Friday, December 30, 2011

The trouble with Chloë's cookies, Memento-style

Scene 3
Chloë attempts to climb into her carseat. Normally she can do this easily, but she won't use her hands, so she fails. "You're still holding those cookies, aren't you?" I sigh. I take them from her. She scrambles up into her seat and settles back. She holds out her hands, and I hand the cookies back before I buckle her in.

Scene 2
Chloë sits by the back door while I put her shoes on. "I still have my cookie," she informs me, holding it up. "I have two cookies."

Scene 1
Chloë comes to me while I'm packing the diaper bag so we can go out. "Look Mama, I made cookies," she says. "Do you want a cookie?" She offers me her empty sand shovel, and I take an imaginary cookie and taste it. "Mmm, delicious," I pronounce, and she takes a cookie for herself.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Status report: Chloë, Month 29, and Maia, Month 8

I walked in the door last night after work. Chloë, standing in the kitchen, looked up and pointed. "Mommy, are you home Mommy?" she said. "Is it snowing outside?" Meanwhile, Maia sat in the opposite doorway and spotted me. By the time I'd put away my bags and taken off my shoes, she was there at my feet, grinning her "Pick me up!" grin. I love my girls.

Chloë grows ever more verbally mature these days: complicated sentences, complicated reasoning, advanced memory. "That is for the water park," she said knowledgeably of Maia's new life vest (...thing; it's not quite a vest proper). We haven't talked about the water park for months. "Mama, what day is it?" she asked a couple of weeks ago, and when I told her Friday, "Are you going to wear your sneakers to work today?"
 "We will use more sprinkles at our next Cookie Day," she says. Cookie Day was, admittedly, a pretty big hit with her. She got to wear an apron, just like Mama and Mimi and Addie, and was very, very useful in cutting out cookies and decorating with sprinkles and rolling balls in sugar. Who knew two-year-olds were so good at snickerdoodles?

 She's been climbing in and out of the bathtub "all by myself." In the tub, she still lies down to get her hair wet and now helps to soap herself up (bar soap is her newest fascination). Then, when she's all soapy, we turn on the showerhead. I have to use the head on her up close to get her hair rinsed, or she won't do it, but then I replace it and she cavorts under the water until I force her to come out. We're contemplating going to a water park again this winter with some friends, and if it works out I can't wait to see how happy she'll be.

She's been doing a lot of crawling lately, which I think is due to reversion because of Maia getting so much attention for it. (Except for the crawling she's doing in her Play Hut.) She wants to be held, and to "nuggle" quite a bit, too. I'm not sure if it's jealousy or insecurity due to getting to be a bigger girl, or what. I'm happy to hold her, though. And Maia is happy to play with her when she gets down on the ground, or try to steal her sippy.

 And for some reason she's been trying to lick people. It's mostly stopped after she got a time-out on Christmas night and a threat of not playing with her cousins if she kept it up.

Now that we're better at understanding her, her unhappiness escalates even faster when we don't. She also gets her feelings hurt easily--if I tell her I don't want to play with the guitar, or to stop saying "No Maia" endlessly ("I was just telling Maia not to pull my hair"), or snap at her to get something out of her mouth (especially when it wasn't). But she's still a happy girl, loving her shows, playing with blocks, wanting to read books and bake muffins and go outside.

She's playing imagination games like there's no tomorrow. Maia's bouncer is a motorcycle. The area by the front door is a park that she drives the Play Hut to. She made imaginary strawberry and blueberry pies in the bathroom out of cups and other toys lying around. She actually cooperated picking up the living room for once when she decided she was taking Tiger (actually a leopard) shopping and piled things from the floor into her cart for him to eat or play with.

She'll recite her favorite color (green), animal (snake), food (banana, though we think tomato is probably the true favorite). She knows how old she is, how to play Ring Around the Rosie, how to sing her ABCs, how to count to ten and occasionally beyond, how to sign "I love you." She also knows how cute and awesome is because we tell her all the time.

Potty training is de-escalating again, and we need to work on getting her to put on her own clothes--and be less frustrated when taking off a short-sleeved shirt, as she has trouble with those. And between Halloween and Christmas candy, she's gotten into the habit of asking me "Mama how much did I eat?" at every dinner, meaning, "Did I eat enough that I can have some candy?" which she'll then ask for by saying "Maybe I can have something after this." And every morning she says "I want some eggnog in my milk." She's going to be a sad, sad girl when the eggnog runs out. (Though we've restricted the eggnog aliquot to once a day and she still drinks milk at other times throughout the day.)

Maia can do high-fives now: put up your hand and say "Baby high five!" and she baps at your hand with hers and grins, probably because we've been so delighted she does it. Now that she's crawling, I've been across the room from her and gestured with my arms, saying "Come here!" and she moves her arms too in windmill fashion, and I can't tell if she's excited or imitating me. Or maybe just mocking.

She's expert at pulling herself up to stand, and can now easily reach the top of the coloring table, to our chagrin when we were trying to wrap presents on it. She's attempted cruising a little bit, though mainly in a specific effort to reach Eric or me. She likes to bounce in my arms, and to sit with her sister.

She persists in disliking purees, but she snapped up some stage 3 chicken dinner Eric offered her, and she loved last night's pre-chewed potato chunks and chickpeas. And she adores picking up her own Cheerios and puffs and yogurt melts and sweet potato chunks. We're going to give away the stage 2 foods and be selective about stage 3s, and move to "real" foods as much as we can--and mash as we can, because prechewing all her food is annoying. (Especially when she gets upset that it isn't coming immediately. As I tell her, milk is the only food my body manufactures on-site; everything else has to be imported and processed first.)

She loves to laugh; she's much more of a giggler than her sister was at this age (or ever, really). She's very happy, even when she's got a poopy diaper, which is actually a bit inconvenient at times. She makes up for it in nighttime unhappiness. I've got more work to do on nighttime feedings, as I've gotten back in the habit of settling her for a nursing and then falling asleep, and if we do that she wakes up every couple of hours after that, which is no good for either of us. Especially if Chloë's waking up with a nosebleed or a bad dream in the meantime, as she occasionally does.

Chloë likes to get in Maia's face when she's eating, and Maia likes to pull Chloë's hair, but they do really well together. They play together on the floor; Chloë lets Maia play with her toys, even her favorites like Elmo and Newborn Baby and her new electronic ones (until Eric and I ruled otherwise). She asks us if a particular toy, or a particular snack, is okay for Maia (generally yes to the first, no to the second). I keep finding her stuffed animals in Maia's crib. I don't think I've ever seen her try to lash out at Maia, even after hair-pulling or similar offenses; she just cries "No do not pull my hair Maia" in a teeny pained voice and waits for it to end. We may have to do something about that once Maia is big enough to understand "no" better. But right now it's very convenient to have such a patient big sister to such a sweet little sister.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Chwitmat!

We hope your Christmas (or other winter holiday) was as happy as ours. We spent Christmas Eve with some friends (and some excellent pasta sauce) and drove home the long way, looking at the Christmas lights. Chloë picked a place to hang her stocking, and in the morning we went down to see if it had been filled. It had.

She worked hard that morning: she opened her presents, plus Maia's, plus Eric's and mine. After every one she said, "I want to open more presents!"

But she was happy to play when we told her there were no more. Maia enjoyed it too. We went to the girls' cousins' grandmother's for Christmas dinner, and had more family over for cider and cookies that night. "Chwitmat id not quite ober yet," Chloë said that night, and she was right: we finished up with Christmas at the mothers' this evening, with dinner and presents and pie.

She and Maia both got quite a haul this Christmas: books, toys, stuffed animals, clothes, a rocking horse, Duplos, several electronic gadgets (a tablet for Chlo--presumably, as Eric said, the Speak & Spell of 2011. I don't even have a tablet), and the best prize of all, a Play Hut. She and Maia have been crawling in and out of it ever since we opened it up, sometimes with their other toys, sometimes not. Chloë's asked me to go in, but only my front half fits. But it's just the right size for the girls.

