Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Play on

Chloë played with someone today! Like, with interaction and dialogue and everything! I'm so excited you'd think I made it happen myself. But no: we took a walk to the park this afternoon, because it was relatively lovely out, by which I mean mid-40s and sunny though windy. Chloë wanted to play on the playset with the blue slides, then the one with the red ones, then the one with the blue ones again because "I don't like the red twisty slide as much as the blue twisty slide." When we tramped back, we found a solitary other girl playing. She was a few years older than Chloë, but happily took her up the ramp and told her not to slide down the broken slide, then convinced her to slide down the very tall one (she did want my hand), and then to follow her on a romp around the playset.

Maia and I stayed out of the way while Chloë and the girl ran around, argued about which slide to go down, and decided the section under the tallest ramps was a bedroom. When I decided Maia's hands were too cold and told Chloë we'd be going soon, she protested, "We were going to take a nap!" like this was a good thing. I was totally charmed. Not enough to prevent me from buckling Maia in and then going to collect her, though.

"Want to do one more thing with me?" the other girl said to Chloë.

"Okay," I said, when Chloë looked at me. "One more thing." They ran off to do it, and I marveled at how momlike I felt and how kidlike she seemed. My big girl.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Status report: Maia, Month 10

Miss Maia is right on that edge of becoming more than a baby. Sigh. Oh, she's doing her baby thing, but with style now. If she wants down, she pushes hard. If she wants up, she reaches eagerly. She yanks her bib off when she's done eating (or at least done tolerating the bib). She picks up paper products to cram in her mouth, but she does it looking at me, saying "See this, Mama? See this?"

She's eating a good variety of real solids now. We had roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, potatoes, and onions the other day and she couldn't get enough. She loves Cheerios and pasta and grapes and noodles and strawberries and beans and bread. She's still okay on the Stage 3s, some, but I could see that ending before long. She fed me a Cheerio yesterday, and seemed taken aback, but pleased, when I got all excited about it.

She's also very good with her sippy--not that we didn't know that, since she's been stealing Chloë's sippies for a while now. She still likes Chloë's better, but she'll drink from her own quite happily. I'm wondering if we should move her straight from R.I.N.D.S. to a sippy at bedtime. We'll see in a couple of months. 

She's standing for several seconds at a time now, then squatting and lowering herself to the ground. Sometimes she'll even bounce as she's standing there, like "This is fun! What do you mean, this is world-shattering?" She doesn't bounce in excitement when I come home the way she used to a month ago, but she does reach for me, and invariably gets upset when I put her down shortly afterward to change clothes. If we don't distract her she cries piteously in the mornings when I go, and I usually cave immediately and pick her up for another kiss before passing her off to Eric and making a dash for the door.

Lately she's taken to flopping backwards when she's sitting. She stopped after she did it on the floor a few times and found it unpleasant, but up until then it was on the bed and she'd topple over with abandon. A couple of times she was too close to the edge of the bed and started to slide over, and I stopped her by grabbing her legs, and she giggled. She'll have fun on the roller coasters in a couple of years.

She enjoys books with textures, and turning the pages ("Hey!" Chloë protests when we're all reading together, apparently forgetting the days when Turning Pages Fast was her own favorite occupation). She enjoys honking my nose, or getting me to eat her fist, and loves lunging at me to eat my face so that I'll say "Ew, yucky!" and wipe my nose/chin/cheek/forehead on her belly, making her laugh. And peekaboo remains a great game. She'll play it with any loose fabric lying around, or with my shirt when we're nursing. She tries to do it with her shrug when I'm changing her, but since it's a small tube that doesn't work so well. 

She has two teeth now, which we're scrubbing at night with the little fit-over-your-finger brush. Chloë may be a little disappointed we're not using the white toothbrush she picked out for her sister at the dentist, but she reminds us to brush Maia's teeth every day, so it can't be too deep a wound.

Her hair is starting to grow in, though she still doesn't have as much as Chloë did at birth. She took a while to adjust to the new carseat, but now she seems content in it. We went for a short walk this evening (using her snowsuit for I think the second time this winter) and she seemed to enjoy riding around in the big stroller--though she was also sleepy from missing her nap, so that might have been part of it. She responds to "no" now, and may be starting to understand some other things. She's a fun baby, careering towards toddlerdom but not quite there yet--which is just fine by me.

