Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas Failure

I’m afraid that I have done a poor job explaining the rudiments of Christmas to Margaret.  First, her grandmother showed her the various actors in the Christmas story, and she got a wee bit confused.

She learned to identify the mommy and the daddy and the baby and the bird-person, and the shepherd with the pipe (“toot-toot.”)*

But she decided that the manger was a plate, which either suggests that she understands transubstantiation, and has a much better grasp of Catholic theology than we anticipated, or she knows that a manger is called a manger because it is a word with French roots, and manger means eat in French.  Or, possibly, she knows that mangers are plates for farm animals, and is far more concerned about the well-being of the cow and the donkey than of the baby.  At any rate, I feel that I didn’t do a good job explaining, particularly when she did this with our kid-friendly nativity.


Our second Christmas-related failure of communication occurred every time I showed her a picture of Santa.  She would point excitedly at him and say “Fwank!”

So Margaret’s view of Christmas is that we eat baby Jesus, and her grandfather dresses up in a funny red suit and gives her presents. 

We’ll try again next year.

*I’m aware that the pipe-playing shepherd is not precisely canonical, but Margaret’s grandmother’s crèche has one, and Margaret likes it. 

Reading In Bed

Since last we discussed Margaret’s sleeping and reading habits, we have altered her sleeping arrangements.  She now sleeps in a twin bed* with covers.  And every night I go in before I go to bed so that I can put the covers back on her, and this is what I find.



We’ve been trying to cut down on the number of books she brings to bed, but she really does like to read until she falls asleep.

In the days when she was refusing to nap in her bed, there were a few afternoons when I drove her around to bore her to death, and she refused to be parted from her “duck book.”


I’m glad that she loves books, but I do worry that she likes to sleep covered in them.  Or, more often, on them.  It can’t be comfortable or good for her neck.

*For a good while, she slept in it for her nap as well as at night, but then she figured out that she could get out, so we have put her back in her crib for her naps.  This was not a popular decision.

Big Sister Practice Again

Margaret is big into helping other entities swing.  We went to the park several weeks ago, and she took her kitty cat* with her and treated him to quite a good time.


And she didn’t let her solicitous behavior stop at the swings.  She let the kitty listen to the sound of the American alligator.


And she let the kitty watch her drive the playground around.


And when, after an hour of tearing about the playground like a thing demented, she collapsed on the ground, she let the kitty lie there with her.


If my recollection is correct, little sisters are primarily valued for their ability to comprise a silent audience, so she’s certainly beginning as she means to go on.

*Incidentally, this kitty cat was intended for the top of her stocking, but it didn’t work out.  I learned that it isn’t possible to take her with me when I do her Christmas shopping, which was no doubt an important lesson to learn.

In A Tight Spot

Margaret has developed an intriguing habit of climbing into small boxes.*


And she does this an awful lot.


She manages to extract herself, though.  Usually.


I do worry a bit about the Sylvia Plath impression with the oven, but luckily we haven’t had it hooked up to the gas, so she won’t get very far.

*Perhaps it isn’t that intriguing, but it is awfully cute.


I realized a few weeks ago that Margaret is turning into a small copy of my mother.


Part of it is the clothing – my mother wears a lot of red turtlenecks (or the same red turtleneck a lot; I haven’t thought to ask for illumination on that point).  And part of it is the haircut.  But a lot of it is just that they look alike.

This can become unfortunate.  For example, when my small mother clone is doing something she shouldn’t – like standing on the furniture, for example –


one can’t just say firmly “Margaret, stop that this instant,”  because she looks like one’s mother, and one only rarely speaks that way to one’s mother.

So it can be difficult.  My solution – and thus my New Year’s resolution* – is to speak sharply to my mother more often.

*Actually, my New Year’s resolution is to blog more often.  Hopefully once a day.  But more often.  I imagine that the smaller person will give me more material, while at the same time taking away time I’ve allocated. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Merry Christmas!

(First, I’ve been exceptionally dilatory about this blog, and I apologize.  I will do better in future.  I am currently wearing sackcloth and ashes, which is good because sackcloth is awfully accommodating of bulging midsections, but bad because it’s exceptionally hard on the upholstery).

Anyway, today I learned an important lesson.  It is, for those of you who are interested, an EXCEPTIONALLY BAD IDEA to go to a photo place to get pictures taken the week before Christmas, because you will meet with hordes of people, all of whom have waited for the week before Christmas to get their pictures taken, and the atmosphere is frantic and full of children who are having their hair brushed for the 17th time, and would rather not.*

It took us 2 hours to get the pictures done.

2 hours. 


Margaret had to get her game face on for it.


Luckily for this year’s Christmas card, she took her game face off after just a moment. 

By the end of the ordeal, however, she was feeling quite tired.


Posing is hard work, you know, particularly when RIGHT OUTSIDE the place you’re posing, there is a LEGO TABLE and people are playing at it, making a mess of all the Legos that she had just tidied up.

Before she ran out of steam, though, we got some good pictures.

Here she is in “standing in front of the Christmas tree looking gleeful” pose.  What she’s really looking gleeful about is that her mother is standing behind the photographer, making mad monkey noises and balancing a plush monkey on her head while dancing up and down.




We then moved to a chair, which she had been eying for a while.  When we went in, she went and sat in it and had to be separated from it for the first round of pictures.  And it is a pretty cool chair, and just her size.





We then moved to a “lying on the floor looking at a book” pose. 



The problem with this one was that Margaret wanted to read the book, which meant that we had some trouble getting her to look at the camera, and when we had gotten shots that would work, she wasn’t done reading yet.  Life is very hard.

