Follow by Email

Monday, February 28, 2005

"Grass!"

Zoe has the "Spring Fever" bug in a bad way. We are outside in the backyard or walking a few miles (well, sometimes Zoe rides in her wagon) any time the temperature raises to a minimum of about 48 degrees. She lets us know she is ready to go out by either pleading for a "Walk!" or "Grass!" Today, in spite of the sun shining brightly, it barely reached the upper 40's, but Zoe insisted we must go out to the back yard. I tried to tell her it was too cold, but she simply contemplated this dilemma before suggesting, "Jacket!" She demonstrated some pretty good problem solving skills, which made it hard for me to argue with her in spite of the fact that I wasn't convinced a jacket was enough to fix the problem. I piled the clothing on her, including a stocking cap, before the field trip to the backyard. Zoe tried to tell me she needed her "mittets" (mittens) too. I figured she was probably right, given how cold it was, but I also knew we would manage to get them on her only to have her insist they needed to come off when she couldn't pick up her ball with them on. Such is the way a toddler's mind works. Once outside Zoe was having too much fun to be concerned with the chill in the air. It was more than just 'brisk," and so we didn't stay out long.
These photos, however, were taken yesterday (Sunday) when it was considerably warmer. Note that Zoe is sporting one of her new silly faces. Daddy taught her that one. This time he can't argue with me that she is showing her "McIntyre side."

She loves to run around on the grass and chase and kick her ball, talk to the cows through the fence, and rearrange the rocks. She only recently discovered the rocks and tends to be quite content to pick rocks out of the rock bed and proclaim each and every one to be a "Rock!" before sentencing it to a pile somewhere on the cement pad by the back door. I think she had about four piles going simultaneously yesterday. You can't spend time with a toddler without rediscovering the joys and fascinations of the simple things in life.

Great Aunt Pat and Great Uncle Ron will probably be pleased to see that Zoe still cannot go anywhere without her beloved hat. If we make it outside without it, Zoe puts her hands up on her head and says "Hat!" over and over again until we obtain the hat and put it on her head in it's rightful spot. It's been a part of her daily outdoor (and sometimes indoor) attire for the past year.

Posts yet to come (when I can find the time)include a description of Zoe's ability to find all kinds of excuses why it is not time for "nap" or "night night" and an explanation as to why we have an inflatable toddler swimming pool in the middle of our living room.

"Castles!"

Saturday was another trip to the park to run in the grass, feed the ducks and geese, swing, and something new...sand!
As Zoe first began stomping around in the sand pit, she announced "No!" We finally figured out that she was saying "Snow." When we told her it was sand, she pondered for a minute before getting busy stirring it with a stick, pressing her fingers into it, and examining the tiny granules. Later, she began saying "Castles!" We had a hard time at first figuring out what she was saying, and then realized that she was associating the sand with the picture of a sandcastle in one of her favorite picture books. She stayed busy playing with the "castles" for quite some time, transferring the sand to a pile on a swing, digging and gripping and grabbing and dropping it, wiping her hands repeatedly on her overalls, and excitedly telling anyone who came near her about the "castles." By the time we got her herded back into the family-mobile, she was covered from head to toe with "castles." It was another day full of toddler adventure.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Bragging Rights

I really hate it when parents brag excessively about their kids. On the other hand, this is Zoe's site, and by default this is my bragging platform, so hold onto your hats....

Before Zoe was born I signed up for visits from the local Parents as Teachers (PAT) chapter. For those unfamiliar with it, this is a service paid for by taxes generated for the public school system. The PAT person visits parents and children in their homes to ensure proper child development and school readiness and avoid learning delays and/or recognize and begin counteracting learning delays as soon as possible.

Last week the PAT lady came. She brought with her all her literature about what Zoe should be doing between the ages of 14 and 24 months. First she got out her plastic pretend picnic, which consisted of little plastic plates, silverware and food items. The point was to engage in a pretend play picnic. Zoe was able to enjoy pointing out the "apple" "banana" and "corn" without any prompting, then went on to describe the spoons as "purple," the dishes as "lellow," and the apple as "red." The PAT lady was a bit taken aback as she stated, "We don't start working on colors until at least 24 months."

