My Trip to Door County, or, A Dissertation on the Cherry

Jason and I went up to Door County, WI this weekend. It was the first trip we’ve taken alone since Zoe was born and actually only the third trip we’ve ever taken just the two of us, which sounds completely ridiculous and unbelievable considering that we’ve been together for thirteen and a half years, but it’s true.

Some of my readership (Dad, Uncle Mark, Lisa – so, like, a third of my readership? Uncle Mark, do you in fact read this site?) has already seen Jason’s e-mails about this, but I’ll tell it from my perspective, too.

For those of you who don’t know, Door County, Wisconsin is the county that covers that peninsula sticking into the top of Lake Michigan.

door county map

It’s a resort-ish collection of towns, with adorable little downtowns that have adorable tchotchke shops (and I have to ask – how do people who don’t know Yiddish describe stores like the ones in resort towns all over the country?) and places where you can rent boats or bikes or mopeds or go parasailing or fishing or play golf or, you know, do vacation-y things.

It is also the home of the cherry.

And whitefish. Lots of whitefish. But more cherries.

Day Zero

So Wednesday Jason took Zoe to his parents’ house when he got home from work. I had to run out of the house, too, and because we’ve been on the move constantly, I hadn’t really realized that once I left the house, I wouldn’t see Zoe for FIVE WHOLE DAYS. So then I got all sad and choked up and she was being the sweetest little girl ever, saying good-bye so nicely, and she’d miss me for 100,000. (This is a thing now.) And giving me lots of kisses while also being totally cool about it, because she was SUPER-EXCITED to stay at her grandparents’ for five days.

Then on my way home there was a major thunderstorm. So that was cool.

Jason and I had intended to be ready to go so that we could just roll out of bed and into the car and get passed Milwaukee before rush hour.

That did not happen.

You guys, we’re kind of tired. We’ve been travelling a lot.

So Jason brought me Yu’s from Schaumburg around 9 o’clock. We watched an episode of “Mad Men” (I am so in favor of Peggy banging Stan, btw. I mean, if she’s looking to me for approval, she’s got it.) and went to bed, and then packed in the morning. Which meant we didn’t leave until basically after rush hour was over. Which is also fine.

Day One

We arrived in Door County in mid-afternoon and checked in to our hotel, The Coachlite Inn, in Sister Bay. It had a giant rainbow flag outside, as did a lot of places, and I have to say, I’m not totally sure if Door County is especially gay-friendly, or if it’s so rural and innocent that they don’t know what the rainbow flag means and just use it to help you spot the driveways. But the hotel was nice. Big jacuzzi in the bathroom. Clean. Friendly. Free, unpassworded wifi. Which would turn out to be important because our service sucked everywhere that was not our hotel room.

Anyway, after settling in a bit, we headed over to Fish Creek, which has the highest concentration of adorableness on one strip of road. The road being 42, which is what all things are on. Want to go to Fish Creek? Head south from Sister Bay on 42. Want to go to Washington Island? Head north on 42 until it goes into the water. The ferry will be on your left. Want to go to the movies? Keep going south on 42 until you see a movie theater. It’s convenient.

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So we shopped in Fish Creek. Got some cherry fudge. Looked at tchotchkes. There was this one store with lots of leather jackets and furniture made from branches and real hide rugs and stuff. There was this hooded poncho made of strips of fur that I thought was hilarious. I loved the wood furniture with the legs all twisted branches and the surfaces like you’d just taken a slice of tree. There was also this really cool piece made of different colored stone to look like a rapids across the table top.

Jason fell in love with these Australian opal-and-amethyst rings and decided Zoe needed one.

I ask you.

She’s going to be demanding, like, a Dior prom dress and he’s just going to go, “But she’ll like it so much!”

Anyway, I also went into the Alexander Noble Home. Alexander Noble was one of the earliest settlers of Fish Creek and his home was designed more or less by his oldest daughter – they had a copy of the plan she gave the carpenter and everything. She made her bedroom the biggest. The house actually stayed in the family until 1995, which is pretty impressive. And the house was showing all sorts of Victorian (and later) wedding things, which was neat. I had a nice chat with the guide about my wedding and also the morals of young kids these days, and I learned some things. That device that someone had given to Zoe’s preschool that I couldn’t figure out? Coffee grinder. They had one, too. Victorian ladies used to make jewelry out of their hair. Oh, and my favorite thing – they would have a cake for the general guests, then a groom’s cake, and then also a lady’s cake, for the bridesmaids. And they’d have ribbons on the bridesmaids’ cake that the bridesmaid would pull out and at the end there’d be a little favor for her! Like a ring or a pin or something! Isn’t that cute?

After we finished shopping we wanted dinner. Jason chose the place with cherry barbecue ribs on the menu, even though I thought it looked a little too corporate. And it was. But cherry barbecue sauce is a good idea and I got some cherry jam so I could try it this summer, and I had a drink of cherry brandy, honey-jalepeno syrup, and club soda that was pretty good and would be better if the ratio were a little less club-soda-skewed.

There was a mini-golf place right next to our hotel so we went there that evening. I had been avoiding playing mini-golf with Jason because I have memories of sucking at it and I thought he’d make fun of me and I would lose and hold everyone up and it would be awful. But he really wanted to play so I said okay, I’ll play.

And you know what? I didn’t suck. I was fine. Not good or anything. But fine. He only beat me by 3 points, and we were neck and neck most of the time. So that felt good. Healed some childhood trauma for me.

Day Two

We wanted to bike on Washington Island, which is the island off the tip of the peninsula there.

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So after some cereal at the hotel, we drove up 42 until we got to the ferry. Well, at one point we almost took a different ferry, but in the end we sorted ourselves out and got on the boat.

We were crossing the little bit of water that gives the county its name. See, some time ago, the Potawami tribe occupied Door County. Then the Winnebago tribe (Yeah, it’s a tribe, not just an RV company. I learn something new every day.) went on a murderous rampage and took the peninsula by force. The Potawami who survived escaped to Washington Island. The Winnebago decided to pursue them there, but as their best warriors headed in their canoes across the 6-mile passage, a storm kicked up and dashed the warriors on the rocks, killing them all. That passage – which was entirely peaceful when we headed across it – became known as “Death’s Door.”

Jason crossing Death's Door. Does he look scared?

Jason crossing Death’s Door. Does he look scared?

So we headed across the door of death to Washington Island, and got on our bikes. We biked through a couple of miles of nothing – including four pieces of waterfront property for sale; I thought we could maybe buy them all and open a sleep-away camp or maybe a luxury resort. Then we turned on the Main Road, which the map I had seemed to indicate would have some cutesiness on it. But you know what Washington Island has on it?

Not much.

