Friday, December 26, 2008

Well after a quiet Christmas day at home, we spent today running around being tourists in the city. I had actually planned to go see the Miro exhibit at the MoMA, but the weather was unusually warm, and it just seemed like a day to be outside. We went to see the trains at 51st St, the tree at Rockerfeller Center, and the merry-go-round at Bryant Park. We ran into outdoor sculpture exhibits, fought our way past camera-crazy tourists on 5th Ave, and just had lots of fun.

Liana is such a happy, easy-going kid. She didn't blink about the change in plans, and the only moment that she was a little upset was the end of the merry-go-round ride, because she didn't agree that it was time to get off. But we went and got back in line, and bought another ticket, and saved the day. Life is good.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Liana's first Christmas in NYC.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Liana’s first Christmas in NY. And mommyhood is good.

So. We’ve got a small tree. She LOVES her tree. She loves all Christmas trees, and gets excited when she sees one, but each time she says “My Christmas tree at home, mommy!” I’ve explained to her that we honor the evergreen on the longest nights of the year, when all of the other trees have lost their leaves, and cover the evergreen in light and color with the expectation that light and color will return to the earth. Don’t think she’s absorbed too much of my explanation, but she is a bright kid, and when she hears it again next year it will start to click.

I’m trying to keep everything as clear and honest as possible. I’ve told her that many many years ago, there was a very good man who gave gifts to people that he didn’t even know. He was called Santa Clause or Saint Nicholas. I’ve told her that in honor of his goodness, we give gifts to the people we love. And that many people dress up like Santa Clause, to remind us to be kind and generous.

She has no idea that when she wakes up tomorrow morning, her stocking is going to be full, and there will be gifts under her tree.

I am so not consumeristic. But I cannot even believe how excited it am.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ok honey. It’s late. Let’s put on your socks.

Ok mommy.

Do you need help?

No. I do it myself.

Ok honey.

…..A few minutes later….I’m putting my coffee cup in the dishwasher…..

Mommy! Mommy! Sage eat the my cheese!!!

Ok honey. You’re right. Sage shouldn’t eat your cheese. Let’s clean up your plate and get ready to go. Liana? Where are your socks?

Liana? Time to put your socks on.

No. No want to.

Yes Liana. It’s time to put on your socks. It is late. We have to go.

Ok mommy.

Do you want help?

No. Do it myself.

Ok. Here they are. Sit down right here and put on your socks. Ok?

Ok mommy.

……A few minutes later, I’m in the bathroom…..

Mommy? I put on cream?

Not right now Liana. Where are your socks?

The don’t know.

Liana!!!! You need to put on your socks.

But mommy. The need help.

You need help?

Yes please.

Ok. I’ll help you put on your socks.

Ok mommy. First mommy go pee pee in the toilet, then I put on my socks.


…..A few minutes later…..

Here honey. Let me help you put on your socks.

NO!!!!! I do it MYSELF!!!

We’re getting better at eating veggies. She has really liked broccoli for a long time. Asparagus is starting to meet her approval… as is zucchini. And she likes the flavor of garlic. If I put fresh garlic in couscous or barley or rice, she likes that. Glad she likes garlic! I can stick tofu in just about anything, and she eats it. She LOVES fruit, and eats it in enormous quantities. I am hoping that the fruits make up for the lack of veggies.
Salads? My daycare provider says that she eats salads at daycare, but I don’t seem to have any luck with them at home. I used to eat a big salad about every other night. I’m not talking about lettuce tomato and cucumber salads. I’m talking about grilled Portobello mushrooms over baby greens with warm feta cheese and walnuts. I’m talking about an overnight marinate with a dozen different cubed veggies, served over crisp watercress and cilantro. I’m talking about those summer days in which you find the PERFECT tomato, and you cube it and toss it with fresh basil, a little cubed mozzarella, and lots of olive oil and black pepper. Or tabuli, marinated overnight with lots of lemon juice and tomatoes and mushrooms and cucumbers and scallions and zucchini and whatever else is sitting around in the fridge, and served over chopped fresh herbs. It has been months since I made myself one of those salads.

I try to make things that we both like. Which means we eat LOTS of pasta. We both love pasta. So we eat too much pasta.

But the one food she loves more than anything in the world?

Black beans.

She could eat them every day. I really used to like black beans. At this point I am so sick of them, that if I never see another black bean it would be too soon. Not pinto beans. Not kidney beans. NEVER lentils. I love lentils. She finds them offensive.

Black beans.

Black beans.

Black beans.

We put on her pretty holiday dress, black tights, red socks, and dress shoes that were just a little bit too big. She looked at herself in the mirror and said “Mommy? I look like the big princess?”

“Yes you do honey. The big princess.”

“The no be shy mommy. The see mommy’s friends.”

