Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Written on half a piece of scrap paper, found under my dresser as I pulled it out to move:

Clio, if you're going to wear your crocs to ride that tricycle, you need to wear the straps around your heel.

Okay, Mom. First I will just test them out without the straps, then I will put the straps on and ride my tricycle.

Likely dates from last spring/summer--amazing that I moved the piece of paper from Brooklyn to Boulder. Also amazzing that the innocent manipulation starts so young!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

From the Archive

I was digging around in Picasa trying to find the little video of Clio at her dance performance, when I discovered that you can filter by media type: voila, all the little videos I've taken with our canon elf, all in one place! I just gorged myself on these little snippets of our past life, and this one was just too good not to share.

Eleri is about 5 months, Clio is pushing 2 1/2. I forgot how obsessed Clio was with Bear Hunt, and how she used to make us read it again and again. It's amazing that we now have all these tools for remembering.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

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

Dear Eleri,

You're a funny little girl. It's not just me, this is what people tell us. She's a funny girl, they say, and then they tell us stories. Like this: at school, all the kids have cubbies with their photos on the outside, and you like to go up to each one, lean against it as if you were sitting in a chair, say their name, and laugh, or cackle, really. You laugh a lot, and I find that your dad and I are constantly smiling at the little things you do and say. You LOVE to jump, and you gallop around the house. You also climb on everything you can and say "kiming," and you show us the way things go around and around (fans, wheels), with an arm gesture so dramatic it almost knocks you over. In fact, this enthusiasm means I tend to flinch when you come at me, never quite sure how powerfully you will fling yourself my way. You do this when I am trying to read Clio her bedtime stories on the couch, leaping across us or doing this patented sideways move whereby you just sort of appear on my lap, generally between Clio and the book's pictures. You love to point out trucks or buses out the window, and have a special fondness for the bells of the ice cream truck, which you pronounce in a way so cute, I must capture it on video. (That and water bottle. You will point them out around the house and say: Dio's batto batto, Daddy's batto batto, Ellli's batto batto.) You are very interested in this notion of possession, and are constantly establishing that things are yours. You open your half of the closet, point at the dresses, and say "Mines," always in the plural. I suppose this makes sense for a child who received candles in the final quarter of her sister's cake for her own birthday.

You are supremely generous and easy going. Both Clio and your friend Dakota frequently take things away from you; what they have yet to learn is that you would simply hand it over if they just asked. At school, your teacher says you sometimes take something from another child for the sheer pleasure of returning it. You enjoy other kinds of helping, like cleaning up spills and putting toys away. The other night, I think you kept spilling more water on the floor in order to wipe it up. Your generosity extends to children who are unhappy or have been hurt. When Clio cries (not an infrequent occurrence), you will go to her, lay your head on her shoulder, give her a hug or a kiss. You also stroke her hair when we say "gentle"; unfortunately, it is not so much that you have learned the concept of acting gently, it's more that you understand this as a remedy to a hurt you may have just inflicted.

It's true: you're pretty physical. I think of you as being "more like a boy" for whatever that's worth: throwing, running, jumping, building, climbing, and yes, sometimes hitting. I do think this comes from your frustration at not being understood. So many of your words sound alike, it can be a detective process to figure out what you're trying to tell us, and I think sometimes you give up. You resort. Mostly, I think this is okay- you don't hurt anybody- but I do hope we can help with the language troubles. You understand so much, and you clearly have a ton you want to say; it's hard to imagine the frustration of waiting for the rest of us to catch up, to piece it together. Often, after severeal tries, I'll ask you to show me, or to point, and this generally solves things. I try to remember to tell you the correct pronunciation, to get you to repeat it back to me, but you can be stubborn and generally don't want to do what you don't want to do. You've been sick lately (we've all been sick lately) with walking pneumonia, and the medicine you need to take happens to taste gross and have a gritty texture. The first day, unaware, you took it. The second day, you traded for your milk (you LOVE your milk). The third day, you refused altogether, you even refused ice cream (your favorite thing on earth, apart from jumping and your baby stroller) because you saw me put the medicine in. You just plugged your mouth with your thumb and turned away definitively. So I have learned to mix the medicine in with my back to you, and you have had ice cream every night for a week.

