a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 3 years and 1 month old.

You wake up at 7, but we’re not quite ready for you in the grown-up world. You hang out with Paul for half an hour, chatting about this and that, maybe playing with the window shades or throwing your toys out of your cribs—who knows? It’s your time.

Good morning to you!
Good morning to you!

I find you smiling and lift you out of your crib. You unfasten your diaper and let it drop on the floor. Your undies selection is elaborate. You pull all of your Paw Patrol pairs out of the drawer, line them up meticulously, and select your favorite. Watching for the tag in the back, you pull them on more-or-less by yourself.

Downstairs we go, to “breksis.” You peer into the fridge and pick out lemon yogurt, and chat with Granddad and Susu while you eat. They’re here for most of the week while your poor dad is on his third work trip in as many weeks. You request an album. (We have just bowed to hipster culture and procured a turntable—I know). “The one with the white stripes, side D,” you specify. We’re Going To Be Friends.

Breksis complete, you and Paul make a lap or two with the push toys, then it’s shoes on and out to the car.

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En route to school, you inquire about the panhandler. “What is he doing?” I try to be honest with you about this stuff while not offering you more information than you ask for. “He’s asking for money.” “Why does he want money?” “So he can buy things.”


Hey! We’re on the highway. You tell me you can see a circle moon, and I realize you’re looking at the sun behind the clouds. “Oh, Annie, that’s the sun, don’t look right at it.” “Why-y?” “Because your eyes might burn.” “Will it make me sick?” Well, no, it might just, um, damage your vision forever.

It’s hard conversations we have in the car. The other day I may have accidentally taught you about death when trying to keep you from putting a plastic bag in your mouth.

We arrive at school, and I leave you waiting in line for the potty. Bye bye, sweetie. I assume you have a normal day, and I actually don’t see you again. Shanna picks you up from the playground at 4:30. You ride home in her car to the tune of “Wheels on the Bus.” Stuck at a light downtown for 15 minutes, you and Paul name vehicles of different types, and you speculate on causes of the delay. “Are there firetrucks helping people?” Could be.


At home, you play outside until the mosquitos find you. (I confess this photo is from last week with Shanna, but I assume it’s a similar scene. CHEEEEESE.)

It’s pasta for dinner, and then a bath. You are too tired for life. “I can’t read a book, I have my bracelet on!” Shanna comforts you: “It’s okay, honey, we can take off the bracelet.”

At 7:25, you’ve completed the ritual and are tucked into bed. Ten minutes later, I get home, and you are fast asleep.

a day in your life

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

At 7:20, I hear you singing the birthday song to yourself, quietly, through the door to your room. Dad and I walk in, boisterous.


“Annie, do you know what today is??” I ask. You look up at me from your book with a sweet, hopeful smile, and venture, “…A home day?”

Oh, well, not quite. But hey, it’s your birthday—that’s pretty good. I ask if you want to put on your special dress, the one that your classmate Isabella’s family left in your cubby yesterday as a gift. “Um, yeah!” you affirm. I lift you out of your crib, we select some Paw Patrol undies, and you step into your confection of a dress. (When you tried it on for the first time yesterday, you looked so sweet and soft that Paul immediately hugged you.)

Downstairs, you request lemon yogurt, and I oblige. The mood is cheerful. You and Paul finish your yogurt—not a drop on your dress!—and munch through a couple slices of toast. We slide on your shoes and head out.

It’s trash day, so we remark on the garbage trucks. You ask why they’re called that, and I explain that garbage and trash are two words for the same thing, and you add that there are also recycling trucks, and compost trucks. True. You point out the alligators (elevators) on the buildings under construction downtown, and debate with Paul whether certain vehicles are cars or trucks.

At school, we run into Isabella and her dad while you are doing this:


So they are able to see how much you enjoy your new dress. We drop Paul off in the Sea Turtles, and Shanna and Maricela make a fuss over you. I leave you in the Peacock class with a promise to see you again at 3. Mary tells me you spend the whole day twirling.


