We’re having another Toddler Party

Yup.

Since our Christmas party wasn’t the rollicking success we’d hoped for, I was pretty bummed. Jonathan actually convinced me that we need to do this again, though. We really want to build community and reach out to those around us. And plus, it’d be great to make friends. 

So, we’re doing a Valentine’s Day party! Wahoo! 

We’re inviting some of the same people, and some different ones. All girls this time. The two older girls who couldn’t make it last time because they were in Texas, the same shyish girl who did attend, the one who was sick and so couldn’t make it, and a set of twins who are AH-DORABLE! Ages 5, 3, 2.5, 2, 2, and 2. Plus Hula Girl is 2.5. So we should have a fun time. 

I plan to do the sensory table again- the only one who’s seen it before didn’t really get a chance to play in it because the boy was being so loud. 🙂 I am going to dye half of the rice reddish-pink and fill it will all things Valentine-esque. 

We’ll make a craft. I am thinking nothing TOO Valentine-y. My reason for this is that we’re going to have the party on Valentine’s Day and therefore the parents probably wouldn’t want to display a pink/red/hearts galore project for another year. I think we’ll make something like picture frames or tissue paper flowers or something like that. I’ll have to scope it out on Pinterest. 

I don’t think I’ll plan too many games. Last time the kids were really not interested in any games or activities outside of the sensory table and the cookies.

OOOOH! We’re going to make puppets. And then the girls can put on a puppet show. I will have a theatre ready for them. What a good idea. Now to decide whether to use paper bags or socks…

I am going to have chocolate-dipped strawberries, heart-shaped Jell-O (don’t mind my previous post about eating organics- holiday treats don’t count), and I’ll probably have some kind of fruit and veggie platter or something that’s a not-so-make-you-sick-to-your-stomach alternative. Of course we’ll drink pink punch. And I’ll have strawberry syrup in case someone wants to make strawberry milk instead. (GROSS.)

Overall, the party will be less ambitious. But hopefully more people will be able to make it this time and it will be a bit more relaxed (the moms of these particular girls are already storytime-chat-friends; you know, we cluster around afterward while our kids run amok playing with puzzles and puppets and banter about the insignificant details of life that we for some reason feel comfortable sharing when we don’t even know each others’ first names). I did extend the time frame on the invitation by 30 minutes. Maybe if they see that the party ends so close to lunchtime they’ll actually leave on time! 😉

Wish us luck! We’re handing out invitations tomorrow! 

Going Organic

(or at least as organic as we can go right about now)

I finally got Jonathan to watch Food, Inc. about a month ago. He FINALLY saw why I wanted to do all organic foods for our family. He got all gung-ho about it. I like that about him- when he commits, he commits.

Anyway, it is rather difficult to find organic food at a relatively-not-going-to-kill-your-budget-or-force-you-to-lose-15-pounds-because-you-can’t-afford-much-of-it cost where we live. Colorado isn’t exactly known for its thriving vegetation in the middle of January, you know? So, we’re taking small steps to get there and making (even better) choices until we’re 100% organic. (We already eat hardly anything processed, even less with GMOs, and so on. My one vice- Halloween pumpkins- the Brachs mellowcreme ones. You know that phrase, “to die for”? Well, if I die because I’ve been eating too many of those delicious cavity-enhancers, it will have been worth it. They are simply to die for. Ahem.)

I’m also REALLY excited about the idea of me actually cooking most of what we eat from raw ingredients. Sure, you can go buy a can of soup that’s organic… but them you’re eating a ton of BPA. Plus my cookin’ skillz need work, so why not start practicing now? Maybe by the time my kids are old enough to remember my cooking, it’ll actually be something they remember in a positive way! 🙂

So last week was our first trial with 100% organic ingredients, and 75% home-cooked-from-raw-ingredients meals.

I baked a loaf of bread on Monday to start the week off right. That day I also cooked a whole chicken in my crock pot (thank you, Kirbi, for the recipe!) and used the dark meat, veggies and stock plus some wild rice to make… chicken and wild rice soup (so creative, I KNOW!). Then I made MORE broth from all the chicken bones plus some more veggies that I cooked in the crock pot overnight.

