A few choice blurbs from MZ that have made it to Facebook and deserve to be remembered:

06/19: In an awed hush tone upon discovering an American Girl catalog for the first time: This is a very cool book.

06/19: Upon hearing Lady Gaga's latest, MZ announced that she too would like to ride on a disco stick. Grrreeaat.

06/16: MZ is obsessed with cemeteries after Great Grandma's funeral. Today she insisted that Mana and Papa take her to the cemetery to visit Great Grandma. She had them read all the gravestones, she wanted to know who Grandma's neighbors are and how old they were when they died. The next morning, Daddy asked her if she had brought flowers. Disappointment clouded her face for just a moment, and then she announced: We didn't have any flowers at preschool. We'll bring them next time.

06/14: Fabulous trip to Brentwood to pick cherries with neighborhood friends. I picked a ton, in a completely obsessive compulsive way. MZ picked a ton, too, and G insisted on putting all his cherries in MZ's bucket. We came home with 18 lbs. of cherries!! That's a nice little store of cherry jam.

Mama: Happy birthday, Great Grandma!
MZ: We can't have a cake for her because she's dead.


Yarzheit Five

Hello Avi and Ximena. Five years, that seems like such a landmark. I had a hard time today, I found more rage than sadness beneath the surface. Whether this a stage of grief or a state of being I have no idea.

This year we explained you to your sister. She wants a sibling badly, and is particularly taken with the idea of brothers, and it occurred to me how strange it is that we are now explaining you to your younger sister, but you are the babies. "Ximena is a girl's name," she said. "That's a longer story," said your dad quietly. "Sometimes boys and girls have the same name," I said, loud enough to hear.

We lit the candles, and I visited with them and my memories of you a few times today. But nothing compared to hearing your names read aloud tonight at services. Avraham Freedman. Ximena Freedman. We never hear your names aloud unless we say them, and I was reminded how powerful it is to hear your names spoken by others. Tears sprung instantly, we held each other and your sister, grateful for her miraculous presence in our lives, missing the opportunity to know you.

There, in the same sanctuary where your sister was named, with the large crowd an impending bar and bat mitzvah bring, I thought of the life passages that we will not share with you. I remembered the magnitude of our loss. I remembered that I am the mom of three.

I love you both, Avi and Ximena, as fiercely as the day I held you.

First Day of School

Me: Miriam, did you get to play with D today?
MZ: No, she wasn't there
Me: Oh, well, did you have fun with C?
MZ: No, she wasn't there
Me: When I left you were playing with C
MZ: She had to go
Me: Oh, well, did you like your new teachers?
MZ: They had to leave, too. Everyone left, it was just me and Felix.
Me: Oh, well what did you do?
MZ: We watched the school


Forty-two Months: All things Sparkly!


Helping Hands

I *love* this phase! Miriam wants to help with everything. She has for a long while, but she's also lacked the coordination for some tasks, so I've waited patiently while she "helps," then tried to surreptitiously re-do or do whatever needed getting done.

But she's rounded a bend. Tonight, for the third or fourth time, she helped me fold sheets. She takes the ends, folds them, walks her end to me and dances back, until the sheets are perfectly folded. An exhausted Robert never had to get off the sofa. She enjoyed this so much that we folded napkins together next -- a task I hate -- and since she couldn't quite manage it standing, she laid the napkins on an ottoman to match up the ends. Perfectly folded napkins, which she insisted we use tonight for dinner, and of course we did.

On Tuesday I came home from the gym to find her making pancakes with her dad. Not just cracking eggs and stirring, but making pancakes. She sets the table, picks up dropped items, fetches things, wow, she's earning her keep! And she's so quietly proud of herself and enthusiastic, I hope this isn't one of those two-week phases...


Tenacious MZ, Round II

MZ has been wanting to climb up the outside of the tube slide at Library Playground for over a year now. Today she did it, the first time to a round of parental applause, the next five times to prove it wasn't a fluke. The seventh time because Roasted Squid missed it the first six times. And she would have kept going if not for dinner time.



Forty Months: When I Get a Big Girl

I'm doing a bit of backtracking here, because I've actually made little notes about what's going on each month, even if I haven't blogged them.

May was all about what you will do when you get to be a big girl: cross the street by yourself, decide whether to wear a jacket or not, wear earrings. We would tell you you couldn't do something, and you would answer When I get a big girl, I will. Overall, this has been much preferred over temper tantrums about what you can't do, we appreciate you taking the long view.

