Archive for March, 2009

Happy Birthday, Elena!: 7 Months

Posted by julie on Tuesday, 17 March 2009, 10:36


Dear Elena,

It noticed it first when I went in to order an after-work scone (marionberry at Eugene City Bakery – highly recommended), both to fill me up with calories and to have the opportunity to sit and fill you up. You upstaged me. I know it’s far from the last time. The barista/cookie supplier almost couldn’t make change for the woman in front of me because he was so busy watching you. This was a 23-year-old guy. He said to me, “Her expression is just so wonderful, so open.” You don’t even know you’re charming people like you are. If you can catch their eye, you smile, and they get pulled right in.


Even Tephra knows you’re calm and kind, and that’s high praise, believe me. She lets you grab her fur with your not-so-careful but ultimately benign fingers. She’ll stay in the room when you enter it, which is, let’s be frank, not the case with your brother. After stomping around after her and screaming monosyllabically, he wonders why she runs away at the merest hint of his voice. Not so with you.

Since your six-month birthday, you’ve been swimming, swinging, and sitting for the first time. After seeing that your six-month-old cohort, including Marigold and Finn, was sitting up, I sat you up. And you stayed – pretty much. You can almost get there by yourself.


We took a family outing to the just-above-body-temperature pool at the Tamarack Wellness Center a couple weeks ago. You weren’t quite sure what to think. You are, after all, a showerer rather than a bather. We just got a bathtub last week, and you haven’t been in it yet. So the pool was odd and loud, given the screaming children in the enclosed space. You just wait until I take you down the blue slide this summer.

You’ve even licked a chicken since your six-month birthday – a live one, not a drumstick. Thanks, Leslie!


You can drink from a sippy cup, although not by yourself. You LOVE cheese, but you are a good eater of everything we’ve fed you, from yams laced with spinach to bananas mixed with yogurt. In fact, usually you just can’t get enough, and you will cry in frustration if you finish a bowl of food and we get up to make more: “But I’m still hungry! Stick that spoon in my mouth now.”



Sylvan educates Mommy about trains

Posted by jonesey on Sunday, 15 March 2009, 21:23

As we drove past a very long train today, we were talking about the empty lumber cars and the hopper cars.  Sylvan knows both of these cars from watching one of his favorite train movies.

Julie asked me: “Besides coal, what else do they put in hopper cars?”

Before I could respond, Sylvan piped up from the back seat: “Bunnies!”





Get it?  “Bunnies?” “Hopper?”

Yeah, it took us a second too. We thought he was just giving an absurd answer, but he was right on.

It still cracks me up when I think about it. Both him saying it, and the image of a hopper car full of bunnies.

Happy Birthday, Sylvan!: 42 Months

Posted by julie on Friday, 13 March 2009, 1:24


Dear Sylvan,

You’re really 3 1/2 now, an age you’ve been calling yourself for the past few months. You understand ages better than I would think someone with little knowledge of fractions could: you know that after you’re 3 1/2, you’ll be 4, then 4 1/2, etc. Each age is a compartment, or so I imagine it in your brain. You’ve got the sequence in hand, and you even said to me today: “I’m 3 1/2 and Elena’s zero; when I’m 6, Elena will be 3.” I actually remember thinking, when I was about your age, that I’d never be older than my older friends, and it was sort of an epiphanic moment; it saddened me then.


Your understanding of numbers isn’t always so obviously accurate. Witness this conversation with your Dad:

Daddy: “If I have seven of something and you have eight of something, who has more things?”

Sylvan: “Mommy!”

But your understanding of your Mommy is accurate – especially if we’re talking about Mommy having more chocolate.


During the past couple of months, you’ve developed a friendship with Camilla. I won’t tell any stories that might embarrass you later, but suffice it to say that you’re crazy about Camilla and she’s crazy about you. When you see each other at school, you start giggling and making Happy Talk hands, facing each other and smiling. While I don’t expect Camilla to drop you like a hot potato (not only do I think you’re a little young for the fickleness of middle school friendships, but Camilla is such a genuinely sweet person that I don’t think it would cross her mind not to include her Sylvan in her circle), the depth of your joy with this friendship makes my heart both swell and break for you, for the deep love and the deep pain that we humans cause each other. I don’t mean that last sentence as a warning. But I will be here to hug you when your heart breaks.


You and I have given up your naps this past week. Since September, you’ve rarely slept at school on the couple of afternoons you’re there each week. I have been dreading this, although now that I’m not spending an hour and a half trying to get you to take a nap, it’s much less stressful, of course. We still read books and I leave you to spend some quiet time in your room in the late afternoon. You read books to yourself one recent afternoon and jumped on your bed for 45 straight minutes on another.

Sometimes I wonder if whoever coined the term Terrible Twos meant Terrible Threes. But that’s not alliterative. Thankless Threes? I feel that way on the difficult afternoons, when you and I are butting heads, sometimes literally, when you are having a difficult time curbing your whining and so am I, frankly. But you are definitely becoming a better listener and helper. You made yourself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich yesterday, from removing the bread and jelly from the fridge to slapping the slices of bread together. I helped with the twist tie on the bread bag, a little final peanut butter spreading, and cutting your sandwich into nine pieces, per your request.


How about Thecodont Threes? That’s probably most appropriate, given your new interest in dinosaurs, especially pteranodons.

You’re becoming more and more independent, which is great, given that, even though Elena’s pretty low-maintenance for a nearly seven-month-old, she still needs to have her diaper changed and be taken upstairs for naps. You have created some fantastic train tracks and glued together some fun collages recently, all under your own steam.

