Tuesday, November 22, 2016

2016 Christmas lists


Big ticket items:
need need need need need

 need need

Lego set: Ragana's Magic Shadow Castle
Lego set: Queen Dragon's Rescue
American Girl Ice Cream Cart
Furreal friends Torch My Blazin Dragon
Limited Edition Shopkins 40 pack

More reasonable requests:

Diary with lock
Sparkly and metallic markers
Art kits
Shopkins supermarket playset
Other Shopkins sets


AG Himalayan Kitten
AG Enchanting Winter Outfit 
Dungeons and Dragons Figurine- Female Archer/Mage, Small
           Dungeons and Dragons Figurine- Hellcat
Pipe Cleaners
Craft Supplies From Michaels
Hand-Held Pencil Sharpener
Three-Hole Hole Puncher
Lego Elves Crystal Mine
Beanie Boos;
              Squeaker- Gray and Pink Mouse w/ Cheese
               Freeze- Black and White Penguin w/ Hat
               Wise- Tan and Black Owl w/ Scarf
                Fluffy- Pink Lion w/ Very Large Mane

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Letter From Your Mother on the Occasion of Your Seventh Birthday

Dear Eleri,

You are certainly definite about things.  You always have been--I don't know why we think you're not.  We're always asking, are you suuuurrre?  Are you suuuurre?  But guess what?  You're sure.

You recently decided to cut your hair short.  For several days I asked if you were certain.  Finally you said to me, I am cutting my hair short.  Here are my reasons:  It will be easier to comb.  It will be cooler in the summer.  And it will grow back in the winter, like sheeps' fur.  Like wool.

I mean.  There's no arguing with that.  I guess the thing is:  I am not sure.  You know your mind but sometimes you get blurry around the edges for me.  Like how I think of you as little, but if I really look, I will see that you have grown tall and lean.  That your legs are long and you just might be gaining on Clio is the height department.  (People often think you guys are twins.  Isn't that funny?  We think it's the glasses.  And the exact-same-colored hair.)  But apart from that, you are opposites.  I'm sure I've written of it here.  You eat dessert first while Clio saves the best for last.  She's up with the sun and you drag yourself out of bed at the last possible moment.

(fast forward to December!)

I could go on forever with the opposites.  You have a major sweet tooth and Clio prefers savory.  In piano, you are musical while Clio is technical.  When you started at your new school this fall, Clio joined every club under the sun and you whittled back to the minimum.  (We let you quit dance, but not piano.)  I think you knew yourself well enough to know that everything you had would go to the transition.  To all of that NEW stuff.  This is what amazes you about me, about the sureness:  at seven, you have tremendous self knowledge, and like your father, you are true to you.  Your goal is not to please others.  This is a gift I hope you keep.

Things get muddled when I write your letter in two halves.  It's like these overlapping snapshots, like a double exposure (now that's a reference you will likely have to look up!)  This summer was hard and I got way behind.  So now I am writing my memory of your seventh birthday more than the moment itself.

For your birthday party this year we went to the paint your own pottery place again, an independent one in Northeast, where they also make all the mugs for the Renaissance festival.   You painted tiles, flat tiles that can be used for trivets.  We have continued our tradition of letting you design your cake, and this year it was yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting and your name spelled out across them.   For your Biggest Gift you for an American Girl Just Like Me Doll, and we went to the store together to pick out blue glasses, like yours.  You were pretty awed by the store (even though you went there with your Dolly and Me camp and bought a dalmatian puppy with your own money.)  This is something I love about you: big feelings.

