Monday, August 7, 2017

(64 Months) - 5;4

Sixty four months here - that's 5 years 4 months as of July 19 - and yes, somebody is excited to be a BIG SISTER! That sonogram picture she's holding is of Baby Close Dos, due Feb. 6, 2018. We had a few iterations of Francie's monthly photo, tiger suit and all, so sorry for the over-post. Five years old continues to be a lot like Portland in the springtime - unexpected weather leaving you soaking wet and worn out, or in awe of the beauty that is the PNW. She's 98% sweet as pie, with a mean streak that seems correlated with sugar, bedtime, genetics, or general FOMO. In fact, she's a bit like a gremlin in so many ways. Posted below are photos from June 20-July19, as well as some of the things I wrote down from the month ...

Francie to Mama: "You're belly is gonna get so big. You're gonna turn into a fat lady. But it's not your fault. It's the baby's fault."

She refers to the baby as "The Lentil" … and later, "The Kidney Bean" ... and then just "Bob"

I was sad (about what I can't recall now), crying in bed. Francie she gets up to get me a tissue and asks why I'm sad? If it's because of her, and if there's anything she can do different or to help?

Tahoe for the 4th was the trip that wasn't. We made it as far as Eugene, where my meltdown maxed out, and made the family decision to turn around and head back to PDX to take care of Mama. Anytime we saw a neighbor, Francie told them: “We WERE driving to Tahoe but now we’re not because my mom doesn't feel good.”

After a rough day (Understatement of the Year) when Alex was so good and supportive and loving to me, he tucked Francie and me into our master bed together and kissed us goodnight. After he kissed me I said, “wait, I want a focused kiss,” and proceeded to give him a longer mindful kiss on the lips. Then he went to go downstairs, but not before F said, “I want a focused kiss too!” Alex laughed and said "I don't kiss you the same way I kiss mama." I laughed as I tried to explain what I meant by “focused kiss," just one where I was paying attention and being mindful.

“I've been on staycation my whole life.”

“Toncats” = contacts
“Fighterfighter” = firefighter
“Aminal” = animal

Behavior issues - maybe reflection of anxiety in the house? Hitting, slapping, bedtime tantrums … bedtime behavior chart to the rescue

During QT needed help fastening her new ruffled and triangle top bikini:
Alex: you going to a pool party?
F: no, I'm going to the bpark ach with my friend. And my husband. And me other boyfriend. And then we're going to a bar to get beer.
… dad, do t worry, I'm not getting drunk.

“I'm gonna give you some choices. Would it be better to get eaten, or fall in lava?”

Francie and Alex visited me at work at Waterhouse, where she was adorable and sweet and kind and outgoing and charmed the pants off all the residents. Lorraine was in rare form, yelling and screaming and generally being disruptive. One of my graduate students, sitting and playing play-dough with Francie and a couple female residents, tells me that Francie told her, “I think Lorraine needs to go to bed early tonight.”

“Once you get used to the baby it will be your favorite person also.”

"Does Bob Lynn Close sound good for a name for the baby?"

There's a dog at the park, maybe part long-haired Dachsund and part terrier. Very small. First, Francie says: "is that a golden retriever?"
Alex and me, in unison: "No, it is most definitely not."
Then a bit later: "it looks like two mice together. No, three mice attached to each other."

Besties at Cook Park

Mila and Francie, so much purple, pink, sugar and spice

The lentil!

Alex away at GWAC camping, Mama and Francie cuddle on the couch and watch a grown-up movie until almost 11 p.m.

Tigard balloon festival at Cook Park with the Hubbards

First carnival ride!

Haunted house with Francie and Lincoln

She's tall enough for this one!

Brave girl! She might be a sensation seeker ...

First and only evening I felt good in all of June

George Rogers Park

Stairway to Heaven??

Donut look so crabby, Bean.

Summer family QT.

I had this shirt - one just like mine and Alex's from when she was born - made three years ago, the summer of 2014 when we first started trying for Baby #2. "And my wolf pack, it grew by one."

And this onesie for Baby #2 (with an embarrassing spelling error) - "Four of us wolves, running around the desert together, looking for strippers and cocaine." This was going to be my way that I told Alex about being pregnant. Fast forward 3+ years and I finally squeezed Francie into her 2T shirt.

