Savanna turns six

Every year, I am surprised by how fast time has gone, and how fast the the kids grow. I’m always caught off guard a little when it’s time for their birthday. You’d think I’ve gotten some practice and would know better by now. But no, I’m still in shock that Savanna is turning six.

This past year, Savanna made some really significant strides. For the last 2 years, she has repeated the exact same swimming class over and over and over and over and over. She refused to put her face in the water. I want her to do this at her own pace. A few months ago, one day she just did it. At her own will. Then all of a sudden her swimming progressed at the speed of light. The other day she offered to teach me how to swim. I think that day is coming very soon.

Also, since she has entered the elementary school system, she has been very shy and reserved in class. You can barely hear her. She never spoke up. But this year, she has just gotten out of her shell. She puts up her hand to ask questions and answer questions. She participates. She speaks up. She gives direction.

Even though she is small, she has great endurance. She can hike and walk far. She can ski all day without feeling tired. She ended last season without needing any assistance down very long green runs at Whistler, even some easy blue runs. I can’t wait to see how she will progress this season.

Our favorite thing to do together include playing Spot It, Zingo, or Uno, or go for a walk and get coffee. She is so good at finding something interesting to do or look at, anywhere we go. She never complains about being bored. She adapts to her environment quickly. When we went ice fishing last winter, she spent hours playing in the snow in freezing cold temperature. On a long drive, she’ll hum quietly the entire time.

When she decided she wanted to enter the iRide bike races at cyclocross events, she didn’t care that she is still riding with training wheels when all the other kids are riding 2-wheels. She pedaled her little heart out, picked up her bike after a fall, and continued. I don’t give a rats ass that she rides with training wheels. Her grit and her determination make me just burst with pride.

Happy birthday, Savanna. I wish you a year full of new adventures and discoveries.

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A week in Kelowna

In 2015, we took the family to Kelowna for the first time and the kids had a blast. We have returned pretty much annually ever since. The kids love picking fruits, going to the beach, and visiting various farms. This year Josh and I also biked the Myra Canyon portion of the Kettle Valley Rail.

We’ve been back in town for a week now, and we’re still enjoying the fruits we picked from Kelowna. We eat them fresh, make smoothies, make popsicles, and make kombucha with them.

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Savanna turns five

Me: “Savanna, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

Savanna: “A teenager.”

*****

Five years ago, I was so worried about adding another kid into the already crazy mix. Josh was just starting potty training, and reliably sleeping through the night. Now another baby is going to join our family. I could not imagine loving anyone more than I loved Josh.

Then bam. This little girl showed up. All of a sudden, my heart threw a few sizes. There was just no doubt in my mind the moment I saw her. I’d do anything for this little being.

*****

Savanna and I are very similar, and therefore we butted heads a lot. From the moment she can speak a single word, she contradicted me. But if Cliff jumped in to the conversation, she immediately softens and listens to him.

Then we went to Morocco. It changed our relationship. It was the first time we had each other to ourselves. I began to appreciate her patience, her adventurous spirit, her tenacity, and her adaptability. She began to see I’m sometimes right. This year, we went to Costa Rica. I messed up the GPS direction, and turned a 2-hour drive into a 5-hour drive. She did not complain or whine or make a peep. She sang silly songs, played with her toys, munched on snacks, and took a nap in the backseat while I sweated it out driving the mountainous roads in a downpour.

*****

Savanna discovered this year that she can live off of mangoes alone. She loves arts, crafts, pottery, and dance. She does not like playing sports or swimming. She can ride her 2-wheel bike about 10 meters unassisted. She is capable of riding down a green run at Whistler without help.

She has little interest in building a Lego structure, but she’ll play with the figures for hours on end. Her dream of having a real cat was realized earlier this year when we adopted Jewels.

Despite her small stature, she walked into Kindergarten and was not shy about giving everyone else commands at clean-up time. We opened up her piggy bank the other night, and she put a large portion of her savings into the “investment” jar, immediately earning 10% interest from the bank of mom-and-dad. My prediction is that she is going to be a CFO one day.

