Monday, December 21, 2009

It's official! Nana has a new name!

For those of you who did and/or didn't receive personal news about this, here is the official report!

Friday, December 18th, Effie's mother, Cris Bisch, had her name legally changed to "Lee Enry Erickson". Dirk was home sick, but Effie and Sephira went out with Nana and Papa to celebrate this new chapter and adventure in their lives.



Here is the back-story (written by Cris/Lee):

Yes. It's true. This may come as a surprise, even a shock to some of you, but I've changed my name! Really.

My birth name was Christie Lee Caufman, then when I married Cliff I dropped the "h" in Chris, even my middle initial, and taking the Bisch name I have been know by family and friends for the past 35 years as Cris Bisch. The Bisch clan is a wonderful family of which I am still proud to be a part.

Ever since I was a young girl, I have wished I'd been given the first name of Lee instead of it being my middle name like my mother's maiden name Marjorie Lee Erickson. Unfortunately, my maternal grandfather Leif (aka Lee) Henry Erickson died prematurely in his 40's before I was two years of age. I was his first grandchild and he loved me. The photo is of me sitting on the lap of Bestafar my Norwegian great grandfather with his son, my grandfather, Leif showing me a photo of my father who was away serving in the Korean Conflict with the Navy. This photo, representing four generations of our family, was on the front page of the Bellingham Herald on Father's Day, the year before my grandfather passed away.

Bestafar, Leif and Christie Lee with a photo of her father Robert Wesley Caufman.

So now my name is Lee Enry Erickson to fulfill my lifelong wish to honor his memory. And with this name I am pursuing my lifelong passion for writing, storytelling and pursing other creative ventures. At first, I intended Lee Enry Erickson to be an alias or pen name, but decided to take the plunge and formally take my new name for handling business and legal transactions, as well. I invite you to visit my L.E. Erickson blog at http://leerickson.com.

Although I will keep my "Cris Bisch" Facebook page, I am gradually transitioning over to my new identity in all online communications, including Facebook. I invite you to friend me as "Lee Erickson" on Facebook. My husband and children already have. They are very supportive; I hope you will be, too! I expect many if not most of you will continue to call me "Cris" by choice or habit, and that's perfectly fine with me, even if you friend me as "Lee". I'm a good at multitasking and respond well to both ; ). Remember, "Lee" has been my middle name all my life.

I apologize that I've only been able to include most of my family in this note and none of my friends, as I am having a persistent problem tagging more this note, but if you are reading this and are family or a friend of mine here on Facebook, feel free to share this note with mutual family and friends to help me spread the news. I've tagged Lee Erickson in this note, so you can easily click to view my new profile, and "friend" me there, as well.

I also want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. From our home to yours... Happy Holidays!

With Love, Lee (aka Cris)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Siverts Family Season’s Greeting | 2009

The saying, ‘Don’t blink or your kids will be grown before you know it’, has never rung more true. We’re in that group now.

Though most days, honestly, the reality of having a child still hasn’t really set in. Pregnancy, labor and delivery are all a blur in retrospect. An amazingly precious time in our married life, but a blur considering we are now 15 months post-partum and experiencing the early signs of life with a two year old. Life is beautiful. Life is wonderful. Now we ask ourselves, ‘Is she really ours? Do we really get to keep her?’ Sephira is just that cool! We have been mightily blessed.



We are finding the joy in celebrating Christmas as a family, as Sephira toddles around the Christmas tree helping us hang ornaments. (She actually did hang a few, stretching the cord just the right way to hang it over the tip of the bough.) We even designed and made our own stockings this year!



We have much to be thankful for. We finally finished our major backyard project this summer, designing and building the patio, trellis and garden boxes ourselves.



We experimented with our vegetable plantings and had an abundance of summer and patty pan squash, wonderful onions and leeks, chives and green tomatoes (great for stir frying). We’re already looking forward to next years garden, and put various bulbs in the ground in November.

Though juggling the baby and working from home part-time is harder than Effie anticipated, she wouldn’t trade it for anything. Through Sivecki & Associates (Effie’s web development and support business with partner Aaron Parecki) Effie continues to provide training and support of the Career Pathways Web Tool (Oregon State funded project through Lane Community College). The flexibility allows Effie to devote most of her daylight hours to developing a healthy, active, and educating lifestyle with Sephira. The two of them attend Baby Boot Camp 2-3 times a week for fitness, have play dates with friends, attend story time at the public library, and do all the general running around that keeps us organized and fed.

