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.