*****

Savanna teaches me to savour my food, enjoy my surroundings, and not live my life for the expectations of others. She is the most incredible 5-year-old I have ever met.

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Savanna goes to Kindergarten

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I swear that one minute she was just a little baby, and next minute she chooses what she wants to wear for her first day of school. How did this happen?

The night before school, Savanna told me, “I’m going to be too shy tomorrow.” I said that’s fine, I’m shy too, but sometimes I pretend that I’m not shy. She said, “I don’t want to pretend.” I said, that’s fine too. You don’t have to pretend.

When I went to Kindergarten, I clearly remember refusing to nap next to the other kids. The principal eventually caved, and let me sleep on the couch in the office. Out of the entire school, I was the only one who got to sleep on the office couch, while the other kids napped on the floor. And look how I turned out? I’m 41 and still a socially awkward introvert. But hey, I manage. So what if Savanna decides she’s gonna be too shy? Oh well. Who am I to judge?

According to Cliff, though, Savanna was shy the first day when I went with her. Starting the next day, she had no problems talking to the teacher or the other kids. Apparently this week she is initiating to help the teacher in the classroom. This kid is going to do so much better than her mother.

 

Costa Rica with Savanna

Savanna and I came back from Costa Rica late on Tuesday night last week. We came back with some coffee and chocolate in our suitcase. But I also came back with a load of great memories of hanging out with this little human.

We stayed at a B&B owned by an older couple. The house was designed by the husband, the garden designed by the wife, situated on their family’s coffee plantation. We were surrounded by greenery. They  had two dogs and two cats, which is the equivalent of heaven for Savanna.

We were fed amazing fresh mangoes, juice from their own orange trees, and locally made cheese every morning. We went to the local farmers market to get fresh produce, drank coconut juice, and ate watermelon. When the monsoon rain started in the afternoon, we would stay in and do puzzles, coloring books, play with the host’s grandson’s toys. We took one cocoa farm tour where we gorged on chocolates made from the farm’s own cocoa fruit, and drank hot chocolate from freshly ground cocoa nibs.

In general, we spent a ton of time together enjoying each other’s company. I tried hard to savour every minute of time spent with Savanna, and memorize her still-baby’ish cheeks. I know how fast this time goes by, and I am in such denial that she’s going to kindergarten in September.Angela Chang Photography Costa Rica San Jose trip

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The house we stayed at

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Farmers market

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A fresh bean. My first time seeing one.

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Giant papaya

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Freshly made tortilla

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Savanna spent lots of time playing in the yard with branches and twigs.

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We did hours of coloring and puzzles.

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Churro filled with caramel. I ate most of it.

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Oranges that are great for juicing after they ripen. The smell of the orange flowers is a.m.a.z.i.n.g.

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Savanna collected walnuts in the yard

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On the cocoa farm tour, Savanna got to crack open a cocoa fruit.

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This is what the inside of the cocoa fruit looks like.

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Dried cocoa beans.

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Once dried, the cocoa beans are roasted to intensify the flavour.

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Then you crack the shells open.

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Grind up the cocoa nibs, make hot chocolate, and give it all to Angela.

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This is a story for another day. It’s a story about how I turned a 2-hour drive into a 5-hour drive on the twisty-est and rainy-est mountain roads in Costa Rica.

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And this is how patient this kid is about her mother’s ability to mess up the Google map directions.

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I am totally crazy about this little human being, and absolutely in love with her.

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Every morning, the sweetest and juiciest mango greets us.

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A stroll on the coffee planation with the B&B host.

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Savanna said, “Look Mommy, I found a heart!”

Day 53/365 {Appointment}

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Life has come down to this–I put in my calendar for dinosaur puzzle appointments with Savanna. A combination of my terrible memory and busyness of life leaves me no choice but to put important things in my calendar and set a reminder.

Savanna has asked me a few nights in a row to do the puzzle with her. But she always asks me before bedtime and there’s just not enough time to fit it in. So this week, I finally just put her request in my calendar. I laid out the puzzle for her while she was having a bath, so we’re ready to do the puzzle when she came out.