You make this funny noise and gesture where you pretend to gobble something up. You'll mimic grabbing something from the top of your head, from behind my ear, and then motion to toss it in your mouth. It's super silly, and since we laughed the first time you do it a lot. You love Old McDonald, and at night, after I sing Hush Little Baby, you say "E I E I O" as a signal to sing it. You always choose cat first, lately expanding it to kitty cat. You can sing most of the alphabet song and do some counting, though you usually start with 9 and then sort of jump around from there. In the morning, you do not want to change out of your onesie and I've been layering little sleeveless dresses over the top. When you sleep in pajamas, you often wear them to school. You have new shoes (you can put your shoes on yourself), a pair of gold and copper mary janes with a fur trimmed edge (from the $15 table at the big sale), that you love. You're decisive, see? When we went shopping to pick out birthday presents, you picked up a baby, found her a stroller, and that was that.

Since we have previous knowledge this time, and a better handle on the phases, I'm always curious to see what is your personality and what is a developmental stage. As you head into the twos, will you lost that decisive edge as so many toddlers do, grow confused as you understand the concept of options, or is that simply who you are? As your language develops, will you use words instead of actions, or will you always rely on the physical, the satisfaction of comedy in your pratfalls? I do believe your stubbornness will prevail, but tempered by your generosity; of course, it will be such fun to see how it develops.

Eleri, baby girl, little noodle, you bring such joy to all of our lives, always such a surprise, such a determined way of doing things, like when you joined us in such a rush two years ago, Daddy had to catch you in the bathtub, and the midwife had to instruct us, by speakerphone, how to get you breathing and coax you from blue to pink, while we marveled that you were a girl. A girl! So like a boy, or, I suppose really, so like her very own person.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

25 Days

I have now been sick for 25 days. In a row.

Two Doctors believe I have bronchitis, despite any number of symptoms that can not be explained by that diagnosis, and despite the fact that my illness started right after a diagnosed case of walking pneumonia (which is contagious) in my household.

I have been told to take Mucinex DM, Zyrtec, a prescription cough suppressant that even the pharmacist's assistant had never heard of, an Albuterol inhaler, and now Advair discs, a medication for emphysema. Emphysema. I am out more than $200 in co-pays and over the counter meds, and I feel like crap, and no one will give me the antibiotics that I'm fairly certain would have cleared this all up at least 2 weeks ago.

In these 25 days, I have also given notice at my job, bought a house, made a decision about the girls' education, thrown a double birthday party, and planned a move. (or not planned a move, as it were: we leave two weeks from tomorrow and we have not packed a thing. Sound familiar? Oh, right, we did this last year at this time.) I also bought tickets to the Pavement concert because we know where we will be in September, and started, slowly, to remember all the things in storage that we clearly don't need but will have to do something with, nonetheless. Good thing the new house has a basement. And a garage.

I am tired. I am behind on blogging. I am starting to be a little sad to leave Colorado (though I am excited about where we are going; excited about getting there already), especially when I stand in the parking lot at King Soopers and stare at the mountains, remembering my first time in that parking lot, the first time I had that sense of the mountains being so present. I stare at them on my drive home, try to soak them in.

In the past 11 months, I have had a very different experience of Colorado than Dave has. This struck us recently when we were driving to Denver together to meet our friends Amanda and Jon, and we realized that Dave has been to Denver just a handful of times, while I know the road from here to there like the back of my hand. I sometimes feel I have worn grooves in that pavement with all the back and forth. Dave has been in Boulder, has gone mountain biking on weekends, including a weekend in Moab, has been to Steamboat Springs on a motorcycle. I have spent weekends at work events or watching the girls. I almost started a book club. I missed every single mom's night with moms from Clio's school. I joined the library committee only to be unable to shelve the books on Tuesday mornings as promised. I felt like we were finally really in Colorado in December, when we closed on our house in Brooklyn, only to begin the process of leaving again in February, when Lizzie was diagnosed with breast cancer and I wondered if it was finally time to go home.

