Friday, June 14, 2013

"Violet in the Sky"

Just now, at dinnertime, Abbie gave me the chills... She told me a story she dreamed of today.

She called it "The Story of Violet in the Sky".

This is how she told it, more or less:

"Once upon a time, there was a beautiful flower in the sky, it was called Violet, it was a happy little flower. The flower was so beautiful, that one day an angel decided it should be admired on earth. So he brought Violet down, and planted the flower for everyone to see. Everyone loved the beautiful flower. It was light blue, mommy, you know, like OUR favorite color! And it smelled so sweet. The days passed, and nothing happened, then more days passed, and nothing happened, you know, just like that. The flower grew bigger, and sweeter in time. But... Three beautiful angels above, in the sky, missed the beautiful Violet. They thought the sky wasn't the same without it for them to love and see every day. So, that's why the angels came down, all three of them. They surrounded the Violet with light and power, and brought her back to the sky, to be safe with them forever. And there, butterflies flew around it and the sky was even more beautiful. The end!"

A year ago today, in this small town of ours, a little girl by the name of Violet had an accident, and was later taken from the world. She was two years old. She was beautiful...

All I could see through my eyes filled with tears as Abigail told me her story, was Violet's toothy smile. Her bright eyes and infectious happiness. Though I never met Violet, her tragic passing affected me in ways I cannot even describe and to this day I feel so much sadness in my heart at the thought of her no longer being with us.

I hugged Abbie tight, excused myself and came to my room to jot all this down while still fresh in my mind...

I never once told Abigail about Violet. But I hope that one day, reading this, she will understand why I hugged her so tight, and why I cried while she recounted a dream she had.
{she drew me a picture of violet going up to the sky... it's all purple because the light of the angels bringing her up was so powerful everything turned purple. The other weird things are the angels............ Well. She is five)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy 6th Birthday... almost.

As I celebrated my beloved Abigail's 6th birthday today --yes, three plus months in advance, thank you very much!-- my mind was racing. Among the many things that captured me, was the realization that my child's 6th birthday will be the first one that she celebrates with a sister that actually interacts with her. Last year's birthday is so foggy in my memory, I don't even remember what we did for her. Exccept the cake. I do remember the cake, because it was awesome! But I do know that Hannah was just a bundle of incoherent motions and no realization whatsoever. I still can't believe we gifted that precious tiny creature to Abbie, her sister. I hope she will always know what a miracle it has been, and how much love it signifies.

Abigail had a super-super time, as she would put it, celebrating with her best buds. The ever ubiquitous Emily, whom she adores and venerates; Madison and Grandon (sweetest boy *ever*); Trevor; Jackson; Ry; and a bunch of kids from school. She run around, jumped, danced and yelled to her heart's content. Hannah Grace played a little, too --more than anything she was memserized by the activity and the noise to be her demanding self too much. She stayed cocooned in my arms, or her daddy's, and crawled around a little bit.

It was a good party, bittersweet, like all these celebrations tend to be, for me. One more year that I thank God for allowing me the precious gift of Abigail being mine, all mine. One more year that has passed. I look at the long legged, piggy-tailed little girl and I mourn a bit the loss of her babyness. Her chubbyness. Her baby smell, so sweet and tender, just like her. I watch her making her way amongst strangers, all powerful and rowdy because she knows it's all about her. And I think, please God, please please please, let her be strong. No matter what may come, please let her be strong enough to walk unscathed past strangers, through ups and downs, through hurts and joys. Please please please, let her be strong, stronger than me, stronger than I ever was. Please please please, let her happiness never depend on anyone or anything but herself. Please, let her be strong.

As life continues, as she grows up, stage after stage of learning and experiencing, I realize how little I can truly make things better for her. As I drop her off to school in the mornings, my heart aches a little: I won't be there to comfort her through any pang of fear or hurt that she may feel while she's away from me. And I know... it's all part of life. But when I watch her sleep at night, and pet her pretty, relaxed face, I know she is my pride and joy. I want her to be happy above anything else.

I wrote a letter to Abigail a few months after her birth. Correction: I finished the letter a few months after her birth, I actually started writing it while I was still carrying her deep inside of me. I realize now how incomplete and inadequate that letter is. All I knew then was nothing compared to the love I feel and the lessons I have learned in the past (almost) six years. I am at a loss for words on how to express it all.

So, while I sit here typing yet another inadequate post, please know one thing, my little no-longer-itty-bitty girl: life is confusing. People are confusing. Be strong. And always know --I'm trying, my love, I'm trying.

Friday, May 3, 2013

"Hannah Banana"

Our beautiful, beloved Hannah Grace joined us on July 18, 2012. It occurs to me that this blog should be titled "Itty Bitty Sisters," now, but I really don't want to change it. This is, and always will be, a site about Abbie. It started out as my attempt at keeping up with my daughter's experiences growing up, and my own foray into motherhood.

Eventually, I will start writing on a separate blog for little Hannah, but for now, I need to introduce her here: Abigail is the main reason why Hannah exists today--for her we wanted a sister, a friend, a life companion. And with the birth of Hannah Grace, itty bitty Abbie has once again blessed our lives.

In the past months, my mind and time has been deeply involved in our little Hannah. I guess it is understandable: she's our newborn, our newest addition to the family, and she needs us so much more than Abigail does at the moment in every aspect of her young life. I look at Hannah, though, and many times I am reminded of Abigail when she was a baby: facial expressions, attitudes, movements... and each time my vision range sees them together, nearby, sentences conjure up in my head, as if a letter from Hannah to Abbie has been pouring from my heart through Hannah's emotions.

