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November/December Tuesday :: 02 November 2004
Maeve was a sleepyhead this morning and didn't want to get up. Lisa tried to coax her out of her lethargy by telling her that she'd see her friends Anna and Jameson daycare. Upon hearing that, she jumped up and cheerfully allowed herself to be dressed. This afternoon, Lilly talked about the election and then suddenly blurted out "I know about President Abraham Lincoln Logs!" Later she asked, "why is Bush mean?" I'm glad to see I'm influencing her already.

Saturday :: 06 November 2004
Lilly helped Betty and I rake in our yards today while Maeve napped and Momma got a massage. And by help, I mean she ran around the yard and got rides on our tarps. When she got hungry, I made her a PB'n'J and she was thrilled to eat it outside for a "picnic."

Sunday :: 07 November 2004
We made an excursion to the west side to meet Will and Sarah for lunch at our favorite restaurant. As we pulled into the Big Bowl parking lot, Lilly shouted "where's the bowl?" Indeed, the huge red bowl on the roof was missing and the chain has apparently gone out of business. We drowned our sorrows with burritos and ice cream. Restaurants are becoming dicey with Maeve. She doesn't want to be confined to a high chair but she walks all over without the least bit of concern about who she might run into or get run over by.

Monday :: 08 November 2004
This afternoon after her dinner Maeve collected her shoes from the middle of the front hallway and placed them carefully where they belonged on the bench. Then she grabbed her and Lilly's coats and banged on the closet door. When I opened it for her, she shoved the coats in and closed the door (she was not satisfied until it latched completely).

Tuesday :: 09 November 2004
Lilly's pronunciation of breakfast ("brep-ist") is slowly giving way to the normal adult version: it's not nearly as cute and a bit sad that she's growing up. This afternoon, Lilly told me that all the kids in her class think I'm the scariest Poppa. When I asked her why, she answered matter-of-factly "because your hair sticks up." Then she added, "But I don't think you're scary, Poppa." It's fun and funny to see the differences between the girls: Lilly is our girly girl, pining for the dress-up butterfly wings she found in a catalog, while Maeve is always playing with trucks or fire engines when I pick her up at daycare. Maeve's temper is becoming more evident too (though that is not at all unlike Lilly). When she throws a tantrum, she bends over, puts her head on the floor and wails.

Wednesday :: 10 November 2004
Wilson has been hanging out with Lilly a lot lately and even sleeping with her some nights. I think he's happy to be her little buddy. He's certainly much more manageable and affectionate than the big goofy dogs. Today Lilly wanted to inspect the progress on the kitchen herself. After opening and shutting a few doors and drawers, she gave big thumbs up (because "I didn't want to just say it"). Maeve even got into the act, toddling around the nearly completed kitchen space and grinning from ear to ear.

Saturday :: 13 November 2004
While Momma went to get a haircut and Maeve took a nap, I spent a couple of hours playing farm with Lilly. We built barns and corrals for the cows and pigs and chickens and then drove the tractors around the perimeter. Eventually, Lilly tired of the game and wanted to show me how she takes care of her baby, Angie. She bathes her, changes her, dresses her, feeds her, and takes her visiting. It's all terribly serious and it's either funny or alarming to see her emulating the gestures and habits of her mother and father.

Sunday :: 14 November 2004
I tried to suggest the Pancake House for breakfast this morning but Lilly kept insisting on the Buffet ("Boo-fay"). Nothing could dissuade her and I soon discovered the reason for her obstinacy: ice cream. "After we have eggs and French toast, we can have ice cream, Poppa."

We had tickets to see a children's production of The Emperor's New Clothes. On our way there, I was trying to explain what the play was about. Suddenly Lilly became upset and fidgety and insisted that she didn't want to go to the play. Eventually we ferreted out that she didn't want to see the king naked. With a bit more explanation, Lisa was able to calm and reassure her though she was still a bit apprehensive when the lights went down. She really did enjoy it and sat (as) still (as a four-year-old can) for the entire hour and a half. Maeve, of course, didn't last more than half an hour and poor Momma had to walk up and down and up and down the hallway outside the theater.

