Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Three Candles

The girls each blew out several sets of birthday candles this year, but this is Eleri's actual birthday.  We had dinner at Rory and Nicole's house (my parents and other brother were in Idaho for a family reunion), and leftover cupcakes from a dinner with Hewitts and Harringtons.

I forgot my camera, but Rory got this shot on his phone.  I love seeing us through someone else's lens, and will admit to getting a little teary when I saw this in my inbox.


Okay, okay, a few pictures.
It's amazing I got any: Dave had to work for the bulk of the weekend, leaving me on a hike with the little ones and not exactly hands-free.

Here's what you need to know about this trip:
It was really hard, and I want to do it again.

Outfit of the week: camping edition

I'm trying to accept the new normal around here, which is that we have adventures and I don't manage to post them.  Instead of pretending that I'm going to get around to it eventually, I'll just share whatever snippets and photos that I mange and then anything more is just a bonus.

Case in point.  We went camping a few weeks back, with a number of families from the girls' school.  Clio got geared up, and I can't tell you how much I love this little, slightly dorky, tourist-in-training ensemble.  (Also the fact that she let me photograph her!)


And as if that wasn't enough, next she added some knee socks and clipped on her kleen kanteen.

Can you stand it???

Monday, July 11, 2011

Three Years in Three Minutes

Music: "Baby," Devendra Banhart

Dave would like you to know that he chose the music.  Nice work honey!  We make a great team!
Also, happy third birthday to our lovely little one.  I think it's hilarious that you tube chose this still form the middle of the slideshow as the thumbnail, and in it she looks very worried indeed.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Letter From Your Mother on the occasion of your third birthday

Oh, Eleri.

We seem to say this a lot: Oh, Eleri.

I'll tell you why: we don't know what to do with you.  It's true!  What are we going to do with you?  I think we've been saying this since birth.  I think maybe I don't see you as clearly as I see Clio, because we are not alike.  You are a puzzle to me, like your dad.

These past few weeks, you have been transitioning at school, from the toddler room to Children's House.  Transitions aren't really your thing.  I think it took you seven months to fully embrace your teacher, Miss Bekka, and you still won't shake Ann's hand when she greets us in the morning.  There were small conferences leading up to this transition. We've been talking about it since January: the timing that would be best, methods of change that might make you feel okay.  Everyone agrees that you are ready, that you need new challenges, but everyone worried about how you would take it.  Watching you actually make the transition, I'm realizing something I should have known all along: it doesn't matter what anyone else does.  When you're ready, you're ready.  Not one moment before, but also no looking back.  You've been fairly well potty trained for months now, but we still had you in diapers overnight until one night you said, quite simply, no diapers.  And you woke up dry, that morning and every morning since.  See?  I suppose this can be unfortunate if your timing doesn't line up with the world's, but I also wonder if we leave you to it without extra fuss, if you will go your own way sooner.  I wonder.

Did you know that you fall asleep many nights at the top of the stairs?  We don't know why, but after being put to bed you come lie there, and frankly, after putting you back in bed a million times we get exhausted and we leave you be.  When I hear your breathing change, I know it's time to go scoop you up and put you under the covers.  While I don't love you sleeping there--the stairs are big, and hard wood, and I get scared thinking what a tumble might look like--I do love scooping you up, love your head on my shoulder (always have), love that when I finally put you down, you can't fight me on it.  You fight sleep bitterly to the end.

You're a fighter.  You scratch.  It's true.  Sometimes you smack me right in the face.  We got you a book from the library called "When I Feel Angry," and you read it with great interest, though I think you are too young to understand or employ most of its tactics.  Clio and daddy are better at distracting you--maybe this is why I'm the main target for your fingernails.  Just tonight, you didn't want to take a second bike tour of the block, but Clio did.  I found myself counting to 5 (again) to get you moving, but Clio just told you about a feather she found, and you wanted to see it, too, and that brought you right down the steps like the force of gravity.  Do you want to know the flip side of the scratching?  The teeny tiny kisses you give me, on my cheek, my hand, my knee.  They are perfect kisses.  And then there are the secrets you tell, so quiet they are impossible to hear.  I suppose a secret is safe with you.

