I’m on something of a sabbatical from work, courtesy of the government procurement cycle. As in, hurry up and get it done. Oh, wait, you mean we need to give you a task order to allow you to keep working? Those familiar with the situation would recognize that now is a great time to take that use-or-lose leave that’s accumulated during the year, due in large part to the “hurry up and get it done” part of the cycle.

It’s only been a few days, and it’s already interesting to see what it is exactly that my girls do while I’m at work. Jason blogged a bit about
what it is that they think I do
. Definitely interesting to see it from the other side.

What I’ve observed so far:
(1) the pace of things changes very quickly
(2) … unless Mommy or Daddy wants the pace to change very quickly
(3) the amount of fun being had directly correlates to the amount of noise being made
(4) there is no such thing as a neatnik toddler
(5) … except where their own personal hygiene is concerned: sticky hands or a shirt that has a drop of something on it must be corrected IMMEDIATELY
(6) the greatest chefs in the world have either a drive-through window or a carry-out phone number
(7) sleep is for those who’ve given up on the day, and is to be battled at all costs

It’s my own anthropology adventure – more insights likely over the course of the next few weeks. I’ll be observing them in their natural habitat this week as Daddy takes a well-earned reprieve and visits family, sans species of schedule interruptus. As I prayed in church this morning as they wiggled/squirmed/caused other church members to offer to assist me: “God help me have the patience not to kill ’em”.

Note that I’m waiting for the kisses and snuggles of bedtime to readjust my attitude. It always happens… they know when my tank is near empty, and then fill it back up with snuggles or a hug or snack which they had to save half of for Mommy. Or a “I’ve got to put the bugs away” comment.

Our baby, lil Callie Flower, turned two today. Actually, she turned two almost 24 hours ago, having chosen to enter the world at the ungodly hour of 1:10 am. Note that she’s often played havoc with our sleep schedule since that day, as well.

She’s a beautiful little girl, who looks absolutely NOTHING like me. Blonde, blue-eyed, curly hair, and possessing three deadly weapons: a smile that makes her eyes sparkle, a pout that she delivers from underneath her curly mop of hair, and a laugh that sounds so delightful as it trills and rolls up from somewhere deep inside her little body. She’s irresistible, particularly since she loves everyone. Sample Callie anecdote: at a family picnic, with an extended family including folks in no way related to Callie who she’d never met before. She played airplane with one unrelated family member, gleefully flying through the air. When some of the kids were to told to line up to kiss their grandparent, Callie jumped into line ahead of her cousins, whose granddad this was, and planted a smooch on a gentleman who’d just met her that day. That gentleman’s wife was so delighted, she asked Callie for a kiss herself, and was quickly granted one.

Callie’s a cuddler, rarely to be found without a receiving blanket which she carts around for when she’s tired or wants comforting. I can’t bear the thought of the day when those blankets are left behind.

Little woo: you’re two! Mommy can’t believe it, and feels tremendously grateful that you were granted to us to be part of our family. Happy Birthday, and sleep well tonight. Tomorrow’s just waiting for you to wake up and move a little closer to little girlhood and a little farther away from baby and toddler land. Give Mommy the gift of lingering here a little while longer, though…

Cora’s now begun preschool. She’s 3 1/2 years old, very intelligent we think (as Garrison Keillor puts it, “where all the children are above average”), and has always been just a bit shy. OK, if you’ve actually met her, occasionally painfully, throw a fit if you get near her shy. That’s changed somewhat as she’s gotten older, but it was still with some trepidation that we considered her going to kindergarten as her first exposure to not being the focus of mommy/daddy/grandma’s attention and doting. So, we essentially decided to move the pain up, to when the doses were smaller, and the outcome was less dire if she hated the whole experience. Off to find a preschool we went.