Monday :: 15 November 2004
Lilly proudly announced this afternoon that she knows how to button. She showed me how she could button and unbutton her baby's dress. I'm proud of her, but I'm also glad that I won't be called into wardrobe service nearly as often now.

Wednesday :: 17 November 2004
As Lisa dropped off Maeve at daycare this morning, she ran over to her friend Anna and the two of them embraced like old friends. When I picked Lilly up, she was overcome with excitement about her ability to write the letter K. She was so into it that she wrote it three times in a row. (I hastened to ask her to write one more!)

Thursday :: 18 November 2004
Momma and Maeve were running early for Maeve's 18-month checkup so they stopped by my office for a quick visit. Maeve toddled around cubicle hell with hardly a backwards glance. While she was shy, she did charm everyone with her beauty. I always think of Lilly as gorgeous (which she most definitely is) but with the word "adorable" on the lips of all my co-workers, I suddenly saw how beautiful my youngest daughter is. She's slimming down a bit now that she's walking and her eyes and countenance are maturing into something more than cherubic.

Maeve's checkup gave us cause for a bit of alarm: her weight continues on it's previous trajectory (in the 75-90th percentile), but her height is now lagging significantly behind (25-50th percentile). Also, the pediatrician recommended getting her speech evaluated. She does talk, but everyone felt that her progress was slow. It doesn't worry me too much. She's always been slow but when she gets going she wastes no time: we saw that with both crawling and walking. Besides, I know she's smart. This morning she walked into the living room, pointed, and stated "vacuum."

Saturday :: 20 November 2004
Lilly has known Max since they were both babies: they started at daycare at almost exactly the same time. Max's mother called Friday night to arrange a play date. In the morning, when I asked Lilly if she wanted to go to Max's house to play, her eyes lit up. "I would LOVE to." Max tells everyone at daycare that he has a crush on Lilly and has told his mom that he and Lilly on going to get married. Lilly seems rather untroubled by all this attention. When I asked her why Max wants to marry her, she guessed that it was because of her "pretty blue eyes." She was having so much fun at Max's house when we picked her up that a scene ensued with much crying, screaming and pouting. Much later, at bedtime, when she was her cheerful self again, she looked me straight in the eye and told me "You're lucky to have a kid." That I am sweetheart, that I am.

Sunday :: 21 November 2004
We had to put the hammer down this morning. Lilly's assertions of "I'm NOT!" have become so frequent and disrespectful that we had to have it out. I blew up after one too many I'm-NOTs and we had to have a family discussion about using words to communicate. Much moping ensued.

Maeve has graduated from her highchair; she's now in a booster seat strapped to a regular kitchen chair. She seems to be taking it all in stride. We went over to Will and Sarah's house to visit baby Mick. While we were there, Maeve (upon filling her diaper) grabbed a fresh diaper out of the diaper bag and made a great show of banging on bathroom door until Momma took her in to get cleaned up. Back at home (and everywhere else, I suppose) Maeve is into everything. We can't take our eyes off her for an instant: she'll take off running and before we know it, she's pulling things off shelves. For example, as Lisa and Lilly were organizing the new art-project cabinet, Maeve had to be in the thick of things and grabbed anything she could get her hands on: crayons, uncapped markers, scissors... sigh.

After Maeve went to bed, Lilly dragged me upstairs to show me her "organizing." She explained, "I LOVE organizing." I admire her desire to keep everything neat and tidy, but it appears as though, in her mind, organizing just means rearranging: moving toys from one storage bin to another. Still...

Monday :: 22 November 2004
Lilly is SOOO excited that Nanny and Grandpa are coming tomorrow. She had Maeve yelling "YAY" at the top of her lungs in the car on the way home from daycare this evening. She was downstairs many times after bedtime because her tummy was excited and she couldn't sleep.

