My Little Dancers

My parents graciously came over and cared for the kidlets today. They had a fun day at Storytime, Chick-Fil-A, and at home. They read a “million billion books” and played with Play-Doh. Of course, Little Man was stoked to eat ice cream at CFA. Win-win.

While they were gone, I alternated between light housekeeping chores and resting. I vacuumed the house, did a load of laundry, Lysoled the heck outta this house, and opened the windows to the balmy 34-degree breeze to air out my sick germs.

I was excited to learn that I can take my sewing machine (a wonderful gift from Jonathan’s aunt) to a very long-standing local sewing machine shop to have it serviced. My dad is taking it for me next Monday, since he’s working right near the shop that day and I’ll pick it up the following week when we go for Jonathan’s pre-op appointment with the ophthalmologist. I can’t wait to get it back; I have missed sewing!

I also had a great talk with Hula Girl’s dance teacher, Miss K. Hula Girl joined a new dance studio this January because she really wanted to learn to tap. Since they had never seen her dance before, she was automatically grouped in with the other preschoolers. This has been a good thing but also a challenge. Positively, it has allowed her the opportunity to be what  Miss K called the “big fish” in that she is much older than the other girls (some just turned three in November; she will be five in June) and has much more dance experience. She has not had to worry about keeping up while she has navigated the social stuff. I let Miss K know her approach to engaging Hula Girl in the class was wonderful, too– she never cajoled Hula Girl to try to get her to join in. Instead, she offered one casual invitation and then ignored Hula Girl until she joined on her own. It worked like a charm. Hula Girl loves Miss K.

On the negative side, Hula Girl is BORED. The girls know choreography for exactly four eight-counts and it’s been two whole months. Some of the younger classmates just can’t pick up the choreography and Miss K is working so hard, but it’s like dragging wet donkeys through a murky quagmire. She is literally picking up their feet and moving them for the girls, but the little punkins just can’t seem to replicate the motions on their own. Poor things! Needless to say, Hula Girl came home last week discouraged as she said, “Mommy, I thought we were going to learn new parts today!” I encouraged her to just be patient and trust that her teacher will prepare her for the performance in May.

Anyway, I called her teacher to find out what will happen next session. Miss K told me she plans to assign Hula Girl to a class of students closer to Hula Girl’s age. This might mean Hula Girl will have less experience with tap than the other girls will have, but Miss K expressed full confidence that Hula Girl will be just fine and will catch up in no time.

Another topic we discussed is the topic of Little Man. Previously, when Hula Girl was having a rough time adjusting to dance class, Miss K allowed Little Man to dance with Hula Girl for one class session. Miss K told me today that after that session, she talked to the owner of the studio about him because she has never met a two-year-old who was capable of dancing so well or staying focused for the entire hour! She is amazed by him every week as he does what she asks the girls in the class to do (over by me; unfortunately, he is not allowed to dance with Hula Girl anymore) and she let me know she thinks we must be doing something good at home because both our kids are so focused and well-behaved. That was so nice to hear! Miss K has been teaching dance for a long time, and she thinks that highly of my kiddos? Wow.

We discussed the idea of putting Little Man in a creative movement class and she also mentioned this summer’s dance camp in July. I am starting to see why families struggle financially to keep their kids involved in extra-curricular activities. It is expensive for a preschooler to dance! This is something Jonathan and I need to talk and pray about for sure!

Here’s hope that I’ll wake up with a healthy body tomorrow!! I’m ready to talk and not be exhausted again. Dance class is also tomorrow! All of us are excited; we love dance days. 🙂

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A Collection of my Random Thoughts on Unschooling, Free Play, and Reading

Well, I have spent the last two days in bed. Being sick is not my forte. Alas! I have used my time wisely, though–  I have been doing a bit of research this morning on unschooling and I’m drawn to it for my Little Man.

Whereas Hula Girl has always been drawn to facts, memorization, and asking, “Why,” Little Man is much more likely to be interested in experimenting, observing, and asking, “How?” He is an independent person, and he thrives on problem solving. He is rarely interested in the things and activities I present to him, but he is annoyingly persistent when he wants me to join him in something he comes up with on his own. He is clever and creative, and he loves to figure things out. Hand the boy anything with buttons, screws, or wires, and he will be focused for a good long while.

I think all those qualities are excellent and necessary for a lifetime of unschooling. Unschooling flows naturally when one considers my main goal for my kiddos right now: to give them as much opportunity for free play as possible. Unschooling, like free play, allows children to ask questions and pursue the answers on their own. It allows them to use their imaginations. It gives them plenty of time to ponder and consider and daydream. You betcha I want my kids freely playing as much as possible. And unschooling seems like such a fit for Little Man.

