Year Two (part I)
Lilly is TWO years old today. Lisa packed her off to daycare with cup cakes, all the while lamenting the amount of sugar that kids get these days... After work in the afternoon we deluged Lilly the presents that had been arriving steadily by mail over the last few days. First up was a German-made tricycle from Nanny and Grandpa. Lilly was definitely infatuated with it but quickly became frustrated when she couldn't quite figure out how to make the pedals go without getting her feet caught. We decided to disengage her and brought her inside for more unwrapping. She did a fair job ripping open the wrapping paper and squealed in delight when she opened a book from Aunt Sandra. We couldn't see what it was but she excitedly announced: "monkey," followed immediately by "bunny." When we got a look, it turned out to be Curious George and the Bunny. Lilly was enthused about her new outfits from Uncle Joe and Aunt Jen and insisted on trying them on. She was most taken with her Groovy Girl doll sent to her by her little friend Finn Garrison. So taken in fact, that she HAD to go to sleep with her at bedtime. You know, in the two years since I became a father, I've been saying a lot of the corny adult things that I used to hate as a kid (or adult even). One example that comes to mind now: "They grow up so fast."
I left work early and met the girls at the clinic for Lilly's two-year check up. Doctor Whalen thought she was doing great and her standing in the 70th percentile for height proved it. Lisa had been concerned about Lilly's lack of vegetable intake, but according to the doctor, whatever we're feeding is just fine as she's absolutely the picture of health. Her eczema continues especially on her her arms, legs, and cheeks. We were instructed to purchase hypo-allergenic sunscreen, but the main thing is to wait until she grows out of it. No shots today and no more until she's five.
After a clean bill of health at the doctor, we headed down town to shop for Momma's new glasses. In the lobby of the optometrist, she spied a Barney toy and went nuts over it, excitedly yelling "BAH-nee" over and over again. I tried to shield Lisa from this traumatic turn of events. Lilly charmed the store owner so much, that she gave her a little purse/glass case that she clutched proudly as we exited the store. We stopped in at the Community Pharmacy to say hi to our friend Ed. Once again, she turned on the charm and amused us all by playing with the scrubby toys: octopuses, ducks, and more. Lisa needed to drop off her new frames for lenses, so we hit the mall. While Momma did her business, Lilly and I ate pizza and Lo-Mein. We had a blast slurping noodles until Momma collected us and we headed home.
We awoke on the morning of Lilly's birthday party to rain and cold but it couldn't dampen our spirits. We ran to the mall to pick up Lisa's new glasses and as we pulled up in front of the food court, Lilly announced "zaa-zaa", obviously remembering her snack from yesterday. Back home, we got ready for the festivities.
Around 2:00 p.m., the guest began to arrive: Connor Greenya, Abraham Bendorf, and Aaron Brenton. Lilly was shy at first of course, as were all the kids. We tried to loosen everyone up with some food, but the fickle two-year-olds weren't really interested, so we tried opening presents. She did a great job of ripping open the paper and after I'd asked her a few times if she wanted to open something else, she began to prompt me for more presents by saying "else." She LOVED the baby doll from Momma and Poppa and the Lego set from Uncle Chris, but she eventually tore herself away. Towards the end of the party, she got all riled up and ran around the house non-stop trying to kiss and hug all the little blonde boys. She worked herself into such an exuberant state, that she was WAY too keyed up to sleep. We finally got her down by 7:00 p.m. Happy birthday, Princess.
We spent the better part of the afternoon snuggling and getting lovies on the couch. Lilly was very affectionate, kissing and hugging Momma and Poppa. This serious family bonding time eventually broke down as Lilly tried to feed real food to her baby doll. It's not that we were really trying to stop her, she just got really frustrated that the things she was squashing in baby's face wouldn't go into and stay in her mouth. Apparently she had so much fun today that she had to communicate the fact to us by screaming bloody murder for a couple of hours at bedtime.
The girls met me for lunch at work. We went to the AmFam cafeteria and Lilly ate yet more pizza. She also shoveled in cottage cheese and at an entire pickle spear ("gikkle"). As usual, she charmed everyone: co-workers and strangers in the cafeteria alike.
Lilly was waiting for me on the deck when I got home. Lisa informed me that she had been champing at the bit for half an hour so that she could swing ("sing"). We went out the back yard to swing and she contentedly sucked and twirled while I pushed. She does insist that I push from the back, not the front. And if I should dare stop pushing for more than a couple of passes, she announces impatiently, with more than a hint of whine in her voice, "push, push." Lately she's taken to saying "uh-huh" and "OK" in response to questions or suggestions. It damn near kills me it's so cute. She's like a real person or something.
We had breakfast at Cleveland's diner this morning. The lackluster food did nothing to dampen Lilly's spirits and she ate an entire plate-sized pancake. She also insisted on wiping her syrupy hands on her chair and Momma's pants. As long as she was quiet and stayed put in her chair though... Then it was on to the farmer's market on the square. Lilly was content to stay in her stroller for most of the time but we did let her loose for a little play time on the Capitol lawn. She had great fun running away from me and hiding behind a tree. After completing a circuit of the square, we headed home and stopped at the playground in DeForest's Fireman's park. Of course she enjoyed the swings and the slides; she even was able to swing in a big-kid swing all by herself and pump her legs a little. As we were leaving she wanted to try the merry-go-round. She got a bit scared when I got going to fast and asked me to stop. When I did and helped her down, she told me, "hank-yoo."
We got up early and tried to beat the crowds at Johannsen's garden center. Lilly was fascinated by the garden statues especially the "baby" statues, her term for any figure of a child or boy. She started having a melt down when we wouldn't allow her to run out in the parking lot. In an effort to placate her, we asked if she wanted Poppa to go out to the car to get her goldfish crackers. Immediately she crouched down and sat on the ground patiently for the couple of minutes it took me to retrieve her snacks. Effectively redirected from the parking lot, she became fascinated with the water-plant display and we had to drag her away from her activity of throwing pebbles into the pond.
Back at home, we tried to prepare for visitors. After her bath, Lilly refused to wear the outfit Momma picked out and instead insisted on wearing a ugly red jumpsuit that I'm sure mortified her mother. Finally, Lilly gave in and let us change her clothes. We were still struggling to get her shoes on when our friends Jackie and Michael arrived. Lilly, who usual is very shy when she first meets people, warmed up almost immediately. She slayed us all with her extremely vigorous interpretive dance to the Monkey song (Five Little Monkeys).
When I got home from work, Lilly told me about her day. Apparently the coolest thing was swinging ("sing"). I asked her if she went to the library and she shook her head affirmatively and said "book" quite straightforwardly. For dinner, she wanted nothing to eat save grapes. She shoveled them in almost as fast as I could cut them in half. After dinner, we dressed her baby doll. First she wanted her in one of Lilly's summer sleepers. Then we changed her into one of her baby outfits, complete with shoes. Finally, baby ended up in one of Lilly's winter sleepers. All of sudden, Lilly wanted out of her clothes and into her summer sleeper. It was too cold to spend the night in the short sleeves and legs, so instead of bothering with any kind of conflict, I just put her fleecy winter sleeper right over it. That seemed just fine with her.
Tonight after dinner, Lilly was flailing madly through her books trying to find "pooh" and "bunny." We eventually located her books that make sound and she settled down on the couch so she could show me what was what. The "pooh" book (a birthday gift from Uncle Eugene and Aunt Tracy) has four pages showing Pooh sharing activities and four sound-effect buttons that correspond to the activities. Each page displays the correct icon and Lilly was easily able to amke the association and push the right button. The "bunny" book is a Beatrix Potter nursery rhyme book set up in much the same way: each page has song lyrics and an associated button to play the music. Lilly pushed the right button every time and them we swayed (somewhat in time) to the music. While I sang, Lilly hummed tunelessly along and picked out a few select words from my recitations. I don't know what was more fun — swaying and giggling or realizing just how smart our little chinchilla is.