Tuesday :: 23 November 2004
Nanny and Grandpa arrived this morning and the girls were at the airport to pick them up. With a whoop, Lilly raced through the crowd to meet them. They spent the day shopping and eating (as is the Ford-family tradition) and I met them all for dinner when I got off work. Lilly spent the night at Nanny and Grandpa's hotel and got a quick swim in before bedtime. Swim

Wednesday :: 24 November 2004
We hung out around the house today. Lilly accompanied Nanny and Momma to the grocery store leaving Grandpa and Poppa to look after the baby. The adults had theater and dinner plans tonight and Sarah and Maggie Roberts arrived around 5:00 p.m. to give Lilly her dinner and put her to bed. I'm not sure who was more excited about that prospect: the babysitters or the babysittee.

Thursday :: 25 November 2004
Thanksgiving was a mad house: we had nine adults and three children. Lilly and Maeve were very well behaved despite all the confusion. It felt good though: family and friends and warmth and food in our brand-new kitchen. Lilly kept telling everyone, "Our kitchen is done now." She was especially fascinated with the Turkey "skeleton:" the bony wing sticking out of the carcass. She correctly identified the bird as meat but was equally unenthused about my Tofurky. She ended up starching out with a plate of mashed potatoes and rolls.

Friday :: 26 November 2004
First stop this morning was Farm and Fleet for more clothes shopping with Nanny. Next up was procuring our Christmas tree. Lilly didn't want to see the Reindeer at the tree farm, but Maeve seemed very interested and even tried to touch their antlers. Back home, we lit a fire, put on some carols, and set about decorating the tree. Lilly was much more interested in breaking out the Playskool nativity set than in hanging ornaments though. Of course, Maeve was interested as well and this caused considerable friction between the girls. When we had to scold Lilly for not sharing and being mean to her sister, she cried, stormed out, and pouted on the couch in the other room. Maeve followed her and sympathetically rubbed Lilly's trembling back.

Saturday :: 27 November 2004
With Nanny and Grandpa now gone, Lilly had to amuse herself by playing with Maeve. She didn't do terribly well with this though. Eventually, Momma brought down the Playskool farm and zoo so that Maeve would have something to play with instead of getting constantly rebuffed by Lilly, who still refused to share her nativity set. She loves that thing. I cracked up when I overheard saying "Why yes, my Jesus Christ!" Competition and animosity disappeared when we went to Target and Lilly got to sit facing Maeve in the cart specially modified for families: "Look, I'm across from Maeve!"

Sunday :: 28 November 2004
The last few days now behind us, Lilly played much better with Maeve today. She shared and actually offered Maeve various toys and patiently tried to play games with her. Not sure if it's a phase of the moon or what...

Wednesday :: 01 December 2004
Maeve has been cranky and tired lately, and a bad case of diaper rash hasn't helped her mood either. She threw a fit (by standing on her head, as is her wont) at daycare when I tried to get her coat on. I had to wrestle her into it and she thanked me by screaming all the way home. The final phase of teething may be the cause of this irascibility.

Lilly on the other hand was thrilled with the new kitchen furniture that arrived today. She very much likes "her" bar stool as she is now at the right height to eat at the island. She did seem a little put off when she found out the Maeve would be getting to sit on the other stool. Later, Lilly came down because I forgot to brush her hair at bedtime. Actually, she had declined earlier and now decided that she wanted it brushed. Apparently Maggie had told her last week that it's very important to brush her hair three times a day. So far, I've managed to convince that morning and evening are plenty.

Thursday :: 02 December 2004
Maeve is eating quite well with a spoon by now. She loves yogurt and expertly picks up the container to scrape the last little bits out with her spoon. She's also not nearly as messy as Lilly was at this stage of the game.

Lilly has been having trouble sleeping lately. She came down around 10 p.m. and launched into a long rambling story about how last Christmas in New York she got up early and went downstairs to find Aunt Sandra and Aidan (or, as she says it, "AYYYYYYY-din") in the kitchen. This recounting included a description of how she was dressed only in her Hula Girl shirt (and no pants) and that, as a result, she was "so chilly."

