Happy Birthday, Three-Year-Old!

Dear Baby AB,

It has already been two weeks since your birthday! I know you’re not a baby. You are THREE. That is BIG. But of course, you’ll always be my baby, so I reserve the right to call you that.

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I just want you to know, belated or not, that we’re all besotted by you, despite your status as one of the most sporadically aggravating humans on the planet.

Right now, as you turn three, you are the driver of an emotional rollercoaster your whole family rides on. You feel entitled to fly into a fury if someone helps you with something you’ve decided you must do yourself. (And your fury often includes kicking and hitting along with the screaming, even though those things never get you what you want.) You will randomly make up rules on the spot and vehemently scold the person unwittingly breaking them. You utterly refuse to be hurried when it comes to choosing your wardrobe for the day. You seem to get a kick out of insisting that you DON’T NEED TO PEE until the last possible second (or sometimes, unfortunately, later). You will cut right into someone else’s conversation and then get all mad that they’re interrupting you, shouting, “SHUSHH!!!

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During the first few weeks of school, you decided you no longer liked our daycare provider, who has been taking care of you and your brother since the beginning. You said she was mean to you, and you even tried to convince us that she punched you. (Someday you’ll understand how funny that sounded.) [Lovely di-hards, in case you’re worried, we would consider the possible veracity of these allegations if we had any doubt at all that they’re false. But we don’t.] You told poor M that you didn’t like her and didn’t want to be there, right to her face. There was clinging and sobbing at drop-off time. Poor M was wondering if you might actually need a new daycare provider. (We are gradually getting past this, though, with a bribe-y sticker chart and lots of reminders that we love you SO MUCH, even when we are apart, and that M loves you too.)

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On the morning you turned three, I asked you if you felt different, and you said yes – you felt three. Then, when Auntie Beth came up to wish you a happy birthday, you told her that “three is cooperating.” There was, according to you, going to be a whole new level of cooperation going on in your three-year-old world.

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This has not really panned out. That very evening, you were violently uncooperative about bedtime, and it was actually rather awful. We are still trying to figure out the best ways to deal with these moments.

But then. You’re also the most adorable sweetness-pie in the world. When you’re not angry, you’re wonderful.

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You dance like a princess and a rocker and a belly dancer – all with equal fervency. You love to do gymnastic poses, inspired by the aerialists you saw last summer. You read new improved versions of our storybooks to yourself for long periods of time (even the names are changed – you are great at making up names. Your current favourite is Golla). You sing often, in your own language, whether or not you have an audience. You are full of ideas, brimming with imagination and leadership, and you’d be boss of the whole world, if the world would let you.

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You and your brother have lots of arguments that involve the above-mentioned fury… but then again, your relationship is also full of sweetness. You make up games no adult could possibly invent, and play them happily. E is often content to acquiesce to your imperious commands, with an affectionate chuckle at how cute you can be when you’re ordering people around. When you’re peaceful together, it’s a blessing to watch and listen.

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And you’re full of love. You give amazing big squeezy hugs, and tell your people that you love them on a regular basis. There is nothing in life as awesome as feeling your little arms around my neck and hearing, “I love you, Mama.” And then there was that time the other week, when I was about to leave for dance class, and you grabbed my hand in both your little ones, and held it to your soft baby cheek, looked at me with your big oceanic eyes, and said, “I love you the whole time you’re gone, okay?” My heart almost burst.

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Sometimes, you’re so beautiful in your you-ness, I can hardly stand it.

Here’s a little video I started making many days ago, to celebrate your third year. I love you always, the whole time, and I hope I always remember exactly how saucy, smart, tender, fiery, and special you are at this moment.

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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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100 Happy Days – Day 38: Cozy

My Hubbibi has had his machine line at work shut down over Christmas – four weeks of shutdown, in fact.

This is financially tricky, of course, but there’s something awesome about being able to leave for work knowing your two-year-old is snuggling with her Daddy and a good book. (Going on a Bear Hunt.)

Wearing a Sheriff Woody poncho towel also increases coziness.
Wearing a Sheriff Woody poncho towel also increases coziness.

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100 Happy Days – Day 36: Smiles

“See my new smile??” they ask. (And this picture reveals a love for three oranges! Well, clementines. AB was making an orange snowperson with them.)