You also started talking about friends at preschool this month. For months you've been talking about your teachers, and when we sing our preschool song, you always pipe up with other children's names. But this month you started reporting on their activities, and your communal play, in a way that has us all very excited to get to school. I think you'll really enjoy going more days this summer, although I'm sad about giving up my Fridays with you. My work is ramping up, which is no doubt the cause for such statements as I can't come to dinner right now, I have a meeting and I can't go to the playground with you, I have to go to work.

You started a drop-off swim class last month. You've been taking swim class with your Dad for a year now, and when you turned three, none of us were quite ready for you to head into the class on your own. But by the time an opening popped up, you were more than ready. You're now reliably wearing goggles, swimming from the float to the wall or the steps, getting yourself in and out of the pool easily using elbow-elbow-tummy-knee-knee, and in general behaving like you love to swim, as opposed to loving hanging out in the water chatting with your Dad. All this progress culminated in your first ribbon this month. At your swim school, the ring the bell at the end of the session and announce all the ribbon awards. I didn't think you even noticed this was going on, but when they said your name and gave you your Rainbow Ribbon, you did a hilariously infectious little hip-twisting dance that perfectly communicated your excitement.

You also love to be in the kitchen, removing fava beans from their pods, stirring pancake batter, measuring ingredients and helping Mana make pudding desserts. You love chocolate pudding and tapioca, and asked to make chocolate tapioca -- your first recipe innovation!

And in the verbal gymnastics category, you can recite
The Banana Song all by yourself! You asked me to banana-fana-fo-fana everyone in your class during drives to preschool, till the other day we started driving and you announced:

Puppy Puppy bo buppy
Banana fana fo fuppy
Me my mo muppy


Thirty-nine Months: Hee Heady-hetz Heady Yahtz

The above constitutes my only note for April. But it's worth a post, because it's your very favorite song right now. Hee Heady-hetz Heady Yahtz is actually Aaj Mera Jee Kardaa (Today My Heart Desires) a bhangra-inspired tune from the Monsoon Wedding score. It appears on one of our song lists, and you've taken a liking to it, so it's now on yours, too. We know exactly where to find it on the iTunes lineup, and it's the first thing we listen to when we get in the car.

Other current favorites in your eclectic Top 100 include:
o Mambo Italiano by Rosemary Clooney
o Wonton Tomato, a variation on your Dad's One Ton Tomato, is actually Guantan Amera (the Celia Cruz version)
o This Little Light of Mine, the fabulous version by Sam Cooke
o She'll Be Comin' 'round the Mountain by local favorites Orange Sherbet
o Mahna Mahna as done by Cake
o Hello Dolly by Bobby Darin
o Alphabet of Nations by They Might be Giants
o Chitty Chitty Bang Bang -- especially with video on You Tube
o I Wanna Be Like You by Louie Prima (from the Jungle Book soundtrack)
o Anything from The Wizard of Oz
o Ease on Down the Road from The Wiz (which you excitedly tell us is "the Aunt Jen")
o Your are My Sunshine as sung by Elizabeth Mitchell. This one took a lot of conversation, about who is her sunshine, and who would take her sunshine away, and would her sunshine come back, and why she doesn't want to lose her sunshine. But you seem to have worked out the anxiety around this one and now even occasionally ask me (Me! who can't carry a tune in a bag!) to sing it to you

You've seriously bonded to Jewish music, with a Chanukah-heavy mix on your Top 20 list
o Dreidel Dreidel, a surf rock version by Meshugga Beach Party that knows no season
o Ocho Kandelikas by Flory Jagoda grabbed your attention in December and hasn't let go
o David Melech Yisrael as sung by your first music teacher, Teacher Elana
o Heveinu Shalom Aleichem -- you seem to recognize and like every version of this song, but your clear favorite is the ska klezmer stylings of King Django

And some old favorites that still command attention:
o Little Peter Rabbit, the Susie Tallman version
o Cripple Creek, the Enzo Garcia version, to which you still love to two-step with your Dad.

Thirty-eight Months: I have a conversation!

In March, you would pop up with "I have a conversation!" whenever you felt left out...

We love this, you don't act up or run away, you actually join in with your own topic. Many of these conversations are about Puppy and what he was doing, or what you were doing together. You seem to work through a lot of stuff with Puppy, what to do when Puppy hits you, or when he doesn't want to play with you, or when he goes away.

Monsters are also a frequent topic of conversation. There's a small, friendly monster that lives between the refrigerator and the wall. There's a monster that lives behind doors and who you sometimes visit. There are monsters in the back seat of the car, in the living room, everywhere, and they all seem to be your friends. 
When we're driving in the car, talking about something (usually work) in the front seat, the conversation goes something like this:
A or R: blah blah blah

MZ: I want to talk about fishes.
Us: Okay, what fishes?
MZ: The purple fishes

Us: Where do they live?
MZ: In San Mateo, near Bubbe's house
Us: Oh! Are they big or small?
MZ: The purple fishes are big
Us: Are there other fishes?
MZ: The yellow fishes are small. They live in Florida near Grandma Little.