We pulled over where the “cherry train” trolley tour had stopped, at a general store – not a cutesy one – and a book store which was not open for business yet. Whether for the day or for the summer was difficult to tell. The non-cutesy general store also did not have both the gold and the red verjus (and not green and gold, like Jason indicated in his e-mails) that was made on the island, and which I need to make virtually anything from my Shakespeare’s Kitchen cookbook, so we moved on.

We biked all the way up Main Road, which continued to host farms and little else, and then turned in to go to Schoolhouse Beach. Schoolhouse Beach is one of only five beaches in the world that has limestone rocks instead of sand. It was the most awesome place I’ve ever seen, except the Negev desert. It was small, surrounded by cedars, and entirely made up of these perfect, smooth limestone rocks. Which had spiders living under them. And the forest was full of mosquitos. But it was truly beautiful.

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And then we looked up and saw a sun halo!

See the mosquitoes?

See the mosquitoes?

Only we didn’t know it was a sun halo! Because we didn’t have any service of any kind for our iPhones! So I thought maybe it was the end of the world. But a beautiful end.

We biked back down Main Road and stopped at the one cafe we saw, which happened to also be the one cafe I’d picked out in the guide book as the one I wanted to go to. It was called Bread + Water cafe, and it was a restaurant, bakery, kayak shop and museum, possibly the center of some sort of community service project, AND had free Wifi. That was when we looked up the sun halo thing and reassured ourselves that the end was NOT nigh. But it was the most adorable place.

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Kind of Jesus-y. You could request a prayer along with your not-from-powder lemonade. And the woman who sat us and seemed to manage or possibly own the place seemed very surprised when we walked in and wanted to order a meal. I got the impression that she usually knew personally the people who came in. She seemed to know everyone else there. And by everyone else, I mean the two waiters, who were young teenagers and may have been part of this community outreach program, their family members who were in the restaurant sitting with the proprietress when we walked in, and maybe three others, at least one of which I thought probably had an intimate relationship with marijuana. Jason had a very delicious-looking ham-and-cheese sandwich with homemade slaw, and I had them combine the two salads on the menu so that mine had spinach AND apples AND bacon AND almonds AND feta AND – naturally – cherries. It was really good. I wasn’t expecting much when I saw how low-rent an operation this was, but it was a damn good salad.

And we finally had a slice of cherry pie. Thank God. They were going to kick us out of Door County any second.

See that plate with the flowers? I think my great-aunts had those plates.

See that plate with the flowers? I think my great-aunts had those plates.

And I got my verjus at the grocery store across the street, along with some chocolate-covered dried cherries. So that was good.

We made the 2 o’clock ferry back and then went back to refresh ourselves and then had dinner at a family-owned diner in Sister Bay called Grasse’s, where I had some truly excellent white fish. And we had some cherry ice cream, too. We took a walk on the pier and then returned home for the night. The biking had wiped us out pretty good.

Day Three

I had been told of Al Johnson’s, the Door County institution with live goats on its roof, and it was right there in Sister Bay, so we went for breakfast. It’s a Swedish establishment with a “butik” that was apparently the first store in Door County to sell, in 1974, bikinis. Scandalous.

See? Goats. It's hard to make this shit up.

See? Goats. It’s hard to make this shit up.

It’s a family-owned place – Al Johnson himself only died three years ago; his widow still owns it; one of his sons sat us and the other apparently cooked our food. Jason had eggs Benedict and I had Swedish pancakes – thin, almost crepe-like, and, at Al Johnson’s, rectangular – with lingonberries and a side of Swedish meatballs, which were good, but honestly, the ones I made a few months ago were a little better. We got Zoe a stuffed goat and me a cookbook of Swedish cookies and stuff, and also some limpa bread, which I brought home and haven’t eaten yet.

Then we were determined to get to Sweetie Pie’s, the best place, we were told, for cherry pie, before it closed. It was in Fish Creek but down 42 a ways from where the main shops are.

It was really cute. It was, like, a normal kitchen, not even a double oven or anything, and a few varieties of pies, and they offered “crust cookies” when we came in. We got one big cherry pie to share with Jason’s parents when we got back, one little cherry pie for Jason’s co-worker, and two little pies – a chocolate pecan and an apple – for us. Then we walked around the shopping area where Sweetie Pie’s was located and had a lovely conversation with the owner of the alpaca store, who was also an alpaca farmer. One of the first in the United States! And she had a farm on Washington Island but that was being taken over by her nephew, who liked the property because he could put a deer stand out there. And me, being from a family like mine, was like, “What’s a deer stand?” So I got a lovely lesson in that, too.

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By then it was raining. I had wanted to go to the Fyr Ball festival in Ephraim, which was my favorite town so far because in addition to the cuteness, it looked like the kind of town people actually lived in, with a Village Hall/Library, and a Wilson’s Soda Shop, and all these cool flags for the Fyr Ball.

Fyr Bal

But obviously it wasn’t going to be fun in a thunderstorm, so we decided to drive all the way to Sturgeon Bay – which kind of lacks cutesiness and is really where people actually live – to go to the one regular movie theater in all of Door County to see Man of Steel. (There’s a drive-in, and we wanted to go, but they were showing Iron Man 3 and Fast and Furious 6. You guys, I totally missed Fast and Furious 5! I can’t see 6!)

None of those muscles are created by the suit, by the way.

None of those muscles are created by the suit, by the way.

I did not much care for Man of Steel. Jason liked it. I did not.

I do not want to spoil it for anyone, or make much of a discussion of it on this particular blog post, so if you want to discuss with me the merits and de-merits of Man of Steel, please feel free to e-mail, call, or message me. Or take it to the comments and we can have it out there. But I just did not care for it. And I will say this one thing – I am too damn old for shaky-cam 3D. I was even too damn old on Saturday, and that was before I turned 32!

So once we got out the rain had cleared. We stopped at a wine-tasting place and tasted – and then bought – some wine, and then tasted – and bought – a whole bunch of cheese. At least two of the wines we bought and at least four of the ones we tasted involved cherries somehow. None of the cheeses we tasted did but I think the cheese place had at least one cheese that involved cherries.

We also stopped in Fish Creek to have dinner at the fancy place I’d picked out our first night but didn’t feel appropriately dressed for. I had made us reservations and we were supposed to come back later that night, after I had changed and put on my nice shoes, but Jason was hungry now, so we decided to have dinner early.

It was at Whistling Swan, which is a great name, and their whole look – I was just totally enamored. Very neutral, pale colors, dark woods, metal and stone bird statues and black and tan pebbles on the table, stacks of birch wood and gunmetal light fixtures. I know I tend to favor a lot of color in my decor scheme but sometimes I want to wipe it all out and do this style instead.

