Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Letter to Lucia (56 Months) & Greta (31 Months)

Little Ones,

Another joint letter. I’ll get my act together soon, I promise. But once again it’s fitting to write to both of you, since so much of what you do, you now do together. Now that it’s summer, all of us are happier, and we spend our days on the porch or in the backyard: bubbles, chalk, climbing the rhododendrons, coloring the rhododendrons with chalk, running around, digging, reading. We’ve set up the water table and sand table, as well as a kid-size table with chairs for snacks, lunch, dinner. It’s all just purely fun.

You both have lost interest in television: though you have your favorite shows (Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Bubble Guppies, Dinosaur Train), you’d much rather be outside, or playing with whatever you’re into that day. I never know for sure what you’ll be involved with when I come out of the kitchen to check on you while I’m cooking dinner: today you were both building towers and structures with the wooden lacing beads that haven’t seen the light of day in months.

Lucia, your independence comes through more and more these days, and you’re acting more like a little girl who’s close to becoming five. You’ve begun coloring intricately, precisely, and you prefer colored pencils and ballpoint pens so you can carefully color in the tiny illustrations in the Rainbow Fairies chapter books you continue to love. You enjoy “playing family” with all your Hello Kitty and cat stuffed animals (a crew of nearly ten), which mostly involves the mommy and daddy kissing the baby kitties good morning and giving them toast for breakfast. You love, love, love preschool and have actually started getting genuinely angry when I arrive to take you home. Lately you’ve been asking to “do yoga,” and I lead you and Greta through some yoga poses in “yoga class.” You really try to do them, while Greta usually winds up dramatically rolling across the floor, or somersaulting.

Greta, most of the tantrums and obstinacy that made the winter such a challenge are gone (most of the time), and in their place is silliness and free-spiritedness that is hilarious to watch. You dance at any opportunity, then throw up your hands and wait for applause and cheers. You deliver lively, unintelligible monologues from Frozen, complete with gestures. You run at top speed at all times on your little barefeet. You notice and comment on other people’s shoes and nail polish. You declare every color your favorite color, with great excitement, in the Greta-speak that I know and hope will mature but still is, for now, also so cute. Upon noticing a yellow flower: “Yo! Fay coer!!” (hands clasped to heart). You are pink-cheeked and rosy and your hair is a wild, eye-blocking, overgrown nest of blond quasi-curls. You have firm opinions on what you wear these days, including pajamas. It’s a tough bedtime when your favorite whale-print pjs are in the wash.

You both continue to revere your collection of Magiclip princesses, and anything Frozen. When you are good, you are very, very good and very, very cute. You have your moments, though, both of you. But you’re also both very aware of being a family, and are pleased when we’re all together: in New Hampshire, you both loved to count each of us in turn, happily declaring “Four!” when all were accounted for.

Favorite toys/activities: Magiclip princesses, other princess dolls, Elsa and Anna dolls, Hello Kitty stuffed animals, puzzles, coloring, dancing, playing outside, chalk, bubbles, tea parties, water table, mermaids

Favorite books: Three Billy Goats Gruff, Pied Piper, Rainbow Fairies books (Lucia), The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Greta)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Our Summer Begins

It doesn’t really feel like summer until we trek to New Hampshire for the first time. This weekend, even though the weather was cool and rainy, our summer truly began: we arrived at the house Thursday night, and we ventured out only once—for a few groceries—over the next two and a half days. The girls were beyond excited to be back. Lucia remembered everything from last year, already listing her favorite things to do and play with as we drove from New Jersey; and though it’s unclear if Greta really remembered anything in any detail, she didn’t hold back for a second once we arrived. Both girls were happier over the last few days than we’ve seen them in ages. It’s a different kind of fun there: freer, simpler, more childishly joyful.

