3 years, 364 days

This one’s for Phoebe.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a post about her. So much has happened in our world during the last year. But it seemed fitting on this night, the eve of her fourth birthday -- seriously, where has the time gone? -- that I dedicate a post to her.

And still I’m not sure where to start.

As we suspected in the beginning, when she arrived wide-eyed and very obviously soaking in her surroundings like a sponge, she’s a smart girl. When she starts to see or hear something she’s not yet familiar with, she gets that very same curious look on her face that she had when she was just a few days old.

* * *

She’s settled into the preschool routine, and she’s excelling. A few weeks ago we met with one of her teachers for a parent-teacher conference, and there was a part of me that went in fearing what the teacher might have to say. I had visions of her telling us, She needs to work on her listening. ... She talks too much. ... She needs to do a better job of sharing. … Then again, what 3-year-old doesn’t have trouble with those skills at times?

Seriously, though. Phoebe is a chatterbox. And Kates and I, being relatively quiet and reserved people, have no idea where she got her love for talking and telling random stories. … We sometimes put her on the phone with her grandparents just for fun and then sit back and laugh at the random things she says. Sometimes her mannerisms, including eye rolls and hand gestures, are that of your stereotypical 14-year-old.

Back to that parent-teacher conference. The report from her teacher couldn’t have made us prouder. Phoebe is a sweet, intelligent child, and rarely has the teacher seen a child who seems to be so happy and in love with life the way Phoebe seems to be. … I like to think she gets that from me. But then again, like Phoebe, I have pretty bad days, too.

* * *

She loves counting and she can do it up to 100 now. Whenever she feels like it, she’ll just break into counting, especially if there’s objects in front of her to count; it’s pretty cute to watch. And if you ask her to count, she’ll do it -- and then she won't stop. She’s a show-off, too.

* * *

She’s fascinated by patterns. Arranging her toys in patterns. Coloring patterns. Eating her food according to patterns.

And she's fascinated by rhymes. Many of our mornings recently have begun with Phoebe making up rhyming words as we eat our breakfasts. “ … Boot … Toot … That rhymes! … Grass … Bass … That rhymes! … Stool … Bool … That rhymes! … Backpack … Tackpack.” In Phoebe’s world, it doesn’t have to be an actual word. She just likes the sound of a rhyme.

* * *

She’s learned the days of the week through the instruction of her preschool teachers, and by picking up on our routines. At her preschool, there’s circle day and square day, and other days named by shapes, in part as a way of identifying each students “sharing day.”

But Phoebe also knows Wednesday is trash day -- which she happily reminds me of every week -- and church day -- which means she goes to our church’s Wednesday night children’s programming, while Kates attends choir rehearsals. Thursday is dance practice. Friday, of course, means its the last day of the week, and it’s movie day at preschool. Which brings us to Saturday, a day of sleeping in, playing and watching “movies,” which is Phoebe’s word for anything that’s on the TV.

Perhaps one of Phoebe’s greatest lines of the year occurred one Saturday morning over the winter when she was watching one of her Dora the Explorer cartoons, and Dora pointed out a shape, which she referred to as a diamond. In an instant, Phoebe was correcting Dora with the proper name of the shape her teachers had taught her: “No, Dora, it’s a rhombus!” (Phoebe was right; look up the definitions of both words).

* * *

Yes, the TV. Phoebe looooves her TV. She still loves to watch Dora, Little Einsteins and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. …

But more recently she’s obsessed with the Food Network. The shows, the stable of chefs -- she knows them all. I even catch her doing mannerisms I swear she picked up from Giada. There was another morning when I fulfilled her request to turn on the Food Network, and when the screen illuminated, Phoebe gasped, “It’s Rachael!” Yes, Rachael Ray’s show was on. It seems every time I turn around lately the Food Network is on in our house.

Phoebe’s interest in the Food Network carries right into her playtime, which she often spends playing with her bucket of plastic play foods. She’ll pretend to cut pieces of food and then arrange the foods very carefully on plates that she’ll present to Kates and I. Sometimes she’ll stick the plates in the microwave of her Little Tikes kitchen; other times she’ll place the plate under one of our living room lamps and refer to the lamp as her microwave. Best of all, she describes her every move just like her Food Network idols.

She makes “delicious happy cakes,” which are usually a concoction of the dried beans Kates bought Phoebe was couple years ago, sprinkled with the plastic French fries and potato chips from the aforementioned bucket of play foods. One night I called her to do something, and she responded, “Hold on, I need to put the icing on my cake!”

