a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 2 1/2.

Everyone wakes in a scream-y mood, and Dad is in California. I get Paul changed while you protest that you don’t want to get up.

Leave me alone, Mom.
“I wanna stay aslee-eep.”

I set Paul down (to scream) while I lift you out of the crib and onto the changing table, discard your squishy diaper and help you into a dress AND…UNDIES! That’s right, it’s day 2 of undies at school. Success has been mixed. More on that later.

I pick up poor screaming Paul and about six other things to take downstairs, and you walk by yourself. Despair overcomes you as I outpace you; I press on and get Paul in his high chair while you execute a screaming meltdown at the top of the stairs. Apparently one of you will be screaming at all times this morning. I retrieve you and set you in your chair for a breakfast of “baby cereal”—a quarter of a banana mashed up in plain yogurt.

“I want hot buttered toast!” you wail. Prompted, you revise your request to, “Can I have hot buttered toast PLEASE.” I make you some. During the three minutes of toasting time, both of you start crying again.

After breakfast, Sous must be fed (by you), and milk must be spilled (by Paul) and mopped up (by me). Finally, we set off for school, toting toast to-go and a bag full of extra undies.

"*I* will close the door."
I will close the door.”

In the car, we sing the song we made up last night. To the tune of “Five Little Monkeys,” it goes:

One little car was driving on the street.

He was going home to have dinner to eat.

He had his kids in his backseat.

No more cars are driving on the street!

The mood is cheerful at last. You haul the bag of undies and Paul’s diapers all the way into school and tell me you will give the diapers to a Bumblebees teacher. You execute on that commitment, and we walk down the stairs to your class. I leave you in line to use the small, in-room potty, with teacher Mary.

I do not see you again this day, but receive the following reports:

fall leaves

From Mary: Today we read the book, “Fall Leaves Fall” and discussed the color of fall leaves and how in the book the children raked the leaves and jumped in them. We jumped in leaves too!

(I notice you are in a different dress in this photo.)

From Shanna: The girls said Annie had 4 potty accidents in an hour and 5 total for the day. They think she kept having them because she knew it meant she got a new pair of panties each time.

Your ability to game any system terrifies me.

You arrive home with two dirty dresses and five dirty undies, wrapped in plastic bags and rubber gloves.
two dirty dresses and five dirty undies

Shanna brings you home and feeds you tortillas with peanut butter for dinner. You and Paul romp happily downstairs, reading books, climbing on the furniture, and pushing around the toy lawnmower. At 6:30, it’s time for a bath. You need to poop, so Shanna scoops you out and onto the potty. You poop in it for the first time. Kudos!

You get dressed in your pink horsey shirt and read one last book. Shanna zips you into your sleep sack and covers you up with your blanket. Night night, my terrible 2-year-old.

 

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 2 years and 5 months old.

At 7:30 or so, I open your door and turn on the light. You and Paul are both awake but curled up on your tummies, and you are quite content to stay that way. I coax you out of bed and into a new diaper with promises of yogurt with banana, and we proceed downstairs for breakfast. You devour your yogurt, declare you’re all done, and leave strawberries and bread on the table. You are not pleased when we award your leftover strawberries to Paul, and protest vigorously while you climb back into your chair. “I’m NOT all done. I’m NOT all done!” Dad responds, “Annie, there are some things you can’t un-say.” Life lessons.

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We head back upstairs, and you cozy up in the nook with your current favorite book—thanks, Aunt Lisa—Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride. It’s a long read I’m surprised you have the patience for. You are fascinated by the part where Mercy, not wearing her seat belt, goes flying out of the car. I appreciate the moral. We talk a lot about the expressions on the characters’ faces and what they’re feeling. Mercy, for example, looks very scared and worried when she’s flying through the air.

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We gather our things together and load up in the car for a little morning adventure—we’re meeting the Crowders and Smid-Saidis for a morning walk and brunch. Sous squashes into the backseat with you. We arrive and assemble our all-terrain vehicle: two sippy cups of milk, one blanket, one diaper bag, one leash, two baggies of emergency crackers, two toddlers, one dog. Our friends roll up a few minutes later, and we’re off through the cool, sunny day.

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There’s a playground at the end of the trail; you spend most of the time on the swings. “I want to go fast!” you tell me. “You want to go fast?” “I DOOooo.”

At 10:30 we drive up to Karen and Ali’s. Isaac starts his nap, and the dads start cooking pancakes and bacon and cutting up strawberries while you and Eleanor and Paul roam around the living room, playing with Isaac’s treasure trove of unfamiliar toys.