After work, I played with Lilly outside. As usual, we ended up in the yard of our neighbors, the Sterinos, because Lilly is always irresistibly drawn to their slide and swings. Penny, Maggie, and Sarah Roberts came over to say hello. Lilly was shy, refusing even to look at them for a while. She soon loosened up a little though and elicited comments in the vein of "She's soooo cute," and "She's an absolute dolly." That's my kid, turning heads wherever she goes.
Lilly was in a great mood today. We didn't do anything special, just drove to the west side to run some errands. It rained pretty much all day and Lilly was very good about putting up the hood of her yellow slicker when we ran from the car. She was also very insistent that Poppa put his hood up as well. Once inside a store or restaurant, she immediately whipped it off again. Like I said, not a particularly exciting day, but it was absolutely wonderful spending time with our absolutely wonderful daughter.
We went to the local Ace Hardware to take advantage of big Memorial Day sale. Lilly ran up and down the aisle with Momma and Poppa following behind, desperately trying to clean up the swath of destruction in her wake. We purchased two little paint brushes and a galvanized bucket for Lilly and she spent the rest of the day "painting" everything in sight with water. The adult task for the day was planting our annuals and Lilly tried to be helpful. She loved putting potting soil into pots and dragging buckets of dirt around the driveway. She also assisted me with reseeding a bare spot in the back yard. Her grass-seed-sprinkling technique was nothing short of stellar and she enjoyed it so much that she continued walking around the yard spreading seed whether it was needed or not. After our chores were done, we relaxed on the deck and watched our precious thing "paint" the decking, the deck furniture, and her shoes.
We got up late; that hasn't happened in years. Lilly slept late and then snuggled quietly in bed with us for more than an hour. At lunch time, Lilly packed it away: peanut butter and jelly, cheese, milk, and, surprisingly, six or seven pickles. She made a sour face with each bite but kept asking for more "picka." Once, when I handed her a small one, she pushed it away and reached for the container. When I offered it to her, she leaned over, carefully scrutinized the contents, and selected the biggest and fattest of the bunch. Lilly has begun insisting on drinking from a proper cup instead of a sippy cup. She does incredibly well too, gripping the handle firmly in her right hand and spilling hardly a drop. She even seems to be challenging herself by forcing herself to use only one hand. Her left hand flails around and involuntarily moves to support the cup but she resists the temptation and completes the process using only her right hand. When we clap and squeal, she beams proudly. Our friends Will and Sarah came for a cookout around 4:00 p.m. and Lilly kept us all entertained on the deck by "painting" everything in sight and stuffing cheese and crackers in her face.
This morning as we left the house we saw three chipmunks on the sidewalk by the side door. Lilly identified them as "monks." As we watched, it was clear that there was a mother and two babies. When we pointed this out to her, Lilly announced: "baby monk; momma monk." Then, as they ran away, "bye-bye monk." When we got to daycare, she had to tell her teacher Kelly about the "monks." In the evening at dinner time, Lilly demonstrated a new and perplexing behavior. She kept trying to pick something off her tray and hand it to me. I couldn't see what it was but I just figured it was a crumb or something, so I just pretended to take it from her and throw it away. She continued trying to pick things off her tray. Finally, I looked and saw that she had spilled a couple drops of milk. I asked her if she wanted me to clean in up and she nodded. After that, she wanted me to keep her tray spotless. If some jelly or crumbs fell off of her sandwich, I had to wipe them up immediately. Strange. Also strange was the fact that today she used her left hand to drink milk from her cup with just as much success as using her right hand over the past few days.
Lisa accompanied Lilly on her daycare field trip today. Lilly almost drove her mother to the brink of madness. She was clingy and weepy the entire bus ride to the farm. Once at the farm, she was owly and cranky. To make matters worse, Lilly spied a swingset and spent two hours trying to break away from the tour group in order to "swing." She screamed and kicked constantly as Lisa had to drag her back to the group.
Thursday's hellchild was still with us. Momma was home with Lilly for the entire, interminable day. Suffice it to say that both mother and child were very happy to see me when I got home, though for entirely different reasons.
We all went Will and Sarah's house for a pool party. Lilly loved everything involved: wearing her swimsuit, getting slathered with sunscreen, wearing her floaty vest, and splashing in the shallow end. She loved sitting on the steps and playing with her fishy toys but got scared when we carried her out further and she started floating. She also entertained herself by pressing a piece of lawn furniture into service as a makeshift slide. With all the sun and excitement, she was out like the proverbial light at bedtime.
This morning, Lilly made a point of announcing that it was "raining" (franing). She asked for her slicker and put up her hood, which she refers to as a "hat." As we walked from the house to the garage, she again let me know that it was still raining. As soon as we were inside the garage, she whipped off her hood and announced: "done."
For some reason, Lilly's pronunciation of hair has changed yet again. "Oat" has now become "haar;" although the mysterious pronunciation of water (ah-boo) continues. Lilly also continues to insist on dressing herself from time to time. This usually results in some god-awful outfits that would, no doubt, send her ever-fashionable Aunt Sandra in to shock. Most of the time, I bow to her wishes. I figure that these are not really battles worth fighting OR winning. Lilly's battles to express herself verbally also continue. She uses more and more sentences. ( For example, "I want juice," or "Poppa, sit here.") She's also using a lot of statements of affirmation such as "yeahh" and "okay." (For the longest time, she could clearly tell us "no" but when she agreed with something, she would just nod her head.) Lilly's obsession with cleanliness has been cranked up a notch. Upon encountering a dead ant on the floor this evening, she had to loudly point out that it needed to be cleaned up: "Poppa, clean."
After breakfast, I suggested that we go upstairs and get dressed. Lilly took this to mean that she was going to wear a dress today and got very excited. When we got to her room, she rooted around through her dresser until she found just the right one. Unfortunately, it was a 18-month dress from last summer. It still fit, sort of, but it showed a lot of leg. Thank goodness, it came with a pair of matching bloomers so that we could maintain some semblance of modestly. Lisa wanted to shop for some clothes today (trying things on by herself with Lilly in tow is darn-near impossible). As we pulled into the parking lot, Lilly pointed, shouted, and correctly identified the store as Target!
In the afternoon, we went to the zoo. Our first stop was the Lion exhibit. She had been asking about "big kitties" all morning and here they were. She was very excited and all of a sudden pointed and said, "lion" (ion). Next stop was the monkey house. Given her recent obsession with monkeys (Curious George, et. al.), we were looking forward to her reaction. She surprised us when she was so fearful of the chimps. I tried to put her down right next to the glass to see the monkey face to face. She held on to me with a death grip and repeated over and over, "no, no, no, no, no!" In fact, she was very timid for the rest of the visit. She did seem to enjoy the bears ("bahr") and was absolutely beside herself when she got to feed the goats. I had to help her keep her hand flat to ensure the retention of all fingers, but she was pretty comfortable coming face to face with the bearded things.
Momma wasn't feeling well today, so I got up early and played with Lilly in her room. She "read" to me for quite a while. I could make out a few words on each page and she was definitely referring to the items or activities on the page. Smart little cookie. Later in the morning, I created a monster by swinging Lilly by her arms or legs. Her name for this game was "dizzies" and as soon as I stopped, she called for more. It was loads of fun for both of us, but it was a bit hard on poor old Poppa's back. During all this swinging and upside down business, I noticed an upper molar poking out from the gum. Could this explain her hellish behavior of the last week or so? Later in the afternoon, we set up lawn chairs and watched Lilly splash in her kiddy pool. To cap our lazy summer day, we hit Culver's for some ice cream. Lilly enjoyed eating on her own using her own little cup and long-handled spoon. She quickly cleaned up any spills by grabbing a napkin and swiping at them. Even though she cleaned up the table, Momma and Poppa were responsible for cleaning up the dear one's choclate-covered face.
I was sitting in a meeting at work today and day-dreaming about Lilly. As I imagined her climbing up onto my lap, I felt a fullness in my chest and a warm glow of overwhelming happiness. Can you tell that I love her?
