Tuesday, December 8, 2015


We interrupt this blog silence to bring you the news that Maia is simply spectacular at this age. For the first time I'm having a real sense of wishing she wouldn't change. Chloe was great at four, but I had the feeling better things were ahead (also I think her whining was already a force to be reckoned with?). Maia will probably be even better as she gets older, but I can't imagine how. She's still baby-cute and small enough to pick up and laughs like a toddler, but she's learning to do gymnastics and math and she's started drawing people with eyeballs and five fingers and she's doing her determined best to learn how to sound out words (she can spell "the," "love," and "in," and recently wrote a card "To Mom and Dad frum Maia"). I suppose the occasional tantrum could be improved, and I can't wait to see how she does in real school, so it won't be so bad as time goes on, but I still want to keep her like this always.

She's started worrying about mortality, though, which makes me sad. "I wish we could be reborn," she said the other day. And a few weeks ago she reduced me to tears when we talked about what to put on her tombstone (we were discussing graveyards because of Halloween) and she said it should say "I love my family and my life. I wish I could keep it." I've told her that she has a long, long life ahead of her and death is not a thing to worry about now. Then we talked about things that are good in life, such as juice, pizza, tickling, and being done with work. I hope she won't worry about it. I hope I haven't been influencing her--I've been thinking about it a lot myself, but I don't think I've mentioned it around the girls.

"Do you love me?" Maia asked the other day when she was interrupting me in the middle of work (I love these interruptions as long as they don't go on too long).

"I always love you," I told her, while she climbed up in the chair and I twisted her upside down and bounced her gently on her head on my lap. "Even when you're screaming, even when I'm yelling, I love you, love you, love you."

"Bounce me more!" she said, so I did.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Oh, that purple brush

Today's Serious Parent-Child Talk was about long hair and the responsibilities thereof. Chloë was not terribly impressed. Possibly because the parent involved was not the one who's had long hair in the past. Possibly because she has the pain threshold of a cloud. Anyway, it wrapped up, and Eric concluded with, "Now, go get me the other brush, the purple one."

"What other brush?" Chloë whined, as she does. "I don't know what you mean!"

In the kitchen, I lost my temper. "The purple one!" I yelled. "You know which one!"

"Oh, that one," she said, rather startled. "Okay."

And she ran off to get it. I suppose I should be ashamed that she only started understanding what we wanted when I yelled it.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Determination, of various sorts

We went to Silver Lake on Friday. It was warm enough to swim, so the girls went in their bathing suits and life vests, and they had their first real experience of a western Washington lake. This particular one is really a glorified pond, but there was a beach with sand and a roped-off kids' area, and the girls loved wading and splashing around. They went waist-deep, which was as far as the rope went, but decided not to go further, even though I said they could. (I didn't say I would go with them. I had not worn a bathing suit. I was prepared to get wet going after one of them, but I was not excited about it, and maybe they noticed that.)

I noticed the distinctive smell of Washington woodland, a sweet woodsy smell, which now that I think of it probably  comes partly from overripe blackberries. They noticed the sand and how the underwater plants started growing a few yards out, and the freshwater clamshells, and how in this beach there were no waves and no tide. But mostly, Chloë noticed...wait for it...the ducks. There were a dozen or so mallards and wood ducks floating near shore, and she was absolutely charmed by them, especially when they swam right near her. "I've never seen a duck so close before! Look at its webbed feet!" This flock was very tame; they had obviously decided being chased by small children was worth it for the free food. "That boy is feeding the ducks!" she said, pointing to a boy around eight or so who was tossing chips to the waiting birds nearby. "I wish we had brought food."

"We brought animal crackers," I said, and then as her face opened with hope, "but it's not good for the ducks to feed them." She asked why, and I told her (there was also a helpful sign not far from where the boy stood). I could see and hear her reluctance, but she said decidedly, "Then we shouldn't." I was proud.

