Amie, Laura and i blow out candles, 2008 (c) Katrien Vander Straeten

This was Amie’s birthday, on the 18th. Amie was my own birthday present three years ago, so those were my candles as well. And one of our best friends, Tia Tata (which is what Amie calls her), was also born on the 18th, in the same year as me. Tia Tata was our roommate for a while before we moved out of town – unfortunately she couldn’t join us. So we all joined forces. For weeks Amie had practiced blowing out candles and looking very important while the birthday song was being sung, and this was the great moment. She enjoyed it thoroughly. In the evening she said: “All my big friends were here, and my little friends also came!”

Amie has always been interested in recognizing letters, and she has been able to write her name for many months, but it was more an exercise in memory than real writing. She can analyze the first and the last sounds in a word, but not the ones in between yet, unless it is an easy word like “Mama”. Yesterday we were drawing with chalk on our driveway when, she spontaneously wrote out “Mama”.

Amie writes “Mama”, August 2008 (c) Katrien Vander Straeten

Then she asked to learn more letters. I taught her the easier ones: from E she can make L and F, for instance. The most difficult one was B,which she wanted because she wanted to write “Boo” (her favorite character from “Monsters, Inc.”). She turned B into a stick with two circles. Then I asked her to write “Moo” too, and she did:

Amie writes “Moo”, August 2008 (c) Katrien Vander Straeten

She also wanted to write “Pig”. P was easy after B, but the G was too difficult, so I shower her the small g. This was her first attempt:

Amie writes “B”, August 2008 (c) Katrien Vander Straeten

Then the next attempt:

Amie writes “Pig”, August 2008 (c) Katrien Vander Straeten

I know I’m not being consistent with the large and small case letters, and that really one should start children off on the small case ones. But that’s how writing develops in the organic (chaotic) context of our home. But she’ll be starting preschool on the eighth. She’ll be going to a Montessori school, so I’m relieved there will be some professional help with her new enthusiasm.

She also drew this:

Amie’s dead bunny rabbit, august 08 (c) Katrien Vander Straeten

Yes, it really is  a “dead bunny rabbit [oops, my misspelling], not a real one!”

This hummingbird had visited us a couple of times. Flying right up to the window to take a peek into the living room. Then DH came home with a hummingbird feeder and some “nectar” and we hung it. Within ten minutes the hummingbird came to feed.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (c) Katrien Vander Straeten, 2008

I believe it’s a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, a female one (the ruby throat is reserved for the adult males). I hope she will bring her friends along! The are a miracle to behold: the smallest bird I’ve ever seen, a little big larger than a big moth, and such a nifty flyer!

I’ve been buying many quarts of blueberries at the Farmer’s Market. Half gets eaten and half gets frozen. I rinse them (they’re organic), dry them, then spread them on a cookie sheet and freeze them through. Then I pick ‘em up with a metal spatula and drop them in a freezer bag. Then I suck out what air I can with a straw and quickly seal it. Like so:

Frozen blueberries (c) Katrien Vander Straeten

My question to you is: how can I make these freezer bags more airtight? I find that after some days when I check them, air has sneaked back in. Should I tape them, or glue them somehow? Any ideas?

We are slowly gearing up to start work on the garden now. If only it stopped raining for long enough so that the ground isn’t so soggy… Oftentimes it looks like the Deluge around here. As DH said: the polar caps will be devoid of ice soon, and all that water needs to go somewhere! I barely make it out of that apocalyptic mood that I sometimes indulge in by invoking that haunting line of Josh Ritter’s: “And a river falls on another sea” (“Roll On”)… and the downpour somehow looks beautiful and serene.

Well, in any case, Amie has been doing a lot of art work. Her paternal grandmother has been staying with us for almost a month now, and she introduced a wonderful homemade dough that Amie goes for regularly throughout the day – she now opens the fridge and takes it out herself.

Amie loves to make Popsicles (a ball of dough on a tiny stick found outside) and now also trees. Here is a particularly colorful tree.

Amie’s dough tree, August 2008 (c) Katrien Vander Straeten

And the following is a birthday cake with candles:

Amie’s dough birthday cake, August 2008 (c) Katrien Vander Straeten

She has also been drawing on her blackboard. This one she drew after seeing Mickey Mouse in a book:

Amie’s chalk drawing, august 2008 (c) Katrien Vander Straeten

And this now is a very special one that she made today, again without our knowledge. Her grandmother came into the playroom to see what she was doing and she asked her to go away! We discovered the drawing in the evening, after she had gone to sleep:

Amie’s chalk drawing, 6 August 2008 (c) Katrien Vander Straeten

Isn’t that the cutest creature? I’ll ask her tomorrow who or what that is.

UPDATE: It’s the sun!