Tuesday, February 19, 2008

It's official: she's a toddler

Seriously, Sarah's walking. All by herself. She has an adorable routine that she goes through to stand up: she does a perfect downward-facing dog, then moves into a squat, then powers up to a stand. Her leg muscles are enormous. Then, grinning like a pint-sized maniac, she takes a few steps — actually, more than a few now! — and beams us a triumphant look when she either gets to where she was going or loses her balance and sits down. It's great.

Anyway, I offer evidence from yesterday morning:

Beth had just had me read her Fancy Nancy — again — and decided she needed to be fancy, ergo the dress-ups. It was about all we could do to get Sarah to keep the hair bow in. Though, come to think of it, later in the day she decked herself out in a feather boa and refused to take it off.

But the walking! She does it without coaxing, without a need for fanfare, and purely for the enjoyment of it. She can make it all the way across the room if she decides to, drunken-sailor fashion, and she's much steadier if she has something in her hand.

She's always had a great little booty dance, but it's even better seeing it out in the middle of the floor, where she isn't holding onto someone's hand or a piece of furniture. This is also the first footage I have of Beth dancing that isn't her twirlng around in a circle. I so can't wait to see these kids when they're going to junior high dances!

Okay, that's it with the videos. I'm torturing you all, I know. (Unless you happen to be a grandparent, in which case I'm guessing this post gets e-mailed to your 40 closest friends.)

Monday, February 11, 2008

The playhouse has a chimney, and two butterflies painted on the roof

Beth and I made our first preschool visit today (and have two more lined up this week, after which I think I'm calling it quits). The school is terrific — orderly cubbies with the kids' pictures on them, lots of activity tables, slightly granola-ish looking helpful parent volunteers and cheerful, cooperative children. A playhouse with a chimney! Homemade pink play dough with sparkles in it! Kids (in a preschool version of a Groundhog Day hangover) experimenting with flashlights and boxes to cast shadows on the floor! I loved it. Beth didn't want to go home.


Remember my post last week when I worried about being a hovering, pushy and over-involved parent? When I thought that my concerns about my kid's academic career might be a bit over-the-top (not to mention premature)? These parents make me look like a real piker. Compared to them, I'm a laissez-faire, let-my-kid-play-in-the-street kind of mom.

Oh, and Beth is wait-listed (wait-listed, mind you!) at this preschool. We didn't jump on the ball fast enough. 'Sokay, one of the other schools I'm visiting this week definitely still has openings. But still!

Okay, on to other, less peevish thoughts. Sarah's figured out that she can climb onto one of the chairs in the living room, and she is So. Proud. Of. Herself. She's also taking actual steps between her parents (and sometimes Beth), from chair to couch, grinning the whole time. Her balance has gotten noticeably better in the past three days. Yikes! She walks really well holding onto my finger. She stands up unassisted and stays there for a few moments before plopping back down on her (by now) rather well-cushioned tuckus.

Tonight I was lying on the floor, trying to entice her to come over and climb on my back so I could give her a horsey ride. Nope, nothing doing. She came over, put one hand on my shoulder, then leaned down so her face was right next to mine and said, "Haaaah!"

"Hi, Sarah!"

"Haaaah!" Big smile.



Delicious child.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

One in the hand

Occasionally I'll find Beth wandering around the house with her two little empty hands cupped in front of her.

"What are you carrying, Bethie?"

"Princesses! This is Ariel" — she holds out one hand — "and this is her fish Flounder" — holding out the other hand.

She'll talk to Ariel and Flounder, and apparently they talk back, and all's well until she has to do something that involves using her hands, such as putting on her coat or eating. Then she carefully tucks them into her pockets, goes about her business, and if she remembers she pulls them back out to continue the conversation.

I'm tempted to get her some little pocket-sized Disney princesses to carry around, but I like the imaginary version so much that I think I'll put that off for a while.

Friday, February 08, 2008

"The crocodidle was scary, so I keeped my penny."

That was Beth's take on the Rainforest Cafe. We were walking around the mall today with two other moms and their kids, and the kids were entranced with the animatronic animals and had to go see them. Josh and Kay were fine with the big crocodile and even threw pennies in the water to make wishes, but no way was Beth going to go near that thing. She tucked her penny safely in her coat pocket. But she's in looooove with the gigantic butterfly flapping its wings on the restaurant roof.