And the meal was VERY good. I had the wine the waitress recommended, which was sort of herby and delicious. They gave us a cucumber basil gazpacho as an amuse bouche which was creamy and had a real kick. Then we shared a pork belly taco with jalepeno-tomato jam and picked red onion, and a sort of pate thing (‘nduja) with mascarpone on toast and chervil. I don’t always like chervil but this was really good. I also ordered a tomato salad with mustard greens, pesto, and house-made ricotta, and Jason was all, “Eh, I don’t think we need a salad,” and ate half of it. Because it was delicious. And because of course he did. Then he got a perfectly cooked flat-iron steak with veal reduction, haricots verts, carrots, mushroom (trumpet? What’s the kind that’s got a thicker stem than cap?) and mashed potatoes, and I got duck breast with peas, new potatoes, carrots, and a beet puree. Everything was excellent. Then some good Chai (but not as good as yours, Shobhit!) and a chocolate fudge cake which was way more fudge than cake (which is an EXCELLENT thing) with honey ice cream, crushed pistachios, and salted caramel. And THEN they brought us two tiny, tiny spoons with that caramel, covered over in amaranth seeds, which are sort of corn-like.

Anyway. It was delicious, the room was beautiful, and we were very happy.

By the time we got to Ephraim the Fyr Ball was more or less over, although there was a really good band playing covers of ’80s songs in the Village Hall. We didn’t stay for the bonfire (bonfyr?) or the little girls in Swedish outfits dancing, which I was sort of disappointed about, but we had been out all day and Jason was tired and wanted to go home. So we did. I soaked in the tub for a while, wrote, and eventually we broke out the chocolate pecan pie which was DELICIOUS.

Day Four

Time to go home. We got up and got packed. Jason observed that I hadn’t had any of the Scotch we brought up with us, so he insisted that I have a sip before we put it in the trunk. So mark your calendars, folks – my descent into depravity started on my 32nd birthday, when I had Scotch before 9 am.

We had intended to go to the landmark White Gull Inn in Fish Creek for their famous Door County Cherry French Toast, but when we got there we discovered that we would not be seated for an hour, so Jason said forget it. We went down the street to The Cookery, which is where I’d wanted to have dinner that first night. And when we walked in, I said hi to the guy who’d been manning the desk at Whistling Swan the night before, and was now having breakfast with his parents. I think it gave Jason a pause that I could greet familiarly a handsome and bearded young man, but you know. I’m a man magnet. He’s just gotta deal.

The restaurant was very good. It was owned by a couple who bought the place on their honeymoon (I mean, it wasn’t a total whim; they had met in a kitchen and were looking to open a restaurant together), and they still operate it, along with their daughters. Very dedicated to homemade, locally sourced, etc. Jason had more eggs Benedict on their homemade biscuits and I had fried eggs over the biscuits served with their whitefish chowder. AND of course Jason had a lemonade spiked with their house-made cherry syrup, and I had their house-made ginger ale spiked with their house-made cherry syrup. The refills were supposed to be sans cherry syrup, but they gave us more anyway, which was nice.

And then we got some more cherry fudge – they had dark chocolate this time! – before getting in the car and heading home. Well, to my in-laws’, where Zoe was.

My favorite thing on the ride home? We passed a couple on a motorcycle. Jason wanted to chastise them for their lack of helmets. Then we pulled up closer and saw that the woman on the back of the bike was reading! Just chillin’ with her paperback on the back of a motorcycle! Girl after my own heart.

So we got to my in-laws in the mid-afternoon. I had been feeling really good about Zoe being there because we Facetimed with her every night, and whenever we did she was really happy to see us, told us she loved us a million times, gave us lots of kisses through the phone, and then would be like, “Okay, I gotta go watch Powerpuff Girls, bye!” And I thought, wow, what a terrific job I’m doing as a parent. My kid, she’s secure enough that she can be someplace without us and still be happy to see us but not desperate or sad or anything. I get an A+ for the Emotional Health class at Child-Rearing School.

But when my daughter, the love of my life, the light of my soul, my own little mouse who I love the most in the whole world, saw me walk through the door – she burst into tears. “I don’t want to leave!” she complained.

Thanks, kid.

We had dinner with my in-laws – more Yu’s, because it was my birthday and I always want more Yu’s – and then had the cherry pie. We decided the filling was better but the crust not quite as good as the Door County cherry pie we get from Wildfire when it’s in season.

And that was our trip! Thanks for listening! Tune in some time in the near future for this season of SYTYCD!

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And the Zoe Hits Just Keep on Coming!

1. I feel the need to start negative. I know most of you reading this want to know all the good stuff about Zoe, because you love her and/or because you like hearing cute-kid stories. But sometimes I think mothers don’t share enough of this stuff with each other, so that when we experience it, it feels like we’re experiencing it alone. And that’s definitely how I felt one Friday when I was Shabbat Mom at her preschool.

I already feel like a kind of incompetent mother there. We started last year, and I was absolutely convinced that she would be fine in the Me Alone classes, because we’d been going to this place where the parents stay in the building but not in the room, and she had been fine from the first day I took her there. Just ran into the room and started playing without even looking over her shoulder at me. So I thought we’d be fine.

We were not fine. They had to call me to come pick her up after about forty-five minutes the first day because she just did not stop. The same thing happened the second day. I enrolled her in the Transitions class.

I should have realized that she wouldn’t be fine. The weekend before school started, Zoe was abruptly weaned when my great-aunt died and we decided my going to NJ alone for the funeral would be the end of the seemingly endless breastfeeding.

In the Transitions class, parents were supposed to stay for a number of weeks but basically be out of the classroom by the end of October, depending on their kid’s ability to withstand the loss of their parent/caretaker.

I had to stay in until January. I was the only parent not to leave on schedule. I became, in effect, an assistant teacher.

But once I was gone, she was fine. Just fine. She loved her teachers, she played okay with the other kids. It was great.

Camp was a little bit more of a struggle, and that has continued into this year.

One Wednesday, they had their Purim event, which the parents were supposed to attend. It started an hour after preschool started. The minute I came back to the classroom, Zoe started crying and reaching for me. The kids were supposed to perform some Purim songs for the parents but Zoe wouldn’t leave my lap. I decided to just go home; it was pointless trying to stay.

The next session was the Friday on which I was Shabbat Mom. We went to a Shabbat Sing, in which all the classes join together to sing Shabbat songs, and then any and all Shabbat Parents light candles with their kids in front of the group and all.

Zoe would not sit still during Shabbat Sing. She would not sit in my lap; she would not sit with the other kids. She wanted to run around the little library where this song session was being conducted. I had to take her out of the room. More than once. Then we were called back in to do the candles and things and she threw herself on the floor and refused to do it. Then her teacher had to practically carry her back to class.

I felt pretty awful about the whole thing, actually. I felt like I was failing in some fundamental way as a mother because Zoe wouldn’t do what all the other kids were doing, and because I obviously had no power to make her do anything. I felt embarrassed and angry at her for embarrassing me and then angry at myself for being embarrassed and angry with her for embarrassing me when it shouldn’t be her primary job to be a credit to me.

