22 June 2013

Out for the summer

Every Friday since September Wyatt and I have walked or driven ourselves down the hill to the corner of 85th and 24th where we attended our co-op preschool.  From 9:30 - 11:30 on Friday mornings, we played and sang, learned how to use scissors, practiced going up the ladder and down the slide, and cut shapes out of play dough.  Wyatt was just over a year and a half old when we started. 
Over these past many months Wyatt grew physically and socially and gained many new skills -- from taking turns to taking his coat off.  He learned how to independently wash his hands, use tongs to serve himself snacks, pour water into a Dixie cup and even to drink it without spilling . . . how to sit still (kind of) and eat and how to clean up after himself.  He learned how to share, how to sing "Zoom Down the Freeway" and "The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round," and cooked up a lot of meals in the pretend kitchen. I also learned a lot -- much about him, but also quite a lot about about parenting.

Part of the first-year co-op experience included a weekly 30-minute parent education discussion (and a monthly evening seminar) with a professional parent educator from the local community college. We addressed all kinds of issues and topics -- from helping toddlers deal with disappointment and overwhelming feelings to troubleshooting sleep issues and potty training. On any given week, half of the parents would participate in a parent education discussion while all the kids and the rest of the parents had play and art.  Then the next week the parents would swap roles. By spring, I was so pleased to see that Wyatt had developed the confidence to voluntarily separate from me when I attended the parent education discussions.  It was a big step for him.

Becoming part of the community of people in our co-op was also terrific and one of the most valuable parts of the co-op experience for me.  Gaining new little friends for Wyatt and meeting families with whom we have shared experiences and similar values was really nice. 

Our last day of school was June 14.  As a special treat, Wyatt's grandparents from Corvallis were visiting and came to school to see what we've been doing all year.  They hadn't been able to attend any of the extended-family events like pumpkin night or pajama night (we did take Byron though).  Wyatt thoroughly enjoyed having them visit.  Evenso, he had a hard day at school, knowing, I think, that it was our last one. 


I know by the end of the year Wyatt felt like our co-op was his school and that he belonged there.  He really liked Teacher Janice and especially the hand stamps she gave each week -- sometimes all the way up his arm.

Next fall we plan to continue our co-op experience in the Pre-3s classroom.  It's two mornings a week -- one with me and one by himself.  For now, however, we're just getting used to the idea that we have Friday mornings to play in the sun.

16 June 2013

Another happy birthday

Yesterday we ate cake.  My father-in-law turned 89.  For any age, he's in remarkable health -- he walks six miles a day and cooks and shops and does for himself just fine.  He's still driving (although not much and never at night) and playing baseball (at least with Wyatt).  I hope I'm as capable and good natured as he is when I'm nearly finished being an octogenarian.

To celebrate this milestone, I made a recipe and a half of this delicious cake (with a bit of almond extract added) and baked it in two six-inch cake pans.  And by-the-way, I'm telling you that anything baked in a six-inch cake pan is just cuter and more stylish and gives off the pastry chef vibe in a way that those 9-inch cake pans just can't.  Seriously, they are a game changer. You should get some.

Oh, and about the cake . . .  after slicing each cake in half, we slathered the layers with homemade Shuksan strawberry jam and fresh strawberries. Wrapped the tower it in plastic for a few hours, then plopped some freshly whipped cream on top and sprinkled some powdered sugar around for a final touch.  I say we because Byron pitched in to finish the cake after I somehow managed to perform minor surgery on my thumb with a paring knife. All is well now, but I was reclined in a chair seeing stars for the better part of an hour.

By evening, however, I was recovered enough to party.  Our birthday party included a dinner of favorite foods: salmon and veggie burgers, salads, and grandpa's favorite chips -- nacho cheese Doritos.  I think they are now Wyatt's favorite chips, too. I'm just hopeful Spray 'n Wash can get bright orange stains out of clothes. We had my parents and sister and brother in law with us as well, so our table felt full, and the evening buzzed with conversation and laughter.

Wyatt assisted when it came time for candles and presents and eating cake. It's quite a thing having three generations living under our roof. I feel like it's truly a win for all of us. Yesterday, we celebrated.

05 June 2013

No telling

Today my two-and-a half year old son ran full tilt into the street. He was laughing, running as fast as he could away from me, and didn't have a care in the world.  My heart, on the other hand, nearly stopped.  So did nearly every other parents' that saw it.

At the time, Wyatt and I were enjoying ourselves at a local playground with two little friends (and their parents) from our co-op preschool who were generously hosting a play date in celebration of the fact that their mom was finishing her final chemo treatment for breast cancer today.  All of us who were invited, which was a good-sized group, had been a part of the family's support system in some way over the past many weeks.  They are a lovely family, and Wyatt and I were thrilled to celebrate with them today. 

It probably goes without saying that the day would have been much more enjoyable without my toddler's death-defying stunt.

As I replay the whole scene in my mind (which I'm having trouble not doing) . . . him running away from me . . . too far ahead and too fast to catch . . . me scanning the street for oncoming cars . . . and him unwilling to stop despite my commands to do so . . . .

I can't help but think, "what if."  

The bottom line is that today has reminded me about the precariousness of our lives.  How quickly bad or scary things can happen when we least expect.  How out of control we really are.  And how valuable time is with those we care about.

There's no telling how long we have on this planet -- or how long we get to spend it together.  So here's my thinking: Hug your people and tell them what they mean to you.  And be proud of how you live your days.  They matter.

01 June 2013

Hooray for June

Last week it rained, this week is slated to be sunny.  Everything is growing like gangbusters.  This means more work for the garden gnomes.  But they seem to be up for it.

The herb garden is probably my favorite thing at the moment.  The honey bees are going crazy in the thyme flowers.  I'm also particularly enjoying the snow peas with their yellow pods and dark purple flowers -- a new variety for us this year. 

I can't get enough of the garden this time of year.  Everyday plants are taller -- invasives included (grrrr). But the good news is something new opens its bloom almost every day. And now our strawberry harvest has begun.  Farmers market season starts next week.  Our CSA deliveries begin shortly too. Yeah, for the growing!