tuning help?
Originally uploaded by Kristy and Eva.
we're in north dakota, and it's so nice to be here with my whole family in the same place. it seems to take more work to make that happen these days, so i appreciate it even more. we had a smooth trip here, but i've never had so many offers for help as i did that day flying with eva.

some highlights... grandpa made eva a snowman, mama got to go shopping and actually *try on* more than one pair of jeans (i bought two pair), we drove through a pumpkin patch at night with 1,000 lit jack-o-lanterns, and during the vikings game eva learned to do "touchdown!" with her arms upstretched. we've just been having a nice time hanging around playing -- eva's the center of attention, and everyone seems content to sit around on the floor and play with her all day long. i can't argue with that.

this week, eva has learned to say "pumpkin", "snowman", and "apple" (we've been eating tons of apples off the tree) -- all words of the season, it seems. well, that and "pillow" which has little to do with anything. but more than talking, she's been doing funny things in association with talking in her sleep.

i'm accustomed to her smiling in her sleep (which has progressed to laughing recently), but the talking is more or less new this week. once she reached over and poked me (eyes closed, asleep) and said "mama". (she does this identifying game all day long, and i've noticed particularly when someone new comes along, as if to say "this is my mama, you can't get me."). she rolled over this morning and an extra bit of pillow sham was hanging onto her head, and in her sleep, she signed and said "hat". a few minutes later she rolled over and woke up, and signed "where is?" and said hat. i guess she was looking for the hat from her dream. a few minutes after that, when she was more awake, she lifted the blanket to look under it, looked around, then again signed "where is?" and said hat. so funny. and the other morning, she woke up and signed "where" and made her first attempt at saying "julie" (at least that's my guess). she also woke up one morning and looked at sue's organ and signed "music", though she's not seen a piano played in at least 5 months. who knew she could remember things from when she was that young?

this photo is of eva "helping" grandpa with his guitar. she sees him and starts signing "music", and he lets her strum the strings. here, i guess she's helping him adjust the tuning?


sense of self

breastfeeding challenge 2006 2006

breastfeeding challenge 2005 2005

Two weeks ago, Eva and I were again part of the breastfeeding challenge. It's an event to raise awareness of and to support breastfeeding; the idea is to get as many moms as possible assembled in a location and then feeding their little one(s) all at the same time. There are many sites around the US and Canada, and while Austin won again within the US, the Canadian sites have about quadruple the turnout. What can you expect with the outdated, puritanical, sexualized perceptions of breastfeeding we have in this country, coupled with a complete lack of social support? (My head is buzzing with fifteen more comments on that front, but I'll move along.)

So, we sat in the grass in a downtown park with fifty or so mothers and their babies and toddlers, and as they counted down from ten and we all latched on the kiddos, I couldn't help but look around and feel a bit emotional. It may seem a bit silly, but there was something powerful in that moment. There were so many moms joining together to do the thing they do every day, part of the routine of motherhood, and there were hundreds of moms in other cities gathered together doing the same thing at that moment. And yet, this very natural act of feeding our babies -- in public no less, and not even bothering to hide the fact -- would be considered inappropriate or even scandalous according to so many people.

I was reminded of how when I was in labor, I thought of all the thousands of women who were in labor at that same moment, and that knowledge gave me strength. There's something about the universality, and the timelessness, of motherhood that makes it so powerful. You're wiping your baby's nose, but thousands of other mothers are doing the same seemingly trivial task right then, all keeping their babies as healthy and happy as possible, just as their mothers did before them. You're reminding your kid that we don't hit our friends, perhaps frustrated with the seemingly fruitless repitition of this concept, but countless other moms are going through the same process, ensuring that these kids can all live in this world together, ideally without bombing each others' countries. This important work goes on everywhere, always.

So not to make too much of it, but there we sat, fifty or so moms just feeding our kids, sitting together in the grass.

On a different note, I also enjoyed the contrast from last year. Eva is huge by comparison, and I'm such a different person now than I was then, probably the biggest one-year difference I've seen in myself since my own infancy. Not the least of those changes was that I am really part of the community now -- I knew dozens of people there, compared to a handful last year. I love that sense of place, of belonging.

