Friday, December 31, 2010

... the last day of 2010

It's officially the end of the year. Well, nearly. It's officially the last thirty-seventh minute past two in the afternoon of the year of our Lord, two thousand ten. Funny how typing that leads one to recall that there's only one 2:37 p.m. per day, ever. And how we've already passed three hundred sixty-five of them (and way more if we're counting life ages) that will never return. But, that's not the plot of the post. Because it's the last day of the year, the last afternoon of the year, the last few hours of the year our baby-adorable transitioned from two to three.

It's been a fast year for we-the-family, and it's been a good year. As our dear Dadoo reminds us often, our trials have been far fewer than our blessings. And our blessings have been great.

Our three-year-old girl is really that: a girl. She's not our tiny baby in any way anymore. She walks, runs, climbs and jumps like a big girl. She talks, laughs and sings like a big girl. She even manages her boo-boos like a big girl, trying so hard to talk herself out of any tears. She reasons like a big girl and in such a grown up manner that we often forget she is still just three.

The biggest events of the year for her, in no particular order were her trip to Disney World and the birth of her baby sister. She still thanks us every day for taking her to Mickey's place. And the other night, she made a special thanks and appeal to her Dadoo:

Averie: Dadoo, thank you for taking me to Disney World.
Dadoo: Averie, you're welcome.
Averie: Dadoo? You can do it again whenever you like.
Dadoo: Um, okay, Averie.

Most of the time, she really loves her baby sister. This morning, she directed her sweet remarks to her Mama:

Averie: Mama, I'm so glad Iwah came out of your tummy.
Mama: Yes, me too, Averie. I'm glad, too.
Averie: Yeah, she's a sweet wittle baby. (to Isla) Aren't you, Iwah?! Aren't you? Yeah, a sweet wittle baby!
Isla: *big, shiny smiles with big shiny eyes at her sweet big sister*

Today, the big girl is skipping naptime and sitting right next to her typing Mama as we share time alone in our playroom, eating semi-sweet chocolate chips and Nemo fruit snacks and watching the Thomas movie she got for Christmas, while 'her baby' naps. Her tiny arms are bare and warm. Her hair smells sweet and clean, and this afternoon feels like a special gift, just for the two of us.

In a few hours, a new year will begin. And a few weeks after that, our three-year-old will turn four. It's a bittersweet thought ... the leaving behind of a year and the beginning of another, the reminder of things passed and past, the encouragement of things to be and become. It doesn't seem the same this year, not that any two years are, but still, as I sit here, first person, finishing a post nearly 5 hours after I started it (life with two), the night feels strange, and a little sad. I guess at the end of it, good years make it hard to close the door. And perhaps, just a bit, I'm not quite ready for the end of this one.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

. . . a three-year-old-Christmas

This was the year. This year. The year that our sweet Averie really understood the magic and beauty of the Christmas season. The year that we could see it in her eyes, and hear it in her voice and smile and laugh at the wonder of it all.

From gingerbread houses (she made three) to cookies (she made several dozen) and Christmas hymns (she loves 'O Holy Night') to carols (we had no idea she could identify 'Carol of the Bells' - and she can, be it played on strings or brass), from lights ("Wights! Mama! Look! It's multi-colored! That's my most favorite kind of sprinkles!") to lawn 'art' ("Dadoo! Look! A reindeer!"), from holiday movies to holiday art, she had a full and excitement-filled start to the Christmas season.

This year, she had her own 'wish list'. She added items to it frequently, and we-the-parents are fairly certain she didn't really understand the concept of the 'wish' part. This was evidenced multiple times (we thought) by how easy it was to pacify her through the toy aisles of any given store. Anytime she asked to 'have' something, we told her she could put it on her wish list. "Ok", she'd reply. "I want this on my wish list". And then she'd calmly put the item back in it's place on the shelf and keep moving. It worked like a dream. We were slightly worried that it might come back to bite us when she realized that the majority of the items she put on the list didn't make it under the tree (it was a REALLY big list), but we figured we'd cross that bridge later on.