Saturday :: 04 December 2004
I spent most of the day working on the downstairs bathroom. Maeve was very interested in the proceedings and it was a struggle to keep her off the plumber's putty, hacksaw, and pipes. She kept wandering in with a big grin on her face. She'd great me with a cheery "Poppa" and then point at the sink and pretend to wash her hands.

Later when things were cleaned up a bit, we introduced her to the training potty. She was quite enthralled and enjoyed sitting herself on it. She also was quite emphatic that her dolly had to use it, though more often than not, the dolly went directly into the bowl. Maeve's probably not ready for potty training in earnest yet, but it looks like she'll pick it up more quickly than Lilly. Lisa had me install hooks on the swinging doors to the kitchen and with the addition of a few baby gates, we had a cordoned and secure area for Maeve's playing and wandering.

Tuesday :: 07 December 2004
Lisa went up to check on Maeve tonight and called to me over the baby monitor: "Russell, could you help me." I responded to this innocuous request only to find Maeve over Momma's shoulder emptying the contents of her stomach down Momma's back. We got everything cleaned up and got the poor little thing back to bed. By morning however, she had vomited six more times.

Wednesday :: 08 December 2004
Lisa stayed home with Maeve today and she was in generally good spirits. She kept everything down and the day passed without mishap. Lilly was a bit jealous of all the attention Maeve's illness had engendered and told us and the daycare teachers that her stomach didn't feel well. It didn't deter her appetite though, so we were skeptical.

As I was reading Lilly her bedtime story, she noticed a shaving cut on my neck. Very concerned, she pointed it out, "you have a red mark on your neck and a little scratch." I instinctively touched it and she barked, "Poppa, don't touch it. You'll make it worse.

Thursday :: 09 December 2004
Maeve is better today and had a good day at daycare. She didn't want to get her coat on to go home though. I told her that we could do it the easy way or the hard way; she chose the hard way. To protest and obstruct me, she laid down on her back and held her hands tightly to her chest. Her grin gave away her intentions, but it really wasn't the time to play games and I wrestled her into her coat.

Sunday :: 12 December 2004
Today was Lisa's office Christmas party for the kids. It was held in a school gymnasium with a half dozen inflatable "jumping houses." Lilly took off and spent two hours sliding down a slide. Maeve wandered around, threading her way through the forest of knees and rarely looking back to see if Poppa was following. When Santa Claus appeared, Lilly pushed her way to the front of the crowd and was first to sit on his lap. She was overjoyed with her bejeweled plastic tiara and wasted no time tearing into it in the car on the way home. The cheap piece of junk broke a few hours later from rough handling and set a downward spiral motion that ended in an early bedtime.

Wednesday :: 15 December 2004
As we drove home from daycare, Lilly pointed out the window and exclaimed "look, a crescent moon." She then insisted on me leaving the BBC news on the radio. She really seemed interested but it was draining trying to explain everything to her: "What did that man do? Why is he killing people?" After dinner, Lilly insisted on packing for our trip to New York. It made no difference to her that we were still a week away from departure. She immediately rejected her little red car suitcase and I had to get out an old wheel-along case. The zipper was a bit iffy and I struggled to get it all zipped up. Later, around nine, Lilly came downstairs to tell me something. "I have to tell you something important ...and IT'S... NOT... GOOD." Then after a suspenseful pause, "We can't go to New York." It turns out that the suitcase zipper was broken. "I can't get it open so we can't go because I can't get my clothes out." I ripped it open, got her another suitcase and soon all was right with the world.

Friday :: 17 December 2004
Today Lilly went shopping with Momma to buy "presents for the kids." Her daycare class had "adopted" a poor family and Lilly seemed genuinely concerned that the family didn't have enough money to buy presents.

