Sunday, February 14, 2010


My first baby is six now. SIX. Not to be dramatic, but this fact astounds me. I see her growing and changing every day but I can't seem to get my mind around the idea that just the other day I was rocking her to sleep and now she's rocking out to Hannah Montana. Excuse me, make that Selena Gomez.

Claire has changed so much this year, toeing the line between "little kid" and "big kid," that nearly every day she surprises me with some new trick or mannerism that she's picked up. Just this morning, she came running into my room to tell me she learned to tie her shoes. And she had. After trying to master this task for months, she finally picked it up by watching a bigger kid tie her shoes the night before. If that's all it takes for Claire to learn something new, please remind me of that when it's time for driving lessons.

She has recently discovered sponge rollers and asks me to roll her hair every night. Every night. Every. Single. Night. And I do it, because it makes her happy and confident to see herself with curly hair and if I can relate to anything, it's having good-hair-induced self esteem.

She wants to pick her own clothes and is a big fan of any article of clothing that bears a peace sign. She has turned her back on the beautiful smocked dresses I love so dearly and instead wants to wear leggings and scarves and zebra striped tennis shoes. She has a very clear sense of who she is and I love that.

She is a reader. Junie B Jones is a particular favorite, but she loves all books, preferring them to toys and games. She has always been this way. Even as a toddler, she would gather a huge pile of books, find a quiet spot and "read" to herself. Now she can actually read the words, instead of just making up a story to go with the pictures. I find this, in particular, to be one of the most bittersweet parts of watching her grow up this year.

She is a writer. If we are leaving the house, even for just a quick errand, she makes sure she has a tote filled with notebooks, pens and books (these, in addition to all the other random things she fills her bags with--magic 8 ball, McDonald's toys, playdoh). She writes sentences that aren't quite stories. She writes apologies after she has misbehaved. She writes notes to an imaginary classroom of students and signs them "Mrs. Claire". She sounds out her words, pressing her pen heavily on the paper as she phonetically spells what's on her mind. I will grieve when this stage of haphazard spelling and misshapen letters passes.

She is growing up, no doubt about it, but at night, after the last prayer has been said, she always asks me to tickle her back and tell her a princess story. It's my favorite time of the day with her, and you can be sure, long after she stops asking for the stories, I'll still be telling them to her. That's one stage I'm not willing to let go.

Happy birthday, Claire Bear!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tuesday is gymnastics day. I hate gymnastics day. Not because I don't love watching my girls do crooked cartwheels and swing from the uneven bars, but because it means that I spend an hour corralling at least one of my kids while another one gets to have fun on the gym floor. Now that my big girls are in the same class, that hour is so much better since I only have to keep up with Amelia. She's starting to become a handful, but yesterday she was happy to sit in my lap and stuff herself with yogurt puffs and stare at the little girl sitting next to us who kept saying "Mama...that yittle babe-ee has glassessss..." (her mom, by the way, pretended not to hear her daughter, which just made her say it again and again and louder and louder which totally cracked me up, because how many times have I done that very thing when Arden has said something completely inappropriate to a stranger?). I took the opportunity of a content baby to send a few text messages when the next thing I knew, Amelia had dumped my hot tea all over the floor.

As I was mopping up the floor with the most NON-absorbent paper towels in the history of man, I had a flashback to a day just over a year ago...

Claire was at dance class and I was doing the Arden-rodeo outside the studio, one eye on my twirling four year old and one on my wild two year old. I somehow managed to convince Arden to sit still for a few minutes (I'm pretty sure there were smarties involved) on an ancient wood pew underneath the window to the studio. All of a sudden I was aware of a dripping noise and looked down to see liquid falling through a crack in the pew and onto the concrete floor below.

Weird. Arden doesn't have a drink. Wonder what that is....


After the initial shock wore off and I realized that there was actual urine falling on the ground, I sprang to action and ran to the bathroom for paper towels. Unfortunately, the paper towel dispenser was one of those automatic motion-sensor ones and only spewed out a tiny square of recycled paper at a time. I must have spent fifteen minutes in the bathroom, waving my hands like a mad woman in front of the sensor, before I gathered enough towels to mop up the puddle underneath Arden.

Once I had the floor and bench cleaned, I had to deal with the toddler. Her clothes were soaked and I, of course, had brought no spare clothes with us since she had been potty-trained FOR FIVE MONTHS. Claire's dance class still had forty-five minutes left and I hated to make her leave early just because her little sister didn't want to quit eating Smarties long enough to go to the bathroom. I'll admit that I briefly considered letting her go pantless since her shirt was on the longish side, but it was 20 degrees outside and that seemed like a good way to get a call from DHS. Instead, I walked into the dancewear store located next to the studio. I picked up the smallest pair of dance pants they had and took them to register, never looking at the price tag.


They were forty dollars. FORTY DOLLARS. And I paid it because 1) my two year old was naked from the waist down and 2) I was too embarrassed to admit I hadn't looked at the price tag. I would like to tell you we've gotten a lot of use out of those forty dollar jazz pants, but, sadly, they haven't been worn since. Forty dollars down the drain because my kid chose Smarties over personal hygiene.

And the moral of the story is: never give your two year old five packages of Smarties and expect her to make sound potty-related decisions. Or maybe it's: always bring a change of clothes for any child under the age of three. But most likely, it's: the hour spent at gymnastics/dance will, without a doubt, be the longest hour of the week.