Imagine our surprise when on Christmas morning, her first request was for her sister. Her second request was for some M&Ms with her cheerios. And her third request was to take off her jammies. For nearly an hour and a half after she woke up, she asked nothing about the gifts. Finally, sometime around ten a.m., she asked if she could open a present. When we told her yes, she squealed with glee, ran over to the tree, grabbed a tiny box from the bottom of the pile and placed it carefully into my hands. "Mama!" she shouted. "We got this for you, Mama! It's very special earrings for you! But don't tell because it's a surprise!" Imagine our hearts when we realized her first thoughts were for people other than herself.

And when she finally began to open up her very own presents, she stopped, content, at two. The very two she'd asked for most, and the first item on her wish list. The next hour saw her fully happy and fully occupied with those toys, unconcerned with the rest of her stash resting beneath the branches. And the rest of the morning continued much the same as it began ... and we-the-parents count ourselves very blessed.

Better than all the stuff of the season is this crazy joy. The hard stuff is still hard. The bad stuff, well, it's still bad. But the joy of seeing her see it all ... well, it's mushy and funny and happy and awesome and sappy and squishy and GOOD.

And just in case you think you've had your fill of adorable, here's proof you're not full yet. Our baby-girl-the-first-adorable on her fourth Christmas ...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

. . . she just does.

Rock that is. She's amazing and sweet, growing and small, smart and still learning. And she's still the tiny (though less so every day) adorable one we met nearly four years ago.

She's a wonderful big sister, taking time every day to take her little sister to 'baby school' which is located in our bathroom and takes place during mama's shower. Averie is the teacher, and Isla the pupil. Today they learned about monkeys, llamas and decorating. Averie decorated the bathroom with her pets 'just like you decorated for Christmas in my bathroom, Mama'.

Each morning she runs to 'wake' her sister, climbing as fast as she can up onto the bed and kissing and hugging the baby until the baby squeaks. Then she explains to mama how 'she wants out of her bunting, Mama' and 'you have a dirty diapie, Iwah? you do? Mama, she has a dirty diapie', all the while stroking her sister's head or holding her hands or poking her in the nose.

Each night, she and mama cuddle in bed. Averie requests the 'little bear song', and Mama always sings it. Averie asks to count in Spanish and in French, so we-the-nighttime-counters count. She asks to spell some words (the list usually includes 'mosquito helicopter', 'c-130' and 'jet plane'), so we spell. Then it's time to 'talk about functoowayshun marks', so mama explains the ins and outs of exclamation points and semi colons. Then it's time to cuddle and listen to the soothing sounds of her ocean aquarium, and yes, that's the same aquarium she had in her crib as a baby. Now it rests on her bed and she uses it like her own personal radio. Finally, it's time for her big girl reading light, a special big-girl surprise from Mama so the girl adorable can 'read' her books in the darkness of her room when Mama leaves. **

Her vocabulary continues to grow and her memory has improved along the same pace. She's able to pick up a new word very quickly and then use it appropriately at a later time. She's even able to recall for others where she heard that new word and how it was used at that particular time. Take for instance a recent visit from her Auntie and Uncle. Averie was explaining the terrible events of the days before their visit when her baby sister was spitting up blood and falling out of her bouncy seat. Her retelling of the story went something like, " ... and then Iwah was hanging out of her chay-er and mama came wunning out of the showah and she saw Iwah hanging on the fwoor and mama said oh cwap ...".

In other recent conversations ...

A few nights ago after leaving big-discount-chain-store:
Averie, holding her newly acquired hotwheels treat from Mama: Oh look! What kind is it, Mama?
Mama: It's a Chevelle.

Averie: Oh! A Chevelle! I love it! It looks kind of like a Charger. But, you know, it's got Volkswagon wheels.

Earlier this month, after hearing noises coming from her baby sister during tummy time:
Averie, laughing: Oh, Iwah! You have a burpie in your bum! You have a burpie bum, Iwah! Mama, Iwah has a burpie bum!

Mama: Yes, Averie, she does.

