Blog-o! Notes from

Sat, 05 Oct 2013

Today was Cordelia's eight birthday party. Blake's away and Tanya, who usually backs me up at birthday parties, was busy with many things, so I was faced with managing by myself. It didn't take much thought to realize that that wasn't going to go well, so I threw up the bat signal to our babysitter from last year, Emma. Against all odds she was available, so I had a helper.

The party was loosely candy themed (because who doesn't like candy?) so we started by making candy sushi. I wasn't sure how it would go, with the stickiness and general potential for chaos, but everyone managed fine and made pretty credible rolls. And didn't even get incredibly sticky.

Next on the agenda was Pin the Cherry on the Ice Cream. It soon became apparent why no-one plays this game any more, because everyone just used their hands to figure out where the cherry went and it wasn't much of a contest. We made a rule that you could only use one hand, but it still wasn't that challenging. The most fun player was the youngest, who got all silly and giggly and fell over a lot, so Emma and I decide that maybe the peak age for "Pin the X on the Y" is a little younger than eight.

Next up was Pass the Parcel. We added a rule that if you already have a prize and the music stops when you have the parcel, you can decide whether to keep what you have, or pass it on to the next person who doesn't have a prize and open the next layer of the parcel. It was a pretty good solution to the problem of matching n prizes to n kids, but of course some of the prizes became inexplicably more valued than others, and there was fighting and unsuccessful attempts at trading. It was quite acrimonious and also rather annoying.

The last planned activity was Cordelia's idea: a few rousing rounds of Murder Handshake. It was okay, but the littlest kids didn't really manage the part where you have to shake two more people's hands; they would just collapse straight away. And when Otis was murderer he shook hands with such vigor that it was pretty clear what he was up to. So it seems the best age for Murder Handshake is a little older than eight.

Lunch was KFC (which seems like an obvious choice for party food but which I've never seen at another kid party) and then we finished with cake and more candy.

It was a pretty good party, but I really hope I'm done with kid parties. I like throwing the kind of parties where I actually get to have fun, not just co-ordinate other people's fun and listen to them whine. But next year Cordelia is nine, and surely that's too old for a games-and-cake party. Maybe we'll go to the Science Center or something. That would be nice.

Cordelia is Eight

So Cordelia is eight. She's not too excited about growing up; in fact she's downright against it. But it's happening anyway. She says she doesn't like school, but she seems to have fun when she's there. She loves ballet and jazz dance and Brownies. She has a couple of good friends and gets along well with most of the kids in her class. And she can manage the rest of them.

The other day we were chatting about her friends and relationships, and she said "I don't tell grown-ups about problems because they don't really help. They say they're going to help but they don't do anything." Last year she had some trouble with a girl who was her best friend a couple of years ago, and who got caught up with a third girl and started excluding her. She didn't come to me for help, and this year (so far) they are all three getting along together. She's also done well managing a couple of difficult boys in her class.

Grown-ups love Cordelia — at least, grown-ups who love kids love Cordelia. Grown-ups who don't love kids love Delphine because she's like a grown-up, but Cordelia's such a kid. She's enthusiastic and noisy and uninhibited. She loves talking to grown-ups and she still has that habit of telling long, involved stories without giving enough context, which is fascinating and occasionally surreal.

She's kind of getting too old for me to blog about her. When the kids were younger I treated them like extensions of myself, and of course it was okay to blog about them. But there's a lot of talk about Internet privacy lately, and what you're entitled to post about other people with or without their consent, and I'm starting to realize (a little belatedly) that even if I don't mind my whole life being online, that's not a decision I should make for the girls. But I guess that's another blog post...

[Posted at 23:46 by Amy Brown] link
Wed, 27 Oct 2010

Actually Cordelia turned five exactly a month ago, but I haven't had time to blog about it until now. (I want to blog about that, too. Who knows if I will find the time…)

We had a little birthday party for her – her first real party with friends. She invited Ursa and Otis, Scarlett, Anna, and Zoey. And Amelia kind of crashed – Delphine invited her. The kids decorated loot bags, played freeze dance and What Time Is It Mr. Wolf?, and some other games. (Big thanks to Tanya for playing games with everyone. I hate games.) We ordered pizza, which is so lame but I didn't feel like prepping a bunch of stuff, and then we had cake. Cordelia requested a rainbow cake with plain icing (I upsold her to chocolate icing) and Smarties, and that's what she got. Pictures to come.

Cordelia loves home. She would love to be home all the time, or failing that, wherever I am. She has announced her intention to marry Otis, live in my house and have babies, which I will take care of for her.

