Sunday, March 16, 2008

Esther is 2.5!

Esther, a few days ago (the 13th) you turned exactly two and a half years old. Recently, we were watching your favorite video that Ms. Vickie made of your 2nd birthday and you seem like a baby compared to your big-girl self of today.

You are quite the talker around people you know pretty well. At home with Daddy and me you regularly run around telling us what to do. We can carry on conversations with you and you ask us unprompted questions. You understand the concepts of yesterday and tomorrow (although yesterday could also be last month) and although you sometimes will say you are sad, I don't think you really understand emotion yet. You will often give a brief commentary on what you see around you, and I love it when you do do. Most of your words are pretty easy to understand at this point and I miss the days when yogurt was na-na and crayon/color/pen was ah-go. It makes Aunt Susan so mad when I do this, but I will sometimes mimic the baby words you have left (and there are only a few) hock-lock for helicopter, uh-zer for other, and lah-go for granola. I will smile wistfully when you finally pronounce these correctly. You like to climb to the top of the slide at the playground and yell "LOOK AH ME EVERBODY, LOOK AH ME!" and in that moment you remind me of myself. And when you cling to my leg when I ask you to say "Nice to meet you" to someone new you remind me of Daddy. Although I know that most kids do these things, I still like to think that you do it because you are like us.

You have become VERY good at telling me that you will share your toys with a friend coming over and you are sometimes okay at actually following through with the sharing. You seem to do best when it is only 1 or 2 friends here and you completely fall apart if it is more than 2. For this reason, we no longer host playgroup! It also seems to help if we talk about it before hand and put away 1-2 toys that I know you won't want to share. But if you are even a little tired or hungry it becomes much harder.

You love to pretend and it warms my heart just thinking about it. Your pretend play seems to fall into two solid categories: going on trips/running errands and taking care of your babies. You regularly go to the bagel store, the thrift store, and Costco; as well as taking the train to work or the train to the airport. Sometimes you get your suitcase or your wallet, but just as often you go without. For the first year of your life I was adamant that I would not give you any typical girl toys until you were solidly interested in trucks. And we didn't - your first doll was a birthday present from Daddy and I when you turned 1. It wasn't that I didn't want you to play with dolls, I just didn't want to pigeonhole you. But now, my goodness, what a nurturer you have become. You have 4 baby dolls and Pooh and between them you are a very busy nursing (and pumping) mother (although you tell me that you are a daddy and not a mommy!) You hold them and shush them just like Daddy does with Sissy, you sit criss-cross or lay on the bed and feed them (just like Mommy), and when you put them down for a nap, you turn them onto their stomachs (just like Sissy). You are also very protective of their sleep, frequently telling me that we have to leave the room because they are sleeping (once you told me to "get out of here").

Hmm, how much to tell? Your relationship with Ruthie can be volatile at times as she seems to be a convenient target of your frustration with whatever situation is at hand. Luckily you now know how to walk yourself to the naughty spot after you hurt her, and I do appreciate that. You are delighted to see her when you wake up in the morning or from a nap and you like knowing where she is. You will sometimes play "Row, Row Your Boat" with her and you will always take a toy to her when I ask you to do so. If Daddy or I pretend to be Sissy's voice and ask you to share a toy, you will usually agree. After Daddy came home from a trip recently, you had a very hard time when Daddy held Sissy and you did the same thing the other evening when he came home from work. You rarely tell me to put Sissy down, but you do so more often if Daddy is holding Sissy. When Sissy cries and I say to her, "Why are you crying, Ruthie?" you will often respond, "Because she haf too Mommy."

I started crying the other day after you had pulled her hair/pushed her over/or bonked her with a toy for the FOURTH time that day (to be fair, 90% of these sorts of incidents occur when you are hungry or tired). I know it may not have been the best coping skill but I don't care - I cried because I was so frustrated that you kept hurting her, going to the naughty spot, and then hurting her again 30 minutes later. You were so, so worried that I was crying and I felt so badly for that but I also wonder if it may have helped you to see that your actions go beyond yourself, because you've been much better since then.

