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.