Saturday, December 17, 2016

Christmas Rolls Around Again.

Today my  almost 16 month old apparently said: "It's Christmas time" while at home with her Dad and Clara.  She adds this to her recent repertoire of words that include: Blue, Yellow, Duck, Moo, and Hello.  With Clara in full on Santa-Christmas-Fever mode, I am hardly surprised that Freya is jumping on the Christmas-enthusiasm train.

Flashback to a couple of weeks ago, when Freya and Clara met Santa.  Their mutual enthusiasm for Santa  vanished when presented with the Real Deal - smiles were replaced instantly with steely-eyed glares that seemed to say: "We'd like to see you try something, Santa-man.  We can take you."  I don't know if the sisters discussed their plan of attack beforehand but they clearly were borrowing from last year's intimidation strategy - Don't let Santa see you smile.  

Clara isn't too big on posed photography.  Take this case in point - picture day at school came and went.  This is the photo I took of her before we went to said picture day.  

Clara - candid, happy - cute.
Just try to tell Clara to smile or do something specific in a photo.  Good luck.  Here are the photos I got back from picture day.  First - the portrait.  Same abstract background from my childhood.  I would like to know who matted down Clara's hair before hand - maybe Clara?  Who knows.  And that smile - what a lovely smile - somewhere between - "You told me to smile - I'm smiling." and "I'm just pretending to like you."

And for the grand finale, Clara's class photo.  Top row, center - just where her parents were always placed as the tallest kids in the class.  It's nice to see some things never change. I present to you, Clara, not looking at the photographer with her eyes closed. My one consolation is at least she's not the only one.  4 year-olds, man.

So with that, kick back, relax, and enjoy this holiday season. I know my kids are.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Halloween and November

The Fall has been a bumpy ride - beautiful weather, autumn trees, starting school, Halloween, taking ballet (Clara), talking up a storm (Freya), and an election with far reaching effects for everyone I know...but through it all there are these two little girls, bouncing along and taking it all in.

Halloween in our house is always a big deal.  It was preceded by many days of Clara dithering over costume choice.  She was pretty set on being a princess (with the occasional "ghost" or "ghost witch" thrown in) but which princess would she be and who would we all play as her supporting cast?  And make no mistake, Gerald and I were background players and Freya was  promoted to sidekick.

After much discussion Clara finally decided she would be Snow White.  Freya would be the faithful Dopey, Mom would get to be the Poison Apple, and Dad would be the Magic Mirror.  Halloween finally arrived, and it was an action packed day.  I attended a Halloween Party in Clara's Pre-K class.  There is nothing more fun than a bunch of 4 year olds clamoring to tell you about their costumes.  (It was heavy on the superheroes and princesses)

Snow White.

Snow White and the Poison Apple.

Magic Mirror and Dopey.

Then it was home for the Halloween party I put together for the kids in our building.  There were spooky decorations and a Monster Corn Hole game that I made.  You had to "feed the monster" to get a prize.  

Feed the monster.
Freya tries her hand at the Monster game.

The only shot of all four of us.
After the party,  it was time to trick or treat - Freya's second time but her first where she could knock on doors. As each door opened, Freya happily walked into each person's apartment, much to their chagrin.  Who needs a bowl of candy when you can go check out all those things on the coffee table?

Freya on her way out from checking out an apartment.

Freya made it through one building before Gerald whisked her off to bed.  I kept going with Clara and her friend Sara.  It was really fun and Clara is already talking about next year's costumes.

Shortly after we were hit with Election Day.  Clara was excited to be voting, as she always is, but she was also excited about "voting for  a girl" and talked a lot about Hillary Clinton.  We went to vote as a family and Clara went with each of us to fill out our ballots. Clara insisted on helping me to bubble in my vote.  It all felt so hopeful and exciting.

Going in to vote.

Post-voting lunch.

When the news came down the next day I tried to explain what happened to Clara without over burdening her with my disappointment.  She worked it over in her mind and said: "Well, can't both of them share the job?  It's good to share."

Wiser words were never spoken.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Conversations with Clara. Episode 12.

Clara's Self Portrait.

Last night Freya was asleep in her crib.  I did Clara's normal bedtime routine - some conversation and some songs.  I kissed and hugged her goodnight and a minute later over the monitor I heard: Mom...Mom?

I walk back into the kids' bedroom.

Clara: Mom. I have to ask you something.  Are the police ever going to come get me and put me in jail?

Me: Uhm. No, Clara.

Clara: What if I do something bad?

Me: Clara, little kids don't go to jail.  It's a grown up thing.

Clara: O.K. Mom,  good night.

I leave.  A couple minutes later, over the monitor: Mom...Mom? I walk back in.

Me: What is it Clara?

Clara: Are you and Dad ever going to go to jail?

Me:  No, Clara - I promise you we will never go to jail.

Clara: And you were just kidding before about calling the police?