Saturday :: 18 December 2004
Overnight Maeve has suddenly become a real person. Sounds weird, I know, but I don't know how else to explain it. She seems so much more aware and communicative with real depth behind her already deep blue eyes. She tenderly rubbed Lilly's head as they sat watching cartoons this morning. When she became frustrated with her shirt sleeves falling down over her hands, she uttered her first real sentence: "sleeves up." Later she was paging through Frosty the Snowman, a book I'd read to her many times over the past few weeks, and quoted clear as day "play all day."

Sunday :: 19 December 2004
We took the girls to a performance of Irish dance this afternoon. Maeve lasted only a half hour, but Lilly sat in the front row totally enthralled for the duration. She yammered constantly the whole way home about how she wanted to be an Irish dancer so she could wear the pretty dresses. She made Lisa promise to look up the school in the phone book as soon as we got home. While I ran into to a store, Lilly questioned her mother about my ethnicity. "We're Irish, right? And Poppa is the kind of people who didn't give us potatoes?" Speaking of eating, Maeve eats constantly. She has slimmed down somewhat now that she's up on two feet, but the kid's appetite is phenomenal. Back home, we worked on a bird mask for Lilly and she told me that I was the best Poppa in the world. Later, when I told her it was time for bed, she seemed to have forgotten all about that declaration. The reason she didn't want to go to bed was that Uncle Chris and Liz had stopped by to give the girls their Christmas gifts.

Monday :: 20 December 2004
One of Uncle Chris' gifts was a Dora doll, bringing the total number of Dora dolls owned by Lilly to two. Today she decided that they were twins and that they were 11 years old. To differentiate them by name, one is Winter Dora and one is Summer Dora. She, of course, is their Momma and she told Lisa today how frustrated she gets when they are naughty. The twins' Poppa is in Africa, traveling with Lions. ("Isn't that brave of him?") When I asked her if he was handsome, she told me "the kids think he's awesome." Well, what does Lilly think? "I think he's kinda funny looking; he looks kinda like you."

Tuesday :: 21 December 2004
There was a dusting of snow on the ground this morning. Lilly was beside herself. She announced, "I'm going to make a snow angel before we go to daycare." Of course, I told her no. Lisa called me later to inform me that while she was putting Maeve into her car seat, Lilly disappeared. She found her in the drive way making, you guessed it, a snow angel.

We got in the car around 6:00 p.m. and drove to South Bend IN. I had made a reservation at a flea bag Days Inn and if we all hadn't been so tired, Lisa probablly would have pulled the plug. We made the best of it (and made a point to wear socks at all times) and Maeve and Lilly went down reasonably well.

Wednesday :: 22 December 2004
The morning drive was uneventful, but it started snowing in Toledo. By the time we got to Cleveland, it the roads were icy and slushy. Right in the middle of Cleveland on I90 the van suddenly started to fish-tail. I lost control and slid sideways into another car, which then pushed a van into the guard rail. Everyone was shaken but no one was hurt. Lilly was really scared. After I had spoken to the responding police officer, Lilly tearfully asked "Is Poppa going to jail?" No jail, no ticket, in fact, hardly any damage to our Honda. (The other cars were not so lucky; tow trucks were arriving as we pulled (slowly) away.

In another hour we were trying to unwind at my sister's house. Lilly and Maeve put the accident out of their minds playing with their cousins and we just kept watching the snow come down outside. Lilly really hit it off with Adam and the two of them disappeared together. Sarah was quite taken with Maeve and spent a lot of time doting on her. After bedtime, Lilly came downstairs crying because she was "thinking about the accident." I lay down with her for a while and tried to reassure her. She kept saying that she was worried about what us getting hurt in a worse crash.

Thursday :: 23 December 2004
We awoke to freezing rain. Lisa called her dad in NY where it was just raining and the forecast was in the upper 30s all day. We left immediately, trying to beat falling temperatures and impending ice. It was nerve wracking and Lilly didn't really need to tell me that I needed to be careful. As we got closer to Canandaigua, Lilly was beside herself with excitement. She was a ball of energy bouncing off everyone and everything when we got to the Fords. Maeve was a bit shy at first, especially with Grandpa.