Playing outside adds a whole new dimension to Phoebe’s pretend bakery. Because there she can pick grass and leaves and sticks to mix in with her sand creations. Lately, her favorite outdoor pretend ingredients seem to be parsley and vanilla extract.

Her favorite shows on The Food Network? “Cupcake Wars” and “Chopped.” Kates and Phoebe now have a Sunday night routine of watching the new episode of “Cupcake Wars” together. Then Phoebe proceeds to watch the re-airings of the shows during the week and tells me who’s going to win.

* * *

Phoebe is sort of a daredevil, which scares the bejesus out of me.

She’s constantly climbing on things. And tumbling. And fearless in her exploration.

And when she falls, she’s rarely afraid of getting up to try it again and again.

But it also makes it fun to gently wrestle and rough-house with her … Which makes me think of a time over the winter when she was trying to tackle me. I moved. She missed me. And did a face plant into the base of a chair. She cried for awhile, but once she composed herself she wanted to go at it again.

* * *

She continues to love music and it’s always fun when we catch her singing songs that she learned at school -- like B-I-N-G-O. Or “John Jacob Dingle Hemer Smit.”

Her top 40 playlist is growing, too.

Over the winter, of course, Owl City’s “Deer in the Headlights” was her favorite, along with “Fireflies.” And we soon added “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” and two Mates of State songs, “Now” and “Sway.”

It never ceases to amaze me how she picks up on the words and begins singing with me.

More recently, though, her favorite is Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks,” which she calls “The Kids Song” and begs me to play every morning as we drive to school. … I continue to play it for her because it’s a fun song and she doesn’t have a clue of what it’s about. In fact, she thinks the chorus goes …

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks,
You better run, better run, faster than my puppet.

Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” is becoming a close second. Phoebe refers to it as “The Colors Song” because she knows it best from seeing the still exploding video.

* * *

She loves playing in the yard and helping me when I’m working outside. Her favorite things are to sweep and to water the plants.

As I was busy working in the yard and digging holes for our fence posts a couple weekends ago, there was this gem:
Me: Phoebe could you get me more water please?
Phoebe: No.
Me: I’m really thirsty
Phoebe: Well, I’m really tired.

* * *

She loves her hair. As much Kates and I have tried to convince her, she wants nothing to do with cutting it. I think she has a Rapunzel complex from watching "Tangled" so often.

Rarely does her outfit for the day not include a matching headband. She has all colors but her favorite is a sparkling red one. If only she had matching ruby red slippers.

She can tie her hair up in a pony-tail faster and better than any 3-year-old I’ve ever seen.

* * *

She calls sneezes: bless yous.

Her giggles and laughter are contagious.

She loves to give hugs. Squeeze hugs. Soft hugs. Family hugs. And nose kisses, too.
And then there's bedtime. Kates usually gets the honor of reading her favorite stories -- which usually consist of any one of her dozens of Berenstain Bears books or Golden Books. When they're finished, every night that I'm home, they have a ritual of calling out to me -- Daaaaaaaddyyyyyyyy! -- which is my cue to come upstairs, tuck Phoebe into bed and say good night. Always with her beloved blanket, Yellow, and her stuffed lamb, Lamby, close beside her.

There's also the nights that I get to carry her up to bed after she’s fallen asleep next to Kates or I on our couch. Because I know I’m not going to get that opportunity much longer.

* * *

Finally, there are the hilarious things she says, which, these days, come so fast that I can’t collect them all -- as much as I wish I could. If I was motivated enough, I could probably post a couple Phoebe-isms a day …

But for now, here some classics I wrote down during the last couple months. …

(Phoebe to Kates after we’d said a prayer and began eating our dinner)
Phoebe: Is your food good, Mom?
Kates: Yes, God is good.
Phoebe: No, God is not good. Is your food is good?

Me: Are you being a good girl and listening?
Phoebe: A little bit

(While on our way to school and I was singing to a song on the radio)
Phoebe: Dad, you gotta sing quieter so I can hear!

When she has something that she wants to say and she thinks its really important, she’ll begin with repeated ums and long pauses between them: “Um... Um ... Um ... When I wake up tomorrow can you help me draw a house?”

Some milk dripped down Phoebe’s chin as she was drinking. She laughed and said, “Oh, me.” Kates and I burst out laughing, because I say that when I do klutzy things.

Phoebe: Daddy, why did you give me a big plate!?
Me: Because you’re a big girl now.
Phoebe: Well, I’m not that huge!

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