Archives for category: Toddlers

I’d told Boy that if his diaper was dry for three nights in a row, he could sleep in undies instead of a diaper. In early December, we’d go two nights and have a wet diaper the third. Good rule, I thought, patting myself on the back. Glad I hadn’t set the bar at two nights!

For weeks now, his diapers have weighed the same in the morning as they did at night. Due to a rash, we’ve had to have a dalliance with disposables after more than two years of cloth. They felt so foreign, so wrong, so wasteful…so easy. I’d touch them to see if they were dry – they sure were! Of course, I couldn’t tell if they were dry from being dry or dry from being disposable. With cloth, you know – even if you have a AI2 and have to reach inside to check. I wasn’t about to cut his diapers open to feel the magic beads or whatever lives inside the diapers (small, inflatable fairies? They’d have one of the worst jobs ever!).

I decided I’d try the switch to underwear on a Friday – no wet bed to contend with on a school night, if it all went wrong. And it didn’t.

I might be a bit sadder about leaving this stage behind if it were the cloth diapers I was giving up now. However, in these use-it-once-and-move-on diapers, there’s no nostalgia, no “remember when’s.” We’re disposing with disposables, and I’m glad. I just hope that the rest of the nights are as dry as last night.

 

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October 6th, Tuesday. Boy had his first car ride (and out-of-the-house trip) in underwear. He stayed dry, which the car, the Piggly Wiggly, and I all appreciated. Woo hoo! Within two or three weeks, he had fully transitioned to underwear during the day. Celebration!

October 6th, Tuesday (same day). Boy had his first real experience throwing up. There was a lot of orange food involved: cooked carrots, raw carrots, goldfish – so as you can imagine, this was quite the first. Sadness.

This was also Girl’s full week of fall break, her first real break from kindergarten (excluding Labor Day). She, too, spent it sick. Pretty much the whole week, between them. We each had a turn. Not the most fun we’ve ever had.

November 13, Friday. Yes, that’s Friday the 13th. No, we wouldn’t have picked it that way. Today, the house that Boy and Girl have dubbed “The Bluestone House” finally became ours. Their very own home – it will be Girl’s fourth home of residence but only Boy’s second.

November 30, Monday. Girl first tried and subsequently succeeded at tying shoelaces. Hooray! (And did you know that one method involves making two loops, not one? And apparently, it’s easier??) At school, beginning on December 1st, kindergarteners could get into the Jingle Bell Club. Once they showed their teacher that they could tie their shoes, they got to wear a jingle bell necklace every day at school for the rest of the month. Her entry into the club didn’t come until roughly two weeks later, but she’s now a confident shoe tie-er – not bad for someone who still has no shoes with laces.

December 9, Wednesday. Girl, Boy, and I all got haircuts. For Girl, it was her first time donating hair (two of the cutest little braids). She was delighted to have chin-length hair and never once thought she’d made the wrong choice. I donated mine, too (yea!). For Boy, it was his first not-at-home haircut. All the same, I think I’ll be cutting his again next time, which should really be today!

December 22, Tuesday. After going to the public library for an ornament-making craft, Girl got her first library card and checked out her first book: William & the Missing Masterpiece by Helen Hancocks. She was so proud of herself!

December 25, Friday (Christmas at the grandparents’ house). Boy was given his first pack of gum – Glee Gum, just like Girl got for Christmas when she was two – and chewed up a storm. Glee covered how he felt about it. (Sure, he swallowed a good bit, too…maybe we should call it “swallowing gum” instead of “chewing gum”!)

December 27, Sunday (our bonus Christmas at home). Girl received her own mug, “I (heart) Cupcakes!”, and was delighted. Sometimes, it’s the funny little things that are your own that become special.

January 2, Saturday. Girl read two books all by herself. I think she just holed up, snuggled in, and lost track of time. (What a great way to spend a day!) She read a Magic School Bus Chapter Book, Rocky Road Trip, and a Geronimo Stilton book, A Cheese-Colored Camper.

