An interview with Laird

I’ve seen a couple blogs where parents interview their children every year at their birthday and thought this was a fantastic idea.  I wish I had done this when Laird turned 2 and I could compare the change in a year.  That was my pre-pinterest era.  Anyway, the other night I asked Laird, “Would you like to read a book before bed or have an interview?”  “Have an interview,” was his response.  I’m 100% sure he had no idea what that was.  So I got my computer, we hopped on his bed and snuggled up while I fired away questions at him.  I wish I had videotaped it actually.  His facial expressions were priceless.
  1. How old are you? 3
  2. When is your birthday? September.  September what?  I don’t know
  3. Who is your best friend? Elsie
  4. What is your favorite thing to do?  Go potty.  Really?  Sitting down or standing up?  Standing up.
  5. What do you not like to do?  Markers – sometimes they get on my hands
  6. What is your favorite color?  Pink
  7. What is your favorite food?  Oatmeal
  8. What food do you not like?  Bugs.  Bugs?  You don’t like to eat bugs?  No.
  9. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?  Chocolate
  10. What is your favorite animal?  Elephant
  11. What is your favorite toy?  I don’t know
  12. What is your favorite treat?  Chocolate
  13. What do you like to do with your family?  Hug them
  14. What do you want to be when you grow up?  I think I want to be a monkey.  A monkey?  Why?  Because I like them.
  15. What makes you happy?  When you smile (and here the tears started flowing)
  16. What makes you sad?  I don’t know
  17. Where do you feel safe?  In our house
  18. What makes you scared?  A gorilla
  19. What is your favorite book?  The princess book
  20. What is your favorite show to watch?  Um, tigers. Curly does too (curly is his fav stuffed animal).
  21. What do you love to learn about?  Preschool
  22. What is the best part of your birthday?  Eating my cupcakes
  23. Where do you like to go?  To the zoo
  24. What do you think about before you fall asleep?  Something scared, like a gorilla
  25. What do you pretend to be?  A jellyfish
  26. What is your favorite song?  Jesus died for all the children
  27. Who do you like playing with?  Elsie, Alyssa, Henry, Curly (turtle)
  28. Where is your favorite place to eat?  I think the zoo.  What do you like to eat there?  Oranges.
  29. What do mommy and daddy do after you go to bed?  Close the door
  30. Who is your daddy?  Curt.  What does he do?  I don’t know
  31. What does daddy say?  Gooo tooo bed.
  32. Who is your mommy?  You’re the mommy.  What does she do?  Um, make rainbows
  33. What does mommy say?  Um, please don’t touch the computer (smiling)
  34. Who is your sister?  Baby Leina
  35. What do you like about her?  Giving hugs
  36. Who is your favorite person?  Um, mommy.

Anything else you want to say?  Um, jellyfish.

Spoiled rotten: A visit from Grandmoo and Grandpoo

Grandmoo & Grandpoo with L&L

I’m not sure how Laird came up with those names, but those were his nicknames for my parents when they recently came to visit us.  If you’re lucky enough to know L, at some point you will be called a name that is not your own.  Sometimes it’s cute, sometimes it’s simply annoying.

The title is a little misleading, for although they desperately wanted to spoil L&L (mainly with sweets), being the mean mommy that I am (and a dentist), I had to set some restrictions.  Left to their own (and grandpa and grandmoo’s) devices, those two would be stuffed full of m&m’s and sugar.  Trust me, Laird still got his fair share of frozen yogurt buffets and Leini even got a few licks of ice cream at a ridiculously young 7-months, so don’t write me off as being completely cruel.  Who knows what else they got when I wasn’t around. 🙂

Hot chocolate for a chilly morning at the Zoo.  Not to brag, but I also gave both of them haircuts.  So much you can learn from youtube.

Anyway, back to the point.  My parents visited us for a couple weeks and still managed to come in time to enjoy some of the country’s most beautiful weather.  Anyone who has visited Oregon during the summer knows that there is no better place in the world to be.  Warm, dry days and crisp cool nights.

Look at me!  Biking in Eagle Crest, OR.

So for two weeks we strolled the farmer’s market, visited a few jungle gyms, watched L ride his bike in Eagle Crest, celebrated two birthdays, went to the zoo and even managed to sneak in a Timbers game.  Whew.  I think the rule of “nap when your kids are napping” still applies though, and we had ample time to lay in the hammock and watch football.  Sadly, all good things must come to an end and they headed back to Hawaii.  But hopefully they’ll return soon and, more than likely, Laird will have made up new names for them.