Sephira also gets lots of quality time with her Nana (Effie’s Mom). If Dirk is working on days that Effie has work commitments, Nana comes in to town. Sephira loves her Nana. They make up songs, read lots of books, explore and play all day! We're blessed that we've been able to keep our childcare within the family. Nana has also been gracious to care for Sephira all day on several occasions to afford Effie and Dirk some quality time out: dates to Belknap Hot Springs, romantic dinners, massage and matinees. These opportunities have brought us home sooo refreshed! Thank you, Nana, and Papa too, for the entertainment value you provide Sephira, and your support of Nana in supporting us!



Effie took to walking 5K races in April with the Walk for MS, and finished six 5Ks with Sephira in stroller or carrier; four of which Nana walked with us, and the last of which Effie ran with Dirk at the Mt. Angel Oktoberfest Road Race. To Effie’s surprise she is becoming a runner - something she never dreamed she would have had the desire or physical conditioning to achieve. Now she claims that life “after 30” and baby are the best years of her life, all thanks to the cardiovascular conditioning from Baby Boot Camp and the support, encouragement, and walk/run training from Dirk. She lost all her baby weight, plus an additional 20 pounds in 12 months.

Our other greatest thankfulness is Dirk’s semi-new job as Critical Care House Float at the Sacred Heart University District hospital in Eugene. He took the job just two months before Sephira was born and it has been the best change for us as a family. His stress (from being the ICU Charge Nurse) has significantly reduced, and now he gets a “weekend” in cycles of every 2-3 days. This is such a great thing! We go swimming (Sephira is a natural), we play at the park, we cook, we play, we laugh, we sing, we take mini-trips to the Aquarium or beach, or go to Bend to see some of Effie’s family and friends.

Dirk is teaching himself to play the acoustic guitar – learning styles and strumming, and memorizing cords – making and creating beautiful music. Effie occasionally plunks at the piano. We even try our hand at guitar and piano duets. Efforts we all enjoy as a family, with a hope our musical meanderings will inspire Sephira.



Dirk has also been challenging himself physically, completing the Albany Sprint Triathlon in personal record time of 1 hour and 21 minutes, and running two 5Ks. His desire to compete in more races was waylaid by a stress fracture in his right tibia, which took 12 weeks of NO impact to heal. After recovering from the fracture he thought he’d give Cyclocross racing a try. BMX for adults – it’s a blast!



And that’s it for sports news.



Something we’re very proud of is that since birth we have been teaching Sephira the Baby Signs® Program. By signing with her consistently we have developed communication before she can talk. Her first sign, and word, at 8 months was “book” (“aboo”). Now at 15 months she has over 60 signs that we’ve documented, and is picking up new signs and sounds daily – her new favorite being “help” (“howww” ). It truly feels like there isn’t a thing she can’t tell us, and if she doesn’t know what something is she asks “waahsdis?”, which only gives us more opportunity to see the world from her perspective.



Experiencing this, and feeling the relief of communication in a usually frustrating time for parents and infants, Effie and Nana decided to start a business teaching the Baby Signs® Program to parents and caregivers in our area. Their business is called Tot2Sign, LLC (tot2sign.com), and they hope to begin offering classes in February 2010. Sephira will be their testimony and poster child.

And there you have it! Our crazy, wonderful, ‘don’t blink’ world in two pages. We look forward to reading your news, and hope the New Year finds you healthy, joyful and in the company of your loved ones.

Happy Christmas!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Decorating the Christmas Tree

This is a little 10 minute video of our family decorating our first Christmas tree together. Special times for us that we want to share with our family and friends around the States, and beyond.

May the joy of the season fill your home as it does ours!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sephira and her Giraffe Galoshes

Sephira loves giraffes...of course all thanks to us because they're all over her bedroom!...but when I saw these boots I just couldn't resist! And now she can't resist wearing them, even though they're still 3 sizes too big!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sephira Dancing to the Blues

Sephira loves to dance. This just shows how much! But you gotta be playing the blues!!!! Oh, she is a riot!!!



She is 14.5 months old in this video from Thanksgiving 2009, rockin' out to Etta James at Nana and Papa's house in Lorane, Oregon. Her other fave is Marvin Gaye.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sephira Dresses Herself

Sephira loves to put on pants and shirts...and sometimes they get reversed. Here she put her coat on her legs, too cute, and proceeded to walk around the house.