What else can I tell you?  You have caught the princess doll fever, and will happily play castle on your own for hours.  You like to scoot down and look at worms and bugs.  You have been eating all the purple basil from the garden.  The other night you said you wanted to go outside and throw something, and I thought that sounded like a good idea. You throw things you shouldn't, especially your (plastic) fork at dinner.  I still think this is a hold over from before, when your language wasn't so strong and you had to get your point across one way or another.  Your language has improved so much, and you love to tell stories now, love to have stories read to you.  You still tell jokes.  You love your bike helmet, and rain boots.  Sometimes you ask me to braid a teeny tiny braid in your hair, but mostly it is all in your face.  You are a night owl--I think this is just your natural circadian rhythm.  Noodles with pesto is your favorite food.  You eat ice cream faster than anyone I know.  You help yourself to nuts from the pantry and yogurt and cheese from the fridge.  We went strawberry picking the other day, and while Clio asked permission to eat each berry, and waited until Daddy found her perfect ones all in a row, you just helped yourself at random, your face smeared red.  There seems to be no truer assessment of your different personalities.

Sometimes you are so engrossed, I have to say your name many times to bring you back.  Eleri.  Eleri.  Eleri Ruth!  Also, noodle.  Noodle puss, noodle head, silly noodle.  Eleri bellery pudding and pie.  Someone asked me the other day why I called you noodle, and I told her it's because you're my silly noodle, and we all had a good laugh at that, like this was the family joke.

I think you are settling in pretty well.  Sometimes this shyness comes over you and you are gripped, and twice recently you have hid your face completely in the presence of someone new, just put your head down to the counter or table or whatever you could find.  But I see glimmers.  On the 4th, there were latecomers to the party, and you were in the pool with me, and you looked up and said, "where's Molly and Mike?"  You knew that my aunt and uncle were missing, and wanted them there.  In a funny way, I think being close to family has been best for you, of all of us.  I think after moving cross country twice in your first two years, maybe you feel that you are home now.  I hope that with each passing year things will stabilize for all of us, and the chaos that you were born into (or maybe wrought) will ebb.  When that happens, I hope to watch your defense mechanisms melt away; the hitting, the throwing of forks, the hiding of faces, and that you will both keep your independent spirit and let the rest of us in jut a little more.

When you're ready, of course.  Not one moment sooner.  And no looking back.

I love you baby,
Happy Birthday.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Birthday Cake

I truly can't believe that it is July 6th: where have the days gone?
There are many, many things to catch up on here (will I ever truly be caught up?  Doubtful!)  But for now, there are important matters at hand, like birthdays.  And cake.

For months, Clio has been saying that she wanted a tiered cake with a cupcake on top and an edible dolphin. Not at all specific, right?  To be honest, I wasn't completely phased by this.  The tiers, the cupcake, totally doable.  And disappointment is part of life, isn't it, so I figured I would just toss one of those German figurines of a dolphin on top and say, oh, oops, that Dolphin's not edible.  Silly me.  I know, mother of the year, sitting right here.

Well, this weekend as we prepared to make said cake, we revisited the plans with Clio, and while she had been insisting on that dolphin for ages, she suddenly and inexplicably veered to something easier.  Two layers (not tiers), cupcake, and a cherry on top.  Oh, and hearts on the sides.  It's possible that she has learned another important life lesson here: that reducing expectations also reduced potential dissapointment.  Or maybe she just wanted to let me off the hook.  At an rate, to be SURE we knew exactly what she wanted, we had her draw a picture.  And then through discussion we arrived at that little inset drawing.

And here's the actual cake.

A pretty good likeness, I'll say.
And darn delicious, too.

After sharing some cake with friends and family on the 4th, we enjoyed the cake a second time on Clio's actual birthday, in what is becoming something of a tradition.  (I hope to put a candle in the final quarter on Saturday, for Eleri.  I wonder if there will come a time when this practice bothers the girls, or if it will just be one of those weird things our family does.)

You may notice that the cake says "River."  River is the son of my younger brother's friends, who joined us on the fourth.  The 4th happened to be River's 4th birthday.  When she learned of this, Clio suggested that we include him on the cake, which I thought was awfully sweet of her.

Want to know something weird?  When I took these pictures (above), I got a strange sense of deja vu, and realized that Clio wore the EXACT same outfit on her birthday last year!

What do you think, does she look a whole year older?

Her birthday letter is coming soon.