Letter to Zoe, 20 Months

Dear Zoe,

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Today is one of those rare days when both you and your brother are taking a nap… at the same time to boot! I guess even this nasty cold making the rounds in our family has its perks because I’ve been wanting a chance to sit down and write a letter to you for quite a while.

You are loving the sesonal changes in our new home so far... so very different from California!

You are loving the seasonal changes in our new home so far… so very different from California!

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A lot has happened since I last wrote. Your father was offered a job in Virginia, and six weeks after we first heard of the possibility we were here. It’s almost been three months now and our heads are finally no longer spinning. I received a call from the Regional Center that you no longer qualified for services as you had caught up developmentally just before we left California! Now your days are spent at home with me and your brother who began homeschooling this year. We have so much fun together.

During a relatively warm rain you and Eli played outside having the time of your lives... I love that you have so much more opportunity to experience Nature in all of her forms here.

During a relatively warm rain you and Eli played outside having the time of your lives… I love that you have so much more opportunity to experience nature in all of her forms here.

You had NEVER before been so dirty!

You had NEVER before been so dirty!

It has been interesting to me that most everything I do with him you are able to jump right in on as well. In fact, on many days, you are more interested in any planned activities I have than your brother who loves free play with every fiber of his soul. You LOVE to paint, glue, write and draw (which of course look just the same though you are pretty specific as to which activity you are engaging in)… as long as it doesn’t get on your hands! We’ve also been shocked to find that you quite naturally already hold a pen or pencil with the correct three point grasp down toward the bottom, just like you’re supposed to.

You are definitely going through a "pointillism" stage... you love to paint dots, saying "dot, dot, dot" as you apply each one.

You are definitely going through a “pointillism” stage… you love to paint dots, saying “dot, dot, dot” as you apply each one.

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You saw this patch of dirt as we walked, shrieked “draw!” and threw yourself down to do just that.

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Language continues to grow exponentially each day it seems. Two word phrases are common and we hear three word sentences a few times each day. You are using the pronouns “I”,  “me” and “you” correctly and often. You are obsessed with pointing and telling me the names of things to the extent that it is really hard to get you to settle down to nap. For some reason sleep has a hard time competing with “door!”, “light!”, “window!”, “pillow!”, etc. You surprise me with the words you already know and I don’t know where you have picked them up… “Eagle!” while holding up a puppet in the store the other day, and “Hawk!” while pointing at the large bird soaring in a large circle above us.

You are now engaging in pretend play. Here you are having a tea party with your giant sock monkey.

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You are able to enter into Eli’s elaborate play scenarios to enough of an extent that he seeks you out to play with him constantly. He refers to you as “my partner, Zoe” and tells you that you are his best friend multiple times a day. He decided you would both be police officers for Halloween… you didn’t mind a bit.

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Saying “cheeeeese!”

You reciprocate his affection very well. You feel you have to do anything he is doing…

Doing everything just like Eli extends to wearing his underwear superhero-style.

Doing everything just like Eli extends to wearing his underwear superhero-style.

The best way to get you to eat is to just let you graze off of his plate… thankfully he isn’t territorial at all. You are still holding steady at a diminutive 20 lbs.

When we are out of the house you rarely will hold my hand but will insist on holding his, whether he want to or not. The view we get walking behind you is about the cutest thing ever! Well, that and turning around in the car to see the two of you quietly riding along holding hands in the backseat.

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You love anything and everything with fur (or feathers) and breath. You fully expect to have a little love-fest with each and every dog you pass on the street, but are beginning to learn to wait until given permission and assurance that the dog is child-friendly. And this mama is thankful that squirrels aren’t so very easy to catch.

Petting a 3 month old Great Pyrenees... You love it when dogs lick you and squeal "Kiss! Kiss!" every time.

Petting a 3 month old Great Pyrenees… You love it when dogs lick you and squeal “Kiss! Kiss!” every time.

Our new neighborhood is full of deer and you check out the window for them often saying “Deer? Deer?” followed occasionally by “DEER!”, or more often (deep sigh) “No deer….”. You enjoy watching birds at the bird feeders and take the job of refilling them quite seriously.