I also want to focus on my kids’ social and emotional development, and some of the things I’ve come across this morning have reminded me what my goals in these areas need to be. Socially, I want to get the kids engaged with people around our neighborhood. I texted our across-the-street neighbor this morning. I asked if she would be willing to allow her son, who is just a year older than Hula Girl, to play outside with Hula Girl, relatively unsupervised, this summer. The kids will be five and six, and I told her I would like to set limits on how far the kids can roam. One positive is that we know (and like!) all the neighbors within those limits. I think this freedom to roam is good for children, and I’m excited that Hula Girl will have the opportunity to play and interact with neighbors without me being right there the whole time.

Another way I want to engage the neighbors socially is by having the kids help me bake goodies and share them. I plan to send the kids next door to the neighbors on either side of our house, who are both retired guys, with plates of cookies or baskets of muffins. I want to have them help me prepare for afternoon get-togethers with other moms and kids who will be invited over just because.

Regardless of our methods of schooling or the ways we spend our days, one activity will not cease: daily reading. Both children enjoy reading tremendously. Hula Girl can read simple stories on her own, but I think we will continue reading out loud to her untik she begs us to stop. 🙂 Little Man asks me to read him books at least seven times a day, and I do! I was thinking about how glad I am to have married Jonathan, as he is a guy who loves to read! Our kids see the example we set and reading is not ever a chore for them; rather, reading is a fun bonding experience and they get to learn about characters and topics they find interesting! I had a discussion with Jonathan’s aunt, who is a teacher, the other night. She has first graders and she said she can always tell which kids are frequently read to and which kids aren’t. The kids who are read to just have such an advantage over the kids who aren’t! I’m just glad we have created a home environment in which reading is normal, everyday, and fun!

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. 🙂

OH MY GOODNESS.

JANET LANSBURY READ AND COMMENTED ON MY BLOG.

I feel like a fourteen-year-old who just went on a ferris wheel ride with the boys from One Direction. Totally giddy and starstruck. Had to share.

 

Haha, Alphabet Meme

Haha! I had to do this because it’s so very much like the old email surveys we used to pass around back in the day of IM-ing and NSync. I was tagged by Kristy over at Day by Day. Kristy and I met in an online Babywise moms group and I am SO thankful for her spunky wisdom in my life! You might also notice she’s my #1 rated commenter… because she is probably the only one besides my mother-in-law who actually reads my blog. Teehee!

Alphabet Meme

A. Attached or Single?

Attached. Yee-haw! I am so glad I stalked Jonathan. 

B. Best Friend?

Jonathan, of course. My mom, Lynn. My mother-in-law, Carol. My sister-in-law, Jenn. My best phone friend, Joanna. My best high school friend, Rachel. My best college friend, Ha.

C. Cake or pie?

Pie. For sure. I LOVE free pie Wednesdays at Village Inn. And since my birthday is in October, I have never had a birthday cake- bring on the punkin pie!

D. Day of choice?

Saturday. It’s nice to have Jonathan home and no real agenda.

E. Essential Item?

Baby monitors. 

F. Favorite color?

I’m still quite fond of purple, but having a little ballerina girl has definitely made me rather accustomed to pink!

G. Gummy bears or worms?

Worms. So much softer.

H. Hometown?

Colorado Springs, CO

I. Favorite Indulgence?

Cheesecake.

J. January or July?

July! I love Independence Day!!!

K. Kids?

I love them. I have two. I taught many. I hope to teach many more as life goes on.

L. Life isn’t complete without?

Laughter, tears, and warmth.

M. Marriage date?

September 9. Same as my Cuz.

N. Number of brothers/sisters?

Zero, Zip, Zilch. This is sad for me.

O. Oranges or Apples.

Apples. With peanut butter and cinnamon.

P. Phobias?

Aquatic animals in tanks. Particularly anything in a glass tank. Shamu? Yes. Goldfish? Yes. Any aquatic creature, any size tank. FREAKS ME OUT. I can’t even think about Sea World.

Q. Quotes?

I am not a sappy sentimental word lover. I don’t remember things people say. Unless I said it and Jonathan can’t remember it. Then I remember it very very clearly. 

R. Reasons to smile?

Seasons. Yes. My children. Of course.

S. Season of choice?

Near the end of every season, I look forward with glee to the coming season. I declare, “The next season is my FAVORITE!” Basically, I just like the fact that seasons exist and that we get to experience them.

T. Tag 5 People.

Heh. I don’t even know five people. So I won’t do this one. 

U. Unknown fact about me?

I hate papaya.

V. Vegetable?

I like fresh snap peas from the garden. Yummy.

W. Worst habit?

I am similar to Kristy in this one. I tend to get all excited about things and plan and organize for days on end only to give up as soon as I start to implement. For example, I have planned out several different housekeeping/cooking/laundry schedules… but my house is always messy, I am a terrible cook, and our laundry is, like most young families’, neverending.

