Monday, December 31, 2012

Status report: Chloë, 3 years 5 months, and Maia, 20 months

And so on the last day of the year I bring you the last monthly update of the year. The girls know that we're having a party tonight, but not why; and though they're big, big girls, they're not big enough yet to stay up for midnight.

"Aw, Mom."
Chloë is going through a whiny, defiant stage. Have I mentioned this before? It's still true. "No fair!" she was yelling at intervals all morning. (Eric blames me. I'm afraid this time he's correct. It's from the "Bedtime for Frances" miniseries I found on Netflix.) "I didn't want you to zip it all the way," she complains when we help too much. "You don't both need to tell me," she says when Eric and both holler "Yes!" when she's called out "I can flush, right?"

Vis a vis the potty, she's almost entirely independent now. We've been checking her wiping (visually), but she's been doing well, so I told her last night that if she felt dry, she could just pull up her underwear and proceed to flushing and washing. I expected her to call me anyway, but she didn't. Next step is to get her off the potty seat. I keep mentioning it and forgetting to do it.

Maia's been doing some sitting on the potty, occasionally, but I think it's mainly so that she can read her potty books. She does enjoy the attention, though, and especially being on Chloë's seat. And Chloë's always very helpful in telling me "Maia wants to sit on my potty seat," and putting the seat on and moving the stool so I really have no choice.

Chloë showed the probably typical but unbecoming "Are there more presents for me?" attitude during Christmas, but other than that they were both delightful during the holidays. They enjoyed their toys, helped clean up without much grumbling, helped enthusiastically with baking. Chloë's fairly good at measuring out dry ingredients, and is eager to say "I can do that!" whenever I introduce a new step. She wants to learn about cracking eggs, but I'm not ready for that yet. Maia likes to stand on the chair with Chloë and dip her fingers into things. Chloë got an easel for Christmas, and when Eric started to put it together, she clamored to help. "I don't think there's much you can do," he told her, "but we'll see." But, in fact, she helped gather and hold things, keep track of the "L," hold pieces in place, and screw on the wing nuts. She also did her first screw-driving helping to change batteries in her moon and stars. We'll have her fixing the roof in no time.

She's still keenly interested in the alphabet and counting. She's getting better at the teens and can work her way up to one hundred if you prompt her a few times. She also knows two plus two is four, though I'm not sure she could do two plus three. 

Maia is talking, talking, always talking. A lot of it is mimicking, especially anything Chloë says; but she comes up with her own sentences too. Like "Mama eating pizza too" and "Mitten falling down!" and "Daddy sleeping, tiptoe, shhh," and, heart-meltingly, "Happy see you Mama." She's starting to take more interest in her wardrobe, and whenever I help her on with something she particularly likes, she wants to go show Daddy.

She's now our adventurous eater; Chloë doesn't like anything remotely "spicy" (occasionally including basil and oregano, though not cinnamon) and has recently declared she didn't like tomatoes, though she then ate about a third of a pound of them at Memaw's with her cousins, so she's clearly not being totally truthful there.  But Maia likes my spicy cheese (pepperjack) and the cheese-onion tart at Christmas and my potato omelets and, in general, anything her sister and father won't touch. She's not keen on bacon or sausage (though Chloë adores them both), but she liked the ham at Christmas and in general is eager to try anything on Eric's plate, or mine, that she doesn't have. Or that she does have. She also likes to eat with my fork.

However, Chloë still loves her mermaid food, seaweed and seaweed soup and rice. Maia too. Mom made them soup when they were here (she makes it better than I do) and they both literally slurped it up.

Maia is so funny these days. Dad invented a game wherein he's sitting on the couch, and she's trapped between his legs, and the only way to get out is to tickle his toes. She loved this game, and of course played it with me when he was gone. Then the other night she played the "Mama tunnel" game (crawling between my legs, particularly when I'm standing right against a counter). I trapped her and said "What do you do to get free?" and after a few seconds' thought she tickled my feet.

Also, she continues to like playing with her blankets:

The girls are really engaging with each other these days. They have actual conversations sometimes ("Maia, do you want to play sleepover?" "Yeah!" "Okay, let's go to my room." "Wait, Toë." "Oh, you need your babies? I'll help carry them." "Thank you Toë.") I came down the other day to find they'd dragged Maia's little couch to the entryway and were kneeling backward on it, talking animatedly about fish. Turned out they were on a boat. They're considerate of each other most of the time, responding to each other's wants and upsets. They're such sweet girls.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Overlords

Christmas with the Overlords was busy but fun. They went and saw Santa (while I was home sick):

...after which Chloë told me solemnly, "If Santa Tom comes to our house in the dark, he will be surprised."

We baked cookies:

I'd suggested that we make gingerbread men and put gumdrop buttons on them, but it was Chloë's idea to make one for each person coming to Christmas dinner, with a letter to designate whose was whose (there were a lot of Ms: Maia, Mimi, Mama, Memaw, and Matt) and red-hot eyes, nose, tie, I think. She did the red-hots and piped some of the icing for the bow ties, and was very proud of herself. So was I.

And, of course, we opened lots of presents:

(Notice the pure joy on Maia's sweet face on seeing that they both have their own packets of what they've been calling "minties," mint M&Ms.)

(I made the sweater. Mom sewed on the buttons.)

The girls got a good haul: dolls, necklaces, sweater for Maia and mittens for Chloë, stuffed animals, books, baking stuff and a space puzzle for Chloë, a dump truck for Maia. Chloë also got a training laptop from Mom (which I helped pick out) that we upgraded tonight to a LeapPad, because the laptop we chose turned out to have some issues.

Then family came over for dinner and more presents, and the girls got into their Christmas dresses, which Chloë in particular professed to love. They liked Eric's yams and the green beans, and the apple pie, and their cousin Raegan two-fisted cookies when I made the mistake of putting the plate too low. It was a good Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


We were discussing something, I forget what, right after I got home from work today while Chloë ate from her bag of "blue chewy fruit snacks" (blue referring to the color of the package; they're the Welch's, and she accepts no substitutes). Eric said something about the annoyingness or cuteness, I forget which, of something Chloë had said, and quoted it.

"Maia?" Chloë asked brightly.

"No, you. Maia doesn't talk in sentences."

"Snack too, please," Maia said.


There are few things more pathetic, or more annoying, than hearing a three-year-old scream at her Duplos, "That's not what I wanted!"

Chloë does this a lot these days. "Stay out of my face, hair!" she says at night. "Don't fall, blocks!" she says when making a tower. Then of course there's the arguments with Eric and me. "I'm not going to put on a show for you," Eric will say, and her angry response is, "Yes you are!"

Which is not to say she's angry all the time. But when she is, she gets very vocal about it.

And Maia, faithful follower of her sister, is starting to pitch fits of her own. These usually take the form of repetitive howling of "Nooooo!" no matter what we say to her, running away, and knocking things over. She's hard to calm down when she gets this way. A few months ago I would have said categorically that she's much more temperamental than her sister, but now that Chloë is producing fireworks of her own on a regular basis I can't be so positive. One thing's for sure, though; we always know where we stand with them.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I need a little angel sitting on my shoulder

We just finished up a visit from Grandpa and Halmoni--Halmoni longer than Grandpa, since Grandpa was actually here (or rather, in Dayton) to work. We managed to get Halmoni sick (not the flu), but otherwise I think they had a good visit. We definitely did. The girls enjoyed playing with them, and Eric and I enjoyed having the extra help and adult conversation. And, uh, the clean kitchen. (Especially since I'm involved in a Christmas Cookie Throwdown at work and am making eighteen dozen cookies to sell for charity.)

While they were here we went for our Christmas tree, and decorated it a few days later. The girls had a great time putting up ornaments:

Chloë was inexplicably averse to having her picture taken in front of the tree. The best we could do was a sneak attack where I suddenly turned around while holding her for ornaments, Eric and Maia closed in, and Dad took the picture quick:

After that she squawked and protested, and I subsided. There are other pictures she's being agreeable in.

Now Grandpa and Halmoni are gone, but our tree remains. We did cutout cookies tonight, because Chloë wanted to, and decorated them with sprinkles and red hots and Maia's fingerprints. There's a bunch of wrapping Chloë wants to help me with. The shopping for them is done (though the crafting isn't), and once we take care of our usual Christmas candy and cookies we should be in for a pretty restful holiday. At least, as restful as we can get around here.

On an only-vaguely-related note, we were reading from the Dora omnibus tonight when Maia said, "Piggie - drink." She pointed to a pig who was, indeed, holding a drink. Then she hefted her sippy of milk and continued, "Maia, too." She's mimicking everything we say these days, and showing an almost frightening comprehension and attempts at communication. This girl is going to be trouble.

Monday, December 3, 2012

But eighteen years is a pretty good run.