This video also shows how good she is at communicating with us, with her signs and such. We find it hard to edit out too much of these little clips because of these precious moments we share with her. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Our Little Thrill Seeker

Sephira loves activity that gives her a "rush". Swing, by her arms or legs, and in conventional playground swing equipment...and recently discovered is her radio flyer wagon! We've been able to instill good safety habits by having her wear her bike helmet anytime she wants to go for a joyride. Now she'll try to put it on herself without any complaints!!!

She's also able to use her Baby Signs to communicate her playtime fun: more, all done, down, etc. We have SO much fun together!!! And with this sport, Mama and Dada get really tired!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sephira and her Christmas Giraffe



Well, you wanted to see a happy baby, here you go!!! Thanks Granpa and Grandma Siverts for making Sephira soooo happy!!! There was no way we could hold off giving her this present before Christmas, and the timing couldn't have been better! She loves her Giraffe Pillow Chum. She sits on it everyday reading books, relaxing, and just generally having a happy place to call her own. We tell her, "go sit on your Giraffe", and she knows exactly what to do!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sephira and the Pillow Chum

Sephira loves throwing herself on pillows on the floor, and a friend just received a Giraffe Pillow Chum as a birthday gift during our baby group birthday party on Sunday. All ten of our babies are now officially one year old, so we had a group celebration - and costume party!







Well...Sephira monopolized the Pillow Chum! It was hilarious!!! Just two days prior we had been talking about getting her a bean bag or something to enjoy like this, and when we saw how much she loved this we knew this is what she really needed. Besides, we have a little giraffe theme going on in her bedroom, so the giraffe is most fitting.


We went straight out to our local Costco warehouse where our friend had purchased this, but unfortunately they were sold out. Costco.com only offered the "lion" and was sold out of all the other animal creatures, and when I tried to buy one on eBay Sunday night the seller (who had 6 listed for sale) was sold out! Target offered a variation, but it was more expensive and just not the same, and I couldn't find these ANYWHERE else online! So, in an act of desperation and enlightenment I called the Costco off of Barnes Road and N Powers in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Granted we live in Eugene, Oregon, but with family living in Colorado Springs we thought, 'other Costco's are bound to have these still in stock, and if they have one there our family can buy it for us and ship it to us!'. Well, to our luck they had 92 of the pillows still in stock...though they couldn't tell how many of the "giraffe" remained. Step 1 was a lucky guess! Step 2, I sent the email off to family stating the request.

Yesterday afternoon I got the call from my father-in-law, Eric, stating that he was standing in front of what looked like a spotted hippo, and I said, "That's the one!". How exciting, for all of us! Dirk was thrilled that I was so resourceful, and Sephira is going to be tickled to have it to play on...considering we won't be able to wait for Christmas to give it to her! That night Dirk laid out pillows for her to play on again and we know, without a doubt, she's just going to love having her new Giraffe!

Thank you, Granpa Eric!!!!

Here's video from the party of Sephira playing on her friend Avery's pillow. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Costume Birthday Party

Our Birth To Three group got together the day after Halloween to celebrate all our babies turning "one year" old! We celebrated with a costume birthday party. Sephira wore her ladybug costume that Dirk's co-worker, Pat Dickison, made for her before she was born!

We've been meeting with these families every two weeks since our babies were three months old. We are a big group of 10 families, so it's a lot of fun and activity when we get together. Sephira is the oldest by 10 days...ending with Avery who is 6 weeks younger.




Sephira dressed up as a ladybug for our Birth To Three birthday/costume party celebration!


Our baby group! Ten families in all!


The babies playing together...


And sharing together...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween 2009

Sephira's first Halloween participating in pumpkin carvings and trick or treating! Well...we actually did the gutting of the pumpkin since she had absolutely no interest in sticking her fingers in the "goo".





For Halloween night she dressed up as a dinosaur. We originally had not planned to take her trick or treating, but she was too interested in all that was going on outside so we met up with a neighbor who also has a one year old, and a three year old, and went around two blocks with them. Sephira was fascinated with knocking on the door and receiving candy. She will show the "knocking" sign anytime she hears the sound now, and for three days she drug her stash of goodies around the house, inventorying every piece.


Our little dinosaur! Roar!




Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sephira and her HighChair

Baby Einstein is offering refunds?

