Self-Sufficient

Our little Hula Girl is growing up some more. Her 3-year birthday is looming, and suddenly she can do so much. All the things she does are part of her daily routine- things we’ve been doing since she was weaned and walking (and even some things we’ve been doing since she was born). It’s just amazing to see how the locus of control in her life is slowly shifting to her rather than being all on Jonathan’s and my shoulders. Note the slowly part of that sentence. Obviously, our eventual goal is to raise children who are 100% self-sufficient (aside from the grace of God!), but it’s just a bit bittersweet to see it actually happening in tangible ways.

Now that Hula Girl can dress herself, she does it. For the most part, I choose what she wears. I pick out an outfit, hand it to her, and she does the rest. She can put on her own shoes and her own hat and her own jacket. So she does. It’s very helpful when we’re heading out for a walk and I’m getting Gelato and myself ready to go. I can just tell her, “Put on a jacket! Now put on shoes! Don’t forget a hat!” Still supervising, but not for long.

Along with that, she can reliably undress herself, except for her shirt, for baths, or for changing into jammies at naptime (are we the only family that does this? I think most kids nap in their day clothes). This is a nice skill when we’re coming back home from a walk. As you know from yesterday’s post, we remove our shoes before entering the main part of the house. We have shoe bins (one for each of us) and coat  hooks (again, one for each of us) in the tiled front entryway. I no longer have to remind Hula Girl to remove jacket or shoes. She walks in, sits down, takes off her shoes, unzips her jacket, and puts her shoes away. Even though the coat hooks are low enough that she can reach hers, she still has trouble getting the jacket to stick sometimes. That’s cool. If that’s all I have to do to help, works for me!

When it’s time to put on her jammies and pull-up for nap or night (we’re getting rid of the pull-ups when we move her to a big girl bed!), she doesn’t even want us to look like we might offer help. She can do it, she wants to do it, and I think that’s great. Less bending over for me. We just have to allow enough time so we don’t feel rushed when she’s got her foot in the wrong hole for the eighteenth time and she finally asks us to straighten them out so she can try again. Persistent little one.

She’s old enough to do some real chores now, and she takes them very seriously.

  • Each morning, she must tidy up her crib (drape a blanket over the edge, put her sheep in a corner, straighten her pillows, etc.). This is in preparation for when she has a big girl bed and will need to make her bed every morning. Then she has to get dressed, put her jammies away in their drawer, and carry her pull-up downstairs to throw it away.
  • When she gets downstairs, she must check to see that Riley has food and water. If he is out of them, she must ask us to help her get some for him. She can open the food container and scoop out the right amount (not hard, since he’s free-fed), but the food container is in the garage. So we have to open the door for her. We also have to open the door to the bathroom and turn on the sink for his water.
  • After breakfast, she needs to carry her dishes to the sink, and stop to dispose of any food left on her plate on her way. She actually asks to save her leftovers (and she’ll eat them) most days. She doesn’t like to waste food. After she does this, she must open the dishwasher (if it’s clean) and put away her dishes and Mommy and Daddy’s silverware. My silverware drawer is a mess, but I don’t mind.
  • Her last task of the day is to vacuum with my little hand-held dustbuster. She adores this task. She literally vacuums until the battery runs out, then I charge it again overnight each night. She knows how to take it apart to empty it, and she hands me the filter to wash it when she’s done.

Hula Girl has also taken to helping me with baking and cooking. We have always invited her to assist in the kitchen, but her contribution has always been minimal to distracting. But now that she can read numbers and she is learning to read words, she can help me read recipes. Yesterday we baked some bread. She read “whole wheat flour,” “yeast,” and “water” all by herself (we have made this recipe before- she probably remembered at least some of the things she was reading from a previous encounter with the recipe). She told me that we needed “four k-uh-p-s–CUPS!” of flour, and “one-one-two t-s-p” of yeast. Pretty good for almost-three, right?! We also made a lasagna yesterday. She looooooved being in charge of spreading the filling in between the layers of pasta. She did a very good job of keeping things even. She even put the noodles in the pan pretty straight!

I have enjoyed her so very much since she turned six months old (newborn Hula Girl was less enjoyable, what with the reflux and the severely chronic 45-minute naps, and the insane-first-time-Mommy-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-but-determined-to-do-it-right-ness), but I think I enjoy this particular phase almost the best so far. “Little Helper-hood” is awesome!

