Sunday, October 27, 2013

We love FALL!

*** NOTE: while we are keeping up Zoë's blog still, we have expanded the Zych blog with the impending expanding family. Please bookmark our main blog and check here often. You can see the latest (ha ha... that means, whenever I manage to write anything) about Zoë and Bugaboo #2 (check soon for info about our ultrasound this week... Boy??? Girl???). The top tabs separate their separate blogs. ***

There are few times that we really enjoy living in Maryland and Fall is such a time. Almost every weekend there's something wonderful to experience-- apple picking, pumpkin patch complete with hayrides, lots of baking... and the sounds of music.

Many months ago, when we were in California, I introduced Zoë to one of my favorite movies of all time: The Sound of Music. Happily, Zoë also loved it and many of the songs stuck in her head... on repeat and only about five given words. It was first adorable, then made me cringe slightly, then... well, it was downright painful. But, I know that someday we will miss hearing this particular rendition. Enjoy the video!

Here's our album of Fall pictures, including Matt's birthday dinner where Zoë was the beautiful Indian waitress (and I was the Chef). Check back here soon, we will add the Halloween photos from this week, at least!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

In honor of Nana

Blogs are not books and they don't usually have dedications, but permit me this once to dedicate our blog to Grandma Florence (Nana): To the classiest lady with her twinkling eyes and big heart full of love and life, we love you and miss you. Hope that your eternity is filled with joy and peace.

Here are some of our stories, of recent...
(Sorry: Because of the large number of videos & photos, the page is a bit slow...)

I underestimated Zoë's sudden abilities on her bike and made the mistake of taking her out for a leisurely ride (not even wearing my sneakers or work out clothes!) I ended up sweaty and chasing her down the trail yelling "STAY TO THE RIGHT!" and "Red light. RED Light. RED LIGHT!!!!" (our code for stop NOW!)

Somewhere on the trail, she got very upset with my constant "advising". Um, that's my job, kid! To keep you safe. But there was pouting and some scolding: "I'm never going to talk to you again, Mom. Never, never, never. Then you can't tell me anything. Until my birthday. Don't talk to me till then." 

There wasn't much of a chance, anyway, since she rode off in a huff, me in chase once again... until we got to a bridge:  "Mommy, can we go that way?" So, back on track and on a road with fewer speeding, triathlon-types and then we suddenly were friends again. We both could relax on this smaller, friendlier trail. Suddenly, she stops and waits for me and then holds my hand and covers it with kisses all over and says: "You know how I yelled at you before? But I still love you and now I want to give you lots of kisses. Because I know you were being a good mommy. We are buddies, right?" True. The rest of our ride was peaceful.

Then we hit a big hill, she tells me: "Oh Wow! I just got some energy! I think it's because my food just broke down and got digested. You know, when it breaks down it gives you energy!"

Here's a 10 second video of her, before I worried that I will get too far behind (sorry for the shaking-- it's hard to run and video!)
For comparison, here she was a few months ago!    

"Dance with abandon"

Sometimes it is the small stuff... today I caught Zoë dancing like she usually does, with utter abandon (and a lot of turns). Time for Kathak? 


"Sheep and Wool Festival"

Who knew? Every May, all things sheep and lamb congregate about 20 miles from us in a "Sheep and Wool Festival". It's a rather strange hodge-podge of people and events, including the wrangling, showing, and sheering of sheep, ... eating, drinking and being entertained in with farm-fresh fare, ... but for knitters and yarn lovers, the best part is the showcasing of new yarns, wool, and fiber. We went with little expectations, and had some fun! 
Zoë got a sample bag of raw, shorn wool. This wool would get cleaned, washed and dried, before being made into yarn. We saw some people taking their cleaned wool and spinning it into the thin threads with would be mutliplied into thicker wool and then dyed, and then... made into something awesome, no doubt!

"Ms. Nelson is Missing"

This is a favorite story that I remember from my childhood. One day, I heard Zoë telling "her students" this story. (Even funnier is that they learned the story from a tape-recording at school, so she says "beep, page X", since the recording has those markers). 


We went to a carnival fair with a set-up "moonbounce" (if you aren't in the know: these are all the rage in the toddler scene: giant inflatable jungle gyms). While Zoë has had lots of exposure now to them, there are times when she charges in and then requires a bit of help to climb to the top, still. In this particular one, the lady warned us that it's for 5+ and we might have to go in and bail her out. But ... tickle me pink -- Look at her go! 