We had a really lovely Christmas this year, so lovely it surprised me, somehow. We worked hard for it, but it was worth it. We've seen friends and family, and shared treats and gifts with loved ones, and enjoyed spending time together. And with our toys. As Chloë's been saying to everyone, Merry Chwitmat!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Santa's visit

Santa was kind enough to visit Saturday to pose for pictures and deliver some Christmas cheer. (Since I had made my fifth botched batch of fudge the night before, I needed it. Not that the visit was for me.) We got Chloë and Maia dressed up and ready. They took a little time to get used to the whole photos idea:

And Maia never did warm up to Santa. I told her it's okay. The first time I remember getting pictures with Santa I cried too. Of course, I was five. Chloë, on the other hand, had no such troubles and was happy to pose, especially once we clarified that we didn't mean it literally when we said "look up."

They each got a candy cane. Chloë devoured hers then and there--which I wasn't expecting--and Maia took her time with hers.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Getting into the Christmas spirit

Cookie Day was a great success. Chloë and Addie helped cut out sugar cookies and then decorate them. They enjoyed the sprinkles especially. We emptied one bottle and almost ran out of four others (though with two we also used some for snickerdoodles). Chloë was enthusiastic in her decorating attempts, as you can see:

We divided up the cookies between Addie, Mimi, and us. "Cookies for Grandpa and Halmoni," Chloë reminded me, so we put some of ours in the freezer to send later. (There's still a week for the mail to run, right?)

Tuesday we put up the tree, and Wednesday we decorated it. Chloë adored this. She loved when we turned the lights off to see the lit-up tree in the dark, and had great fun hanging "omerats." We'd hand her an ornament and hoist her up on the table and help her place it. "Another one!" she would cry immediately. Then she'd say, "Where mouse?" or "Where my picture?" and we'd have to hunt for the mouse ornament or baby's-first-Christmas ornament she'd put on a few turns back. We had to stop her before the tree collapsed under the weight of the ornaments. It's only a little tree. Though when Eric said that, Chloë immediately said "It is not a little tree," the same way she says, "I am not a little girl," when we call her that by mistake. We told her to wait until she sees Memaw's.

And last night when I came home, Chloë was munching on something. "Mommy I am eatin' a fruit bar," she told me. We buy these from Target (they have a whole selection: fruit strips, bites, ropes, and yogurt-drizzled bars. Chloë likes them all) and I knew Eric had taken them out there to get a few things and to Bed, Bath & Beyond to get a new candy thermometer, since I had ruined my fourth this year trying to make fudge. (That is, I've ruined four kitchen thermometers, but the first three were in the service of finding the right amount of water to use in the bottle warmer to scald Maia's milk. The fourth I ruined earlier this week on my fourth attempt at fudge. If you are so fortunate as to get fudge from us this year, know that a lot of time and effort went into it. If you aren't, don't be surprised.)

I said, "Oh good," or something similar, and put away the milk and my lunch bag, purse, and pump. Meanwhile Chloë pointed at the BB&B bag still on the floor. "Mommy we went shopping," she said. "We bought slippers. We bought a thermometer." I made appropriate mmm-hmm? noises, noting that first item but hoping Eric hadn't noticed, and got us all upstairs to change my clothes (I'm the only one who's required for this operation, but it generally ends up being all of us, or at least three of us, in the bedroom while I'm doing it anyway). In the bedroom we talked of other things, but Chloë was quite interested in her day. "We went shopping," she said. "We bought you some slippers."

"Did you?" I said. "I bet Daddy wishes you hadn't told me that."

"I do," Eric grumbled. This is why I shopped for Eric's gifts online this year.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Turning the tide of indifference

Maia is already pulling herself up to stand. She adores Chloë's potty, partly because of the stickers on it and partly because it's convenient for hoisting herself up on. "Sit down!" I tell her. "It is too soon!" Crawling is trouble enough. She's already stuffed various overlooked paper products in her mouth, plus a small foam star that she luckily couldn't quite swallow. I think I need to devote more time to cleaning from now on.

We've determined that if I pump every night, and maybe also on those occasions that she ought to be hungry but is popping on and off and looking around at things instead, we may be able to avoid formula. We'll see how this goes. We've also determined--we think--why she's been so indifferent to food up until now. I offered her some grapes recently (well-chewed by myself, thank you) and she loved them, and Eric decided to offer her some banana from Chloë's banana when it looked like Chloë wasn't going to finish it, and she loved that too. She was also interested in applesauce--the real stuff. And she's loved her introduction to finger foods in the shape of puffs and Cheerios. Apparently she just doesn't like purees.

So we're going to work on giving her more "real" foods, and once we get through the stage 2s we've got--if we can--we'll move on to the stage 3s which have good texture in them. It feels awfully early to be moving on this, but she's getting close to eight months old, which is about the time to start introducing things like yogurt and pasta and bread products, teeth (or lack thereof) allowing. It's just that she hasn't been all that interested in food so far, and I haven't been as invested in getting her on it as I was with Chloë. But with the milk shortage, it's now become more important. Let's hear it for food!


Chloë can draw circles now! And squiggles! She's been good at lines for a while, and would occasionally scrawl across the paper and proclaim it a plane, or a cloud, but when I ask her to draw a circle, or a triangle, she's said, "I can not." But the other day she was doing actual loops and intentional zigzags. She gave me the picture, but I forgot to bring it into work. I'll have to do it tomorrow.

(In all honesty, I don’t particularly admire the pictures she makes. I'm glad she enjoys them and I'm glad that this developmental step has occurred, but the pictures themselves don't move me and I don't actually want one up in my cubicle. That's normal, right?)

She's been very keen on the Christmas decorating. "Mama, want to decorate?" she said hopefully all weekend, even after I told her we were all done. She loved putting the berry picks into the garland on the staircase, and "helping" me put up the snowflake lights. Now she wants them on all the time. She was happy when we picked out our tree from Andersons (a little tabletop tree, which is exactly what it's going to be with the crawling baby and all) and is excited to put ornaments on it.

Unfortunately that won't happen until Tuesday, but that's because today is Cookie Day, when Mimi and Addie and Rae come over to make cookies until dough oozes out our ears. Hmm, maybe I shouldn't say that when toddlers are involved. Anyway, she likes cookies and she likes her family and she likes baking with Mama, so it should be a good night. We're going to make sugar cookies with sprinkles. Usually I make the type of cutout cookie that needs to be iced, but she's not that good at squiggles and circles yet.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Status report: Chloë, month 28, and Maia, month 7

Maia is crawling now. I waited to post this update until I could say that honestly. Yeah. We'll go with that excuse.

Ahem. So our house is no longer safe. How do other parents handle having a mobile baby and a toddler who likes to play with small toys? Just forbid them all? Christmas Day is going to be ridiculous, between a girl who's discovered she loves presents (I asked her what kind we should get for Daddy, and she said, "A brown one") and a baby who's discovered she loves eating paper products.

Putting that aside, the girls are bright and beautiful and growing up, up, up. Let's talk about:

Motion. Maia's spent the last couple of weeks working on the whole crawling idea. She tried out going backwards for a while. Then doing a roly-poly method that involved sitting, then getting on hands and knees, then swiveling to sit in a slightly different location. Then getting up on hands and feet. She's still doing that and I each time I expect her to just stand up. Now she's doing a slow classic crawl. We don't expect it to last long. The slow part, that is. The gates are back up.

She's started flipping over during diaper changes, and refuses to leave her socks alone. We were in Babies R Us the other day and I looked over and noticed she was sockless. I spent the next five minutes going back up the aisles we'd just gone down because I couldn't find one of the socks. Eventually it turned out she'd flipped it out of the carrier to the bottom of the cart. I suppose that's not the worst place to discover you suddenly need baby socks, but I was still a bit annoyed.

