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Journal Key:

Green = Steve | George = navy | Janet = Purple | Evelyn = Black

3/22/07 (Thursday)

It was a beautiful day, so I went to Susan's early to get Cara. The kids were playing outside, and Cara was in no hurry to leave. Susan said that she was ready to tear her hair out this morning; Cara and PJ were watching each other, each alertly screaming if the other touched anything! That's how they act at playdates sometimes, but Susan's house has always been neutral territory, until now. Somehow they managed to do an art project: it's a hippo head on which Cara scribbled in purple. It has foam teeth, and it is strung on a loop of string. Cara wore it to the car, but then I slyly tricked her into giving it to me.

We went to the park! It's very different to go to the park with Cara now. She can climb up the climbing wall; I don't even need to be behind her. She can get herself into the tube slide, which is a few inches off the platform. Last fall, she couldn't get into it by herself. She couldn't climb the wall unless I helped her along. After a long wait and a lot of climbing, Cara got to go on the swings. Some rowdy teenagers were on the big-kid swings next to us; Cara loved them. She swung facing them as they went too high and shrieked. "Yay," Cara yelled with them. (That was not exactly what they were shouting.) A boy of about ten was with them. "That's the toughest baby I've ever seen," he said. I asked why, and he demonstrated how mildly other parents push their children in the baby swings. Cara would certainly not be satisfied, swinging like that. She got to swing high. Before we left, Cara found where some other kids had colored on the sidewalk with chalk. She found a little piece. "Blue, Mommy!" It was green. I drew her a star and a heart, and then I convinced her that Daddy would color with her if we went home.

Miraculously, Daddy was home. He and Cara watched Blue's Clues while I made dinner. Afterwards, they played downstairs while I cleaned up. Cara's sippy cup was in the other room. Here's the dialogue:

Cara: Daddy get it?

Daddy: You want me to get it?

Cara: Mommy get it?

Daddy: I'll get it. (Starts to go get the water.)

Cara: Daddy, come back! (Comes back.)

Cara: Get water?

(Daddy starts off to get water.)

Cara: I'll get it! (Hurries past Daddy.)

3/23/07 (Friday)

Cara's new favorite phrases seem to be "My turn" and "Your turn!" I don't know where she picked them up, but they represent a nice concept, which came into play a lot while we were drawing - and we did a lot of drawing. I have sent a sample sheet home with her this morning. It includes contributions from all 3 of us - George, Cara and me. This week I noticed that her fine motor skills are improving; she can now draw tiny little squiggles using a wrist motion in addition to the full-arm squiggle she has made in the past. She was also very appreciative of large squiggles I made - "Mama - Wow!"

This week she also discovered a different way to draw on the paper I tape to the long, low coffee table. Crayon in hand, she walks up the length of one side, around the end and down the other side, drawing as she goes - sort of a full-body approach to art!

To begin at the beginning, Cara is definitely at home in the Middletown Library by now, and knows just where she wants to go and what she wants to do. She is so good at cleaning up the scraps after the cut-and-paste project, she actually picked up someone else's. She tried on all the hats and some of the other dress-up items - but she wanted them off as soon as she had them on. Later, at home, she got to wear some of Aunt Claire's beads too. However, she does keep searching for Grandpapa, who takes the opportunity to steal a little down time while she and I amuse ourselves there.

At home Cara declared she was hungry, and we discovered that she really, really likes fresh pineapple. She ate more and more. Hunger satisfied, she was set free to explore the house; every week she is drawn to her glamorous Aunt Claire like a magnet. I made her knock on the door to gain admittance, which left her somewhat abashed, but not too chagrined to accept the opportunity. Everything in Claire's room appeals to her - beads hanging from a hook, jewelery in a fancy hand-made box, the intriguing figures on the computer screen, fancy lotions ("Rub, Mama"). Claire is very gracious about sharing, and tactful about retrieving items Cara shouldn't have. I foresee a rich and rewarding relationship here. Every little girl should have a wonderful aunt!