Tuesday night we ate turkey chili and cornbread. I did not make the cornbread from raw ingredients.

Wednesday night was a leftovers night. We all have ’em.

Thursday night we had shredded chicken tacos. I took the chicken breasts (from the crock pot chicken), shredded the meat, added some spices, and there was the meat. We had tomatoes, avocados, rice, black beans, and spinach to accompany the chicken.

Friday we went to my parents’ house, so that is as far as I got. 🙂

This week I have a LOT of fresh veggies (and other ingredients) to use. I went shopping when we were at my parents’ house, so there was actually a good selection and it was decently priced. We’ll be eating red kale, green kale, acorn squash, pears, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage celery, carrots, chicken, onions, apples, oranges, rainbow chard (Hula Girl loves to eat the hot pink ones!), 10-bean soup, black rice, and lots and lots of spinach.

Anyway, it makes me feel great to feed my family wholesome and delicious foods. I am so glad I can! If you have good recipes involving lots of vegetables and grains, let me know!

Total Money Makeover

I have noticed several of my friends’ blog posts and Facebook status updates referencing Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover lately. I have been chuckling to myself because Jonathan and I had already begun the process of going back through our finances and we needed a refresher course. We had listened to the Financial Peace University CDs and had completed the FPU workbook during our first year of marriage. Since we had just graduated college with some student loans, we were still on the Debt Snowball step.

Lo and behold, five years down the road, Jonathan got his student loans paid off through Colorado’s student loan repayment program. So there we were, completely forgetful about what to do next! Because, oh yeah-

We’re Debt Free!!!!!

I actually tried to make that bigger and in a snazzier font, just to convey the emotion and the relief. Guess what. We’re never going to be in debt again, as long as things go as planned. Ever. 

We already had the $1000 emergency fund filled up, and now that we’re debt free (!!!!!!!!!!), we had to read the book to figure out what to do next! We are on Baby Step #3- we’re working on getting a fully funded emergency fund so that we are able to maintain our current standard of living for 6 months if anything happens (ie, if Jonathan loses his job). Our estimated date for completion on that is next January.

It’s really encouraging to have goals set up and time frames during which we can see our goals being met.

Oh, and we’ve decided to hold off on the new car until we have our emergency fund full and we’ve saved enough to pay cash for a newer used one. (We always planned to buy used, but relearning all Dave’s stuff has just reinforced it!)

One of the most exciting part of the TMM is the emphasis on GIVING. Obviously we’re going to be tithing our 10% all along the way, but we’ve already started dreaming about the ways we’re going to use our money to help others in the future. In the meantime, our giving is focused in three areas: our Compassion kids, missionaries, and backpacks for the homeless in our city.

We currently sponsor three Compassion kids. I sponsor a 16-year-old (beautiful) girl in Thailand; Jonathan sponsors an 8-year-old boy in Peru; and our family sponsors an 18-year-old young man in Kenya. When Hula Girl turns three, we will be sponsoring a child with her birthday (or close to it) so that she and her Compassion child will “grow up” together. We plan to help her make that a lifelong friendship. We will do the same for Gelato when he turns three. (Compassion children are 3 and older.)

We need to find some missionaries to sponsor. Actually, we have a few in mind. 🙂 This is an avenue we’re still exploring.

The backpacks were something we came up with late one night when we were looking over our budget and realized that we weren’t giving enough. I really wanted to focus some of our giving on our local community. I think we do a pretty good job of thinking outside the United States when we’ve got money or prayers to offer, but I get really frustrated when there are people in our own community that are suffering, too. That day I had been really drawn to a homeless woman who was standing outside a grocery store asking for… anything. I had nothing to give at the time- not even time, as I was late and rushing home to nurse Gelato. Anyway, we decided that we’d go out and buy some backpacks and stock them with things folks might need. Remember, we live in Colorado, and it gets down into the single digits and teens every night now. So we decided on things like a warm jacket, socks, gloves, and a hat; personal hygiene items; notepads and pens; a water bottle with a filter; and nonperishable food items. It is our intention to get Hula Girl involved in the giving by taking her to the store to help choose the items that will go in the backpacks. So, yeah. Cool.