Vroomy vroom vroom! Maia at the wheel!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Status report: Chloë, Month 31

Today Chloë wanted porridge for breakfast, because Goldilocks eats it and so does Papa Bear in The Berenstain Bears' New Baby. I'd have just fed her oatmeal, but she knows what it is and claims not to like it (the same way she's claimed she doesn't like potato-cheese-broccoli casserole two nights running, but she hasn't gone to bed hungry), so I racked my brains and the pantry cupboards for a substitute. I came up with bulgur wheat. Somewhat dubious, I cooked it, added some milk and sugar, and served. She tasted it. "I don't like porridge," she said. Then she had another bite. "Maybe I do like porridge," she said, but she didn't eat any more, concentrating on strawberries instead.

I went to make some toast for myself, and asked if she wanted some. "Yes," she said. "With peanut butter and apple butter." (Eric's been feeding her PB&AB sandwiches at lunch this week.) I was in the kitchen waiting for the toaster to go off when I heard her say, "Mommy, I'm done."

"The toast is ready," I called back, and she said, "Maybe I'm not done after all."

Chloë is a hoot and a pain these days. She's so eloquent and interesting to listen to; but then she's also always contradicting, protesting our edicts with "But I like X," or tears, or both. She only occasionally gets truly "I'm absolutely not going to do this thing you've told me to do" rebellious, but that may be in the future. Bedtime and naptime are more of a trial than they used to be, as well as the end of anything she likes. We're getting more tantrums over things she wants to do but can't, rather than just misunderstandings. She's also taken to saying "I don't like [food x]," a lot, usually when she just doesn't want it at the moment. "I don't like juice" is patently absurd.

We introduced her to a table knife recently, but haven't had much opportunity to expand. I've also started giving her a "big girl cup" at dinners, and she's done very well with them--and is proud of herself for doing so, which I'm all for. Her straw cups squeak a lot. 

I love her imagination. A lot of it is derivative, but then a lot of it isn't, either. She's got Dora and Boots, and P.B. Bear, and other characters tagging along when we do things; but then on a walk today she said, "Look, a snowman!" pointing to the air, and said, "The snowman is following us. Run, snowman!" as she began running herself. We made the box for Maia's new carseat into a spaceship, and she loves to play in it. She also loves wearing a string of beads, say, or a scarf, and will call it her helmet, or her guitar, or her motorcycle. (What's with the motorcycles?)

I read somewhere that developing imagination also means developing fear of what might happen, and we may be seeing that; she's afraid of being alone now, and of going down the stairs by herself. She's pretty clingy to me, but that's normal. She has started to be more defensive of her property, and more intent on appropriating anything she's interested in, like a proper two-year-old. Mom and Dad sent some gifts for Valentine's Day, and she loved her beads and seemed to understand that the ducks were for Maia; but she keeps calling them "my duckies," and when I gently correct her she says, "But I like them! It's okay for me to play with them!"

She can draw "smiles" (faces, actually usually without a mouth), moons, circles, and balloons now, and loves to draw maps, though I'm never sure what's actually on them. I've drawn several things inside her spaceship, upon request, and she likes to color them in. Drawing isn't as big as it used to be; now it's mainly pretend games and some running and shouting. That's fine. Reading is still important, and the stories are longer now, which is nice--though she still enjoys shared storytime with Maia, too, especially Maia's big ABC book with the different textures.

Potty training...oh potty training. We decided on the stepwise approach, with reward chart: first go in the bathroom, then in the bathroom without pants, then in the bathroom without pants and on the potty, then in the bathroom without pants or diaper on the potty. We did great until it came to sitting down. She got two prizes and was very pleased with them; but now she simply won't sit on the potty. She will on my lap, so there's something, and I'm going to see if I can get her to sit on the potty at other times, to try to work around this. It's good, in a way, that she's not having control or recognition issues. She's been excellent about telling us she needs to go, and holding it until we get to the bathroom and get her pants off. But except for once a couple of weeks ago, she doesn't want anything to do with the potty itself. I'd hoped we'd have started saving money on her diapers by now, but in fact we're using more than we used to because we're changing them every single time she pees.

