Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Freeze frame: Winter 2014

Oh winter, will you ever leave us? The past few months have gone by in a haze of white and even though it is in the 40s today (heat wave!) we still have almost 2 feet of snow and ice in our front yard. The snow pile made by the plow in our cul-de-sac is unlikely to melt until at least May but thankfully our mail delivery is no longer suspended due to the mail carrier being unable to reach our mailbox. I love snow but even I am ready to cry uncle. Bring on the spring!

There is so much that is new with the little people and so much that is the same as it always was.

The Numa

The Numa turned 4 at the end of 2013 and immediately had some sort of existential crisis. For about a month he was fragile and emotional and rebellious at every turn and to top it all off, he chose this time period to start learning the subtle art of lying. He still isn't very good at it, having not yet grasped the fact that lying is most effective when no one witnessed the crime you are denying, but he is working hard at improving this new skill. I am of two minds about this: I hate that he is lying to us but I am also pretty proud of his efforts, which are improving daily, and his doctor insists that it is a sign that he is a bright kid. I am clinging to this morsel of hope with much the same intensity that I am holding on to his wanting my help with anything. More and more he wants to do things by himself and he has recently begun picking out his clothes and putting them on before coming downstairs in the mornings. In fact, the other day he chose not only his own clothes but his sister's clothes as well, an act which literally drove me to tears because of its sweetness. He was enormously proud of that outfit and she couldn't have cared less than her yellow striped pants didn't match her pink kitty shirt. They continue to be the best of friends when they aren't taking each other's stuff. Then they scream (her) and whine (him) and I have an existential crisis.

Numa continues to love school except in the mornings before we go. His teachers are incredible and he has a little group of besties who are just as loud as he is. One of his new favorite things is playing games and his current favorites are Bingo and Memory. His Aunt E and Uncle K got him a fun animal matching game from Turkey and he wants to play it all the time. He is pretty good but gets frustrated if anyone else finds his favorite animals before him. His classroom has a Thomas bingo game that is seeing a lot of play time and the Nums is super bossy about how it is played and which card he needs. He is starting to get really interested in learning his letters and so far has mastered S, E, e, O, i, l, R and r. Whenever we read him books we now have to stop and spell some of the words, with him pointing out all the letters he knows. He tells long stories with a huge amount of depth and detail and wants us to do the same. When he goes to bed we draw pictures on his back or tummy but where we used to be able to do a car or a plane we now have to do the plane AND the airport AND the jetway AND the people AND their bags, tickets, faces, etc. The things we do...

I am in the process of yet again weeding out his clothes as most of the 5T and even some of the size 5 pants he wore in December are too short for him. He wants all of his shirts to feature pictures of rockets or trains or dinosaurs and loves it when the Monkey Shine has those things on her shirts as well. He is getting much better about our one bite rule* and rarely pitches fits about trying new things, though he still dislikes "combined" foods like soup or casseroles. He would eat everything salad bar style all the time if he could. His favorite foods are much the same (berries, hot dogs, rice) and he has recently discovered hard-boiled eggs, which is a nice new addition to my lunch food arsenal. His current favorite books are The Day the Crayons Quit, The Circus Ship, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, and our older version of My Big Animal Book, which he loves to flip through so we can spell the animal names. We read the Crayon book (which is wonderful if you haven't already read it) at least twice a week and I do different personalities for all the crayons. I decided at one point that Purple Crayon is probably British and proceeded to do a terrible British accent while reading his letter and now Numa wants me to read the whole book that way all the time. He doesn't know any Brits so for now I am safe.

He continues to say things that in turns make me laugh out loud and tear up. On one of my recent bedtime trips to see what he needed we had the following exchange:

Numa: Mommy I neeeeeed something!
Me: Buddy, what do you need?
Numa: Mommy, do you know what animal makes this sound? (He then proceeds to make a series of short, sharp sounds almost like a gatling gun)
Me: What? (Said in confusion, not as a request for him to tell me which animal makes the very loud sound he had just demonstrated.)
Numa: A dolphin. Get it?

I laughed so hard I cried.

I had to travel in February and was gone for about 4 days. The night I got home I was putting the Numa to bed and he stood up, hugged me and said, "Mommy, I'm glad you're here." I'm glad you're here too, bud.

The Monkey Shine

The Monkey Shine's language has exploded since last fall. She understands nearly everything we say and has mastered more words than I can count. She also does short sentences, along the lines of "Where's Numa?" and "Bay Bear sleeping," and she imitates all of our words and phrases. She LOVES to talk (which she totally got from me) and she sings to herself and babbles almost constantly. You can tell that she is so proud when she finds the right word for an object or action because her face just lights up and she will repeat her word over and over. She and the Numa watch PBS kids some mornings and she will now request her favorite shows (Wild Kratts and The Cat in the Hat, which she calls Go-Go because of the song) though she rarely watches the whole thing. Her current most used phrase is "bottle milk" because we are STILL caught in the hell that is bottles. We are planning to phase them out in March so hopefully that will go well.

Monkey Shine and I have spent lots of quality time together since the beginning of the year because she has had 3 nasty ear infections in the last two months, plus a number of stomach bugs, eye infections and colds. Thankfully it seems that we have emerged on the other side of virus season with no lasting ill-effects (other than my alarming to-do piles at work and at home) and she is once again her happy and energetic self. During the first of her three rounds of antibiotics we discovered that she loves applause more than she hates taking medicine, so our new routine for getting drugs into her is that we all put our hands in the air and shout "I'm ready!" and then we clap and yell like crazy people each time she takes part of the dosage. She eats it up (the attention, that is; the medicine she chokes down) and I am becoming more and more convinced that her future lies in the dramatic arts.

She has really gotten into reading and we do a couple of books with the Numa each night at bedtime. Her favorites right now are Listen, Listen and any of the Bear books (my faves are Bear Snores On and Bear Feels Scared). Her Grandma P got her a stuffed bear for Christmas and both she and the Numa adored it so much that we got the Numa one of his own and we got a second one for her so that we have a backup. She named them "Bay Bear," which we think is actually baby bear, and she carries him everywhere and sleeps with him most nights. She loves pointing out bears in books and will delightedly squeal "Bay Bear!" at the sight of any bear, real or plush. She puts him to bed using whatever fabric is handy for a blanket and will whisper "night night Bay Bear" before she yanks off the dish towel and does it all over again. She is also very excited about the cats these days, which Radar is fine with but Saoirse has reacted to by becoming more and more paranoid while she eats. Poor kitty.

The Monkey Shine hates skirts, dresses and overalls, which is hugely disappointing to her Gma B. She still loves shoes and is lately very excited about wearing her boots all the time. She has completely outgrown all of her 18 month clothing and is clearly going to be tall like her brother. She loves legos, trains, cars and anything the Numa is playing with. Her favorite foods are still eggs and Pirate's booty but she will try just about anything we put in front of her. She is doing great in her toddler class at school and can name all of her friends and teachers when asked who is in her class. Her hair is dangerously near mullet territory but we have recently discovered that she will tolerate pigtails (she calls them "ponies") which tame the party-in-the-back into something cute and respectable. She is spunky and dramatic and adorable and I cannot wait to see what she learns next.

Be well,


*We only have one food rule in our house. You have to take one bite of everything on your plate before you can have seconds of anything or before you can be excused.