Averie, very seriously: But I don't have a burpie bum. I have a gassy bum.
Mama: Averie do you want me to read this Thomas book to you?

Averie: Oh, yes, Mama! It is the desire of my heart.

**Mama herself was often chastened for reading in bed at night when she was supposed to be sleeping. She remembers promising herself that she wouldn't prohibit nighttime books when she was a 'grown up'. Although she does realize the value of going to bed on time, she is bothered not one itsy bit by the knowledge that her sweet Bee falls asleep reading, just like she did and sometimes still does.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

. . . George feeds Bill's bunnies

That's the title Averie provided when asked what her mother should post about her. The following is the rest of her response.

"Iwah Meeway." (tran.: Isla Mireille) "Um, Ariel. Mama, can I wear a different dress? Can I wear my Cindalella dress. I think that's Dadoo. Mama, why can I not spill?"

So there's a lot of language going on, but it's more conversational these days, and much of it is made up. She makes up names for places and people, names for animals, names for pretend people, places and things, and includes all of these in her speech as if the rest of us are all in on the specifics of these made up lives.

The biggest change from our baby adorable's lips involves pronunciation. There is so much less of that baby-speak now. Nearly everyone she speaks to can understand her, and there is barely a need for a translator (mama) to intervene. Words like 'wadi' (Remy) don't even exist in her vocabulary any more, and we-the-parents are resisting any urges to correct the few remaining mispronunciations still in her oratorial bag. Right now, "fwirty" stands in for "thirty", but that's one in a handful left for her to learn.

All this talk is just one more reminder of how soon these days of smallness will be gone. We-the-parents want to hold on to every single one of them, as long as we can.

Friday, October 8, 2010

. . . it all by herself

Big girls do lots of things. Big girls do them all by themselves. Big girls don't need any help. Except when they do.

'I can do it all by myself' is the phrase of the phase for fall two-thousand ten. "It" is nearly everything - from taking off her own jeans (over her shoes, no less) and zipping her own (hard-to-zip) hoodie to climbing any and every stair she encounters and getting her straws into the top of those plastic kid-cup lids - she can do "it" "ALL BY MYSELF!"

'I don't need any help' is a close second in competition for the girl's favorite sentence. Unfortunately, this secondary phrase is usually forced out through clenched jaw while her eyes begin drip tears and her small frame tenses in frustration. She's so young - too young to possess the experience-based understanding that there could be a different/better/easier/ way to accomplish the near-impossible task she's currently attempting.

It's almost as if she's trying to convince herself (there's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place ...).

Seeing this frustration is difficult. More difficult is standing by, trying not to help, then trying to help, and being pushed away by those tiny, three-year-old hands as she sobs and struggles to do it on her own. Sometimes her success is a happy moment for her. (It's nearly always a relief for we-the-parents). Many times, she's just so exhausted from her efforts that she can't even recognize for herself that she actually accomplished the very thing she set out to do. Even knowing that this is part of her growing does not make it easier to watch.

This independence is a good thing; it means our sweet girl is growing up. It's also a sad thing; it means our sweet girl is growing up. Sometimes it's a hard thing - difficult for both parents and child. It's always an amazing thing, though, and we-the-parents are still in awe of how a person begins and becomes.

Other phrases heard this week ...

"I'm too busy to talk to Dadoo right now."

"But Mama, children always want to play!"

"I always like to go into the eating store to eat at it."

"No. I am the ONLY one who has to obey Mama."

" ... because he has to 'neigh' at them while they chuff past ..."

"Don't say 'ghostlight'. It's Mater and the Ghostlight."

"Can I watch Mater and the Ghostlight?"

Thursday, September 9, 2010

. . . some cute

Need a dose of adorable? Get yours below:

Friday, August 20, 2010

... big girl sleep with the aid of jelly beans

Our sweet girl has been, most of the time, a pretty good sleeper. We've had our nights of unrest, but for the most part, we-the-parents have escaped the same kind of nighttime torment many of our poor friends have experienced with their children. We-the-parents, though speaking seldom of it, have always been thankful of this great mercy in our lives, conscious that it's a rare gift to have a child who goes so easily to sleep.