We all tramped around in our rain boots most of the time, since it rained off and on and the grass never really dried out. The girls were happiest when they were playing with water anyway: a puddle at the end of the drive—ankle deep—was thrilling for them; they came back from playing in it with soaked clothes, soaked hair. We found an old play kitchen in the barn and put out a pot of water, and they filled and emptied a few toy pots and pans and cups, cooking and brewing. We visited the pond a couple of times, and Lucia was inspired to fish for algae when she found a long stick: both girls were totally engrossed in their fishing, catching algae to entice “pond-maids” to come up for a snack. Andrew built a swing from an old board and some hooks and rope he found in the barn and hung it from the apple tree.

We took a nature walk in the damp woods. The girls ran madly through the bubbles from a new bubble machine. They played for a long time with the cornsilk from some corn they helped Andrew husk, arranging it into pillows. They got out all the old antique kitchen tools and played doctor. We read Jamberry and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and Poppleton and Frog and Toad Are Friends.

It was all entirely blissful, not a bat to be found—until this afternoon, just before we left, when Andrew found a small one, still alive, pressed between the screen and storm window in Greta’s room when he took down the dark bedsheet we hang there to block the sun. We don’t know how long it was there, or if it will still be there when we return. Andrew is still scarred from our bat adventure from last year, and even a gently flitting moth, or my reaching over his shoulder to toss a Kleenex into the trash, startles him. 

We were all sad to leave. But the summer is only just beginning.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

What a lovely Mother's Day: beautiful weather, breakfast in bed, delicious meals, lovely presents. I went to yoga and got a manicure/pedicure. We all hung out outside, in the yard and on the porch. Both girls seemed very excited about the idea of Mother's Day and kept bringing me bouquets of flowers/weeds and wishing me Happy Mother's Day. Two sweeties. What a lucky mama.

(And a few pictures from rainy yesterday:)

To Florida Once More

Overconfident from our successful drive to Florida over Christmas, a few weeks ago Andrew and I decided to make the journey again, this time for a week during Lucia's spring break from preschool. It was a much easier trip this time, planning-wise, without the endless Christmas luggage; and we felt like we kind of decided to do the trip on the spur of the moment, or as spur-like as one can be when traveling with two kids.

On the way down, we stopped for a barbeque lunch, where both girls revealed a love of fried chicken legs, and we spent the night in a hotel, just as we did last time. This was a total fiasco. We got there right at bedtime, but the girls hadn't yet had dinner; and there were no cribs left. I made the girls dinner (we'd brought food in a cooler) while Andrew went out to find a Walmart and buy a crib. Then the novelty and excitement of sharing a room was just too much for Lucia and Greta to handle, and they didn't go to sleep until after ten, and only after we moved Lucia into the extra bed in our room. Greta was up at five; Lucia at four-thirty; we got hardly any sleep at all. Not a success.

But we made it, and we had a wonderful week. We all went to church on Easter: Lucia did well; Greta had to be taken out when she wouldn't stop singing "Let It Go." The girls were thrilled with their Easter baskets (Magiclip Anna and Elsa, a Disney Fairy doll, Frozen coloring book, large purple plush Peep bunny) and loved doing an egg hunt. We went to the beach three days in a row; celebrated Andrew's dad's birthday; saw lots of baby cousin T. The girls loved playing outside in sundresses, spotting lizards, building sandcastles, splashing in the ocean. Sharing a room was still a challenge--their renditions of Frozen songs went on long after they were supposed to be asleep--but for the most part they adapted.

On the way back, we decided not to waste our money on a hotel room--instead, we decided to drive straight through to New Jersey. The girls were amenable travelers, but at a certain point--after they'd fallen asleep, when we still had hours to go--it was just Too. Much. Driving. We'd lost time trying to find a lunch place (though a great BBQ buffet redeemed the detour, and the girls both ate two fried chicken legs). We made endless bathroom stops. When we got home it was after 2:00am, and we felt sub-human. It took all of us a week to recover. I don't think we'll be doing that again.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Letter to Lucia (55 Months) & Greta (30 Months)

Dear Girlies,

I'm delinquent this month in writing your updates, so I'm writing a joint one to get back on track. The main theme right now is the way you've been interacting anyway, so it makes sense. You've always played together--usually very well; sometimes squabbling more than playing--but in the past couple of months your play has changed, deepened, and grown. Greta, you're old enough now to understand what's going on and to actively participate in whatever activity the two of you are doing; and Lucia, you seem thrilled to finally have an "equal" in your games, one who can go along--more or less--with what you direct. My role, too, has changed: rarely am I a primary participant in your activities; I moderate, I suggest, I mediate, I propose, but you two are incredibly self-directed, and your imaginations know no bounds.

