28 April 2008
I NEED HELP
Late one night Olivia was having a hard time going to sleep. She was in her big girl bed (right next to our bed) and I was next to her. She said, with urgency: "I need help!" I rolled over to look at her and found her laying on her back with her eyes shut. She was holding her stuffed Curious George in one arm and "Mama Care Bear" (so named because this was Liz's Care bear when she was a little girl) in the other. "What do you need, Olivia?" I asked. "Get a boogey. Daddy get a boogey." I guess it's kind of gross to go digging in somebody else's nose, but when that other person is your little baby it seems kind of routine. Olivia often requests (or demands) that we pick her nose for her. So I picked her nose and didn't find much. Then she made another request: "Get a boogey from Mama Care Bear." So I had to pick the Care Bear's nose. Then I had to pick Curious George's nose. Once I was done Olivia was content to go to sleep.
AMIA! SAW BABY BELUGA! SAW DOLPHIN!
So one of Olivia's favorite people, Amia, was over last night. Olivia had fallen asleep. She began to stir and when I went to check on her, Amia raced behind me to catch the action. Olivia was still lighlty sleeping and I picked her up. When she opened her eyes and saw Amia, she was suddenly wide awake. "Amia!" She threw her weight toward the floor, cuing me to put her down. "Amia! saw baby beluga! saw dolphin!"
I have noticed that when she is communicating with other children this is often the first thing she tells them. "Saw baby beluga." Also, if I ask her "What did you do today, Olivia?" The answer is either "Went to the Zoo." Or "Saw baby Beluga." As cute as that is, I am sometimes disappointed because I really want to hear from Olivia's perspective how the day went. I'm eager to understand her and hear her thoughts and feelings about life. But I guess that's just where she's at right now, and that is wonderful too. My friend Eva Gil explained it perfectly: "When she's asked what she did she just explains her favorite thing she's ever done in her life." That's pretty awesome. So using that logic, I can surmise that Olivia's favorite ever dream involved kitties jumping around. This is always the dream she tells me about when I ask her if she had any dreams the night before.
I'M NOT GOING TO WORK
Olivia is very good at telling people what to say to her. Heartbreakingly, the most common phrases that she prompts me to say recently have been "I'm not going to work." and "I'm not going to rehearsal."
QUIET VOICE and BAAAAAH!!!
Olivia has been getting more silly as she gets older. Just enjoying jumping around and playing and making noise. Last week during Tuesday Night Shuffle (which is a weekly devotional/prayer/meditation/hanging out gathering we have at our place every Tuesday night) Olivia was being very loud during prayers. So we were in the bedroom and I tried to encourage her to be quiet. She was cool with being quiet as long is it was a game. So we practiced using her quiet voice and seeing just how quiet we could be. But she soon found that the game was more fun when she alternated between quiet and MASSIVELY LOUD, so I lost that battle. Oh well. As much as I want to encourage Olivia to regulate her volume when that is called for, I also want to encourage her to be loud and silly. I'm reading this book, Raising a Daughter, which I am finding very enlightening in a lot of ways. Chapter two starts out with that little rhyme "What are little girls made of . . . sugar and spice and things that are nice . . ." It goes on to explain that we tend to emphasize the "sugar" and the "sweet" when it comes to little girls, while we ignore (or even condemn) the spice. Olivia has a very sweet disposition and there is definitely no shortage of people who are enamored with that aspect of her personality and draw attention to it. So in a way I feel it is my duty to help nurture the spicier parts of her personality. She will always be encouraged to be sweet and adorable, but I don't know that she will always be encouraged to speak her mind and express herself the way she wants to. So as far as I'm concerned she can "BAAAAAAAAAH!" away to her heart's content. Not at all times and all circumstances of course, but in general I have no problem with it. I think as parents we get attached to this idea of "how kids should behave". There is no one standard "way" that kids should be. As adults the way we behave is often determined by the circumstances we find ourselves in. We have to realize that kids are just learning this and that (depending on age/development) they may or may not be able to perceive anything beyond their own immediate feelings at all.
