Thursday, June 30, 2011

to pigeon hole

What do you see in this picture? A beautiful 14 month old, with overly long bangs? With a sweet smile, anxious to use a spoon, but still using hands because they're often easier? An adorable not-quite-baby? Yeah.

I see an impish grin, of a very small girl who is getting her own way again by sitting in an adult chair, and the family table, because she wouldn't eat in her booster chair, and insistently threw all her food off her tray, and signed that she wanted out until I let her out. She immediately started eating once conditions were more to her liking. I see a girl who tends to be difficult, and make trouble. Her daddy and I often emerge from interactions with her with a big sigh, and the comment (or at least the thought) she's going to give us some trouble as she grows up. I see the impish grin on her face in every picture I have of her within the last two months.

And I don't want to expect this from her, and thus create a somewhat self-fulfilling prophecy. I don't want to expect a fight from her, because I've seen how kids grow into their expectations, whether they are positive or negative. No matter how oblivious you think a child may be, she senses and responds to what you think you'll get. If those expectations are negative, it will slowly weigh down the child. We may already struggle but I don't want to pigeon-hole my daughter into being a troublemaker.


The other day, she brought me our board book about Jesus. She has always been attracted to this book. I mused about how she seems drawn to spiritual things. She has started pointing out her picture of Jesus, so I can respond "Yes, that's Jesus. He loves you very much." (She points a second time if I skip the second sentence.) As I thought about my impression that she is drawn to spiritual things I thought: That is a pigeon hole I can live with.

how we're doing

The girls seemed to have braved their hand-foot-mouth days with valor. Babs was miserable for three days, as I assumed, but she had a fever, and who likes that? Now that Kiddo is better, she is filled with an unending desire for medicine, which we couldn't convince her to take while she was sick.

While sick, Babs mastered the fine art of an enthusiastic tantrum. Often, when I put her down (on her feet) she will drop to her bottom, then, should circumstances be good, she will throw herself completely flat. (I watched her glance over her shoulder to determine whether it was safe to throw her head on the ground. That time, she decided a good cry while sitting would still get her message across.) Since she's getting better though, we will soon learn how satisfying a good cry is when one is all alone.

And we seem not to have shared it with anyone else that we know, so that's good news.

And my gratitude for basically healthy kids has grown again.

Monday, June 27, 2011

z-o-o spells zoo

Kiddo is intensely interested in how to spell things these days. Many words that come up in conversation will be followed up with "how do you spell that?" We help her sound it out, and then move on with life. She can separate the first sound from the word on her own, the rest of the word needs more help. We posted some sight words around the house, but Babs and her little friend Mac made short work of most of them. She knows all her letters, and all the sounds they make. I'm trying to help her grow within her abilities without pushing her, because really, my three-year old does not need to know how to read. (But we've still got six months of this year, so who knows what will happen.) She does not seem to remember how to spell any of the words after we dissect them, so we have repeated quite a few words in our spelling adventures.

And then there's the word zoo. She saw it two visits ago. I helped her "read" the word, then moved on, not thinking much about it. But every two or three days she announces randomly that "z-o-o spells zoo" and then asks "remember when we went to the zoo with..." and fills in the visit and visitors that she is thinking of.

Here are some pictures of our last two trips.

At the fountain. I let my kid stick her hands in, it's true. Most other parents don't appreciate this choice I make. It's just too hard to keep my kid out of water.
Kiddo only loves a few parts of the zoo. We rarely go anywhere else in the zoo unless we're with someone who hasn't been there before. We visit the above-mentioned fountain, the train, the plastic statues she can climb on, and the farm animals and feed the birds. She also has a love-hate relationship with the carousel.

Here she has finally managed to convince a bird to eat off her feeding stick. She is wet from a misting station, not sweat (although there's plenty of that there too).
Here is Babs at the statues (which you can't see). Moments after this picture was taken, as I was taking to my dear friend who was at the zoo with me, a good mom came up to me and said, "Do you know she is eating rocks?" Shoot! They are her favorite size for chewing.

A few weeks later we were back, this time with cousins! Her brothers were there too, but my picture of them has L with his eyes closed, so I thought I'd spare him. But everything is more fun with cousins, and it was very nice to have extra help with my little wanderer (Kiddo that is, Babs doesn't move very fast yet).

Here we are on the train. We usually have to wait about 10 minutes to get on the train, which is really hard for Kiddo. She slowly tries to move up in the line, and yells "Let's get on the train!" while I try to tell her about waiting in line and waiting our turns. Mothers around me smile understandingly as they are either a) having the same conversation with their own kids, or b) have had them earlier.
It's nice to have such a fun place to visit.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Two days ago, I found the girls both reclining on opposite sides of the couch. Kiddo was sucking her thumb and buttoning her onsies. Babs was pulling at her hair. Apparently they both needed comfort that moment. I tried to take a picture instead.

