Thursday, January 30, 2014

Berzo- New Year's Reflections 2013

Berzo and I enjoyed the quiet time together while Charley was at work and Boots was at school for the morning.  Although it only amounted to a few hours, it felt decadent to be able to focus solely on her.

Once Boots was in school, I assumed that Berzo's toddler-hood would be more or less a repeat of Boots', but it wasn't. We do some of the things that Boots and I did together, but we've also invented many new routines and rituals.  We'll stroll to Starbucks and she'll get a Apple Juice Love-It, (other people call it a Kid's Apple Steamer—I prefer Berzo's nomenclature) then we'll go to play in a park nearby. It has columns holding up a covered area. We weave through the columns, playing tag, and hide and seek, I hide behind a column and act shocked that she could see me and find me. We pretend we are in a rocket blasting off to orbit the earth. Usually we don't escape Earth's gravitational pull and plummet back down to the ground. However, sometimes we build enough thrusting power and I fly her through the air, her body laid across my arms and we take several orbits of the earth before returning to the launch pad. We also pet the friendly dogs that frequent the park for other reasons...

There is another park nearby with a bridge over a creek, and we spent copious amounts of time gathering sticks, leaves, and rocks and dropping them off the bridge into the water. We took trips to another park to feed the ducks, play in the Echo Tunnel, and visit the library.  We'd also meet our friends, Cathy and her son, for fun play dates at our parks, library, zoo...

Cutie and Berzo awaiting the sea lions.

Last fall we also started taking Gymboree classes once a week with Berzo's friend Cutie. She loved Gymboree immensely. The room is cleverly re-arranged every two weeks to complement a new theme, e.g. Fast and Slow, Loud and Quiet. The teachers then coach us parents on the theme and we guide our kids through the activities. The forty-five minute class alternates between fun activity time to quiet listen and learn time. Berzo was all for the fun activity time, but usually opted out of the listen and learn time, and would dash around, climbing, jumping and sliding while many of the other kids sat quietly on their parent's laps playing a game or listening to a story. Luckily, the toddlers are encouraged to go at their own pace and explore as much or as little as they want.

At the ER.
In early February, Berzo fell while walking down our sloped driveway with a bucket in her hand, catching all her weight on her left arm, breaking the bone just below the elbow. She normally calms right down after a spill; I'll pick her up, kiss her boo-boo and she's usually good to go. In this case, it took a long time for the crying to taper off, then whenever she moved her arm, even a little, she screamed out in pain. This was familiar from when Boots  broke her arm the year before, so I rigged up a sling and took her to the ER. Four or fourzillion hours later we were discharged with a temporary cast. After four weeks in her cast, which slowed her down—not at all, her bone mended perfectly. It took her less than twenty-four hours to regain her full range of motion. Ah, to be young!

It was around this time that I took my trip to Hawaii with my friend Stephanie. I knew Charley and Boots would be OK, but leaving my baby-girl behind—wow, that was hard. She cried out for me when I went through security and my heart dropped—plunk—into my stomach. Charley said she stopped crying by the time they got back to the pick-up and she was happily watching Baby Einstein on her DVD player on the way home. With her doting Papa and protective big sister looking out for her, she did just fine.

In June Berzo officially left babyhood behind—sniff!—and turned two years old. We had great fun with friends and neighbors at our house for her monkey themed birthday party. She seemed to enjoy the novelty of being the center of attention.  She asks to watch her birthday song video over and over and over and over...

The school year passed too quickly and it was summer again.

With Boots home all day our dynamic changed, but we still had a lot of fun. Although Berzo spent a lot of time in the pickup while I ushered Boots to summer camps and other activities, I was careful to plan in plenty of playtime for Berzo. While Boots was in Farm Camp, we'd stop at Hagg lake, and Berzo would wade in the water and throw rocks and sticks. If I could get her out of the water, we'd hike around on the trails, but the call of the water would soon draw her back in. Boots also had a camp at a wetlands center, and Berzo and I spent the time hiking the trails and counting ladybugs. (We got to eighty one day!) During Boots ' clay camp, we wandered downtown poking around in the book shops, petting dogs, and visiting parks.

The girls kept asking to go swimming so I decided to declare Wednesday as Swim Day at our local aquatic center. The girls loved playing in the warm, shallow pool specially designed for kids. I had fun too, but I also sprouted a couple of new gray hairs worrying over changing room cooties and small children's propensity for touching and tasting everything.

Berzo enjoyed our visit to Tante Lina's where she played with their dogs, Cutter and Potato almost continuously. If she was outside, she was throwing the drool saturated tennis ball for Cutter. Inside the house, she'd throw Potato's little stuffed toys. Walking around the house, she'd randomly shout, “What's that Katato doo-wing!?!”

She loved spending time with Tante Lina and getting tickled and tossed around by Uncle Dave. The nearby river was a big deal for her too.  There's just something zen about a river. The cold, clear water tumbles by washing away stress; hours glide by unnoticed as we throw rocks, wade and watch.

Also, big sister isn't the only horse girl in the family.  During our visit to Lina's, Berzo also got to ride a horse at Sue and Bob's farm. When Boots was riding, Berzo was out at the pasture fence, playing with the other horse, Spider, who seemed just as interested in her as she was in him. When Berzo's turn to ride ended, she burst into tears and was only consoled when we took another trip out to visit Spider at the fence.

Our time in Oysterville was wonderful for Berzo. We had lovely warm weather and every day Berzo insisted we go swimming. She insisted so vehemently that we took her even when the bay was going to be very cold, just so she could see for herself that the warm water of yesterday was going to be cold today. She dipped in a big toe and agreed it was too cold for swimming that day.

Shoalwater Bay is a tricky place to swim. The tide breathes in and out twice a day, and when the tide ebbs the mudflats go on and on, stranding the last of the water in the distant channels. The best conditions for swimming occur when the tide is out in the morning and the mudflats are allowed to bake in the sun until it flows in the early afternoon.  Then the mudflats warm the frigid ocean water making it rather pleasant for swimming. Sound tricky? It is. When there is a good tide for swimming, you must seize the moment, even if it is 7 p.m. It's magic when everything lines up, and difficult to explain to your two-year-old when it doesn't. Luckily, a walk through Oysterville and down Clay Street to see the bay is never a disagreeable experience.

Fall fell upon us and it was interesting to watch Berzo be aware of the changes. First the leaf colors changed and she'd remark on the golds, reds and oranges, as she collected them. “Look at this pretty red leaf, Mama!” Then they dropped off entirely and she'd declare, “The trees are all naked Mama!” Then she'd have a good laugh at her joke. She and Boots spent a the warm fall afternoons raking, and arguing over rakes, and jumping in the leaf piles.

Berzo loves music and often disappears to my room to play CDs on my clock radio. She then dances on my bed, or creates a “toasty nest” of blankets for herself and looks at her books. A door slam is my clue that she needs some time to unwind. She is attracted to instruments of all kind. This Christmas Santa brought her a wooden xylophone and cymbals, and their sound often tinkles through our front room.

Although, having two girls has made our life infinitely more complicated, and their fighting is disheartening at times, I couldn't imagine my life without this adorable little bug. Having one child changed me in so many ways, and I couldn't imagine loving another child as much as I love Boots ; then I had Berzo and my heart simply doubled in size. I see it in Charley and Boots  too. She has touched each of our lives in a way that binds us tighter as a family and helps us to focus on the sweeter, gentler things, and Berzo is the embodiment of that.

When I asked Berzo what she wanted to say to every one she gave me a coy grin and hugged me.  So here's a hug from Berzo >:D< mmmmMMm.

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