Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Always, always, ALWAYS

I wanted to write something for Mom for Mother's Day. Something funny. But I want to write about this first.

One of my friends sent us a surprise package- wooly treats for Mom and Me from Maryland Sheep & Wool, and a stuffed "tangaroo" for Genevieve- complete with a joey in her pouch. (Sadly, along with other amazing developmental and verbal leaps, Genevieve no longer says "tangaroo".)

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"AND a box!"
Genevieve was *thrilled*- she's fascinated by the ideas of kangaroos. She knows they're mammals, thinks hopping like a kangaroo is the bee's knees, and thinks it is AMAZING that they have their babies in a pouch.

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It's a fantastic toy, deliciously soft, good weight, with a friendly face. The joey comes out of the pouch, so (against my better judgement) at Genevieve's request, I cut the tags and all the plastic connectors.

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"Soft ears!"

Thus began JoeyWatch 2014- where every adult in the house was informed of their part in making sure that (a) the joey didn't get lost and (b) the dogs didn't get a hold of this particularly delicious morsel.

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"The same!"
... Which lasted exactly four days before disaster struck. We were putting toys away before bed last night (as usual), and Genevieve noticed that the joey wasn't with Mama Kangaroo.
"Where baby kangaroo?" she asked me.
"Well," I said, regurgitating one of my mother's aphorisms, "I'm sure he'll turn up while we're picking up the toys."
We cleaned and cleaned. No joey. We cleaned the living room. No joey. We cleaned her bedroom. No joey. We cleaned the Big Bedroom. No joey. 

This caused some major bedtime issues, and led to a conversation I wish I had never had to have.
"Baby kangaroo is missing," Genevieve said.
"I'm sure he'll turn up," I said, "I'll look for him some more, later."
"Mama kangaroo doesn't love her baby anymore?" Genevieve asked, very upset.
And then I had a moment, where - simultaneously - my heart broke, and I was OUTRAGED that she had overheard from someone that mamas may stop loving their babies someday.
"Never, never, never," I said, snuggling her a little tighter, "Mamas always, ALWAYS love their babies. I'm sure she's worried about where her baby is and misses him very much. If you were missing, I would never stop looking for you until I found you."

"You help find him?" she asked.
"I will find him," I promised.   
After she went to sleep, I checked the usual places, and sure enough, the joey had fallen between the slats and under the (decorative and unused but for play) toddler bed, and the joey was less than 18 inches from his mother the whole time. I breathed a deep sigh of relief as I tucked him back in his mother's pouch and, mission accomplished, got myself ready for bed.

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Boop.
This morning, when Genevieve woke up (and informed SuperAndrew and me that it was time to "Get movin'! I go get my clothes.") I told her to check Mama Kangaroo.

Happy feet padded down and back our hallway.

"She SO HAPPY to have her baby!" she told me, overjoyed at the reunion, her world back in order.

This is - obviously - not a tale of heroics, but rather, one of love. I don't care if she doesn't remember the specifics, as long she she remembers that I always, always, ALWAYS love her. Because that's what mamas do.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Really happy

On a good weekend, we make a list of things we want to get done, and then schedule the time for it. A big part of the scheduling is (a) if Genevieve can help or (b) if she needs to be otherwise occupied.

I have a complicated relationship with nature and the outdoors, so the yard is SuperAndrew's purview. I think he likes it; I imagine it is very meditative work, the way I feel about folding laundry.

SuperAndrew asked me *something* about pruning the roses, and I suggested that he cut a few for his beautiful wife, because it might make her happy. (Sometimes, when you live in a house with ten enormous rose bushes, you forget that cutting them and bringing them indoors can make a person happy.)

Genevieve was curious to see what SuperAndrew was doing, so we went outside to investigate. Given that our rosebushes have nasty, nasty sharp thorns, and SuperAndrew was using extremely sharp tools, we had the following conversation:

Me: The rosebushes have sharp thorns. Should you touch them?
G: No.
Me: Who touches the rosebushes?
G: Only Daddy. And Mommy.
Me: Right. Who touches the sharp tools?
G: Only Daddy.
Me: Right again.
Once we were outside, watching SuperAndrew, he brought me a rose, and Genevieve said, "Me too, peeeease!"

And then, as SuperAndrew would bring roses over, Genevieve would claim them. (She ended up with six. I ended with two.)**

It turns out, like many of us, Genevieve LOVES getting roses.