I missed the picture because Kiddo got up to dance. They missed the comfort because I wasn't done making dinner. We all make choices.

Babs the last few months

Some photo documentation of things I would have otherwise forgotten:

We think she was trying to climb up onto our bed, which is about 3 1/2 feet off the floor. What we know is that we heard a loud bonk, then some louder crying. Pushing the hair away showed us a major bruise and almost cut. (It didn't actually bleed out.)
It had mostly cleared, just a little scar, when she bumped it again two days ago. Now she has two small lines on her eyelid. We're just grateful it's the eyelid.

Here's her first go at corn. She really liked it. Now though, she prefers to have the kernels cut off.

My great dream for our new place is that the water drains, instead of pooling in the sink. This will disappoint my daughters though. Note that Babs is on tiptoes in order to reach the water. She gets so excited. It is about the only thing in the bathroom more exciting than the plunger. But there are fewer opportunities to play in the water right now because I've decided that I need the bathroom to be alone time, and Kiddo has been grounded from water games currently.
One consequence of me closing the girls out while I use the bathroom is that today, when my husband was on child duty (and I was at church), Babs would periodically walk to the bathroom, pound on the door and yell "Mama!" wondering where I was.

If it's possible, Babs likes candy and chocolate more than Kiddo does. It's genetic, and environmental. But I plan to have the environmental side improved within the next few years. (It's an actual plan, not a wishful thinking plan.) I can't do anything about the genetics though.
(This picture was a good idea until she lunged for me, smearing chocolate all over the floor. That seems to often happen with moments caught on camera with Babs. If I get the picture or just choose to wait to try for the picture, there are usually real repercussions to me choosing not cleaning up the mess immediately. There is a lesson here if I'll just learn it.)

rashes, rashes, everywhere

It was the cupcake that sealed the deal.

Kiddo had been acting a little off, and her appetite was declining. Plus there was that rash I'd noticed on her feet that was spreading, not clearing up. I started paying closer attention to everything, and noticed she was trying to eat, but wouldn't take more than a bite before stopping. Finally I asked: "Does it hurt when you eat?" Her yes answer was accompanied by crying, as if it was a great relief to finally have the words to describe what was going on, and that perhaps we could fix it. Oh, and sadness because her mouth hurt. I think a lot. She claimed she wanted to go to bed, but we insisted on a little check-up, plus a bath first.

A closer look at her mouth, and a call to Aunt Pediatric Nurse (oh, your sister-in-law doesn't specialize in children's health? I'm really sorry), then some web consultation led us to our tentative diagnosis of hand-foot-mouth disease. Everything fit, so we're acting as if.

It's contagious for a few days before any symptoms show up. First a small rash on the feet, then hands, then mouth sores. It gets spread through bodily fluids. Adults rarely get it because they already have the necessary antibodies, but it's pretty typical for small children. Unfortunately, during the incubation period, Kiddo interacted with almost every child she knows here. I'm grateful we can do our part to develop their budding immune systems.

After the bath, Kiddo asked where the cupcakes were. We'd been at a wedding the night before, and had to leave before the cake was cut. So we bought cupcakes at the store. Kiddo loves cupcakes. LOVES cupcakes. And she couldn't eat it. She couldn't even lick off the frosting. So, what had been some concern became serious concern.

(It was so sad. As I realized she couldn't eat the cupcake because of her mouth, I tried to reassure her, don't eat it tonight, we'll get more once you're better. She took a tiny lick, a drink of water, then assured me she was better, and would try again. Sigh.)

We kept her (and her sister, assuming it will spread) home from church today. She was pretty somber and tired this morning, but seems to be over the worst of it by tonight. She actually had some dinner (rice and watermelon), and has been lively and energetic. This is good news.

The bad news? Kiddo developed a terrific second rash tonight that looks like hives, all over her lower body, plus a little on her arms. Also, Babs has the same small rash on her feet that Kiddo started with on hers. And Babs is a much worse patient than Kiddo.

My plan for the week? Survive.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

rhyming time

If you see Kiddo, ask to play the rhyming game. She chooses a word, then we take turns calling out words that rhyme. Or non-words that rhyme. The important part is that things rhyme.

As we played it for a long time yesterday at dinner, I mused, it's sort of like discussing important topics at the dinner table, just with a three-year old. We're talking about things that stretch her mind. It's just that what stretches her, does not stretch me.

It does make her laugh though, which meant I heard a favorite phrase that has been missing lately, "Mama, laugh with me." I did.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

blue, blue, blue

The feature of Babs that stops people in their tracks are her intense blue eyes. People will remark on them anywhere. (It helps that our town is primarily latino, thus the blue is less common.) Part of the reason they stand out is her intense, slightly distrustful, stare of most people she doesn't know.

