Hula Girl and her Buddy Boy

Hula Girl absolutely adores Gelato. She calls him her Buddy Boy. And he loves her, too. He walks around the house calling her name, “Wa-wa!”

Every morning when he comes in her room with me to get her up, the first thing she says (quite loudly) is, “Hi, Buddy Boy! How was your sleep?” (Forget you, Mommy!) He grins all huge and toddles across the room as fast as his little sock feet can carry him, always leading with his tummy. They bonk heads as he crashes into the side of her bed and they giggle in each other’s face. Then he opens his mouth and plants it on her eyebrow and she shrieks, “Mommy! He’s giving me a kiss!” Every single morning.

Hula Girl likes to sing a little ditty about Gelato. It goes something like this:

“Oh, Buddy Boy!

You’re my Buddy Boy!

I love you so much, Buddy Boy!

How I just love my Buddy Boy!

Oh, yes, I love yooooouuuuuuu!” 

When we were in California, Jonathan and I took Hula Girl to the beach one day while Gelato stayed with Ama and Papa. We arrived home and the very first thing that happened was a glee-filled sibling reunion. Gelato came out of the bedroom and saw Hula Girl standing there next to the fridge, and he ran over to her and threw his hands up to her shoulders (haha, like she could even try to pick him up) while laying his head on her chest and saying, “Up! Up!” He was smiling like he’d won the lottery the whole time.

Today on the way home from the doctor’s office, Hula Girl said, quite out of the blue, “Mommy, [Gelato] is my little brother. He is my Buddy Boy.”

It sure must be great to have a sibling. I hope these two will stay close forever. What love they share!

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Dance Dilemma

Now, many of you know that my Hula Girl is a very reserved little girl. Reserved to the point where she is extraordinarily uncomfortable around new people and she doesn’t talk to them for at least 20-30 minutes. Even if they bring her gifts (sorry, Alyssa). It bothers me a lot when other people call her “shy”… she definitely acts that way, but I don’t want her labeled like that forever in her own mind. I generally jump the gun and just explain to folks that she’s reserved and she’ll need a bit of time to warm up. If they respect that, she does well and within a short period, she’s laughing and shouting to them as if she’s know them her entire life.

Another aspect of Hula Girl’s personality is that she is a very quick learner, and she’s a perfectionist to boot. She remembers dance steps after doing them once. She has beautiful technique (for a three-year-old) and makes corrections naturally when her teacher gives them. She can even take what she learns in class and apply them at home- when she teaches me how to dance. She loves correcting me: “No, Mommy, you need to point your toes like this, with your heels together. Look.” Her dance teacher says she has a lot of potential and that she’s really fun to work with because she learns quickly.

For things like dance class, where it’s a weekly event but only for an hour or so, the key for her is consistent exposure. She does really well when the same girls attend week after week with no new students. I try to be really proactive about telling her what changes she can expect if I know in advance. For instance, if A isn’t going to be in class next week, I talk to Hula Girl about it in the car on the way home and on the way back to dance the following week. She likes to be prepared.

We recently had a shake-up in Dance Land. Just before we moved, our dance studio moved, too. Hula Girl would point out the old studio every time we passed it, and look for the new one and shout about its location, too. It took her about four weeks to be able to walk into the new studio and not have to ask me, “Mommy, is this the new studio?” She needs that reassurance.

Then we went on vacation and missed dance for two weeks. I tried to prepare her for her return to dance last Thursday as best as I could by running through her class music and doing a full “class” with her here at home the day before we went back.

And then there was a new girl in class when we arrived. And one of the regulars wasn’t there. Earth. Shattering.

Hula Girl actually seemed to take the new situation kind of well. She walked right in and got on her spot. But that was the highlight of the class. The rest of the time was spent rolling on the floor, assuming first position and then jumping down onto her bottom, crawling like a baby instead of walking on her toes, grabbing the other girls’ hands and holding on so tight the other girls couldn’t make her let go, and shouting all kind of off-topic things to the teacher in the middle of instructions. The teacher had such a hard time with her she even spoke to me after class.

Hula Girl and I had many short talks about it during the week. I reminded her that I expect her to have better behavior. We acted out what to do and what not to do.