So here it is: the precious words my soul has encapsulated day in and day out every time I see my girls together--words I imagine Hannah would love to express to her big sister.

"Dear Abigail:

The first time I saw you, I felt a jolt in my little chest--I had been born but a few hours, and your smiley face didn't wait long to show itself into my brand new world. I saw you at the hospital, and you were nervous, unsure, I could tell, about how this tangible bundle of breathing flesh would fit into your life. Yet all you wanted to do was to hold me as if I were a doll. You laughed loudly and "neighed" like you always do when you are excited, and I recognized that sound--I had heard it so many times before while basking in the comfort of mommy's tummy. Finally something I could related to, though I didn't understand it, but it didn't matter: it was familiar to me as my mother's and father's voice.

I joined your world on July 18th, at 10:32 in the morning. I was itty bitty, too--bittier than you, even--and I barely made a sound. Mommy and Daddy were amazed with me, I knew they fell madly in love with me instantly, as they had done five years earlier with you. As soon as mommy held me in her arms, tears rolling down her cheeks, I knew I had her wrapped around my tiny finger. My eyes were wide open for a long time, looking, searching, taking everything in, before the excitement of it all threw my in a deep, womb-like slumber.

I have quite a bit of sense of humor: for the first few days of life, I kept it on the down low, you know? I was quiet as a mouse, I slept a lot, I didn't "make a peep," as mommy liked to say back then. I was actually in deep thought, trying to find out what was going on and process the overwhelming world that had swallowed me in; trying to convince everyone I was going to be a breeze! And it worked, too, because, weeks later, when I started crying loudly and sleeping less and less, it was funny to see mommy and daddy scratching their heads wondering where their quiet baby had gone.

So here I am: a happy girl with a cranky streak, as Carol and Christopher say, but I am also so confused about everything I see and experience, about waking up with sharp things poking through my otherwise smooth gums, about new tastes, smells and sensations I can't yet identify: I think I've earned my right to be cranky. All I know, at this point, is the sweet scent of milk, the warmth of mommy's arms and shoulders that support me, the strength of daddy's hugs, the "pokiness" of his weekend beard. I know that strange creatures walk about this house, on all fours, like me, but they are much hairier than I am, they make strange noises and sometimes run away when I get close. I know that crying loudly catches our parents' attention, and when I smile I can pretty much get away with anything. And of course, I know you.

From the beginning, you were the sweetest thing, with me: protective, enthusiastic at having your very own living doll to play with. But soon enough, you realized I wasn't a living doll, that mommy wouldn't let you hold me and pick me up as you wanted to, and some feelings of jealousy started to creep in. So yes, our relationship was a little shaky there, for a minute. Mommy noticed and cried over it so much, but she came up with a plot to make you like me: she invented that I wanted to kiss you! Every time I rooted in hunger, she would enthusiastically tell you that I was attempting to kiss you, and you'd put your sweet cheek by my mouth, and accept my puckering lips and slobbering as a sign of unrequited affection. Ha! Little did you know. The fact that I loved you so much (remember, according to mom I only "kissed" you!) seemed to make you feel better about the little intruder who took so much of mommy's and daddy's time. It was our major breakthrough to date.

Soon enough, I started to recognize your voice, your fast step, your laugh coming from every corner of our house. I would turn towards the source of those sounds, looking for you, and I would smile and laugh happily every time I saw you. You really did bring laughter into my young life! Even as a tiny infant, I'd get all excited when you came to see me with your impetuous and effervescent personality. I'd flap my arms, I'd smile, I'd gurgle and coo. And you laughed. Not much has changed in the last few months as far as that is concerned: I'm still as excited to see you each time I do. Now that I can crawl, I follow you everywhere you go. We play together in the play room. You do your thing, I just sit nearby watching you, studying you, the little wonder I am so thrilled to be with as often as I can.

Yes, of course I love mommy and daddy. I love them to pieces. But you are just amazing to me, mesmerizing: you're little, noisy, you try to act like a baby when I act like a baby (and, well, since I *am* a baby, I do that pretty much all the time); you come down to my level, do you know what I mean? You crawl with me. And you lay flat on your tummy with me. You sit me in boxes to push me around the house so you can take me with you. You think it's funny I poop in diapers: you say "ewwww!" and "yuck!" when mommy changes my diaper, but you laugh and laugh and laugh at it too, and so I'm not sure what it means, but really I don't care--I care that you think it's hilarious.

We love to "chat" blabbing away, and I love that you are not too "big" to be silly with me! We scream (yes, scream) at each other across the dinner table, laughing at how funny we are while blasting any eardrums within a mile distance. We bathe together, occasionally, and splash a ton of water all over the bathroom floor. We play "swim to Messhico" (I don't know where that came from!) and sometimes, when I get tired of flapping in the water, I just crawl on your back while you "swim" for the both of us. I had so many experiences with you as part of it, like splashing in the little baby pool, going on a bike ride around the neighborhood.

I started babbling pretty soon--I think I am going to be a Chatterbox just like you. I started rolling on both sides at 6 months, and that talent of mine was hilarious to you. I started sitting up and crawling at the tail end of 8 months, and now I am at your heels. Today I stood firmly for the first time in my crib, which scared the bejezus out of mommy. I love to eat baby puffs and mum-mums, like you used to. I am very expressive: anyone can tell when I am happy, agitated, mad, tired. It's a talent of mine to be a great communicator without the need of uttering a single word. I smile with my eyes, just like you do. Oh, and I am silly. Silly, silly, silly, just like you. Two peas in a pod.

