Nineteen Months: Running, Climbing, Laughing

Cordelia is just about nineteen months old. I took her to the doctor for her eighteen month checkup and she has gained almost no weight and grown, like, an inch. I don't have the exact numbers but really, no-one is all that interested.

She recently uttered her first real sentence: she pointed to a spot that Morgan had recently vacated and said "Morgan sat, uh, there." She says "uh" a lot, and she's fairly bad with names, including mine. I was holding her and looking in the mirror a few weeks ago and I said "Who's that?" She said "Baby!" So I said "Who else?" "Baba... uh... Mummy!"

She's good on her feet; she runs, she climbs, she tries to keep up with her big sister at the park. She can almost, almost, climb downstairs like a normal person. Except today she was standing on a step and she overbalanced and came headfirst down the stairs. Fortunately I was standing right there and caught her, head first, but she's not allowed to go downstairs by herself any more, unless she goes backwards which she never does any more because going backwards is for babies!

She likes to walk; every time we try and put her in the stroller she protests, and she would much rather be out and walking on the sidewalk, climbing up onto every ledge and wall, picking up dubious bits of jetsam, wandering onto people's lawns. But once she's in the stroller she's usually cool with that, too. She's generally a laid back little kid, really.

Cordelia loves sit at the dining table and colour when Delphine is there drawing. She loves stickers even more, but I don't really have any that are big enough for her to manage. I will have to pick some up. She also tends to draw on the walls, which Delphine never did, so walking around the house with writing implements is another thing she is not allowed to do.

She dances! I was reading a book of nursery rhymes this morning, and singing the ones which have a tune, and she got up and danced; "dancing" is just turning around and around and then throwing herself at the ground, which works best for Ring a Ring a Rosie but which she manages to adapt to a surprising number of songs.

What else? I gave her a haircut a week or so ago; she was getting a little mulletty in the back while the wispies at the front were getting in her eyes, so I just generally hacked at it all around and it came out mainly pixie-ish with a little of the Franciscan monk around the front. You'll have to take my word for it, it's pretty cute. Delphine didn't like it, though, on the grounds that she didn't look like Cordelia, and that she looked like a boy. She seems to have gotten used to it, though.

Cordelia is very independent; she wants to put in clothes by herself, she insists on feeding herself (and in the manner of her choosing, which is usually with fingers -- did you know hummus is finger food? Me either.) She gets very irate if you try and do things for her.

Cordelia is still a lot of fun; she is quick to laugh and recovers from setbacks quickly. She's affectionate and cuddly and generally easy and pleasant to be with. It's probably also way easier to deal with a second child; I am fairly sure that nothing I do is going to break her, so I just let her be most of the time.

Conversations With Delphine: The Tooth Fairy

Delphine: Is the tooth fairy real?
Me: What do you think?
D: I think she is real.
Me: Why?
D: She has wings, and wings are real, so she is real.

Kind of hard to argue with that, but I tried it anyway.

Me: Are fairies real?
D: No.
Me: Is the tooth fairy a fairy?
D: Yeah.
Me: So if fairies are real, and the tooth fairy is a fairy, how can she be real?
D: She's sort of... in between.
Me: In between real and not real?
D: Uh, in between a fairy and real.

She has also taken to saying "Let's run along, and not get into trouble." "I am going to run along, and not get into trouble." You go do that, then!


I finally posted some pictures in the gallery, here. Enjoy!

Oh, and Jillian, Jillian Arnott, if you are out there, please email me. I don't have your email address and I miss you!

Renovation: One Week Down

We're one week into the reno, and the dust is flying. The electrical is almost done; we are replacing all the old knob-and-tube wiring with the modern stuff, putting in mostly new light fixtures and light switches in sensible places, instead of three feet into the bedroom, or behind the far door to the dining room, or just nowhere at all in Delphine's room. (She had one of those bank-pen-chain pull switches that she didn't have a hope of reaching for another ten years.)

On the main floor, where most of the big changes are happening, the demolition is nearly complete. They have taken down all the walls except that between the kitchen and the dining room, and that which defines the front hall (and keeps the drafts out). They've taken out the old cabinet in the kitchen, the sink and its cabinet, and the old gnarly linoleum tiles and subfloor. They've cut and framed a hole between the kitchen and the dining room, which is going to be finished with some trim salvaged from the original arch between the dining room and the living room. The only demolition which remains to be done is taking up the hardwood in the front hall (we are going to put in vintage-style black and white mosaic tile instead).

Next week the inspector is coming in for the electrical, and then they will patch the walls and start painting upstairs. They are going to move the plumbing for the sink, and put in the vent for the range hood, and lay the new subfloor in the kitchen. It's been fun watching them tear the place apart, but I am really going to enjoy watching them put it back together.

