Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Status report: Month 18

[Pictures to come. You know frustrating it is having a computer that works, but not reliably? For two months?]

Yesterday morning Chloë came down to the kitchen with me while I was getting ready for work. She patted my coat and said, "Bye-bye?" I said yes, soon, and put the coat on. She pointed to my head and said, "Hat." (Note: I'm translating here, not transliterating.) I said, "I don't have a hat. I lost mine." She pointed again and said, "Shadow."

You have to understand here that all cats are Shadow, because her Memaw's cat is Shadow, and especially her own black stuffed cat (which used to be called Shroedinger...sorry, Tom and Su). And I have an old hat made of pretty much the same black fake fur as her cat. So she calls it Shadow, too, though she knows it's a hat.

So I admitted, "Yes, I suppose I do have my Shadow hat." Whereupon I went and got it, and wore it to work.

Chloë at eighteen months is in the middle of a Big Bang of vocabulary. She can't say her Ss or Ls or Fs, but she does surprisingly well--at least to us, her parents, who listen and translate every day. She can ask for oatmeal (oh-me) and yogurt (ohh-guh) and crackers (khraaahgu) and grapes (grapeys). She knows her sippy (jippy) and her water (how-uh) and her juice (ju). She's been having trouble ending words with a consonant, but she can say "cup" and "duck" very clearly now (also sock is often "dock" instead of "da"). She asks for her bath and her bubbles and her turtle and her scrubber, and her moon and stars (oh my god, the moon and stars, all day with the moon and stars), and points out the window and says "ghaou [clouds]" and "ghky [sky]." She still points out balls and babies, but she also likes cars and circles (which sounds remarkably like "googoo") and snow ("'noh") and of course dogs and cats. She knows hot and cold, though is a little iffy on their application. Yesterday she started saying "number" to identify one of her counting books. She asks for help, or to get down or up, and to get on my shoulders and touch the ceiling by saying "geeleeeleeeleeee," which is "ceiling" only she seems to forget what she's saying by the time she gets to the end and trails off into her native Baby.

And she's very good at "no."

She identifies her Halmoni in pictures, and remembers that the one baby on the fridge is Aubrey, and recognizes her cousin Addie and of course her Dada and Mama. When she points to herself in pictures, it's "Baby," but she points to herself when we ask "Where's Chloë?"

Her favorite occupations are still watching TV (all CDs and DVDs are "doh," show), playing with Duck and Oppy, playing with buttons, and reading. At the convention we went to she watched a father wrestle with his children, and for the next day or two she would imitate them, throwing herself to the ground and tumbling, then looking up with a grin. She met other toddlers to play with, a seventeen-month-old and some twenty-one-month-old twins, and did reasonably well sharing toys and space. The last time we saw the twins, they were reading a Baby Einstein book with their mom, and Chloë pointed and said, "Show?" Apparently logos really do work.

(She also saw a man dressed in a white lab coat with a duck on his head. "Duck mamm," she called him, and "Duck mamm" was all she wanted all weekend. She's still asking about him.)

She's slowly, slowly learning to drink from a regular cup. We bought a couple of little plastic cups, and sometimes we bring water or milk to the dinner table and practice drinking. Sometimes she asks for help right away, or accepts it when I steady the cup for her; sometimes she's all about doing it herself. Last night she picked up the cup, and I reminded her, "Drink very slowly." She tilted the cup up and took a perfect drink of water and set it down. We praised her, and she grinned and applauded herself. Then she grabbed the cup, thrust it at her mouth, and dripped a bunch of water all over her front. She asked for help after that.

Potty training is slow. We try to get her on it several times a day, after meals and when she wakes up and anytime she mentions it, but she's not as gung-ho as she was, after several days of no success. She also doesn't like the idea of sitting on the potty for, er, number two. I came upon her just starting to strain the other day and said, "Are you pooping? Let's get you on the potty."

"No," she said.

"Yes," I said. "If you're pooping, you need to be on the potty."

"Nooo," she gasped, her face turning red. (Later, she will kill me for this passage.)

She had her eighteen-month checkup today, and is 75th percentile for height, 90-95th for weight. She's a big girl. We've been talking up the big girl aspect a lot lately, with the advent of potty training and a baby sister on the horizon, which means she's going to get moved to a big-girl bed in about a month. She's changing rooms as well, to get the nursery clear for L.E.O. the Sequel, and her new mirror and moon light and bed rail are all sitting in the spare room, waiting for her. I'm sad about having to force her into this transition so early, but I think she'll do fine. She really is a big girl.

