Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Month 48 (aka Four years. ALREADY!?)


You are now 4 magical years old! Saturday we had your birthday party at a facility in Sherwood Park. It was PERFECT. You ran and ran and climbed and played for 2 hours with your friends. And then there were cupcakes and signing happy birthday and gifts. And then a a few more minutes of play. The out of there for the next party! I like that - definite start and end times for parties, and someone else to do the clean up.

Sunday morning, your actually birthday, we tried to sing you happy birthday. And immediately your hand was up and you were commanding we stop.

"You sang that YESTERDAY" in your most exasperated voice.

Well, ok then! We had dance class (where you got a necklace from Ms. Jeannie) and the grocery shopping (where you got a PILE of goodies from the grocery store!) and dinner at baba and dido's. With a mountain of toys there! And an ice cream cake, as requested.

At the end of it all, I asked you what was your favourite part. The gifts? The cupcakes? The ice cream cake? No, it was playing with your friends from daycare. Not the kids of mommy's friends. YOUR friends. And so thank you Jack and Evan and Bailee for making Maddy's 4th birthday amazing.

I was like Maddy as a kid. I wanted my friends over all the time, always a friend over to play. I'd beg them to be allowed to stay a few minutes longer. A sleepover. Anything to have company. Neil was not this kind of only child. He was content alone. At least we have experience with the 2 extremes.

I see many play dates in our future.

And now that you are 4, we are going to get you a "big girl" twin bed! You are still on your very very firm crib mattress. Which can't be comfy. And there is barely room for you in the bed, with all your stuffies in there too. And sometimes? I just want to snuggle. So twin bed it is!

Your imagination is remarkable my dear! One evening, as you were falling asleep, you must have had a little dream and woke up in tears. There were balls of light coming out of your red IKEA table and they flew around your head and went into your belly and now your belly hurts. You were so upset!? Your amazing daddy took the offending table out of your room (it has not been allowed back in since) and now there is even more room for your big girl bed. And every morning we get to hear about your dreams the night before/. For a long time, it was all about the bad dreams. Now we count how many good ones and bad ones you had. But the details? Only the bad ones. Humans and interesting animals.

Yesterday you went to the doctor. for your 4 year check up. As soon as Dr. Chambers came in, you began telling your stories and gesturing emphatically to get your point across. That you were just there for the EAR DOCTOR and now he was the TUMMY DOCTOR and how it was your BIRTHDAY. The doctor smiled, leaned over to me and said quietly "I see a BFA in her future". So. Much. PERSONALITY.

But you are in perfect health! 3'4" tall, almost 43 pounds. So still 90th percentile for weight, 80th for height. Same as you have been almost from the start! Although even at age 4, there are the comparisons starting, with the sly allusions to height and weight and the desirability of skinny (with tall and skinny for boys, short and skinny for girls). Oh Maddy, what is this world you were born in to!

Although I have to admit, looking at pics from your birthday, I was immediately drawn to my waist and the extra there and immediately found myself failing. Not the joy on my face, at my daughter's birthday or the sense of tired accomplishment that it was going well (despite the fact I have been fighting something for months and months). Nope. Not even the joy on YOUR face Maddy, as you had so much fun at your birthday! My waist. And arms. And chin... And how I wasn't good enough. And these thoughts even when I am actively working to stop them.

What is this world we live in?

Well, my love. My four year old love. My big girl! Time to shut this old laptop off and get to bed, as I try to fight off this pestilence that has invaded me to the core (yes, that was dramatic. I can like the drama too!)

I love you. We all love you. Happy 4th birthday my big girl.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Month.. Oh man. A lot...

Well, I have failed at even once a month blogging! There is a long list of reminders in my inbox saying "Maddy letter dumbass!" (dumbass mine). And I see it. And I even add it to my list of things to do. And I don't. Why do I resist?

Who knows.

There is SO. MUCH. AWESOME. in our lives. Maddy is amazing and hilarious and so so smart and wonderful. And daily Neil and I laugh or cringe or are shocked by something she says or does. And I want to remember this all. I post pithy little Facebook updates, and maybe that could be enough. But I think I want more context. One of my 2014 resolutions is to... (you guessed it) BLOG MORE. And over a week into this, I am only just starting.

There are some really really old examples of her awesomeness that I saved in Google Keep (love that program - electronic sticky notes). One night, in July or so, as I was putting her to bed, I snuggled her tightly as we laid on her floor. Then I pretended to be fast asleep, with over the top snoring and everything. Maddy kept squirming and trying to get out, calling out "MOMMY! WAKE UP MOMMY!". I ignored her demands to wake up and stole the snuggles. She stopped moving... she was thinking...


