Thursday, December 15, 2011

One Hundred and a Million

This is Eleri's preferred quantity.

As in, "are there one hundred and a million trees?"

Or, "What if I had one hundred and a million fingers?"

(Clio's answer: "you could pick up a LOT of things!")

This is one of those sweet things that you think you will always remember.  We can't count on memory, but we can count on blogs.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Strange Fruits

Dave likes to bring home unusual selections from the grocery store.  The girls absolutely delight in pomegranate seeds, starfruit, and the like.  (Isn't it amazing how much is available now?  To think that I ate my first mango in College!)

The latest choice?  Pumello.

I missed the party, but love seeing these silly photos of the games one can apparently play with pumello skin.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Breakfast with Santa

Saturday morning, Clio and I went to the Breakfast with Santa event at my high school.  Eleri was not interested.  There were many discussions about where Santa would eat, and clarifications that he would not actually sit at our table and eat with us.  Instead, he spent his time on photo ops.

I am 100% in love with ours.

Turns out Clio will have her photo taken, so long as the person wielding the camera is a professional.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

First BK crown

The girls love McDonald's.  With toys in the happy meals and a huge indoor playspace, who could blame them?  Every time we drive by, Eleri announces "Old McDonald's!"  On our road trip for Thanksgiving, they also discovered Burger King, and suddenly Eleri has noticed there is a Burger King near our house, too, and announces it as we go past.    Burger King!

Five Great Grandaughters

And one more on the way for Dave's cousin Amy.

Perhaps ironic for a life-long farmer.

Ruth and Eleri Ruth

I'm finally going to try out my friend Sara's method of family blogging: a picture, a small snippet, peppered with the occasional marathon.  I need some sprints.

Over Thanksgiving, we got down to Springfield to visit MaMa, Dave's grandmother.  I love how proud she is to introduce Eleri as her namesake.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Girls Who wear Glasses

Almost a month has passed.  Again.  More than that since Clio got her glasses.  Now it's normal.  So normal, in fact, that when she is NOT wearing her glasses, I do a little double take because she looks different to me.  Isn't that funny?  Glasses-free for 5 years, then 5 weeks of glasses and somehow my Clio-picture resets.

Here's the thing, though:  the eye exam?  That was a big day.  It was not too long after the start of school, and I remember all of the first-day of kindergarten photos on facebook, all the weepy stories from my dearest mom friends sending their babies off.  I didn't get the kindergarten thing.  In Montessori, your 5-year old year is the third in the same classroom.  It's your leadership year.  While it is a big deal, it isn't a hard change.  In fact, here in the Peterson household, I was just so very glad that Clio got to go to the same school for a second year in a row.  Out one night out with a new friend from book club, I started to understand: kindergarten is when you send your small child on a big, new bus, off to a big, new school.  It is the year of major transition, from being home or in part-day preschool to the beginning of your elementary career.  As Maria put it:  there are BIG KIDS there.

This is sort of how I felt taking Clio to the eye doctor.  She hadn't done very well on her routine screening at her five year check up, and they recommended getting a full exam.  Not wearing glasses myself, I didn't quite know what to expect, and I was surprised by the number of tests and the sophistication required from children in participating.  Clio was great.  But up on the big chair, she just looked so, well, small.  And because we BOTH didn't know what to expect, I wasn't able to prepare her.  (I didn't know just what it would be like on the bus.)  But Clio is Clio and of course she was cooperative and helpful and, while tentative, also super smart about the tests.  The Doctor said she gave lots of responses and they all actually made sense.

Here's an interesting thing I learned:  apparently kids have a very strong focusing function--so strong, they tend to "focus through" any issues with their eyesight.  Once the Doctor determined she would need a prescription, he had to dilate her eyes to paralyze the focus function to see just how strong a prescription she would need.  The drops were the problem: they stung, and Clio was surprised.  She cried, and for once I sympathized, understood these were real tears, not dramatics, tears of physical discomfort, of distrust, of losing her tight grip on her reserve.  We had to wait for the drops to work, and spent twenty minutes in the waiting room, where there are no children's books.  So I read her the funnies, but of course she couldn't see the pictures well, and I realized how grown-up comics really are.  So many layers to try to explain to a five year old, a child who is whip smart but does not have a foundation in adult situations, work scenarios, or the like.