She loves singing her ABCs, both by herself and with me, Eric, or her Leap doll that Aunt Karolyn gave her. She can't keep in tune or in time, but it's great to listen to anyway, though her imitation of Leap's laugh is a bit disturbing.

She still likes to hear a song at bedtime, but the big thing now is bedtime stories. We started with Goldilocks, and I haven't been able to branch into any other fairy tales, but we're reading a lot from her Disney book, and I've also been making up Dora adventures, usually with her in them. So we've got the Dora space story (in which Chloë gets a ride to Pluto to get a spare engine), the ice cream story (in which Dora and Boots help Chloë get to the ice cream truck so she can treat them all--I realized after I made it up that last year we told Chloë that was the "music truck" and intended to deceive her in this way as long as possible), the naptime story (in which Dora and Boots get told by Dora's mom to take a nap) and so on.

She's interested in the things we do; she helped me start some seeds the other day, and has started putting the silverware away independently (I mean, once we set her up on the chair and such). She's keen on baking, but wants us to play her candy cane game more than anything. She's growing more independent and complex and infuriating, and we love her that way.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A dental day

Chloë had her dentist appointment this morning, while Maia came to work with me and charmed people. She did mess up a project I was working on, but no worse than that particular software generally breaks on any given day anyhow. Chloë's doing very well dentally; the dentist said to keep doing what we're doing, and gave her a new toothbrush (green) and a flosser and a lavender frog.

And Maia's first tooth has broken through! So we got the soft little fit-over-your-finger brush out and scrubbed it before bed. Welcome to the betoothed masses, baby!

(Also, maybe I'm wrong about the incremental potty-training thing. Chloë has, as far as we can tell, gone into the bathroom and removed her pants every time she had to pee today. We may need a bigger chart just to accommodate all the stickers.)

Thursday, February 16, 2012


We went shopping yesterday for a prize for Chloe for completing the first row of her potty chart. She has done her business in the bathroom for ten days running. We only required one instance for her to get a sticker (a puffy foam star) on the chart, one a day, and additional instances have been rewarded with other, small stickers. She picked out a pink-and-purple latex caterpillar that I despise. She wanted a pink ball first and I was pleased, but then we lingered too long. Ah well. She likes it, and so does Eric from the way he keeps squeezing it to see its eyes bug out.

The next row of stars on the chart is for doing her business in the bathroom while either sitting on the potty or pantsless. Once we get through that row (maybe get the equally reprehensible latex frog?) she's got to be sitting on the potty and pantsless, and after that (there were no other squishy creatures, so she'll have to pick something else) she's got to be, you know, using the potty. Finally.

I don't actually believe this approach is going to work. She did remove her pants yesterday, though she got no extra sticker for it, so it's quite possible I'm wrong and that will be fine. But in my heart I fear she's going to lose interest in our increasingly esoteric requirements and play a game that makes more sense, her candy cane game for example. (Candyland. She enjoys bringing her "guys" "home" to the Candy Castle. And climbing the Chocolate Mountain.) Today, she got naked for her bath, then asked to have her diaper put back on so she could pee in it. We tried to coax her into just sitting on the potty. Moon sticker! Pull-Up! Big girl! But she stood there naked and would have none of it; she needed her diaper. I did at least get her to sit on my lap while she did it, in the hope that sitting down while doing business would get easier with practice.

So we'll see how this goes. If she never completes the rest of her chart at least I won't have to deal with the caterpillar acquiring any friends.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Give that girl a hand

Maia learned to clap tonight! She's attempted it before, but tonight, while Chloë demanded I make "water fountains" out of her squirty bath toys, she not only got her hands to connect, she made noise doing it. She was so pleased, especially when we cheered and clapped with her.

