Phoebes, unicorns, and Phoebe’s unicorns

I may not have told you this, but Phoebe is a big fan of unicorns. I honestly can’t tell you when the obsession began. To the best of my knowledge, she has never actually met a unicorn.¹ However, like them she does.

Photos of Phoebe’s drawing of pegasus-unicorns, Phoebe in her unicorn snow hat with a snowball, and Phoebe playing the violin in a borrowed unicorn hat.

When we were planning her 6th birthday party, Phoebe had elaborate and entirely infeasible plans involving building a multi-level fort in her bedroom, complete with a pulley using ribbon to pull her party guests up to the upper levels. She also wanted to wear a unicorn costume, and had ideas about how I could make one for her. For the weeks (possibly even months) leading up to her birthday, the topic of her party came up frequently. Over and over, I managed to put off committing to a definite plan. Eventually, we broke it to Phoebe that we couldn’t do her unicorn-costumed fantasy birthday party.

However I did manage to make some unicorn cupcakes to ease her pain. Rainbow unicorn cupcakes.
rainbow unicorn cupcakes

But now we’ve got something even better. There is a new cartoon out there about a little girl named Phoebe. And a unicorn:

Here’s the description from Go Comics, where the cartoon is syndicated:

It all started when Phoebe skipped a rock across a pond and accidentally hit a unicorn in the face. Improbably, this led to Phoebe being granted one wish, and using it to make the unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, her obligational best friend. But can a vain mythical beast and a nine-year-old daydreamer really forge a connection?

The cartoon is by Dana Simpson, and called Heavenly Nostrils,² and you should check it out. Right. Now. (Start with the full-color first day strip from Sunday. I’ll wait.)

Is it just me, or does this Phoebe look a little like our Phoebe? All the cartoon Phoebe is missing are real Phoebe’s giant blue cartoon eyes.

John has long been a fan of Simpson’s work, especially the long-running strip Ozy and Millie, and he used to periodically send me links to those. (Like this one.) And now I’m at risk of being a crazy fangirl myself.

I find Simpson’s artwork to be charming and the premise of Heavenly Nostrils engaging. It may not shock you to learn that I was once a nine-year-old daydreamer, myself. (In fact, I was once a 6-year-old daydreamer.³) To top it all off, I think Dana Simpson is super cool. I emailed her to ask to use some images, and she not only wrote back to give permission, but was über nice.

I’m thinking that if John and I had played our cards right, we could have pretended that the whole cartoon strip was a present from us: “Phoebe, we know how much you like unicorns, and so we arranged for this comic strip about a little girl named Phoebe and her unicorn best friend to be made for you. Happy birthday.” The main trouble with this, though, is that we’d have trouble matching this level of gift in future years. She might expect us to have a movie made, or have a museum wing named after her. Better just to give her some new socks and a roll of scotch tape, and then she will have beautifully low expectations.⁴

¹ When Phoebe was 3, she was obsessed with fires, firefighters and firetrucks. However, she had seen real firetrucks, met real firefighters, and even seen the effect of a real fire on a real burned-out building. How could a girl resist? But apparently little girls like unicorns, too.
² The title has apparently generated some criticism as being “too silly.” As if there could be such a thing.
³ I was also once a 39-year-old daydreamer.
⁴ Though she really does love to use tape.

Image credits: Heavenly Nostrils artwork by Dana Simpson from Ink & White Space, used with permission from Dana herself, because she is that cool. Pegasus-unicorns flying among clouds and rainbow artwork by Phoebe Lenore, used without her permission because it’s 10 at night and she’s in bed right now. The rainbow unicorn cupcake photo is mine, all mine. And the two of Phoebe in unicorn hats. But neither of the hats is mine.

The Princess and the Bag of Tools

One of the presents Phoebe got for her birthday, when she turned three back in February, was a “Pretty Princess FeltTales” felt board set. It’s actually quite a cool toy, consisting of a felt-covered board with some background scenery, and a bunch of smaller felt cut-out pieces. This particular set has three girls and separate clothing (a bit like paper dolls), a horse and carriage, a frog, a castle, and some other assorted princessy accessories:

The Pretty Princess FeltTales set, as shown on the company website.
The Pretty Princess FeltTales set, as shown on the company website.