At 3:20, I find you and your classmates having snack around the tables, which I enhance with tiny cupcakes (HEB’s finest, with the icing sliding off the top from spending the day in my warm car.) You are quiet, but I engage your classmates in conversation about who is two and who is three. When I ask what comes after 3, I am greeted by blank stares. In another life, I’d know precisely when you were developmentally able to understand sequence in that way, but that is not the life we’re leading. I also would have baked the cupcakes.

We say goodbye to the Peacocks and seek Paul on the playground. He spots us and runs over for a hug, pink and damp. I hustle you all to the car with a promise of a cupcake in the backseat. You do not get one speck of it on your dress. Paul is another story.


At home, we say hi-bye to Dad as he gets home from the office but heads into a last meeting. While I’m helping you on the potty, Paul joins that meeting, and we call him out. You ask to watch “a little Kiki,” and what the hey, it’s your birthday. So we do that for half an hour or so, until Dad finishes his meeting and the good weather lures us outside for a walk.


We come home to open presents: animal puppets from our friends Katie/Poppy, a rocketship tent from Gamma and Gobka, and a baby doll from us. You’re into it.

It’s potty time again. With a taffeta rustle, you gather your skirts in your lap and give me the grimace I have known for three years. “I’m going to poop a lot and tinkle a lot,” you inform me. Yes ma’am.

You and Paul are coming a little unglued but have a mostly-good time romping in the tent while Dad and I rinse berries and thaw peas and make two boxes of Annie’s macaroni and cheese. I wish I could tell you this was a special meal designed with your favorites in mind, but really it’s just what we eat these days.


Dad offers you the option of continuing to push your baby in the stroller downstairs or watching 10 more minutes of Kiki after a bath. You opt for the latter, and cooperatively get undressed and into the bath. I wash your giant body, thinking of my vanished newborn, and it’s back to the movie for the gripping conclusion. Your doll joins the pack of friends in your crib, and we read a new book from our friends Caroline/Jane. We start our lullaby, and you turn down the lights—the bedtime job you relish.

After I tuck you in with your baby, you ask me to sing “Twinkle Twinkle,” so I do while you hold my hand.

“Thank you for singing me the song, Mom.”

“You’re welcome! Goodnight, Annie. I love you so much.”

“I love you so much TOO, Mom!”

I visit Paul’s crib for a last cuddle while we review the plan for the morning, which involves making toast and consulting clocks and the location of the shelves in our bedroom. You want to know everything. I back away slowly and say a final goodnight through a crack in the door.


Then you sing and make siren noises and say “I’M THREE I’M THREE I’M THREE wee-oh-wee-oh-wee-oh” and ask Paul if he speaks Spanish for another 40 minutes. I listen to you while I write this.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 2 years and 11 months old.

I lift you out of your crib at 7:15, and we check the boo-boo on your butt right off. (You sat down hard on something at school yesterday and bruised yourself; when I saw you at the end of the day, you appealed, “Mom, can you please kiss my butt?”) We head downstairs for a brief breakfast, then buckle you into the stroller for a walk with Dad, Paul, and Sous. It’s Saturday!

You meet Kalia with Eleanor and Riley for tacos at our usual truck, and at 9:30 are home to regroup for our next adventure. We’re headed to your friend June’s house to celebrate her birthday with one other classmate of yours. Y’all are besties.

June, Annie, and Isabella
June, Annie, and Isabella

After your usual warm-up period, you’re swarming all over the playground and ordering cups of water from June’s mom. You feast on berries and cupcakes (you lick off the frosting, and Paul eats the cake—brilliant collaboration). June gets upset for some 3-year-old reason, and you spend 20 minutes delivering toys to her to make her feel better.

We head home for naptime, which you protest as usual, starting things off un-peacefully with half an hour of yelling. Eventually you do sleep, and we see you again around 2:30. You briefly meet Uncle George, here for SXSW and currently plugged into the VR machine. We’ll get some quality time later.


We hustle to the grocery store. After a critical first stop for a balloon (purple), we make our usual rounds. You enjoy samples of fruits, cheese, and a blueberry pancake, and select peach yogurt and a chocolate cookie, which we’ll carve into 8 tiny wedges for dessert.