“That’s right honey. We are going to see mommy’s friends. You don’t have to be shy. But it’s ok if you feel a little shy.”

“Ok mommy.”

“Eat cupcakes mommy?”

Uggg. We don’t eat much in terms of junk food. But we ate cupcakes at last week’s party, and now she thinks that’s what we do at parties. Somehow, I suspect that the Asian Fusion place hosting my agency’s holiday party is unlikely to serve cupcakes with pink frosting.

She did get shy when we walked in the door. Then she warmed up a bit. So many people who wanted to say hello. It is overwhelming. Then Rachid arrived, and she absolutely STALKED him. If he left her sight, she demanded that we look for him. He wanted to have a warm reunion with his former staff and colleagues. She wanted him to hold her and play.

I did get some nice photos of her dancing with my boss Mary. And we strutted around the large restaurant over and over again. She loved going for walks. And she really liked watching people dance. She ate a little… not too much. And did not even ask for cupcakes once we got there. We stayed really late. 8:30!!!!! Just as I realized it was getting to be about time to go, she threw herself on the floor, in that pre-tantrum civil disobedience mode. Dennis grabbed her stroller and rolled it through the crowds, and I got her in and tossed her sippy cup and stuffed sheep into her hands while I collected stuff, and off we went.

“Have fun at the party, mommy. See the mommy’s friends.”

“That’s right honey. We had fun at the party. We saw mommy’s friends. We danced. We ate food. And you were such a good girl!”


Sunday, December 14, 2008

She puts her index finger to her pursed lips. She furrows her brow. She looks off into some indefinite point in space, and says “Hmmmmmm……”

She pauses. Contemplates. Clearly she is considering a complex question of considerable importance. Then, brow still furrowed, gaze still steady, she puts the question into words.

“Which book should we read next?”

No. This isn’t some pompus grad student attempting to appear profound. This is my two year old daughter.

Where on earth did all of that come from? The gestures? The intonation? Well, it had to have come from me. Not that I am even familiar with myself using those gestures. But I must.

She actually looked just like my dad, not my image of myself. My sweet, gentle, contemplative father died several years before she was born. But I guess his gestures and intonation live on in me.

And in her.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I’m a positive-reinforcement kind of mom. I believe in modeling good behavior, giving lots of praise, and removing temptations and dangers that might necessitate lots of “no’s.” And Liana has always been a pretty agreeable kind of kid, so my natural style worked pretty well with her from the time she was a baby. I remember at 13 months old, when she would do those little baby slaps when a kid would touch a toy she was playing with, I would take her hand and rub it gently on her intended victim and say “suave, suave,” and she would rub the kid gently and I would praise her. When I was preparing my home for her arrival, I did careful baby-proofing, so that she could safely have the run of the place to explore. When she got a little older, and would get that tragic look on her face and raise her arms to be held and start whining, I would say “No reason to whine! You want a hug? Say ‘big hug!!!’” And “big hug” was one of her first phrases. When she started with the “no’s,” I taught her to say “no thank you.”

And then the 2.x age emerged.

And the number of things that I have to say “NO” about in a given day has increased exponentially.

Of course, there are the safety issues. And as she has gotten so much bigger, my initial baby-proofing has become obsolete. And her increasing dexterity has brought forth a whole new set of temptations. Safety issues are firm “No’s!”

But I never imagined how many non-safety things I would find myself saying “No!” to.

“No! You don’t take the top off your sippy cup and pour the juice on your shirt! You drink your juice, you don’t pour your juice out!”

“No! You don’t take the toilet paper off the roll and toss the entire roll in the toilet!”

“No! You don’t take your soup bowl and pour the soup over your head! Soup is for eating, not for pouring on your head!” (She didn’t do this as a baby! Why is she doing it now?)

“No! You don’t draw with your crayons on the wall. On the coffee table. On the bookshelves. On the TV screen. Paper only. We only draw with crayons on paper. Here, draw on the paper. Good girl!”

“No! You don’t put pasta in the cat’s food dish. He has cat food. He doesn’t want to eat your macaroni and cheese. It is nice to share, but it will make his tummy sick”

“No! You don’t throw mommy’s phone on the floor. You’ll break it, and then mommy won’t have a phone.”

“No! You don’t press the buttons on mommy’s dishwasher.”

“No! You don’t put your dollhouse furniture in mommy’s coffee cup.”
And so on. And so on.

Don’t get me wrong. She’s a good kid. An easy going kid. Most of the time. But she is driven by curiosity and experimentation… and it is that very curiosity and experimentation that leads to so many things to say no about.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My neighbor across the hall came over last week because I wanted to show her something on the computer. Liana, Antonia and I were sitting in front of the computer, and Liana looked at Antonia and said

“Antonia? You drink tea coffee?”

My daughter is offering refreshments to visitors? At two years old, she is a better hostess than I am? She has often seen me make a cup of tea for Antonia, but this was a short visit.