I know--I hope!-- that we will be great friends growing up together, in this home in Texas, with our two dogs, our two cats, and one another. I know that my childhood memories will have you attached to them and I am so looking forward to walk down life's paths with you holding my hand. I am not sure what life is all about, just yet. But I do know that I won't be alone if there is ever anything to cry or fuss about other than those yucky bananas that mom keep trying to feed me.

Oh I love you so! I want to be like you. I'm your sister, I am your friend, your biggest admirer. I hope that our life together will be what our parents envisioned for us: two strong, smart little women looking out for each other, having someone to lean on, play with, to learn together and from each other. I'm game if you are!

I love you, your sister,

Hannah Banana"

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

All my loving

Years after my last entry on your blog, Abigail, I just wanted to pick up where I left off by telling you, now a little girl but still my baby, that I love you. You are my life, my beacon shining bright, the miracle I always wanted, and (together with your daddy) the person I could never live without. You'll always be the fire that keeps me warm. I love you. Mamy

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Now I lay me down to sleep...

"Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
thy angels watch me through the night,
and keep me in their blessed sight."

As my little Abbie finally quiets down and goes to sleep after another full day of fun and laughter, I finally gather some time to write about her. I have missed doing this.

The two year mark of when Abigail joined us is rapidly approaching, and once again I look backwards, to the leaps and advances she has made in the last twelve months.

Her personality is really shining through, now, no longer tentative, rather palpable and strongly marked. She's really a happy little girl. I am sure that some of her happiness is due to us, her parents, who shower her with love and affection and strive to make each and every day a joyous experience for her. But I am also convinced that while nurture has had its impact, nature has indelibly imprinted her spirit with a bliss that goes beyond outside influences. At least I hope so, and pray for this every day, because I only want her happiness.

Abigail has a unique laugh, we call it "her funny laugh". It springs out of nowhere, seemingly aroused but nothing at all, except a sense of cheer sprouting from her inner recesses. She's always done this. I might be driving somewhere with her, or she might be "reading" one of her books, and *boom!*, you hear this effervescent and impetuous laugh: "haaaaahaaaaahaaaaahaaaaaa!" Sometimes, she'll make a comment to herself about whatever she thinks it's so funny -- "haaaaahaaaaahaaaaa! *mumble mumble mumble* haaaahaaaahaaaaa!". It's the cutest thing, and every time I hear it, my heart warms up. She definitely has her eccentricities, much like her mother.

She's scared of nothing, which in and of itself is not necessarily a good thing, not always. For example -- some time ago we went to the bookstore (she loves books). We sat for a while, reading, until she got up and went to say "Hi" to some lady who was sitting a few feet from us. She started talking to the woman, and almost immediately climbed on to the stranger's lap handing her a book to read. On another occasion, she decided to befriend a couple with two kids while we were shopping. Since they reciprocated her attention, Abigail thought it might be fun to go home with them. So she followed them out of the store, trying to catch up to the woman, offering her hand to her. She didn't like it when I told her she just couldn't go with the strangers.

She's a tomboy and a girly-girl all in one. She loves to wear my earrings, which I carefully place around her ears when she asks me to ("earrings, pease!") -- she then gives me one of her bright, toothy smiles and shakes her head to and fro, just to hear the sound of the earring flapping. She always wants to wear my necklaces, preferring the long ones, and when she does, she twirls around, showing off her jewelry, happy as a clam. She'll leave the necklace on for hours while she goes about her business. As most girls her age, Abigail also loves my high heel shoes, and whenever she finds a pair, she'll wear them around the house, holding on to anything she can.

She loves to sing, and dance. Her latest song is "Fuzzy and Blue", from Sesame Street. "Fuzzy and Blue!!!!!!", Abigail will erupt at any point in time. Another one of her favorites is the Sesame Street theme song. "Sunny day!!!!!!" she'll scream, and I'll say "sweeping the....", "clouds away!!!!", she'll chime in right away. That's how we sing the whole song together. As far as the dancing goes, when she's not running or climbing, then she's dancing. Music, no music, that doesn't really matter. I said before, and I stand by it, she dances to her own harmony.

She has one of the richest vocabularies of most toddlers her age. I know it sounds like I am tooting my own horn -- I am really not, but of course I am proud of it for her sake. I never had any way of knowing for sure, until her pediatrician expressed amazement, at Abbie's 18-month appointment, at how articulate Abigail is and the complexity of her vocabulary. Since then, Abbie has learned many more words, and to express most of what she wants, thinks, feels, with clarity and correctly, though still in a limited and simple fashion. She points out things I had no idea she had even noticed, let alone identify. She talks to us about her day, or her wishes -- when her daddy gets home from work, for example ("Ah fun at the carousel, Daddy! Ah go back to carousel morrow, mamy?"). Lately, when I go get her in the morning, I say: "Did you sleep well, honey?", and she responds: "Ah did, mamy!". This morning, she shocked us by saying: "Ah had good sleep, Ah dream o' mamy, Ah dream o' daddy!" I had no idea she knew what "dreaming" is.

She's so very warm and loving. While she's not cuddly, she always hugs me, and kisses me, and spontaneously tells me that she "lowes (or 'awes')" me. Sometimes she tells me that she likes me ("Ah laike you, mamy!"), which usually makes me chuckle: "I like you too, Abbie! I'll keep ya!" She loves to play the "Kissy Game" before she goes to sleep: while in mine or Christopher's arms, she wants each of us to kiss one of her cheeks at the same time, then she wants us to kiss each other while she laughs, with her arms around our necks, right before she joins in the kissing-fest. It's one of my favorite times of the day.

