I haven't done an update on the kids for a while, so I thought it would be a good time.
My little Norah is not so little anymore. She's 15 months old (almost 16 months) and incredibly full of spirit. She is "so talky," as Chris says, and she knows how to make her opinion heard, and she is never short on opinions either. She has strong tastes in food (cheese: yes; squash: no) and a growing vocabulary, including (but not limited to)
A word of her own devising, which sounds like "Da!" but which means "Give me the thing I am pointing at, and make it snappy."
She also sings along with songs and quotes movies and parrots nearly anything you say, although it is hard to get her to repeat these words or phrases ever again after she utters them miraculously for the first and only time. A great example of this was two months ago when Chris walked into the kitchen holding his toy yellow Lamborghini Murcielago. Norah pointed at it and said "AMBURGEEN!" And then never, ever said it again. I suppose the thrill of making her mother look crazy is enough to encourage her to expand her vocabulary in secret, without ever displaying her knowledge to anyone else ;D
She will walk now, sometimes, with some inducement. She still prefers to crawl, and she crawls really fast. From time to time she will stand without holding onto anything, but when she needs to move quickly to steal a toy or get some cheese, she still prefers all-fours.
Chris is getting ready to turn 4 (in October), and in the past month or so his storytelling has really taken off. He tells me stories at bedtime sometimes now, instead of the other way around, and they are intricate, involving action, intrigue, and loads of imagination. I wasn't expecting such a lively imagination along with the ability to express it quite this early, but hey, I'll take it! I am constantly amazed by his powers of observation, and the way that he can size up a situation almost instantly. If he watches 5 minutes of a movie or TV show, he knows everybody's name, their relation to each other, and what they are trying to do within the plot of the movie or episode.
He also reads stories to me, not actually reading them, but memorizing the stories and telling them. He reads stories to Norah's dolls and feeds them bottles, although when they need new diapers he always brings them to me ;D
He still really likes playing with his toys from Cars (Lightning McQueen, etc.) and is going through the second or third iteration of a continuing fixation on the movie Shrek. This is mostly benign, but produces some pretty funny situations, including the scene that played out a week or two ago. There is a part of Shrek in which Shrek calls Donkey a "stubborn jackass," which, strictly speaking, is an accurate description. But not exactly the kind of thing you want your preschooler saying. Chris and Ben were play fighting and having some sort of standoff within their game, and Chris made a serious face at Ben and said "Stubborn jackets!" I love that his mind reinterpreted that phrase to something gentler. We laughed for days about that one.
Oftentimes now, Chris's pre-terrible-twos personality shines through, for an hour here or there, or sometimes (like yesterday) for an entire day. I look forward to getting to know him again without the constant public tantrums, although on days like today (end of a long week, heat index 107) I can't hold it against him if he has a tantrum or two. I'm pretty close to having one myself, and at least he has the excuse of his age.
I had a spark of an idea earlier this week to make Chris a place in the living room where he can play and be part of the action, but where Norah can't get to him and his toys. I turned our loveseat around backwards to face the wall, and it has been a hit. He keeps his most precious cars in there, and likes to play sometimes without his sisters sticky fingers reaching into his play scenarios. He seems more like Ben and more like me every day. His teacher told me something that reminded me a lot of myself the other day -- they said that when he plays in the dress-up room, the other kids dress up like firefighters, doctors, etc., but he will only wear the hard hat that goes with the builder costume, and even then, he will wear it only if he has some tools and is about to build something. This makes me smile but it doesn't surprise me -- I took myself very seriously as a little kid and I am not surprised that even his role playing has a pragmatic twist to it -- to him, the hard hat probably has a practical purpose aside from encouraging his imagination -- probably, it just seems like a smart safety precaution to take, when you are operating heavy machinery.
So often lately Ben and I spend the evening before the kids go to bed just sitting on the couch and watching them play. Their minds are expanding rapidly, and while their newly developed skills are often put to use in order to give us trouble (as in Norah's newly expanded vocabulary, which allows her to say "Mama, NO!" when I carry her down the hall to go to bed), I can't help but be proud of my sticky little smarty-pantses. They keep me hopping, they wear me out, they make me old, and they keep me young. I have my hands full for sure! :)