Archive for February, 2009

Fierce Love

Posted by julie on Saturday, 28 February 2009, 23:03

My friend and mentor, Debra Gwartney, recently published a memoir, Live Through This, about a terrifying stretch of time in the mid-90s when her two older daughters, then in high school and middle school, ran away first for a few nights at a time and later for months. Debra’s finishing up a book tour, and she read in Eugene the other night. After her daughter Amanda’s moving introduction and Debra’s heartbreaking reading, Debra mentioned, while answering a question, that Amanda and Stephanie are both superbly creative, intelligent women. A family friend told her that they had needed to express their creativity somehow; they couldn’t have just sat home and done their homework, essentially. Debra wishes she’d known how to channel that energy.

It scared me a bit, both the reading and this comment. I mean, Debra’s sometimes discouraging but ultimately family-strengthening experience could put the fear of daughters into any red-blooded parent. But that comment about smart teenagers scared me even more. I think I have at least one of those children – those creative, brilliant ones.

And I’m not like that. While I have some artistic talents, it’s more in the execution of an idea, not in the development of said idea. I sat home and did my homework when I was in high school. I wasn’t full of passion and creative energy and spirit. Sylvan might be.

I’m started the channeling of his creative energy right now. We’re working on cutting and collages.

Tonight, Sylvan pulled himself onto my lap and told me that he loves me. Unsolicited. Some people might not have to wait nearly 3 1/2 years for that. Debra might have waited longer.

Happy Birthday, Elena: 6 Months

Posted by julie on Monday, 16 February 2009, 1:01


Dear Elena,

Whew, it seems like more than half a year ago that we were living in the “summer house” when I went into labor after that Market of Choice chocolate cake (that’s three Moms I know for whom it’s worked; we’ll have to work on their marketing of this particular baked good).

A short list of highlights from the last month, along with a slew of photos:

  • You started to eat food.
  • You started to feed yourself with a spoon (today), a mere ten days after we started feeding you. I guess you really like lentils.
Lentils and applesauce. Who needs pudding?

Lentils and applesauce. Who needs pudding?

  • You’re so close to crawling. You roll around, pretty effortlessly getting where you want to go – to touch a toy, see the fire in the wood stove, bonk your head on the stairs, get stuck under a chair. You’ve been lifting up into a plank for a few weeks, and you’ve recently started to lift your butt even higher, into a modified downward dog. Just today, I saw you get on all fours, into the crawling position.
Working on the crawl

Working on the crawl

  • You went snowshoeing last weekend.


  • You’re continually amused and entertained by your brother, who loves you and also likes to make loud noises that make you cry. He’s still learning about cause and effect. I’m sorry you’re his newest guinea pig.
Sylvan digs the great-tailed grackle

Sylvan digs the great-tailed grackle

  • You’re completely done crying just because you’re in the car.
  • You weathered your six-month shots like a champ.
  • If you’re crying for a reason other than sleepiness, pain, or hunger, the Itsy-Bitsy Spider almost always turns you around.

I love you,


Sylvan took 121 pictures in 12 minutes. Here's one.

Sylvan took 121 pictures in 12 minutes. Here's one.

And another

And another

There's more than one truck lover in this family

There's more than one truck lover in this family

"Power hair," as Sylvan calls it. Maybe Gramma Diana said something about static electricity?

"Power hair," as Sylvan calls it. Maybe Gramma Diana said something about static electricity?

41 Months: Through Sylvan’s Eyes

Posted by julie on Thursday, 12 February 2009, 9:31


And check out Sylvan on Oregon Wild’s website. Chandra invited us to join an Oregon Wild snowshoe to Fish Lake last weekend, and she blogged about it on their website, so I needn’t.

And did anyone know that a crumb-saster is “a disaster where crumbs fall all over you”?

Elena Eats

Posted by julie on Wednesday, 11 February 2009, 23:54

Elena eats rice cereal! Mixed with breast milk. (For those of you who think I might stand over the rice cereal and milk myself like you would a goat, I’ll clear things up: Breast pumps attach very much like dairy milking pumps, I fill up bottles, then I freeze the milk in ice cube trays to be used if I’m gone or if we want to make rice cereal more palatable and nutritious. Yes, I feel like Bessie, but no, there’s no standing over a milking pail in the kitchen.)

Mmm, when can I try chocolate mousse?

Mmm, when can I try chocolate mousse?

For the past few weeks, Elena has wanted more milk than usual. And, if Chris or I try to eat while she’s on our laps, she follows the food with her eyes, looking longingly as it disappears into our mouths. In order to do this, she drops her 10-pound noggin so it’s leaning on her back as she peers up at us, eyes imploring us to give her pizza or chili or pancakes. So, we’ve started to give her “solid” food.

Self-esteem boosting bib courtesy of Aunt Jenn

Self-esteem boosting bib courtesy of Aunt Jenn

Elena digs rice cereal, but the plain applesauce? Um, it’s a little strong and strange. Right, I’d forgotten that she’d never had anything but breastmilk and rice cereal – oh, and the bits of spaghetti with pesto, bread, and probably cashews that Chris sneaks into her little mouth when I’m not looking.

Happy Birthday, Sylvan: 40 and 41 Months

Posted by julie on Thursday, 5 February 2009, 16:06


Dear Sylvan,

When we picked up a few items at Sundance the other day, while hauling a grumpy Elena, you were the magic man. You found a grocery cart, steered it into the store, and then started grabbing the items we needed off the shelves: “Where’s the tofu, Mom?” “Do we need milk?” Whoa. Really? It’s a far cry from the child I’ve had to restrain, occasionally kicking, in the cart – and that was only last week.


You’re helping out more in the kitchen now, too; you love to cut vegetables with a plastic knife crafty_sylvan1(which means that you have to REALLY want to cut vegetables, because those knives are about as sharp as fingernails), you like to help make PBJs, and pouring and mixing flour is clearly on the road to heaven (you’d drive your trains through the cookie batter if I’d let you).

All this after being quite concerned about you a month ago. After flying to the east coast for Christmas, you had become a little monster I didn’t recognize while we visited family. I was, frankly, really worried about flying back to the west coast with you. Yes, to be fair, I worry too much, but I thought you might pull some sort of kicking/screaming tantrum for the entire twelve hours, because that’s the kind of behavior you’d been exhibiting during our visit. The moment our family again became four people, though, you morphed back into a human – even a lovable human. You sat and put stickers into a sticker book, you watched movies on my computer, you wanted to ride the train at the Denver airport, you made polite requests for juice and cheese. It’s interesting how I expect that my three-year-old to behave perfectly when faced with unfamiliar surroundings when I certainly don’t behave perfectly when faced with my everyday life. I’ll try to remember that you need space, too. You like being alone, which only makes sense, given your parents.


You’ve acquired a best friend, an older woman named Camilla. She’s four and a half and in your class at school. On her sharing day, she chose you to guess what was in her Elmo sharing bag, “because he’s my best friend” (you guessed rain, by the way). You’ve told me that you’d like to go to school every day that Camilla’s there: “Sunday and Monday and Thursday and Friday. Is that all the days?”


While we started a “Sylvan says” list here soon after you started stringing words together, your classroom teachers have recently started a “Sylvan says” list. In fact, the pre-school room NEXT to yours has also started a list for you, because you visit them, too, and, frankly, the next thing that comes out of your mouth might be hilarious. You recently announced to your teachers that, “actually, pickles are an acquired taste.”