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.