Friday, January 22, 2010

She's Listening... More

Two funny stories that show just how intently Kai is listening to us. First, the other evening, she was sleeping on my chest (because she had woken up after we put her to bed... and we were near the critical conclusion of one of our favorite TV shows... and we don't have tivo... and I wanted to finish watching it... so, rather than spending the time to get her to go back to sleep in her own bed, I grabbed her and took her into the living room... I know. I'm a stellar mom - but, that is beside the point!) Anyway, she was sleeping on my chest and it was a commercial and, for some reason, Eric mentioned "Coach Vince", Kailey's soccer coach. As soon as he said "coach Vince", Kai popped up out of her slumber and said "ball, ball" and then laid her head back on my chest and went back to sleep. I think she was sleep talking. Soccer is clearly a big deal.

Another time recently, Eric was humming some tune that was clearly from one of the numerous electronic musical toys that take over one's life once they have children. Why do all the toys have to make noise? But, anyway, he was humming a tune and neither of us could place it. "Which toy is that even from?" I asked Eric and he responded, "I don't know." Kailey looked up, ran into her room, retrieved a toy that she hadn't played with for many months from the bottom of her bookshelf and proceeded to make it play the tune that Eric was humming. We were floored -- not only did she recognize the tune, the toy that it belonged to, but she remembered it even though it had been MONTHS since we had played with that toy. AND she knew where it was, which shows that she has her mother's OCD tendiencies regarding the proper place of all things (and the need to know where everything is at all times).

Monday, January 18, 2010

Intonations, Imitation and Independence

Kai has gotten quite good at the art of imitation -- both our actions and our style of speaking. She still doesn't really talk much. At least we still don't understand much of what she says. She babbles non-stop. But, her babbling has gotten more sophisticated. When she is looking at a book, she'll "read" it to herself, mimicking the way we sound when we read, her voice rising and falling as she pretends to identify the words and letters. Or, she'll "count" by exaggerating each "number" in that sing song voice we frequently use when counting to three: "onnneee", "twooo", "THREE" and our voices rise at the end of each word, with the three being shouted in a staccato. Kai does the same thing, only she says, "unnnn" "unnnn" UNN". The enunciation isn't there, but the intonation... she's got that down. And, she is beginning to try to say more words. She'll attempt to repeat words back to us, usually in a whisper (she doesn't want to get it wrong). She attempts new words every day -- but only a few of them actually make it into the repertoire of words she'll use unprompted. She doesn't want to say an actual word wrong, but all the made up words that she babbles about all day -- who cares what those sound like?! Such a funny girl.

And she imitates our actions -- walking around the house in our shoes, cooking meals with her new play kitchen, cleaning the house, making her bed... whatever we do, she tries to do too. Tonight I was cleaning the stove and Kai was quietly playing in her room. After a few minutes, I peeked in on her, only to find she was wiping down her own stove. She was so intent on the task -- much like I had been moments before. Wiping every bit of the surface and examining her work. It was so cute.

But, she doesn't just imitate us. Suddenly, Kai is much more content to play by herself for periods of time. It's so liberating!! We can steal away to cook, glimpse the tv, check email... all while she happily busies herself in her room with her toys. It's like a whole new chapter of parenthood... and so much less stressful then the days when we'd leave her for a moment, only to find her about to launch off the bed, or climb onto a chair, or putting something dangerous into her mouth when we returned. These days, we leave her and to return and find her building a tower with her blocks. It's amazing. Not the tower so much as the independence (although, her tower was pretty cool).

So, these are my three I's of Kai's toddlerhood... intonation, imitation and independence. And, in Kai's case, you could add intensity!

Sunday, January 3, 2010


These days, it feels like toddlerhood is firmly upon us. Kailey looks like a toddler suddenly... it's the "ponytail" that sits on top of her head, right? And, she has gained a new independent spirit which I adore, except in those moments when I am trying to get somewhere and her I-can-and-will-do-it-myself-if-it-takes-all-day attitude keeps us from doing anything else that day. Kai wants to put on her own shoes, buckle herself into her carseat, dress herself (including putting on her own diaper) and hollers every time we intervene to help her. She loves the word "help" when it comes to helping us (e.g. "Kai, do you want to help unload the dishwasher"... and she comes trotting over excitedly to hand us the cutlery) but abhors the word when it comes to us helping her (e.g. "Kai, can I help you put on your shoe?" "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO").

