Archive for April, 2009

Crawl sighting

Posted by jonesey on Tuesday, 28 April 2009, 17:15

Elena has been scooting around on her tummy and rolling over for months.  She has also been getting up on her hands and knees. She usually scoots around until she ends up under a piece of furniture or wedged into the corner next to the toilet. Just a couple of days ago, she started being able to scoot herself forward on her tummy in order to get to something, usually a toy.

This morning, while I was putting Sylvan’s shoes on (him), Elena was lying on the floor facing us.  She really wanted Sylvan’s shoe.  So she propped herself up on her hands and knees, as she had done hundreds of times before, and (cue dramatic music) crawled forward, left-knee-right-knee-left-knee-collapse, to reach the shoe.  Sylvan and I were impressed.  Elena didn’t get what all of the fuss was about.

I know, I know, all of your children were standing, walking, pole-vaulting, and doing the rumba when they were eight months old, but mine wasn’t.  Not until today.

Elena sitting, with Bob the Builder

Elena sitting, with Bob the Builder. Yes We Can.

Brick Walkway

Posted by julie on Thursday, 23 April 2009, 23:31

When my parents visited for spring break, they (willingly, I hope) took on a great number of tasks, including taking my children so I could breathe and washing my dishes. Ah, luxury.


Dad also made a brick path in our backyard leading to a bicycle-parking pad. Previously, there was a muddy “path” leading up to our sad little lawn moss patch. Now there’s a walkway, built with bricks salvaged from a chimney that was torn out during the remodel. The bricks could be 90 years old, and some bear the charred signs of their former life, containing the heat borne of a wood-chip furnace. The bricks are imperfect and chipped, and I’m really happy that we could reuse them. They’ll undoubtedly return to the earth more quickly than new bricks made especially for pathways. That’s somehow comforting.


The path is perfect for us, and I was quite happy to watch Dad consider it, pour the “decomposed granite” bed, and lay the bricks. No more mud and puddles. The empty spaces between the bricks are places where I haven’t kept up with filling in with gravel where it’s settled.

Newly confident after helping Dad a bit, I even tried my hand at the ankle-biting hole at the bottom of the stairs. This landing pad is disconcertingly asymmetrical, but I was lazy. No one was ever going to step to the left.


I’m still trying to determine what will happen between these sections of path. Will I just place a few pavers? Make some simpler, narrower paver and brick walks? Stay tuned.

Little Drummer Kids

Posted by julie on Wednesday, 22 April 2009, 23:26

Elena has recently expressed interest in banging on this drum, which produces a satisfying, plastic vibration. Sylvan offered to demonstrate some drumming techniques.


Happy Birthday, Elena!: 8 Months

Posted by julie on Wednesday, 15 April 2009, 23:15


Dear Elena,

Oh, sweet girl, to celebrate your eight months here with us, we gave you your first antibiotics. I didn’t want it to come to this, but you’d been fighting conjunctivitis (the highly contagious “pinkeye”) for four or five days already (I’m sorry, I don’t remember who had what when; it’s been an endless hamster wheel of boogers and vomit for four months), and we didn’t want to be irresponsible and blasé when it came to your eyes. So Daddy took you to the doctor yesterday, and she gave you antibiotic eye goop to help you shake the green eye goop. Happy Birthday!

In the past week, you’ve started sitting much more comfortably. I still put a pillow on the floor behind you lest you crack yourself, but I’ve sat you down to run things to the car and come back to find you playing with a toy, smiling at me.


Last Monday, I saw you crawl backward. For months, you’ve scooted backward on your belly, and you’re quite competent at a combination of rotating and rolling to power yourself around. But you lifted yourself onto your knees and moved backward the other day. Today, I saw you inch yourself forward, albeit on your belly. You put your toes on the ground, as if you were going to lift into downward dog (a move of which you’re capable), then pushed forward off them. You needed that bulldozer that was just out of reach.

Annie, Annie, are you okay?

Annie, Annie, are you okay?

Just over two weeks ago, you went to “school” for the first time. We’ve called Moss Street “school” ever since Sylvan started when he was sixteen months old, so school it is. (note: you’ll find Sylvan in two of those Moss Street photos if you look closely) You’re in the Chickadee room, where Sylvan started out. The room is smaller and cozier than the other under 2-year-old room, and I think very highly of the lead teacher, Lori. The drawback is that I have to pick you up by 2:30, which means that, with an hour commute in each direction, my work days are short, and I only have two of them a week. I can also no longer take the bus, since it only runs a couple times a day. But it’s worth it to have you in that room, I think, where you get lots of gentle care and attention.

You fell asleep on Grampa. He's under your spell.

You fell asleep on Grampa. He's under your spell.

