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A conversation with Yvonne

October 28th, 2008 · No Comments

Yvonne wrote down this conversation she had with Norah today:

“Would you like to go on an adventure today?”

“Yeah.”

Where would you like to go?”

“To Panera Bread.”

“Do you want to go there for lunch?”

“Yeah.”

“Who will you see at Panera Bread?” (She thought Norah might say “Mommy,” since I work there so often.)

“Boys.”

“What are you going to do wiht the boys?”

“Play with them.”

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Reading our mail

October 28th, 2008 · No Comments

Norah and I have been writing a lot of letters lately–she’ll color a picture, and I’ll take dictation, writing to Grandma and Grandpa, or Yvonne, or PopPop. Today she was playing with my book, and she took out my bookmark (arrgh!), and pretended it was a letter she was reading out loud:

“Dear Mommy. I love you so much. Dear PopPop. I love you so much. Dear Mommy.”

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Slow down, Time.

October 21st, 2008 · No Comments

I am only just finally starting to realize that Norah will be turning 2 soon. I don’t like to think about it–we have all loved this year so much, I just want to hang onto the last bits of her babyhood. But she’s not a baby anymore…she is truly a little girl now.

I was remembering today how, just in time for her 18-month doctor’s appointment, I had made a list in the baby book of the words she knew. I counted just over a hundred, and was proud and amazed–and so was the doctor when I told him. And now, just 4 months later, she is beginning to speak in sentences. I couldn’t possibly count the words she knows. She can recognize and name hydrangeas–and pronounce it properly, too. She’s been making herself perfectly clear for months now…but in the last few weeks she has started coming out with perfect little sentences that leave us all gaping. A few of the most recent:

“I would like a spoon please.”

“The boy was driving the train at the train table.”

“There is a squirrel under my mask.” (Don’t ask; I have no idea.)

“Just read the book.” (This because I asked her if she knew any of the letters in the book’s title. She is a spitfire, that one.)

She can also recite the entire alphabet, with the exception of D and E. Which, who needs them? Tonight while I was making dinner, she stood at the refrigerator for the longest time, meticulously arranging her letter magnets in precise rows, and singing the alphabet song to herself. I realized she was “spelling words,” just like Mommy and Daddy do with the letters.

We have been going to storytime at the children’s bookstore–we both enjoy it, and I think it’s a good first warm-up for preschool: the sitting still for the story, and then the craft afterward. It’s really the first structured activity she’s done. And last week I was so proud when, instead of sitting on my lap, for the first time she sat on the little bench, all by herself, hands folded in her lap, listening intently to the story. My shy little girl, so independent! That is, until she shifted and fell backward off the bench, landing half on her shoulder and half on her head. Poor thing. We missed the rest of that story. But after Miss Barb gave her a sticker and let her help set up the balloon game, she rallied and we had a good time.

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My little marching band?

October 13th, 2008 · No Comments

A few days last week, Brian was in Vermont for work. On Friday, as he was making the long drive home, I said to Norah, “Aren’t you excited for Daddy to come home?”

“Yeah.”

“What are you going to tell him when he gets home?”

“Ta ra ra boom-de-ay.”

Huh. No idea where that came from. Jack’s Big Music Show, maybe? Too funny.

And today, she played us a little song, banging away on her piano in the kitchen, singing “Banana banana banana.”

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Most excellent.

September 30th, 2008 · No Comments

I’m sitting at my desk working, and Norah climbs up into the rocking chair–no small feat.

Me: Wow, good job.

Norah: Super swell great.