Luckily, Kai's tantrums -- because we do, of course, intervene -- are short lived. They are also rather hysterical... she wants a reaction from us without hurting herself. So she'll carefully bang her head against the floor... and you can tell she is controlling her head so it won't really hurt. She's going for the dramatic effect. She also slaps her head, kicks her legs and "throws" herself on the ground, being careful not to bang herself too hard, of course. One of these days I will get a video of a classic Kai tantrum. I know, I'm a mean mommy.

Kai's flair for the dramatic has emerged in other ways as well. Lately, whenever she gets hurt, she points the injury out to everyone in the room... and then continues to point it out for the next several hours or days (depending on the severity of the owie). And, she has learned the word "boo boo" so she'll get a very sad look on her face, point to her injury and moan "boo boo", "boo boo". A true drama queen in the making.

And then there is her dramatic smile -- you know the one she has been perfecting for months. She used to save her smile for things she really liked, but now she does it because she has realized that it gets her a lot of laughs. She breaks it out whenever you ask her to smile. As far as she is concerned, the bigger and goofier the better.

Her favorite activities at the moment are climbing, jumping (preferably after climbing... the higher the better. And she has perfected the "seat drop"), coloring (with her orange crayon -- Kai has a first favorite color!), putting on our shoes and walking around (which she is quite proficient at), and dancing naked -- it has to be naked (every time we turn on music she starts spinning in circles and then comes running over to one of us and points at her shirt and then thrusts her arms in the air as if to say, "get this off of me!" Once she is down to her diaper, she starts running around like a maniac. I guess those clothes are just too constricting to let her inner-dancer emerge! And now, most evenings, she "asks" to dance by pointing at the ipod and then starting to disrobe... it's pretty funny.)

Note the orange crayon -- I hadn't even realized that she had orange until I was going through the pictures we took:

Ohhh... and make believe! Kai has started to get into make believe. She will trot her little figurines around making animal sounds, or play with her cars while saying "vroom, vroom." She got a kitchen for the holidays and she loves to "cook" and - just like her mommy - always cleans it all up by grabbing a wipe and wiping everything down when she's done. That's my girl!

She has been picking up new words. Our trip to Timberline resulted in her learning the word "snow" which she says as "snnnoooooooo" (it's a bit hard to decipher between snow and noooo). She loved Timberline, especially the hot tub and the pool. A few months back, she invented a sign/word for "hot" which she indicates by blowing. So, at Timberline, she'd indicate she wanted to go into the hot tub by signing "bath" and blowing for "hot". A hot bath! And, once in the hot tub, she would start off by saying "hot, hot". Too cute.

She liked the idea of the snow more than the actual snow -- mostly because I think she hated all the clothing she had to wear to go out into the snow. Ahhh... my clothing-adverse child.

She also says, "green" (which she associates with the actual color green) and "purple" (which she repeats when we say it, but I don't think she has actually started to identify purple things yet) - and she has learned her basic colors (orange, green, red, blue, yellow). Her other favorite new words are"Amy" (ever since we visited Amy, Dave and the twins Kai has been obsessed with Amy's name... which she says as "Mamie") and "baby" (Kai now points to all other children and says, "bay-bee". However, she is not among the "bay-bees". If you ask Kai if she is a baby she firmly shakes her head no).

In addition to learning new words, Kai has learned to use her vocal chords in other fun ways. Like screaming. And screeching. At extremely high pitches. Repeatedly. At a recent party, one of the other guests identified Kailey as "the child you can hear". I wanted to be offended, but, really -- Kai is loud. A joyful loud, but loud nonetheless. Toddler joy - nothing better (toddler whining though -- that I could definitely do without).

Happy New Decade

I like the new year as a time to reflect - and I like new decades for that reason as well. We rang in the last decade (and century and millennium) with Amy and Dave in the Alvaro Desert -- a totally remote location in Eastern Oregon. We camped out that night on a dry lake bed in negative 5 degree weather.

We rang in the new decade - 2010 - with our friends Sarah, Doug and Penny. Well, actually, we didn't ring anything in... we didn't even make it to midnight east coast time. But, we celebrated the end of the decade and the beginning of the new year with our friends and our daughters. As I watched Kai and Penny dancing, jumping, running and playing dress up, I thought about last year when we watched Kai scotching across the floor to bat at our champagne bottle... it's amazing how much changes in a year.

And in this next decade Kai will go from 2 to 12... toddlerhood to middle school. It's a bit mind-boggling. Particularly because decades don't seem that long anymore.

Happy 2010, Kailey! I am so looking forward to spending this next decade with you and watching you become a pre-teen!!