At suppertime Cara was able to communicate her request to me; as her toast popped up, I asked her if wanted it plain or with something on it. "Put cheeeese on it, Mama!" She had a hearty appetite at supper, but later in the evening she had an upset tummy and a bit of diarrhea; she would lie down on the floor, face down, and cry a little, and we had a few diaper changes. I wonder if it was the pineapple? Being so uncomfortable, she did not want to take a bath and stood in the water; she was washed only from the waist down. Her bottom was red and I put vaseline on it, lacking anything more powerful.

She seemed to enjoy her bedtime book. We read the 3 Billy Goats Gruff, but I kept it unthreatening. For weeks she has gone to bed willingly, but last night she did not want to. I tucked her in at about 9:30, gave it 10 minutes and rescued her. She wanted a lot of water to drink and she is smart enough to charm a person into staying up with her: "Five monkeys - Yay! Yippee!" This routine went on way past 10 p.m. - oy vey! But on the second attempt the little girl went to sleep after all, and made it through 'til about 7 in the morning.

3/24/07 (Saturday)

This morning she was a sweet little sleepy head. She laughed when I pretended to make each toy wake up and come out of the crib. She stood on the sofa to look out the window searching for Schmutz, who had gone out. We read several stories together while Grandpapa made pancakes, which Cara ate with gusto. When we mentioned going home she happily ran to the garage door - but we made her come back and get dressed first!

We've been hearing "my turn" and "your turn" for a while now; we believe she picked them up at daycare. Cara came in bright and happy, holding a big sheet of drawings. She had clearly had a great time with Mama and Papa, but she was happy to be home, too.

I took Cara out in the morning. I brought her down to Linwood with me, so that we could drop off clothes for the fundraising clothing drive the 8th grade was holding. Cara charmed everyone by traipsing right over to the school as soon as I got her out of her car seat and set her down; she headed off with the other teachers, not waiting for Mommy! After that, of course, she got shy.

Next we went to the park. For a while, we were the only ones there. Cara swung in the swings with great enthusiasm, and then we headed over to the slide. There's a curved bridge there, on which Cara ran back and forth, stomped back and forth, and crawled back and forth. She also lay on her belly and slid down the three-inch incline, Superman style. Whee! The phrase I'm hearing from Cara today that I have not heard before is "Whoo-hoo!" On the swings, on the slide, even at home. I haven't an idea where she may have gotten that.

A daddy showed up with his 18-month-old boy, who went on the swings. Cara immediately had to go on the swings again. She didn't seem particularly interested in the boy, but she loudly enjoyed swinging and had to go on again whenever the boy did. Cara got out of her swing and ran around. She saw a dog in the distance. I brought her back. Then she noticed the other playground, all the way across the park. I watched to see how far she would go without me. Far! I ran to catch up as she just kept running! It was very wet and muddy, too. I walked back on the sidewalk. I wanted to just get into the car, but Cara got down and decided to get back on the swings. When that paled, she took one more trip down the slide and then miraculously found a tiny nub of green chalk from Thursday, when we saw some kids drawing. I drew her a heart, she stomped on it, and we went back on the swings. Some other kids showed up who would want to swing, and I finally put my foot down. It was too cold to even be there; I was freezing! We went home.

When we got here, Grandmom and Grandpop were waiting for us! Cara was happy. She made them draw; she made them read. We even used the video camera. Cara discovered a new book that Daddy and I had bought for her birthday and not put away. Grandmom read it to her, and then she made me read it to her. She wanted Grandpop to read it to her, too, I think, but he managed to get other books to read.

For lunch, we gave Cara a real treat. We went to the Rainforest Cafe. It was astonishingly loud. It was dark. It was full of vines and fake animals. There was a sky of stars over us. There was a loud fountain. "Waterfall!" said Cara. Wherever we looked, we kept noticing more and more details. There were a lot of little monkeys hanging near our table. There was no reason for Cara to sit and wait for the food. She took turns taking us for walks. We carried her. Her favorite was probably the animatronic elephants. There were a mommy and baby. Cara could see them in the distance from the table, so she saw them move around more than usual during the "rainstorm" that came every half hour. She wasn't scared at all; Cara loved everything! It's the only time I've taken her to a restaurant and not had to get out a single one of the toys I brought!

