Monday, January 30, 2012

She is here for me by needing me to be here for her

I looked at the new USDA zone maps yesterday while sorting out my seeds so I could figure out what I needed to get for what we wanted to plant this year. ("Tatatoes," said Chloë, meaning tomatoes. "How about peppers?" I asked. "And carrots? And peas?" "Yes," she said. "And tatatoes.") I'd known that we moved up a zone, from 5 to 6, but seeing it on the map somehow drove it home. Hello global warming. Hello inexorable slide into destruction as the Earth turns into a flaming coal and my children are left to gasp their ways to a dessicated death on the once-fertile plains that will no longer support them!

Which is ridiculous, of course. But somehow the idea got into my brain, and not long after when we were getting ready to go out shopping I found myself near tears. Eric asked what was wrong. While I helped Chloe on with her boots I answered, "I'm headachy, and sorry I got you sick, and worried about the baby,* and OHMIGOD THESE ARE THE END DAYS AND OUR CHILDREN ARE DOOMED."

I clutched my head, knowing I was being ridiculous; and Chloë crouched down and said, "Why are you sad? I am here. We are here for you."

That did make me start to cry. I got a hug from her and we finished our preparations and went to the car. Chloë fell asleep during the drive. We suspected she hadn't actually napped, so we discussed how to handle things so as not to wake her. When we arrived at the mall, Eric went inside to get a few things while I sat in the car, playing with Maia and watching Chloë sleep. Maia enjoyed exploring the front of the car and being swung around (a little) and pushing the various buttons and levers. I held her so she wouldn't fall, and looked back at Chloë every once in a while, making sure the blanket hadn't moved and watching her eyes move beneath her eyelids. And I didn't worry about the future.

*Maia has taken teething very hard. She started with a couple of days of fever, though that's gone now, and is generally clingier than usual. While she does have happy periods and is nursing well, her appetite has plummeted and we can't get through a meal, whether she's eating anything or not, without her bursting out crying and reaching for me as if despair has suddenly seized her too. Fundamentally she's fine, but she's not very happy.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Status report: Maia, month 9

And our Maia-bird is finally nine months old! Her clothes have been saying it for three months already. I dug out the twelve-month clothes this week, the ones that are suitable. Since Chloë was this size in the spring and summer, we're going to have to go buy a few things, particularly pajamas, though her Christmas and Valentine's hauls have helped with that. I don't mind actually buying clothes for my daughter. It's a pretty rare event.

Maia at nine months is just below 21 pounds, 75th-90th percentile, so her growth has slowed a little...though we still need to go out and get convertible carseats to replace the infant carrier with all haste. I'm sorry to see it go. She caught a recent cold of mine, but has otherwise been in good health...although she had a little fever today, most likely from the same cause of her sudden incessant drooling. That's right, ladies and gentlemen: we've entered teething! I'm pleased, since she's still not keen on purees and teeth would make me happier about giving her real foods. Though lack of teeth hasn't been stopping her, and she's got a fine pincer grasp. Lately she's had apple, banana, grapes, mango (rather insipid, from a restaurant), clementine, bits of bread, vegetable Cheeto-style puffs, plenty of Os and oatmeal, more Stage 3s, pasta, roasted sweet potato, boiled regular potato, and some tiny bits of gingerbread cookie (YES I'M A BAD MOTHER).

She adores Chloë's sippies. If we give her her own, she'll play with it a bit; but what she loves is to motor over to wherever Chloë has left her milk or juice and suck at it with all she's got. We know she's gotten some this way, though it's hard to say how much. Chloë just kind of lets her. Maybe it'll become more of an issue when she's a more efficient thief.

She's been cruising everywhere, and walking while holding our hands, and has started letting go to try to stand alone. She fails miserably and falls after about half a second, but she's trying...oh my goodness is she trying. "It's so soon," I lament, but she doesn't seem to hear me.