I just had my first significant loss as a result of having children (I mean, other than uninterrupted sleep,  free time, disposable income, and sanity). Chloë dropped my Christmas ornament from 1994--a small real snow globe--on her tiger "piano" and broke it. "It didn't break the first time," she said, "but it did the second time." I asked her why she dropped it twice, but didn't get an answer. She did alert me to the incident by saying "Mama, I'm very sorry," and repeating it until I told her it was okay.

She was upset that it had happened, and more upset that in the course of cleaning up the glass and sparkles I accidentally sucked up one of Maia's socks into the vacuum. I told her I was a little sad the globe was broken, but it wasn't a big deal, and neither were the socks. It really isn't a big deal, but it was my 1994 Christmas ornament and I remember going to get it. We've lost other property to her or Maia, but this is the first thing I can think of that was irreplaceable.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Status report: Chloë, 3 years 4 months, and Maia, 19 months

This will be a short, incomplete update. I'm sorry for the lack of posting and pictures this month. I've been focusing on (a) other writing and (b) Christmas crafting, and I'm at full capacity for my concentration, so with those shifting to the forefront other things are having to feel the neglect, and that includes the blog.

Also, Eric has the flu. He's been incarcerated in the bedroom (with bathroom privileges) because the girls got flu shots, uh, yesterday. Cross your fingers that I don't get it, because if I do, the girls are doomed.

Regarding Christmas crafting, I've completed a sweater for Maia ( finishing the one I started last year for Chloe) and mittens for Chloë, and next up is dolls for each of them. Chloë asked me yesterday what my "best present" would be for Christmas. (I assume a preschool teacher asked her.) Hers was, "A dolly or a third piano. We already have two." She's correct on that last, so I'm glad I'm already working on the first.

She continues to love preschool and draw ever more complex pictures. Today she drew a bird. An oval for the body, with a smile and eyes for the face, and two ovals for the wings. She fretted that they weren't the same size, but she was proud of herself all the same, as was I. She builds up "walls" and "boats" and "twists" out of Duplos, screaming in frustration when things break. She keeps coming up with very adult-sounding conversational phrases. She's going through an "I told you" phase at the moment (usually when she hasn't, in fact, told us anything). We've pushed her to be more independent with  the bathroom, and she'll now wipe herself completely, but still wants us there to check--and since her attention to her bottom is sporadic, we still do. The next step is getting her off the potty seat.

Maia continues to be ridiculously verbal. She had her eighteen-month checkup yesterday (there was a scheduling mixup) and the doctor was astonished when she pointed to the pink fish on the wall and said clearly, "Pink."

"She knows colors?!" he said. Later, he said, per routine, "Do you have any concerns about her development?" and then paused and said, "I'm guessing not."

She does, indeed, know colors. She mixes up blue and purple a bit, and will occasionally switch red and green, but mostly she's gotten really good at them. She also knows number names, and may understand what "one" actually means, and can help fill in the alphabet song when Chloë sings it. And she's just started on two-word in, if I'd posted this on time I couldn't have said that. Yesterday Chloë was helping me wind a ball of yarn and Maia said, to my surprise, "Maia turn." Of course she got her turn. She's excellent with her "please" and "thank you," and knows her body parts, numerous people, numerous characters, animals and their noises, colors of course, and an assortment of other things. She's finally started consenting to give Chloë a good-night hug and kiss and "Night" instead of running off, giggling, or pushing her away.

Tonight I sent Chloë to get her room ready for bed (it requires turning on the moon and the stars) while I changed a late poopy diaper on Maia. Afterward I told Maia to go tell  Chloë good-night while I washed my hands. I arrived in Chloë's doorway in time to hear Chloë say "Do you want a hug, Maia?" and Maia say yes and toddle toward the bed, and Chloë stretch down to embrace her.

Maia's favorite toys at the moment are the Duplo Pooh and Piglet, and she's formed a big attachment to her Winnie-the-Pooh mobile (and can name all four characters dangling from it). Unfortunately it's a manual wind-up and doesn't go for very long, so we've been having a lot of bedtimes involving two minutes of quiet followed by screaming and "That! That!" since that's how she indicates she wants the mobile on, "mobile" apparently not one of her hundred-plus vocabulary words. (Eric read somewhere that her age  group should know eighteen to twenty words by now. We are very prideful.)

The girls continue to do well together, thought Chloë can be territorial. They play pretend games together, including Tea Party and Rocketship and Naptime ("Nap" is another of Maia's words) and, the other day, Santa. ("Who is the pretend Santa in our village?" Chloë asked. "Tom," I said. "No, here," she said. "I don't know," I said. "Then you are, Mama! I'm going to be Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.") They had a great time when I raked the leaves the other day (for real, though possibly too late; the leaf pile has been in the street for over a week), Chloë alternately ordering or beseeching Maia to do this or the other, and Maia generally happy to accede.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

In the still of the night

Chloë is sleeping now, I hope, after a long and protracted bout of screaming on the toilet because she wouldn't wipe herself. It's not entirely her fault. We'd done the wiping at night to get her into bed more quickly. But in the last couple of weeks, she's started delaying longer and longer, and insisting at bedtime that she didn't need to pee but getting up twenty minutes later to say she did. So we decided to start getting stricter about wiping. It probably wasn't a good idea to start with nighttime right away, though.

Maia had her own screaming fit before bedtime, because Chloë's Froot Loops necklace from school was not to be hers. Chloë had brought it up, I'd made her take it off for bathtime and then again after she got out of the bath, and Maia wanted it, wanted it, wanted it. I put it up on the post and she screamed, "Os! Os!" and "That!" and "Maia! Maia! Maia! Maia!" Then I took it downstairs, and she stood at the top of the stairs and she screamed wordlessly. I gave her milk instead, and she tossed it away from her and fell on her butt, still screaming. 

A little while later I picked her up, and she curled up against me and quieted. I fetched her milk and she drank thirstily. I winced when Eric came in from work and Chloë explained that Maia was upset about the Os necklace, but Maia didn't revert. Once they got in bed, they both went down quickly. Maybe it'll be a late morning tomorrow.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The dancer and the butterfly

Halloween came early and often this year, at least for Chloë. She decided a while ago to be a dancer, and so I bought a leotard and tights, and she had a tutu. Then my coworker Tina offered to lend us her daughter's old dance recital costume. Chloë adored the fancier outfit (though we made her wear it over the other, for warmth), and was glad to have several chances to climb into it.

First there was the Pumpkin Path at the zoo, where she got a small bagful of treats. Then there was the Halloween Parade with her preschool class. The parents were asked to come and pass out treats, so I came home for my lunch hour that day to accompany Eric and Maia:

How cute are these kids? And who would guess Chloë is the youngest?

Since there were only eleven kids in the class (now twelve; Chloë informed me today that a new boy, Dennis, has joined them), I bought full-sized candy bars to pass out. Eric and I thought maybe we were going too far, but no; when Chloë came home her bag was full of little gift bags that contained homemade candy-dipped pretzels, handfuls of treats, Scooby-Doo stickers, spider and skull rings, and temporary tattoos. Ours was nothing.

Then there was Halloween itself. It was a cold, windy night, so we dressed the kids up as warmly as we could given what they were supposed to be:

Maia only went to a few houses (which was all we'd intended anyway) before retreating to the warmth of Memaw's house. Chloë walked around a bit more, with her fleece hung on her head by the hood, and then gave up. But they're both quite pleased with their hauls and their costumes. "Trick or treat!" Chloë said, and Maia would say, "Tweet."

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Status report: Chloë, 3 years 3 months, and Maia, 18 months

Our dear 3.25-year-old Chloë is currently fast asleep, despite being stuffed full of candy and Halloween excitement (I'll try to make that another post) and Busytown episodes. Netflix is great, but it's created certain unintended consequences. One of these is Chloë asking constantly for shows, particularly "Busytown Mysteries" (based on the Richard Scarry books; organized or whatever by his son, Huckle is rather predictably the hero). "Can we have just one show before we wake up Daddy?" she asks hopefully in the mornings, though she knows my answer is always "No, Daddy controls shows on the days I go to work."

She's definitely starting to wade into the waters of literacy. She can spell her name, and write all the letters, though she hasn't yet gotten a firm grip on the concept of left-to-right. She's getting better at lower-case letters, and delights in pointing out letters she sees on signs when we go out, especially if they're letters that "are in my name!" She knows how to spell "on" because I always ask her to push that button on the scale when she's helping me bake, and that "zero" starts with a Z for the same reason. She sounds out the beginnings of words quite often, and sometimes I'll prompt her to sound out the rest.