Anyway, on to the good stuff.

2. We were at this play structure at the mall and this little boy approached her. He said he was four. For reasons I don’t fully understand but which must have something to do with child development, Zoe took huge offense to this. “I’m not four, I’m three!” she kept insisting, belligerently. The boy tried to explain that he wasn’t saying she was four, he was saying he was four. Zoe was having none of it. I tried to intervene by, basically, repeating what the boy said about him not declaring anything about her age, and then asked if she would like to play with the little boy. “No, I don’t,” she said, with force, and then threw herself on the ground.

3. She delivers every sentence like she’s trying out for a soap opera. We went to the mall with her grandmother. At first she was holding her grandma’s hand but then she switched to my hand. “I don’t want to lose you,” she said. “You won’t lose me,” I said. “I will never lose you, never, ever!” she replied, throwing her arms around me. But really just about any time she’s speaking, she’s being dramatic.

4. She likes to announce when she’s throwing a “temper tantrum” or a “temper fit.” The latter phrase she got from Eloise.

5. Lately she’s been extremely cuddly and affectionate, even more so than is usual for her, which is a lot, and it’s awesome. She also compliments me the same way I compliment her, by telling me she loves me so much, and, lately, I’m her “best friend,” which I think she’s mostly getting from watching “My Little Pony,” and that I’m so pretty or wonderful or whatever. But my favorite is when she clearly knows that something is a nice thing to say, but she doesn’t know what it really means. So for instance, she told me I had very “clever” hair. (I assure you, even if such a term made sense in, say, high fashion journalism, I would still not have “clever hair.”) And, I’m always telling her I am the luckiest mommy in the world, so she has been grabbing my cheeks and cooing, “You are so lucky and gorgeous!”

6. She also uses “dramatic” as interchangeable with just about any other word. “That’s so dramatic!” can be claimed of just about anything – an outfit, a cookie, a smile.

7. She does know what “frustrated” means and uses that word accurately.

8. Of course, with the affection is the need to explain to her that you don’t give your mommy open-mouthed kisses. Even if you are pretending she’s your wife. Even if that is how they kiss on “Glee.”

9. Also she still puts her hands down my shirt, especially when she’s upset or tired. When I tell her to stop touching my breasts, she says, “But I need to touch your breasts to make me feel better.” If there’s a next kid, I don’t think s/he’s getting breastfed at all.

10. She has started posing for pictures.

11. Best way to tell her her outfit is a good one? Tell her it’s something Aunt Kate would like. Better yet? Tell her it’s something Aunt Kate would wear.

12. Her play has gotten more sophisticated. By herself she imagines complicated scenarios and acts them out with an invisible cast, who she sometimes chastises and sometimes lavishes with compliments. With me, she wants to take her figurines, especially her My Little Pony figurines, and have them enact story lines.

13. Oh, and somewhere, she learned Rock Paper Scissors. She loves it.

14. She loves dancing more and more. I really need to get her into classes.

15. She asks you to sit near her so you can “talk about something.” Then she issues an invitation: “What should we talk about?” Then she suggests a topic. “Let’s talk about whales.” You say, “Okay, let’s talk about whales.” She says, “What color are whales?” You say, “I don’t know, what color are whales?” She says, “There’s yellow. . . and red . . . and green . . . and blue . . . and that’s all the colors of whales.” You say, “Which is your favorite color of whale?” She says, “Yellow. Do you like yellow whales?” “Yeah, I like yellow whales,” you say. She says, “Are they your favorite?” “No, I don’t think yellow whales are my favorite.” “Which are your favorite?” “I like white whales. Like the beluga whales at the aquarium.” She doesn’t like that answer. “I don’t like white whales. I like blue whales. Do you like blue whales?” “Yeah, I like blue whales.” “Me, too. We like blue whales together!” She grins and pats your face. “What about dolphins?” And on like that.

16. She really likes to sing along to the radio with me.

17. We’ve had to get very careful about rules and choices for her. For instance, let’s say she’s looking about for food. I want her to eat something healthy, like an apple. I offer her the apple. She says she doesn’t want an apple, she wants candy. I say she can only have candy after eating something healthy, like an apple or a cheese stick. Now, if she’s in a good mood, she’ll choose one, usually the cheese stick, with happy anticipation of the candy to follow. But if she’s not in a good mood or is not really all that hungry, she’ll throw herself to the ground and cry, “Then I’m never eating anything! No, nothing! Not ever! Never ever ever!”

18. You know, this is for posterity, and I put stuff up on Facebook, but I should repeat it here. But most of you reading this also read my Facebook feed. So you can skip this item but I’m going to reprint them so that we have them forever.

She claimed she was going to China. I asked what she was going to see in China. She said, “Beautiful snow, good flowers, good-looking chicks . . .”

Zoe: Why don’t I have a penis?
Me: Because you’re a girl.
Zoe: Why am I a girl?
Me: Because you don’t have a penis.
Zoe: Why don’t I have a penis?
Me: Because you’re a girl. It’s kind of a tautology thing, know what I mean?
Zoe: (giggles) We’re being silly together!

I am Zoe’s best girlfriend because I know which one Fluttershy is and how to make her voice. Zoe is my best girlfriend because when I bring home new shoes for myself, she gets as excited as me, pull them out of the bag, and pronounces them “awesome” and “amazing.”

She got really into Clueless for a little while there. Especially the scene where Cher is internal-monologuing about high school boys and then pushing one off of her? Zoe calls it “the movie with the yellow girl who says, ‘Uch, as if!'”

Oh, yeah, she cut her hair herself. She didn’t do too bad a job. We took her to the kiddie salon to “fix” it, but I don’t think they did any better than she did.

;

I don’t know, people, I’m losing track. Especially since I’m so used to her constant performances, I forget some stuff. So if you have witnessed her being especially cute, please email me at raspberrylimericki@gmail.com and I will include your stories and comments in the next Zoe po

Oscars 2012!

It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for, I know.

Angelina Jolie

be lookin’ skinny. I mean, it’s nice to see her looking so cheerful and you can tell she really, really likes that slit on her gown, but her waist does in fact look smaller than her head and her arms look like they couldn’t take the strain of holding a lipstick.

Berenice Bejo

I have heard this dress being criticized for being a tad m-o-b. Which I guess would be true if an American were wearing it. But, you know, she’s French. On her it is the ne plus ultra in chic.

The Cast of Bridesmaids

I decided to address them as a group because they all looked pretty good and, with the possible exception of Rose Byrne, like they might have tried on dresses together to see what was going to look good as a group. I am especially a fan of Maya Rudolph’s look, although I might be biased, because the episode of SNL she hosted was one of the most enjoyable in memory. She still knows what she’s doing.