Next, she got out her shape sorter. It had a circle, a square, and a triangle. Zoe has one of these of her own, which also has a star. She questioned if Zoe could figure out the shapes. Zoe squealed "Oh!" before getting to work. She then picked up the circle and announced "Blue circle!" before dropping it into the correct spot. Then she grabbed the square and announced "Green square!" and placed it correctly in the square opening. This continued until all the shapes were correctly deposited, at which point she began looking around. I presume she was trying to figure out where the stars were, as she can correctly label the "Lellow stars" and correctly deposit them into her own shape sorter. The PAT lady simply said, "Well, she's got that covered."

Next, the PAT lady said, "Is she beginning to label body parts?" I was thinking to myself, she's been doing that since at least 12 months of age, but I kept my mouth shut. I said to Zoe, "Where's your knees?" To which Zoe promptly uncurled her legs and straightened them out, tapped her knees one at a time, and matter-of-factly stated "Knees!" "Well..." the PAT lady said, "We are usually only beginning to work on eyes and nose and stuff like that at this point. The harder ones like knees and elbows and such come later." "Oh!" I said, (not wanting to disappoint her), "well, we can do those, too." And Zoe then correctly labeled her eyes, ears, and nose (and hair, head, eyebrows, teeth, tongue.......).

The PAT lady next questioned whether Zoe was beginning to imitate any animal sounds. "Oh, yes!" I said. And Zoe then was able to correctly name the following animal and make the corresponding animal sounds: "Cow: moo; Pig: oink; Horse, naaay; Duck: quack; Rooster: ooh ah ooh ah ooh; Cat: neow; Dog: woof woof; Sheep: baaaa; and Lion: roar!" I forgot to remind Zoe of the frog and the bird, to which she can attribute "croak" and "tweet tweet" respectively. Nevertheless, the PAT lady was more than satisfied, and even quite impressed. She left commenting that, although only 18 months old, Zoe appears to have met and exceeded the typical 24 month milestones.

We agreed to meet again in about 5 weeks so Zoe could impress the pants off her some more!

To Pee or Not to Pee...

...that IS the question!

For those interested in the potty training progress, here is an update (Warning: more talk of bodily functions, elimination, and the like is about to follow).

Zoe did very well for a couple days, producing a "pee pee" or a "poo poo" practically every time she was offered the chance to sit on her mini "throne." She loved the sticker incentive, and each time she earned one she couldn't wait to go find Daddy and show him her new award for good "achievment." Then, for whatever reason, she began to lose interest, refusing to use the potty or saying "no" to my suggestion of using it only to grunt out a "poo poo" or wet her diaper minutes later. Just as I was at the decision to wait awhile longer before continuing the training process, Zoe marched up to me, grinned widely, and innocently said "Pee pee!?" as if both announcing and asking the question at the same time. Of course, I was excited, as this was the first time she actually let me know ahead of time that she needed to go. I immediately dropped everything I was involved in (preparing dinner), snatched her up, and raced up the stairs to her potty chair, tearing off her clothing as we went. Upon sitting her on the throne, she quickly relieved her little bladder, and I thought she must be ready for this after all.

Then another regression into non-interest. I would sit her on the chair where she would perch and grin at me for a couple minutes. Then she would shake her head and say "No" and get up and wander about, naked buns and all. I would diaper her back up only to have her fill her pants a couple minutes later. So I again decided she just isn't ready for this step yet. Later, she would excitedly say "Chair! Chair!" (which is one way she has begun to let me know she needs to use her potty chair) and I would race her there only to find it was too late. Even still, I thought her ability to make this connection suggested she could be ready.

Currently, however, I have decided she is just not quite ready. We've had an entire day or two of not wanting to use the potty, with one episode in which I suggested she could earn a sticker if she pottied in her chair--at which she appeared to intentionally produce a stream into her chair as if no big deal and well worth the impending sticker. (...well...perhaps ready after all?)

Nevertheless, the majority of the time the past couple of days she sits on the chair long enough to insist that I remove every stitch of clothing from her waist down, including her socks. Try to reason with an 18 month old that it is not necessary for one to remove one's socks in order to take a whiz. Though I actually have managed to distract her enough to avoid having to remove her socks every time, she definitely does not like having her little ankles encumbered by wadded up clothing. So, for the sake of not losing the true focus of producing a tinkle, off the britches come. I think lately she wants to use the potty only because she has learned that if she bolts fast enough after getting re-diapered she can run around without pants for awhile, which she seems to greatly enjoy. Recently she has taken to running around in her diaper and pulling all the clothes out of her dresser drawers while dancing around with them, doing a funny little wiggle two-step sort of dance, while the clothing she is grasping brushes against her naked legs. I guess she likes how that feels. She has even requested that I remove her pants when not in the midst of a potty chair episode so she can enjoy engaging in this semi-naked sort of jig.