She says, "I know," often, as in "I know, I know," when we tell her to do something, or "I know that," when we correct her. Interesting how early that starts. She puts on all her own clothes now, except for her socks and the occasional difficult dress. She still hates having her hair brushed. She loves the temporary tattoos that she's been getting with her three or four or five (!) Halloween events. She likes playing dress-up (except that she doesn't have a lot to dress-up in) and with her jewelry...also with her piggybank money. She used to love playing with my buttons. Why do we buy kids toys again?

I don't know where she learned to do thumbs-up, but she did. She knows "arrive" and "liquid" and other words you wouldn't think a three-year-old would know. She loves to jump. She's anxiously protective of her shoes, because they're her school shoes and she needs them for preschool because she's a big girl. She's very quick to look out for the concerns of big girls. There's a rhyme in one of the books that goes: The man in the moon looked out of the moon/and this is what he said:/"'Tis time that, now I'm getting up/All babies went to bed." Chloë's response was, "What about big girls?" I told her that big girls could stay up a little later than babies and she seemed satisfied.

I took the girls to Imagination Station, the local science place, on Saturday while Eric was away and the girls had a good time there. Most of the exhibits went over their heads, of course, but they had fun climbing on bridges and going into the wind tunnel, and there was a kids' area that they both had a great time in. I love when they get caught up in play together.

Maia is an adorable sweet eighteen-month-old who will not lie still for diaper changes oh my GOD. Usually I end up tackling her and tickling her, then wiping her quickly. Then she wiggles and escapes, and I fold up the dirty diaper and put it away. Then I tackle her again to try to get her down to put the new one on. She does love to be on her own...though she also loves to be held, especially when she's tired. And she never wearies of being thrown around, dropped, rolled upside down...and now she's learned how to do it herself. She can somersault, sort of; she calls it "tumble" in the cutest little baby voice as she puts down her head and launches herself, sometimes forward, sometimes to the side, at least once straight off the couch and into a laundry basket, and once off the side of the bed and luckily into my waiting arms.

She usually wakes up early in the mornings for our nursing session (I have GOT to get up the gumption to endure her screaming and give her a milk sippy in the mornings; I'm sure that after a few days to get used to it, she'd give up the R.I.N.D.S. without fuss and she might even sleep later--but it's just so easy when I stumble half-awake into her room at six A.M. to pick her up and sink into the glider and pull up my pajama shirt and doze) and when we're done, if it's not so early that I put her back to bed, I'll often lie down on the floor, my head on the Boppy, while she wanders around and refuses offers of diapers changes. When she spies me, she says, "banky! banky!" and toddles off to get me a blanket from her stack. She attempts to spread it on me, and then more often than not joins me under it. It's the sweetest thing.

Then there's the converse, when I'm sitting on the floor and she pushes me. I fall over, yelping, usually taking her with me. She snuggles and laughs, and then scrambles up and says stridently, "Pull! Pull!" I put my hands out. She grasps my thumbs and pulls at me until I sit up. Then she knocks me down again. Oh, the cruelty of children.

She's so curious and independent and self-motivated. We went to Michael's the other day to entertain ourselves, which was a mistake since there were so many movable, interesting things to look at and take off the shelves and manipulate:

But we had fun. And she was good about helping put things back. She's very good about any request or command that doesn't involve diaper changes or "come here": picking up blocks or Legos or books, bringing me a particular toy, attempting to take off her clothes for bath (of course she'd do anything for "bubbuhs!"--she routinely brings me the bottle of bubble bath when I start the water).

She's in the middle of a linguistic explosion. Her only sentence is "Read Dora please," but she can point out hearts and stars and moons and circles. She knows "sleeper" and "Grandpa" and "candy" and "Halmoni" and "drawing board" and "nap." She can draw a circle, which she calls "moon," and what she calls a line (well, I suppose technically they are; they're just not straight lines like Eric keeps demonstrating). I went to the Ann Arbor Fiber Expo with the girls to meet Carol ("you are a dedicated fiber person," a vendor said fervently to me as we passed) and had to buy a finger puppet when she spied it and exclaimed "Puppy!" so clearly the vendor came over and started showing her the different dogs she had. (Actually we ended up buying four, since they were $2 each or four for $5. Then we got a fifth one when someone called out, "Would she like this?" as we passed. Chloë got a free button and beads to string into a necklace. It's good to be an adorable little girl.) Someone else commented on how much she could say, and, when he asked her age and I answered, said, "Someone is linguistically talented, isn't she?"

The girls continue to be good friends and playmates, though Chloë's doing more "Maia's in my waaaaay!" and "Give me that Maia!" Maia is usually very responsive to things Chloë says she wants, even if she doesn't say it nicely or not to her. Chloë will say to me, "Maia's not letting me have the Legos because she's in my way," and Maia will turn and pick up a Lego and hand it to her. Maia's keen to do most things Chloë does...such as get up on chairs to "wash her hands" (read: splash in dirty water) in the kitchen, get on my left knee if Chloë is on my right, and wear her blue-striped sleeper because Chloë is wearing her pink-striped one. Or get tattoos.

I'm keeping this picture to compare to another picture of them coming home from the tattoo parlor together in seventeen years or so. I hope it won't be spiders that time, though.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Linguistics one-on-one

Maia woke up half an hour earlier than Chloë this morning, so we had some rare quiet time together. "Rwead," she ordered me when we settled on the glider together. I remember Chloë doing the same, except she said, "Heed." In the same way, Maia says "Yeah" while Chloë said "Hah," and Chloë said "Puhpuh" while Maia says "Pubbuh." (Usually this is at our prompting, because left to her own devices everything is green.)

But they both said "pakey" for "pancakes" in the beginning. Maia asked for "More pakey" the other night and I melted.

ETA: And while Chloë used to say, "Chloë do," Maia just says, "Do it!"

Friday, October 19, 2012

Exactly what I deserve for trying to foist my decision-making on a one-year-old.

Me: Chloë, what do you want for dinner?

Chloë: I'm not hungry.

Me: Maia, what do you want for dinner?

Maia: Food.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

After dark

We went clothes shopping for Chloë tonight, because she is simply enormous and, shockingly, last winter's clothes don't fit her and it's getting cold for short-sleeved shirts. We found a couple of leggings at Babies R Us (where we had to go for a diaper pail because ours finally gave up), but 5T is the highest they go and there isn't much, and that's what she's now in. So we made our way to Kohl's and bought five shirts and three pants, and a hooded vest because she loved it and was too stinking cute in it for me to refuse when she asked to take it home*, and some Dora the Explorer pajamas for Maia because "Dowa!"

It was dark when we left, and while we were still in the parking lot Chloë said, "My eyes hurt."

"That's because of the bright lights in the dark," I said, because it doesn't help to bring up how she's woken up at six the past couple of days and not napped enough and is probably tired. "That's not why--it's not because I'm tired," she always insists, after a bout of fingernail-on-chalkboard whininess.

We drove along. "No more stops, Mama," Chloë said, as if warning me.

"Right!" I said. "We're going straight home."

"Well, except for stop lights and things."

"Okay, yes, we'll probably stop at lights and stop signs," I conceded.

"But not green ones."

I ground my teeth and cursed Eric's genes and agreed. Before long Chloë said, "Maia?" Maia didn't answer. "Maia? Maia? Maia. Maia. Maia. Maia. Maia." At a stoplight (red) I glanced back. Maia was hugging Friendly Bear, contentedly ignoring her sister. "Maia, do your eyes hurt?" Chloë said finally.

"Yah," Maia said.

"That's because of the bright lights. In the dark."

*Also because she first got interested in the vests via a sequined magenta monstrosity and I was so relieved when she didn't like that one best.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Just an ordinary day

Today when we were playing Legos (Duplos) with the Winnie the  Pooh set, Maia opened the little door to let Pooh in and said, "Open." Then she closed it and said, "Closed." She repeated this several times, especially after I squealed, "What a smart girl!" and kissed her head.

I was making applesauce in the kitchen this afternoon (we tried it for the first time this year, and it has so much more complexity of flavor than the storebought stuff. Try it!) when Chloë decided to play a game called "Go to Emma's house and then run home and go to bed early because we're very tired." I was Emma. My part consisted of answering to the name Emma and making conversation before she ran home. I do not know where she got the name. I do know that she didn't take a nap today. She's been skipping it occasionally--especially on weekends--but gets so tired and cranky at the end of the day that we don't think it's time to give it up yet.

Maia has learned to identify herself and Chloë at last, and lately has taken great joy in pointing out the members of her family: "Mama. Dada. Doë. Maia." When I'm serving out spoonfuls of apple butter to taste or putting on jackets to go for a walk, she's been quick these last few days to say, "Maia," to remind me that she needs her portion of attention.

And for some reason whenever I get her out of the car first (she sits behind me) she said, "Doë." Does she think Chloë doesn't like being in the car? Does she want to remain longer herself? Does she dislike being put down to wander the garage or, if we're out, being held while I unsnap Chloë's carseat one-handed? I don't know, but she wants her sister out first.

