A Virus

A Day in the Life

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When Edie was just a few months old, she came through pertussis, which left her lungs a little weak. When she’s healthy we can’t tell the difference, but as soon as she gets the slightest bit sick, her lungs gum up and the faintest “whoop” resolves her worst coughs. She is likely to grow out of it eventually, but for now it continues to add a special pathetic note to any illness.

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So when the early morning was punctuated by a spastic choke, I knew it was going to be a sick day.  Usually the coughing doesn’t slow her down much, so I wasn’t sure she’d need much extra attention until she wandered into the living room with those glassy fever eyes. “My ankles hurt right here. I might vomit.” I felt a bit of panic, but when we got safely to the potty it became clear that “vomit” was just her polite euphemism for productive coughing.

I tucked her back into bed with an appeal to a few familiar examples of sick children who stay in bed all day: Allen Say as a child in his autobiographical “Tree of Cranes,” and the Stevenson Counterpane poem. We brought out the little TV with a built-in VCR, which she can operate on her own to watch a selection of kids’ tapes left over from my childhood. The MagiClip princesses joined her for Pete’s Dragon and Peter Pan. She munched some immune support gummy bears, homeopathic children’s cold tablets, and a little herbal cough syrup, along with plenty of lemony tea.

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She loved my egg flower soup last time, but this time she didn’t get much down. It took all morning to eat half a mandarin orange. Although she’s in reasonably good spirits, I can tell the virus is probably going to win a few rounds. For now,  I’ll give her a little back up, keep her comfortable and protect her rest, and settle in for a quarantine watch.

That’s what you get for scheduling a date night.

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To Wrap My Baby Bunting In

A Day in the Life, Farm Book

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Long ago we stuck some rabbit pelts in the freezer, and after a week of thawing and rounding up supplies, today was the day to process them. Rory came to help out. We had a reliable looking recipe from Mother Earth news, which gave us the option of using a salty solution of either alum or sulphuric acid… Weirdly, the acid was easier to find and purchase, so we are trying that out first.

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Basically the tanning process involves brining the hides in this solution for a week and a half, then cleaning and “breaking” them: stretching the leather until it’s pliable and soft. It’s not as difficult as I imagined. Actually so far it seems pretty easy, though I’ll have to remember to stir the brine each day.

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Our rabbits are Silver Foxes, a breed developed in the US to mimic the furs of the wild silver fox, which was endangered by overhunting early last century. Apparently many rabbit pelts so closely resemble the fox that DNA tests are required to verify authentic fox furs. No wonder the demand was high; the furs from both animals are quite beautiful. This shot of processing of course doesn’t show off the coloring, but I’ll post a photo of the finished product when we’re done. I’m pretty excited to see how they come out!

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Other cool stuff we did today: Kevin harvested the turkey tail mushrooms…

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Edie did lots of ballet, here demonstrating her second position…

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Baked some French breads…

And built Glinda’s tower for the Oz figures to play in. It’s been a pretty good day.

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Arts and crafts

A Day in the Life, Art Book

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As we’ve settled back into a rhythm here in the White House, I have been able to get intentional about how we spend our time. While we never get through everything perfectly on time, Edie has come to expect her playtime with Mama, adventure time, and “preschool” to happen in a certain order, and she even color-coded her own chart so she can predict snacks, jobs, and bedtime.

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Like I said, we don’t always stick very close and most schedule items are pretty interpretive. But it helps us make sure we get through the stuff that’s important to us at least a few times each week.

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One of the best effects of getting more predictable and planning ahead is that we are finally making time for creative activities. Especially since I’ve been thinking about what our family needs from our home, a lot of those little personal touches are on my mind, and Edie is happy to pitch in putting some color in new places.  A few days ago we tried out some wax relief painting on canvases I had been holding on to for a long time. Today, we painted with cake tempera and glitter paints on a simple stool I picked up at an estate sale while in college.  It’s been waiting for it’s glitzy makeover for a long time:

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Unfortunately I never seem to have a clean hand to snap photos until Edie is off on her next adventure, but these shots should give you an idea of what she’s been up to.