Later, Chloë wanted us all to "nuggle" in our room, so we piled into the bed, the two girls naked except for diapers. Maia didn't want to snuggle; she wanted to stand up and clamber about and, when my shirt eventually rode up, to blow raspberries on me. A particularly loud one sent Eric into paroxysms of laughter. She looked around at him in slight concern, then at me since I was giggling too; then she decided all was well and clapped. I'm not sure if she was applauding herself or us.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Maia Maia, nighty-night

Maia leans over in the bath to drink the bath water. "No!" I say, but that doesn't stop her doing it. She mouths the faucet, too.

I wash her soft back and her strong legs with a warm, soapy cloth while she stands at the bathtub's edge, holding on with one hand, the other keeping a toy crab in her mouth. She drools. She grins. She lets go and for a second, she's standing there, unsupported. She drops softly back into the water and I take the opportunity to wash her arms and underarms, her chest and feet. I'd play This Little Piggy with her toes, but there's no time; she's moving again, onto her hands and knees to get the magenta cup floating just a bit out of reach.

She sips at the water again, and I say "No!" again, and she looks thoughtful and says, "Buh." She often answers me when I talk to her nowadays, though I don't usually understand her responses. Occasionally I do. This is not one of those times, unless "Buh" means "Oh mother." She splashes at the water with her hands, watches where it goes, splashes again.

I wet her fine, still-sparse hair and her face, and wash her well to get the sweet potato off. Eric asked at dinner if he should bother washing her off, and I said something about getting the big chunks at least, and he took me at my word; there are still sweet potato splotches on her eyebrow, her neck, the top of her ear. She did enjoy being able to feed herself, though. She protests a little as I scrub, but not much; she's too engrossed in gnawing at her cup and crawling after the monster ducky.

I rinse her off and get her delicate bits, and then open the drain. I take her towel off the rack and tuck it under my chin. She sees it and grins, her eyes lighting up, and drops the monster ducky. I pick her up and place her against my chest to wrap her in the towel so we can sit on the toilet and dry her off. Today she twists in my grasp before I've even gotten her fully wrapped up. Is she unhappy and wants me to hold her close? No, she's peering at the shiny knob on the towel closet in the corner and trying to take it.

I try to turn her, but end up drying her face and head and feet in that position and carrying her, monkeylike, into her room. I deposit her on the changing table and keep a hand on her as I'm selecting a diaper and a sleeper. She gets up and starts exploring like a spelunker, arms spread wide against the wall, toes tucked into any cranny, perilously close to the edge. "I'd have thought I'd have intelligent babies," I tell her. "Why aren't you afraid of falling?" I gather her in, hold her high above the changing table, and blow on her as I send her down onto it--quickly, but with a soft landing. She's delighted, but the charm only lasts a second. I manage to get her diaper on her and adjusted properly after five or six of these. Then I'm too afraid, even if she isn't, to stay on the changing table, so she gets flown to the floor.

She picks up a cloth from the laundry pile and covers her head with it. "Where's Maia?" I say, and she yanks it down. "There she is!" I say, and we both grin. When the charm wears off she crawls next door, where her big sister and daddy are playing, and I follow, sleeper in hand. Then it's Chloë's turn for a bath and a good hair-combing; then Maia comes to me again for some milk, at least until she gets up on her hands and knees and finds she can't get her head down to the R.I.N.D.S. satisfactorily, and gives up in favor of trying to reach the lotion bottle. Then it's time for her Sleep Sack and a short book. She's fighting to get me to put her down before I've gotten two lines into her lullaby, so I cut it short and put her down and turn on her aquarium, which is what she wants. I whisper, "Sleep well," and leave her staring raptly, her face blue from the aquarium light. Before a minute passes I hear her I'm-falling-asleep growls, and smile.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Baby you can drive my car

I miss my car.

Maia is now officially in her big-girl convertible carseat, the Chicco infant carrier a fond but rapidly receding memory as of Sunday. She's 21 pounds and change, and the Chicco only goes up to 22, at least the model we have. Later models go up to 30, and I wish we'd gotten one of those. Also that reminds me that I need to write a letter to Chicco to inform them of my sadness that they don't sell convertible carseats in the US, as if they did, we'd have bought one. The price would make the move we've made--which I'm going to get to in a minute when I'm done with my consumerist rhapsody--even more desirable, but we'd have done it. Heck, we would have bought two when Chloë first graduated. Have I mentioned how much I love our Chicco travel system?