I've been trying to make Chloë understand that telling me, "Maia is in my way!" is much less helpful than telling Maia, "Please move." Maia is trying to be so helpful. She puts Chloë's potty seat on the toilet for her and moves the stool. How much more could you ask from a little sister, ladies and gentleman? But no, Chloë wails, "Maia, you're in my way!" even when she's not. Today her shtick was to say, "Maia, help me!" when I told her she had to put away the blocks before she could watch a show, and then complain, "Maia's not helping!" even though (a) she wasn't lifting a finger herself and (b) she hadn't told Maia what, exactly, she needed help with.

As I mentioned earlier, Maia has attached herself to her sheep. Instead of Feet, we've now been calling it Beep, and she seems satisfied with that. It's a bit of a relief to have a stuffed animal with an actual name, since up until now our only variations on the "Snake," "Bear," "Ducky," and so on have been modifications on the theme of "Small/Middle/Big Ducky." (Chloë was playing with something, I forget what, that she called eggs. She said, "Soon the mama eggs will hatch and then the baby eggs will hatch." We've got to have a talk sometime about how 'mama' and 'baby' are not just size descriptors.) I suppose there's also Tiger the leopard and Chloë's dolls--Laughing Baby, Newborn Baby, and Dolly Baby. My plan is to make the girls knitted dolls for Christmas, since Maia doesn't have an easily snuggle-able one and Dolly Baby is much the worse for wear already, and I'll be interested to see what name Chloë bestows on hers.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A good big sister

If you want to see Eric all gooey over what a good big sister Chloë is, retell the following:

1) A few days ago, after bathtime, the girls were running around naked and when I went to use the bathroom, Maia came with me and wanted to sit on her potty. So I took her diaper off. She sat for a few seconds and then got up, since I wasn't available to read to her. She wandered over to the sink, then got a strained look, then started to cry, "Mama!" I saw she'd pooped on the mat. I scooped her up and put her on the potty seat, saying, "Look, you pooped. That goes in the potty! Is there any more?" There was a tiny bit more, but Maia was pretty distressed (it had been a bit of an effort). Chloë said encouragingly, "Good job Maia! You pooped in the potty! What a big girl!" And to me: "Can she have two stickers?" (two stickers being, of course, her own reward for pooping in the potty back when she still cared about her sticker chart).

2) Chloë and Maia and I went outside to play yesterday while Eric prepped dinner. It was chilly, and the girls had the hoods up on their fleeces. We decided to walk down the sidewalk a bit. Maia, as usual, screeched, "Hand! Hand!" I gave her mine as Chloë skipped on ahead, but that wasn't enough: "Hand!" she called to Chloë. Chloë dropped back and took Maia's hand.

"Her hand is cold," Chloë said. "Maybe she would like my gloves." And she took out the handwarmers she'd previously been wearing from her pocket and held them out for me to put on Maia's hands.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

All shall know her name.


Eric sent me this yesterday, noting, "The only help from me was telling her which letters to write." All calm, as if this were not an EVENT OF MOMENTOUS PROPORTIONS. 

(I don't know why I'm so excited. Maybe because my baby girl is on her way to becoming literate and that is TOTALLY AWESOME. Maybe because I didn't even know she could write letters, and here she is, jotting down all the ones in her name. "I can write an X easily," she told me when I got home, and did. But she couldn't do an A when I asked her to.)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Status report: Chloë, 3 years 2 months, and Maia, 17 months

Eric said tonight, "It's October? How did it become October?" I've been saying, "Where did these brilliant big girls come from?"

Maia's getting to be so much her own person, talking and reacting (good lord, the reacting, mostly with belly laughs or high-pitched shrieks, sometimes in close succession) and having opinions and preferences. I think Chloë's a little frustrated that she's not quite as biddable as she used to be, but she's also much more interactive, more a real sister. "Move Maia!" she tells Maia when she's where Chloë wants to be putting the stool to wash her hands, but that's because Maia's standing close to watch her, or trying to reach the sink herself. They have a lot of fun together.

Chloë is so smart. I'm so proud and pleased when she comes up with this stuff. There was the "only books about big girls tonight" thing. Then there's her shoes. She's been so proud of being able to put her shoes on by herself, but she needs help sorting out which one goes on which foot. Recently, she told me, "I'm putting my shoes back the right way so they're on the right sides next time." How awesome is that?! I told Eric about it and he said, "I should have thought of that."

She's settled into preschool and adores it. Her first day there was some hesitation and a tear or two, but that was the only time. Every day it's "Is this a preschool day?" and the 28.6% of the time we get to say yes she then cheers and says, "I LOOOOOOVE preschool!" She's the youngest person in her class, but it's not slowing her down any. She knows the names of some of her classmates, and refers to them as her friends--though she calls everyone she knows her friend, so that may not mean anything. She loves to show off the little art projects they've done, and will tell me about the books they've read and sing the songs she's learned--though never when I ask, always at some later random time.

She can also sing "Rockabye Baby" and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" all by herself. When did she learn to do that? And check this out: she can draw stick figures! She asked me one day "How do I draw you?" So I told her: "Draw a circle near the top for the head. Then a line or a long circle for the body. Then some lines there for the arms, and around there for the legs. And now maybe some eyes and a smile." She asked me to draw the smile, but she drew everything else.

That's totally me. Can't you tell by the nose?

She spontaneously sounds out the beginnings of words. She doesn't always get it right--"K-K-Grown-up," she'll say, or in one case, "M is for Halmoni." But she often does, and I love that she's trying, and all on her own initiative. We're working on getting her versed in her lower-case letters so she can get started more on phonics and reading. The other day she and Eric were reading the Little People book, and she pointed to a line and said, "That's my name." In fact it was "Cheep," the sound a chick was making, but she recognized the "ch" beginning. The fact that she has a book titled with her name probably helps her recognition, but I was still pretty impressed.

The other day Chloë wore some pants from last winter. I remarked, "I was thinking those fit better than they did last year...but then, she was wearing a diaper last year." Eric said to Chloë, "Do you remember wearing diapers?"  and Chloë shook her head. We're still a little hung up on wiping, and she insists on company, and takes a long time after announcing she's done to do anything about wiping, but mostly she's doing well on the potty--especially since we switched to the bigger seat we purchased while out at Mom and Dad's.

She was pleased to see it's the same kind as Llama Llama's in Maia's book. "It matches," she told me, though hers is white and green and Llama Llama's is red and blue. She's pretty keen on "matching" lately. "We match!" she tells me. "We both have a blue shirt on!" Or, "Put my earrings on. Then we will all match. Except Maia and you." (Eric was not in the room at the time.) She's similarly hung up on wearing "pretty" clothes. I haven't figured out what her criteria are for this, but she complains at least once a week that "none of my clothes are pretty!" I know time flies when you have children but hadn't realized we had reached the teenage years so soon.

We got a Roku box, to keep Eric from going completely insane by watching the same eight Dora the Explorer episodes over and over. The girls adore the new variety, and are enjoying some new shows, too--though Dora is still by far their favorite. Maia is even more obsessed than Chloë. She wants to page through Chloë's Dora omnibus every day; she exclaims whenever she sees Chloë wearing Dora underwear; she complains when she sees the Dora toothpaste or shampoo and isn't allowed to have it.  She's also basically claimed Chloë's Dora T-shirt, which admittedly is a little tight in the stomach for Chloë anyway.

She's talking up a storm. She asks us to "open" the toothpaste, and asks for her toothbrush by saying "Deet!" for teeth. She can say "read" very clearly, which I get a kick out of. She's also saying "Datey" (Stacey), her Cabbage Patch doll, and will rock it on the glider's ottoman. It's so cute. She can say "doll," too, and switches between that and "baby." The lamb Aunt Karolyn got her is her new lovey, and while I think she's probably saying "sheep" I always hear it as "feet." Eric scolds me for saying things like, "You can hold Feet while I change your diaper."

In the meantime, Maia has received her own potty, a Fisher Price frog one. (We decided to get rid of Chloë's because it's gross. Pro tip: don't buy the kind with a squishy seat, especially if it's got access points where liquid could conceivably get in and, at a later date, get out again.) She delights in sitting on it whenever someone else is on the toilet. She mainly loves reading the bathroom books and playing with her bits, but I'm pleased she's interested anyway. Not so pleased she's learned to take her own pants off to do it, but them's the breaks.

