Lately, I’ve noticed a new trend in the bufflogals’ sleeping arrangements. They sleep in toddler beds and can get in and out on their own, but up to this point have mostly slept in their own beds until morning. Usually, the girls get up and play together for 20 minutes or more before we have to retrieve them (just one lovely reason I love that they share a room– extra sleep for us!), so it probably took me longer to notice than I might have, but there were clues– Etta’s stuff would all seem to be in Claire’s bed. Her pillow, her blankey, her stuffed loveys, all in sister’s bed. I thought it was happening in the mornings during play time, but when I heard a crash and a cry the other night, I realized Etta was trying to sleep in Claire’s bed. I put her back in her own bed, but later heard stirring and went in again to find her curled up at Claire’s feet. After my heart exploded from adorableness, I tried to extract Etta back to her own bed, but she clearly did NOT want to be moved. I asked Claire if it was OK with her if Etta snuggled with her, and she sleepily agreed, as if she’d be willing to do anything if it meant her sister would let her catch some zzzz’s. This would have worked fine except two toddlers in one crib-sized mattress is cramped, and they woke each other up later in the night. Continue reading “strange bedfellows?”
“Etta fall down. At da zoo. Hurt knees. Hurt hands. Etta cry.” It happened in October, but she still tells me this story of her epic zoo fall at least once a day.
“Claire Bear fall down. At da wi-berry. I bonked my head on a shelf. I screamed. Then Mama had me.” This fall at the library, too, happened in October. This story, as well, is told as frequently and reverently as a great epic from the oral tradition, with all the solemnity a toddler can muster.
Usually we sigh, the way we all tend to do when someone tells us something we’ve heard before a hundred times, and say something like, “I know baby, you fell down and hurt yourself, but that was weeks ago, and you’re ok now! Your owies are all gone!” The repetition seems to us a little silly– why keep telling the story of such little hurts? Childhood is practically made of skinned hands and knees, of knots on foreheads and bruises that fade slowly, like sunsets that last weeks.
But to our girls, they are the biggest falls they’ve had yet. Their most significant injuries. Big events in the life of small people who lead otherwise routine little lives. To them, they are big stories worth telling.
I know I’ve been singing the praises of toddlers a lot lately, but I gotta say, this was our best Christmas with our girls, yet. It’s the first one where they sort of knew something special was going on, and their joy and wonder have been a joy to behold. I think their favorite part of the whole season has been “kiss-mas wights,” and they love driving around, pointing out light displays according to whose side of the car they’re on– “ETTA SIDE! BEAR BEAR SIDE!” They also love turning on our Christmas tree and, though I worried they would constantly be messing with the ornaments, they actually play with them very sweetly and usually put them back– the lower 1/4 of our tree has seen a lot of rearranging.
Can I admit to you all that I’ve got some ambivalence about the whole Santa thing? I grew up believing in Santa, so I have fond and happy memories of that tradition and don’t feel scarred in any way. But the way Santa is so wrapped up in want and consumerism and making Christmas all about Things, the way his story is centered not in Bethlehem, the locus of the Christmas story, but the North Pole, which has nothing to do with anything– it all seems to indicate to me that we’ve gotten a little off track about the whole Santa story.
So, I admit, I’ve kind of been deferring the decision of how Santa would figure in our family’s Christmas traditions. Last year, my kids basically had no idea it was Christmas, though they did enjoy opening presents, and the year before they were infant blobs. I haven’t had to really decide until now. Even this year felt kind of like another year in which I could wait to see how I felt about the whole thing. I figured we’d decorate the tree, make cookies, listen to Christmas music, go look at Christmas lights, play with our little Nativity, read Christmas stories, do our Advent calendar, and just generally live in a Santa-free bubble for one more year. And we’ve been doing all those things (minus the Advent calendar, which I still haven’t finished making).
But it turns out, I can’t live in a Santa-free bubble anymore.. Continue reading “Santa, his reindeer…and a lion”
It’s time for sleep, it’s time for sleep, the fishes croon in waters deep.
The songbirds sing in trees above, it’s time for sleep, my love.
Those are the opening lines of the girls’ “last book,” Nancy Tillman’s It’s Time to Sleep, which we recite to the girls after turning out their lights each night. I say recite because after many many readings, we don’t really need the actual book anymore. Instead, we can tuck them in and snuggle a bit while we chant the familiar words that ease them into slumber.
Usually, I lie in Claire’s bed with her, and she wraps her little arms around me and strokes my hair and generally acts like the tiny mama she is. She kisses my forehead, and sometimes, if I’m lucky, she whispers sweet nothings in my ear. The other night, she snuggled in close and said oh so softly, “You are SO CUTE.” I keep thinking about it. I love that kid so much.
She just has a sweet, nurturing spirit that goes hand in hand with her ham personality. She wants to make people smile and laugh, and she wants to take good care of the people she loves.