Back home, you and Paul play together with only light supervision while Dad and I get dinner started. Around 4:30, our friends Katie, Doug, and Poppy arrive. We eat shrimp and grits around the table while you stroll around the living room. (Alone, we will require you to sit at the table with us for at least 10 minutes, but with company we are not in the mood to force it.) Dad ends up eating your dinner—boy, you would have loved those cheese grits if you’d tried them—and you deign to join us for a bit of cookie at the end.

While the grown-ups linger at the table, somehow you and Paul maneuver yourselves onto your bike together. (Not authorized for indoor use, but again, we’re in no mood.) You lead the pack of children in a lengthy round of pushing toys across the house. We turn on 20 minutes of Totoro to wind things down, and you use the potty to good effect.



We make our way upstairs and take a quick sponge bath. You turn on the noise machine and click the lights down to a low setting. We sing the lullaby and proceed through our increasingly elaborate bedtime ritual. (It now features you standing on your crib railing, while I hold you, to check whether you’ve grown tall enough to touch the ceiling. “Not quite!” you conclude.) As we leave the room, you chirp a reminder not to turn the lights all the way off. You got it, boss.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 2 years and 10 months old.

You and Paul wake up around 7 and squeal at each other until we retrieve you. You pick out some undies and insist on threading your legs in by yourself. (I intervene on attempt #3 and get you sorted out.) Downstairs we go for breakfast. You peel off the top of your yogurt and Paul’s, and the room falls silent as you both spoon it into your mouths. A round of hot buttered toast finishes breakfast.

smiling at Dad
smiling at Dad

You’re delighted it’s a “home day” (it’s Saturday), and soon have me following you to the Bumblebees class at school in our usual game of pretend. You’re my mom, and you leave me at school, where I am encouraged to cry for you. We pause the game to read Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes. (I will confess to you now that I am SICK of Mercy the pig. But you love her, so.)

Dad is ready to get on with our morning walk, so you and I head upstairs to get me dressed. You put on flip flops. When told you must also wear pants to leave the house, you stage a grand mal tantrum. We manage to strap you into the stroller but are so distracted we leave the house without wallets or phones. A few blocks down the street, Dad runs back for them.

We head north on Congress and cross the bridge, then hit the trail. You do a little grumbling—you’d much prefer to walk than ride these days—but mainly keep it together. We cross the river again on the pedestrian bridge, and then you’re free to run around through Butler Park. We watch a train pass and check the pond for turtles (none today). We walk over a hill, and you help Paul stay on course.

At the end of the park, it’s back into the stroller and up the Bouldin hill toward the taco truck. We call in just behind a big order, so take our time in the home stretch, stopping for another run-around in a little neighborhood Dawson Park. You swing (big-kid style) and find a stick with which to smack things.

anticipating tacos
anticipating tacos

At the taco truck, you and Paul do a tremendous amount of hugging as we wait for our food, melting hearts all around. You polish off your “dinosaur taco” (bacon, egg, and spinach bits of real dinosaur), and we head home.


We load you and Paul into your separate carts at Central Market, and begin to shop. You weigh the broccoli for us and request some bell peppers I am sure you will not eat but purchase anyway because I’m a pushover. Better hauls for you are grapes, cherries, and strawberries. We spend some time with the lobsters, and select some cherry yogurt. You help put the groceries on the conveyor belt and pay with the credit card, and home we go.

Inside, you climb immediately into your chair. “I’m waiting for my yogurt,” you inform us, and eat it. “I have to go poop,” you announce, and Dad sits with you in the bathroom. You wash your hands, naked from the waist down, and when I tell you not to bother getting your undies back on because we’ll put a diaper on for nap, you shriek and cry again. I carry you upstairs while you practice your baby wailing. The opportunity to turn on the noise machine and turn down the lights mollifies you, and you go to bed fairly peacefully.

You’re back in action at 2. You set up a cozy nest on the floor and help sign a birthday card for our friend Poppy’s first. “This is a perfect A for her. Dear Poppy, for her birthcake. … I’m almost done. I need to draw a big one for her cause it’s a big birthcake.”