She's in the big tub now, because she started doing her best to climb out of the little one, and is loving it. She plays with the toys Chloë is happy to throw in after her, and doesn't protest when I lay her down to wash her belly and thighs and delicate bits. (Incidentally, Chloë has started getting interested in her bits. I guess it's that age.) It's ever so much nicer this way.

Chloë was overjoyed by the arrival of new boots from her Grandpa and Halmoni. She put them on as soon as we opened the box and she didn't take them off until bedtime, and was reluctant even then. I didn't think much could compare with the enticement of naked time, but these boots did it. She's now big enough to climb up some ladders at the playground by herself, and delights in going across the monkey bars (which is to say, she touches them as I walk below the monkey bars carrying her along before she steps on my chin in her scrabble to get up on the platform on the other side). She loves to "hang," and does it from anything she can: bars at the playground, my chair and desk, Maia's bouncer.

Sleep. Maia sleeps pretty well now; she goes down easily (except a few nights ago when she screamed for two hours, burped, and then murmured herself to sleep within minutes) and stays down for anywhere between six and ten hours. Chloë has started waking up more during the night. We go and ask what's wrong, and usually she says, "I want you to stay." Then either we do, while she talks and pats our faces, or we don't, and she screams. She's also woken up yelling "I don't want that, I don't want that," or "I want a snack," or "The other one," so I can only assume she's having vivid dreams just like her mama. (I think I dreamed the other night that she called my knitting "needling." It sounds so totally like something she'd say, especially since she likes to ask for a needle when I'm knitting with double-points, and I was doing it the other day to make her a hat, but I can't get her to repeat it.)

Talking. Maia is babbling, babbling, babbling. "Ba ba ba ba," she says. "Na na na na. Eh." She's so happy, most of the time, and has this great rumbling belly laugh. Chloë's language grows ever more sophisticated. "I want a bite of your toast," she'll say, or "We are going to the mall to get a present for Grandpa." She's taken to saying, "What did you say?" and "Where did we go?" and I'm thinking she just wants to talk about it, so we say, "What did I say?" and "Where did we go?" Sometimes when I ask her whether she knows something she says yes, and then I say, "Okay, what is it?" she says "Yes" ("Heth") again. I told her it was okay to say "I don't know" when she doesn't know something, so now when I ask her if, say, she knows what a reindeer is, she says "Heth," and I say, "What is it?" and she says, "I don't know." And sometimes she surprises me by what she does know. So sophisticated.

Food. The innovation here is all Maia's; Chloë is her usual food-lovin' self. Maia is still a bit temperamental when it comes to eating solids, but she loves her puffs, and she's taken to trying to steal Chloë's sippy/straw cup whenever possible. We've given her her own, which she's very interested in. Carrots still seem to be her favorite. In the meantime, she's drinking more in her bottles than I'm pumping at work. We'll see how this situation develops. Especially since she's also developed that clawing-at-the-R.I.N.D.S.-as-though-they're-supposed-to-have-handles thing that Chloë went through, she doesn't have to remain a formula-free baby.

(I threaten her with formula constantly. I don't at all mean it, but with the current pumping/eating differential I'm worried that I'll have to actually go out and buy some formula, and then she'll simply refuse to drink it because she's already repeatedly shown herself willing to starve rather than eat the way she prefers. I'm trying to get up the will to pump more at night and on the weekend. I'm really starting to hate pumping,  especially with the added scalding requirement, so this is difficult.)

Chloë does continue to get better at using her fork, even cutting her own bites of lasagna recently, and she can hold a small, firm piece of pizza whole in her hands and eat it that way. (She likes to eat them cold for this reason. Eric says it's because she takes after him.) She's been happily consuming her Halloween candy, a piece or two a day, or alternately homemade popsicles ("pockle") when she's been a good eater. She's taken to knocking her fork against her teeth and lips when she's nearly done, which is annoying.

Discipline. This one is all Chloë's. She's definitely more rebellious and challenging these days. "Don't tell me that!" she says frequently. However, she then generally does (or doesn't do) whatever we've just told her to do (or not do), so it's more bravado than anything else. I get impatient with her at tooth-brushing time--she get the brush to try herself, but generally just bats at her teeth a few times and then sucks at it to get the taste of the toothpaste--and try to take it away from her, and she bursts into tears and wails, "I want to brush my teeth!" She also says she wants Daddy to brush her teeth, but she always says that. If she had her way I would be her slave all day until it came to tooth-brushing time. Then come back to sing her songs when I tuck her in.

We'll actually negotiate the number of songs sometimes. "You can stay," she says. "You can sing a song?" (We're still working on the right way to ask for things; currently she thinks saying "Do you want me to read a story?" is the way to get me to read her The Very Hungry Caterpillar one more time and "I want more pasta," is the way to get a second helping at dinner) I usually say, "I will stay and sing you a song." Then she says, "Maybe three songs!" or occasionally, "Five!" I say, "Two songs," and she says, "Okay." Wait a minute...I just realized that's me doing the negotiating, not her. Dammit.

But she actually knows some songs now. She can sing her ABCs, although N usually gets left out, and knows "Twinkle Star" with help and bits of "Row Boat" and "On the Loose" and "My Star" and a few others. She'll name the one she wants me to sing, or leave it up to me by saying, "Something." She's a funny girl. They're both funny, happy girls.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Chloë's amazing human body

Me: And here's the digestive system, which makes food into energy. And here's the brain.
Chloë: No it isn't.
Me: Then what is it?
Chloë: A ladybug.

Me: This is a dinosaur. It's called Tyrannosaurus Rex. It has long, sharp teeth for tearing into its food.
Chloë: Just like me!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

You've got to start somewhere

Maia has finally started showing interest in food. She's been especially keen on...wait for beans and peas. That's right: it took green vegetables to get her excited about solids.

Now that she's showing more interest in food, we've introduced a sippy as well, really more as something to occupy her at the beginning of mealtime when Eric or I am shoveling food into our mouths before we start on her food. Today at dinner, I demonstrated how to drink, and shortly thereafter she was holding it the right way and looked as if she might have actually gotten some water into her mouth.

"Yay! What a big girl you're getting to be!" I told her (she cannot be called "big girl" without modification in Chloë's hearing). "Soon, you'll be able to drink from a sippy without a handle. And then a straw cup like your big sister. And then, you'll be able to drink from a big-girl cup!"

On the other side of me, Chloë spread her arms beatifically. "And then she can play blocks!"

Monday, November 14, 2011

It will do you good

The girls, they are a-changin'. Maia is now up on her hands and knees and scooting backward. Then she runs into a chair or something and can't quite figure out why she isn't moving, but doesn't get really fussed about it unless she's stuck. She had her first bath in the big tub today, her big sister helping her by providing toys and cheering her on, because a couple of days ago she started trying to climb out of the little one. She didn't succeed, because she can't crawl yet, but she's darn close. She's really into the independent play. Also into the peek-a-boo where I pretend she's scaring me. And pretending that she's eating my face never gets old.

And Chloë has decided that we've had enough of the good side of two; it's time to show us why they call them the terrible twos. Now that she's firmly entrenched in the use of "I" and "me," what we hear all day is "I want X," or "Don't tell me Y." Every other minute she's been crying because we didn't let her have more candy, or three pieces of graham cracker instead of one, or the scissors, or what have you. She's gotten clingy again, asking that we stay at bedtime; when we go she wails "I want hoo," in a pathetic way that rends our hearts unless she starts up this very fake crying that she's also recently adopted and hasn't figured out we can see right through.

