Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New Normal

We're getting used to a whole new life out here.

Two little girls. Warm weather. Fantastic parks and library. A wild almost-three-year-old imagination. A chubby, jovial baby who can't stop watching her sister and beaming. An increasingly creative vocabulary. More night sleep.

Things are a-changin'.

Alice has started calling Joanna "my baby." As in, "My baby is sleeping;" "My baby can't eat ice cream because she doesn't have any teef;"  or "Mom, I fink you need to feed my baby."  We were talking about occupations the other night at dinner and I asked Alice what she thought her job was.  I was expecting an answer like "swinging on swings" or "learning more about animals so that one day I can fulfill my destiny by joining Diego and Baby Jaguar at the Animal Rescue Center."  However, without thinking for even a second, she answered, "My job is to take care of my baby." And then my heart exploded.

Although Alice's vocabulary is pretty great for a three year old, she does still commit some hilarious malapropisms, and she always does so proudly, loudly, and convincingly.  We were talking about how it's important not to throw our trash on the ground, and a little while later as we were strolling around town she saw an apple core that someone had tossed on the sidewalk.  She seized the opportunity: "Hey, look! Someone left an apple quarter on the ground.  We call that...[pause for dramatic effect and the emergence of  a humungous, self-satisfied smile]...GLITTER!"
We're all using our imaginations a bit more these days, as Matt and I have been delivering butchered fairy tales and flimsy princess stories when Alice asks us, "Can I hear a story from your mouf?" And, I'm not sure where she got the idea that there were crocodiles all over our house, but we are now on the perpetual alert.  The other day we had the following exchange:

Her: I have to go potty.
Me: Okay, go ahead.
Her: But! [She holds up her index finger to convey the gravity of what she's about to say.] We have to find a potty that doesn't have a crocodile in it.
Me: ...


The parks here in Mountain View and in the towns nearby are so clean and well designed that we've been having a lot of fun trying new ones every week.  Even when we're not meeting anyone in particular, Alice has no trouble making friends.  Often she targets children who are about five years older than she is and far too busy doing big kid things to even look in her directionOn the day I took these photos, Alice spent a good thirty minutes shadowing a pair of ten-year-old girls.  She squealed at their antics, narrated their adventures ("Haha! She runned up the slide! She throwed the sand!"), and issued cautions ("Careful, gores! You shouldn't climb over that fence!" "No running!").  When it was time to go, she interrupted their play to announce, "I have to go home now. Sorry. It's time to go home, gores." They gave her a confused look as if they were just then noticing her for the first time, and then shrugged and continued playing as Alice hopped onto the platform on the back of the stroller and chattered all the way home about her hilarious new friends.

We've* slipped into the habit of having Alice watch the iPad almost every afternoon after quiet time. I know, I know.  Why should I need an hour of iPad quiet time immediately following ninety minutes of standard issue stay-in-your-room-and-maybe-fall-asleep-but-usually-just-go-to-the-bathroom-poop-in-the-little-potty-and-try-to-transfer-it-to-the-big-toilet-and-try-to-"clean"-it-with-a-Clorox-wipe-but-just-make-a-mess-fit-for-a-truck-stop-restroom-and-also-slam-the-door-a-bunch-of-times quiet time? All I can say is that we started allowing it as a bribe to get her to stay in her room for the standard issue quiet time, and now none of us is willing to return to a life without that additional hour of peace. Especially not Alice:

Alice: "Hey, Mom, can you help me find the iPad so I can watch a video?"
Me: "Well, I think you forgot to ask first if it was okay for you to watch a video."
Alice: "Oh, well, did you do a good job at quiet time today, Mom?"
Me: "Um, yes."
Alice: "Well, then it's okay to watch a video now. Please get the iPad down."
Me: "Okay. Here you are, darling. Also, should we have frosting for dinner or just bacon and gummy vitamins?"

* Who's "we," you ask? It's just me really, as I'm usually the only one home with the kids at that time of day, but I think it makes me sound less culpable if I say that "we" are to blame. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

If a Tree Falls in the Forest...

When she thinks no one is looking or listening, Alice is at her best.  Now, don't get me wrong.  By "best," I don't mean most well behaved or precocious.  I mean that she lets down her guard and follows her instincts and does whatever it is that seems like the most Alice thing to do at that moment.  It's almost always something she knows she shouldn't be doing, something that leaves a big mess, or something that results in my receiving emails about a subscription to the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse YouTube channel that I am quite certain I never signed up for.

Due to a previous incident involving Crayola bath water coloring tablets, I make it a point to check on her after she's been messing around in the bathroom for more than 10 minutes.  (If you're interested in the previous incident that led to this policy, just visualize what Willy Wonka's murder scene might look like if it happened in my upstairs bathroom.)  I knock on the door, and depending on what she's doing inside, she sings out, "Don't come iiiiin!" (usually) or, "Come iiiiin!" (occasionally) as if she's in her office and I'm her secretary coming in to give her a message. Her answer, by the way, has nothing to do with whether she's finished going to the bathroom and everything to do with whether she's creating another disaster scene or not.


The other day I left some chopped up chocolate on the counter to use in a birthday cake for Matt. I ran upstairs to do something and came back down to find Alice, mouth and hands sticky and brown, holding a chunk of chocolate in her hand. "I was just testing to make sure it wasn't too hot," she explained. 

One of my favorite things to do is pause for a few minutes outside her bedroom door when I hear her in there at night or during (not so) quiet time.  The other night, as part of the ongoing torture that is sleep training a four-month-old, I found myself perched on the steps between Alice's room and Joanna's room at 1am.  I stayed long after Joanna had fussed herself to sleep though, because Alice had woken up and was on a roll, yakking (to herself? to her one hundred stuffed buddies that she must! sleep with every night? to an imaginary friend?) and I couldn't stop listening. 

Her monologue went something like this: 

"Everyone! WAIT!! Throw that to Diego! 
Lookkit! She's eating the gum! 
Ooooops! [Laughter] I forgot something! 
Remember when Dad throwed the snowball? Haha, that was funny. 
HEY! You knoooooow? I'm Alice. Yeah! [Peals of laughter; Squeals]  
That was funny. [More hysterical laughter] 
That was funny."

You may be wondering about the body art on display in these photos.  I have only a few comments to make on the matter:

1. Dry erase marker does come off of human skin with a decent amount of scrubbing.

2. It does not come off of walls or rugs with mere scrubbing.

3. Since, according to Alice, the marker got all over her body "by accident," I'm going to start an awareness campaign to prevent accidents like this from happening in the future. I think we can all agree that dry erase markers shouldn't be allowed to deface our young accidentally. 

4. This exact accident happened three separate times in two days. Isn't there some piece of old wisdom we could apply here? Oh yes, I think it goes like this: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me thrice, put the markers up high out of reach, for goodness' sake."

Joanna's face registers disappointment, but she's taking detailed notes about pulling off stunts like these in a few years.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Phone Time Was Had By All

Clockwise, starting at the top left and ending in the center: Finding her feet; Sisters relaxin'; Little Bon Bon; Little A making little A's; Washing off the day; Getting into trouble, again; Hiding from spectacled bears in the closet; Pure delight; Little girl, big fish