Olivia likes to ask if we remember things. "Remember" basically translates to "Person/Thing that is not here right now." A couple evenings ago we were taking a walk and Olivia said, "Daddy, remember the Sun?" I replied "I do remember the sun." Olivia then said "Like Teletubbies?" If you've seen Teletubbies you know that each episode starts with a laughing-baby-sun rising in the sky. Sadly, a few weeks ago when Olivia looked up at the sky she said "Sky. Like teletubbies." Too much TV? Well, it was a rough Winter. If Teletubbies is the only way to see the sky without exposing yourself to sleet, freezing rain and icy winds then so be it.
One of Olivia's favorite books is "Owl Babies". Three Owlets--Sarah, Percy and Bill-wait for their Owl mother. Olivia took to reciting this book on her own and it was pretty aweseome. She would usually start in the middle: . . . they closed their owl eyes and wished their mother would come . . . AND SHE CAME! . . . and they hopped and they danced and jumped up and down on their branch. "What's all the fuss?" their owl mother asked. "You knew I 'd come back." The Baby owls thought. All Ooowells think aLOT . . ." It's hard to capture the inflection (and the cuteness) in writing. I wish we would have recorded it. Maybe we will.
Another favorite book, The Fantastic Mr. Wani is the story of a crocodile who is trying to get to a party and has many accidents along the way. It's been great because as Olivia gets bigger she is starting to fall more, get scrapes and bruises, catch her fingers in drawers, etc. Mr. Wani brings much needed humor and lightheartedness to these kind of accidents. If she falls down "like Mr. Wani" it's a lot more fun than just plain falling down. And the book it action packed! Of course he does eventually get to the party and Olivia's favorite part is when the froggies (the hosts) say "Hi Mr. Wani, have a chip!"
THE CONVERSATION I JUST HAD WITH OLIVIA ON THE PHONE A FEW MINUTES AGO
"Daddy, I poopied"
"You poopied? Good job!"
"And pee pee."
"Ate a chip"
End of conversation.
End of post.
26 April 2008
For instance, for Ayyám-i-Há (the Bahá'í Intercalary Days), we have the Ayyám-i-Há Ferret and his sidekick the Ayyám-i-Há Llama (pronounced with the Spanish "ll," which is a "y" sound). The Llama rides the Ferret (it's an issue of size - our stuffed ferret is huge and our llama tiny in comparison) and spreads Ayyám-i-Há joy, sometimes making cameo appearances throughout the year. The llama doesn't speak, but the ferret's got a British accent. Cool.We had done this for a few years already, but never had much going on for Ridván, which is one of my favorite festivals - it lasts twelve days, from April 21 through May 2, and includes three Holy Days, where work is suspended. This festival marks the anniversary of when Bahá'u'lláh publicly declared His mission, and so released spiritual regenerating forces into the world, much like a Divine Springtime. Plus, He shared this message in a garden outside of Baghdad, which He called Ridván (paradise), so the entire history is rife with singing birds and roses and good smells and all of those wonderful things that accompany a garden! So since Olivia is getting older, I thought that I'd better get crackin' and figure out some sort of family tradition for this festival. I asked around, and fused a few ideas together to come up with the Ridván tree, a collection of dead branches which live in a vase. Sounds spectacular, right? Well, lacking our own earth and therefore our own trees, and not wanting to molest other people's shrubbery, we got what we could.But to make up for the lack of blooming, which is going on like crazy around here, we decided to decorate our tree with our own flavor. Each day Olivia picks a different-colored paper crane to add to the tree. In addition, we pick a family virtue to reflect/work on during the day. So far, we've worked on Joyfulness, Patience, Perception, Courtesy, and Radiance (as in radiant acquiescence). It's really helped me a mom throughout the day in being more focused and less stressed! Awesome!
26 March 2008
Captain Olivia steers the boat over the pretend water, with Mommy as a helper.