Cameron Diaz

The dress is kind of pageant-y and why didn’t she do something with her hair?

Although I saw a tabloid shot that was like, “Look, here’s how Cameron Diaz looked while out shopping for groceries a few days before the Oscars! And here’s how she looked at the Oscars! See how much better her skin looks? It must be some form of plastic surgery!” Yeah, or make-up. Morons. (I mean, I know the tabloid editors know that. I know they just think their readers are morons.)

Colin Firth’s Wife

That is the weirdest dress I’ve ever seen.

Emma Stone

See, Emma, you need me to be your new best friend. Because I would have told you, the color is lovely and I like the floatiness but the neck bow makes you look like a high-fashion schoolmarm in 1974. I think we can do better.

Esperanza Spalding

I’m not really sure who she is but I love the princess dress with the bigger-than-her-torso Afro. Very cool.

George Clooney’s Date

gets to date George Clooney and wear Marchesa?

Nofairnofairnofair!

Glenn Close

See, I actually watched some of the telecast this time around and the cameras didn’t really catch the color of this properly. I thought it was black. I liked it when I thought it was black, but I like it a lot better now that I see it’s green.

Gwyneth Paltrow

If I were to do some sort of modernist interpretation of The Chronicles of Narnia, this is what the Snow Queen would wear.

And, if I could get her, that’s who I’d cast as the Snow Queen, too.

Jennifer Lopez

I really would like this dress on her if it weren’t for the weird sleeve holes.

Which aren’t even actual holes but are covered by mesh! Which takes the concept from an “Almost there!” to an “Oh, dear God, no!”

Jessica Chastain

is a tiny, tiny, tiny person.

That said, I love this dress. I love Alexander McQueen.

Kate Mara

You showed up in a dress reminiscent of but not as nice as Mila Kunis’s dress from last year (Mila Kunis who is, by the way, my husband’s new dream girl), and you made that face all night. That “Ain’t I a stinker?” face. And I guess given that you managed to squeeze an invite to the Academy Awards, that’s appropriate.

Meryl Streep

got dressed up this time! I guess when you’re going to receive your 893rd Oscar, you have to put on the Ritz just a little bit.

Michelle Williams

You know, during the telecast, Nina Garcia was going on about this one, and I’m not so in love. She looks great overall, but the dress’s weird textures threw me.

Natalie Portman

How old is her baby? Is she breastfeeding? I only ask because she’s got more of a rack than usual. So it’s either the baby or a good dress.

Octavia Spencer

looks fab. And she’s a larger lady. Maybe her stylist can go work for Melissa McCarthy, too. (I mean, Melissa McCarthy didn’t look bad this time, but I still think she can do better.)

Penelope Cruz

Not many major actresses go so princess-y anymore and it’s refreshing to see.

Princess Grace’s kids

The daughter looks a lot like her. The son, poor boy, took after his father in the looks department.

Rooney Mara

Flawless fashion choice.

Sandra Bullock

First things first: When Zoe saw her on screen, she said, “That looks like Aunt Kate!”

So I was watching this with my mother and we got into a debate because y’all know how I feel about the black-and-white color-blocked evening wear. It makes people look like the waitstaff.

But. Sandra looked really good in this.

But. It’s still black and white.

My mother thinks I’m being silly about the black and white thing, and yeah, that dress does look really nice on her – but would the dress really be worse if it were all black? Or another color entirely, like red or plum (the unofficial color of this year’s academy awards)? Or even all-white?

But on the other hand it’s really a gorgeous dress and she looks fabulous.

Shaliene Woodley

I know we rag on the Britneys and the Lindsays for letting it all hang out, but sweetie, you’re, like, 19. You can wear something a little younger than this.

Tina Fey

Her dress’s color read much better on TV than it is in the pictures. I really liked it on TV on the red carpet. I mean, the peplum is not my favorite concept, and the skirt looked a little stiff, but she looked like a star and she looked like she felt like a star and I loved the color.

Viola Davis

The dress is Vera Wang, and as such, it looks like the best damn bridesmaid dress you will ever get to wear. I know that sounds like an insult but I really do love the dress and she looks great in it.

I don’t love the hair color. But that’s just me.

The Giving Tree

Why did I get this sick fucking book for my kid? Why do I read it to her? What is wrong with me?

You’ve all read it, right? The codependent martyr tree and the boy who uses her until she’s nothing more than a stump? And then he avails himself of her stump.

I know, I know, I know, it’s supposed to be a metaphor for a mother’s love for her children. She’ll give them everything they need and be happy when they’re happy and not demand anything for herself and isn’t that lovely?

Except that first of all, the tree is not the boy’s mother. You can tell by how she – or what’s left of her – is still around when he’s old and gray. So it’s not just about maternal love, it’s about a particular kind of love that can get applied to any number of relationships. And it’s not an accident that the tree is a girl and the boy is a boy. I’m sure there are plenty of codependent martyr men out there, but a) I suspect their fewer and farther between than women, and b) it’s less normalized in men. Women are supposed to be endlessly giving, nurturing, and supportive of their loved ones, even at their own expense. When men behave like that, it’s because they are pussy-whipped.

Second, even if the tree is Mom, that’s a sick relationship for a mother to have with her children, too! Yeah, when they’re young, they require you to give up a lot of your own interests and needs in order to tend to theirs. But you’re not supposed to do that forever. You’re supposed to give them everything you can while they’re babies, and then slowly ease off so that they develop their own abilities and shit. You’re supposed to be a person, not just a mother, so that you’ll be sane and emotionally healthy and even something of a role model for your kids, someone they could see wanting to be. No kid wants to grow up to be the Giving Tree.

Furthermore, if you make everything you are all about your kid and give away every part of your for their sake forever, you will get one of two results. Either your kid, like the boy in this book, will callously expect you to give him everything you have and everything you are forever, while giving you nothing in return, not even an acknowledgment of your sacrifice or love, even to the point where you are nothing but a stump and then he wants to sit on you. That kid is going out into the world, by the way, equally callous and blind to the needs of those around him. He expects this same kind of behavior from lovers, friends, co-workers. He’s awful. And, because he can’t figure out how to make his own contributions to the world; because he can’t give love, only receive it; he’s massively unhappy.

Or you’ll get a kind, compassionate kid who does genuinely love you and is capable of loving others and is also crushed by the responsibility he bears for your whittling yourself down to nothing for his sake. Because this kid wants you to be happy. He wants you to have your love returned to you. So he’ll still try to climb your trees when he’s sixty even though he’s probably going to break a leg, because you want him to so very badly and he doesn’t want to be a shit; after all, you were the one who gave him all your branches when he needed a house. How could he not do the little things that make you happy? And look, he’ll really try hard to resist it when you want to give him your entire trunk, leaving you nothing but a stump. And then when you absolutely insist that no, you really want to give him your trunk, you only have a trunk because you want it to be useful to him, you’ll even cut your own trunk down and give it to him so now he might as well use it even if he was going to give up on the idea of an around-the-world trip in a tree trunk after all, he’ll take the trunk – and feel massively guilty all the time about it. Or he’ll grow a backbone, refuse the trunk – and feel massively guilty because you’re sad that he won’t take your trunk. He will probably develop ulcers or a heart condition.