Clio needs a strong prescription.  She is farsighted, like her father, which means--I keep needing to remind myself--that she has trouble seeing things close up.  All of a sudden, I see so many images of her making art over the years, nose inches from the paper, sometimes head on the table.  It is the first time I see this for what it is--I never suspected.  For days after the exam, I wondered what she was seeing.  Marveled at the fact that this was simply the world to her, and she didn't know it could look better.  Or different.

After her appointment, they gave her kid-sized foldable glasses, and with her leopard print coat and purple patent leather shoes and sharp bob, she totally looked like a pint-sized old lady in Florida.

We had a celebration lunch, her choice.  McDonald's is always her choice, I think because of the toy in the Happy Meal.  And the chicken nuggets.  We went to the one in Uptown because it was near the Glasses Menagerie, and boy are there some crazy characters at the Uptown McDonalds.  Clio just pushed the tail on her Hanna Montana plastic dachsund, spinning fortunes in tween-speak.  Like the comics, Clio has no basis for Hannah Montana, but she thought the dog was hilarious, the saying the best.

At the glasses store, we were the only customers, and Clio insisted on blue glasses.  Her favorite color, she said, though to my knowledge she has never chosen blue for anything in her life.  Except sometimes for her cup at breakfast, but that is mostly just if Eleri wants it.  All of the glasses went in the "maybe" pile.  The process took a long time because Clio was, as instructed, so very, very careful taking off each pair of glasses, folding them up, setting them on their arms.  She chose clear frames with pale blue arms adorned with rhinestone flowers.  I let her choose, 100%.  I liked that with these, you could see her face.  I didn't even realize I was worried about that: seeing her face.  I was wondering more about a lifetime of something between her face--her eyes--and the world.  What it would mean to have glasses when she was 12, or 18, or getting married.  Because my mind works like that, you know.

We went back to McDonald's, for ice cream sundaes.  She was so excited for her caramel, but it, like the eyedrops, turned out to be an unhappy surprise--something not at all what she expected.  But the ice cream was good.

Two days before we went to pick up her glasses, she said she didn't want them.

The day before, I got a call from school after lunch.  Clio had thrown up in the lunch room.  She was resting in the office but needed to go home.  I worried that it was an omen.  Or just a bad sign, somehow.  That she would associate her glasses with being sick in the lunch room.  That it was an inauspicious beginning.

When we went to pick up the glasses, the store was crowded and it took a long time to be helped.  I had misunderstood something about the pricing on frames for her second, backup pair, and got upset.  I felt stupid, new to all of this, to glasses, to a child with eye exams.  Which is silly, because my husband wears glasses.  My brother has always worn glasses.  When my mom described the park and ride stop where we were to meet them for the state fair, the picture came to me: Oh, the place we used to go to get Rory's glasses?  I can't have been much older than Clio when those visits started.  Picking up her glasses, Clio was most excited about the case.  I may have arranged for one more celebratory dinner, but I already can't remember for sure.

The first day or two, I kept waiting for a big change.  I wondered if Clio would suddenly have a break through in reading, or if she would literally see things differently, and exclaim at the world.  She didn't.  She pushed the glasses up her nose a lot, or looked over the tops, to leave the world how it had been.  She forgot to put them on in the morning, or to take them off before pushing her face into my shoulder, crying, or laughing.  But now they are pretty normal.

She let me take her picture.

She drew a picture of herself, a girl who wears glasses.  I've been meaning to scan it, to post it here.  It's a keeper, for sure.

I felt so emotional about my little girl in this big world.  I guess I got the kindergarten experience after all.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

I've decided to do my best to at least get photos up here as we manage to take them  (now BOTH girls run shrieking when we take out the camera).  There may not be lots of words or stories or reflections.  But you'll get the gist.


We've had some remarkably warm October weather, and today we took advantage and headed out to the arboretum.  We covered about 300 yards of the huge place.  There was a used book fair, and we cleaned up (literally dozens of books for a total of $4.  Are you proud, Barb?)  There were pumpkins and gourds to see, and scarecrows to photograph (both Clio and Eleri took a turn with the ginormous camera, promting lots of predictable but sweet comments from passersby: "a future photographer, huh?" "Maybe she'll be rich and famous someday!").  There were educational activites that included leaf pounding to transfer colors, an experiment (with beakers and everything) about why leaves change color, leaf crowns to sew, corn to dig, and some crazy little camera that made the pores on my skin look disgusting but cool.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Great Minnesota Get Together

The State Fair is a pretty big deal around here.

