Thursday, August 22, 2013

Peaches, Peaches, Everywhere Peaches

The peaches this year are fantastic. We've been eating them out of hand for a couple of weeks now. Olivia goes nuts upon seeing them. Before trying them Alessia declared that she didn't like them. The day that I explained peach was all we had for fruit she changed her mind. When I asked Adam if there was anything he wanted from the farmers' market today, he responded with one word.

So today, I bought five pounds. Four pounds are going in the freezer with honey and a touch of lemon juice. They will be perfect on my morning oatmeal. As I was peeling them I wondered if there was something to do with the peels besides compost them. I put them in a pitcher and poured a cup of red wine over them, sort of a thrifty housewife's version of peaches soaked in red wine.

That leaves a pound to eat fresh tomorrow. I also want to try a peach crumble. I found a recipe online for a gluten-free and dairy-free crumble topping. Luckily there is a farmers' market outside Adam's office. So we will have enough for the crumble and fresh eating this weekend.


Monday, August 19, 2013

What Kind of Day We Actually Had

The online world is full of overly rosy depictions of life. We tend to share just the happy moments. According to some psychologists this is making us all miserable as we mistakenly get the impression that everyone else we know only has happy moments. So in the interest of balance, this is what kind of day we actually had.

Both girls were up multiple times last night due to congestion. Olivia woke up crying at 7:00. Alessia woke up miserable and completely covered in crusty snot at 8:30. She promptly threw up on herself and on me and on the bathroom floor. (Cheers to me for taking her straight into the bathroom from her room as headcolds always make her throw up once at the beginning.) We made it to the grocery store. The girls picked at their lunch half-heartedly. During nap time Alessia discoved her own poop for the first time (in the build up to potty training she is very curious about what goes on in her diaper), and by the time I got her from nap she needed a bath, her sheets and blankets and dollies needed to go in the laundry, and several books needed to be wiped down with baby wipes. This afternoon the girls took turns crawling into my lap and then protesting as I wiped snot off their faces. (Until I had children I didn't realize that snot has a really disgusting odor.) On the upside (really the only upside to today), both girls are already asleep and it isn't even 7:30. Here's hoping they sleep well tonight and that today was the worst of their colds, the other option being that tomorrow is much worse than today.

So, that's what kind of day we actually had, and my attempt to balance the psychological damage being done daily by too many photos of smiling babies and well-behaved children.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Stages of Grieving and a New Dolly

It has been interesting over the last few days watching Alessia go through different stages of grieving. Saturday night she was in loud angry denial. By the time she fell asleep she was red-eyed. By Sunday the tears had passed. Throughout the day she said "I need my dolly" in a very matter-of-fact sort of way. Once she said very cheerily "we'll find dolly in a second." We responded gently with "dolly's lost, baby" or "dolly's gone, beautiful, we tried to find her, but she's gone." Yesterday morning she looked at me sadly and stated "I losed my dolly." "Yes, baby," I told her, "we lost your dolly." Later in the afternoon she put her head on my shoulder and said "I miss dolly." "I miss dolly too, Alessia," I replied. Throughout the day she carried around Trudi, but she didn't play with her the way she had always played with dolly.

Then we visited the neighbors. We sat in the living room and a pile of big-breasted barbies was plopped down in front of her. I could see her contemplating these "dollies" (as she tentatively called them at one point), and I decided that she would have the new dolly hiding in the upstairs closet before bedtime. I wasn't going to let her go from a sweet little baby doll to pointy-toed, princess-themed barbies at the age of two and a half.

So before dinner, I talked to her about different versions of the same song and different copies of the same book and I gave her this new version of dolly. She smiled at it. "It isn't dolly," she affirmed. "No, it isn't dolly, but it's like another version of dolly," I explained again. "She's yours, if you want her." She noted the differences, being too young to remember that dolly looked like this new dolly once. Adam tried to talk her into a name, but Alessia seems to have settled on "new dolly," at least for now. She protested whenever Adam called her "dolly," but at one point she called her dolly as well. Before long she was showing new dolly things in books and her empty bowl at the end of dinner. "New dolly likes puzzles" she explained. This morning we built new dolly her first lego house.

The only danger in all this is that she comes to believe all things can be replaced. Last night she asked about a new Trudi. We explained that there are no other Trudis and no more new dollies after this one. Eventually Alessia may have to say goodbye to her dolly for real, although I know teenagers who still have their's safely tucked away. For now, I'm just glad Alessia has dolly back again.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Alessia's Dolly

We came home last night without Alessia's dolly. This time she seems to be missing for good. Crazy person that I am, I went out with little Olivia in the stroller at 7:30 to retrace our steps, back through the grocery store, past the restaurant where we had dinner (we had already called them), to the subway station. I had already decided that if Olivia fell asleep in the stroller, I would even get on a train and head back into town to retrace our steps from the subway to the apartment building where we had been to a birthday party and where we had last seen dolly. So at 8:00 with a sleeping one-year-old in a stroller I got on the train.