X. Xray or Ultrasound?

In my experience, X-rays have always meant something’s broken. Ultrasounds have always meant someone is joining our family. So. Ultrasound. I guess.

Y. Your favorite food?

Fresh strawberries!

Z. Zodiac sign?

Libra, but who cares?

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.

Christmas Traditions- Ours

We have several traditions that we’d like to carry year-to-year with our family. They are numerous, but simple. I think that makes them doable. 🙂

  • Decorate and get a tree on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
  • Trim the tree on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, while listening to Delilah (corny, anyone?).
  • Sit in the semi-darkness and sip tea/hot drink of some sort while enjoying the sight of the lights on our tree.
  • Purchase each child a yearly ornament. (Hula Girl gets ornaments from this collection http://www.christmas-treasures.com/CharmingTails/HolidayOrnaments.htm; Gelato will be receiving bells each year. Here’s his bell for this year: http://www.reedandbarton.com/holly-bell-2012-silverplated-ornament) (sorry, wordpress is being lame and not allowing me to use a link for those…)
  • Read tons and tons and tons of Christmas stories and books.
  • Leave out cookies for Santa, a carrot for Rudolph, and cheese for Santa Mouse.
  • Attend a candlelight service on Christmas Eve.
  • Eat homemade pizza for dinner on Christmas Eve.
  • Read the Christmas Story and another meaningful story on Christmas Eve.
  • Wear new Christmas jammies to bed on Christmas Eve.
  • Eat homemade cinnamon rolls and quiche on Christmas morning.

What traditions does your family keep? How do those traditions change/develop as your children grow?

Hula Girl- 27 Months

Hula Girl is 27 months old, or two-and-a-quarter years old, today. Here’s some info about her:

Current Schedule:

7:45 out of crib, milk, get dressed (maybe)

8:00 go downstairs, play while breakfast is prepared

8:15/30ish breakfast, followed by hand-washing and teeth-brushing

9:00ish play (usually outdoors)

10:00ish craft/art/project (coloring, play-dough, painting, etc.)

10:45ish roomtime

11:15ish play while lunch is prepared

11:45/12ish eat lunch, followed by hand-washing and teeth-brushing and pottying

1:00ish nap

3:30/45ish snack and low-key activities

4:45ish roomtime

5:30ish Daddy time

6:00 dinner, followed by hand-washing and teeth-brushing

6:30ish family time

7:00 bedtime routine (bath, potty, lotion, jammies, stories)

7:30 in bed

Eating

Hula Girl has NOT been the world’s best eater this month. She is still learning to stay in her seat at the table. She is also learning when it is and when it isn’t appropriate to just get up and leave the table, saying, “I need to go peepee and poopoo.” But every meal is interrupted by a potty break. Whatever. It is annoying when she then wanders all around, delaying her return to the table. We’re beginning to really crack down on the “only leave the table once during a meal” rule, and we have also started setting a timer because that girl will STALLLLLLLLLLLL. If she’s not done by the time the timer goes off, her food is removed and we declare the meal over. Cue tantrum. But hey, it can’t REALLY take 45 minutes to eat a quarter cup of peas.

Sleeping

This is actually starting to get better. She is not staying awake for hourS on end… maybe only 30-60 minutes every night. And she’s starting to sleep closer to her wake-up time. We have had some middle-of-the-night screaming for Daddy episodes because she really doesn’t like the feeling of a wet diaper, or her nose was running and she needed a tissue. We tied a handkerchief to her crib rail, eliminating the runny nose thing, but we’re not exactly sure about the wet diaper thing. I actually think her night wakings are just due to the fact that Gelato is here, and his presence is more and more felt in our house as he gets older, less sleepy, and less predictable (growth spurt). Hula Girl has also had some struggles going to bed at night. Some evenings, it’s obvious that she’s just plain overtired, because she’ll scream to wear different jammies, but then refuse to take off the ones she’s wearing to put the other ones on. She just doesn’t know which way is up, and the best thing to do in that circumstance is to pray, kiss, and leave. She goes to sleep within five minutes. Poor girl. Naps, however, are golden.

Behavior

heh. Terrible twos? Yup, I think so. Not all the time. Only when her new molars are hurting her. We are just waiting and waiting for them to break through. We can see one right under the gum, and she’s drooling and chewing up a storm. But she’s obviously in pain from them sometimes. We’re also seeing some behavioral issues due to her extra freedom. She gets to roam a bit more freely than ever before when Mommy has to go running upstairs several times a day to get Gelato up, down, or resettled. I try to give her an activity to do that will keep her occupied (and the house untrashed), but I have frequently found her getting into things that she knows are off-limits. Thank goodness for toddler-proofing.