When we found out that our Baby-Toddler-Preschooler-Bee would become a big sister to Bun, we-the-parents contemplated the ways that baby-adorable-the-first 'might-could' react to the introduction of the new family member. We read about tantrums and regression and tears and prepared ourselves for giving extra attention, having more patience and returning to the 'pull-ups' stage for a bit. And while we knew that there could be (and probably would be) times when our newborn's cries would wake our elder daughter, we did not anticipate that this family transition from three to four would influence the well-established sleeping habits of our three-point-five-year-old to such a great degree.

Bun's arrival didn't bring any tantrums*. Our sweet big sister was excited to meet her "new baby", and has not shown any of the typical symptoms associated with the addition of a younger sibling. Except one:

She is no longer willing to go to sleep. Mama should actually include the qualifier, "alone".

The tiny girl is absolutely willing to go to sleep with a friend. She'll go to sleep at her friends' house (**thank you Mrs. Beth for caring for our first baby while we had our second**). She'll go to sleep in the company of the entire family as we ride in the car. She'll go to sleep in her uncle's arms as he carries her from the carousel back to the bookstore. And she'll go to sleep at home, in her own bed even, as long as either her Mama or her Dadoo (though preferably her Dadoo) is cuddled up right next to her.

This unwillingness to fall asleep alone is not confined to the initial falling asleep, but extends to every falling asleep throughout the entire night, so that each time a plane, helicopter, tree-branch, motorcycle (thanks biker neighbors for your super loud cruising at eleven p.m., we love it, really), squirrel, dishwasher, ice-maker or whisper from her parents awakens her, she needs/wants one of us to crawl back in bed with her.

Though we'd struggled a tiny bit with this sleep thing before baby-the-second arrived, in the weeks preceding the birth, things had settled down a bit. Then, we brought the baby home, and things ceased to settle ... at least in the evening hours. Mama spends most of her evening hours awake feeding Baby-Bun, and Dadoo spends most of his evening hours awake, calming Baby-Bee and attempting to persuade her into long slumber.

Our success has been limited, like our sleep and our dwindling patience. Until the introduction of what some, more judgmental persons (who are obviously better parents) might call a bribe. We-the-parents call it desperate times, and thank heavens for William Schrafft or whoever created the jelly bean.

Big girls are polite, obedient, and rested. Big girls sleep all night long in big girl beds, all by themselves. Big girls eat big-girl-breakfasts of jelly beans, cheerios and occasionally, Pez. And we, ladies and gentlemen, are raising a big girl. A sweet, going to bed with less and less assistance kind of big girl who loves Jelly Belly beans in watermelon, bubblegum, blueberry and cherry. A big girl who, though lying awake and singing for an hour after we put her there, stays in bed, alone, all night.

Well, at least for the last few days. Still, it feels like we're closer to being back on a relatively normal sleep schedule, and we'll hold onto whatever hope we have right now. Because, as previously mentioned, it's desperate times in the sleep department. And we-the-parents are rapidly re-affirming the realities that:
a.) we are no longer in our twenties,
b.) we are much better and more coherent people when we get at least three hours of uninterrupted sleep in the evenings, and
c.) our tiny-bee is much happier and well-behaved when she, too, gets at least three hours of uninterrupted sleep in the evenings.

Hear, hear and hip, hip for the jelly bean! Long live the bean and the refreshing minutes of rest it affords! Hooray for our big girl! Hooray that she loves her little sister and is merely struggling with sleep and not some urge to beat up the baby. Hooray for big girls who go to sleep late, but sleep in a little later so Mamas get time for coffee. And blogging. *wink*

**We-the-parents do realize it's early days, and we're not counting any chickens at this time.**

Sunday, August 8, 2010

. . . 26 days of sisterhood

It's been three weeks and five days since our first tiny baby became a big sister. In just two more days, a near month will have passed since the arrival of baby sister. Life here is different and wonderful and lacking lots of sleep for the three eldest family members, big sis included.