So today everything seemed fine.  She told me this morning, “Mommy! I know what day it is! It’s Thursday! It’s Dance Class Day! I LOVE DANCE CLASS!!!!” She knew what she was going to do when we got to the studio, and she knew what expectations we had for her during class. I asked her what she was going to do in class today and she replied, “Listen to the directions and obey. If Miss S tells me to be in first position, I will stand in first position until she tells me to move.”  Okay.

But then. Somehow she just couldn’t handle it. I don’t know what triggered it. One minute she was happily sitting in her spot, waiting for class to begin. The next she was running out of the room crying. She told me she was nervous and that she wanted to go home.

I told her it’s okay to feel nervous and that we’re here to have fun and learn. I asked her if she really wanted to go home or stay in class. She said she wanted to stay but she wanted me to come with her. I asked Miss S if I could sit with her in the corner of the room by the door for a few dances. She obliged. Hula Girl went back to dancing with the other girls and was doing really well, except with a somber face.

I am thinking she was afraid Miss S was going to be mad at her for last week’s behavior and she felt like she had to be absolutely perfect or we’d all be upset. I think she was really feeling pressured by our expectations.

And then… the studio had closed-circuit TV installed so they can shut the door to the studio and parents can observe classes. Today was the first time it was in use. I left the room and shut the door behind me after a few songs and then watched Hula Girl begin to cry and bolt across the room after me.

After a long hug break and a lot of tears, Hula Girl told me she wanted to go home.

So we left.

Once we were in the parking lot, she realized the other girls were staying in class. Then she was very upset because she wanted to be dancing, too.

You guys, she LOVES dance. Absolutely loves it.

It was so hard for her to realize that the choice she made to go home instead of facing her fears at the studio meant that she couldn’t finish dance today.

I could have been harsh about it and refused to take her back to dance. Instead I told her we will try again next week and I took her to Starbucks and got her a pumpkin spice steamer (which she ADORED) and we talked about her feelings and our expectations and what will happen next week. I assured her that I am extremely proud of her for being able to tell me how she feels and for sticking with the choices that she makes (even though she really didn’t have the option to change her mind this time). I focused on the positives- “You did what you said you were going to do today! We went in the studio, put on your shoes, and you sat down on your spot just like we talked about!” I really encouraged her and let her know that if she’s wanting to stay in dance, I will support her and help her feel comfortable there in the best ways I can.

We are going back. We’re going to go early and see how the camera system works. I’m going to show her how I will see her the entire time. We talked about how the camera is like Skype with Ama and Papa- even though they’re not here in the room, we can still see them and hear them. That resonated with her a bit. She relaxed a bit and said, “Oh. You will see me the whole time!”

If, however, she struggles next week, we’re not going to waste money or anyone else’s time. We’re going to take a break.

And this, my friends, is why I really don’t think sending her away to preschool just for the sake of “experience” is necessarily a good idea for her. It will be quite traumatic, and for what purpose? Just for me to get a break? And if I plan to homeschool for real, the experience will be absolutely unnecessary.

Ay, yi, yi. It is difficult to find the balance between supporting her emotionally and challenging her to expand her horizons. Anyone else have experience with a painfully (dare I say it) shy child? Any tips?

Hula Girl Sponsors a Sister

Hula Girl is so excited tonight because she got to choose her “Sponsor Sister” today.

We talked a lot about children in other areas of the world who don’t necessarily have the love of a mommy and a daddy; who have to do a lot of really hard work at home by themselves because their parents are struggling to make ends meet; who have to skip meals on a daily basis because there just isn’t enough for the family. I assured her that we can help those children. I told her that one of the ways we can do that is to teach them about Jesus and to provide money to take care of their physical needs.

Jonathan and I sponsor several children through Compassion International  and we’d already decided that our kids would each get their very own special “sponsor sibling” when they were old enough. Compassion doesn’t introduce kids to the program until they’re three; so three is the age our kids need to be in order to have a close-in-age-to-grow-up-with child. I have been meaning to choose a sponsor child for Hula Girl, but I hadn’t gotten around to it. I am so glad Hula Girl was able to help me choose her child.

Her specifications were: “I want a sponsor SISTER, Mommy. Not a sponsor BROTHER.”