* * *

We went to the Lynnwood Skate-and-Bowl on Saturday, for the Norwescon kickoff. Chloë has skated three or four times before, but Maia never has. When they got into her skates she had some trouble standing, but she worked at it, and shuffled gamely across the carpet. After some practice she fell down a slight incline--not her first fall, but her first one that hurt. She cried, naturally, and said she didn't want to go on the rink, so Eric took Chloë out, as she was ready to move on. But they hadn't gotten more than a quarter of the way around the rink when Maia said, "I wish we were with Chloë and Daddy," and I said, "We could go out and try to catch them, " and she said, "Okay."

We stepped into the rink. She was mostly shuffling her feet back and forth, and steadfastly ignoring all my attempts to teach her otherwise, but she clung to my hand and managed some forward movement. She fell a couple of times, but she kept getting back up and shuffling some more, and every once in a while she would exclaim, "I'm doing it!"

Meanwhile ahead of us, Eric reported later, Chloë was struggling to get better, and crying, as she too often does, "I can't do it." We've noticed that Maia tends to be better at things that require physical agility--I blame jaundice--but I don't know how much of that is her much more positive attitude. Chloë has shown determination to do a few things--such as guitar; she got one for her birthday and has been surprisingly diligent about asking for "guitar lessons" from me and about working on her fingering, even though she finds it difficult. (We're looking for a place for lessons around here with an actual teacher.) But most of the time if she has any sort of difficulty, she dissolves into tears and won't keep working on the problem without a lot of prompting. Maia has that reaction sometimes, but more often she just goes ahead and tries things. We never quite caught up with Chloë on that trip around the rink (though Eric spotted us and visited), but at our closest point I commented to Maia, "We're halfway across the rink," and she looked back and said, "No, Mama. Not halfway. Look!" I looked back and realized that while I'd meant halfway around the rink, we were all the way across, and she was awed at the distance she'd skated. She wanted to stop after we completed our circuit, and not long after that we traded our skates for bowling shoes, but she was so excited and proud of herself, and so was I.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Other friends

I came home from my root canal part 2 (did you know that in endodontics, Asian roots are a thing? Apparently they are. Should I have another root canal, it will be done by an endodontist only. Hopefully the girls inherited Eric's teeth) this afternoon to find Maia quiet and sad. She and Eric had been playing a game when I left, and Eric said he had tried to get her to eat, to snuggle, to talk, but she wouldn't.

I sat with her and tickled her back, which is the thing she loves best, and after a while I asked what was wrong. She whispered, "I miss our other friends," and started to cry.

I felt terrible for her. I held her and told her the things I ought to tell her--that she was starting school next week, and gymnastics class too, that she would find friends there, that we would see our other friends again. I didn't talk right away about the real thing I think was wrong: that Chloë wasn't there. She and Chloë are so close, and they've spent the entire summer playing and fighting and scheming and talking, always together, and today Chloë went away.

She stopped crying after a little while, partly due to a promise from Eric of another game ("The only good things are watching shows, reading books, and playing games," she said not long ago), and I went off to take ibuprofen and get back to work. "I want to go out there right now!" she declared as soon as we mentioned we'd be meeting Chloë's bus soon, and was playful and happy again as soon as Chloë herself arrived.

Chloë had a great time at school, and told us all about it: how the desks had been switched from yesterday's orientation, how they went over the calendar, and how the sight words were all ones she already knew from last year, and they had two recesses but they were only five minutes each, and they went to music where they got to play an instrument.

"Did you miss me?" she asked Maia when one of us mentioned she'd been a little sad during the day.

"No," Maia said. "I missed our other friends. Addie and Raegan and friends like that. Back in Toledo."

Neither of them have ever said, "I wish we hadn't moved." They've said, "I wish we still had a house so we had a yard," and "I wish we could see Addie and Raegan/Malcolm/Hannah and Noah." But they seem to have accepted the move. And maybe it's because of the same thing I've noticed: that our home is defined by our stuff more than our location or living structure, and more than that by being together. I missed Chloë today, too--though of course having needles and bleach in and out of my mouth distracted me from that. But Maia had no such distractions, and her big sister and best friend was gone all day.