Garden: 2013- Front Yard Transformation

 

We are pleased to announce that we are almost ready to plant some seeds and get underway!

Jonathan spent the majority of last weekend hauling rocks. (Why is it that our gardening ventures ALWAYS involve clearing huge amounts of 1″ granite?) We now have double the garden space we had last year, and the front of the house looks somewhat finished. I’ll address the front in this post and get to the garden deets in another one soon.

We live in a rented house. (We are debt-free and intend to stay that way. We will be living here- in this city- for about 3 more years, but after that we aren’t sure we want to stay here. So we rent. No need to buy a house only to have to turn around and try to sell it again.) The street we live in bends right after our house, and the lot across from ours and right next to ours (the “elbow pit” and the “funny bone” part of the road) are vacant. Since we live in deserty-prairie-wilderness, there are a lot of tumbleweeds, prairie grasses, cacti, and dirt all around. Nothing pretty. And that was our entire front yard, except for the little split-rail fence that surrounds part of the area, along with a spruce tree and two bushes that are pretty darn ugly (and dying). We have a brick patio with a rose bush and a cement walkway with a little planter next to the house. The planter has a miniature rose bush and two baby holly bushes surrounded by brown mulch. Beyond that, the front yard was horrifyingly ugly.

And the pokies! Since, like, nothing normal or lovely grows out there, we were overjoyed to find some pretty yellow flowers sprouting last summer. Let me tell you, the flowers are deceptive as all get-out. We let them proliferate because we thought they were mild and pretty and we were excited to have something other than brown foot-high grass to look at while we pushed Hula Girl on the swing. Big mistake. Have you ever seen those burrs called goat heads? Check these things out. Make sure you scroll down to see what they look like when they get all dry and stick into your shoes. We always remove our shoes when we come inside, but not all our guests do. And that is what sticks our toddler’s heels on a regular basis. Nice, huh?

All that to say, Jonathan moved a lot of rocks. He took the rocks out of the back yard and covered all that deserty-prairie-wilderness area that is designated by the shoddy old split-rail almost-fence. He put underlayment in a few areas, but we’re mostly going to just have to get out there and pull all the weeds every other day or so. That’s fine. I plan to spend my entire life outside this summer. No joke.

So our front yard looks really nice. Jonathan edged the mini granite chunks with large white sandstone-type rocks that are just laying all around in the field next to our house. He also made a giant obstacle out of some old driftwood in the area that the neighborhood boys like to run through (it’s SO annoying when they run down our walkway and under our patio area during Hula Girl’s nap and wake her up because they’re squirting their water guns at each other right under her crib- like, seriously, kids? Didn’t your moms ever teach you to stay out of your neighbors’ yards and front entryways?!!?). We actually kept one large rectangle open and surrounded that area with tulip and daffodil bulbs, which are now pushing up. We plan to grow mint there; we’re also going to throw down some wildflower mix. It will be pretty- wild crazy mint and wildflowers. Yeah!

The front yard care this summer will include:

  • pulling weeds in the rock area
  • watering the mint/wildflower area
  • re-mulching and adding compost to the rose and holly bushes
  • watering the aforementioned bushes
  • trimming and/or replacing the terribly ugly evergreen bushes that are half-dead
  • watering aforementioned bushes
  • cleaning all the trash out from under the spruce tree (we live in the windiest part of the world, and ALL the neighborhood trash cans empty themselves into our yard every trash day)
  • trimming the tree
  • watering the tree
  • tending the garden box that lives out front- preparing the soil, planting, mulching, watering, weeding, etc.

We are going to have SO much fun. 🙂 (And I’m not joking!)

10 Tiny Things I Love about being Married to my Husband

Hey, Random! Just thought I’d throw these out there since I’ve been thinking about some of them a lot lately! Thanks, Jonathan, for being you!

10. There is always ice cream in our freezer, even though it’s never in our budget.

9. I never have to get my own water for my nightstand.

8. My feet stay nice and cozy any time we’re watching Dance Moms together because I can just shove them under his legs. He doesn’t mind.

7. He never questions my need to purchase anything. He knows I am frugal and trusts me to make the budget balance at the end of the month.

6. I don’t have to take the trash out.

5. My inner goofball comes out more than ever when I’m with him. We’re talking, making faces at myself in the mirror. And he never tells me to stop!