Nanny arrived for short visit. Lilly had been talking about it for days and was beside herself when she actually got to the house. She wasted no time in warming up to her and dragging Nanny all over the yard to show off her swing, bikes, and pond. From there we moved inside where Lilly showed Nanny her extremely athletic dance to the Monkey Song. Lilly was so enamoured her grandmother that Nanny was able to take over the bedtime chores from Poppa and got her down without a peep.
Lisa had to work today leaving Nanny home alone with Lilly. Far from this being an inconvenience for her, Nanny was overjoyed with the opportunity. Momma and Poppa returned home to a happy and content Lilly and a happy but exhausted Nanny. Somewhere along the line during the day, Nanny taught Lilly how to blow on hot food to cool it down. Lilly picked up on the concept, but her execution was more like sucking than blowing.
Despite the Mayors Convention clogging up downtown, we went to the Farmers Market on the square. Lilly didn't stay in her stroller for long; I carried her on my shoulders for most of the way around. As usual, Lilly was fascinated by the melee of hippie farmers and yuppie customers as well as the flowers, dogs, birds, and balloons. Half way around, we sat on a marble bench and munched on sticky buns. On our way home, Nanny insisted on stopping at Toys'R'Us to buy Lilly a sandbox. We settled on a green frog sandbox with big googly eyes on the cover. Of course, according to Nanny, Lilly HAD to have some new toys to play with in her brand-new sandbox, so we also came away with a full complement of pails, shovels, rakes, sifters, and trucks. As expected, the afternoon was spent in and around the sandbox in the back yard. We tried, with some success, to impress upon Lilly that the sand should stay IN the sandbox.
After lunch. we dropped off Nanny at the airport. As Nanny walked through the security checkpoint, Lilly waved, shouted "bye-bye," and blew kisses to her disappearing grandmother. For the rest of the day and into the next few days, Lilly continued to ask for Nanny, sometimes even coming to tears when we told her Nanny had gone home.
Lilly loves to take her vitamin (buh-yin) in the morning. Often, if we forget or are a bit slow offering it, she'll remind us loudly. As she takes hers, she lets us know that Momma and Poppa need theirs too. ("Momma buh-yin; Poppa buh-yin.") Some days, Lilly will get upset that she can't have another vitamin in the evening too.
Much to Momma's chagrin, Lilly has fallen hard for Barney (yes, that damn purple dinosaur). Every night after dinner, we sit on the couch and watch Barney. One of the new words she's learned is "special" (persha). Whenever she hears it on TV (which, on Barney, is a lot) she brightens up and shouts it at the top of her lungs. If we ask her if SHE's special, she responds with an ear-splitting "YES!"
We packed up early and drove up to Poynette to pick strawberries. Because the pick-your-own field was a ways from the parking lot, the farm staff used tractor-pulled wagons to transport the city slickers out to the produce. Lilly went wild when she saw the tractors and thoroughly enjoyed the ride to the field. We got our row assignment and tried to show Lilly how to pick the berries. She seemed more interested in looking around at all the activity. She did help me out by holding a quart container into which I put my harvest. Once I showed her that they were edible, she would occasionally grab one and stuff a bite into her face. She never ate a whole berry though; she'd just take a bite, throw it back into the container, and then look for another one. She learned the hard way that the green ones don't taste very good. The rain that had been threatening us for the last hour, finally started to come down. It came down so fast and so hard that by the time I was able to get my umbrella out, we already pretty wet. Lilly was not amused and started to cry when the deluge started. I scooped her up under the umbrella and we ran to the covered wagon. Once seated, we noticed Lilly's mouth was stained red from in-the-field munchings. We hastily cleaned her up lest we get charged for her indiscretions.
Lately Lilly has decided that she likes to pretend to take naps in her stroller. Today she got in her head that she wanted to take a stroller ride and she would NOT take no for an answer. After enduring request after whiney request for "night-night stroller" we broke down. Unfortunately it was so hot and humid outside that we opted for a night-night stroller ride at the mall. Momma and Poppa took care of a few errands, and Lilly got her fill of her stroller. We headed home to prepare for a visit from our friends John and Dawn. They arrived right around Lilly's bedtime and she made a great show of it for them, running back and forth between Momma and Poppa and giving us exaggerated hugs and kisses good night. As I tried to heard her off the back porch, she really hammed it up for our guests with waves, "bye-byes," and kisses. Turn it on hard, kid.
When I picked up Lilly from daycare, I was informed that her shirt was wet from the drinking fountain. I didn't think too much of it until we walked by said drinking fountain. Of course, Lilly insisted on getting another drink. The fountain was low enough so that she could do it herself (apparently she'd been taught how to push the button for water). Unfortunately, it was just high enough that as she attempted to drink, most of the water ran down her chin and onto the floor, absolutely soaking her shirt in the process. When we got home, Lilly stated that she wanted "ducky juice." That, of course, meant that she wanted juice in her ducky cup. In this case she wanted the content of a juice box poured into her cup. In addition to that peculiar request, she also insisted on Skippy peanut butter rather than Momma's organic stuff.
Today Lilly said "yes" for the first time. When she says it, it's absolutely adorable too — sort of "yay-es." Already she's replaced "uh-huh" and "OK" with this new word. She's grasping other concepts too. She's very fond of pointing out when things are big. Like a snapping turtle in a book or a car. Tangentially, she also likes to characterize similar object with different sizes as "momma-baby." For example, she loves to point out the momma ducky and baby ducky on her favorite cup.
It was hot today. Lisa, who does not do well in the heat, was toying with the idea of taking a trip to the Children's Museum downtown. When asked if she wanted to go, Lilly replied that she want to ride in the "night-night stroller." When Lisa informed her that the museum wasn't a good place for the stroller, Lilly thought about it and to Lisa's horror announced "mall." They ended up spending two horrors strolling around the air-conditioned mall.
This afternoon, as we walked the path back to the parking lot from the dog park, Lilly insisted on holding the leashes. Without thinking, I handed her Erin and Sabrina's leashes. The next thing I knew, the greyhounds had pulled her over and started to drag her over the gravel. Fairly quickly, she let go of the leads and we scooped her up. She had a few scratches but otherwise was none the worse for wear. She seemed to be more upset about the fact that someone else had taken over the leashes.
This morning we headed out to Milwaukee for the Compuware company picnic at the zoo. Although initially frightened by the loud whistles of the miniature steam trains, she ended up enjoying the ride and waving to all passerbys. She liked the monkey house and pointed out the big monkeys as well as the momma and baby monkeys. She also liked the seal show despite the oppressive heat in the grandstand. The zoo tried to combat the heat by strategically placing sprinklers around the grounds. We tried to take advantage of as many as these as possible but we eventually gave up and hit the road. On the way home, we stopped at that bastion of yuppie commercialism, the outlet mall. While Momma tried to find some pants at Old Navy, Lilly insisted on pushing a shopping cart herself and nearly running over more than a few consumers in her way. Of course, I tried to intervene, but I was slapped away by my independent little queen.
We packed up and staked out our spot along the DeForest Fourth of July parade route. Lilly wasn't nearly as interested as last year and split her attention between the baby next to us and the never-ending stream of fire engines, cheerleaders, and veterans. At one point she thrashed around in her stroller so much that she tipped the whole thing over backwards. She was fine, though Momma was shaken and the old folks behind us were a bit freaked out. Moments later, she was squirming in my lap and managed to inflict some minor damage to Poppa's tender vittles.
When I regained my composure, we ditched out on the parade and walked over to Fireman's Park to check out the festivities. Lilly and I bought ice cream while Momma found a picnic table. I gave Lilly her cone and pointed her in the right direction while I paid. She looked so cute clutching her cone in both hands and looking around for Momma. Reunited, we sat down to eat. I believe that this was Lilly's first ice-cream cone and she tore into it with gusto. It turned out to be messy, of course, but not nearly as bad as I had feared. After a half-hearted attempt at cleaning the girl up, we got in line for the pony rides. Lilly loved the five minute ride and kept petting her steed and telling him that he was a "good boy."