And yet, I bought this book! I read it as a kid, and I read it to my brother when he was little, so I knew what was in there, and I still paid actual money so that Zoe could have it, too! And now she loves for me to read it to her because a) it’s got a bright green cover, b) it’s still Shel Silverstein, so the illustrations are appealing and the language is spare and lovely, and c) it makes Mommy cry when she reads it, and Mommy crying is always pretty entertaining.

Lesson to Unlearn from Glee – Season 3, Episode 10

And we’re back!

You guys, it’s hard for me to tell if this was a good episode or not. Because during it, Zoe said, more than once, “Mom, it’s a fast song! Let’s dance! Let’s dance together! Let’s shake our butts!” And then she shook her butt. In her little pink fleece footie pajamas with the horsies on them. And then, “It’s a slow song! Let’s do hit-ups, Mom! Let’s do these hit-ups!” And then she lay on the floor and starting lifting her hips up, which is the kind of sit-ups I do where she can lay on my stomach if she wants. So I did, and she did, and she hugged me and said “I love you,” so I really, really enjoyed this episode of Glee.

Anyway.

The lesson: You and your teacher are really supposed to be close. So close that he tells you, a seventeen-year-old kid who just a few weeks ago forcibly outed one of your classmates and then patronizingly told her why she should be fine with that, that you’re the “best man” he knows, and he wants you to be his best man. Also, the teacher should consider you to be family, to the degree that he will tell you he’s planning to get engaged before he tells his fiancé-to-be, his actual parents, or even his grown-up friends, like Coach Bieste, whom we’ve seen him confide in and talk to before.

The truth: Your teachers are not your friends. They’re your teachers. They should support your educational efforts, even your character growth. But their personal lives should not be your concern, and you sure as hell shouldn’t be the person they tap as their best man. Nor should you be probing into their relationships. Super-inappropriate.

And apparently, this is an actual problem in school, at least for teenage girls. They want to perceive teachers as friends and then, when they get a bad grade, they interpret this as the teacher not “liking” them. So now the teacher is an enemy and the girl does not get the scholastic help she needs because she’s not going to talk about her weaknesses with her enemy.

So it’s actually really, incredibly important for middle and high school teachers to maintain appropriate professional relationships with their students. Yes, you should be a person to them, a person who is accessible and relatable if possible. Yes, they can know that you are dating. But they should under no circumstances be the people you entrust with your proposal plans, nor should they be best man at your wedding. They actually need you to be teachers, not friends.

Also, Finn is no great shakes. He walks around publicly outing people, condescending to less privileged friends, prioritizing football over protecting his gay stepbrother, and so on. Let’s be serious here.

Zoe Again

1. She really is the best, like, girlfriend. We were taking a Pilates lesson from my friend who is a Pilates instructor at a studio in a pretty upscale neighborhood. Zoe loved to looking the store windows and comment on dresses and jewelry and even furniture. And then she loved being in the studio! She hopped and climbed on the equipment, did approximations of the exercises with me, and then shouted instructions and encouragement at me. “In, out, in, out! Good job, Mommy! You’re doing it!”

2. We took her to Gretchen and Otis’s house while we went out. When we came back she was furious at us, screaming and spitting and hitting me. (I did not find the hitting adorable.) “I want to stay with Otis! I want to sleep in Otis’s bed!”

3. She said to her father, “Do you know why I’m happy? Because I have a daddy.”

4. Her two best lines in San Francisco:

(Zoe pulls her pants all the way up to her chest.)

Tara: I think that’s called ‘camel toe.’

Zoe: I think that’s called ‘pants.’

And, after a discussion about why Zoe loves Daddy:

Jason: So you would love Daddy if he didn’t give you treats?

Zoe. Yes. (pause) I mean no.

5. She says “pinkie please!” I think from watching Despicable Me, she got “pretty please” and “pinkie promise” mixed up.

6. She wants everything to be incredibly precise.

“Can I have a cake pop from that store?”

“Yes.”

“From Starbucks?”

“Yes.”

“I can have a pink one?”

“Yes.”

“A pink one with white sprinkles?”

“Yes.”

“I can have a pink cake pop with white sprinkles from Starbucks?”

“Yes.”

“Oh. That’s a great idea! Thank you, Mommy!”

7. Sometimes she hugs me and thanks me for taking care of her. It makes it really difficult to be mad at her for somehow getting shit on every surface of the bathroom.

8. She loves playing games now, even if she doesn’t really understand them. She played hours of “chest” and War with Grandpa Lalan while we were in New Jersey over Christmas. She also likes Uno and Candyland, although with Candyland she mainly wants to hunt for the lollipop-girl card and the ice-cream-princess card. She doesn’t really feel attached to getting from one end of the path to the other.

9. While we were in New Jersey, she learned to put on make-up with Aunt Kate. It was pretty exciting.

10. She also really enjoyed opening presents this holiday season. Not just her presents. All presents.

11. She likes taking my romance novels and stacking them or making, like, trains of them across the room.

12. I had an opportunity to observe her at preschool recently. She is very independent. She’s happy to play with other kids – if they want to be doing what she’s doing. Which is not to say she’s selfish. If they want to play with the cash register with her, she’ll take turns nicely pressing the buttons and handling the cash and credit cards. But if they take off for the sand table and she’s still working on the cash register, she stays put. She also took the entire cup of chocolate chips designated for her challah dough and pressed each one, very precisely, into the ball so that the overall effect was “chocolate armadillo.”

13. She seems to have absorbed the message that she’s a pretty wonderful and beloved girl. I told her I was so happy to have her and she said, “Yeah. I’m a yummy and delicious girl!”

14. The clothing obsessions are really unending, but what’s especially interesting to me is her attention to even clothing issues that you’d think would be of no interest to a three-year-old girl. For instance, when we went to my friend’s Pilates studio, Zoe was wearing a plain white Henley. Nothing special about it. But when she saw me folding it, weeks later, she said, “That’s the shirt I wore to exercise with Gretchen!” On Chanukah, my father-in-law came over wearing a thermal under a t-shirt. They gave Jason some thermals. The next day he put one one. Zoe said, “Is he going to put a t-shirt over it, like Poppa?”

15. Her bonding with my brother over our Christmas vacation was spent looking at Spiderman costumes on line. She was fascinated.

16. Also, my mother took her to a toy store and basically indicated a willingness to buy whatever Zoe wanted. Zoe wanted three superhero-themed I Can Read books.

