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Tragic Follow-Up to a Five-Year-Old’s Birthday

You know how everything old is new again? How marketers realized that all the kids of the 80s are having their own kids and will pay good money for things that make them go Aw man, I used to have one of those!!

Well, I didn’t, as it happens, have any of these particular items, although I wished I did. (And I think they’re from much earlier than the 80s, given the age of some of the Archie comics we had at home that contained this very ad.)

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Image via mentalfloss.com

AB was given a Sea Monkey aquarium, along with a little sachet of eggs, some water purifier, and some powdery sea monkey food, for her birthday. It was just like this one, except blue. (Notice that the sea monkey family portrait has not changed.)

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Both kids were pretty excited. We followed all the instructions to the letter, and sure enough, a few days after we’d put the eggs in, there were super-tiny creatures propelling themselves around the aquarium! So cute! They did not have head-crown-thingies that we could discern, and they were nowhere near as nonchalant as the ones in the ad, but still… Cool stuff!!

The big problem was that the instructions don’t go past the first feeding. You’re supposed to wait five days after you put the eggs in there before you feed them, and the instructions make it clear that if you overfeed them THEY WILL SUFFOCATE. But does that mean you feed them every five days subsequently? Or does the schedule change? I turned to the internet for advice, and determined that we should wait at least a few days between feedings. We did our best.

I don’t know what went wrong. Within a week or so, there were only a couple of moving sea monkeys we could find… and then, only one. And then… a still, still tank. There were pathetic moments like when the kids stirred them (like you’re supposed to) and said, “Look, they’re moving around!” or when there was absolutely no movement and she figured, “Let’s just feed them anyway in case they’re only sleeping.”

We were sad that they were dead. Eventually, AB reached the Acceptance stage. This is what she wrote, in tribute.

[That’s pronounced “Sea Monkey-zuh” like when you REALLY want someone to know that it’s plural.]

It was right around Halloween, hence the gravestone savvy. (Actually, there was a rough draft of this picture that had “RCR” on the gravestone – she couldn’t remember what it was supposed to say, and that was her best guess.)

This reads (in the intended order): “To Sea Monkeys. I love you. You died and I did a surprise.”

This picture itself is the “spris”. Surely the sea monkeys are somewhere in the heavenly ether, smiling at their happy likeness.

On a lighter note, you can see that AB has finally reached that stage where she wants to write stuff and isn’t afraid to spell words any which way. Which is AWESOME; I adore this stage. It’s like seeing them learn to talk all over again.

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P.S.: I meant to add this to the birthday post, but it segues nicely from sea monkeys. Ever since last spring, AB has been obsessed with the monkey bars. We are lucky at the school because they have lots of bars to climb on at different heights – the kind of structures that have been removed from most playgrounds for some reason. AB does all kinds of tricks on a set of parallel bars and I can just see her little muscles working hard.

And when she crosses the ladder-style monkey bars, which she finally learned to do near the end of JK, her determination is palpable. Her eyes get all steely with focus. And her hands, which are still sweet li’l five-year-old hands with dimply knuckles, have gotten all callused on the palms, as if she were moonlighting as a construction worker. It’s pretty awesome altogether.

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Crossing the Border into the Kids’ Bedroom

Recently, my kids got all excited about creating signage. E was the instigator in this, so these – the six most important things to keep in mind at the border – are his handiwork. They can be found on the shared bedroom door.

This one’s pretty obvious. There’s no smoking in our house, which is easy because none of us is a smoker.
Also pretty obvious – we are Canadians, after all. No firearms likely to be lurking in our sock drawers. Truth be told, we do our best to quash any games that involve guns as well, even completely imaginary ones. Even the sound effects. Too unfunny to be playful on any level, as far as I’m concerned.
They get to have their water bottles. Occasionally dry cereal. Otherwise, it’s a pretty strict policy. (Thanks for noticing, little dude!)
The items shown are Minecraft armour. Sometimes E gets to play with the iPad in his bedroom, but it’s far from being a given – especially during the school week. I think this sign is mostly wishful thinking/hopes for the power of suggestion.
We have learned that it’s very important to take off our soaking wet snow gear AT THE DOOR. Sometimes we even remember the crucial step of hanging it up.
So that’s no bears of the grizzly, polar, or black(/brown) varieties. Beanie, fuzzy, plush and/or cuddly can obtain passports to be admitted.

So watch yourselves, folks. There are no border checkpoints, but I’m sure Big Brother is watching.

