Friday, April 26, 2013

Lullaby and good night

I thought to myself in the shower this afternoon, "This day has been so luxurious." Then I considered what I was calling luxurious: sitting in a coffeeshop for an hour without my children; then grocery shopping with just one of them; then an hour of digging in the garden without being called on to adjudicate or hold kites for them; then a shower, by myself, instead of having to make do with a quick splash of water on my face until they went to bed. My life has changed in the last three and three-quarters years, is all I'm saying.

Ahem. I really got on to share Chloë's newest song, which she sang while playing with her My Little Demon figurine just now:

"I am the skeleton one, because I have a skeleton
And I live where there are dinosaur and people...skeletons
And I live right here in the cat"

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Status report: Chloë, 3 years 9 months

Chloë this month is...well, mostly, obsessed with her body videos. "I saw a cloud shaped like a stomach!" she told me coming home today. "And the intestines under it!" 

She's very keen on electronics in general; shows are still big, but the tablet with its Youtube and my phone with its Wonder Zoo app (she likes catching animals for the zoo) and her LeapPad with its math game are much more interesting.

Her drawings have become increasingly complex and original. We have a "gallery" in the hallway now of her pictures. One is a flower I drew that she merely colored in. But the others are flowers in dirt; a campfire with sky above; a slide on grass and flowers; and another campfire, but with a guy roasting marshmallows over it, all completely drawn by her. And then there's this gem that she came up with during Colorforms play:

I did the seesaw and helped make the swing set long enough to accommodate all three swings she wanted by putting multiple Colorforms end-to-end. She did the rest. And then there's Legos:

I helped with this too, especially when she started screaming about the Legos not staying up. Now she knows about supports. But it was her idea and she did most of the work. 

In a way it's been a tough month. I can't even indulge in the "I bet she'll be an X when she grows up" because, contrary to her plans, I know she can't possibly be a physician and an artist and an architect and a dentist and a teacher and an astronaut and a circus performer. ("Watch my trick," she says, and balances on her head. But that's not actually the trick; the trick is a somersault which she accomplishes about a third of the time. She used to be better at it.) Luckily, "evil overlord" is a catchall job description.

Helping with that last, she's becoming more and more bossy, both with us and with Maia. We're still learning when it's worth it to reason or argue with her and when we need to assert our essential parenthood. "You don't order me around!" Chloë told me at dinner tonight. My answer was, "I'm your mother. That's part of my job." I can still shut her down with a well-placed yell or ultimatum, but she usually collapses into loud tears when I do, so I'd rather not when I don't have to. 

As for Maia, Chloë's very fond of telling her "No! Don't color on my picture!" or "Don't eat your hands!" or "Come to my room for a sleepover!" She's actually drawn multiple pictures depicting things Maia shouldn't do (take her lip balm, mostly) with "MAiA" and "ON" (she still hasn't captured the concept of writing left-to-right) written on them. She's so funny. But they still get along great, especially now that Maia's able to play and understand better. With the weather improving we've been getting outside as we can, and they love playing in the sandbox or using sidewalk chalk or flying kites together. She's finally learned how to ride the tricycle, including turns, though she still fusses when she gets stuck. She likes to have her own way, but she's also very encouraging to Maia. She's excited about Maia's party and the present she picked out (and also the one that we picked out), and will happily wait for her or fetch things for her, and they do decently well on sharing, even the LeapPad.

And now that she's finally mastered riding her tricycle (she rode all the way around the block today! And kept going even after taking a tumble!), she's found a new way to have fun with her little sister:

She's a very sweet big sister. Funny and silly and creative and smart. Definitely a keeper. Besides, I'm going to reach the age of bodily ailments soon and she'll be able to tell me exactly where my duodenum is.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Spring and surprises

The Greening has come, by which I mean the point in the spring when I first notice that the grass is green instead of dull (that's not a color, but it seems like it in late winter). Chloë noticed it too. "The grass is green now," she informed me yesterday. She also told me there are red flowers in our yard. What would I do without her news bulletins?

We spent a good part of the weekend outside. I worked on the garden and the girls drew with chalk, blew bubbles, slid down the slide and tried to ride Chloë's tricycle. Chloë can ride it but has trouble with corners and with getting stuck on the far end of our lawn. Maia can't reach the pedals but she doesn't stop trying. She's been so enamored of it that we decided to get Maia her own (shorter) tricycle for her birthday.