My specifications were: close in age to Hula Girl, lives somewhere we’d be excited to visit in the future, preferably in the same country as one of our other sponsored children

We opened up Compassion’s website and then opened Google Maps so I could show Hula Girl where her sisters live. There were two girls in the final round- one from the Philippines and one from Peru. She chose the little girl who is just shy of a month older than her, who lives in Peru. (We already have a little boy in Peru, too, so YAY!) She chose Yuleysi because she has pigtails and because Peru is closer to where we live than the Philippines is!

After we added Yuleysi to our sponsored children, Hula Girl said, “Now what do we do with my Sponsor Sister, Mommy?” I told her we needed to remember to pray for Yuleysi every day and that Compassion would send us a picture of her along with some more information about her and her family. When we receive the picture, we will put it up on Hula Girl’s wall with the other pictures of her family members. I told her she can draw pictures and we can write letters (and-she was THRILLED about this- emails) to Yuleysi, and that Yuleysi will write back!

Then Hula Girl said, “Mommy, will you draw her picture on this card so I can keep it in my room now? I want to pray for her now.” So I drew the world’s worst sketch of a little girl with pigtails and wrote, “Pray for Yuleysi” and it’s sitting up on Hula Girl’s dresser, right where the light from her Gro-Clock illuminates it. Hula Girl is thrilled.

I really hope the two of them communicate often, and more independently as they get older. Our family will sponsor Yuleysi as long as we possibly can, and we hope Hula Girl (and all of us) will get the chance to meet Yuleysi in person one day.

But really, my main goal in all of this is for both girls to get a little bit of Jesus. Giving and receiving love. That’s what it’s all about, right, folks?

Minor Homeschooling Freakout

I’m starting to second-guess our decision to homeschool.

This morning I took Hula Girl to the library for storytime (Gelato stayed home with our amazing friend Joy who babysits the kids and they LOVE her, who was homeschooled by the way). We’ve been going to the same storytime at the same library for two years now. There are several families whose kids are around Hula Girl’s age and now they have littler ones who are around Gelato’s age.

We went to storytime in August just before our vacation, but we hadn’t been back for three weeks. And a lot changes in three weeks. First of all, there is a new storytime teacher. Miss Kirsten is no longer there, which makes us sad. But hopefully we’ll get used to someone new (with her newfangled ways of singing the ABC song and all!). Aside from that, the demographics today were just way different than ever before.

All the kids Hula Girl’s age were absent- gone to preschool. Their moms were chilling calmly with their younger kids and really enjoying the 1-on-1 time with their younger offspring. I asked several of the moms how the eldest kids were liking it, and how the family was adjusting, etc. One hundred percent of the moms said it was going really well and that their child loved it. One hundred percent of them also said it was hard getting used to having their child away, even if only a couple times each week.

This started two divergent lines of thinking in my head:

1. I am a terrible mother for not giving Hula Girl the opportunity to go away to school. I am depriving her of meaningful and fun experiences and she will miss out on all the “normal” things that her peers will reminisce about in college.

2. I feel bad for those kids who have to be sent away from their families to go to school, especially the ones whose moms aren’t working and just staying at home hangin’ out with their sibs.

The predominant thought was the first idea- that Hula Girl and Gelato are going to be deprived of something great by having to stay home with me all the time. And so now I’ve got myself worked up into a tizzy.

Because, let’s face it, it would be GLORIOUS to send my little chickadee off to 3 hours of supervised-but-not-by-me activities twice weekly.  She would have fun and learn, I’d get a break; win, win. And then as she gets older and goes into real school and Gelato gets into preschool, I’d get even more breaks. Win, win, win! And when they both get into school school, I’d get to go back and teach again! Win, win, win, win!

But is that really worth it to me? I want to be the #1 influence in their lives. I want to be the one making decisions about what they will learn and how. I want to be the one who knows their work styles and play styles best. I want to know what they’ve done all day. I want to know which friends they have been hanging out with. I want to know if anything has happened to make them feel uncomfortable or sad (or EXCITED or GLEEFUL, for that matter).

And I want them to learn from me and my mistakes. I guarantee Hula Girl will be a better cook than me- she has already started learning. And Gelato will definitely have a better ear for music than I do because I insist on his hearing it during a lot of his day.