Eva had an interesting development today (or I should say, I discovered it today). As we looked in the mirror, I asked "where's Eva?", which I'd never thought to ask before (I generally just said "do you see the baby? that's Eva."). She pointed to her reflection, so I asked "where's Mama?", and she pointed to me (not my reflection). Again, "where's Eva?", and she thought, then pointed to herself, poking her self in the chest. Hmm, seems like something just clicked! So later, while eating lunch, Larry asked "where's Eva, Mama, Papa, Lemma?" and she pointed to each of us in turn, including herself. It's so fun to watch her figure these things out...



this week brad and lexi's dog lenny died. lenny had possibly the sweetest disposition of any dog i've ever known, and i'm so sad that he's gone. he was not much over a year old, but because he had such great owners who loved him so much, he packed more dog-fun into that short time than many dogs would experience in a long lifetime.

bye, lenny. good boy.

step away

Originally uploaded by Kristy and Eva.
today at the pumpkin patch, eva stood up and began to walk toward me. i stepped out of her path, and found that this time her destination was not me. she headed across the little field, and only after she had travelled fifty feet or so did i figure out where she was going. she was headed back to the stack of baby pumpkins (gourds, i suppose) that we had been enthusiastically examining together a half hour before. she had a destination in mind, and off she went, without either communicating her intention or requring my help.

monday night eva decided to walk. two days later, she seemed to cross that threshold of walking more than she crawled. two days after that, today, she walks nearly always, unless there is something tangible interfering with her doing so.

i don't know how long it generally takes a toddler to go from casual to serious walking-as-transportation, but this seems fast to me. not in terms of "isn't she amazing" (but bipedalism is pretty amazing no matter how you slice it), but in the sense of "wait, where are you going all of the sudden?"

and suddenly, there she goes.

every day since the day of her birth, or even since the day of conception depending on your perspective, eva has needed me less than she did the day before. slowly, she learned how to control her limb movements, how to comfort herself until i arrive, how to interact with (and endear herself to) those around her, and how to communicate her needs.

she's been able to crawl for months, yet where has she gone? crawling, i think, doesn't instill the same sense of independence and self-efficacy that walking does. maybe it's due to those indentations left in one's hands by pointy rocks, but in all her crawling she didn't seem ready to just forge off on her own. she always turned back. but now in a few short days of walking, i can see her stepping away. i don't mean to be overly dramatic (she'll still need me for years, decades, to come), nor am i particularly melancholy about her newfound independence, but the fact remains: she's on her own more today than she was on monday. she can choose her own destination. she can explore new spaces, crossing new terrain on the way. and she will face more dangers and risks in doing this.

i never know if i'll be ready for these new challenges when they arrive (and i'm not really sure, even now), but i'm so excited for her. i somewhat anxiously watched her walk across a crowded field today, avoiding oncoming preschoolers and an oblivious guy with a wheelbarrel. she reached her goal of those baby pumpkins, both without incident and without help. so you go ahead and step away, eva, and i'll be right here behind you ready to pick you up after a hard fall, until that day that you no longer need my help. and even then, i'll still be here, just in case.



rocking chair
Originally uploaded by Kristy and Eva.
it's official, folks. she's a walking girl. last night she walked all around the house on her own while larry and i did our own thing. she would arrive at her destination (like the dog, the coffee table, a toy) and just beam, so excited that she was figuring it out. then off she'd go, to walk somewhere else. it seems to have clicked.

larry said this yesterday, in one of those tender moments: "i just love her spirit, you know?" elaborating, he meant that she's generally in a cheerful mood, she's always inquisitive and loves to figure out new stuff, and that she's okay with (or excited by) things being a little bit crazy and unpredictable. i couldn't agree more. his saying that made me love them both a little bit more than before.

this is the rocking chair dad made for eva. she loves it so much (it's her very own size), and quickly learned how to get in and out of it herself. they shipped the chair to us, and she had a huge grin -- and looked a bit puzzled -- when we pulled it out of the giant box. (the giant box is now serving as a play fort in the living room.) the coat and bonnet she's wearing were made by my grandma edna. too cute. all of this makes me to want to make some special things for eva that can be handed down to her kids and grandkids.... way better than just buying her lots of "stuff".