So they tried to distract her with fake milk and cookies and a weird Santa arm.  And here’s how that one went":

Cookies and milk?  For me?  How kind.


Hmmm, this milk seems to be stuck to the plate.  This is tricky.


Hey, this milk is a fake!  What the heck, Santa? 


We moved on to profile pictures.  In this one, I’m making boinging noises with my mouth while pulling my ears out from the side of my head.



And she pointed and laughed at me.

Then, wardrobe change.




This thing with her hands, she just did.  Good job posing.



And having figured it out, she stuck with it.

After this, we put her into ordinary clothes, and let her organize the lego table while I picked out which pictures to print.  Next year I’m doing Christmas pictures in July, when no one is there.

*I had an appointment for the week after Thanksgiving, but then Margaret began an interesting project of smacking herself in the face every so often.  I try to send out Christmas cards without visible facial bruising.  It’s one of my quirks.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Since I knew I was pregnant with Margaret, I have been convinced that I wanted her to love reading.  In fact, instead of going out and buying booties or small onesies or what have you to celebrate that I was pregnant, I ordered the complete Beatrix Potter oeuvre, as well as A.A. Milne’s poems and Winnie the Pooh books.

I have read to her a lot, but it is only recently that she has started to listen to me, or indeed sit still while I do it.  And then in the last week or two, she has really developed an attachment to books.

This is her in bed tonight.


And this is what bedtime has become.  We read Goodnight Moon last, and she carries it in with her, but she also wants a little book that she can manage better.  Because, you know, she wants to read it after we leave.  In the dark. 

But if you listen carefully, you can hear her turning the pages.

And in case you think that this was a one-off, posed picture, here she is two days ago going down for her nap.


She also knows how to ask for her favorite books: “Shush” (mush to the rest of us) is Goodnight Moon.  She wants that one a lot.  Which is why we own 3 copies, because she wants one for bed (sometimes 2 – board and regular paper) and one for the car.  I like to have a surplus in case one gets left somewhere.  She also ask for “Rawr,” which is Where the Wild Things Are.  We roar for the pages on which the wild rumpus is happening.  “Socks” is Fox in Socks, which she enjoys having read to her.  And “Fish” is One Fish, Two Fish.  But she really only likes that one on the first few pages when it is talking about fish.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

It All Makes Work For The Workingman To Do*

As noted a few days ago, Margaret is becoming quite interested in leaf management.  The bags of leaves have been taken to the fence, but does that stop the wind from blowing more down?  No, of course not.  But Margaret is there to do her bit.





Of course, it didn’t make much of a dent, because she did that 6 or 7 times, and then decided that she would rather take a walk.  But it’s a good beginning.  After all, she’s only 21 months old, and that’s probably too young for complete responsibility for yardwork.

Also, Caty, if you read this, Margaret COMPLETELY ADORES that hat.  I think it’s the strings.  But she wears it around the house all the time.

*For the uneducated among you, here is a link to the song from which this quotation is taken.  The lego animation is not original, but makes it more accessible to children, and this is Margaret’s blog, after all.

Hint, Hint

I mentioned that Margaret likes to push the swing as a suggestion.  She does this a lot, and she’s been doing it more and more.  Considering that I usually often take her outside so that she can run around and burn off energy so that she will nap properly, this fascination with the swing, lovely though it is, is somewhat counterproductive.  She seems to be unaware that the swing is for late afternoons, when she is bored with me but also winding down towards nighttime. 




You can see her quietly making her point.  There is a swing.  Things can go in the swing.  Margaret is a thing.  Ergo, Margaret could be in the swing.

Here it is again, a day later:




I’m beginning to feel that she may be too much a creature of habit.

Monday, October 24, 2011


I think that Margaret is going to be a good big sister.*

Today, after her nap, she took her doggy outside.  And she put him in her swing, and pushed him for a while.



Sometimes, at the park, she pushes the swing when she wants up in it, as a way of suggesting to me that perhaps she could get in on this swinging thing that seems to be going on.  I thought that she was subtly suggesting that I could put her in the swing.  So I asked her if she wanted up (or, as I find myself saying more often now than I would like to admit, “uppy”).  She said “No.  Doggy.  Whee.”  (Whee is her word for swing.  Just go with it).

And then, in case I hadn’t quite grasped what was going on, she offered me a synonym:  “Woof,” she said, and pointed at the dog.

I’m taking away from this experience two things: she really is getting that words fit together to convey complex concepts (the dog is in the swing, dummy.  See?  The dog.) and she wants to share things she enjoys with others.

I’m not ridiculously keen on the idea of her putting the baby in the swing, since it will be the middle of the winter.  Also, her method of getting the dog in the swing was to cram him through the leg hole, and it took some shoving and some bending.  But the impulse is good.  So we can hope.

*Provided her little sister does what she’s told with a minimum of fuss and thinking for herself.

Working Hard

Leaf collecting is so much fun, you know?


And then, after you’ve done ALL THAT WORK, they make you carry the bags of leaves all the way to the curb ALL BY YOURSELF.




The real problem, actually, came when we tried to convince Margaret that she needed to leave the bags of leaves at the curb.  She was planning on taking them for a walk to see the neighborhood.  I wasn’t particularly optimistic that the bottoms of the bag would last that long, so I forcibly detached her fingers from the handles and abandoned them.  It was a very traumatic experience.

She did, however, forgive me, and on our walk, she gave me something that she called “flowers.”


It was very sweet of her, but I am afraid I left them outside when we got home.  I’m not sure that putting them in water would have helped them at all.