Tantrums are ramping up, at least the small ones, and we're having more power struggles than we used to. But she's also good at following instructions and being helpful--for example, fishing a button out from between the bed and the wall after accidentally spilling them all over; carrying her plate into the kitchen; helping to pick up her toys so I can vacuum.

She still goes down to sleep well, for the most part, though she's been waking up around midnight, sometimes screaming for a bottle or juice, sometimes just wanting a snuggle and a re-tucking-in. She routinely wakes somewhere between five-thirty and six-thirty, takes a bottle, and goes back to bed for another hour or two. I'm really, really hoping she breaks this habit soon. It might help if we (I) let her scream a while before responding to her, but now that she can say "up" or "bottle" or "mama" and I know exactly what she wants, it's so much harder to let her cry. I must say, I'm rather enjoying being able to tell what she wants because she can tell me.

She's started using some of the signs in her baby signs book. She uses "bath" most, but she also likes "apple" and "more" and "milk," and has even started using "thank you," which is nice since she's good at please but has never attempted thank you before. I think this is the one instance of her using a sign that she doesn't already know how to say--except maybe milk, but to her bottle and milk are synonymous. But since she's getting her morning milk in a sippy now, that may be changing.

She's a sweet girl, a funny girl, and a heck of a lot of fun. She comes running when I get home from work. "Mama mama mama," is the first thing I hear. When she gets there more than likely she says something like "Shadow," pointing to my hat, or informs me, "duck." But she's happy to see me, and I'm happy to see her. Eric keeps saying, "What a big girl she is!" and "What a cutie!" I think we're in agreement.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Down the drain

We're headed out today for a convention in Michigan, potty seat (among other things) in hand. We went to the same convention last year, but back then Chloë wasn't mobile. It will be interesting to see how this year goes. She will unfortunately run short on TV and baths, but both of those shortages are good for her, in my opinion. TV for the obvious reasons, and baths because her skin has gotten very, very dry in patches. I've been applying lotion, Johnson & Johnson and Aquaphor, which she loves. She likes to get dabs on her fingers and apply it to herself, and lately she's started rubbing it on me as well. But it's not doing enough, and I think the daily baths plus the winter weather are just too much. It's a shame, but she plays with Oppy and Turtle and Duck (she's been saying "duck" much more clearly lately, by the by) as much while sitting on the potty as while in the bath, and she's still obsessed with "washing her hands," so I think she'll be all right without a daily soak.

Eric bought her her own bath pouf, which we told her was a "scrubber," because she's been interested in his and mine the past few baths. She likes throwing it around to make the water splash against the side of the tub (or, if it's too high a throw, Mama's chest) more than actually washing with it, but she seems pleased to have her own. At the beginning of her bath yesterday she looked at me and said "Cubbuh [scrubber]?" I retrieved it for her. She swished it up and down her chest a few times, then pointed to Eric's and said, "Dada," and mine and said, "Mama." She repeated this, to make sure I got the picture, then went back to playing with hers.

Later that night we were in the bathroom just before bed because she was on the potty. After I helped her on with her diaper and her pajama pants she climbed into my lap and nestled against me and said, "Mama. Baby. Happy." I melted, of course. But the shower curtain was still open and I know she could see over my shoulder to where all of our scrubbers were in their various places, and now I wonder if she was just telling me she knew which one was her own.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Potty convert

Potty training is back on the table. After a period of no interest in the potty, Chloë is now willing--eager, even--to sit there. I attribute a lot of it to the Little People book (it's "Welcome to Our Town," not "My Town") and other entertainments, and some to our "you sit on the potty while we get the bath ready" policy.

Now that she's been on it a few times, she's used it, more or less by accident, and we've been lavish with our praise and applause, and she likes that a lot. When she stands up, we check the bowl together. If there's nothing there, I (or Eric) say "Nope, you didn't go. That's okay. Let's get a new diaper on you," and go about our business. If there is something there, I (or Eric) will say "Look! You went in the potty! Yay Chloë!" and so on. Then we'll give her a wipe, which she loves, though half the time she tries to wipe the potty rather than herself. Then we put the contents of the potty bowl into the toilet and flush, which she also loves because it produces bubbles. (I'm starting to wonder if by "bubbles" she actually means "water." More research is needed.) Then we say "Yay" again, and at this point Chloë is smiling and happy and clapping for herself.

