In celebration of our three year-old Annika, here's a snapshot of her life right now.
Our Annie's a petite beauty, with a sweet face that lost its infantile look long ago. Even so, she is definitely still the baby of our family. With no upcoming sibling to boot her out, she still sleeps in a crib and loves it there, probably because she fills it with toys, stuffed animals, and books. She sleeps quite well at night, and wakes up every morning with a big smile and says, "I sleep good!" We often cuddle for a moment in my bed before she decides that it's time for breakfast.
As for naps, she sometimes takes a long nap during the day, although I think she's starting to outgrow them. (Sigh of regret at the loss of Mommy time.) She's started to protest with a loud: "I not sleeping!" (I'm not sleepy.) Occasionally she will be quiet for a couple minutes and then proclaim "I sleep good!" even if she hasn't shut her eyes.
Forever known by her long hair, I still haven't given Annika a trim. Someone recently asked how I get my kids' hair to grow so long, to which I replied, how do you get your kids to grow so tall? Annie is certainly a pipsqueak, in the fifth percentile for height (34 inches) and fourth for weight (25 1/2 pounds). Back to her hair, it's beautiful when done, but gets unruly super fast. Fortunately, she's pretty good about letting me brush it. I think she knows that it's worse having all that hair hang in her face.
Annika is obsessed by my phone, particularly the camera. She is constantly stealing it from me and begging, "Take a picture! Take a picture!" (As you can see from the selfie, she often takes her own.) I've noticed that she is much more demanding of technology than her siblings, and worry about the future if she grows up with a phone in her hand. While in general I have enjoyed owning a smart phone, if I were to make a list of reasons to give it up, Annika's obsession would be at the top.
Here's Annika's other technology obsession: pbskids.org (with a very distinctive and stretched out "org" pronunciation--oh-werg.) It wouldn't be too bad if she watched a variety of shows, but she always insists on Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. I've heard the music so many times that I've developed a sense of relative pitch based on the first note. I just verified again, and my guess was spot on. Now if only I knew what that darn pitch actually is... (Piano solved my query--it's a G. Ugga Mugga.)
At the moment Annika is also very into pretend play with her Little People, regularly building little enclosures for them out of Magna-tiles. She is not particularly into sharing. "My share" generally means, I want that and think you should give it to me now. Even though she may not like to share, I think the following conversation she had with herself this morning shows that she knows she should.
Annika playing with her Little People, acting out both voices.
Person A: Don't take it. That's mine!As for the one person dialogue, we're either looking at schizophrenia or a future career in dramatic interpretation.
Person B: Be nice.
Person A: Okay, okay,
Person B: Yeah, yeah, share.
With the beginning of the new year, Annika began both swim lessons and a weekly preschool class. As far as swimming goes, she apparently likes to wear her swim suit on dry land much more than she does in the water. While we are only a couple of classes in, so far there has been much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth about anything that even resembles swimming. Most of last week was spent sitting on the edge without even her toes in the water. Bah. Let's hope tomorrow is better.
As for "preschool", Annika really wants to ride a school bus somewhere. This morning she put on her shoes and backpack and told me that she had her "green book" (the parent communication notebook used by our school district.) Since a school bus isn't feasible right now, she attends a weekly class for an hour at the YMCA while I work in the childcare room. So far, it's worked out quite well. I work the morning shift once a week and bring Annika with me to play. While the pay is only minimum wage, I don't have to pay for childcare, plus I get my gym membership free and half off all the kid programs. Annika loves it and usually doesn't want to leave, even after our 3 1/2 hours are done.
As the youngest child, it's interesting to see how our older children have influenced Annika. She loves to sing, but unlike Brooklyn who only knew songs like "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" at Annie's age, Annika regularly breaks into song about "Snape, Snape, Severus Snape" or even "Watch me Nae Nae." The last couple of days she's been all about calling me "Zoo-Wee Mama" from Diary of a Wimpy Kid. At least she likes to sing "I am a Child of God" and say the dinner prayer as well.
As for quirks, Annie drinks straight out of the faucet, periodically sits on the toilet seat backwards, and has some major fetishes about how her food is served. She hates it when her sandwich or taco falls apart. Heaven forbid you should cut her food without permission or flatten her cereal pile. If that seems illogical, how about the day she insisted that I give her a red banana. If you are ever in the mood for losing your mind, try reasoning with a three year-old.
On the positive side, Annika loves to read, particularly her favorites like Goodnight Gorilla and the Lazy Lion, after which we regularly do "research" at the zoo. The winter months are especially fun since we have the whole place to ourselves. Here's Annika watching the sharks swim around.
I'm generally not a fan of eels, but these itty bitty garden eels are pretty cute.
Had to take a picture of the octopus because s/he was actually moving all around instead of just hanging out in the usual corner.
The lion cubs that were born last November sure have grown!
Still playful with a scruff of mane, this lion played chase with me for the longest time, racing me back and forth along the fence nearly a dozen times until we were both quite worn out.
These orangutans, on the other hand, were much more still.
All except for the baby Surianna, who even at fifteen months, is just as tiny and adorable as ever.
And here she is pretending to be an assortment of animals at Fontenelle forest. Mira el ratoncito...
...and my favorite, la zarigüeya (opossum).
Other than that, the only thing left to talk about is the only thing that we ever talk about these days: potty training. If you'd asked me how it was going a week and a half ago, I would have been like, Awesome! Today, not so much. What's up with going into the bathroom, taking off your clothes, and intentionally peeing next to the toilet? I can't complain though. Papa Kay has the worst survival story. He was kindly watching Annie for me over lunch one day when she said she needed to use the potty at Chick-Fil-A. Well, apparently she goes into the stall, locks it, and then can't get it undone. After nearly fifteen minutes of unsuccessfully trying to jiggle it loose, poor Papa K finally came to the rescue by squiggling underneath the stall door to let her out. Now that is love.
Now, now, before you all chuckle too loudly, may I just say that if you actually read this blog, you are likely more involved than you realize. Just so you know, Annika names her poops after you. She makes Mommy poops, Daddy poops, Brookyn poops, Grandma Susie poops--you get the idea. So we're all in this together. And it's a good thing too, because it really does take a village to raise a child, and with our darling Annika Mae, we're gonna need all the help we can get. She is oh-so-very-sweet but occasionally oh-so-very-naughty as well. Just in the moment when you want to give her away, she comes to you with arms outstretched asking for a "hu-ug" and your heart melts.
We sure do love you, Annie Mae. Keep smiling!