Grandpop was smart enough to ask for a balloon for Cara. She really really loved that. She played with it in the restaurant, but she talked about it the whole way to the car. She bobbled it around the back seat the whole way home. I looked over once to see her looking thoughtful, holding the knot in her mouth. It's "my moon," or "my boon." All afternoon, after her nap, she's been playing with it. She's very pragmatic, though. At dinner, she discovered that she could not hold it and eat. She asked me to hold it. Halfway through the meal, she took it from me and gave it to Steve. Very fair. I got to hold it while she brushed her teeth. Then she ran off with it. I asked whether she and her balloon wanted a sticker; she came running back: "Yay, boon want sticker!"

In the bath, Cara was doing something or other and I said "You're so cute." "I so cute," Cara agreed. I explained her that she probably shouldn't go around telling people that, even if it is true.

3/25/07 (Sunday)

We had a fairly idyllic day today. It started off with my letting the cats out at around 7 in the morning. Though they don't usually do this, one or the other of them must have headed straight for Cara's room, and she woke up. We did some Disney viewing before and after breakfast (some crepes made by Mommy which Cara did not appreciate as much as she ought). Then Mommy and Cara went outside to play, and I eventually joined them.

Mommy had to leave to do some grocery shopping, so Cara and I played some more out back. I intended to take her to a nearby park--there was a short delay, though, because Cara became interested in her wagon and we had to take a ride. Cara had an extended conversation with a bird she saw, which consisted mainly of "Hi birdie! Bye birdie! See you!" We wandered around the circle, parked the wagon (like last year, she seems to tire quickly of being pulled around in the wagon), and then slipped inside to get a ball before riding off to the park.

This was not Johnson Park, the place with the goats, but a very nearby park a couple blocks from the house which I think is called Swanson Park. My intention was to take our little blue ball out to the basketball court and shoot some hoops (a fairly self-serving idea, since Cara can only throw about a foot in front of her)--but Cara wanted to swing. She had to try at least two swings, and also wanted to be put onto a grown-up (so to speak) swing, which I told her she could not do. So we moved on to the playground area, where we both went down the two slides (one straight and one swirly) many, many times. After a small amount of coaxing Cara very quickly was climbing up and sliding down all by herself--I merely followed, and had a lot of fun sliding myself. The ball also rolled down the slides many times. It was a nice day but fairly cool, so we saw very few other people and had no competition on the equipment. Eventually we did go over to the basketball court, ran around and kicked the ball a little.

We returned home around noon and Mommy was back (which was very fortunate, because I had told Cara she was going to be there), and Cara had a pretty good lunch of cheese, puffs, banana, and yogurt. I thought I had worn her out on the playground but she still had lots of energy--nevertheless, it was nap time and Cara got put upstairs.

When she awoke she was very slow and sleepy and just sat around listlessly for a while. After a book or two she was back up and running around. We did some coloring downstairs--it does seem as though Cara is finally starting to learn her colors. Things are being identified with the correct colors more and more often. We didn't spend a whole lot of time sitting around at home, though, and were soon in the car on our way to the mall.

Tinytown on a Sunday afternoon was so packed that we just walked right by (Cara was a little disappointed) and headed up the escalator to the Stride Rite. Cara was ready to take her shoes off when we walked in, familiar with the procedure, but by the time we got someone to help us she wasn't thinking of it anymore. She kept herself occupied by rearranging the shoe displays that she could reach (probably they will see their sales shoot up this month), and then we found out her actual shoe size. Fortunately the shoes she is wearing now are a good size, and we discovered it was probably too soon to buy sandals, so we walked out of the store with only a set of socks--a good shopping experience.

