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The World According to Oop
It's about time - an Oop Update! Artwork, photos and funny things that our three and a half year-old daughter, Alex, has been saying recently. Just try to keep up with the Oop, we dare you!
The Oop Bends a Knee
I'm driving home with Alex the other day, after having picked her up from day-care. It's a 15-minute drive, one-way, nothing like the two-block walk it was, when we lived in Edmonton. It's one of the things that we're still getting used to about rural life, having to drive so far to get anything, but it does give Alex and I some time to chat.
"Did you have fun at day-care today?" I ask.
"Uh huh," she says.
"What did you do?"
She then provides me with a long - mostly unintelligible - list of things that she was involved in, during the day, from an insightful 3-year-old perspective.
Alex's day-care is in a private home, which, in many respects, is much better than the sanctioned day-care facility we used in Edmonton. The woman who runs it has a daughter that's only 2 years older than Alex. It's nice that Alex plays with an 'older' kid, because it helps her learn faster. There are generally less than 5 kids there, at any given time, so we know that Alex is getting lots of one-on-one attention and there also far fewer germs being spread around. (Alex isn't sick nearly as often as she was at the germ-pit in Edmonton, which means Dad and Mom don't get sick as often too!) Yay!
With Rachel's hectic hospital schedule and picking up the odd overtime shift, having Alex at a private home also means a more flexible day-care schedule. The only thing we miss is the sheer number of kids, which helps with Alex's social development (Alex tends to be a tad bossy and a bit of a control freak). Wonder where that came from?
Alex goes to day-care, on average, about two times a week (on each of Rachel's 12-hour day shifts).
Anyway ... back to the story ...
So I say to Alex (as I try to make a conscience effort to do, just to let her know), "I love you bud."
"I love you too, daddy."
She's quiet for a while, after this, just looking out the window, watching the sun-dappled Douglass fir and Maple trees go whipping past. Summer has arrived at Yellow Point and the forest comes right to the road's edge, providing a mostly shaded drive, despite the sunny afternoon.
"Daddy?" she asks.
"When I grow up I gonna marry you," she blurts out.
"That's nice," I say, surprised at the sudden show of affection, "but I'm already married to mommy."
"She's too fat for you," the Oop says to me, logically positioning her proposal to her advantage (there's not one ounce of fat on her).
While it's true that both Rachel and I have put on weight since we finished hiking the PCT, it's Dad - not Mom - that shows it more.
"Alex, don't you think Daddy's fat too?" I ask, immediately coming to Mom's aid.
"No," she says, "You're not too fat for me, Daddy."
And just like that, I received my first ever marriage proposal - from my three and a half year-old daughter! As strange as that was to hear!
For more Oopism's, Oop-news and photos ... carry on ...
The Oop Perspective
Alex can now communicate and that's generally a good thing. The terrible two's are (nearly) behind us and we hear fewer emotionally defiant statements such as: "Leave me alone!", "Don't talk to me!" or "I don't wanna!"
Alex is, by most accounts, a great kid. It's easy to lose perspective on this. Not until we see the behavior of other children or hear behavior horror stories that we count our lucky stars. Mind you, she's no angel either. She's just a cute, cuddly little girl. One who is growing up as an only child, doesn't share really well and one who tends to be a tad bossy - which can be funny to watch, as she orders her stuffed animals about.
There's no doubt that Alex is growing up and it's difficult to notice the subtle, gradual changes that she's going through. We're just too close to it. We can measure her growth on a chart (and do). She grew nearly an inch, from her half birthday on April 3rd, till just before we left for our hike on the West Coast Trail, about two months later. That's a lot of growing! Alex is now 40 inches tall.
She's still trying to grasp the English language and sometimes, it astounds me just how well she does with it.
I installed a new plexiglass window in her "Happy House" (her wooden, 2-story play house that we inherited with the property). When I finished, I called her over to get her opinion on what she thought of the new window (the only one in the house that's low enough for her to see out of).
"That's awesome, Daddy. Thanks!"