We haven't been able, to the shock of no-one, to salvage and reuse as much as I originally thought we would. I said we would keep the cabinet in the kitchen but quickly changed my mind when I realized how much I like runners on my drawers, and base cabinets that don't go all the way to the floor, and not having huge frames in the way of my stuff, and maybe upper cabinets that are deep enough to store a dinner plate. I got rid of the metal trim on the counter because Jillian's right, it's a total pain to keep clean. I got rid of the stove because there's just no way to make an ancient electric stove into a modern gas stove. I got rid of the cabinet for the sink because again, I wanted to get rid of the frames and have more versatile cabinetry (we are putting a bunch of drawers under the sink cabinet).

I haven't even kept many light fixtures; I kept the pretty fixtures in the girls' rooms, but almost all of the others are gone, with the exception of a gorgeous Nouveau fixture from the front hall which is too dim to be useful but which we will reuse somewhere where we don't need all that much light.

Ironically, we are ripping out a genuine vintage kitchen and replacing it with a vintage-inspired kitchen. Our cabinets are going to be Applad White which is flat-panel painted white, very much like the original cabinet. The floor is going to be Marmoleum in Caribbean, and the countertops will be Formica's Skylark Boomerang. Oh, and the paint is Benjamin Moore's Standish White, which almost exactly matches the floor. I am going to look for a vintage-style wallpaper to do a focal point, and maybe a cute fabric for a little curtain. Three more weeks to go!

Dead Insects

Some dude has figure out how to, um, harvest the insects he kills with his car and photograph them with a fancy microscope. The results are strangely compelling. (Cordelia says "flower!")

I'm A Woodcutter!

"I'm a woodcutter," exclaimed Delphine. "I can cut wolves, and giants!"

"Can you cut wood?"

"I can cut wood, wolves, and giants!"

Your Three-Year-Old: Friend or Enemy?

We signed Delphine up for Kindergarten, to start in fall. She's actually ready to start tomorrow -- she can dress herself and write her name and go to the bathroom by herself -- but because her birthday is fairly early in the year she will be one of the older, more accomplished students in her class. Fortunately it's a mixed Junior/Senior Kindergarten class so if necessary she can mingle with the five-year-olds, although by the time she gets to SK she will be like Methuselah.

I wonder about skipping her to first grade a year early; I don't know if they are keen on skipping grades in the Toronto school board, but it seems that if you're going to do it, earlier would be better than later, no? But just proposing that makes me feel like one of those annoying "my kid is so wonderful and smart and she needs special attention" parents. But honestly, if she is ready for grade one after a year of kindergarten -- and I'm not saying she will be -- doesn't it make sense to put her in it?

Speaking of people who think their kids are so special, Dooce (who I normally love) wrote this in her monthly letter to Leta, with respect to a question on a preschool application form: "whoever gets to spend their days with you will be transformed by the experience, and that the only right answer would be: You will not be disappointed." Seriously? You know these people, preschool teachers, get to meet hundreds of little kids, right? You think your little precious is going to be the one who transforms them? Why? What exactly about your kid is so special? Is she the reincarnation of Mother Theresa? No, she's just another snotty, screaming, whining, pooping three-year-old, just like mine and every other on the planet.

Having said that ("screaming, whining"), Delphine and I are getting better at communicating with each other. I read Barbara Coloroso's Kids Are Worth It, and it really helped me figure out a way to talk to her and deal with her which lets us both keep our dignity intact. There's a real art to it, the balance between getting her to do the things I want her to do without forcing her, or just letting her do whatever she wants to. I offer her choices, compromises, I decide what she does and she decides how, but all the while I have to maintain my authority so that when she's running away down the sidewalk I can yell "Stop!" and she will do it right away.

Delphine loves a power battle — sometimes it seems like she automatically defies me on everything: "Toast for breakfast today!" "I don't like toast!" (An out and out lie.) So then it's fun to offer no resistance: "Okay, no toast for breakfast, let's have cereal!" "I want toast!" Okay, toast it is, crazy kid.

My favourite times are when we get to hang out together without Cordelia. Cordelia is still at an age where she butts into whatever we're doing, but she's too young to play board games or sit nicely and be read to, so when we're all together I'm often playing interference, but when it's just Delphine and I we can talk and read and do things together like real people. It doesn't happen very often, though.

Not Sleeping, No Sir.

Well, it's four in the morning and I've been wide awake for at least three-quarters of an hour. I finally decided to stop lying in bed thinking the same five thoughts over and over, and creep down the world's creakiest stairs and make myself useful. I don't think I will be sleeping again tonight, and I know I'll regret it later this afternoon, but what can you do? This must be what it's like to be Baba, or my brother Dave.