A favorite thing to do right now is reenact scenes from Frozen. You both know large blocks of dialogue, and you switch off being the different characters. Greta, you know the words as well as Lucia does, but you can't yet manage to say them all; you usually just let out an animated, expressive string of gibberish. You both enjoy playing mommy/child, with the child going off to school or waiting for dinner, the mommy saying goodbye or announcing that dinner is ready. You switch off roles there, too. When the mood is right--and I don't want to jinx this--I can sometimes even sit down (nearby) and read a few paragraphs of the newspaper, or put away laundry, or organize some clutter. You both still need me to be close to you, but I see that this will not always be the case.

Lucia, your love of reading is changing right now, your focus expanding to chapter books instead of picture books. You are a doll lover: you play constantly with your Magiclip princesses, your Barbie-size princesses, your many variations of Elsa and Anna, your fairy dolls. You regularly engage your stuffed animals in your Quiet Time activities, and you like to play "family"--setting out all your cats, for instance, and having them interact as parents and children.

Greta, you too love dolls, and you love reading, and your attention span is just as amazing as ever. You love to sing and dance and run. You are doing speech therapy once a week and improving all the time. Your ending sounds are still a work in progress, as are your multi-syllable words, but you are trying very hard, and getting better by the day. You are so smart and silly--and I'm still so worried that your speech delay will prevent other people from seeing that. But the improvements you've made even in just the past couple of weeks have made me feel better about your starting preschool in the fall.

You both are beyond thrilled that we can now go outside most days. Your favorite outdoor activity is climbing the rhododendron bushes beside the house, and coloring the branches with chalk. You also love playing in the playhouse and exploring the trees along the stone wall dividing our property from the neighbor's.

You both love watching a crazy show called Bubble Guppies. I don't get it, but I'm not a preschooler.

All in all, we have fun--most days, most of the time. Of course there are moments--like tonight--when you both went from happy playing to hysterical sobbing in the split second my back was turned to prepare your dinner; and last week, recovering from our spring break trip to Florida, you nearly drove me out of my mind with bickering and fighting. But we seem to have returned to our normal happy state.

Favorite toys/activities: Magiclip princesses, anything Frozen, singing and acting out Frozen songs and scenes, coloring, playing mother/child, chalk, climbing trees, playhouse, picking flowers, Bubble Guppies, Sit N Spin, sorting pie

Favorite books: Mercy Watson books, Rainbow Fairy books, Pied Piper, Three Billy Goats Gruff, Cozy in the Woods, Fox Makes Friends

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Sisterly Love

I have a lot of blog-catching-up to do--a ton--but I keep putting it off because I want to add pictures, and all my pictures are on my phone. So I'll forge ahead with two cute anecdotes:

Yesterday, before Andrew got home, a contractor stopped by to look over the house, so I left the girls alone watching Bubble Guppies while I showed him around. Bubble Guppies is a very strange show that the girls inexplicably adore. Well, not inexplicably--all the characters are mermaids and there are always cute animals. It's like preschool cocaine. Needless to say, it's not scary, but in one particular episode, there's a scary-seeming seal that the mermaids think is going to eat a baby penguin. Both girls are terrified of this seal. This was the episode they were watching while I was with the contractor, and when I came downstairs I found them on the couch, hugging each other, comforting each other in their fear. It was so cute.

Today, I mentioned to Lucia that she and Greta would have a babysitter this summer once school ends (not news), and Lucia immediately grabbed Greta in a dramatic hug and shouted in joy, "Now we won't have to be apart!" Too funny.

More soon.