we're in north dakota, having a lovely time with my family (larry just left for boston yesterday). in the photo, we're playing at the pumpkin patch, eva hanging away, which is one of her beloved pasttimes.
her absolute favorite thing to do these days, though, is read books. it's convenient being around family, so i can share all the reading. (i do enjoy reading to her, but the fifteenth daily reading of some questionable book handed down from the 1970s can be a bit teadious.) "read this book to me, mama," she says. we curl up and dive in. should i get distracted, she'll tap the page and say "talk 'bout it, mama. talk 'bout this page." she likes to read anything, from the simple little books of her "youth" (haha) to some pretty long stories. and she'll turn up with book after book, all day, eschewing all toys (is she's not being read to, chances are she's wrapped up in some sort of imaginative play on her own or with others).
the thing i think is the cutest is that she'll pick up any random scrap of paper (target receipt, scratch pad, TSA pamphlet from the airport) and say "i'm reading this book to you mama". she'll make up a story, generally relating what's going on now or the adventures we had earlier. or (my favorite), she'll start reciting lines or whole pages from her favorite books (or sometimes books she's only heard two or three times):
"but the bear snores on. bear grumbles and he wheezes and the whole crowd freezes!"
"farmer brown was furious! dear cows and hens, there will be no electric blankets. i demand milk and eggs. sincerely, farmer brown."
"caps for sale, fifty cents a cap! but nobody wanted a cap, not even a red cap."
i find this amazing. how does a being go from not being able to, say, roll over, and then two short years later can relate chunks of stories (or ask relevant questions about the abstract concepts conveyed in the stories). it just seems a lot to catch on to in that amount of time.
on a humorous note, i noticed eva was chewing on her finger for most of a day. later, she said her finger hurt and larry asked her why she was chewing on it. "i'm trying to make it like grandpa marty's finger," she explained. hmm, good plan. grandpa marty lost the tip of one of his fingers in an accident years ago. apparently he had been answering her questions about it that morning. silly monkey.
we're back home now, enjoying our week and a half at home before heading to nyc. i hadn't been looking forward to our flight home (just eva and i; larry had been in boston), a triple connection that had us up at 5 something. probably due to my determination to not be a dumbass about it and let myself get all upset at her antics (in combination with actually *asking* eva for her cooperation ahead of time, duh), the trip was peaceful. oh, i almost forgot to credit the french fries and chocolate milkshake we had in houston -- i don't often resort to food bribery, but there are times when it is totally justified. :)
after shopping (since eva was happy and content at home with grandma and auntie lora), we stopped for dinner. in an attempt to be wild-and-crazy pregnant mamas on the lam, we ordered a virgin strawberry margarita. hmm. not so crazy after all.
last week, however, man were we crazy. we all split up running errands in bismarck, and somehow the two preggos were sent to the liquor store to buy beer. our stab at cutting loose that time involved buying a two liter of squirt, a bar pour (bottle topper, like for liqour bottles), and came home and poured shots and slammed them on the table. interesting, because this isn't something i actually do non-pregnant with actual alcohol (nor does julie), but we found ourselves pretty amusing.
update: we went maternity shopping again the following day. okay, i think i'm covered on clothes now, sheesh. but, it was too fun not to, and plus, eva has a grand old time with grandma and lora, which is only somewhat due to the consumption of ice cream.
a few weeks ago (an annual september event), eva and i were part once again of the breastfeeding challenge. this is our third year -- she was so tiny the first time! -- and each year we were there with sarah (who was with fiona this time). austin smashed it's old winning record from 50-some moms and babies last year to over 100 this year. go austin!
i had a lot more to say about it last year, so if you're interested go check that out. :)
after the challenge, eva and larry enjoyed playing in a nearby fountain, after which we enjoyed a nice brunch downtown. that evening, we went to dinner with gram and grammie (larry's matrilinial line) for a four-generation dinner. after dinner, we enjoyed the choreographed, LED-lit superfountain at the new town lake park. (future note: we predict that park will be amazing in 20 years when the many trees they planted grow in to provide some shade.) eva had a great time, running with big kids and splashing away. it was a grand day of fountains!
on thursday, when it was clear she had only a few hours left, larry and john went to join their father at her side. she died shortly after, with her only child and two of her grandsons holding her and offering comfort. apparently it was an incredibly peaceful death, she just took one last breath then was gone. we all should be so lucky to die peacefully surrounded by those we love.
it's hard to know exactly how to talk to a 2 1/4 year old about death. on the one hand, i wanted to be open and offer a healthy perspective regarding death; yet i didn't want to overwhelm or frighten her unnecessarily. i explained to eva that gran was very very sick, so sick that her body couldn't work anymore, and that gran died. that means she's gone away and we can't talk to her anymore, but we can remember her. despite her usual barrage of questions, eva accepted this matter-of-factly. we sort of followed her lead regarding the viewing, and for a few moments she seemed curious upon seeing gran's body, but was essentially unfazed. she also was able to sit still throughout the funeral and did so with a minimum of outbursts (mostly of the slightly comic toddler variety, not the whiny screaming variety).
gran was an amazing woman, graduating high school at age 13 and going on to receive a master's degree, an unusual feat for the era. she also faced a great amount of hardship and loss, losing her mother when she was very young, losing a newborn daughter and a school-aged son, and losing her husband prematurely. she was a devoted teacher for decades, and loved her family above all else. while it is comforting to know that she is now at peace, she touched so many lives and will be dearly missed.