Tuesday, June 30, 2009

In Memoriam

I had thought about what I wanted to say at the memorial service, but they closed the open mic sooner than I expected, and I was left with words unsaid. So I thought I would post them here. I know I will repeat things other people have said, but I guess that's not really actually a problem - anyway, this is how I remember Dave Sparks.

My earliest memories of uncle Dave are a child's memories; awareness of a strong and gentle presence in the background there among the adults; a deep and resonant voice, and a feeling of safety. When I came to the US for college, the whole family kind of moved into a surrogate parental role while my parents were still in Peru. I remember Dave including me on a trip to Darien Lake for Max's 6th birthday, simply as part of the family. When I was in the Black Hills taking science classes, Dave sent me not only the biggest care package I've ever received, but certainly the biggest care package anyone at the science center received that summer! The enormous box held clothes, snacks, and camping gear enough for three people. I shared the snacks with my roommates all summer long, and to this day I still have some of the clothes. Dave was one of the most generous people I've ever met. The last time I saw him, he was still loading our car with drinks and snacks, as much as we could carry.

He loved to look after Grandma. Another memory I have of Dave is the hours and hours and hours he would spend fixing things for her, replacing fixtures in the house, and so on. I actually still have some of the clothes that he bought for her, too.

The last thing Dave told me before I went to Bolivia as a volunteer with the Mennonite Central Committee was "now don't you come back with a Mennonite boyfriend!" (this was due to, shall we say, "issues" he had with his neighbor who happened to be Mennonite). Ironically, I came back with the one Mennonite guy I met who most resembled Dave in temperament and personality! At first Terry and Dave locked horns over US foreign policy, but later on they bonded while yelling at the airline people when the Sparks were bumped from their Cuzco-Lima flight after visiting my parents one Christmas (classic Dave line: "Call the embassy! They're bumping Americans!"). They also share a disdain for bad/inconsiderate/annoying drivers on the highway, and an enjoyment of big meals and honking at golfers.

As much as Dave has meant to all of us, I know he has meant the world to Wendy. As long as I can remember, it's always been Wendy&Dave, like peanut butter and chocolate, like stars and stripes. He leaves a big absence. It is you we'll be thinking of in the weeks and months to come, holding you in our hearts, trying to match the measure of love that Dave put into his family, into the world.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

In Honor Of

Happy Father's Day, Big T!

Check out Millenium Hand and Shrimp for a photo retrospective of Terry's first year of fatherhood. The pictures say it all - naps, walkies, babywearing, diaper changing, webinars, and the great outdoors. Great job, honey!

Love you, EEP

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Terry has taken over the night parenting again, and last night she slept 8 hours straight! This is a formula that works for us.

I like Rosanne's line of blog title suggestions - my top two possibilities are:
- Baby Yarns (except she's moving into toddlerhood)
- Yarns of LOO (LOO is Tia Ros's acronym for our nickname for her, "Little One-One")

Terry is resisting the change however!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


About the sleep, I may have spoken too soon - or even jinxed it. Last night Valerie and I were up and down and up and down and up and down again from 11:45 to 2:30 a.m. I made myself a bed on the living room floor (we moved our bedroom upstairs and I got tired of going up and down creaky stairs) and got some shut-eye until 6-ish. At that point she was throwing teddy bear and blankies out of the crib and stating "up!" in a very determined voice. But as soon as I picked her up to nurse, she fell asleep again, for another 40 minutes! I dozed off too, which was nice.

So we'll see what this evening brings. I think her 8th tooth (incoming) might have been bothering her. I put some orajel on it... but who knows, really???

Also, I'm thinking I might need to change the title of this blog (not the url, just the title). Any suggestions?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Thirteen Months Old Today

I have decided that I am, more or less, on vacation. That means not trying to do any academic work at the moment. Since we got back from Dallas, it's been all about settling into our home and routine and spending lots and lots of time focused on Valerie. I mean really focused, not just meeting her daily needs from moment to moment, but sinking attention and energy into her like water on soil. Thankfully it's not just me - but Terry and Grandma Dot and Grandpa Vern and her babysitter Rhoda as well, and our circle of friends to varying degrees.

Sometime between Saturday and Sunday I felt her settling into our home and routine herself. It really took a full week. From the beginning of May, it's been a revolving door of change and readjustments, and she took it well overall. But it was beginning to wear on her, and by the tiem we got back from Dallas (after the week of immunization-fevers and allergy rash as well) she was pretty worn out, I think. Mostly this manifested through sleep issues (of course) - waking around 3 times every night, uneven napping, and restless sleep - at least once every night it would take around an hour to settle her back to sleep. As of last night, this is abating.

I have been nursing her down since our move to Ithaca, both for the initial going to sleep and for the night waking. During our first few weeks in Ithaca she was still mostly sleeping through the night, but little by little that eroded. And even then, she would never go to sleep without crying at least for a few minutes (although never more than a half an hour). Now, thankfully, we seem to have found our bedtime rhythm and she's been going down really smoothly. As of last night, she still woke up 3-4 times, but she didn't have that restlessness so I think we are on a good trajectory.