Here’s how the website describes how a kid might play with the set:

“Pretty Princess” lets you get ready for a night at the castle. Dress your princess in her favorite ball gown, and add a cloak as the evening approaches. Gather her handmaidens and travel by carriage. Make a wish and kiss the frog, and perhaps….

Here’s how Phoebe set up the board.

Phoebe's version: The mechanic get her bag of tools to fix the car after the accident.
Phoebe's version: The mechanic gets her bag of tools to fix the car after the accident.

A: So what’s going on here, Phoebe?
P: Well that’s the bag of tools.
A: Yeah? Now why do they need the tools?
P: Because that’s an accident.
A: Yeah.
P: It’s a car
A: Okay. And who’s got the tools?
P: That’s the mechanic, though.

Damn, I love my little girl.

Phoebe’s new digs

I’ve decided to move the old Phoebe Blog over to WordPress. The iWeb application was great to get started, and handy for publishing pages of photos, but cumbersome for blogging. (I got a bit fed up with having to change the default surfer picture for each post, for one thing. And the bit about not being able to publish a post without also publishing any exisiting drafts was also quite irksome.)

So, updates about Phoebe will now be at this (new) version of The Phoebe Blog.

Phoebe’s nemesis

Phoebe has finally understood the menacing force that threatens her.

And what might this monstrous being be? Let me give you a description. Brace yourself: this is not for the weak of heart.

Height: about 29 inches of terror
Weight: a crushing 20 pounds
Mobility: 4 limbs, used for slithering and/or crawling
Distinguing traits: Smiles a lot. Some propensity for drooling.

Evil, thy name is K!

K, you see, is an eleven-month-old little boy at daycare. Who has been going there since he was only a few months old. He is one of two baby boys that started around the same time. He’s not a terribly demanding baby. He smiles a lot. And he is apparently threatening to destroy Phoebe’s happiness. (Oddly, the slightly older other baby boy, J, is the one that cries a lot and demand more attention. But he is not a threat.)

Here are K’s terrifying modes of attack:
1) Touching toys that Phoebe is playing with: “K touch cookies! Waaah!”
2) Touching toys that Phoebe might want to play with: “K touch beads! Waaaaaah!”
3) Touching other things. Let me give you the blow by blow of the worst transgression. You see, I usually sit down and play with Phoebe for a couple of minutes when I pick her up at daycare, to help ease the transition. So one afternoon, I sat on the floor next to Phoebe to see what she was doing. And then it happened. Horror of horrors, K crawled over and touched…my jacket. That I was wearing. And he smiled at me. The reaction, as befits such horrific trauma, was immediate and vocal. “K touch Mommy. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! K TOUCH MOMMY!!!! WAAAAAH!”

I’ve mentioned before that Phoebe has been crying more, which has been a bit trying. If we wanted to do so, we could get her to cry with the merest suggestion that she play with K. She sometimes talks about the traumatic experiences she has had, late at night, or while playing at home. “K touch the cookies! I cry! K touch Mommy. [Dramatic sob.]”

This battle of wills has evolved to the point where Phoebe will burst into tears as soon as K arrives at daycare, smiling that horrible smile.

And who knows what dastardly plans that little tot will devise next?

rough night

Sorry if you are looking for a list, or even any sort of entertainment. It’s Thursday, and therefore I’m due for a ThThTh list. It’s in progress, but damn those things take a lot longer to put together than you might expect. A list will be up much later today. What follows can be happily ignored by anyone who doesn’t enjoy reading about the crankiness of dealing with a toddler.


I’m feeling less-than-fully functional today. Phoebe and I had a bad night. I didn’t mention in last night’s post that John had to run off to get a meeting this morning. In California. So he was gone last night, and will be gone tonight. I also think that Phoebe’s been teething. The biting is one clue. She’s also been drooling and sticking her hands and other things in her mouth a lot, which she’s not generally prone to anymore. For whatever reason, she woke up twice last night. Once about half an hour after she went to bed, and then a little after midnight. (As in just when I was going to get to bed.) I just could not get her to settle down.

We talked. I dosed her with Motrin. I held her. I rocked her. I sang to her. But every time I went to put her in her crib, she’d cry again. I tried leaving her, and she screamed and screamed. I went back after a few minutes, and am not pleased with myself that I snapped at her that it was time to stop crying. (I was tired. Sorry. I have a temper.) So then I started right in with the soothing and snuggling and talking, and she seemed to settle. But still objected to going back in her crib.

