. It’s something I’ve noticed, too: how intense babies look when they breastfeed with their eyes open. Yesterday, you started breastfeeding your baby, a frightfully red bear in a green bunny suit. You let me know when his eyes were open, too.

Sylvan talks and smiles

Today, I went downstairs to find your Curious George stories, and I left you and Elena in your room. “You entertain Elena, and I’ll run down to find your book,” I said as I left. When I returned, you were Sylvan and shaving cream in the tubsitting in front of Elena, playing your ukulele (which you’re calling a mandolin this week) like a stand-up bass and singing Skip to My Lou. Charmer. Of course, the charm wore off when you bebopped out of your room no fewer than 78 times at bedtime…

I’ve always been impressed by your verbal capacity, and our readers are undoubtedly tired of my high praise, but there are a couple of things you’re now doing with words that are really neat. Daddy asked whether you were going to teach Elena all the words you know. You started reeling off words that rhyme with “ock:” clock, chalk, block, knock, etc. It’s as if you already had a lesson plan for teaching Elena: “Today, class, we’ll start with words that rhyme with ‘rock.’” Another thing that makes me think writing poetry will come naturally is your ability to take a word and make a decision to use it as a different part of speech. Jesse James “robbed the Glendale train,” as Bruce Springsteen made us aware in a song you like to listen to. You smushed a stuffed animal into a small space the other day and told me that you’d “glendaled” it.

The Porter and Jonemus broods

You started preschool three weeks ago. I dropped you off that first day, and, while you’re in the same building you’ve been in since you started “school” when you were fifteen months old, this was the first day of being with kids who really are a lot bigger and further along developmentally than you are. I had to admit I was a little surprised when I dropped you off and saw the 5-year-old “toughs” on the playground: “But my baby…” The verdict? You love it. You use scissors all the time. And a stapler!

When I was making dinner the other day, you were cutting away in the other room, showing me your paper pieces, both cut and ripped. “Mommy, this is the bottom of a tree,” you said, holding it up to me. “The trunk?” I asked. You were silent for a moment. “No, it’s the big part that you hug.” Ah, my little tree-hugging Eugenious.

Chris and Sylvan share a quiet moment between tickles



Posted by jonesey on Sunday, 12 October 2008, 17:51

After almost five months of not living in our house, we moved back in today.

Our house has been under construction since April. We moved out in mid-May. We lived in a house about a mile away for the summer, then moved into Amy’s parents’ apartment (thanks, Joel and Joan!) for the last six weeks.

It’s not done, but it’s done enough that we were able to move in. We’re all looking forward to sleeping in our own beds, in our own bedrooms, tonight.

House before and after (click any photo for a larger view):

house from northwest before construction

house from northwest after construction

house from southwest before construction

house from southwest after construction

house from southeast after construction

We still have a little bit of unpacking to do:

messy dining room

messy library

And a little bit of tiling in the bathroom and shower:

bathtub not quite done

shower not quite done