I don't consider myself a "fair person," and I don't totally get what people DO all day every day if they go for repeat visits, but I consider it a tradition and the girls seem to like it.

On the very last day of the run, off we went to the park and ride to meet the Nonners and Papa.  The fair report is, so far, kind of the same each year.  So rather than a full round up, here's what was new and notable.

New rides.  (Brave girls.)

French Fry bucket and classic rock for a little morning snack.

Little Farm Hands

Eleri chose not to participate.  Clio got to ride a tractor, dig up "crops" and trade them at market for a little stuffed sheep.  Eleri wanted the sheep, too.  Valuable lesson learned about commerce?  Maybe.

Papa procured this inflatable Kemps cow.  He claims it was through his power of persuasion.  Others think he paid for it.  Jury's out.  Girls love it.

Clio carried him the rest of the day.  Papa named him Milky Way.

Along the way we also checked out the Fine Arts building, watched a troop of drummers, ate ice cream, chicken nuggets, and cheese curds, petted baby animals, and just missed the horse show and some lumberjack pole climbing.  Maybe next year.

The biggest deal, perhaps?  No strollers needed.  I forgot it in the trunk when we got to the park and ride just as the bus was going to pull out, but everyone did just fine.  These are some big, big girls.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Room of One's Own

We are very lucky to have a nice house with plenty of space.  The girls have an awesome room and lots of space throughout the house dedicated to them (including a playground in the basement.)  And yet, they are always carving out their own little spaces around the house.

This might be my favorite.  They have taken to listening to the Beauty and The Beast soundtrack on this little old boombox, and they like to set up a pair of chairs facing it, as if they are watching something.

So sweet.

Oh, Summer, Where Did You Go?

Last Monday it was 90 degrees.  We spent a lazy day swimming and flipping through magazines at Nonny and Papa's house.  Two days later, frost.  Just like that, summer was over.  Nothing gradual, no reprise in Indian Summer, just: fall.  Winter feels imminent.  I put the down blanket back on our bed, and was not too warm.  I'm not ready.  All of a sudden I'm having visions of shoveling mountains of snow, of bundling everyone into insufficient layers, of hibernating for six months, just when we're ready to get out there and do some things.

Most of the summer was lost to this blog, too.  I didn't take nearly as many photos of our family as I usually do.  Used to do.  Partly because the girls just scream at me when I get out the camera, partly because I just got lazy, partly, I'd like to think, because when I was with the girls this summer, I was WITH them, and not hovering above to record and remember.  That's a good thing.

I never got around to describing the girls' birthday party, which started as a disaster and ended in great good fun.  Coming out of a government shutdown, we didn't know if our desired venue--the north commons water park--would be open.  Turns out they were (yay!) just not at the hour we specified (boo!)  So we lost several people along the way, but ended up having a marvelous picnic with two families, including self-frosted cupcakes and presents.  As we were about to wrap it up, we decided to hit the waterpark instead just as they opened, and the kids were in heaven.  Not bad for the grown-ups, either, with the two huge water slides for us, too.  We wrapped up at our friend Silo's house for pizza.  A long, wonderful day.

We went camping with the Harringtons.  It was perhaps the most humid weekend of the year.  There were trains that ran so close to the campground I could swear they were barreling through our tents.  And there was an insane lightning and thunderstorm that wind whipped the tents and sent fear through my fingertips: what if the lightning strikes the tree we are camped so near?  What if it runs through the ground, drawn to our metal tent poles?  We were in separate tents, Dave with Clio, me with Eleri, and that sweet girl slept right through.  IT lasted 45 minutes.  when it was over, another train barreled through.  You know what though?  The campground had a lovely beach on Lake Pepin, and we spent most of the time in the water.  Despite everything, the girls loved it.

We spent time in the garden.  And drawing with sidewalk chalk.  And visiting the local playgrounds and water features.  Minnesota has a LOT of amazing pools and wading pools and sprinkling devices.  A LOT.  Especially for a state that freezes over for half the year.

The girls went to Grandma and Grandpa's when I went to NYC.  They always have a great time with the kittens.

It's always so weird to wrap up a season in a post.  It always feels both forever ago and just like yesterday.  That will never be revelatory, but it will always be true.

School has begun.  Leaves are changing.  Life moves forward.