"The Walt Disney Company is offering refunds for its “Baby Einstein” videos, a tacit admission that they did not increase intellect." ...read more here:
No Einstein in Your Crib? Get a Refund - NYTimes.com


Auntie Rebekah & Uncle Wes watching Baby Einstein with the babies!


Here is my opinion based on what I've read to educate myself as a parent, and my own personal experience as a parent:

The biggest issue for educational development in children is parent involvement, so any program whether stated as educational or not, is not going to be educational unless the parent, guardian or teacher is actively involved in helping the child learn what the materials are trying to teach. I have only been showing Sephira the Baby Einstein program 2 or 3 times a week, and I never let her watch it without me. I'm always holding her in my lap and talking with her about what we are seeing and learning. (She'll sign that she sees something and I'll confirm by telling and signing to her what it really is, or I'll teach her new signs, point to body parts, or talk in depth about the scene, objects, people, animals, etc.) The only other videos I show her are home videos of herself and activities she's done to help her, and see if she does, remember the events. If programs are used as a babysitting device I can see how it can cause attention issues because the child has no ability to focus, since they don't understand and can't process what they are seeing without instruction and assistance. At least for now. When they are bigger monitored and limited exposure to TV/computer based programs should still be maintained. There is nothing better than hands on play!

Sephira getting ready to knock down Dada's block tower


Dada helping Sephira learn to draw with crayons


Sephira learning to draw

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

In our neck of the woods...



Sephira's naps are FINALLY getting more "predictable". She always needs a least a half hour nap around 9:30-10:30am, and then she's starting to take a 45min-2 hour nap in the early afternoon!!!! Yeah! Though it helps if Effie is home and not out running errands during that time too. Otherwise Sephira falls asleep in the car and that throws things off. Granted she doesn't always fall asleep in the car while we're driving, but if we've been out doing many activities like swimming or Baby Boot Camp, she'll fall asleep afterwards, later in the morning around 10:30-11am, since these activities disturb her 9:30ish nap. Up until 2 weeks ago she used to only ever take half our naps twice a day...so we're thankful for the progress. Her naps would be longer if Effie napped with her, which sometimes she did because she needed it too...but generally Effie is only able to have productive time with work, etc. when Sephira's sleeping.

Fortunately she does love her car seat and has taken to playing in it when we bring it in from the car.






We've really only been making good progress this last month on her night time sleep too. She's just not a good sleeper. She's finally starting to get 7+ hours of sleep in one shot, and wakes once between 2:30-5am for a feeding, then sleeping again until 6-7:15am. It seems like she's got a little timer that says 'any more than 11.5 hours of sleep and I'm awake'! No questions about it. That is until she started teething...again! Two molars are coming in this week...so anything goes.

Generally she has pretty good moods, and is already showing us what a wonderful and fun personality she has. She's definitely a morning person like her Dada though! And fortunately for Dirk he gets to enjoy that morning time every couple days with his work schedule. (Two days on, two days off.) He's very grateful for that because if he only knew her in the later afternoon/evenings he wouldn't think she was a very happy child. She tends to be more "transparent" with her moods in the afternoons between 4-6pm, and any time after 6 pm is "melt down" time when she's ready for her bath and bedtime. We usually bathe her around 6:45 and have her tucked in between 7:15-7:30 depending on how many stories she likes to read. Her current bedtime stories of choice are Goodnight Gorilla, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and the 5 Wishing Stars. She's even starting to sign "star" and asking for the book by name! Eventually we just have to say "all done" (accompanied with signing) for her to understand that book time is over and she'll settle in to finish nursing while Effie recites "Wynken Blynken and Nod" and sings her to sleep.

One week after her birthday she started taking her own independent steps. Within one week we stopped counting steps and now only four weeks later she's figuring out how to run. Gee that happened fast!




She has over 40 signs she's doing now (everything from "eat", "hot", "helmet", "outside", "potty", "wash" to "mouse" and "butterfly"), and many verbal accompaniments to them as well, such as "iddy" for kitty, "dodo" for shoes, "eye" for eye, "dee" for keys, and she is also starting to provide animal sounds on queue, like horse (neigh), monkey (ooo), lion (roar), bumblebee (vibrating lips), and a few others that skip my mind at the moment. There is very little that is left to guessing about her interests and needs. Having the ability to communicate with her creates such a tremendous bond between all of us and it is very clear how reduced our frustrations are compared to other families we meet. Oh! And she LOVES babies! Baby, baby, baby is prime observation these days!!!