Anyway, I am just feeling all wrinkly and prickly and disheveled and not-sorted-out right now about our schooling situation here. I think I’m also feeling a lot of hubris and trepidation and not-good-enough and can’t-even-handle-her-at-three-how-am-I-gonna-teach-her-until-she-graduates?!?!?!

And one more thing. This has NOTHING to do with this post, but I just have to say it. What’s worse than completing your entire P90X workout? Lifting your son out of his crib later. P90X Chest and Back=OW.

 

First Real Weekend at our New Home!

This weekend was the first real weekend we’ve had since we moved in.  The weekend between the week we moved in and the week we left for vacation was filled with packing and trying to unearth all the odds and ends we needed in order to ensure happiness and sanity during our trip. The weekend after we arrived home from California was filled with unpacking and getting everyone back on schedule. So here we were.

Saturday was quiet. Jonathan took Hula Girl on a father/daughter date to the laundromat (she calls it the laundrymat- actually, the way she pronounces it, it comes out “yawn-duh-yuh-ree-mat”- so cute) on Saturday morning. They took all our heavy blankets that are usually folded up in storage or hung over the backs of couches to give them a nice washing before winter. I love that it takes just as much time to do ALL of them at the laundromat as it would to do just one of them here at home. Hula Girl loved that the donut shop is right next door to the laundromat. While they were gone, I worked on putting up some decorations in Gelato’s room. Then the two of them brought lunch home for all of us. Naptime was filled with Pinterest (me) and weed pulling (Jonathan). We ended the day with a family trip to Hobby Lobby, where we purchased knobs for Gelato’s table and closet doors.

Sunday was pretty typical except we decided to try bringing the kids to the first service instead of waiting until second service. This meant that Gelato had to miss the first half of his nap. It was okay. I think we’ll stick with it because that way we’re not rushing home to get lunch done before naps. During Sunday School I learned that I’m going to be taking over the middle school girls Sunday School class, and I’m actually going to be doing a LOT more with those girls than just Sunday School. We’re thinking activities, girls’ nights in, etc. (They really need help building up the attendance for that particular class. I think I can handle it!) After church I went grocery shopping, and we spent the evening at home as a family.

All in all, it was relaxing. And now it’s fall. I will have more to write tomorrow.

Trashin’ the Camp

I love Phil Collins. Tarzan’s a pretty good flick, too.

Anyway.

When we were in California, Hula Girl slept on a foam mattress with some extra padding in the form of blankets and pillows. She had some sheets and blankets over the top of her, and of course she had her three very special blankets and Daisy. She slept in Ama and Papa’s office. We thought it’d be okay because Ama and Papa took out all the tempting items and hid several others in drawers. I didn’t think Hula Girl would go so far as to open drawers in Ama and Papa’s office.

Hula Girl also had a hard time falling asleep while we were there because she could turn on the light and she could open the door (she can’t do either of those things here at home). So we got into a bit of the bedtime mania that many families with toddlers/preschoolers face. We ended up taking away special blankies, and even Daisy one night, in order to drive in the point that she needs to be staying in bed and going to sleep at bedtime.

But one naptime she just didn’t feel like sleeping. She felt like exploring. This happened in about 30 minutes:

Hula Girl ingested about three boxes of these before deciding she'd hide some under her blankets for a bedtime snack.

Hula Girl ingested about three boxes of these before deciding she’d hide some under her blankets for a bedtime snack. (My father-in-law shops at Costco.) She also apologized to Ama for putting several of those “beans” in her mouth and then spitting them back into the box. 

Here's the view from the corner by the foot of her bed. Note various office supplies strewn all over the floor.

Here’s the view from the corner by the foot of her bed. Note various office supplies strewn all over the floor. This does not show the chapstick and glue sticks she smeared into the carpet and all over the sides of the desks and file cabinets. Did you also notice three pairs of scissors? Fortunately she didn’t cut her hair… this time. And note the pile of Tic Tacs by the potty. 

I guess we can just be relieved she decided to scribble on a part of the desk that won't be seen by anyone? Yes, and it's permanent.