We head for Pinthouse Pizza, where you eat six tiny cupcakes before I cut you off, and play Donkey Kong with Dad. You’re disturbed by the picture on the side of the machine, which features a giant gorilla making off with a blonde lady. Retro. “She’s crying,” you tell me, concerned.


Full of pizza and cupcakes, we head home at 5 and collapse in front of the television. Totoro takes care of us all.

A ruptured blister from your flip flops thwarts a bath. I remove you screaming from the tub, and we focus on your face and hands. At 6:45, you and I are snuggled in Mom-and-Dad’s bed, and read Laundry Day, Brown Bear, and A Snowy Day. Paul stomps in, curious why we aren’t in your room yet, and joins us for the last. You protest bedtime, and I again distract you with the promise of turning off the lights and on the noise machine. “Hold my hand,” you demand, once you’re tucked in, and you take it captive. I gently extract it, stroke your hair, and say goodnight.

a day in your life

To Annie: This is how you spent the day you turned 2 years and 9 months old.

Dad left last night for a work trip to California, so I get up early and arrange everything for a smooth-as-possible exit. (My strategy: minimize transitions.) You and Paul wake up slowly and peacefully, lying quietly in your cribs until I come in at 7:30. You stay snuggled in bed with your five stuffed friends while I get Paul changed and shod. When it’s your turn, you consent to the removal of your night diaper but not to putting on undies. “I want a diaper please,” you tell me in a soft and pitiful voice, so that’s what I put on you. Add too-short pants and pink socks, and we’re ready to go downstairs.

Paul wants to practice his stair-walking, so I carry you and hold his hand. We get into your shoes and coat, snag a chewable vitamin, and head for the door. You climb into the car and then your seat, and munch your way through the breakfast I pre-loaded into your cup holder: buttered toast, a slice of cheddar, and a handful of grapes.

You are not interested in smiling for the camera.
You are not interested in smiling for the camera.

You’re full of questions and information on the drive. “I see a A!” you announce when stop behind a Lagunitas truck at a light. “TWO As!” Later, you inform me that we’re getting off the highway and back on the access road, then that we’re turning across the highway to go to school. You have been asking a lot of detailed questions about our route in the last couple of months, and are proud to showcase your knowledge.

Parked, I unbuckle you, and you climb out of the car with only a brief detour to the front seat. You head straight for the sidewalk, walk happily inside, and wait patiently while we chat with Shanna in the Sea Turtles at Paul’s drop-off. He cries hard when we leave, and as we hold hands and walk downstairs, you say, “It made me sad when Paul cried.” It made me sad, too, I tell you.

In your class, you hug my ankles for a minute while I sign you in, but detach and go quietly to a second breakfast of more toast and canned pears. We wave goodbye.

Your big lesson at school today is on the five senses. With your class, you read I Hear A Pickle. Ms. Mary tells me that when she asks the class whether you can smell with your mouth, you volunteer, “No, we talk a lot with our mouths.” When asked what we do with ears, you say, “We listen at school.” Do you listen at home, too? she asks. “Yeah, we can.”

It’s Wednesday, and I am using date night to move out of my office. Shanna brings you and Paul home and feeds you dinner. At the table, you scoot your chair close to hers and pat her cheek. “It’s okay. It’s okay. Your cheek is very tired. I will make you feel better.”

You take a bath with Paul and air-dry to the tune of “Baby Shark” and “The Wheels on the Bus” on Shanna’s phone, then do a little solo book reading in the nook (still naked).

Shanna takes over reading That’s Not My Puppy and makes connections with you. “Remember when we saw lots of puppies today walking?” Annie: “Yeah!” “Does Sous have a collar?” Annie: “Um, yeah.” You ease into a diaper and clothes. Shanna tends to dress you in your pink, Hold Your Horses shirt; tonight is no different.


I rejoin you, carrying laundry. You help me shake out (vigorously), fold (-ish), and put away your clean clothes. Paul gets out his new sleeping tent—he’s very proud of it—and the two of you romp and squeal inside it for a few minutes. You take a quick Rabumpus ride and then play with the new owl purse Susu got you for Christmas. At 7, I start the lullaby, put Paul in his crib, and then scoop you up and lay you down with your friends. “I want Peter,” you specify, and are cuddling him as I turn off the lights.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 2 years and 8 months old.