Nights and days blur, no one has his/her own bed anymore and things that used to be relatively easy, (making and eating lunch, for example), are now more complicated and require a greater time commitment from all parties. Even our big girl, (who's really just a little, tiny girl, says mama) is taking more time to get through her daily routines (brushing her teeth, finding her shoes, drinking her juice, going to sleep).

It's still the hardest thing we've ever done. And it's still the best thing.

And our sweet, baby-adorable, now a dear little girl of three ('and a half, mama' she often reminds me), is the most precious big sister, bringing kisses and hugs and toys and comfort to the tiny baby who "came out of mama's tummy", as Averie informs anyone she deems in confusion over the arrival of her sister.

One of the best parts of every day is the morning, when big sister wakes up and asks first thing to see baby "Iwah". This is what that kind of love looks like.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

. . . an educational conversation with Dadoo

Life as a nursing mama provides lots of moments for sitting and listening. At chez-adorable, those listening-moments also provide lots of smiles. Take this afternoon's moment for example:

(Overheard from the mound of pillows in the nursing room bedroom while Dadoo and Averie are playing in the living room)

Averie: Dadoo, look! Look at this! Look at this fuzzy thing! Your leg! It has fur all over it.

Dadoo: Averie, that's hair. I have hair on my legs.

: (puzzled) Why? Why do you have hair on your legs?

Dadoo: Well, that's the way God made me. (brief silence) Does that make sense?

Averie: Way-ul, yes. (Emphatically) But Dadoo,
girls don't have that on their legs.

Dadoo: No, Averie. No they don't.

Mama: (Smile)

Monday, July 12, 2010

. . . a phrase or two

Overheard ...

"We can't go to Ty's house because it's too late and it's raining out and there's a storm outside."

"It's a
gown, Mama. We call it a day gown." (* As opposed to a "night gown" which is a new gift from Gram just for big girls. This statement in response to Mama's request that she not lift up her dress in public.)

"Around the bend, Rusty! Around the bend!"

"That's a power station. We neeeeeever, ever touch a power station. It will
kill us."

"Yeah, we call it a red-tail-hawk. So, if you see another one like that, it's got little wings, so birds can fly when it's daytime. You know how the birds need to fly home because the moonlight is drying away the rain? But I don't see the moon because it's raining. So, tomorrow I have oranges. Can I just have one popsicle? It's
ok Dadoo. We dip into the paint and we paint our eyebrows."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

. . . 3 years, 3 months, 27 days

In the flash of the last 8 months, our baby adorable turned three. She's officially just about three-and-a-quarter, and the reality of that seems impossible.

In the flash of the last 8 months, our tiny girl has gone from diapers to pullups to panties, and training cups to travel mugs to not needing or wanting that first morning milk. She's changed shoe sizes and pants sizes and grown an inch and a pound. Her hair is long, long, long. She walks (runs) everywhere and doesn't want to hold our hands except when something near her is loud. She talks about lots of things and asks a lot of questions and makes a lot of accurate observations. She sings and makes up her own songs. She laughs and makes up her own jokes. She lets us rinse the shampoo right out of her hair with no hesitation, no washcloth, no worries.

In the flash of the last 8 months, she's adapted to a lot of changes, learned how to write her name and added a million words to her speech. She dresses herself daily in a minimum of two different dresses. She even gets the buckle part right on her shoes ("I put the buckles on the outside, Mama!"). She pretends to sleep during naptime, but plays with her trains instead. She still doesn't eat much meat besides chicken, calamari and hamburgers, and she still loves sweet tea. She loves hotels and had a great time at Disney World.

In a few short weeks, she'll officially be a big sister to her very own little sister. She wants to name her 'donut' or 'fountain' or 'cloud'. She wants to teach her how to dig in the sand and how to walk and how to stand on one foot. She doesn't want her baby sister to sit in her chair or play with her trains or wear her new dresses. But she does want her baby sister to sleep in her bed.