For brunch, you eat berries with vanilla yogurt, a little piece of bacon, and a few bites of pancake before Sous snatches the rest out of your lap. Treacherous dog! We grieve your pancake for the duration of the morning.

We straggle homeward, clearly ready for naps, and get you both into bed by noon. At 2, you’re up but Paul sleeps on, so I extract you, still in your sleep sack, and tiptoe downstairs.

Trying to capture the cute way your hair was stuck to your cheek with drool, I accidentally achieve this amazing portrait.
Trying to capture the cute way your hair is stuck to your cheek with drool, I accidentally achieve this amazing portrait.

Dad is playing video games in the dark. You visit him for a few minutes and comment on the strange-looking characters; then you come back to me for cuddles and books in the arm chair. Paul wakes up about a half-hour later, and you snack on bananas and grapes.

It’s a pretty, warm afternoon, so we head to the backyard and fill up the water table. I dab Deet on you to ward off the hungry mosquitos—with broad coverage as you insist on total nudity. When I step away to write on the deck with chalk, you follow me like a shadow and want to write, too. “Wanna lift me up, Mom? Want to hold me? Wanna help me write?” You make these requests with eyes wide and voice rising precipitously. It’s a winning formula.

You request a “balloon party.” (Who knows?) Dad interprets liberally and inflates five balloons. Paul chews a hole in one, but the rest you both gleefully wash in the water table and squeal when they blow across the yard.

It’s time to start cooking dinner, so I take Paul inside while you hang out with Dad in the yard for a little longer. He hoses the bug spray off you and gets you re-diapered, wrapped in a towel, and stuffed with more banana. Then it’s time for Mercy Watson on the couch…three times. Your interest in this book survives his weariest and most deadpan rendition.

Upstairs with Paul, you fuss and issue a series of demands, as though you can’t figure out what you want except to test Dad’s response rate. You execute a small meltdown as he puts a shirt on you and returns downstairs.

I barely cook anymore, so when I do, it's cause for photography.
I barely cook anymore, so when I do, it’s cause for photography.

The Drehers arrive at 5:30, and we all hit the chili buffet. (You eat your grapes and nibble the corn bread; hard pass on the chili.) Lyla sits next to you, and you are on your best big-girl behavior. After dinner, the two of you push your grocery cart and lawn mower across the house.

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You have a squealing good time playing bye-bye/hello with Paul and our bedroom door while Miles and Lyla build Duplo towers in your room. Informed it’s bathtime, you let me take off your shirt, remove your own diaper, and walk yourself over to Dad to lift you into the bath. This behavior is remarkable—I can only assume you’re still angling to impress Lyla.

After a quick bath, you emerge in your baby bunny towel, which now barely reaches your butt. (Sigh.) To Lisa, you chirp, “Wanna carry me to the changing table?” She does! She snuggles you dry and gets you a fresh diaper. You agree to let her pick your dress. She strikes out twice before knocking it out of the park with—surprise!—your pineapple dress.

We say goodnight to the Drehers and settle in for our last book (anything but Mercy Pig, pray your parents). You give us a break and select the Sesame Street ABCs, which we linger over. Then, well, it’s dark outside, metaphorically, so I pick you up and lay you in your crib, thread your arms through your sleep sack and zip it up, then tuck your blanket around you as you flip onto your tummy. Dad says, “Goodnight Annie, I love you.” And you say, “I love you, Dad!”

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 2 years and 4 months old.

You and Paul summon us at 7:15, and I lift you straight onto the changing table for a fresh diaper and shorts. “I’m very hungry,” you inform me, so we head downstairs for a banana. You bestow stickers upon us as we finish up the morning preparations, and at 7:30 we’re out the door. When we get to school, I unbuckle you from your carseat, and you climb down and exit from Mr. Paul’s side as I lift him out of his seat, then hustle to the sidewalk. “It’s the milk truck!” you notice. “Hi milk truck!”

You want to hold my hand as we walk to Paul’s Bumblebee classroom, and say bye-bye to him as we drop him off. “Mr. Paul see all his baby friends,” you inform me. Then it’s over to the Sea Turtles, where I leave you in Shanna’s arms.

It is, by all accounts, a normal day at school.
It is, by all accounts, a normal day at school.

Dad picks you up, and you discuss “our street” on the way home. Several false positives. You make your way into the house, past the workers building us a new front fence, and I scoop you up for a hug, then plant you in your chair for dinner. It’s a casserole with chicken and noodles, plus kale and tomatoes. You eat the noodles, and then more noodles. Then, “My butt hurts!” So I take you upstairs to the potty.

One day you will actually poop in this thing. It is not today.
One day you will actually poop in this thing. It is not today.

