Friday, October 23, 2009

strong & scary

Rose Pink has been very into dinosaurs lately. (Nut Brown too- he makes excellent dinosaur sound effects.) Below are a few artistic representations of what she's been learning.

Prairie Home Companion

Hooray! Mr. Brown & I have tickets to go see A Prairie Home Companion in Des Moines the first Saturday in November. I am so excited!! Thank you to the Iowa City Browns for agreeing to watch the small ones for us while he and I drive out to Des Moines.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

mosaic

On cold days, Mr. Brown makes up a travel mug of fruit tea for me to take with me to work. I forgot it on the table the other morning. Nut Brown & Rose Pink both love tea, and they know what the travel mug is for. That morning Mr. Brown was finishing up his video game level after Nut Brown got up, so Nut Brown went up to the kitchen by himself to scavenge for breakfast. Mr. Brown heard a little voice shouting, "Daddy? Daddy?" He came upstairs and discovered that Nut Brown had dropped the travel mug full of hot tea on the chair he was standing on, and was now standing on his tiptoes at the back to avoid the puddle of hot liquid on the chair! We were very pleased that he could use words to get the help he needed instead of just crying or screaming.

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Yesterday, Nut Brown was left alone in the basement momentarily, and he started to shout, "Clean up! Clean up!" When Mr. Brown went down to see what needed to be cleaned up, he found that Nut Brown had gotten into one of his containers of D&D miniatures and dumped the whole thing out. He was asking for help to clean up.

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Nut Brown has also learned to count off the members of his family. He says, "Mommy, Daddy, Rose Pink, Nut Brown!" in a cute little voice. So fun!! He has finally learned an understandable pronunciation of his sister's name. (He uses the last two syllables.) For a long time we knew he had something he called her but we couldn't tell what it was.

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This morning Nut Brown demanded milk for breakfast.

Nut Brown: Milk!

Mr. Brown: Milk, please.

Nut Brown: Milk, please!

Mr. Brown: You bet! (pours milk)

Nut Brown: Milk please you bet! You bet!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

21 October 2009 (2)

Rose Pink has a variety of superhero identities, some of the standard issue such as Batgirl and Kim Possible, and some of the imaginative sort, such as Captain Nauvoo. The other day she came downstairs and announced, I'm HANDICAPPED GIRL! A superhero! Seeking to teach sensitivity to others, we asked, "What does handicapped mean?"

She said, "It means that I have superpowers!"

Okay, good enough.

Mr. Brown says that Handicapped Girl seems to be linked to wearing especially awesome clothes, like her pink pants with giant purple roses on them.

knock knock!

When Nut Brown wants to come in from outside, he stands outside the door and yells, KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! at the top of his lungs instead of knocking. This was funniest to me over the summer when he was on the back porch at Grandma's house and started hollering, rather than bang on the door. We didn't even realize that he was outside, when a loud little boy voice suddenly shouts, "KNOCK! KNOCK!"

Jammas

Sunday night, we were getting ready for bed and I changed Nut Brown's diaper and then absent-mindedly started to put his pants back on. He grabbed the pants and laughed and said, "No! Jammas!"

banana

Nut Brown tells a knock-knock joke now.

Nut Brown: Knock knock!

Mom: Who's there?

Nut Brown: BA-nana!

Mom: Banana who?

Nut Brown: Knock knock!

Mom: Who's there?

Nut Brown: BA-nana!

Mom: Banana who?

Nut Brown: Knock knock!

Mom: Who's there?

Nut Brown: Oinge!

21 October 2009

I was going through some photos from when Nut Brown was a newborn yesterday- he sure looked funny, and not at all like the cute cherub he's grown into- and I was remembering how we got a visit from a social worker a couple days after we came home from the hospital. I was all groggy from hormones and lack of sleep and a nicely dressed young lady came into our living room and asked us why our new baby's stool had tested positive for marijuana!

We were highly alarmed, mostly because it seemed to us that she didn't believe our assertions that we don't use marijuana, we never have, and we're never around people who do. She kept saying things like, you can tell me if you have in the past, and when we kept saying that we had nothing to confess, she intimated that it would have been better if we had.

So I'm all freaking out about the state taking my baby away based on his poop testing positive for a chemical we don't keep in the house, and fortunately Mr. Brown leaned over and looked at her papers, and then asked, "Doesn't that say that you're looking for an African-American female baby?" She says, Yes. Not to be racist, but Mr. Brown & I & Nut Brown don't really look African-American. And I know the fact that we'd dressed the baby in blue is not a final determination of gender, but it might have merited further investigation. She, however, did not seem to think that this was worth looking into at all, and after pressuring us further for another few minutes, she took her leave, promising or threatening to talk to her supervisor about our case.