She's still Miss Wigglebutt, refusing to stay still for diaper changes (though giving her something to chew on and singing the Changing Maia's Bottom song helps) or keep her socks on, zeroing in on any piece of paper or tissue we happen to leave about. She's still waking up in the night, anywhere between 2:30 and 6:30 depending, and I'm worried that we're keeping her up too late at night; she almost always falls asleep while we nurse and only barely rouses when I put her Sleep Sack on her and deposit her in her crib. I'm going to start putting her down a little earlier and see whether that helps.

She and her sister continue to get along well. She likes to pull Chloë's hair--mine too--and we're trying to get her to stop; but she also likes to go see what she's doing, particularly if we're reading, or crawl on top of her, or suck on the fingers that Chloë readily offers. She likes to be tickled, and flown, and surprised, and to bounce in my arms when I come home from work. I still worry that we're not giving her what we gave Chloë, but I think she's doing just fine with what she's got.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Status report: Chloë, month 30

Oh, my big funny sweet smart strong silly two-and-a-half-year-old girl. What fun two has been so far, even with the tantrums and the discipline issues and the total insistence on a lack of potty training. It's not hard to focus on the positive when your little girl calls out, "Mama I really like you" (even though what she seems really to be saying is "Don't go") or listens to you tell her to dream about the good things that are planned for tomorrow and adds, "And cats and dogs. And rainbows. And cats. And Olivia."

Chloë starts every morning lately asking to have milk and be buried (sit against the green cushion and have her "friends" and blankets piled around her until she's enveloped by them). But beyond that, it's anyone's guess what will happen. Maybe we will blast off! by counting "ten, nine, eight, teven, eight, fibve, torr, twee, two, one...blast off!" Maybe we will get on a carousel in the kitchen (the bouncer again) and ride around and around. Maybe we will play with the candy game (Candyland) or the Elmo game (Memory, Sesame Street version). Maybe we will play with Legos, or in the winter house, or read the map to get through the cornfield while we see Swiper.

I'm totally digging the imagination thing, though it bugs me slightly that she's mostly cribbing from her shows (is it a problem that we don't let her watch a greater variety?). And the repetition can get irritating. Oh gods, the repetition. But then she does things like insist everyone wear helmets for going to outer space:

Outer Space is very in mode right now. The Purple Planet Dora episode is still tops, and the space book (or books with space in them, such as "The Einstein book," actually titled Starring Lorenzo, and Einstein Too, in which a theater family's misfit son goes to outer space with Albert Einstein) gets frequent rotation, and Chloë's always putting on a space suit or a helmet or finding new rocketships. Or making them.

She's so talkative, so eloquent; I've stopped keeping track and started to accept that she just talks now, like a real person. Even if a lot of her sentences are taken from things we say...but isn't that how most language works? "When we go to the fabric store next time I will see the rabbit," she says, referring to a sign on a gas station. "I didn't mean to talk with my mouth full," she'll say, after answering some question I've asked at the dinner table. "I'll try to remember next time." "Will you sing the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo song?" she says, and when I do, "That sounds like the Rudolph song from my Christmas show." When asked why, she'll say, "Just because."

Though her constant repeating things hasn't gotten any better. She cut herself at the grocery store the other day, and had to have a bandage, and all night, and all the next day, it was "I need another Band-Aid," "I know I need another Band-Aid," "Daddy I need another Band-Aid Daddy," "Mommy, Daddy got me another Band-Aid," etc. She was very upset about this "ow," expecting it to be gone much sooner than it unfortunately will. She hasn't had many bad scrapes or sores.

She made up her first song the other day. Something about "I am Chloë, I am Chloë, I am Chloë, and I am two," and then I think it went into something esoteric, but I'm not sure. I was too busy being admiring.

I drew kites on the tub wall at a recent bath, and she colored in the triangles--surprisingly well considering the medium and her age. She's always asking me to play now, when before she wanted a book, or a show. Even when I suggest baking, mostly she'd rather play. She even beat Eric at a game of Candyland tonight, and me at a game of Memory (two-year-old's edition, in which we put rejected cards down face-up and I gave hints so broad a semi could have driven over them). She likes to play with Maia when Maia will, but if not, she'll play around her.