Here’s just a glimpse of our quick time together.

Funny faces. Not sure what L is doing here. Being funny, I guess.

Cuddle time. Someone was running a fever and feeling lethargic. Thank goodness for Grandmoo.

Teaching L to climb at Smith Rock. He’s a natural.

Our view of Smith Rock that day.  I confess, the slab of rock we were climbing in the prior pic is actually that rock just above the trail where the river runs off the right side of this pic.  Camera tricks.  🙂

I know this looks a little frightening. It was just a split second and she is still alive. 🙂 I thought it was a pretty cool picture and kind of a lucky shot, as I had my camera settings all off.

See, she’s fine 🙂

Meeting a horse, of course.

Typical Laird = Ridiculously silly

At the Oregon Zoo for his 3rd birthday. I seeeeeee you….

I have to give props to the Oregon Zoo, Laird is about a foot and a half away from this cheetah. I’m not sure of many zoos where this is possible.  If only I had remembered his zebra backpack.

Stopping to sniff the roses at the Rose Garden

Laird and Grandpa going to get some snacks at the Timbers game

My family (minus Curt). Thanks for visiting us!  Come again soon!!

7 months of Leini

Happy Girl

It’s hard to believe that our little Leini has been with us 7 months already!  How time has flown!!  Hmmm, words to describe her: smiley, silly, hungry, intelligent and snuggly.  She currently wakes up at around 8:00 am cooing.  Ah, I love cooing.  I could listen to a baby coo all day.  The rest of the day is a mix of smiling, eating, giggling, eating, fussing, eating, napping and eating.  Did I mention eating?

Just a little messy

The anticipation….

Although she is still toothless, the biggest change since her last update is she has begun to eat solids.  She is a great eater with a willingness to try anything.  Currently she eats everything that we eat, which includes oatmeal, lots of fruit, pasta, beans and fresh veggies.  Eggplant, zucchini, onion, tomato and guacamole are all on her menu.  Her favorite snack to munch on, hands down, are perfectly ripe peaches, which she fights her brother for.

Why bother with utensils?

Our little gal is much happier now that she can sit up (since 6 months) and reach for things around her.  It’s getting much more difficult to keep her grabby little fingers away from our plates when she’s on our laps.  She loves more than anything to catch the lip of a cup or dish and watch things go flying.  Wheeee!

I have recently begun a campaign to potty train Leini early (dare I say a year).  Some may know this as “elimination communication.”  After about two weeks, I can honestly say that L is learning to potty on the toilet.  It is a little bit of a guessing game, as she can’t vocalize when she needs to go and I have no idea what cues she gives us (if any), but every time we set her on the potty, she goes.  My hope is that once she’s mobile, she’ll be able to at least head in the direction of the potty or somehow signal to us that she needs to go.  For now, I’m just enjoying not cleaning a bunch of poopy diapers and feeling gratified that my 7-month old is peeing and pooping in a toilet.

Nobody left me a magazine to read. Boo.

As far as communication goes, the growling that she used to do has now turned into *talking.”  A favorite phrase of hers is “muhmuhmuhmuh,” which I often hear coming from the backseat.  Hopefully this will transition into “mama.” 🙂  “Dahdahdah,” has also recently been added to her dictionary.  Sadly it probably won’t seem very long before she says, “Can I have the keys to the car?”

What else can I say about Leini?  Her smile is a like a ray of light that shines through the clouds on dark days.  Even Laird misses her when she is not around.

An impromptu *picnic* on the driveway. Actually, just watching Daddy clean the moss off the roof.

She will probably be our last baby, so we are relishing every, single little phase of her incredibly rapidly changing life.  Some days I wish I could pull the reigns on time and just be with her in this moment, unchanging, forever.

Leini Bug

Connect 4, anyone?

Backpacking in Jeff Park

At the trailhead

To close out the summer backpacking season, we met our friends at Jefferson Park over Labor Day weekend.  The Jefferson Park Wilderness Area sits at the base of the craggy Mt Jefferson and its numerous alpine lakes made for a relaxing and picturesque weekend backpacking escape.