I don't know how much Cordelia loves school. I think she's pretty happy, but it's not her element the way it is Delphine's. I'm not sure what she's good at – she doesn't talk much about lessons or class activities – and I don't know what she enjoys. I'm looking forward to our first parent-teacher interview to find out how she's getting along.

Cordelia's still our baby. She doesn't like to do things for herself – she asks us to spread her butter, zip her jacket, carry her backpack... I try to get her to do things, but I think I'm doing more for her than I did for Delphine at five, simply because this time I don't have a three-year-old to look after. Also Delphine's always been very independent, and Cordelia's... not. But she'll grow up when she gets around to it. We can wait.

[Posted at 20:52 by Amy Brown] link
Mon, 20 Sep 2010
No, Really

Sometimes talking to Cordelia is exhausting because she likes to say things very thoroughly. So yesterday I was in the shower and she knocked on the door and said, "C'n I go pee?"

"Sure, as long as you don't flush."

"Okay, mama, I was going to tell you when I was going to flush!"

"Okay, thanks."

"So you can get out of da water!"

"Yeah, that's right."

"But not out of da shower!"


"Just out of da water part of da shower!"

"That's right."

"But stay in da shower!"

"Yes. Thank you."

"But go out of da water!"

sigh "Right."

[Posted at 16:23 by Amy Brown] link
Sat, 04 Sep 2010

When you read this you have to try and imagine Cordelia's parts in Cordelia's voice, which is squeaky and loud and very enthusiastic. She also still pronounces "th" as "d", so really everything she says sounds hilarious.

Cordelia: I can't decide if I should marry Charlie [her newborn cousin] or Otis!
Me: I think you should marry Otis, because Charlie is already related to you.
Cordelia: (Thinks about it.) But Otis doesn't like kissing, and kissing is how you get married!

Me: We only have three sea monkeys left.
Cordelia: But maybe two of them will get married and have babies!
Me: Do you need to get married to have babies?
Cordelia: No! (Thinks.) But you need to have a house!
Me: Why?
Cordelia: Because you have to do a naked hug to have babies! And if you don't have a house everyone will see you do a bits-bits hug! And bits are private!

[Posted at 21:14 by Amy Brown] link
Sun, 14 Mar 2010

I posted this as a comment over at Hollie's blog and thought I should put it here too.

We were at the grocery store today and Blake and Cordelia were having conversations on the pretend phone – you know the one you make with your little finger and thumb outstretched?

Well, Cordelia called Blake and said, “Is Mummy there?” Actually, what she said was “Give it to Mummy”, but she meant “Is Mummy there?”

So Blake held his pretend phone up to my face, and I said, “Hello?”

Cordelia paused, giggled, and said, “Bye!”

That’s right, she prank-called me on the pretend phone.

[Posted at 21:09 by Amy Brown] link
Tue, 23 Feb 2010

Today Cordelia read a book! She wanted a second bedtime book, and I said she could have another book but she had to read it herself. In the past she has "read" those baby dictionary-type board books with a one-to-one word-to-picture ratio. This time she picked a Clifford easy reader. I stood my ground and got her to read it and she actually read the whole thing with a combination of all the tools she's supposed to use: phonics, word recognition, and context.

She kept saying, "My brain doesn't want to do that!" when I said, "sound it out" or "that's a popcorn word", but eventually her brain stepped up.

(A popcorn word is a word that you recognize on sight, it just "pops" into your head. Delphine taught us that terminology.)

[Posted at 21:29 by Amy Brown] link
Tue, 16 Feb 2010

Miss Cordelia is now four years, four months and twenty days old, and she is well settled into being four. Four is a year of experimenting with power, and a year of great emotion.

Cordelia still loves to be with Mummy, but she can be pursuaded away by a sufficiently compelling offer. On Sunday Zaida stopped by to take her out. At first when we asked if she wanted to go with him she said, "Mummy!" and clung to me. But when I rephrased the offer—"Don't you want to go on an adventure with Zaida?"—she perked up. "Adventure?" And off she went.

Tonight I was talking her through the plan for tomorrow, as I do every day, and I said my friend Tanya was going to pick her up at school and take her for lunch. She pulled the "Mummy!" thing again, but I said, "Otis [Tanya's little boy] wants you to come play with him," and then she was fine with it.

Cordelia can get herself dressed to go outside all by herself. She's so good at it, in fact, that her teacher wanted to make a PSA video starring her, to try and pursuade kindergarten parents to teach their kids to dress themselves. I don't get to see this skill, however, because when I go into the class to help with mittens and zippers, she becomes all helpless and I have to zip her up. I don't help with boots and snowpants, though, because it is literally easier for her to do it herself—she's gotten competent enough that when I try and help we end up working at cross-purposes and getting in each other's way. So fortunately that's off my plate.