Anyway, if any of you are doing the TMM and want to keep in touch for encouragement or whatever, let me know! Jonathan and I would be glad of the support, too!

Friday’s Firsts

Both of my children had some “firsts” in their lives on Friday. I took them swimming at the Y, which was a wonderful break from the monotony. It’s been very cold here lately, so even going outside for a few minutes at a time is just tough. But a nice warm indoor toddler pool was just the thing.

I had to chuckle while I was there because I had Gelato’s carseat/carrier and I had put our towels and stuff in it rather than getting a locker. I brought it out to the pool area with us. I had Hula Girl walk in front of me, I carried Gelato, and I had the carrier swinging at my side. A little boy who was probably 8 or so looked at me with HUGE round eyes and said, “How many babies do you HAVE?!” Ha, guess he thought the carrier had another baby in it!

Anyway, our firsts:

Gelato: first time swimming and blew his first raspberry!

Hula Girl: first kid’s meal and first time she’s ever had her full name used in a “you’re in so much trouble!” kind of way.

Gelato’s are self-explanatory. Hula Girl’s kid’s meal came on the way home from swimming when I realized it was 4:50 and she needed to eat by 5:15, while I had to get Gelato down for the night by 5:30. So we stopped at Wendy’s. Can I just tell you that I hated every second of it!?!? I do not want my kids eating that kind of grossness. Alas, it was what we had to do. Then when we got home, it was freezing so I decided to rush Hula Girl to the front door and let her in to take off shoes and coat while I ran back to the car (parked in the driveway, where I could see it the whole time) to get Gelato. When he and I came in the door, Hula Girl was nowhere to be seen. I heard rustling upstairs (where she is not allowed to be by herself), and I said loudly and sternly, “[Hula Girl’s full name including both middle names!], come downstairs right now.” I heard scrambling, then, “Yes, Mommy! I’m coming!” She knew she was being naughty. Haha! I still don’t know what she was doing. Must not have been too destructive. (Don’t worry- our house is toddler proof. It’s not like she was guzzling medicine or anything like that.)

So there you have it! Would you believe that Gelato’s first swimming experience was literally seven full months earlier than Hula Girl’s? I don’t know why we waited so long to take her. Must have been because we lived in the world’s smallest town that only had an outdoor pool! 🙂 Thank goodness for the YMCA.

Christmas Day

Good grief! If I don’t just get this post done, it’ll be July and I will have forgotten everything! I don’t know why I’ve procrastinated on it so far! Life is busy, I guess.

Christmas day started a bit earlier than I would have liked… Gelato woke at 6 instead of 6:30. But that was all fine because that gave me time to come downstairs and fire up the ol’ kitchens to get all the food prepped. I had actually done a majority of the cooking and prepping in the days before Christmas. I even cooked two quiches on Christmas Eve, just so they were ready to go when the family arrived. So Christmas morning was pretty simple- I just had to make the dough for homemade gluten-and-dairy-free cinnamon rolls.

Kay, so the cinnamon rolls. They ended up being super dry. So we had to cut them with a knife and serve them as “cinnamon crumble” accompanied by tea or coffee. But they were tasty! I kind of mixed a few different recipes as I made them since everything online was only GF or dairy-free. I was glad they weren’t a total bust.

I went in and woke Hula Girl while Jonathan held the video camera. She was so very excited to go downstairs and see if “Yan-ta” had come in the night. She came down and gasped and said, “He deed! He deed! Yan-ta came!” And then she had the fever, people.

She saw her kitchen first, and she proceeded to open all the doors and empty it. So much for me putting her dishes and fruit away nicely on Christmas Eve! Then she played with it for a while as Jonathan and I worked in the kitchen to prepare breakfast. She refused to eat. She gets that whole can’t-eat-because-I’m-too-excited thing from me. After we had tried to force her to eat breakfast, we let her open her stocking gifts and her gift from Santa Mouse.

Santa Mouse is a tradition we’re doing with our kids based on the book with the same name by Michael Brown. There is a follow-up book called Santa Mouse, Where Are You? that adds to the intrigue. In Santa Mouse, we learn that it’s kind to leave a piece of cheese for S.M. And in the sequel, we learn that S.M. leaves small gifts tied with yellow ribbons in the branches of the trees. Hula Girl’s gift from Santa Mouse this year was a slinky.