IMG_2918While we still have no pets (not sure we’re ready yet for a dog and I’ve developed a most unfortunate allergy to cats… I really hope that by the time you read these letters that our pet-less-ness will be a thing of the distant past), we plan to get chickens this coming Spring. I’ve long wanted to have them for the sake of the fresh eggs, and since moving to our new home in the forest their deer tick-eating habits make them even more desirable, but a recent visit to the home of one of Daddy’s co-workers who has a small flock sealed the deal.

IMG_2199IMG_2202IMG_2275You chased those poor chickens until one just gave up in exhaustion and let you sit next to her and pet and pet and pet her. Who knew chickens were such a rich source of toddler entertainment as well? It is becoming increasingly evident that you need some form of critter to love on and call your own.

The quest for independence is a hallmark of this stage of toddler-hood and you are not immune. You have to climb everything, blow your own bubbles and now prefer the “big kid’s swings” at the play ground.

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The last couple of weeks have been especially sweet for our family as we were visited by 2 grandparents and 3 aunts. You are completely smitten by your Grandpa Jim (and he with you, I might add).

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Enjoying the music of a street musician with Grandma Susan. Just after this photo was taken the two of you participated in an adorable session of toe tapping to the beat. You had it down!

It helped that on the day he and Grandma Susan had to leave Aunt Jacki arrived.

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Now the countdown is on to when we will see them all again over Christmas.

IMG_2530And so, dear sweet Zoe, you have little glimpse of yourself at a most adorable stage in your life. You are a constant source of joy and amusement. Your father and I feel so blessed that we get to share our lives with you.

Since moving I’ve managed to step up my game a little bit by posting what you and Eli are up to a few times a week on Facebook for our friends and relatives who are now so very far away. Even though you are not getting the monthly letters like your brother did, I hope you will have access to those archives when you are old enough to be interested in them, for there you are now well documented :-).

I love you so very, very much!

Mama

Little Fox Sweater

Things are starting to get a bit chilly here so I thought I’d make up a new little sweater for Zoe. I know it is super trendy right now but I can’t help loving the fox and owl motifs I see out there these days. So stinkin’ cute!

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I decided to repurpose this old cashmere sweater that I had felted in the wash for a diaper project that never came to be. It is super soft! (My husband says that if Zoe won’t wear it I can change it into a pillow case for him.)IMG_1723

After perusing Etsy for a little inspiration I made this little fox applique from other wool sweater scraps.

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For the pattern I used this DIY Peasant Dress freebie from Once Upon a Sewing Machine. Zoe has 3 other tunics in her closet made from this pattern… simple, fast and easy (and it goes up to 4T!)

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The sweater cam together quickly and I added a little embroidery around the neck, passing the embroidery thread just through the top layer of stitches in the knit fabric. You can’t see the stitches on the inside.

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I like that while it is 18M to 2T size it will fit her for a really long time first as a sweater dress and later as a shirt.

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If she wears it at all that is… She begs me to take it off almost as soon as it is on, making a photo shoot, already made challenging by a squirmy toddler on an overcast rainy day almost impossible. She reacts like this to new clothing quite often though, so I’ll not give up hope she will wear her fox sweater too soon.

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Up, Up and… Right Back Down Again

 

 

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This past weekend we went to the Constitution Day celebration at the James Madison mansion.  Having an opportunity to take in so much of the United States’ early history is one of the things that I really look forward to living here in Virginia. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is also just down the road from our new home.

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We took a tour of the house… here’s Dolly Madison’s cellar kitchen (no pies in sight.)

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Enjoyed the grounds…

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And best of all, Eli and I got to take a short ride in a tethered hot air balloon.

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He was so excited as he has long wanted to fly (as in with his own wings) and this is the closest he’s come yet to what that would feel like. I was impressed by the amount of patience he showed waiting our turn in the long line.

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Unfortunately he was too short to see over the side of the basket, but there were toe-hold windows for climbing into the basket that he could use to look out. I didn’t feel it would be safe to pick him up during our ride. Amazingly he didn’t complain at all.

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Mid-flight selfie.

The fire that heats the air inside the balloon is surprisingly loud.

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It really freaked Zoe out and she stayed below and a good distance away with my husband.

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Completely enamored with the balloon by the end of the evening though she cried when they brought it down to pack it up.

