Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What to do when your 2 year old wants to play with chalk in January

Teach her how to use a glue stick!

The last two days we've been stuck in the house because it's been snowing. I use the word "snowing" loosely since readers from the Chicago and Michigan areas would laugh in the face of the weather we're having here. But what has fallen is enough to shut down just about everything, so we are inside. Hadley wanted to play with chalk yesterday and I didn't feel like cleaning up what would be an enormous mess. Plus, the sound of chalk on paper gives me the shivers. Instead, I cut pictures out of the newspaper and had her glue them on paper. I told her we were making a grocery list and this seemed to please her.

Later, Harper and Hadley played in the sunroom for a bit.

"I can't wait until I can crawl and walk so I don't have to sit in this stupid swing any longer. Being an infant is so boring! Where's my hand? At least I could gnaw on that while I sit here."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Book Club

When I was a teacher, my favorite day was Book Club day. Usually Book Club fell on a Friday, and since Hadley seems to enjoy books so much, I thought that this Friday we would have a little Book Club of our own.

I've been wanting to keep track of the books Hadley and I get at the library just because I thought it would be fun for her to look back and see what she read when she was a toddler. A friend of mine who used to be a third grade teacher made a bookworm in her classroom, and every time a student of hers read a book, she wrote the title down and added it to the bookworm. I stole the idea from her, and started one for Hadley in her room.

I wrote the titles on the front of the circles, and on the back I wrote down what Hadley says about each book. For example, in the book Duck and Goose, I asked Hadley what the Duck and Goose find. "A ball." she says. Then I asked her what Duck and Goose think it is. She laughed and said, "An egg!" In the book Mine! Mine! Mine! Hadley told me that Cousin Clare is crying. "Why is she crying?" I asked. She said, "Ima show you Cousin Clare Clare, where are you?....Where's Cousin Clare crying go?" Eventually she found the page where Cousin Clare is crying and Hadley told me that she's crying because the other girl wouldn't share her toys.

I think I've mentioned this before, but Hadley usually likes to start her day with books and juice in her crib. This morning she and I read Small Small Pond, one of Hadley's favorites:

While we ate breakfast, Hadley and I colored some bunnies to go along with the book Tippy Tippy Tippy, Hide.

Then we made our way to the library to get some new books. Harper was happy to come along as well. I don't know why she's sideways.

Here she is patiently waiting with her uggs on:

I wish I had the next part of this entry on film because it was the best part of our morning. I didn't bring my camera along which I regret, but those of you who have been to our place know that one only takes the essentials when one is responsible for getting Hadley and Harper down three flights of stairs. The diaper bag, the bag of library books, Hadley, and Harper strapped in her carseat where enough. But even though I don't have pictures, I do want to record our trip to the library so I don't forget it.

Hadley and I were reading the enormous Sesame Street book (we have to read that one every time we go to the library because we can't check it out), when Hadley noticed that a girl at the table next to ours was reading the same book. The little girl was actually watching when Hadley turned the page to her book and then she would turn a page. It was pretty cute, and so I said, "Look Hadley, she's on the same page as you." So Hadley, being the extremely friendly child she is, picked up her book (it's bigger then she is) and lugged it over to the little girl's table.
"You want to read this together, girl?" she asked.
"OK." she said. And for the next 45 minutes, Hadley and her new friend read different books together. More than a camera, I wish I had filmed the entire thing so I could remember their conversations. One of the books had a firetruck in it, something Hadley was quite excited to point out to the little girl. This is how their conversation went. Make of it what you will.
"That's a firetruck." Hadley told her.
"We had a firetruck at our house. We had to go outside." the little girl said.
"No, the firetruck's in the living room." Hadley told her.
"My mom pushed a button in our house to call the firetruck. You have to push the button with a key and it is very dangerous." the little girl told Hadley.
"Yea. When you push it, you fall down and you get a band-aid." Hadley said.

This was Hadley's first experience making a friend all by herself, and I can't think of a better way to do it then through a story.

Follow You, Follow Me

Jesse and I were married for 10 years this past Friday. We attempted to celebrate, however, our girls had another agenda. Harper usually gets fussy around the evening hours, but on Friday she decided to really show us what she's capable of. We swaddled, rocked, fed, and changed her and nothing worked. I even hummed the theme song to 90210; something that wins a smile every time, but she screamed louder.

Jesse and I were tag teaming all night. At one point, he came into our bedroom to take Harper just before I was seriously considering throwing myself out the window. He picked her up, and I walked into the living room to sit down with Hadley who was quietly doing puzzles.

"Hey, you." I said.

"Hi Mama. I don't like Harper right now." she said.

I patted her on the head and helped her with the United States puzzle (she knows, California, Texas, New York, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Kansas. Kansas?).

It was quiet for about 5 minutes until I told Hadley it was time for bed. She, however, wanted to play with her firetruck. After a short argument, she threw a fit. It was the first full on tantrum I'd seen from her. Perhaps it was because I wasn't paying enough attention to her. Or maybe it was because she was overtired, or maybe she really wanted to play with her firetruck. But I think she and Harper had a conversation earlier on Friday and dared each other to see who could throw a bigger fit.