Cordelia has friends! She is friends with Anna, and Zoey, and Scarlett and Samantha. Anna was her first friend of the year, and neither of them will go into the schoolyard without the other. They walk in together, hand-in-hand. Anna is an SK and a good head taller than Cordelia. She's very quiet; we had her over for a playdate and Cordelia was in charge, telling her what to do and when. She was so proud to be the authority.

Cordelia is in swimming class this term. She and Delphine take half-hour classes, first Delphine then Cordelia, so DeeDee hangs out with me by the pool while Delphine has her class. She makes me draw pictures made of shapes, and then she has to count the shapes. Then I draw her name in bubble writing and she colours it in. (When Cordelia has her class, Delphine and I each read our books.)

Today when I picked Cordelia up from school she was crying. I know enough not to ask what was wrong right up front: she has to get some of her crying out before she can talk to me. But her sobs didn't seem to be slowing down, so I asked anyway, and she said she hurt her head. I tried to figure out how she had hurt her head, presenting various possible scenarios—did you trip and run into the wall? Did someone push you?—until she agreed with one. She said she had slipped and fallen into the wall. I didn't see any bumps or scrapes but I was appropriately sympathetic. We picked up Delphine and headed over to Tanya's place, where we have lunch every day.

But just as we got to Tanya's Cordelia started crying again—sobbing! I knew if she'd only bumped her head it would have been forgotten by now, so I asked if something bad had happened at school. She nodded, and after further questioning I got her to say that someone had hurt her, but she wouldn't specify how. She was really miserable, and eventually (after the retching started) I realized that the problem was actually that she was sick. She was nauseous and had a headache—the whole story about someone hurting her and her bumping her head was just her trying to explain to herself why her head hurt. She's never had a headache before! Nonetheless, she insisted on a bandage, so in addition to acetaminophen inside her, she had a nice big bandage plastered over her forehead.

Incidentally, this was the progression of her illness: headache, cry, nap on mummy, puke, cry, rest on mummy, puke, rest in stroller (with Otis next to her looking very dubious), watch Dora, sleep on bathroom floor, sleep on couch, wake up, take acetaminophen, watch Backyardigans, better! The whole thing took less than five hours.

Cordelia's nicknames: DeeDee, Boo, Cordeliaboo, Cordeli-bum, Bootle, Chuckles, Bubbles. Her teacher calls her Cordie.

[Posted at 22:19 by Amy Brown] link
Tue, 29 Dec 2009

This post is for those of you who enjoy that particular kind of humour derived from small children saying entirely inappropriate things in all innocence. Lucky for us we have a four-year-old, so we have plenty of that.

The other day Blake and the girls and I took the bus to the Ontario Science Centre. It was a chilly morning so while we waited for the bus we huddled together, the girls in between Blake and I, like penguins. Since I don't know what sound penguins make, I said, "Buck, buck, buck, bgawk!"

With that Cordelia squeezed out of our little cluster and declared loudly, "I got laid!"

The other morning Blake was brushing his teeth, and because we have small children, he wasn't alone. He has a tongue pierce, and part of its care and feeding is that you have to brush the stainless steel balls of the jewellery every day. So, that's what he was doing when Cordelia asked the obvious question, "Are you brushing your balls?"

"Yes. Yes I am."

"You should tell Mummy!"

This one is less inappropriate. The other day my friend Kat and I watched that "David after dentist" YouTube video for the first time—the one with the kid recovering from anaesthesia and saying silly things. Kat works with little kids and I live with them, and we didn't find the video particularly funny because kids say peculiar things all the time.

Case in point: Today, after a full day, then dinner, with her jammies on and her teeth about to be brushed, Cordelia asked, "Mama, is it morning or bedtime? I don't know when it is. I forgot!"

So yeah, "Is this real?" doesn't seem all that funny.

[Posted at 22:53 by Amy Brown] link
Wed, 04 Nov 2009


That was the sound of Cordelia's head hitting the wall behind me when she scrambled to hide behind my legs. What was she hiding from? Why, another adult tried to talk to her. Horrifying.

And then, just a couple of days ago, someone's nanny helped her off a too-high ladder in the playground. That sent her into a five-minute paroxysm of screaming fear and rage.

Cordelia is a fearful child*. I don't know how this has happened, but it has. She's scared of being away from me, and she hates being spoken to by any adult outside of a small set of acceptable people. She constantly tells me she loves me, and she wants to touch me all the time, as if without a physical or audible expression of our love it will disappear.

Delphine isn't like that. She carries with her a confidence that she is loved, that she can handle herself, and that everything will be fine. Oh, she's very emotional and things get blown all out of proportion, but it's all on the surface. Underneath it all she is, as one of her kindergarten teachers put it, steady.

