Friday, December 31, 2010

Gettin' the Party Started

Today, Eva and I danced to her Party Mix CD (I made a cd of poppy dance songs from 2005 and 2006 that she loved when she was a baby and toddler). The sun was shining in our bedrooms and we were all smiles. We had a fun little pre-New Year's Eve rock out party. 

In the above video, the first song is a clean version of Hollaback Girl by Gwen Stefani (Eva calls it "the banana song"), followed by SexyBack by Justin Timberlake.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Shhh...You'll Startle It...

I haven't wanted to say it aloud, for fear of jinxing it or scaring it away like a wild deer (though not the deer in my neighborhood that stare at me and go back to nibbling my roses). But it IS a pretty huge milestone. Eva's wearing panties! No diapers. I am beyond happy. Beyond.

I can't say we did anything to make this happen, this time around. Just all the stuff They say to do: potty books, potty video, go with Mommy to potty, little potty chair, set up a routine, talk about it a lot--but not with any pressure! Yeah, we did all of that since she was 2 1/2 and had her first stint of success. But she protested fiercely; it went away. Back and forth a few times. I was out of ideas and tricks; she was getting too old to buy into the games and has never been one to be motivated by bribes. They say it'll happen when the child is ready--and not before. I had to let it go and trust.

Over the summer, I started telling her, matter-of-factly and without blame or guilt (I hope) that I was done changing her diapers. I didn't want to do it anymore. I refused to read her potty books to her the sporadic times she was sitting, saying I didn't think she needed it anymore. She was a big girl and could do this on her own. After a bit, I think she started to believe me.

In many ways, teaching her to use the potty was no different than teaching a typical child. One thing that differed was that her gross and fine motor skills are not as refined as a typical child. So while I was waiting for her to take an interest in using the potty, I worked with her, outside of the bathroom and without mentioning the potty, on the skills she needed to be successful. Signing "toilet" before she could speak (language). Practicing standing up and sitting down, over and over (gross motor). Getting pants on and off (fine motor). She would "help" me go and tell me what to do next. She would flush the toilet for me. She knew what to do, she just needed that secret motivator to get her to do it.

I think peer pressure at school this year did the trick. And the staff work hard with the kids to learn to use the toilet and stay dry. The other two girls in her Supported Kindergarten wear pretty panties and she wanted to be like them. One day, several weeks ago, she came home from school and said she wanted to wear pretty panties, too. OK! We gathered up some hand-me-downs, bought some exciting new Tinkerbell panties and that was it! The first couple days were a little rough, but after that, she has done amazingly well. It's been rather easy (if you don't consider the five years and nine months of diapers before that, but who's counting). Hooray Eva!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Autumn Fun

I love this time of year, when the bright hot busy summer slides into the quieter cooler autumn. The billowing clouds and multicolored leaves against the crisp blue sky encourage quiet contemplation during a long walk. Our busy summer social calendar gives way to back-to-school routine, tidying up the yard and craft projects on rainy days. That said, we've still managed to be quite busy.

My brother visited us from Oregon and we all loved having him here. Eva and her Uncle Tommy had loads of fun playing and it makes my heart smile to see the ease with which Tom interacts with Eva. The absolute attention and devotion he gives to their play time reminds me of how my dad played with us as kids. And his borderline relentless teasing and repeated pokes to Eva's belly remind me of how he and I "played" as kids. Since I was the pokee, as little sister, I say "played" with sarcasm. ;)

Got your  nose!

Eva and I and some good friends visited my favorite pumpkin patch recently. Gordon Skagit Farms in the Skagit Valley is an amazingly beautiful place. ( Everything is artistically arranged and displayed to the smallest detail. Many of the owner's rural landscape oil paintings hang around the property and on the side of the barn. There are incredible photo ops everywhere you look. And so, I take lots of photos each time we go there.
Eva and her friend explore the many kinds of pumpkins and squash

Eva chose six apples for us to take home. I chose an armload of butternut squash and some spaghetti squash to make a delicious casserole. This year, Eva was brave enough to see the haunted barn with the witch, her bubbling cauldron and assorted creepy things. We wandered out to the corn maze and pumpkin patch, admiring the 360 degree views of the valley and surrounding hills blanketed with turbulent upswept clouds. We went back the next week for more apples and squash. Mommy & Daughter fun!
This way! To the pumpkins!