I could push her more towards becoming potty trained...try using training pants, those "wet sensation" pull ups, or some other such thing, but what's the big hurry? She's only 18 months old. I really didn't intend for it to happen this soon anyway. I just thought I would put her on the chair and see what happened, and well, it didn't take much for her to figure out the mechanisms of the whole deal. It was reminiscent of the first time I put her to bed in her crib instead of her bassinet while secretly hoping she wouldn't allow it. I confess, I want to keep her tied tightly to my apron strings, yet I never want to hold her back from any adventure she is ready for. I want to let her take the lead in letting me know what she is ready for next, yet I also want to gently push her to reach her full potential. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know we're only talking about potty training here, and she IS only 18 months old, but this must be some of that "bittersweet" feeling that parents rxperience as they watch their kids grow up too fast. I've a feeling that potty training is only the start and there will be much more of this as the years fly by.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Ceremonial First Poop!

Forgive me for the graphic nature of this post. I never understood all the proud parent talk about bowel movements and other bodily functions of their children until I became a Mommy myself. Now when I pick Zoe up from my Mom's after she's spent the day there, it is natural for me utter such questions as "Did she take a good nap?" "Did she eat good?" "Did she have some poopy diapers?" "Is she constipated?" Yes, much as I hate to admit, there has been much analyzing of poop since Zoe's birth.

Today was yet another milestone within the framework of the poop topic around our house. I've been wondering if Zoe might be ready to start potty training. The experts say that when your child uses "bathroom words" that he/she may be ready. Zoe has begun to say "stinky" when we acknowledge the likelihood that our sniffers are detecting a poopy diaper. Then she will sometimes follow up by exclaiming "Poopy!" and heading for the stairs so we can take her up to change her. She also says "Potty." So, I figured it was worth a try. After all, Mom claims I was potty trained at 18 months. Today, after Zoe's nap, I tried to put her on the chair every couple hours. The typical order of events included putting her on the chair while she wiggled and squirmed and stood up several times, her bare buns hanging out, then giving up after several minutes and putting her britches back on. Somewhere between the hour and half after putting the britches back on and trying again to sit her on the potty chair, she would manage to empty the contents of bladder or bowels in her diaper. On the third try, however, she was quite content to sit and play while perched upon her "throne." We sat about eight minutes before the gleeful event occured. There was much excitement from proud parents and child alike as we peered into the pan of the potty chair and admired the ceremonial turd.

Oh, the interesting direction our lives have gone since Zoe joined the family. We used to get excited over a relaxing weekend that included time in front of the tube, a trip to the movies, or a tasty dinner in a public restaurant. Now we get excited over our toddler's first "event" in her potty chair. How does the old song go..."To everything, there is a season...." Ah well...there's just nothing else in the world like being a parent of a toddler.

New Wagon

Zoe can't get enough of her new wagon. She can't decide if she likes to ride in the wagon or walk best, so we do a bit of both each time we go out. We often walk two miles at a time when it is warm enough. Zoe has actually walked nearly a mile of the distance on her own two little legs before accepting a ride in the wagon.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

"Oink!"

Sometimes I'm amazed at the quantity of food one little 18 month old girl can pack away. A couple days ago she decided that for lunch she would eat healthy portions of hamburger, cottage cheese, applesauce, and peas. And that was just for warm up. Then she spied a loaf of bread and made it known she wanted some of that next. As she finishing off an entire slice I teased her about being a "little piggy." Her little jaws were chomping away, but after my remark she paused and appeared to contemplate what I had said. Then, with a mouthful of bread, she stated back to me "Piggy!" as if to say "You bet I am!" I grinned at her, amused. She flashed back one of her notorious grins that is practically too big for her face before adding a very matter of fact, "Oink!"

No self-esteem problems here!

Random Zoe Pics and Quips


Zoe loves getting mail! Thanks to everyone who sent her letters and treats for Valentine's Day. Zoe's Great Aunt Pat managed to find her another notoriously unique gift in the trademark color purple. Zoe was fascinated as she opened it. She peered into the box and exclaimed "Monkey!" before pulling it out and then she changed her mind and squealed "Bug!" She later modified it and pronounced it (correctly, I might add) as "Purple Bug!" Great Aunt Pat and Uncle Ron also sent a rather noisy book of pets each making their own pet noises. Zoe loves this book! As you can see in the above photo, she is concentrating hard on singing along!