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The evening brought fireworks… a first for both of the kids. Eli has always been so sensitive to sound we have avoided fireworks displays but he begged to see this one. We so enjoyed watching his amazement and delight… the boy is growing up! Zoe did pretty well too with a lot of cuddling and reassurance.

Perseverance

“Are you a sweetie heart, Zoe?”
“No!”
“Are you a sweetie heart, Zoe?”
“No!”
“Are you a sweetie heart, Zoe?”
“No!”
“Are you a sweetie heart, Zoe?”
“No!”
“Are you a sweetie heart, Zoe?”
“Yeah…”
“Mom! Dad! Is you know what?!  Zoe’s a sweetie heart! She just said so!”

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Cabin on Palomar Mountain

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View from the deck. On a clear day the ocean is visible in the distance.

The other weekend we enjoyed a relaxing couple of days in a rented cabin on Palomar Mountain just outside of San Diego. We really didn’t do anything but hang out there until it was time to leave. Eli is the ultimate homebody and rather averse to transitions in general so even the suggestion of taking a walk to explore the neighborhood met with great disapproval. For us the path of least resistance was to take no path at all. (We did work in a short two block walk to the end of the road just before leaving.) It really was nice to have time to do nothing but sit, relax, make food, and watch the kids.

Mama and Eli

The desire to stay put was quite understandable when seen from his point of view.

After all there were birds to feed,

Scrub Jay eating peanuts.

a 1932 Ford driven by a goose parked out front,

1932 Ford

hollowed out trees to play in,

playing in the hollowed out tree

sisters to play with,

playing on the deck

books to read (about construction sites, of course),

Eli and Mama reading

much dirt in which to play out all sorts of construction site fantasies,

ELi and his construction equipment

and best of all his very own cat!

Eli and the cat

The cat was a stray whose owners had moved away and he had decided to find his way back to his old neighborhood. Not sure how long a journey that was for him but the owners of our rental were quite impressed and I guess it took the cat quite a while to complete the journey. For whatever reason I guess the original family is not interested in reclaiming him. Many were the discussions over the weekend about our adopting him. We are cat people through and through, Eli is asking often for a pet (or “rather 5 cats, and 5 dogs, and 5 cows…!”), and this particular cat was so friendly and gentle around small children. But in the end this is just not a good time for us to add a fur baby and the accompanying messes and expenses to the family. We were happy to hear at the end of our stay that the cabin owners had decided to officially adopting him.

Eli and the cat

“Rikana”, as Eli named the cat, was about as snuggly a cat as one could ever find. The appearance of a lap was an open invitation,

Rikana aka Rocky

and I don’t know how many times I fished him out of Zoe’s excersaucer. No photos of that as Zoe was always in it at the time and sweet cuddler status and all I still dove quickly to separate them with images of a cat-slashed baby face flashing before my eyes. Thankfully, Rikana wasn’t phased a bit by having handfuls of fur removed by a drooling, squealing baby and was still in full purr mode as I removed him from Zoe’s elated grasp. I can be such a killjoy. We did let him stay cuddled up with Eli on the couch at night until it was time for us to go to bed as well.

Eli sleeping with the cat

The one time the birds weren't mobbing the feeder.

The one time the birds weren’t mobbing the feeder.

For her part Zoe also very much enjoyed the weekend, but she seems to enjoy herself pretty much everywhere as long as she can get down and crawl about. She did take issue with the cabin’s soft carpeting for some reason, so most of her time out of arms or excersaucer consisted of us trying to keep her on the blanket on the deck.

Mam and Zoe

Zoe on the deck

A Baby…

Zoe and alphabet blocks

“A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller,

clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.”

~Pablo Picasso

sleeping baby Zoe

Letter to Zoe, 3 1/2 Months

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Dear Zoe,

This is my first letter to you, I hope the first of many. I write them as a way to preserve memories of your early days which you won’t be able to remember for yourself. As such, they are as much for me as they are for you, as these are the things one can’t imagine ever forgetting but then later on can’t seem to quite remember. They are also for the benefit of loved ones who live far away, who haven’t met you yet, and who may only see you sporadically as you grow. But most of all they are so that you will know how very much you are loved and cherished…and have been since the very beginning.