I guess we can just be relieved she decided to scribble on a part of the desk that won’t be seen by anyone? Yes, and it’s permanent. She also chose to color the bindings of several photo albums on the bookshelf. My sister-in-law said they’re not the very special ones. Still.

 

It took three adults and one preschooler about 30 minutes to clean this all up. Ama and Papa’s desk things went into boxes to be stored in the garage until the Tornado had gone home.

Hardest part of this whole thing? Trying desperately not to laugh when Ama walked Hula Girl back into the room and said, “Now you need to sit down and take the pennies off the bottom of your socks.”

 

Top Ten Tips for Tearfree Tot Travel

We arrived home from our vacation about a week ago, and I am still amazed at how well my children did. I expected meltdowns and drama, especially from the 3-year-old. But we only got smiles, excitement, curiosity, and perhaps a fuss here and there at the end (from the 1-year-old). I think a lot of it has to do with our kids’ personalities.

Hula Girl, the 3-year-old, is the incessant questioner. She is always wondering about anything and everything. And when she’s done wondering about what’s in front of her face, she thinks back to yesterday, a week ago, or even last Christmas, and asks us random questions about past times. “Mommy, when we met Mr. Chris and he was showing us houses, why did he drive a white truck?” (Folks, Mr. Chris showed us houses in May. She went to three houses that he showed us.) Needless to say, her mind was abuzz and quite occupied with all the things to see and think about.

Gelato, the 13-month-old, is just plain happy-go-lucky. He let us know he wasn’t too excited about riding in his stroller and car seat all day long, as he has recently learned to walk and wanted to try out his new skillz, but he was fine as soon as we got moving. He had a steady stream of snacks and he fell asleep pretty quickly once we got in the air or on the road.

Obviously everyone’s kids are different, so there will be some things that worked well for my kids that wouldn’t be so hot for every family. But some things probably have mass appeal. So without further ado and in no particular order, here are some ideas that worked for us.