Zoe gathered a few greenbacks from endearing relatives for Valentine's Day and added those to the stash she's collected over the past few months. Many of Zoe's doting family members tend to find any excuse to slip her a gift, treat, or $5 or $10 bill. She saved enough up to pay about half the cost of a new red wagon she's had her eye on (Mommy and Daddy matched her contribution). Zoe is having a great time riding in her new Radio Flyer. Pictures of this are yet to come, btw. I am back to walking my two mile loop on warm enough days while Zoe rides in the wagon part of the time and walks with me the other part. She can't decide which she enjoys more (riding in her new wagon or walking) but judging by the squeals of excitement, I'd say she is enjoying either choice. She also loves to run tumble bumble around the grass in the backyard, squealing, giggling, yelling, dancing and twirling. I think this little girl is going to love spring!

Zoe wishes to thank everyone for making her Valentine's Day extra sweet!

Monday, February 07, 2005

"Walk!"

Zoe must have walked five miles last Saturday. We had a bit of early spring fever, what with the sun shining and the temps in the 60's and all. Zoe has found quite a lot of delight in working the treads off her new "speed racer" tennis shoes. Grandpa H stirred this passion in his granddaughter one day when he took her out for a walk of the non-stroller type. Now Zoe frequently pleades "Papa...walk" and stands squirming about at the door like a puppy who can't wait to go outside and wee.

Friday afternoon I took her to the park and she wandered in circles and squealed "Yellow!" and "Purple!" at the slides (which were, indeed, yellow and purple in color). She was also quite excited over the giant fish-shaped piece of climbing equipment and exclaimed "Fishy!" each time she passed by it.

Saturday, morning was the weekly family outing to the "Stuff-Mart" and upon our return, Zoe pleaded "Walk! Walk!" and so I let her down in the diveway while Dear Hubby went to work unloading all the stuff we bought at the "Stuff-Mart." Zoe took off down the road and trekked all the way around the block. She would have gone further if I'd let her. Following lunch, she refused her nap (something she hasn't done in quite a while) and so we gave up and went to the park to chase the duckies and walk and walk and walk...and walk...and walk. What fun it was to dance on the crunchy grass and watch our feet as we went in circles and zig zags...giggling, toddling, squealing, and meandering. Dear Hubby and I have become aware of the fact that we've grown fat and lazy and left the energy of our 20's too far behind us. Zoe will either keep us young or she will be the death of us!

After quite a long time of this fun at the park, Zoe was more than unhappy to get packed back into the family-mobile to head home. We distracted her with a stop at the local Wendy's to get a frosty. She ate the entire "junior" size cup on her own. And then, upon our return home, with a chocolate mustache still lingering around her precious little lips, Zoe began squealing "Walk! Walk!" as soon as the tires found the driveway. Upon letting her down in the driveway again, she toddled off at break-neck speed, sqealing and giggling and looking over her shoulder as if to plead "C'mon! Let's go!" And so the Old Man and I rustled up the energy to take another walk--this time around TWO blocks. The one with the littlest legs toddled twice as quickly as the adults wished to stroll in spite of the fact that it takes two or three or four of her little steps to meet the distance of a single adult stride. I think she could have gone for hours.

Naturally, having missed her afternoon nap, Miss Zoe zonked out in her daddy's arms while watching her Baby Einstein video at 6 pm. This is the kiss of death (for the wee one to fall asleep at such late hour), as even just a 10 minute power nap means Zoe will be up until midnight. Way past the Old Folks' bedtime, even on a weekend. Sure enough, there was no waking her. During the donning of the clean diaper and fuzzy jammies, the wee one awakened. And wide awake she was. Try as I might, she would not go to sleep. Sitting in the dark, rocking and cuddling were not helping. The wee one kept mentioning such things as "Fishies" (her term for her goldfish crackers), "Cheese" "Noonles" and "Eat." I tried to ignore it, as she was being so nonchalant. But wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, and squirm...she wasn't even trying to go to sleep. I finally said "Zoe!" to which she stopped, motionless, and then peered up at me with that pitiful little "Am I in trouble?" expression. Of course, I melted. What began as scolding finished coming out as the weary question, "...are you hungry?" She practically leaped out of the chair squealing "Fishies!"