I asked if she was sad that Daddy wasn’t here, and she said “yeah.” So we called John. (It was only 10:30 or so California time, and John’s ususally up half the night anyhow.) He talked. He soothed.

I put Phoebe in her crib. I sang. I talked about things she likes me to talk about. Then I said it was time to go, just like I do every single night. She usually lets out a sob as I walk out the door, just to pull at my heart strings, but then goes to sleep quietly. But last night, at 2:00, she started screaming. And screaming more. I haven’t left her crying for ages. I don’t even know how long it’s been. (Yes, we did a version of the dreaded Ferberization way back when. Dr. Sears can bite me.) But I thought maybe she’d settle down without me. I went back in after 10 minutes, and got her quiet again. But the screams started in once more. I went back in and she was saying “Mommy room. Mommy room.” “You want to go to Mommy’s room?” I asked. (I swore I’d never talk about myself in the third person, but deictic pronouns are tricky beasts.) She said, “yeah.”

I caved. I brought her to bed with me. I was desperate for sleep. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. She eventually stopped squirming enough to fall asleep. At least, she appeared to be just waking up when she woke me up crying at 6:45.

Now I wonder if this will come back to bite me. She really does sleep best on her own. And she’s generally a good sleeper.

Happily, she went to daycare this morning, and I was able to get a bit more sleep. I am “working” from home today, but haven’t been able to defog my brain sufficiently. I do have a conference call at 3:30, so will need to kick into high gear.

I hope that tonight goes better, because I have to drive the two of us down to New York tomorrow. John’s dad is going back home, after over a year in various hospitals and rehab hospitals. John will be going right to New York from his trip, following his red-eye flight to Newark, rather than going home first, so that he can be there to help. Phoebe and I will go down later in the day. Our eyes may well be red, too.

bagel bits and bites

I really should get to bed. But I’ve been remiss in posting updates on stuff that’s going on. I’m not sure exactly who’s interested, but one of my goals of this here blog has been to record some sort of chronicle of my life. So I give you a bit more info on the ever-expanding bagel of my life, and some details about where all my cream cheese is going.

Things have continued to be pretty busy of late. John has been very busy with various things for work. I’ve been busy with things for work. Did I mention that all 3 abstracts that my research group submitted in the past few months have been accepted to conferences? This is thrilling, but also somewhat daunting. And while I have been heavily involved in the research for each of those three projects, none of them actually touch directly on the research that I need to be doing to work towards my degree. Which means that I’m also needing to keep busy with a fourth major project. And there are other less pressing ongoing projects going on, too. It all keeps me quite busy with the juggling. (And I’m quite clumsy with juggling. I blame gravity.)

And then there is always the ongoing project Phoebe. She is a lot of fun most of the time, but we have also been going through some rather trying times. She is a toddler, you see. And she is testing her limits. Just about every transition in activities, she raises an objection. She doesn’t want to get out of her crib, get into her crib, have her diaper changed, get dressed, get her coat on, go to daycare, leave daycare, get into the bath, get out of the bath. And unfortunately, she has expressed her frustration with such events by means of her teeth on more than one occasion. By that I mean that she has bitten. Sometimes she will bite a toy, but a couple of other times, she has bitten (or started to bite) me. And that really bites. Do you have any idea how sharp those little teeth are? It’s only been a few times, mostly limited to one day. (There was a previous time when she bit my arm while I was out shopping with a friend. Even through my layered winter sleeves, the bite broke the skin and left a bruise.)

On the positive side, Phoebe has been talking up a storm lately, and it is wonderful to finally learn what is going on in that little mind. I’ve been meaning to write a bit about what happened during and since our assessment for early intervention, but I haven’t been finding a lot of time and energy to write. The short version is that she qualified for services based on a 5-month delay in her expressive ablilities. (Her receptive language, on the other hand, was measured at being at least 6 months ahead of her age.) We started having meetings with a speech therapist in January, and also attending a “play group.” But by the time we had our first one-on-one meeting, Phoebe had already started to leap forward in her expressive language. And since then, it’s been pretty amazing to watch. She’s been talking a lot, and producing quite complex multi-word utterances. We’ve had so few meetings that it’s hard to attribute much of the progress to early intervention, but who knows. Perhaps it was just the push she needed. I hope to write more about Phoebe’s language development soon, because it’s so damn cool.