Thursday, March 12, 2009

Is It Wrong to Lie About Unicorns?

We are in the midst of an explosion of language here. Nouns and verbs are littered all over the apartment. Avery is full-on speaking in paragraphs now. Of course, we can only pick up on about three words per paragraph, and one of them is inevitably Momma, Ammi or poo poo, but she thinks she is talking to us and she thinks we understand her, and her toddler gibberish is punctuated with lots of finger pointing and jabbing and head nodding. Last night she mastered “Ammi work,” which is Avery for “Mommy is at work.” Nicole and I are delighted with this development, though I wait for the moment when “Ammi work” reminds Nicole how much time she spends away from the girls every day.

Avery will try to repeat every word we say to her, sometimes to humorous results. “Dada” means “what’s that?" So Avery is like a mini Helen Keller know, running around pointing to things and asking me “dada?” and then repeating what I say. And Madeline said “Maddie” for the first time yesterday. Problem is, she thinks Avery’s name is Maddie. I think Maddie’s explosion will happen soon. She is on the verge. It is so hard not to compare and hard not to panic because I irrationally feel that the girls need to reach every milestone at the exact same moment. But I usually am able to talk myself down from that ledge and let both grow at their own pace.

Today I am stuck in this apartment from 8 until 5, waiting for the dishwasher man to come. It’s been a month without a dishwasher, and the new one was delivered broken. So we need to repair the new one. Nothing like being forced to stay indoors for a nine-hour span to feel like you are in prison. In addition, Madeline played with the alarm clock, so we missed the five a.m. wake-up buzz and I missed my morning run. The day isn’t off to the best start. I’m hoping for a happy ending.

Yesterday was great, though. We spent it at Aunt Jenni’s Country Home and my reward for making the one-hour trip out to the mountains of New Jersey was not only Quality Adult Time and Happy Children Time but also a container full of her delicious homemade pink vodka sauce and a Ziplock bag full of cooked pasta. Dinner to go! The highlight had to be a conversation about unicorns with her four-year-old twins, who told me in all seriousness that unicorns are not real and are pretend (I love that earnest stage!), but seemed a little wide-eyed full of wonder when I told them I saw one crossing the street on my drive up. I wondered on the way home if it was possible to tape a horn on a horse on one of the horse farms near their house and do a drive-by. Also cute: Avery playing peek-a-boo with the nearly-one-year-old Francesca and sharing her snack with her. And Madeline playing in the tent with Giovanni, who is so patient and kind with kids younger than he is. The best part about all of the kids is that they all have that amazing innocent quality of pure happiness that radiates in moments from their eyes and smiles.

During the drive home I imagined — as I usually do after leaving her home — Nicole, the girls and I living at Jen’s home. I imaginary-decorate each room with an imaginary unlimited budget. It’s amazing what I can come up with when money is of no object! Jen has a walk-in closet bigger than the girls’ bedroom and more windows in her den than we have in our entire apartment. We all could be so happy in a home outside the city with so much space and a backyard! Not to mention being able to BBQ. Jen and I talked about future plans and we really still have no idea where we will end up. Right now, we are staying put in the city. Nicole’s office is a five-minute walk away: How can we trade that sort of commute for an hour-plus one? Bottom line, living in the city lets Nicole spend more time with the girls and me. Isn’t that the important part? Also, I have lived here in the city for nearly 20 years, and I don’t know if I can make that transition to suburban living. Driving everywhere? Having control over the heat in our home? Hiring a local kid to shovel the driveway and rake the leaves? It all seems so foreign, even though that is how I grew up. But it isn’t about me anymore, and it comes down to the girls and are we raising city kids or country kids?

I am trying to get the girls off bottles. They have two a day: One in the morning and one before bed. All drinks in between (water, that is) are served in sippy cups. Madeline will take milk in a sippy cup but Avery will absolutely not do such things. And once Maddie sees Avery with a bottle of milk, she wants a bottle too. What do I do? Do I cut the morning bottle out cold turkey, reasoning that they will eventually drink because they are thirsty? Cut both bottles cold turkey? Our doctor says they should have about 16 ounces of milk a day, and I fear they won’t if I cut the bottles out. But they are 21 months and enough is enough, right? No more baby-pants bottles.

Pictured above, creepy-looking fog in Jen’s backyard. One drawback to living outside of the city is I would be scared all the time. And pictures don’t lie: Look how much fun the girls had!


suz said...

Re: the bottle thing, do you know anyone who has a baby or is having a baby? You could then talk about how bottles are for babies and since they are big girls then you are giving the bottles to a baby.

Also, a new kind of cup/straw is usually a good thing to help entice them to drink. Sometimes my daughter gets bored with her sippy cup and we use a Sigg water bottle, or just a cup and a straw. We've also gotten some of the Horizon organic milk boxes (like a juice box) and she loves the novelty of those.

Jennifer said...

Oh we have tried the New Cup! thing, to no avail. She will ONLY drink milk in a bottle! WTF????!!

And speaking of Sigg...we have two for the girls and they are so dented fro dropping. Are your like that? It seems like a design flaw that they get SO beat up.

The milk juice box thing though I a going to try! Off to the store now!

K J and the kids said...

Ok that picture could TOTALLY have a unicorn running through it.
Funny you would think scary when looking at it and I think calm peaceful quiet morning.

Your girls are so cute and I just want to pick them up and squeeze them still, looking at the pictures.

Me and J play that decorating with endless amounts of money game at night when we couldn't sleep.
That hasn't been a problem for a while :)

Try a cup and a straw. Kids LOVE straws. You can get sippy cups with straws too.

Jennifer said...

You see calm and peaceful; I see scary hatchett murderer dodging thru the trees.

Straw DID NOT work! If you had facebook you could see the video i posted! Avery used the straw as a fork. The she put it up her nose. Back to the drawing board!

jeannine said...

My two are off all but the bedtime bottle, but my daughter refuses to drink milk from anything but the bottle. My son will drink anything from any container he gets his mits on, but no dice for my girl. Our ped said if the milk consumption goes down just up the other dairy, yogurt, cheese, etc. Luckily, those are her favorite foods.

Please let me know if anything works for you, because we have tried everything over here with no luck.

Also, we just moved from LA to a suburb 30 miles away. It was a huge transition, and now my husband has the dreaded commute, but we both agree it was worth it. To open my back door and give my kids swings, a sandbox and room to run saves my sanity. No more shelping them down to the garage just to drive a few miles away to play outside. When (and if) the time and situation are right for you, I'm sure you'll be able to find the place that's right for your family.