And so we found ourselves at 8 pm with Zoe back in her highchair and the adults stationed around her, bringing her the foods of her requests. ...we started with noodles, moved on to fishies, and topped it all off with some cheese. Next, the wee one with the bulging belly decided she was revved up from a brief power nap and food in her tummy, and she began pulling all her toys back out of the toy box. Dear Hubby and I eyed the couch longingly, fantasizing about (yeah, right, get yer heads out of the gutter) watching tv like a couple of couch potatoes.

I don't recall what time the wee one with the most energy finally retired for the night. By the time we finally got her there, the Old Folks were yawning and rubbing their eyes and thinking that crawling into bed and going to sleep sounded like a better plan than vegging on the couch.

I'm mildly concerned at this stage. The wee one is only 18 months old, and the Old Folks are already exhausted. I wonder if we could teach the wee one to push the Old Folks in the stroller?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Just When I Think it Can't Get Any Better...


...it does!

Anyone who tells you that being a Mommy is easy is either lying or delusional. This Mommy thing is, in fact, the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. It's much much harder than graduate school was. Many people told me in the beginning to enjoy these early years because they go by so fast. Indeed, I have treasured every moment (well, except for some of those moments when I had to fight Dear Daughter over naptime...and discovered that Dear Daughter inherited Dear Mommy's stubbornness).

From the very beginning (or at least from the point that the initial shock of the whole birth ordeal wore off) I was aware that the time was going fast. I cried when Dear Daughter, not yet three months old, had outgrown her bassinet by my bedside. As I put her to bed in her crib for the first time, I secretly hoped she would not tolerate it and would insist on sleeping at my bedside a little longer. She did just fine, however, and even slept through the night. I, on the other hand, was up every hour on the hour making the trek to her bedroom to check on her. Each time I discovered she was doing just fine, and I was both relieved and sad at the same time. I left the bassinet by my bedside for another three weeks before moving it to the foot of the bed for another three weeks. Eventually I conceded and packed it away in the closet, painfully aware that this meant that Dear Daughter would never again sleep in it and at three months of age was already "growing up."

By the time Dear Daughter was four months old I was fantasizing about a day when I might again get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep, yet at the same time I treasured those four o'clock feedings and the moments sitting in the dark alone with my tiny daughter. Soon enough, I knew, they too would be gone forever like the bassinet to the back of the closet. During those quiet moments in the wee hours, cuddling my daughter close, I thought to myself "It just doesn't get any better than this!"

By the time Dear Daughter reached six months of age and was becoming quite interactive, giggling frequently, and bouncing wildly in her excersaucer, I said to anyone who would listen (and many people who weren't listening), "This is the best age!" A friend told me "Just wait; it gets better!" I wondered if it really could, but of course I also secretly hoped that we hadn't indeed hit the apex of the best of times at the six month mark and that it would all be down hill from here. I proudly admitted that I was thoroughly enmeshed with my daughter, and that I was enjoying every moment of this amazing love affiar.

Then one day Dear Daughter looked at me with her big blue eyes and, for the first time, called me "Mama." At that moment I realized that my friend was right; it does get better. And months later when Dear Daughter began the games of hide and seek, ducking behind the couch, squealing excitedly, daring me to come find her, it got even better again.

Recently, when I thought that her bursting vocabularly of words like "precia" (precious) and "kisses" simply HAD to be the epitomy of as good as it gets, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that yet again I was wrong. I had begun referring to her impending nap as "snuggle time." It is a time that we read some books before snuggling up together with her taggie book and her blankie and rock to sleep. A couple weeks ago I made my usual reference to "snuggle time" and Dear Daughter (who had never yet uttered the word "snuggle") looked up at me with those big blue eyes, grinned, clasped her hands under her chin, and charmingly inquired, "'Nuggle?" Of course, I melted into a sappy puddle as I thought to myself, "There is just absolutely NO WAY it can get better than THIS!"

Yes, Mommyhood is the hardest job I think I'll ever have. Much tougher than my part time job of teaching college coursework. Much tougher than my other part time job doing therapy with angry, oppositional, sometimes physically violent teenagers. I've turned down half a dozen potentially great career moves since Dear Daughter was born because I recognize that being a Mommy is the best job in the world. I know I can never put my Mommyhood experience on my resume (and have anyone take me seriously). And that doctorate I would love to earn...well, that will have to wait. In spite of the fact that our culture will never recognize it as such, I know without a doubt, that spending my days singing nursery rhymes and playing hide and seek around the couch with my little girl is the best investment of my time. And as I snuggle up with my daughter everyday, rocking her to sleep, I just can't help thinking to myself, "It just can't get any better than this!"