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100 Happy Days – Day 33: Pink Snowsuit

This morning after taking E to the bus with me, AB thought she’d visit our neighbour’s driveway. She even ventured all the way to his front steps. I asked if she was going to come inside with me or go live with Steve.

She said nonchalantly, “Yep. I’m gonna go live with Steve.”

After a few minutes, she changed her mind, claiming “Steve is a monster.” (Monsters are on her mind a lot right now, though seemingly not in a very scary way.) I assured her that Steve is actually a nice guy, but she opted to have breakfast with me anyway.

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I love her in this poofy powder-pink snowsuit. She also has a brown coat with leopard-spotted lining, which I have to admit is edgier… but gosh. I like the pink in spite of myself.

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100 Happy Days – Day 31: Masterpiece for Six Hands

Sometimes, our lovely Yamaha Clavinova gets neglected for long periods. And then sometimes, it gets mad amounts of attention.

Look at it, basking in the ministrations of six tiny hands.

ALL its demo songs got aired out today.

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Making music with our friend G.

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100 Happy Days – Day 23: Party at the Farm

Sunday, November 23rd: Festive Fun at Springridge Farm!

We have a group of friends that do two Christmas parties per year – one for the kids and one for the adults. Our friend K organized this epic outing this year:

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A funny, bumpy tractor-drawn wagon ride…
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Some cookie-decorating…
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With gingerbread people and chocolate candies (AB ended up with just those two questionably-placed candies on hers)…
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(And E was, unsurprisingly, very particular and precise about his…)
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We saw animals (chickens, turkeys, peacocks, goats, bunnies…)
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Got lots of fresh air…
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And climbed and jumped and ran on hay…
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And found mud puddles…
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(to sit in – thank goodness for splash pants…)
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Climbed a big awesome hill…
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And there was general joy for all, including li’l G (whose mama couldn’t be there so the rest of us doted on/photographed him)…
tractor riding
And tractor riding (E’s favourite)!…
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On designer tractors, no less…
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And there was even some sliding.

It was very fast-paced. There were also mini-pizzas, cupcakes, juice boxes, mural-colouring, and even a wee bit of chatting amongst the parents, when possible.

GOOD TIMES.

Thank you, K!!

P.S. All the photos that look great in this post are by Daddy. The ones that look mediocre are mine.

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100 Happy Days – Day 4: Silence

There are two kinds of silence that made me happy on Day 4.

One was in my 5/6 Core French class. They are a class that is, as a group, not great at self-regulation. Many of them have great difficulty stopping themselves from saying whatever they feel like saying, whenever they feel like saying it, in whatever language (i.e. English, not French). And some, it seems, just… never learned basic courtesy. Makes for a sub-optimal classroom environment.

I’ve had a whole system in place designed to curb this kind of noise and distraction, but in spite of having spent a lot of lunch breaks in discussion with certain students, overall behaviour hasn’t improved the way it needs to. It occurred to me that by telling them I will warn them (by name) when I see the kind of behaviour that will get them in trouble, I’m allowing them to relinquish ownership of their conduct.

So I gave them a frank lecture. Since these are 10-and-11-year-olds who do know what’s expected, I said I would take notes on the behaviour I was seeing, without wasting class time to talk about it. At the end of 50 minutes (which is actually ALWAYS less, by the time the kids get to me), if a student has a list of actions that need further discussion, we can take recess time to write out a “good copy” of what happened, for their parents. (Honestly, some kids’ lists would look like this on a bad day, if they were permitted to follow their instincts: “Today I forgot to take my hat off at the beginning of class, talked out when it wasn’t my turn twelve times, tried to argue with classmates/teacher three times, fell out of my chair once, insulted my classmate three times, sprawled on learning carpet as if it were my couch twice, stole my neighbour’s {whatever} twice, and left the classroom before I was dismissed.”)

Anyway. Point is, as I told them my new strategy, you could have heard a pin drop. TOTAL QUIET. Ahh, it was so lovely. Like watching a rare orchid bloom. Balm for my ears.

And THEN. One of my students raised his hand, while his classmate was writing the date on the board, and asked a legitimate question about the word “novembre” (we talk a lot about loanwords and root words in our class) and I answered it, which included me writing the numbers from 1 to 10 in Latin on the board. In case you don’t know, the word for six in Latin is “sex.”