"Let's just get upset for no reason, OK Harper?"

"OOO! That sounds great!" adds Harper. "And since I can't talk yet, I'll just scream as loud as is humanly possible. It'll be hysterical!"

So our anniversary was spent trying to keep our girls happy, and then collapsing on the couch feeling as though we were run over by a semi-truck.

Our life now is filled with Sesame Street, bjorns, cheerios, and carseats, and I will file all these things away with the last 10 years I've spent with Jesse. One afternoon when we were living in South Bend, and I was complaining about how there was nothing to do, he took me to Macri's Deli and Bakery and bought us some pastries. We sat along the East Race eating donuts and watching the kayakers fly by. On Saturdays, we used to walk along the St. Joseph river to the Farmer's Market, and in the afternoons we'd often go the library or the Notre Dame bookstore.

If it was a football Saturday, we'd sometimes go to Corby's, or just sit on our porch and listen to the crowd from the stadium. And hardly a birthday, or Valentine's Day, or just a Tuesday would go by that we weren't at my favorite restaurant, The Vine.

I remember in our marriage vows we told each other that we'd help find each other's gifts and encourage one another to develop them. Once, when Jesse had gone to the library to look for a book, he came home with a huge stack of books for me. He told me he stumbled on an isle that was filled with writing books and thought I might like to take a look at them. Another time, he came to help my students make topographical maps one morning. I asked him later that day what he thought of working with middle schoolers. He didn't respond to my question but he did say, "You are a different person when you teach. It's like a light switches on."

So our 10 year anniversary might not have been spent sipping champagne or dancing to "C'mon Ride this Train" like it was 10 years ago. And instead of a bouteneirre, Jesse had spit up on his shirt, but I'd rather spend an evening with him, and my lovely girls than anyone else.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Say What?

Keeping up with Hadley and Harper is exhausting, but it would be much more so if I didn't get to be part of conversations like this:
While working on her Dora (Hadley pronounces it "Dorya") puzzle, Hadley asks, "Where'd Daddy go, Mama?" I said, "He's giving Harper a bath." Hadley replied, "Oh.....That's a good thing."
This morning, while Hadley and I were coloring today she looked at me and said, "Can we talk, Mamma?" I said, "Sure. What do you want to talk about?" She said, "The ABCs."

And while she's not talking yet, Harper gives me plenty to smile about. Here are a few pictures of the happy baby. Here she is trying to duplicate the Obama fist bump:

Maybe if I try the other hand it'll work better....

Oh well, who really cares?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Cordouroy, Bert, and Calvin Klein

I was listening to an interview on the Diane Rehm show with Toni Morrison the other day. She was saying that the reason she loved certain books was because in them she learned something about herself, others, or the world. I like that statement, and I'm starting to see it come alive in Hadley's day to day life. For example, in the book Olivia, Olivia gets a timeout for coloring on the wall with paints. Hadley can't wait to get to that part of the story and sometimes rushes to those pages so she can see Olivia, covered in paint, sitting on the steps for timeout. I think in Olivia Hadley sees a potential friend who understands how fun it is to color on something other than paper.

It's fun for me to watch Hadley connect the stories we read with her life. This weekend we went to the mall and one of Hadley's favorite things to do there was ride up and down the escalator. She told me she was "just like Cordouroy" while we were on one. In the book Cordouroy, he rides up and down the escalator after the mall closes. I was impressed that she made this connection. However, the next observation was a little embarrassing. Hadley has a book called Happy and Sad, Grouchy and Glad. In this book, the Sesame Street characters illustrate different feelings (hence the title). Cookie monster talks about how sad he is when all his cookies are gone, and Big Bird talks about being grumpy because his birdseed pancakes are lumpy. When it comes time for Bert to talk about his assigned emotion, he is happily doing a tap dance until his pants fall down. "I feel so embarrassed in polka dot pants" he says as he blushes. Hadley and I think this is hysterical and we laugh every time. (It is my fault that she thinks it's funny-I laughed the first time I read it to her. I don't do a good job of teaching my children that someone's pants falling down isn't funny.) But I wasn't prepared for Hadley to point this out in public. We were in the Men's section of Macy's on Saturday, and Hadley saw a Calvin Klein ad (do I need to describe the ad? Can I assume that readers will understand what kind of ad it was when I write "Calvin Klein?"). She said, "Look, Mama! That guy's just like Bert." I didn't see what she was referring to, so I asked her what she meant. Hadley proceeded to run up to the ad and say, "He doesn't have any pants on! Just like Bert!" I responded that yes, he did not have any pants on. Just like Bert. Well done, Hadley.
Here is a picture of Hadley in Banana Republic holding hands with the manequin. When I asked her what she was doing she told me that she was ready to cross the street. I guess I need to revise my statement to, "We hold hands with people we know and who are alive before we cross the street."