Thursday, May 29, 2008

My Story

For those of you just joining me, there's been a whole lot of blogging going on, and this is actually the last in a string of related posts. It will all make a lot more sense if you start at the bottom, with Weekend in Morrison, and work your way back up.

Picking up where we left off:

As for me, my role this weekend was partly to capture everyone else, as family photographer (I was even the one who insisted we go to the Wallmart Portrait Studio; more on that later. Maybe.) When we finally got them all uploaded the other night, Dave declared that there weren't many good ones. And it's true, I tend to shoot for narrative, not light and composition, and Pete got many better versions of essentially the same shot. But for a little while on a gloomy Saturday, while the boys were building fires and Barb was fixing lunch or cutting asparagus (more on that later, too), Clio volunteered herself as a willing subject, once again wanting to have her picture taken and then look at it in the viewfinder. And I kind of like the resulting series of portraits, for their own sake.

Clio's Story

Clio had two main obsessions while in Morrison: Kittens, and this little chair that Barb found in the garage.

She sat every which way on this chair,

And even did her best to clean it, top and bottom

(whereupon she was introduced to her first actual spiderweb). Every time we went into the house, we passed through the garage. And every time we passed through the garage, she wanted to climb behind the cars and get on that little chair. (For those of you who know Pete and are familiar with his garage full of many collections, you will understand this is completely hazardous.) She especially wanted to bring the little chair into the house.

Once again it is clear that this kid needs a chair or her own.

I saved the kittens for last because really, who wants to look at a chair from many angles once you've been seduced by a toddler playing with kittens? We made two separate trips to Great Grandpa's to see the new kittens,

and also one very friendly mama cat.

Do you like my outfit?

Clio was highly enthusiastic about all things feline, and spent a lot of time observing the goings-on withing their shed.

When Pete suggested she "go on in there and pick one up," she went ahead and did.

Much to my surprise. Flash back to September, here she is with my brother's kitten Milo;

what a difference a few months can make!

Daddy's Story

Well, boys will be boys.

This weekend, Dave got to play with hand saws and chain saws, climb on the roof, start a really big fire, and show off his daughter at part of a Memorial Day campout in the woods, and annual event at the home of his best friend from Childhood.

Oh, and dress the part.

What could be better?

Grandpa's Story

Timing work can be unpredictable on a farm; because of bad weather earlier in the week, Pete ended up spending quite a bit of Sunday and part of Monday making hay (I now truly understand the expression "make hay while the sun shines"), but he took great pleasure in bringing Clio along for whatever chores were appropriate, like feeding an orphaned calf. Mostly, in down time, I think he just reveled in the common refrain of the weekend: "Grandpa! Grandpa! Pick me up!" And obliged his granddaughter in the house, in the fields, and on Great-Grandpa's farm.

In the end, she returned the favor, doing a little of the heavy lifting herself, and leaving him in a higher place than she found him.

Grandma's Story

As she always does, Grandma spent the weekend taking care of all of us, preparing 3 adult and sometimes 3 separate kid meals a day (plus desserts!), insisting that everyone sit down even while she was tirelessly on her feet, calling ahead to Wallmart for Portrait Studio opening hours, and figuring out where we might find a jigsaw puzzle on Memorial Day.

We also managed to arrange a whole lot of Clio time (I very generously slept in and took naps to stay out of the way), much of which had Barb schooling her in the ways of the farm, from chores like sweeping

and clearing brush,

to feeding the cats (which I won't go into here- that's a part of Clio's Story).

She also found plenty of ways to entertain Clio, from an old favorite, bubbles,

to a new one, playing the Piano. They did some lovely duets of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Baa Baa Black Sheep, and Barb taught Clio all about not banging on the keys.
By the end of the weekend, they even LOOKED like two peas in a pod.