It's funny to be sick through all of this, as I point my compass North to Minnesota. I have long had a tradition of wearing myself to the bone and then returning home to my mom, starting in summer camp, through college, and continuing long past an age where such a thing should be acceptable. It feels like that to the nth degree to make my way home, weary, for good, for now.

Monday, July 5, 2010

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

Dear Clio,

Today you are four years old. At the playground this evening, you saw your shadow when you were waiting for me to get you up on the big kid swing, and you gasped and said "look, mom, I'm bigger because I'm four!" It made me think of the girl in a book we used to have called Big or Little. She asked her mom, am I big or little? and the answer depended on the comparison: bigger than kitty, smaller than daddy. Little enough to want dessert all day long, big enough to wait for it. I think that little girl must be four, too. You are big enough now for so many things, but sometimes I'm not exactly sure what you're ready for, and when I'm forgetting that four is, also, still little. There are two trees next to the playground perfect for tying up a line to practice the tight rope, and we've seen people practicing, getting up on the stretchy rope on one foot and striving for balance in order to walk to the other end, or to walk just one step, or to move at all. Today, watching a beginner struggle for his footing, I thought about the need for balance in our lives. It's summer, and I wish you could have the long, lazy days that your dad and I had growing up, that we could give you time that stretches, each night, into forever, to fireflies and kick the can and dusk well past dinner. I wish we could pick you up at the end of the school day, not the end of extended day. That you weren't so often the last one signed out of the room. On the few occasions that I have been the one to pick you up, I have been amazed by your concentration when I come into the classroom, the way you sit so poised, so contained at your desk, working. I am amazed, but also a little sad, because I'm not so sure a four year old should work 9 to 5 just because her parents do. But what choice is there? At home, I am torn between expecting the kind of good behavior we know you're capable of from all your wonderful reports home from school, and thinking you just need some room to misbehave. And misbehave you do. Bedtime has become a disaster. Dinner can be a minefield. There are too many threats, and deals, and counting, and still, sometimes, time outs. Your favorite word right now is "stupid" and the more we dislike it the greater pleasure you take from saying it. You also say "poopie" and "fart" and do a fart dance and a booty dance. Where is the line between silly and inappropriate? Do we ask too much of you, or too little? Are you little, or are you big? This is the thing with lines: everything is on one side or the other. While I know that the answers to all my questions are fuzzy, not precise, I can't help wondering: where is the line between independence and defiance? Between tired and tantrum?

Today you are four years old. For months you have been asking me to count down the days- literally asking me "how many days until my birthday" and then making me count that many days. Yesterday you counted to 100 by yourself, and you went on your first camping trip, with your dad and your friends Alex and Tamsin and their parents, who invited us all along on their fourth of July. When it started thundering, I wondered if you would stay. Then the rain rolled in, and I heard a car outside, and I thought it was you and Daddy, coming home for the night, to sleep in your own beds. But you had a brand new purple sleeping bag that you were very proud of, and you are braver than I sometimes give you credit for--I suppose I forget because you cry so easily, and we often have to say, Clio, this is not a reason to cry--but beneath the tears, I should always remember that you are so strong, and help you remember, too. I think of all the new experiences you have had this year: new state, new house, new school, new friends. And while I know that children are quite resilient and adaptable, I'm so impressed with the way you adjusted to all of this. I forgot, at least a million, zillion times this year, that you were only three. There are more changes ahead of you. After a year in Boulder, we are moving to Minneapolis, to be closer to many people who love you, and while I am sad to ask you to leave behind another school, another neighborhood, another set of friends who could be life-long if only we stayed, I think it will be good for all of us to have more of a network. We've done pretty good on our own, just the four of us, but if I can't give you summers off, I can at least give you cousins, and aunts and uncles and grandparents and the children of the friends I have had since we were children, and the roots, finally, to begin making those life-long friends.