Mr. Brown immediately got on the phone to the hospital to ask for more information about the stool tests, how they're done, what sort of accuracy rate they have, and so on, and he told the hospital that we'd been visited by a social worker. The hospital did some checking and it turns out that there were two babies born that afternoon- both to mothers named Brown. And the other baby was an African-American female.

The hospital apologized profusely. The social worker's supervisor apologized profusely. I'm glad that Mr. Brown was clear-headed enough to get things sorted out. I was dithering in a hormonal nightmare of having my baby taken away, but he got everyone straightened out and nothing actually happened. Hooray for him! Hooray for the tender mercies that let everything work out so well.

Monday, October 19, 2009

19 October 2009

Mr. Brown has developed the charming habit of falling ill on Thursdays so that I have to stay home from work on Fridays. Two weeks in a row-- I'm crossing my fingers that he'll be sick again this Friday. He and I have been busy planting bulbs to get ready for next spring. I went a little crazy buying them, so he planted sixty crocuses, and I have planted six hyacinth, six pink irises, five narcissi, twenty snowdrops and about sixty daffodils. I started with a hundred daffodils so I still have forty to go but I've run out of places to put them. I'm thinking maybe I'll take them back and put them around the roots of the trees back by Mr. Stump but I haven't been brave enough yet. It's supposed to be in the sixties for the next couple days (a bit of a warmup after the frosts we've had) so hopefully I can get them planted SOMEWHERE.

Mr. Brown and I went out during naptime to plant, and Rose Pink was playing by herself with her barbies. We said, We'll be down in the garden if you need us, and she said, Okay. The garden is within shouting distance. I went back once to check on her. She was in the middle of some drama with the barbies and when I interrupted her to ask if things were okay, she gave me a completely disoriented look- who are you? Why are you talking to me? I love the way she talks to herself while she's telling stories. She still talks to herself in the morning when she wakes up, too.

Reading with my children is a surprisingly verbal activity right now. Nut Brown wants to repeat every word you say, so it's impossible to read to him while he's eating dinner, because he stops eating in order to talk. (Why was I reading while eating dinner? Because I was trying to entice him to stay at the table and eat. He stayed, all right, but he didn't eat because he wanted to talk.) Rose Pink is learning to read, and I guess I shouldn't be surprised by this, but learning new words and practicing new sounds together involves lots of verbal repetition. She reads through a sentence, we go over and sound out the words she doesn't know, and then she reads it over several times and repeats the tricky words over and over out loud. We don't prompt her to do this, she just does, and I have to remind myself that repetition is the mother of learning and not interrupt her while she's cementing things in. She is really getting the hang of sounding things out- I've caught her doing it without prompting a couple of times. And now I get frustrated with English- she reads "One cow" and pronounces it "oh-nee cow" or tries for "people" and gets "pe-uh-plea". Oh well, it's all part of learning, I suppose. I can't change the language, so I'll just have to correct her apologetically.

Some neighbors that I grew up with sent us some questions cards for 2-3 yr olds that we have been reading with Nut Brown. They're full of questions and pictures and are meant to be conversations starters for you to use with your two-year-old. Nut Brown loves to sit and go through them with us- we ask him questions, look at colors, count the puppies, talk about fish and shopping and so on. It is a really, really great tool that helps us discuss a variety of topics with him. Last night he and I were going through a few of them, and we came to a card about the zoo. I asked him if he liked the zoo and he looked up at me and said, "Yes!" and then he said, "Monkeys!" Do you see monkeys at the zoo? I ask. "Yes!" says Nut Brown. "Lions!" and it went on like this, with him naming things that he remembered seeing at the zoo- train, elephants, giraffes...it was really amazing because it really felt like I was having an actual conversation with him, discussing what he'd seen at the zoo- a place that he remembered being. So wonderful! It was just totally amazing to feel so engaged with him, talking about something abstract like what we did two weeks ago.

He calls elephants "bumps" and generally refers to a horse as a 'nay' and a cat as a 'mow' (rhymes with cow).

At supper last night when I was through reading to Nut Brown, Rose Pink decided that she was going to read to him. We had been looking at Richard Scarry's Word Book (thank you, Grandpa!!) and she kept turning pages and naming items, and he sat beside her and repeated them. She would say, Nut Brown! Feather! and he'd repeat, feather, and she'd move on to the next word. It was so sweet to watch them together- the good part of a bossy older sister, mothering her little brother. They both had a great time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

how-ween!

