Tuesday, November 27, 2012

This little piggy...

So Kali is trying to teach Alida to read.  It is going moderately well (because Alida has a stellar memory!).  Well, it seems that Alida does not agree with the words of a certain nursery rhyme.  For about 5 minutes last evening Kali and Alida went back and forth - Kali reading "roast beef" and Alida confidently countering with "roasted potatoes."  I got a snippet of the tail end of it.  As Jason and I sat there watching the girls, Jason again pondered when people can possibly find time for TV!  We definitely have a constant stream of entertainment in our home these days. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Too cute not to share!

Couldn't help but upload TWO videos this evening.  Have we mentioned lately that we think our gals are pretty great!  I've had such a fun weekend at home with both of them.  Kali is going to whip me into shape with her new watch - racing to the end of our road and back on her bike (with me often trailing behind with Alida in the jogger).  And as of yesterday when we cleaned/organized Kali's room, she uncovered her knitting and hasn't cracked open a book since then (which is saying a lot!).  We'll see how long it lasts but she has been knitting in all her spare moments and has a great start on a rainbow colored scarf.  Alida has also been "knitting" with Kali's set up for her (yarn tied around a spoon for a knitting needle).  She seems to more enjoy trying to get a hold of one of our needles or ball of yarn.

Here is a video of Alida finding all of Kali's stuffed animals on the floor when we were remaking her bed:

Kali helped me plan out menus for the coming days.  Tonight's menu was chicken breasts, tossed salad and homemade lambs quarter pasta with creamy pesto on top.  You can discern for yourself if our girls were enjoying their dinner:

In other news, Kali's ducks are really making Jason's chickens look bad.  We are getting about 2 eggs/day from 13 hens and 2 eggs/day from Kali's two female ducks.  They haven't missed a day since they started laying mid-October.   Jason hasn't had much time to ponder this deeply as he has been absorbed in many home projects.  When there are two cute and funny girls around to blog about, we don't get around to putting updates here about more mundane things like finally getting around to the siding project.  But that is exciting too.  Here's a few pictures of that coming together...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Nora's 5th Birthday

Yes, we are clearly trying to catch up on many recent happenings!  Despite the end of the 2012 gardening/canning season, life continues to feel full and overflowing, mostly with really good stuff.  The current project list (which we tend to just shelve for the spring/summer due to the immediacy of food preservation) hasn't diminished in size since spring and we have gotten a start on a handful of large projects - which means we have a number of large projects underway but not completed.  I'm battling internally my desire to wrap them all up as quickly as possible, which is often a recipe for more stress on our family system than is desirable!  It didn't help that I hatched another such project on our way home from supper club last night...  One day at a time.

One day at a time. One step at a time. One appointment at a time. One feeding or nap at a time.  That is how I journeyed through much of our short time with Nora.  Recently we've been grateful for times set aside to reflect on who Nora was and is to our family.  On October 30th she would have turned 5.  It's always kind of strange for me around anniversary times and particularly feels a little odd that the time around her birthday can often be more difficult than the time around her death.  The time leading up to the day of her birth was so full of unknowns and the days following the same, as well as being thrust into an environment like no other...the NICU.  The week leading up to Nora's death, while excruciating in some ways, included so many precious times with a little person we had grown to deeply love, respect, and cherish.  The feelings of being connected to her and to each other and having much more of a sense of control over her care and what she needed, helps to have the memories of those days being ones that have contributed to my own healing journey.

This year as her birthday approached, we thought about how we wanted to mark it together and who we might wish to invite to join us.  Ever since we started giving blood regularly in Nora's memory after her death, I thought it would be "fun" to have others join us.  It still seems odd for me to connect the word "fun" with being stuck by a needle...

Well the evening of her birthday we had about 20 persons join us at Virginia Blood Services, plus some great kid cheerleaders!  And it was fun, but much more than that.  It meant a lot to both Jason and me to have others join us in this ritual that has become very meaningful for us.  Some that gathered knew Nora well and some didn't know her at all.  Some had given blood regularly for years, for some this was the very first time.  Just as I overcame my intense fear/minor phobia of needles, we saw others do the same (or at least get started!).  There are many pictures of the evening, of both strained and relaxed faces.  We'll treasure them all (while not putting them out here publicly, without permission of the gracious donors!). As we gathered the leftover snacks, Nora's memory box, and headed home with Kali and Alida we felt energized and grateful for a very memorable marking of Nora's birthday.  It really was a party!  Thanks to all that joined us. We plan to do it again - and may not wait a full year to do so...