(You'll see her "winter house" in the background there, the little fort I constructed out of her blanket on a whim and haven't been allowed to take down. Why is it her winter house? I don't know, but I find it a charming name.)

She continues to do well when Maia has demands on me, though I continue to feel that I'm giving her attention more than I am Maia, which worries me. But then Maia has particular ways of requiring my presence that Chloë can't compete with, at least not for the next few months. When we nurse Chloë will hang on my knees, or play with Maia's toys, or ask me to read, or if she's tired or unhappy lay her head on the Boppy while I stroke her hair with one hand, keeping Maia at the milk with the other. I feel very motherly in these moments. A week or two ago, after nursing the three of us played on Maia's floor a while, and Chloë decided Laughing Baby was thirsty, so she gave her some milk:

"Elmo is thirsty, too," she said afterward, and put him to her chest. Then she gave him to me. "Mama, give Elmo some milk." So I put him to my chest. "Mama, you have to open your shirt," she told me, but I refuse to nurse a Muppet, so he went thirsty.

The potty training thing would drive me insane if I let it. She would be potty-trained now if she wanted to be. She just doesn't want to be. She says she likes her diapers, though I prompted her for that answer so it's not trustworthy. But she's so totally ready, and she's got control. She'll wait to poop until she's finished her food, or until we go upstairs to the bathroom (she was reluctant to do this until we made it clear she was not expected to sit on the potty, just be in the room). During naked time at night she'll hold her pee until she gets back into a diaper again, asking for one if it's gone too long.

Her Grandpa and Halmoni sent a package of underwear to help motivate her, and yesterday I asked if she wanted to practice wearing some. She said yes excitedly, and selected the deep blue-green ones (other options: sparkly Ariel, and seahorses and stars), and ran around in underwear for a while, and even sat on the potty twice (and demanded the stickers to go with it). We ended up in the bathroom for something and Chloë said, sounding surprised, "That's pee," as she wet herself. We got her (and the floor) cleaned up and into a new pair (seahorses and stars), and sometime later she said, "Mommy I need a diaper." I put her into a diaper. She peed into it. I sighed. I'm wondering if we should just have a "boot camp" sort of weekend: tell her "Okay, we're getting you potty trained this weekend," and take away the diapers except for at bedtime. The pediatrician suggests a stepwise approach, getting a reward chart and rewarding her for doing her business in the bathroom, and then while sitting on the potty whether clothed or not, and then eventually for doing it in the potty. We'll see. I'm trying not to let it get to me. I think when she decides she wants to be trained, it will take hardly any time at all, so that's a good thing. Right?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Words no other two-year-old has uttered

In Chloë's Elmo omnibus is an "Elmo goes to the doctor" story. We read it today (along with the babysitter one, which we likened to when she stayed overnight with Memaw and Omi Saturday) after Eric went to work. She dwelled on the part where Elmo gets a sticker (actually, demands one) after getting his shot. Later, in her room, she said, "I want to play doctor!"

I suppressed my snicker and agreed. "I need a check up!" she said. "What do we do first?"

"Well, we need to find out how tall you are. Let's go look at your growth chart," I suggested, and we went out in the hall. "You're three feet and half an inch tall!"

"What next, Mommy?"

"We should find out how much you weigh. You need to stand on the scale." She decided the vent in her floor was the scale. "Wow, you're nearly thirty-six pounds! You're such a big girl."

She beamed. "What next?"

"We should check your eyes. How many fingers am I holding up?" I said, holding up my index finger.


"I am not! How many?"

"One! What next?"

"We should check your ears and nose and mouth. Here, let me look at your ears." I formed a circle with my fingers and peered into her ear. "Your ear looks fine. Let's see your nose." I looked. "Ew, there's snot in it! Open your mouth and say 'ahh.'" She did. "Your mouth looks good."

"What next?"