We're hoping that this is the right approach, and kind of wondering how to get her to take the next step of telling us when she needs to go. We've told her a few times that when she needs to go, or has gone, she should please say so, but that's hard to do, and "potty" sounds like "body" (she has a Body Book that she loves to look at) and similar to "baby," and "pee" can be pee or peas or please or sometimes pig or bee, so it's not exactly a failsafe system right now.

But she may be figuring it out herself. We went to a friend's birthday party Saturday, and while Chloë was sitting beside me "helping" me play a game, she suddenly pointed to her diaper and said urgently, "Pee. Pee!" I said, "Do you need to use the potty?" and she nodded. Unfortunately our friends didn't have a potty seat and it totally didn't occur to us to bring ours, and by that time it was way too late (I'm pretty sure she was saying "I'm going pee" not "I need to go pee") so I just changed her diaper and thanked her for telling me. She did the same thing a couple of times yesterday, and once we were in time to catch at least part of the process in the potty, which made us both happy.

We went to IKEA yesterday as well, and among the dozen things we got for her--now we know how people run up credit card debt; it was so easy to walk through the store saying "Chloë would like that! Look at that! We should get it for Chloë!"--was a small portable potty, for downstairs and trips. It doesn't look nearly as comfortable as her nice one in the bathroom, but her cousin used the exact same model without any trouble, so we're hoping it will do. Even if not, I think we're getting somewhere. Yay Chloë!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


"I thought I had minions for this sort of thing. Okay, Dad, I'm finished; where's my ten bucks?"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Is this how parents end up making their kids' science fair projects?

So Chloë is obsessed with the balls on one page of the Little People book Dad gave her for Christmas. It's a big, colorful board book, "My Town" (I think), with two-page spreads that show the outside of a school, garage, grocery store, etc., and then a sort of half-page you turn to show the inside. It advertises 275 new words to teach your kid, but "SUV" and "diagnostic computer" are some of those words, so we're not totally convinced about the purity of their advertising. But it's a cute book, full of things to look at and name and discuss, and (aside from Eric being disturbed that the "adults" are just kids with mustaches) we like it.

On the school page, there are kids in the playground playing with balls. And as I mentioned, Chloë is obsessed. The book is in the bathroom, and she loves to sit on the potty now just so we can look at these balls. "Ball," she says (back to one syllable!), and I open the book to that page, the first spread. I get tired of it eventually, and I point out the apples and the tree and the books and the cup and the computer and the bee. (I've been pointing out bees to her saying "This is a bee. It goes bzzzzzzzz," moving my fingertrip around like a flying bee and landing on her nose. Now when she's looking at the bee she says "Beeeeeeeeeeeee," flying her finger around in the air.) Eventually, I flip to another page. She waits for maybe two seconds and then says "Ball. Ball. Ball."

So I tell her to find the balls. She knows that it's on the lower right of the page, but she doesn't always get the right spread, and several times now she's turned back a page, looking at the lower right, saying "Ha!" with a laugh, like she does when we're playing peek-a-boo and she's trying to surprise me--and then been surprised when the balls aren't there. I feel so sad and sorry for her when she gets it wrong. I suppose she needs to learn to make sure she's right before she laughs in triumph, but it's so pathetic.

And so I've started cheating sometimes, holding down the pages to make sure she flips to the right spread. Is that wrong of me? I can blame it on the pregnancy hormones for now. (Apparently they turn me into SuperPermissiveMom. We've been having trouble getting Chloe to sleep through the night lately, and it's partly because I wake up when she cries, and before I'm fully awake I can't override my instinct to go immediately to her and give her whatever she's asking for, whether she needs it or not.) But if this keeps up I'm going to be fixing her block stacks so they don't fall and correcting her homework without telling her. I hope she picks a science fair project I won't have to do a lot of research for.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

And how we would give her the moon

Chloë and I have this little thing we do. I must have started it, because where would she come up with it on her own? I say "Hmm," when I'm considering something. She hears me and says, "Hmm," mock-serious, and taps her lip thoughtfully with her finger. So I say "Hmm," more emphatically than before, and purse my own lips and tap them, and she says, "Hmm!" more emphatically than me, still tapping.

