Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Proof that every kid, no matter how sweet, is a manipulative little twerp

My friend Jessie watched the girls tonight while Scott and I went out for the evening — chamber music played by the Pacifica Quartet and dessert at Gullifty's, a Pittsburgh institution with acceptable food and out-of-this-world desserts. It was wonderful, really wonderful, especially the part when we realized that Janáček's "Intimate Letters" quartet is a stalker piece. (I knew the title referred to love letters he'd written, but didn't know she was 40 years his junior and there were 700 letters over a ten-year period. Creepy. And kudos to the Pacifica for the fabulous interpretation.) And then we came home and saw that the light in Beth's bedroom was still on. At 11:30.

It occurred to us that though we'd given Jessie a quick rundown on Beth's bedtime routine, we'd neglected to mention that she protests being put in her crib every night and yells about it for a good thirty seconds after we've left the room. It's just a protest on principle; she goes to sleep almost immediately. But Jessie didn't know this, and Beth figured it out fast.

Sorry, Jessie. You've been played. By a not-quite-two-year-old.

Sigh. And she'd been so cute earlier in the day. I was feeding Sarah, and Beth was attending to her own important agenda while wearing her piggy ears, and she ended up putting two of Sarah's stuffed animals on their backs on the couch, pulling out two size 1 diapers, and pretending to change the animals' diapers. So cute. Her afternoon snack (airplane-shaped crackers my dad nabbed from his flight last week) was a hit: she polished off the bowl I'd given her and asked for "Mosh airplane crackers please o-kay" in her low-pitched little voice. And when we went to the playground with friends this morning she scaled the slides and then slid down on her tummy over and over again.

Sarah's going to learn how to do the play-the-babysitter thing too, I'm sure. Right now she's sweet and calm and watchful, but she's changing: there's a sobbing quality to her cry that wasn't there a few days ago, and she's less enthralled (and therefore less easily pacified) by her binky than she has been. She has a big sister who can't wait to teach her absolutely everything, and Sarah will soak it up like a sponge.

Friday, March 23, 2007

This just in: farm overrun by kitty cats

My dad's in town, and we both love to shop at outlet malls, so yesterday he and I took the girls up to the outlets at Grove City. It's an hour's drive up there (and right at naptime to boot!) so Beth and Sarah both snoozed on the way up. But once we got there Sarah decided she needed to eat right now! Dad went to get us some lunch, Beth woke up and wanted to know (in a rather panicked little voice) where Grandpa Wes was going, so while I fed Sarah in the front seat Beth and I sang "Old MacDonald Had a Farm."

We've been singing in the car since Bethie was in utero. The songs have changed a bit over time. I don't bother to sing along with the radio any more, and Beth's Top 40 include "If You're Happy and You Know It," "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes," and "Give, Said the Little Stream." Lately, the more interactive the song is, the better it goes over. She likes to think about what the lyrics should be.

I started with a cow (moo, moo here, moo, moo there, yadda yadda) and then asked her what else was on the farm.


"Okay. What does the kitty cat say?"



Old MacDonald had a farm
And on that farm he had a kitty cat
With a 'meow, meow' here, and a 'meow, meow' there
Here a 'meow'
There a 'meow'
Everywhere a 'meow, meow'
Old MacDonald had a farm
And on that farm he had a..."

"Amon ki'cat!"

"Okay, he had another kitty cat..." and I sang the song again. "And on that farm he had a..."

"Um...mama ki'ee cat!"

"Okay, he had a mama kitty cat..." and I sang the song again. More meows.

"Amon mama ki'cat!"

"Another mama kitty cat? Are you sure?"

"Yes!" I sang it again. And again. She eventually threw in a daddy kitty cat, then went back to mama kitty cats. This lasted until Dad came back with a Subway meatball sandwich for the two adults in the car (Beth had eaten at home) and — glorious! — an Orange Julius for me to split with Beth. She was in heaven. So much for fixing the juice addiction.

We did our tour of the outlet mall. I got some good spring clothes, Beth got way-too-cute summer playclothes (how come khaki cargo shorts with flowers embroidered on the pockets don't come in my size?), and Sarah got attention from absolutely everyone who saw us. ("Oh, Martha, look at the little tiny baby! Aww, isn't she sweet!") Sarah took it in stride. I swear she even posed and batted her eyelashes.

By the time we were headed back to Pittsburgh, Sarah had been fed again and Beth was exhausted. And frantic: she'd emit little yelps of "Out! Out!" and "Up! Up!" in the vain hope that we'd stop the car and let her toddle around. So I started singing "The Wheels on the Bus." I went through the wheels that go round and round, the wipers that go swish swish swish, the people who go up and down, and the babies who go "goo goo goo." Then I asked Beth, "What else is on the bus?"



The money on the bus goes clink, clink, clink,
Clink, clink, clink,
Clink, clink, clink.
The money on the bus goes clink, clink, clink,
All through the town.