The mall walk was a totally impromptu thing that evolved out of a much-needed (and almost canceled) playdate, and it sounds nice and lively and fun (and it was), but there's a darker side: all three of us confessed to being absolutely stir-crazy and desperately needing interaction with other adults. Boston's a great town, but winter lasts For. Ever. and is horribly, bitterly cold. So we all sat there while the kids ate their Chick-Fil-A meals (still the best fruit cup out there in the fast-food world) and told each other how hard it's been. I'm the lucky one: I see my husband every night. (I've also weaned Sarah and have no plans to be pregnant any time soon, so with any luck at all I can go back on my antidepressant/Ritalin cocktail that so effectively managed my ADD. But I digress.) Scott doesn't travel for work, and he doesn't have 80-hour work weeks, and he's usually home for dinner and putting the girls to bed. So I'm not as alone as many of the women I know are. But it's still hard being in a new town where I still don't really feel connected to people yet, and where the weather is a pretty good barricade to getting outside and doing things. The fact that I have two small kids and need twenty minutes of concentrated attention (without Ritalin) to get them ready and outside and bundled in the car doesn't make it any easier.

Someday, we told each other, our kids will be in school. They will be able to dress themselves and feed themselves. They won't climb on us all day long. But until then we must keep each other sane.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Some Sarah pictures, birthday and otherwise...

Sarah decided to take a nap one day at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Just put her head down on a doll and conked out. She loves that doll. It's nearly identical to Baby Josie, the baby doll she got for Christmas. I'll find her sitting in the living room hugging Baby Josie, then holding her out at arm's length, then hugging her again. Like this:

Sarah's birthday party at Grandma's was a hit too...especially the cupcakes!

And the tutu from Aunt Gigi was, of course, delightful:

Last night we finally had a mini-party for her here. She opened presents from Beth (a bathtub book), and Grandma and Grandpa Boss (that's a Raggedy Ann doll getting loves from Sarah),

and a tunnel from us. Both the girls think it's great. Beth crawled in it today and said, "This is my cocoon!"

Monday, February 04, 2008

Parental involvement

Beth is turning three soon (if you ask her when her birthday is, she says, "Coming up in April!"), so I just sent applications in to two preschools. One is run by the local school district, is relatively cheap (about $2,000 for a three-day program — and yes, if you haven't looked into preschool costs recently, that's cheap), and therefore has an abundance of applicants and will be selecting kids on a lottery basis. The other is more expensive, but it's just a few blocks away and is a co-op preschool. I like the idea of a co-op — I went to a co-op elementary school and having my dad in the classroom once a week made things comfortable. He knew my teachers, he knew the other kids, he knew what went on in class. Coming home and telling my family about my day wasn't like telling them about a foreign country.

I bring this up because I know a few people who are much less concerned about the preschool thing than I am. Scott has said a few times that since he didn't attend preschool, it wouldn't even have occurred to him to find one for Beth. As for me, it's been on my mind since I was about two months pregnant with her. I researched preschools in Pittsburgh, knowing that we wouldn't be there when she was old enough to start. I read the Boston Magazine best preschools issue (and hyperventilated at the waiting lists and the prices). I talked to other parents about their preschool experiences. I even wondered (very briefly, mind you) if we should do the Waldorf route and whether giving up TV and our beloved Fisher-Price plastic toys might not be better for the girls in the long run.

Now, does this make me a) responsible and forward-thinking, or b) hovering, pushy and over-involved?

Before you go ahead and say, "Libby! Gosh! Of course you're responsible and forward-thinking! Not a weird helicopter parent at all!" consider this: last night there was an open meeting at the local elementary school about various elementary-school-related issues, including the full-day kindergarten proposal and the town's plans to build a new elementary school to replace the one where the girls will go (which was originally built as the high school in the 1930s). As soon as I heard about this meeting, I planned on going to it. To find out who is for and against the full-day kindergarten, and why. To find out what the school construction timeline looks like, and (if it will overlap my kids' attendance at the school) where they'll be sending the kids during construction. To put in my two cents about things, if I felt so moved.

And the only reason I didn't end up going — and ended up making a much-needed Costco run for diapers instead — was that I realized it was just a bit silly for a parent of a not-quite-three-year-old to show up at a meeting about issues that had already been decided (face it, most public meetings are for information-sharing and grievance-airing, not for actual decisions) and decided in a way I was pretty okay with. Beth (and probably Sarah too) will do fine in full-day kindergarten. We need a new school, and chances are that if it's built while my kids are there they will be well taken care of. There are architects' plans already on file. People in the neighborhood have been thinking (and presumably arguing) about these things for years.

Mind you, once my kids are in school, I'll probably be the parent who shows up at all the school board meetings. I'll just wait until they're school-age so it doesn't look quite so weird.