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Very appreciative
One of the things I do all day long is to remind and reinforce the use of our beautiful manners. To my delight and surprise, Genevieve proceeded to repeat the following phrases (over and over and over) at SuperAndrew. In volumes.

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"Smell veyyy good"= "Smells very good"

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Aaaank you! Veyyyyy happy!= "Thank you! Very happy!"

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Make me happy!= "These make me happy"

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Thoughtful!
And then we enjoyed the roses. We counted the roses. We twirled with the roses. We smelled the roses. When we were done, Gramzie facilitated the placement of the roses in a vase.

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Genevieve, while watching me finish this post, "Daddy cut fowwers. Made me reeeeeey happy."

It really doesn't take much, does it?

**For concerned parties, all but one of our rosebushes have roses without thorns. Genevieve *very graciously* let me keep the rose with thorns.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Two Easters

I love Easter. It's a fun, low-pressure holiday, and as Genevieve gets older, it's especially fun.

KidBrother Sam mentioned how he loves seeing "last year vs. this year" photos of Genevieve. Brace yourselves.

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Easter 2013

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Plastic eggs are GREAT!

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Chubby cheeks! Pigtails! Bunny overalls!
A lot of Easter was the same - no sugar, lots of family. But it was also very different.

This year, we hardboiled eggs from our local farmer's market, and SuperAndrew donned his seasonal AndrewBunny ears to stay up late dyeing them with food coloring (regular and Neon), like his mom used to. In the morning (after we had Crème brûlée French Toast), Laura the Fairy and I "hid" the eggs.

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Genevieve, armed with a colander (in favor of a basket), was delighted by ALL THE EGGS.

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Genevieve is a process-oriented kid, so when she was done finding the eggs, she asked Andrew to hide them "AGAIN! Peease."

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Aaaaand, again. (Also, this time, UnkieSam hid the empty plastic eggs in the living room.) After three consecutive egg hunts, Genevieve was ready for a nap- which she *asked* for.

While Genevieve was napping, I whipped up the cream cheese frosting for Carrot Cake Cupcakes (from the Baking Illustrated cookbook) for the afternoon's family gathering. AndrewBunny did the artful piping, with juuuuust enough cream cheese frosting.

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Shown in our cupcake carrier. Worth every penny.
Once Genevieve was awake, we headed to our afternoon family gathering.

Any time we go to a family gathering, it takes Genevieve a little while to warm up to the crowd. Meaning, she and I usually sit by ourselves somewhere quiet until Genevieve is ready to join the party. Or until one of the older kids comes out to play with her.

On Easter, it was the latter that helped Genevieve transition into her usual social butterfly self, and the egg hunt was ON.

At home, all the eggs are Genevieve's. At the family egg hunt, each kid is told that they can find six little plastic eggs and one large plastic egg each. [The older kids are told, "If you can see it plainly, it's *not for you*."]

Genevieve had a great time, hunting and counting. The pretty plastic eggs were filled with candy [READ: "the devil's sugar"], so I quickly corralled LittleJ, relieved her of her bag of goodies, and with subtlety and teamwork that would BOGGLE YOUR MIND,  Andrew and I deposited the contents of Genevieve's eggs into LittleJ's bag.

Genevieve got to play with the eggs, and she didn't miss the candy on the inside. Win-win. She was happy, showing everyone her eggs, talking about the colors. She thought her day couldn't get any better.

... And then Genevieve discovered the trampoline.

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Mid-flight

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"Mommy! Come play with me!"
... And if something is great, Genevieve makes *sure* I don't miss out on it. She's thoughtful and generous, and a great trampoline-bouncer.
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It was our hoppiest Easter yet.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Loquacious

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A tiny, talkative tongue

A conversation with my dad (GrandpaDahling) about language development in toddlers:

GrandpaDahling: Genevieve is very verbal because you talk to her all the time. Most parents don't talk to their kids as much as you talk to her.

Me: Most people don't talk as much as I do, period.

Mom: [Evil cackling]

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Fingernail Fairy

Sometimes, I just NAIL this parenting thing.

Mostly because I steal good ideas from my mother. They say plagarism is the sincerest form of flattery, and - with a few small ideas of my own - we're raising Genevieve the way I was raised.

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"Quick, grab the camera!" - Mom

I like to try to overcome challenges with Genevieve creatively, kindly, and most importantly, in a way where I can turn a problem into something fun. (This works best after I've had my coffee, and a good night's sleep. I'm only human.)