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Dear Kids: For the record, you adore each other.

Our kids are like most siblings: they play together, and they fight together. Sometimes, the screaming is pretty horrifying. And then there are those moments – and those little games and traditions they invent – that warm you right down through to the sub-cockle area of your heart.

{For example, there’s this one funny procedure whenever I give them their vitamins. They have fish-shaped ones and Disney-character-shaped ones – please don’t judge us – and they MUST discuss them every time. They announce the colours they received, and what characters, and what order they eat them in. And then they put up their thumbs in different positions depending on whether their vitamins match or not. I don’t know why or how this came about, but they’re both VERY attached to the ritual.}

Last evening, there was a lot more good and happy play than screaming. (Which I really needed, after three weeks in a row of my Hubbibi on evening shifts.) At one point, they were sitting amicably together in the guest room, having constructed a barrier so each could not see what the other was drawing.

Turns out E was making a present for AB. The next morning there was a note in the advent calendar pocket, which completely turned around a morning that had promised to be very grumpy on her part:

note-to-sister
look in the guest room and you will find a present there

And it led her to this lovely festive drawing…

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Bells are ringing!

And THIS was on the other side.

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I can’t even.

I got a bit teary-eyed and all squeezy and kissy with that boy when he showed me. (Which he doesn’t mind as he is a squeezy, kissy type himself. They’re both very affectionate, even with each other, to the point that staff members at their school stop to watch their sweet little goodbyes in the mornings as a pick-me-up.)

And since we’re looking a wee masterpieces, here’s what AB was drawing at the same time.

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Sort of looks like an underwater scene… But it’s a holiday scene!

The spidery things are suns, and the phallic green-and-brown thing is a Christmas tree (obvs), and the little brown guy is a reindeer, and the swoopy line is a sleigh, and the black dots are buttons on a (non-visible) snowman, and there are also a few flowers and stars sprinkled in there.

So, kids, if you’re reading this and you’ve reached that phase of your lives (because we have to assume it will arrive eventually) where each of you annoys the other ALL THE TIME, please just know that you truly love one another deep down, and you’re a sublime little team when you need to be. We love you kajillions.

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Quotable Moments From My Toddler

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I was reminded by my family last weekend that I haven’t yet shared the weird pearls of toddler philosophy that my daughter has been imparting to us since she learned to talk. Frankly, I haven’t written down nearly enough of them, because life is too busy and my memory for details is shockingly short.

Another reason I haven’t really delved into this is because, at two-and-a-half, AB is so verbal it’s almost scary… and although I’m insanely proud of her, I don’t take credit and I don’t want to sound like a braggy mommy. E was like this too, where complete strangers would hear him talk, ask his age, and express disbelief at his vocabulary – but it’s even more so with her. Of course we’ve encouraged their language in the ways we know how, but I figure it’s at least 90% genetic luck – being linguistically inclined, but also having no hearing issues to interfere.

Sometimes I forget, when I haven’t been with any other 2-year-olds in a while, how advanced her language is. It has all flowed naturally from the context of her learning to say “Hi” aptly at 8 months, and producing sentences like “That’s a ball,” and “Come here baby!” at 13 months. With her, I think it has happened faster because she’s a people person. She wants to relate, and language is an effective tool for that.

Looking at the notes I’ve taken, it makes me smile and sigh to remember the things she was saying a year or more ago.

  • She used to press the button to make music on her doll stroller, bounce her knees and say, “Happy happy happy!” You just had to grin your face off.
  • When she first learned to say Please (or “pease”), she soon changed it to “Pease-awwww,” mimicking the reaction of people hearing her new nicety.
  • She had two words she made up that she used regularly with consistent meaning – and I’m sure it was very frustrating how long we took to figure them out: “Bacca” meant “Give that to me” and “Abodee” meant “Open this.” (Obviously.)
  • I noted her word “Mecumber” once I figured out that when we talked about “cucumber” she thought we were saying “you-cumber” – so if it was hers, it was “me-cumber.”
  • In February of last year, I wrote down her attempt to count just like her big brother: “Two four fie sick weven sick.”
  • Around the same time, she was showing some bossiness, trying to get me to join nap time: “Lie down. Close the eyes.”
  • Sometimes, especially when sleepy, she would gently touch and admire me: “Like a hair, Mama. Like a hand.”
  • She also tended to use words she remembered that were wrong-but-close-enough: she called green beans “green pants,” occasionally substituted “elbow” for “eyebrow,” and (my favourite) referred to the Bambi book as the “Zombie book.”
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Yup, I guess that’ll do all right.