You decline more dinner, so we play upstairs. We try to call Susu to wish her a happy birthday, but don’t get through. You negotiate with Dad for band-aids—your obsession continues. A miscommunication about the agreed-upon number results in you screaming on the floor, but we bounce back.

By the end of the night, I am bedecked with four.
By the end of the night, I have bandaids on four very marginal boo-boos.

Silliness continues. We put on classical music and swan around to Vivaldi and Bizet. You and Paul roughhouse in the closet. Dad and I both hoist you up on our feet for flying.

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You pull one of our child-rearing books off the shelf and want to look at pictures of babies. The 8-shot sequence of a newborn getting his first doctor’s exam fascinates you, and you want to look at it and talk about it exhaustively. We migrate into your room for a bedtime book, but you want to keep “reading” the newborn exam page, so we do. We start to sing the lullaby, and you sing along. “Well it’s dark outside, Sous in her bed, Well it’s dark outside, Sous in her bed…” You try to put the (big, heavy) baby book on your bookshelf, fail, and ask for help. “Mom I need help! You’re a grown-up, I’m not a grown-up.”

True for now, little one. I hoist you into bed, deflect a desperate, last-minute request for a bandaid, zip you in your sleepsack, and tell you I love you. As I leave the room, you call, “Night night, Mom!”

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 2 years, 3 months old.

It’s Monday. Dad extracts a hungry Paul from your room at 6:45, and you let out barely a whimper as he says over his shoulder, “Annie, nap.” At 7:30, we head back in for you, and find you blinking yourself awake, holding your baby doll.

checking for your swimming pool
checking for your swimming pool

You open your window shade and look out, asking about your swimming pool—an inflatable monstrosity in which we spent most of Saturday. Informed that it’s under the carport, you ask to see it, a desire which powers you through your diaper change and shoe administration. I carry you downstairs and onto the back deck, and you are comforted to find the pool in place though, alas, empty of water. I point out your window in the house and explain why you couldn’t see the pool from your room, information you absorb quietly.

Back in the kitchen, I peel a banana and put it in a cup with a chewable vitamin—your standard on-the-go breakfast. We head for the car, and I buckle you in while Dad attends to Paul.

“Annie see bumblebee Missa Paul?” you inquire on the road. On Friday, you accompanied Dad to drop Paul in the infant classroom (The Bumblebees) since your own teacher wasn’t in the room when you arrived. Apparently this was interesting to you. Dad agrees that you can join him again, and you spend the rest of the ride chanting, “Annie see Missa Paul bumblebees cassroom!”

At school, you amble to the door and wait while Dad takes off his shoes and Paul spits up on him. Paul’s teachers invite you in, but you demur, preferring to observe silently at the threshold. As you head to your own classroom, you discuss how Paul is a Bumblebee and Annie is a Sea Turtle. Back on familiar ground, you plop right down in your chair for breakfast while Dad contributes some books to the bookshelf. You wave him off without a backwards glance.

It’s a normal day at school. Mid-day, your teacher Shanna emails us your official “toddler assessment form” certifying you have the skills required to advance to the next class. “Moves body to achieve goals. Uses words to participate in simple conversations.” Check and check. You’ll transition to a new class on August 1—quite a milestone.

Dad picks you and Paul up at 5, and you burst back onto the home scene, baby doll in hand, just in time for dinner. You eat two cherry plums and, after a bit of protesting that you want PASTA NOT NOODLES, pasta. I fork some into your mouth to get you going.

cow pictures
cow pictures

We adjourn to the living room, and I narrate the pictures in A Birthday for Frances, one of your current favorites. We’re all hanging out in the living room when who arrives but Charly! She’s on her way home from her new job and has brought you a(nother) present from her mom: a little squeeze-ball cow and some snapshots of her own cows in a field. You are thrilled. “Thank you Charly’s mom,” we prompt you to say, and you give Charly a hug, then proceed to raid her purse for wallet and car keys and pretend to head out the door.

two babies in a chair

We say goodbye to Charly and head up for a bath. As I’m scrubbing you down, you suggest “I go pee-pee maybe?” You prefer the big potty to your little one, and wrap your arms around my neck while we wait to see if you produce anything. You do not. Back in the tub you go for the rest of the bath, then dry off and get a fresh diaper and new dress.

We’ve got lots of time left to play, so it’s a bit of the tent-and-tunnel, some duplo trucks, and darts. Good fun. We wrap things up with a game of your invention, wherein you run back and forth across the room, flinging yourself on cushions at one end and hugging me at the other. I could play it all night.