In the afternoon, we went over to Will and Sarah's pool to try to beat the heat. Lilly splashed a little, but didn't seem all that interested. When she got out of the water, she soon discovered just how hot the cement patio could get and retreated to the shade of the pool side umbrellas. While the adults lounged in the pool, Lilly amused herself by playing on the deck chairs and eating snacks.
We told Lilly we were going to a party at our friend Tony's house this afternoon. She jumped up and down clapping and yelling "party, party." Also in attendance were Hazel Wade, a precocious 9-year-old who took great delight in teaching Lilly how to use the neighbors' swing set. Under Hazel's tutelage Lilly quickly mastered the ladder and the big girl swing. She grabbed on tight to stay on, pumped her legs to go faster, and dragged her feet to slow down and stop. Hazel even gave her a few push-unders. Momma's heart skipped a few beats, but I was happy to see how confident she was. Lilly also had another playmate, three-and-a-half-year-old Jackson. They got along pretty well except for a few sharing issues over a toy truck. At several points, Lilly saw something fall to the ground and she quickly volunteered, "I get it." She'd been saying this for a while, but it really struck me this afternoon. Her language skills have increased dramatically over the past week or so and she now regularly puts together sentences that include verbs, adjectives, pronouns, and even helper verbs. She has even been using the very adult-like "ummm..." to fill space while she thinks about her answer to a question.
It was so hot that Lisa decided that we had to find an indoor activity. When Lisa asked Lilly if she wanted to go to a restaurant, Lilly immediately answered "pizza." When Lisa asked her if she wanted to go to Rocky's, Lilly nodded and repeated it over and over until we got there. After pizza, we went over to Culver's for an ice cream. As we walked in the door, she immediately began shouting "ice-cream cone." Of course I bought her one. Lilly has mysteriously stopped calling water "a-boo," and is now using the much more understandable "vahter."
We recently realized that Lilly has gotten us wrapped around her finger when it comes to dinner time. We ask her what she wants to eat and we do our best to accommodate her. Today I put a new plan into action. I prepared her dinner with a variety of good things to eat and set it out for her. When she threw a fit and refused to eat anything, I explained to her that if she didn't want what I'd given her, she wasn't going to eat anything. I ended up putting a very cranky two-year-old to bed without any supper.
Over breakfast this morning, Lilly told me all about her field trip to the zoo yesterday. She informed me that she didn't feed the goats and that there were two seals and they were just swimming not clapping. She saw an elephant, lion kitties that went meow, and tiger babies. Momma informed me that this was mostly true.
For the last few days, I'd been telling Lilly that Grandpa Hall was coming for a visit. She was a bit confused and assumed that Nanny was coming too. I tried to explain that she has two grandpas and that it was Grandpa Hall who was coming. This morning, I told her he would be here any minute and she looked and me seriously and said "two?" When I nodded, she clapped and said "Grandpa Hall." (Mysteriously, in the last few days, her world for grandpa has become "biappa.") Lilly warmed up to Biappa Hall pretty quickly and sat him down on the couch for a story book session. We ran a bunch of errands and one stop was the shoe store. While I tried on shoes and Lisa acted as fashion consultant, Lilly played with Grandpa taking one pair of shoes at a time out of the box. Grandpa enforced a one-pair-at-a-time rule and Lilly seemed to go along with it though she constantly tested rule. Eventually, she had Grandpa laying down on the floor playing nighty-night with the tissue paper from the shoe boxes.
After dinner at Tony's in DeForest, Grandpa accompanied Lilly upstairs for brusha-brusha. On the way to her bedroom, we stopped to show Grandpa our recently renovated guest room. Lilly scrambled up onto the bed and mugged and flopped around shamelessly. Grandpa got down on his knees to give her a kiss goodnight. With a word of encouragement she stroked and tugged on his beard. Grandpa told her it wouldn't come off and she laughed. After Lilly was down, we sat at the kitchen table for a little while. I apologized for all our mundane errands during the day and for not organizing more exciting plans. My father insightfully pointed that while adventures are fun, some of the most memorable moments are the ordinary ones that life places in our path. He assured us that he will never forget lying on the floor of the shoe store playing nighty-night with his granddaughter.
We set out around nine, bound for my cousin Julie's house in suburban Chicago and a family reunion of sorts. We stopped in Janesville to get Lisa something to eat. Unable to locate anything good, we settled on Burger King. As we sat in the drive-through line, Lilly began pointing and shouting "ice-cream cone." We looked and saw a Culver's directly across the street! Momma choked down a grease muffin and Lilly and I munched on some hash rounds. After a quick excursion to check out the playland slides and an apparently very intriguing tunnel, we were soon back on our way. Lilly soon complained that her tummy hurt, which wasn't so surprising given the grease content of our morning snack. We offered her a granola bar to soak up the grease and she was soon singing along to her Winnie the Pooh piano book.
First order of business at Julie's was to investigate the stream and pond out back with her cousins Mallory and Jessica (my cousin Jay's daughters). Lilly was beside herself at the sight of frogs in the water and jumped up and down testing the mettle of the wooden bridge under her feet. Later, she and her cousin Paige (Julie's daughter) played in a blow-up whale pool. Paige grabbed the hose while the pool was filling and flailed about threatening to douse everyone. Actually, only Lilly got wet. She screamed and laughed as she ran away. Then, until the pool was filled and turned off, she stayed well clear of Paige's erratic hose work. Once filled, the girls played with the attached sprinkler, slid down a slide into the water, and bounced on the side of the pool horseback-style. The day finished with ice cream and a peaceful drive as Lilly slept all the way home.
We walked down to Fireman's Park to take advantage of the beautiful weather. Lilly enjoyed playing on the equipment as usual while Momma and Poppa relaxed in the shade. At first, Lilly was extremely tentative about walking on the swinging plank bridge. We encouraged her from afar and after a couple of white-knuckle trips, she was scampering across like Indiana Jones. I was pleased to see Lilly playing independently and interacting with other kids but Lisa was apprehensive that she was so far away from us. As Lilly was playing on the bouncy rocking horses with two other little girls, Lisa's worst fears came true. As she tried to climb up onto a horse, Lilly slipped and banged her mouth on the handles. She began bawling and we ran over to her. She was fine though; there was a bit of blood on her lips but it was, as they say in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, only a flesh wound. Within two minutes, she was happily swinging on the other side of the playground.
Today we went Mindsparks (one of those snooty, yuppie toy stores for parents who want to provide their children with all the latest educational toys and games) due to incredible heat. Actually, it's not there's a lot of cool stuff there but the vibe is a bit hoity toity. We played and looked at books for a couple of hours and came away with some new magnetic letters for the fridge and several educational posters (the alphabet, counting, shapes) for Lilly's room. Oh dear, maybe we ARE those snooty parents? Later in the afternoon, Lisa spelled out L-I-L-L-Y. Idly, I pointed to it and asked Lilly what it said. To our shock and disbelief, Lilly proudly announced "Iddy." Our little two-year old had just READ HER OWN NAME.
Lilly awoke about an hour after going to bed and began to raise a holy racket. When we investigated, it turned out that the educational poster we purchased yesterday and that Lisa had hung up today, had begun to fall down. I gave a half-hearted attempt at putting them back up with poster putty. Finally, after repeating this process several times over several hours, we removed the non-sticky posters from the room and the problem went away.
We went over to a co-worker's house for a party/cookout. Lilly had a blast playing with cars and trains with little Ian and mugging at babies Austin and Laura. She was well-behaved and played and ate well. At 5:30 we left to go to another party, this one a first birthday celebration for the daughter of one of Lisa's co-workers. On the way there we had Lilly practice saying, "Happy Birthday Anusha." She was doing fine until we got there and she forget everything we had been practicing; stage fright, I guess. Again, Lilly had fun running around with the other kids and playing with balloons. When she stepped on a balloon and it blew up in her face though, she got pretty scared, starting wailing, and ran for the safety of Momma's arm.
By the time we left at 8:30, it was two-and-a-half hours after her bedtime and Lilly was absolutely exhausted. She was so tired that she couldn't even sleep on the way home; she just stared straight ahead, zombie-like. She fell asleep five minutes before we got home and barely stirred as I carried her upstairs. She actually slept while I changed her diaper and got her into her pajamas.