Cordelia's emotional outbreaks seem underlaid with panic, some kind of apparently bone-deep fear that if she isn't constantly affirming the love of those around her it will evaporate.

And yet it seems when she forgets to be afraid, she's fine. She loves her kindergarten teacher and her class. She can play by herself for ages, if she can get past that initial hurdle of Walking Away. This is a terrifically painful stage (for both of us) and yet surely it is only a stage. At home she's such a happy, enthusiastic kid with such great passion and ideas. I hope the passion wins over the fear.

* I know in my last Cordelia post I said she wasn't fearful. I guess I didn't see the fear before. It's pretty subtle—mostly her clinginess manifests as merely whiny or needy—but I've since started to see the undercurrent of real fear or panic in the way she holds on to me, and the pitch of her screams.

Knowing your child is an impossible art which you can nonetheless never give up.

[Posted at 10:53 by Amy Brown] link
Wed, 30 Sep 2009

Cordelia is four! Her birthday was on Sunday, and we celebrated all day. In the morning, we had two kinds of pancakes (thin and fat), and then we went out to Word on the Street for some literary fun. We saw the TVOKids folks (again), got some (more) TVOKids swag, had lunch (chicken and hot dog), visited the This and Spacing magazine booths, bought some TTC station buttons from Spacing (Davisville, Museum, Dupont and Dundas), and listened to stories. Then we visited Daddy and his geeky friends at U of T. We all rode the TTC home, and then lots of people came over for Cordelia's birthday tea.

Instead of having a kid party for Cordelia, I invited family and friends: Baba and Zaida, Morgan and Erik, Douglas and Tanya and Ursa and Otis, Sara and Blair and (more importantly) Henry and Liam, and Kat. If you do that math you'll see I didn't do myself any favours; we ended up with thirteen people over, but everyone managed to get themselves tea or coffee or beer, and we didn't run out of cake, so I call that a win.

For her birthday, Cordelia got a Schylling balloon mobile and glow in the dark stars to decorate her bedroom, some cool markers and a sticker book, a book of foam shapes, and Lauren Child's creepy interpretation of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Those were all from me (bought with money from my mum. Hooray Mum!) She also got a jewellery-making kit and a sticker book from Henry, and a very cute outfit from Kat, but the pièce de résistance was a homemade robot outfit from Tanya and Ursa. Cordelia loves to play robot: "I am a ro-obot!". I will post a picture.

Cordelia isn't as independent as I remember Delphine being at four. In fact, she's very needy: she doesn't like to do things for herself if she thinks there is any way she can get you to do them, and she often pretends something is too hard when I know she can manage it.

She's also clingy, but not in a fearful way. She doesn't cry when we're separated, but she's very happy to see me when we reunite. She seems to prefer my company to anything else. I said to another mom today, "No-one loves me as much as Cordelia does." I haven't re-read the Four book so I don't know if this is expected behaviour. As I said, I don't remember it with Delphine, but then we spent the four months after she turned four together, so maybe it simply didn't come up.

The other day Cordelia and I went to the school to pick Delphine up after school. Cordelia was very excited to see one of her classmates, Zoe, in the schoolyard. She ran after Zoe, but the other girl didn't see her. Cordelia came back to me, disappointed. "She didn't even see me!" I told her to try again, so she ran up again, and again Zoe was walking away as Cordelia approached and so didn't notice her. Once again I encouraged her to try again, so she ran up to Zoe and planted herself in front of her with a giant grin, kind of a "Boo!" move. Zoe just stared at her, and turned away. And my heart cracked.

That's the kind of approach that would work great on a Baba or Zaida or grown-up friend, so maybe she just needs to figure out some approaches for people her own age who aren't won over by extreme cuteness. We've been (mildly) concerned about Cordelia's social skills for a while—she didn't play with other kids much at nursery school, but was happy playing by herself. I'm not sure (again) what a four-year-old is expected to manage, socially. I will talk to her teacher about it in a few weeks after she's had a chance to get to know the kids better.

Cordelia is delightful. She is almost always happy (although sometimes she is very angry), she is agreeable, she is voluble, she is clever. She likes to make things, arrange things, draw and colour. She can run very fast. She knows the whole alphabet. She still says "f" for "th", and "naybe" for "maybe". She likes silly things: silly noises, silly pictures, silly stories. Cordelia is a ray of sunshine.

(Here's my post about Delphine's fourth birthday for fun. Cordelia chose lemon icing for her cake, too!)

[Posted at 14:44 by Amy Brown] link
Fri, 21 Aug 2009

Cordelia, as you know, has been having trouble saying goodbye to me when I drop her off at day camp this week. This morning, again, she cried at breakfast, saying she didn't want to go to camp, she wanted to stay with me. We agreed that I would read her a book at camp before I left her.

