Tuesday, December 9, 2008

california girl

Just couldn't resist sharing this one right away--Matea does appear to be a little California girl.

We took this at Ocean Beach in SF during our Bay Area Thanksgiving trip.


Monday, November 10, 2008

matea milestone: feeding the lil' devil

I felt a bit guilty that I had hardly thought about giving Matea her first solid food until about two weeks before her six-month birthday. But as it turns out, she has yet to savor anything other than breast milk. We tried giving her some banana about one week later, but she didn't care much for that, either.

Here is how she reacted to her first spoonfuls of rice cereal.

She celebrated her first Halloween dressed as a devil. Costume is courtesy of Imo Kim.

Meris passed something of a milestone this Halloween, too. He understood quite well that trick-or-treating meant running (literally) from house to house and getting candy. His Scarlet Macaw costume also is courtesy of Imo Kim, with shopping and mailing services provided by Halmi.

Here's a better shot of his costume.

He loved it enough to wear it to Spanish class during the week, and to a coffee shop later that weekend.
Glad he got so much wear out of it!


Friday, October 17, 2008

a tiny tug at my heart

This is one of those moments I try to record somewhere, just to be able to remember it for longer than an hour. It's a bit sentimental, but still sweet.

Meris is bouncing on my bed while I nurse Matea. He stops, sits up, looks at me and says, “You know what Risa said when we were outside?”
“She said, ‘No following.’”
“Were you running around after her?” (Ariel had mentioned that Meris was playing by himself, trying to join various groups of kids when he arrived at the park to pick him up from school. So I guessed that Risa was part of one of those groups.)
“How did you feel about that?”
“Sad.” Pause. “I’m still sad.”
Conversation goes on for a little while. Meris is lying (laying?) on his stomach, facing me. At some point, he props his chin in both hands and pats his frowning little cheeks.
We talk about which kids are his friends. “Simone is your friend, right?”
“Yeah, Simone is my friend. But she is only one friend.”
“Sometimes it’s fun to have one friend you play with a lot.”
“No, I want to have a lot of friends.” By now, he’s laying on his back.
He climbs off the bed, and basically gets moving again while we talk. I must say something about he wanted to play with Risa, because the discussion ends when he says, “Because she [Risa] is cool and great.”
So it begins.

Also today, we were reading a counting book with lots of flaps that you lift. Meris clearly is learning to recognize the numbers from 11 to 20, but hasn’t quite mastered them. One page has pictures of tiny objects on the flap, with the numeral printed underneath. Meris randomly opens them and reads the numbers. “Fourteen, sixteen, eighteen, nineteen, threeteen.” I interrupt and correct him. He moves his hand one flap to the left, lifts it, and looks at me as he says, “Twoteen?” I can’t help but laugh a little. So cute.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

a trip of firsts....

We've just returned from a two-week trip to Portland, Oregon to visit the Goldfarb-Simon clan. We'll start with a cute photo of the three cousins at the pumpkin patch--and all looking at the camera at the same time!

This was not only Matea's first trip to Portland, but also her first time on a plane! And that means it was Ariel's and my first time flying with two kids instead of just one. Luckily for the rest of us ("us" being everyone on the flight!), Matea slept through most of her first flight.

We see so many smiling, happy baby photos. Anyone else up for a change? Here's a more interesting expression from Matea, exploring a lawn for the first time.

Now we've got Meris, sleeping in a "big boy bed" for the first time. We thought he might object to returning to his crib when we got home, but he doesn't seem to mind. Anyway, here he is in all his sleeping glory.

And last but not least, here are a few photos of Mito with the kids, first thing in the morning.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

meris vs. T-rex

So here’s the story of why I sought out a book about gun safety for preschoolers in the first place.

One of the stops on our family road trip this summer was Wall Drug, a sprawling, campy rest stop in South Dakota, right near the entrance to Badlands National Park. It is enough of an attraction to be one of the 500 places listed in 500 Places to Take your Kids Before They Grow Up (my Father’s Day gift to Ariel this year). I suppose it’s a decent place to make a stop if you’re in the area. Actually, it’s pretty much the only place to stop if you’re in the area. I know this because we spent the night a handful of miles away in Kadoka, which was the tiniest, most rural little town-ish place I’ve been in a long, long time, especially in this country.

