Spirited and strong-willed: Kiwi is 22 months

Over the weekend, Eric was mowing the lawn while the girls played outside. Kiwi followed behind him pushing a green plastic toy mower. Peeper was blowing bubbles but wanted a turn with the mower.

“Can I have a turn? Here, you can take a turn with the bubbles,” Peeper offered.

“MO!” Kiwi yelled. Then she left the toy mower, picked up the bottle of bubbles and dumped out the whole thing on the grass. Then she went back to her toy mower and happily pushed it along as if everything were right with the world.

Eric told me the story and we laughed hysterically—partly because the scene so perfectly exemplifies the feisty, sometimes ornery, stage our almost-2-year-old is in.

22 months old spirited toddlerShaving cream and paint in the bath kids messy craft project - Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Kiwi is 20 months old: 10 things I love about my toddler

Kiwi recently turned 20 months old, and I love my curious, spunky, opinionated toddler more each day.

She’s moved past her static cling stage (mostly), though she still loves Mama time. She is growing up fast—but not too fast. And I’m definitely not pushing her to speed up!

At 20 months old, Kiwi is learning something new every day and exploring the world in the way she best knows: through experience. She gets into everything, which is simultaneously infuriating and hilarious, like when she finds the pots and pans then reaches into the utensil drawer for a spatula. Instant drum set!

There are so many things I love about my toddler, but I wrote about just 10. Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.

My toddler at 20 months old: 10 things I love about my daughter / Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Kiwi is 19 months: Her own language

When Kiwi was born, she started talking—not crying—from the moment the midwife placed her on my chest. I thought her beginning moments would be a sign of another loquacious child, like her older sister Peeper, who says things like “lactobacillus acidophilus” without batting an eye.

Yet as another example proving that siblings are anything but identical, Kiwi grew into a toddler who barely spoke. She relied on grunting and pointing more than anything else. But now, as she turns 19 months old, she is communicating more—through expressive grunts, pointing, sign language and a few words—a mixture that makes up her own language.

Language and talking milestones // 19 month old toddler with her own language // Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

3 1/2 years old: Halfway between big and small

Over Christmas break, Peeper and her cousin were sitting on stools in the kitchen. “You’re so big already—don’t get any bigger!” her Aunt Meghan teased. Everyone laughed—everyone but Peeper. She burst into tears.

“What’s wrong, honey?” I asked.

“I don’t want to stay small!” she wailed.

Peeper loves to be a big girl, but she also craves the security of being our baby. This push and pull between big and small colors every day. Just as she’s halfway between 3 and 4, she’s halfway between big and small.

A beautiful flower crown for my preschooler daughter. Ten Thousand Hour MamaMy preschooler and my husband have a special daddy-daughter bond. Ten Thousand Hour MamaMy preschooler's curiosity is wonderful to witness. Ten Thousand Hour MamaHalfway between big and small at 3 1/2 years old, I love my daughter more each day. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Halfway to big

Peeper is at the stage where she revels in getting bigger. We persuade our picky eater to try vegetables and take a few more bites because, as she believes, vegetables make you grow. She stretches her arms as wide as they’ll go after meals, showing us just how much longer her arms got after a meal of spaghetti or peanut butter banana. And she jumps with all her might—”Look how high I can jump!”—to test just how much she’s grown in the last 15 minutes.

She also enjoys being a big sister. “Kiwi is saying a new word!” she’ll exclaim. “She’s trying to say blueberries. That’s right, b, b, b, blueberries, Kiwi!”

She also loves to teach Kiwi new skills, whether it’s blowing spit bubbles (seriously so gross), spinning, eating cereal (“You go like this”—crunch crunch) or climbing the elliptical machine. Peeper is her little sister’s biggest cheerleader, applauding her every milestone.

Whether they're dressing up or playing gymnastics, my girls are inseparable. Ten Thousand Hour MamaAs a big sister, my daughter takes good care of her little sis. Ten Thousand Hour MamaMy preschooler is her little sister's biggest fan and cheerleader. Ten Thousand Hour MamaSisters in the snow

Halfway to small

Yet being big isn’t always part of Peeper’s plan.

Every so often, she becomes Baby Peeper. She’ll crawl into Kiwi’s crib or lie down on the changing pad. Once she even insisted on wearing a diaper over her undies.

“Gagagaga,” she’ll say, copying baby talk. But then she’ll do a remarkable, spot-on impersonation of her little sister. She’ll point, make Kiwi’s signature “mmmmn” sound and scrunch up her nose in the perfect imitation of her sister’s smile.