But bedtime beckons. You are never anxious to go to bed, but Dad begins a slow read of The Going to Bed Book, and you resign yourself to it. He hoists you into your crib and runs down for Paul’s sleep sack while I try—and fail—to soothe you both with our lullaby. Once we manage our goodnight, though, you settle down quickly and are soon asleep. Phew.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 2 years and 2 months old.

You wake up at 7:30 but are happy to lie peacefully in your crib. We come in a few minutes later. Paul is delighted to see you and coos at you through the slats. You ask about “my baby”—your baby doll, which you are newly interested in pretending to care for. I change your diaper and your baby’s, and we head downstairs for breakfast.

You've gotten pretty adept with the spoon, but still enjoy dipping your fingers in milk.
You’ve gotten pretty adept with the spoon, but still enjoy dipping your fingers in milk.

After we eat, you and Paul buckle into your stroller for a walk in the pleasant morning. We do a 2-mile loop through the neighborhood, checking out the latest remodels and waving hello to neighbors. You roll with the shade down and your sunglasses on. Baller.

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Back at home, you and I play with your rainbow of cars from Aunt Peanut and then fetch our ukuleles for a duet (The White Stripes, Apple Blossom). We read a book from Charly about a space journey. Dad scoops you up for a trip to Costco; “Bye bye, Mom, bye bye, Sous, bye bye, my baby.”

You and Dad have a good time strolling and shopping, and you stop for tacos on the way home. As midday approaches, you begin to come apart and end the drive in tears, which escalate to hiccupy sobs when we won’t let you drink a 16-oz horchata and Dad has the gall to finish off one of your barely-touched quesadillas. OMG, the injustice. We limp toward naptime. Mercifully, you and Paul go to sleep in sync, with no fuss.

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Paul is up 45 minutes later, oy, but you sleep until after 3 and wake up much refreshed. We load up and head for Deep Eddy pool, where we’ll meet the Crowders. We arrive, slather you with sunscreen, and head for the water.

Waiting for the sunscreen to cure.
waiting for the sunscreen to cure

You have more fun than I’ve ever seen you have in a swimming pool, spashing around, watching the bigger kids, and “swimming” with an assist from Mom or Dad. We spend 45 minutes or so in the water, occasionally with company from Eleanor or Paul, and then it’s back out for a snack and dry clothes.

You are pretty good at sharing, all things considered.
You are pretty good at sharing, all things considered.
This kind of says it all.
This kind of says it all.

We schlep back to the car and load up. At home, you feed Sous, conscientiously returning the cup and closing the pantry door before you return to narrate her meal. “Sous eating dog food. DOG FOOD. Sous drinking water.” Then you create some art in a drawing program on my phone, and we look at pictures. (In addition to the usual suspects, you identify, without prompting, Uncle Mike, Evie, Dan, Peanut, and Clare. The Pig Roast made an impression.)

 

I spent about 10 times as long figuring out how to export and upload this image as you did creating it.
I spend about 20 times as long figuring out how to export and upload this image as you do creating it.

It’s berries and cheese for dinner—Costco treats. After a fruitless 10 minutes on your potty, you take a bath with Paul and linger to play. Dad hauls you out, gets you into your pajamas, and gives you permission to unfold your tent and tunnel for a final 15-minute romp before your 7:30 bedtime. You and Paul have a shrieking good time, as usual, and continue to rampage around while I attempt to read you Dragons Dinosaurs Love Tacos. Despite missing your bedtime book, you consent to your sleep sack and crib while Dad and I sing our lullaby duet. We kiss you both goodnight, and close the door.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 2 years and 1 month old.

Dad and Paul head into your room just before 7:30, Paul stepping slowly while he hangs onto Dad’s fingers for dear life. You’re happy to see them and say so. “Annie happy! Annie is happy!” Dad zips you out of your sleep sack, and you run around while I finish getting ready and Paul tries to climb into the washing machine.

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You visit Mr. Paul’s bed (“Annie Missa Paul bed! Chalk!”), raise the window shade, and decorate his walls for him. You sit on the counter in the bathroom and help me pick out my earrings (“Mom need ar-rings. Two arrrings.”) You chew on a toothbrush for a minute and then hand it to Paul to take over. You climb into the chair by the window, where I finally track you down and administer clothes.

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We head downstairs for breakfast. I make toast and slice an avocado while you eat a banana and drink a cup of milk. It’s damp and gray outside, so we each take an umbrella and head for the car. We sing the ABCs on the way to school, and you point out all the cranes and instruct them to turn around. As we approach campus, you rehearse what you will tell your teachers about the journey. “Ahn saw crane, Maricela. I saw crane, Maricela.”

