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w August 27, 2003

Summer's End

Not for me, this time around. On the Tuesday after Labor Day, like kids everywhere, Bean will be starting school, of a sort. Even though she will be only 18 months old, the county office of education/Early Childhood Education offers a toddler program for 18 months to 3 years. A kind of "pre" preschool, if you will.

It's only three hours Monday, three hours Tuesday...but that's six hours a week she won't be at home, won't be with me, won't be in her familiar environment. Will be around other kids. Will have teachers of her own, a cubby of her own, a placemat and activity card of her own. It's too early for independence, limited though it is...

And yet, it's not. I've mentioned this earlier, but she truly is becoming a toddler, if you ignore the lack of toddling :) She needs to have extra stimulation, particularly from people who are well trained in providing ample and optimal experiences and who are willing to push her a little. I am, but it exhausts me regularly...at least now I get to share the burden a bit. I love her teacher already...a warm, comfortable, caring woman who is only enhanced by being a North Carolina native! We spent about ten minutes today discussing grits and 'cue, and why it is you just can't get the good stuff here. I think Bean is in excellent hands.

The only thing is...after this, it's "real" preschool. And then kindergarten. And for all the nights and endless diapers and worries about her delays, I'm not ready for her to start growing up, not 100%. I always thought it was a bit of a cliche', but I'll proudly state it now...I'll cry all the way home after I leave her the first day. But I also remember that she'll be thrilled to see me at lunchtime...and somewhere down the line, a grimy pasta necklace will be my souvenir from the day.

Hope all y'all have a wonderful, safe, and happy school year.

by Heather Hoffman at 9:32 PM

w August 20, 2003

Jackson Pollock On Our Fridge

Today I introduced Bean to the world of art...well, finger painting, to be entirely truthful. Having realized that we NEVER use our deck, and also having realized that late August through early October is the most beautiful time in Northern California, I plopped Bean into her chair with a tray, tied that cute toddler coverall smock on, taped some construction paper to the tray, and let her go with the paints.

Well, being a visually impaired kid, she is naturally somewhat cautious with what she touches, so her first masterpiece has a lot of Mommy input, but it was ALL her hands...just not always intentional :) That being said, she liked scratching at the paper to feel the surface and hear the sound, so we have some funny little fingertip dots at the bottom of the paper. She also got a little braver as time went on, and would look more closely at the bepapered tray, then swipe! Fastest hands in the west, but it did smear the colors around a little more. I think we'll try again tomorrow and see how she feels about it. I will say that I have not seen her that excited about an activity in a while.

The best part, though, has to be the comment from my friend Sara in Canada who had phoned while I was, yes, cooking up my own finger paints (cornstarch, sugar, water and food coloring, dead easy). In her inimitable way, she growled "augh, Heather, you damn hippie mom!". It would seem that California has taken more of a toll than I expected, but at least Bean can chew on her artwork without fear of beriberi, or whatever it is you get from commercial paint.

Tune in later this week for more West Coast Art World news (and I will try to post some pictures of her creations).

by Heather Hoffman at 10:11 PM

w August 08, 2003

The Great Grey Humidity

Just returned from a nice week in Toronto, wherein Bean stayed mostly with my parents and Gene and I mostly slept in. Oh, and went out to dinner a number of times...it was marvellous, and I just want to tip my hat right now to Mum and Dad and say THANK YOU. It was a very rejeuvenating trip.

Also was able to see some of my dear friends from university and before, so if you're reading this, Mary, thank you for tea and muffins and gossip, Jen, thank you for being a tourist with us, and Michael, thank you for Swatow, even if you did eat all the duck with special sauce. Bean even behaved herself for the vast majority of the week, and was apparently utterly adorable (and adoring) with my parents. She saved the wretched behavior for the trips to and from. I am currently reassessing the likelihood of flying with a toddler in the near future. On the other hand, someone once told me that travelling with a kid between the ages of 13 and 20 months is torture like nothing else on earth (or words to that effect). If that is true, we are dead in the throes of that time period right now, so perhaps there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Even if Bean is not physically yet a toddler, she is certainly becoming one psychologically, and it's somewhat...challenging.

I had grossly underestimated the effect of Toronto's lovely summer humidity, and all three of us Californians, native and transplanted alike, wilted our way through much of the week. I'm not sure if it was a particularly bad patch or not, but it just left us gobsmacked. It's awesome that one can get Chinese food at 2:30 in the morning to soak up the red wine and Crispy Crunch martinis (ask a Canadian to explain Crispy Crunch; all I will say here is that the drink tasted magically and unfortunately like one), but it was bizarre to be slithering in the door of the restaurant from the 85% humidity outside. At 2:30 in the morning! I used to wax poetic about the wonderfulness of summer in the city, especially at night when it was still warm and everything was open, yadda yadda yadda, but I can assure you, it was most pleasant to walk out of the San Francisco airport into a breezy, dry 65.

Love Toronto madly, but fully accept my weather wimpitude. Don't even get me started on being slushed by a streetcar in the middle of January.

by Heather Hoffman at 11:19 AM