Of course, that works both ways and there are challenging feelings, too.  You get VERY frustrated and you are still grinding your teeth.  (It drives daddy crazy.  I had to look it up to reassure him that you won't wreck your teeth.)  Piano frustrates you.  Having to change gears too quickly frustrates you.  Bedtime frustrates you, and being bored, and ending screen time.  You LOVE your screen time.  All your grandparents have ipads now and are more liberal letting you play then we are.  You are really good at Temple Run and you love playing Minecraft.  You continue to prefer being home and inside than anywhere else.  You spend hours in your own world.  When you do want to connect, I love that you are still like a little girl.  You still willingly hold my hand and kiss me on the lips.  You still snuggle and sit in my lap (in fact, you constantly wriggle into my lap when I am at the computer).  You are also learning to navigate being a bigger kid.  You finally decided that you wanted your own room, and we surprised you with makeovers after a week at Grandma's this summer.  When you came home, the first thing you did was write a sign: Eleri's Room: Keep Out.  I reminded you that you might want some access to Clio's room (which was, in fact, your room too, for a long time), and you changed the sign.  Now it reads, Eleri's Room: Welcome!  And it still hangs there.

I've been thinking about writing another one of these letters, about your transition to Lake Country, but I suppose it makes more sense to bring it up here.  You were not happy about leaving Bright Water.  (It was a lot to ask, we know.)  You cried the first day when I dropped you off.  But when I picked you up three hours later, you were a different child.  You were your delighted self.  A while ago, the difference between your two schools came up in conversation, and I asked you which school you preferred.  "Lake Country," you said (to my relief).  I asked you why, and I thought you would say because of Art.  Or Gym.  Or the Land School.  all of those "extras" that we are all enjoying.  But you said, "because I get to make my own work plan."  This is partly the power of Montessori, but mostly, I think this is all you: my independent girl.

I have a hard time finding the pace of these letters once I have lost the original thread.  These are moments when I feel terrible, shortchanging you, but one thing I am trying to learn myself is a little perspective.  Then I pat myself on the back and instead of thinking, Oh, I'm so late with Eleri's letter!  I think, isn't it wonderful that I am leaving my girls this record of their childhood?  And I hope that's what you take from it: my love and awe of you.

Know what else?  Next year, I'm writing your letter first.

Love you so much, my Elly-Belly.


Christmas Lists 2015

Here we go again with the wanting.

Top top desire: a pet tiny turtle (small, green, and male.) PLEASE!

- Zoomer kitty
- My Little Pony pop kits (any--they are available in-store at Target.  Like this.)

EDIT: Clio asked me to add these things on December 22, with a note that reads "I know it's kinda late but please do it anyway."

Calico Critters babies--preferably red panda, deer, hopscotch rabbit or cottontail rabbit, but any would work.  (ed note: I don't know if those are real calico critters options, or wishful thinking.)



Lil Live Pets mouse and bird

Science kits (all available at Creative Kidstuff)
- Weird and wacky contraption lab
- Candy chemistry
- Secret Formula lab
- Big bag of science
- kids first chemistry set

Rick Riordan, Heroes of Olympus Series, books 1-6:
- The Lost Hero
- The Son of Neptune
- The Mark of Athena
- The House of Hades
- The Blood of Olympus
- The Demigod Diaries
How to Train Your Dragon Series, books 6-12
The Mysterious Benedict Society And the Perilous Journey (book 2)
Erin Hunter Warriors series, Dawn of the Clans books 4-6

Top top desire: Calico Critters Cloverleaf Townhouse.  PLEASE!
(there may also be a less deluxe version, minus the "gift set.")
Calico Critter animal sets--any animal (available at Creative Kidstuff)
Calico Critter Seaside Cruiser House Boat
Zoomer Zuppies Candy (expensive!)
Monster High Doll
Lego Friends Sunshine Ranch (sold out on Lego.com, may be available at lego store, also on ebay)
Chubby puppies ultimate dog park
Shopkins (any set, available at Target, but she was kind of eyeing this one.)
Littlest Petshop Jet
Papo figurines Dragons (available at Creative Kidstuff)
Beanie Boos
My Little Pony pop kits (any--they are available in-store at Target.  Like this.)
My Little Pony Canterlot Castle (editor: please no!)


(she made me write that last part.)

