We went to the Aquarium of the Pacific and I told her she could have a new toy from the gift shop. I also told her that meant when we got home, she had to pick one of her old toys to give away. (We say "to give to babies" for all things that she's outgrown.) It was a long drive home after the Aquarium and lunch but the minute she got in the house, she went straight to the toy box and picked out a toy for me to give to babies.
I had forgotten about in the hustle of getting home and emptying back-packs, etc. So when she went right to her room, it took me a minute to figure out what she was doing, digging through her toy box. Then she pulled a toy and said that one could go, but I had to convince her otherwise as it was the Totoro given to her by her cousin Jamie! Then she pulled out an old baby doll. Perfect. She then found the accompanying diaper and shirt and it was done.
Harper is in her third and last year of preschool. The new kids look like BABIES but I know that's what Harper looked like when she started. But it's not just the height/weight/vocabulary. It's the new ways of thinking, new ways of communicating that floor me when she does something different. (And the inordinate use of the word "butt" is not what I'm talking about here.)
This morning we approached the school gate and Harper looked over and saw a boy with his dad crossing the street to us. Harper said to me, "Oh that's a new boy!" Then she waved at him and said, "Hi! Hi!" I asked what his name was and she couldn't remember so I said "Tell him "My name is Harper, what is your name?"" and she did it with such excitement. The boy was shy but the dad said, "Jaden" and we both said, "Hi Jaden!"
My sweet girl! I just loved that she was so happy to see a new kid and to wave and say hi and make him feel welcome.
The whole Nature vs. Nurture thing hangs over my head a lot - yes I can teach Harper rules and manners, but what do her instincts tell her and how is that mixed in with what she's been taught? So much unknown there. Then to see her act that way, to new, younger kids, warms my heart so much it explodes into giant butterflies that float and flutter inside my body for days, forever.
I'm amazed at this wonderful person we made but who is also her own person.
The four year old conversations are pretty awesome. For example:
Us: Harper, do you want to learn how to play an instrument?
H: I want a fire guitar that sings rock and roll.
That's a done deal in my mind.
H: Mama, I want to go to drawing school.
Me: You do?
H: Yeah because I'm getting good at drawing.
Harper mispronounces words, as kids do. My favorite that she has said for a while now is "Darth Gator". If I were an artist of any kind, I would whip up a sketch of Darth Gator to frame on her wall. She says the classic: Lellow instead of Yellow. Charming.
She tried to copy me (most likely) saying "Damn it" but instead hers came out "Dame it". (This will never be as good as the month she spent saying "Fuck it" when she was two. That was awesome.)
For a while she would say "What the world?!" She doesn't say it any more, but I do - all the time.
The other thing that amazes me is her memory. A few weeks ago she said, out of the blue, "Mama, remember when we had the Spiderman ball at the fireworks?" It took me a few seconds to realize she was talking about LAST SUMMER's 4th of July fireworks. I had brought a Spiderman beach ball to play with while we picnicked before the fireworks. Or we drove by a friend's house in our neighborhood (this was a few months ago) and she said, "That's where we went swimming." Yes Harper, WHEN YOU WERE 18 MONTHS OLD! How in the world...maybe we talked about it recently and that is what she is remembering? Because we only swam in that pool one time and then our friend moved.
My theory is that her 4 year old brain has so much open space in it, the memories just waft around, easy to pick out and discuss.
As mentioned in my two previous posts, I spent a chunk of time in Mexico City working on a movie. There is a volcano just outside Mexico City called Popocatepetl and we would see and work hard to remember how to pronounce it. When we drove to Puebla, we saw both Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl along the way. Iztaccihuatl always makes me giggle because Paddy and I referred to it as "It's a sea wattle" so that we would remember how to say it close to correctly.
The wacky connection is that in Harper's preschool they learn about other countries and a recent one was Mexico. The craft for one of those lessons was to build a volcano and what a lovely surprise that she built Popocatepetl!
Harper used to call "Mama!" when she woke up and I would come to her room and say good morning and give hugs. Now she's a big girl and she gets up on her own. I'm usually already up, writing, so I can hear her coming. Depending on her mood she'll either come over to me for hugs or go to the couch and sit and I'll come over to say good morning.
Yesterday she got up and saw me and all she said was, "Do you want to look at the beautiful sky?" and she went to the couch to open the curtains so we could look toward the sunrise. Of course I said yes and this was our reward:
For almost ever since Harper was born, I've taken her outside at sunset to look at the "beautiful sky" and always make a point to look at the pretty colors and clouds in the sky. Now Harper will point it out to me and it makes me so happy for her to make me come and look.
The Holidays were low key around here. After being home on Maui, it was nice to just relax at home for the holidays. Though there was a bit of wrapping/shipping frenzy before the actual holiday! I didn't take many photos, I think I just enjoyed being in the moment. Imagine that!
We were invited to my second cousin's house for a Christmas Eve party, which is something they've been doing in their family since her parents got married in 1958! Amazing that she's kept up the tradition. Makes me feel squishy about not having a tradition like that. Time to start making some! Harper enjoyed the party, so many kids to play with, and seemed to enjoy the piano a whole lot. She sat and played "Jazz improv" (as someone we were talking to said) for a while. The sheet music was a Christmas carol and there was a pencil on the little shelf. Harper would play then pick up the pencil and write on the music (something the other kids had been doing). She looked like a tiny composer working on a piece.
For our actual Christmas day, Harper got a stocking full of Pez, just as she had asked Santa for. She (and we) also got many wonderful gifts and were very grateful to all the Santas in our lives!
Harper and I spent the last two weekends doing some traditional Fall activities. (Poor Kurt had to work.) First it was apple picking then a Fall Festival at the U-pick farm that we frequent throughout the year.
The apple farm we chose was Riley's Farm in Oak Glen. That's about a two hour drive without traffic. We got there right when they opened and thank goodness we did. It turned out to be the last day of apples (Granny Smiths) for the season and also pumpkin patch time for them.
We went first for apples.
Then wandered around the pumpkin patch before heading back to the Hawks Head Tavern for an early lunch of Ye Olde Grilled Cheese.
The food took a while so we made ourselves busy with selfies.
Finally, lunch was eaten and then it was time to make a speech.
We then left and I was so glad we'd gotten there early as the two lane road leading the farm was JAMMED on both sides for about 1/4 mile.
The next day we made apple pie. It was delicious! Before and After:
I look forward to going back to that farm next year earlier in the season to get some red apples.
I'm not the most crafty person in the world, don't know how to sew nor do I own a glue gun. But I actually made a Halloween Craft this year! Sewing and glue gun not required! It's small, only 10" around, but I love it. Harper helped me paint the snakes.
Today was all about the Pumpkin Situation at our regular farm Underwood Family Farm. They have a full on Fall Festival every October with rides and games and and food and music along with all their regular farm fun stuff.
The most fun for both of us was the Bean Box - an enclosed, shaded "Playpen" full of beans and various scoopers and cups. Harper could have stayed for hours. We were there for about 40 minutes. It was heaven.
I live in Los Angeles. In the summer of 2006 I worked in Mexico City. Instead of sending out giant emails full of photos to friends and families, I started this blog. The summer turned out to be a crazy one and this blog and my camera kept me sane. I didn't want to stop observing and writing when I got home to LA, so I kept the blog going.