The girls are taking baths together consistently now that I've allowed bubble bath in their joint baths. Maia asks, "Bubbuhs?" every day. Chloë can climb in herself now; Maia squeals with impatience until I lift her in. They play in the bubbles, Chloë using the watering can to "make the fog go away," Maia often ending up with a bubble beard. Then I scrub Maia. Then I scrub Chloë. Then I let the water drain while the water reheats and we rinse and put away their toys. Then I turn on the shower and rinse them both clean, and then they get to play under the spray until the water is all gone. It works out better than our older routine and the girls love it. 

The girls enjoy their Legos and their beads a lot, as well as the tutus I made them...well, they did a couple of weeks ago, anyway. Now they've fallen out of favor. That's okay. They both like drawing, which is why there are more scribbles in the books and on tables than there used to be. Maia's been slower to learn the "paper only" rule than Chloë was. Chloë's very passionate about birthday parties and about the serial bedtime story I've started telling her. I realized a couple of nights in that this was a big mistake, since it means I have to make up something new every night instead of merely retelling stories and doing a new one once a week or so when I get tired of the current favorite. Ah well.

Maia's passionate about reading in general. Some of the books we read come with hand gestures (when I read them, anyway), and I love that both girls have picked up on them. For example, the My Toys book includes a saw, and on that page we all move our arms back and forth as if holding a saw. The next one pictures a drum, and I always have to grip the book extra tight because the girls bang on the drum. When we see a picture of an elephant, more often than not Maia will put her arm out in front of her face because I do that to imitate an elephant's trunk when I make the trumpeting noise.

These girls are growing so fast and so strong and so impossibly cute. Here's a pose Chloë orchestrated for me:

"Chloë, what's going on?"
"Just look at the camera and smile, and I'll stop with the Vulcan neck pinch."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Chloë and the Missing Zebra

So for this one you have to know that Chloë owns the book Olivia and the Missing Toy, in which Olivia's favorite toy goes missing. After rummaging the house and terrorizing her brothers, she discovers (spoiler) that the dog took it and destroyed it. That night she goes to bed with a stack of cat books, sending a black look at the dog and saying, "Only books about cats tonight." She forgives the dog on the last page.

So. I went into a baking frenzy today for some reason, on top of doing most of the prep for dinner because Eric was working. My second batch of bread was proofing on the counter where a bunch of other little junk is. When the first batch was out, I scooped the peel under the second batch and put it in the oven. Not much later, I noticed a plasticky smell, and was a little concerned, but we just got a new dishwasher (hooray!) and figured it was probably something to do with that.

Then I checked on the bread, which was baking nicely, and noticed something sticking out from under it. It was Chloë's zebra, a laminated-cardboard-ornament thing she got from a birthday celebration at preschool. (I know, I still haven't written about preschool.) I hastily pulled it out and showed Chloë, apologizing. It was mostly intact, but a bit, uh, brown. She said, "It's okay Mommy. It's okay. It will turn white again in the night."

She wanted to examine it, so I let her have it as I proceeded with the third batch of bread and the tortillas.  Sometime later, I turned around to find that Chloë had gone off to do something else and Maia was dropping two halves of a paper zebra to the ground. "Maia! No! You tore Chloë's zebra!" I said, and showed it to Chloë, and tried to get Maia to say "Sorry," but she wouldn't.

Chloë looked solemnly at the two pieces of zebra. She looked up at me and said calmly, "Only books about big girls tonight."

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Too far to go alone

I did a bad thing today. I took the girls to the park (this was not it) and we had a good, long, time there. On the way home I let Maia pull the wagon part of the way (this was not it either, though it was excruciatingly slow). We inched our way closer to the house, stopping when Maia got stuck or Chloë wanted to pick a leaf or when they both became fascinated with a little girl sitting on her front stoop. Whenever Maia dropped the wagon handle to point to something or pick up a leaf fragment I picked it up hopefully, only to have Maia screech at me until I gave it back to her and we resumed our infinitesimal progress.

I looked longingly at our house several doors down and thought, for some reason, what would happen if I fell down and died right here? I've had a morbid streak the last several months, but this wasn't really about my relationship with death so much as concern about what would happen to the girls if they were suddenly by themselves in the middle of the street. Also I may have been contemplating the likelihood that I would die of old age before we reached the house. So I said to Chloë, "If I got really sick here and couldn't go home with you, you could go home and get Daddy, right?"

"No," she said. "It's too far for me to go alone."

"But if you really had to, you know where it is, right?" I said. "It's right there."

She looked worried. "It's too far."

I gave up. "I suppose you could ask somebody in one of the houses for help."

"No," she said decisively. "All other houses have a dog."

I left it at that. When we finally reached home we put the wagon away and played in the sandbox some and had a bath before dinner, and over the course of the evening it became clear that Chloë had picked up the sniffles that Maia probably got from Eric and that I think I'm developing now. At bedtime, she mentioned her sniffly nose and seemed unusually distressed by it, so I stayed after her bedtime story (the story of the little shoe that fell into the river and how it found a happy home) to snuggle with her.

After a moment or two, she burst out with, "Some houses are too far away and you would have to drive me to them." There may have been more to it than that; at any rate, my Chloë-interpreter hummed quietly and then told me she was worried about what I'd said about getting really sick, particularly since she was now sick herself.

So I said, "Oh, sweetheart. I'm sorry I was talking about that. I'm not going to get that sick. I will always take care of you and keep you safe. And if I did get that sick, Daddy would take care of you." She started crying, and I held her close and said comforting things and told myself to shut my big mouth the next time I think about my own mortality. "And you're not very sick either. You're only a little bit sick. If you did get really sick, we would take you to the doctor or the hospital and they would make you well."

"The doctor would be better," she said, sniffling.

"Well, sometimes the doctor isn't open. Like late at night, like now, they don't see people. But hospitals are good too. I went to the hospital when you were born, and Maia, and they took good care of me, and you, and Maia. And Daddy, too."

She still seemed a little upset. I stroked her hair and hugged her, and I said, "I love you." She nodded. I said, "And you know Daddy loves you too. And there are a lot of other people who do."

She nodded again. "Everyone does."

"That's right," I said.

We snuggled a while longer, and she seemed calmer. After a bit I told her I was going to go do a few things, but I'd come back and check on her later. I went downstairs to do some chores. Not long after, I heard her call, "Mama? I have to poop."

"Go ahead," I called back. "I'll be up in a minute."

When I came upstairs I found Eric had offered to help her and been turned down. "Mama said she would be here in a minute," Chloë was insisting. I sat down on the mat to wait with her.

"That story of the little shoe wouldn't really happen," she said after a minute.

"No," I agreed. "It was a made-up story."

We talked about what I'd been doing downstairs, which led to her asking if I was staying home tomorrow, which led to "Is tomorrow a preschool day?" (I have a post in the works about preschool.) "I go to school on Tuesdays and Fridays. Just like French fries!"

Eventually she did her business and we went back to her bed. I snuggled with her for a few more minutes--"How about two more minutes?" she said, holding up two fingers, and I agreed. She held onto me at first, and then shifted, and then turned over so that only our heads were touching, her "cuddle" blanket between us. When I said it was time for me to go, she said sleepily, "Has it been two minutes?" I said yes, and she nodded and turned again, pulling her blanket over her shoulder. I kissed her temple and left the room, and the next time I checked on her she was fast asleep.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The hole story

We went to the farmer's market today, the girls and me. Chloë, as usual, put on her new sneakers by herself. Maia, as usual, went to the rack and pulled down her blue shoes, the ones we originally bought for Chloë as an emergency stopgap before getting her properly fitted. "No, sweetie," I said. "I want you to wear your pink-and-white shoes this time." Chloë wanted to go to the river (actually Swan Creek), which meant Maia would be wandering around a bit, and I wanted her in her nicer, better-fitting shoes. But when I took them down, she shook her head vehemently and put them back up on the rack, and I decided it wasn't worth the fight.

The farmer's market was crowded and noisy, as usual for this time of year, and after buying our peaches and apples we headed off for the river and our favorite vantage point, a little wooden ramp with a landing and a floating dock. I parked the stroller on the landing (we don't go all the way down to the dock; the railing gets much less extensive there and as I have explained to Chloë, if they fall in the water I will absolutely jump in to get them, but I don't want to have to) and took Maia out.

"Look Mama, there's a hole," said Chloë, pointing to a small hole where the wood had rotted away. "Maia will fall through."

"She won't fall through," I said. "It's not even big enough for her foot." But just in case, I covered it with my own foot before we all turned our attention to the brown, lazy river.

But later, not remembering, I moved. And Maia, naturally, put her foot down right on top of the hole. I wasn't looking at the time, but I heard a splintery sort of sound, and Chloë screamed, "Mama!" and pointed. I looked down and found Maia with one leg a few inches shorter than the other, looking down bemusedly at where her foot had pushed through the soft wood at the edges of the hole and stuck.

