Shobeling through

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a post dedicated to Phoebe. Some other things have been slightly more pressing lately …

But here we are, just inside the two-year mark. It hardly seems like it’s been that long

And still, life with her is as exciting as ever. Even if I’m stuck watching it unfold from some 500 miles away.

She loves playing with her “hair pretties” and dropping them in empty milk jugs to shake them and make fun noises that drive Mommy and Daddy nearly insane … She’s honing her cleaning skills by sweeping and vacuuming the floor with her talking friends … She enjoys dumping her play food on the floor so there’s barely enough room to walk … And she’s getting really good at stacking blocks as high as she can reach.

She’s been climbing onto chairs and furniture for months. But now she’s figured out how to climb into her hi-chair, bounding into it like a monkey -- and making my heart skip every time I’ve see her try it. Although, she’s also spending more time sitting at the big table … Haven’t caught her climbing out of her crib, though.

Topping everything, the girl’s vocabulary never fails to amaze us. The moment a word leaves our mouths, she's repeating it and embedding it in her little brain … On one night I won‘t soon forget during my visit in January, I moved to plug in my laptop when I realized I didn’t have the power cord and I let an “Oh, shoot!” slip from my mouth. A second later, Phoebe was repeating me. “Oh, soot!” she said … It could have been worse. Good thing I don’t curse.

The word of this week is “shovel” -- or “shobel” in Phoebe-speak. She learned the word after Kates arrived home one day this week and had to shovel snow from the sidewalk. To keep Phoebe occupied, Kates handed her a kid-size shovel from our garage; Phoebe wasted no time copying Kates, and another word was embedded in brain … Earlier tonight, Kates told me about her and Phoebe taking a walk around our block, with Phoebe trotting and carrying her "shobel" the whole way.

Last night, we caught Pheebs admiring her shoes, saying “cute shoes.” … Tonight, we were trading greetings of “whassup.” … She wastes no time celebrating her accomplishments and admitting her downfalls, saying “I did it.” … She loves all of her “animols” ... She loves to jump and dance, shouting the words and giggling as she does them … And she’s going through this unsettling phase right now of calling me "Mork."

She knows conversational basics, often greeting me with “Hi, Daddy, how are wou?” when I log on for our night time conversations. When I ask how her day was -- if she can stop drinking her milk long enough -- she answers, “good.” … Then, after a few minutes, she loses interest and she’s racing to her play room, singing, “Bye, Daddy, wuv wou!” -- her little head blurring off my computer screen.

In recent weeks, she’s also learned her ABCs, and her alphabet songs have replaced the non-stop dinnertime counting we were enjoying in December. No matter, it’s just as delightful ... Speaking of delightful, we also spent about 15 minutes last night watching and listening to her behave like an elephant.

We have “Noni,” and all of her daycare pals to thank for making her weekdays so bright and chocked full of meaningful playtime. Already, we could fill a room with the art projects Phoebe has brought home; Kates had started to cover our refrigerator with them --so Phoebe could always see her work -- until they had to go in boxes with most of our other personal belongings for realty show-and-tells …

Phoebe knows the word “mine” all too well, also. And she’s got full grasp of the word “no” … In fact, she’s even begun using it to stand up for Mommy. During some of our nightly Skype chats lately, when Kates and I disagree, Phoebe, amusingly, has been quick to respond by sternly looking me in my web cam eyes, throwing her hands down on the tray of her hi-chair and shouting, “No, Daddy!” Surely, she has no idea what she’s saying “no” to, but her response is mature enough to rival one of those talking E*Trade babies

Clearly, since I’ve been away, Phoebe and Kates have become best buds. Not that they weren’t before, but as we talk each night, it’s easy to see the trust Phoebe has in her mother. Kates has been there everyday, whereas I’m mostly a face on the “ ’puter” right now … Kates has done a marvelous job at establishing — and sticking to — a routine for Phoebe to help her feel as secure and comfortable as possible.

With that, Phoebe’s also learning -- as I imagine most toddlers do at this age -- the art of manipulation. When she wants something, she’ll ask for it -- “mooovies” is always a popular request -- and before Kates can deny her, Phoebe’s saying “Ok, Mommy!” and moving to the DVD player in her funny, cute way like it’s a done deal. … Our other favorite Phoebeism lately is the way she shows no regard when one of us is busy, tugs on one of our hands and says, “Mommy, come?” Which is inevitably followed by the “Ok, Mommy!” -- and pulling Kates along like it’s a done deal. When Phoebe succeeds, rather, it results in requests of “ ’gain, Mommy! … Peas!”

Of course, when she doesn’t get her way -- well, the temper tantrums have never been more entertaining. Uncontrollable crying. Huge tears. Flapping arms. And then zombie-like walking to another room, arms lying low in defeat and utter despair.

Man, I miss her.

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