Or the other night, when I was working on the North Cedar Fire Department "Open House" post, I was showing Alex the pictures and she commented on one (the one where she was shooting the fire-hose and I was right behind her).
"That's a really nice one," she said, matter-of-factly.
Not all of her words or sentences are that well-formed or complete. I end up saying, "I don't understand a word you're saying," more than I care to.
The concept of time still eludes her, although she's starting to get the days of the week (Saturday being her favorite, because that means "cartoons" - which is where she is right now, watching Saturday morning cartoons). She also has an idea about yesterday and tomorrow.
But when it comes to last night, Alex calls it "yester-night", which I thought was quite inventive. Tomorrow is generally referred to from her perspective of sleep, that is, "after my bedtime". In her defense, this is a pretty accurate description. The time gap between her "bedtime" and "the next day" is very short, mostly because she falls asleep fast, sleeps soundly and then BOOM "tomorrow" is the next thing that happens.
Once spring came to Yellow Point, the number of overnight guests we had, increased. Alex loves people and so was very keen to have people stay over. But for some reason, she never refers to them as our "guests", they've always been our "customers".
It's also a great time to get her perspective on the world. She's in that in between stage of fully knowing something and not quite being able to communicate it. She hit the nail on the head though, the other day, when I asked her how a car works.
"Well," she said, "you get in it and drive it around. When it stops, you put gas in it and go some more."
Our Oop is no dummy, eh?
Though sometimes I have to wonder.
Alex has always enjoyed watching videos - cartoon videos. She was two and a half when she saw her first one, which was "Finding Nemo". If you don't know the story, it's about a baby clown fish, who is taken from his father, by a scuba-diving dentist. It was too scary for Alex to watch. She started crying and we had to turn it off. It was my first realization just how scary many of the kids cartoon movies can be ... sharks attacking other fish, hunters killing animals, dogs fighting and tossing each other off of cliffs, etc.
Alex has long since gotten over her fear of watching kidnapped Nemo, but she (like so many other kids) has fallen in love with watching cartoon videos. She's so enthralled by the animated story, that as she watches, she forgets to blink. After a while, her eyes well with water, tears stream down her face and she wipes her eyes with her hand. It looks like she's an emotional wreck over some sappy chick flick. We tell her to "blink" periodically, which she then does with an over-exaggerated movement.
She'll watch the same DVD, over and over. You would think that she'd get sick of same story and want something new (I know I would). Nope. She's perfectly happy to watch something for the millionth time.
So the Oop has learned that cartoon movies are "her movies" and anything with real people in it are "Mommy and Daddy movies".
We have to limit her DVD exposure, otherwise, she'd waste away on the couch, happy to let life pass her by. As a result, she's always requesting to watch a video or negotiating for video time. It's not difficult for Alex, when Mom is sleeping during the day and Dad wants to steal some computer time, to make a successful video bid.
It's 6:45 AM on a Sunday. I'm in bed, asleep. Rachel is pulling a night shift at the hospital, so I'm alone. The Oop trundles into our bedroom and without regard for the fact that I'm asleep, or the time of morning, says, "Daddy, I have to watch two videos today."
"You do?" I ask, not moving.
"Yes," she says.
"Um," I say, wishing she'd go back to bed.
"Three videos makes your eyes square," she says, as if a statement of fact, "not two though".
The message about the dangers of watching too many videos is apparently getting through to Alex.
Oop Changes | Oop Stories
The Oop-Centric World
Now that summertime is here, the Oop has been playing outside a lot more. It's funny that not long ago, I had to encourage Alex that it was OKAY to go out of the house in her bare feet. Now she'll just walk out of the house in bare feet, without a second thought.
Outdoor play has meant that Alex is playing more with real kids and less with stuffed animals. The kids next door have a trampoline and they've been knocking on our door a couple of times, asking if Alex is home to play. It's nice that they think of her, because they're all a few years older than Alex and I'm a tad surprised that they're as keen on playing with her as they are. I guess when you live in the country, any kid is better than the same old siblings.