4. He likes to make our children laugh.

3. I never have to get splashed during bath time– he takes bath duty for both kids! (Oh, how I despise getting water on my skin!)

2. My house is decorated for all holidays. With gusto. And he’s not happy unless there’s pink on Valentine’s Day.

1. He lets me talk for hours after bedtime, even if it’s just about silly things.

BONUS- he listens.

Gelato- 7 Month Update

Well, the little Monkey Man is getting older. And for some reason, I feel like he’s SO much older this month than he was last month. Time just really keeps on flying. He was 7 months old yesterday.

Physical Development

Gelato can sit up unsupported for several minutes at a time. The only time he really falls over now is if his sister bonks him on accident or if he’s reaching for the cat. (Nothing is so wonderful as the cat.) He can’t crawl yet, but he can roll anywhere he wants to go and he can spin on his tummy like a seasoned member of the Step Up cast. So basically, we have to keep an extra eye on him now. Jonathan stopped him from eating cat food a couple days ago. Crunch, crunch.

His pincer grasp is coming right along. He can grab things with both hands, transfer toys and food from one hand to the other, and doesn’t have to “swipe” at things at all anymore- he can just reach out and get whatever he wants. He tends to leave his fingers open to feel an object for a few seconds before closing his fist around it. This gives me enough time to realize he’s reaching for my bangs before he gives them a good yank. Thank goodness.

Language Development

Gelato can make all kinds of sounds, starting most frequently with /d/. He also has the /b/, /g/, /y/, /h/, and /w/ sounds down pat. He likes to talk all the time. Our friend from the library says he’s got “the talkies” whenever she sees him. That’s pretty accurate. Jonathan is 100% convinced Gelato knows how to sing, and we’re both pretty sure he’s already using some of his own “words.” Whenever he sees Riley, the cat, he says, “gee-gee!” It sounds like a very babyish approximation of “kitty.” He also makes specific noises when he first sees Jonathan.

He is learning to sign. He has attempted to sign “all done” at the table a few times. I really need to get on this whole signing thing with him. Hula Girl had signs coming her way from like 4 months of age! Ah, well, the second child is supposed to reach milestones later than the first… anyone wonder why?

Nourishment

Gelato is still nursing 5 times a day. He nurses fast and well. I am not on any kind of restrictions in my diet any longer, except caffeine. That one’s just common sense.

We have started solids with him (actually, we started a week before he turned 6 months old). We use Baby-Led Weaning, which basically means we skip the purees and go straight to letting the baby feed himself (finger-sized wedge-shaped pieces at first so the baby can grab it and have enough left hanging out of his fist to take some bites). It’s a lot less work (you know I’d be all up in the making-my-own-purees-from-100%-organic-ingredients-and-breastmilk business) and it’s pretty much hilarious to watch a baby munch away on a half of a banana. I was getting sort of worried about his intake- he wasn’t really interested in eating very much. Tidbits were making their way into his diapers, but he’d really only lick the food and then play with it, squish it, and generally make a huge mess. I know that food is just for fun before they’re one, but my only other REAL frame of reference was Hula Girl, who demolished a whole cucumber quarter the first time she ever had solids at all, and she never looked back. Girl’s always eaten like a fiend.

Two nights ago, I gave him some roast chicken, carrots, and potatoes, and mango for dessert. Apparently it pleased his palate. He gobbled it down and has been eating like crazy ever since. He had sweet potatoes last night, and this morning I gave him banana. He actually managed to eat over half of both. And his diaper this morning had evidence of what he’s been ingesting! 🙂

Sleeping

Yes, he does sleep. I would not say he is a better or worse sleeper than Hula Girl. I would just say he’s a different kid and has different sleep needs and challenges. He goes down between 6 and 6:30, and wakes between 5:30 and 5:45. I used to get him up and nurse him for a half-feeding, then put him back down… but that was just getting ridiculous. So now he’s just awake until I get him. Here’s a typical day in his life:

5:45 wake, play, coo

6:15 nurse, play with Daddy, breakfast

7:45 nap

9:30 nurse, independent playtime, go for a walk, sibling playtime

11:15ish nap

12:45/1 nurse, 1-on-1 time with Mommy, read books

2:15/30 nap

3:15/30/45/4:00 nurse, hang out with Mommy and Hula Girl, jumperoo time

5:00 dinner

5:45 bath/bedtime routine with Daddy

6:15 nurse

6:30 in bed (earlier if he wakes from nap earlier than 3:30ish)