Ahem. So the time has come for both girls to be in big-girl carseats. When this happened with Chloë, we bought one and transferred it back and forth at daycare for about two days and decided this was too much of a pain in the ass and bought a second so we could each have one in our cars. With Maia, of course we're going to have to have two girls in carseats sometimes, but buying another one for each car would effectively remove any spare seating for another passenger, ever, and of course would cost an extra $160 or so. So we decided that we'd get one carseat (same as Chloë's, a Graco My Ride 65; huge, but easy to use and seems comfortable) and install it in my car, as it's the de facto family car and is bigger and nicer than Eric's. That car would then remain with Eric and the girls at home and be used whenever necessary to transport either both girls or just Maia (at least until she's forward-facing). Eric's car would then become the work car: I take it to work every day, and Eric takes it to his work and to gaming. And when we split up with the girls, we revert to our own cars (we did not actually discuss this but I assume Eric knows this and if not he'll find out the first time we do it). So over the weekend we bought a carseat, installed it, and sadly took the carrier bases down to the basement. And yesterday I drove Eric's car to work.

I had a terrible day and I swear it was mostly due to the car. Not that it's a bad car. The driver's side mirror is having some weird feedback with my glasses and the brakes are too sensitive (which I know actually means that my car's brakes are not sensitive), but it's a fine car, drives well, better turn radius. But it's someone else's car, and more, I feel cut off from my own car. I've had that car for nine years. It's one of my last this-is-mine personal spaces. I know it. I love it. I talk to it. On the way to work and back I had this gnawing mostly nonverbal running commentary in my head: this is not my car I want my car this doesn't feel right my car would not do that I want my car dammit where is my car. I talked to Eric's car, but it wasn't the same.

I had no idea I was going to feel this way. I don't consider myself territorial about the car--I don't mind when other people drive it or borrow it. And it doesn't bother me when we go on a vacation and I don't have it around. But apparently part of being at home, for me, is driving my car; and I'm feeling its loss, even though it's in the garage right now, wondering where I've been. (Only it's not, because I told it what was happening the last time I drove it.) (Yes, I know the car wouldn't wonder anyway, because it's a car.) (Anyway, don't think about me like that. Cars that are anthropomorphized last longer than cars that aren't. Fact.) (When parentheses attack!)

Eric goes to work Wednesday and will drive his car. I think I'd better take the girls somewhere that night. Because I don't want them to be bored, you know. And because I miss my car.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Knitting the ravelled sleeve

Chloë's been having a hard time with sleep lately. She's been very clingy in general, and at naptime or bedtime she firstly doesn't want to go to bed at all, and secondly wants one more story, one more song, one more hug; and then it's "Mama I want hoo; I want hoo, Daddy!" and screaming (which inevitably leads to a request for a tissue, which we can't in conscience refuse) unless we handle it very, very carefully.

So we have been, in the hopes that she wouldn't disturb Maia (who's doing much better; the teeth haven't erupted, but they're very close) and that she'd get over whatever insecurity was causing it. Saturday night I spent more time in her bed than in mine. But it hasn't been helping, and she's been getting shorter and shorter of sleep because she just won't settle down on time and has started waking multiple times a night and earlier in the mornings.

So we agreed we needed to start toughening up again and if possible getting her to bed earlier. Yesterday at naptime I was trying to get her down first, since she'd woken at 6:15 and Maia at 8. We read a couple of stories, and then I tucked her in and told her to sleep well. "I want a song," she objected.

"One song," I said, and sat down with Maia in my arms, and sang her Dowa Do Hah Day, which is how she pronounces "Polly wolly doodle all the day."

I stood up and told her to have a good nap, and she started crying. "I want another song!"

"I already sang you a song," I said firmly. "Now it's time to sleep." But she dissolved into a screaming mess: "I want you Mama! I want another song! I want another story! I want--"

I put my face down to hers and yelled, "No!"

"I want a tissue!" she yelled back, startled.

