Saturday, September 29, 2007

Happy due date to Eliza!

Today is the 3rd anniversary of Eliza's due date. However, her birthday is still 2 weeks away. Yes, she has been causing her poor mother great worry even before she made her entrance.

In the last year, she has gotten really into birthdays and birthday parties, yet we have nothing at all planned for her. I feel like a louse, but I'm worthless with parties. All Eliza wants, as she has reminded us over and over again, is to have a cake and for kids to sing "happy boofday to Zaza!" A cake I can do, but she might have to be satisfied having only her parents sing. She went on for weeks talking about Chris's (peach upside-down) birthday cake in August. Sugar makes an impression.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

update and dance class

No, we didn't fall off the face of the planet. I've just been too overwhelmed lately with holidays and being a (temporary) single mom to deal with anything aside from e-mail. Chris was on the other coast for a week and a half - poor guy spent the week eating at nice restaurants and seeing Monty Python's Spamalot on Broadway (OK, so he had to work long hours in Joisey, too - it wasn't all fun).

Everything fell apart while C was gone. The dishwasher's motor broke, the car's battery died, Eliza took my cell phone for a bath, there were tantrums aplenty, and I broke down so many times. On Tuesday at Balboa Park, I must have been sporting a neon "kick me when I'm down" sign on my forehead because two strangers insulted my parenting. The first comment was a sneering "some people don't care about their children's health" when that mom caught me giving Eliza a few sips of root beer (the first pop I've had in many, many months). The second came an hour later when Eliza had a meltdown, her screams echoing. An old lady spat at us, "You are a brat! And you are a bad mother!" Thanks, lady, that was really helpful. I can be glib about it now, but that really hurt me last week.

Eliza tried out dance class yesterday for the first time. The vegan (polished canvas) ballet slippers were still back-ordered in pink and in size 10, so I ordered white in 10½ and dyed them myself. They turned out a rose pink, not a muted ballet pink, but I'm just happy I didn't ruin them.

The dance studio is 1½ miles from our house, very close to the library. The receptionist suggested we try the "Mommy & Me" class on Wednesday morning. Since Eliza was old enough for both "Mommy & Me" (22 mo. - 3 years) and "Creative Dance" (3 - 5 years), I was worried that after we tried "Mommy & Me," they'd tell us to do "Creative Dance" instead because the latter is without parents. When Eliza tries something new, she's far more open, but once she experiences something/somewhere once, she gets it in her head that this is the only way it should be from now on and can't deal with changes. This particular class skewed toward the older side, so Eliza didn't stick out like a sore thumb. Although E was the tallest there, I suspect two or three of the girls are older based on appearance. It's not a baby class, as I thought it might be.

The instructor is Miss Carolyn. She's very energetic and warm, and I liked her immediately. The class includes a lot of dance (some choreographed, some free dance), of course, and there are a lot of games and much silliness involved. I heartily approved. Eliza was all grins during the group dances and games, but she got mildly upset when the attention was on her. Whenever Miss Carolyn asked her a question, Eliza would bury her face against me. Once, she mumbled a response ("purple") into my shoulder, which is actually a big deal for her, because I think that was the first time she has every responded to a stranger's question. Later, when each mother and daughter pair were to chassé across the floor, Eliza became very anxious and curled up in a ball on the floor and moaned twice, "Mommy, I want to go home." I whispered to her that she didn't have to do anything she didn't want to do. I told her we could go home if she wanted, but asked if she'd like to sit in the corner with me and watch (she did).

Then when Miss Carolyn brought out a box of frilly white "Sleeping Beauty skirts," Eliza's eyes got wide. She raced across the floor without me to get one. The "Sleeping Beauty" game involved lying on the floor pretending to sleep when the music was off and free dancing around the room when the music was on (repeat, and so on). When I saw the others moms getting up and joining in, I reluctantly got up (big/clumsy and dance don't mix), but Eliza barked at me from 20 feet away, "No, Mommy. You have to sit down!" and continued to twirl about the room. Everyone laughed, and Miss Carolyn said something to Eliza about being "Miss Independent" all of a sudden when minutes earlier she asked to go home.