January 9, Saturday. Boy and Girl got to make pasta with their Auntie Lou. This was a first, and they enjoyed cranking the machine and helping to pull the pasta out. Family visit: yea!

After Matthew came home from a conference in Seattle (his return is always like a gift for the kids, whether it’s after a trip or just a morning at work), he unpacked his sack, Santa-style. (He should have laughed “ho-ho-ho,” too!) Among the goodies was a gift rolled in newspaper for Boy. He unrolled and unwrapped then said in high-pitched delight, “My very own mug!” His says “Seattle” and has one scene with a blue sky, clouds, and folks covered by umbrellas and another scene with a grey sky, clouds, and folks covered by umbrellas!

January 10, Sunday. Our first snow of the season that stuck. There was a little snow in December, the kind that decorates the air but not the ground, but this was enough to make a heavy powdered-sugar showing. Delight again! “I bet the house is wearing snow!” said Boy, upon seeing the snow on the ground, trees, and playset.

January 11, Monday. My first blog post in too long, my first reminder of the year of the many kinds of things that happen and pass all too quickly (or, in the case of stomach bugs, not quickly enough!) in the lives of small children.

Happy New Year, 2016!

His hair shone like sunlit wheat in the light of the lamp. Flecks of dirt dotted his scalp, remnants from a dirt-tossing frenzy before his bath, small points to ponder, periods to bring your complete thoughts to a close. Across his nose and cheeks, more flecks danced, freckles not to be washed away, not even with a better scrubbing than he got at bath time. His mouth was shut, and his breathing was so quiet as to seem silent. Partially open, his eyes registered nothing. Heavy and still he lay cradled against my chest, so different from the dirt tossing, somersaulting, climbing-wall climbing, swinging, book studying, block building, sister taunting, sister loving, pea throwing, noodle eating boy of his waking hours.

This peaceful boy, who both is and isn’t all those things, sleeps.

Miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were sailboats on brownie cupcake seas. Nearby, small polar-bear bags enveloped chocolate chip cookies – two, the number of cubs to which a mother polar bear usually gives birth. Above, Sriracha cheddar angels flew near gluten-free cheddar bats, blurring the line between visions of darkness and light. Heavy and earth-bound, pound cakes, crusty and golden, kept company with a moist yellow cake four layers high frosted with deep chocolate, covered in swirls pulled down from Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

Sailing the seas of brownies

Sailing the seas of brownies

The combination bake sale and lemonade stand to raise money for our local park was a delicious scene, crafted with care by all sorts of local parents. Children, including mine, crowded nearby, helping to attract customers with their sheer exuberant presence – or their sign waving and instrument banging/shaking/clacking. WIth faces painted, they helped the crowd attract a crowd. They meandered down to the as-of-yet-unimproved playground, swinging and running and playing. They were semi-autonomous children in a small town, fulfilling their right to loose supervision. They were happy.

The fiercest tiger grins

The fiercest tiger grins

We were happy, too, but it wasn’t the best part of yesterday – even when we found out that we’d raised over $1500.

The first shift

The first shift

After the sale was over, we headed down the mountain for a birthday party at a local gym – and in this case, I mean a gymnastics gym, one filled with joy-inducing equipment like a long trampoline, like a runway for kangaroos, and bars, which, yes, might be good for a monkey, and a ball pit, which would get any self-respecting dog drooling. There was bouncing and climbing and crawling and pizza eating, all with friends, and present opening (we gave the gift of Press Here by Herve Tullet, a favorite at our house), and when it was all done, we were sent on our way with goodie bags.

This, too, was a good part of our day, but it wasn’t the best part, either.

The best part waited until we were home, our little family of four, with goodie bags opened and scattered: long balloons, good for making animals (the house specialty: a snake, no twisting required), with a hand-held pump, and two glow bracelets apiece.

The balloons were a little bit of magic, like children, growing quickly before our eyes.

