Monday, March 30, 2009

enfant prodige

A checklist for baby mimes in training:

Black turtleneck - check
Black leggings - check
Soft-soled (adorable) shoes - check
and . . .
Gold bracelet - check

Whoa - check out how Ivy is practicing her "pressing-against-an-invisible-wall" routine. With all the toddling steps she's been taking lately, she'll soon be be tugging on an invisible kite and bracing herself against an invisible wind entirely on her own two feet.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Beautiful Baby, part 1

Last weekend we celebrated Ivy's homecoming and first birthday with an open house for family, friends and neighbors. Ivy calmly handled being the center of attention and received everyone's love and good wishes with grace and good cheer. She wore her hanbok for part of the day, specifically for our toljabee ceremony. This is a traditional Korean first birthday ceremony in which a number of items are laid out on a table in front of a child and the first objects she chooses represent her future skills and talents. We adapted this ceremony and chose items from our home that represent our own lives. These are the items we presented to Ivy for her toljabee:
  • Books (Global Babies and Sweater) and a pencil - successful scholarship
  • Yarn spun by Ivy's mom - long life
  • Money - wealth
  • Ivy's great-grandpa's carpenter's ruler and knitting needles made by Ivy's grandpa - skilled with her hands
  • Wooden spoon - enjoys cooking and welcoming friends to her table
  • Paintbrush - artistic abilities
  • Harmonica - musical talents
We placed Ivy on Kevin's lap for the ceremony and then the excitement began. After lightly touching many of the items, the first object she picked up (and put right in her mouth) was a knitting needle:

I was very pleased that she chose this needle that my dad made from lumber from a cedar tree that stood in my front yard for many years until a storm blew it down in the mid-1990s.

And then it was time to choose the 2nd and final item. To paraphrase our friend, Jeff (a wickedly talented photographer and, most importantly, HB's dad), I honestly resisted melding Ivy's mind and did not force her to choose a book for her 2nd item. We faced the table with renewed suspense:

But, what can I say? After lingering over Great-Grandpa Ottmar's ruler, our girl made her librarian-parents proud and grabbed one of her favorite books -
Sweater by Kit Allen:

The ceremony was beautiful and touching and we thank Jeff for capturing so many memorable photos of the event. We also thank our other photographers, Eli and Steve for grabbing our personal cameras and documenting the special day. Ivy was surrounded by so much love that it's impossible to describe the entire day in one post, so please continue on to Part 2:

Beautiful Baby, part 2

Ivy's Wisconsin grandparents, Aunt Kersten, Uncle Jim and good friend cousins made the trip to Madison for Ivy's party. Everyone had a wonderful time and cousin Finnian showed us that, even though he had a fever, nothing would keep him from celebrating Ivy's homecoming:
Shortly after Ivy's toljabee we set her loose so she could play with her buddy, HB. They crawled toward each other and HB hugged her and gave her a big ol' kiss on the mouth:

Then HB promptly made a speedy get-away, leaving Ivy in his dust as she struggled to crawl after him in her cumbersome hanbok:

The party ended at the very late hour of 6 pm at which time we all crawled back to our house, where the girls put on comfy clothes and snuggled under the quilt that Grandma B. made for Ivy:

I think that we'll be ready for another celebration in May, when Grandma Pauline, Grandpa Frank and Auntie Christine visit us. Until then, we'll hold fond memories of last week's party deep in our hearts. Thanks to everyone for making our day a special one.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


With the wolves, monkeys, cats, and other critters around here, it's starting to feel like a zoo at our house.

Fortunately, all of our animals are adorable ones. Here comes one now! (Best viewed in full screen.)

Music: Abdullah Ibrahim, "Chisa," Cape Town Flowers, 1996.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

It takes a village

While I was on family leave my top priority was to find quality child care for Ivy.  The thing is, though, that every time I tried calling child care agencies I started weeping and I rarely was able to actually finish dialing the phone number.   We thought that we had found excellent family care, but it fell through.  I was devastated and worried and lost sleep.  I remained calm by telling myself that my mother would help us care for Ivy during those early weeks when we were both at work, but I knew that it was unfair and unrealistic to ask her and Dad to disrupt their lives for too long.  Then I dreamed up a plan and released it to the cosmos, and, well, my dream came true.  When Kevin and I return to work our little girl is going to be spending her days with one of my dearest, best friends  - our honeybee-dancer, Markie.  Markie is the person who taught me how to be a children's librarian, how to listen to children and how to see the world through their eyes.  She was with me when I brought Edgar home to my tiny apartment above the Marilyn School of Dance in LaCrosse, where she helped me bathe him and give him medicine after he tore my arms to shreds.  Markie took care of me in college when I was too stubborn to realize that I needed someone to look after me and made sure that I ate well.  She magically appeared in Corning the day before Kevin and I got married and blessed our wedding day with her presence.  And now . . . she's moving to Madison and is going to help us care for our daughter.  Words cannot express how overjoyed I am to have Markie in our daily lives and how fortunate our little girl is to have this amazing woman care for her while we're at work.  Thanks to Markie's influence, I know that Ivy is going to develop into a child who respects the earth, loves music and who will learn how to charm honeybees from their hives.

There's no way I could make this dream happen all on my own.  My friends, Kimi & Marjorie, own a house just a few blocks from our home.  Their primary residence is in California and they only use their Madison home during the summer and few other times the year.  Because they love Ivy so much, they are providing their place for Markie to live and Ivy is going to grow up knowing that her Tantes Markie, Kimi and Marjorie live in this amazing house.  My sister suggested this arrangement and her dreams for her niece have helped us make this reality, too.  Kimi has been my rock for over 20 years and it feels like I've known Marjorie (aka, Tante Mimi) for that long, too.  Thanks to their influence, Ivy will develop into a child who cares for her friends & family, is fiercely protective of them and who goes the extra mile to help her loved ones realize their dreams.  

Despite my ramblings, I am speechless - I am touched by all the love that surrounds our little girl and I am honored to be a part of a community of family and friends that profoundly cares for one another.  We are here in Madison, spread out across the region and live throughout the country (and, depending on where Tia Lisa is currently based & saving the planet, around the world) and I know that my family is supported by a community that only grows stronger and more committed to each other with each passing year.  

Thank you, Dear Friends.  Ivy has already been touched by the hands of so many amazing people.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Birthday girl!

Today is Ivy's first birthday and we celebrated all day long.

There were many moments of great joy and laughter.

Ivy had her first taste of cake - and frosting.

Grandma & Grandpa B. celebrated with us and gave Ivy some awesome new shakers.

And we ended our day with a trip to Tar-Jay where Grandma & Grandpa bought us a splendid new stroller!

Today was beautiful.  When it was time to sing Happy Birthday we called Grandma & Grandpa K. in Norfolk and skyped with Aunt Kersten and Cousins Adalia & Finnian in LaCrosse.  Ivy delicately touched the frosting on her cake and then put her fingers in my mouth.  She was thrilled with all her wonderful presents and her daddy is especially excited to try out the new stroller when the weather warms up later this week.  Today taught me that there is more space in my heart than I ever imagined; my heart continues to grow and I continually thank my little girl for teaching me about love and compassion.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Raised by wolves?

We've been encouraging Ivy to howl like a wolf-pup and are enchanted with the results, We look forward to the next full moon!
La bella luna!