So indeed, we sat down and read a book together at camp. After the book was over, Cordelia looked at me and asked, "What now?" She was on the very edge of tears. I said, "Now we say goodbye and I go home and you have a nice day at camp." Well, I have never seen someone so small try so hard not to cry. She squeezed up her face and said "Okay mama" with a voice full of tears, but she didn't cry. She was so brave, it just about broke my heart, and it was all I could do not to cry myself.

The thing of it is, I know just how she feels. (I almost always know just how my children feel.) She loves me so much right now, and wants to be near me all the time, so it's almost a physical ache when she isn't (at least unless she's distracted by something else). So I will pick them up early tonight and we can all be together again.

[Posted at 09:20 by Amy Brown] link
Tue, 31 Mar 2009

...although she doesn't like the idea. On Friday, when I told her it was her three-and-a-halfth birthday, she said she was too little, and also that her next birthday was going to be four! I was going to bake her a cake, but clearly she wasn't interested in the half-birthday thing, so I let it go.

She's grown about a mile since last I checked. I took her into the school this afternoon when I went in to help Delphine's class put their jackets on, and I noticed Cordelia is taller than some of the JKs. I know that's not unusual, but Delphine's always been so relentlessly 50th percentile in terms of size (once she got over being a mondo baby, that is), I find it weird to have a taller-than-average child. She's gaining on Delphine alarmingly - her 3-and-a-half height is only a centimeter or so short of Delphine's four height! I wonder how they will end up.

I would say Cordelia has come out of her shell, except anyone who knows her knows she was never in a shell. But just lately she has become even more voluble, more dramatic, more funny, more opinionated. She's also getting a little 3-and-a-halfish in the sense that she is provoking power struggles about stupid things, and over-reacting to things to see how far that will get her. She's psycho, basically, at least some of the time. We try to roll with it and not let her faze us or throw off the whole day.

Cordelia spends a lot of time with Delphine. Yes, they fight a lot but not all of the time. Delphine reads to her - they particularly like Chirp magazines - and... well, I'm not sure what they do together. This afternoon they spent a good hour out in the backyard, digging holes with sticks and watering things which don't need water (like the deck). At one point Delphine came inside to retrieve matzo, jam and almonds for a delectable picnic. It was lovely. For some reason they don't seem to fight when they're outside. Maybe the house depresses them as it does me.

Cordelia's all signed up for kindergarten in the fall. I signed her up for mornings because she's still napping at least five days out of seven. We still don't know whose class she'll be in. I'm getting to know which are the better kindergarten teachers, though, so this time I actually care whose class she's in. Hopefully someone good. (You're not allowed to ask for a particular teacher, so if you do they put you in someone else's class on principle. Boo.)

Cordelia can sing! She sings herself to sleep most nights, and a few weeks ago I was listening to her sing her usual autolullabye, the ABC song. She sang, "A B C... A B C... A B C D E F G" - the first two times she sang it, she sang it on "do do fa". She didn't continue until she had gotten it right: "do do so". Not only can she sing in tune but she knows she can sing in tune! Obviously I am now planning her career as an opera singer - she is very loud.

What else? We are all scheduled to the hilt with summer activities. Well, more scheduled than last year (ie, we have some plans). We have three weeks off at the start of summer, then Delphine is going to a day camp at a farm in the city. After that the girls and I are going to Sask for two weeks, and as soon as we get back the girls are off to the cottage with Baba and Zaida. (Not sure if I'm invited or not.) Once they get back, they are both signed up for a day camp at Cordelia's nursery school. It will be the first time Cordelia's done all-day anything, and it will be the first time I have ever had all-day off for five days in a row. (Except when I was in Sask by myself last September.)

So lots of firsts these days. I realized the other day that I have no qualms whatsoever about taking the girls downtown on the bus and subway alone - before, I would always be more comfortable if I had another grown-up, but now Delphine can be trusted to be sensible, and Cordelia responds to verbal commands (sit! stay!) so I know I don't have to be hanging on to one of them while praying the other one doesn't do something stupid. It's like they're real people! Halleluia!

[Posted at 22:05 by Amy Brown] link
Mon, 02 Feb 2009

Cordelia is a pretty compassionate kid. She always wants you to feel good; one of her most common phrases is, "Don't worry!" She's always doling out hugs, and kisses.

Sometimes the love goes to far, though. On the way home from taking Delphine to schol, Cordelia picked up a big ol' hunk of dirty snow, big enough that she needed two arms to carry it. I said, "What are you gonna do with that big dirty hunk of snow?"

"I'm gonna throw it!"

"Who are you going to throw it at?"

"No-one!" You can see who has the sense in this family.

