Hula Girl received (and gave) several games and toys for Christmas this year. I just want to highlight a few so we don’t forget how awesome things were in the week post-Christmas in the future. Classic memories were made and are still in the making! Let’s hope they’re still making in March!

Disclaimer: We do not spoil our children. If it sounds like Hula Girl got a lot of presents, it’s because she really only gets new things at Christmas and on her birthday, which are conveniently spaced about 6 months apart. We don’t do a lot of “just because” toys. I also want to state that I do not generally buy a lot of toys that make noise or have one function. And even when we have that kind of toy, I encourage Hula Girl to use it for other purposes if she sees fit.

Hula Girl’s favorite present this year, bar none, was a dollhouse we scored off of Craigslist. I had mentioned to my parents that I’d like to give her a dollhouse this year. I had a nice wooden number in mind. Alas, they are way expensive and my dad was too busy to build one for her. But I really wanted her to have one. So my mom, doing what my mom does best, kept her eyes peeled for a bargain. And whoa, her bargain-location device was in tip-top shape. This dollhouse is awesome. It’s a Loving Family dollhouse by Fisher Price. It includes ALL the accessories. Working lamps, radios, music boxes, and hot tub bubbles are just the beginning. The horse neighs. This thing has not just an infant seat for the baby, but it also has a bouncer, a swing, a crib, a tub, a changing table, and a baby gym. Just for the baby. And then there are all the other things for the other four members of the family plus dog and horses. My mom scored a sweet deal. And Hula Girl has logged at least fifteen hours playing with that dollhouse (alone and with family) since Christmas.

Hula Girl’s second-most-played-with Christmas gift is her small baby doll. It came with a stroller and that baby has had more trips around the staircase than she knows what to do with. Ama also included an extra outfit for the baby. The moment the baby was out of the package, she was stripped naked (a recurring theme with ALL of Hula Girl’s baby dolls lately). But yesterday, all she wanted to do was to put the new outfit on the baby and then switch to the “old” outfit, and back. She’s really making strides with her dexterity- she can put the shirt on all by herself, but still needs help with the pants. Still, impressive, considering she has never before done anything but rip clothes OFF the baby dolls!

Other gifts that come to me off the top of my head include her trampoline, Sit’n’Spin, puzzle, nail polishes (thanks, Grampy! her toes are sparkly pink right now!), stamp set (to be opened and used when Daddy’s gone back to work- thanks, Nay-Nay!), and her play kitchen. Basically, the girl RAKED it in this year. Which was great, because she is at the perfect age to really appreciate a lot of these gifts.

Another special gift was her Jesus Storybook Bible. Girl made me cry when we opened it up and looked at the pictures and she told me the whole story all the way from Adam and Eve through David and Goliath (including the flood, the tower of Babel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and so on). Looks like she’ll be quite familiar with the Word. That makes me so happy.

But let me tell you about Candyland. A game requiring absolutely no skill whatsoever, not even reading. And yet,

Hula Girl gave it to Jonathan for Christmas, per Ama’s suggestion that she give him something they can do together. A game? Less than $5? Requiring no reading? Done.

We have played it three times as a family since Christmas, and I don’t know why, but I always end up at least twenty-five colorful spaces (that look like Laffy Taffy now, BTW, for those of you who don’t play an updated version of Candyland) behind both Jonathan and Hula Girl. Of course, Jonathan has won the majority of the games. But even when Hula Girl does win, she couldn’t care less. She doesn’t understand the concept of “winning” or coming in “first” yet. All in due time, my love. Stay sweet. 🙂

But I DO understand the concept of LOSING. And I keep.on.losing. Like, not by two or three spaces. Or even two or three turns. By the time Jonathan gets to the Candy Castle, I’m still chillin’ at the GINGERBREAD HOUSE. Yeah. He gets all these double-purples and I get like, orange. I have yet to get a special space card. No lollipops or ice cream cones for me. Heaven forbid I get the chocolate.


Guess Candyland’s not my game, after all.

Just Pretending

Well, friends, my little girl is growing up. It still amazes me whenever she hits a milestone like this one. I had an emphasis in human development in college, so I took a few extra psychology and child development classes. Plus, as you know, I read and research like it’s my job. (Hey, it kind of is. A stay-at-home-mom has to be on top of things, too!) So whenever Hula Girl goes through phases or stages or hits particular developmental milestones, I am rarely surprised. I prepare for the “bad” ones (tantrums? emotional wreck? whining?) and look forward to the “good” ones (speaking clearly? using imagination? playing independently by choice?).

This one is probably my favorite “good” one so far.

A few days before Christmas, Hula Girl and I were sitting at the dining room table during dinner and she turned and looked at the Christmas tree. She turned back to me with a huge grin on her face (the one that shows her dimples best) and said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if there were a monkey hanging upside-down in our Christmas tree?” I cracked up. She has never before come up with a scenario like this. Sure, she’s laughed at several of the ones Jonathan and I have presented to her, but she came up with it all on her own! So funny.

