secret sleep dance

reflection, originally uploaded by lewing.

after the sun goes to bed and the house is quiet, i find myself laying in bed with eva helping her get back to sleep. i watch her movements, her face, her little somnolent habits as she drifts off and i'm struck by this: this is an eva that no one else sees.

it's just for me, but even if i tell you, the secret is safe since you can't really know unless you're the one there night after night, watching her grow and change and yet stay the same over time. i don't mind saying, it's one of the perks of being the one who's been there for her nighttime needs her whole life. if i wasn't there all the time, quiet and waiting, i never would have noticed this subtle dance. you can't see it on a given night, only across the span of weeks and months and years.

so lying in bed when it feels the whole world is asleep, i watch her drift off. she rolls to the right if she's really going to sleep, to the left if she's not quite ready. if she's on her belly and turns her head to rest on one cheek then the other, she'll be asleep in less than three minutes. (she'll arch her eyebrows with her eyes closed, that's the sure sign.) she clutches her pal bunny, and rolls around until it is all tangled under her arms and around her belly, and kicks with her legs until her head is half hidden under the pillows above her. if she's on her back in a curious pose, limbs this way and that like a ground control marshaller signaling to a pilot, she's deep in sleep and won't be awake again for at least two hours. but that's not the case tonight. this time she rolls toward me feelling out for my hand. she sticks her lips out in a half-pucker half-monkey impersonation, then drops her jaw a bit and clucks her tongue against the roof of her mouth, a little trick she's been doing since her newborn days. (my heart knows this instinctively, as if i've always seen my child do this, for my whole life even before she arrived.)

i watch this little show and feel honored to be the one who knows all the lines and refrains by heart. there are little patterns like this, secret mama knowledge, in other parts of our day, too, but it makes a bigger impact i think in the reverie of night. some day, someone else will know a similar set of things about her, but for now i'm keeping it all for me. regardless, i'll hold this vision of of her sleep dance in my head for as long as i can.


ode to herrell's



one of the best parts of returning to northampton is visiting our old favorite eateries. we had pinocchio's pizza (you can't beat portabellas, fresh mozzerella, sliced tomato, fresh basil, and garlic on a slice) and india house -- i've still never tasted better indian food than this, and we used to live just two doors down from it. then, of course, herrell's -- the best ice cream i've ever had in my life. we let eva dive in and eat as much as she liked, and i'm glad her first real experience with ice cream was at herrell's.

with apologies to austinites, amy's is good but just doesn't hold a candle to herrell's. for a while i thought, perhaps i'm idealizing herrell's in my memory, and it's not all i'm rememering it to be. but now that i've returned (and had amy's and herrell's within a day of each other), i can say for certain, there's just no contest. (my ice cream obsessed sisters and the two others i know who have had both all agree.) amy's seems to arrive at a creamy mouth feel through the brute-force method of upping the butterfat content, which leaves me feeling decidedly ill after the smallest portion. herrell's has the most beautiful creamy texture, light and silky, the result of a good recipe that is also expertly frozen. and you can't beat the selection of the many rotating flavors, 40 or so of which are available on any given day (along with a really good "no moo" version). it's intersting to note, amy worked for steve's (the original chain opened by steve herrell which has since gone corporate) when she was in college and after, which explains the many similarities between amy's and herrell's that confused me when i first moved here. and i found out just recently that steve's was the very first in the country to do "mix-ins" or "smoosh-ins" (like amy's "crush-ins"), which of course became a much larger trend (the source of current supermarket flavors like cookies'n'cream or heath bar crunch, see the full history here).

we used to go to herrell's all the time in college, it was an institution. i remember being there goofing around reading tarot cards with housemates my first year, or schlepping downtown in the rain to decompress with friends after midterms, or trading childhood stories over ice cream at the end of a first date, or of course hanging out there with larry more times than i can count. i'm happy to add to that list a new memory of watching my daughter go nuts over her first (shared) bowl of ice cream, at our much-loved herrell's. as you can tell from the photos i took, she seemed to approve.