Eva composed and shot this photo (I helped her hold my super expensive camera). Pretty good, huh?
Eva and I made acorns one lazy Sunday morning. Get a bunch of fresh donut holes (LaFeen's sells them a dozen for $1. Or if you're cute like me, the guy behind the counter will give you 18 for $1). Dip one end in melted chocolate (I used 88% dark chocolate, to cut the sweetness!) Roll that end in chopped peanuts. Stick a pretzel in the end for the stem. Voila! Cute AND yummy!
Eva was only mildly interested in this project but helped me chop the peanuts and ate a few pretzels before getting down from her chair and wandering off to do something more fun. She doesn't like sweets at all so the finished product was nothing more than a silly thing to make. She did show quite a bit of pride in "her" creations when she took them out to the garage to show Daddy.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010


In addition to losing her first teeth and starting Kindergarten, Eva has moved up to a booster seat in the car and got a new big girl bed. So much happening.
I found this beautiful solid pine junior loft bed on Craigslist. The standard twin mattress is about 3 feet off the ground. She and I went shopping for new sheets and she chose these grape-colored ones. The rainbow pillow case was a find at the thrift store.
What makes this bed so awesome (aside from the gorgeous pine and solid construction) is that it has a free-standing storage cabinet (below, in pic) and free-standing 3-drawer dresser that also fits under the bed. The bookcase pulls out to reveal a 3 1/2-foot long desktop. Behind the cabinet and bookcase is a wonderful hiding place (or room for storage). You can see a pillow through the ladder. It's a fantastically efficient piece of furniture.

Eva has spent a LOT of time playing in her room with her new bed and all of its stuff. Every time we go in her room she exclaims, "I have a new bed! Oh! Look at my new bed!" She tells everyone who will listen about her new bed. She's happy; I'm happy.

Some kids love to walk in the rain with an umbrella or stomp in puddles. Eva loves to sweep puddles.
Wearing her cute ladybug rain boots. She does stomp in puddles, but when she does it, she's stomp/tap dancing and clapping rhythms.
Soaking wet and happy!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


The customary First-Day-of-School-Picture-in-Front-of-the-Garage-Door

Eva enthusiastically started Kindergarten this week. She had a great time getting to know a new school, new teachers, new routines and new friends (and seeing some old friends from Preschool). The staff tell me she has been doing very well with work time and is having fun at recess, in music and at the library.

She's been anxiously awaiting Kindergarten since she started to spend some time in the mainstream Kinder class when she was in Preschool. By 7:30 a.m. on the first day, she was dressed and dancing and hoola hooping around the living room and making snow angels in the carpet to her Party Mix CD I made for her (her favorite dance/techno and lively pop songs).

So excited she can hardly stand it! (This is at 7:30 a.m.--2 hours before school starts).
Eva is going five days a week for a few hours a day to a public elementary school that has the Primary Life Skills program for the district. I don't like the term "Life Skills" because it makes it sound like they're learning how to cook, make their beds and balance their checkbooks. They're little kids. They're learning the same things other little kids are learning. The just need a little more teacher time and assistance. I prefer a "Supported Classroom". So anyway, she is there.

There are two Supported Classrooms at the school with Kinders, 1st- and 2nd-graders combined. One class generally has the Kinders and those in need of more support. The other class, the one Eva is in, generally has older kids and those who have more skills and abilities. She is one of two Kinders in this class with eight 1st- and 2nd-graders. Other Kinders in the district don't start classes until this Monday, but since Eva's class has mostly 1st- and 2nd-graders, her teacher said I could bring her this week if I wanted to. Sure! The more school the better!

I'm glad she is in this class and will have the older kids from whom to model. I'm grateful that the staff recognized that she has the skills to be able to succeed in a more challenging environment. And that I didn't have to petition for her to be given the opportunity to be in this class, which I would have if she'd been assigned to the other class. I am very proud of her.