So what is she up to at 13 months?
  • Working on walking! Tara and Aaron generously gave us the little riding toy in the previous post's picture, and she LOOOOOOOOOVES it!! She pushes it around all over the place, and it really seems to be supporting her walking practice.
  • She is going to be an athlete, because she loves to play with balls! She has 8 now (I counted) of varying sizes and textures. She still loves the game my mom invented, where we put her in the Pack'n'Play and toss a ball into it and she throws it out again. She's getting better at throwing them too.
  • She is going to be a scholar, because she loves her books! The last time I counted a few days ago, she had 56. And that's not counting the mini Tonka books or the books at Grandma Dot's! Since then she was given a set of Little Golden Books but I'm not sure how many are in it.
  • She is babbling ever more distinctly and coherently. Her two all-purpose words right now are "Up" and "Ba," although she modifies the vowel sound following the B, depending on the word she means: ball, bird, balloon, banana, blueberry, bear, etc. "Up" means: up, down, take me over there. She also growls "rrrraaaa!" to indicate a bear or lion (toy or picture), and says "babababa" in a high-pitched voice to imitate a chicken squawk (copying the way I do it: "bok-bok-bok-bok-bok-AWK!")*
  • She is signing a lot: ball, hat, dog, duck, bye-bye, and the one she invented (derived from the "zoom zoom zoom" rhyme) where she brushes her hands together as though brushing off dirt, which means "sing me a song," "tell me a story," or "keep singing," or sometimes just "again." She also waves her hand like a conductor when I'm supposed to sing a song to go with one of her books. And she points expertly :-)
  • Today we invented a new game where I tossed all her stuffed toys into the crib, and then she would throw out the one I asked for: dog, cat, Superman, etc. It was so cool to learn which ones she was able to identify!
  • She is eating really well! This was another area of development that suffered with our latest trip; she went back to nursing 7-8 times a day (instead of 3-4 as previously) and ate very little solid food. Now she's really putting it away. She especially likes black beans, avocado, blueberries, salmon, applesauce, and hummus, but chicken made her throw up the other day. So no meat (other than salmon). She's also eating cottage cheese now, in small portions. She does NOT like her food warm, she definitely prefers it room temperature or cold. She also eats bananas, pears, apples, green beans, potatoes, and more I can't even list it all. She's a good eater.
  • She continues, overall, to be an active, curious, delight and joy to our hearts.

* Historical note: my first word was evidently "coco," which is what chickens say in Spanish (co-co-co-co-co)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Beep Beep!

Last night in Singer's Glen:
And for comparison purposes, 11 months ago in Pennsylvania:

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Thinking of you, Uncle Dave, in hospital.

Monday, June 08, 2009

what a week Valerie had

  1. 5/31/09: moved back to the Burg from Ithaca
  2. 6/1/09: 12-month checkup with shots
  3. Subsequently: fever from vaccinations
  4. 6/3/09: developed rash after eating acai berries in baby food
  5. 6/4/09: flew to Dallas (after Dr. inspection and approval, with Benadryl)
  6. 6/5/09: still rashy and itchy
  7. 6/6/09: my college room-mate's wedding! (Rash all gone)
  8. 6/7/09: few back to VA

Monday, June 01, 2009

1 Year Check-up

Valerie is a little under the weather, having caught the cold Terry brought back from Uganda. At least she had a milder version of it than either he or I had. She's been mostly herself, except for a runny nose and a little bit of a cough.

But she did NOT enjoy our little jaunt to the doctor's office today. Sometimes I wonder why we go through this every few months. She was tiiiiiiiiired, from the trip yesterday and not having slept quite enough last night or during her morning nap. It's just that everything here is so interesting! Toys! Books! Furniture! Stuff! It was tough today to get her to focus/slow down enough to eat. So anyway, our appointment was at 1:30, creeping into naptime. We had her tested for lead, which meant a finger prick, and she had two shots. That on top of the usual poking and prodding was just too much. My poor little one-one.

The lead test was fine; they also tested her iron, which was also fine. She's on track with her milestones. Terry's a little concerned because she's only gained 1 lb 10 oz. in 3 months, for a total of 19 and 10 - which puts her in the 25th percentile, where she was in the 40th before. She's still in the 75th for length, at 30 inches even. But she eats well and generally has a great appetite, so I'm not too worried.

She had a haaaaaard time falling asleep tonight, even though she was really tired. She had a good nap in the afternoon, at least. But I think she was just uncomfortable from the shots, and it looked like she might have had too much sun too (it wasn't even that much, just about 15 minutes while we waited for Terry to return the moving truck at around 1 p.m.). She drank a lot of water and just wanted to nurse and nurse. I really don't think she was feeling very well. But she's sleeping soundly now... hope it lasts all night!