Thank goodness the museum provides waterproof aprons!
18 March 2008
But this became abundantly clear when she first began using one of her favorite (though not widely-used) commands:
HANG UP.../TAKE OFF...
This is a time- and space-specific command, used solely when Nathan walks in the front door, either for lunch or after work or rehearsal. Regardless of where she is in the house (unless she is deep in a comatose sleep), she hears the keys in the front door and shouts "Daddy! Daddy! Daaaddy!" She then runs* from wherever she is directly to the front door and as soon as the precursory greetings of "welcome home" and "Hi, Olivia" take place, she launches into the following:
Olivia: HANG UP MY COAT (translation: Daddy, hang up your coat please, and then close the closet door promptly, otherwise I will do it).
Nathan: Olivia, do you want me to hang up my coat?
Olivia (ignoring the question): HANG UP MY SCARF.
Nathan: Okay, I'm hanging up my scarf.
Olivia: TAKE OFF MY TIE (this indicates that Daddy will stay longer, since those knots are a pain).
Nathan: Well, I need to keep my tie on right now (for lunch).
Olivia: TAKE OFF MY (work) SHIRT.
Nathan: No, Daddy needs to keep his shirt on right now.
The best time for Olivia, of course, is Nate's evenings off, where all of her commands are gladly heeded and, once changed into more comfortable threads, they romp around the house until bedtime.
*Running for Olivia isn't what you might imagine. The usual banter surrounding children walking is that once they begin walking, they'll be running before you know it. Well, we know it, and still no galloping. Running consists of a quick walk, maybe with a bit more bounce. Not that I'm complaining!
Olivia has decided that this is her favorite hiding place. The bedclothes were for a while, and she can still be found to ask to "hide" underneath them. Tents are, of course, pretty awesome, but we don't usually pitch ours in the middle of our living room just for kicks.
So here it is - Miss Olivia's portable hiding place. And her favorite place to eat cookies.
13 March 2008
To the tune "The River Is Red"
How many wise men and heroes
Have survived the dust and dirt of the world?
How many beautiful women have been heroines?
There were the noble and famous women generals
Ch'in Liang-yü and Shen Yün-yin.
Though tears stained their dresses
Their hearts were full of blood.
The wild strokes of their swords
Whistled like dragons and sobbed with pain.
The perfume of freedom burns my mind
With grief for my country.
When will we ever be cleansed?
Comrades, I say to you,
Spare no effort, struggle unceasingly,
That at last peace may come to our people.
And jewelled dresses and deformed feet
Will be abandoned.
And one day, all under heaven
Will see beautiful free women,
Blooming like fields of flowers,
And bearing brilliant and noble human beings.
12 March 2008
When she was littler this seemed more like a timid request. It had the connotation of, "pardon me...but my name is little Oliver Twist, and I was wondering, if it wouldn't be too much trouble, perhaps you could draw a kitty for me? I would be ever so grateful, seeing as my motor skills are quite lacking . . . and well . . . I'm quite fond of kitties, sir. Would you mind, sir? It could be any color you want, I'm not particular."
Now that she's older, that timid request has turned into:
DAW KITTY! DAW DOLPHIN! DAW BABY BELUGA! DAW DADDY BABY BELUGA! DAW A YELLOW KITTY! DAW A ORANGE KIIIIITY!!
It is now unmistakably a command, usually a very specific command, with colors and names being assigned more often than not.
This command is most often given while we are reading to Olivia. She will decide, usually toward the beginning of the book, but not always, that the book needs to be sung and not just read. Anything that comes out of your mouth from that point on had better sound like a song. Olivia will do you the honor of listening to your excuses, but she will invariably respond with two words: SING IT.
ME: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see? I see a--
OLIVIA: SING IT.
ME: Olivia, I don't want to sing right now.
OLIVIA: SING IT.
ME: Olivia, you want me to sing this?
ME: But there is no song for this book. Daddy doesn't know the song.