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Letter From Your Mother on the Occasion of Your 9th Birthday

Dear Clio,

I find myself telling people that we are in a "golden age" right now.  You and your sister are big enough to meet your own basic needs--you dress yourselves, feed yourselves, entertain yourselves, and you ni particular love to get up on your own and start the day independently.  At the same time, we have not waded into the waters of adolescence, and the emotional pitfalls that come with it.  We have not encountered mean girls.  No hearts have been broken.

I think you are in a particularly stable place.  You just completed your leadership year in Fox Den.  You have basically had the same friends for 5 years (as I was reminded today at your birthday party by a card from Lizzie.)  You are doing all the same camps this summer as last, and you are going into your third year with the same piano teacher.  You got your three year medal at dance (oh, how you have been counting down to that!  And I'll tell you, you LOVE proof of accomplishment.  You recently told me that you want a shelf in your room to display your "medals and certificates.")  I can count on you to do what I ask, and to understand when sometimes our rules are different.  You are (mostly) gracious when I ask you to stay at the table where people are still eating, even if others are already off to play. You are (mostly) kind and generous with your younger cousins.  You have a (fairly) even-keeled temperament, but I think so much of your calm these days also comes from the lack of change.  Change is not your thing.  It's taken me a while to realize this--I always focus on Eleri when it comes to transitions--but as it turns out, YOU would prefer to have things be just how they are.  You are the child who will make someone move if they have unwittingly taken your seat at the table.  You are the one that will re-read book 72 in a series before giving a new author a try.  You are the child who cried when we painted the house, and still refuses to acknowledge the new facade as "your house."  (Though at a point I think this is not about change, it's just your stubborness kicking in.  You are saving face by sticking to it, and oh, my darling, this is another one that you got from me.)

We finally agreed that you could have your own rooms.  You have been asking for years but Eleri didn't want to be alone, so--yup--I asked you to stay at the table, metaphorically speaking.  And you have.  Even when she is the one singing loudly at night and keeping you up.  Now she is ready and we have all agreed, and I had this funny moment where I realized I sort of had things backwards.  I thought you would move into the guest room, but you guys have decided, and it is so clear:  Eleri will move in to the guest room because her favorite thing is whatever is NEW.  Her favorite toy is whatever she got most recently.  And you will stay in your room because you want THE SAME.  You want your twin bed and you want it right where it is.  (You do want to change the color though, which also makes sense.  You want to paint it green--your favorite color; actually, dark green, so it will be like a jungle.  And you know, you were NEVER happy when I chose the pink paint in there, and you were only 4 or 5 at the time.)

So I guess what I am saying is, all quiet on the western front.  (Why do I revert to these cliches and book titles?)  But it will be interesting come fall when everything changes.  On your last day at Bright Water, you sobbed all the way home.  I mean, inconsolable.  (I would be remiss if I didn't mention that before that, in the class skits, you recited "Ebeneezer Bleezer" as an example of end rhyme and man, did you do a good job with the longest poem ever written, even with all those people looking at you.  And Ms. Meghan did remind us, when she gave you your flower and sent you over the bridge, that when you entered Fox Den 3 years ago you could hardly speak your name in front of a group!)

I am pretty certain that you will love Lake Country.  The art classes, the land school, making costumes and sets for the EII play--this is such a good fit for you.  I'm sure you will make friends pretty easily.  But I also understand that, like when we painted the house, we are taking your history away, and that doesn't sit well with you.  I feel guilty that I am making you make this change.  I still remember exactly who was the new kid in each grade (partly because I befriended each and every one of them), and I understand there is comfort in being the one who knows the ways of a place; the one who can have the comforting wing, rather than being taken in under it. When we first brought up the possibility of a school change in February, to prepare you for your school visits, you told us that you would stay at Bright Water FOREVER.  But your position on this has softened, and I think you, like me, have a passion for Bright Water and love that place and want to see it work, for all the incredible kids and families that are there, and for all that you have put into it.  But I think you, like me, understand that this is a change we need to make for OUR family.

Or maybe I am projecting.

Miss Clio.