I wave bye-bye to you as you sit down at the tiny table for second breakfast. You presumably have a normal day—after their above-and-beyond documentation for your 2-year birthday, I do not have the heart to ask your teachers for notes again. I see you again at 5:15. You are finishing a drawing and bring it over to show me. It’s scribbles.

I drive home while you free-associate in the back seat. “Harper dad.” “Maricela says ‘callate.'” “More crane! Crane. Crane.” “Annie see Daddy.” “Almost home!”

You request a little playtime in the car before we go in. You manage to start the engine. Sigh.
You request a little playtime in the car before we go in. You manage to start the engine. Sigh.

Dad has dinner ready to serve, a second day of chicken and pasta alfredo from Costco, beefed up with broccoli. We used to be cooks, I swear it. When your hunger is satisfied, you start distributing your food. “Mom, noodle for yooooou,” you sing sweetly as you drop one from your fist onto my plate.

It’s a cool-for-May evening, and we’ve got an hour and twenty minutes until bedtime, so we load you and Paul into the stroller and make a wide loop through the neighborhood that includes a stop at Amy’s ice cream. It’s been a year since you’ve had any such thing, so you don’t know what’s coming, but when it arrives, oh my.

Dad mops the worst of it off of you.
Dad mops the worst of it off of you.

No skipping bathtime after that stickiness, so once we’re home, it’s into the tub. Paul conducts his usual thoughtful bath-toy business while you shriek in despair and try to climb out of the tub. Dad scrubs you fast, and I scoop you up to get you dry and dressed.

We do a little light flying.
We do a little light flying.

You spend your last twenty minutes making demands, and yell-crying when they are not met. (During the same stretch last night, you giggled and squealed and bestowed hugs and kisses. You keep us on our toes.) Dad tells you to behave because tonight is going on your permanent record; you are unmoved. At 7:25, we stuff Paul into his sleep sack so that you will demand yours as well, and we settle in for a rendition of Dragons Dinosaurs Love Tacos. You allow it. Dad and I sing our clumsy lullaby duet as I lay you in your crib and he settles Paul into his, then it’s lights out, and goodnight!

(Bonus encore: Paul has trouble falling asleep and sporadically yelps about it. We watch on the monitor as the two of you pop up and peer over the edges of your cribs at each other every few minutes for the next 45.)

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 2 years old.

2 year Annie

At 7:30, the family parades into your room. I throw open the window shades and set Paul down by your crib, where he clutches the railing and squeals. You smile and thrash with glee, then request “Missa Paul Annie bed?” Thus invited, he sits in your crib and squeals at you in closer range.

We remind you it’s your birthday and sing the song. “Maybe have cake?” you say. Maybe, indeed! Who knows what the day will bring! Not even us. We’re improvising.

“Annie have bite-en,” you say and stand up.
“Yes, Annie will have a vitamin.” (They’re chewy and sweet—you request one first thing every morning.)
“NO fresh diaper.”
“Yeah, you do need a fresh diaper.”
“NO FRESH DIAPER!” you shriek, collapsing with despair.

You take a few minutes to recover, then Dad helps you execute a couple of front-rolls and scoops you out of the crib while you’re still giggling. We plop Paul on the changing table to keep you cheerful while we change that diaper, give you a toothbrush to chew on, and put on your shoes and socks. Dressed, you head downstairs for your vitamin, then out the door with Dad.

At school, Dad asks Ms. Shanna if she’d mind taking a few mental notes about what you do today to tell us about. She goes above and beyond, and gives us this illustrated record:

Annie paints
Anne started her morning off with a little nature painting. We made trees using our arms and hands then found leaves outside to use to paint grass at the bottom of our tree. After painting Anne decided to join her friends, Byron, Gavin, and Harper, for a little breakfast.
Annie races
Outside Anne challenged her buddies June and Byron to a friendly race… she left them eating dust!
After her race Anne helped water the beans the toddler classes have been tending to in their garden. In the beginning of spring we planted them along with some basil and Anne has enjoyed helping water them and watching them grow. When we came inside we thought it would be fun to paint with bugs since we saw a bunch crawling around outside! Anne picked a lady bug to paint with and we had fun talking about the colors she dipped the lady bug in. All of that hard work in the morning definitely worked up her appetite, so we all sat down to enjoy bbq sandwiches for lunch!
After her race Anne helped water the beans the toddler classes have been tending to in their garden. In the beginning of spring we planted them along with some basil and Anne has enjoyed helping water them and watching them grow. When we came inside we thought it would be fun to paint with bugs since we saw a bunch crawling around outside! Anne picked a lady bug to paint with and we had fun talking about the colors she dipped the lady bug in. All of that hard work in the morning definitely worked up her appetite, so we all sat down to enjoy bbq sandwiches for lunch!

