29 July 2006

A quick post while Hazel and her father are at the store.

We went to Virginia and Hazel got to meet some of my extended family. They drove eight hours just to meet her, and they brought her lots of love and a few hand-me-downs from their large brood. My absolute favorite of their gifts: a selection of leotards. When I was a little girl I put in many, many hours twirling and leaping through the house. Even now I dance a little bit nearly everyday. Hazel's daddy likes to dance, too. He was lucky enough to have years of ballet as a child, while I took no dance classes until I was an adult. And Hazel did start dancing before she could walk, cliche as it sounds. As soon as I saw the leotards I dressed her up and she set to twirling and frog jumping.

27 July 2006

New pictures are in order, as Hazel has grown tremendously since the first kiddie pool of the season. She has protested several times recently that she is a grown-up now. Usually she insists upon her maturity when I'm cutting her off from playing with something dangerous. "I'm a grown-up NOW!" While she's most assuredly still a toddler, she's taller, leaner, more articulate, and inventive every day.

She is my partner in crime, particularly during the summer when it's mostly the two of us while her father is buried in school work and I'm on hiatus from my non-Hazel work. We've taken swim classes, gone to the farmer's market regularly, gardened, danced and even flown on a plane across the country. This was her third trip to Virginia. She's also been to Georgia and California. (And Canada if in utero travel counts for anything.) Her fifth round-trip flight, and the second one with just the two of us. It was a little more challenging than last year, because she loves to move, but still she was amazing and clearly enjoys to go on adventures.

The best part was spending a lot of time with family. Our closest family in Oregon is five hours away by car. Most of our other family is about five hours away by plane. We have a number of very good and loving friends, but Hazel likes to talk about how her cousin did this and her grandma gave her that. It was fun to watch my extended family interact with her and she thrived with the attention and family hustle and bustle.

She also got to:
spend time with horses (who scare and fascinate her)
pick black-eyed peas, tomatoes and flowers
jump into a deep swimming pool over and over again
meet her great grandmother's senior friends (and play on the playground where I very first went to school; holy circle of life, as her father says)
dance with her cousin
have a tea party with the toddler daughters of one of my high school friends
help her great grandmother in the kitchen
get materially spoiled by her grandmother

watch excessive amounts of t.v. (I love her father, but gained a new appreciation for all he does after being soley responsible for her every need for a week, including the fact that she never slept through the night the entire week, as time wore on she became more intrigued with the less child safe areas of the house we were staying in, and she is two and loves constant interaction and won't sit politely on the sidelines while I play catch-up with long-lost relatives. Hello, Elmo!)

get several mosquito bites (to spray the poison OR to allow the bites which may carry disease OR stay inside where there are limited activities when the house is not your own and your hosts are clearly concerned about what your child is going to do next? Hello, Elmo!)

To recap:
-I'm trying to upload photos, but blogger's being a j-hole (remember j-hole, ritchey? good times!)
-Hazel pulled her own suitcase through two airports and I thought I was with a movie star the way people stopped, stared and exuded positive vibes and smiles her way
-When faced with the chance to watch copious amounts of t.v., Hazel will take the challenge and execute the couch potato stance with grace and dignity
-We are back to Portland where we spend time outside, take walks and just feel really good these days
-While we were gone there was a heat wave and the peas Hazel planted grew nearly a foot (they were only about an inch when we left, we were a little tardy planting the peas), Hazel got to pick beans and tomatoes from the front yard also
-Hazel totally hit her neighborhood friend (who is turning two soon) in the face with a badminton racket and I am still so so so so sorry that happened.
-I love people who take the time to get to know Hazel and interact with her, and that is the surest way to my heart; therefore, Hazel's father has the topmost spot in my heart because to watch the two of them reunite after a week apart brought tears to my eyes
-She reads literature to her most beloved of dolls: yarn baby

14 July 2006

Four day countdown to the five hour cross-country flight with just me and my toddler. My biggest worry (aside from the usual "don't let this plane nosedive right now, pleasepleaseohplease") is getting through the airport with the toddler, the necessary bag o' tricks, and the carseat. Last year Hazel was small enough for the Ergo backpack carrier, but this year she's walking or in my arms. All forty pounds of her. With the awkward car seat also in my arms.