Loves making books, and then "reading" the stories

It was hot. I was pregnant. And craving red meat. Brewpub burgers to the rescue!

Our Big Girl finished her time at VHFLC, where she has been in daycare since she was 2.5 years old.

After the 4th of July that wasn't, we set up camp in the living room.

Family fro-yo date to beat the heat ( ice cream from across the street, for Mama).

SOMEbody need more parental guidance for emotional regulation. Then again, I think she chose the wrong family for modeling a slow boil anger.

Francie inherited my old point and shoot digital camera, and we set out for a neighborhood "Nature  Photo Scavenger Hunt."

Maplewood sure rocked the first annual 4th of July kid parade. I had no idea so many people stayed in town over the holiday!

Wilson open swim with my best girl.

Aunt Mary Ann visited from Vegas.

And brought this bikini that F essentially refuses to take off.

Alberta Street Fair meant SHAVED ICE!

So yeah, I'm naturally inclined for anything that wreaks of behaviorism. But the thing is about these kinds of charts, they work for the parents, too. When the "large" task of bedtime is broken down into smaller, bite-size pieces, both Alex and I are more patient parents, and we find our Bean to be much more agreeable to each individual task.

Summer reading.

Typewriter love.

Kissing the Lentil. Or just the pudge.

I finally got my *birthday* rings (after exchanging the old ones) from Lisa Leonard and I LOVE them!

The most delightful work visitors.

Summer berry picking - raspberries and blueberries.

Alberta Street Fair.

Big girls ride motorcycles.

Trying to embody the African mamas from the "Babies" movie.

We have been card kings and queens. Mostly Uno, which she wins 85% of the time, and now Skip-Bo. I kinda thought games would be a winter thing, but it seems to be a hit with this girl.

Wilson Pool "otter" swim class.

Reading with Patti at Baker & Spice.

Cheesin' with Shannon at Baker & Spice.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

(Just Pics) - First/Last Days of PreK

Well some things don't change - 
fancy dresses for special occasions, and her devotion to being a professional ambulance driver!

Our sweet Bean finished up her time at Vermont Hills at St. Luke's last month, where she has been in childcare since she was 2.5 years old. They have taken great care of her, and we've been really pleased with our whole daycare/preschool experience. She had Teacher Josh and Teacher Katie in the toddler room, Teacher Liz for preschool, and Teacher Joann for preK. I remember being SO anxious about sending her to daycare, which she didn't even have to start until she was 18 months (between my maternity leave, Alex off in the summers, a few months of me without work, then just part-time work, my dad, my inlaws, and my BFF Rach, we cobbled together enough care to keep her with a known loved one until Fall 2013). If I knew then what I know now, it's that Francie would LOVE being in a social, learning environment, and that she'd flourish in her variety of environments.

A couple weeks before her last day, VHFLC has an end-of-the-year potluck and graduation ceremony, where Teacher Joann gave each family a little PreK scrapbook and shared nice things about each of the "graduates." No surprise here, but I LOVE to hear alternative perspectives of my child, particularly with regard to a setting where I don't ever have the opportunity to observe her naturally. Joann commented on Francie's love for playing "family" with her friends, drawing and painting, making maps and books, singing, her sense of humor, and her love for listening to stories and making comments. She insisted on wearing the Elsa dress Mila gave her to the graduation "party," I think in part because they weren't really allowed to wear costumes or distracting clothing or accessories to school on a regular basis. She beamed, played with each of her friends, at the cupcakes we baked, and the other parents told us how much their kiddo would miss Francine.

From L to R: program director Adina, Addison with her mom, Asher, Adissa, Francie, Anders, Owen (who will also be attending Maplewood for kindergarten next year, and Teacher Joann.