Seriously, she could take this act on the road, it’s so good.

And every so often, Peeper will become a baby again, snuggling in my lap in the rocking chair. She’ll tuck her head under my chin and pull her knees up to her chest. While she’s resting on me, I sing her favorite lullabies and marvel that this child, halfway between big and small, ever fit inside of me.

Peeper is all lanky limbs these days. I laugh when she shows us her impressive wingspan (“Look how long my arms are!”) because she takes after her dad, whose arms are so long he needs a specially fitted golf club.

She is changing into a big child. She has lost the baby fat that gave her such beautifully chubby cheeks. She may be halfway between big and small, but she’s hurtling toward big at a pace that takes my breath away.

Halfway between big and small, my preschooler is growing at an astonishing pace. Ten Thousand Hour MamaMy little girl is halfway between big and small. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Staying big and small

Unlike her joking Aunt Meghan, I don’t want to keep Peeper small. I love witnessing how she grows, develops and changes every day.

She wakes up each morning a new person. Although some things are consistent—her favorite color remains purple, she still hates washing her hands—the dawn could bring any other new development.

Tomorrow could be the day she finally lands a perfect cartwheel or

While I wake up just as excited as she does to see what the day brings, I cherish the times she turns back into Baby Peeper. Those moments, whether she’s a goof copying her sister’s baby talk or a cuddlebug who finds a cozy spot on my lap, remind me of the days when she was my everything, my all. When I was her world and she was mine. When the universe shrunk to the size of just us—a mother and a baby halfway between big and small.

No matter how big she gets, my daughter will always be my baby. Ten Thousand Hour MamaWhether she's big or small, she'll always be my baby. Ten Thousand Hour MamaHalfway between big and small, my preschooler is just where she's meant to be. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Kiwi is 14 months: Copycat kid

Despite the two years that separate them, Kiwi and Peeper sometimes look like twins—well, a long-haired twin and one with barely enough hair to put up in a whale spout. But this past month, Kiwi’s love of doing everything her big sister does means I have two kids who give me twice the trouble and twice the joy. Because Kiwi is a walking, talking, singing copycat kid.

Kiwi the copycat kid does just about everything else we do. She blows her nose when I have a cold. She combs her hair with a sock when Peeper’s getting her pigtails in. She washes Peeper in the bath just like I do.

In one part of the Cinderella CD we listen to every single darn time we get in the car, Peeper sings along to the chorus—“Ahhh ahhh ahhh ahhhh!” Kiwi does the same, though without much of a tune.

Peeper is learning how to turn a cartwheel in gymnastics. She was showing us the other day, and Kiwi tried to mimic her—and actually got pretty close! Kiwi’s cartwheels were more like headstands, but she did accidentally do a somersault, too. Peeper was thrilled: She clapped and exclaimed, “She’s doing it! She’s doing it!”

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, my toddler is really buttering us up! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Kiwi is all eyes—and then she gets it. After watching Peeper or another one of us, she launches into her own version, whether it’s dancing or scrubbing down her high chair.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, well, Kiwi is really buttering us up.  Read more

Kiwi is 13 months: Always on the move

The other day, Kiwi sat at her high chair with a washable marker clutched in one fist. Using wide, sweeping motions, she moved her entire body to cover the paper in bright stripes. Her coloring was like an energetic dance—and that is how she approaches everything.

If she’s awake, my 13-month-old is moving.

This 13 month old cheered on Team USA during the Olympics! Ten Thousand Hour MamaNow that this toddler can walk, she loves the splash pad all summer long!Now that she's mobile, the beach is even more fun for this toddler. Ten Thousand Hour MamaThe beach is full of fun—and opportunities to dig sand!—for toddlers. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Kiwi is 12 months old: Leading me

Not long ago, Peeper came home from gymnastics. She ran into the bedroom, where I was changing Kiwi’s diaper.

“We learned frog jumps!” Peeper exclaimed—and began bouncing up and down, landing with her hands between her feet.

Kiwi squealed. She rolled over. Coming up to her knees, she started to bounce, too.

The two sisters laughed and jumped like frogs and laughed some more, all the while watching each other.

That little scene perfectly shows the core of Kiwi’s personality—her exuberance. She is so in love with life.

At 12 months old, my baby (wait, toddler?!) is the one leading me! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more