She absolutely and earnestly loves her little friends, and my friends, too, they are her family. Her favorite pal is William, but she aches to spend time with her other favorites, "Maxxie" (Max), "Gia" (Julia), "Mir" (Amir), "Samm" (Sam), "Nav" (Arnav). She will worry about them when she doesn't see them for a while, and never, ever, stops asking me about them. William went to NY state for a couple of weeks, and Abigail asked me every day about him... "Wee-yam ok, Mamy? Wee-yam ok? Where Wee-yam?" she would say with a tiny, worried voice. Or "Ah go Wee-yam today mamy!" she'd incite. She now asks that about Max, who has moved to Indiana, and left one sad little friend behind.

She's very playful. She never, ever, gets enough playing time. We have invented some games together. Her absolute favorite is "Sammich", a.k.a. sandwich for the rest of us. She came up with the name on her own, and pretty much the whole game, too. "Sammich" consists of Abigail laying on a blanket, with Christopher and myself at each end of it. We lift her up in the blanket and swing her back and forth, like a hammock. We also invented a song to go along with the motions: "Sandwich, sandwich, Abigail's a sandwich....! Sandwich, sandwich, Abigail's a sandwich!" She gets the biggest kick out of this. Then there's the "Mamy and Daddy!" game: Abbie goes to the opposite end of the room, her daddy and I both hide under the blanket and she comes running to us, exhilarated in the anticipation of throwing her arms around us while we fling the blanket over her. There are tons of things that we create together, most of them springing from Abbie's own ingenuity and imagination. Her latest thrill are stickers... "Steeekkessss!!!!", "Ah get a' steekess, mamy! Ah play a' steekess!" She puts those things all over herself, all over the house, the car, every square inch of our habitat is covered in stickers. First, she slowly peels them off, and strategically places them on herself. When she runs out of space on her own body, she'll start putting them on me, on the dog, and, lastly, on any and all surfaces within her reach. I spend hours peeling them off.

Of course, life with Abigail is not always a sweet lollipop wrapped in candy colored paper. There are times when we are at odds. Times when she wants to impose her 2-year old will over my *censored*-year old one. Times when she says "no" when I really want her to say "yes", times when she won't listen to me, and times when she runs me ragged. I have never been this tired in my whole life. Or worried -- because I worry about her, constantly, about the things I won't be able to spare her or help her out of, I fear that my silent prayers may not always be heard. But I have also never been this amused, this fulfilled and this hopeful that my little happy girl will grow up and continue to be what she's always been, happy. I would never go back to a life without her, and I could never live without her.

I wake up every morning waiting for her little voice to start chirping over the monitor, signaling that I can finally got get her once more, hug her tight, smell her curly hair, kiss her a million good morning kisses, and hear her tell me when I open her bedroom door, smiling: "Good mo'nin Mamy! How you doin'? Ah fine, mamy, I go a' Choo-Choo Twain today!!!"

Monday, July 27, 2009

Abbie at the “Airplane Store”

Finding new and suitable places for Abbie to burn out her seemingly endless supply of energy has become increasingly challenging. Fortunately, the older she gets, the more “self-sufficient” she has become. The activities her mommy and I choose are slowly becoming of more interest to us as well as Abbie. And Virginia has a wealth of interesting and historical places.

I’ve been itching to take Abbie to the Udvar-Hazy Center –- an annex of the National Air & Space Museum.  It’s a large aircraft hanger building near Dulles International Airport which houses many aircraft, helicopters and space exhibits.  The Udvar-Hazy Center contains some notable aircraft such as the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, the Enola Gay –- the B-29 Superfortress which dropped the first Atom bomb on Hiroshima -- and one the last Air France supersonic Concordes.

I knew Abbie wouldn’t understand the historical aspects of seeing the exhibits at the NASM, but I thought the open spaces and neat, shiny airplanes would really get her going. And of course, I hope it will, later on, spark some interest in aeronautics and space which I’ve grown up with.

Upon entering the enormous facility, her eyes opened wide as she pointed to one of the first airplanes she saw. “AIR-PANE!” she shouted. “That’s right, Abbie” I replied. “There’s many, many airplanes here… and SPACE SHIPS!”

As soon as I put her down, she tore off, running from one plane to the next. She’d occasionally stop in her tracks, making little 360 degree turns as she took in everything around her. Since we were one of the first ones there, she had almost full run of the place.

At one point, acknowledging all of the aircraft around her, she exclaimed, “AIR-PANE STORE!”

After strolling around and taking in all the historical aircraft, we ventured over to the Space Exploration annex. She was beside herself at seeing such sites as the various rockets and the cornerstone of the exhibit, the real-life space shuttle  Enterprise. We ended up making two trips to the Space Exploration section.

Later in the morning, we took the elevator up to the 10th story Observation Tower where we could see a 360 degree view of the surrounding area. Naturally, she leaned over the glass overlooking the parking lot to find “Mammy's car”. After that, we went down to see the “control tower” exhibit with the sights and sounds of a real control tower.

By this time, she was worn out. We made our second trip to the Space Exploration annex before heading home.

It was a pleasure not only seeing the Center for myself, but watching her simple joy and wonderment at all the amazing “Air-panes”. I’d love to take her back some day where she can appreciate the historical meanings of all the exhibits.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Uh… Hello?

P1000597 During the last few weeks, Carol and I have been teaching Abbie our first names. She asks her, “Abbie? What’s daddy’s name?” and Abbie replies, “CHREES-o-fur!” When I ask her mommy's name, she whispers, “CAH-rol”  She whispers it because when I first started to teach her, I would whisper it into her ear as a hint. However, she thought that’s how you had to say it… in a whisper.

I should have known, since she does that with other hints I whisper to her.