They've taken to sleeping together in the full-size bed (nominally Maia's) lately, even though Maia has also taken to whimpering about bedtime being too scary when we leave them and Chloë's complained that it keeps her awake. They slept together tonight, snuggling under separate blankets so they wouldn't fight, and there was no protest from Maia. They lay together and quietly drifted off to sleep.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Dancing into the new year

And today is the first day of first grade! "My stomach is still hurting," Chloe reported this morning. She's been anxious. Excited, but anxious. We went to orientation yesterday, since it was a new school--yeah, so we moved across the country, from our house into an apartment without sufficient parking but with a pool--and she was excited by the nice playground and the fact that the cafeteria is a separate building from the gym, and confused by the fact that gym is called PE here, and excited and anxious by turns about the fact that she's riding the bus this year. She likes the idea, but she wants us to come along. On the positive side, as we told her, all the kids from the apartment building who go to this school will be at the stop, so she'll be able to meet lots of kids at once this way.

"I wish I went to the same school as Chloe," Maia says. She's in preschool, but it doesn't start until next week. Gymnastics (for her) and jazz (for Chloe) also start next week. I've always loved September because it felt like the start of the year, and it's certainly starting a lot of things for us.

Eric's found a game...store, rather than group, and I've at least identified a knitting group to try. We're not settling into our new lives as well as we could since we don't like the place. We want to move, but we can't afford a house until approximately February and it doesn't make sense to move to another rental. I'm battling discontent. Also a tendency to not get started on things I want, like getting the house in order and getting to a good schedule for some goals I want to pursue, because I don't feel truly settled. But I'm trying to reconcile myself to what we have for now, and act as if we're settled and happy. The girls don't seem to be acting; other than occasionally wishing for a yard, they've seemed happy with our new arrangements, and I'm sure that getting them into school and classes will make that even better. Maybe I should go take a dance class.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I wanna hold your hand

Chloe often takes my hand when we're on a walk or out at a store. It's very sweet, her small-but-growing hand in mine, and the fact that she still likes to be in physical contact with me.

Except that sometimes she clings too long, and I wonder if it's because the sidewalk only admits two across and Maia is behind or ahead of us. Maia likes to hold my hand, too, but not as much. She's more independent. But she's more comfortable when she does snuggle. Chloe likes to wriggle and gesture, to stick her foot in my ribs (labor and delivery were supposed to put an end to that!) and demand to be tickled, to throw her limbs everywhere. She's affectionate, but her affection hurts sometimes.

I feel bad about not wanting her close all the time. She's five years old, almost six, and I imagine that before long she's not going to want to hold hands with her mom anymore. I love to hold her hand, and to snuggle with her at bedtime. But she doesn't want to be still the way a baby does; she's big and wild and intent on her own agenda, her own interests, and they involve flailing against me, literally as well as figuratively. And it makes me uncomfortable. And that makes me anxious. Am I too uptight about little things? Am I wrong in sacrificing my comfort to maintaining that connection? Am I wrong in even worrying about my own comfort?

"When people say you have to cherish your children when they're small," I said to Eric today, "are they right, or are they assholes?" I don't enjoy all the small moments with my girls the way society says I should. I do enjoy a lot of them, but I'm also honestly bored or frustrated or immunized some of the time. Maia draws me pictures every day. They're sweet and I'm proud, but I have dozens of them. Current society tells me I should be treasuring each one, valuing each moment. But I don't think that's reasonable. Society is an asshole. I think.

It would be nice to know. But there's no good way. So I keep holding Chloe's hand while we run along the sidewalk to catch Maia, and I keep pushing her off my lap when she's keeping me from getting up to do something, and I hang up some of Maia's pictures and I throw some of them away. I want to ask my mom if she ever learned to be content with her own compromises as a mother, but I'm afraid I know the answer.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Our sweet girl

Eric went up to his gaming group tonight. Not long after he left he called me. We were in the middle of dinner, but since it was him I answered the phone. "There's a severe thunderstorm headed basically from Sylvania to Ann Arbor," he said, naming his route. "It should be an interesting drive." He said he'd text when he had safely finished riding the whirlwind and the storm.