Our criteria for the appropriate school? Very limited. Do you have kids? Do you have adults to watch those kids? No obvious electrocution/drowning/falling out of windows hazards? Great! You’re the one for us. Actually, it was even slightly more relaxed than that. We knew two families in the church who were sending their little girls to a particular school, and we kind of figured if it was good enough for them…

So Cora’s been to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays for two weeks now. And she comes home to tell us about stuff that we didn’t get to see her do. Up to now, when she told us stuff, there was this mind mapping that had to go to figure out what precisely from today she’s found interesting to talk about. 3 year olds aren’t great on giving context. But you witnessed her whole day, mostly, so you had the keys. Now, though, there’s a whole set of stuff that she does that we’re really interested in finding out about, and dependent upon asking just the right questions to get her impression of the situation. Very odd experience… Not something we were really prepared for with a 3 year old.

Jason has it even weirder than me. I’m used to coming home, and only getting snippets. Heck, I only _want_ snippets. He’s used to seeing the whole thing in gory detail. And now there’s this set of details Cora may choose to reveal or not reveal. New friends, new experiences, … our daughter has a life of her own at 3 1/2!

What’s Barney teaching our kids these days? Cora (3!) tapped me on my rear this morning, unprompted, and said ‘Speaking of big bums…’… (Ego-deflator, if not a bum deflator, given that I had just come back from a run.) Inquiring further, we learned from her that one of Barney’s friends had given her the line. I’ll have to pay more attention to Barney from now on out. Not that he doesn’t have his own supersize caboose – in purple even!

Just to even the score a bit, I asked Cora if she had a big bum, and she said that no, she had a little bum. Daddy? He had a big bum. Grandma? Big bum. Inquiries stopped there… dangerous to inquire too much and reinforce the idea in her brain, else we’ll be out somewhere and I’ll feel a tap on my rear and hear one of those little voices that carries way too far.

After rounds of negotiation, Cora and I have come to terms for her Halloween costume. First she wanted to be a zebra. Then a giraffe. Then a turtle. In the animal theme, did find an elephant costume, but of course, couldn’t get Cora to try it on.

She wanted her sis to be a giraffe (easy, since that’s the costume we couldn’t get Cora to wear last year), her daddy to be a lion, and Mommy to be a… hippopotamus. Luckily for me, anyway, the animal theme has gone by the wayside. Her new pick is to be a Boobah (for those not familiar with this relatively close relative of Teletubbies, check out Boobah Zone. She will specifically be the Blue Boobah, who I understand has a name, though I’m not certain what it is.

Oh, and Cora’s new plan for Daddy’s costume: she wants him to be the pink Boobah. Guess I’m off the hook for the hippo thing. :-)

Poor Callie… It’s only 10:00, and she’s already back in bed for a nap, just plain exhausted from teething. She’s been a little one tooth smiling wonder for a couple of weeks now, and her gums decided to pop through two more teeth today. One’s already through, and the other I can’t tell for certain. She’s miserable, though. That has a snowball effect. If she’s miserable, then she’s fussing. Which gets her more attention. Which makes her sister fussy. Then there’s two little girls fussing, all on a morning when Jason needs to head out to get to church early for band practice. The theory is that I’ll then get the girls ready for the later service and join him at church. Looks like that’s not going to happen, though. Seems a less than Christian thing to her to wake her up from her nap, and then a less than Christian act to the nursery staff to hand her over when she’s been woken up from a nap and is teething.

People often say they’d love to be babies again, held by their parents, taking naps, having every need tended to. Not me. Teething, diaper rash, frustration at not being able to communicate or do things, complete powerlessness to fight against things like the dreaded confinement of the carseat… Babies have it rough!

Children are never static. Every day brings something new. In the past couple of days, Callie’s started standing up, and has sprouted a tooth. She’s also demonstrated that she understands the word ‘No’, though she quickly forgets what it was we said ‘No’ about. Each day when I come home from work, I get to figure out what it is that my kids have done and have learned that day. Cora usually tries to tell me something, and I then get to filter out what she’s actually done today, and what her brain’s churned over in the day to come up with a neat story for Mommy. Then the fun is to try to trace back the ideas she’s had to what might have sparked them – did she see something on TV? In a book? Did she and Daddy see something while they were out? Or is this something that’s percolating from a previous day or discussion? Tonight’s key phrase was ‘See you later, crocodile’. Obviously a cross between ‘See you later, alligator’ and ‘In a while, crocodile’ – phrases we often say to her as one or the other of us is headed out that she’s trying to appropriate herself. Really cute to see her trying it out. Then when I was putting Callie to bed, I got a big ol’ baby smooch, smack on my nose. She stretched her little body up and planted one on me, and then gave a big baby smile.

