Sunday, August 31, 2008

Summer Vacation

We have just returned home from more than a week in Minnesota, and I realize this is the longest hiatus I have taken from the blog since it began in May 2007. As with so many things, our trip passed quickly, yet when I think back a whole week to my nephew Finn's 7 1/2 birthday party, or Monday's trip to the State Fair with cousins, Tuesday's pool party with moms Rebecca and Liz and kids Scarlett, Laila, and Owen; Wednesday's underwater exploration at the Mall of America's giant underground aquarium; or even Friday's visit to a playground deemed "chutes and ladders" for it's maze of rope ladders and twisting slides, it all feels light years away. I do know that in our time away, I learned of one engagement and three pregnancies (including my sister-in-law, Nicole's!), and one dear friend gave birth to her first child, a son (mazel tov, Sara and Roy!), showing just how much life can happen in a short span of time.

Such a busy week away also creates a blogger's nightmare: finding yourself way behind, with dozens of photos and anecdotes to share. My pictures are a little spotty, too: one of the drawbacks of having two kids is that you never seem to have a free hand. (Clio is quite a mimic these days, and this notion is confirmed by the fact that she is now always telling me "I have my hands full." I wonder where she hears these things?)

Hopefully several of these outings and stories will get their due over the coming days. We'll see. This trip truly felt like summer vacation, and this week we all go back to school: Clio begins the twos program at Brooklyn Heights Montessori on Thursday, Eleri gives day care a try for a day, and Wednesday evening, I debut my playacting as a "professor" with a class I'm teaching for Creative Time at NYU. Between these new adventures and the demands of a 7-week-old, who knows how frequently I'll find time to escape to the basement to share my musings on parenthood (and gain a little peace of mind)?
What I do know is that it feels like we packed some of the best of summer vacation into one short week, and, happily, I was too busy enjoying it to document those ephemeral favorites like fires in the fire pit, sitting out under the deck late into the night eating ice cream and talking with family, or spinning my daughter round and round in a great expanse of suburban lawn until we both fell down laughing in the late afternoon sun.

I believe that true summer is about being outside as much as possible, and being near the water. Like so many things, my daughter seems to have inherited this belief, too.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Toddler Talk

Same day, different post.

After our adventures on the beach and in the kiddie park, Dave, Peter, Melissa, and I decided to indulge in one last Coney tradition, even though it meant pushing the girls WAY past their naps: hot dogs at Nathan's.

As with so many things in NYC, we were not the only ones with this brilliant idea, and the lines were long, long, long (see that huge crowd at the back of this photo? Yeah, well, that is just one of about 5 lines that head in to the shack). While waiting, Clio and Eva had a little snack, and got into a heated argument about, we think, the nearby trashcan. Melissa and I could not totally understand them (and it was unclear whether they actually understood each other); ultimately, we think they were on the same page: something about how the can was really BIG and full of stuff. There was a lot of gesturing and gesticulating. Check out how animated this discussion got:

And that's the short version- there were about 10 more photos in the series!

Coney Island

On Sunday, we headed down to Coney Island for a day of beach exploration and kiddie rides. It was a gorgeous day, we had the good company of Melissa, Peter, and Eva, and we even found street parking. What could be better? As it turns out, the beach is not so fun with an infant. I insisted that we bring a tent for Eleri to sleep in and to change diapers; not a beach tent, a real, 4-person, actual gone-camping tent. This, as it turned out, was overkill. Not only was Eleri not interested in sleeping in there, but the kids immediately tracked sand in anyway, and there was no way we were changing big wet soggy diapers in there. We got a few looks from other beachgoers, and let me tell you, at Coney Island, home of the speedos-on-senior-citizens, diapers-floating-in-the-water, battling-boom-boxes and so on, that really takes some doing. Also, Clio and Eva were having some trouble sharing beach toys and snacks (they're two, after all), Clio was little afraid of the waves and a lot jealous of the fact that I had to hold Eleri the whole time (with no place to put her down once the tent was rejected), and ultimately threw sand at the both of us. Fun! (Holding the baby the whole time also resulted in no beach photos, but I think you get the picture. You can at least see evidence of the beach- all over Clio's face. Plus, she's sporting her special beach dress, courtesy of Nonny, even after the bathing suit came off). Luckily, Coney Island has many other amusements, and the kiddie park was a tremendous hit. Peter suggested that we start out with a ride that allowed Dave to accompany Clio so she wouldn't be too scared.

No need: she loved it so much she cried when it stopped.
From there, it was a whirlwind of motorcycles, fighter jets (yes, with guns), and flying elephants.

On the little train, the girls decided it would be fun to bite the security ropes. When I looked through the photos, there is no question that Clio is the instigator. Look at her demonstrating for Eva:

As Dave reported, the woman who runs the ride suggested they not do that because, and I quote, "That's nasty!!"

Friday, August 15, 2008

Clio and Connor

Back in October, I wrote a post about my fabulous cousin Connor, which you can re-read here. At the time, Clio was not so sure about him, and, let's be honest, Connor was not so sure about her. I'm happy to report that he came to dinner the other night (and brought delicious cupcakes- thanks, Connor!) and he and Clio got along like the oldest of friends. Clio wanted nothing more than to use his name in every sentence, whether commanding him to do things or basically talking about how great he is to play with.

And again, I have photographic evidence.