Meanwhile Rory has been adapting well to having a bit of rhythm as well.  Since I have him in the Ergo (thanks again, Uncle Patrick and Auntie Kim) for a few predicable portions of the day, and lay down with him at least part of the time Edie naps, he’s beginning to settle into a three nap day, as well as sleeping beautifully next to me all night. You know, most  nights. More importantly, he gave a really solid, hilarious giggle yesterday, which Edie and I both found intoxicating and addictive in the best way. Since then we have been speculating on what exactly could be funny to babies, because we simply must get him to replicate that laugh. Oh man.

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8 Ways NOT to put a Preschool kid to Sleep

A Day in the Life, How

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Edie was what they call an easy baby, sleeping well, gaining weight quickly, and usually cheery and alert. Rory has been just as pleasant, already sleeping long stretches at night and growing like a moose.

But babyhood doesn’t go on forever- right now I’m afraid we’re in transition to lose Edie’s nap forever. Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve worried about it and nothing is sure yet. It’s a bit disheartening, as I have always had this fantasy of all the children sleeping at once. Right now, my dreams are actually coming true, but that last round with the girl was hard won, like most of her sleep this week. While Rory crashes out all through the day and night, Edie has come into the age where being put in bed is about equivalent to being tossed in a dungeon.

It’s feeling less predictable which might work at any given time, but I have a few tricks I’ve been rotating through. The biggest trick is maintaining intentionality: setting the stage for sleep with a gradual transition, soothing routine, and having all the obvious physical needs- water, potty, snack- handled before the final lights out notice. Beyond that, we’ve tried out evening baths, gentle remedies, essential oils, massage, and guided imagery, each of which have felt positive and would probably work better if used consistently.

Here are some things that don’t work:

1. Get totally distracted by grown-up conversation and fail to move toward bed for an hour into target sleep.

2. Put kid in bed without water, potty, or Helen (or doll/stuffy of choice).

3. Get smacked by exhausted child, and reactively throw kid into dark bedroom.

4. Aggressively hurry child through bedtime routine, threatening cavities to children who miss their chance to brush teeth.

5. Travel to see exciting family members, arriving at bedtime.

6. Read bedtime story in triple time in order to quickly return to other child, now screaming.

7. Read bedtime stories you enjoy too much, especially with vivid voice acting and sound effects.

8. Successfully put child to bed, then remember vital accessories for evening chores stored in closet adjacent to child’s bedroom.

But you know, if Internet advice really worked….

Book Nook

A Day in the Life, How

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I had been meaning to deal with the book situation for a long time, and with a Christmas money and a new years resolution about the play room, we packed up Grandma’s car and headed to IKEA.

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Before: a repurposed mail sorter fit behind the playroom closet door, but failed to showcase the books or attract Edie to the titles I visually “suggested.” Meanwhile, adjacent low shelving constantly exploded books into a walkway, and the awkward, tight vertical arrangement ensured she could never put them away properly on her own. It was a disaster, and most of last year I just left it like that. But no more: it’s time for fresh starts and good intentions to blossom!

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These picture display rails make perfect bookshelves for this funny little space. I also moved the rest of the book storage to a top shelf, freeing up play space and allowing me to rotate through the book collection. This can help to emphasize a theme, limit repetition of the most annoying stories, and protect great older stories from competing directly with flashy holographic scratch-and-sniff pop-up books for attention all the time. Also, the bottom shelf will be easy access for the littlest book worm when he starts scooting around this summer.

While we were there, we picked up some other stuff to perk up the play kitchen, streamline bath time, and provide a work space for playroom projects. Our other great find was a simple, sturdy red plastic table with screw on legs for storage, which came with two benches for only fifteen dollars! We bought two sets, so we’ll have plenty for play dates or for outdoors in the spring. They have already become the best Tea Party Doctor Office I’ve ever visited; Edie’s cupcakes will trigger diabetic shock, but she also has the syringe to revive you.

Yay for simple solutions! And a big Thank You to Grandpa Bill and Nana, the great-grandparents who sponsored a post-Christmas shopping spree to get our play room all set for the New Year!

Edie’s First Ballet

A Day in the Life

Earlier this month, Edie got to see Iris’s performance of the Nutcracker, and last night Edie got to do her own performance. During our month in Bremerton waiting for Baby Rory, Edie was enrolled at the ballet class at Mimee’s Ymca, and this show was the season finale for the class.
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It was also our last opportunity to get our ginger bread houses decorated with Iris… So unfortunately we had a bunch of candy instead of a nap. That set us up for a more chaotic evening than necessary. If it wasn’t for Poppy helping to wrangle the three kids, we would have been sunk- thanks, Poppy.  However, it was all worth it, as the ginger bread and the ballet came out super cute. I didn’t get a photo of the houses, but fear not, I will.

