Hula Girl’s Art Table

Hula Girl and I do not see eye-to-eye when it comes to “projects.” I tend to have a finished vision in mind and she couldn’t care less. She is much more interested in the process and discovery than the actual product. She LOVES to paint, color, tape, glue, and make a mess. A huge mess. There is some innate sense of hatred of paint that resides deep in my soul. Every time we pull out paints (water colors, tempera paints, finger paints, doesn’t matter), I end up a stressed-out ball of frayed angry nerves and I don’t tend to mother with very much gentleness or grace. I don’t know what it is about paint that does this to me.

And it’s not just paint. Hula Girl puts everything in her mouth. I mean, EVERYTHING. (I’m actually looking into this from a more medical/psychological point of view right now because I mean it when I say she puts everything in her mouth.) She knows that she’s not supposed to, but she does it. From the very first of our art endeavors, when I handed then-10-month-old Hula Girl some crayons and a piece of paper and proudly posted pictures of the scribbles all over Facebook, to our most recent watercolor masterpiece at the easel encounter, she has had her supplies taken from her for putting them in her mouth. I am not kidding. I have had to stop the activity or take supplies each and every time we have ever attempted art, because she is always tasting and sampling and chewing and licking and spitting. Drives.me.crazy. (My poor mother-in-law has had to hear all about this over and over. Sorry, Momma C.) Thank goodness kids’ art supplies are generally considered non-toxic (although you’d have to pay me a LOT of money before I’d admit that maybe the artificial dyes aren’t so bad after all…)

Anyway.

I have been wanting to test a theory. I have been pondering the idea that perhaps Hula Girl has been so obsessed with putting art supplies in her mouth partially because she knows it makes me so upset. What if I just gave her free access to them and didn’t care about what she actually does with them? What if I just let her go for it using whatever supplies she wanted to use to create anything she wanted to create? Would we still have the mouthing issue? I have been talking it over with Jonathan and he said we could create an art space for Hula Girl somewhere in the house.

Then, last Friday we were given a free “art table” for children. It looks like this. Some random neighbor we’ve never talked to before chased me down when I was out on a walk with the kids (actually, I was terrified about this random person running behind me!), and she offered the art desk to us since she doesn’t have any kids. I said we’d take a look at it, and once we did, we knew we had to have it.

Since it was used, Hula Girl and I spent some time on Saturday afternoon washing it and making it a bit more presentable (we removed the white board section before we soaped it up). It wasn’t in really bad shape, but it had some writing on the white board that was done in permanent marker, and it was a bit dusty. Hula Girl was a great help when we were washing it. I gave her a sponge and let her go for it. She ended up with mud all over her feet, a trend that continued throughout the weekend. (Mud messes I can handle; paint messes, not so much. Weird?)

I ran to Walmart (our favorite store, duh) and stocked up. Like, STOCKED UP. Hula Girl now has access to white board crayons, regular crayons, markers, watercolor paints, colored pencils, regular pencils, erasers, tape, glue, scissors, paper, and stickers. I am planning to add playdough (homemade), 3-D supplies (like egg cartons, etc.), and chalk. I will also add other supplies, and specialized supplies (like glitter crayons), as she gets older.

She has been busy. She has spent 2.5 hours total over the past three days just cutting. My floor is covered in little tiny scraps of paper. But she is busy and happy and she feels that the work she is doing is very important. She keeps putting stickers on paper and cutting them in half so that Jonathan and I can “learn what happens.” She has painted, colored, taped, and written the letter “N” over and over. Absolutely nothing I would have wanted to do in my supplies-hating heart.

And do you want to know something else? She has not put any of her supplies in her mouth, with one exception. She put the glue stick on her lips because it reminded her of chapstick. She hasn’t done that since. 🙂

 

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Chatterboxes

Both kids have been going through periods of rapid language development lately. Neither kid is quiet unless asleep. No one will ever wonder if they’re really mine!

Gelato is 8.75 months old. Here are some of the words he says:

  • “gaa” for cat (he practices this a lot when he sees Riley; I can’t really exactly type the noise he makes- “gaa” isn’t quite it, but neither is “daa”)
  • “boo” for book (he launched himself over the arm of the rocking chair this morning, screeching, “Boo! Boo!” and reaching for the pile of books)
  • “mama” (teehee, I love babies who say mama)
  • “dada” (he gets very serious and looks directly at Jonathan when he says this one)
  • “ee-hee” for sister (it’s quite breathy)
  • “kak” for quack (a.dor.a.ble.)
  • “duh” for duck (he loves to hold yellow rubber ducks and point to pictures of ducks in books)
  • “bah” for bark (he says it when he hears a dog barking)