"No, it's not nice to throw things at people. So what are you going to throw it at?"

"The ground!" She stopped, planted herself firmly and threw the chunk of snow down where it broke into a big chunk, some smaller chunks and some slush.

"Are you going to take a piece?"

"Yeah!" She picked out one of the smaller pieces and off we went. As we walked she was talking to herself, constructing some kind of narrative for this piece of snow; she's big on anthropomorphising. I wasn't really paying attention so I didn't catch the details.

After a block she said, "The snowball is lonely! He wants his daddy! Can we go back and put him with his daddy?"

"Um, no, let's take him home and leave him on the porch while you take a nap, and we can take him to his Daddy when we pick up Delphine."

Satisfied with that, we walked on, and she kept on talking. Half a block later: "Can he come with me while I nap?"

"No, he would melt. Remember Peter brought his snowball inside and then it wasn't there? His jacket was just wet?" Appealing to literature sometimes helps.

"But he will be lonely!"

"But he will just melt into water if you bring him inside. I think he'll be okay on the porch."

We rounded the corner and crossed the street onto our block. I walked a few paces ahead of Cordelia, and then turned around to see how she was doing. The snow was no longer in her hand. "I dropped him! Now he will never go back to his Daddy! He's gonna be lonely! He wants his Daddy and his brothers and sisters!"

And she wept, heartbroken, all the way home over the sad fate of this little chunk of dirty snow. I had to carry her and commiserate. Poor thing.

[Posted at 14:51 by Amy Brown] link
Sat, 31 Jan 2009

This morning Delphine was reading Cordelia one of those "Baby Genius" alphabet books with the questions that are supposed to help you talk to you kid about the picture, because they assume you're not capable of having a conversation with your child about a picture in a book.

So they were on "I", and Cordelia's job was to locate the "ice skates". Last time we read the book she only found the skaters, so Delphine was very pleased when, this time, she successfully identified the ice skates. She shouted across the room, "Mumma, she found the ice skates this time! Last time she only found the skaters!"

Cordelia grinned, bounced up and down on the couch and shouted, "I'm smarter than usual!"

I need that on a t-shirt.

[Posted at 21:27 by Amy Brown] link
Fri, 10 Oct 2008

Cordelia is three! She has been three for almost two weeks now! We didn't have a big party or anything, because she doesn't really have any friends yet, and also I couldn't be bothered. I asked her what kind of cake she wanted and she said "a tomato cake!" Apparently there is such a thing, but I didn't feel up to that kind of experimental weirdness, so I asked her (on a different occasion) whether she would like a chocolate cake or a white one. (This is how you get little kids to do what you want, you trick them and then you paint them into a corner.) She said she wanted a white cake with chocolate icing (this is how they get what they want). And since she had been talking about having a tomato birthday for months, I drew three juicy tomatoes on top of the cake in red icing. That seemed to satisfy her.

We didn't have a party, as I mentioned, but a few people did end up coming over for cake: Baba and Zaida were there, and Tanya and Douglas and Ursa and Otis came too.

Cordelia's choice for her special birthday dinner was sushi, so Zaida kindly brought over a platter of sushi from our favourite place. Extra kindly, because his car wouldn't start! He walked it halfway over to our place and Blake met him and brought it the rest of the way. What these men wouldn't do for their little girls.

Cordelia really seems to have bought into this three thing. Her new favourite word is "why", in that reflexive way little kids ask when they're trying to get as much information into their little brains as possible. She has stopped fighting so much with Delphine, and is generally more easy-going lately. We don't lock horns so much over silly things like which way her toast is sliced.

Her latest favourite book is a counting book called "Ten Black Dots" by Donald Crews. We've read it at every nap and bedtime for the last week. She likes to point at the dots and count them, which she now does perfectly, even down to pointing to each dot exactly once. She can also do rudimentary math in her head, adding or subtracting one or two. I said rudimentary! Generally she seems more numerically-oriented than Delphine was at her age.

She's also really big! Actually she's right on the 50th percentile, but dammit, she seems big to me. I'm still coming to terms with the fact that my baby days are behind me. I know that means that also behind me are spit-up and leaky boobs and diapers and baby gates and food allergy scares and chokable object embargoes, and ahead of me are piano lessons and baking together and interesting conversations and going for walks and joking and reading and doing crossword puzzles. But I've been a baby-mummy for five years; it was such a huge part of my life — it was my whole life! — for such a long time and yet it's already over. How can that be?