I actually wrote “sex” on the board in front of 29 pre-teens – and they stayed quietThat’s how well my li’l talk worked. It was AMAZING, y’all. (Even if it only lasted for 1.5 periods.)

The other kind of silence is one that makes me happy almost every evening. We are a family with a birthright Quaker (me) as a mama, and although we attend Quaker meeting only sporadically, we do keep the tradition of silent grace before family meals. We hold hands in a circle, and sometimes we close our eyes, and think about the good fortune we have to be together for a good meal… and then we squeeze hands and it’s done.

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This is a dramatization. E is not usually smiling beneficently during silence. AB does do squeeze-shut-eyes like this, though.

AB has enjoyed the hand-holding ever since she was a baby. When she got old enough to say words, she used to order us: “Close de eyes.” And I don’t remember who started the tradition of saying, “I love you, family,” at the end of silence, but now we all say it every time – and my kids are usually the first to pipe up. I know this ritual means a lot to both of them. If they miss it for some reason, they want us to do it again.

It’s pretty much the most cheesily, heartwarmingly wonderful thing ever.

Oh, and speaking of silence… I may put this whole thing on hiatus until my blog is back to being healthy. My IT peeps and I are still working through issues that make blogging extremely annoying and slow, and although I am definitely noticing and enjoying happy things every day, trying to post about them under the circumstances saps that positivity with alarming speed. So… there may be a form of blog silence happening for a while. I hope not, but we’ll see.

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100 Happy Days – Day 3: Cuties in Costumes

Hoping my technical difficulties might take a coffee break, I’m attempting to backpublish a post from… several days ago. (I wouldn’t want you to think that Jian Ghomeshi had completely quashed the possibility of happy days.)

Here’s some happy from Day 3, even though they’re pics from October 31st. Because they can make me smile any day of the year. (Even though excited kids standing still enough for a clear photo on Halloween simply did not occur.) Plus, costumes are fun EVERY DAY.

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AB the giraffe and “Baby” G the dragon (he’s not a baby any more – he’s a big brother!).
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And E as a pirate!
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Jack-o-lantern designed by E, executed by Daddy.

And if you think that wee giraffe looks just like another wee giraffe you might have seen a few years ago… you’re right.

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Autumnal Adventures, Part 1: Picking Apples and Petting Animals

It says a lot about autumn’s charisma that I still love it even though it means the end of summer. I adore the open windows, bare feet, long evenings, singing crickets, and picnic-table dinners of summer. But then there are fresh apples, brilliant leaves, woodsmoke, and cozy sweaters, so it all works out.

In the case of the Sunday we went to Westfield Heritage Village and Myers Apple Farm, it was actually not sweater weather, it was gorgeous summery weather. PLUS the autumn colours. Awesome.

It was one of a series of Harvest Sundays at the Village, with animators in period costumes, speaking in first-person (with only a few li’l anachronisms) about their lives as settlers.

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What a beautiful day for some high-quality heritage.

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A wee corn-husk doll from the small building known to have housed an Aboriginal family.

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Sometimes I think about having no such thing as plumbing. I am very grateful for plumbing.

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Remember how this post is partly about petting animals? Some of the animals were actually just skins with heads.

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Fun fact: this church had to be cut into pieces to be transported to the Village from Mountsberg. It’s been nicely reassembled.

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Ticket from the Jerseyville train station! Which was operational until the ’60s. (It also served as Avonlea train station in Kevin Sullivan’s productions of “Anne of Green Gables” and “Road to Avonlea”.)IMG_7142

Ahh. So picturesque that I had to take pictures.

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The druggist was the most interesting stop on the tour. He demonstrated how he made capsules and moulded pills; he showed how the turnkey works for pulling out teeth; and he explained all about the morphine, cocaine, and heroin that were used for pain management. In the good old days.

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In the caboose! No seat belts.

It’s a really nice time. They are open this Thanksgiving weekend too, if you live in the GHA or Wellington County.

And bonus – just down the road, you can pick apples!

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What a beautiful day for apple-picking. (And it really was – practically everyone went apple-picking that day. Or at least two other parties I know of.) And delicious apples they are, too. Empires and Spartans.

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There are also goats, chickens, sheep, kittens, etc., that are pretty friendly.

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AND, the best part of this whole day, which AB repeated to everyone who came close enough to hear: “THE BIG HORSE PEED!”

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I think she thought she might get lucky enough to see a mini horse pee too. No such luck though.

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