Hula Girl is 34.75 months old. I cannot even begin to believe she will be three in June. That said, here are some of the amazing things she has been saying lately:

  • “I’m gonna eat the baby! <sad voice> Oh, NOOOOOOOOOOO! The baby is crying because I ate his head!” (She was holding a tortilla like a baby. Also, this is kind of disturbing.)
  • “I just love you guys so much.”
  • “Oh, God, oh, God, oh, God.” Upon further questioning
  • from a freaked-out set of parents who could not for the life of us begin to think where she learned to take the Lord’s name in vain, it was revealed that, “I am praising the Lord. Oh, God! Oh, God! You’re beautiful, God!”
  • She fell down and scraped her hands and knees. “Mommy, I will pray and ask God to heal me.” Several minutes later… “Mommy! I prayed and asked God to heal my hands and knees and now they don’t hurt anymore! God is not really that far away, is He?”
  • “Mommy, I can’t wait for Grampy to come and see me cutting scraps. He will laugh and think it is so funny.” I commented that she likes to make people laugh. “Yes, because that is the way that God made me!”

     

Toddlerese is on its Way Out…

My Hula Girl is 2 months away from being three years old, and she is no longer speaking a whole lot of toddler-speak. It is bittersweet to hear her suddenly pronouncing all her /s/ sounds and integrating long difficult words without batting an eyelash. Language has never been extremely difficult for her, except that some people couldn’t understand her very well due to the absent onsets and the rapid rate of speech she’s accustomed to using (to keep up with her brain, no doubt).

There are a few things that are characteristic of kids her age as far as language goes. Here’s a checklist (found here) that describes toddler speech at Hula Girl’s age:

Significant Language Milestones

  • 200 word vocabulary – This milestone is reached anywhere between 19 and 30 months. If they don’t know 200 words by their second birthday, they will well before their third. They will continue to learn new words.
  • Using words – By the time they are three years old, your toddler will have a word they use for almost everything. It will not be a perfect, adult word, but will be consistent.
  • Simple sentences – By two years, your child will have put two words together. They will start to use three-word sentences during their third year. They will also be developing some grammar skills.
  • Types of words – Your two to three-year-old will start using more words that are not nouns. They will start to use simple words to describe objects, such as small or big. They will begin to use pronouns and will be using verbs.
  • Use of speech – Between two and three years of age, your child will make the transition from gesturing to using speech to ask for something or get your attention.
  • Understandable speech – By 30 months of age, the family should be able to understand your toddler’s speech.
  • Body parts – They will get even better at naming parts of the body.

If you know Hula Girl at all, you know she reached all these milestones before she turned two. So yeah.

Hula Girl is still somewhat difficult for “outsiders” to understand, namely because she is rather reserved when speaking with unfamiliar people for the first time. Also, she is a bit hard to understand when she’s talking on the phone, partially because she usually talks on the phone during meals and therefore has food in her mouth, and also because she doesn’t know to hold the phone close to her mouth.

She still struggles with the /l/ and /r/ sounds, which is unfortunate. She says /y/ for both (with one exception–see my first bullet under the next paragraph). She calls rainbows “yainbows” and lemons “yemons.” If a word has a consonant blend including /r/, like “great” or “bread,” she will just omit the /r/– “gate” and “bed.” When I ask her to say “L,” she says, “Ehh-oh.” “R” is pronounced, “Ahh-wah.”

She rarely mispronounces words other than her little idiosyncrasies with the /l/ and /r/ sounds. However, there are a few funny mispronunciations holding strong in her language, and I will cry the day she pronounces these words correctly:

 

  • Any word with a –ther ending is pronounced as though it says –bee-yer… This, ironically, is the only time she can say /r/ correctly! Examples of this are mother (muh-bee-yer), father (fah-bee-yer), and feather (feh-bee-yer). “Mommy, Daddy is taking me on a fah-bee-yer/daughter date!” Interestingly, she can say “leather.” 
  • Animals. Like, the word, “animals.” She says, “ah-moo-moos.” Always. “I want to go to the zoo to see the ah-moo-moos.”
  • Grammy and Grampy. These have varied throughout her life. She used to say Mimi and Maybe. Now she says Geemee and Gapey. (Omits the r in both!)
  • Little Bro/Little Brother. “Yeedoo Bo” or “Yeedoo Buh-bee-yer”

Why is it so hard for parents to hear their children learning to speak so clearly and so well? Maybe it’s like we’re losing our super secret, ultra-exclusive, no-one-outside-the-family-allowed club! Gasp! Maybe it’s another step toward independence! My daughter no longer needs me to translate her every thought! Soon she’ll be out in the world, talking to people without my help. No! ….. sigh.