At the Atlanta Bread Company for breakfast, Lilly gobbled egg off of Momma's egg sandwich and clambered for as many bites of sweet roll as Poppa would give her. Later, while Momma was in the bathroom, Lilly deftly fished Momma's wallet out her purse, unsnapped the clasp, and pulled out a fist-full of bills. When I asked her what she had, she announced, "money." This afternoon, we noticed that Lilly loves imitating the kitty. She cocks her head to the side, scrunches up her nose and says, "meow, meow, meow, meow" in a goofy voice. She also now calls Wilson by name, though it comes out "Oh-sin."
Also on the agenda, a gift from Aunt Sandra, which came yesterday. In the package was a floppy stuffed moose. Lilly couldn't figure out exactly what it was, alternately calling it "moo-moo" or "neigh-neigh." We finally convinced her that is was a moose and the the things on its head were antlers not ears. She took to it immediately and dragged it around for the rest of the day. The moose seemed to bring out her sense of the absurd: she told us that her moose eats bugs and insisted on having Poppa put socks and shoes on its antlers. By the time I left for rehearsal, the moose was also wearing a bib.
While cooking at home today, Momma and Lilly called me at work. When Lisa handed the phone to her, Lilly triumphantly exclaimed, "Hullo, Poppa." That lifted my spirits for the entire afternoon.
Every morning when we go out to the garage, Lilly asks, "Poppa's car?" Most of the time I say no, because Lisa usually takes the wee one to daycare. So Lilly asks, "Momma's car?" As I buckle her into her car seat, she usually gives me a kiss and says "bye-bye." Today, she grabbed my hand, turned it over, and slapped me five. This is a game we used to play a lot: I extend my hand, she slaps it, and I say, "ALRIGHT, baby!" Looks like we've resurrected this silliness. Tonight when we went into the bathroom for brusha-brusha, Lilly noticed a tissue that had blown on the floor. She immediately ran over to it, grabbed it, and stuffed back in the box. After brushing her teeth, she spent a long time cooing and making faces in mirror. I think she was even humming a Barney song.
This morning, Lilly insisted on taking her sunglasses (in their case) with her when we went out to the car. As got into my car, I saw her sitting in Momma's car, expertly unlatching the case and shoving the cool orange sun glasses onto her face. As I pulled out of the garage, I saw her excitedly telling Momma that she now had her glasses ON.
Tonight during brusha-brusha, Lilly asked for a tissue. She wiped her nose, looked at the crumpled tissue, and quietly announced: "booger." Later, after she had been down for a couple of hours, she began to loudly repeat "uh-oh Poppa." When it became obvious that she was not going to settle down, I went up to investigate. Another poster had fallen down. While I was kneeling to fix it, Lilly noticed my new shoes and excitedly drew my attention to them by screaming "shoes, shoes." After setting everything right, I turned off the light and told her to lie down and go night-night. As she settled in, she said night-night to her baby, then her moose, then Momma. As I left the room, I heard her continue: "Night-night puppy. Night-night Poppa..." Around midnight, I was awakened again. This time it turned out that she just couldn't abide the thought of her baby being naked for the rest of the night (even though it had been that way for weeks). I fumbled around for a sleeper for the baby doll, inserted said doll into the aforementioned sleeper, and returned to bed.
We spent the morning cruising the garage sales in DeForest and Token Creek. You know, it's funny: we used to avoid garage sales with large amounts of baby clothes like the plague; now, we're sucked in by them. We picked up some Richard Scary books, a whole series of National-Geographic-like nature books, and the classic Playskool barn and silo. In the afternoon, we stopped by the Atwood Summerfest. Lilly liked looking at all the activity and commotion. We were frankly pretty bored with the bad cover bands, hippies, and lack of good food. Next we stopped by our friend Rylee's place of business. While Lisa and Rylee sat and chatted, I chased Lilly around the Matador Consulting offices. She was especially into the swinging doors separating the front and back offices. We wound up the afternoon with a quick trip to Woodman's to pick up supplies. Lilly insisted on sitting in the basket proper of the shopping cart and was nearly covered by groceries by the end of the excursion.
We hit the road by 8:15 and were in Chicago by 11:00. We found our friend Kris' apartment and settled in for a visit. Lilly was friendly and well-behaved and delighted in playing with Kris' roommate's beanie baby and trying on Kris' shoes and purse. After a late lunch we headed to the O'Hare Hilton to meet Nanny and Grandpa. They were on their way back from visiting Uncle Joe and we met them for their layover. Lilly had been buzzing for days about this visit and was overjoyed to see them, especially Nanny. I guess that extra visit from last month put Nanny ahead of Grandpa in the bonding contest. Lilly played with her grandparents and mugged it up during an early supper at the Hilton. Grandpa was absolutely floored at the fact that, in his words, "she has a nose now." They were both impressed at her considerable linguistic prowess. Nanny and Grandpa had a hard time tearing themselves away in order to catch their plane and Lilly didn't make it any easier by making a huge production of waving and blowing kisses as they disappeared on the moving walkway. Our little princess slept all the way home.
We went to Toys R Us to find a birthday present for Aaron Brenton, whose party is next Saturday. We stopped, eyeing some mod outfits for Lilly. When we discovered they were on sale, we browsed and asked Lilly's opinion. She grab the shorts and shirt I was examining and expressed her approval with squeals. I removed her shirt so I could try on the new one for fit and fashion. Before I knew it, she was on the floor struggling out of her shorts. Nothing could sway her from her mission, so we dressed her in her (now) new outfit and continued our shopping with the price tags flapping in the breeze. I knew better than to try to remove her new clothes for checkout so we just had the clerk scan the whole child. In an effort to beat the heat, we headed to Culver's for an ice cream. Lilly slurped down half of my shake with gusto and turned herself into a sticky mess.
Around 6:00 we turned Lilly over to the care of Maggie Roberts and went out for dinner and a party. We warned Maggie that Lilly had been fussy in the evening and very demanding of attention. When we checked in later, we found that Lilly had indeed fussed and kept Maggie running around for toys and wiping her nose and getting her a drink of water. Later, Maggie called reporting that Lilly wanted to get up and go potty. We knew that this was a trick to get out of bed and get more attention, so we advised her not to succumb. After we got home and sent Maggie on her way, we peaked in the little hellion. She had every toy from her toy box in bed with her as well as a dozen books and a couple of bottles. There was no vegging in front of the TV for Maggie this night; she earned her forty bucks tonight.
This isn't any way to put this delicately: Lilly was a hell child today. There were brief respites when she would play quietly by herself, but over all she was whiney, disagreeable, and demanding. Lisa called at me at practice around 7:30, practically beside herself. Lilly had climbed out of her crib several times, and was throwing a screaming fit every 20 minutes or so. To top it all off, she kept repeating, "No Maggie." I rushed home only to find her (finally) sleeping peacefully.
After last night's debacle, it was obvious that Lilly's sleeping arrangements had to change. I removed the sliding front side of her crib, turning it into what Lilly refers to as a "big-girl bed." In addition we installed door-knob covers and barricaded the closets, in an effort to protect Lily and her belongings for the night roaming that we felt was sure to come. As we sat around after our child-proofing efforts, Lilly started rummaging through her clothes. She would try to put on a shirt or pants and when she got stuck, she'd solicit my help. All told, she ended up with seven shirts and five pants on. She looked like a pudgy linebacker and had considerable difficulty climbing into her big-girl bed to play. We finally stripped her down when we noticed her getting a bit flushed. Her first night in the big-girl bed was not without tribulation. Although we didn't have to worry about her climbing out of the crib and hurting herself, she was still pretty trying. She cried often and demanded all manner of toys, drinks, nose wipes, and books. At time like these, I console myself with cliché thoughts about her going through a phase and that this can't last forever.