"Come back, storm!" Chloë  said when I relayed this. "It would be better to make the lights go out here than follow my dad!"

Not long after she finished eating, and I sent her upstairs to wash her hands. As she often does, she stopped at the window on the stairs, looking out into the gloaming. "It's raining," she said. "It's pouring."

"Is the old man snoring?" I said.

"No. He's driving."

Monday, April 20, 2015

Chloe moments

Chloe: I was a big sister today! I helped Maia with cleaning up, and when she needed a cup, and...

Maia: Mama, when we get home--

Chloe: Ma-IA! I'm TRYING to count all the times I helped you today! Please don't interrupt!

* * *

Chloe: Can I read you some books with a little help?

Me: Sure!

Chloe: I want to do it on my bed. With no clothes. Under the blanket. It just feels so good that way.

Monday, March 23, 2015

In session

At this moment, the girls are playing kindergarten: Chloe teaching Maia how to subtract. "What is ten minus one, Maia?" Chloe says, and when Maia hesitates, "What is before ten?"

"Nine," Maia says. She has three "badges" (stickers from kind cashiers at Kroger) on her shirt because she did great, every time, according to Mrs. Snyder.

(Maia is Rosa. Upstairs, she has a baby doll named Rosetta and two wooden dogs named Rosie and Rose.)

"So," Mrs. Snyder says. "Seven minus six equals. I'm going to draw some dots, okay?" She draws. "So how many does that leave?"


"So write one there. You're going to get another badge. I think we have time for one more and then school is probably going to have to end."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Oh, honestly

Kindergarteners are crazy social butterflies. I'm not sure I can take this. Chloë came back to school after a week away (in Seattle) to an invitation to a party on Saturday. She already had one on Sunday, plus we signed both girls up for a Little Scientist workshop at Imagination Station. Then she got a form for Girl Scouts During the Day, a during-school (gym, in her case) six-week program for areas with few troops. (I knew that. When she got interested in Girl Scouts a few months ago, I tried contacting the local regional group on their website, since I couldn't find anything strictly local. No response.) And a new-to-Girl-Scouts day camp for spring break. And then there's ballet tomorrow and a playdate Friday afternoon. How are we ever going to catch our breaths when both of them are at it?

Chloë came home today and said, "Guess what? Sa'Mya has a loose tooth!" Sa'Mya is one of her closest school friends, due to their sitting across from each other the first half of the year. (Now she sits next to two boys, one of whom is nice, the other of whom is "uh." I'm interested to see who she calls her best friends come June.) She seemed genuinely excited about this news as a piece of news, but Eric and I both wonder if there's a level of when-is-this-going-to-happen-to-me going on as well. She doesn't seem upset about it. I hope she's not. She's one of the few of her friends and classmates who haven't had a loose tooth, but she's also the youngest in her year.

We bought birthday presents for those two parties yesterday (three presents in all, since Maia was invited to one of them too--the birthday girl's mother is one of Maia's preschool teachers) and I left the bag on the landing by the stairs. Today, while I was finishing up my work upstairs, I heard a commotion and Eric demanding to know which girl had taken out one of the presents and left it out. Both girls denied it. "Well, nobody's playing outside until one of you admits it," Eric said. Both girls denied it again. I told them to go clean the living room while whoever did it decided to confess. I sat in the office and worried.

I was sure Maia had done it. She got a Cinderella Barbie doll for Christmas, and while she loves it in general, she didn't like the two long locks of hair coming off the front of the doll's head (I thought it looked cute, since she's dressed up for a night of dancing, but my taste does not agree with Miss Purple-Shirt-With-Green-Pants-and-Magenta-Skirt-With-Stars's.) One day, I noticed that Cinderella's locks had been shorn off. "Did you cut off her hair?" I asked Maia. She denied it for quite a while, though she said "I saw her hair in the garbage," until Eric and I both explained that it's her doll, she can do what she likes with it, but it's more important that she tell us the truth. Eventually she admitted she had done it, and we talked quite a bit about lies and trust.