One of the challenges I've had is clipping nails. I started doing it while she was sleeping when she was a baby, and once she got older, I became The Fingernail Fairy.

Like the Tooth Fairy, the Fingernail Fairy comes in the dead of the night, clips fingernails (and toenails) and - if all goes well - nobody wakes up, and we all get the gift of a DangerMouse who doesn't have Wolverine claws.

The Fingernail Fairy doesn't get the same excellent PR that the Tooth Fairy gets. There. I've said it.

In any case, now that Genevieve is becoming a Big Girl, I've been able to rebrand some previously problematic things as "Big Girl" activities. (I don't bandy the term about all willy-nilly, just for important stuff.)

I happened to be tidying our bathroom counter, when Genevieve noticed the row of nail polish bottles, all lovely, colorful, and most importantly, sparkly, along the edge of the mirror.

"What's that?" she asked.

"Nail polish," I answered, and then - BAM! - my mother's genius kicked in, "You know, Gramzie used to paint my toenails when I was little. If you let me clip your toenails- and you're cooperative - I'll paint your toenails."

"Okay."

Be cool, be cool, I thought to myself, rushing to grab the tiny toenail clippers. You haven't clipped them yet.

I grabbed my own clippers as well, and modeled how easy and painless it is, and then she cheerfully and cooperatively let me clip hers. And then her fingernails. LIKE IT WAS NOTHING.

[This is a big deal. Genevieve has been fine *pretending* to clip nails, but as soon as it was time to get down to business, based on the crying and shrieking, you'd think I was trying to do surgery without anesthetics on her instead of *just attempting* to clip her nails. Hence the necessity of the aforementioned Fingernail Fairy.]

"Great job! That was very cooperative!" I said, positively brimming with enthusiasm, "Pick your color! Let's go paint your toenails."

She picked and we went to the living room, where I parked her in the glider and turned on an episode of Sesame Street (as a treat, and also to guarantee she would sit still until the nail polish dried).

In typical toddler fashion, the thrill was in the chase, and as soon as I went to paint her toenails she was *immediately* suspicious of the whole process. So, what's a mom to do? I modeled on my own feet.

It's been more than two years since I've had a pedicure- in fact, the last time was my 29th birthday, with my friends Jen and Laura, just before Genevieve was born. I worked quickly, and by the end of the episode, Genevieve still wasn't ready. No big deal. Sometimes it's the getting, sometimes it's the having. Whatever works.

Mom came over, and Genevieve greeted her the usual way ("AAAAAAAAAVIIII!" ["Gramzie" for the uninitiated], and *then* was ready to have her nails painted.

"Paint mine toes, peeease, Mommy?" 

So, we listened to some music while I gave her a tiny pedicure.

"Now," I told her, "You need to sit Very Still so that your nail polish can dry. Let's read a couple of books, and you keep your legs straight out on mine."

One pass through The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Happy St. Patrick's Day, Curious George, and her toes were dry.


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Matchy-matchy!
The funniest thing is that once she was off of my lap, (and her nail polish was dry) she was doing the heel-walk that *everyone* does with wet toenail polish. It was the funniest thing I've seen in ages.

All evening, she was admiring her pedicure, "Mine toes preeeeeddy, Mommy. You toes preeeeeddy, too. Match!"

I can't help but notice that I was thinking exactly the same thing.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thematic madness

I saw on Facebook this morning that The Very Hungry Caterpillar turns 45 years old today. Once I tell Genevieve, she will insist that the Caterpillar needs a cake, to blow out candles, and sing "Happy Birthday" because now she gets the Birthday Protocol. (That is also in order of importance to her, by the way. Cake, candles, sing.)

KidBrotherSam and I both loved The Very Hungry Caterpillar as kids (and The Very Busy Spider, as well, for the record).

[Fun fact: for YEARS, KidBrotherSam would say "ca-li-pitter". SO CUTE.]

One of my favorite things about being a parent is sharing things that I loved as a kid with Genevieve. Specifically, books. I come from a family of "readers"- we had bought a library of books for Genevieve before we had clothes, diapers, or furniture. Reading is, obviously, a priority for us.

Ever since Genevieve has become independently mobile, we have had a rule: if someone is reading to you, you need to sit on their lap. (Or snuggle up next to them.) This works on a number of levels: we get the (increasingly rare) snuggle time, and she learns to sit and focus on one thing at a time. Also, snuggles.

[We have her give us kisses before reading a story, as a sort of payment. With toddlers, it's important to get payment up front. Toddlers have terrible credit.]

