Monday, October 22, 2007

October sunshine

OK, I know we're having a drought here on the east coast, but it's been the most gorgeous October - warm weather in the 70s constantly and golden days with clear blue skies. The last 2 weekends have been spent visiting Virginia wineries near Leesburg and out by Front Royal. The latter group have the best views of the Shenandoah Valley and lots of gorgeous blue ridges parading off into the horizon. Probably the best was Fox Meadow Winery in Linden where I met a couple and their mom on the deck outside the tasting room. Their 20-month-old took up with Veeka and they invited me to sit at their table and down some white wine while the kids played, leaving us in peace for a few blessed moments as the sun slowly set, turning the landscape golden.
Virginia, for those of you who do not know, is the nation's fifth largest winery state after California, Washington, Oregon and New York. Who knew?
When not downing Merlot or Chardonnay, I am swamped with 2 book deadlines. Friday is the deadline for a chapter I am contributing to a book on Iraqi Kurdistan. And then there's four more chapters I am slaving away at for my leaving church book, all due before Nov. 15. It's a ton of work, while at the same time working full-time and also looking after The Moppet.
Speaking of which, she is fine. A speech therapist meets with her weekly but progress is slow. Did you realize you cannot *make* a 2-year-old say anything? The photo is her with John Yates, one of the pastors at Shrinemont, who could not resist putting our little bundle onto his lap.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Veeka turns 2 1/2

Yep, it's been six months the moppet had her birthday party. Her latest accomplishment: figuring out zippers. Now she can get into Mommy's purse! Hopefully we can get started on potty training; at this point she should be ready for it but as you all know, forcing the issue is not helpful. Anyone with ideas please send them here. She was somewhat potty-trained at the orphanage so I am going to do what they did; after every meal, she will have a session on that little pink seat. Hopefully she will get the hint. It's been suggested I pour water down her little throat to, um, speed the process up in terms of it coming out the other end. Well, trying to make Veeka eat or drink anything she doesn't want to makes for one glorious food fight.
Her little attention span is slowly growing. She's taking more of an interest in crayons and coloring books instead of just tossing the crayons across the table. She also opening books on her own and wanting me to sing the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" to her. "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" is also a popular choice.
I met a woman today at the post office who suggested that Veeka's slowness in talking may have to do with her tongue muscles not being as developed as kids who had more time breastfeeding or with a bottle. So it's just harder for her to shape the words. Sooooo, I bought some lollipops for her today to build up that muscle! That's the kind of exercise Veeka likes.
The photo is of Veeka charming one of the Shrinemont gardeners.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Shrinemont redux

When we signed off last time, I was in Kansas City juggling a rainy day, little Miss Veeka and an assignment to cover a pro-immigration demonstration. The first photo is of Veeka pushing a toy vacuum cleaner at the coolest kids' furniture store. She stayed amused for awhile, which was fortunate as it was raining a lot. Then she napped, the babysitter arrived on time (I found her through the hotel) and I wended my way through southern Kansas City to arrive at this demonstration near one of the main freeways. Other than the fact I was quite cold, it was all quite interesting and a great way to finish up my trip.
We are now back here although this past weekend I went on a church retreat to a lovely Episcopal place called Shrinemont, located in Orkney Springs in the mountains just before the West Virginia state line. Veeka charmed everyone and, after her nap, I thought I'd take her partway up the nearby mountain, thinking she would want to walk a little bit on the path up. The path ran through the Stations of the Cross and by the second station, our little princess decided she could care less about the acorns and the birds; she just wanted to be carried. So I lugged my 22-pound bundle all the way to the summit. So the next photo is of a very sweaty me with a relaxed Veeka. Lastly, Veeka is one for grabbing the spotlight whenever she can. She also loves music so when she saw this kid playing the piano, she ran up, sat on the bench beside him whether he wanted her there or not and started "helping" him to play. So, yes, music lessons are in her future.
As for me, I have a book manuscript deadline this week - three-quarters of it needs to be handed in by Wednesday so I am signing off so I can work!