But obviously not enough. At length Eric came up and we talked about it, and at greater length Chloë came up and announced, "I heard from Maia that she did it." We explained that that was nice but Maia needed to tell us herself, which didn't happen until Eric sat down with her for a while and I took Chloë to the next room so she wouldn't keep butting in on their conversation. Eventually, she agreed that she had done it, and she got a room-time and no treat after dinner--not because of leaving the book out, but because she had lied.

I'm not very pleased about this. Is it normal for a three-year-old to go through a lying phase? I've already known she's in a can't-be-wrong phase: if she asks for bubbles in her bath and I say it isn't bath day, she says "I meant tomorrow!" If I say that no, she can't have marbled cheese (her new favorite thing) because there isn't any but she can have a string cheese, she says "I wanted string cheese!" And, of course, I know that a small child wants to avoid trouble, and knows that lying can avoid trouble. I just hope we're doing the right things to keep it from lasting. If we're raising an evil overlord, I at least want her to be an honest one.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

These are the days to remember

One of the things I regret about not keeping up this blog is that I’m losing more of my memories of the girls. For example: Maia is so sweet right now. She’s three, almost four, and she plays really well with her big sister, pretending with the My Little Ponies and building coaches and castles with the Legos and imitating Chloe’s drawings, much more sophisticated than Chloe herself was doing at this age. But her laugh is still her baby laugh, and it thrills me to hear it because every time might be the last. And I remember that Chloe’s laugh was never quite like Maia’s, but I don’t remember how it was. When did she transition from her baby laugh to the smarter, fuller, sometimes-slightly-raucous laugh she has now? I don’t remember her first year of preschool, except for some highlights. I don’t remember exactly when Maia became potty-trained. I want to write it down, so I don’t forget it. I spend so much of my time exasperated or anxious or bored with the girls, and I hate that. I want to remember how good they are, even when I can’t feel that way in the moment.

A couple of Maia moments:

Maia dresses up as Elsa almost every day. She and Chloe were Elsa and Anna for Halloween—the warm versions, Elsa at coronation and Anna in her winter dress. Chloe already had an Anna dress-up dress, so I bought Maia an Elsa dress from China off eBay and made them cloaks and headgear (Anna’s hat for Chloe and a yarn wig for Maia). I figured they would enjoy them at Halloween (which they did—they had three or four different Halloween dress-up events and rocked them) and maybe dress up again once or twice and they’d be done. If I’d known Maia would be living in her costume I would have sprung for a handmade dress from Etsy rather than the cheap eBay version. I would also have actually finished the edges of the cloak instead of just cutting them and leaving them. (It’s made of fleece, with some flannel edging fused on, so this was permissible for something that wasn’t going to get a lot of wear.) It was fine through Halloween and a bit beyond, but the edging is suffering now. The dress is holding up very well, however.

"Can I have my snowflake necklace?" she asked one day while in this getup. "It gives me ice powers!" Then, "But only pretend. I don't really have ice powers."

I'm working from home now, and the girls have yet to internalize that shouting upstairs at me when they want something is no longer going to work. (This isn't so bad when Eric's home; but he teaches one afternoon a week.) Today I got on the phone with someone and heard Chloe yelling "Mom! Mom! Mom!" I slammed the door (which the phone on mute) to respond. Pretty soon came a persistent knocking. I used mute again and yelled, "Go away, I'm on the phone!" I'm a charming mother. When the call was done I went down and explained that they cannot shout at me because I will not answer, and if I don't it is appropriate to silently open the door to see whether I'm on the phone or in a rage-induced seizure. (I didn't say that last part.) Chloe nodded. I returned to work. Sometime later Maia came up and crept to my side. "I came up to ask you something because I knew I wasn't supposed to shout," she said humbly. Then she asked me to take out Twilight Sparkle's ponytail.