The other new thing is kissing boo boos. Not only that she wants to someone to kiss her boo boos. But she wants to kiss other people’s boo boos. Last night we were in the hallway, and Antonia’s door closed a little fast, and she caught her hand. Not hard. But she said “ouch.” Liana looked at me very seriously and said “Antonia hurt the hand. Get a boo boo. Need kiss?”

Absolutely honey. Go ahead and kiss the boo boo.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Liana is very interested in bras. I know that this is an odd blog topic. But bear with me. There are two good Liana stories tucked in here. I promise.

When she and I go shopping, Liana likes to sit in her stroller and hold stuff. Diapers, crackers, whatever it is that I am buying. So when I was bra-shopping, it seemed perfectly normal to give her a bra to hold while I was looking for a second one in my size. I heard the salesclerk gasp, and I looked down, and she had proudly slipped her arms into the bra, and there she was… my two year old. Sporting a bra on the outside of her jacket. “The MY bra,” mommy, she proclaimed.

Now I’m not the world’s best housekeeper. And last night when I got home from work, I slipped my bra off and tossed it on a chair. A few hours later, I was at the computer, the bra was still on the chair, and the cat was happily sitting on top of it. Liana was not pleased. She called me over, to show me that Sage was sitting on my bra. I told her it was ok. But she would have none of it. She pulled a bit on a strap, but she didn’t have a good angle, and he sat there, defiantly challenging her to do something about it.


“Yes Liana?”

“Sage sit the mommy bra!!!” wagging her finger for emphasis.

“That’s ok honey.”

We went back and forth a few times, and I thought that she had given up. She wandered off to the kitchen, which usually means she is rearranging the alphabet refrigerator magnets holding up her artwork. I returned to the computer.

A minute later she came back out, and announced that Sage’s food dish was empty and that he needed food and agua. Ok. So I got up, and his dish was pretty low on dry food. I poured some more in his dish, and of course, the sound got him all excited and he dashed into the kitchen to inspect the quality of my work. As I was putting fresh water in the other dish, Liana came strutting into the kitchen triumphantly, with my bra in her hand.

“Sage no have the mommy bra now mommy.”

“Ummm. Thanks honey. Will you put that in the dirty laundry for mommy please?”

“Ok mommy!”

Now does this kid have exceptional problem solving skills, or what?

Liana and I have passed a milestone of sorts. When she was 13 months and 4 days old, I took custody of her forever. Now, she is 26 months and more than 8 days old. Which means that from this point forward, more than half of her life has been with me.

I feel in love with the beautiful pictures of her at 3 months old, and I met her at 9 months and really really really fell in love. (There we are in that picture the first week we spent together when she was 9 months old.) But we did not start living together until she was 13 months old. And we moved to NY when she was 15 months old.

The first two months of our lives together were in Guatemala. At first, locked in the Marriott as we awaited the election results, hoping that violence would not take over the streets. After the successful, peaceful elections, we moved to a small apartment in the beautiful city of Antigua, around a central courtyard, with hummingbirds and lush plants greeting us as we walked out the door. A majestic volcano greeted us as we walked out the front gate of the complex.

It was a good two months.

The first half of Liana’s life was spent with a marvelous extended foster family, who showered her with love and support and nurtured her curiosity. I am so lucky. Liana is so lucky. During these 13 months, Liana learned what it is to love and be loved. She learned to crave cuddles. She learned to share!!!! She learned to laugh. Everything that I have taught Liana is building upon the strong foundation that she developed with this loving family.

Monday, December 1, 2008

“My turn read Moon mommy! My turn!”

“Ok honey. You read Moon.”

“Ok mommy! There. The big green room. Telephone. Balloon. The cow jump the moon. Two bears sit the chairs. They no eat mommy. They all finished.”

Every night before bed, for months, we have read the same three books. Goodnight Moon. Hop on Pop. Pajama Time. We have lots of books to choose from, and if it were up to me, we would vary our selections. But Liana likes this selection. And she decides which order we read them in. That, at least, varies every night.

Recently, Liana has decided that I read one book, and then she reads one book.

Obviously, she doesn’t read yet. She hasn’t even mastered the ABC’s, and does not understand the concept of letters making sounds and combining them into words. But she loves reading, and she insists on doing EVERYTHING that I do.

Those of you who know the Goodnight Moon story are aware that there are three bears sitting on chairs, and no indication that they have been eating. But she is quite insistent about the fact that they have just finished. Every night.

She has her opinions. And she has her desires. And she makes them all quite clear.

“My turn, mommy!” is one of our household mantras.

Of course, she does not perform for the camera. I tried to record her “reading,” interspersed with her commentary. And what did she do when I turned on the camera? She insisted that it was my turn to read Hop on Pop. And here is the 5 second video of that declaration.