"Next, you need a shot," I said, and picked up a small tube of Vaseline. "Hold out your arm. This will feel like a pinch." I pressed the tube against her arm. "You didn't cry at all. What a big girl! Here's a Band-Aid, and here's a special sticker."

"A star sticker!" she said, accepting it.

"A star sticker," I agreed. "Now, do you hold someone's hand when you cross the street? Do you ride in a carseat?"


"Good! Well, I think your checkup is done. You seem very healthy and strong."

"I am very healthy!" she said. "I want a checkup again!"

So we repeated it. And again. I shortened the checkup each time, and each time it became more obvious that there was only one part she was really interested in: receiving her imaginary sticker. The third or fourth time she said "I want another checkup!" I said no. She wailed, "But I want another shot!"

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Food and its provenance

We bought formula for Maia a couple of weeks ago. We haven't quite run out of frozen milk yet, but I'm still not pumping enough, and losing too much sleep to the evening amount I do get, and supplementing a couple of ounces' shortage is annoying with the 8-oz. bags we're freezing to avoid losing more than necessary to the bag, and she has an overnight with the mothers planned that will use up our stock. Eric's given her a couple of half-and-half bottles and she didn't even blink. Traitor.

I'm a little disappointed I'm not able to supply her fully, but it's not like we're switching her over entirely--she's only had a couple of ounces this week--and I decided that the difference between exclusive breastfeeding (other than all those solids she's now consenting to eat, as long as they have texture) and almost-entirely-breastfeeding is not worth losing any more sleep over. Particularly since one of the benefits of breastmilk, the immunologic properties, is pretty much negated in her bottles by the scalding anyway. And it's not like she's been sick a lot. If I hadn't had to throw out the backstock when we discovered the lipase problem, or if I'd been able to stay home another couple of weeks to build up more, or if she'd been my first child so I'd had more time at home to pump, or if I could stay home instead of working--well, then she'd be getting a few ounces more breastmilk every week rather than a few ounces of perfectly nutritious formula. And it's only going to cost us a few dollars before she's old enough to get cow's milk instead. So that's that.

As for Chloë: I made rosemary-artichoke hummus the other day, because I mentioned hummus and she was in favor of it, and a couple of nights ago when Eric was gone for the evening we had the leftovers for dinner, with carrots for me and chips for her (really a chip, until it breaks, as she uses them as spoons rather than food), and grapes and some Morningstar Farms "chicken" nuggets to round it out.

"I like hummus," she told me. "But it's spicy."

"It is spicy," I agreed. "That's because it's made with garlic. But that's part of why I like it."

"What is it made of?" she said, and by now I recognize this to mean "Tell me more," not "I didn't hear you the first time," so I said, "Well, it's made with garlic and chickpeas, and rosemary, and artichokes, and oil, and lemon juice, and a little salt."

"What are grapes made of?" she said.

"Grapes are just made of grapes. They grow," I explained. "You know how we grew tomatoes to eat? They grow like that."

"What are chicken nuggets made of?" she said, pointing to the one on my plate.

I hesitated. "Well, there are two kinds of chicken nuggets. This kind is not really chicken; we just call it that. It's made of vegetables and flour. Then there are the real chicken nuggets, and they're just made of chickens." (I forgot the coating, I guess.)

She nodded knowledgeably and went on eating. I inquired, "Do you know what chicken is? Roosters and hens like in the Our Town book?"

She nodded again and said nothing, so I went back to eating myself. I guess it's not time for the "we eat animals" talk yet.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies

Chloë has entered the much-anticipated "why" (or rather, "Because why?", which I submit is much cuter) stage. Why is Daddy going to work? Why is it too late to make cookies? Why does water run out of the tub? Why isn't the moon in the sky?

(She's suddenly become extra-obsessed with her "Cat in the Hat in Space" (actually There's No Place Like Space) book, demanding six or seven readings today. It details the planets, the sun, and moon, and a few constellations. When we went to the window this evening to see if the moon was out, it wasn't but Jupiter and Venus were, and Orion was spread out against the sky like a patient etherised upon a table--I mean, like he is in the book. I pointed him out, and she talked about "Orion the Hunter" a few times afterward. At bedtime she wanted to see him again, and--surprise!--the moon was out. "I thought the moon would be in the 'ky. Maybe it would," she said.)