You also helped me blow out the candles on my 40th birthday cake. R. threw an ironic little party for me with a Princess theme, which of course you dug. You were quite a hostess, welcoming people at the door and dividing your time among big people and small.


Ready... Set... Go

Blogging has evolved into something like an organizng project for me, so much stuff in the past needing attention, but in the end I've just got to start from where we are right now... and I can't think of any better way. Here, a completely current photo of MZ with her best friend Pugawug (taken on the stairs of our newly painted houe, btw).


Thirty-six Months by the Numbers

Due to a ludicrous insurance rule, we couldn't schedule Miriam's 3-year Wellness Appointment until 365 days after her Two-year Appointment, which had been delayed due to a cold. Given our pediatrician's newly limited schedule (she's a new mom, yay!), we'll be attending her 5-Year Appointment sometime in June (2010) at best.

The appointment went well! We picked her up early from preschool and raced across town. Miriam was so animated in the waiting room we wondered if perhaps someone had replaced our child. She ran around, tried to get a little boy to play with her, and generally acted like she hangs out there every day.

We were all a little bowled over to be seen in the doctor's office on a chaise lounge rather than the exam room of previous appointments. Dr. G chatted with Miriam, encouraged to take her own clothes off, asked which of Puppy's ears to look into before she looked into Miriam's and seemed please with her speech and coordination. Worries about her breech-baby hips are a thing of the past!

Miriam is 31 lbs and 37.5 inches of lithe preschooler energy. She's 50th percentile for weight *and* height despite a growth spurt that brought her face to face with most of her taller friends. She's a happy healthy little weasel, for which we are eternally grateful.

Puppy Days

Puppy has four siblings, Pammy, Cammy, Steve and Tom. Puppy lives in the purple house on Aztec near Coso. His parents frequently come to visit, but somehow we always miss them. He goes to a preschool called Big Puppy Preschool.

Puppy used to play tetherball when he was a baby. He's too young to eat food and still drinks from his mother's breast.

Puppy speaks very quietly, MZ often has to ask him a few times before she understands his response, even when she holds him close to her ear.

We'll keep you updated as we learn more...


Three Years Old: What's your name?

Puddintane, ask me again and I'll tell you the same! "What's your name?" is your favorite game right now. The correct answer is Pim to your Pom, at which point we bargain for each other's names and make up increasingly unpronounceable multi-syllabic sounds to call ourselves and each other.

The game started at the dinner table, but has moved to a broader stage. I still find it slightly awkward to play in public, it's strange to hear you ask me my name, but usually we jump right in. Although in the early days you played with your Daddy, too, this has become a game for you and me alone. I must admit sometimes I'm not quite in the headspace to make up name after name after name, but it's such an intimate Mama/Miriam thing that I play on whenever the fancy strikes you.

You also love to have me sing to/with you whenever we're in the car. We've moved from the "We're going to preschool..." song to The Grand Old Duke of York to Apples and Bananas, which you listen to intently, and I'm sure will be singing on your own in no time.

You love wordplay. You ask us to repeat phrases and immediately adopt those that entertain you. You continue to be a very verbal kid, although we seriously wonder if they know this in preschool. Your teachers are working with you on "the Puppy thing." Concerned that you use Puppy as a barrier against joining into the group, they're encouraging you to bring Puppy to circle time, then put him in your cubbie till nap time, then into the box again until it's time to go home.

You've commented on this: Jan doesn't let Puppy go to the playground. And we remind you that Puppy doesn't go to the playground at home, either. It's a hard transition, but it seems like the right hting. And the way you joyfully greet Puppy when it's time to go home is pretty adorable.

Thirty-six Months: That's Three in Weasel Years! and other Birthday Musings

Miriam had three parties this year:
o Her Bernal Babies party shared with Lila
o Her "friends" party replete with fave songstress Teacher Elana and purple-frosted cupcakes!
o A more adult family affair with all her local family, including her favorite dinner: grilled flank steak, whole wheat couscous and string beans

... technically she also had a preschool party, which she shared with another classmate. They each got to make crowns and wear them all day, and we brought in the gorgeous sugared MZ butter cookies Mana made.

Pretty good for a 3 year old.

She received both a train table and a "dream box" filled with fabulous (and un-branded) princess costumes and fairy wings, covering all the 3-year-old bases.