This raising kids thing… so hard. It’s SO hard to let go.

Gelato 8 Months Update

Um, hi. <crickets> Well, I’ve been gone a while.

We just went through another major schedule transition this month, which accounts for my absence here. I intend to get back soon. For now, I just want to put up a quick post detailing Gelato’s last month and all that jazz, for posterity at least.

Wonder Week

Gelato is technically 35 weeks old, but since he was born 5 days late, he’s about 36.5 weeks old in brain development age. That means he’s right on track for wonder week 37, and WOW, we’ve seen it. This one has been the most noticeable of all the wonder weeks so far. He’s been showing all the classic symptoms: clinging, crying, and crankiness. Oh, and sleep funkiness. But since I understand what is happening, it’s not freakin’ me out that much. I’m just grinning and bearing it!

Physical Development

He’s so good at sitting up that we’re doing regular baths in the big tub now. Gelato especially enjoys bathing with Hula Girl. Somehow siblings make the menial tasks in life so much more fun.

He’s finally kind of on the move! On Easter morning he started moving forward across the floor. It looks like he’s swimming in the Olympics, freestyle. So funny. He has also started to push himself up onto all fours, and he’ll stay there a few seconds and rock or he’ll push too hard with his arms and move backwards across the floor. But hey, this is major progress! Of course, he can always fall back on rolling and spinning, and he does those things frequently, too!

He’s also been working on his pincer grasp. He can pick up raisin-sized crumbs (don’t judge- I have a toddler), rocks, blueberries (smooshed), and, much to Hula Girl’s consternation, felt “sprinkles” that go on her felt “cupcakes.” I don’t think he’s actually eaten any of the things that aren’t food. But I do know he’s eaten at least two blueberries. Progress. Ha!

We still have no teeth.

Language Development

Gelato’s receptive language skills are pretty good! He’s able to look where we tell him to look, find familiar objects and people when we ask him (“Where’s Daddy?”), and imitate several movements and facial expressions. He knows how to turn a page in a book when we ask him to. He smiles and laughs with us when we smile and laugh in front of him.

He has been working on saying some words. He can say “Dada” and “Mama” as well as “tat!” and “gee-gee!” Both “tat” and “gee-gee” refer to Riley, our cat (tat=cat; gee-gee=kitty). Jonathan has been practicing saying “red” and “green” with him; his approximations sound like “ded” and “dee!”

Gelato also enjoys making lots of bubbly gurgly noises. He blows raspberries, rolls his tongue around while saying, “aaaahhhh,” and generally drools a lot while just sounding like a happy baby. (Hula Girl is always thinking it’s okay to chastise him for spitting at the table. I have to remind her that he’s only a baby and even though toddlers aren’t allowed to spit at the table, babies are. How unfair! 😉 I’m also having to remind her that Mommy and Daddy may tell Gelato what to do, but toddlers aren’t allowed to do that.)

Nourishment

Gelato is still nursing 4-5 times a day. Most days it’s 4 times/day. (See “Sleeping/Schedule” for more details.) He still nurses well. We have had no issues with nursing other than a few bouts of soreness from biting or a weirdish latch. I am thinking some teeth might pop through soon.

We are doing really well with baby-led weaning. Gelato has just figured out how to keep his hand in front of/in his mouth to hold his food in there while he chews it up. We have had far less food falling back out, and his diapers hold evidence of a much larger solids intake (can I take a moment to just say THANK YOU to whomever it was that invented the diaper sprayer?!?!?!). He still doesn’t seem to really like pears, but he likes pretty much everything else we give him. So far, he has eaten: chicken, egg yolks, mango, pears, peas, broccoli, cucumber, carrots, zucchini, sweet potatoes, potatoes, blueberries, strawberries, waffles, bread, pancakes, rice cakes, oatmeal, hummus, avocados, bananas, apples, ham (for Easter), asparagus, muffins, pasta, cheese, and more. I can’t seem to make my brain think of anything else right now.

Sleeping/Schedule

We are still having early waking every single morning. It is still driving me crazy. I guess Gelato is just an early riser. I think I have found that he needs to be in bed between 6:30 and 7. Too early, and he’s awake between 5:30 and 5:45. Too late, and he’s awake between 5:45 and 6. If I get the sweet spot, he sleeps until about 6:15. I do need to start logging his bedtime/awake times for the next few days to check this theory, but I really feel like he’s just an early riser, plain and simple. Fortunately I am a bit of an early bird myself… or these early mornings would be way more brutal than they already are.