Sylvan wears a homemade bracelet and necklace

Sylvan wears a homemade bracelet and necklace

You still love letters and sounds, and, if you ask me a word and I suggest that you sound it out, you ask pertinent questions, like, “Does this C make a ck or ss sound?” Recently, you spelled WMM with alphabet blocks, then said, “Look, Daddy, it says ‘Wuh! Muh! Muh! That’s what Elena says: ‘Wuhmuhmuh!’”

I’ll leave you with a joke, the first you’ve told, as far as I know:

How do light bulbs and light fixtures learn to fly?

They just need to be a weathervane!

Yeah, I don’t get it either, but I’m willing to laugh with you.





Posted by julie on Tuesday, 10 March 2009, 0:25

There’s good snow in the mountains, and I know that from personal experience, not just the pass cams.



Kari with the 6-month-olds, Elena and Sage

Kari with the 6-month-olds, Elena and Sage

Bathroom Update: Psych!

Posted by julie on Thursday, 5 March 2009, 22:29

You’d think I’d learn. Of course it will take longer than I’d hoped. The tub and sink are in place and waterfied. The showerheads are also hooked up, but not affixed to bars on the wall yet. No toilet.

But, luckily, I have cute children. So, Babies in a Basket!

Sylvan in a laundry basket, five months old

Sylvan in a laundry basket, five months old.

Elena in a laundry basket at six months old. Note her signature tongue flip.

Elena in a laundry basket at six months old. Note her signature tongue flip.

Sylvan has the "shh" sound effects covered.

Sylvan has the "shh" sound effects covered.

It Almost Looks Like a Bathroom!

Posted by julie on Wednesday, 4 March 2009, 23:41

For you dog lovers, or perhaps for the dog haters, you really have to check out Bizkit. I don’t know her, but she’s been making me laugh.

Now for a bathroom update. We moved back into our fantastic house last October, after five bearable but long months away (we really love this house). Tomorrow (I’m crossing my fingers), we’ll have an upstairs bathroom again. Our previous upstairs bath was completely demolished to make my office during the remodel (which may be why the bathtub has lived in my office for the last five months). We decided to move the bathroom to the north side of the house, since it just seemed wasteful to take up valuable southern exposure on a bathroom.

Here’s a little pictorial timeline of our second-floor bathroom:

Looking out bathroom windows, 23 July 2008

Looking out bathroom windows, 23 July 2008

October 12, when we moved back in. The tub moved to my office so we could tile the floor.

Looking into the bathroom October 12, when we moved back in. The tub moved from here to my office so we could tile the floor.

This morning. Chris tiled the floor in November, and Tony the Tiler did the tub surround last week.

Bathroom as it looked this morning. Chris tiled the floor in November, and Tony the Tiler did the tub surround last week.

This morning.

This morning.

Yippee! A sink and a tub and baseboards.

Yippee! By this evening we'd gained a sink and a tub and baseboards.

Your bathtub is on a carpet scrap, right?

Your bathtub is on a carpet scrap, right?

Looking through the shower to the bedroom, 23 July 2008

Looking through the shower to the bedroom, 23 July 2008

Looking into shower this morning. Note shelves, glass tiles for accent, and funky floor.

Looking into shower this morning. Note the shelves, glass tiles for accent, and funky floor tiling.

Thanks to all those who helped make this bathroom become the well-built, brightly-colored, tiled wonderland it is today.

Little Ears and Furry Ears

Posted by julie on Tuesday, 3 March 2009, 0:51

Last night I tried making pasta for the first time. No, not boiling up spirals. Making pasta. It was remarkably easy, but the results were less than stellar. May I recommend making your orechiette thinner than mine, more like these lovely, delicate ones resembling seashells? And boil them longer than one minute after they float to the top, regardless of what your recipe says. And have your husband come in and try them before you stop boiling them, too. But do flavor them with garlicky olive oil, garlic, toasted hazelnuts, broccoli, salt, and asiago. Then, even if they are thick and mealy, you can smile through your garlic breath.



This afternoon, Tephra and I shared 30 minutes of uninterrupted sunshine when Elena’s and Sylvan’s naps overlapped. I enjoyed a cold drink, Tephra enjoyed the smell of spring, and I read quite a few pages in Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies. And I wore a T-shirt and jeans. Bare feet and arms – spring must be around the corner (where was winter?).

Tephra mid-meow

Tephra mid-meow

View from my window, 2/25

Posted by julie on Sunday, 1 March 2009, 23:54

It rained nearly an inch last Wednesday, which accounted for over one-fifth of February’s rainfall. It poured. Last Sunday, Sylvan told Brenna, his babysitter (as they were outside having a dinner picnic on the front porch; cute, huh?), that this was “Oregon rain.” But Wednesday, it was more like afternoon-in-the-mountains rain, minus the thunder. Or at least it rained that hard every time I set foot outside.

Sylvan and I snapped a few photos while Elena stared out at the splashing puddles. The real reason I took these is to show Dad the state of our back “path.” He has gamely agreed to work on a brick and paver path when he’s here in a few weeks. There are some drainage issues. And some mud.

From nearest the gate (west) to nearest the house:

The gate and the puddle

The gate and the puddle

The existing "path"

The existing "path"

The pavers, pool, and non-muddy walk to the garage

The pavers, pool, and non-muddy walk to the garage

The ankle-grabbing hole at stairs' end

The ankle-grabbing hole at stairs' end

Still up for it, Dad? You could take on the garden if you prefer, but, boy, I’m not sure you want to see those photos.

Camilla’s 5th birthday party

Posted by jonesey on Sunday, 1 March 2009, 10:47

Yesterday, Sylvan went to Camilla’s 5th birthday party at Bounce Gymnastics.

Camilla is a friend of Sylvan’s, from his school.

Follow the link above for cute pictures of Sylvan with tons and tons of girls (he was the only boy at the party other than Camilla’s brother).  Also, a bonus picture of Elena!