Weekend in Morrison

We spent Memorial day weekend in Morrison with Grandma and Grandpa, and I've been trying to get various posts going since we arrived home Tuesday night (Another List of Travel Don'ts; On Having a Portrait Taken at Wallmart, etc.), but there have been some technical difficulties with our home computer, and work is crazy with our David Byrne project opening on Saturday. As always with a trip that brings many new experiences (for Clio, and sometimes the rest of us), there's also just so much to report that I really do wish I had been reporting all along.

We made the trip last minute partly because Grandpa (Pete) received the bad news that his cancer has returned after 4 years disease-free, and because he will need to undergo treatment this summer, it is unclear whether he and Barb will make their annual summer trip to New York. There's also nothing like an almost-2-year-old grandchild to cheer you up; we figured the least we could do was transport some Clio joy right to a Grandpa in need of a little spirit lift. Looking through the photos, it's funny to see that we each really had our own narrative arc over the weekend. I'll give you everyone's story separately, but in the end, the whole was greater than the sun of its parts, and I'd say that all of our spirits were lifted by our own experience of the weekend, even if we didn't know we needed a boost.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Biggest Sentence Yet

Clio has been eating a pretend snack from a plastic cup all day today, a yellow one from a set of stacking towers. When I asked her this morning what her pretend snack was, she said "Blueberries. Mmmmm."

When I asked this afternoon, she looked into it, looked at me, and asked,

"Can I have some water in there?" She often suggests a sentence of this complexity (water in there), but in this case she actually used all seven of those words. I'm especially astounded by the "some" water.

And, while I'm writing this, she is pretend talking to Daddy and Uncle Derek on the phone, and just said "Hello? I need my shoes right here."

I'm just going to sit here and listen and see what else she comes up with.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Are there monsters in Brooklyn?

This afternoon, while sucking on a piece of ice in the kitchen, where the drippings would not effect the tile floor, Clio suddenly stood right next to me, looked up to my face, and said "Mommy, the Monster is coming!"

"It is? What kind of Monster?" I asked.

She just went right on sucking that ice, like it was the best snack she's ever eaten, and acted as if she had not spoken.

Titi Missy's House

Friday night, we packed up the car and made the 3-hour, 34-mile trip into Manhattan (to pick up Dave from work) and back out to Connecticut to spend the weekend with my aunt Missy, uncle Jim, cousin Lael, and their "silly doggie," Riley. Clio really took to her Great-aunt and uncle like a fish to water. Here's an example: Clio hates to have her diaper changed. Loathes it. She will often lie when you ask if she has a poopy diaper, and once you get her on the changing table, its an all out fight to the end. But Saturday morning, when I asked Clio if she needed her diaper changed, she walked right over to Missy and put her arms up. Later, at the Long Island Sound beach, when she needed a change of diaper and clothes, she did the same to Jim, and said "Him do it." Both claim that Clio was very obliging through the change, which I would really need to see to believe (lately, when I try to change her she pummels my belly with her feet, as if she knows that her greatest rival is right inside.)

This became the mantra of the weekend: "Him do it." (Those of you who know Jim know that Clio has tapped right in to his essence: he sometimes refers to himself as "Himself.")

Here they are, Clio and Himself, strolling the beach:

All weekend long, Clio wanted Jim to bring her upstairs or downstairs, to feed her, to carry her around. Which was fine with me: I got to put my feet up (and even got an expert foot rub from Missy), and even read a bit of the paper.

She also seemed to knock her stair phobia once and for all. So eager to engage in whatever activity was happening on a different floor of the house, she
kept escaping from me and climbing right on up the steps, appearing in the living room alternately naked or in her pajamas; or leaving the living room to go up to Lael's room, where the largest pile of stuffed animals waited for Clio to carry them to and fro across the room, and Lael and Dave (fast friends if I ever knew any) played many hours of Guitar Hero. (For the record, I appeared to be a "natural" at this game, but quickly went downhill with each subsequent try. Alas.)