[Posted at 14:56 by Amy Brown] link
Mon, 02 Jun 2008

On Friday, Cordelia (who is two and eight months) decided she was done wearing diapers and wanted to wear underwear. She has decided to wear underwear before with mixed results, but this time she was really adamant about not wearing diapers, not even pull-ups. So she wore underwear, I accompanied her to the bathroom after meals and her nap, and she went the whole day without an accident. Saturday she had three accidents but mostly because we weren't on the ball with taking her to the bathroom at regular intervals. Notably, after her first accident, Blake (who didn't yet understand the depth of her determination to wear underwear) tried to put her in a diaper and she was mortified! She was furious and miserable until I explained to her that she could wear underwear and everyone has accidents. Since Saturday she hasn't had any accidents.

On top of that, in Saturday we sold her crib, the one the people at work bought for Delphine, and now Cordelia is sleeping in the toddler bed. She is big! She will get really mad if you call her "little".

So that's it, I don't have any babies any more.

[Posted at 20:30 by Amy Brown] link
Wed, 07 May 2008

We have this old Fisher-Price toy camera from the seventies — it was Blake's as a boy — and it's a toy version of the old 110 cameras, remember them? It has a flash cube on the top which rotates 90° every time you take a picture. (Dave, I think we might have had the same one, I remember it or something like it.)

So despite this "camera" being completely unlike any camera the girls have ever seen, they have taken to it very well and pretend to take pictures all the time. "Say 'banana'!"

Cordelia, however, takes it one step further. After taking the picture, she runs up to you, turns the camera around and shows you the non-existent screen on the back; "See yer picture! See yer picture!"

[Posted at 19:29 by Amy Brown] link
Tue, 29 Apr 2008

Cordelia is so funny and verbal that I think we almost take the cute things she says for granted, but I'm going to try and write some of them down for posterity, and Delphine's too!

Today, Cordelia had just woken up from her nap and she accompanied me into the bathroom while I peed. After I finished peeing she said "You need paper?" I agreed and she got me one little piece of toilet paper, crumpled up into a tiny ball.

I looked at it and said, "I have to get some more because my bits are very big."

She said, "I like your hairy and big, strong bits!"

"Thank you!"

"And also your slippers."

[Posted at 20:00 by Amy Brown] link
Sat, 16 Feb 2008

Due to various factors, it has come to pass that Cordelia has been the subject of a parent-teacher interview several months before her older sister will be. I was supposed to meet with Cordelia's nursery school teachers back in December, but I barely had time to breathe let alone sit around talking about my kids (usually my favourite pastime). So I finally managed to meet with Lakeisha and Simone a couple of weeks ago.

My original thought was, this is going to be kind of pointless; Cordelia's two, she plays in water and makes pictures and builds towers out of blocks. How much is there going to be to say? But as it turns out I am really glad I went because hearing about how she behaves in school has given me a whole perspective on Cordelia.

Apparently Cordelia is very focussed in class; she will work on something for ten or fifteen minutes. If you know anything about two-year-olds you know how weird that is; usually they do stuff for a couple of minutes then move on to the next thing. The "Your X-Year-Old" series of books has a little overhead diagram of a room with various activities set up, and then a map of a typical kid's path through that room, and the map for the two-year-old is like a bowl of spaghetti. Not Cordelia. I saw an example of that focus in action the other day at supper as she painstakingly shelled three snow pea pods. (Ever since we gave them edamame my kids have had trouble knowing what peas need to be shelled.) She apparently also comes back to things; the teachers know to leave her pictures or whatever out because she'll come back later to work on them.

She has only been talking at school since after Christmas; she's been talking for us for ages, but she held back at school and now they're astounded at her voice. Well, mostly the other children. "She talks!" But what Lakeisha and Simone actually said — and if you know Cordelia in person you should make sure you're sitting down right now — is, "They're surprised when she talks because she's usually so quiet." Quiet! Apparently the Cordelia at school is the quiet, studious Cordelia.

She's also observant; she was the first and only kid to notice a new science table the day I went to visit, and she examined everything on it with her (apparently) usual thoroughness.

I am really pleased I went to the meeting and was able to hear about this other side of Cordelia. I think the problem with having exactly two kids is that you end up forcing them into false dichotomies: Delphine is the quiet one, therefore Cordelia must be the loud one; Delphine is the studious one, therefore Cordelia must be the flippertigibbet. This was an excellent reminder that it is profoundly important to step back and see my children for who they really are, not just who they aren't because that's who their sister is. Otherwise I risk missing the most wonderful and interesting parts of them.

This has also made me really glad that I put Cordelia in nursery school, despite the gruelling mess it makes of my day twice a week. (I'm the mother, what the hell else am I doing anyway?) It's such a great opportunity for her to blossom outside of the home and away from her sister and me.

And finally, I am very excited about Delphine's parent-teacher interview. What surprises has my oldest been hiding? What will I learn about her? I can't wait.