  1. Glow sticks. My friend Jaclyn recommended this one to me and she is RIGHT. You can get these things from the dollar section in many major stores. Cheap, self-contained fun. All you have to do is rip open the wrapper, crack the stick, and give it a little shake. The only note here is to avoid using the blue/purple ones in daylight- they do not show up at all in the sunlight. Green and yellow glow brightest overall. We got several varieties- fat sticks, small “bracelets,” and even several smaller rods that connect and bend into a ball. Kids loved these. LOVED.
  2. Snacks. The key with snacks is to not give your children junk you wouldn’t normally give them. You don’t want an upset tummy on top of traveling stress. We stuck with apples, crackers, rice cakes, and granola bars. All organic. I did two types of crackers- one sweet and one salty. Honestly, the rice cakes and crackers were a bit too messy for my liking, but the kids were happy with the offerings. It really helped Gelato to be able to munch an apple during takeoff.
  3. Routine. We have a pretty regular routine. My kids get up at the same time every morning, and they nap and go to bed at generally the same times every day. They eat meals at the same times. Everything in between sleep periods and meals is generally in the same order. Give me a time and I can probably tell you what my kids will be doing at that time next Tuesday, within about 15 minutes. THIS HELPS TREMENDOUSLY when traveling. I scheduled our flight times to coincide with Gelato’s nap times so that we’d have the best chance of him actually falling asleep on the plane. He did, and other passengers were appreciative. We also stuck to our routine pretty much the entire vacation. We had two nights that were later nights than we expected. But we did not have severe behavior problems, with one notable exception- wait ’til you see the pictures of THAT one!!! HA! We were not stressed out, we were able to relax, and everyone had an enjoyable time because we knew what to expect. **I’d also like to point out that my in-laws are AWESOME and they respect and utilize our routines and schedules while we are visiting them. It really helps add to our fun and relaxation because we know our kids are well taken care of and they’re on schedule so they’ll stay at their optimum the whole time, too. It’s absolutely fantastic to have such support!!!**
  4. Surprises. Hula Girl was so surprised and overjoyed to be tasting her very first lollipop on our plane ride. We have never let her have candy really, so this was something she had truly been longing for. She always walked past the displays of the “World’s Best Lollipops” in stores and asked me if she could have one. I always agreed that they were pretty and looked good, but turned down her request. What a delight for her to open her backpack and find a pink strawberry shortcake flavored lollipop just waiting for her!!! (We gave it for her to suck on so her ears would stay clear. Worked like a charm!) Other surprises were things like a portable DVD player and an Elmo video, the glow sticks, and for Gelato, some small cars and animals he could play with.
  5. Pieces of home. Hula Girl had her blankies and Daisy, her bear, to sleep with. We also brought her Gro-Clock and her sound machine. Gelato had his sound machine and we brought one of his sheets to put on the pack ‘n’ play so it would smell more like home. We brought some of the kids’ favorite books and toys.
  6. Organization. I had a list that showed me every piece of luggage and exactly what was in each bag or suitcase. We carried on two car seats, a suitcase, and three bags. We checked two larger suitcases. My bag held all of Gelato’s plane essentials- change of clothes, diapers and wipes, snacks, water, and small toys- along with my own plane gear- a light sweater, my glasses (I never check these; I’d be lost without them), and a book in case Gelato fell asleep- and all our travel documentation- IDs, birth certificates, boarding passes, etc. Jonathan’s backpack held random electronic stuff like cameras and phone chargers, Hula Girl’s DVD player, a book for him, etc. Hula Girl’s backpack held her travel snacks, toys, and crayons. The carry-on suitcase had all our kids’ sound machines, Gro-Clock, and random extra things. Our checked bags held Gelato and Hula Girl’s clothes and Mommy and Daddy’s clothes. I was GLAD things were organized well. Plus I like lists.
  7. Plan ahead. Sounds like organization. But it’s different. And I was fortunate enough to marry into a family with a mother-in-law who indulges my whims and has a few of her own. Therefore we knew what activities we’d likely be doing, what we’d need for them, and what we definitely would not need to pack. We knew we needed lots of swim gear since there was a splash park nearby, but since we didn’t want to pack our (very expensive) sunscreen, we just had my mother-in-law get some in advance. She also got coconut oil and baby wash to make sure our kids’ skin was pampered and our clean clothes stayed that way on the flight.
  8. Talk it up. We made sure Hula Girl was SO excited to travel. We made it sound like an adventure for sure. We read books about traveling on an airplane and watched videos about going to the beach. We acted out scenes during which Daddy and I got stopped by TSA and were searched while we were getting to our gate. We reassured her that if TSA stopped any of us, none of us would get left behind. She practiced how she’d greet her relatives, and we talked about what to do if she couldn’t find someone she knew. (In case you’re wondering, we told her to look for a MOMMY WITH KIDS and ask for help. She can spell her name and she knows Jonathan’s and my phone numbers by heart. So that helps me feel more comfortable. We even practice “getting lost” a lot at home, just so she knows what to do and is SURE of herself in the event it happens someday.)
  9. …But don’t talk it up too much in advance. My daughter is a worry wart. (I have no idea where she gets it…) She gets VERY excited about things and she can’t sleep for DAYS in advance when she knows something is coming up. Therefore we did not tell her the exact date, but just kept conversation focused on what we’d do when we get there, and how great it would be to see Ama and Papa. We finally told her on the morning of our flight that THAT was the day we were going to see Ama and Papa. It definitely worked out for us.
  10. Expect delays and rudeness. When you’re traveling with children, SO much work goes into planning, organizing, corralling, carrying, and keeping everything (and everyone) together. Any task, from checking in to going through security to using the restroom to actually boarding the plane, takes about five times longer than it would if you were alone. And when you consider the bundles of energy and excitement who squirm and hop along with the massive amounts of luggage and the GIANT CAR SEATS you have to haul around… well… just know it takes a long time to get from here to there. At least 2 hours longer than you’d imagined at first. And other people are generally helpful… but some flight attendants can be downright snarky and rude. Especially the ones we flew with. We were interrogated several times on each flight- “Did you purchase tickets for your children? Are they supposed to be sitting there? Are your car seats FAA approved? I’m sorry, but I just need to SEE the approval sticker. I’ve never seen people bring car seats on the plane before. Are you sure you don’t want to gate check the car seats? Do you want to make sure to sit near the back so that other passengers aren’t bothered by your children?” And on and on. And do you know what?! There was NO NEED for them to be rude to us. We got in, we got out, our children were SILENT the entire flight (except for the one time Hula Girl burst out in a song from ballet class). Again, other passengers were very pleasant, offering to help carry bags and watch items for us so we could manage. But the flight attendants… wowie wow wow.
  11. BONUS TIP!!! Purchase tickets for your children. Even if you don’t do the car seat thing (which I am vehemently AGAINST but whatever), at least it gives your child AND you a bit  of room to stretch out. The other passengers will appreciate it. 🙂