At the same time she's learning various truths about life, I think she's starting to consider withholding some of her own. Today was her bath night, and she had bubble bath, and bath crayons, and toys, and foam letters. It was a complex bath. Maia stood at the rim, as she does, and helped by gnawing on duckies and then knocking them into the tub. I pulled out a few for her to play with, put the books up on the second shelf instead of on the floor so they wouldn't be dripped on when we put the toys away later, and drew duckies for Chloë which she then added orange feet to, so they could go to the grasshopper (don't ask):

I got distracted by something or other (maybe the thought of the nefarious duckipede) and shortly thereafter Chloë said "Look Mama," and handed me Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?, which is a board book we've designated as a bathroom book.

It was sopping wet. "Oh, no!" I said, already knowing what must have happened and considering how to present this conversation. "It's all wet! Was it in the tub?"

"Heth," she said.

"How did it get there?" No answer. I tried prying a couple of pages open, gingerly, hoping the cardboard wouldn't separate. "Did Maia put it in the tub?" No answer. "Did something else happen?"

"Domething happened," she agreed, hesitantly.

"Did you take it from the shelf and put it in the water?" I said.

And there was this moment where I waited to see if she would decide to lie to me. I hadn't presented any anger, but I'd made it clear that this wet book was not something I had expected or wanted. Would she decide to lie to avoid my possible wrath? Would it even occur to her to do so? She's told untruths before, but they've been pretty clearly (a) a case of not understanding a word, (b) not being able to control her language to match her meaning (i.e., "I don't want it! --I do want it!", or (c) being totally silly, never with the intent to deceive.

I'm not sure if it did in the circumstances, and the evil-scientist part of me wishes I had put on some display of anger just to see if that response could be provoked, if she's developmentally mature enough for that. But she confessed, "Heth."

So I told her, calmly, that books are not meant to get wet and only her two bath books can go in the tub. Luckily we have another copy of that book, so it's not a big deal. I wonder how long it will be, though, before her first true lie.

Monday, January 9, 2012


Potty-training is on hold again. Chloë's become totally unwilling to sit on the potty, even as her collection of stickers slowly erodes as she and Maia pick them off (Chloë to restick elsewhere until they don't stick anymore, Maia to attempt to eat). So we're going to lay off for a few weeks and then try again. We've got two extended-family vacations planned in the summer, one with my family, one with Eric's, and we're really hoping we can have her mostly trained up by then. Not to mention we'd like to get her into preschool next year. Maybe peer pressure would do the trick?

It drives me wild that she won't try, since she's so totally ready otherwise. She's completely verbal; she's aware of when she's doing it in her diaper and will tell us; she dislikes dirty diapers (though wet ones don't seem to bother her); she liked trying on the Little Mermaid underwear Grandpa and Halmoni sent her; she can take off her pants and diaper, though she likes to claim she can't when it's diaper-changing time. When it's bath time or naked time she peels them off quicker than a chocolate disappears in her mouth.

Speaking of chocolate: last night she asked for a Hershey Kiss after dinner. I ended up dropping a bowl while clearing the table and barricaded myself in the kitchen to pick up the pieces, so there was a delay before I got it for her, and during it she announced she was going to poop--"But I don't want to go on the potty."

