I've been reading a new (to me) blog in the last few months, called The Artful Parent. A friend sent me the link and it's been an inspiration for doing art with Evie. One book recommended on the blog is First Art and I've enjoyed having that at home as a resource as well. On a rainy/snowy/too hot/sick day at home with a toddler, it has a wonderful array for ideas for art projects with a little 'un. Not to say that art is only for boring afternoons, but it's nice to have the book on the shelf when I need some new ideas. I remember feeling frustrated a year ago because Evie was a young toddler and when I tried to do art with her on those long winter afternoons, she tended to eat the crayons, or suck the water out of the aquadoodle pen, or put the stickers on herself instead of the paper. Yes, I got over myself. But anyhow, this year is much better and it's exciting to see her interest and skills develop. Here are some recent pictures.
Evie learned to cut with scissors today! She has safe scissors that won't cut clothes or hair: Look! She's getting the idea of coloring! Before this week we've never seen her color in the focused way you can see with the blue hat: And finally, some early attempts at representational painting. I don't know why Blogger rotated this picture because it should be rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise. Anyhow, the green is grass and the blue is sky, and the yellow smudge is a sun. The orange and purple are flowers and birds, according to Evie. I think all kids draw these types of things at first; it must be because they see the green grass, blue sky, etc. so much in picture books, right? I remember reading that even kids who live in smoggy cities draw blue skies: Our fridge is covered with masterpieces. Fun!
I read somewhere that kids can't truly understand the concept of adoption until they are about 5 or 6 years old, and that every conversation you have with a child before that age is really just practice for the real thing. I think the hardest thing for me about talking to Evie about adoption is finding words that are at her comprehension level to express such big, important and somewhat abstract ideas. She's still a little fuzzy about the terms "boy" and "girl," so the concept of "first parents" and "adopted" are way beyond her ken.
Tonight we read the book I Wished For You at Evie's bedtime, and afterward had a conversation:
Me: "Evie, you know you were adopted just like Barley!"
Me: "Yes, we adopted you. You know that R and G are coming to visit us tomorrow; they are your first parents."
Evie: "First parents."
Me: "Yes, when you were born you came out of R's tummy and then Mommy and Daddy adopted you."
Evie: "And we eat cake!"
Well, at least she has positive associations with adoption at this point? :)
We spent Christmas with my parents, Evie's Grandma and Grandpa, and my brother and his family--including new twin nephews! It was a wonderful trip despite the long travel time to Washington D.C. I had fun holding 3-month-olds again and enjoyed changing poopy diapers and getting spit up on...at least for a few days.
Here is one of my new favorite pictures, of Evie with one of her twin cousins: Here are Evie and her cousin C before Christmas Eve church: Christmas morning, playing with her Uncle D's squishy rat (a stocking stuffer) which looks like a rubber rat until you throw it on the floor and it turns into a puddle of goo before it pops back into its original shape. Of course, Evie was more fascinated with this than with her own stocking stuffers: Evie and her cousins in front of the tree before gift opening on Christmas morning: Evie received a new cowboy hat and boots from her Grandma and Grandpa, but since her rocking horse and stick pony were left at home, she had to make do with a decorative rocking horse as her steed: Evie also received some dress-up masks; a mouse, duck, bunny and an elephant:
On the 23rd, Evie tripped outside and face planted, scraping up her nose (she was our Rudolph for the holiday). On Christmas she scratched her scab and started it bleeding again, which makes for a fun family portrait...Evie with her Dora bandage, squinting at the camera flash! Here she is with my parents and her 3 cousins:
Rudolph (she LOVED having that bandage on her nose): I love how the good light in this playroom (at my friend Jen's house) brings out the blue in Evie's eyes: Ready for bed, the night before we left to drive home, wearing her new "princess" nightgown and holding Grandpa's stuffed armadillo, which she slept with that night: It is humbling to learn about the real meaning of Christmas from your toddler. On Christmas Eve the church we attended had a living nativity and Evie spent a full five minutes staring at the youth group dressed up in pageant costumes, Mary holding a very fake-looking baby doll (and no live animals). She didn't want to go home because she was so fascinated by the pubescent wise men and the shepherds carrying stuffed animal sheep. I tried to lure her away with the promise of one gift from under the tree before bedtime, but she responded "no, I don't want a present. I just wanna look at the nativity." From the mouths of babes.
Our family has been richly blessed this year and we look forward to what 2011 will bring. We hope that our family will include a second baby by next Christmas, but after the joy of adopting Evie we feel content to wait patiently for God's will. It is SO different this time; we both feel peace and hope instead of anxiety and pessimism.
My resolution for 2011 is to put myself first more often, knowing that a mom who gets enough sleep, exercises regularly, has a strong marriage, spends time with friends and studies the Bible daily is a better mom than one who is sleep-deprived, weak, stressed, lonely and ultimately depressed because she has put everyone else's needs in front of her own. I remember getting that same advice from magazines and friends before I was a mom, but some lessons we need to learn from experience before they really stick.
December, 2003--stopped taking BCPs (birth control pills)
July 18, 1998--Wedding in Albert Lea, Minnesota
September 5, 1996--First date in Charlottesville, Virginia
August 26, 1995--We met at an Alpha Epsilon Pi frat party on the grounds of the University of Virginia. I was a 17-year-old first year student in the College of Arts and Sciences (double major in English and Psychology) and J was a 22-year-old in his first year of graduate school (Engineering, Materials Science)