But the bracelets held even more magic.

I pulled up Girlpool’s album Before the World Was Big, and we turned off the lights, the better to enjoy the glow of the bracelets. Boy put a bracelet on an uninflated balloon, and they took it from there. He twirled the bracelet, and it glowed, a shining light in the darkness. Girl tried it with two, and with Girlpool’s spare guitar playing and singing, sometimes in harmony and sometimes in a single line, the web was spun. It was magic, and I was caught. The lights spun and twirled, and, with only their imaginations to limit them, Boy and Girl continued to spin their ephemeral web of light. Small circles, large circles, pairs of bracelets or one, just alone, attached to a balloon, rope-like – I could have watched until my eyes grew heavy or until Boy and Girl fell into a heap, joyful and spent.

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As it was, the album ended, the spell was broken, and Daddy turned on a light in the kitchen, the better for eating snacks. Regular life always hovers at the edges of the perfect moments, waiting to intrude, often with great impatience.

But it was there. Rather, they were there: the perfect moments, the perfect children, the perfect light, the perfect darkness, the perfect family. Maybe it doesn’t matter if they’re ever perfect again; maybe it’s enough that it could happen, and that it did.

On a whim (and for the bargain price of ten cents), I picked up Madeleine L’Engle’s Everyday Prayers at our local thrift shop a couple of years ago.

EverydayPrayers

I love it. Yes, I’d prefer it if it only used “God” instead of “Lord,” but even as is, with its 70s illustrations (by Lucile Butel) and orange cover, it’s worth a read (both for its intended audience – children – and the grown folks who love them). It’s a reminder that prayer can be like an informal conversation, full of observation and wonder and whimsy.

“My Bath”

My bath is the ocean
and I am a continent
with hills and valleys
and earthquakes and storms.
I put the two mountain peaks of my knees
under water and bring them up again.

Our earth was like that-
great churnings and splashings,
and continents appearing and disappearing.

Only you, O God, know about it all,
and understand, and take care
of all your creation.

Tonight, Boy decided that he’d take on the role of the creator or perhaps that of the earth, one who creates the churnings and splashings. He picked up the book (it’s one he goes to again and again – he also loves to pick up Sophie’s World!) and, instead of turning to a page, he flung it into the tub. The tub which was full of water, ready for a Boy, not a book. For a brief moment, it was an island, a quiet place of prayer in a stormy sea. I quickly rescued it from the tempest. He did not seem sorry.

Boy is sweet at night, adding prayers for everything from the grandparents to the clock to lots of things in between.

from “Bedtime”:

Good night, God.
Take care of us while we sleep,
and you have a good night, too.
Amen.

Everyday Prayers now sits beneath a heavier book, drying back into what I hope will be something close to its previous form. The boy sleeps, and I have to hope that God understands the nature of little boys – and is, as Madeleine L’Engle wrote, having a good night, too.

*****
L’Engle, Madeleine. Everyday Prayers. New York: Morehouse-Barlow Co., 1974. Print.

Sometimes there’s so much going on, I don’t know which way is up: our parents’ health, our parents’ moving, travel plans, possible moves, events in the lives of family and friends, and so many other odds-and-ends of things that in the end it all seems odd and up in the air.

It’s usually pretty clear which way is down, though. Down is the direction of the toilet – and we stopped in a UGO bathroom THREE TIMES today. We weren’t even going to go there (although the fact that we did explains the popsicles, chocolate-covered strawberries, and cashews now at our house), but Girl needed to potty. We shopped a little, then Boy needed to potty. We finished shopping, then Girl needed to potty again. Not to be outdone, Boy used the facilities twice more before we left the bathroom that third time. (His diaper remained dry for about two hours! Sure, it was wet after the half an hour drive home, but it’s a start.)