Actually she climbed faster than I could react and video-- so I only have the part where she enjoys the slide back down, the prize for her efforts.


"Living in the Moments"

In between school and the "have-to's", we manage some "want-to's". Know this quote?  

Step with care and great tact and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act. 
-- Dr. Seuss

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Three Little Pigs and Lunchboxes

This video needs no introduction. Okay... maybe a tiny introduction. In this video, Ms. Zoë relates the famous "Three Little Pigs" fairy tale with a slight variation. While lunchboxes are also rectangles, they may not be quite the same as bricks, structurally speaking. Even so... she's a natural story-teller and oh! so cute :) Enjoy!

Also, here are some photos from recent days, including visits from the fabulous Aria, her parents, and her grandparents (though I was not a very good photographer for their visit -- too busy enjoying, of course! So perhaps I will leave it to them to donate their photos please *hint, hint*!), ... cherry blossoms (barely caught those in our crazy Spring weather), ... and my trip to Monterey, CA for the HEAD meeting.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Zoe Town

Come visit Zoë Town, a magical world created by Miss Zoë Zych. In this exclusive video, she shares her vision for her special town. Come ride the trains! Shop at the one and only J-store! Meet the mayor-police-officer-chef! We welcome all visitors.

Fine print: Must bring your imagination. Food is available, but often takes days to arrive via Peapod--  a Giant Food Store food distribution vehicle. Town is liable to vanish at the end of play time, when we ALWAYS clean up our toys...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

My Big Girl

Ten days ago, Zoë turned four, as predicted. So, as she, herself, proclaimed -- Zoë's now a "big girl".

Days leading up to this big deal, she started dressing herself and putting her dishes in the sink, and all these other big girl things. I think the biggest excitement for us was that this was the first birthday where she was fully excited and aware of the big day. The other years, the birthday was more about our excitement and marking her milestones, she probably barely noticed. But this time... she noticed! (and we benefitted -- mornings are so much easier when she can brush her teeth, get clothes on and put her own shoes on!)

Sure, I miss cute, cuddly, diapered baby Zoë with the giggles and wobbly steps, but there are plenty of rewards when I realize that she can be independent and do things by her "own self". It is hard not to get sentimental about her cute outfits that don't fit anymore, or see her cloth-bottomed shoes and finger-sized booties and remember her nearly featherweight snoozing warmth swaddled in my arms. But then, it is so much more satisfying to be needed these days for fun and play than for food, diaper-changing, and those basic needs. "Mommy, I NEED you! Come play with me."

Of course, such a momentous age as "4" needed to be celebrated in as many ways as possible. Zoë had a class party. Actually, it was a Valentine's Day party, but most of the kids now associate V-day with Zoë Day (true story: one of the kids went home and told their mother that they weren't allowed to say "Happy Valentine's Day" because Zoë wasn't there and it was her special day). They sang to her like 3 times, before Mommy finally appeared with the obligatory payesh (rice pudding).

Then there was the celebration at Frosting, the cupcake cafe. (In case you are concerned about the number of cupcakes consumed in these celebrations, please refer to the earlier posting about that impossibility of "too many cupcakes" because of the theory of Tummy Chambers.)

We opened presents and Zoë sported her new backpack around the apartment and we soon got started making the dollhouse sent by her grandparents (that's her screwing together the walls all by herself)! Other presents were also read, played with, and worn within 24 hours of being opened. She loved everything and got settled making her Thank you cards, which now are beautifully signed by her own signature. On her birthday, I received a beautiful present of her impressive artwork!
Then we celebrated with all her friends at BounceU, a giant warehouse of inflatable slides, gym and climbing, and ate pizza and cake. I think even Zoë was then all birthday'ed out... until she began discussing her plans for her NEXT birthday. That's it -- she's hooked. It's official now: she's a BIG girl. Our little big girl :)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Vignettes from the Week

Before these stories fall out of my brain, I had to jot down these amusing anecdotes --

Traffic Light Greetings

Zoë: Daddy?

Daddy: Yes, Zoë.

Z: You know what Mommy does?

D: Hmm?

Z: Sometimes when we are going to school and we stop at a traffic light, Mommy looks at me in the mirror and says "Hi, Zoë". Then I say: "Hi, Mommy".  Isn't that nice?