"Oh, Maia," I exclaimed, envisioning me pulling her up and scraping her foot bloody against the wood. She didn't seem upset--unlike Chloë, who was wailing and jerking her body up and down in agitation--so I took a few seconds to think, then braced her with one arm and pulled away bits of rotten wood with the other. Then I pulled her foot upward. It came--but her shoe didn't; I grabbed, but it tumbled away and fell down, down, to the muddy water below us.

"I was so worried!" Chloë said as I set Maia down and leaned over to see through the hole. "Where is her other shoe?"

"Down there," I said, pointing to where I could see it floating.
"How do we get it?"

"We don't," I said. 

"People in a boat could get it for us easily," she suggested.

"Yes, but we don't know anybody in a boat." I took one last look. "Poor little shoe." Chloë continued to opine hopefully that someone would rescue the shoe for us all the way home. I was just glad I hadn't insisted on the pink-and-white shoes.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Good questions

"What is that water?" Chloë asked me on the way home yesterday.

"The Maumee River," I replied.

"Where is the Baby River?" she wanted to know.

"I don't know," I said.

"Dada," Maia contributed.

"I don't know if there's a Dada River either."

"Or a Big Girl Duck River," Chloë said.


"Why do you and Daddy not have bed friends?" Chloë asked me.

"We snuggle with each other," I said.


"Where was I when you and Daddy got married?" Chloë asked me.

"You weren't born yet."

A pause. "But where was I?"

"You weren't born. You weren't anywhere yet."

Another pause. "But where was I?"

Friday, August 31, 2012

Two stories

About a big girl:

This morning I changed Maia and then let her run around pantsless (and by "let" I mean "didn't want to bother trying to catch her this morning") for a while. Eventually it came time to get clothes on her, but Chloë needed to pee and then have her wiping checked, so I left the pants drawer open and told her, "Pick out some pants to wear," fully expecting she'd do nothing of the kind. I went and checked Chloë, and then Maia appeared in the doorway, new pants mostly pulled up.

About a story:

"You told me two stories yesterday," Chloë told me. "Remember the one where Dora and Boots went to Aunt Karolyn's house? And they were sad because you and Daddy went away. And they had a nap. Grandpa and Halmoni were with them. What else did they do there?" I couldn't answer because I've never told her such a story. I told her one story yesterday, a much-repeated one about Dora and Boots going up the Tallest Tree and the Cloud Staircase to get to the top of a rainbow so they can slide down. Originally they got up the tree by getting a lift from their airplane-owning friend, Tico, but lately Chloë has decided she'd rather hear about them using a long, long rope to climb up instead, so we've altered it. I think it's so interesting that she feels free to modify stories that way--but only the oral bedtime stories, never the books.

And as for this story about Aunt Karolyn's house, that's pretty much what happened at James and Amanda's wedding, except for the nap part, if you substitute "Chloë and Maia" for "Dora and Boots." And you know what Maia calls Chloë in our family pictures? "Dowah."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Status report: Chloë, 3 years 1 month, and Maia, 16 months

These girls. How I love them, and how they drive me crazy. I don't have a coherent story here; all you get are snippets of our day-to-day life as these girls grow and learn and get cuter and funnier and are amazing and infuriating by turns, or sometimes all at once.

We went to Swan Creek Metropark, which is new to us, today on the way home from the dentist (I went, then Eric came with the girls, and I took them while he went in for his appointment--but the girls were disappointed I'd gotten done quickly and they hadn't had a chance to play in the waiting room, so I looked for a substitute). It's a very nice little place. There's a big playset with tall slides and some things to climb and a nice swingset--and a small playset with short slides and steps and baby swings. We started out in the small one, and Maia climbed up the steps and then went down the slide herself, pausing only to make sure I was standing at the bottom of the slide. Chloë struggled to climb the bendy bars and cried out for me to be close, to help her. She climbed them, no real problem, a couple of times. Then we went to the big one, and Maia climbed up and went down slides with me, and Chloë hung from a bar (so did Maia, and loved it) and climbed the helix ladder with, again, difficulty.

That's the way they are, mostly. Maia is adventurous and up for fun, once she gets over a natural initial shyness. I was swinging her by her arms the other day, up and down and all around, and she loved it--so much she cried and flung her arms about when I had to stop. Her temper is so fierce when it gets stirred up. Chloë is more phlegmatic, but she's so reticent about trying things, insists that she can't do it, won't do it. She's doing so well on using the potty, but she refuses to do without the pee guard or to try to wipe herself better. The way she says "I can't" all the time makes me crazy. I'm not sure if it's worse or better that she often says it as she's doing the thing she says she can't do.

The "Sarah" thing seems to have faded, at least the last week or two. At family camp some great-great-aunts and -uncles asked her what her name was and she said, "Sarah." But a little girl asked her name on the playground today and she said, "Chloë." So there's hope there. And I love how happy and bouncy and interesting and interested she is. She talks about the airplane trips--"Next time, I want to go on three airplanes!" and wonders where the people in the cars are going. ("Maybe they are going shopping like us.") She tells me, "I will hug you veeeeeeery tight," and I hope she's not saying it to try to intimidate me, because her veeeeeeery tight hugs are the best hugs anywhere.

Maia is picking up words like a vacuum cleaner. She pointed to her arm and said "elbow" the other day. Today it was "cracker." She names and can point to Grandpa and Halmoni (okay, "Aba" and "Ahee." We know what she's saying).  She's been using "bah" as her multipurpose word (bath, drink, dog, etc.). She also says "boom" and "ding" when she hears them. She's big on onomatopoeia. She's also done "more blueberries" and "cracker please" spontaneously.

She adores Dora the Explorer, even more than Chloë (who got excited at the determination that her Elmo backpack was too small for preschool and she'd need another: "I can get a Dora one!"). Whenever she's in Chloë's room, she's constantly fetching the big Dora omnibus, saying, "Dowah. Dowah? Dowah." She pages through it, tearing it more often than not. She can name Backpack and Map. Boots, Dora's best friend, is also Dowah. Swiper, the bad guy, is "mimi," which Eric told me today is "mean."

They both love the new shoes we bought recently. Chloë can now put on and take off her shoes entirely unaided. (As Brenda said, isn't Velcro great?) Chloë's been very big into being a dancer/ballerina/princess lately. She insists she needs special clothes for this (usually just a skirt or a dress, or a particular shirt) and likes to dash around, contorting herself oddly, to dance. "Am I pretty?" she says often. "Do I look pretty?" Of course we always tell her she does, with or without her dancer/ballerina/princess outfit.

(This was not that outfit.)
They both had fun with their cousins and other family during our time in Seattle. We visited Mom's work and when her coworkers gathered around, exclaiming and praising and begging for hugs, I expected Chloë to be shy; but she jumped around and danced and offered hugs, which was totally uncharacteristic but great to see. She liked seeing Aubrey walk past our campsite, and having Abby in the house (incidentally: my poor kids, with cousins Aubrey, Abby, and Addie). She talks about the neighbor kids often. I think she'll do okay in preschool once she gets over the parental separation. Maia's still too young to play with kids really, but she does enjoy playing by Chloë's side in the backyard, splashing in the water table or digging in the sandbox or dunking her fist into the bubble solution. She covets Chloë's tricycle; she's too short for it, but she loves being pushed on it when we can get Chloë to give her a turn. (Chloë's very very good about sharing with her. But she is very proud of being able to ride her tricycle now.)

Chloë hit me the other day. We were arguing about something or other and she said "Bad Mommy!" and I said "Bad Chloë!" (which was not the most mature response) and she wanted to say something else, and couldn't come up with anything, and slapped me on the arm. It was very light and was pretty clearly testing the water to see if it was an acceptable act--after she did it she stepped back and watched me to see what I would do. What I did was say emphatically, "Chloë Leeja Snyder! You do not hit! Time out!" She went to the designated corner silently. Then she started to cry, and then to wail "Mama," until I told her she was done. She came right to me and listened while I told her that it was okay to be angry, but not okay to hit. I don't know how much of that sank in, but I'm sure we'll go over it again. She said "Bad Mommy" again tonight, and I told her that the next time she says it will be another time out. I don't mind her being angry, but namecalling is one of the things we think we should nip in the bud.

But mostly I think she's doing fine. Where I'm a little worried about discipline is with Maia. She gets so mad so quickly, and is so much more adventurous than Chloë, that I'm thinking the ways we're already set in with Chloë aren't going to be sufficient for her--but she's still young to figure out what exactly we should be doing differently. If we should. There are no big problems yet; but I definitely see her as more of the rebellious type, and we haven't dealt with that yet, really. 

Maia's doing really well on her food; I give her small fruit strips and whole huge blueberries now. She still tends to chipmunk, but we'll work on that. Chloë's getting better and better at eating neatly and drinking "like a big girl" from a real cup (also, at remembering whether she had hot chocolate the day before, as she gets it every other day). They're both loving the late-summer raspberry harvest, and the Yellow Pear and Brown Berry tomatoes in the garden. Also, the "smoothie store."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

So this is how it's going to be.