Sudden Snuggler

Gelato at thirteen months plus a week and a half or so:

Oh my goodness, is Gelato a snuggly little guy these past two days!?!?! This is a HUGE exciting thing for me because that little boy does.not.stop.moving.or.hold.still. Ever. But the past two days he has been clinging to my leg and burying his face in my shoulder and giving my arms huge sloppy kisses and trying to bonk his head into my face at any spare moment. It’s SO cute. Yesterday it wasn’t so cute because he was also crying and whining a lot. He’s getting a couple of teeth. But today they weren’t bothering him so much, so I got a lot of goofy grins and happy squawks instead.

He has also been really cuddly with Hula Girl, which she EATS UP. Girlfriend is HUGE on touch (Pretty sure it’s her #1 love language), and it’s killed her that he doesn’t like to snuggle very much. She just wants to hold his hand and cuddle him like she did when he was little- but he doesn’t want anything to do with it. But the past two days, he will literally run into her and topple both of them over just so they can roll around and cuddle. He even came over to her bed at her naptime just to give her giant kisses on her eyes and nose. She about died out of sheer bliss.

Gelato’s second favorite activity is talking. Little Man talks all day, every day. He greets me with, “Mo-neen!” when I walk in his room. He wants to “wa! wa! wa!” everywhere we go. He grabs his “oos? oos?” and wants me to put them on his feet for him. He brings me “boo!” and wants me to “read-ee? read-ee?” He tells me when he’s “Hun-ee,” and wants to “EAT! EAT! EAT!” He hears a “doggy” saying, “Woof. woof. woof.” He tells me when he wants some water to “dink, dink, dink.” He can mimic anything we say and he spontaneously says new words every single day. Along with the words listed above, here’s what I can think of off the top of my head: [sister’s name], door, closed, open, ball, truck, car, toys, dance, happy (SO cute), night night, nurse, cup, spoon, rock, horse, phone, bye, banana, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, cheese, apple, applesauce, did it!, help, Mommy, Daddy, Riley, gentle, tickle, peek-a-boo, Ama, Papa, fan, noise, shh, climb, up, down, swing, swim, inside, outside, potty, tub, teeth, stop, and go.

Gelato is ACTIVE. He is a huge climber, and I tend to let him climb. If he can get up, he can get down. It takes a lot more time and infinitely more coaching to get down. But I let him do it. Two days ago, he climbed up to the top of our inherited playset in the backyard. Just wait until I show you a picture of that one. The rock wall (?!?!?) he climbed is over six feet tall. Kid’s thirteen months old. And he climbed to the top of a sixish foot rock wall. Ridiculous. (I need to point out that even though I LET him do this, I was also holding my hands about 2 centimeters from his body the entire time. I didn’t touch him, but I was READY. He does not get to adventure out on his own… yet.)

We’re still nursing. Gelato actually skipped two nursings one day when we were in California because Jonathan and I had taken Hula Girl to the beach (another post) and we left Gelato with Ama for the day. He did really well with it. Didn’t drink any milk, drank a ton of water, but still took good naps. I am pretty sure he’s never going to really like milk that much. Fine by me. He LOVES yogurt and cheese. And there’s always ice cream….. ha!

Gelato is still not much of an eater. Although I say he has foods he LOVES, he only eats a small amount of them compared with the amounts his sister ate at his age. Some days he surprises me, like yesterday when he ate two whole adult-sized pancakes plus a cup of blueberries for breakfast. That’s like a week’s rations, folks. Even when he’s acting cranky and whiny and says he’s hungry and wants to eat, he usually eats about a 1/2 cup of food altogether and then he’s done. He’s a pretty small little guy, I guess, but to see how much he does and compare that to how much he eats makes me worried he’s not getting enough. But I don’t push it. I just offer whatever we’re having and if he doesn’t want a lot, he doesn’t eat a lot. He sits at the table with the family and we wait until everyone is done. He has good manners and doesn’t fuss to get down. Usually.