It arrived Friday, and I took Chloë into confidence about what was inside and told her she couldn't tell Maia because birthday presents should be secret. So far (as far as I know) she hasn't told Maia, which is frankly better than I expected. She has whispered to me in front of Maia, "We're keeping the tricycle a secret!" but that's not so bad and is utterly cute.

Saturday I took her shopping for Maia's birthday present. We've been talking about what Maia would like, and Chloë said she wanted to get her a stuffed cat and a stuffed duck and maybe another stuffed dog. I discouraged the dog, since Maia already has two and that's plenty, but we searched for a cat and a duck and at the second store (Toys R Us) found both. She picked out the ones she thought Maia would like and said, "I will carry them, since I picked them out." At the checkout line she told the cashier, "These are for my baby sister for her birthday. Because she likes my cat." The cashier thought she meant a real cat, but Chloë set her straight.

She carried the bag to the car, and when we arrived home carried the bag inside and retrieved the roll of wrapping paper so we could wrap them. "They will be all snuggly in there," she said as we crammed them together to get them to fit in the last remaining bit of wrapping paper. (There's another roll for the tricycle, if we decide to wrap it rather than assembling it ahead of time.) They just fit, and after Chloë selected a bow we put the present up on a shelf in her closet. She was so delightfully pleased to have gotten a present for her sister. I was so pleased my daughter is such a loving big sister.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

She already knows

The girls and I trooped into my bedroom to wake Eric up this morning. Maia, being naked, climbed right in to cuddle with him, while Chloë and I made faces at each other. Then I discovered Maia's Little People farmer in the window and she clambered down to play with it. I said, "Now it's my turn to cuddle with Daddy," and dived into the bed.

"No, mine!" Chloë declared, and rolled onto me and dug her elbow into my ribs (accidentally).

"Okay, you win," I gasped, and rolled over.

"Why do I win?" she asked, scooting into my spot.

"Because you hurt me. Come to think of it, that's not a good lesson, is it?" I added to myself.

"What's a lesson?"

"It's something you learn."

"Oh, I already know that."

"What, how to hurt me?"


Sunday, April 14, 2013


Maia seems to love disappointing me--in play only, of course. There's her disappearing blanket trick. And then we've got a book of opposites, one of which is a sad/happy girl. Chloë and I used to play with that. So do Maia and I, but it's moved out of the book. When she says "Can we read book?" and then picks one out and says brightly, "How bout dis one?" I sit on the glider and say, "Are you coming up?"

"No," she says, because she knows I will make a sad face and say despairingly, "Sad Mom." She used to then say, "I will come up and sit with you," which would make me smile and say brightly, "Happy Mom!" But lately, she doesn't bother. Because Chloë is usually around for this, she's taken to saying, "I'll sit with you!" or throwing her arms around me for comfort, even though I've laughed and told her we're just playing often enough that it should have sunk in. And since Chloë's been doing this, Maia will say, "Chloë will sit with you," and lounge in front of the glider, all independence, even if Chloë's not around.


Chloë asked me to read out of her Elmo omnibus today. We read "Elmo Loves You," which is a poem in the formula "A loves to B, C loves to D. E loves to F, and F loves to [do something ending in -ou]. Elmo [does something], and Elmo loves you!" Afterwards I said, "And what do you love to do?"

"Watch body videos," she replied. Our Youtube selection has expanded to include videos on the liver and the kidneys (also Vihart's Doodle Music), and she does indeed ask to watch them morning and night. The other day she went to her room to dress and asked suddenly, "What's a duodenum?" And then later, to Eric, it was, "What's an esophageal sphincter?"


She's constantly asking what this or that means. "What's a plank? What does walking the plank mean?" "What does repair mean?"  "What does focus mean?" "Then what does concentrate mean?" "What's an esophageal sphincter?"

The other day Eric was talking to her about school, and mentioned "college" (I don't know if he described it as optional or not). "I know what that is," Chloë said. "Mama was talking about it last night. During her Goldilocks story."

Eric turned to me. I certainly hadn't mentioned the educational level of Goldilocks or any of the bears, so I thought a moment. "Cottage."

"I forgot," Chloë said, with a charming grin.


"Stop eating the soap," Eric groaned to Maia at bathtime today.

"Yum," she replied.


Chloë and I discussed this morning what would happen if we moved to a new house, and how someone else would come live in ours. "Would they play with our toys?" she wondered, so I explained, "We would bring our things with us. The furniture and toys and books and clothes, all those things."

Tonight, at dinner, Eric groused about how the rectangular place mats never sufficiently protect the tablecloth on the round table. "This table isn't coming with us when we move," I reminded him.

"Mama! You said it was!" Chloë scolded me.