Today when I asked her what she wanted for dinner, she asked for cheese. This was unremarkable and I handed her a stick of string cheese (her favorite). Then she asked for ketchup. She gleefully dipped her cheese stick in it and licked it off. She eventually devoured the entire thing and moved on to dipping her kidney beans in the ketchup and snapping them into her mouth with a impish grin. Tonight was a better night in the big-girl bed. She settled down pretty quickly and only woke up a couple of times. I think we're getting somewhere.
Lilly went down fairly well in her big-girl bed tonight. When Meagan Paulson arrived to baby-sit, we spent an inordinate amount of time explaining all the things that could go wrong: from falling out of bed to demanding a drink of water. We checked in a couple of times during the evening to learn that all was quiet. In fact, it turns out that Lilly didn't make a peep for Meagan the entire night.
Today was Aaron Brenton's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. This was a new experience for not only Lilly but for Momma and Poppa as well. Lilly was a little taken aback by the large, furry animatronic animals "performing" music on the stage in the birthday-party area. She was a little better than Aaron who insisted on sitting at the far end of the table. Eventually Lilly got down to the business of eating pizza and cake, largely ignoring the malevolent characters. I did notice her slyly glancing at the stage from time to time with a look of fascination on her face. After lunch, Lilly had fun in the ball pit, slides, and driving games. She was a little frightened by the Jet Ski game that she insisted on riding and Poppa had to finish it out by himself.
After running a few errands in the morning, decided to grab some subs and have a picnic. We drove to a small, little-used park in Token Creek and spread out our lunch on the picnic table. A couple of passing cyclists shouted, "It's a Kodak moment," and indeed it was. After lunch, we wandered through the 150-year old graveyard and then over to the creek. We saw a bunch of cranes hunting for frogs in the wetlands and Lilly seemed very interested, even waving bye-bye as we moved on. Her interest was also captured briefly by grasshoppers buzzing in the tall grass. Back in the grassy picnic area we played dizzies. I would swing her around by her arms until she told me to stop. As soon as she was on her feet and her head stopped spinning, she would run up to me and tell me, "gin." So of course, I'd have to do it again. As I ran around with Lilly in hot pursuit, I realized how I much I love my family and how happy I am. How could it be any better?
Lilly's bedtime routine is getting more complicated and drawn out. Brusha-brusha now includes foot washing where Lilly sits on the vanity and I wash her feet in the sink. It also includes hand washing, drinking water from a cup, and singing and making faces in the mirror. Sometimes it includes potty time as well. When we finally move in to the bedroom, the first order of business is to choose her sleepwear. ("I pick it.") If she is indecisive, I have to force the issue and she doesn't like that. Lately, her sleeping attire has included socks that she insists on pulling up all the way making her look like a soccer player.
Once dressed for bed, we head over to the rocking chair for story time. Before we can read anything though, she has to select items for my lap. Usually this includes baby and blanket, but is often extended to all manner of other stuffed animals depending on her mood. Finally, she sets about picking a book. Sometimes she goes right for one, but usually she sifts through mounds before arriving on a suitable choice. After reading two or three, I'll warn her, "One more and then it's time for night-night," but we always read two more. She'll usually want another one and I'll tell her she can take it into bed with her. She normally just grabs something and sticks it in the corner of her bed where it stays put for the entire night. Sometimes she'll want baby's clothes changed or removed. If she fusses and putters too much, I'll threaten to leave: "OK, nighty-night." At that prospect, she panics and crawls right into bed and grabs my hair. I cover her up, give her the daily affirmation, sing a bit of Mockingbird, kiss her on the cheek, and wave goodbye. Every day or so, she'll wake up around 9 or 10 and want a drink of water, but overall, I think we've made the transition to big-girl bed.
Today was Lisa's work picnic at the Vilas Zoo. Deloitte Consulting had rented the visitor's center and we ate and lounged in around the building. Lilly chowed down two helpings of potato salad as well has a whole container of kidney beans that Momma had brought from home. She was also very interested in Poppa's cookies. After lunch we walked around the zoo and although she was very excited to see each animal, when we actually approached the enclosure, she got scared and kept saying "no, no, no." She'd been talking about feed the goats for days, but when we got there, she just wanted Poppa to feed them while she watched. Oh well, on to the reptile house. She liked the turtles, fishies, and snakes, but clung desperately to my legs when we got to the giant tortoises. Back at the visitor's center, Lilly charmed all the adults, especially Lisa's boss by telling everyone what animals she saw and what sound the snake makes ("thhhht").
As I've said before, all-you-can-eat buffets may not be the peak of culinary excellence but they make it quick and easy to get food in front of a two-year-old. Lilly especially enjoys the pancakes and French toast at the Olde Country Buffet. Of course, she also likes the syrup that goes with them and by time we leave she is a sticky mess against which the provide wet naps make little headway. We took our little honey bear to Fireman's Park to rub off some of the syrup on play equipment. Lilly has gained a lot of confidence playing by herself and happily scrambled up the stairs, down the slide, and back to start over again. Back at home, I was relaxing on the couch when Lilly clambered into my lap. As we sat there snuggling and giggling, my heart felt like it would burst. She is amazing. We ended the afternoon with a trip to the dog park. Lilly had a blast running screaming across the field trying to catch the sprinting puppies. As we were leaving, she carefully selected two rocks from a pile of gravel and proudly presented them to Momma and Poppa.
We were up and on the road by 5:30 a.m. It was long ride to New York. It's impossible to estimate how many toys, dollies, books, bottles, shoes, and music makers Lisa or I had to retrieve from the floor of the van. We stocked a good supply of Lilly diversions though, and by only bringing out new items as the fascination with the previous ones waned, we survived the 16-hour trip. We arrived in Canandaigua late and were greeted by Nanny, Grandpa, Aunt Sandra, and Uncle Kevin (unca Kebin). Lilly had a tough time when it was time to go to bed. The combination of exhaustion, excitement, and provocation from Grandpa and Sandra made it almost impossible to go to sleep. When she finally did, Momma and Poppa collapsed in exhaustion as well.
It's Canandaigua in the summer; you have to go boating. Lilly was timid when we first clambered aboard in Grandpa's boathouse. She squinted in the sun and was a little frightened when a big wave bounced us around, but eventually she began to enjoy the spectacle of being on the boat. She enjoyed driving with Grandpa and sitting on Nanny's lap in the bow. We anchored and Grandpa tried to coax Lilly into the water with an inflatable jet ski he had bought for her. Lilly stuck her toes in and decided it was too cold even though Grandpa was shivering in the water.
The week in Canadaigua has turned into a blur. Suffice it to say that Lilly was absolutely jubilant and effervescent. Spending time with Nanny, Granpa, and Aunt Sandra was so much fun that most nights it was impossible to get her to go quietly and willingly to bed. Every night she insisted on visiting Anaconda the kitty in garden shed, where he slept in a plastic tub, to say "night-night."
Grandpa loves Lilly and Lilly loves Grandpa. They spent hours in the side yard on the tree swing, giggling and making googly-eyes at each other. At the mall they rode the Merry-go-round three times in a row before Lisa and I had to drag them off. Several times while we were gone, Grandpa hooked up the sprinkler in the back yard and let Lilly run around in it. Despite the fact that it was ice-cold, she was beside herself and ran around screaming and waving her hands until she was soaking, shivering, and exhausted. She even figured out how to redirect the stream of water by stepping on the sprinkler. Grandpa got all the neighborhood kids over to play with Lilly too. Sarah, 12, took a special shine to Lilly and was over many afternoons to play with her or take her for a walk. Grandpa, being a grandfather, couldn't resist buying stuff for his granddaughter. One day he snack her off in the mall to buy her a new baby and baby stroller, another day he returned from the grocery store with a huge set of match box cars.
Aunt Sandra spent a lot of time with Lilly too. One of the highlights included finger painting in the back yard. As they churned out portrait after portrait of family members, the art form soon broadened to include toe painting. Sandra would hold Lilly under the arms, dip her toes into the paint and then, much to Lilly's delight, plop her down on a sheet of paper. This was Sandra's way, I suppose, of preparing our dear one for a career in performance art. Another art-related activity was Lilly's hand puppet. Sandra drew a face on Lilly's thumb and index fingers so that by clenching her hand into a fist, she could give us a little show. Lilly never tired of telling us that Aunt Sandra drew it for her. Lilly and Sandra also liked to race in the front yard. Together they said "ready, set, go," and then charged off toward the other side of the yard where they would collapse in paroxysms of laugher.