17. We’re working a little on reading with her. She keeps asking if a given word starts with a given letter. Usually she’s right. “Does ‘p’ begin for ‘poison’?” “Yes!” “It does! I’m right!”

18. It’s hard to convey in words but she has this way of moving like she’s a little fairy sprite or something. She scampers just about everywhere and holds her hands up and makes delicate little motions with her fingers. Sometimes she lets out high-pitched yips. Then she makes adorable faces at you and insists you “be happy a big bit!”

19. We go to this bakery called Sweet Whimsy. The chef/owner’s sister Amanda mans the front of the store most of the time, and Amanda is just lovely. Zoe concurs. One day we left there and Zoe said to me, very matter-of-factly, that she wanted Amanda to be her new mommy, and that she doesn’t love me anymore, only Daddy and Amanda. She still will occasionally mention how she wants Amanda to be her new mommy. And she is very invested in what she will wear when she sees Amanda. (It should be noted, Amanda dresses extremely cutely and I envy all her dresses.) I have to say, if I had to pick a new mommy for Zoe, Amanda would not be a bad choice.

20. She likes to pretend to be a waitress and take your order. She “writes” it down on a pad and everything.

21. She’s getting better and better at helping me cook. Though it should be noted, she still won’t eat anything. But she’s great at tearing lettuce, putting things in the food processor, layering potatoes for a gratin, pouring and stirring,, rolling cookie dough in sugar, and, especially, cracking the shells on hard-boiled eggs.

22. I just asked her, “What other cute things do you do, Zoe?” She said, “I don’t do cute things. I hate cute things.”

23. When left to her own devices, she wanders around the house dreaming up scenarios and apparently arguing with imaginary friends. One time she staged an argument about the correct pronunciation of “orange.” (We had just come home from New Jersey.)

24. Still cuddly.

25. Likes to watch “Crazy Ladies.” Which is what we taught her to call “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

That’s all I’ve got for now although the thing to know is that she is full-time cute and has some serious personality and is going to be an absolute nightmare as a teenager.

 

More Zoe

So there’s no new “Glee” this week. What should I write about instead?

Oh, I know! Zoe!

1. She was pretending to be me. I was supposed to be pretending to be her. She said to me, “I’m so lucky about you, sweetheart!” Am I a good mom or what?

2. The bad stuff, I feel, is important to write about, too, especially as I know a lot of moms, and it’s not only important for me to remember this, and even for Zoe to know this once she’s old and has her own children. So here it is. A month or so ago, we were having one of those days where the tantrums/hitting were out of control, for, like, three hours. And sitting here as a rational, 30-year-old woman, it strikes me as completely incomprehensible that I could have such a strong emotional response to a preschooler hitting me and screaming at me, but in those moments, sometimes I feel completely at a loss – frustrated, broken, barely more than a baby myself. And so angry. When I am in that state I try to put some distance between us – give both of us a time-out, if you will – but of course Zoe is an uncontrollable state of anger and fear and sadness, and she doesn’t want me to go away. She wants me to stay with her so she can hit me some more. The rational adult me knows that’s to reassure herself that no matter how ugly it gets – no matter how ugly her feelings are, no matter how ugly her behavior is – I’m still her mommy and I still love her. But the middle-0f-the-tantrum me just wants to get away from it. And that one day, I was so frustrated and furious, I put my hand through a door. I mean, not all the way through, just through one layer, and it’s a cheap-ass door, but still, there’s now a my-palm-sized hole in it. It was pretty frightening.

3. The love you have for your children is intense, no question, and everyone knows that. I don’t know that everyone knows is how deeply your child will love you. And it’s wonderful. But sometimes I see Zoe when she’s all blissed out because we’re dancing cheek-to-cheek or whatever, and I think, “Really, kid? Me? Boy, do you have lousy judgment.”

4. But back to the good stuff. We took out a book from the library for Zoe, which is the first time we’ve done that. I’d like to say it’s because I seriously considered that Zoe is now mature enough not to destroy books, but the truth was, I wanted to get out of the library and the fastest way out was to agree to let her take out the book. In any event, the book has been on my desk in the room in our house we call the library. Jason went to clean up the desk, including the book, when Zoe stopped him. “No! You can’t put that away! It’s a special book!” Jason said, “What do you mean I can’t put it away?” Zoe said, “It doesn’t belong to us! It belongs to the library! Don’t put it away!” What’s remarkable is not only that she understood that taking something home from the library is different from taking something home from the store, but that she made the connection that the book shouldn’t be shelved with ours because it needs to be returned. I didn’t really give her speeches on either of these topics. So I am impressed.

5. She continues to love running around the house singing at the top of her lungs. Everything is included – songs she learned at preschool, songs she heard on a CD my sister made for me. Her favorite of those is “Rock and Roll Queen” by the Subways.

6. She is also very into the soundtrack of The Wedding Singer: The Musical. Yes, there was a musical of The Wedding Singer. And you know what? It was pretty good. Not every song/moment was a winner but there was a lot of good about it. So then we showed her the movie The Wedding Singer. She likes that, too.

7. She continues to be very interested in people’s emotions. When she sees me smile at her, she says, “Are you happy?” She usually follows it up with, “Are you happy because you have a Zoe?” She also is concerned with how happy I am. If I am in fact having a bad day but am happy to be playing with her at the moment, I sometimes say, “I’m happy a little bit.” She has turned this into insistence that when I’m happy, I be happy “a big bit.”

8. She says that someone has brown hair/blue eyes/a pink shirt “just like me has.”

9. She is constantly asking for stuff, especially stuff her friends have. A Tinkerbell “berlella” like Abby has, a blue sparkly headband like Morgan has.

10. To stem the tide of this constant stuff-requesting, I have instituted a wish list for her. I keep a little notebook in the cabinet in the kitchen and whenever she says she wants something, instead of getting into a discussion of whether and when she can have this, I say, “Let’s put it on your wish list.” Then she watches me write it. Sometimes we go over letters and spelling when I do this. She’s very into it so far. I’m pretty sure I got this idea from Wendy Mogel.

11. Still super-snuggly. My favorite thing lately is, when we’re driving, when I come to a red light, I sometimes reach back to squeeze her knee or something, just to give her a little affection. Lately she will grab my hand and hold it, or press it to her leg or something, letting me know she really wants the affection.

12. When she really wants snuggles (and we’re not in the car) she pretends to be a baby. Her pretending to be a baby involves, yes, draping herself across my lap, or being carried like a baby (which I told her was a “fireman’s hold” but now she insists on calling it a “policeman’s hold.” And then I’m not even sure I’m correct. Is a fireman’s hold where you hold the person across both arms, one arm under their neck and the other under their knees, or is a fireman’s hold where you throw the person over your shoulder, facedown?), but she also scrunches up her face, speaks in a high(er)-pitched, stilted voice, and waves her hands around with delicate finger movements. All the of the kids she plays with, actually, do “baby” with the scrunched face and the voice. It’s sort of funny.