Alida Hazel Sarina Myers

With little children, it's the little stuff that takes your breath away.  I, Jason, have been given the task of attempting to tell about some such, which comes our way courtesy of Alida.  In doing so, I run the risk of seeming droll, since no one but the doting parents probably experiences quite the level of transcendence when the child in question's particular brand of cuteness works its wiles. The same goes for "amazing" things one's child does.  They usually only amaze those who are totally vulnerable to such amazement due to their infatuation with the tyke.

That having been said, the following is a smattering of cute/amazing stuff Alida has been doing lately, just because we feel like recording it for ourselves (especially Alida), for posterity, and for you, dear reader!

Let's start off with a video of Alida and her version of "I don't know":

A few of Alida's favorite things:

1) Her great-grandmother's apron, worn with or without other clothing.  It is usually a cooking or dance outfit.
2) Wagon rides, powered by Kali.
3) Jumping on the trampoline...she likes to put those thighs to work!
4) Cell phones...or anything resembling them (or not resembling them at all), into which she says, "Yeah, hm.  Hi.  Oh!  Yah."  And more.
5) Doing anything, no matter how dangerous, on her own.  An emphatic "SELF!" is perhaps her most common word, though when she can tell by demeanor that it's a lost cause (as in the case of wanting to add wood to the fire "self"), she'll back down graciously if she's not too tired.
6) The word "safe," which she uses any time she stands up on the bed, climbs a chair, or positions herself precariously.
7) Collecting the eggs.  Now if she gets wind of the fact that I'm going out to collect eggs there is no way to distract her or otherwise satisfy her..."COME!", she says.  Then "Cayoo" ("carry you"; a request to be carried), followed by "bucky", which refers to the egg collecting basket.  If it's dark out, she insists on bringing the "yight" and shining it everywhere but on the path before us. Upon return to the house, she announces "EGG" to Janelle, who asks how many.  She always says, "Five."  There are never five.
8) Teasing.  She'll get a twinkle in her eye when eating, then offer an adult food from her tray, holding it out in a hand usually sticky with food residues and baby saliva.  The adult obliges by leaning out to receive the morsel between the teeth...BUT NO!...the sneaky baby has fooled him or her once again, snatching it back at the last moment and giggling, sometimes gleefully stuffing her own mouth instead.  Blast!  We've been had.  How gullible we all are!
9)  (Jason hasn't read my posting yet. Clearly this story struck both of us so I'll leave in his version!) Target.  The store.  We never shop there, but where else do you buy a watch in Harrisonburg?  We didn't know so we shopped for Kali's watch there last evening.  Alida took one look at the store front and said, "Sookoo" (circle).  Then she noticed, incrementally, the lengthy series of large red balls decorating the sidewalk.  "Bah" (ball).  "Nahyall" (another one).  "OH, MY!...NAHYALL!"  Her astonishment was real.  Sorry, little one...I guess we don't take you out much, do we?

Evidence that this child is growing up:

1)  She likes to take turns.  Really.  O.k., most of the time.
2)  If Mommy hadn't been so distracted trying to iron out our cell phone situation, Alida would probably be now finishing up her fourth day with dry panties.  We honestly never made a decision to potty train her, but she's been steadily working on the basic skills and all of a sudden everything kind of came together when Grandma bought her a collection of Hello Kitty panties.  Is she done?  I don't know.
3)  She translates visual images in terms of her experience.  Like the other day I was reading her "Guess How Much I Love You", and she saw the picture of the big bunny cradling the little bunny and said "Mook." (milk).  She thought it was nursing.  Then on the last page, Little Nutbrown Hare has fallen asleep and is laying on his or her back with limbs stretched out, while Big Nutbrown Hare stands nearby.  Alida said, "Dahpoo" (diaper).  Obviously this was a diaper-changing illustration.
4) She can now say all of her name ("Eeda Hazo Mayos") except the Sarina part.  We can't figure out where she pulled that from...we don't use her full name with her almost ever.