Then we waited a few minutes until Grammy and Grampy and Great-Grandma arrived. They got here nice and early, at 8:00, so we weren’t waiting long. But during that wait time, Hula Girl lost it. I don’t know if it was because she was hungry (I suspect she has low blood sugar- look for a post on this later) or if it was because her emotions were all willy-nilly from the excitement of the day, or what. But she had her first flat-on-her-tummy-kicking-and-pounding-the-floor-all-out-TANTRUM. It was actually really surprising and we just looked at each other like, “Whoa,” and gave her space. She got over it very soon.

When the fam arrived, we had breakfast breakfast. We made Hula Girl sit with us, and since everyone else was eating, she actually ate some too. That helped. We served quiche and cinnamon crumble with orange juice, egg nog (blech), and coffee. Then it was present time.

Oh, my. The presents. Hula Girl loooooved the presents. She especially liked ripping the bows off the presents. She kept asking anyone who was opening a present, “May I take your bow off?” But that’s not all she liked. She really liked opening presents for herself. I tried to keep an eye on her and make sure she wasn’t getting overloaded, but it still happened. She eventually got to the point (at the very end of the day, after dinner- yes, we were still opening AFTER OUR 5:00 DINNER) where she just tore through the last four or so presents just to finish. But at the beginning of the day she was having such fun.

Every present she opened was torn into with gleeful expressions of, “Oh my! Oh my! Oh my!” She said it with every present she opened. Once, as she was opening her doll house, we asked her what she got and she said, “I don’t know! A PLAYGROUND!!!!” That made us laugh a little.

She really did enjoy taking time to play with her gifts if we let her. There were several gifts that I whisked away very quickly to store away for a rainy day, like her stamp set and a puzzle. Others were gifts she insisted on opening and playing with RIGHT THEN, like her baby doll in its stroller and her doll house. In fact, we took a lunch break right after she opened her doll house, just so we could let her play for a while.

Lunch was fettucini alfredo with salad on the side.

As Hula Girl napped, the adults finished opening our presents. (Can I take a moment here to recognize that even though I’m much closer to 30 than to 20, I despise being referred to as one of the adults? Consider it recognized.) Jonathan raked it in this year. I think that’s good. He deserved it!

We also got a chance to enjoy Gelato while Hula Girl napped. He is just fun all the time anyway. But add a reindeer suit, and you get pure Christmas joy.

Post-nap fun for Hula Girl included jumping on her newly-assembled trampoline. She looooves that thing. Yay!

Dinner was ham, scalloped potatoes, asparagus, sweet potatoes, … and some other foods. I am totally drawing a blank right now. I knew I should have blogged this sooner.

After dinner, we put the kids to bed and then the adults (eeww) enjoyed pie. My mom made a GF and dairy-free cherry pie for me. It was delicious. Best thing I’ve eaten since May.

All in all, it was wonderful. We did everything at toddler pace, which was frantic at times and relaxing at others. It is such a delight to enjoy holidays with children around. I am super excited for 2 Christmases from now, when both Gelato and Hula Girl will really “get it”… what fun we’ll have then!

 

Frere Jacques

When a 2.5-year-old sings the song, it comes out like this:

Where is Yah-tah? Where is Yah-tah?

Yoh may boo? Yoh may boo?

Yummy yummy tina. Yummy yummy tina.

Din, din, don. Din, din, don.

🙂

Christmas Eve

I realized today that I’m losing Christmas steam and/or becoming foggy on lots of details from this year’s celebration. So I need to get on this post. I will have a separate post for Christmas day.

Anyway, Christmas Eve seems like a totally separate holiday to me, and always has. I think there is just so much more religious significance and emphasis placed on Christmas Eve: church services, family fireside readings of the Christmas story, no toys to distract from the true meaning of Christmas, etc. This year was no different.

