Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A letter to my youngest daughter

Sweet Isabel,
I want to remember, for always, the way your tiny body tucks into mine, so that your knees press against my stomach and your hands are at my neck. I adore the sweet milky smell you still have - that ancient hallmark of an infant. I love how your peach fuzz hair stands on end after a nap, giving you a startled look as you smile up at me from your crib. You are a miracle to behold - each day you discover something new about yourself - this week you have found your tongue and nothing could make you happier than to blow raspberries and attempt to lick everyone within arms reach. The week before it was your toes - your whole goal seemed to be to fit all ten in your mouth at once (I think your personal best was 7). I love how excited you are to see me when I come into a room, how your eyes light up and your whole body vibrates in anticpation of being held. I want to remember for a lifetime the way you look up at me from my arms, your eyes alight with love and joy.

I am so honored to love and know you,

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A letter to my eldest daughter

Dearest Abigail:
There are so many things I want to remember about you, now, at this age. There is the way you suddenly fling yourself at me and wrap your arms as tight as you can around my neck and whisper into my ear "I love you, mommy," or the way you snuggle up next to me when I read you a story that warms my heart. There are a thousand memories that I want to store forever, to hold and cherish of you, because this time is all to fleeting - I can see that. I love how when I come home I can hear you careening around the house aiming for the back door screaming "Mommy's home! Mommy's home!" at the top of your lungs - and of course the way you graciously reintroduce me to our family ("this is Daddy, that's Izzy") as though I have been gone years, not hours. I love your unexpected quips: I ask you if a new pair of sun glasses look good and you say "you really look like a bug, Mommy" or when you patiently ask Daddy and I to come to the living room "so the rain can start" (I don't pretend to always understand). Each day is an adventure and it makes me stand in awe of you, of what you know and what you are capable of learning and how new the world still is for you. You have taught me so much in so little time: to dance even when there's no music, to sing even if you don't know all the words, and to laugh just to hear the sound.

Thank you sweet pea, for your wisdom and love!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

20 Things I Say Every Day (Abigail)

1. I love you.
2. Good morning
3. Are you hungry/thristy?
4. If you're not going to drink that now can you put it in the fridge?
5. Can I have a hug/kiss?
6. Someone's stinky - who pooed?
7. Yes, I would love to read a book to you!
8. No.
9. Would you like to go on a timeout?
10. I love you!
11. Please stop sitting on your sister.
12. Can you help me pick up the mess?
13. What kind of snack do you want?
14. You're such a good dancer/singer!
15. Mmmm, that's a yummy (plastic) dinner you just made!
16. Are you sleepy?
17. Don't move until Mommy cleans you up!
18. Please stop playing with your food.
19. Can I please change your diaper now?
20. I love you, Princess!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ode to things I rarely use

O towel, my towel, you hang so neatly on the bar,
Your soft fabric so lovingly washed, so neatly folded,
You must think I don't like you - But really, I do!
Do not fear, O towel, my towel!
One day, perhaps soon, both the girls will be napping
and I will find a moment - so brief!
Then I shall need you again, so wait for me,
O towel, my towel.

Dear shower, my shower, you call to me each day,
The dry floor of your tub, so mocking, so lonely
I miss you dearly and long for your spray of hot water,
Dear shower, my shower, If I bathe before bed (when else is there time?)
I will have wasted clean hair on my pillow
Someday I will find time to use you each day -
Dear shower, my shower!

O clothes, my clothes, how I admire you hung in the closet,
I live in pajamas, loose t-shirts and socks,
To feel the stiff fabric of denim - to wear something real,
O clothes, my clothes, how I long for a reason
To cast aside last nights outfit - but what is the use?
Clean clothes but no shower is a fool's errand
O clothes, my clothes!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

You don't say

Watching Abby learn to speak English is both entertaining (as when she manages to come up with completely new pronunciations for words, like bang-bang for band-aid) as well as revealing. If you ever want to know how ridiculous some of the rules of English are, talk to a toddler. They distill out the basic rules of speech: pluralization, verb placement and possessive nouns and then apply them to all situations. Unfortunately they haven't learned yet that English has a tenancy to make very little sense.

Case in point: Abby understands that when you have many of a thing you should place an 's' at the end to signify the plural. This seems easy and straight forward until you encounter such a word as popcorn which to her mind should be 'popcorns' and logically so. Sadly English does not concur. Also a constant plural troublemaker is tracks (as in train tracks). The idea that they are already pluralized does not register with her and therefore she will ask in all earnestness to have you put her train 'trackses' together.

I also get the opportunity to watch her think through a sentence - usually out loud. It's not uncommon for her to stop mid-sentance and start over, the obvious reason being that half way through she realized that she wasn't ever going to get to the end of the sentence the way she ought to. This usually happens when she's trying to use two verbs in a sentence (I want to go outside and blow bubbles) or when she's trying to establish an order of activity appropriately (I want to watch this movie first). It will occasionally begin: "I want to outside" or "I want first." Her face is so expressive at times that I can watch her thoughts play across her face in such situations: first the determination to ask for whatever it is she wants, followed by confusion/consternation when she realizes something is a muck with her sentence structure, then the determination to start over and say it right. She is quite the perfectionist and won't leave off trying to get it right, even if she has to stumble through it 3 times.

Beyond this daily struggle to navigate the spoken word she is also discovering the spoken emotion. There seems to be no real way to explain that emotions are on a grade with hate at one end and love at the other and like somewhere in there, too. To her mind it is all more or less equal. If she doesn't like it, then she must hate it and if she likes it she must therefore love it. An example: yesterday she was standing in the hallway her hand against the newly painted wall when she announced: "I love this wall, Mom!" This was news to me, I wasn't aware that this wall had done anything to merit so strong an opinion from her. (To date she also loves not only the wall but the paint color, various trucks and sundry birds, her diapers, pjs and, of course, her family.) She also freely announces "I hate this rice!" at dinner, which when she eats all of it a moment later makes one wonder what exactly she was trying to convey.

Thought I attempt to help her navigate this strange world of spoken language I know, in the end, it's something that she'll unravel and discover all on her own. I only wish that the few changes she's made would take root; because, really, popcorns does make so much more sense than popcorn!