You’re up at 7:15 and ready for action. You deliberate between a diaper and undies, go for the undies, and head downstairs for toast and yogurt. “Are we going to school today?” you ask, and are happy to hear there is nothing planned but a family day together. It’s Sunday.

You and Paul finish breakfast and gallivant around the house. I recently devoted a corner of the craft cabinet to your supplies—crayons, paper, scissors, play-doh. You love it, and spend a happy half hour pulling out construction paper, making two small cuts, and gifting it to us. “Here’s a present for you, just in case you need it.” I start making a Christmas sign on some warped foam core I want to use up. You request paint (pink and purple) to add to it. I allow this and regret it immediately.

A few minutes before 9, Dad gets you dressed and bundled up in the stroller for a quick run with Doug. At the conclusion, you make a stop at the Croissant House, your name for the coffee shop in the South Congress Hotel. (It’s right next to the parking garage entrance; for a time you thought all parking garages housed croissants.) I come down from the shower to find you all munching happily, covered in crumbs.

I show you a picture on my phone of you raking leaves with Dad a year ago, and you immediately want to rake leaves. Dad cleans up; Doug takes off; and you, Paul, and I go to retrieve the rusty old rake from under the house and sweep up leaves.

(If you flinched a little at the end of this video, know that I hit stop to redirect you a little farther away from Paul’s face.)


Then, it’s time for the grocery store. We pile into the car and head for Central Market. It’s a family favorite. You and Paul each get a seat in your own shopping cart, and Dad obtains a purple balloon for each of you. You lean sideways to stroke a red bell pepper and suggest we bring it home. You eye the mushrooms, and I hold a bag open so you can drop some in, deciding on the fly we’ll make spaghetti sauce later this week.

You say hello to the lobsters in the tank and select some dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets in the freezer section. Then we get to the really good part: you get to pick out any carton of yogurt you want (it’s Horizon Strawberry this time, featuring an appealing cartoon cow), and then two cookies, which we’ll stretch out for days. In the check-out line, you examine the credit card reader with great interest and help me pull out the card.

Eating your yogurt at the table at home, you inform me you’ve had an accident, so—after finishing that yogurt—we take off your wet clothes and sponge you off. It’s just about naptime, so you get into a diaper, and we set up your sleeping tent. After 10 minutes of hollering about its placement (you want it closer to Paul’s crib so you can poke each other; we demur), you settle down and sleep for a couple of hours.

Paul is still asleep when you wake up, so we bring you into our room and lounge on the bed. You luxuriate in the full attention of both parents for 15 minutes, but are happy when Paul gets up to play with you. You eat a snack (banana, pecans, and a pinch of cookie), put your balloon back on your wrist, and push around your shopping cart. Around 3, we head outside into a gorgeous afternoon.

For the first time, we see you really balancing and scooting on this bike.
For the first time, we see you really balancing and scooting on this bike.

You ride your bike—really ride it!—while Paul pushes the elephant, and Dad and Sous tail us with the stroller. It’s quite a parade. At the playground, you swing and slide and run amok. You and Paul take turns on the tall twirly slide, and Dad teaches you how to climb up a new kind of ladder. It takes you two attempts, and then you’re a pro.

I can't believe you are tall enough for the water fountain now!
I can’t believe you are tall enough for the water fountain now!

When it’s time to head home, you decide to walk. “I need to go potty!” you tell me, and I am grateful for this information although it means braving the park’s public toilet. You sit on it but are spooked by the new environment and do not pee, which results in another accident as we arrive home. We sponge you off again; you opt to conclude the evening wearing nothing but a smock.

A lot going on here.
Just another evening at home.

From your rainbow of delicious foods for dinner—green beans, pink salmon, orange cheese curds, golden mango, and slivers of the red bell pepper you specifically requested at the grocery store—you eat the mango. (Okay, and a couple bites of other things when strongly prompted.)