OLIVIA: SING IT.
However, there is a way out. If you persist in claiming that you just don't know the song and ask Olivia to sing it herself, she will make up her own song for the words. Pretty cute.
Nope. This is not Olivia apologizing to you. This is Olivia telling you to apologize to her or to someone else. Once, Olivia was bringing me a book to read and since I was in the middle of something Liz valiantly grabbed the book out of my hands and offered to read to Olivia instead. Olivia's response: "NO MOMMY GRAB FROM DADDY. I'M SORRY MOMMY. I'M SORRY MOMMY." which of course means: Don't grab from daddy. Tell him you're sorry. Olivia was not appeased until Liz apologized to me.
This morning Olivia almost broke my heart with a less aggressive version of this. She looked up at me as I was getting ready to leave, frowned a pitiful frown and said, with tears welling up in her eyes, "No Daddy go to work. I'm sorry daddy." Translation: I don't want you to go to work. Tell me you're sorry. Ouch. That one still burns a little.
07 March 2008
So in the morning I asked her if she remembered saying "Daddy is far away" the night before. She replied, pointing up, "Daddy is far away, to the ceiling." I couldn't tell if she was saying "to" the ceiling or "through" the ceiling. But she said it with conviction, so it must have been true. I wonder what I was doing . . .
02 March 2008
There are other things, though, that would seem harder just to learn by osmosis--and one of those would be spelling. Yes, Olivia can say (or sing) the alphabet, which is a start. But memorizing letters and putting them together to make words are two different skill sets. A couple of weeks ago I spelled her name with blocks, but as far as I knew that was the extent of her spelling lessons. So last weekend I thought I would do some follow up. I suggested that we write her name.
So I begin, "The first letter is--" I am suddenly interrupted by Olivia who states emphatically,"O!" I am surprised, but not exactly astonished because during our wooden blocks lesson we had established that "O is for Olivia" and she had repeated that phrase since then. So I write an O on the paper. Then Olivia chimes in again: "L." Woa... you have got to be kidding me. I write down the L and then she speaks up again: "I." What!? How!? Who!? Why!? At this point I'm beyond astonished, and as I write the I on the paper I'm thinking that there's a chance she will actually spell her entire name with NO help. "T" she says. "Good!" I reply encouragingly, "It sounds a lot like T, but actually the letter is V," and I write the V down. "Now what comes next?" Olivia then proves that she is, indeed, an almost 2 year old: "Six!" I explain that six is actually a number and I write down the second I. And the last letter is . . ."Two!"
So there you have it. My daughter's name is spelled OLIT62. I later found out that Liz and Olivia had written out her name before, so the first three letters weren't so much of a shock. OLIT62 then decided to stop spelling and went to run around with her cousins.
24 February 2008
The first time she sang "Blessed is the Spot" all by herself, I was so amazed that I actually wrote down the date. It was February 6, 2008. There, Miss Olivia, you can't say I totally failed with the baby book...
And here's a more recent version - she's taken to embellishing some notes on her own, so it has its own unique sound. And don't worry - there's no image component on purpose. I feel weird about watching people pray.
13 February 2008
I've started a baby carrier enterprise, called Mama Mia Mei Tais, and so I thought, "why not plug it on my daughter's blog?"
So I am.
I specialize in custom-made baby carriers, and even have some organic options. Yay, organic cotton!
07 February 2008
It seems that one of the eternal baby questions - cloth or disposable? - has finally met its match. The solution? gDiapers! Why? They're flushable! Yes! FLUSHABLE!! Woo-hoo!
When I first saw them in the baby aisle of our local Whole Foods, I promptly sat down in the middle of the aisle and read all about them. I had been using Seventh Generation for Olivia when we traveled outside of the house for more than 10 minutes (we use cloth at home), but I still felt terrible about using disposable diapers. It takes about 500 years for a disposable diaper to degrade! And some statistics state that the average child will use around 7,000 disposable diapers before becoming toilet trained around 2 ½ years of age! And that 20 billion disposable diapers end up in landfills every year! Bleck!