So: Maia growing more awesome, Chloë slightly less so. Only not really, because at the same time she's so articulate, and retains things so well, and surprises us with her maturity in questions and thoughts. "Will hoo be in the office when I wake up?" she asks me when she goes down for her nap on Saturdays. "This toy okay for Maia?" she says, holding up something that she wants to bring to her sister. She's so charming. Still jealous, especially when I'm being cuddly with Maia; but we've got a routine now where I come home from work and she runs down, calling "Mommy! Mommy!" and, if I don't grab her right away (usually I don't, because I'm putting milk away and taking off my shoes and jacket), says, "Can I have a hug?" and I lift her up and squeeze her tight. And then she tells me what's on her mind, like, "I ate Ms," or "Maia pooped," or "It is not raining outside," and I'm glad to hear it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

If I ever write a mommy book, it will be called The Milk Diaries. Or maybe The Milk Must Flow.

Late yesterday I was working on something urgent and annoying that had to go out before I left work, so I didn't get my last pumping session in. When I got home, Maia professed to be hungry until she actually got down to nursing for a few minutes on one side and then ignored me, so I decided to pump the other.

When I was building up stock on maternity leave, Chloë would hang around and want to know what I was doing and prod the pump, and I had her "help" me by pushing a particular button when I told her to in the hope of stopping her from pushing it all the time. Last night she wanted to help again, so she held the pump horn and watched while I plugged in the power cord and got otherwise set up. I turned on the pump. "Push button now?" she said.

"Not yet," I told her.

"Push button?"

"Not yet," I said. "We have to wait for the milk to come."

She looked down at the R.I.N.D.S. and howled, "Come, milk!"

Eric, playing with Maia nearby, collapsed in laughter. "Are you okay, babe?" I said after a minute, when he seemed unable to breathe, and Chloë ran over to him and said anxiously, "Are you okay Daddy?" He said he was, and she came back to me, examined the R.I.N.D.S., and said, "Milk!" so I finally let her push the button.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Speaking of status reports

"My hand are full," Chloë reports from behind me as I'm changing Maia's diaper.

I half-turn and see that she's extracted most of the tissues from the Kleenex box. "Chloë Leeja!" I say. "You do not waste tissues like that! Now put them back!"

She jumps and cringes, as she does when she's unexpectedly found that she's done something wrong. She puts the tissues back in. She says, "My hand are not full."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Status report: Chloë, Month 27, and Maia, Month 6

Obviously I'm way overdue for this month's status reports. The mood I've been in these past couple of weeks (through no fault of the girls') I could have just posted "status: lucky to be alive" and left it at that. A couple of days ago I was considering "I was supposed to do this right, but I don't have pictures or patience, so I'm going to serve up some text soup and you're going to like it because I said so and I'm the mommy." However, today I'm feeling human again, despite all the tramping around for trick-or-treating last night. It's still going to be text soup, because that's all I know, but you're going to like it. Because I said so.

This month has been mostly about language for both girls. Chloë has, over the last several days, gradually started using "I" and "me" instead of "Koë." She has also gotten obsessive about "thank you," thanking us for things like "bringing me a drink" and "bringing Maia a toy," and much more precise about "please." This has lead to carefully crafted sentences like this one from this morning: "Mommy can I please have a cookie?" It was so well done and she'd obviously put so much thought into it that I considered saying yes for an instant. Unfortunately for Chloë, an instant isn't long enough for my mouth to open to let "okay" emerge, so she got praise and a "no" instead. I didn't stay for breakfast, but probably she had blueberry yogurt. It's all she's had for weeks, except when we run out of blueberry yogurt. Then it's strawberry or peach.

Maia, in the meantime, has discovered babbling. "Da da da da," she's been saying endlessly. It's highly cute, especially when she's confronted with Eric after an absence and bursts out excitedly, "Da da da da da!" She's been a very happy girl ever since she mastered sitting, though she'd probably be even happier if she could sit up from a supine position. She can push herself up on her hands, and I'm told she can kind of rock up on her knees, but not both at the same time. And she can now roll from her belly to her back--not that she does when she's been put to bed and decided to roll onto her belly and then decided she hates it more than life itself.

We had our nieces for an overnight Saturday evening to Sunday morning, which was fun but very tiring, and Maia was excellently behaved, even when she was very tired because I'd lost track of time trying to get everyone else in bed. I think she liked the stimulation. She loves her bouncer, certainly, which is a great relief. Chloë had a lot of fun at the overnight but woke up screaming twice, once for no good reason--she's been doing that a lot lately--and once for a nosebleed. We made cookies Sunday morning, mainly her and Addie, and when Addie started talking about "Now it's my turn, now it's Chloë's turn," when it came to putting in the ingredients, Chloë got into the act: "Now my turn!" They both ducked whenever I turned on the mixer, and they each got a beater to lick.

We also went outside, Chloë and Addie and Rae, and it was chilly enough I had to break out last year's winter accessories, of which there were luckily enough, of ranging sizes, that everyone's hands and heads got covered. Addie and Rae had a great time going down Chloë's slide. So did Chloë when she could, but she wouldn't push herself in line and with her two cousins leaping from the bottom of the slide to climb right back up the ladder, she didn't get on it very much. She did demand that we go on a walk, and she and Addie ran along the sidewalk while I walked with Rae. She's been loving being outside, and we're going to have to ignore our bodily comfort and go even as it gets colder, I think.

Unfortunately this means bundling Maia up, and she's a simply enormous baby, 95th or higher percentile for everything, 18.5 pounds at her checkup last week. We have "prams" (big fuzzy body suits) for 6 months, and 6-9 months, and one 6-12 months that always seemed a little small on Chloë...but we just put away the 6-month clothes and have some 12-month pants out because they're not too long, though the 9 months are okay too...for now. And they don't seem to make prams any bigger than 9 months at the places we've looked. In the later part of the winter we're going to have to just wrap her up in a lot of blankets when we take her out, I guess.

Speaking of clothes, we went and bought Chloë some long-sleeved pants and shirts the other day, all 3T, which is pretty much the end of the line at Babies R Us. We need to get used to clothes shopping again, and at other stores. But we picked out a green shirt and a sparkly purple shirt and a pink Care Bears shirt, and Chloë found some really hideous purple pants she had to have, and then we went to the boys' section to give my eyes a rest. There we found a rack of hoodie/pants sets with Mickey on them. There was one of a Mickey DJ looking pretty angry that I vetoed, but we both liked the gray with blue Mickey heads. It's been her sweater of choice ever since.

On that same trip Chloë wanted to look at the toys, so we did, and I decided I had to buy Maia a stuffed animal. I've been feeling bad that she has none other than Ugly Bear, donated to her by Chloë who never liked it anyway, and a huge pink rabbit that is still bigger than she is. So I selected a few and let Chloë decide which one to bring home, and Maia is now the owner of a soft brown cow with a jingly bell. Chloë's much more possessive about her toys and books now (and it doesn’t help that Maia is so very grabby with everything) so we're going to have to build up separate collections for Maia of a few things--mainly, "friends" to sleep with and upstairs books. I think we can persuade her that the downstairs books, like the downstairs toys, are for general use.

Maia's still not keen on solids. I did feed her some carrots yesterday; she loves her carrots. And I've offered her a couple of bites of oatmeal and apples, well-chewed, and she was okay with those, maybe because I was holding her at the time, maybe because I was offering her my finger instead of a spoon. Now that she's six months old, it's time to start getting supplementary foods into her. So we'll be working on that this month.

So, in summary: Chloë is awesome and talkative and sleeping restlessly and running around a lot. Maia is awesome and talkative and huge and grabbing at things. They're both playing, sometimes with each other, sometimes separately, and they both give me the most beautiful smiles and wonderful hugs when I come home at night. Status: their grumpy mama is lucky to have them.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Duck, duck, snake

So I made the ill-advised move last week of deciding to make Chloë a Halloween costume. A coworker loaned me a homemade penguin costume for Maia, which is adorable and which, when I examined it, didn't look too complicated. "Why not make something for Chloë?" I asked myself. "Fleece is easy to work with, and this looks like a bunch of modified rectangles, and I can model it on her sweatshirt and this adorable penguin. What's that? I complain I have no time as it is? Hush, self."