After that it was on to the Playmobil store, where we were very happy to be able to buy Cara's birthday presents (the toy presents anyway--more practical things may also be purchased). She settled down at the big castle playset which is set up in the store and was perfectly happy sitting with the various other kids there and messing with the toys. Eventually it became time to get going and the fortuitous moment arrived when Cara had no store toys in her hands, so I grabbed her and off we went. She did not scream nearly as much as some of the other kids who got ripped away!

In the car Cara could see the big Playmobil bag and she clearly wanted what was in it--it seems the time has almost passed already when we can buy her presents while she is there. (Fortunately she doesn't know exactly what we bought her and the bag is now in a hidden place.) We were lazy and got Wendy's for dinner, and on the way home in the car Cara was the happy recipient of several french fries--by the end of the ride she was saying "pease" unprompted instead of just saying "Daddy, more!"

We had a lovely evening, short as it was after that. Cara's drawing has progressed and she now pronounces things like "I draw house!" before or after scribbling. She appears to be attempting to make shapes from time to time. She was putting her hand in her mouth a lot today and we surmise there may be some molars beginning to happen. Tylenol was administered before bed.

Cara is getting more and more independent and self-aware, I think, at least if you listen to her talk. I have heard her saying a lot of things like "I get it" or "I sit down," and today she was using the word "Myself" a lot. She commanded her mother and father to inflate some balloons for her this afternoon (Mommy had gotten them out yesterday in preparation for replacing her Rainforest Cafe balloon, already no more), and would often come across one and say "Daddy I found it!"

Another thing Cara is definitely doing is trying to sing. She does very interesting versions of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," and I'm pretty sure she was looking at a book about a rainy day and sang something like "It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring." She also seems to just try to make up a song using nonsense words or something like "La, la, I sing song."

She had another phone conversation tonight; it went like the last few she's had. Mommy put the phone to her ear and told her to say "Hi, Mama." She did, but was disturbed when a voice replied to her!

We had a big first today, a milestone in our parenting experience: Cara pooped in the tub. I'm hoping this will be the first and the only. It could have gone much worse, and it made for a nice, quick bath! Her Mommy very dutifully cleaned out the tub and read to her child, and now Cara is quiet up in her crib while Mommy is still working hard, painting in the basement.

3/26/07 (Monday)

It was a strange night: Cara's cries woke me around 3:30. I went in and she stood up. I changed her diaper, and she lay on the table crying gently, with her eyes closed. I gave her Tylenol. I sat in the glider with her; she let herself be draped over me and lay there snoring softly. When I put her back down, the crying started again and lasted sporadically for a while. I don't think she ever really woke up all the way.

Cara had a good day at Susan's. She made a pinwheel! It's made of strong paper and it really spins. It's so tough that Cara held it in the car on the way home and it still functions.

When we got home, we didn't go inside. Cara wanted to play! We went down the stairs to the back yard and ran around there. The most fun part for both of us was shrieking at each other and chasing each other. We tidied up the yard by gathering some sticks and dropping them over the fence. I showed Cara the tiny daffodils that are coming up. I showed her one yesterday, and she got to see how it's changed. She touches it gently and wants to see more. We found a lot today, mainly just buds. Cara fingers them, too. She is enchanted.

After dinner we all went outside to draw with chalk. We have a real menagerie on our blacktop now! I drew flowers and Steve drew a helicopter, but beside that it was all animals. We have two elephants, a monkey, a giraffe, a squirrel, a bear, a hippo, a cat, and a dog! Cara stomped on them all with gusto. She also rolled in them. Her pants were lovely. She scribbled, herself, as well. Like yesterday, she told us what she was drawing. "I draw, myself!" she would say.

When it was time to go inside it was getting dark out. It was ten minutes past the start of bath time. Cara lay down and screamed. She is almost always a happy little girl, and she enjoys things. However, she enjoys them much more when it's almost bedtime! Going inside was a disaster. Soon, from the comfort of my arms, she noticed a book she wanted to read. All was well. We read a book and then brought more upstairs in case Daddy wanted to see them. Cara sat on our bed and explained to him, "I hold them. In my hand."