I gave her the tissue, told her to sleep well a final time, and then left amid her screams. But by the time I'd gotten settled with Maia in the glider, she was quiet. She stayed quiet for the twenty minutes it took to get Maia nursed, changed, and in bed. When I left Maia's room I went into Chloë's to make sure she hadn't choked to death on her own tears. She was lying there, awake but quiet. "Are you okay?" I asked.

"Yes," she said.

"Okay. I love you," I told her, and gave her a kiss. She was silent as I walked out. Maia was still murmuring to herself, so I sat up a while before venturing to try to nap myself. Chloë didn't talk herself to sleep, as she normally does these days, but she was asleep when I checked on her again. I worried about the silence. It was what I wanted, but I was afraid I'd broken her heart.

But, as all the parents reading this must already know, she was fine when she got up from her nap, and she started up with the "I want you Mama"s again almost right away. At bedtime, she clung to me tearfully until I promised I'd come in and tell her Goldilocks and the Three Bears, which I introduced about a week ago and have had to tell every night since, and even then was reluctant to go with Eric to get her teeth brushed, even with the new Dora toothpaste. (It's pink. The SpongeBob sample stuff we got from the dentist was turquoise. This is the only reason I can find for preferring SpongeBob.) When I put Maia to bed and went in to her, I laid down rules beforehand: "I will tell you Goldilocks and sing you one song, and then you're going to be ready for sleep with no crying." I've tried this before and she's wheedled and carried on anyway, but this time she didn't argue when I said good-night, even though she's got a cold and was snuffly and obviously uncomfortable.

I made sure she was as cleared out as possible and gooped up with Vaseline and armed with a handkerchief, and then when she woke up extra snuffly around midnight I made Eric bring in some hot water to try to create some steam and rubbed some Vicks on her neck; but I didn't stay, and she didn't try to insist. I don't like that the authoritarian your-feelings-don't-matter route worked better than trying to be patient and considerate, but I guess authoritarian is what a two-year-old needs. Here's hoping she sleeps better with her boundaries re-established.

Friday, February 3, 2012

To remember

I don't remember Chloë's first year. I mean, I do, of course, in snippets, and when I read something I've written here, I remember it; and I remember it when Maia brings Chloë's babyhood to mind, either by being like it or by being different. (I've heard many parents comment that their two children are "night and day" different. At least so far, mine aren't. There are differences, of course, but nothing I wouldn't expect from the normal variation of siblings.) But mostly, I've forgotten. She's always been this magical and frustrating little girl, and her baby months have slipped away.

It makes me a little sad to think that I'm going to lose Maia's first year too, and that I haven't written as much about hers as I did about Chloë's, just because we've heard it before this time around and also, I'm busier. I'm not that much of a baby person--I find kids much more interesting--but Maia is so sweet, and so funny, and yes, so different from Chloë, the only other baby I've known in this depth, even if I no longer do. I love the feel of her small strong hands on my face, even when she's trying to grab for my glasses; the sound of her breathless "dah, dah, dah...dah bah" that she interrupts nursing to say, as if it's an urgent message for me that won't wait; the smell of her warm head, faintly scented with berry from the yogurt melts she's had, when I'm carrying her upstairs; the sight of her groping her way along my leg so she can stand at the bathtub to watch the water as it's flowing, and her delighted face as I'm whirling her around in the air. ("Can you do that to me?" Chloë asks when I do this. And when I do pretty much anything that makes Maia laugh. I suppose I can't blame her; but I remind her that I did do this to her, when she was a baby.)

She's nine months old. Soon, so soon I'm already planning for it, she'll be a year old, and enter the toddler year. ("Toddler" has felt like a misnomer for Chloë for half a year already.) And she will be even more fun, more outgoing and independent and curious and wiggly; but she won't be this baby anymore. Eric still has a picture of Chloë from Christmas 2009 on his laptop. Quite a while ago, he and Chloë were looking at it, and when he closed it Chloë said "Bye-bye baby," and he felt the truth of this echo in him, that we're having to say good-bye to our babies in order to welcome our toddlers, and later our full-fledged kids. It's a good thing, but it's a little sad, too. So I'm especially glad we've got this blog, to help us remember.