"What else is on the bus, Bethie?"

"Um...ki'ee cat!"

Here we go again. This went on for miles. I started varying what the mama kitty cats said: less "meow, meow, meow" and more "Wash your paws." Then we switched back to "Old MacDonald" and it it kept going. Kitty cats. Mama kitty cats. More mama kitty cats. (My dad's comment was, "Some tomcat's sure been busy on that farm.") Beth was delighted. So was her grandpa.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Night-night time

Scott usually puts Beth to bed, but we switched kids tonight. I should definitely do this more often, because after we've read books and said prayers and put saline drips in her nose it's prime one-on-one chat time. Here's what I learned about Beth tonight as we chatted:
  1. Her favorite book is Ballerina! by Peter Sís.

  2. She loves Baby Sarah.

    "Why do you love Baby Sarah, Bethie?"

    "Bu'fly mat." The butterfly gymini-type mat is a huge hit with both girls. Beth loves playing on it with Sarah.

  3. She wants to have hair like Mama's when she's older.

  4. Beth loves Mama, Daddy, Baby Sarah, and her two stuffed Pooh bears, "Big Pooh" and "Baby Pooh," both of which, coincidentally, were gifts from Sister Eror at church. (When prompted, she admitted that she also loves her grandparents, her aunts and uncles, and her six cousins.)

  5. She's very excited to have her cousin Hannah come visit next weekend.

  6. Her favorite thing that we did today? Play with "Baby Sa'a." Never mind that we went out to lunch with one of my friends, that she got to watch a whole bunch of TV shows (yep, it was one of those days), and that she had strawberries — strawberries! — for dinner. This kid loves her little sister.

I love talking with Bethie. She's such a sweet little girl, such a good conversationalist, such a fun friend. How did I survive before she came along?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I know this will horrify my husband — the guy who likes the drugged-out-and-enigmatic later-years Beatles — but my favorite, favorite Beatles song is "Here Comes the Sun." It just makes me happy. So does actual live sun, so getting outside today after a horrible and tearful morning helped tremendously.

One of these days I'm going to have to compile a blog must: a "100 things I love" list. It isn't going to happen today. But on the list I'll have to put "unexpected sunny days in early spring," "my tandem stroller," and "lunch with friends after storytime."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Potty time

Beth, Beth, the amazing girl Beth! She used the potty yesterday. Actually sat down and waited for a few minutes and then peed right into her little potty.

Okay, so it wasn't exactly a picnic — the whole thing started when she woke up yesterday morning and I was changing her diaper (as she was standing up, insistent girl) and she let a few dribbles onto the floor. Eww. I got another diaper and held it under her, but as soon as I asked, "Do you want to go do this in the potty?" she trotted off to the bathroom quite happily. Yeeha. She got a sticker. She gets a sticker every time she sits on the potty, whether it's a productive sit or not. We've used up a whole row of puffy sea creature stickers this way.

Is every little kid as fascinated with stickers as Beth is? She loves the fact that they, well, stick. She'll stick one onto something — usually her shirt — and then, after a "Look at me!" grin, immediately pull it off and stick it someplace else. Ten minutes later all the stickiness is gone and the poor bedraggled sticker is covered with fibers from clothes, the couch, the carpet and goodness knows what else. These little puffy stickers have taken it especially hard — they're little, for starters, and Beth can't seem to let them go. I don't know if they're so very enchanting because they're puffy and sparkly (could be?) or if it's because she earned them by sitting on the potty.

I'd love to get inside her little head and figure it out, because the things she does that seem weird and random to me apparently make perfect sense to her: the mattress in the doll cradle goes on top of the stuffed animals, for example. Yesterday she climbed up on her stepstool and emptied everything out of the kitchen utensil drawer, starting with the baby spoons and measuring spoons and working through meat thermometers (how did we end up with three of them?), the nutmeg grater, and eventually a bunch of knives that I thought were safely hidden in the back (guess not). She was good about the knives — carefully handed each of them to me with a serious, "Thank you, Mama" — before pulling out the wire organizer baskets at the bottom of the drawer. Okay, I thought, she emptied a drawer. Good for her. Then she trundled off to the living room and brought back Regina the frog princess and one of Sarah's diapers, placed them up on the counter next to the pile of utensils, looked at them all with a pleased little expression on her face, then wandered off to do something else. I was left with the inverse of the Sesame Street puzzle: not "one of these things is not like the others" but "what on earth do these things have in common?" I'm still wondering.

Speaking of...we checked the "Elmo's Potty Time" DVD out of the library last week, and I sat Beth in front of it this morning while I took a shower. It wasn't the same format as Sesame Street, so she was a little weirded out. I watched the very end of it with her. Guess what? It's "brought to you by the letter P and the number 2." Heaven help us.