We had discussed costume possibilities and Chloë liked the idea of either a kitty or a duck, and I liked duck better (and thought she would), so I gave it a try and to my surprise was successful. I made a mockup in muslin and had to adjust most of the pieces after I had her try it on, but that's what it was for. The hood took a few tries, and the wings took a second head (Dad's) because my first attempts looked stupid, but it all came together in time for Pumpkin Path trick-or-treating at the Zoo yesterday.

(We didn't get her orange tights or pants in time. I also had Dad's assistance with the bill and the shoe covers.)

We taught her to say "trick or treat" and I at least was expecting she'd need serious prompting to get through it, but she was ready whenever we pointed out the next candy-bearing person. "Tick or tweet?" she'd say (or occasionally, at their prompting, "Quoack") and they would be delighted; then, after prompting, she'd say "Tank oo," and they'd be more delighted still. She went through an inflatable obstacle course-type thing, and though she was a little confused on how to get through parts of it, had a great time. I let her have a little candy while we were there, which wasn't very satisfactory since what she wanted was a lot of candy, but oh well.

However, while she enjoyed the trick-or-treating and the other kids' costumes, they were not the real reason she was trudging along with us (and then riding in the stroller). "Go see snakes?" she asked after every trick-or-treat station, and we assured her that we would, eventually, see snakes, but we had to get there first and hey, she was collecting candy in the meantime. "Go see snakes?" she would say again. Occasionally she'd mention she was willing to see turtles too, or crocodiles. Unfortunately we used the entrance farthest from the Reptile House, plus it's tucked away in a corner. But at length we arrived, and saw lots of green and brown and striped snakes, and the Chinese alligator, and a fast-moving tortoise, and the tuataras, and the crocodile. Finally replete, she consented to climb back into the stroller and be wheeled all the way back to the entrance, suggesting only, "Go to playground?"

We didn't see a playground on the way back (there are a few in the zoo), so we didn't stop at one. But we did stop at the duck pond. Chloe looked at the brown ducks, the black-and-white ducks, the big turkey-looking goose (?) with the red-marked beak. She didn't remark that not a single one was yellow. Nor, I suppose, that none had pirate eye patches or lab coats or grenades or guitars, like her ducks at home. She did seem happy with the costume, which relieved me, since I was half expecting her to complain she wanted to be a kitty. There will be more trick-or-treating Monday night, and she'll be a duck then, too. The candy should be a motivator even in the absence of snakes.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Maia Maia pants on fire

Maia can totally sit up now! Like a real baby! We got the bouncer out and everything! We're very excited about the bouncer. This is the big one where she sits suspended with her toes on the ground and has a little "keyboard" and some toys and rings for hanging things and so on. We assembled it and put her in it and then sat on the couch for a blissful twenty minutes or so while Maia bounced and explored and Chloë explored with her. She may be having more fun with it this second time around than she did when she was still small enough to go in it herself. Maia seems to enjoy it, and enjoys the attention from Chloë. I had her in it the other day while I was cooking dinner and only looked over at them when I heard Maia laughing at something Chloë was doing. It is the most wonderful sound.

She is decidedly not taking to baby food. I never understood mothers who breastfed exclusively until nine months or whatever, but now I do. She'll eat, yes...sort of...with lots of dexterity and patience on our part. Since I have no patience, I'd just as soon let her nurse and not struggle to get her to eat from a spoon. She doesn't seem to totally have the hang of getting and keeping food in her mouth, and her interest is just not there. Every once in a while she'll be really keen, but mostly she's much happier gnawing on the bib, or her fist, or pulling the bib off (until I wised up and got a tie-on one instead of the Velcro one), or slumping down, or grabbing the spoon, or making her bird calls. She does get some, enough to change the quality of her dirty diapers, but I'm convinced that at her six-month checkup she's going to have fallen from the 97th percentile to the 37th and the pediatrician is going to give us a talking-to. Not really. I need to get out the nine-months box for warmer clothes. But seriously, how does she stay so chubby and content when she only nurses for nine minutes at a time and won't eat solids?

She remains a stubborn baby in her own way. She still won't take a bottle from her Omi or Memaw. At night, sometimes she's okay going down, but sometimes she stays up and cries for an hour and a half. And if I give up and go in and offer to nurse, she beams at me, and she sucks for a few seconds and then breaks off and looks up at me to laugh. She wakes often in the early evening, and I wonder if the noise we make, or maybe the white noise we run, is bothering her. We've got to figure it out.

She digs being able to sit. She likes to play the sit-stand game, and to lounge in my lap while we're sitting in the bathroom while Chloë's on the potty, and to giggle at her daddy playing peek-a-boo, and to gnaw softly at my face. Chloë has agreed to let her play with her duckies at bathtime, so we pop one in after we've got her settled and she promptly lunges at it and stuffs it in her mouth. I bought her a new toy while we were in Seattle, one of the ones with a handle that makes a whirring noise and vibration, and she'll sit in her carrier and pull and let go, pull and let go. I remember five or six months being the time when I started to really warm up to Chloë's babyhood, and I think the same is happening here. But I'm wistful at the same time. I look at Chloë and how tall she is (she can climb up a couple of the ladders at the park by herself now!), and I look at the newborn pictures of Maia and how much bigger Maia is now, and I understand why people sigh about why babies can't just stay babies, even though the diapers and the blowouts and the food issues and the night waking and the crying and the dependence can be, shall we say, wearing. They're so sweet, all the same, and they're so soon gone.

(I do a short chant with Maia while playing with her feet: "So sweet-- such a treat--baby feet!" She's mildly amused, but Chloë will ask me to repeat it again and again until I cry enough. She doesn't ask me to do it to her own feet, though. Her feet are cute, but they're big hulking toddler feet now.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Sunday morning Chloë asked for milk, and I decided to give her a treat. When I walked into the living room with her sippy, she looked at the cup and noticed the liquid in it was brown. "Chocolate milk?" she said after a moment, having had it before. I nodded. "Chocolate milk?" she repeated, as if getting used to the idea. She took the cup. "Chocolate milk? Chocolate milk?"

"Chocolate milk," I confirmed, and she finally took a drink.

She wasn't suspicious of the drink; she knew what it was; she wanted me to confirm that I had heard her correctly. She does this a lot these days: seek active affirmation that we understand her. So, we spend a lot of our time repeating what she says. It's good in a way, since it confirms that we understand each other, but it's also a lot of repetitive talking on both our parts. "A back tuck?" she says on our walk. "A back tuck?" until I agree, "A black truck," and then she can continue, "A hite hun!" and point to the white (actually silver) one on the other side of the street. "Goldfish*? Koë have goldfish?" she says on a break at the park, and even though I say, "Sure," and start digging through the bag, she repeats it until I say "Yes, you can have goldfish! But you have to wait!" If she says "A kirle?" it may be enough for me to point and say, "Oh yes, I see it too," rather than having to say, "A squirrel! I see it too," but she's pretty strict.

*I'm not even going to try to transliterate.

And her tantrums come almost exclusively when we can't figure out what she's saying. If I'm totally mystified by a word she's using (for example, last night it was "tiyyi") I'll sometimes try to talk around it in the hopes she won't figure out I can't translate, but I don't often get away with it. Sometimes she can show me, or Eric will know ("chili"), or from context I can grasp it, and if we can keep guessing she'll usually stay relatively calm. But if we give up she generally can't contain her frustration. That's totally understandable. But I wish it weren't so. I love talking to her, talking with her, having actual conversations in our limited way; but sometimes it feels like a minefield. I never know when exchanging information is going to blow up in our faces.

Sometimes identification comes harder because she's seeing things that aren't there. For example, there are animals in the clouds. The handles of our ice cream spoons, when the spoon part is held in the hand, are rocketships. There are snakes in the lines of a chalk drawing. (Okay, presumably she put those there. You should see the "circles" she draws.) It's marvelous, but it's tough.