You eat very, very healthfully even though you don't eat a wide variety of foods. Rice 'n' Lentils continue to be our "go-to" food and Daddy and I have become better recently about exposing you to new things. It is rare that you will try something new, but I also know that we need to be more patient and offer it several times in a row. After not having cooked any broccoli for a few days, you asked me for it today and it delighted me. Daddy and I continue to be very strict about sweets and junk food. Fruit juice (other than prune juice) is still rare in the house and it was QUITE the treat when you had the flu and I let you pick out a bottle of apple juice from the CVS. To speed up the whole "we're getting in the car can you PLEASE JUST TRY to go to the potty" process we now offer a SINGLE miniature jelly bean each time there is output into the potty. I really wish that you would start eating spaghetti - it would really expand our dinner time offerings! And I'm grateful that you can't see into the top shelf of the cabinet which is where Daddy and I hide our treats.

You have always been a great sleeper and go to sleep easily which makes your bedtime routine an absolute pleasure. There was a rough patch when you were around 27-28 months where you were waking up at 5:30 in the morning. It took us 6 weeks to figure out that there was a strong correlation between your waking time and the length of your nap the previous day. We now wake you up from a nap after 2.5 hours MAX and you are sleeping to a much more manageable 6:30 or 7am. About once a week, Daddy hears you stirring at 5:30am but luckily you will usually lay quietly in the "big bed" with him until 6:30am. You still sleep in your crib and show no signs of climbing out, so we're leaving you in there for now.

You've been learning a lot of self-help skills at your nursery school. This picture is about the 4th or 5th time that you have put your sneakers on all by yourself start to finish. The only think I do is set each sneaker next to the correct foot and you do the rest. The day before your actual 2.5 birthday I also started to show you how to lay your coat on the floor and flip it on over your head. I had gotten as far as laying it on the floor when you marched over, stood by the hood, and flipped it on in about 2 seconds flat. When I asked you who showed you how to do it, you proudly replied "Carleen" (lead teacher at nursery school). That proud comment prompted a phone call to your teachers at school (it was naptime for the full day kids) and they were excited to hear the news. I would probably say that you are about 90-95% potty trained. You regularly tell me when "tee-tee comin!" and most of the time when #2 is approaching. Sometimes I still see you standing in the corner trying to hold it in and that's when I just pick you up and carry you to the potty!

Esther, sometimes when I look at you or when you ask me "What you doing Mommy?" it brings tears to my eyes. You are exactly the type of little girl I always thought I would have - you even look like what I used to picture and dream about what now seems like such a long, long time ago when I was trying to figure out God's call for Daddy and me. Your bring at least one moment of joy (and often many more) into every single day of our lives.

We love you very much.

Mommy (with input from Daddy)

Esther 2 and a half santa from First and last name on Vimeo.
At Christmas, the local volunteer fire department drives through town with Santa Claus on the back waving. It is really noisy and there's no way you can miss it. Esther still remembers this and for whatever reason, she puts this laundry basket on her head and runs around saying, "I'm Santa, Santa Claus. Wave at me, wave at me ever-body" or something to that effect.

Esther 2 and a half at park from First and last name on Vimeo.
Esther at the park last week on a day that started out warm but was pretty chilly by the time we got there after nap. Esther was not deterred. I was only sad I couldn't get a shot of her standing at the top of the slide saying "Look at me ever-body, look at me!"


Sandy said...

Ellen, you absolutely amaze me with these postings!! I can't believe how much more "in touch" I feel in the girls lives just since last week. I love hearing about their days and what they are doing new and exciting...putting on jackets and sneakers and the mini jelly bean to get Esther to go potty is the best! Thank you for taking the time to post and even better, post with pictures! Keep them coming!

Susan said...

This was a great one. The photos make it more powerful - even though I am nearby enough to see Esther and Ruthie every week, it still makes me tear up. Even when, in Borders, Esther looks at me and says, "Ana, I run!", as she runs away from me and all the other adults in the store look at me like I am the crazy one as I run after her - I still feel so lucky to even be able to have that experience with her. It's a pleasure to have Esther run away from me!

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