Provided the travelling goes well, the rest should be mostly fun. Hazel will see family she's never met. Older girl cousins! I think she'll like that. She'll miss her daddy and he'll miss her, but they'll have a happy reunion soon enough.

10 July 2006

To the Water

Ahhhhh, summer vacation. Hazel and I have been through two weeks of swim lessons, and dabbled a smidge in a gymnastics class. As a family we've run through a sprinkler, rowed a boat out on a lake, waded in the rocky Sandy River, and finally drove to the Grand Dame of bodies of water, the Pacific Ocean. We left the camera at home, but in Hazel's words, we've had "fun, fun, fun!"

Hazel likes digging in the sand and being twirled around in the water. She likes to collect and throw rocks, and she wants to make friends with other kids. She's not so interested in the relentless movement of the ocean waves. When she worked up the interest to get into the ocean, every time she grew close to the edge she ran in the other direction, shouting, "Scared!"

The real attraction was the motel room. She had her own bedroom with her own queen-sized bed (not really much different from her situation at home) and she sparkled each time she looked into the room. She wanted to go to bed at 5 pm on Friday. We had to stall her. We don't own a microwave, so she kept trying to press those buttons and thought it was a second t.v. It took a lot of cajoling and strong-arming to get her out to the ocean, and then a lot of strong-arming to get her off the beach when it was time.

We could see the ocean from our room, but had to go down a short, steep trail through trees and brush to get to the beach. That turned out to be Hazel's favorite thing, ever. She was insistent upon doing it, "by myself!" After all, she's been going through regular training for the experience on the playgrounds. When we got to the bottom of the trail, she would turn around and go back up, just for the fun of it. I can't wait to take her out to the Gorge. As I waited patiently for her to scramble up and down the rocks, and watched her explore the natural world and her own capabilities, I allowed myself brief fantasies of mother/daughter hikes in the Cascades. We asked her if she liked going up or down the hill the best and she said up. Mine, too! We can climb Mt. St. Helens together! She'll be that kind of teenager, right?

Our ambitions were dampened when Hazel awoke clingy and completely unadventurous Saturday morning. We gave her some Tylenol and she perked up. I took her to the cheese factory and she loved it. When we left she said, "I love having fun, fun, fun!" She fell asleep on her way back to the motel, had a long nap in her fancy new bed, and woke up hot enough to fry an egg on. We had to buy all sorts of first aid stuff from the expensive beach market, because I looked our home supplies directly in the eyeballs while packing and thought, "we'll only be gone a short time, we won't need that stuff." Given that she tore open her toe on a beach rock and then got the highest temperature I can remember, I made the wrong decision. And we do have a first aid kit (in our closet, at home) that I forgot about. We probably should just keep our car stocked with that stuff, huh?

Saturday was rough and worrisome, but she rested and slept a lot, all the while insisting she was not sick. When she's well she insists she IS sick and always wants to take medicine.

Sunday morning her temp was down, but she was uber clingy and only mama would do. She's been a mama's girl ever since our summer break kicked off. She didn't want to leave the special new home she had created and cried when I put her picture books back in the car. She also cried when we tried to put clothes on her, when I took a shower, when we turned the morning cartoons off, when we cleared her ignored breakfast dishes away, when we moved, breathed or looked at her funny. Rather tender, that one. We convinced her to come down with us and say good-bye to the ocean, which she enjoyed once we did it. She told me that the sand was her favorite part.

We made it home in time for her father to watch a World Cup disappointment. Hazel's still clingy and crabby and overly dependent on cartoons for her entertainment. She had a slight temperature during the night, and back to normal this morning. I'll still take her to the doctor, because I want to make sure she's okay before we fly in a plane next week.