Today in church, a 10-year old boy was surprised by her eyes. "Does she wear colored contacts to get her eyes so blue?" Umm, no.

it's me

While I was working on some primary visual aids today, Kiddo drew some pictures. First she drew herself, then me, then our collection of worms. Knowing her as I do, it was clear which large blob (with ears, arms, feet, eyes, bellybuttons, and clothes for the first time) was me, but I asked her to explain to me how I knew it was me.

"Because you're next to me," she replied. Implied was "who else would be there?" She stuck with this answer every time I asked. I decided it was a good answer, and I'm grateful that's her world view.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

bathroom time

Kiddo put herself in the bathroom yesterday while I was feeding Babs and doing some pre-dinner dishes. I just let her read, and take her time, like always. After a while I heard her declare something to me, with some insistence, so I dried off my hands and went to see what was so important.

She was sitting on the porcelain part of the big toilet (she still uses a toddler one), proudly announcing that she was using two potties today. Having recently cleaned the toilet, I was only marginally grossed out, thought in my head, "whatever," exclaimed some sort of neutral comment, and let her be. Since I would like to be done with the small potty, I encourage interaction with the big one. I offered to put her toddler seat on it, she informed me she would "just hold on with my hands." Great.

I went back to dishes and Babs who desperately wanted out of her booster chair. A few moments later I decided to check on Kiddo. She was reclining in the toilet, bottom well in the toilet water (unused, she has a small potty after all).

"ARGH!" I yell. "We do not dip our bottom in the water."

"Oh!" she yells in surprise, obviously not expecting to be caught in the act. I lift her up and start cleaning her off.

"My bottom is wet!" she announces. "Of course it is!" I reply angrily, "You stuck your bottom in the water!" I inform her that the moment her hands are washed, she will be standing in the corner.

At this point Babs has discovered that the bathroom door is open. This excites her, and she heads full speed in. I block her as much as I can and still clean up the other one.

"Oh Babs!" lamented Kiddo as Babs climbed up on the stool in the bathroom to splash in the sink water. "I dipped my bottom and have to stand in the corner! We don't dip our bottoms!"

As I dry Kiddo's hands, and send her off, Babs sees her opportunity and makes a break for the plunger. She got there first.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

packing ... again

I finally opened a box to start filling it, in preparation for our move in six weeks, to a currently undisclosed location (it's so secret, we don't even know).

This is how my packing is going:
All subsequent boxes (all three of them) have been equally fascinating. I apparently should have started packing as soon as we arrived. Or just not unpacked. Perhaps we'll use that plan next time.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

our little biped

While skyping with Grandma two Sundays ago, Babs decided to try to walk more than one step. She made two. For the next week, she would continue to walk two or three steps to get to me, but that was about all.

This week, she decided it was time to walk for real. (Seeing her friend Mac, who is already an accomplished walker (for a 12 month old) seems to inspire her.) She has been practicing, and is getting relatively proficient, if by proficient you mean can take six consecutive steps.

The reason I declare her a walker is how she responds to falling down. Up until Tuesday, once she fell she would start to crawl. Now when she falls, she gets back on her feet, and walks again. She knows she is a walker, now if only she can get her body to cooperate.

all mine!

Babs is a climber. She climbs on anything short enough to get on. This is the "princess chair" she's claimed. No matter what she's doing, if she sees Kiddo in it, she will stop her activity, make unhappy noises the whole way over, then stand next to the chair, and try to push Kiddo out.

This is similar to what she does if she catches me holding Kiddo. She will come next to us, then slowly edge Kiddo off, until Babs arms are around my neck, head on my shoulder, and Kiddo somewhere else. She's a little possessive, this tiny one. (She also attempts to push my husband off, if his head is on my shoulder.)

The bright side is that Kiddo is more or less oblivious to what Babs is doing. I'm very grateful for that.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

day out success

Last year we tried to have an excursion on Memorial Day. With a five week old, and an extraordinarily hot day, it was a bust.

Not to be discouraged, we tried again this year. I decided my family needed to see the Statue of Liberty. It was lots of fun. (It helps that the boat is only about 20 minutes away.) Of course the boat ride was a big success. And running around on the cool grass was also exciting.

The low moment was the random Indian couple who decided that their vacation pictures would not be complete without some cameos of my children, so tried to convince Kiddo to join them, and when that didn't work, took Babs out of my husband's arms so she could be in the shot. Really? Really. Why didn't I think to take a picture? Perhaps because I was too concerned about this weird couple who wanted my children in their photo album. We didn't protest too much because 1) it was just too weird, and we weren't thinking straight, and 2) we could easily outrun them, so it wasn't like the kids were going far. It made the couple very happy.

Here we all are. Thanks other random people for taking just our picture.

Mmm, carrots.

We did it!