(Clara at this point is referring to earlier in the evening when she had strawberry ice cream all over her face and I was jokingly saying: "Clara - go wipe off your face before I call the Strawberry Hobo Beard Police on you.")

Me: Clara, do you seriously think there is a Strawberry Hobo Beard police that might come get you?

Clara: (smiling) Noo.

Me: Clara - you don't need to worry.  None of us are going to jail.  

Clara: Except tigers.  Tigers go to jail because they scare people.

Me: Good night Clara.

Enjoying one of the last hot days before Fall closes in.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sliding out of Summer and Galloping into Fall

It's been a crazy, fun, exhausting, and very hot summer. Clara loved summer camp and when she wasn't there we were cooling off in playground sprinklers with friends.  We are loving the cooler Fall weather.

Freya is officially a one year-old.    She has a confident walk that is quickly turning into a lurching sort of run that terrifies me on a regular basis.  She has a method to her madness though - this rollicking gait looks unsteady but she rarely falls down.  

Freya has a few words in her repertoire now:

Mama:  though she stubbornly refuses use it unless she's calling for me in the middle of the night.
Dada or Dadee: Much to Gerald's delight, she says this often and with gusto.
What's That?: Questions and point with a high pitched baby zeal.
Dog. Nice dog.: Surprised us too.
No no.: Freya has an interest in wires and plugs, which Clara never did. She repeats our: "No no" while she decides whether or not to let go of the cable box.
Go: This is recent.  She's trying it out.

And if you're willing to suspend all disbelief, her aunt and uncle insist she said: "Let me see that" while playing with her cousin Fred.  Let me see that, Freya.

In Clara news - Clara started Pre-K!  Big Girl School!!!   
Before we launched into the school year we took a little break at the New York State Fair.  Clara was the official "Purple Pig" Cheerleader for the pig races, and she and I took ride on a camel of all things.  When Gerald and I saw that Clara actually wanted to go through with this camel ride, I said to Gerald hopefully: "Want to ride with her?" "No thanks." was his quick response. (Thanks a lot, Gerald) One word of advice - when riding double on a one-humped camel, don't be the one who has to sit on the hump.  Clara got the good seat.

The purple cheerleader - very intent on the races.
Clyde the camel takes us for a spin.
And then it was back to the city, and back to school. Clara was a little non-plussed with the dress code - "Why is it SOOOO plain!?," so we spice up her outfits with crazy socks and hair accessories. The few days leading up to the first day Clara expressed some anxiety - new friends, a new place...but when the big day arrived she jumped right in. Every day she says she loves it and wants to go back tomorrow.  It's been a little like pulling teeth getting Clara to talk about what she's doing in school but this past Friday on the way home I asked her what she had learned in school.  She says: "I learned about science and technology.  Computer technology, medical technology, and tool technology."  Well...then. officially in school!!!
This cool cat...

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Freya Walks!!!

Two days after she turned 11 months, Freya decided it was time to start walking.  I was sitting on Clara's bed, placing an Amazon order on the ipad for some baby-related item I can no longer recall.  Freya was playing with some toys, when out of the corner of my eye I saw her simply start walking over to me.  6 or so wobbly steps while carrying a toy in each hand, (an empty play-doh can and a toy phone) and she arrived at her destination, my knee, with a giant, 4-toothed grin on her face.  Needless to state, it took me a moment to formulate an appropriate response.  I was gob-smacked and Freya was delighted with herself.

Freya walks for Dad when he gets home.

Freya shows Clara her new moves.
Freya has been confounding our expectations since she was born.  Clara very happily sat in one spot until she was 10 and a half months old, and then started crawling.  Freya has been crawling since she was seven months old.  I guess we shouldn't be surprised that's she's up and walking around. (Clara waited until the sensible age of one year and one week old to try out this whole "walking" thing.)

Clara is absolutely delighted with this turn of events and is constantly trying to get Freya to walk over to her.  Freya is quite confident walking around, hands held up in the air like she's surrendering to the police wherever she goes.  It's all ridiculous and amazing, and it totally doesn't help that Freya is tall enough to run her fingers along high surfaces - like the dining table and our console table - raking down baby no-no's onto her head every time one of us looks away for an instant.

Freya walking around town. 
Freya is also starting to talk - she says "Mama", Dada" or more often "Dadeee", and spends most of her day pointing at things and saying "What's Dat?" The way Freya follows Clara around we're positive the next word in her repertoire is going to be "Clara" or maybe "Sister." Clara likes to call her sister "Freya Beya Boo." We'll see what Freya can come up with.  

The other day Clara came home from camp and was taking a break on her bed with some Pirate's Booty cheese puffs.  Freya crawled into their room to play on the floor.  I heard Clara talking to Freya and then saying 'Here, Freya." Clara called out to me: "Mom, I'm sharing some puffs with Freya!" A few minutes later I could hear them playing together as I walked around tidying up.  Clara's conversation punctuated by Freya's shrieks of laughter was music to my ears.