We drop you in the bathtub and make bubbles with shampoo. You won’t permit much scrubbing but have a good long soak, sliding around and stretching out long after Paul gets out. When you’re all done, you get into your unicorn dress and we snuggle up in bed for an episode of Daniel Tiger and a fingernail trim. You want to stay in our bed for your book, so you go pick one out for us (The Paper Bag Princess). We read it. Then I carry you to your room, lay you in your crib despite your protestations, and run down to get your teddy bear, to whom you have recently become very attached. We say goodnight. “It’s very dark!” you pipe up in alarm, so we turn the lights on a couple of clicks for you. Goodnight, Annie.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 2 years 7 months old.

You start coughing off and on at about 5 but raise no alarms. At 7:10, though, we see you standing up in your crib and peeking past the window shade, so head up to get you. I do a little slapstick for both of you while we wait for Dad to arrive; then he picks up Paul, and I pick up you. You’re coughing. It doesn’t sound great, but you don’t feel hot. So, onward we go, into undies, socks, and shoes.

At the breakfast table, you have little enthusiasm for your usual favorites: “baby cereal” (plain yogurt with a quarter of a banana and some fortified oat dust) and hot buttered toast. You do eat the yogurt when Dad starts making moves toward the door. You all head off for school at 8.

You drop Paul off in the Bumblebee class and walk carefully downstairs to the Peacocks. You head to the potty first thing, the routine for all the potty-trained kids, then wash your hands at the sink and sit down for second breakfast. It’s a normal morning—playground, lunch, and nap—in perfect fall weather.

You take a good nap but wake up in bad shape. Ms. Carina calls me at 2:45 to report you have a high fever. You are relegated to a mat upstairs with another sick kiddo waiting for pick-up, and I retrieve you in short order. “Let’s go home, and snuggle up in bed, and watch A Snowy Day,” I suggest as I buckle you in the carseat. “No,” you say, “We’ll go to the doctor first, and then we’ll go home.”


Smart answer, kiddo, but things aren’t quite that bad. We make good time on a quiet drive home, and execute the plan as stated. You drink my special sick-kid cocktail of one part milk, one part chocolate milk, and absorb quite a bit of television.

About 20 minutes into our Dora marathon, we get a special treat: Aunt Peanut and Uncle Dan arrive, visiting from California for the weekend. Peanut joins us in the sick bed while Dan takes Sous for a long walk, and we do a little catching up in low voices while you do your best to tune us out.


You and I keep lounging while Dad picks up Paul and Peanut and Dan pick up tacos for dinner. You take a very short nap, then tell me you need to go to the doctor. Concerned but not entirely trusting your judgement in the matter, I administer some ibuprofen.

Dad and Paul arrive home, and he swaps in with you while I head downstairs. “I need something,” you tell him. “A snack would be nice.”

Now you are eating goldfish crackers and drinking chocolate milk in our bed. Who wouldn’t want to be sick?

You join us downstairs briefly, sit at the table, and decline dinner. You are charmed when I pretend to turn the electric candles on and off by magic; I can’t stand the deception, though, and reveal the remote. You commandeer it.

When Mr. Paul makes a play for your baggy of goldfish, you smack him in the chest, provoking stern words and a retreat upstairs. You ask to sleep in our bed tonight. When I decline, you negotiate: “How bout I sleep in your bed for a minute, then I sleep in my bed.”

Okay, sure. It’s 6:40. We lay down in Mom and Dad’s bed for a minute. Quiet, we hear sounds of play downstairs, and you suggest we join in. “We have a little time to play before bed,” you inform me. It’s true. You help Peanut figure out what objects will fit into the packing tube she’s playing with, and turn the candles off and on.


It’s really time for bed now, so we go up, change dresses and diapers, and read A Greyhound, a Groundhog—one of my favorites. We turn on the humidifier and the noise machine, sing the song, and lower you into your crib. “I want a sleep sack,” you say. “You don’t fit into sleep sacks anymore.” “Because I got bigger?” That’s right.

“I want my blanket,” you tell me as you flip onto your stomach, and I tuck it around you, rub your back, and tell you I love you. “Oh, it’s so dark!!” you exclaim as I’m leaving, and I keep the lights on just one click so you don’t get scared. Good night, Annie. Feel better.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!”