August 14, 2009

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by Christy

We've seen a lot of action from March until today. In the first pictures here, Nora is almost 9 months. In the last, she is almost 14 months. From spring to late summer, Anders saw his 4th birthday, Nora turned 1, we've had visits with family in ND and visitors here in Oregon. It's been a busy and fun spring and summer.

Nora is still a little fireball. She loves to run, swim, bounce, slide, swing and is desparate to ride a trike, if only her feet would reach. She climbs to the top of absolutely everything that will hold her weight. She dances to anything with a regular rhythm and bass, immediately dancing to any music that comes on, the dishwasher, the sounds of construction a few blocks away, whatever.

Nora is also communicating a lot more now. She has been nodding "yes" and shaking her head "no" for some time, although she seems to prefer "no" when in doubt. She will give a kiss if you ask, but now she especially likes to tease Ted by saying no when he asks. She also says "wash" while doing the handwashing sign, "bye," "up," "cup," "hat," "apple," "banana," and of course, "papa" and "mama." She prefers to say papa, pointing out every picture of papa around the house when he is at work. We had a week of triple digit days (108 at the airport one day), so Nora is now an expert at "hot," and raises one hand in a stop sign, but applies it to anything not room temperature, even cold things. When an airplane flies over, she points up and says "up up." She knows almost all of the parts of the body, and likes to point out eyes, while trying to poke your eye and saying "eyes." She also does lots of silly nonsense gabbering and singing. She will do the tired sign sometimes, which is nice but doesn't necessarily lead to sleep. She is still resistent to using the sign for "all done," even though we've tried to end every meal with that sign for about 9 months now. She does it sporadically if she is in a good mood or wants to impress, but usually the signal for "all done" is still screaming and throwing food.

Right now, our neighbor kids Mary (8) and Randall (12) are playing with Anders and Nora on the hammock in our backyard. Anders jumps on and off the hammock while the others sit on it, and Nora laughs and laughs. She likes to laugh and be silly, and lately really likes to laugh and run away if you try to stop her from putting something in her mouth, or from climbing on something. She is very independent, feeding herself with a spoon and drinking from a cup.

Anders is a 4 year old now, silly and funny. His language continues to get more sophisticated every day, along with his thoughts and emotions. Ted is thrilled that he has finally started building things with Legos, all on his own. They build crazy cars and race them down ramps. He loves all of his stuffed animals and has "groups" with them to teach them something new, but especially to introduce them to any new toy or animal (Hallgrim the High Puffin, SparkleSky the dragon, Border the big white bear, Borscht Bear, multiple puppies, Pikachu, Dewey the black bear, etc. etc.) He is still into dragons. Today I learned that we have many dragons that help us do things, like eat our food or do work. One day he told me, "mama, I'm a dragon and you tamed me." Usually I say that I am trying to civilize him, but taming him is an appropriate description many days too. He calls on "dragon language" when convenient. Like the day that I told him he had 1 more minute in the bathtub, which was fine with him because in dragon language 1 actually means 10. How convenient. He makes up lots of dragon words too, when necessary.

So the world of make-believe is our constant companion. Anders, Randall and Mary play a game pretending that the hammock is a pirate ship. Right now, Anders' name is "binky down," Mary is "pinky pound," and Randall is " sleepy A/C (for air conditioner)." They are really nice, gentle kids. We are lucky that they are such good role models for Anders, because he sure loves to play with them. Randall is helping Nora bounce on the little trampoline, Mary is helping her onto the little rocker bike. They have their own brand new little sister, and they will be great with her.

It is amazing to watch Anders make new intellectual leaps. In the last month, he started adding in his head. I was trying to distract and kill time one day, so I asked him how many legs a dog has, a cat, a bug, a spider, a person. Then I asked how many legs 2 people have, and after a moment he said 4. I asked how many legs 2 cows has, and after looking up for a moment he said 8. I asked how he was doing it, was he moving his fingers to count, or thinking of a picture of 2 cows and counting the legs, but he just said "I'm doing it in my head." He now tries adding several times a day, on his own initiative. Suddenly, from the bathroom we will hear, "do you know what 3+3 is? 6!" Sometimes he gets it wrong, but works through it again. Pretty neat. He knows all of his letters now too and spells simple words, and can sound out words if we give him the letters, even without writing them down. He doesn't show a lot of interest in working out a whole page of words, and if we try to read with him he prefers to get the words by memory or context. He isn't taking the time to sound it out, but he is starting to see the magic of unlocking the code. Tonight he was telling me to write something down, it was my choice what I wrote, but he insisted that it be letters and numbers. I guess he doesn't see that adults don't write non- letters and numbers anymore, like he does.

Nora continues to be a long and lean girl, with her cute curls. I've been amazed with Anders' sudden big-boy body. His legs and torso seem to have lengthened so much in the last week or two, and his shoulders seem to have broadened some too. He is a sweet boy, and Nora is a sweet girl. They are both so energetic and playful, strong and willful. They are their own beings. They have been butting heads a bit more lately, with Anders seeing Nora as competition now. He sometimes says things like "Nora wants you to love her more than you love me." The best one that we hear occasionally is "Nora is destroying my future." True, she is destroying his train track, which is his immediate future, but I don't think it will affect his high school GPA.