(You never know what these kids notice and appreciate. It made me smile to know what such a simple gesture, practically an involuntary one, was observed and made some impression... makes me wonder about those not-so-good things that I do that might also get noticed. Hmmm...).


Tummy Chambers

We are out for cupcakes. While we wait for Daddy to join us, I find a couple of clementines in my purse. I peel one and offer some to Zoë. She eats a few segments and hands back the rest and says:

Z: No more, Mommy, I'm full. 

Mommy: But what are you going to do? Aren't we are going to have cupcakes?

Z: No problem, Mommy. See? My belly has different parts. One part is for bananas, one part is for oranges and one part is for cupcakes. The banana part is empty now, but the oranges part is all full. But don't worry -- there's always room in the cupcake part for more cupcakes. 

She's my daughter, alright -- always ready with some excellent justification for eating the sweet stuff.


The Lost Sock

When we were in Hawaii, I got Zoë some Hello Kitty socks, for our hike. It turns out that these are now her absolute favorite socks. One day, as I was folding the laundry, I discovered that I was missing one of the socks.

I told Zoë: Oh no! I think the laundry machine ate your sock. We'll save the other just in case the partner shows up later, but I think it might be lost. 

Zoë looked sad. The next day, as soon as I saw her after school, she ran over with great excitement and this news:

Z: Mommy, Mommy, Mommy! I found the sock! It was stuck to my blanket! (Then, sheepishly) Actually, I didn't find the sock. Ryanne did. (Pause... then, suddenly brightening) You know why? Ryanne's four years old. So her eyes are bigger than mine. That's why she can see things better and find things like my sock. When I am four, I will be able to see better and find things too!

Remember when you looked forward to aging?

Saturday, November 24, 2012


We had our mini-family Thanksgiving, complete with turkey, stuffing, pie, and platters of food, properly enjoyed, yet still languishing in our fridge (HOORAY! Megan's on her way right now to help us eat the leftovers and adding some variety with her special Thanksgiving dishes!). While we spent Thursday cooking and tackling dishes after dishes, we did talk a lot about the things we are thankful for. I was impressed with Zoë's attention to detail in her Thanks:

  • I am thankful that we went to IKEA and Mommy made me a dresser and a nice room. 
  • I am thankful for having the best Mommy and Daddy (awwww...) and I want to be best buddies forever.
  • I am thankful for my teacher and friends
  • I am thankful for Choo choo baby and my toys 
We decided to put these phrases on scraps of paper. Our poor pepper tree which lost its leaves, mainly in Hurricane Sandy, and bore us several nice peppers served as the base of our Thankfulness tree. We restored its splendor with fresh new leaves of gratitude and love. It was a really fun project and I think we will make it our Thanksgiving tradition -- the Thankfulness Tree.
Since we are never here for the Holidays, the Christmas tree tradition may just morph into this new version? Not quite the same, though. Hmmm...

Speaking of traditions and gratitude, we have been trying this new thing at dinner time: "Happies and Sads". Every day we each share our best and worst part of the day. It's a lot of fun to hear Zoë's assessment -- they are always more thoughtful than I would have imagined. It is nice to hear her appreciate the big and small in her life -- from playing outside, to reading with Mommy, or sitting in Daddy's lap for dinner... and also interesting to hear what upsets her -- someone pushed someone else at school, or hurt someone's feelings ... I guess this growing awareness offers the surest signs about how she is maturing.  Of course, she is growing and saying smarter things, but somehow it is the emotional growth that amazes me.

Zoë and I had a wonderful Friday (alas! Daddy had to work this day). We went to the pottery store and painted some gifts for her teachers. We will have to wait until next week to pick them up and see the finished product (stay tuned!). Then we went to cash in on Zoë's reward jar. Since she was such a great kid this past week, she got to have her nails painted! We went to the nail salon (yes, it couldn't simply be that Mommy painted her nails) next to Ballet class and Zoe chose a bright orange nail polish, that I'm sure only can look good on a little kid after all. Then a hot cocoa at Praline cafe. Then? A trip to the library for a fresh set of books! In Zoës words (well, paraphrased from Eloise, which was from our last library run): "Quite a day!" followed by a 2.5 hour nap. Whew!

I think we have a few more fun plans for this weekend. But I am especially excited to shop for Eddie with Zoë, a little boy that we are buying gifts for the Holidays, through a volunteer gift-giving program, the Angel Tree, at Zoe's school.

We are gearing up for the holidays -- the travel, the gifts, the plans. Oh! The fun...