 

Anne loved being the center of attention while we sang “Happy Birthday” to her and enjoyed our afternoon snack. Happy second birthday, Anne!! Your teachers, Ms. Shanna and Ms. Maricela, love you very much and enjoy spending time with you and watching you grow and learn. You are a very creative and adventurous little lady and we are so blessed to have you in our class! You will do many great things in your life and we are happy we get to be a chapter on your adventure.
Anne loved being the center of attention while we sang “Happy Birthday” to her and enjoyed our afternoon snack. Happy second birthday, Anne!! Your teachers, Ms. Shanna and Ms. Maricela, love you very much and enjoy spending time with you and watching you grow and learn. You are a very creative and adventurous little lady and we are so blessed to have you in our class! You will do many great things in your life and we are happy we get to be a chapter on your adventure.

Um, amazing, right? Unbelievably, you let Dad pick you up and take you away from this incredible, loving place, at 4:45, as Ms. Maricela reads a book to your small group. He drives you home, and I come out to greet you in the car, where you want to stay and play for a while. You decide to call Granddad and Susu from the backseat, so they send you birthday wishes as you wave the phone around to show them various features of the car, mainly the ceiling.

You eat none of this.
You eat none of this.

We go inside and say hello to Gobka and Gamma, who have stayed with you all weekend and now join us for your birthday dinner. We set the table with scratch-made macaroni and cheese and carefully diced green beans, all of which you decline to eat. But you’re cheerful, and drink probably 12 ounces of milk while we chat. When you declare you’re all done, we persuade you to stay at the table for cake. “Cake, yeah!” you agree. I bring it out with a bright birthday candle, and help you blow it out.

You do eat the cake.
You do eat the cake.

Paul wakes up, and we give him a bottle while you finish your cake, then tromp outside for a family photo in the evening light. Then it’s back inside to open presents. Gamma and Gobka have thoughtfully wrapped theirs in an easy-to-open garbage bag. It’s a giant longhorn. You love it. We have gotten you a bright green scoot bike. You are skeptical.

I think you'll grow into it.
I think you’ll grow into it.

You read books with Gobka and look at pictures on Gamma’s phone. You bounce on the cow and pass out curly ribbons to everyone, but mostly to Paul. The two of you scamper and scoot around on the floor, chasing a balloon. You commandeer an umbrella and swan around the house, bumping into things and playing a clumsy peekaboo game. You adjourn for some private time behind the couch and announce that you’ve pooped. You request that Gamma change your diaper, and I make no argument.

feels like a party
feels like a party

We segue into a quick bath, which you scream through. We say goodbye to Gamma and Gobka as you dry off, and then we have a few quiet minutes with the four of us, reading and romping in your room, before it’s time for a last book (Sesame Street’s ABC Storytime—a favorite) and lullaby. I put Paul in his sleep sack while Dad helps you into yours, and we sing about all the family who will go to sleep.

Night night, birthday girl.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 23 months old.

You wake up at 7:15, and the family parades into your room. You start telling us about your sleep sack (“seep sack! seep sack!”), which you have managed to remove in the night. I set Paul on the floor, and he grips the bars of your crib and smiles at you. You squeal with delight and hug his head through the bars. I lift you out of the crib, and you tear around the room, bring Paul assorted toys, and hide in the corner as Dad tries to coax you onto the changing table for a “fresh dopper, tiger dopper.” (Your diapers have tigers on them. Fitting.)

Out of patience, Dad hoists you onto the table and endures your screams as you get changed and dressed. Then it’s “Annie see Mommy?” for a farewell hug, and you’re headed downstairs for a “bah-in” (vitamin, but let’s be real—it’s chewy candy). You leave for school. Dad sings to entertain you in the car, and you say, “Dad STAW-AWP.” When you get to school, “Yay school!”

Ms. Shanna and your classmate Byron are taking down the Egypt decorations from yesterday’s multicultural festival, an elaborate production that we heartlessly skipped. You pitch in and then eat breakfast. The sand on the playground is wet today, and you reportedly get filthy. Back inside for lunch, you relish your mac and cheese and smear it all over your face. You get mopped up and zonk out at nap time once your head hits the pillow.

Ms. Maricela and the book she read to you today
Ms. Maricela, source of my intel about your day, with the book she read to you

After nap, you’re back on the playground. At 4, it’s circle time again, and Ms. Maricela introduces the class to a new book about pirates. You pay attention and chant at all the right parts.