Cousin Jamie told me yesterday, at the big 4th of July party at Nonny and Papa's, that you are "so astute."  His 12 year old son Joey was in the pool and all the smaller kids were jumping all over him, and apparently he couldn't catch his breath.  Jamie says you put your arms out--the international symbol for stand back!--and told the group that Joey was having trouble breathing.  You noticed someone in trouble, and you immediately stepped in to help, even if it meant getting a group to stop having their fun.  This is (one of the things) that makes you so special.  You're such a good kid.

I was thinking earlier that in a way, I have less to say this year in this letter.  But I think that's good.  No drama.  No pretense.  You are who you are: we just know you better now.

So much love,


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Birthday Wish Lists 2015

Oh, we are in an 18" doll phase, let me tell you!  But there is some branching out.  Trips to Creative Kidstuff help jog the mind.

The top choice big-ticket item for Eleri is an actual American Girl doll.  Here is Eleri's "truly me" doll.

Clio's number one wish is the My Little Pony Crystal Princess Palace Playset.

Eleri's OG wish list:
What a Trek Set
Camping/ tent set (any color)
Various outfits
OG laundry room playset
Salon Chair (any color)
Hair Salon Set

Clio's OG wish list:
Goodnight Moose
(other outfits as well, but that is top choice)

In non-doll territory, both girls:
Beanie Boos (I can tell you which ones they already have)

Playmobil country horse farm with paddock
Mine for Gems kit
Princess figures
Lego Friends Jungle Falls Rescue

Gross Me Out Science Kit
Secret Formula Lab
Glowing Crystals rock kit
Squishy T-Rex
Lego Elves Treetop Hideaway
pom-pom monster salon
Felted friends
Erin Hunter, Warriors series: Dawn of the Clans (books 1-4)
Warrior super editions (all, except Yellofangs Secret)
My Little Pony figures


Friday, April 17, 2015

A Letter From Your Mother So Belated I can Hardly Name a Milestone

Dear Eleri,

I have thought of this letter often in the many months that have happened since your 6th birthday.  I have thought of it on major milestones: A Letter From Your Mother on the First Day of First Grade; A Letter From Your Mother on Losing Your First Tooth (and Second!)  A Letter From Your Mother at 6 and a Quarter and a wee bit.  Where has this year gone?

Here's where I kind of messed this up:  These letters are supposed to be snapshots in time to chart your growth and development, and of course the "moment in time" I chose is your annual birthday.  You have grown and changed so, so, so much since you turned six last July.  But also, you are who you are.

The way I was planning to start your letter back then holds true today:  You are an artist.  Over the years I have come to understand that artists are not simply (necesarrily) people who make art.  Artists tend to see the world differently.  You have your own lens and I am always surprised by the questions you ask, the things you notice and observe, the connections you make.  Your mind is always going, and there is something magical in your processing; I sometimes wonder if it has to do with your eyesight and how you literally see the world, the transformation from blur and color when you put your glasses on and shapes become things.  t's not just visual, though.  When you play the piano, you are as much about dynamics as you are notes, and I swear you are aiming for the musical, the feel of a song, not the technical.  You sway when you plan.  You dance around the kitchen with ballet arms.  You put together the MOST amazing outfits.  You make paint out of chalk.

I would say you also have an artistic temperament, which, as I say this and know it means fiery, it means emotional, it means unpredictable, the term doesn't seem completely fair to artists as a group, does it?  But you, my dear, are these things.  Fiery.  Emotional.  Unpredictable.  It's mostly that your emotions can turn on a dime.  You will be quietly playing on the floor for hours, and a small disturbance may send you into a brief and inexplicable rage.  (I fear that, in this way, you are so my child.)  You often feel wronged.  Putting your shoes on before you are ready is such a burden.  Lots is not fair.  Your new thing is cracking your teeth when you are sad or angry or frustrated or stressed.  It drives daddy crazy.  I looked it up and saw some horrible pictures of baby teeth ground down, together with assurances that 6 year olds do this, that you should grow out of it, that there's no real harm done.  We'll see.  Do you know you used to gnaw on the spines of board book?  That you chewed up your crib?  (Surely you do: it must be in one of these letters.)

