Rapid-fire update: The floors are done. They look great. My visit to Baltimore was great too. Lots of family time! Never enough, but still lots. And a great painting session with my mom. Then Christmas came and went and was amazing. J got lots of stuff and we had a wonderful time playing in the snow and spending time with family. F and I got to go on a few dates too, which was really nice.

Okay, onto the humblebragging and sanctimommying!

Ever since our Christmas trip to Iowa, J has been much more into imaginative play. She’s been doing lots and lots of pretending to be other people, other things, etc. She’s especially fond of being mommy :). She’s also exploring emotions in more depth. She’s started “pretend” crying or laughing. Early on I decided that if she was “fake” crying or laughing, I would look at that as an expression of the emotion she’s feeling rather than some kind of bid for attention or sympathy. So far it’s been working really well! It keeps it from being annoying to me, and I think that helps me talk to her about big feelings without waiting until she’s got huge ones. So when she sobs and boo hoos, I talk to her about why she’s sad and how she can fix it. When she shivers and says she’s scared in a normal voice, I can talk to her about what to do when she’s scared. And because she’s not really very scared/sad, she can actually digest and practice what I’m saying. I don’t know if it will work when those too big to handle emotions come roaring down on her, but it definitely makes me feel better and gives me something to do when she’s “pretending.” (I keep putting that in quotes because I’m not sure I buy that just because there is no water coming from her eyes, she’s not sad, and possibly even sad enough to cry.) She doesn’t enjoy pretending to be angry, so that one has been harder. I’ve been trying to be more honest about when I’m frustrated, annoyed, or angry. One night last week she was so exhausted and mad she was screaming and scratching at herself. I was frustrated too, so I took her into the playroom and showed her how I wanted to punch a pillow and shout about what was upsetting me. Then we took turns doing that for a while. She would generally follow my themes, but was still getting out some of her own anger. I would say I was angry at work, because someone said something mean. She would say she was angry at school, because Mommy wasn’t there. I would say I was annoyed because I was hungry and dinner wasn’t ready, she would say she was annoyed at Daddy, because he said no [he did, it was what set off the tantrum]. So she was getting there! Eventually it became a game and she was calm enough to go eat and take a bath and go to bed.

Since I’m talking about emotions and how much she’s learning there… As I am wont to do, the other day as I was settling her down for bed, I sat there holding her and breathing in the smell of her hair (apples, baby shampoo, sunlight) and whispered, “I love you no matter what.” Normally she just nods, or ignores me, or sometimes will sigh and relax a little bit more. But that night, she looked up at me. I could just barely see her eyes shining in the darkness of her room, and she whispered, “I mad sometimes.” I whispered that I loved her even when she was mad at me. She followed up with, “I cry sometimes.” and I whispered that I loved her even when she was sad and felt like crying. Then a big breath and she admitted, “I like Daddy sometimes.” And in the same tone as the other two, I told her that I loved her even when she wanted Daddy and not me. Oh, the heart melting of that conversation. After I told her I loved her even then, she snuggled down into my arms and soon after fell asleep. I guess she’s old enough now that when I tell her I love her in all the different iterations that I do, they are starting to mean something to her. Plus, having her tell me out of the blue, “Mommy, I love you SOOOO much!” is just. Well. I guess this is the kind of thing that makes it all seem worthwhile.

She’s started being able to play alone more, although she’s still incredibly social and would much prefer if I played with her (or Daddy, if I refuse). It has become a strange dynamic at the dinner table. When she’s done eating, which she always is before us, she’s welcome to go play by herself. Or she can sit at the table and wait. Just about every night she will sit, and wait pretty patiently for a two year old, for me to finish dinner. It’s so sweet. But man, I’m looking forward to her really figuring out how to play without someone. If she ever does. I never really have. She might want a playmate until she’s old enough to read. Last night she actually said she needed help playing! It was so cute but I worry that we’re directing her playtime too much, and inhibiting her. Because worrying is awesome. And I don’t have real things to worry about.

She’s started demanding we do things, too. And when she’s trying to be especially forceful, she’ll tell us to probably do something. “You pobby stay here, Mommy!”

We started her on gymnastics! We just weren’t getting enough activity on Saturdays, and I wanted to switch her to afternoon swimming lessons anyway. So we signed up for a trial month of gymnastics on Saturday mornings. The first time we went in she was completely in love. She spent the entire 45 minutes running, climbing, hopping, swinging, and grinning. It was wonderful. She’s so excited to go back, too! We’re not planning to quit swimming lessons though, because those are also going, er, swimmingly. She’s starting to really start playing with her abilities in the water. Diving, taking breaths, changing directions. It’s really incredible to watch. So for now, we’re doing both.

Out of time. More news later!