Anyway, I’ve explained many times here before how much I love to tease her. It’s hard coming up with fun and silly ways to tease her because… well, she’s just a chip off the old block… she’s always two steps ahead, and it usually backfires on me.

So tonight, during our usual nighttime routine, she sat in my lap comfortably while I fed her her bottle of milk.  While she was quietly sipping away, I thought I’d close my eyes, make little snoring sounds and pretend I was sleeping. I wanted to see what she’d do.

I cracked my eyes open a little to see her. I saw two bright eyes looking at me, blinking. After a few seconds of her studying my face and watching me “sleep”, I heard her little voice whisper with the bottle still in her mouth, “CHREES-o-fer… blabble, flabble, wabble, flooble, habble… brush-a-TEEF!”

Apparently, she thought I was really asleep and that I’d forgotten that, after her milk, I was supposed to take her in to the bathroom to brush her teeth. The little pipsqueak was gently waking me up and reminding me.

Good thing she’s looking after me!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Word Games

Abigail is becoming more and more vocal, and has been able to communicate in semi-full sentences for a couple of months. I am amused and ever surprised at the things that she comes up with!

Anyone with kids knows that, well, 'kids say the darndest things', and certainly Abigail is no exception. Thanks to her father and his twisted sense of humor, she's also been learning such colorful (and not socially acceptable) expressions as "fart", "burp" and a few others. I have been trying to re-route her to more "kosher" definitions, like "passing gas", or "toot", "break wind" for example.

Tonight, after dinner, I suddenly detected that Abigail may have gone number two. So I asked her, as I usually do, "Honey, did you make a poopie?". She looked at me straight in the eye, and with the most serious look in her face, she responded: "Abbie toot a poopie!". A close examination of her clean diaper revealed that, in fact, Abbie had simply "toot a poopie".

Another thing that she's been saying lately, in perfect English, is "Mamy (or Daddy), sit down, I'll drive". She says that while opening the car front door, which she is now able to do by standing on her tippy-toes and pressing the unlock button on the door handle. She invariably bursts out laughing because she really does think that she'll drive. At the first sign that she will be sitting on her car-seat, after all, she changes her tune.

Yesterday, another funny one: Shelby started barking loudly out of nowhere while Abigail was quietly playing on her own. Abbie got reasonably upset, and ran to me, saying: "Mamy, Shelby scared the baby! Shelby scared the baby!! Oh no, Shelby, oh no!" Of course, right after that, Abbie turned to the dog and told her "Kiet, Shelby! Kiet!".


Friday, May 22, 2009

Lights dimming on Sesame Street (classic Abbie)

Two days ago I walked into my daughter's bedroom to find a rather unusual, if not slightly disturbing, sight: all of her Sesame Street pals (the ever-ubiquitous Elmo, Zoe, Grover, Big Bird, Snuffy and Cookie Monster) were laying face-down/fanny-up on two of her bookcase shelves, as depicted below:

I was really puzzled -- the scene was obviously not the result of chance, but rather of a carefully planned design. It was, well, purposely done! I called Christopher at work to find out what he knew about it, since he was playing with her in her room the night before while I was preparing dinner.

He said, "Oh, yeah, *that*!", and chuckled, "Your daughter did that -- I told her that it was time to go 'night-night', to say goodbye to her little friends, who were going to bed, too. So, one by one, she picked them up, and laid them down on the shelf, on their tummies, saying to each of them: "Cookie Monsteh sleepin'; Emo sleepin'; Yowe sleepin'; K-nuffy sleepin'; Goovah sleepin'; Big Burd sleepin'!"!"

I looked at Abbie, who was putting stickers on Shelby, and I could not stop laughing. So much for a sinister display -- and I hurried to take a picture of it!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

'I Love You'

My little girl told me that she loves me, today: "Ai ouwe you too!"
Oh, what a glorious day!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Abbie & Co.

Abbie had a great day today: she went to the park, where she met her little buddies William and Max (Weeam and Maxxxxxx).  She enjoys the company of her friends, she loves playing with them, following them around, and being close to them.

Right after our little park outing, we went to Sweet Life Cafe, in old town Fairfax, where we all sat down for lunch. While there, Abigail exchanged sweet hugs and a couple of kisses with William, and Max also got sweet with her. He started poking her and yelling "tickle!!! tickle!!!". Abbie thought that was the funniest of things. It really stuck with her, because when we got home, she starting poking my leg and going "ticke!!! ticke!!!", laughing out loud when I pretended to be tickled by her little finger jammed on my thigh. Later on, at dinner, she said "Maxxxx, ticke!!!!" And then went on, with the sweetest of smiles, "Weeam, day, fun!".

Yes, it was.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Hobo Abbie

The sweet little town of Clifton, VA has been mentioned here before.  It's a favorite place to take Abbie for us because of the quiet neighborhood, the fun playground in the park and the overall hometown feel of the place.

At the North end of Clifton, a railway runs through. Clifton arose as a railroad town, afterall.  The rails are still used as Amtrak and freight trains thunder along them, even though they don’t stop there anymore.

Next to the tracks is an old red caboose. They have left it available for people to climb on to get a faint taste of what the railroads meant to America.

I have a lot of railroad blood in me.  My great grandfather was a brakeman for the railroad for some time.  One of his sons, my grandfather’s brother, also worked for the railroad in his younger years as a welder. Another son of his had a love for trains, emphasized by an elaborate model train set which dropped down from the ceiling in his basement. Finally, my own grandfather -- who passed along his love for trains to me by taking me to a park in downtown Salt Lake City to play on the old steam train there. I can also remember seeing the Bicentennial Amtrak train with him when it stopped in Salt Lake City in 1976.