She's also been waking up early and often lately, and always calls for me. Last night I had brought Maia to bed for her 3:45 feeding because I'd stayed up too late making apple tarts for my department for Treat Tuesday (however, the report is that they are delicious and belong in a magazine, so it was worth it for the ego-boost), and she woke at 5:30 to nurse again, and two minutes later Chloë started calling for me. I sent Eric, and when he said "Mommy is feeding Maia," she flew into a rage and stomped into the room crying. She insisted on coming up and crawled into bed, and so the four of us slept together until about 6:30 when Maia wanted to suck some more because it was there and I got out of bed with her and Chloë ended up following us and plagued me by asking for her light to be turned on and messing with my guitar case and the glider's settings and patting Maia on the head too hard and telling me not to sleep. But anyway. Poor jealous girl. It was kind of sweet for us all to be together like that, but man, was that bed crowded. Still, she got to be part of something everyone else but her was doing, and I guess that's important.

Monday, October 10, 2011

To Seattle and back

So our Seattle trip went very well, considering. I no longer fear the cross-country plane ride with two children under the age of three. Dread, perhaps, but not fear. --It wasn't really that bad, just draining. Both girls were pretty well-behaved (Maia better than Chloë; five months is an excellent age to fly with a baby) and Chloë had the greatest time at the airport. After getting through security (surprisingly quick considering we had five bags, a stroller to fold--two on the way back--and a carrier) we arrived at the gate and made a beeline to the window, where Chloë stood and watched the planes, narrating for the entire gate: "A plane? Another plane. Another plane! Another plane moving! Another plane! Another plane flying! Another..."

She wasn't excited about the takeoff or her harness, but once she was allowed to get up she enjoyed the view of the clouds and the other planes and the circles and squares on the ground. Maia, meanwhile, nursed quietly during takeoffs and smiled and was charming during the flights. At the end of one flight, while we were sitting waiting for everyone else to get off, a young man paused and said, "Your baby is so good! I didn't hear a thing!" which I translated as "Thank you for not ruining my flight." A later flight unfortunately included a short tantrum from Chloë about her shoes, but the threat of not being able to go on planes anymore quieted her down. Don't think we were bluffing either.

The visit with Grandpa and Halmoni went very well, too. Both girls adjusted somewhat to the time change, so they were getting up at 4:30 or 5:30 instead of 3 o'clock; and there was much playing and being cute and enjoying themselves. They met or re-met family; Chloë got to take a bath with her cousin Aubrey and learn a little more about sharing; they went to the playground near Mom and Dad's house. A lot. First it was with cousins Gabriel and Matthew (who was slightly cranky from lack of sleep; when we talk about the visit Chloë usually contributes with "Matthew crying?"), but then Chloë was hooked. Luckily, Mom and Dad were willing to play.

Maia did a bunch of rolling; she now rolls onto her stomach if she's not sufficiently sleepy when put down, then cries until we come and right her. Though she was working on the reverse this morning, so maybe she'll be self-sufficient in that regard soon. She's also tentatively able to sit, at least for short periods. Also I need to pull out the nine-months pants for her because the six-months ones are much too short.

What do you mean, stop growing?

Definitely not that much.

We have good girls. Well-traveled girls, now. They seem glad to be home and back in their routine, but they did well; I think they will as long as we're all together.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Spelling may take a while

Chloë has a colors book that is particularly simple, with each color's name spelled out in capital letters. Since those letters are really all she's experienced, she started pointing them out, and at some point Jenny started having her point them out in order. So from the book she has learned "G and R and E and other E and N spell gween!" Learned, at least, as long as the letters are right in front of her.

Today I'm wearing my Alton Brown T-shirt, which, on the reverse, says "SCIENCE! It's what's for dinner!" I was on the floor with Maia and Chloë came up beind me on the couch, and starts pointing at the letters: "S and C and I and E and N and C and E... spell Daddy!"

Yeah, OK, I'll take it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Status report: Chloë, Month 26, and Maia, Month 5

Well, the plan was that I'd get pictures uploaded from the camera sometime this week and write up proper monthly reports, but it hasn't happened and it's probably not going to, seeing as we're preparing to fly across the country tomorrow. So I'll try to get to it when we get back. In the meantime, camera pictures and a summary will have to do.

Let's start with Chloë. This morning Eric announced he was starting a cold. I stared at him and Maia, who had been coughing heavily that morning, and pronounced, "You people suck." Chloë, on the bed beside them, said, "No! People do not suck." Chloë at 26 months is active, eloquent, opinionated, joyful. We went to the Andersons store the other day to pick up a few things the local Kroger doesn't carry, and Chloë was what I would normally call badly behaved--running, touching things, shouting--but she was having so much innocent fun I really couldn't be upset, though I did continue to yell and correct her behavior to keep up my societal obligation. Of course the people around us only smiled and talked about how adorable she was, and one old lady said to her, "You bring life," so I didn't even feel like I was providing a public service by restraining her.

She has yogurt for breakfast almost every morning, through her own choice. She picks out her own clothes (though we have veto power) and can take them off herself, including putting them into the hamper, though she still needs help getting them on. "Chloë take clothes off all by Chloë self!" she says proudly. She's still hooked on her shows, particularly the Care Bears movie, and on Sesame Street. We tried her in size 6 diapers today because she's got persistent redness in the diaper area (they're bigger than I thought and she didn't like that, so possibly not useful after all), and she was unhappy that the Elmo picture is much more simplistic than the one on the size 5s.

She's interested in the simple puzzles Eric got her recently and in playing catch; also in taking out the drawers of her toy chest and dumping them out (thank you cousin Addie who showed her how). She likes to play at being asleep, which she now pronounces "tweep" rather than "deep," and continues to find pretend fish everywhere (including in a poopy diaper, which both Eric and I found deeply disturbing). She's LOVED her water table, and asks to go to the park much more often than we take her (admittedly, we don't take her as often as we should). She loves being outside in general. She asked to stay out in the rain the other day, and since it was warm I let her. She's already looking forward to playing in the snow, and to wearing boots while she does it, "just like P.B. Bear."

She still loves being tickled and roughhoused with, and will ask for "one more time" over and over...but if I say "this is the last time," then afterward she'll say "no more," and seem satisfied. She's much more biddable when we warn her what's going to happen. She enjoys the bedtime routine, especially "naked while," during which she jumps around in only her diaper and asks for "evyping," on her bed, and then when we pile all her various blankets and toys on her to her chin, says happily, "Koë buried?" She likes naming all the things we have to do to get ready for bed, and then when we tuck her in she'll say "night night," or "sweet dreams," or "see you in the morning," because she's heard us say them so often.

She's particular about her socks being on right and her pants not being too long, and will say "Socks/pants not okay," until it's fixed. Yesterday we made an apple cake and she got cinnamon in her eye. There wasn't as much crying as I would have thought, but for a while after I'd wiped off the major stuff and was flushing her eyes with Visine she kept saying "Chloë eye not okay." Then she said the Visine "peel punny," and squirmed and giggled, and wanted more when I'd gotten out as much as I could and she was no longer complaining. She's keen on having medicine. So far she hasn't made any serious attempts to get any, but we need to be careful about not leaving stuff out. She's so good, most of the time, but she's started being more grabby and inquisitive than she used to be, and that could mean trouble.

After dinner last night, we sampled the apple cake. I set down Chloë's plate with its thin but substantial slice of cake and its toddler fork in front of her at her coloring table and sat down across from her, Maia on my knee, to eat my own. Chloë looked at her cake and said, "Chloë have more pieces?"

I laughed. "You get one piece of cake."

"More pieces," she repeated.

"Eat what you've got," I advised.

So she picked up her fork, stabbed her piece of cake, and gamely tried to get the whole thing up to her mouth, because I'd totally forgotten she doesn't know how to cut her own bites yet. I apologized and cut the cake into more pieces, and she ate, much more happily.