We embraced this holiday season as a time to really hunker down and spend time together in our little house with our little family. It was wonderful. We went out as needed and communicated with our extended family (Skype!) quite a bit, but most days were spent just the four of us (plus Riley). We really slowed our already slow pace and just soaked up the time with our children. They are just growing up so fast. Christmas Eve was a nice relaxing day until the afternoon and evening rolled around; we’ll do things a bit differently next year. You live, you learn.

When Hula Girl woke up, we spent the first part of the morning cuddling with our kids in our bed. We rarely have them there, so it was a special treat. We read lots of books and giggled a lot. Then Jonathan and Hula Girl played a lot of the morning away outside on a big snow pile he’d made for her while I stayed inside and tidied and took on baby duty. Lunch and naps went on as normal. During the kids’ naps, Jonathan and I got ready for our Christmas Eve service.

Once the kids woke up, it was like a sprint to Christmas. Seriously. We need to spread all these events out next time and not assume we’ll have enough time before bed. After all, Christmas Eve is not just an evening… it’s a full day. Let’s treat it as such!

First, we got the kids up and dressed for church. Hula Girl wore a beautiful red dress and Gelato wore a red plaid shirt. For those of you who are close to me, you’ll likely see the same outfits show up in February when we send out Valentine cards… just sayin’.

Our church service was really nice. I had the Best MOMent of Christmas 2012 during the service, when we were all singing “Away in the Manger”. Hula Girl thought no one could hear her singing because the music was loud, so she was singing along  (if she had any idea that anyone could hear her, she would not have done so). It was just so sweet to hear that little off-key voice singing with such joy. I’m not going to say Jonathan and I didn’t cry. Because that would be a lie.

After the service, we got home and put Gelato down for his nap. Then I started the homemade pizzas and Jonathan and Hula Girl worked on cookies for Santa. In the future, these cookies will be baked Christmas Eve morning. After a rushed dinner of homemade pizza deliciousness (for Jonathan and Hula Girl, anyway; I’m still on my elimination diet and can’t have dairy, wheat, or soy), we did a small family lighting of the advent wreath and the Christ candle. Then we opened our first gifts of the year- our Christmas jammies. At that point, we were rushing to get Gelato in bed on time, so Jonathan gave him his bath while Hula Girl and I arranged cookies, carrots, and cheese (for Santa Mouse, of course) on a plate and wrote out our note for Santa. It read, “Dear Santa, I hope, hope, hope (playing on Ho, Ho, Ho! Clever girl!) you come to my house. I love you. I love Jesus.” Then it was bath time for Hula Girl and both kids were tucked in snug as a bug by 7. Jonathan and I rounded out the evening by putting together some toys that Santa brought and starting our annual Christmas puzzle (which, I can now say, took almost two weeks to complete). Whew.

So. We missed our reading of the Christmas story in Luke. Um, that was lame. But for a 2.5-year-old and a 4.5-month-old, it did not make a difference. Next year. Next year.

Even though it was rushed and we missed the most important part, it was still a wonderful night. I will always remember her sweet little voice and the way her hair tie broke so her little bun came out and she had crazy half-curly hair all through church. And the way I nursed my son in a very peaceful and calm (and warm) room while pondering Mary’s predicament years and years ago. I love holidays because of tradition. But I also love holidays because of memories. My kids will remain 2.5 years and 4.5 months old for as long as I can remember that evening. Wonderful.

 

 

Gelato- 5 Month Update

Not very much has changed in the life of our littlest man (actually, I think he outweighed our cat at birth… so maybe… our middlest man?) in the past month. Here’s his summary at 4 months, in case you’re wondering.

I suppose the easiest thing would be to walk you through a day in the life of Gelato.

5:30 a.m. wake, coo, giggle, talk, fuss, fall back asleep

6:30 a.m. wake, nurse, go cuddle with Mommy and Daddy in their bed for a few minutes, go downstairs with Mommy and Big Sister, lay on the floor and laugh/squeal while everyone gets breakfast ready

7:40 a.m. have a nap

9:15ish a.m. wake up from nap, hang out with Mommy until it’s time to nurse, nurse, independent playtime, play with Mommy and Big Sister

10:30 a.m. have another nap

12:15ish p.m. wake up from nap, hang out with Mommy and Big Sister while she finishes lunch, help Mommy put Big Sister down for her nap, nurse, play with Mommy on the floor (usually gets to play naked during this time- soak up the sun!)