"Holy cow!" I thought, "How am I going to make a difference?"
Well, first of all, we decided to use cloth. And it was pretty awesome, because cloth is softer on baby's skin (Olivia has had one (1) case of diaper rash to date, and she's almost two years old!), not to mention that we have a great diaper service which means that we don't have to trek down three flights of stairs to our coin-op laundry and spend a bazillion dollars washing the diapers numerous times in hot water!
But what about when we go out on the town? Who wants to lug around a duffel bag full of clean (and then dirty) cloth diapers? Not me! Enter gDiapers (with a glorious fanfare)!
They work similarly to cloth, in that there is an insert which one covers by a waterproof cover. But they are less bulky, are 100% biodegradable, and you can flush them (without the cover of course).
They are a bit more expensive than your cheap disposables, but they are comparable to Huggies, and, when paired with cloth, are a lot less expensive - particularly on the earth.
And that's really the bottom line. Don't loose sight of the fact that the money that you make is a tool - some may say a gift from the Creator - to be used in the best way possible. And being a steward to the earth (another Divine gift), is to me a vital consideration when using my purchasing power.
Read more about gDiapers here. Or ask me a question - I have loads of info on the things, and even some cool coupons. : )
06 February 2008
Olivia and I donned our snowboots and trekked out to our front yard to play. On our way, we met Nathan on his way in from the storm. We made out first family snowman!
Olivia worked really hard:
Daddy Nate even ran all the way upstairs for tomato buttons and a carrot nose. While he was gone, Olivia and I made a tiny snowbaby. Can you see it? (hint: it's on the left of the big one)
05 February 2008
Here’s an excerpt of some of Olivia’s calming exercise, where she repeats to herself the parts of “This Little Piggy” that she can remember.
The script reads (as best as I can transcribe it):
"[This little piggy] ... went to market
this little piggy [went] to town
an' this little piggy went
wee'le-wee wee'le all the way home!"
(with the Super Bowl commentator in the background)
01 February 2008
Eew (as in "yuck") - This is Olivia's word for any stray hair that she finds lying around. Usually she identifies it as "Daddy eeew" or "Mommy eeew" but sometimes she is willing to take the blame herself. For example in the bath today she found an eyelash and called it "Baby Olivia eeew"
Just like Olivia - This can be either a comment or an instruction. She is very aware of when people are doing the same thing. So if, for example, we are both wearing robes Olivia will say "Just like Olivia, just like Daddy." And if she wants you to do exactly what she is doing she will say with increasing volume, "Just like Olivia, just like Olivia, JUST LIKE OLIVIA!"
Two-Both - Most often used when Olivia wants to do the same thing to two people simultaneously. For example "Two-Both hug" (if she wants to hug Liz and I at the same time, or if she wants to make Liz and I hug each other.) It can also be generally used as a substitute for "two" or "both".
Sitalap - I want to sit on your lap.
One Day Baby Olivia - This is a request to tell the story of something sad that just happened. If Olivia is upset she likes us to tell her the story, sometimes multiple times. It helps her to know that we understand her.
She also sometimes requests specific stories. Her favorite is the story of when she shared her balloon with another baby named Bella. If she wants to hear that story she will ask, "One day Baby Olivia Bella balloon, please?"
Twenty-Ten - Olivia can count to twenty-ten! Her 1-10 is pretty consistent, but she usually skips a few numbers in the teens and twenties, probably because she's so excited about getting to twenty-ten. I know I would be.
Altogether - This proclamation is usually proceeded by a list of all the people (and/or objects) in the room. As an example, when we had some friends of ours for lunch over recently Olivia commented, "Mommy and Daddy and Baby Olivia and Amia and Suzanne and Husayn and-a ceiling and-a chips ALTOGETHER!"
I was perusing some old videos the other day, and I found one of my favorites - Olivia's first favorite song. So I thought I might dust it off and bring it out to share. I hope you enjoy it!