The Americana in me also comes from my other great grandfather who was a "hobo" during the Great Depression, walking the highways and jumping boxcars across the country three times.

So naturally, some of this railroad blood runs in Abbie.  While her mommy and I were with her in Clifton today, I wanted to get a few pictures of her on the tracks. Abbie had no reservations about walking the rails and ties, studying the rocks on the ground and the wooden planks which held the tracks down. She too loves trains. She has a couple of trains made of wood or plastic which she loves to play with. When we are in Clifton, she first heads straight to the “choo-choo” in the playground. And, of course, at seemingly random times in the car, she’ll shout out, “Choo-choo twain!”

One day I hope to share more of that railroad Americana with her by getting her a little electric model railroad, build on a sheet of plywood like the one I had when I was her about her age. There’s a wonderful fascination she has with trains that I hope she never loses.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Li'l McAbbie Had a Farm...

Since Abbie was born, we've been reading her stories and talking about various animals - ducks, sheep, pigs, goats, horses, etc. And we've been having fun teaching her the sounds that various animals make. It's wonderful how well she's remembered them and can name animals from photos and movies as well as imitate them.
However, she's only had limited exposure to live animals. Mostly the little ponies in Middleburg, kitties behind the glass at the local PetSmart, and of course Shelby.
A local farm had a "kids day" last Saturday. The weather was perfect and so we packed up and headed out, excited that Abbie would finally get the chance to see and touch many of the animals she'd learned about.
As soon as we got there, her eyes lit up. She began pointing to the different animals, jumping up and down, and shouting their names: "COWS! HORSEY! DUCKY!" She wanted to touch and pet each one. Fortunately, many of the animals were used to people handling them, and they'd come right up to her. She'd reach out her little hand and pet them - "Nice... nice..." she'd say.
One of the highlights for her, though, seemed to be when we put her on the giant tractor. Once she sat down in the big, ripped, vinyl seat, she began twisting the giant steering wheel. She had a blast - so much that when we finally lifted her down, she put up a terrible fuss. She was not happy having to leave the thing. For as much as she wanted to "drive" the tractor, I thought we could put her to work on the farm.
Finally, especially after seeing her friend William, she calmed down enough to see the rest of the farm. She and William had a fun showing each other what they'd found, especially when we wandered into the big barn with the baby goats. One of the men there told Abbie that the baby goats were born in February, so they were only 2 months old. She was amazed at these little animals whom she towered over - the only animals there smaller than she.
All in all, I can't tell who had more fun - Abbie seeing all the animals, or us watching her. By the time we left she was exhausted, but I know she thought about the farm a lot after that. She was mooing in her sleep that night!! We're hoping we can take her back there again to see all of her animal friends.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

More Bitty Abbie

Abbie’s absorbing everything, and it’s not that she’s just repeating what she hears, rather she’s fitting her world together in context and joining words together.

For example, she and I were out at Babies-R-Us getting another load of diapers. (Just a side note, she’s a great little companion most times – she loves to trot along ahead and help her Mommy and Daddy at the store.)

While we were perusing the choices in diapers, a little baby somewhere in the store started to cry. Abbie heard this, looked around and said, “Baby crying... Baby crying.”

I said, “yes, honey – there’s a little baby and she’s crying. But Baby’s OK.” Abbie, satisfied that the baby was not in trouble, went back to choosing her diapers.

While we waited at the check stand, Abbie insisted on helping me by holding one of the packages of diapers. She stood there proudly, hoping everyone saw that she was helping her Daddy. When it was our turn at the register, I told her, “OK honey, put the diapers on the table so she can scan them.” Without resisting, she hoisted the packages up and tried to put them on the belt.

When we got to car she still wanted to hold the diapers. The package she chose was the nighttime diapers with a picture of a sleeping baby boy on the front. She looked a the picture, then turned to me with a smile and said, “Baby sleeping. Shhhhh!”, putting her little index finger to her lip. Finally she looked back at the picture and said, “Boy baby… boy baby…”

It was a perfect little outing that went without a hitch. One of those moments that I look forward to having more of in the future. I can’t wait to have my little helper and friend go with me to turn the most mundane errands into fun excursions.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Rarities and Oddities -- Part Deux

Abbie does a lot of little things that crack me up.  I don't want to forget any of them! Here's a short list of the things I can think of, more coming! 

1) When she eats, she has to have her "Rabbitt" bib sitting on the table next to the plate.  She'll talk to it and try to feed it, too. 

2) If you take a bite of her food, she'll start feeding you and would seriously give you everything on her plate simply for the pleasure of seeing you happy.  She smiles all the way. 

3) She says "cah-foh!" (careful) each time that she does something she *knows* I won't be happy about.  She anticipates my warning, looking at me as if saying "See? Don't bother, I said it for you" -- not defiantly.  She really does it to save you some time.  

4) She'll walk backward and slowly lower herself on to anyone's lap.  Even strangers. 

5) She barks at dogs: "Ruff-Ruff!!!" 

6) She makes silly faces when looking at herself in the mirror. 

7) If you tell her "Abbie, I love you", no matter what mood she's in or what she's doing, she'll slowly break into a sweet smile. 

8) She can dance.  Anywhere, any time, to any music or lack thereof. 

9) She bursts out laughing out of nowhere and for no reason apparent to anyone else but her. 

10) She'll recognize the letter "W" anywhere.  She loves to say "w".  She actually loves many complicated words, such as dinosaurs, hippopotamus, octopus, alligator, rhinoceros, etc. 

11) She loves to say "more coming!" when I am feeding her.  She anticipates when more food is coming :) 

12) She *has* to hold Shelby's leash when we go for a walk. 