We are mostly moved out of board books, which makes me both sad and glad; sad that she's not a little baby anymore, glad because I don't find myself saying things like "Books are for reading. Let's get you a chewie for your teeth."

(Seriously. Our copy of "But Not the Hippopotamus" is so chewed that THERE IS NO ARMADILLO.)

And I, like one Mouse who is Given a Cookie, can not resist the logical progression of thematic madness. So, here we go:

If you read a DangerMouse "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", you might find Cascade Greenland on sale, in a nice, leafy green.

Once you have nice, leafy green yarn, you will find the pattern for a sweater with a leafy buttonband.

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Cascade, by Raya Budrevich

Once you knit the sweater with the leafy buttonband, you'll block the sweater.

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Because blocking is important.

Once you block the sweater, you'll need matching grosgrain ribbon to back it with.

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From TheRibbonSupply on Etsy

Once you have applied the grosgrain ribbon, you'll need thematic buttons to match.

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I know that he didn't eat grapes.
Once you find those buttons, you'll have an AMAZINGLY talented listener make you special buttons which blow the other ones out of the water, so you'll put those on instead.

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Yes, they were a gift. No, she won't make more. (I asked, sorry.)

Once you apply the Special Buttons, you wait for the weather to accommodate the wearing of a sweater, and then stealthily snap a couple of pictures of a DangerMouse in her Hungry Caterpillar sweater.

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The holes are great for counting. And sticking fingers in.
And it's not a picture, if you don't Gopher Grin.

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And if you knit a Very Hungry Caterpillar sweater...

...You might need to knit an "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" sweater.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

These boots were made for splashin'

During the day, we have a rule: if you want a grown-up to read to you, you have to sit in their lap. This solves - what I affectionately refer to as - the Wiggly Toddler Conundrum. (The issue being, wiggly toddlers snuggle less, and that's sad.)

At night, Genevieve has the option of snuggling up next to her reader (usually, but not always, me), or sitting in the "Mommy Seat". The Mommy Seat is created by [me] sitting cross-legged, and Genevieve sitting in the space, leaning against me, her legs over my legs. I love the Mommy Seat.

We have a regular stack of books that Genevieve likes to read at bedtime. Among them is I Love You, Good Night. I mostly bought it because it was a bedtime book with mice in it, but it quickly became one of my favorite bedtime books.

It's short, sweet, and gives lots of opportunities for extra kisses and hugs at bedtime. (Pro-tip from Gramzie: If there are kisses and/or hugs in the book, there are kisses and/or hugs to illustrate the point in person.) The book employs simile, which I love, and it just gives me all the oxytocin-filled warm fuzzies to read it with Genevieve.

There's a page in the book, showing the little mouse wearing boots and a raincoat, and enthusiastically splashing in puddles. The text reads, "I love you like boots love splashing in puddles." Genevieve has been OBSESSED with this page.

As it happens, in preparation for rainy weather - which has yet to *really* make its debut - we bought her a yellow raincoat and matching rain boots.

In October.

Genevieve LOVED the boots- she could put them on and take them off easily, by herself, and stomp around in them. What's not to love?

She has been DYING to wear them out and splash in puddles. So when the weather teased us with the promise of a thunderstorm, I told Genevieve that we would go splashing in puddles after her nap.

Our "storm" lasted maybe fifteen minutes. But, a promise is a promise, so when she woke up, we suited up in our raincoats and rainboots, and went on the hunt for puddles to splash in.

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It's not the size of the puddles that matters.
You can see in the photo that the street isn't even wet. We found four "puddles" in gutters- which were likely to be more mud, antifreeze, and motor oil (given the color). But, I didn't split hairs and I let Genevieve splash away. She was THRILLED.

Of course, I wore my boots, and raincoat, too.

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These are Skacel Peek-a-Boots. I got mine at Purlescence.
(Obviously, a photo from a much wetter day.)

Genevieve also loves playing in *my* rain boots.
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Rainboots and flannel. She pulls it off.
[The boots don't come with the green Superfeet insoles, though I'll likely replace them with the black ones at some point. (What can I say? I'm a woman who likes - nay -  requires good arch support.)]

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"What do you MEAN these don't come in my size?!"

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"I'll just borrow yours. We'll wear the same size soon enough."
We've been promised more rain, and I'm hoping the weather delivers. I'm not looking forward to another drought (soooooo cliché, California!). 
What *am* I looking forward to? Some epic puddle splashing with my favorite Mouse.