Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lessons Learned in the Tub

On the rare occasion when I can give Bitty Girl as much time as she wants in the tub, I love to sit and watch her. Kids learn so much in the tub, about pouring and emptying, properties of water, floating and sinking, balance. And luckily, I've had two kids who love taking baths.

The Boy would stay in for hours as long as we kept warming up the water. Bitty Girl seems to enjoy herself more each time, but it's hard not to rush through her bath, since we can't leave her in there alone.

Monday afternoon she woke up grumpy from her nap, so I offered a bath. No one else was home, so she had undivided Mama attention. It was delicious - I only wish I had the video camera running secretly in the corner.

She filled her cups while the faucet was running, made soup and stew and cookies with her cookset, and played with the Dora the Explorer floating toys that she has recently reclaimed from The Boy's old toys under the sink. Dora has a removable life vest and flippers, which provide endless entertainment.

I can't capture with words the gleam in her eyes as she splashes and realizes that she got water on Mommy. Then she flicks water at me, and searches for something bigger to drop into the water to make a bigger splash. Bigger smile. Then she tries to pour water on my head. (Note: I'm not in the tub with her). Then she stands up, chubby thighs firmly planted, and squeezes Dora's life vest as hard as she can into a ball, gritting her teeth and clenching her muscles. "BALL!" she announces, with even a bigger smile and gleam. She drops the life vest into the water and laughs at the "plop" sound. (Note: Dora makes a SPLASH sound, not just a plop. More water too.) Then she explores how much water she can displace by stamping her feet.

At this I make her sit down and draw the shower curtain closed. Pure joy as she realizes she can SEE me through the clear curtain liner, but not get me wet. Much exploration ensues, with poking and kissing the liner. Then she leans over and blows bubbles in the water, sitting up so proudly, like she knows it's an impressive thing to be able to blow bubbles at 21 months old, and that her brother couldn't do it without inhaling half the tub.

When it was time for soap and shampoo, she insisted on taking off Dora's flippers to wash her feet, soaping up Dora's hair (as much as you can soap up the hard plastic dome that is Dora's unusually large head of hair), and brushing Dora's teeth. She also likes to float on her back like Dora, which helps to rinse her hair.

Lately, bathtime feels like much more of a chore, or something to check off the list, than anything fun. I was so happy to sit and watch her yesterday, without rushing or being distracted, and she obviously had fun, judging from the amount of water I wiped off the bathroom floor.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I am not kidding...There is light at the end of the tunnel

The following is 100% true.

Tonight I DUSTED my bedroom and put CLEAN SHEETS on my bed while the kids played.
In the other room.
For about 15 minutes.
Without anyone screaming or getting hurt or requiring my presence.

I thought it was Freaky Friday.

Pat left at 5 pm to have dinner with a friend, so we ate early. As I was cleaning up from dinner, the beautiful sibling non-rivalry started as they played together with what I lovingly call "the junk box." It's a big tub of The Boy's miscellaneous toys that were deemed "Not Bitty Girl Safe" when she was smaller, and so she thinks it's like a forbidden treasure. There are binoculars, walkie talkies, random latex gloves from his glove phase, neon-tinted safety glasses from Daddy's science teacher days, some necklace from a birthday party, playing cards, etc. You get it--junk.

But she loves it. They scattered the cards around the room, she came to show me the funny glasses, called Nanny on her play phone, and put on the necklace. I heard a loud "NUNU!" from her at one point, and turned to see her triumphantly holding up a magnifying glass. Last weekend she saw that my grandma (NuNu to the kids) had a magnifying glass in her purse to help her with reading. The girl forgets NOTHING.

I got a little overconfident and tried to take the clean sheets out of the dryer, because by some crazy alignment of the stars, I managed to wash our sheets this weekend. Bitty Girl runs over like she wants to help, and I cringe, because her version of helping with the laundry is like the line from the Free to Be You and Me song, "Helping," 'Some kind of help is the kind of help... we all can do without.'
But I realize she's making monkey sounds.
The rare Mama light bulb flash goes off in my head, when I actually figure out what she's saying! Monkey pants... Her new favorite pajamas have monkeys on them, and they were in the LAUNDRY last night, so I told her she couldn't wear them.


Upstairs, in jammies, she wasn't ready for bed. They wanted to play longer, so they moved into The Boy's room. I gave them 15 minutes and snuck into my room to do the abovementioned dusting and making the bed, thinking there was no way I'd actually get it done.

Here's what I heard from them during the 15 minutes of quiet, non-screaming, non-injury play...
"Bitty Girl, want to play hockey?" (Ok, I had to check--they were using Tinker Toys)
"No like this. Hold it like this. That's not right. Shoot it here. Push it with your stick."
"Bitty Girl, do you want to play hockey or not?"

I'm going to call him The Boss instead of The Boy. But she was thrilled to play, and my room was dusted and the sheets were clean.

I was speechless, and that doesn't happen often. Maybe this will actually get easier someday. Maybe even soon.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Happy Birthday NuNu!

We spent Sunday in Bellingham to celebrate my grandma's 89th birthday.

And don't let the tongue fool you--he really had a great time and was very well behaved at dinner...

And at the end of the photos, when Bitty Girl was squiggling around and whining for ice cream, and we were trying to get just one more picture, I said, "Smile for Papa one more time and I'll give you a bite of ice cream." She seriously stopped whining, turned on the courtesy smile just long enough to snap the picture, and then gave me a stone cold "Ice.Cream.NOW!" stare...

The Boy spent the afternoon slogging through mud in the wetlands area behind my mom's house, with other kids from cohousing. They had a ball, but his boots literally made that sucking noise when I pulled them off. He was wet up to his armpits. Nothing a little bath and some Oxyclean can't fix!

Bitty Girl busied herself pulling weeds with Papa

and giving snarly looks to anyone who dared suggest that she get out of the dirt or put a dandelion in her precious weed pile.

(Daddy thinks she does a great Bobby DeNiro - "You talkin' to me??"

It was a great day! We love you NuNu!!!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

We're all tired around here

Lately, it's common to find Bitty Girl turning our family room into a huge sleepover. All her dollies seem to be tired all the time, requiring many blankets and lots of "shhhhh, shhhhhh" as she puts them to sleep.
On the hard, cold, brick hearth.

Notice this Little Mommy gets to nap with her babies!

As you can see, she's very proud of her creation, right down to the Mr. Potato Head yellow glasses around her neck (only because they don't fit on her eyes).
And it's not just the babies. Look closely, and you'll see, along with Bitty Girl pretending to sleep on the cold, hard brick hearth, that Power Rangers and Star Wars figures and Spiderman get tired too. Lucky for them, they live in the right place.

And I've noticed that I have very few pictures of The Boy lately. That's partly because he often refuses a picture, and partly because the "5 year old smile" just doesn't turn out in pictures.

But here's one recent kids vs. chocolate ice cream event. I think The Boy was already wiped up, because he's not that neat.
Coming soon....
What 5 Can Do vs. What Almost-2 Can Do