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Developmentally your most recent accomplishments are grabbing onto small toys and holding onto them, bringing your two hands together to clasp, and laughing (your father nodding his head is particularly hysterical). You’ve been standing up on our laps supporting your own weight while we balance you for many weeks now – you have freakishly strong legs. Your track people walking from one side of the room to the other, especially if that person is your Daddy.

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At a three months of age your personality is becoming more and more apparent as the days progress. You really are a happy baby, ready to reward anyone who talks to you with smiles. You are beginning to laugh more now as well. It’s not the laugh I would have predicted you’d have. It sound a bit like a squawking crow with laryngitis. 🙂 And while there are plenty of fussy moments as you deal with both teething (already!) and reflux, you really seem to be pretty laid back for the most part. I take you to Bible study and you sit on my lap quietly the whole time. It amuses the other ladies there because you fold your hands at your chest and look intently at whoever is speaking nodding your head from time to time, seeming wise way beyond your years.

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We have the ability to capture you at this stage, both visually and audially, but I really wish we were able to somehow record what you feel like to hold. You are so soft, round, squishy and altogether cuddly. You have a way of melting into my arms and then looking at me and smiling, and its just about all I can do to keep from melting myself right then and there. You are growing so quickly that I know soon it will be a whole lot more work to hold you for so long. Already my arms are often quite sore by evening (and almost as often still are the next morning too, as you really like to be held a LOT.)  So I wish I could record this sensation now to enjoy over and over again as the years progress, but since I can’t, I remind myself often to enjoy it now while I can and to try not to worry so much about all that I am not getting done because my hands are full with a baby.

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Your brother is really crazy about you. To be honest, I was worried he’d be jealous and resentful of you after you were born. But although it has been a hard adjustment going from being an only child to having to wait his turn to have his needs met so often these days, he has only good things to say about you. He calls you his cutie baby or his sweetie baby. He says you are so pretty and that you are HIS baby. He takes care of you every way he knows how and is SO gentle.

You two already look like you're in cahoots.

You two already look like you’re in cahoots.

This past weekend when you were crying in the car your father and I heard him say to you there in the back seat, “Awww, bessie, bessie, it’s going to be okay. It’s gonna be okay, bessie, bessie.” He gets very concerned when you cry and informs me that you are crying right away (even when I’m already holding you and trying to comfort you.) Eli really looks forward to the time when you will be old enough to play with him, but please, don’t go start growing up all in a rush or anything. The rest of us need to enjoy your sweet baby-ness a while longer!

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With all the love you could ever possibly imagine and more,

Mama

Zoe’s First Photodump

December 2012 thru April 2013 628December 2012 thru April 2013 623December 2012 thru April 2013 625June 2013 005 June 2013 016

It’s ironic how when there are the most things to share in my life is precisely the time when there is the least opportunity to share them. I’m still trying to get the hang of this being a parent to two children thing. Somedays I’m a bit more successful than others. Let me just say that I have the utmost respect for parents of multiples right now! 

In addition to not having much time to blog, my computer died and while I’ve been given an older laptop to use I don’t really know how to use it, and it is s…l…o…w… As in what I type is generally four seconds delayed before it shows up on the screen, and don’t even ask about the delay when one tries to scroll!  So I really don’t know how long it will be before I’m going to be present here much.

I did want to share some of these photos of Zoe. Because the laptop is not responding much to what I am trying to do I guess I’ll just leave them here all out of order. It’s either that or not publish at all. So it’s as literal of a photodump as any you’ll find. She’ll be turning 3 months in just a few days…. Hopefully at some point I’ll be able to start writing letters to my kids again here. In the meantime let me just say that Zoe is a joy! She’s a pretty laid back baby, and knows how to do some good sleeping at night, for which her mother is greatly appreciative. She doesn’t much like to be set down, but is now beginning to accept time in the swing occasionally. I love that she has hit the smiley stage and holding a conversation with her cooing back at me is a delight! Yesterday she grasped her little Sophie the giraffe teether, the first time she’s ever held onto anything. Just in time too because, as unfair as it seems, at 2.5 months this baby began the much dreaded teething process! I guess she felt to need to show up he brother who started just after turning 3 months.

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“I need a kiss…. Here…right here.”

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