13. Sometimes she is also a kitty. One time she and her two buddies were all being kitties together, rolling around on their backs and mewing, and I wondered why the three small, cute children felt the need to pretend to be something also small and cute.

14. She’s still trying to walk like a cat on her hands and feet rather than her hands and knees, because it’s more accurate.

15. We watch “The Sing-Off”. Because, yes, we are that dorky. She loves one of the boys from the University of Rochester’s YellowJackets. (That’s how NBC’s website lists them. I have a hard time believing that a group founded in 1965 is not, in fact, Yellow Jackets, or Yellowjackets.) The tenor, Aaron. She requests that we watch their songs a lot and when he comes on, she says, “That’s the boy I love,” and she presses her hands over heart on the world “love.”

16. Her geek education continues. She loves Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

17. But because of the kind of kid she is, she has a hard time accepting the existence of “bad guys.” So, for instance, when we look at her Star Wars ABC book (yes, really), she points to the Stormtrooper and says in her cuddly cutie-pie voice, “Aw. He loves Darth Vader!”

18. She can buckle herself into her car seat! She won’t, always, but she can!

19. She’s totally fine at preschool now. Last Friday, Jason came with me to drop her off. (He had taken the day off of work because it was iPhone day. Okay, not really. But sort of.) He was sort of shocked that when we got to the door of her classroom, she just walked right in and sat next to her friend without a backward glance at us. No hug goodbye, no “See you later,” just gone.

20. She’s getting better at Hebrew School, too. She’s sort of willing to accept Kris as a companion and she LOVES playing with the kids. Last week she spent half the time in the other classroom because a third-grade girl had on a sweater she liked and she wanted to sit next to her and admire it. This week she got really into the game of Whiz-Bong I started with the kids (to prevent them from doing whatever violent-looking game they wanted to do, right near the elevator – I swear, Whiz-Bong is still the most useful thing I learned by going to a Jewish youth group) and even “stole” the invisible ball. She also really enjoyed the first week when my boss was tossing around a “matzah ball” with the kids as a mixer-activity, and every time she passes the site where we played, she goes, “This is where we played with the ball with Heidi last morning!”

21. Everything that happened in the past happened “last morning.”

22. She was really good at High Holiday services this year. Even when we went at my home temple in NJ for the regular services, she was appropriately behaved through the sermon. Twice! She mainly occupied herself by playing with my brother’s tie. But she also likes holding a prayer book and standing when we stand and everything. And when we were at the temple where I teach, she kept asking to see Heidi (my boss) and Todd (our music guy) on the bima.

23. She likes making predictions. Like, I’ll say, “Oh, Daddy will be home later,” and she’ll say, “When Daddy comes home, he will have a special treat for me,” or “When Daddy comes home, he will like my nighting gown. He will say, ‘Oh! It’s Tinkerbell nighting gown! I like Tinkerbell nighting gown.'” A lot of her predictions involve people responding positively to her clothing choices.

24. She is very, very, very invested in her fashion choices. She picks out her own clothes, both at the store and at home. My main function is to try to the best of my ability to keep her choices weather- and activity-appropriate.

25. In addition to the predictions, she’s into story-telling. One thing that was really interesting to me was, we were doing a Brain Quest thing, and one panel invited us to ask the child to tell a story in a book with three bears on the cover. Zoe said that the little girl bear was playing, and then she threw a temper tantrum. (And Zoe demonstrated the temper tantrum.) Then her mommy was mad. Then she said, “I’m sorry for throwing a temper tantrum.” And her mom hugged her. That’s . . . not a bad story, really. She also walks around all day recounting events both real and imagined. They’re not always as coherent as that but it’s still pretty cool.

26. We went to Jo-Ann with two purposes – to get fabric markers to decorate onesies for a baby shower we were hosting, and to get Zoe the scrap-booking stuff that her friends Ero and Lou have so she could do art projects. When we were in the fabric section of the store, she spotted a Little Mermaid appliqué and asked for it. I said she could hold it while we were in the store, but we would not be buying it. So we got our fabric markers, and we got her glue sticks and scissors, and we looked through all the cool papers and stickers and paper punches and debated them, and then we were ready to go pay for everything. She was helping me unload the cart when she spotted the Little Mermaid appliqué in the heap on the counter. She pulled it off, handed it to me, and said, “Mommy, we said we weren’t going to buy this.” Awesome!

27. So she can be fairly emotional, which is not unusual in a three-year-old. But she will also tell me how to help her feel better and she’ll tell me when she does. So, for instance, yesterday, we were at Hebrew school, having a cupcake before the kids came in. She started talking about a Dorothy costume for Halloween. Now, ordinarily, I would just say, “Let’s put it on your wish list,” but as Halloween approaches, I’m getting nervous. Jason bought her the expensive, sparkly Tangled dress and matching hair thingie, and he’s going to be pretty upset if she refuses to wear it come Halloween. So I said, “Remember, we’re wearing the Tangled dress for Halloween.” She burst out crying. But it was because I didn’t understand what she was saying; she was saying the store had the Dorothy costume (the store which she calls Gatherween. I have no idea what that means.). But even once I understood that, she was still upset. So she asked me to tell her about Dorothy. So I started telling her the story, and about a third of the way through, she said, “I’m calming down,” as she wiped tears from her face. Sometimes she likes to be held or rocked when she’s like this, or just have my hand on her cheek. Sometimes she leverages a moment of sadness to get candy or ice pops. But she always lets us know when she’s “calming down.”

28. Her pre-school teacher told me Zoe is “very independent.” I feel like in some ways that’s pre-school teacher talk for “She’s driving us crazy.” But I know my baby is the specialist, most wonderfulest baby and obviously her pre-school teachers adore her just as much as I do.

29. When she’s tired, she says to her father, “Will you snuggle me in the bed? I’m so tired.” Reason #256 that’s she’s still sleeping in our bed.

ETA: Ugh, this always happens. I start one of these things going, “What do I really have to say? Zoe is doing all the things Zoe always does.” Then I write 20-30 things. Then I post it. Then I think, “Oh, but I forgot all these other awesome things Zoe’s been doing.” Like wiggling her nak’dy butt in front of the mirror before she gets into the shower. Or pretending to be other people all the time. Or asking me to “tell her something.” (Or telling me she has to tell me something.) The other night when she was tired, she crawled into my arms and asked me to tell her something. So I told her all the things I love about her. Then I told her all the other people who love her, too. And the whole time I’m stroking her cheek and she’s looking into my eyes and it’s just the nicest thing ever.

And then there’s her throwing a temper tantrum earlier this week and then demanding to be left alone.