1:30 p.m. have another nap

3:15ish p.m. wake up from nap, hang out with Mommy until it’s time to nurse, nurse, go for a walk with Mommy and Big Sister, lay on floor and play while Mommy starts dinner

4:45ish p.m. attempt a final nap

if nap happened, 5:15 p.m. wake up from nap, sit in high chair while family eats, play with family, have a bath

if nap didn’t happen, 5:15 p.m. out of crib, sit in high chair while family eats, have a bath

if nap happened, 6:15 p.m. nurse and go to bed

if nap didn’t happen, 5:45 nurse and go to bed

10:00 p.m. dreamfeed

Recap: he nurses 6 times a day, sleeps about 4-4.5 hours of day sleep plus 11.5-12 hours of night sleep. Got it.

Gelato spends a lot of time laying on the floor playing with toys. He lies on his tummy or his back, depending on which way I’ve put him down. If he’s on his tummy, he can scoot himself around a bit. He can roll over both directions, so it’s not surprising to find him a different way after his independent playtime.

Gelato likes to laugh and smile. He rarely cries or fusses. He’ll maybe whimper a time or two.

He’s good at peek-a-boo. Good meaning he laughs every time. 😉

He goes to anyone easily, but always keeps his eyes on Mama. That’s the way.

He’s got cradle cap again. We’re working to get rid of it. Seems like an olive oil + baking soda paste scrubbed on there and then brushed with a soft brush followed by a shampoo does the trick. Poor little guy is so flaky.

His eyes are changing color. I believe he’ll end up with greenish hazel eyes like his Daddy.

His fingernails have slowed down their growth. Thank goodness. I was clipping them every other day. No joke. Now we’re down to every 4 days or so.

HE. IS. CHUBBY. He has thigh dimples. And I adore them. Also, his ankles are bigger around than my wrists. Which isn’t saying much; I’ve always had really skinny wrists. But it’s just funny to say that my 5-month-old has such huge ankles.

He is quite alert and interactive in every situation. He is more interested in interacting than observing. I think he’ll be quite outgoing.

He completes our family in ways we never imagined possible. Hula Girl is always telling me that she loves him, even when he’s down for a nap. Out of the blue, she’ll be all like, “I just YOVE [Gelato].” And he adores her. His eyes are glued to her anytime she’s near. I just love snuggling the two of them on my lap (quite a feat!) and watching them hold hands and bring their foreheads together in some kind of secret sibling moment. Precious.

You know how Luke talks about how Mary treasured all these things in her heart? Well, I’m glad I have a heart to store things in, too. And a blog to help jog my heart’s memory in the future and to share my treasures with my friends and family.

Oh, Gelato. It is the easiest thing I have ever done to love you. (Let’s hope it remains this easy as you pass through your toddler phase later on, hmm?)

How they’re Sleeping

Well, the good news is that our sleep is more consolidated. Finally.

Hula Girl has been back to her normal sleeper self, with very few disruptions in the past few weeks, even with Christmas and illness. She did wake several times one night, which was how we knew sickness was on the horizon. Sure enough, she woke up the next morning with a veeeery runny nose. Boo. But that was before Christmas, and she has since gotten much better. In fact, no vestiges of her cold remain. So most days now she’s sleeping 7-6:45ish and taking a 2.5-3 hour nap starting around 12:30.

She is still in her crib. Yep, my above-average-height-and-weight girl is still sleeping in her baby jail. She’s so funny because she lies on her back across her crib at the end so her head and side are all up against the rails. Then she puts her feet up on the front while I tuck her in. She sometimes remains in this position while she sleeps. Other times I find her sprawled on her belly the normal direction. Something tells me we’ll appreciate the rail when she moves to a big girl bed.

Hula Girl still sucks her thumb and sleeps with her very beloved bear, Daisy, three blankies (pink, white, and purple flower), and her pillow that I made for her.