We went to the fabric store yesterday to give Chloë the opportunity to buy something with her money. (Her choice: a felt princess hat and a wand with streamers, the latter of which she didn't like and tried knotting on the shaft, so I wound it around and glued it down and got her now-frequent praise of "You're the best!" I was also happy when she was dressed up in these while playing with Maia, and at some point Maia said something about her being a princess. Chloë said, "No, I'm a pirate now! Arr, matey!") Maia, as usual lately, was very difficult to get to follow me through the store, preferring to linger and look at things longer than I could stand. At one point she stopped at a small display of stuffed animals. Chloë and I moved on to the next aisle. When Maia didn't follow, I went back and said, "Come on, baby bird, let's look at something new."

She turned to me, holding a purple hippo in both hands, and said, "This animal misses its mama so much."

(I did not buy it for her. But it was a very close thing. She got a wand of her own instead.)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Maybe not my daughter after all.

"Why did you go to the bookstore? You already have plenty of books."

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Status report: Chloë, 3 years 8 months, and Maia, 23 months

The girls are impossibly cute and impossibly annoying and impossibly smart and entertaining and impossible, in general. In fact, logically speaking I don't have children. Then why am I so tired?

Chloë and I have spent the last few nights' "I get to stay up late because I had a nap" times looking at Youtube videos of the digestive, skeletal, and circulatory systems. She's been especially interested in her My First Body Book lately and has been asking questions about it. A couple of days ago she asked Eric to draw her the outline of a body, and proceeded to color in the organs and veins just as they suggest in the book. (The heart was below the stomach. Otherwise, it was pretty accurate.) "The video on digestion is my favorite," she said this morning. "Can we watch them again?" I am the proudest parent of a three-year-old ever. Even if the next thing she wants to watch is the Hemaway ad so she can watch someone pooping.

We got Chloë a math-based game for her LeapPad for the trip. She's already played every level and won every badge, and still plays almost daily. I venture to say she likes it.

She made a snake out of clay at preschool, and shortly after she brought it home I opened up the modelling clay they got at Christmas. I ended up making most of the things that first session (including a puppy for Maia that she was enthusiastic about, even as she slowly squished it into nonexistence), but a few days ago Eric let them play again and she made her own nest and eggs:

She is the most talented girl ever.

Maia has decided that limit-testing is a great pastime. "Don't do X," I say sternly. She stops and says, "I not doing X any more." Then, as soon as I've stopped eyeing her, she does X again.

She's also very fond of ordering me around. When she greets me when I get home in the evening, she says, "Hug, Mom? Hug?" Then, as soon as I pick her up, "Take your jacket off!" She likes to take hold of my cheeks and move my face around, probably for the faces I make while she's doing it. "Open your knees," she says when she wants to stand between my legs when I'm sitting on the couch; and if she wants to be enclosed in them, "Close your toes."

She knows most of her letters and some of her numbers. She persistently forgets about the existence of the number five, but otherwise is doing pretty well on counting, too. She now calls Chloë "Chwoë" instead of "Toë." It's still very cute, but I kind of miss Toë. Her voice is so small and high and articulate. She's the funniest thing.

She enjoys playing the "I'm your blanket Mama" game, meaning that she stretches out on top of me and I pretend to sleep (complete with snoring noises), and then she gets up and walks away and, if I don't do anything, prompts, "Where your blanket Mama?" whereupon I say "Hey, where's my blanket? Come back, blanket!" And she does.

She's not in pain. She's just sleeping. Can't you tell?
The girls have been doing a lot of "sleepover" and "make a nest" playing in their rooms. After bathtime they get their hair combed--Maia, too, now, and I just adore the little curls at the ends of her hair--and Maia gets a diaper on, and they romp around and try to jump on the bed when we aren't looking. Then they fight over whose book is whose and whether the kitty belongs to Chloë or Maia (it's Chloë's), but on the whole we're still glad we have two instead of one.

They had a good time on Easter. I hadn't planned on doing an egg hunt for them, but Chloë remembered last year's and asked after it, persistently, so I hid eggs around. They picked them up. And, true to form, if they missed one we'd say "There!" pointing, and they'd say, "Where?" while looking right at it. When do young children learn to see?

Chloë keeps asking about going back to the skating ring (where her cousin's birthday party was more than a year ago) and they were both terribly excited about their return to the park when the weather turned (briefly) warm a few days ago. So am I, for that matter. We've got some seedlings started that they helped plant, and I hope to get the garden in shape to plant more things outdoors soon. They'll love it.