One of the moms came up to me after class and said not to worry, that her daughter asked to go home more than twice in her first class. Miss Carolyn said that a few kids just sit against a wall refusing to participate for a month but eventfully join in, so she thought Eliza handled it well. Miss Carolyn asked Eliza if she'd see us next week. Eliza buried her head against my leg, but I told her that I would be happy to sign up E if that's what she wants, so I'm going to wait to see if she asks to return in the next week.

green lynx spider

video

Last week we had another unusual spider visitor. We have a lot of spiders and webs in our tiny patio garden, but I've never seen one quite like this. I did a little investigating online and found out that it's Peucetia viridans, the green lynx spider (more photos here).

I found out that the green lynx is an especially good insect hunter but harmless to people. Most oddly, it spins no web. It waits on flowers or shrubs for an insect to fly by and shoots out its sticky harpoon. I didn't see this happen, but a little later I saw it chewing on a fly.

This spider ended up sitting on that rose for two days before it moved on to greener pastures. Eliza was very disappointed that her spider had gone. This from the child who comforted me for being scared of the black widow.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

black widow

Armed with a flashlight, Eliza's daddy took her out for a spin around the subdivision on her tricycle post-sundown, pre-dinner. When I came outside to greet them just as they were coming home, Chris was the first to see the spider. Before the flashlight hit it, all I saw was the size, and I thought to myself, "at least it's not as big as Jen's spider."

I shrieked when I saw the shiny red hourglass on the black body (the abdomen was surprisingly large) and knew immediately what it must be even though I'd never seen one in person. Chris was in charge of keeping Eliza away, and I rushed inside to get the camcorder (with the zoom, I could stay safely away). All I recorded was an empty web as the bugger disappeared when Chris shined the flashlight.

Although I'd heard black widows exist in this part of the country, I never actually imagined one would make a web on my house. I don't suppose it will just find somewhere else to live if I destroy its web with a broom handle? I didn't think so. I read on Wiki that bites are very rarely fatal to healthy adults, but since I have a 33-pound child, I'm quite concerned.

Update: Chris told me he had killed the black widow while I was upstairs. He said it worried him knowing that Eliza and I go within a foot of the web when we check the mail daily. He said when he went outside again, he found it back on the web; again it scurried into the crack, but Chris said he was able to get in there and crush it with a piece of wood from the garage.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

sandpaper letters

I finally got around to starting on those sandpaper letters a couple days ago. I now have the 16 consonant cards completed and have started work on the vowels. Cutting through mat board with dull scissors: not so easy.

I read Montessori Read & Write some time ago and noted that Eliza was around "level 3" (of phonemic awareness) then, which the book says is a good time to introduce sandpaper letters. It looks like she's at "level 4" now, but dear ol' mom is a bit slow. :) I'm not a very crafty person. (Digging out art supplies and letting Eliza loose on them is more my speed.)

From Livable Learning (a free website - I donated because I found it useful), I printed out the "MM Script" template and took the idea of making the cards 3" x 5" so they can fit in an index card holder. From Montessori Read & Write, I took the idea of placing the letters on the right-hand side (for right-handed children - Eliza is strongly so) to make it easier to steady the card with the left hand while tracing the sandpaper letter with the right.

Eliza continues to enjoy the "I Spy..." games at home, and I'm hoping she'll dig these sandpaper letters (I've been holding off on introducing them until the set is completed), especially since most of her beloved wooden letter magnets have disappeared from the fridge (who knows where) over the last year. One game she herself invented is to string together the magnets to make some nonsense word and ask me to pronounce it.

(Alas, I still don't have a new camera, but I've been trying to make do with the poor-resolution still photos that my camcorder can take.)

...in which Eliza leads story time

You can lead a kid to bed, but you can't make her fall asleep. Eliza went down happily for her nap today, but when I still heard her bumping around a half hour later, I went to check on her. I gasped when I saw the tall chest of drawers toppled over on the floor with two drawers entirely removed. There was Eliza sitting straight up in bed, "reading" the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland pop-up book (by the incomparable Sabuda) to her stuffed animals and dolls, all thoughtfully propped up against the pillows so they could all witness the fabulous paper engineering.

Although I hope I was successful in impressing on her the danger in climbing furniture (oddly, I didn't hear any crash from downstairs, and it's the only thing over 4 feet tall that's not bolted to studs), I couldn't find it in me to be too cross about her playing story time with her animals.

I do need to relocate Alice and Wonderland so it doesn't meet the same fate as the shredded pop-up Hanukkah Bugs. It had been on top of the chest of drawers, which I naively thought was out of diva's reach. Eliza is usually very gentle with books, but she can't resist feeling up pop-ups.