Personality

Gelato is a go-with-the-flow kind of kid. Not much bothers him. He rarely cries. He rarely fusses. He’s really active and always wants to be able to see what’s happening. He likes playing games that include a lot of 1-on-1 interaction, especially with Daddy. He thinks the world of Hula Girl- you can see it in the way he watches her and smiles at her. He is only snuggly when he is tired, but he will tolerate a little kiss-and-tickle-fest every now and then. He is extremely inquisitive and very much a go-getter.

We are very excited to see him growing into an actual person rather than just a little blobby baby. I had forgotten how much fun it is when they really start interacting a lot. It is also nice when naps lengthen (for the most part) and our days become predictable!

I expect he’ll start crawling and get some teeth within the next month. Watch out, world!

Who’s Got the Time?

I hate it when people have a blog but don’t keep it up well. This matches right up with the theory that we find the speck in someone else’s eye and ignore the log in our own. ‘Cuz I really haven’t been keeping up well. Even though I post every week or two, vowing that things will be different and that I want to keep up!

I realized WHY I have been so bad at this during the past few months.

Toddler + Baby = Blogging Deficiency.

It’s not so much that the demands of being a mom to a toddler and a baby are so super stressful that I can’t see straight anymore. It’s just the wacky schedule we’ve got going. Gelato is still nursing on a close-to-three-hour schedule. That means his naps fall at weird times in the day and his last nap only overlaps with Hula Girl’s nap for about 15-30 minutes, maybe 45 minutes if he’s on a bit earlier routine than normal, at the beginning and the end. I’ll give you a big picture shot of a typical day:

5:45 a.m. Gelato wakes and coos/screeches to himself

6:15 a.m. I get up and nurse Gelato

7:00 a.m. Hula Girl’s clock tells her it’s time to get up; I go get her

7:45 a.m. Gelato goes down for his first nap

9:30 a.m. I get Gelato up and nurse him while Hula Girl has roomtime

11:00/15 a.m. Gelato goes down for his second nap

12:30 p.m. Hula Girl goes down for her nap

12:45 p.m. Gelato wakes from his nap and I nurse him

2:15/30 p.m. Gelato goes down for his last nap

3:00 p.m. Hula Girl’s clock tells her it’s time to get up; I go get her

3:15/45/4:00 p.m. Gelato wakes up from his last nap (very variable based on his previous naps) and I nurse him

6:00/15/30 p.m. Gelato goes to bed (I nurse him)

7:00 ish p.m. Hula Girl goes to bed

Then there is the clean-up from the day and the putting-the-dinner-away and the collapse-into-bed-and-read or sit-on-the-couch-and-catch-up-on-Project-Runway that lures me in and I can’t escape.

So by 9:00 p.m., I have had about 15-45 minutes, total, during which I am alert enough to log in and write… which makes it kind of disheartening. I can’t really write a good blog post in 15 minutes, let alone proof it (and y’all know I miss stuff all the time, even on my best days). So… yeah.

Yes, I just dedicated 15 minutes to writing a blog post about not having 15 minutes to write a blog post. Meh. Just know that the ideas are all there and that I frequently find myself saying, “I can’t wait to write a post about this!!!” I’ll catch up someday… or maybe not. 🙂

To My Hula Girl: The Past Seven Months

Dear Hula Girl,

Your baby brother is seven months old today, and you are starting your day the exact same way you did on the day of his birth. Grampy is here and he is reading to you on the couch after the two of you enjoyed a special breakfast of oatmeal with honey and chocolate chips. I remember that morning seven months ago very clearly. We had called Grammy and Grampy the night before and asked them to come down to our house because we were pretty sure it was going to be time for us to go to the hospital. I went for a long walk early in the morning and then sat down on the couch watching you and Grampy read. I took several pictures of the two of you snuggling together under the quilt that your great aunt Anne made for you. Then I went upstairs to rest for a while… and then it was time to go to the hospital! We said goodbye to you and gave you lots of hugs and kisses. You had no idea what was about to happen; you were just excited to spend the day with Grampy.