We are less than a week from the start of "demolition", a rather grand name for clearing out the kitchen and taking down a couple of walls. I suppose removing the little porch from the back is pretty demolishy. It all begins on Monday, and in the intervening four days we need to clear as much stuff as we can out of the main floor, and set up a makeshift kitchen in the basement. In the next month we are going to become very familiar with what meals can and cannot be prepared with a microwave, a toaster oven, a kettle and a crock pot. I predict we will eat a lot of President's Choice frozen meals. And did you know they have microwave pizza? Yeah...

The girls and I will also become very familiar with places to hang out that are not home; Baba and Zaida's, the library, the ROM, the park (if spring ever comes), Tanya's place, the other library... It's going to be a bit of a pain in the ass, but I think the satisfaction of seeing the work progress day after day will make up for it, unlike the changeless agony of, say, trying to keep a condo clean and tidy while you're selling it.


This Saturday Delphine broke a lifelong no-Macdonald's streak by visiting the place for a friend's birthday party. The party was enjoyed by all, and Ursa and her mom joined us for the bus ride home.

On the way, Delphine and Ursa amused us with their knock-knock jokes:

Ursa: Knock knock!
Delphine: Who's there?
U: Orange!
D: Orange who?
U: Orange you glad a banana?

And then they laughed. And then they told it again. And again.

Delphine actually managed to deliver the "anita" knock-knock joke successfully, but only once. The second time it went like this:

D: Knock-knock!
U: Who's there?
D: Anita!
U: Anita who?
D: Anita teeth!

(Delphine's go-to word when she needs to say something silly is teeth, pronounced "teef".)

And then Ursa said "You need to learn some more jokes!" Mmm-hmmm! Anyone know any good knock-knock jokes?

Cordelia at Seventeen Months

Cordelia is almost seventeen months old, and she's a little bundle of fun. She's learning lots of new words; she's at that age where she learns new words every day, and loves to imitate. Today it was "snowsuit". She started off with "nosnos" and by the end of the day pretty much had it down perfectly.

Lately her favourite word is "here", pronounced "heee-yer"; it started off as the word she uses when she gives you something, but now she mostly uses it when she wants something, accompanied by urgent gesticulation.

She comes to me when I am on the computer, with a dolly and a hat, and says "Hat! Hat! Hat!" until I put the hat (usually far too large) on the dolly. When we're on the floor, and I'm sitting cross-legged, she turns around and reverses onto my lap from about a foot away. She loves to be read to: "Book! Book!" is another of her favourite utterances.

She calls both cats "Mimi", and in fact she calls all four-legged mammals Mimi, as far as I can tell.

She bring boots: if we're going out (or if she would like us to go out) she goes to the front hall and finds my boots and brings them to me, one at a time. "Boot! Out?" She loves to go out; the other day we went out and I shovelled snow while she played in it. Because she was trapped in a snowsuit with thumbless mittens there wasn't much she could do, but she climbed up and down our step, and sat down hard in the snow, "plunk", then laughed and got up again. She finds her own fun.

When she goes downstairs she goes backwards, and she's very conservative about it: she likes to turn around and start crawling backwards a good two feel away from the top of the stairs.

Cordelia is very demonstrative; several times a day she comes up to me, unbidden, and hugs me around the knees. She loves to give kisses and hugs around the neck, too. She laughs a lot, and if she falls you can often get her to laugh instead of cry.

She still sleeps really well, from around six-thirty until around six am. She has taken, recently, to waking up and crying around ten or ten-thirty, but Blake loves it because he can go in and have a cuddle with her before putting her down again. I suppose that's a bad habit to encourage, but I doubt she will keep it up forever. And honestly, if she's fifteen and she still wants a few minutes of attention from her parents at ten-thirty at night I will count myself lucky.

She's still nursing, in the morning and before her nap and at bedtime, and sometimes during the day if she's hurt herself and needs comfort. It's lovely. She also more or less feeds herself at table; we bought a cheap Canadian knockoff of the overpriced Tripp-Trapp chair for each girl and Cordelia loves to be at table instead of behind everyone in the high chair. She makes a colossal mess but she has a nice time.

She's good company; she is easy-going and quick to laugh and to learn. I can leave her to her own devices during the day and she'll play by herself for ages. She plays with dollies, she climbs onto things, she pulls stuff out of boxes at an astonishing rate. She plays nicely with Delphine too, or I should say Delphine plays nicely with her. They are so different and so delightful; I could not have picked out better children from a Children Catalogue.