Alex is pretty certain that their world revolves around her though. Upon our return from day-care, the same day she solidified her future marriage arrangements, she gets out of the van, stops and listens. In the distance, she hears the unmistakable sound of children, gleefully playing.
"Daddy," she says, handing me her lunch bag, "I have to go now. I have to play with the neighbor kids."
"Go ahead," I say.
"Thank you, daddy," she says. (She has an odd habit of thanking me for things I wouldn't think deserve a 'thank you' and NOT thinking me for things that we're trying to instill in her should be thanked for - like when someone gets up from the dinner table to get her another glass of milk.)
She runs off toward the sound, shouting, "Hey Guys, here I am!" as if they've been doing nothing all day but waiting for her to come home.
Alex now knows how to ride a tricycle, to the relief of her parents.
Historically, her play with a tricycle involved pushing it around the yard and placing a variety of objects on it - not pedaling it around. Each time we sat her on it, she'd happily let us push her around on it, but just couldn't grasp the concept that SHE could motor around by pedaling.
For two parents who have cycled both ACROSS the United States (Seattle to Washington D.C.) and UP-AND-DOWN the U.S. (Vancouver to San Francisco) ... this has been frustrating.
We have Alex's maternal grandparents to thank for this recent development. We left Alex in their care, while we hiked the West Coast Trail and upon our return - BOOM - Alex was pedaling her tricycle!
Whew! (Thanks Gran and Grandpa!)
Watering the Plants
Alex is no shrinking violet and while we generally like the fact that Alex has the opportunity to grow up on 5 acres, see deer and commune more with nature, there is a downside, as we found out.
One day, Alex came walking back to the house, naked from butt to toe, holding wet pants in her hand.
"Why don't you have your clothes on?" I asked, "What are you doing?"
"I had to go pee," she said. "I was watering the plants."
We had to tell her that while going to the bathroom outside is alright if it's the only alternative, it's generally best if one makes use of the toilet, if it's available.
All the while that Rachel was gently explaining this to Alex, she was glaring at Dad. She knew, without doubt, where Alex had learned the expression about "watering the plants" and she was none too pleased about it either.
Dad looked a tad sheepish, but had a difficult time keeping a straight face.
Homework & Oop-igomi Art
Alex's art has changed. When Alex isn't watching a DVD, playing with the neighbors, eating, sleeping or at day-care, she's generally doing 'artwork'. It's amazing how much time she spends coloring and playing with Play-doh.
She was coloring on the coffee table one day, when I walked in for a drink of water, while doing some outdoor chores (the list of chores seems to get longer, rather than shorter, when you're trying to keep up with five acres).
"What'cha doing Oop," I asked, somewhat rhetorically.
The answer surprised me.
"I doing my homework, daddy."
I investigated this concept further and was tickled to learn that she'd picked up this bit of "big girl" talk from our 13-year old neighbor, Sidney (who's our 'go-to' baby-sitter).
Alex wants so much to be a big girl.
"They'll be plenty of time for homework," I tried to explain, but there was she wasn't having any of it. She wanted her work to be important and having it be "homework" gave it a level of superiority that just couldn't be challenged.
Regardless of whether it's for "school" (her reference to day-care) or just for fun, there's no denying that Alex's art has evolved. Just last week, she turned out a Play-doh flower (shown above) that looked less blob-like and genuinely more flower-like! Amazing.
We don't save Alex's artwork, but we do display it proudly on the refrigerator for a time, until it's replaced by newer artwork. What we HAVE been doing, however, is scanning as much of her artwork, as possible. A digital image is easier to store (and share).
However, I've been a tad frustrated at a recent development. Alex has recently begun to fold her paper drawings into origami-type "clumps". This is a curious behavior, but one that wreaks havoc on the scanning-her-artwork process (as sometimes, I don't get the opportunity to scan the page in it's pre-crumpled, flat form ... all I get is a lump that I have to carefully unfold and which never lies flat on the scanner)!
So, if you notice folds, creases and tears in some of her online art ... you know the reason why!
Despite our best efforts, Alex is growing up!