13) She insists on helping me "clean" when she sees me doing household chores.  She'll say "Mammy clean", take the broom from me and actually sweep the floor. 

14) She will drink water from a regular glass, holding it herself, and no other way. 

15) She loves to smell flowers.  She brings any flower she sees to her nose and takes a whiff.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Abbie's Vocabulary at 19 Months

There are quite a few words that Abbie understands and appropriately uses, and for the sake of not forgetting what she would talk about all day long at this age, I decided to make a list, along with her personal pronunciation (which is the most important of all!) :)


Choo-Choo Tain (train)
Twee (tree)
Flourit (flower)
Powwy (potty)
Haus (house)
Baoon (balloon)
Pussle (puzzle)
Wee (slide)
Sing (swing)
Jack-t (jacket)
Agoo (her Aquadoodle)
Cads (cards)
Gasses (glasses)
Tool (stool)
Daper (diaper)
Hatt (hat)
Cupp (cup)
Fon (phone)
Piwwo (pillow)
Boxx (box)
Picture (for a regular picture/frame or when she wants me to draw something for her)

Animals and Animal Sounds:

Apposus (Octopus)
Cow : moooo
Horse/Horses : ney
Cat : meow
Chi-chi (kitty--though occasionally she will say "Kitty") : meow
Dog : ruff ruff
Doggie: ruff ruff
Duckk (duck) : quack
Chiken (chicken) : cheep
Frogr (frog)
Bids (birds) : cheep-cheep
Rabbitt (rabbit)
Sheepp (sheep) : baaaahhhh!
Dager (Tiger) : raaaaaaaaaaah!
Tuh-tle (turtle)
Beer (bear)
Feesh (fish)
Pidgeon (pigeon)
Foxx (fox)
Fies (butterflies -- bugs in general)
Mouss (mouse)
Whal (wale) : woooooooo!
Danasore (dinosaur) : rawaaaaaaa!
Chick : cheep-cheep
Ewefan (elephant)
Rinos-ah (rhinoceros)
Zea (zebra)
Giaff (giraffe)
Hipomous (hippopotamus)
Alliatar (alligator)
Mankie (monkey)
Lien / Ion (lion) : raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!


Appe (apple)
Meet (meat)
Cheeken (chicken)
Wadit (water)
Melon (melon, watermelon)
Patta (pasta)
Auacado (avocado)
Cackes (crakers)
Muk (milk)
Bins (beans)
Beis (berries)
Banas (bananas)
Bred (bread)

People / Terms of Endearment:

Mammy / Mama
Wee-yam (William)
Becca (Rebecca)
Mies (Miles)
Iulia (Julia)
Sammm (Sam)
Nana (grandma)
Kisseen (Christine)
Shelby/Shebby (Shelby)
Emmo (Elmo)
Suit-ha (sweetheart)
Dowwy (Dolly)
Boo-Boo (one of the characters in her books)
Dick (from "Dick and Jane")
Noopy (Snoopy)
Doss (Doze, one of her stuffed animals)
Poopie (same)
Mama-Beer (that's what she calls an old stuffed bear that used to be mine)

Activities and Misc.:

Sheet (sit)
Ca-foh (careful)
Hott (hot)
Down (as in get down)
Kiet (quiet-- to Shelby)
Do it
Peas (please)
Hepp (help)
Shaow (show)
Dish! (for "this! -- something she wants)
Mennicine (medicine)
Stah (star)
Cose (close)
Bat (bath)
Noss (nose)
Shoders (shoulders)
Beboo / Buttonn (belly button)
Awie / boo-boo (hurt)
Buh-bows (bubbles)
All Done!
Claus (clouds)
Reed (read)
Dinnens (dinner)
Ovah (oval)
Quare (square)
Cih-cle (circle)
Damond (diamond)
Reh-tangle (rectangle)

I know I'm forgetting something, but this will do for now.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Things Abbie says

I once wrote a post about how the learning processes of young minds amaze me. And, once more, I got surprised by the things Abbie picks up along the way -- things I never even dreamed of teaching her, but that she nevertheless grasps from her daily experiences.

A few days ago, while I was getting Abbie ready to go out, she went nuts. She started calling out her typically loud “dish!” (this) pointing at something on the table. She didn’t have any toys up there. I wasn’t particularly interested in figuring out what’s going on in her little curly head, I was in rush and trying to get her shoes on. But she wasn’t letting up, and finally I realized that she wanted my key holder, with my house keys and my car beeper.

"Dish, peas? Dish, peas?” (this please)

I offered them to her, “Abbie, Is this what you want?”

Abbie stretched her hands and paid me back for giving her the coveted keys with the biggest grin and happy eyes.

While I put my coat on, I watched Abigail silently inspecting the keys. Finally, clicking the buttons of the car beeper, she looked up at me and said:

"Cah (car). Kees (keys). Beep-beep!!!!!"

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Abbie the Girl Scout

As we all know, children at Abbie’s age are sponges for what they hear. Especially for things we tell them directly.

Lately, Abbie has picked up on the word “Hot”, mainly from when we are feeding her and we caution her something is hot. Now when she experiences something remotely warm, she’ll repeat back, “Hot! Hot!” letting us know what she’s thinking.

And since we’re the cautious, ever-protective parents of hers, the word “careful” has also entered her vocabulary.

So today, Abbie and I went out to Clifton park, a nearby park with fun things for Abbie to run around and play on.  One of these things is a large wooden train which Abbie likes to climb on and sit in.  The top of the train has a black top which, when sitting in the sun as it does, collects heat and is warm to the touch. While sitting in the train, Abbie reached out and tapped the outside of the train. She quickly pulled her hand back in and said, “Hot. Hot. Cah-fol! (Careful).”