Francie and Teacher Joann

The short video of Teacher Joann's words about Francie can be seen at this link, or embedded below:

(Stuff Jo Writes) - Literary Arts Weekend Writing Class

In June I not only took a writing class and wrote in the company of others, but I even shared - aloud - a brief something that I had written. That was a first for me, and the only concrete goal accomplished during my weekend "intensive" memoir writing class at Literary Arts in downtown PDX, where we boasted a stellar view of the Rose Parade (if I were the kinda person who maybe liked crowds and parades and urban festivities, but at least didn't hate them). Suffice it to say I was homicidal attempting to park the car, already running late and without a notebook to speak of, of course, on Saturday morning.

The first time the dozen or so of us were invited to share a sentence or two of what we'd written, I was the only one to "pass." I liken reading aloud to opening a present, or worse, reading a sentimental card, in front of a group of people who aren't even eating cake or drinking champagne but are staring, watching, waiting, for a one-woman show. But I did promise myself that I would share at some point during the weekend. Although I didn't actively volunteer to read my work aloud, I did share the following during our final "read around":

"Somewhere else inland in Costa Rica, maybe near Volcan Arenal, we took a river rafting tour where we met some comparably aged guides, whose names totally escape me now. I could look all these anecdotes up, actually, because Stacy kept a detailed log of all the things during our travels that Spring off-season. I’m sure I have it tucked away in one of my “Save Boxes,” stored away in a plastic Target bag or a manila envelope with “2005” scribbled on it in black Sharpie. My own memory fails me so regularly, I am grateful for my periods of obsessive archiving, or that Stac typed and printed an entire booklet of our memories from our travels abroad. Without those documented anecdotes or the hundreds of unorganized photos my memories, nearly 15 years later, bear little resemblance to the actual, factual experiences, and are more like memes than memories now. As with the river guides and the Rasta Curtain (pronounced "ker-tane"). What I do recall is being out late at night, filled with vodka and confidence and giggles, in a rougher part of a town whose name I wouldn’t even recognize if I saw it on a map, walking to the place these river guides – one of whom we nicknamed something about a snake or serpent – called home. We had been out at a club with them, drinking who knows what cocktails, with god knows how many calories, and then all went home together, with the ease and naivety unique to adventure-seeking 20-somethings on vacation in a foreign land."

It's out of context, of course, both on the page and aloud, and isn't related to anything in particular that I'm working on. Then again, I'm not "working on" anything. While I have no qualms writing things that people may or may not read, there is something safe in the silence of writing and the silence of reading. Reading aloud? Not so much. That kind of exposure feels just too naked (it reminds me of a scene from a movie I have since otherwise forgotten, a scene I once both loved and loathed - a woman made her lover circle the parts of her naked body with a permanent marker that he would change).

One of the things the teacher, Jay Ponteri (an instructor at Literary Arts, a teacher/department head at Marylhurst, and an award-winning author who confirmed to me that he did not earn any money from his book) repeated throughout the weekend was this notion about "receiving." Re-reading what you've written to "receive" your work. Sharing aloud to "receive." The irony is that "receiving" is a theme that's been coming up in my regular life, too - it started at Unitarian church last Fall, and continues into my therapy, too. During the UU service, after the offering basket goes around, the congregation says in unison this "Affirmation of Gratitude and Giving." For most of my early visits to the church, this affirmation made me choke up, something about being grateful for our own needs, allowing others to give to us. Receive.

Let us be grateful when we are able to give
for many do not have that privilege.
Let us be grateful for all those who share their gifts with us
for we are enriched by their giving.
And let us be grateful even for our needs
so that we may learn from the generosity of others.

But I digress. The point here is simply to document, and I suppose share, my participation in this weekend writing class. Fingers crossed it inspires something in me, but I fear it will fall short, as it took me some 4 days and multiple attempts to even pull together this mosaic of a blog entry.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

(63 Months) - 5;3

June brought us a 5 year + 3 month old, and some other big news, too. Posted below are the quotes, anecdotes and photos from May 20 to June 19, 2017:

Me to Francie, on the regular: "I love you too much."

Also me to Francie, on the regular: "You're my best."
To which she replies: "You're my best person, and Mila's my best friend."

Alex: I like asparagus
Francie: Me too
Alex: But it's not your favorite?
Francie: No.
Alex: What is your---
Francie: Mac and cheese.  And honey, is my favorite.