I said, "Well, go ahead, and then when you're done I'll get your Kiss--no, wait, you should be going right into the bath after this. Can you wait until after you finish your candy, and poop then? And then we'll get you cleaned up and in your bath." She said "Okay." I fetched her Hershey Kiss. She ate it and then she ran to her customary window and did her business. Obviously there's some control there.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Baby mysteries

Maia got a "My Pal Violet" for Christmas. It's similar to, but much less creepy than, another talking puppy that Chloë has. (Had. Is it still around? I haven't seen it in quite some time. Oh dear, I suppose it's possible we may have accidentally mislaid it.) It says some pretty cute things, and has a bedtime-music function and an assorted-songs function, and by "function" I mean "touch-sensitive paw." It's been programmed with her name, favorite animal, favorite color, and favorite food. She doesn't have any of the latter, except maybe breastmilk, but apparently that wasn't a choice because Eric selected bananas. He also selected blue as her favorite color, on the basis that it is not likely to be her favorite color and he wants to see if she can be, well, programmed to prefer it.

This morning Chloë brought it into her room to play with. Chloë likes the thing more than Maia does; it's a good thing Chloë also received a gift that calls her by name (Tag Junior, also by Leapfrog). She pushed buttons and so on, and Maia didn't really notice until "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" came on. Suddenly she snapped to attention, listening and bopping her body to the music, as babies do. It was adorable. The only thing is: I've never sung her that song. Her bedtime song is "I Gave My Love a Cherry," with "Lavender's Blue" for variety. Possibly she's been present when I sang it to Chloë a few times, but she's only been exposed to it in toys, her stroller lion and her aquarium and so on. So where did she learn this preference for it? That'll teach me to think that babies have no secrets.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Chloë the Explorer

Chloë's been intrigued by the products she's seen and the couple of Youtube videos we've watched that feature Dora the Explorer, and the show seemed wholesome enough, so she got a Dora DVD in her stocking. It's been a big hit. I'm now regretting it, as there's a ton of repetition in it, but it does seem to work well; Chloë's remembering a surprising amount about the different episodes. (She's supposed to; the shows follow a formula of "Inciting incident that requires a quest - Map shows two obstacles to get to the quest - Dora and friends successfully navigate those obstacles and some other problems while asking the viewer to act with them" with Dora and her sidekicks asking the viewer to count, or find something, or say something, or jump, etc.; and the map part of the show always involves several repetitions of their projected path so that the viewer can later inform Dora where to go next.)

One of the episodes involves going through the Milky Way and past the Space Rocks to the Purple Planet to bring some aliens home, and after watching this a couple of times Chloë has been playing "outer space" all around the house for days. Her sleeper is a space suit, her turtle is her helmet (Dora stresses the importance of wearing a suit and helmet; I'm glad she's concerned about safety); a plastic ring is her steering wheel; the Play Hut or her bed is the space ship. It's extremely cute, and much more soul-satisfying for us to watch than her wanting to be Princess Aurora or Belle.

But what interests me most about her Dora playacting is that the character she's most interested in is Swiper, the antagonist. As antagonists go, he's not much; he's a would-be thief, but all that Dora and her friends (and the audience) have to do to thwart him is say "Swiper no swiping" three times. There's at least one episode in which he succeeds, but mostly he's only a momentary threat, another task to perform. But Chloë has been talking and talking about him. "Where is Swiper?" "I see Swiper!" "Swiper is sleeping." "Swiper's mouth is full." "Swiper is playing in the snow." I guess I can see why; she puts herself in Dora's place as the pilot/climber/hide-and-seeker, and Boots is just an echolalic sidekick, and Swiper is a dynamic and contrasting element. Or maybe she's just naturally drawn to the character most closely allied with nefariousness. Though in that case, for my money she should be concentrating on Backpack. Any character who says "Yum yum yum, muy delicioso!" as he eats all the useful but momentarily unwanted props bears watching. Who knows when YOU may be unwanted?

Monday, January 2, 2012

So this is how we're gonna start the new year.

"What is that?" Chloë says, meaning a Pampers box that's been left in the kitchen, as she seats herself on it.

"Don't sit on it," Eric says.

"It's diapers," I add, and look over from the cutting board to where she's still seated. "Don't sit there."

"I want to," Chloë says.

"Well, too bad," Eric says. "Get up."

Chloë adjusts herself. "My hand is under my butt," she says. I look over again. This is true. So, technically, she's not sitting on the diapers: she's sitting on her hand.