Hooray for new adventures!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Growing Up and Gratitude

     I'm composing this post in my head this evening while Eva slips into a snuggly slumber in my lap. They're so sweet when they're unconscious, aren't they? My memory recalls moments when she was a tiny baby (though she was never tiny) and I would hold her in my arms in this same wide chair. I would look out the window at the broiling clouds and get lost in thought—or no thought—with Eva’s newborn breath making a spot of my neck warm as she slept on my chest. Soft quiet inhalation, soft sighing exhalation. 
     I gazed at her, memorizing her every millimeter, her every angle. I watched her eyebrows come in and how the deep blue of her irises had more and more pale blue flecks in them as the days passed. The flecks slowly decorated her irises but left a thick deep blue ring around the outer edge. I gazed at her. She gazed at me.  She curled up in my embrace and inside my heart and slept deeply.
     And now, I gaze at my little big girl resting her head against my chest and smile to myself. She is changing, growing so much. 

1.   She has just grown out of her car seat and we put her new booster seat in today. She was SO excited and felt very grown up! 
2.   She's lost three teeth now (we found the third one in her bed one morning after it fell out overnight) all in a row. She sticks her tongue through the gap and smiles widely. As before, she took her Tooth Fairy money to the Farmer's Market and gave it to one of her favorite buskers: Richard, a kindly man in a pressed white dress shirt and Carhartt overalls who sings old southern work songs and honkey-tonk country, a capella. 
3.   She has been totally interested in outer space lately. She wants to go there and to learn all about it. I'm ecstatic about this because astronomy is one of my favorite subjects to go on and on about (after meteorology and maps). So we looked at NASA images of the moon surface, the earth, the sun, galaxies, nebula. It. Blew. Her. Mind. I talked about how there is no sound in outer space, which I knew would be really intriguing to her since she is skittish about noise. We got a book at the library about Mars and a Bill Nye DVD about the Moon.  I'm gonna tell her everything she can handle about astronomy. 
4.   Her recent favorite show to watch is Stomp (a dance troupe that uses the body and ordinary objects to create a percussive theatre performance). Everything in our house is a percussive instrument to tap or bang on. We've collected an assortment of sticks, brooms, tubes, tubs, boxes and plastic bags for her to stretch her creativity. One of the acts the performers do is an increasingly difficult call-and-response rhythm with the audience. The other day, while we were in the kitchen, Eva was hopping and stomping and clapping, as per usual. She turned to me and clapped twice. Pause. Clap clap. Pause. Clap clap. I responded: clap clap. She squealed and clap-clapped again. I responded. She tried out a few other rhythms and jumped up and down laughing with joy when I repeated her rhythms back to her. Something major connected in her brain with this one!
5.   I was in the shower; had just turned the water off. A little hand pushes the shower curtain aside. She is holding a granola bar. "Here mommy! A granola bar for YOU!" "Oh thank you honey! But I don't want one right now--I'm all wet." She stares at me, arms limply at her sides, a granola bar in each hand. She brightens, "I have a granola bar today, too! You help me open it, please?" I tell her I will after I dry off. She stares blankly at me again and toddles off. When I come out in my robe, there are two granola bars (still in wrappers) on the living room floor and she'd moved on to something else.  
6.   She was "helping me" fold a load of towels. I showed her how to fold a washcloth--two steps. She was so excited and practiced over and over and over, talking her way through it. Joy for new small things!
7.   I had a hamper full of darks on the couch to fold. She dumped them out on the couch (Oh! Is she going to help fold?); took the hamper to the floor, climbed in and watched TV.

Eva starts Kindergarten tomorrow. She's back at gymnastics next week and will be spending an afternoon a week at Montessori soon. I'm feeling blessed, grateful and smiled upon. I was sweeping out the garage the other day and focused on feeling gratitude--not thinking the words or lists of things I'm grateful for--just feeling. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Near Miss

Today, Eva and I were driving to an appointment. As we came down the busy street by our house, Eva said, "Too fast, Mama. You're going too fast." I checked my speedometer and was going the speed limit. "Slow down, Mama. Slow down." I paused while we talked; slowed some.