Well, it's time for bed.  If you were here, you might hear Alida shout out to me or Kali from Janelle's lap on the rocking chair in our bedroom.  "Come", she'd say.  Then "Keese."  In we would traipse, whereupon Janelle would ask, "What should they do?"  "Keese" she'd repeat.  I'd give her a kiss.  "Mama", she'd command, and I'd kiss Janelle.  She might, if not too tired, command a repeat performance by grabbing each of our heads in one of her little hands and colliding them not very gently.  We'd oblige.  Awkwardly, given the rough handling.  Then a similar routine with Kali.  Finally satisfied, she'd say "Nighty night", carefully pronouncing the Ts.  Then "Goobye...see ya."

Friday, November 9, 2012

Hats and memories

Recently, I found Kali and Alida sitting on the futon playing with some special homemade hats that had been made especially for Kali and Nora.  The moment was very sweet and I quickly found myself snapping multiple pictures of them side by side.  For some reason the moment did not strike me until today when I was downloading the pictures and they came up on my screen.  A wash of emotions come over me as I saw two girls with matching hats side by side.  We have another set of such pictures in the exact same location with the same two hats, but with one girl 5 years younger and with a much chubbier little one beside her.  I'm glad for both sets of pictures and for all three girls...

Kali has fallen in love!

Kali decided some weeks ago that she wanted to use her money to buy a digital watch.  We do not find ourselves regularly in stores these days, so it wasn't until last night that we coordinated our schedules such that we had some time for watch shopping (sorry "no buy november" organizers).  It is an understatement to say that Kali was excited!  The visual image of her skipping down the aisle of the store with her little purse slung over her shoulder and her tangly long hair flying all over the place (with no concept of the dozens of other shoppers intensely focused on buying things) is a fun one for both Jason and me.

We stopped in at two second hand/discount stores but "the perfect watch" was not to be found at either.  Despite Jason and I's distaste for big stores, we ended up in Target.  Alida had never been there before and her first comment was "circle" when she noticed their bull's eye logo.  But then she noticed the large red balls that are fixed to the sidewalk all along the front of the store.  She saw one and then another and then her eyes traveled down the long row of them and from my arms she exclaimed, "Oh my..."

The two of us took a few very entertaining spins around the store while Jason and Kali looked over the watch selection (Alida couldn't take it all in, but funniest of all was her desire to not have any help moving down the aisles in the cart.  She was sitting in it and when I would push her she would say "self."  Very funny to try to watch her try to go somewhere with no help...). Anyway, it wasn't long before Kali had a watch in her hands and was learning how to operate it.  Jason continued to try to go over with her the merits of the various watches there, expounding on the positives and negatives of each.  When Alida and I circled back around for the third time or so, Jason noted that it was clear what had transpired...."Kali has fallen in love."  At that point there was no use trying to dissuade her from the chosen watch.  And so we found ourselves at the check out counter with Kali slowly pulling crumpled dollar bill after dollar bill out, while a line of people waited behind her to check out.  It was all she could do to wait until we got home to get it out of its case and onto her wrist.

The watch story is ongoing as I've been informed of the time on average every two to five minutes of Kali's waking hours since the purchase.  And we learned this morning that we can bike/run to the end of our road in 11 minutes and run/bike home in 6 (and Kali would make it more quickly if she didn't have to slow up at times for me).  And the alarm goes off every now and then, and Kali times how long Alida has been sitting on the potty, and it dings at each passing hour.  Right now it is beeping as Kali presses buttons and Alida is saying "beep beep."  So much for my desire to be less focused on the specific time but just be very present in the moment. 

But as all love stories goes, there have been some tears.  Just as I was uploading these pictures with Alida asleep beside me, I heard far off sniffles that slowly approached the door of the bedroom.  I was impressed at her control in not erupting into an all out wail but she was clearly distraght with tears in her eyes.  She had just discovered that it said p.m. when it was to say a.m., that it said Sunday rather than Friday and that the date was off by a few months (that was due to her own set up from the evening before).  She was sure that there was no way to fix this and we couldn't take the battery out because the instructions strictly said to never do that!  I assured her that we could fix it but until Alida woke up and I was able to devote my full attention to the crisis at hand, she sat in misery thinking her love was forever mistaken on the date, day and time...

I was able to fix it in a matter of minutes.  But then the second crisis hit - I fixed all three settings and she wanted to fix some of them after knowing that it was possible.  Thank goodness there are many settings on these kinds of things, because the final resolution was that I had not touched the alarm.  Phew!  It just rang to let us all know that Alida's turn on the recliner was over and it was Kali's turn.  Life will surely have a new twist to it until the infatuation diminishes somewhat!