She has also started to respond REALLY well to "point to this", "where is that" (also showing the "where" sign), "pick up this", "hold my hand", "hands up/down", and she'll even show you her "left foot" and "right foot" when prompted, thanks to Dr. Seuss' "The Foot Book"! She's an incredibly smart and observant girl, and it's so fun that she's sharing our world to us through sign!

Due to time constraints with full time mothering Effie is making slow but steady progress through her Baby Signs training materials in hopes of offering Baby Signs classes in the next few months. Now having the experience and passion behind signing with babies she is excited to share this with everyone in our community! As thing become official you can find out more at Effie's business website: Tot2Sign, LLC! (biz website: www.tot2sign.com)

And to leave you on a fun note, here is a link to Effie's mother's blog that she is updating regularly: http://cookaroundtheblock.blogspot.com/. Cris has started a cooking challenge with some friends and is writing about it as a personal therapy since her car accident in March. We think you'll really enjoy the wonderful thoughts and recipes she is sharing here! Her most recent post includes a cute little video of Sephira teasing "Papa" with food! We've been learning new recipes thanks to her endeavors here, and have some new favorites to share with you as well. If you want any particular recipe, just ask! Another new favorite comes from a friend of hers who is also doing the cooking challenge: Oatmeal Sweet Potato Muffins!!! Delish! (Printed recipe is missing 1/2 tsp salt; don't forget to make note. We also add chopped pecans.) We just made a double batch of these tonight to enjoy and also share with friend whose husband is recovering from hip surgery.

Our recent visit to the pumpkin patch!

Pretty as can be!


Dada consoling his baby. She was having a sad afternoon...and she's LOVES her Dada!


Precious moments with Mama and daughter...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mealtime with Sephira

Here's a little window into some of our precious mealtime moments... Sephira is learning how to feed herself with a spoon, and we enjoy mealtime VERY much!


Sephira is a foodie. She enjoys eating everything from avocados to enchiladas, rice to green olives! And boy howdie does she love meat! Any type of sausage, chicken, ribs or other and she's a happy camper. She's pretty good with her veggies too, but we'd have to say peas and corn are her favorites. She eats fruit, like blueberries, bananas, applesauce, the occasional spoonful plums or apricots...but apart from blueberries and bananas she doesn't show much interest or desire for most fruit. Though recent experiments with frozen fruit cups are widening our horizons! Especially after hard nights of teething!

NOTE: We have recently discovered that she is allergic to tomatoes, whether raw, cooked or otherwise. She developed an immediate and long lasting skin rash under her mouth....so NO TOMATOES for this chickadee! Future eating experiments will tell us when she's able to consume them again. This is unfortunate for her, since Spanish Rice is one of her all-time favorites foods!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sephira is Walking!!!

Sephira is officially walking, having taken her first steps last week (at 12 and a half months old). She is rapidly picking up the pace and showing her skill!!! See here in this short video.
video

Sephira is growing up SO fast...but into such a beautiful girl, inside and out. She is able to share her world with us through Baby Signs which we have been teaching her since birth. She currently uses and understands 36 signs and is able to communicate her preferences with us every day! Her favorites signs are: book, frog, duck, swing, milk, all done, more, eat, potty, diaper, wash, bath time, water, kisses, ball, and flower! Her verbal skills are also rapidly picking up and she is saying "Mama", "Dada", "Baby", "Booh" (book), "Hi", "Wawa" (water), "Bubbles", "Baa" (ball), "Nana" (Effie's Mom), and "Iddy" (kitty). She loves to eat fresh strawberries and flowers from the garden and sand on our visits to the Oregon Coast.







Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sephira's 1st Birthday and Dedication

We celebrated Sephira's 1st birthday by dedicating her to the Lord with family and friends. Our friend, Reverend Wesley Schlenker, performed the dedication for us in our home.

MANY could not be with us, so here is a short photo slideshow to share the day with you!!!
video





Saturday, June 20, 2009

Family Self-Portraits in the Park

We have decided to make our self-portraits in the park an annual event. Our first was taken just two weeks before Sephira was born, up at Hendricks Park in Eugene, and we thought it would be fun to repeat the setting, wearing the same outfits with her at (around) the same age as when she was in utero!

Sephira is now 9 months of age, and an absolute joy and angel to behold! We are sooo blessed!










Dirk celebrating his first Father's Day!