 

  • Other cute substitutions: “Up-a-size” for exercise (“Mama, looka me up-a-size!”), “wriggly” for regular (“I want wriggly milk”), “olives” for overalls, and “acalulu” for ukulele (she still uses this one sometimes).
  • When we got her undressed for bath, she’d run around saying, “Got my naked on!”
  • Because I so often said to her, “Hi, sweetie,” she began to respond with “Hi seedy!”
  • On March 25th of last year, I noted her saying, as she gathered some items together, “Where’s the boots? Where’s the coffee? Goin’ to work.” (These days she likes to pack her backpack and put on her rubber boots and sit on the hall bench, which naturally transports her to school.)
  • Shortly after that was my first note of her using the word “actually” – “Ackshly it’s MY ball!”
  • She loved to do grown-up things like talk on phones – since almost anything can be a phone – and read Trivial Pursuit cards. (Just not usually in English.)
  • For many months now, she has made a habit of running up to whoever arrives at our door and yelling “SURPRISE!!”
  • She began to express compassion right around 18 months. I will never forget the time I was having a rough evening trying to get the kids to bed by myself – they just kept needing me and not sleeping – and at one point I sat on the edge of the bed and rested my head in my hands in frustration. She looked at me for a moment, then put her little arms around me and said, “I give a big hug, Mama. I see you cry.” I almost fell over.
  • She’s still good at this. She gives hugs and kisses when we’re upset or hurt. And as frustrating as her tantrummy side can be, she is good at thinking it over, and after a short while saying something like, “Mummy, I’m sorry I screamed and hit you.” Without fail, it completely disarms me.
  • Speaking of screaming, last summer I wrote down this charming conversation:

AB: (Screaming about something.)

Mummy: You don’t have to freak out about it…

AB: I AM freaking out!

E (mimicking her): I AM freaking out!

AB (to E): NO! You’re not freaking out, I’m freaking out!!

Then there’s the kind of out-of-the-blue, imaginative conversation she has when she’s getting sleepy and talking in bed, like this one last August:

AB: I wish had a boat.

Mummy: You wish… you had a boat?

AB: Yah. A sailboat. A sailboat.

Mummy: What would you do with your sailboat?

AB: I passed the boat… in the water… and the ducks on the boat, and the geese… in the river.

Mummy: Wow, that’s really cool.

AB: I had snacks with Emi. And I had snacks with Mummy.

Mummy: You had snacks… on the sailboat?

AB: I don’t have a sailboat. I have… a ladder… umm, a donkey-horse… two donkey-horses… and, umm… tomatoes… and, ummmmm… CHEESE! And… a sailboat.

Since last fall, there seems to be nothing she can’t say. I love that she still says things like “I goed to bed,” or “I maked a mess,” because it’s so toddler-y. She also, when reminded to ask nicely, still says “Can-I-may please have some water?” And she went through a long period this past winter where any statement she would make would be followed with a bizarre indication of whom she was addressing, like this: “I need some different pants, Ass-Mummy,” or “Can you read me this book, Ass-Daddy?” It seemed vaguely narrative. We eventually figured out she was meaning to say “ask,” even though the ass-prefix could be used with any sentence, not just questions. She just had it in her mind as necessary.

She also seems to have genetically inherited the language my sisters and I used to speak together (called Oody-Funka). She sings beautiful, unintelligible syllables a lot, and sometimes translates the books she “reads” into Oody-Funka as well. And she uses her elastic toddler-brain to give names to a lot of random things:

  • She once named the fingers of one hand Madeline, Miss Clavel, Matracita, Maca, and Fen;
  • For a short while, she had imaginary babies named Nollie and Kernie;
  • She has told us about her pet sharks named Mixery, Globby, Glicky, and Loast;
  • And she has expanded on what she told us about the school she goes to “under the water in North Canada” to let us know that her teachers are fish, and they are called Packo and Lala.