Our friends, expecting the masses to converge on this beckoning wilderness, opted to leave early friday morning to hike in with their two kids and secure us an ideal camping spot.  Having a Timbers game to go to on friday night (which they amazingly won), we told them we would plan to leave early saturday morning (I think we actually said 8:00 am) and radio them once we were headed up the trail.

Of course, we didn’t get home from the game with L&L until 10:00 pm and finally collapsed on the bed close to 11:00 pm.  We slept in and tried to overcome laziness as we both regretted having agreed with our friends to meet them.  “We could just not go,” I said.  Curt replying, “We can’t not go.  They’re expecting us.”  I also added that in a couple of months, the weather would be crappy and we would’ve wished we had gone anyway.  So, at 11 am, we drove an hour to Salem, where we dropped our dogs off at a pet-sitter and stopped by the grocery store for last minute essentials (i.e. chocolate, mac&cheese, etc).

We eventually pulled into the dusty trailhead parking lot at 3:30 pm and, already weary and exhausted, hit the trail at 3:45 pm.  It was a beautiful, cool day, without a cloud in the sky.  Amazingly, Laird hiked the ascending first 2.5 miles entirely on his own before Curt realized that at our pace, we probably wouldn’t make it to the lakes until after dark.  So, having Leini already strapped to his chest, he packed Laird onto his shoulders (in addition to his 30+ lb pack) and we tore up the trail for the next 1.5 miles.  For the last mile and a half, I carried Leini while Curt attempted to calm our overtired and tantrum-ing son, as we passed gorgeous views of the mountain and its glaciers.

After connecting with Ian on the radio, who then met us at the trail leading to our campsite, we arrived at our weekend getaway at nearly 7 pm.  For the next day and a half we delighted in gazing at the looming peak, throwing rocks, foraging for huckleberries, taking a cool dip in Scout’s Lake and staring at the bright yellow glow of the full moon.  It was a perfect finale to our reintroduction into backpacking and, just as we expected, it was definitely worth it.

**I apologize for the poor photos.  I brought my point-and-shoot and haven’t bothered to edit them yet.

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It IS a caterpillar!

I had a proud mama moment the other day.  It was a sunny Saturday, so after stuffing our bellies full of Costco samples I took L&L to Metzger Park here in Tigard, Oregon to have our sandwiches.

As I was pushing little Leini on her very first ride on a swing, I stood watching Laird playing on a rather unusual piece of playground equipment.

“Look, mommy, I’m on the caterpillar!”

I responded with something like, “Cool, Laird!  I’m not sure that’s a caterpillar though, it looks like a dog, maybe?”

“No, it’s a caterpillar.”

“Ok, fine.  It’s a caterpillar,” I replied and continued pushing Leini.  I’ve grown to realize that Laird is one hard-headed, stubborn kid and refuse to argue with him on things that don’t matter.

A couple seconds later, an older kid shows up.  One of those kids that knows he’s the oldest kid on the playground and is probably used to all the other younger kids listening to him.

Laird tells him, “I’m on the caterpillar.”

The kid replies, “It’s not a caterpillar.”

“It is a caterpillar,” says Laird, just a little bit louder.

“No, it’s not a caterpillar, kid.

“Yes, it is a caterpillar,” even louder.

“No, it’s NOT a caterpillar,” says the kid louder.

“Yes, it IS.”

“It’s NOT a caterpillar!”

“Yes, IT IS!!”

“IT’S NOT!”

“YES!  IT!  IS!”

I could see that this 5-year old was beginning to realize Laird was not going to back down and was caught a little off guard.

“It can’t be a caterpillar.  This thing has legs.  A caterpillar doesn’t have legs,” says the kid.

I continue to push little Leini while trying to conceal my giggling as I am watching this dramatic encounter unfold.  I could see Laird trying to process the kid’s most recent statement asking himself, “Do caterpillars have legs?”  But, my boy did not give in.

“It IS a caterpillar!” shouts Laird.

“It’s NOT a caterpillar!  I don’t know what it is, but it’s NOT a caterpillar,” replies the know-it-all.  “I’m not talking to you anymore, kid,” and the boy left.

Thinking the boy was gone for good, Laird looked at me.  I smiled back at him and said, “I think it is a caterpillar.”

But he soon returned with a friend.  “See, this isn’t a caterpillar,” told the kid to his buddy.