All of this may sound crazy, and I'm sure that the mom of the birthday boy thought I was crazy when her doorman called up to say that I was there and had she seen a dolly after the party. After all we had already called her earlier in the evening. When I asked her doorman about dolly I was hoping that she had been found in the elevator or lobby, and I wasn't expecting him to call her again. So when she came down, I tried to explain how upset Alessia was, and how Alessia had left dolly in the stroller at the beginning of the party and was it possible that some other child had picked her up and played with her, leaving her somewhere else during the party. I was really afraid that I was making it sound like some other child had "stolen" dolly. She very nicely offered to email the other parents, just in case they had seen dolly.

It's hard to explain how important dolly has been. Alessia isn't very brave. The spring she was a year and half, it took multiple trips to the park before she worked up the courage to go on the swings and down the slide. Dolly went down the slide dozens of times and took many swing rides, before Alessia herself was willing to try it. After Olivia was born, dolly was a major part of how Alessia adjusted. She changed dolly's diaper, swaddled her and put her in the swing for naps, and gave her her very own binky. Alessia nursed dolly as recently as last week, pulling up her shirt and smooshing dolly's face into her little baby bosom. And all of these mothering activities were initiated by Alessia, not by me. Dolly went on adventures in picture books, playing at the park with Richard Scarry's cat family kids. She became the protagonist of her own book Dolly and the Purple Crayon. When Olivia started crawling and could get her hands on Alessia's toys, including dolly, we made it clear to Alessia that dolly was the one toy she never had to share. Dolly was a constant part of Alessia's play and her adventures into the world. We never left the house without her. And Alessia never went into her crib without Dolly. I know that Alessia will weather this storm. She's strong, which is different than being brave. This morning she is walking around with her Trudi doll under her arm, only occasionally saying to me or Adam "I need my dolly." Trudi has always been dolly's sidekick. Maybe this is her opportunity to take on a leading role.

Last night I learned where the line between mom and that crazy lady is, and I learned that I am capable of stopping short of crossing it. Getting on the train might have seemed crazy, but I really think most people would have done that. At one point while walking down the street in downtown crossing looking for dolly, I noticed a trash can and thought "someone could have thrown out dolly if they found her on the street, but I'm not going to start looking in trash cans THAT would be crazy." When I got back on the train to come home, I parked Olivia still asleep in the stroller and then thought "there's always the one in a million chance that this is the same train we were on." So I walked up the train a little looking under the seats. Before I went too far, I thought "going much further away from Olivia would be crossing the line into crazy" so I went back and sat down.

There are two last slim rays of hope for dolly. If one of the other kids at the party went home with dolly, I imagine we will hear today. Adam also sent an email with a photo of dolly to the subway's lost and found. They are open tomorrow. I can only imagine that we entering a post-dolly era though.

Post Script: Upstairs there is another dolly hidden away in a closet. Last summer Adam bought her on ebay. I've always thought of her as a bit of an abomination, a pretender. We would never try to pass her off as Dolly. Alessia is too smart for that. Alessia understands though that there are multiple copies of books and different versions of songs. If we don't find Dolly in the next couple of days, we will present this other dolly, explaining that she is another version or a copy of her dolly. Then we will let Alessia decide what role this new dolly will have in her life.


Friday, August 2, 2013

The Conceptual Leaps of a Two-Year-Old

Last fall Alessia memorized several of her books. She would sit with a book turning the pages and recite the whole story. Then one day in January something changed in her brain. She was running around with a stuffed giraffe. She suddenly stopped and looked down at a green box. She slammed the giraffe into the box and recited from a book "Who's hiding inside the flowery box?" She plucked the giraffe out of the box and exclaimed, again reciting from the book, "It's jolly giraffe." Her play changed after that as she realized that objects could become props for reciting stories. She was no longer limited to reciting the story while looking at the pictures of the book itself. Throughout the day she would grab objects and recite stories.

Sometime in the spring she made another conceptual leap. All of a sudden I would hear her reciting a familliar story, but with herself or her dolly or another toy in place of the story's usual protagonist, "dolly and the purple crayon" for example.

Today something changed again. She not only changed the protagonist of If You Take a Mouse To School to herself, but she changed the story to fit her own life. "I'll be ready for my lunch. On the way to my kitchen, I'll see some building blocks. I'll build a bank.” In the original the mouse is on the way to the school lunchroom and he builds a mouse house. Alessia has lunch in the kitchen, and Adam and Alessia often build a bank with our wooden blocks. The story ended there as she got distracted with the blocks themselves.

I wish I knew more about brain development. It fascinates me to watch my girls' brains changes. When Alessia was a baby I used to describe it as someone turning on light switches inside her head, and with each switch even familiar things looked different to her. It doesn't surprise me that my babies get tired and cranky, it has to be difficult to have the whole world change and shift every few weeks.