Thanks especially to your Dad feeding you off his plate as if you were a chubby cocker spaniel under the table, you’re eating many different types of food – in chunks that are too big, in my opinion. (Daddy says that’s how you learn; I say that’s how you choke.) You eat typical baby fare, like puréed spinach and yams, applesauce, and yogurt. You’ve moved on to Cheerios and cheese and tofu cubes (a surprising hit from the first) as well, and you’ve had plenty of pizza and cornbread, which you, admittedly, can’t get enough of.

You can’t yet feed yourself finger food, but you’re close. You can pick up Cheerios, usually by raking them into your palm and holding them there with your thumb, holding up your hand in a thumbless wave. Now, how can you get that food into your mouth? You did use your thumb and index finger to pick up some Cheerios today, so the day is near when I won’t have to swing by on my way from the stove to the dishwasher to stuff another cheese cube into you.


Happy Birthday, Sylvan!: 43 Months

Posted by julie on Monday, 13 April 2009, 23:03


Dear Sylvan,

I love you, Sir, but sometimes (more than once but fewer than a dozen times a day) I wonder if I have anything nice to say to you. Three and a half has hit you and me hard. The thing that keeps me from running away to the North Cascades to spend my days as a backcountry ranger is the shared misery from nearly every other parent I know: “Yes, three and a half – with the tantrums and whining and the crying….It was awful.” Well, that validation and the fact that, even in the face of another dreaded day, you make me laugh at your insights or cry at your tenderness.


Just yesterday, you helped Avi, age 20 months, down the stairs. You walked slightly ahead of him and voiced words of encouragement: “It’s just one more step, Avi.”

You’re almost always up for assisting when your sister’s unhappy, unless you made her unhappy by snatching her toys, you little imp. Most of the time, I enlist your help, but, last week, you just started singing “You are my sunshine” when Elena was crying. Just your presence is usually enough to calm her, but your singing is nearly fail-safe.


Last week, you, Elena, and I went out to Mount Pisgah on Sunday, then again on Monday at your request. Both days were sunny and nearly 70 degrees. I told you we were hunting wildflowers, and you followed that lead, seeking bleeding heart and “tiger daffodils,” then tiger lilies after a slight smile from me – and one of your own in response. We even found some deer and raccoon tracks in the soft earth by the river, a detour you suggested.


You’ve enjoyed costumes in the past, but you’ve really entered that cowboy boot/Captain Underpants phase with vigor. You love your Daddy’s suspenders, which have been passed down to you, and, whenever you can get hold of a dress or skirt that I’ve picked up for Elena that will fit you, on it goes! (I don’t blame you; they’re super-cute.)


Grampa Dick and Gramma Mia came and visited for a week, and, while you probably gave us more tantrums during that week, you really enjoyed their company. You played and went for hot chocolate with them, explained how [trains, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, etc.] works, and generally enjoyed them. You miss them both, and jump at the chance to share a phone conversation with either of them, one that ends abruptly with “Okay, I love you. Bye.” More adults should be so cognizant of their immediate desires.


You still love to assign each of your family members a totem animal. Elena and I were flying starfish for a while last week, and now I’m Tracy Peacock. You’ve been a flying raccoon for quite some time.

I’m working on saying “yes” to you more often. And listening to your latest assignment of animals, explanation of train track design, review of how your version of Jacks works, and so on. It does go on and on, but you are a funny little guy, full of surprises and observations. I love you.

Mother (it’s replaced Mommy when you’re conscientious enough to be a smarty-pants)


Happy Easter (Bunny) Day!

Posted by julie on Sunday, 12 April 2009, 21:11

Enjoy some pre-egg salad pictures while I write Sylvan’s birthday letter.


You can try those natural egg dyes, like spinach, blueberries, and coffee, but in the end most of us return to food coloring, with its associated propylene glycol content (generally safe, occasional “cardiac arrest after rapid i.v. injection of drugs containing large amounts of propylene glycol solvent“). I diligently brewed spinach, coffee, and blueberry “teas,” strained the foodstuffs out with cheesecloth, added vinegar, and those pretty, earthy dyes yielded underwhelming tannish eggs.


Although the prettiest egg, in my opinion, the tan one on the right with the purplish-brown overdye, has a coffee first coat (yeah, I know, I could have just bought tan eggs). The bright pinks and greens are the result of unadulterated food coloring, and the purples, browns, and dark greens bloomed from Sylvan’s forays into mixing and pouring. All the mottling comes from mixing dyes with olive oil, creating a resist-dye, like a batik.

Spring Harvest

Posted by julie on Thursday, 9 April 2009, 22:08

What I’ve heard in the last few days:

  • a metal bat connecting with a baseball
  • a pair of geese honking their way up the McKenzie River, maybe looking for a nesting site
  • Elena giggling when Sylvan tickled her feet
  • an osprey calling from its nest, high up in a snag above the river
  • drops of water falling from Douglas firs to the ground
  • “I’m so sorry, Mommy. There was an earthquake in Elena’s room.”