School has been a roller coaster this year.  You were excited to start first grade.  (We always have such trepidation about transition for you, and ultimately you do fine when you know what's coming.  At dance at the beginning of this year, you were shocked to discover that your class was not all the ame students and the same teacher as last year.  The first class you sat behind me.  The second, you sat in the room on your own.  But the third week, you participated, and now you are one of the best students.  You listen.  You do as you are asked.  You remember the counting and the steps.  I digress.)  You were excited to start first grade, but your classroom was a challenging one.  This winter, for the first time, we heard cried from you that you hated school.  You were sick a lot, too, which probably didn't help.  You missed quite a bit of school.  But now!  Now you come home just bubbling over with words for all you want to share.  You just talk and talk and talk, which is kind of a new things for you.  You are being invited to second year lessons, and you LOVE being part of things with the older kids.  The class you are in this year is a new class, and it is transitional--K, 1, 2--and I believe you were placed there to be a leader in your quiet way.  You lead by example, and in the classroom you do your work, you focus, and you share your experiences with others.

I'm trying to think back to who you were last summer.  For your birthday party, we planned to paint our own pottery with you friends, but your July birthday is a challenge and no one could come!  So we made it a family party and it was mostly adults in the pottery studio.  Papa painted a frog.  Nonny made an ugly mug.  Daddy made our butter dish (I wonder if we will still have it when you read this?)  You got to paint two things, because you were the birthday girl.  You chose a dragon first, and then a small cross.  You had recently attended Church Camp and you were interested in God.  On your actual birthday we had some friends from school over to our house, and painted flower pots and played games.  Your streak of designing your own birthday cake continued, and you insisted on six layers and peppermint frosting.  In this, your dad obliged you.

Your wish list included lots of My Little Pony and Our Generation doll accessories.  We got you a huge set of magna tiles and I swear, we could do away with everything but those (and the set of small rubber animals), and you could still play for hours.  You are more into TV and computer games. Your favorite at the start of the year was My Little Pony Friendship is Magic.  Now you love Wild Kratts, Magic School bus, and (ugh!) Ever After High.  You love reading graphic novels.

Eleri, it's 6 am (Clio woke me before 5), and I am so glad I finally sat down and wrote this letter.  Please know that while it took a long time to get it down, it was not an after thought.  I am thinking about you, who you are, how you are growing, all the time.  I love watching you grow and change.  I am always so surprised by you, and I love the things you point out to me, the things I am too busy to see, or that are simply not evident to me in the world as I look at it.  I look forward to glimpsing the magic of your world, of learning from you, every day, always.

I love you,


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Christmas Lists 2014

Clio has created 7 hand-written copies of this list, which I am sure she is happy to distribute.  But in the meantime, let's use technology, shall we?

All of the following are Our Generation:

Well-traveled luggage set
Doll carrier
Aurora Doll
"You choose"

She also picked out some things at Creative Kidstuff:

Smaland Dog Family
Smaland Rabbit hutch
Giant Giraffe Stuffed Animal
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

She has also been wanting the 4th series of the Warriors books, all except the first one.

Warriors Omen of the Stars, books 2-6.  Here is the box set.  I'm too lazy to link the 5 books individually.

As for Eleri, if it is very big, expensive, and Our Generation, she wants it.  I talked her down from the (very cool) $90 retro beetle car to the $35 jeep 4x4, but on everything else she is sticking to her guns.

Gourmet Kitchen
Wooden Wardrobe with ribbons
Retro Diner
4x4 car
Sitting pretty salon
Ride in Style scooter (light pink and ivory)
Bunk Bed
Horse Barn Stable and saddle

And some non-OG options:

Alex Tattoo Glitter Party
Alex Ultimate Hair Accessories

For better price points, they do both want OG outfits, shoes, and accessories.