But that’s not even the best of our toilet stories for the moment. Two days ago – or was it three? – Boy announced, “I peed like Daddy!” He’s taken to standing on the little stool in front of the big potty, which is a big change from all the sitting he’s been doing. After finishing, flushing, and washing hands, he came out, grabbed his daddy by the hand, and said, “I need help getting my undies!” and pulled him to the bathroom. Boy’s getting better about dressing himself (“I like to do it my own self” is a favorite line when putting on a shirt), but sometimes he needs help. The undies in question, however, were nowhere to be seen. No undies on the floor, no undies on the stool. No undies in the bathroom, period. “I want my undies!” he cried. He took Matthew to the toilet. And that is where they’d gone, taking their final journey, may they rest in peace: down the toilet. “Even if they could come back, you wouldn’t want them,” Matthew told him. Nope, he wouldn’t.

Sure, we told him not to flush things down the toilet (last week, he unrolled nearly a whole roll of toilet paper, said he’d roll it back up, but instead started putting it all in the toilet. Yes, it clogged the toilet, even after the not-so-wet bunch was transferred to the trash can). No, we don’t support the idea that clothing is disposable. Yes, parenting can be tiring.

What we do appreciate at this point, though, is that they TELL us. I could have done without the extra bathroom trips this afternoon. I’d prefer to keep our clothing in the house and not somewhere in a pipe outside (not very useful as extra storage). For now, however, I take comfort in knowing that our children share their experiences, let us know their needs, and don’t really keep things from us. If we can keep what should go down down and what should stay up up, then we’ll be doing OK.

But maybe we’ll need to go underwear shopping soon.

Up and then down

Up and then down

“When geeses aren’t honking, they cry,” Boy informed me tonight as he was going to bed.

“Why do they cry?” I asked.

“Because they have to leave the sea.”

Oh.

“I’ll bet they miss it.”

“Miss it. They’re sad.”

How could he know that the geese feel that way? I don’t doubt it. We saw two Canada geese fly overhead today. Maybe he heard them honking to each other and knew what they were saying? Either that, or he misinterpreted his bedtime song tonight; instead of hearing “When I am king, dilly, dilly,/You shall be queen,” perhaps he heard “When I’m honking.” The chances are close to 50/50.

Tomorrow, as I turn 41, I leave the sea of my 30’s even further behind. Maybe I’m a little sad about that – but with such a thoughtful Boy and an equally thoughtful Girl, I guess I’ll choose to spend my time honking instead.

“I will be two!” Boy said tonight, holding up one finger on each hand.

I gave a sentimental sigh, the kind that whooshes out of you when you look at your child and realize that he is nothing like the baby that once, well, whooshed out of you.

“You are two,” Daddy corrected him, as most of his birthday lay behind him, a montage of meals (he requested noodles for his birthday dinner) and family and outings and napping.

Unconcerned, he hopped on his new ride-on airplane and zoomed away, naked as the day he was born. Maybe he does have more in common with that newborn babe than I thought…

Happy birthday, Boy!

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Isn’t it funny that we write things on checks that we rarely write during the rest of life? Where else would you find yourself writing out “ninety-eight one hundredths” (even if you usually write it as “98/100”)?

And where or when else would you find yourself writing out – or listening to – things like “I’m not a pretzel, I’m just a boy!” than as the parent of a small (soon to be not-so-small) boy or girl?

The feeling of heart-swelling-burstiness has not reduced, and there are so many great lines that Shakespeare or Brecht or Ibsen or SOMEONE should want to come back and be inspired by them.

Auntie Em visited the other week, and she and Girl went to the Post Office, among other places, and returned with two heart-shaped lollipops. These inspire madness and begging, and if someone could find a way to harness the build up of desire in small children when candy is mentioned (shown, offered, hinted at), we wouldn’t need to search for any more alternative energies. We’d fuel the world.

Or just a lot of stickiness. Girl chomped through hers, but Boy lingered over his. When I had had enough of his lollipop, I took it away – roughly when his sister was done, so they were both empty-handed. He took it well, and life went on. Hours later, he began to pretend-cry, and we wondered what he was going to say: “ah-hunh-hunh-hunh…[he continued in his “I’m being funny” voice] I’m so sad – I can’t eat my lollipop anymore!”