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Thank you, Sleep Lady

September 16th, 2008 · No Comments

After our week in the Adirondacks, Norah had a terrible time sleeping. She had a hard time while we were on vacation–a combination of the big, dark, unfamiliar room; and the thunderstorm we had one night early in the week, loud and close, with the lighting flashing bright off the lake just outside our room; and the lengths we went to to get her to sleep that week, lying on the floor by her pack-n-play till she fell asleep or even crawling into bed with her for naps. At any rate, when we got back home, our good little sleeper, the girl who’d play happily till she fell asleep and then make nary a peep till 8 the next morning, had turned into a desperate, screaming little beastie. A few nights, she was up every couple of hours, needing to be held, waking up every time we tried to put her down. So, finally, I talked to Allison, went to Borders and bought the Sleep Lady book, the one Al has highlighted and underlined and memorized, and tried the Sleep Lady Shuffle. This meant staying with Norah until she fell asleep, sitting in the chair for the first few nights, then in the doorway, then just outside the door. And she screamed and she screamed, true, all-out temper tantrums, but I found that it didn’t tie my stomach up in knots, the way I usually get when she’s having trouble sleeping. I wasn’t downstairs, listening on the monitor, thinking of my little girl alone and afraid, or maybe with her foot caught between the crib rails, and her mommy and daddy just not coming to her no matter how hard she cried. And I wasn’t sitting and holding her, while she snuggles up and falls asleep in my arms and I’m thinking, “This is lovely, but how am I ever going to get her back in the crib, and how will this ever get better?’ Nope. I was there for her, not making her go through this tough thing all by herself, not leaving her alone with her fear, but also not doing it for her. I’ll walk with you through this, I was saying, but I know you can do it. It just felt right to me, and eventually it worked–after 8 nights of sitting with her, progressively farther and farther from the crib, she was back to going to sleep just fine on her own. Alleluia amen.

And a couple of nights ago, Norah was playing in the living room, snuggling her doll and her doggie into the big brown leather chair. And we heard her talking to them, saying, “Right here. With you. Doorway. Listening.” And I knew right then that I had done right by my child. I had given her just what she needed.

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Norah, lately

September 16th, 2008 · No Comments

I am amazed everyday at how Norah is growing. She’s not a baby anymore; she doesn’t look like a baby, she doesn’t act like one. She is a little girl. Starting to speak in sentences, to use a fork and spoon, to walk up and down the stairs instead of scootching. She can count to 11 (though she leaves out 10). She can recognize A and B and K and X and H. She knows when she’s looking at numbers instead of letters. She puts her own milk cup in the sink when she’s finished. It seems like lately her favorite words are “by self.”

She sings snatches of her favorite songs, mostly to herself when she doesn’t think anyone’s listening. The best is Ba Ba, Black Sheep, which she sings to herself quietly, like this:

“Ba ba sheep

Wool.

Yessir yessir. Bagful

Master. Dame. Boy. Lane.

Ba ba sheep.

Wool.

Yessir yessir. Bagful.”

She plays by herself, happily, for long stretches of time. All she requires is that I be in the general vicinity. I feel guilty about this sometimes, but clearly, she’s having so much fun. She loves to be nearby, watching and chatting with me as I bake muffins, or peel carrots, or fold laundry. The other night I was making dinner, pretty engrossed in chopping vegetables and not paying too much attention to the game she was playing at my feet. Then I heard her saying, “Smile. Smile,” and I peeked over to see what she was up to. She had taken all the chunky, squarish animal magnets off of the refrigerator and ranged them in an orderly little cluster. She was holding the last of the magnets up to her eye, pretending it was a camera, telling them to smile so she could take their picture. Her imagination blows me away.

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Sploosh!

September 14th, 2008 · No Comments

Norah and Brian have invented a new game: Pond. It involves taking my old pink-and-green plaid comforter, the one from my college dorm, and spreading it out on the family room floor. That’s the pond. Then they throw a bunch of toys in (”Sploosh!”) and then jump in themselves (”Sploosh!”), belly flopping and doing the doggie paddle. They can be happily entertained like this for half an hour, easy.

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Daddy’s home

September 6th, 2008 · No Comments

Tonight Brian put Norah to bed, after having been in Vermont for the last three days. And after stories and prayers, he turned out the light, and she snuggled into his chest and said, “Miss Daddy.”

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A Backyard Chef

August 27th, 2008 · No Comments

Norah, today, pretending to cook with a tiny enamelware mug filled with the day’s finds–hosta seeds and teeny crabapples–very precisely, talking only to herself: “Measure-out-ing.”

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