Everyone always comments on how happy he is. He truly is happy, and he has this little squint wrinkly nose thing that he does when he’s trying to get people to smile back. It makes him look like a total goofball, but it’s adorable. Everyone smiles then and comments on how cute he is. Even when we were traveling to California and we’d been up since 5:45 am and he had to sleep in his car seat on the airplane and in the car, he didn’t cry once all the way through the shuttles, trains, cars, airplanes, airports, rental car offices, or on the drive to Ama and Papa’s house. (He also met and wooed a Swedish girl who looked the part- white blond hair, slim, beautiful. She was about 25 years old and she let him play with some animal app on her iPad. It had music [his third love] and he thought that was GREAT. The only word she knew in English was “dance” and boy did that come in handy. Gelato danced to the music and she laughed and cooed away in Swedish. They kept each other company for an hour in the rental car office. Thank you, Swedish girl!)

Gelato in three words: energetic, opinionated, happy

I love having a son.

Still Here!

We’re recovering from a month of pretty intense changes and exciting adventures so I just wanted to say hi.

In the past month, we’ve hosted my sister-in-law for a week, moved, changed dance studio locations (doesn’t sound big… but it is when you’re three), taken a vacation to California, and tried to get settled in our new house. The kids are pretty worn out but overall they did VERY well. I was particularly worried about Gelato as he’s never really slept anywhere but his crib before… ever. I was concerned about the room change, the pack n play sleep during vacation, and the car seat sleep during travel to and from California. I’m not going to say it was perfect, but he did really really well.

I can’t wait to start blogging for real again. Now that things are settling down and I have been able to locate about 75% of the things I need on a daily basis (darn boxes don’t unpack themselves!), I am trying to turn my focus back to the things I want to do, not just focusing on survival mode.

I will be back tonight and tomorrow with some good ol’ summaries just to get the ball rolling and then I plan to dive back into a once-a-day-except-for-weekends posting rhythm. Yay! I hope some of my old friends are still around waiting to read what I have to say. (Actually, I really hope that I can make more bloggy friends. I think I’d like to build up my blog a bit. It’s… more basic than any other blog I read, to put it kindly to myself. lol)

Here’s a general list of things runnin’ through the ol’ noggin:

  • DIY stuff around the house, including but not limited to: decor, landscaping (Jonathan’s arena- have you guys ever seen me try to shovel dirt? Ha!), functional spaces, and more decor. Jonathan and I plan to share before and after pix, along with several how-to and tutorial posts. And actually, that last sentence is all because Jonathan wants to. Really.
  • Homeschool stuff: ordering final books, planning out our daily learning times, coming up with a scope and sequence for actual curriculum stuff, and writing it all down in a sensible manner. I will share our progress and ask millions of questions, for sure.
  • Exercise: started P90X again yesterday. First time I’ve exercised in over two years. Not even kidding. Oy. Vey. I probably won’t be logging my progress here. I don’t even keep a personal log, even though you’re supposed to. Forget about it. Who cares how many reps I did in week 1? NOT ME.
  • “Naturalizing” our home: We’re 100% organic eaters, and now I’m working on getting us to 100% organic/natural products- shampoo, deodorant, etc.; cleaning products; anything we use. We have invested in lots of essential oils, coconut oil, and vinegar. I probably won’t mention this too much either. Y’all can google just as well as me, and I won’t be coming up with any new twists on the recipes for homemade products. I might slip in a couple “these worked well for me” links… but that’s about it.
  • Cooking: I am getting there. Some days I turn out a surprisingly stellar supper. Other days it’s like I never even learned to cook (wait, I didn’t). I find if I follow recipes perfectly, the food isn’t great. If I make one up, the food is either GREAT or AWFUL. If I improvise on a few things here and there, it is generally the best tasting food of the week. Let me also mention that I am GREAT at baking. I have mentioned this before. But it’s true. I can bake. Sweet. I can guarantee I won’t be sharing any huge cooking triumphs, though. 😉

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