The show involved three short acts in different locations around the Y. The video on the huckleberry school Facebook page captures the first act. As you can imagine, the nap /snack combo forced Edie to slowly devolve by the final act. It was kind of like me in preschool soccer, but please enjoy the proof that Edie learned some great dance, had fun, and jeteed her little heart out.

Meanwhile, Rory visited with a bevvy of ladies whose babies were now three to five year old ballerinas, inspiring a baby fever epidemic.
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Princess of the Ducks

A Day in the Life

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One day we decided to go to the zoo for our field trip, but Winter Hours foiled our plan. Usually we can only go to the zoo if some someone else comes to drive us. We tried to ride the bus there once, and it is technically possible, but it takes nearly three hours round trip so…. Anyway, our very sweet friend Rachel left us her car while she was on a trip so we tried to go to the zoo. And it was closed.
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Fortunately Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is sited within Point Defiance Park, which turns out to be the largest city park in the US, second only to New York’s Central Park. We love Point Defiance, and we don’t often get to play there, since if we’re able to make the trip we bee line to the zoo.
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Thirty degrees in January, but shoes were optional. We spent a long time at the duck pond which seems to have been completely taken over by some ornamental Asian variety. There were maybe a thousand of these lovely but invasive water fowl on the pond and the lawn all around, and it was better than bowling. We held hands and ran down hill into the midst of them, and they flew away in waves. The idea was to drive them all into the pond, and we more or less succeeded. The pictures of course don’t do it justice, but the pond was really something to see, just swarming with these unusual ducks.
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Eventually we moved along. Edie figured out the deer gate so we toured the barren rose gardens. She wanted to move into the gazebos permanently, but yet insisted that she was not any kind of fairy or sprite. I was a little confused. We found mounds of vibrant hellebore and the first  daffodil stems of the season, almost ready to open.
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Then of course we had to walk the Japanese garden around the restored Pagoda, which is easily the best of the gardens to visit in the winter. Here, the boots really became intolerable, because the Pagoda ponds are soooo beautiful. She had to stick her foot in it. We negotiated extensively, but it was apparent she was not ready to take me at my word. I told her it was her choice but I recommended shoes on. Edie is pretty tough about cold, and I am not, so she performed her experiment and proved she could tolerate cold wet feet in January… for about six minutes. We warmed back up with boots on in another gazebo with dancing to Who Loves Edie.

The ensuing nap was impressive.

Two Things About Cousins

A Day in the Life

This is Edie. Edie has three first cousins and one second cousin. All the first cousins live in other countries. We could fly there. The second cousin lives in another county. We can drive there.

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When the mail man came one day, he brought a message. The envelope says it is from very far away. Edie uses her fingers to open it up.

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This message is from first cousins! Aydan drew a beautiful picture! There is a message from Drake on the back too! Edie is so excited to read the messages. Thank you, Aydan and Drake! In a few months we will see Edie’s first cousins and hug them and play with them.

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Here is something about that second cousin. Iris had a birthday party! To get ready, we went to the store and got special birthday crowns for Iris and Edie. Even though it was not Edie’s birthday.

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Iris is a big girl, kind of like a grown up, especially because she had a birthday. She let Edie blow out candles, and Edie even got some icecream. Happy birthday Iris! Now Edie can’t wait for her birthday!

November Beach Day

A Day in the Life

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I’m wearing sunshine clothes for sunshiny day. Sunglasses and clothes from Manila. I wish I could do that. Aydan does and Uncle Patrick and Auntie Kim and baby Drake. Heather got the clothes for me. A blanket on me. A sunshiny day. I want the blue sunglasses now because I’ve been sucking on my yellow ones. Do you like my blue ones?

Today I’m am excited about art. After art we’re gonna read a book. Jingle jingle jingle. I want to tell them that I love them: Baby Oliver loves me!

You should put ” stop hissing in my ear!” Who say that? I don’t know. It’s from Robin Hood. The snake, like in jungle book. Stop hissing in my ear.

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