As we-the-family near the day when our three becomes four, Mama still can't quite believe her tiny baby adorable is so grown. It did fly. It really, really did.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

... a little rest

Each time our girl crawls into her bed, for nap or nighttime, we-the-parents begin the countdown. It's the countdown to noise, running, comfort and disentanglement.

Our daily exercise in emergency response usually begins with the sounds of our tiny girl's cries, sometimes even screams. These cries coincide with the rapid approach of another noise: the oh-so-soothing sound (complete with accompanying vibration) of the military aircraft that fly in increasingly lower flight patterns over our home.

Ordinarily, the tiny one is fascinated by all things aeronautical. We love to drive after jets and Coast Guard choppers in the car, or run after them at the park. We stop everything during mealtimes to run to the back door and peek up through the trees to catch a glimpse of whatever the moment's flying object may be.

Except when it's time to sleep.

When it's time for sleep, be it a short nap or a full night's slumber, those same super-exciting flying chunks of metal become the ghost in the corner, the monster under the bed, the terror in the closet. When it's time for sleep, the sound (and feel) of these aircraft send our girl into panic, and us into high-speed rescue mode.

Lately, we've had more frequent fly-overs. Last night, in fact, more than six super loud flying machines passed our house in an hour. Each time the tiny one cried out, each time Mama raced across the house, each time there were more tired tears, and longer moments of comfort needed before those little arms would release Mama's neck.

Today, during naptime, same thing. In fact the first words our tiny one spoke as Mama went to rescue her from bed were, "Mama, something's always making noise out there and waking me up".

So this evening, we-the-parents prepared once again for the onslaught of aviation action. Except for some reason, Uncle Sam's flyboys are off duty this evening. We've only had the pleasure of one flyby. And this time, the girl did not awaken.

Perhaps it's sheer exhaustion. Perhaps she's getting used to them again. Whatever the cause, the small, sleepy girl is finally getting some rest. She's sleeping so hard, in fact, that when Dadoo went in to check on her, she didn't even move as he removed her safety supply of nighttime friends*: two Pez dispensers (one bunny, one clown, both empty and lying under her stomach), 3 race cars (Lightning McQueen, El Segundo, and Cheerios, also lying beneath her stomach) and 1 stuffed rabbit (in red evening coat with carrot, this too, lying under her stomach).

Sweet dreams.

*The nighttime friends supply was once down to a mere five count of soft, furry things. It now includes the aforementioned pez dispensers, race cars and rabbit, as well as the bigger Bunny Hop, the smaller Yellow Bunny, Cupcake the cat, Otter, Cinderella (yeah, hard plastic), Leopard, Owl, Baby, and Lion. Sometimes we also include Thomas, Percy and Toby (the trains) and depending on the night, Hermit (no misspelling) the frog. She keeps saying her bed is too small ...

Monday, April 5, 2010

. . . a quick panic, followed by dessert

Dadoo & Averie in living room.

Overheard by Mama:

Averie: (Screaming) AHHHHHH! Uhhhhh! Oh No!
Dadoo: (Running out of kitchen) Averie, what's happened?
Averie: Ahhh! Mosquito! Mosquito! Mosquito! Oh no!
Dadoo: Well, that's a mosquito hawk. It's not bad. Remember, we like them.
Averie: Ahhhh! Ahhhh!

Thwack! Thwack! Thwack!

Averie: Did you get it?
Dadoo: No.

Thwack! Thwack!

Averie: Did you get it?
Dadoo: No.

Thwack! Thwack! Bang! Thwack! Thwack!

Averie: Did you get it?
Dadoo: Yes.

Averie: You did?
Dadoo: Yes, Averie. Don't open the door, ok?
Averie: Oh, ok, Dadoo.

. . .

Later, at dinner:

Dadoo: Averie, would you like some cake?
Averie: Oh! Sure! Sure I would. It's in the kitchen. I saw it there. I better go check on it. You stay right here, ok? I'll be right back.

. . .
*Um, yes, it's been awhile. Life, etc. More soon. Well, hopefully.