It’s this kind of stuff – the everyday excitements of what they’ve learned or done, the cute phrases, the smooches and hugs they plant on me, plus the bedtime snuggles, plus little heads peeking out the window to wave goodbye as I go to work, plus a hundred other things – that make me so darn glad to get to be their mom.

Just in time for Mother’s Day, advice on food selection for your child:
“If Mommy gives us chocolate when we’re kids, that is what we grow up to like,” Yosses said. “And if Mommy gives us hissing cockroaches, then that’s what we learn to like.”
— From ‘The Scorpions Taste Kind of Fishy’ in Wired Magazine

Now I know what to serve Cora this weekend: the cicadas are coming. Save us a trip to the grocery store and broaden her food horizons. Callie’s off the hook this time around: no teeth to crunch ’em means she’s spared until the next 17 year cycle.

Daddy’s been gone for the weekend. One of the girls is sick and on the upswing from it, and the other may be getting it. It’s honestly been a reasonably fun weekend, even given that one girl got me up at two and then the other was not only awake, but hyper(!) at six this morning. I’m definitely looking forward to Jason getting home – a hair cut and a long run are on the list, as is mowing our lawn if the rain holds off. But I got a miraculous chunk of time this morning. The six o’clock riser (our two year old) was convinced to take a nap. Not threatened, locked away screaming, ‘you shall take a nap!’. But talked into climbing into her bed and getting tucked in for a nap, with the promise of a lunch with chocolate milk afterwards. An hour later, the infant collapsed (and it took that whole hour to get her to do it, too!). So, surprisingly, I’ve had about an hour so far with two napping children. That never happens for us anymore . The two year old never takes naps, and then the odds of synchronizing naps – well, let’s just say I’m not in church today (sick kids aren’t particularly welcome in nursery), but I’m thanking God for a miracle.

I’ve actually had a list all weekend of the set of things that I’d do if I only had one awake and the other were reasonably happy. Cora and I worked on the garden yesterday (that’s a blog entry in and of itself of the fun a two year old has with pipecleaners that Mom’s used to try to mark where she’s planted things) and got most of the herbs and vegetables planted. That was a major score – too many more weekends and the vegetable garden would have been relegated to a weed garden this year. But today’s bright spot of freedom granted me – a clean floor! A stick some CDs into the stereo, grab a wash bucket, and get on my knees to scrub the floor clean floor. No baby food spills around the high chair. No formula powder near the sink. No dog drool around the dog food bowl. Got the pancake batter Cora “liberated” as she tried to help make pancakes yesterday. I can see my floor, and it looks good, and I’m ecstatic.

Some folks keep baby books up to date, marking first smiles, first teeth, first crawls… We attempted it with Cora, but I’m afraid I’m not conscientious about recording that sort of stuff. With Callie, it’s been even worse. I don’t have any sort of baby book for her.

Just scanned back through some blog entries, though. I give them a category as I write them, and I have a category for MommyHood. Some comment spammer left a comment on a way-old entry that talked about a prediction that Cora would walk by 10 months. As it turned out, she didn’t walk by 10 months – she sort of stalled and waited until she turned a year old – but the entry lists other milestones, like when she scooted backwards (6 1/2 months), and when she crawled forward (7 1/2 months).

Cora’s little sis, Callie, is a little bit over 6 months old. Her latest exciting milestone was rolling over – she did it for the first time on Easter this year, much to the excitement of Aunt Paula and Daddy, who were coaxing her at the time. Now, that little fact hasn’t been entered in a baby book anywhere. But I can now look at the archives for our blog and see the previous entry for Cora, and now this one for Callie. And then hop over to our image gallery to see pictures of the girls at the appropriate ages.

So, my Creative Memories consultant isn’t making anything off of me, but I’ve got the info I want as both images and text, interspersed with other blog entries that show what was important enough for me to write about it at the time. Works for me, baby book or no…