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I see you again at 5. You’re squatting on the floor and putting big plastic coins in a piggy bank, a task so absorbing you barely register my presence, and when you do, instruct me to insert a coin. Coins banked, we head out. Due to a horrific backup in my parking garage, I have walked over to pick you up, so we’ve got a 20-minute journey to the car, at Annie pace. “Ah have Mom purse-y. Ah helping Mom.”—you insist on wearing my backpack, which in no way fits you and is too heavy in any case, so I hold it up behind your back as you walk along. It makes a pretty decent leash, too, as we cross campus.

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We stop on the bridge to check out Waller Creek. “Wadder!” Yes, water.

You say hi to some undergrads and stop to admire the creek and the students playing frisbee. You tackle a tall flight of stairs all by yourself, and we hold hands as we approach the garage. Safely stowed in the car, we begin the second leg of our journey home. I let you keep my bag, and you amuse yourself unzipping pockets, pulling out the contents, and muttering to yourself.

At home, you start to fray as Dad cooks kale and I run to the store for some missing dinner ingredients. You ask for things you already have and come unglued when not immediately presented with more.

You enjoy 8 crackers and a quarter-cup of hummus for dinner. When Paul makes his appearance, you share. We call Granddad and Susu, and you try to hand them crackers through the phone. You get a huge kick out of talking to the t-rex. You offer him a cracker.

After dinner, you make a lap around the living room and then join the family parade up to your room for a bath. We’ve taken to cajoling you into the tub by asking you to help wash Paul. You are not thrilled to find yourself in the tub, but Dad gives you an efficient scrub, and you cheer up when you’re put to work sponging Paul’s head. You move onto playing with a plastic bowl and end up having such a good time you stay until the water is gone. You insist on the tiny baby bunny towel to dry off. I get you into a fresh diaper, and we say goodnight to Dad and Paul.

We play peekaboo in your tent-house. You get dressed. We let you pick pretty much any clothes you want to sleep in, partly to keep you happy and partly for our own amusement. Tonight it’s a dress with black polka dots paired with pink flower pants. You select six finalists for a bedtime story, and once in my lap identify the winner: Pete the Cat. We read it. I pick you up and start the lullaby. You instruct me to put on your sleep sack. I do. “Bye, Mom,” you say from your crib, looking up at me with a smile. “Bye, Annie.”

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 22 months old.

At 7:40, the whole family parades into your room: Dad, Sous, and Mom holding Baby Paul. “Hi Da, morning,” you say, then, “Mom, up!” Paul settles in to chew on some toys, and I lift you out of your crib and head to the dresser for a “fresh bopper.” We get you changed and dressed in no time; then it’s off to the “baffroom,” where you chew on your toothbrush and watch me attentively as I put on makeup.

Your ponytail is getting longer but still leaves plenty of hair free for you to twirl.
Your ponytail is getting longer but still leaves plenty of hair free for you to twirl.

Dad’s taking you to school, and it’s a cheerful, “Bye-bye Mom, bye-bye Sous, bye-bye Baby Paul, bye-bye dryer,” as he carries you out. Then, “bye-bye home, bye-bye Mom home, bye-bye Paul home” as you head for the car.

You’re relatively quiet on the drive, but you and Dad do a little circle-spotting. Your favorite is the yellow circle in the Howdy Donut sign on South Congress, but a Do Not Enter sign is a good find this morning. At school, you’re happy to dismiss Dad for a breakfast bowl of canned peaches.

It’s a typical day at school. 75 degrees outside, so lots of romping on the playground—later, we’ll pour sand out of your shoes—circle time with your classmates, lunch, nap, and more playing. Dad arrives to pick you up around 4:45. You spot him and smile, then return to listening to the book being read aloud.

On the way home, you chant your usual encouragement to the driver, “Dad GOOOO,” but for the first time correct yourself and/or bow to reality: “Red light.” Dad roles down all the windows (“more wind?”), so you can enjoy the warm breeze and the chirping birds (“TEE TEE!”).

With “Hi Mom! Hi Mom! Hi Mom!” you enter the house. I’m upstairs feeding Paul, and you eventually find us. Presented with the choice to stay upstairs with Mom or help Dad cook dinner, you choose, “Hop Da? Bye-bye Mom.” You stand in your tower while Dad sautes kale and microwaves everything else, occasionally demanding things and shrieking when they are denied you.

Dinner rarely comes soon enough.
Dinner rarely comes soon enough.

A little before 6, you sit down to a dinner of mac and cheese, shreds of pot roast, kale, and brown rice. You eat the mac and cheese. Thank goodness for chewable vitamins.

After dinner, you walk me back and forth across the house a few times, holding my fingers in one hand and shaking my car keys in the other. You dangle the keys in front of Paul to amuse him. He fusses when we walk away and watches, rapt, as we approach.