Lilly enjoyed vacuuming with Nanny and playing the night-night game under foot in the kitchen. Almost every morning Lilly asked Nanny for a breakfast of "hot eggs." Nanny too couldn't help buying stuff for Lilly and she wound up with, among other things, three new pairs of shoes and a toy doctor's bag.
One day, Nanny, Grandpa and Momma took Lilly to the children's museum in Rochester. The highlight, if not for Lilly, then at least for Lisa, was the working Wegmann's check out. Lilly collected her groceries and then ran them throught the scanner at the check out. Momma pointed out that as a good Wisconsin girl, she loaded her basket up with five blocks of cheese.
After that first day when the water was so cold, there were other opportunities for swimming and water sports. One day we visited Onanda park in Canandaigua. We had not planned on swimming and didn't have a swim suit for Lilly. The allure of the water was too strong though and she crouched down and splashed with her hands. This turned into a game of trying to get her hair in the water which succeeded in soaking her shirt. Of course, she eventually lost her balance and ended up sitting down in the shallow water. We got her out of her wet clothes and before we knew it, she stripped off her diaper too. As she danced along the pebble beach with stones sticking to her butt, Grandpa dubbed her the "Nymph of Onanda." When she began to shiver, we wrapped her in a sweat shirt and whisked her home. Several days later, we went to a sand beach on the other side of the lake. She splashed around vigorously and actually started to swim by stretching out and floating, supported only by her finger tips. We encountered two types of birds on the beach. She addressed them very different ways: "Go away seagulls." "Come'ere duckies." We went across the street to get ice cream and even though she was soaking wet and shivering, she ate an entire cone and made quite a mess in the process.
We decided to take two days to make the return trip. It was hard to get her down in her own bed in a hotel in Elkhart IN. I think she was excited to be in a huge grown-up bed all by herself. Once we turned the TV off and settled down ourselves, she drifted off and slept through the night. When we arrived home around 2:00 p.m. the next day, Lilly settled right in. She was happy to see her toys, her kitty, and her puppies.
Lisa enrolled Lilly in gymnastics and today was her first day. Lisa reported that Lilly paid close attention to everything the teacher was doing. Unlike some of the kids in her class, she wasn't afraid of anything and tried everything. She was good at it all including the (reportedly very difficult) tuck, in which she had to pull her knees to her chest and wrap her arms around her legs. When she got home she wanted to show me how she "danced" and spazzed out for a few minutes in the kitchen.
While Poppa mowed the lawn, Momma took Lilly to the library for a safari craft day. She returned home with a lion puppet made out of a paper lunch sack. For the rest of the afternoon, she delighted in growling at us and making the lion bite our legs.
We met Will and Sarah for brunch at Pasqual's on Monroe Street. We arrived a bit early and Lilly had wolfed down most of her pancake by the time they arrived. While we ate, Lilly played with cars on the floor and was generally well-behaved. After breakfast we walked across the street to the park. Lilly had a great time playing on the slide and hanging by her knees on a very low bar. There were other kids about, but she mostly just watched curiously. She rode on the merry-go-round for a long time while various other kids climbed on and off and pushed it with varying degrees of skill and speed. Next stop was for ice cream at Michael's. Momma suggested that she and Lilly share a baby cone. As expected, Lilly ate most of it and Momma had to fight to get more than a few bites. Lilly fell asleep in the van on the way to the Willy Street Fair. As a result, she was pretty clingy and out of sorts. By the time we were leaving though, she perked up and enjoyed jumping while holding Momma and Poppa's hands on the walk back to the van.
I went to work and Lisa and Lilly stayed home. Apparently, I was the lucky one. When I called home to say I was leaving at 4:00 p.m., Lisa's response was, "Thank God." Lilly was impossible. She was cutting her last tooth and didn't feel much like cooperating with anything or anybody. Story hour at the library was marred by tantrums and she surely did not appreciate the effort that Lisa put in to making her and paper raccoon hat. Lisa bought Lilly a music box (CD player) and was frustrated that Lilly bashed and slammed on the buttons and removed the CD scratching so badly that it now skips. As usual, when I got home, Lilly yelled "Poppa." and rushed into my arms to give me a big hug and kiss.
Momma accompanied Lilly on a daycare field trip to an apple orchard this morning. She was very excited about picking an apple by herself and told be later about how Momma lifted her up to reach it. She also to great delight in telling me a story about how Cody cried because his mommy left after the field trip. Today was also the second day of gymnastics. Again Lilly enjoyed and excelled at, especially enjoying the miniature trampolines.
We went on a picnic at the McKenzie Environmental Center today. Lilly was very excited at the prospect of a picnic and clambered up on the picnic-table bench and sat impatiently waiting for us to spread out her lunch. After lunch we went on the short nature walk where we saw wolves, coyotes, foxes, mountain lions, and porcupines. Her favorites were the raccoons (she tried making raspberry-like raccoon noises) and the deer ("come'ere deer"). She didn't like any of the birds however. Just like her Momma, I guess. Later we saw a German Shepard puppy at our friend Nikki's house. She was a little confused: puppies aren't supposed to be smaller than a kitty are they? Later in the afternoon, we took the dogs to the park. Like this morning at the nature preserve, she insisted on walking by herself. She also insisted on holding the leashes on her way out of the park.
We had another picnic today; this time at Indian Lake County Park. We decided to teach Lilly one of Momma's favorite sayings: "it's crisp fall day," and she reproduced it rather admirably. As we started off on a hike after lunch, Lilly got a little whiny and plopped herself down on the ground and refused to budge. In an effort to perk her up, I hoisted her on my shoulders and Momma told her that we were in The Hundred-Acre Woods and that we might see Pooh Bear. While this brightened her mood a bit, she still didn't want to walk. So off we went, with poor old Poppa groaning and creaking under the weight of a two-year-old gesticulating wildly at all the things that could possibly be Pooh or Tiger. We took the long way home to have ice cream and pie at a diner in Sauk City. Lilly grabbed a spoon and dug into Momma's ice cream without hesitation. Momma ate most of her pie, but Lilly body blocked her whenever she came at the ice cream. Back at home Lilly took such a long nap that we had to wake her up for dinner. She's been eating like a hog lately and one of her old favorites is coming back into favor: "peeta butter," often with "jeddie."
Lilly's vocabulary continues to grow. She puts together complete sentences now and uses nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and even pronouns. She doesn't get them in the right order all the time but she is well and truly expressing herself. It still takes a parent's ear; we still have to translate for others sometimes, but it's pretty amazing and often funny as hell. And sometimes kind of touching: Twice in the last two days she's told me to "be careful." Yesterday at the lake, she warned me when I was too close and this morning she was concerned about me as I carried the laundry basket down the stairs. To me this seems to be a higher level of awareness, understanding, and empathy, but then I'm the proud Poppa.
Potty training continues. We now have a sticker chart on the fridge to keep track of when she goes potty. She's not really volunteering to use the potty, but she's often amenable to it it we suggest it to her. Lately she insists on us standing in the doorway well away from her and taking her pants and diapers off by herself and climbing onto the potty. She gets very quiet and serious until she hears her handiwork. Then she cracks a big smile and we clap and cheer.
Lilly likes to make up stories, well fibs really. She tells us stories about what happened at daycare only to find out later that none of it was true. Lately she's told us that Cody's father had to take him to the doctor because he was sick and that she and Levi got in a fight over a book and he bit her on the leg. According to her teachers, none of it was remotely true. I'm not sure if this is attributable to a love of the tall tale or whether she just doesn't have a firm grip on chronology or who did what to whom.