[Posted at 12:14 by Amy Brown] link
Sun, 30 Sep 2007

Cordelia turned two on Thursday, which was kind of sucky for her because it was her fourth day of nursery school and so she's still suffering from lots of separation anxiety. I felt like a monster leaving her crying and miserable in the arms of Lakeisha the teacher on her birthday, but when I waved at her through the window on the way out she was already smiling a little bit. They made up for it by giving her cake because it just happened to be the day for their September birthday celebration.

Altogether, counting the nursery school party, Cordelia had four birthday parties; one last weekend at Baba and Zaida's with a chocolate cake and presents, one on Thursday night at home with a plain cake with pink icing and more presents — we got her one of those rugs with roads and railways and stuff printed on it (Delphine's idea), and Hop on Pop — and yet another this weekend when we made a dinosaur-shaped cake just for the fun of it. We like cake, what can I say?

Nursery school is going well. I signed her up not to give myself a break — I think it's actually created more work for me — but because I thought it was time she started to have a life of her own, to gain some independence away from me, and to be exposed to all the rich and interesting things they offer at nursery school. It seems to be a really good facility; they always have lots of interesting activities set up when we get there in the morning, the teachers are lovely, they have a real music teacher with a guitar in every other week, and every week they take a picture of your child and save it in a portfolio that you get to keep at the end of the year.

The only catch is that the school is about one and a half kilometers from home, around a fifteen minute walk. I originally thought it was going to be a longer walk than that, before I actually tried it, so I was quite pleased. On Thursday I strapped on my running shoes and put the girls in the expensive but very cool jogging stroller / bike trailer and ran up there, which of course also took about fifteen minutes because I am that slow and also running with a stroller sucks. But it's better than running at 7:30 at night when all I want to do is collapse on the couch.

Cordelia can count to twenty, which is kind of odd for a two-year-old. She loves to count, but she's not really counting per se. I think she knows about counting in some sense; she knows you do it when you have a lot of something, and that you count for a while and then stop and the number you stop at means something, but she really doesn't map the actual number of things to the words she's saying. She loves to over-count and usually ends up with "seven" of whatever it is. Also when people ask her how old she is she says "three!" She just likes numbers.

Incidentally, Delphine's friend Ursa also loved counting and numbers, to the extent that she still calls both letters and numbers "numbers". This is interesting because Delphine used to call numbers "letters". Shall we typecast them as the Wordy One and the Mathy One already?

Cordelia talks in full sentences, and she has reached that age when she comes out with syntactically perfect sentences which leave me speechless. "Help me put my sweater on!" I hear it and it's a perfect sentence, and then I realize it came from my tiny baby! She doesn't do full sentences all the time, though. Mostly she's still trying to cobble together communication with the few words and bits of grammar she knows, backed up with pointing and when all else fails, shouting really loud.

Communicating is complicated by the fact that she doesn't know her colours yet; when Delphine was this age at least we could figure out what she wanted by saying, "What colour is it?" Cordelia, for whatever reason, can't get her colours straight. For a couple of weeks everything was blue ("bah-loo!") and now things seem to be mostly red. If you drill her you can get her to get a colour right for a few minutes but then if you go back to it later, she goes back to guessing. I find this rather perplexing; she doesn't seem to have trouble learning the words for anything else. Either she can't map the colours to the names, or she can't distinguish the colours for some reason. Anyway, you aren't really expected to know your colours until you're three or even four, so maybe there is some mental or visual development yet to come which will resolve this. In the meantime all the grandparents have made it their mission to help her learn colours.

Cordelia sleeps from about six thirty until six thirty or seven in the morning. Well, I put her to bed at six thirty; usually she stays awake talking and singing to herself until seven. She also naps from one until two or two thirty. (I got all my sleep advice from Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, so if you want a narcoleptic child and a rich adult-only evening life you should read it too.) She scared me on Friday by not napping at all; I wondered if she had decided that since now she's two she doesn't need a nap. But then she napped yesterday and today, so I think I still have a napper. It's nice because she naps while Delphine is in kindergarten, so I get some time to get stuff done in the afternoons. If I am not too tired to think; afternoon is not my brightest time.

Cordelia has peed in the potty exactly twice, both times under the tutelage of Baba. I suppose she is more or less ready to be properly potty-trained, which is exciting in the sense of no more diapers, but I am not looking forward to the process, the constant trips to the potty and interrogation regarding her need for the same. "Do you have to go pee? Do you have to poo? Do you want to sit on the potty?" However, it has to happen sometime! The nursery school teachers say they are happy to help, so maybe I will rope them in and see if we can get it over with. That would be awesome.

Tomorrow is Monday, and October, and I have a million things to do so I had best get to bed so I am not tired and grumpy all day.

[Posted at 22:14 by Amy Brown] link