All this aside, I'd say the best thing about the weekend for Clio (maybe for all of us) was the large doses of fresh air and the
outside world we managed to consume in the one sunny day. Missy took over 300 pictures of Clio, running in the grass in the backyard, chasing the neighbors cat, and playing in the sand and surf at the beach. I think you'll agree that she has captured a joyful girl. I'm happy to say, our whole little family felt some of this joy.

Because there were so many to amazing photos to choose from, I'm sharing a whole gallery. Enjoy!

In the morning, Clio tested out the wet grass, played ball, found a new favorite stuffed animal, and got as close as she ever has to a real live actual dog (mostly she just loves dogs in theory.)

After the morning romp, we packed up for a ride to the beach. We weren't sure how the sand and water would go over after Clio's wintertime visit to the Jersey Shore, where she was fairly fascinated by the sand but terrified of the ocean. As you can see, we needn't have worried!

And one last shot, taken by Dave. I love how perfectly this captures my brand of joy for the day.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Uncle Derek

Just before I made my California getaway, Dave's brother Derek came for a very quick visit with his girlfriend Mika. I've been meaning to get some of their photos from the trip before posting, but I keep forgetting to ask. Between my crazy schedule and their jetlag (Japan to NY by way of Detroit is one long trip!), I hardly got to see them, but they did get to bond with Clio just a bit.

Mika is clearly a LOT of fun; Dave told me that Clio warmed up to her in record time. She had Clio laughing her head off over some game with the "big ball."

Bringing fabulous foreign gifts never hurt anyone's cause, either: if you look closely at the coffee table you can see a great wooden train/ block set. Clio, Dave, and I are all big fans.

Just for fun, here's Derek with Clio over Christmas, 2006.

We're looking forward to the next, hopefully longer, visit.

And Derek, if you're reading this, send photos!

Monday, May 12, 2008

How Meta

Thanks To Sara Fenske Bahat for the T-Shirt!

Also, perfect timing. In a weird way, I had been sort of looking forward to the one-year anniversary of Clio Confidential, much as I had long anticipated my 100th post. But like that milestone, which came and went anti-climactically many months ago, I missed my blogaversary by about a week. Which, in hindsight, is an excellent thing: it means that, unlike some mom bloggers whose laments I have recently read on their highly-trafficked and well-publicized sites, I'm not too busy blogging to actually live my life.

10 Happy Things About Mother's Day

In chronological order:

1. Sleeping in
2. Dave's intention to make my favorite sweet-potato pecan pancakes (I got up too late to take advantage, but found pecans toasting in the iron skillet and sweet potatoes in the microwave!)
3. Chocolate brioche and delicious decaf from Colson Patisserie, instead
4. Dad-posse at swim class. (Top, from left: Sylvie and Brian, Dave and Clio, Peter and Zoe, Jay and Dylan; Bottom, Dylan and Clio practice jumping in.)

5. Almost buying the mid-century sideboard I've been eyeing at a local antique store (One sad thing about Mother's day: what an unhelpful a-hole the store's owner was, leading to us not actually getting to buy the thing. Sigh.)
6. New-Orleans style brunch at Stan's: po boys, huevos rancheros, and biscuits with sausage gravy (not even in the same realm as Grandma Barb's, but still good). Here's a picture we took of Clio to show her pictures of Clio as a distraction when we realized that the camera was the only "toy" we had on us

7. Limonciata
8. Watching Dave show Clio how to make those little winged seed-pods that litter the ground this time of year "fly." He's a Dad who knows some cool things.
9. A 2-hour nap on the couch (the back support is so much better than bed!)
10. Hearing my own mom's voice, calling from the Atlanta airport on their way home from Ireland, and hearing Clio say "I want to talk to Nonny!"
11. Actually sitting around and playing with my daughter for a couple of hours- blocks, trains, throwing balls, jumping around, listening to They Might Be Giants Here Come the ABCs (while Dave made tortilla soup AND did the dishes)
12. Having more than 10 things to be happy about on Mother's Day (and only half or so relating to food!)