Ivy Day, originally uploaded by Kristy and Eva.

we just returned from my 10 year reunion at smith college. we had a really nice time, despite the near-constant rain and missing some friends we'd hoped to see. it always feels like going home, because despite having lived there only four years, those were some years with great impact on my life.

it is always strange going back, every little detail jumps out and suddenly i find i can remember everything, things i hadn't thought about in years. i remember the feeling of walking up the hill from downtown to campus, down to the uneven spot in the sidewalk near a certain lamppost. every little path on campus, the squeak of the door to the stairwell in burton (the math building), my favorite tree in front of my old house, the 2 a.m. clang of the radiators in the house rooms. i did forget the names of some of the houses and streets, but found that i knew my way around as it leaked out of my subconscious, including that sneaky shortcut back to the interstate on the way out of town. everywhere were familiar faces, it's strange how everyone looks basically the same after a decade. i also met some people that i didn't know while in college, thereby ever expanding my smith experience. :)

the whole trip was a flood of emotions, remembering my time at smith (which was fraught with emotions in so many different ways over the years), but also comparing my life now to the life i predicted for myself at the time (more of a sense than an actual plan in my case). i love my life, that's not what i'm saying. but it was odd to face the disconnect between my life and the life of my peers there, given that we share so many values and strengths. being a stay at home mom feels normal to me and my friends here, and works for my life, but is a very uncommon choice among my smith cohort (i'm sure there are plenty of stay-at-home-moms among my class, but no one i spoke to at reunion was staying at home -- not one other person -- despite the relatively large number of kids represented). all of this was confounded by listening to the inspiring speech by gloria steinem (click for full text) -- it made me cry and cheer, and above all, feel recognized for my choices, which wasn't always the case among feminism's second wave. there will be no equality until it can coexist with mothering, since that's not going away any time soon, so one of the keys is to fight for things like paid family leave and decent pay for childcare workers. anyway, my thoughts on all of that are still swirling around, but i've been thinking about these things a lot lately. (not in judgement of myself or others, more with a sense of looking curiously at my own life as a detached observer.)

all of that is a bit tangential to the core of reunion, but i think since ivy day and illumination night were rained out, I spent more time in my head remembering and pondering than I did at various activities. i'm disappointed since eva would have loved seeing the 10,000 or so paper lanterns all over campus (she even enjoyed the blue security lights, so just imagine!), and she would have been so cute in the parade, all of us in white from the '42 alumnae to the current seniors. oh well, there's no predicting spring weather in new england. we'll see if she wants to go next time when she's seven.


my first dentist

pockets, originally uploaded by Kristy and Eva.

eva had her first dentist appointment today, and it was a big success. dr. babot says she has lovely teeth, they're clean and no cavities or other bad spots to watch. perfect! the only snag (and larry's going to love this one) is that she has an overbite, which will persist with her adult teeth, so it's likely that braces are in her future -- just like mama. (darn, we were hoping she'd get larry's lovely teeth, not my troublesome ones.) oh, and she has a thick wazzitcalled, lip frenulum? she had a frenotomy (of her tongue frenulum), but apparently it's not necessarily related. the dentist said she'll likely grow into it and it won't be a problem, especially since the aforementioned braces will take care of any spaces in her front teeth. (and mom, you can't even take the blame, she said the odds of it being genetic and skipping a generation is unlikely.) but back to the main point -- she has healthy strong teeth! (by how relieved i am, i guess i was subconsiously worried...?)

and how is it that we know all this information about my 22 month old? because she sat (on my lap) in the big chair and didn't get upset -- at all -- even when the chair was layed all the way back. she opened her mouth right up for the hygenist, and allowed her to polish them up with the spinning polisher thing, and even agreed to the water and suction. wow! while we waited for dr. babot, we played with some novel toys and books (a big benefit of a pediatric practice, i'm now realizing). then eva crawled right back up onto my lap in the big chair and, violet in hand and seeming quite serious but perfectly calm, opened her mouth wide over and over while her teeth were examined. she even cooperated by tipping her head this way and that for a better view. dr. babot and the hygenist seemed very impressed that she was so cooperative at her age -- and mama was pretty surprised herself. however, we'd been talking it up for a week at home, discussing the chair and the light and the tools and practicing opening wide and looking at each other's teeth, so maybe that helped a little. ("eva going see densis!", she was announcing all morning.)