His buddy objectively replied, “It could be a caterpillar.”

“It can’t be a caterpillar, it has legs.  Caterpillar’s don’t have legs.”

“Yes, they do,” says the other boy.  “They’re just really tiny, so you can’t see them.  But caterpillar’s have legs.”

Silence.

Laird, who had been sitting on the “caterpillar” while listening to this dialogue, states, “It is a caterpillar.”

The boy says, “I don’t know what it is, but it’s not a caterpillar.”

“Yes, it is.”

Realizing this was going nowhere and it would be unlikely he was going to change L’s mind, the boy says, “See ya, kid,” and runs off to the jungle gym.

I couldn’t help but smile and be proud that Laird didn’t back down from an older, bigger kid, who apparently needs to learn that caterpillar’s have legs.  That night, I told Curt about this encounter at the park.  This led to a deep discussion about parenting, how we want to empower our kids and that, up to this point, we really hadn’t been doing that.

It is far easier for us, as parents, to boss L around and tell him what to do, to make him obey and strip him of any type of respect or opinion.  “Laird, go potty.”  “Laird, you need to sit down when you eat.”  “Laird, stop yelling at your sister.”  “Laird, it IS a caterpillar.”  “Laird, blah, blah, blah.”  I’m sure he’s so sick of hearing his name in combination with an order.

Just recently, in my search to find a suitable preschool for L, I happened on a blog (Teacher Tom) that has completely shifted my thoughts on parenting and made me realize how I was failing to respect my child.  Truly thinking he would let this kid override his beliefs, I was amazed to witness L question authority and stand up for what he believed.  Yet, I was saddened to look back at all those times I’d gotten mad at him for standing up to me.  After all, I’m the parent, the authority, he should listen to me, regardless of whether he thinks I’m right or wrong.  I realized that I want L to do the “right” thing (go potty, not hit, sit while eating), not because I or anyone else tells him to, but because he knows the outcome if he doesn’t (wet undies, hurting someone, disrupting dinner).  I could go on and on about this.  I’ll suffice it to say that Curt and I are changing our parenting to allow L to discover things on his own.

Anyway, the funniest thing about this caterpillar story occurred the next day.

“Laird, tell Daddy about the boy at the park.  Remember, you told him that it was a caterpillar, and he said it wasn’t?”

L looks at me, confused.  “Caterpillar?  It wasn’t a caterpillar, it was a centipede.”

 

What do you think this thing is?

How hard can it be to pick a preschool?

Investigating kelp on the beach

That was my Facebook status a month ago.

Sometime in April, Curt and I decided that we wanted to send Laird to preschool (PS) in the fall.  The only problem was most of the preschools in our area adhered to the strict guidelines set by Portland Public Schools requiring kids to be 3 years of age by September 1.  If you’ve read my previous post, you would know that although Laird’s birthday *party* was in August, his actual birthdate is not until after this September 1st cutoff.  However, after calling around to a few schools, we came across a Christian program that would allow him to start in the 3’s class.  Thinking there probably weren’t many that would be flexible with their age requirements, we didn’t really look elsewhere, paid the registration fee and were done with it.  L would be starting in the fall on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Things changed when Curt recently started a new job and now had Mondays off.  We realized that it would be nice to have 3-day weekends as a family and actually preferred L go to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays instead.   Unfortunately, there weren’t anymore openings for those days at the school L was registered at.  Now what to do?  So, I started calling other PSs and asking friends and it seemed that most would require him to be 3 before he started.  However, there were a few, mainly play-based parent coop programs that would be flexible with the guidelines and also had openings on Tues/Thurs.

“Parent coop?  What exactly is that?  Play-based?  I want my kid to learn, not just play,” were all naive thoughts of mine.  So I initially wrote them off and hoped that someone would give up their tues/thurs spot at the PS where L was registered at.  In the meantime, though, for some reason I began to investigate these play-based programs more.  Actually, now that I think about it, I ran into a few parents who highly recommended a couple of these PSs to me.  My next step, naturally, was to google “play-based learning.”  I was bombarded with a wealth of information in the form of scientific studies and anecdotal reflections on why play is incredibly important in early childhood education.   It didn’t take me long to realize that perhaps the “academic” program we had signed L up at (and yes, the director called her preschool program “academic”), was not at all what we wanted for him, forget about the days being unideal.  This realization hit me just as I was beginning to really see Laird’s personality develop from being with him at home full-time.  Suddenly, the idea of him in a classroom reciting the ABC’s and numbers seemed completely wrong and I couldn’t imagine him trying to sit still and be good for a teacher.