Now Daddy is reading to Cara. I really believe that this is an important part of the routine and that, if I do it, it somehow does not go right. I'll have to check what happened last time Steve was out in the evening.

3/27/07 (Tuesday)

Cara was playing outside when I came to pick her up at Susan's. It was such a nice day, she could have worn a short-sleeved shirt! Susan reports that Cara was walking around outside, holding a toy hammer. In her sweetest voice, she crooned, "birdies . . . oh, birdies?" Surprisingly, none responded.

At home, we played outside. Cara helped me weeding and got to see a blooming daffodil, finally. I've been showing her the "baby leaves" on the trees. We did more drawing with chalk, and Cara got to carry around her chalk bucket. A couple of times she dropped it and some chalk fell out. "Oh, no!" She crouched down and gathered it all back up. "Many pieces!" The way Cara counts, there are always at least twelve.

Cara noticed a tiny bug on the door of her car in the back yard. She showed him to me; she was very interested. She may have been calling him a little ant. ""My arm!" she said to him, pointing. I could not come up with a good explanation for why the bug did not come and perch on her arm.

It was exciting when Daddy came home, but it was not exciting enough to draw Cara into the house. I stayed outside with her until Daddy came back out, and then I went in to start dinner. With the kitchen window open, I could talk to Steve. I saw Cara running around, looking. Steve showed her where I was, she held her arms out to be picked up.

We had a good dinner, with plenty of fresh veggies, and then we had . . . ice meme! Cara got her own little dish on her high chair tray. "Ice meme good," she said. Later: "On my shirt." Chocolate. I took it off of her, and she brought it upstairs herself for me to pre-treat for the laundry. We were all happy.

3/28/07 (Wednesday)

We got to go play with Lina and Sarah today. Cara eagerly went up the steps to their house and wanted to ring the doorbell. Inside, things went well. Cara really loves playing with their dollhouse. She likes the two babies especially; she puts them into their high chair and takes them out again. Everyone shared nicely.

The big treat for the afternoon was when Shannon brought out Elefun, which is a really fun (ha, ha) game. There's an elephant-shaped base which has a fan in it. On top, there is a long blue tube, like a trunk. It stands up straight and blows out little flower-petal-like "butterflies" which the children are supposed to catch in butterfly nets. The twins can basically run it; Shannon just has to hold the trunk up until the air blows through to support it. Lina and Sarah mainly pick up fallen butterflies and put them in their nets. Cara was very excited, of course, and shook her net a lot, effectively dumping any butterflies that accidentally got in there. When she got the hang of things, she stood with her net held vertically in the air, concentrating. It was a really good game, which Shannon may bring to Cara's party next week.

To get Cara to leave happily, I asked her whether she wanted to go see PJ. Because he's been sick, she hadn't seen him in almost a week! She was intent on getting to his house. I had trouble talking her into coming in so that I could change clothes. Cara ran most of the way to PJ's house, carrying, inexplicably, her little red purse. I hear that PJ missed Cara, too. Em asked whether he wanted to see Cara in order to get him to head for Susan's today. He ended up standing in the middle of Nancy Circle, screaming, "Cara! Cara!" Today is Wednesday. There's no Cara at Susan's.

They were happy to see each other, but there were sharing issues tonight. PJ is probably going to go through a delicate phase, as Cara did after she was sick a few weeks ago. He was more easily upset than usual. Cara, of course, sometimes shrieked when PJ touched her.

After dinner, we set Cara up at the piano. She banged away and then decided to accompany herself. She took requests, and we got her to render "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, . . . I wonder are you" as well as "Row Row Boat . . . stream!"

One new word I think Cara may have learned is "favorite." She got a birthday card from my Grandma Anne yesterday. I showed it to her, and she cried, "Dinosaurs! My favorite!" I thought I must have been wrong, but this evening I sang "Winnie the Pooh," and she said, "my favorite song!"

A final note: butterfly nets make good hats.

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