The other day, looking outside, he said, in his sweet serious voice, “I don’t see any birdies anywhere!”

At dinner, he dripped water from his water bottle onto his feet and said, “I spilled some water on my piggy wiggy toes!” (Much like with Girl, we laugh about how a two-year-old should be able to use two to four word sentences. Check!)

This is all a far cry from these favorites from just two months ago, when words were often repeated within a sentence and lots of words had “uh” added at the end, like “Daddy-uh”:

1/18: I will get boogie out nose.
1/19: Let me peel baleema self! (baleema=banana, except when baleema = vitamins)
1/20: Daddy sit you us.
Nannie has tiger, too.
Mama turn on light on, Mama!
In response to “What are you doing?”:
1/21:  Just picking nose out boogie-uh.
2/6: I’m busy day. I’m just doing puzzle, Daddy-uh.
I’m just working this, Daddy (about Daddy’s knee scooter, which was a great source of fascination and requests for rides, while it was needed).

But my favorite, one that’s been around a while, is usually said with joy, with a wee-boy head rested on a mama shoulder: “My mama hold-ee B– Boo!” He often asks to be picked up that way, and he says it with great satisfaction and contentment when he’s been picked up.

Lest Boy get all the glory here, Girl has been holding her own, language-wise. The other day, she told me that Boy was “trudging into the living room.” She also told Daddy that Boy was “gazing up at your foot!” when he was, indeed, lying on his back on the floor, looking up at Daddy’s becasted foot which stuck off the aforementioned knee scooter.

And finally, from 1/20, too: “I love you as much as the stars are bright!” My heart blazed extra that day.

It’s too bad there’s no memo line for life. I’m ninety-eight one hundredths sure I’d remember to use it.

He likes blocks – Duplo and wooden – although he doesn’t seem to love them like he some children do. Throwing them, yes. Building with them, only sometimes. But the building blocks of language? He’s totally in love with those.

“I do.”

We heard a lot of this last November or so. Trying out what may have been his earliest sentence, he exuded confidence, determination, and a strong independent streak. Of course, what child doesn’t want to do things himself? Sure, he wanted to feed himself soup, which sure as soup wouldn’t stay on the spoon. Sure, he wanted to run the bath himself, or climb into the tub alone, or put on his own shoes. Sure, he wanted to get into his car seat himself – never mind that he was as likely to just get in and sit down as he was to drive the car. (Now, he says “Own!” when he wants to do something on his own, like stand on the four-wheeled toy to pull the string of the lamp, for example…)

His vocabulary, which has seemed (to us, as the glowing, proud parents) quite large, continued to grow, and so did his repertoire of sentences.

To help soothe him to sleep while he nursed I’d often murmur repetitive sentences: “Boy goes night-night. Girl goes night-night. Daddy goes night-night. Mama goes night-night. Maria goes night-night. Pepper goes night-night.  K-K goes night-night. Autumn goes night-night….Everybody goes night-night.”

This applied to other bodily functions, too: peeing, pooping, burping – lots of things were listed. (There’s a lot that we all do!)

And he began repeating them.

Sometimes, Daddy would drive him around to get him to sleep, and he’d chatter himself to sleep. “Daddy goes night-night. Mama goes night-night. Nannie goes night-night. Pepper goes night-night….Eveh-body goes night-night.”

He’s still a lister. The other day, he did one of his own creation after seeing a small, round, candy-coated chocolate. “M & M! Mama have M & M. Nannie have M & M. Daddy have M & M. Autumn have M & M….”

He’s built on his foundation.

For Christmas, they got a Duplo block base and an animal set – and brother and sister alike have been engrossed by this new way to create, the possibilities before them.

With language, too, the possibilities stretch before him (and her, of course!). What can we say to this, the march of language that pulls a small boy from babyhood to childhood?

I do.

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014