Gelato has been doing better… and worse. Better at night. I put him down at 6 or 6:30. Then I go and nurse him without waking him (dreamfeed) at 10. Then he sleeps until 5 or 5:30. Then he sometimes falls back asleep unassisted, but sometimes I nurse him back to sleep just to get him on his normal starting time for the day without being overtired. He gets up for the day at 6:30. (Can I just say that I am extremely looking forward to March 10, when he will be getting up at 7:30? I will probably adjust his schedule 30 minutes backward, so he’ll be on a 7-7 schedule. Hula Girl’s may or may not adjust. We’ll see how things go.) The “worse” part of his sleep is that we’re back to battling 45-minute naps. I just can’t seem to nail down his optimal waketime. In the past weeks, we’ve done waketimes ranging from 65-140 minutes, and it seems like the best naps he’s gotten (1.5-2 hours in length) have been from the longish waketimes (mostly within the 90-110 minute range). However, a 70-minute waketime yielded a 2.5-hour nap the other morning, so WHO KNOWS?! what this kid should be able to handle. It’s all very frustrating, especially since he gives ZERO sleepy cues. He just doesn’t fuss. He doesn’t yawn. He doesn’t rub his eyes. Oh wait. He DOES. After we’re already swaddling him and tucking him in. But never in any sort of time frame that would help us determine the proper waketime. Silly boy. You’d think he wants to stay awake and enjoy his family or something!

Gelato is still swaddled. We attempted to drop his swaddle while Jonathan was home on vacation. Um, no go. We’ll try again soonish. Gelato is getting pretty skilled at rolling during his waketimes. I’ve found him smashed up against the rails of the crib several times (still safely on his back- he has not rolled while swaddled yet). He does this back slide-hop thing that really gets him places. Anyway, I would love to put him down just in his jammies, but he seems to really like being in his straight jacket. Okie dokie then. I am betting he won’t be a thumb sucker since he can’t right now. When he has his hands free and he happens to get hold of his thumb, he doesn’t suck it long. It’s merely a passing fancy. So we’ll see what he ends up doing.

In anticipation of dropping the swaddle, I cut up one of his muslin swaddle blankets into four pieces and I have been working on getting him attached to them. I place one in his hand while he nurses and put it next to his cheek while we cuddle. It seems that he likes soft things like blankets very much. He will choose fabric over plastic for gumming every time. So let’s hope I didn’t ruin a very expensive swaddle blanket for nothing!

Toddler Cookie Party

Back on December 15, we hosted a party for toddlers. It was actually a covert ploy to get to know several of the moms with toddlers in the area. We sent our guests on their way with mixed feelings about the success-rate of the party.

Our final count included 10 toddlers, 4 infants, and 11 adults. Not including our family. I was kind of freaking out. But freaking out in a good way- in the way that got the entire downstairs portion of our house spotless and all the preparations for the party done well in advance (if you count the night before at 11 o’clock- don’t judge!).

The Entryway featured Hula Girl's hot pink and purple cupcake Christmas tree and favor bags.

The Entryway featured Hula Girl’s hot pink and purple cupcake Christmas tree and favor bags.

I had several stations set up around our house. There was a “Pin the Nose on the Snowman” game, a felt Christmas tree with ornaments, a Christmas sensory table, and the cookie decorating area. First loved by toddlers was the sensory table. I knew it would be a hit- I am SO glad someone from my mom’s group suggested it. They also adored decorating cookies. One little girl decorated at least seven cookies! It was awesome.

Pin the Nose on the Snowman!

Pin the Nose on the Snowman!

Felt Christmas tree for the kids to decorate again and again!

Felt Christmas tree for the kids to decorate again and again!

 

Christmas Sensory Table- we just filled Hula Girl's water table with peppermint-scented rice and Christmasy goodness!

Christmas Sensory Table- we just filled Hula Girl’s water table with peppermint-scented rice and Christmasy goodness!

 

A close-up of Christmas wonderland!

A close-up of Christmas wonderland!

 

Ready to decorate!

Ready to decorate!