I visited an additional four PS programs and narrowed it down to three.  One was Christian (much like the place where L was registered at, only cheaper), one was play-based and one was a play-based parent coop.  L was thrilled when we first visited the parent coop PS.  The space is actually a kid’s utopia.  The kids are free to run outdoors as they please and have sandboxes, a jungle gym, water tables, trucks, rakes, toys, etc to play with outside.  He quickly started playing with the water and the sand.  Indoors is equally as inviting with blocks, puzzles, art tables, a dress-up area, story book nook and loft for quiet time.  I was immediately drawn to this space and so was L.  I initially planned to be there for a half-hour, but ended up staying for almost 2 hours!  L even scored special treats because they were celebrating some birthdays.  I also spoke to a few moms there and all had rave reviews for the teacher and the program.  I was sold.  Until I discovered the parent responsibilities: Helping in the classroom 5-7 times a year, 5 mandatory business meetings, 2 3-hr workday commitments, an assigned job to help with the operation of the PS and fundraising.  Ai ya yai.  Really?  That much involvement?  Who has the time?  Especially with an infant?

So I began to consider the other two programs.  I liked the idea of sending L to a Christian PS, what a great foundation to build upon.  But, I just wasn’t drawn to it.  Their primary focus was on teaching the Gospel, which I believe whole-heartedly in.  And they do cool art projects as well as put together Christmas and Easter programs.  But, I kind of got the sense that the programs were more gratifying for the parents and less of an opportunity for the kids to be creative in their own right.  That could just be me though.  Suddenly, my pendulum was swinging in quite the opposite direction.

Lastly, was the play-based non-coop program.  It cost a bit more than the other two, but it was closer to our house and the hours were a little longer, so I would actually have time to do other things while L was there.  The big positive was that it wasn’t a coop, so no responsibilities for us as parents.  We could just drop L off and pick him up when 1:00 rolled around.  Easy peasy.  No other commitments.  Between the two play-based programs, clearly that one seemed the most convenient.

And so I went back and forth, and back and forth, pro-ing and con-ing the two.  This PS has this, this one has that, etc, etc.  I was literally losing sleep over this and I couldn’t enjoy anything because this is all I could think about.  Where do we send Laird?  All the while, I dragged Curt through this completely ridiculous drama by being utterly indecisive as usual.  More than once I got the make-up-your-d$%#-mind-already look.  Curt, Mr. Laid Back, really doesn’t care where we send L, defaulting to “I never went to preschool.”  I have yet to respond with, “Well, it only took you 10 years to decide on a career.”  Anyway, I finally gave myself a deadline to make a decision.  Sadly, I have to admit, it took me weeks of agonizing to finally pray about it and ask the Lord for guidance.  And, He answered me, at midnight.

I stumbled upon a blog that made me realize what I had been seeing as downsides for a parent coop were actually huge benefits.  How often do we, as parents, actually get to be inside our children’s classrooms without feeling like we are interfering, or get to have a say in how our kids are educated?  Soon I began asking myself, “How can I not be involved in my child’s education?”  This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to nurture L and to play an active role in his learning.  I don’t know how I didn’t recognize this all along.

Finally, I have peace about this and it feels good.  I am ecstatic for L to begin this new stage in his life, to be in his own space, with new friends, learning through doing what he loves…playing.  I should add that this is sooooooo unlike me.  The asian in me wants to drill him and make sure he knows his ABCs and numbers, draws in the lines and recites shapes and colors.  But, I know that to do so would restrict him and smother every bit of creativity he has.

Playing with snakes!

When describing the teaching philosophy at the coop, one parent paraphrased what the teacher told her, “Most kids learn to take the highway when learning.  These kids will learn that there are other roads that lead to the same end point.”  I am reflecting on that as I type this and realizing how well that describes Curt and his meandering career path.  Yes, it would have been easiest for him to have become a dentist right from the get go, but how would he have known that the other career paths weren’t the right ones without trying them first?  If nothing else, his resume is twice as long as mine. 🙂

How fun it is to just run…