Then there's Maia. Maia at five months is a very mellow girl, except when I'm changing her diaper instead of feeding her late at night. She likes to sit in her carrier and chew a toy while we're in the kitchen; she likes to look around when we're at the store, unless she's asleep. She's going down around 8:30 and sleeping until between 3:30 and 6:30, which I regard as a most glorious mercy. She generally doesn't wake screaming; she murmurs a bit, and when I come in and uncover the blanket that she's inevitably got wedged in her mouth, she smiles at me. But we'd better get feeding quick.

Despite that, she's not very steady at the R.I.N.D.S.; if she's tired she'll settle, but mostly it's a few minutes of sucking, then popping off to stare at her hand and murmur "gtscha," then another thirty seconds on, then off to gaze lovingly at Eric or Chloë or the picture of the baby on the diaper boxes stacked behind the glider (they contain size 9-18 month clothes), and so on. I don't know how she's maintaining her superchubbiness on this kind of a feeding scheme, but she is. The baby food can't be helping much; she's had several fruits and vegetables and rice and oat cereal, but only an ounce or two a day, and sometimes she's not interested. She does love to sit in her chair with us at dinner, though.

I've started wearing my hair up in the evenings and weekends because she's at the grabby stage. Chloë has also commented "Maia got Chloë hair" several times, though she doesn't seem as annoyed as me. She loves to grab and bat at and chew her toys, or a blanket, or her socks and feet, or my face. She likes to suck on my nose and chin; when she does it I squeal "Noooo! I need my nose to smell dirty diapers with! I need my chin to keep my mouth on!" and she grins. Last night she wasn't terribly hungry and so we cuddled a little before bed. She reared up and started toward my face with an open mouth, and I swear she was doing it so I'd protest and make her laugh. She likes to laugh. We play the usual baby games, tickles and "flying" and sudden movements with funny noises, and she'll often start to laugh during it. It's a wonderful sound.

Chloë continues to like to hold Maia, though often she asks while she's watching a show, and by the time I've got Maia in her lap she's staring mindlessly at the TV again. So I take her away. Chloë protests: "Have Maia!" and I say, "But you're watching your show," and she insists, "Chloë have Maia," and plays with her for a few seconds before turning back to the TV. If I've got Maia with me when I come to her room in the morning, she says, "Hi Maia," or "Good morning Maia," first, and climbs into my lap so she can get closer to her sister. She also keeps asking for Maia's baby food, and tends to act up if I'm turned away to feed her (I sit between them, with Eric on Maia's side) and dinner isn't particularly yummy. But she's doing pretty well. We were supposed to go shopping together the other day, just her and me, but when we got in the car she said, "Where Maia?" and when I said she was in the house with Daddy, insisted, "Maia come." So we went shopping, just her and me and Maia.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sound off

Eric: Chloë, stop touching things on the counter! [Chloë continues to touch things.] One...
Chloë: Two?
Jenny: Bad things happen when Daddy gets to three.
Eric: That's right. What happens when I get to three?
Chloë: Four.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Take it all in

Maia has started trying to eat her feet. I don't remember Chloë doing this until seven months or so. (She's also in nine-months pajamas, which I don't remember Chloë doing until six months or so.) I don't understand how someone so chubby can get her toes in her mouth so easily, but she does. She tried to eat my pasta last night, too--she was fussy in the booster at the table so I stopped her feeding of pears (so far: sweet potatoes, bananas, apples, rice cereal, oat cereal, and now pears; it's time to break out something with more color in it) and pulled her into my lap, but then she just tried to get everything in her mouth: the pasta, the plate, the tablecloth, my napkin, her discarded bib. In her bath, we used to dip a washcloth in warm water and drape it over her, but now she goes bare because when we try she sucks the washcloth dry, or at least gives it her best shot.

She slept through the night, going down after an 8:30 feeding with a short wakeup at 10, and getting up at 5:30. I didn't get the full stretch of sleep because Chloë was awake from 3:30-4:30 asking serially for a some water, a tissue, her blankets, some nose medicine (Vaseline). On the last one I told her to go to sleep because I wasn't coming back again, I was going to my bed to sleep. I crawled into bed and heard her call plaintively, "Daddy? Chloë have Daddy?"

Anyway, Maia woke at 5:30 this morning and I nursed her in bed on one side (read: slept another hour until the alarm went off), then took her to the nursery for the other. She wasn't terribly interested, even after spitting up all over my pajamas, so we had some belly-to-belly time instead. What a sweet way to spend time on a Wednesday morning: rocking in a chair with a happy baby on me, our skin warm from the contact, the room quiet except for her burbles and my responding gabbles. I remember a time around a year ago when Chloë was lying with me in that chair, and I rocked her and thought, I have to remember this, how it feels to have her weight against me, the soft warmth of her skin, the fine tickles of her hair against my face. There is a lot about the day-to-day of my girl that I forget, but I have to remember this. And I do. And I will remember this morning with Maia, too. It was nothing special--or rather, it was nothing unusual; but I must remember, and I will.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


"Thank you Mama for Chloë eat mac and cheese," Chloë told me yesterday. "Thank you" has been a long road with her, but suddenly, she's not only saying it spontaneously, she's elaborating. "Thank you for give Chloë napkin." "Thank you for going to Memaw house." "Thank you for singing a song." (This last was to the Care Bears movie, not me.) She's full of gratitude. Though never for things like M&Ms or popsicles, but I suppose that's because her mouth is full.

I'm finding myself grateful these days, too. I'm grateful I have my two wonderful girls, and we have no worries about them other than that Maia's tear ducts are still exuding muck. (The pediatrician says she isn't prepared to be concerned until about nine months.) I'm so happy that they love each other, as much as they can at their respective ages. I'm waiting to hear about a possible opportunity at work, and it's making me anxious, but I'm glad that regardless of how it turns out, I've got a secure job and it's allowing us to have this life. I'm grateful that the Care Bears songs aren't always stuck in my head.

And I'm grateful that I get to watch Chloë, and later Maia, learn so fast and become so much. It is amazing how she grows, and absorbs, and understands, and remembers. There was a morning a few weeks ago when Chloë was unhappy, with some crying and wanting to be held off and on. When I was about to leave for work, I picked her up again, and she looked at my hair, which was wet, and said, "Maia try to eat Mama hair?" I told her gently that no, my hair was wet from her tears, and marveled that she was able to look at an effect and try to deduce its cause.

Eric's been telling Chloë "Say 'I love you Mama,'" since she was about three weeks old, but recently she's actually started doing it. Since she still doesn't use a personal pronoun it's clear she doesn't totally understand this, but we've talked about what love means, and we say it to her often, and when prompted she'll say "I ove hoo Mama" obediently. The other day when Eric was leaving for work, he kissed her and said, "I love you Chloë," and she responded spontaneously, "I ove hoo Daddy," and he nearly didn't get to work because he melted all over the floor.

And I’m grateful for the moon, which Chloë continues to love. Last weekend we spotted it waxing in the sky as we were coming home from Borders (our last trip ever) and Chloë was delighted. A few days later, we saw it on the way home from Joann. Or rather, I did, and pointed it out, but Chloë could never quite manage to see it, and when we got home it was too low on the horizon. She nevertheless talked about it for the rest of the week, asking if the moon was "gassy" (we haven't figured that one out) and dwelling on how she saw it, or didn't see it, in the car. A few days ago she woke at 4:30 to talk to me about a firetruck we saw the other day. I told her to go back to sleep and used the bathroom before I returned to my own bed, and spotted the nearly-full moon out the window. I went back and took Chloë to see it. She pointed, and stared, and said, "The moon is not gassy? The moon is full?" I said yes, it was full, and took her back to bed.

Last night Chloë had a hard time getting to sleep. She wanted to see the moon, but it was too early. She woke not long after Eric got home, and since it had risen by then then he took her to a window to see it. She was pleased, and chattered perplexingly about "Chloë like black moon," and went back to bed without protest. She woke again just before I went to bed. I went in and tucked her in again, then brushed my teeth and said good-night to Eric, and then, as I always do, checked on both girls, Chloë first. She looked asleep, and I whispered, "I love you, sweetie." She didn't open her eyes, but she murmured, "Ove hoo."