[I know, I owe a monthly update, and this isn't it. But doesn't it tell you a lot about Chloë's current status?]

I set the girls up to play in the backyard this evening while I worked on dinner. I opened the sandbox and filled the water table, and provided two of the large buckets and fed them an equal number of raspberries. Then I went inside and opened the window. I chopped tomatoes and rolled pita bread, checking the window frequently. I loved having the kids playing outside while I worked without somebody wailing or clinging to my leg.

"I need flowers!" Chloë called to me when I went outside to cut parsley.

"Well, you know where they are," I said, pointing to the garden behind the garage, where there are a couple of marigold bushes that Chloë has picked from plenty of times.

"But those are marigolds, not flowers!" she said.

"Marigolds are flowers."

She said nothing, which surprised but pleased me, and I figured she'd accepted my word on it. I went back inside.

Presently, I saw Maia head toward the garden. I mentioned this to Eric as I finished chopping. "Should one of us head out there?" he said.

"Yeah, I'll go when I finish this." I suited action to word and went outside. But as I did, Maia came back. "Good timing," I told her.

"Mama," Chloë called. "I need help getting flowers. Maia didn't bring me any."

I looked at her, and then at Maia, and then back at her. "Did you send your sister to pick flowers for you?"

"Yes," she said, as Maia nodded vigorously. "So I need you to help me."

I went inside (after walking her to the garden) and reported this to Eric, who said, "She finally actually has her own minion."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

To the coast and back

And we have survived the plane ride home, with a decent but single nap for Maia and ten minutes of sleep while landing for Chloe, and a ten-thirty bedtime that night and a nine-thirty bedtime last night as we inch ever closer to our regular schedules and Maia struggles with her frustration that she can no longer get out of her bed.

The trip was great. Very relaxed (except for the day of the wedding), low-key, lots of time for talking and playing. Some tidbits:

-The first morning, Chloë woke up at five local time and we went downstairs to get milk and explore. She poked around and peeked through the blinds, and soon reported, "They have a sandbox!" It was a sand/water table, and both girls had a ton of fun in it. They also made a ton of mess. Their sand play always coincided with bathtime.

-When I needed to buy shoes for the wedding, Chloë came along and tried on shoes from the clearance rack. "Look at my grown-up shoes!" she said, sporting a deep-red high-heeled shoe on one foot and a sparkly pink one on the other. "Mama, you should wear grown-up shoes!"

-We visited Mom's work so she could show off her granddaughters. Her coworkers went wild over the girls, cooing and exclaiming and begging for hugs. I expected Chloë to retreat and be shy, but instead she went willingly into people's arms, jumped up and down, accepted their compliments, and even spontaneously offered a hug to a latecomer.

-Afterward, we went to Tully's and got drinks, a raspberry and a blueberry shake. Chloë claimed the blueberry, Maia the raspberry, but they traded sips and each would readily offer Mom, Dad, and me their cup when asked. They circled the table, drinking and clutching their cups, as we sat in comfy chairs around them.

-Eric put Maia down for a nap one day and came downstairs. Not long after, he turned around to see her slithering backwards down the stairs and toddling toward him. "Maia Verity!" he said. "You get back upstairs!" She looked at him a moment and started back up the staircase.

-This happened again. After he sent her back up the second time, he went to check, and found her playing with my phone.

-His keys appeared magically in my purse after the next naptime.

-The next two nights, I put Maia down for sleep and then spent the next half hour saying, "Get back in bed!" After a while I'd poke my head in and she'd immediately climb back in bed.

-At camp, the girls ate through one of those huge plastic containers of blueberries you get at Costco. Then when we got back to Mom and Dad's, they ate all the blueberries off their bushes, maybe a couple of cups' worth. Then they ate a huge bag's worth Mom bought from work. (Admittedly, I helped. And a cup went into some scones. But still.)

-Maia learned to say "Grandpa," "Halmoni," and "Abby" (her cousin we met for the first time while there).

-Coming back from some trip, Chloë asked, "Is Halmoni still there?" When I said yes, she said, "We should tell her what we did. And hug her!"

-As mentioned, we met my niece Abby for the first time (though we'd seen pictures and a web call) during the trip. Chloë seemed a little diffident at first, but then it was "Maybe Abby can play." "Will Abby be there?" She came to a dinner with her new Aunt Amanda the night before the wedding. She didn't want to sit next to Abby, but she spent most of her time watching her (when she wasn't scarfing down tofu).

-Dad taught Maia to say "please" when she wanted ice from his Coke. "Moh (more)," she started out saying. Then, at his prompting, "Bee." After a few times, she said, "Moh. Bee," unprompted.

-At each airport, both girls made a dash for the windows to watch the airplanes (and so Chloë could look for the animals on the tails--we flew Frontier, though she also identified one with "Two As and a bird," which is American). Maia called, "Buh! Buh!" (either bird or bug, I'm not sure which) until I told her they were planes, when she started saying, "Bay! Bay!"

-Except for the stopover on the way back, when she was asleep. I put Chloë's blanket under her head. Chloë promptly said she needed her blanket, so I swapped it out, waking Maia momentarily. Chloë then never touched her blanket.

-She then proceeded to eat two tiny bites of the burger we bought for lunch (McDonald's unfortunately being the best of our limited options). Maia slept through the entire stopover, but when she woke up in the airplane she proceeded to devour half a burger, bun and all.

-When we crossed Lake Michigan, I looked out the window and remarked that all I could see was water. Chloë looked and said, "No, Mama. That is sky."

Monday, August 13, 2012

Family Camp

We're out in Seattle now, having just come back from Shafer Family Camp. It's a yearly event that we've never been to until now. But since Chloë says, "I want to go camping again! For a long long long long time!" it will probably not be our last time.

The girls did really well, even with the time change (in fact, that probably helped them sleep a little better than they might have otherwise). They took to the strange beds in the trailer, enjoyed eating outside, visited with family they'd never seen or barely remembered, didn't get too near the campfire, and had fun in the lake. If it had been a little warmer, or the ground not so rocky, it would have been better; but we still waded and threw pebbles to see the splash, and saw baby fish (and "sharks," which were slightly bigger baby fish) and watched the waves from speedboats rock the shore. 

Saturday we had a surprise wedding shower for Amanda, and had the family potluck. That night Eric and I, and James and Amanda, watched the meteor shower. The girls played with their cousins and ate pounds of fruit and were generally spoiled all around, and we all had a good time.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Status report: Maia, month 15

So Miss Maia the Mischievous is fifteen months old. She had her checkup yesterday, and was pronounced fit and healthy and linguistically advanced. She's at 75th percentile for weight and 90th for height. She's starting to talk, walking competently, understanding a funny and so happy and so capable.

Her vocabulary stands at...well, let's see. Mama, Dada, more, milk ("mohhhh"), bath ("BA!"), bye-bye ("ba-ba"), cheese ("tzchse"), shoes ("tzchsu"), star ("da"), moon ("moo"). Yes, she also learned "moon" before she learned, say, "cow." (Though she can tell you what a cow says: "Boo.") What can I say? We like science more than farming. She says "down," but more often "downdown," especially when we're talking about going downstairs, and plenty of "yahyah" and "nanana." And, just barely, the sweetest hesitant "baby" you ever heard.

She can point to various body parts, and likes to touch our noses and hear the different sounds they make, and investigate what new people's noses sound like. (Be warned if you come to our house.)  She's gotten quite good at manipulating small objects--she often hands hairs or detritus to me to dispose of, though she'll also put things in the garbage if asked. She's taken to putting raspberries and olives and anything else that will fit over her fingers as she eats them.

She's still majorly into putting things into her mouth, which is to be expected but is annoying since Chloë's into toys with small parts. Nursing is getting more troublesome, partly because she seems to be using her teeth a bit when latching on (though not so much I can call it a bite) and partly because now that she's mastered shaking and nodding her head, she likes to do it all the time, including when she's got a mouthful of R.I.N.D.S. I want to try weaning her, but it's so hard to say no when every day I come home from work to her squealing "Mama! Mama!" and toddling toward me as fast as her legs will take her, and as soon as I pick her up demanding, "Mohhhh!" with a finger stuck into the R.I.N.D.S. "You want juice?" I asked her this evening. "Cheese?" She just looked stridently at me until I behaved. She'll make a great mom one day.

She and Chloë (or, as she prefers to be known these days, Sarah) still get along very well together. They play together, sort of, and enjoy being in the new sandbox together and poking around in the garden (though Maia tends to stand in the path and block Chloë and me in until I maneuver around to bodily move her). She's still stealing Chloë's sippies, but she'll give them back when asked, and if Chloë says something like "I want to try Maia's popsicle" she'll be right there, offering her popsicle by trying to stick it down Chloë's throat. Chloë just grins and accepts it.