the only negative of all this cooperation was that it actually cost me more since she consented to more proceedures! because guess what? my brilliant logic backfired on me -- when we did the insurance forms, i elected not to enroll my newborn in dental (as she had no teeth), but with my post-partum brain i then promptly forgot i'd done this. so, we didn't enroll her last open period, so now we have to wait until open enrollment in january. not a big deal, but i find it very amusing. my optimization schemes that larry always teases me about sometimes backfire.

hurray for healthy strong teeth, and eva even got to pick out a new purple toothbrush to take home. you can't beat that. papa's at "the office" today and tomorrow for some in-town all day meetings. my mini experiment at being a stay-at-home-mom the way most people do it, without onsite backup. we'll really test this when i take eva along to my hair appointment in a few hours!

update: i don't know what's up with all the crazy cooperation today, but she sat on my lap through my entire hair appointment, both shampoo (when i couldn't entertain her) and the cut and blow-drying. jennifer even put a black drape on her, it was too cute. i barely even had to work at it, she just sat there in her cute pigtails and smiled and chatted away -- wow, having a toddler is so easy! (or so it would seem from that little adventure, right? suuure it is....)


baby burrito

flower power, originally uploaded by Kristy and Eva.

i was going to wait for a chance to include an illustrative photo with this story, but that has not materialized, so instead enjoy this photo of my little flower child.

eva is no longer a baby. she's not exacly all grown up, but one can't deny that she's not a baby. she'll run around the house for a good hour at a time, happily playing with things that are not really toys (two of my shirts are currently very popular), checking in from time to time, babbling away narrating her actions the rest of the time. she now nurses just a few times a day, rather than all day long like when she was a baby (and in the past month or so, despite my conflicting emotions, i've been limiting nursing even further in an effort to regain my fertility). and sometimes i get so busy with what i'm doing (ideally dinner, but at times sitting in front of the laptop) that i simply don't pay her the attention i should.

generally eva seems fine with these developments that go along with her relative maturity, but for those times when she needs a little extra mama-love (now that i don't inherently snuggle her every few hours while she nurses), she's come up with a very sweet way of letting me know this.

she says "mama, make eva baby burrito in that blankeee? mama sit baby burrito in the rocking chaaaair?"

it started with baths when she was an actual baby: i'd wrap her in the towel afterwards and call her a "baby burrito". then it became a fun pasttime, rolling her up in the down throws we have in the living room (and occasionally on eva's directive, rolling up the dog as well, but lemma's not as excited about it as eva is.) and now, it's become eva's favorite way to reconnect.

so, she asks, and i drop everything and spread out the blanket on the floor. she trots over and lays down in the middle, and i essentially swaddle her like a baby, with eva narrating all the way ("eva lay down that blankie. mama wrap up eva. mama hold eva like a baby in the rocking chair.") we sit in the rocking chair, and i become transfixed on her little face, the only thing visible sticking out of this massive blanket bundle. she just stares up at me so sweetly, and all is right with the world in that moment. sometimes she asks me to free her hand, and she'll reach up and touch my nose and whisper so very softly, "mama".

the whole experience gives me the sense that she has (as kids have) wisdom that is lost with the onset of adulthood, telling me to stop and pay attention. stop and notice me, mama, let's stare at each other's eyes. even if i'm being a frustrating toddler, sit her for a minute and snuggle me and smell my head and remember that you love me so much it makes you dizzy.

she asks for this most days, but it's uncanny -- it's always during moments when i'm getting too busy for my own good, or when we're sort of snipping at each other, or just not sufficiently connected. she knows. she knows exactly what she needs, and i absolutely love that she's able to tell me.