Doesn't Clio look delighted?

It's a Sickness

Just last week, I reported that Dave was accusing me of some pathological need to make everything match. I basically dismissed this notion, putting any kind of coordinated outfits down to coincidence. Since then, I've paid a little more attention to what we all have on, and you know what? There may be something to Dave's theory. The other day I was wearing a cantaloupe-colored tank top; Eleri's onesie? Melon and white stripes. Yesterday I noticed that Eleri's onesie and my tank were the exact same shade of robin's egg blue. But the kicker came last night, after we all got caught in the rain and had to change into clean, dry clothes.

Now, there's nothing more "neutral" or "basic" than white, and onesies and wife beaters are both commonly found in white cotton. But if you look really closely, you may be able to tell that the mint barrette that I casually grabbed for Clio's hair is the exact same green as the stitching on Eleri's onesie (not to mention matchin Eleri, socks and all, to her bouncey seat). This is all purely subconscious, I promise you. And, come to think of it, it's not nearly as bad as my maternity leave with Clio, when I often found myself walking around town in khaki, chocolate brown, and black- not my normal palette, but exactly the colors of the infant carseat/ stroller and diaper bag. Quelle coincidence! Not to go all psych 101 on you, but do you suppose I'm striving for control in a world made chaotic by babies?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

On Clio's Bookshelf

A few months ago, we noticed that many of Clio's board books were starting to seem too simplistic in their concepts and vocabulary; add to that the fact that she suddenly seemed able to handle paper pages with very little damage, and we knew it was time to expand her library. Before I went on bedrest, I spent a morning at Barnes and Noble Jr.browsing the (many) possibilities; Clio and Dave joined me after swim class to approve the selection.

We got the classic Harold and the Purple Crayon, which I like for its use of imagination, and the wonderful childlike sensibility that If You Draw it, It Is Real. Plus, it's a fun one to read out loud.
Mary Had a Little Lamp and I Like Myself share the great message to be true to yourself. Mary drags her lamp around like a security blanket, unphased by the stares and snickers she gets. I Like Myself focuses on the notion that it's what's inside that counts The narrator claims that she'd like herself even with "hippo hips or purple polka-dotted lips" and any number of other silly afflictions.

As a big sister gift, Uncle Rory and Aunt Nicole sent Bear Snores On, a modern classic about a party that happens in a bears den while he hibernates, and what happens when he wakes up. Clio loves this one for its rhythm and charming rhymes (plus she's obsessed with the badger in the story.)

Finally, Clio is loving I'm a Big Sister (this one she"reads" aloud herself, having memorized key passages, such as "the baby is so little. Too little to eat pizza or apples or ice cream") and Once Upon a Potty, two "issues" books that are self explanatory. I especially like this Potty book because of the collaged illustrations, and Clio thinks it's hilarious when the protaganist, Prudence, sits on the potty for a whole page's worth of "sat" ("she sat, and sat, and sat and sat and sat, and so on.)

My only complaint is that she loves books so much, and right now, these in particular, that she demands that we read them over and over again. All the time. But I guess we should appreciate that.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Many Faces of Eleri Ruth

I finally got Dave to take some pictures of Eleri, with funny results. We used to call Clio "Clio Grace McFunny Face," but Eleri takes it to a whole new level. She actually has a great smile (often accompanied by some gurgly E.T. cooing noises, which I love), but we haven't quite captured that yet.

You Gots to Co-or-di-nate

Yesterday I accidentally dressed the girls in coordinating outfits. (Accidental = Clio chose her dress for the day and Eleri's romper was on top of the clean pile. Dave noticed how well they went together when he came home from work, and I'm certain he thinks I did it on purpose. I actually have matching sunsuits for them- both from Nonny but purchased at different times- and if I WANT them to match, I will most certainly use those.) Anyway, seems like a good opportunity to share some pictures of Eleri, awake.

Oh, and if anyone can tell me what movie the title to this post comes from, I'll send you a special prize. (Rachel Thimjon, if you're reading this, I'm counting on you to shout it out!)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Grandparents Galore

The day after my mom headed home, Dave's parents arrived, giving us a solid 10 days of Grandparent time. With a house now quite empty, and a return to day care, Clio is having a little trouble adjusting. She came downstairs on Wednesday and said, "Where's Grandma and Grandpa? Where's Nonny?" and we had to try to explain again the complicated concept that they live too far away to just stop by. She has definitely been cranky, and frankly, who can blame her? After 10 days of the world revolving around her (an infinite time frame for a 2 year old), suddenly she's back to being just one of a pack of kids at day care.

Plus, grandparents are awesome.

They read you as many books as you want
(To combat Clio's again-icitis, Grandma did put a limit of 3-reads per book per sitting, but that seems reasonable)

They turn regular routine activities, like the bath, into creative play time

And play along with your invented games, like Beauty Parlor.

They let you eat their food when it looks better than your own

And pick you up when you get shy or scared (not to mention prompting a return trip to the Aquarium!)

And sometimes, when Grandparents are visiting, rules get bent. Clio doesn't drink juice, but somehow this Sunday we let her help herself to lemonade on the boardwalk at Coney Island (when in Rome?). Okay, a LOT of lemonade.

Little Eleri got in on the Grandparental action, too, enjoying lots and lots and lots of snuggle time. (And I enjoyed being hands free for a much larger percentage of my day)