Back then, you still seemed so very much like a toddler. You were two days away from being 26 months old- still a very young two-year-old. You were unable to dress yourself at all, you were unable to reach things on the countertops, you were unable to brush your teeth, you were unable to reach the sink without a step stool. What a difference seven months can make! In the past seven months, you have grown physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Daddy and I (and all of our friends and family) are constantly amazed at the new things you can do and the incredible things your mind dreams up.

Now you can get dressed completely by yourself. You do need help getting oriented sometimes (those arm holes are tricky- they like to hide behind your back!), and it’s not uncommon to see your waistband rolled over on itself. But you can do it!

You can reach everything on the countertops. Everything. And if you can’t reach it, you’re learning that you can get creative to make a way. This is scary for me. Your daddy was a climber, and you seem to be following in his footsteps! In fact, the other day I found you in the bathroom sink, squeezing toothpaste onto your toothbrush. Well, at least you hadn’t eaten all the toothpaste (another current favorite pastime of yours).

Speaking of toothpaste, you got a new toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste when you visited the dentist in January. Since you had just received a new toothbrush for Christmas, I told you you could use your new one in March. On March 1 you were clamoring for your new toothbrush and toothpaste even before you got out of your crib in the morning! You are still so very excited about your new toothbrush, and you love to brush your teeth. I make sure to brush your teeth first, just so I can get all the germs out, but you love to “practice” for very extended periods of time afterward. I think you’d probably watch yourself brushing your teeth for an hour or more if I let you. It is good that you have taken my advice seriously and learned not to swallow your toothpaste. Now that you have “real” toothpaste (it actually contains fluoride), I have had to watch you very carefully. You do like to eat toothpaste. What kid wouldn’t? Toothpaste nowadays tastes like candy.

So many other things have changed, too. You have grown three inches taller. You have lost a lot of your baby padding. You have learned to speak so very well. Your mind is full of creativity and your imagination is just exploding. You are getting less wary of others. You are learning to play with other children rather than just watching from the edges. You express your feelings and you work so very hard to make sure we understand you.

At night when Daddy and I tuck you in, we have a very specific routine. We read you a story, I carry you to bed, we turn off the light, you put “Mr. Sun” to sleep, Daddy prays, I pile your Daisy bear and your blankies on you, I say goodnight, Daddy says goodnight, and then we leave. When I carry you to bed, you tell me what you are that night: a big big big jingle bell, a big big big pumpkin ball, a big big big flower, or a big big big pearl. If you’re a jingle bell, we sing “Jingle Bells” of course! We always stand and hold each other in a family circle while Daddy prays. When I say goodnight to you, we blow a kiss, sign “I love you,” say, “I love you,” and then when I say, “Goodnight, Little One,” you respond, “Goodnight, Little Mommy!” So funny and so sweet. And of course, you always remind me and Daddy that you want to have your pink vitamin and some milk in the morning. Just in case we forget to give you your milk that you’ve had first thing every day for the last 33 months straight.

The very best part of seeing you at this age is observing the way your heart is opening up to the wonders of God’s creation, and to the glory of God as healer, maker, friend, helper, and Lord. It gives me joy beyond measure to hear you pray when you’re nestled in your cozy crib at night and Mommy and Daddy have left the room. Your sweet voice speaking your almost-three-year-old concerns to God in the darkness melts my heart and makes me certain that God’s got some big things in store for you. I wish I could tell you to trust in Him the way you do now for the rest of your life. That will be your decision to make, but nothing would make my heart gladder than to know that your relationship with Him is one of utter dependence and peacefulness that comes from casting all your cares on Him.

Oh, my girl. I am so proud of you and the big lessons you’re learning. You are sweet, funny, nurturing, exuberant, inquisitive, and joyful. You are never quiet for long. You have energy enough to power New York City for fifteen years. You throw your heart behind every little thing you do- whether it’s dragging Grampy’s suitcase to the front door (while calling, “Doooooon’t fooooooooooorget yoooooooour waaaaaater boooooottle!!!!”), having a breakdown because I moved your Candy Land piece a half-inch, or squirming around to find that ever-elusive armhole. You’re passionate, lovely, honest, and beautiful. I am so blessed to call you my daughter and so very thankful that God chose me to be your mommy.

Love,

Mommy (a.k.a. Daddy/Ms. Clavel- what can we say? Your imagination dictates that I am several different people all day long, depending on whatever game you’re playing at the moment!)

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