This afternoon, Lilly took her shoes and socks off in the car on the way home from daycare. This dumped a huge quantity of playground sand into her car seat. No problem though, Lilly was on the job. She immediately told me, "I clean it," and began to brush with great gusto until she deemed it "all done." When we got home, she offered her toes to me and told me, "count them." Instead I played This Little Piggy and sent her into paroxysms of laughter. Then she grabbed her feet and told me, "no stinky." She kept insisting that they weren't stinky until I sniffed at them and did indeed deem that they weren't too bad. Lilly smiled and repeated, "not too bad."
While I was out in New York house hunting, Lisa reported that every time Lilly saw or heard a plane in the sky, she would wave and say "hi Poppa." Sometimes she would wistfully add, "no fall down." When Lilly spied me at the airport upon my return, she raced across the crowded baggage area screaming, "POPPA, POPPA." Yes sir, it was good to be home.
On the ride home from daycare, Lilly was singing "A-B-C" over and over. I joined in and when I paused, she was able to able to pick up where I left off.
Over a month has passed and during that time Halloween has come and gone. We haven't had any remarkable adventures, but life with Lilly has been anything but dull. A week ago Lilly had us pulling our hair out in frustration. She was acting like the stereotypical terrible two and we often had occasion to refer to her as a hellion or hell-child. During the last few days though, she's been so incredibly sweet, thoughtful, and affectionate, that we can hardly believe it's the same child. Monday she slithered out of her chair while eating her dinner and ran over to me saying, "I want a hug." Yesterday, while we were watching Barney, she reached up, put a hand on my cheek, and said, "I love you Poppa."
Her memory continues to amaze us as do her language skills and vocabulary. She loves to say things like "See ya later alligator" and "I'll see you tonight." She delights in telling me "You're welcome," when I thank her for something. Her imagination seems to have grown by leaps as well. She imagines that the piece of bread on her plate is a boat or a car with Momma and Poppa inside. She loves taking her lamby's temperature with her doctor kit and tells us that she's going to be a doctor when she grows up. She arranges her baby dolls in a row and points out the daddy, mommy, baby, and baby sister. She's very excited that she's going to have a baby brother or sister and loves pulling up Lisa's shirt and saying, "Hi baby in Momma's tummy." She shows us how she's going to hold and feed the baby.
Excitement was running at a fever pitch as we approached Halloween. She was beside herself each night leading up to the big night as we went out on the back porch to light candles in our Jack-o-Lanterns. When I picked Lilly up at daycare on Halloween, I was informed that she had been telling everyone "I'm going trick-or-treating with Poppa and it's going to be fun." She was so excited that she could barely keep still enough to get into her fuzzy bunny suit. She was bouncing off the walls by the time Lisa got home and dragged poor old Momma right back out the door. She was a little shy at first, but eventually showed off her bunny-hopping prowess at our three trick-or-treating stops (the Roberts, the Paulsons, and the Greens). Lilly was up late and Momma wanted to put her right to bed. I, however, insisted that every kid HAS to have a piece of candy upon returning from trick-or-treating and prior to bed.
Her potty training is going well too and she's even started to use the potty at daycare. She's incorporated potty into her bedtime ritual and is almost always successful. Lilly wants to pick out a different sleeper every night, but other than that has been very agreeable about bedtime. She's fallen out of bed a couple of times over the last couple weeks, but we've been able to calm her down and get her back down fairly easily. We had a spell where she was waking up every night in a fright. All she would tell us was that there was a "beep" outside. We never figured out whether it was a car on the road or the twice-nightly trains, but whatever it was, it seems to be behind us now.
Today, while taking her bath, Lilly pretended to go into labor and have a baby. She groaned, gnashed her teeth, and thrashed around in the tub. Then she cradled her foot like an infant and rocked it lovingly. Apparently she and Lisa have watched one too many episodes of A Baby Story on The Learning Channel. Lisa explained to her that she needs to grow up, go to college, become a doctor, and get married before having a baby. Becoming a doctor is not some lofty expectation on the part of her parents. Lilly is always telling us that she wants to become a baby doctor and practices endlessly on Lamby with her toy doctor kit.
Lilly went to the tooth doctor today and Lisa reports that she was much better behaved than any of the other little patients. Not only did she not scream, Doctor Dan said she would be able to sit in the big chair next time. Momma worked with Lilly on the terms for other doctors and she told me what she learned when they picked me up to go to gymnastics: a baby doctor is a pediatrician (peedy-trishan) and a puppy doctor is a veterinarian (narian).
Lilly can now play very nicely on her own for long stretches of time. It's nice to be able to enjoy a cup of coffee and the paper while the little one reads her books quietly or plays with her dollies in the other room. Her verbal skills continue to grow as well as her assertiveness and confidence. While Momma was getting her bundled up for the dog park, I was reading a magazine on the couch. As I tried to finish up a paragraph, Lilly ran in grabbed my hand and told me, "Get up, Poppa. No read a book. Put on coat." And she would not take no for an answer. At the dog park, she ran around more than the dogs. She pretended to BE a dog too. She careened around with her tongue hanging out and squatted when she saw Sabrina relieve herself. Later we had to make a quick trip to the mall and grabbed some pizza at the food court. The kid chowed an entire slice of Sabarro pizza all by herself and then wanted more.
We had been concerned about Lilly's diaper rash for quite a while. When daycare reported that there had been cases of strep that were showing up as diaper rash, we called the clinic and got her in for an appointment. I picked her up a daycare and told her we were going to the baby doctor. In a sad and world-weary voice, she immediately replied, "Butt rash. I'm not feeling good." Her bottom was obviously hurting her but she was a trooper and put on a happy face. Her eyes lit up when she saw the toys in the waiting room and she amused herself until we were called. The doctor confirmed that it was indeed strep. Lilly was very sweet and cooperative and didn't make a peep during the exam even when Dr. Macintosh had to do a very obviously painful culture. Our little hypochondriac was very excited that she was going to get medicine and was especially pleased that she got her very own plastic syringe as well as a Tigger sticker.
Well, Lilly's diaper rash turns out NOT to be strep. I got a call from the nurse saying that her culture was negative and to stop her medication. A course of clotrimazole is all that's required. After dinner Lilly still wanted her medicine. I explained that the doctor said she was all better, but she flatly stated, "Not all better." I tried to fool her by giving her a dose of water instead. She looked at it suspiciously and then said, "It's just water." Smart kid. I smoothed things over by telling her she could have anything she wanted for dinner. , Lilly was a little sassy when Momma got home, telling her "don't" when she tried to give her a kiss. She'd been this way all afternoon. When I told her to get in her car seat after day care, she looked at me and hissed, "Don't tell me." Smart? Yes. Defiant? Definitely.
We had a little banking to do today so while we sat in an office with a banker, Lilly played just outside with an impressive array of toys in the lobby. When we went to collect her, we noticed that she had very neatly and deliberately arranged all the toys in a semi-circle on the floor. I guess that's what happens to a child with two anal-retentive parents. Next stop was Borders for a bit of browsing. Lilly was pretty good except for pulling a sticker out of a brand-new Pooh activity book and sticking it on her coat; and running away from Momma and leading her on a chase among the shelves so as to avoid putting on her coat. After finally collecting our wayward daughter, we kept our 3:00 appointment for Lilly's first hair cut. We'd been preparing her for this and some how she connected the word appointment to doctors and, extrapolating from baby doctor and tooth doctor, she decided that the person cutting her hair must be a "hair doctor." She did well, sitting on a frog and watching Teletubbies while the hair doctor trimmed her up and put a little braid in her hair. It looked like she hardly took anything off but later, we were shocked at how short it now seemed to us.
As Lisa and I relaxed on the couch reading the paper this afternoon, Lilly played her usual night-night game. At one point she came over to me and very seriously said, "I'll be right back, Poppa. OK?" and headed off to the kitchen to get more tea towels. Later she danced to her little CD player. She has three basic dance moves: kicking her legs straight out, running around in a circle, and pulling up her shirt and beating her belly. Exhausted, she flopped down on the couch and we went through her word/picture flash cards. She whipped through most of them, correctly identifying the various household objects until we got to the umbrella. Through some mysterious mental process known only to her, Lilly pointed at the picture and proudly stated "frog." ?!?