Anyway, one of the many attractions at Wall Drug is an animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex. I didn’t take a photo, so bear with the explanation: the T-rex (we’ll call him Rex) is a good 15 feet tall, but all that is visible is his (when I stop and think about it, I guess I assume most T-rexes are male) head. He is standing in a jungle environment, but is behind a solid gate with an electrified wire running along the top. Basically, he’s in a dinosaur holding pen out of Jurassic Park. While we stood waiting for Rex to roar (every 12 minutes), a little boy stood aiming his brand-new toy shotgun at the poor, trapped reptile.

“What is that?” asked Meris, when the boy caught his attention. His eyes widened a bit with curiosity and excitement every time the boy made a shooting sound effect.

“It’s a gun,” said the boy.

“Can I hold it?” Meris shyly squealed. His voice really did pitch up, as if he already knew how the boy would respond. The boy ignored Meris, and continued to repeatedly pop Rex.

About 10 seconds after steam started to rise from the jungle and Rex erupted into a roar, complete with head thrashing, eyes flashing red, Meris managed to spit out, “Let’s go out from here.” So we went on to some of the tamer and wetter adventures to be had at Wall Drug. End of story, until….

The next day, we stopped at McDonald’s for lunch. Meris sat down with his first (to my knowledge, anyway) Happy Meal. The toy was a Spy Gear secret message pen, which happened to be roughly the shape of a gun. Meris entertained himself at the table, telling me that he was “firing T-Rex” and making the appropriate sound effects. I wasn’t quite sure whether to try and discourage him, so I asked, “Won’t the dinosaur be hurt if you shoot it?”

“No, Mommy, it will be dead,” he replied.

“How do you know that? Who told you about guns?” I truly had no idea where he had gathered these particular facts about how the world works. I’d never heard him talk about guns, nor seen him pretend that his hand or stick was a weapon.

“Oh, Imo Kim told me,” he said. And he stuck by his story when I asked him the same question some time later.

My sister Kim’s response was perfect. “Oh, that kid can’t keep a secret!” she laughed. The truth is that we’ll never know where he picked up on the wonderful world of gun play—it’s just yet another example of how carefully Meris is observing and remembering everything that goes on around him.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

matea milestone: four months!

Hard to believe that little Ms. Matea has reached her four-month birthday! Her length, 26.25 inches, puts her in the 97th percentile; her weight, 15 lb. 7 oz., is 90th percentile. Her head circumference, something like 40 cm (I think), is a mere 70% percentile--quite a change after Meris, whose head circumference continues to be off the charts for his age.

We popped Matea into an Exersaucer for the first time ever... and she immediately seemed happy and interested. Meris, too.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

what's bookmarked: Beautiful Boy, by David Sheff

What I thought of it:
I admit that I’m usually drawn to memoirs (bordering on fiction, in some cases) that detail other people’s woes, especially if said woes stem from drug over-use or unconventional parenting practices. Some of the earliest titles I read in this genre include the classic Go Ask Alice, credited to Anonymous, and Steven Levenkron’s The Best Little Girl in the World. More recent reads in this arena include The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, and the infamous James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces. In contrast, I don’t think I’ve ever read a memoir about someone overcoming a horrific illness (other than addiction) or injury.

So, it’s no surprise that I picked up Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction, the story of how a father dealt with his son’s methamphetamine addiction. (Actually, I ordered the book to my Kindle—but more on my new hi-tech reading toy some other post.) Author David Sheff’s son also has a memoir out, so I even have the option of reading about the whole ordeal from the addict’s point of view—bonus!

Despite my interest in Sheff’s topic, I’m afraid I didn’t think much of the book. My main criticism is that the informational tidbits about addiction, recovery programs, and typical pattern of relapses were repeated too many times, in pretty much the same words. I understand that part of a parent’s frustration must be that the whole cycle of drug (ab)use, rehab, relapse can endlessly repeat—that addiction is a heartbreakingly tedious disease with no true end in sight. But it just didn’t make for a fulfilling read.

What it made me think:
It certainly made me think about all the parenting choices I’ll make over the years, and what possible effects they may or may not have on my children. This is really scary stuff. More alarming is the thought that the even more numerous decisions un-related to parenting may have an equally significant effect on the way children understand their world. Sheff really did seem to provide the best possible home, family, and education for his son, Nick, who apparently was an articulate, artistic, loving young boy for at least 13 years. Seems like Nick made it a long way before the trouble began! However, David himself thinks (and writes) a lot about how his divorce from Nick’s mother and subsequent new family affected his son. Nick does have to shuffle from home in Point Reyes Station during the school year to somewhere in the Los Angeles during the summers. (Disclaimer: I’m not writing this with the book by my side, so I may be giving incorrect ages and place names.)