She has to be coaxed or distracted into diaper changes, but the coaxing can include having her get the wipe, or doing her new favorite RollerCoasterMommy move, hoisting her up so her legs are around my neck and then letting her fall backwards until she's horizontal and I catch her in my arms (well) before she hits the ground. She likes being naked, and continues to love her baths. She keeps trying to climb in while I'm still getting the water going. Afterwards, she struggles to be put down while I struggle to dry her, and then I call "Naked baby alert!" and she toddles out to find her daddy while I finish with Chloë.

 She's become quite the ham lately. The other day we harvested some food from the garden, including a monster zucchini that I have yet to turn into zucchini bread. When I wasn't looking, she grabbed it and started gnawing at it. When I went for the camera, she did this:

She's still waking up in the night, more recently a couple of times a night, which I've got to train myself to train her out of. Ugh. I suspect weaning will help.

She gets picky about the funniest things--she won't accept broken crackers, for instance, though half a cookie is perfectly fine. When we brush her teeth, she then wants the toothbrush so she can try herself, but she must be on the floor for it, not in my arms. Chloë wanted to play dress-up once with swim diapers (among other things), and now she picks them up and puts them on one leg and toddles around with a blue blob stuck to her leg all around the house. She's such a funny girl. She thinks we're funny, too. She laughs a lot. Her baby laugh is one of the best sounds this house will ever hear.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Dear Chloë, year three

Dear Chloë,

A couple of days ago you told me, “I am Sarah, and I am three.” Sarah, as far as we can tell, was the waitress at the Ruby Tuesday we went to the day before. Neither your dad nor I remember this, but that's what you tell us. Sarah made appearances all day and occasionally thereafter, including tonight. I don't think she's going to be your first imaginary friend, but she's the first time you've claimed to be someone else. Normally, when we say “What are you?” all you ever say is “I am Cwoë.” You still don't have Ss or Ff, and I love your lisp. You say “tinger” instead of “finger” and “miley pate” instead of “smiley face,” and I sometimes wish I could preserve this aspect of you forever. (Though I suppose it wouldn't be very helpful in your college interviews.)

Freshly three-year-old you amazes me every day. You don't look at all like a baby anymore. I marvel daily at your long legs and arms, your face that comes into sharper focus each week. You speak so well, count so high, understand so much. You were aware of and interested in your birthday party this year: decorating, picking out the cake (“What kind of cake do you want?” I'd ask. “Moon cake!” You'd say. “Yes, but what flavor?” I'd reply), blowing up balloons, tabulating who would be there. You're constantly asking questions that make me pause and try to figure out how I know what I know—and if I know it. You pretend all day long, making the office your school where paint pictures and take naps, a cube of Legos a multi-flavored birthday cake (complete with pretend frosting), and yourself an astronaut or a dancer or a princess—which is the same as a dancer, just with more jewelry. We've tried to keep you from getting immersed in the insidious Disney Princess culture of girls your age, and so far we've succeeded pretty well, I think. People keep talking to you about princesses, and so you call yourself one, but you don't seem to know what to do after that. (Maybe because those princesses don't do anything themselves.) I think that's fine. I like the dancer, the teacher, the birthday girl. I can't wait to see what you play as you learn more.

You've been potty-trained for about a month—huzzah! It took a lot of time and effort to get here. But now that you are, you're so proud of yourself. Along with the potty-training has come, of course, pretty new underwear, and you've taken to putting it on yourself...and also your pants, and sometimes your shirt. You need someone to orient them correctly, but otherwise you, as you say with your arms outstretched and a glowing smile on your face, do it “all by myself!” More often you say “I can't do it,” so it makes me especially happy to see you so willing to try, so proud, so accomplished. A couple of days ago we talked about putting the top of the convertible potty seat on top of the toilet. Not only did you agree, but you proudly used it and then, to my surprise, suggested trying to use the toilet without the potty seat at all. It didn't work, as you're still not that big, but I was so surprised and impressed that you were willing to try it. You're not a terribly adventurous girl. Very cautious, and pretty clingy and whiny these days. I think that's the age, but you're definitely not as independent and fearless as, say, your cousin Addie. I'm okay with that. That's who you are, and it keeps you from doing things like dashing into the street and asking strangers to hug you, which is fine with me. But every once in a while you surprise me. I love when you do that.

You're so much your own person now. You have your definite likes and dislikes, and your own ways of doing things—of defying, of denying, of being tired, of being happy, of being unhappy. You still love green, though you're starting to get into pink a bit too. You refuse to do anything without your socks except bathe. I bought you some sandals, blue with green flowers, that I thought you'd love. And you like them, but only if you're wearing socks under them. On the other hand, you adore the sparkly, light-up sneakers your halmoni got for you. I'm so pleased that you're remembering your family and responding to them with affection. You're mature enough to play with your cousins and same-age peers now—really play, not just quietly follow along when they give you orders. You tell them what you want to play and what you don't, you contribute your own ideas. You haven't gotten to the point of compromising in order to play together, but you will.

You still love to read, which makes me very happy. We've gotten into longer books now, Olivia and Berenstain Bears and such, and I want to work on teaching you your lower-case letters, which we've neglected (in our defense, it's really easy to do so with the alphabets available for toddlers), because you're going to love being able to read for yourself. I mentioned that to you not long ago, and you hesitated, so I added, “But I'll still want to read to you,” and you relaxed. I want to read with you as long as you'll let me. And I'll keep making up bedtime stories and ridiculous songs for you as long as you want them.

You've gotten more physically active over the past year, doing a lot of jumping and dancing and running up and down in the hall--especially in the last month when you've been out of diapers or Pull-Ups. You're not as into naked time as you used to be, but you still indulge sometimes (though always with socks). “Do you see my butt?” naked you will ask if you're especially punch-drunk from tiredness. I'll say “I see your butt!” and you'll dash off, giggling, to run up and down the hall, and then repeat. You have a love-fear relationship with slides, and a simple dislike for swings, but you like going for walks, and pulling your sister in the wagon, and playing in the water table and the sprinkler and any pool you can find. You love to climb on me, or clamber over your daddy when he's trying to comb your hair. You love your daddy, and it makes me so happy to see it. Though the “Where is my daddy?” gets kind of old when I've told you “He's sleeping” or “He's at work” four times already.

You draw real things now: snakes and suns and flowers and circles with blobs in them that look like eggs or eyes or maps of islands. They're rudimentary, and you still enjoy simple color scribbling, but it's a definite sign of advancement. I love your pictures, and how proud and possessive you are of them. “Maia didn't color that,” you told me when Maia held up a picture of yours that she'd scribbled a line or two on and I'd praised it (because Maia is also quite proud of her scribbles). “I colored that.”

I continue to be proud of how good a big sister you are. I'm not saying you're perfect; you certainly have your jealousy and your moments of pique, where you push Maia away or yell at her because she's innocently taken something that you wanted. And your own streak of bossiness comes out when you repeat the things we've told her-- “No Maia! No buttons!” or “Don't touch!” But you're so unendingly patient with the way she steals your drink—whatever it is; all she wants is whatever you have—and sometimes refuses to tell you good-night or give you a kiss when she's giving them to your daddy and me. You'll readily keep her company or try to entertain her if I ask you to. You share your food with her without anyone asking you to. You try to get her to play with you in the tunnel or with your Duplos or in the sandbox. When she won't kiss you, sometimes you kiss her, on her hand or her leg or her belly. When I chant “So sweet—such a treat—baby feet” you tickle her toes and say “Baby peet! Toh tweet!” and you seem to mean it. When I tell you I'm taking you somewhere, your first question is always “Can Maia come?” You're such a sweet girl. My favorite sound is the two of you laughing together, especially when, as it often is, it's because Maia thought something you did was funny and you kept doing it so she'd keep laughing.

You are my beloved big girl, growing up in so many ways, unfolding like a flower bursting into bloom. You're going through a whiny and defiant stage, which is sometimes annoying and sometimes hilarious (“Never—pretend—to bite me—ever—again!”), but I know it's what you need to be doing, and I'm doing my best to be patient with it. It's the clinginess that gets me most, actually. But a small part of me revels in it, because in my own way I want to cling to you, too. It's my job as the parent not to, but sometimes I can't help catching hold of you and hugging you tight, loving everything you are and everything I see you becoming but wishing I could keep it all from happening because right now is so perfect and right. But that's selfish and short-sighted, and so I keep watching your beautiful self become ever more complex, more funny and smart and thoughtful. And I try to hold you just tight enough to keep us both feeling safe but giving you the room you need to grow.