and before you know it, she's off again, being a busy toddler. i generally sit there for a moment longer, letting those love hormones swim around in my brain. i hope she asks for baby burrito for as long as she needs it -- or really, for as long as i need it. in the latter case, i'll probably be 80 and she'll have her own grown daughter on her lap, too. and even then, i still won't be done.

my sweet little one. you'll always be my baby.


auntie lora

winning bluebonnets, originally uploaded by Kristy and Eva.

lora's here (we're in the second half of a nice month-long visit), so i haven't been blogging much. here are a few snippits i've been wanting to mention:

eva spends at least an hour a day wandering around the house with two of my geometric-print synthetic shiny fabric shirts. she wears them like floor-length dresses, and announces "i wearing one-two mama shirts!" then dances in a circle. on, off, the shirts go, then she balls them up and tucks them under her head as she lies on the floor, then "look papa, eva have mama shirt", and she's off again prancing around in my silly going-out shirts. (one still has the tags on it, i don't go out much these days obviously.)

auntie lora made eva some sculpy beads and painted them blue, green, and brown. eva loves her new necklace and bracelet, added to her massive beloved collection. "auntie lora make neckie for eva!" which brings me to eva's new favorite phrase:

"for eva!" eva asks me what i'm doing (or what someone else is doing), and no matter what i say, she adds on (sometimes as a question, but generally as an excited declaration) "for eva!" as in: "what mama doing?" (we were in target) um, mama is looking for a pregnancy test. "for eva!" hmm, well, that's not really for eva, no... or, look eva the sun is peeking out from behind that rain cloud. "peeking at eva!" sure, i guess it is. or, what is mama doing, mama's baking a cake. "for eva!" no, this cake is for wendy and her baby, ella's new baby sister or brother. (then we descended into a day-long conversation of how "mama make happy cake for wendy. ahn for ella baby brother. ahn for ella baby sister." (if wendy has twins or a transgendered child, we've decided that's eva's doing.) or (upon hearing the neighbor's dog bark from our living room): "eva hear dog barking... at eva!" (that's a variation, "at" instead of "for".) how unusual, a toddler who thinks that the world pretty much revolves around her. :)

julie was noting and it's becoming the running joke/commentary in general -- eva has no internal dialogue (as would be expected for her age). as a result, everything she sees or thinks comes out her mouth. nonstop. at all times, even when she's asleep. it's hard to really describe, you sort of just have to experience it. "eva eating (with) green fork. eva look (for) hummingbird? mama doing? mama please get cheese stick for eva? eva eat all up. eva throw yogurt for lemma. eva drop dat. mama sit. mama food all gone. eva have flower plate. eva want sun plate! i wear bim ("bib", but she thinks it's the character from a dr. seuss book). eva do by self. eva make mama crazy." (that covers about 45 seconds of breakfast. multiply by about 2000 and you've got a typical day. i love it, most of the time. once in a while i'm all done, like when she gets obsessive, asking "i see yellow man again?" (continued for 30 minutes in the car after seeing a balloon man on the roadside) or stating "eva ahn river saw big helicopter. too loud! helicopter flew away..." etc (continuing for about 6 or 7 weeks after a certain helicopter made a big impression).

eva sings all the time (as i think i've mentioned before). the most recent funny example was when she made up an excited little song on the way for her first really swimming experience of hte season, driving out to hamilton pool: "eva swim in da wah! eva swim in da wah! eva going swimming... swim in da wah, i get all wet. eva swim in da wahhhh..." (ask lora, this went on for about 15 miles. too cute.) she sings "rocking chair" all the time (along with "sunshine", those are her favorites), but she likes to just sing a narration of her day or experiences.

i get frustrated at my inability to really describe how this goes in daily life. i guess no matter what i type, reading it won't really make anyone fully understand... and that makes me sad. part of the reason for this blog is to bring loved ones who are far away into our lives -- and sometimes i feel like i just can't make that happen. but, i'll always try, because it's what is important to me. that, and the eventual development of reliable and affordable teleportation.