A week into this month, Gelato decided he was ready to be on a 4-hour schedule. He had one day where he slept through to 4 hours between feedings. Then he went back to 3 hours the next day, 3.5 the day after that, 3.5 for another day, then he moved to 4 and that’s where we’ve been ever since.

We’re still working to figure out the last “cycle” of the day. He doesn’t sleep late enough in the day to drop his third catnap, but he doesn’t take that nap (or at least, he’s only taken it once in the past 11 days… but who’s counting?). I would just say the nap’s officially dropped, but since he’s in the wonder week, I have been attempting to do the 3rd nap every day anyway.

Another issue we’re facing is that he’s waking sometimes in the middle of the night and he will.not.go.back.to.sleep.without.nursing. (See the 4-5 feedings/day mentioned in the previous section.) I know he COULD sleep through the night, every night. But we haven’t had him cry it out. I have been too afraid of him waking Hula Girl. We actually plan to have him cry it out and get rid of all night wakings as soon as his wonder week is over. Or maybe sooner. I have a hard time convincing a super sleepy Jonathan this is what we need to do when I return from nursing Gelato at 3:45 a.m.

So, here is what his schedule typically looks like (parentheticals are times when he DOES take the catnap):

  •  6:15 wake
  • 6:45 out of crib, nurse, start making breakfast, get Hula Girl up
  • 7:45 breakfast, sibling playtime
  • 8:30 nap
  • 11 wake, nurse, independent playtime, go for a walk
  • 12 lunch, free play time
  • 1/1:15 nap
  • 2:45/3ish wake, nurse, one-on-one time with Mommy (so rare!), “baby activity”
  • 4:45/5 attempt catnap
  • (5:30) up, dinner
  • 6:15 (6:45) bath, bedtime routine
  • 6:30 (7:15) bed

Personality

Even with the wonder week and fussiness, Gelato is a happy guy. His favorite thing to do is to be held facing me so we can fake laugh back and forth. He has a crazy deep voice and he laughs like, “Huh, huh, huh!” It’s so funny. He’s very inquisitive and he enjoys studying things- his sister’s movements, the way a box opens and closes, the holes I’ve poked through a lid, the way Riley’s tail swishes (so tempting), or the way a drawer pull swings in its brackets. He can use his little fingers to manipulate small objects and will do the same motion over and over and over… to make sure the outcome is the same every time? … to practice making his fingers move the same way? … not sure why, really, but he does. He is a very independent player most of the time and does not mind just rolling around exploring in the room while I read to him and Hula Girl or help Hula Girl clean up or whatnot. As always, he’s just a laid-back kid. I have a feeling that when he’s a toddler, he will test me a LOT… not because he’ll be obstinate or willful, but just because he’ll be so involved in what he’s doing he won’t hear me telling him to stop or he’ll be so active he won’t remember what I said about jumping on the couch eighteen hundred times yesterday! 😉 All in all, he’s a very very very fun little person and it’s a delight having him in our lives.

Sibling Relationship

I added this category because I feel like the two of them actually have a relationship now. It’s not just Hula Girl smothering him and cooing over his latest achievements. He has really started to interact with her and she expresses to me at least fifteen times daily how much she loves him, how much she wants to play with him, and how fun it is to have a little “bo.”

He watches her every move. He tries to copy her to the best of his ability. Yesterday this led to him pouring a measuring cup full of cold water all over his legs (kids were playing with a bowl of water and “scoops” on the kitchen floor), but he dipped that thing back in there and tried again!

He screeches or fake laughs to engage her in a screeching or fake laughing “conversation” across the table.

He bounces up and down in my arms when we go upstairs to get her up from her bed in the morning and after naps. As soon as I open the door, he lets out a shout of glee and screeches until she says, “Hi, Buddy Boy!”

He pulls himself up onto her lap. (She helps him sit up all the way, and then she sings songs or says nursery rhymes with hand motions and guides his hands, just like I did with her when she was little.)

He cries when she leaves the room.

I feel so blessed to have two children who love and care for each other the way they do. I KNOW that many siblings, especially at this age, do not get along and/or end up hurting each other (accidentally or not). Hula Girl has never hurt him, and I have never heard her speak one jealous word against him, barring the occasional, “Gelato doesn’t need to get up from his nap. You can let him cry a while so we can finish this book.” I know we are bound to have scuffles in the future, but I really do hope we can continue to grow our family’s sense of respect and kindness as they get older. It is just so lovely to see them enjoying each other. I’ve really started to see a lot of that in the past two weeks, and now I believe all those folks (like you, KATE!), who said that a sibling is the greatest gift I could have given Hula Girl. Love.It.

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