Friend Heather gave you some magnets, which you enjoy. But it turns out our bar stools are the only magnetic thing in the house.
Friend Heather gave you some magnets, which you enjoy. But it turns out our bar stools are the only magnetic thing in the house.

We adjourn upstairs. I administer your bath (though feel compelled to record that Dad does this nine days out of ten). You are in good spirits. You scrub your legs with a sponge while I wash your hair, twist around into some swimming-like postures, and play with your various cups and boats and floating items.

"swimming"
“swimming”

We get you out of the tub, reasonably dry, diapered, and dressed. Aunt Camei calls, and you recognize her voice and pick up the phone to listen. “Cah-may!” You are reluctant to go to bed, but we move in that direction. I read you a few pages of The Cat in the Hat, pick you up, and start your lullaby. After a verse or two, you consent to your “seep sack,” and I lay you down in your crib. “Bye-bye Mom,” you dismiss me, so I sing my way to the door, turn off the light, and say goodnight.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 21 months old.

You obligingly linger in bed until 7:45 while your dad and I frantically bop around, getting ourselves and Paul ready for the day. When I hear you let out a little yelp, I open your door and turn up the light. “Good morning, Annie!” I singsong. You’re happy to see me but prefer to linger in your crib for a few minutes, contemplating the day in child’s pose. Baby noises from the other room motivate you to get up. “Baby? Da? Baby! Da!” You stand up, and I lift you out of your crib.

Baby and Dad obligingly make their appearance. You less-obligingly allow me to change your diaper, huffing a bit, and I slide on your pants and shoes before you can work up a strong protest. We say bye-bye to the family and whiz out the door at 8.

We spend a lot of our together-time today with you in this car seat.
We spend a lot of our together-time today with you in this car seat.

We get to your daycare (“school”) pretty quickly, and you squirm to get down and then point to the door. “Bye-bye Mom,” you instruct, and seat yourself at the table for your oatmeal. Well, okay!

Because I pick you up too late to talk you your normal teachers—you move to another room and caretaker at 5—your day remains a mystery to me. I find you more or less how I left you: seated at a tiny table, eating a snack out of a styrofoam bowl. You smile up at me. “Hi Mom. Mo agua?” I take your cup and fill it from the water fountain. You have me well trained.

I join you in a tiny chair while you finish your Cheerios snack.
I join you in a tiny chair while you eat your Cheerios.

You finish your snack and bus the table, then, “Mom, up? Ow-shy.” I lift you up, and we go outside. You decide you’d rather walk, and scurry to the exit, scrupulously closing all the doors behind us.

You make a quick detour to your favorite sidewalk vent. It blows warm air.
You make a quick detour to your favorite sidewalk vent. It blows warm air.

We’re driving later than usual, and traffic is bad. We commiserate.

“Mom, go!”

“I’ll go when it’s my turn. See how all the cars around us are stopped?”

“All done car.”

“I hear you, I am ready to be all done with the car, too!”

“Annie up?”

“I wish I could pick you up. I will pick you up as soon as we get home.”

We also have long discussions about trucks (“hi shruck!”), a blue bus (“boo bus?”), birds sitting on street signs, and how we’d really prefer to be in an airplane so we could fly home. (I may be generously interpreting some of your phrases.)

At last, we ARE all done car, and find Dad and Sous waiting for us on the front porch. You’re excited to see Dad, and I put you down once we’re inside the gate so you can scamper up the walkway, climb the stairs valiantly while Sous almost knocks you down, and give him a hug. Dinner is ready, so we sit down to eat.

It's lasagna. You approve.
It’s lasagna. You approve.

After dinner we adjourn to the living room. “Mom, couch?” You retrieve your wheel of animal noises, and we spend a pleasant 15 minutes listening to them. The sheep makes you laugh, and you’re working hard on your turkey gobble. After a while, you determine that it’s Dad’s turn and head over to his lap. He does an excellent horse.

Niow, says the cat.
Niow, says the cat.

At 6:30, we hear your brother wake up, and you’re excited to go see him. We all troop upstairs to the room you now share. You’re delighted with your brother until I show signs of picking him up, at which point you stage a protest and demand that YOU be the one picked up. Fortunately, you have two parents. Dad attends to Paul while I get you undressed for your bath, and we trade the two of you back and forth until you are clean and re-diapered.

I clip your toenails and we play cards. Then Dad takes you back to your room, and you pick out a bedtime book. Tonight it’s Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. You curl up on the floor while Dad reads to you, then tell him how to get you ready for bed. “Seep sack? Banket? Dad bed.” And it’s a wrap.