Nut Brown has learned to say "Halloween!" (how-ween!) He is going to be a ghost and Rose Pink is going to be a haunted house. Mr. Brown has made the rough framework of her costume out of a box, and she and I are going to decorate it to look like a house with markers, colored paper, foil, and pipe cleaners. Nut Brown has been having a ball pretending to be a ghost. He asks for available loose fabric to be draped over his head and wanders around saying "oooooo!" He is most gratified when we shriek and run.

I went to visit a new baby the other night with Nut Brown, and the family asked how old he was. Trying to show off like any other proud parent, I said to Nut Brown, "How old are you?" Nut Brown held up crossed fingers and announced, "THREE!"

Rose Pink loves to make up stories and tries to involve us in them. Tonight as we were walking she was working on one (they're dialogue-heavy) and she says to me, "Do you want to be my mother?" Well, I had a pretty good day today, so I said, "Yes!" and she said, "Really? For real?" and I said, "Can I take you home?" It just made me laugh inside. We were at the skywalk downtown to run around because it was 1) dark and 2) cold and 3) Mr. Brown was sick. He's got some flu bug or something.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

sunday afternoon

Nut Brown is sleeping upstairs, and Rose Pink is playing some princess story with the barbies. She asked Mr. Brown to get a tight sleeve on a barbie, and he suggested cutting the lacy, delicate, finger-grabbing sleeve off entirely. Rose Pink was very pleased with the idea and has brought me three more dresses to cut sleeves off of, and one pair of tights that she suggested we make into leggings. She also suggested cutting their hair, but I negatived that one.

A new little girl named Makayla (sp?) has moved into our complex. She is five and she and Rose Pink took to each other immediately and have been inseparable since. Mr. Brown and I also approve- we find her nice and well-mannered and she really seems to enjoy playing with Rose Pink. Yesterday she was over for dinner (she didn't want to stop playing and go home) and when Rose Pink had to go do her chore of putting away the silverware Makayla asked if she could help. I was impressed. Her parents are also pretty relaxed about her, too, which has made it very easy for Rose Pink to make friends. I am so glad that Rose Pink has another friend. The only downer about the whole thing is that Makayla is a child of divorced parents so she's only here some of the time.

Nut Brown has been producing more and more words. He's in that delightful parrot stage where he repeats every word you say like a little echo. It is so, so fun. As his vocabulary has expanded we've started to hear more adjective+noun phrases: big truck, red truck, etc. and requests, like drink please. ('Drink' is pronounced 'gonk'. Only his parents know what he means.) Today he negotiated with us for the first time- I told him, time for your nap, Nut Brown, and he said, "ONE BOOK! ONE BOOK!" So we read one book and he went to bed. He 'reads' a verse every night by repeating each word after the speaker.

The other night he and I were out playing by ourselves and he suddenly says, "Sssss!" and made monster hands. I said, Oh, are you a lion? and Nut Brown said, "Nake! Sssss!" He was pretending to be a snake. He has a very vivid imagination, like his sister. But he imagines different things.

He has also completely, utterly fallen in love with books. An empty lap is an invitation to trot over with a book and say, "read!" It's the first thing he does in the morning (even before breakfast) and the last thing he does at night. He's not interested in stories as much as he is in identifying and naming objects. I love reading to him.

And when he comes downstairs from his nap or from his night's sleep, he smiles and says, "Hello!" He also says "Hello!" to me when I get home from work, and to Mr. Brown when he comes up from the basement. He is still small enough that when I pick him up under the armpits I can feel his heart beating under my fingertips, and that feels so intimate.

Rose Pink is learning to read and reads from Dick and Jane to us. I am amazed at how well she does reading and remembering words. At night when we read scriptures, she reads all the words that she knows (and, the, if, is) and repeats after us the ones she doesn't. Mr. Brown is looking for a list of common words for her to memorize.

Nut Brown just got up from his nap ("Hello!") which means that Rose Pink has been playing barbies by herself for almost two hours.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

thirty-nine degrees

It snowed this morning. Rose Pink was ecstatic.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

1 October 2009

Happy new fiscal year! We survived! I get to go home in daylight today!!
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Rose Pink has a green shirt that says "Nauvoo" on it. When she wears it, she announces herself as "Captain Nauvoo!" the new superhero.