She’s even started asking about more siblings, for which I blame Daniel Tiger for adding a baby sister. The other morning as I changed her diaper, she said, “So, when you gonna have a baby, Mom?” “Um, Mama can’t have any more babies, you and Etta are my babies.” “But I’d be such a big helper!” And you know, I know she would be. She’ll have to settle for taking care of the people she’s already got.
And as you dream inside your sleep, the fishes crooning in the deep, and all the songbirds up above will sleep and dream of you my love, of you the one I love.
We finish the story, and now it’s my turn to whisper in her ear. I love you sweet girl. Sweet dreams.
Thanksgiving is upon us and the holiday season is officially underway. I thought I’d share what Etta and Claire are getting/wishing for/into this holiday season to help out any of you who might be shopping for toddlers/preschoolers this time of year. Last year their toys mostly focused on kitchen and food play, baby dolls, and bath toys, and you can check out that gift guide if you’re shopping for younger toddlers in the one to two year old range. Much of it is stuff they still love, and would make excellent gifts for any toddlers in your life. This guide is probably most suitable for ages 2 and up.
One category of play they are really starting to be into is dress-up and pretend play. We have bought and stashed some clearance Halloween costumes, and they have received some wings and hand me down hats, and capes and tutus remain very popular. Their big gift this year will likely be a small wardrobe to hold all the dress up items for easy kid access.
Etta remains really into wooden puzzles and blocks, and both girls seem to enjoy tool benches when we go to the Wonder Place or homes that have them. I’m considering a tool bench as another big gift option. Toys that encourage fine motor skills, like lacing, latching, zipping, and buckling are all really fun for this age group, as are color matching and shape sorting. These gifts fit that bill:
We go to a weekly music and movement class that basically consists of playing kids’ CDs while introducing various props. It’s an experience that’s pretty easy to recreate at home, and our girls love to play with their various musical instruments. I’m thinking of attempting to DIY some ribbon sticks or wristbands, as they are always a favorite part of the class, and I think some juggling silks would also be pretty fun:
Other categories of toys to consider when shopping for toddlers: books, bath toys, and art/craft supplies. A pack of washable crayons and a jumbo coloring book will definitely appear in both girls’ Christmas stockings, and I’m thinking maybe some bath tub paints or something will be fun too and solve my problem of hating to paint with them because it’s such a giant mess.
Note: this post is not sponsored and these are not affiliate links. Everything in this post is something I either have bought or am considering buying for my kids.
Healthy eating is really important to me. I have written a lot about food, I have thought a lot about how a less-meatarian, largely-local diet is best for me and the planet, and I love to cook. I think a lot about what my kids eat too. But, I realized when asked about it recently, I don’t actually talk to my kids about healthy eating, and I rarely label food as “healthy” or “unhealthy,” either. When we talk about food, we mostly talk about how it tastes, or that it’s crunchy, or that it’s yummy, or what color it is, or how many pieces of it there are, since we’re learning words and colors and numbers and stuff right now.
Instead, right now, I’m mostly counting on the message sent by our family eating habits to teach my kids that a healthy diet, one based largely around veggies and whole grains, with little processed food and not a lot of sugar, is a normal one.
Storytime at the library was a little bit rough for Etta this morning. There were glue sticks out on the craft table, and all she wanted to do was glue glue glue. I was letting her sit over there instead of with the group, since she was being quiet, but when I noticed her gluing a paper bat to the table, I had to step in and take away the glue stick. That’s when she got angry. Since other kids were still trying to sing songs and hear the story, I carried her out into the hallway.
I sat down on her level. “Are you mad?” “Etta mad!” “I know you’re mad. It makes you mad when Mama says you can’t play with something that you want to play with, but I can’t let you glue things to the table. We can take a break out here for a little bit, or we can go back inside and sing songs with our friends. You can decide.”
This Spina Bifida awareness month, I’ve been super focused on highlighting the utter ordinaryness of most of our life, even with SB in the middle of it. Because that’s the truth. Most of the time, most of our life feels very very normal. Toddlers be toddlers, which means that I spend my time reading books to both of my girls, feeding both of them meals, carting them both around town, doing up seatbelts, putting up ponytails, snuggling and reading stories and kissing booboos.
And then we go to the park with our friends for a picnic. All the kids swing. All the kids slide. All the kids run and play. But only one of them is constantly falling down, and, it turns out, she’s starting to notice it too. Continue reading “we all fall down sometimes, and yet…”
Guess what? It’s still October, and it’s still Spina Bifida Awareness Month. Inspired by this post my friend Mary Evelyn wrote last year addressing reader questions about SB, I thought I’d cover a biggie that I’ve never answered before: How hard is this SB/special needs parenting thing day to day?
Like Mary Evelyn, I have to say: it isn’t. Continue reading “it’s not that hard, and i’m not that special”