She couldn't wake me, so the rooster would! I started laughing, ruining the snoring and let her go. And then stared and my 3 and a half year old, in awe of her problem solving. Her voice wouldn't wake me, so what does wake people? ROOSTERS! Oh Maddy, you'll have us on our toes for years and years to come.

(Just a picture from a playdate that I adore. This post needed more pictures!)

This was the first year Maddy went trick or treating, and understood it. And it was SO MUCH FUN. She dressed up, we walked and walked (and collected reams of candy). She was so polite walking up to houses, holding my hand. The first time I stood back to take a picture (below) is the first (but not last!) house with a motion activated scream machine. If you look closely in the picture you can see Maddy looking sharply to the right, as the machine starting cackling. Oy! I ran up the her immediately and was much more careful staying by her side. And holding her for a few other houses with motion detection machines.

After it was all done, we were snuggling in bed and talking about trick or treating. She loved the candy, the visiting. I praised her for being brave with some of the moving decorations. She said she wasn't brave, she was scared.

"Maddy, being brave means still doing what you want to, even if you are sacred. And mommy is so proud of you". I always, always am.

Right now, Maddy is helping with everything. Setting the table, cooking, cleaning... she can do it ALL because she is a "BIG girl now". And we're still trying to accommodate her as much as we can. Cutting the tomatoes? No. But putting the cut tomatoes into the bowl for me? Sure! We can make this helping thing work.

Over Christmas Maddy insisted on helping Neil shovel when it was when it was pretty cold out. We found her snowpants, scarf, tuque, gloves, jacket and warm boots. And her little pink shovel. And she was out! Helping Daddy. Well... "helping". She felt it was important to take the snow OFF the banks and put it on the sidewalk. Then when corrected, no snow on the sidewalk, she took the snow off the bank, crossed the sidewalk and put it on the OTHER bank. Where is slowly rolled down and landed... on the sidewalk. But she's trying! And we encourage that.

Another way Maddy wanted to prove she was a big girl. On New Years day we decided to go out to our favourite sushi restaurant. Maddy hears my mom and I constantly battle to see who will pay. That day? She ran into the living room, grabbed her little toy piggy bank (in the shape of a "Madelineraptor") and proudly declared SHE would be paying! She carried her piggy bank in to the restaurant and told the waitress (who we know well) that she would pay. Rhea looked at us, and we quietly indicated we'd cover the rest. And after dinner, Maddy proudly carried her 45 cents to pay for dinner. And we proudly finished off the bill.

Over Christmas Maddy was home with us when daycare was closed. We tried to get her out of the house, activities and visiting. And even tried to arrange a playdate at our place (although it never happened). But there was a lot of "booooooooored" and "I want you to PLAY with me!" over the days. Espousing the virtue of independent play was not going over very well... Finally on December 30 we could take Maddy in for the day! Despite us both being home, we knew she would love the time with her friends. She walked in to little girls screaming her name. Maddy hugged each little girl so tightly and exclaimed "I MISSED YOU GUYS!" and was off. She has reached that socialization place - her friends are so important to her. And they will continue to grow in importance (as we, the parents, diminish). And that is perfectly ok :)

(A picture from a friend's birthday party)

Maddy is also showing great interest in music. Neil is in a band (awesome band) and Maddy has been having fun "practicing" with him. She'd play the Rock Band game drums as he played bass. For Christmas I asked her if she wanted a drum or guitar, so she could play along with Daddy. She looked at me, with a puzzled expression and said

"A bass, mommy"

Well. A child's toy bass has not yet been invented! So she got a toy pink guitar, which she affectionately calls her bass. And it's obnoxiously loud. And she loves it!

 (Maddy, practicing with Daddy, back in the summer)

Being a mom is often collecting wisdom from friends. One dear friend was explaining how in her house she's taught her daughter there are no secrets, only surprises. The reason for this is dark, if there is anything inappropriate happening, and someone tells Maddy that what is happenign is a "secret" that she can't tell mommy or daddy... well. There are no secrets in our house. But it's hard to give up that vocal tic. 

A few days a ago we were sitting around. Maddy and Daddy were on the couch together, watching something on the computer I think. Maddy was being her usual awesome self and I was struck with how much I love her. I said aloud "Maddy, can I tell you a secret?". She stopped, thought and said "But we have no secrets mommy". Oh Maddy! You are right, I was wrong. There are no secrets. As I try to teach you, you reflect it back at me and make me look at life anew.

Parenting is not about saying the right thing, always. It's about modelling the right thing, as often as you can. And when you see something positive and confident reflected back at you, in your child's eyes and actions, you know that despite the mistakes you are doing ok. There will be secrets, one day. There will be lies and hurt feelings. We will be so irrelevant... and as long as we give her a solid foundation to act from, she'll be ok. So far, so good. We have an amazing little girl in our house.