The next day she and I took an afternoon trip to Old Navy. As we were driving out of the parking lot on our way home, she informed me that she and Daisy (her favorite stuffed bear who, by The Velveteen Rabbit definition*, is REAL) are fawns (yes, she knows that baby deer are called fawns). Then she informed me that her purple-flowered blankie is also a fawn. I told her, “Your blankie can’t be a fawn! It’s a blankie!” to which she replied, “But Mommy, I’m just pretending!”

Boom. Just like that, she started to pretend, and suddenly our world has gotten lots bigger and changeable. Daddy is no longer just Daddy. He is a horse, a gorilla, a dinosaur, and a dance partner. Her dollhouse hot tub is not just a hot tub (yes, her dollhouse has a hot tub, lol); that hot tub is now an air guitar.

And it’s not all about imagining things are different from what they are. No, suddenly she is able to PLAY. The way I remember PLAYING. She is a Mommy to her babies. She is a Doctor who gives shots. She cooks in her kitchen. Her dolls ride horses. Every stuffed animal has an opinion and is asked for that opinion (which is then supplied by the asker) several times a day.

She is involved in her own little world about 90% of the time now. In fact I was noticing how very quiet things seemed in the kitchen the other day- that’s because Hula Girl was quietly playing with her dollhouse instead of standing next to me trying to take things off the countertops. I had heard that this milestone comes, but I didn’t expect it so soon, and now that it’s here, I kind of miss my kiddo. But not so much that I’m going to complain! 🙂

*In The Velveteen Rabbit, the Skin Horse defines REAL: “Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand… once you area Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.” I LOVE this quotation.

Happy New Year! (a day late)

My daughter just stood next to the front door blowing me kisses and insisting that I catch them while she waited for her daddy to get ready to go out. I caught about fifteen. Love it!

Well, we’re still just truckin’ along. I will be posting several smaller posts over the course of the next week to catch up on the past month or so. It’s amazing how very little motivation I have for blogging when Jonathan is home and we can all spend time together as a family. Guess I’ll chalk that one up to my priorities being in the right place (not to say that those of you who live-blogged every detail of Christmas Eve service and Christmas morning don’t have your priorities right; I am just giving myself a little pat on the back for actually soaking in the moments rather than witnessing and documenting them while missing others).

As an overview, here’s what we’ve been up to. Jonathan has been on vacation from work since the 21st, even though it felt like he was on vacation beginning on the 19th. That day he had a snow day! In the days leading up to his vacation, the kids and I just kind of lazed around the house and Hula Girl and I focused on getting a lot of Christmas projects done. Art projects, cookie baking, English toffee making, present wrapping, and merriment ensued. And once vacation began, Jonathan joined in the festivities by helping me plan Christmas, clean the house, and prepare for the fun. Then there was Christmas. In the days after Christmas, we’ve just been basking in the glow of time spent with family and relaxing. Hula Girl has visited Grammy and Grampy, Jonathan and I have continued and started some new TV series addictions (Whale Wars, Downton Abbey and Ugly Betty for those of you who care), we’ve almost completed a puzzle, and we’ve played several cutthroat rounds of Jonathan’s new games, Candyland, Qwirkle and Blokus Duo.  Please keep an eye out for more posts, detailing some of the above events.

Jonathan will return to work on Monday, and we’re not really looking forward to that. It is just so very nice to have him home. Before he returns I plan to get Hula Girl to the Y so she can swim in the pirate pool at least once, plan a menu for the next couple of weeks, do some freezer cooking so when we are adjusting back to normalcy I won’t have to cook on top of caring for both kids (still a tough concept for me, but it’s getting easier), and finish our dang puzzle.

On to resolutions.

Several of my friends and family members have bemoaned the idea of making “resolutions” as if they’re somehow bad. I think this is due to the stigma that resolutions have received lately- people resolve NOT to do something, whereas many in my circle would like to DO something. So lots of folks are calling them “goals”, “habits”, or even the very vague “ideas”. But I have some resolutions. I am making a firm decision to DO something, which is the first definition of the word, by the way.

Here are my resolutions:

  1. Read the Bible in one year. I kind of stole this from my mother-in-law… I wanted to do it anyway, but she is the one who mentioned doing it chronologically. So there you have it. After Gelato’s dreamfeed last night, I was SO tired and I almost took this resolution off the list. But I didn’t. 
  2. Take things at face value. I tend to read into everything anyone says or does, and I take silly things very personally. For example, I am a terrible cook somewhat stressed about my cooking skills, and the other day Jonathan added salt to his soup. I freaked out about it inside, thinking, “Oh man, he doesn’t like what I made for him! I tried so hard this time! Why can’t he just pretend he likes it anyway just to make me feel better?” Now that’s just silly. I mean, come on, even McDonalds, home of the world’s best french fry, provides you with extra salt (just in case you’re actually trying to fill your yearly sodium capacity in one sitting). Surely it’s not a slight at me or my cooking skills if my husband thinks his soup needs a little more salt. Not everyone likes things the same way. I, for one, do not like my food to be very salty. So it tasted fine to me. Sheesh.
  3. Incorporate organic foods into my family’s diet as much as possible. Now that our budget is relaxed a bit, this will be easier to do.
  4. Get some exercise. That one’s intentionally vague. 🙂


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