"Who's My Pretty Baby" courtesy of Elizabeth Mitchell's You Are My Little Bird album
15 January 2008
So when we started saying prayers with her every day, she really picked up the words quickly. Of course, she adds her own flavor and accents to the words. Here are a few of the more popular ones:
O-GAY-MEE - "O God, guide me...
"...protect me, make of me a shining lamp and a brilliant star. Thou art the Mighty and the Powerful."
BESSED-TIS-POT - "Blessed is the spot,...
AN-NEN-NA-HOUSE - "and the house,...
"...and the place, and the city, and the heart, and the mountain, and the refuge, and the cave, and the valley, and the land, and the sea, and the island, and the meadow, where mention of God hath been made and His praise glorified."
O-KAT-EE-CHIL-DRN - "O God! Educate these children.
"These children are the plants of Thine orchard, the flowers of Thy meadow,
the roses of Thy garden. Let Thy rain fall upon them; let the Sun of Reality shine upon them with Thy love. Let Thy breeze refresh them in order that they may be trained, grow and develop, and appear in the utmost beauty. Thou art the Giver. Thou art the Compassionate."
We are blessed to have a number of children's prayer books, all of which are proportioned for tiny hands. We even have a copy of my old prayer book, which has one of my favorite prayers in it. So I always get a little giddy when Olivia picks up any small book/pamphlet/tag on a toy, opens it and says:
OHMAI-LORD-OHMAI-LORD - "O my Lord! O my Lord!...
"I am a child of tender years. Nourish me from the breast of Thy mercy, train me in the bosom of Thy love, educate me in the school of Thy guidance and develop me under the shadow of Thy bounty. Deliver me from darkness, make me a brilliant light; free me from unhappiness, make me a flower of the rose garden; suffer me to become a servant of Thy threshold and confer upon me the disposition and nature of the righteous; make me a cause of bounty to the human world, and crown my head with the diadem of eternal life.
Baha'i Prayers are really beautiful. If you want to read more of them, you can do so at the Baha'i International Community's online reference library.
14 January 2008
Olivia's language has really exploded recently. I suppose maybe that's what I'm always saying, but really it seems like it's been happening a LOT! Sort of like fireworks, but with a longer lag time than your average Fourth of July celebration, so that when the next explosion comes, you've almost forgotten that you were watching fireworks in the first place.
Or, and I may over-do myself here, a more apt example, albeit obscure, is the similarity to language development and a Wesley Willis song. The song opens with a loud repetitive verse, which sinks into the background during a long synthesizer interlude, and then you are suddenly awakened to the fact that you are listening to a song when another profound yet strange closing verse comes in.
And, along those same lines, Miss Olivia has been saying some pretty strange things recently. This afternoon, I've been regaled with a repeated "don't get me children" and just now, she's started into "don't get me mama."
Here are a few phrases which she has been trying out recently:
"Color dis" - What color is this? Usually repeated for a minimum of five minutes, often at the site of the same color, so I think that perhaps she is testing me on my chromatic skills.
"Daw kitty" - Draw kitty. Whenever she sees a pencil/pen/quill, she demands that this action be taken.
"Fowler seeds" - Please give me sunflower seeds. After slyly eating all of her Grampa's sunflower seeds during a visit in Ohio, we found out that she had a new favorite food.
"Can carry you" - Will you please carry me? This probably developed out of "Can I carry you?" which she was often asked when we are in a hurry.
"By self" - I will do it all by myself. In other words, keep your hands off. Usually used in pairing with car seats & child restraints in high chairs & shopping carts.
"Watch birdies pease" - A request to watch "Winged Migration," a movie about birds migrating.
"Nuss chair" - Nurse in the chair. Can also be rendered as "nuss bed," "nuss couch," and, occasionally, "nuss floor." Clearly, we are beginning to wean.
"Don't get me children" - as noted above, I have no idea what this means.