Friday :: 24 December 2004
We walked the three blocks to Aunt Sandra's new house for a visit. Maeve was extremely jealous of Momma and and her cousin Aidan. Aidan would try to sit in Lisa's lap and Maeve would scream. She didn't want to sit there, she just didn't want Aidan to sit there. Lilly, on the other hand, was quite taken with her younger cousin. Aidan loved playing with Lilly and before long was referring to her as "Mommy."

Nanny helped Lilly prepare a plate for the Fat Man in the Red Suit and his helpers: cookies and milk for Santa, sugar for the reindeer, and cheese for Santa Mouse. After bedtime, Lilly became frightened at the prospect of Santa coming down the chimney. I'm not sure why the thought of hearing him slide down would be scary, but it took some soothing to get her back to sleep.

Saturday :: 25 December 2004
Lilly was up early but mindfully stayed out of the front room and the presents therein. Once we moved on to the presents, Maeve was more interested in the wrapping paper: tearing the paper was definitely more fun than playing with what was inside. Lilly got what she always wanted: an American girl doll. Everyone immediately asked her what she was going to name it but Lilly refused to be rushed. Eventually, she announced that her name was Alice and that she was five years old.

Monday :: 27 December 2004
Uncle Joe's fiancé Yara and her 11-year-old daughter Alexis arrived today. As expected, Lilly was kinda google-eyed over the cool big girl. To her credit, Alexis held up well under the Ford-family chaos and was very sweet to Lilly. I appears as though Lilly thinks she is queen of the castle at Nanny and Grandpa's house. Her already unbridled ego and self-confidence is now unfathomable. When Lisa found Lilly trying to pick up Anaconda, the very large kitty, she scolded her and tried to warn her about the possible dangers of such an endeavour. Lilly looked up and retorted: "I'm smart and I know what I'm doing. You don't have to tell me."

Tuesday :: 28 December 2004
The Ford family reunion was this afternoon. Lilly and Maeve cruised around without fear or trepidation. Lilly cornered her 25-year-old cousin Amanda with a pile of books for quite some time. The reunion culminated with a picture session that involved jamming all the kids onto one couch.

Wednesday :: 29 December 2004
Despite the fact that the snow was disappearing fast under the light misty rain, some of us set out for the sledding hills at Mendon Ponds. The hills were really big but Lilly wasn't scared at all. She screamed all the way down each time and promptly asked for more at the bottom of the hill. Once, as we walked back up, Lilly was knocked over by an out-of-control flying saucer. She got whacked pretty good and let out a mournful wail. I picked her up and through her tears she mumbled in my ears, "I still want to go on the big sled again." When we had to leave, Lilly was not happy: "I don't want to leave because this is TOO much fun." Lilly and Alexis were exhuasted and zonked in the car on the way home. I figured that was the end of them, but when we pulled into the driveway, they jumped out and tore off to make a snowman. Lacking a hat, the finished product had sticks for hair.

Thursday :: 30 December 2004
While I went record shopping, Nanny and Grandpa took the girls to the outlet mall and loaded them up with even more products and clothes. Lilly was especially excited about her new book, The Bunny of Bluebell Hill.

Friday :: 31 December 2004
This morning we drove to Cleveland arriving safely by 2:00 p.m. Grandpa Hall met us at Aunt Beth's house and we all went out to eat at Red Robin. Lilly and Adam insisted on sitting next to each other and Sarah insisted on sitting next to Maeve. We all pigged out. Lilly not happy about going to bed before Adam and Sarah tonight and for some reason decided she wanted to sleep in the upstairs hallway in her Dora sleeping bag. She eventually drifted off and I brought her into our room when we went to bed.

Past diary entries: September-October 2004
July-August 2004
May-June 2004
March-April 2004
January-February 2004
November-December 2003
September-October 2003
July-August 2003
May-June 2003

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