I got ahead of myself; let’s get back to the preparations. We made spiced cider in the crock pot, we had coffee brewing. I had eggnog for eggnog lattes. I had put some peppermint oil in the sensory table, so our house smelled like a Starbucks with all the mixed aromas! We also had PB&J sandwiches cut out in the shape of gingerbread men, and I made some Christmas-themed fruit skewers (red grapes and honeydew melon skewered on $0.97 Christmas-colored swizzle sticks). Of course the whole house was already decked out for Jesus’ birthday celebration, so decorating was a non-issue.

Christmasy toddler snack food

Christmasy toddler snack food (good thing the formica countertops are hunter green, huh? lol)

On the morning of the party, Hula Girl was just so excited. She kept asking, “Are my friends coming today?” Of course they were coming! She named several friends she was looking forward to seeing.  She didn’t eat breakfast. She is not one to eat when she’s excited. Can’t imagine where she gets that.

Our party was scheduled to begin at 10 and the invitation clearly stated that it would conclude at 11. After all, I have a very excitable toddler on my hands, and I wanted to make sure she got something to eat before her nap!

At 8:45, we received a call saying that one of Hula Girl’s friends was sick and wouldn’t be able to make it. I was very grateful to that mom. Sure, it was lame for her daughter to miss the party, but THANK YOU for not bringing your flu-infected child to my house!

At 10:00, no one had showed.

At 10:05, we began to get nervous that somehow I printed the wrong date on the invitations. I checked. It was correct.

At 10:10, Jonathan started saying things like, “Well, at least we got the house all clean and we don’t have to make lunch for Hula Girl for the next week!”

At 10:15, two toddlers and their families showed up. Sigh. of. relief.

At 10:25, another toddler and his family showed up. Yay! The more the merrier!

BUT NO ONE ELSE CAME.

Yeah, 5 of the families who RSVP’d in the affirmative did not show, call, email, or send smoke signals. That irked me. Moving on.

Two of the guests were little girls right about Hula Girl’s age. One of them loved decorating cookies so very much. The other, much like Hula Girl, was more interested in eating the decorations and the cookies than actually making anything pretty. 🙂 The first one, Sprinkle Girl, ended up making a giant mountain of green sugar crystals on one cookie while her mom was looking the other way. Hah! It was classic. Her mom was so embarrassed and flustered, but we made sure to tell her over and over that it is a TODDLER party, we have a TODDLER too, and we know that TODDLERS do funny things like that.

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The other guest was a three-year-old little boy who is our neighbor. He was not interested, in the slightest, in cookie decorating. Not even to eat one! All he wanted to do was put his action figure in the Christmas sensory table (filled with rice) and make things explode. Boys. 🙂

Once the girls were done with the cookies, they meandered over to the sensory table, where Hula Girl stood back and observed her “friends” playing with HER toy. This was a very new experience for her and at first she wasn’t sure about it. Then she got into the spirit of things and tried to play along, only to be told “NOOOOOOOOOOO!” and “It’s MINE!” by Sprinkle Girl and Action Figure Boy.  She was unsure of what to do. Jonathan and I gently coached her to say, “I want to play, too,” and to ignore the other kids’ complaints. She did fine. She even made sure that the other little girl, Curly-Q, got to play with some toys.

Another big hit on the toddler scene was the Little People Nativity set. This is a set that Hula Girl played with for hours every day all throughout the Christmas season. It really appealed to all the children at the party. I was very glad that there were several wise men- those seemed to be the most desired characters for some reason. Maybe it’s because they are holding presents?

Both Action Figure Boy and Sprinkle Girl have younger siblings. I got to hold both of the babies- a 6-month-old boy and a 4-month-old girl. It was pretty funny to hold someone else’s child. Gelato outweighs both other babies by at least 2 pounds, and he just feels so much more solid compared to them. That’s my chunk!

Our party finally ended sometime around 1:00. Yes, two hours after the invitation said the party was over, people were walking out the door. That’s another story. And most of the reason I don’t call the whole thing a big success.

All in all, it was really good to get to know the other moms better. I will definitely be trying to set up another playdate with Curly-Q. We might try to do something with Sprinkle Girl, too. As for our neighbors, well, Hula Girl was a bit frightened by Action Figure Boy. We might hold off on playdates with them until she’s more used to socializing one-on-one. Otherwise they’d spend a really long time playing hide-and-seek. 😉

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