I asked her, “is that hot? Be careful touching it.” She responded, “Cah-fol! Hot”

A little while later we had migrated to the swings. While Abbie swung back and forth, another little boy and his father came to the park to play. Abbie watched the two of them as they walked toward the train. As the boy began to climb onto the train, she yelled out to him, “Cah-fol! Cah-fol! Hot! Hot!” At first, I didn’t know what she was talking about, but after she began to point to the little boy on the train, I understood her intent.

I was so proud of her and her concern for someone else. Here is the video of the event which I managed to capture once I realized what was going on.

Monday, March 16, 2009


I know it sounds cliché, but having a child really does change your outlook on life. It’s wonderful how the smallest things can mean so much. Reaching the top of a mole-hill is really reaching the top of a mountain, especially for an 18 month old.

One of the next big milestones for Abbie will be potty training. Now usually, doctors estimate that children are ready for toilet training at around 24-30 months. That is about the time that children are both mentally and physically capable of determining when they need to go, and have the muscles to hold on until they can go.

But Abbie is a true go-getter. She doesn’t know the meaning of the word “can’t”. So she loves to push the envelope of her abilities.

Knowing this milestone is approaching, we decided to get Abbie a little training toilet. It sits on the floor and has a cute little padded pink seat for her. We put it in the bathroom next to the real toilet and explained to her that it was her potty – for when she needed to pee-pee or poo-poo.

Knowing that it was hers, she loved it right away. She was proud of her little potty, even though she wasn’t sure what it was for – other than for a comfortable sit.

I somehow got into the habit of asking her, “Do you have to go potty?” every time she’d get ready for her bath at night. It didn’t take long before she actually got fussy with anticipation while she got undressed, yelling, “Powwy! Powwy!” She'd run over to it, lift the lid, and position herself squarely on it. There she’d sit, swinging her legs with a big proud grin on her face. She looked so natural, I later decided to give her a little book to read while she sat on it.

Now I didn’t logically expect anything to happen while she sat there. I know she’s still too young to “go” on command. But there was a tiny part of me hoping to see a little golden treasure in the bottom of the potty when she got up. Each time she stood up, she and I would peek in the bottom but see nothing but clean plastic (I’m not sure what she expected to find). But, that’d be OK and I’d praise her using her potty.

Tonight after her bath, as usual, she sat on my lap while I dried her off. She saw her little potty and yelled, “POWWY! POWWY!” She was a little more anxious about it than normal. When she was dry, she hopped down and scooted herself onto the seat. After a few seconds, or so, I could have sworn I’d heard something going on in there. When she finally stood up, we both peered into the little bowl. There, in the bottom was a little pool of piddle. I couldn’t have been more proud!

“YAY!” I said. “Abbie went pee-pee in the potty!” I squeezed her, kissed her on the head and pointed at the bowl. “Abbie went pee-pee in the potty! YAY!” Abbie got a big grin on her face and I think she was even surprised herself to see something there. Then she turned and ran into her bedroom to do a little dance.

It may have been a fluke. Or she may really have had to go. Time will tell. But she loves it when she knows she did something good. She may not understand it, or the gravity of the situation. But she is definitely eager to find the next taller hill and get to the top before you know it.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Puppy Love

"Wee-yam!!!!", "AbbieAbbieAbbie!!!!"

Before now I never once thought I would soon be witnessing a love life for *any* kid of mine, let alone one still wearing diapers.

That was before William and Abigail fell in puppy love...

Believe me, though William's mom is a good friend and a central staple of our social circle, this was in no way an arranged relationship. It sprang naturally, budding in the tender consciousness of two toddlers. By the time Abigail even knew the names of anyone except her own and Shelby's, before she really knew many words at all, she would ask for 'Wee-yam', complete with an impressionistic accent on the 'yam'. 'Wee-yam' constitutes a high percentage of her babyish utterances.

It's been since before Christmas that Abbie kisses William's picture with the utmost delight. I'm told he does the same. It's been months that Abigail picks up the phone, starts babbling in it and fitting "Wee-yam" here and there in her imaginary conversation.

It's sweet in all its innocence. In fact, though they are both cheery kids, the sunshine gets kicked up way high when they get into one of their fits of calling each other's names, when they run after each other, hold hands while jumping on the couch, or laugh together while one leaps and the other dances at Mainly Music. When I strap Abbie in her car seat and tell her "You are going to see William", her lovely face literally gets illuminated by the happiest of expressions. "Wee-yam!!!!", she chirps.

My daughter already gave her first love kiss away, you guessed it -- planted it on William's soft cheek at Wegman's... She already got hugged by her first little special friend. My heart melted, and I so wish I could have taken a picture of those unique moments... But like most special things, they just sneaked up on us. Oh, sure, there's been the occasional lovers fight, when one of the baby kissers gets confused and plants a bite instead... But that's nothing compared to the radiant joy of being together! They enjoy the company of their other friends, sure, but everyone knows they share a special rapport.

As I write this, I can't help but wonder: what does it means for a toddler to "love" another toddler? Heck if I know. I mean, for all their calling each other and laughing together, they're still at the parallel play stage: they want to play with the same exact thing at the same exact time (monkey see monkey do still applies), but aren't ready to share with one another. It makes it for an interesting love conundrum. Love can be cruel and we don't use rose-colored glasses, here.

All logical assessments aside, when they part, or see each other again after a three-day hiatus, I can only describe their plaintive or effervescent "Wee-yam!!!" , "AbbieAbbieAbbie!" as anything but a distinct recognition reserved for an extraordinary friend, not just any buddy.