Yes, divorce and its aftermath seem to be part of the problem for Nick. But I found myself wondering also about the effects the ├╝ber-positive home and community environment had on Nick. Was he over-compensated for the difficulties he faced with too much freedom? When it comes to providing a nurturing environment for children, is it possible that there can be too much of a good thing?

What Beautiful Boy really made me think about was how little control I, as a parent, have over my children and the choices they’ll make in life.

And that's enough thinking for one afternoon....


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

first day of school!

Yesterday was Meris's first day of school. Last year, he attended a play-based preschool in the neighborhood two mornings a week. This year, he's signed up for a Montessori program five mornings a week, and he'll stay for lunch twice a week, too.

I have some things to say about why we chose a Montessori program in another post. I'll also write about how we're living green and taking public transportation to school, baby and all!

This one is really just about posting a few photos of our big guy.

And... he's off! But first, a few hugs and posed pictures with mom and Matea.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

meris's book of the moment-- Guns: What You Should Know

One of the joys of having a small child is teaching them about pretty much everything under the sun. When Meris developed an interest in guns a few weeks ago, I had no idea how best to go about explaining why guns are dangerous. So, I asked the children's librarian for book suggestions.

The librarian had nothing to suggest at first (though I find it hard to believe that I'm the only parent who's ever asked about books to teach gun safety to preschoolers). But she kindly continued her search after I'd gone off to chase Meris, and soon brought me a copy of Guns: What You Should Know by Rachel Ellenberg Schulson.

The cover shows an illustration of two children shooting enormous squirt guns at each other, so of course Meris immediately wanted me to read it. I felt incredibly self-conscious reading it aloud in front of other people's children, and sure enough, the other families had drifted away by the time I got to about page 5.

That said, this was exactly the book I needed. It starts by acknowledging that most children play with toy guns or use their hands as pretend guns, and then asks, "Have you ever wondered about real guns?" From there, it talks about different kinds of guns, how bullets work, and why guns are more dangerous than we (children) might realize. It explains that grownups in the United States have different opinions about gun laws, but that they all agree that children should never play with guns. The final page gives rules about what to do if you find a gun.

Sounds like a lot to cover in one short picture book, but the text is just right for a three-year-old, and the simple illustrations also prompt plenty of discussion.

Whew! We've gotten a solid introduction to what I'm sure will be the first of many tough topics Meris raises. Why did the topic come up at all? That's a story for another post.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

here we are... on the road!

So I thought I'd get things going by posting a few photos of... what else?--my family (especially the kids).

Here's Meris, at the wheel of our brand new minivan.

He constantly corrects us when we refer to it as the car. "Actually, it's a minivan," he says.

Anyway, we went on our first family road trip last month--a three-week trip to Colorado. The shot of Meris was taken on the way home.

And here is one of Matea, proving to all that she has visited Mt. Rushmore.

And last but not least, here's a group shot of the four of us at Badlands Nat'l. Park.

Even in this relatively small photo, you can still see that Meris's eyes are all puffed up. Apparently, the skin around the eyes can be super sensitive to mosquito bites; he had a couple bites on his forehead that made his eyes swell shut!

That's it for now,

first post!

I can't quite believe I've started a blog, but I do need to do something with my brain now and then. (Other than plan out a week's worth of meals, or try and calculate whether it's a better deal to pay sales tax at retail or shipping costs online.) My hypothesis is that my life might seem more interesting (to me, even) if I write about it.... we shall see.

I came up with Think Read Knit because--surprise, surprise--those are three things I do almost every day (well, except for knit. And I'm counting things like nutrition labels and street signs when I say that I read every day).

What are some of the things I probably will write about here? Baby stuff, of course, since I have a three-year-old son and a three-month-old daughter. I dabble in baby signing, cloth diapers, and elimination communication/diaper-free practices. I'm a huge fan of every baby sling/carrier under the sun. And I'm always on the lookout for fun kid and baby clothes. So those are some topics you'll read about here.

Living green, being part of a community, eating with and cooking for my family, traveling the world (both with and without small children)--those are some of the other subjects that undoubtedly will arise.

I'll also tell you what I'm reading, what's on my to-read list, and probably the books I'm currently reading aloud to Meris (and sometimes to Matea, too).

And last but not least, I'll let you know what I've got on my needles.

My posts may be somewhat short and sporadic, given that my free time comes in short, irregular bursts. But Meris does start school on Monday, so I'll surely get into a blogging groove within the next few weeks.

More soon (with photos!),