Here are a few other fun quotables from the last few months:

  • “I’m hugging you to my bones!”
  • “These Os are techally mine.” (I’d just told Sean, after a snack dispute between the kids, that the Cheerios were “technically” not E’s; she clearly got my meaning.)
  • To her big brother: “You can kiss my hand. Not off my hand, in my hand. That’s a good boy.”
  • When I found her curled up in someone’s abandoned snow fort at the toboggan hill: “I’m just sleeping in this hole, in this little rock home.”
  • While drawing a “picture” of me with a baby in my tummy: “She’s crying because her little brother leaved with her mom. Now the baby’s all covered up with grossness.” (Yikes, wha?)
  • When I asked, after she’d been horsing around with Daddy, if she would like some breakfast: “I already ate Daddy’s nose. I had breakfast.”
  • Just last week, at lunch one day, as she made up a random story about a doctor – who was also apparently a driver of some kind: “The driver didn’t do anything. He just sailed away, as faintly as a breeze.” (Where does she get these turns of phrase??)
  • The other day, when I asked her if she was all done on the potty: “I… am… precious.” True, but doesn’t answer my question.
  • And just this week, she started enthusiastically using a word that it took Daddy a while to decipher: hypothesis. Eventually he gleaned that she’d gotten the word from the Dinosaur Train show.

She told him, “Daddy, I have another hypothesis.”

“Oh, really? What’s your hypothesis?”

“Umm… It’s in the bathtub.”

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Possibly The Randomest Book You’ll Ever Read

On one of E’s earlier works, Daddy helped him with a short author bio in which it was conveyed that E’s goal is to make 100 books.

He is barrelling toward this goal, let me tell you. He’s kind of obsessed with my stapler.

Here’s a creation from this past week. I love how he’s unencumbered by the fetters of plot, theme, or common threads of any kind, swinging freely between the physical and the metaphysical.

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This is the title page. He’s really into stormy weather patterns right now. I’m pretty sure the circular one at the bottom is a typhoon.
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Only one of each – no need for overkill.
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These names come from his class list, hence the abundance of appropriate vowels.
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He makes jump tracks just like this. You’ll notice that spoilers are very important to him – as they are, verily, unto the world.
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This looks like he doesn’t understand food groups, but he’s actually been talking quite knowledgeably about them recently. Apparently the colour-code is the critical part.
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You have to have a Stuffies page.
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And of course you DOUBLE HAVE TO have a Dragons page.
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Spoiler alert… this Colours page might just lead to a spinoff book.
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I’ve always loved his plane drawings beyond all description.
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And the heart-pounding dénouement: CANDIES!

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Kindergarten Quotables Variety Pack

I realize it’s been ages since I talked about the cute stuff my kids say, and it’s not because they don’t say cute things.

Okay, sometimes it’s because they don’t say cute things. At five and two years old, respectively, my son and daughter both have a tendency to freak out about seemingly minor incidents, and they both spend quite a bit of time screaming. This doesn’t leave quite as many opportunities in their schedules for adorable sound bites.

But! These little gems do still turn up. And I could argue it’s even more important to remember them when they’re not as common.

E with the class bear
E has learned to play Pokémon, with rules and everything. You should hear the lingo he and Daddy toss around.

These are E-quotes, from approximately the past year – so he was four years old for some of them (he would want you to know that). I’ve organized them by theme, for your convenience.

Big New Words To Try Out:

  • “There aren’t a lot of places to hide in this particular house.”
  • “I distinctly don’t want square crackers… I specifically said circle crackers.”
  • “The orange juice is essentially yellow.”
  • “This is a really unusual contraption.”
  • “Is it just me, or am I disintegrating?” (NO IDEA where he got that word.)
  • “Marcia has a whole bunch of Play Doh colours, and I’m assuming they all came together.”
  • “A millimeter isn’t even a thing. I made it up.”
  • “I hurt so much of myself! I hurt both my toes and my philtrum!”
  • “You have no idea how mad I am!! I’m googleplex hundred thousand mad.” (As you can probably tell, sometimes we teach him the more obscure words just ’cause it’s fun to hear him say them.)
  • “My finger deflected it into my mouth.”
  • “I’m really good at rhyming. I’m pretty good at homonyms – well, I haven’t mastered homonyms yet… but I have mastered snapping!” This is true. He was in the car, demonstrating from his booster seat. Yes, he does know what a homonym is. And he can snap his fingers like a boss.

Turns Of Phrase That Are Pure E:

  • The morning after receiving some new Lego, seeing the mess he’d made: “Well, it’s another Lego excitement day.”
  • Asking the name of his grandparents’ street: “That’s something my brain lost sight of. I suddenly didn’t know it.”
  • As I explained how we were going to tackle cleaning his room: “You mean, all this great big bellowing mess will be cleaned up?”
  • As Daddy reiterated our policy (if a parent cleans up a toy mess without E’s help, that parent gets to keep said toy): “Daddy! Just lose that feeling!”