I was feeling particularly frustrated/crabby (and maybe a touch PMS-y about housework) and texted Alex to politely “remind” him that I really appreciate when he washes the giant cutting board he uses in the morning when making breakfast, and to read that article/comic I sent him about women/mothers and the “mental load.” After hitting “send” on my text to Alex, Francie literally says to me: "I used the last napkin." So I get the kitchen laundry basket and put it in front of the basement door to remind me to bring it downstairs to wash. Then she says, "speaking of washing, you should wash the dishes before Charlie and Iris come over." A combination of amused and annoyed, I question her, "why, do you think housework is MY job?" She says, coolly, "no, it's just the nice thing to do, when you have guests."

Officially learning/riding her pedal bike!!! She developed some serious resistance to the pedal bike, and wasn’t buying into positive encouragement, so I drew on bribery and lollipops, just for “trying.” By the end of the day she was riding up the hill from April Hill Park. I felt proud of her, and wanted to know, and reinforce, a sense of pride in her own bravery, her practice and work ethic, and her success/progress.
Me: “I’m so proud of you! I can’t believe how good you are on the pedal bike now! You worked SO hard! Do YOU feel proud?”
Francie: “Yes!”
Me: “What does it feel like?”
Francie: “Like being happy.”
Me: “What does it feel like in your body?”
Francie: “Like, happiness. Joy.”
Me, to Francie: “I wonder about a time when Daddy felt proud.” To alex: “When was the last time you were proud of yourself? For Unity Day?”
Alex: “Yeah, a week ago, I guess.”
Me: “I felt really proud of myself yesterday, actually. It felt like, uh, a sense of fullness, in my chest. Warm, but not hot. Like I was filled up.”
A couple more minutes of biking, then breaking, Francie says about pride: “It feels like a (bike) pedal, with something like cookie dough all over, but warm, in my chest. In my heart, actually.”

To Alex during dinner, me not so hungry: “The reason mama might not want to eat a lot of dinner is because she's thinking about having a baby.”

“When you sweat it's like your face is CRYING.”

“You know what I came over here to tell you? That I love you the most. And that I'll wipe your butt when you're old.”

Me: “What do you think about the name Quinn for a baby?”
F: “I like it, but I prefer Rose.”
Me: “What about for a boy?”
F: “Bob. Or maybe John.”

F: “I slept in today. Until almost 9!”
Me: "How'd you know it was almost 9?”
F: "The short, fat hand was almost looking at the 9."

New obsession with the headscarf/hijab ...
F: “Look I'm Asian.”
Alex: "What do you mean?"
Francie points to her headscarf. “I wear one of those things. I'm Asian.”

Women's Retreat 2017, Suncadia, WA

Family pool day

Much needed Vitamin D. And snacks.

Pool towel picnic.

Silly girls.

Maui hook necklace from Mimi and Papa from Hawaii.

Rawr. Killer tiger suit, thanks to Erika.

Wonder Woman visits Mr. Close at WLHS.

Teacher's pet.

Gawd, high schoolers seem like such kids.

Cinderella, is that you? So Logan is the charmiest of princes ...

I love how much her art has changed in one year's time! Family portrait 2016 versus 2017.

Alex's WL United students made a shirt for our Bean, too.

Pool playdate with Charlie and Iris.

Hammock "cocoon" in the lazy summers days with my best girl.

Playdate at the Children's Museum with Mila. Girl power!

Best Mama Day at Baker and Spice.

Miss Finley turns 1!

Fin rocking her crown like a queen.

Neighborhood walks/bike rides.

And the there were four?!?

My first trimester sentiments ...

Mr. Close's students are funny.

Not that she can actually read, but I love that she's even interested in chapter books with few pictures, and feigns reading like a grown-up!

Oh queso, how you appear so infrequently but with such commitment to certain times in my life. You, too, salami.

PreK graduation!

Francine and Teacher Joann.

Flamily couch cuddles.

Father's Day at the Rose Garden.

Lazy summer Sunday feels.

"Let's take a selfie."

My favorite little lady.

Happy Father's Day, to these two super-dads.

One of her headscarf inspirations.

The sweetest of emails from a former Southridge student of Alex's. My heart swells to think of how many other kids have felt this way about him, too.

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