A few blocks later we came to a lighted intersection, our green light. I swear my front wheels were on the crosswalk when a car from the other direction quickly turned left in front of me. I slammed on the breaks to miss it. Eva and I were alright, though rattled.

She whimpered a bit in her car seat behind me and said quietly, "Slow down, Mama." The conversation gave me chills. "Thank you for reminding Mama to be safe, Little Bear." She smiled, relieved.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Missing: Two Teeth

No really. They're missing. We don't know where they went.

Eva lost her first tooth the other day while at summer camp. It was super wiggly but IN when I dropped her off and was OUT when I picked her up. She didn't know it was gone and neither did the teachers. I'm assuming it came out with a bite of sandwich and ended up in her belly with her lunch...until it comes out the other end. I'm not going to "look for it" but if it shows up readily...well, I don't think I'll wash it off and keep it anyway. The idea of keeping her discarded little fangs grosses me out a bit. So to keep one that traveled through her digestive tract...*shudder*. No thank you. Besides, the Tooth Fairy already came and left her a dollar in her little box under her pillow. It's not required, you know, to present said fallen-out tooth in order to receive the prize. The Tooth Fairy knows she lost her tooth. The Tooth Fairy knows everything, like Santa Claus or a mother-in-law.

So I moped around the other day, feeling bummed about not having her first tooth (her FIRST TOOTH, dammit!) and collected sympathetic outrage from other mommies. I ripped weeds out of the soil by the handful and allowed myself to feel annoyed; to feel that *ping* in my chest that my girl keeps getting more grown up.

The next day, I took Eva to summer camp and talked to the teachers again. They were (rightfully) sympathetic for my loss as a mommy. I warned them, "The tooth right next to the gap is REALLY loose and will probably come out today. I tried to pull it this morning. Keep an eye out". One teacher, a mother of a young girl who'd recently lost her first couple teeth, was especially determined to catch this loose tooth.

A few hours later, I came to pick Eva up. She ran across the yard to me grinning, "My mommy's here! That's MY mmmoommyyyy!" Hug hug, yeah, yeah, yeah. I pulled her bottom lip down. The second tooth was gone. Crap! I turned to one of the teachers, "She lost another tooth?" Blank stare. The above-mentioned sympathetic teacher came over and exclaimed, "She lost it?! I kept looking and she had it! I sat with her at lunch and checked after almost every bite! It was there when she went out to play! I don't know how this could have happened. I'm so sorry!" Well, thanks, lady. Sorry helps as does the obvious effort she put in to make sure I got that tooth. Alas.

It's probably out in the yard, mixed in with all the tiny pieces of gravel and dirt and tree bits. Maybe it's in the chicken coop. Whatever. The Tooth Fairy will still come. She knows all; maybe she knows where these two teeth disappeared to.

P.S. We've been talking about this whole Tooth Fairy story as a family, preparing Eva for what to do and what happens. She repeats, "My tooth comes out and I give to Mommy and Daddy! Then in the box, the Tooffairy comes when I sleep and get MONIES! Put in my pig bank." Ta da! I asked her yesterday what she wanted to spend her money on. She said "Put in my pig bank. We go to Farmer's Market? With Mommy and Daddy? I give it to violin, singing man, oooh, big bass!" (She wants to give it to one of the buskers at the market. How cool is that?) I love my girl.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Preschool Graduation!

OK, so I'm a little behind here but summer's just too full of fun outdoorsy things to do (and I refuse to take my laptop outside and ruin all that blessed relaxation). A few weeks ago Eva graduated from Preschool. She'll be headed to Kindergarten in the fall in a supported classroom (the district calls it "Life Skills" but I hate that term). It's a class for Kinders, 1st- and 2nd-graders with special needs. I'm excited for Eva to have the older kids to model from. There will be regular opportunities for Eva to spend some time in the mainstream Kindergarten class, too, which she also did this year.

The preschool graduates, families, teachers and therapists met at a local park for play, food and more play. Each graduate received a darling green felt mortarboard and tassel and a certificate.

Picking out a flower for Mommy.

Happy Summer! Look out Kindergarten, here comes Eva!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Wow, we've been busy. No wonder I'm a cross between excited and tired. Here's a rundown of our recent activities.