Regarding His Little Sister:

  • On seeing baby AB’s arm flailing around: “Maybe she’s like an antenna.”
  • In a passionate defense when we took away something AB was destroying: “DON’T! RUIN! MY SISTER’S! FUN!!!”
  • After she’d learned to whack him when he was getting in her space: “Biting me isn’t her only defense.”
  • After I’d asked him to keep an eye on her while I went to the bathroom, then found him doing something completely else: “I’m keeping a very slight eye on her.”
  • At a predictably nose-running moment: “I think her weapon is snot.”

Regarding His Brother/Potential Brother:

E: Mummy, when are you going to be pregnant? I want another Sebastian. I don’t even know what he looked like.

Mummy: Umm… I’m not sure if I will be pregnant again, sweetie. And if I did get pregnant, we can’t choose whether we have a boy or a girl.

E: Can you control whether you’re pregnant?

Mummy (mentally squirming a little): Well… yes. It has to do with what time of the month it is… and your activities.

E: Can we pick a boy or girl if we decide NOW?

Regarding His Mom:

  • When I was making my own lunch instead of attending to his every whim: “Mommies don’t serve themselves. They serve other people than themselves.”
  • One of the times E was freaking out about having to pee really bad, in response to my dry comment, “Maybe if you cry enough tears, you won’t have to pee so much,” he shrieked: “MUMMEE! Don’t say random things!!!!” (Parents, you know sometimes you have to say things just to amuse yourself. But those comments can rebound on you.)
  • While trying to control his world: “Mummy, tomorrow I want you to be the one to pick me up from the bus, okay? Just keep that in mind.”
  • When I explained that when you have a sleepover at a friend’s house, your parents don’t come with you, and that’s part of why it’s fun: “But, if you weren’t there, it wouldn’t BE any fun!” (Awww. <3)

Deep Thoughts and Life Philosophy:

  • “I just need so much help, in this world. I want to move to a different planet. This one is just too tricky.”
  • “Does snot have protein? Does it have veggies?” (Hmmm. What IS the nutritional content of snot?)
  • “Does the world have a stem? Can you slice the world?”
  • “There’s almost always poop in your body, and one mode is saveable, but the other is unsaveable.”
  • When I explained that his balloon animal would not last very long: “So… balloon animals are just like paper airplanes and flowers and piñatas.”
  • After I’d explained some of the traditions associated with St. Patrick’s Day: “But Mummy – what if my teacher makes me drink beer??”
  • Discussing the older kids on the playground, when E was in JK: “For some reason, they think I’m a LITTLE kid!”

He still knocks my socks off sometimes with the things he says.

One night, just a few weeks ago, as we were tidying up his room before bed, he started reminiscing about his surfin’ days. Except he pronounced it “suhhfin’ dehhs,” which I guess is his surfer accent. To be clear, he’s never surfed, or even been close to a real live surfer, ever. But he maintained the accent and the patter for several minutes, completely deadpan. (I wish I could have got footage, but I was afraid to break the spell.)

As I giggled, I said, “I love you, buddy.” His rejoinder was, “I luv yeh teh, Mummeh… almost as much as I luv meh suhhfin’ dehhs.”

Then, last week, we played chess on the snow day. He had been playing chess for approximately two days, and here he was, saying things like, “I’m really putting you in a pickle here, Mummy!” and “I know the knight’s protecting the queen, so I’m not too worried about her,” and “You’re setting up a good pawn structure there.” Wha??

Crazy, awesome kid.

Next episode: Kid Quotables, Toddler Version.

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A Smiley Video for a Happy Frozen Friday

My kids love the movie “Frozen.” Like almost all kids. And I’m not ashamed to say that I also love it; I’ve probably seen it a dozen times and I could still cry every time, if I let myself. I will most likely go on about the reasons why another time.

For now, here’s two-year-old AB’s side of a (highly edited) conversation we had in November about the plot of Frozen. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll probably recognize a concept or a direct quote here and there. You may also notice some outright fallacies. If you haven’t seen the movie – don’t worry! This information doesn’t make enough sense to contain spoilers.

Mostly, I just love her sense of drama. I wish you could see her, when E closes his bedroom door – she’ll go knock and sing the whole first verse of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman,” complete with wistful “Okay, bye…” at the end. Or even better, the two of them do an inspiring version of “For The First Time In Forever” – with many bits missing, but the passion is there.

Anyway, here’s this. I hope it makes you smile. Happy Friday!

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