Your dad makes fun of me when I say things will be better when.... (when this job is done or the move is over or the decision is made, or, or, or), but there has been so much change in our lives in the past five years, starting with the surprise of you, my dear, that I think all the learning and growing and changing and discovering that your dad and I have had to do as people has probably rubbed off on you a little. And while I know that there will always be something, some hiccup or obstacle just around the corner, I'm looking forward to a time when there isn't a major change looming, when there isn't the question of where we will be in September, when we can, maybe, hopefully, just be for a while. I know you feed off my energy--remind me to tell you the story of your very first dance pictures sometime--and I hope in that place, I will be calmer, and you will follow suit, and I will feel like four was the year that you got to be both big and little, in something close to the right measure.

Clio, I may not always like your behavior, but I admire your spirit, and I love your whole person, and I love watching who you continue to become, very much.

Happy birthday, sweetheart.


Friday, July 2, 2010

A Short History of (my) 4th of July

It's the 4th of July weekend, have you heard? It's a pretty big holiday around here. (And by "here" I mean the U. S. of A.) But it has flown below the radar in our household for the past few years. To wit:

2005: Bridezilla. Yes, I was planning and executing a wedding in 2 months flat. I literally have no idea what we did for the 4th that year (my apologies to any of you if this means I'm not remembering spending it with you). I was probably obsessively researching vintage caketoppers. I bet I imagined the fireworks, thinking they were all part of my fantasy wedding. Wait, that's silly: I would never have fireworks at my wedding.

2006: In labor. All day. Dave watched a corner of the Macy's fireworks from our roof in Brooklyn, while I watched on TV. We went to the hospital at 3 am and Clio was born the next morning.

2007: Sinus Infection. My first. Only, Dave didn't believe it was sinus infection and, since he doesn't believe in getting sick, made fun of me enough that I didn't go the Doctor. So I spent Clio's first birthday, and our trip to my sister in law's mother's cabin, blowing unending quantities of green snot out my nose. When I finally did go to the Doctor, the infection was so sever that the ENT doctor put these long-handled q-tips up my nose, dipped in some kind of medicine that made me break out into drenching sweat and hallucinate voices coming from the air vent.

2008: 41 weeks pregnant, on bed rest. If I recall this correctly, I may have broken bedrest to go the Staten Island zoo with Clio, feeling all weepy about her last days as an only child.

2009: FSBO. We were two weeks in to our bid to sell our house in Brooklyn. By owner. At the BOTTOM of the real estate market. Stressful? You could say that.

Which brings me to:

2010: We are planning to test the waters of camping. Dave is at REI right now, buying sleeping bags for the girls. We were invited to join Alex and Tamsin and their parents, who are expert campers and have all the gear. I imagine it will be fun. Except the part that involved getting Eleri to bed. And the part that involves me having a serious case on bronchitis.

We'll let you know how it all turns out.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Outfit of the Week

Eleri dressed herself this morning.

She chose her "happy pants" (actually pajama bottoms), and then, to be coordinated, she chose a pajama top--from a different set. This one has ballet shoes on it.

Then she went on to get some red knee highs out of the drawer. Just to give you the full visual, Clio and Eleri share a double closet with sliding doors; they have small plastic chests of drawers inside. I had the doors slid across Eleri's side so that Clio could pick a dress, and I didn't notice Eleri squeezing between the door and the drawers, so imagine my surprise when her hand shot out from nowhere holding socks and tights. She emerged saying "my socks" and then sat and put them on.

Clio helped, but one was still upside down.

I remember, as I sometimes do, that there is an occasional "column" on this here blog about the girls' crazy outfits. So Dave got the camera for me, and Eleri was all, What?