Friday, September 2, 2011


Maia laughed at me last night. We were hanging out in the living room while Chloë ate her prize of the day, a cookie ("Mmmmm. Cookie."), at her little table while Maia lounged against my knees. I hoisted her up to "fly" and started making faces at her, and after a little while she giggled. My prize of the day.

We traded in the plastic kitchen/shopping cart/food Chloë's Memaw and Omi had given her for a water table. Since it's the end of summer, there weren't any in the stores we visited, so we ordered online. It arrived yesterday, and once I got home from work we took it outside. Chloë loved much that she forgot to eat the grape tomatoes I picked and put in a bucket for her. In fact she sent Eric inside for her yellow bucket because the red one alone wasn't enough. Instead of talking about the Care Bear show at night as is usual, she talked about playing with the water table again. I know what I'm doing when I get home.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Status report: Maia, Month 4

What a beautiful thing a happy baby is. The smile, the contented gurgles, the almost-giggles when her belly and hands and toes are kissed...the lack of crazy-making crying. Maia has been happy a lot this past month, and that makes all happy.

Her four-month checkup went great, with her big sister holding her hand for her shots, and she's been cleared to be started on cereal. "You may have to," the pediatrician added, because she's 95th percentile on head, height, and weight. Why do we have such huge babies? The six-month pajamas are mostly okay on her, but some were too short (the Circo ones), and the okay ones don't have a lot of room in them. It's time to break into the nine-month clothes box. (Ha! Like I've got them all organized and labeled!)

Sleep has gotten a lot better this month. She now takes one or two naps during the day pretty regularly, and at night will have a last feeding somewhere between eight and nine and get a change, pajamas, and bed in the crib. We're still working on sleep training, so sometimes this involves forty-five minutes of crying and intermittent checks on her, and sometimes it requires only one or two checks before she grumbles herself to sleep, and sometimes she goes down silent and smiling. And sometimes she's already asleep, but that's okay too. Once I started forcing myself to stay awake for her first nighttime feeding, she slept longer intervals in the wee hours, so evidently I've only been depriving myself by trying to nap through that feeding. Ah well.

She does a lot of grumbling and growling at the bottle, and some at the R.I.N.D.S., but she's doing well on both. We did start her on cereal a couple of days ago, and last night she had her "Oh, this is how you eat!" session. At the beginning the food we spooned on her tongue got deposited on her lips as she moved her tongue in vague confusion; at the end she was moving it to the back of her mouth and lunging forward to get the next bite. We're giving her one more day of cereal, and then she can graduate to something fun, like squash or carrots or bananas. Chloë was interested in her cereal and wanted to have some, to the point of telling me not to give Maia any more the other day, so that's another reason to put it away for now. Not that I think she'll be less interested in the squash or carrots or bananas, but maybe we can convince her that her own big-girl versions are tastier.

And last night she slept from eight-thirty to three o'clock. Yay semisolids!

She's sucking and chewing on everything now, and much more interested in toys than she was last month. We have a dragonfly/butterfly (I'm not sure which) that we stole from Eric's mom when Chloë was this age, and Maia adores it. She sits happily in her carrier in the kitchen while we're making dinner, squeezing its crinkly wings and chewing its soft body. She loves her Winnie-the-Pooh mobile and the toys on her little bouncer. She watches Chloë's shows with her, though she's very easily distracted by a toy or a face or a "It's a baby!" with a kiss.

She's such a contented baby now most of the time. I love spending time with her, and I feel guilty that I don't get to do it as much as I did with Chloë...though I'm not positive this isn't better, since she gets Chloë too. She's a little confused when she gets put in Chloë's lap, or held upright to "stand" and hugged hard by her, but she seems to like this not-quite-so-huge bigger person in her life, and Chloë seems to like her. It's all good.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Status report: Chloë, Month 25

Chloë caught the bug too. "Koë neck hurt," she announced the other day, feeling at her neck. We've given her baby ibuprofin (which she loves-- "Koë have medi in mouth?" she asks regularly) and are trying to keep her warm and snuggled and rested. I told her the other day I was sorry she was sick. "Koë sick?" she said, and looked intent. "Koë not two any more?" I hastened to assure her that I'd said sick, not six, and she was still two.

I've marveled this past month at how big and grown-up she's getting. Her two-year checkup proved her to be thirty-four pounds, just under three feet tall. She's in 3T clothes mostly, with some 4Ts fitting fine (and others, like the pants Mom sent, too long, but she wants to wear them anyway so they get rolled). She's been jumping up a storm lately, and has started balancing on one foot, which I think is ahead of her age for motor skills. Apparently the jaundice had no serious lasting effects.

Playing pretend has developed and blossomed this month. She likes to feed me and herself pretend food, and plays "water park" all the time: on her bed, on our bed, on Maia's blanket, on the couch. She offered me a fish from the water this morning, and when I complained it spit in my eye, ate it. "Candy fishy," she explained, which relieved Eric and me both. Occasionally she'll go "shopping," usually for jelly beans. And today after watching the Care Bears movie, she wanted to chase butterflies, which is what Secret Bear did at the beginning of the movie. I didn't mention that real butterflies should not be caught; there's time to tell her about that later. So we chased butterflies by running around the house, pointing at imaginary butterflies. "What a pretty butterfly!" I said when she decided she'd caught one and proudly showed it to me in her empty hand. "Sparkly," she added.

Bathtime is marvelous these days, except for tonight when she was punished for not picking up her toys when told by not being allowed to have bath paints. But normally, she helps undress herself (including taking off her diaper now, useful when she's on the potty), settles into the tub with her duckies and watering can and paints, plays for a while, helps scrub herself, lies down to have her hair washed and rinsed, and stands still to be rinsed with the shower head afterward. It's wonderful. I hope it lasts a while.

She's definitely fond of sparkly and pretty, and of her hair and jewelry adornments. Also of big cheesy grins. Her cousin Addie smiles the exact same smile sometimes. Where do toddlers learn to do this?

She seems to be starting to have a better understanding of numbers, as the sick/six thing shows, though she's still weak on anything higher than two. We're continuing to work on that and on her letters. She stopped at Kroger the other day to point out some lit-up A B Cs on a cookie display. If you ask her what B stands for, she'll tell you "bath!" or "ball!"

She's been doing very well with Maia; she continues to like to hold her and talk to her, and always wants to know where she is. During Dad's visit last weekend they were going to go for a walk while Maia and Eric stayed behind (because I had the stroller in my car and I was at work). Chloë loves walks, but Dad says that before they'd gone more than five feet down the sidewalk she wanted to know where Maia was, and insisted on going back inside to be with her. She likes it when I stand Maia up, and will come close and compare heights, and then hug her. "Two sisters," she says.

She's been a real couch potato lately, probably because in the last month either Eric or I have been sick and so we've been more lax about the TV, and has learned how to turn the TV and DVD player on and off. But she's also enjoying being read to, and we're getting into the longer books now, the Berenstain Bears and Olivia and P.B. Bear and Dr. Seuss. We picked up I Wish That I Had Duck Feet at the Borders sale, and she tells me, "Chloë want to have whale spout. Whale spout on Chloë head." And she can tell you that Big Bill Brown can only wear one hat. (I also recommend Pirate vs. Pirate, which I also got then and is great fun to read aloud.)

She usually picks her own breakfast these days, and occasionally if we're uninspired we'll ask her what she wants for dinner. Usually her answer is "pasta," but sometimes she'll say "pizza," or "grilled cheese," or "cheesy pasta" (and once, "oatmeal"). Her memory is amazing. (Also her appetite sometimes.) She's loving the tomatoes; she's going to be sad when tomato season goes away. But then, that will make it apple and squash season, and then orange season, and I think she'll be all right. She's all right all over.