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?"