Yesterday evening she was still asking for the moon. So Eric found a window where it could be seen, a slender crescent with Jupiter nearby, and stood her up on the window seat so she could see it. "Moo'," she said, looking up. "Dahr." She reached up, touching the window, and commented, "Gohl (cold)." She gazed more. She wanted to be picked up so she could get closer, which was heartbreakingly cute but only cut off her view. So she returned to the window seat and stayed there, watching the moon.

After a bit I decided to show her the "Moon" segment on her Baby Galileo show, to make the connection between the pictures there and the night sky she could see. She came to see, because the turning on of the TV is always an important event, but I realized as it started to play that this was awfully stupid of me. Why had I pulled her away from her first foray into astronomy to watch a TV show she's seen dozens of times before? Besides, the moons on the show were mostly full, not crescents, but I tried to tell her they were the same moon. We'll watch the sky in the next couple of weeks as we can so she can see it change. But really. Disney admits Baby Einstein isn't educational, so why would I think it would be? Hmm. Hmm!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The menagerie

(Today when we went left Target, Chloë noticed the crescent moon up above. We named it for her, and she gazed on it. Then we tried to put her in the car and she pitched a fit because she couldn't see the it anymore. It was annoying, but I kind of love that I have a child who had a mini-tantrum about the moon.)

Chloë continues to be obsessed with water and with her Baby Neptune show. On the weekends we go downstairs after getting dressed and watch it twice. We'd watch it more if I let her, I'm sure. We've now moved to daily baths, every other day a "splash bath," which we got from our friends Nancy and Don, wherein she just gets in the tub and plays rather than being scrubbed. Recently she's gotten especially interested in her rubber bath toys, particularly the octopus and the turtle, because the three main characters on Baby Neptune are a duck, an octopus, and a turtle. So we taught her "octopus," which she pronounces "Oppy," and "turtle," which comes out "tuhtuh." They squirt, and she's been having a fabulous time squirting them--mostly at herself. She gets this surprised look whenever she squirts herself in the face, though she does it all the time.

She also has a stuffed octopus, also from Baby Einstein, so presumably it's the very same one as the one in the show. Its eight legs have different colors and it says the colors when pressed, or plays music when its head is pressed, but it's gotten kind of epileptic the past several days so we've turned it off. Chloë loves it anyway, and has added it to her bedtime menagerie. This has grown from a single stuffed dog we gave her some time ago to five: the dog, which she still identifies by panting, the doll I made her, the sock monkey her (well, my) Aunt Karolyn and Uncle Mike gave her, the Seattle bear she spied on my dresser and adopted as her own, and the octopus. When we put her down for sleep she names them all: "[pant pant pant], Baby, Eee eee eee, Beh, Oppy." She pulls one or two in her arms and hugs them tight, then snuggles down, content in the midst of all her toy friends.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Stomping out the old, splashing in the new

The last day of 2010 was an unseasonably warm day, around 50, and the snow had mostly melted, so Chloë and I donned fleece jackets and boots and went for a walk.

At first she was interested simply in the day, in the twigs and leaves on the ground and how the house that normally has loud barking dogs in the yard didn't have any loud barking dogs in the yard. Then we arrived at the corner, where leaves had blocked the gutter and created a puddle. She waded in. Since she was wearing boots, I let her. Why not? She shuffled around, noticing how the water moved when she did. She picked up some waterlogged leaves that came apart in her hands and showed them to me. She stamped. She smiled.

Then she sat down, right in the deepest of the water. I cringed and pulled her up again immediately, but she didn't seem to notice; she wanted to plunge her hands wrist-deep in the water and wave them around, and then she wanted to stomp some more, splashing my boots and laughing when I showed her the dirty drops she'd gotten on them. She sat down in the water again and seemed puzzled when I made her stand up. This girl loves her water. She's become obsessed with "washing her hands" lately because the water creates bubbles on her skin. "Bubble!" she cried, seeing the same thing happen in the puddle. "Bubble!"

She splashed and stomped until I got worried about her getting too cold and dragged her home. She was reluctant to go, but I pointed out the smaller patches of water between us and home, very splashable to a size-6 toddler shoe, and I promised a warm bath with more water and more bubbles, and eventually I was able to get her to our porch, where I removed my fleece (because my shirt is easier to wash than my jacket) and picked her up so that I could remove her soaked, muddy boots and clothes and carry her to the bathtub.