Nothing like a game of Chase Daddy Around the Driveway with a floppy 4-foot sapling to start a morning off with giggles.

"Tickle tickle, Daddy!!"

Running running running!

Eva's school hosted a Special Olympics Play Date for the littler kids. Eva is dancing to music at the Scarf Station; in her happy place.

Another station involved throwing a Nerf football to hit the targets on the wall. Eva has a great arm and hit every target from several feet away. Yay, Eva!

Eva and her good friend, Colin, enjoy some time in a park by our house.

Eva finished another session of gymnastics. She is playing hide-and-seek with me after the class' final performance.

There are often chair cushions and pillows on the floor as Eva constructs her own gym at home. She is practicing a somersault here. Going up...

...and over! Whee!

Every year, we try to get to Seattle for the Folklife Festival. Lots of music and lots of people to watch. And, of course, the massive fountain at the Seattle Center (that doesn't look so big from this perspective, but look closely at the size of the people in the background).

The NW Junior Pipe Band performed. They recently went to a worldwide pipe band competition in Scotland and placed fifth!

Eva cheers, "YAY BAGPIPES!!" She lives and dreams bagpipes.

But she also enjoys dancing and grooving to a stand up bass and fiddle duo. One of the many many musicians Eva stopped to listen to (and talk to and smile and applaud).

Just hanging out in the play set at home, being happy and silly.

Happy Spring, Everyone!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Return of Fish Face

For those of you who knew Eva as a baby, you may recall that she often made a fish face. Like, all the time. It was pretty remarkable considering her massively chubby cheeks.
She did it for a few months and stopped. And then forgot how to make it, couldn't get her cheeks sucked in enough, her lips puckered enough. Well, I'm happy to announce that the fish face has returned!
A couple weeks ago, she just started making it again. Often. Like, all the time. Maybe they were working on it at school or in speech therapy? At any rate, it warms my heart to see her little pucker-y face again. *muah!*

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Books We Love to Read Over and Over...

Eva has always loved books--and now she can even read a few words! She got some new books for her birthday that we love and thought you might enjoy them, too.

Freckleface Strawberry by Julianne Moore
This charming story, with cute illustrations, tells the story of a little girl who "was just like everybody else" except for one thing...freckles. She tries to get rid of her freckles because the other kids, while not unkind, bring attention to her difference. In the end, she grows up, just like everybody else, and doesn't care so much about her freckles anymore.

I really love the message to this story that even if your situation doesn't change, you can learn to love yourself for your difference. Even if Eva doesn't get the subtlety of this message, it brings me peace to know that it's there.

Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney
This sweet story tells us about little Llama Llama who goes shopping with his Mama but, due to several reasons, gets mad at Mama and throws a tantrum in the store. The author does a fantastic job showing we adults the little (to us) things that happened to lead up to Llama Llama's tantrum.

This book has given Eva and me an opportunity to talk about feelings and reactions--Llama Llama's and Mama's. She and I have always talked about the "Store Rules" before going into a store. She says to me: No whining, no kicking, no yelling and listen to Mama. So we talk about how Llama Llama doesn't follow the store rules and what he could have done to tell his Mama he was bored/mad/hungry instead of throwing a tantrum. And the rhyming cadence is fun to read, too!

Knuffle Bunny and Knuffle Bunny Too by Mo Willems
In Knuffle Bunny, we see young Trixie going on an errand with her Daddy. She loses her stuffed bunny and a communication breakdown ensues before she and bunny are reunited at the end. The sequel, Knuffle Bunny Too, tells the story of preschool Trixie taking her special, one-of-a-kind bunny to school only to find that another classmate has a nearly identical bunny. Trixie deals with conflict, hurt feelings and mistaken identity before the happy ending.

Mo Willems is a genius storyteller and illustrator. Like Anna Dewdney, he does a superb job telling the story how a child might by including things adults dismiss as unimportant and using a child's logic. I am also impressed by his unique style of illustrating his stories. He takes black and white photos of his neighborhood in New York City and draws his characters and selected accessories on top of them.

I hope these favorite stories inspire you to visit your local library or expand your home library. Happy storytime!