When I can spend plenty of one-on-one time with her in the morning and make it super positive, the rest of the day seems to go much more smoothly. When the mornings are rough (ie, brother isn’t going down for naps easily or he wakes unexpectedly and Mommy reacts in stress rather than grace), the whole day is grueling for both of us. I know that my own behavior directly influences hers, so I try my best to stay positive, stay forgiving, and keep in mind that she’s really only two and can’t be expected to act any older. ‘Cuz that just wouldn’t be fair.

Attitude

Sunny, chipper, happy-go-lucky, giddy, gleeful, no-flies-on-her. That is exactly the way I would describe my little Hula Girl. She loooooooves to sing, dance, laugh, play, create, joke, invent, explore, explain, hide, seek, chase, read, and snuggle. Her primary concern in the day is whether or not Mommy and Daddy are happy, too. She rarely has a moment where she feels grumpy or mad. She does not stay grumpy or mad longer than about twelve seconds. She takes correction with a smile and says, “Okay, Mommy! I won’t do that again!” She is unstoppably carefree and delightful… and it’s catching. Spend one hour with my little drop of joy, and you’ll feel lighter for a week. I adore this quality of hers.

When she DOES get upset or hurt, she is quite loud and everyone will know it. Make no mistake, she wears her heart of her sleeve. Gotta love that. However, I am aware that I need to be helping her determine when and how it is appropriate to tip her cards. I don’t want her heart getting smooshed.

Language

This.girl.never.shuts.up. Unless she’s sleeping. But if she’s awake, she’s talking. Constantly constantly constantly talking. Or singing. Even if there’s really nothing to say, she will be over there describing everything she’s doing, thinking, feeling, or remembering. She is constantly asking questions and working to hone her grammar. Yes, she consciously works to make sure her grammar is good. My two-and-a-quarter-year-old is working on learning the difference between “she” and “her” and she will say a sentence using one of the two and then look at me questioningly to make sure she got it right. And her pronunciation is amazing now. She only needs to work on /s/,/r/,/l/ and /k/. but she has every other sound down pat.

Here are some of the funny/sweet/amazingly thoughtful for a two-year-old things she’s said lately:

“Where is Uncle Jeremy….’s house?”

(Looking at the [decorative] old window we have hanging on our dining room wall) “Why can’t I see through that window?”

“[Gelato] is not hungry but he is crying. [Gelato] needs a fuzz!” (Apparently she knows that fuzzes comfort her, and she thinks they will comfort others as well!)

“Mommy, sing that ‘female deer’ song, please!”

“I want to snuggle in bed all day long!”

“Don’t cry! I’ll burp you!”

(As she pulls up Jonathan’s shirt) “Do you have nipples? Let me see your nipples! Oh, Daddy! Nurse me, please!”

(As she points southwest) “That’s southwest!”

“Daddy, are we going on a father/daughter date?”

Caring

Ever the sensitive girl, Hula Girl has continued to show great compassion and caring toward everything. Her latest way of showing kindness is by burping things. She will walk around the house burping baby dolls, cell phones, combs, pillows, ponies, Mommy, and Gelato (when he is awake). She also loves to put her “baby”to bed every night before she gets out of the bath. She’ll go through her entire bedtime ritual with her baby, down to making sure the baby has heard her four sleep rules! Such a little Mommy.

Quirkiness

She still loves fuzzes…

She has an obsession with smelling things. Coffee, feet, ANYTHING in Mommy or Daddy’s hands, Gelato, Riley, flowers, rocks… you name it, she walks up to it and sniffs.

She still has a desperate need for socks on her feet.

She loves to choose her own clothing. Her favorite outfits include more than one skirt at a time, tights, crowns, butterfly wings, a hat, and anything teal. Oh, and if she’s wearing undies, they MUST match. (However, her socks do not have to match- each other OR the outfit.)

She does not like the lawn mower. She thinks it will eat her up, so she MUST be sitting on my lap while we watch Jonathan mow the lawn together.

Big Sister

In her newest role, Hula Girl excels. Never was a little brother loved and worried about the way Gelato is. Hula Girl absolutely adores him and constantly wants to be near him. Her least favorite part of the day is when I have to take him back upstairs and put him down for naps. Her favorite part of the day is when I ask her to hold/kiss/hug him. She complies with gentleness and glee! I can’t wait to see their relationship develop as they grow!

We love her. So very very much. She has done very well this month with all the changes in our family’s life and home. She makes us proud and glad to call her ours!

 

 

Five Year Anniversary


Today is Jonathan’s and my five-year anniversary. To celebrate, I thought I’d publish some pictures from that day along with the feelings and thoughts I was having when said pictures were taken. 

Before we get to the pictures, though, I’d like to fill you in on the first thing that came to my mind that day. I woke up, and checked to make sure Jonathan was out of the house (we were staying with my parents for the latter part of the summer before our wedding-in SEPARATE ROOMS, just want to clarify) so that he didn’t see me before the event. Then I wandered into the kitchen, found my mom, and said, “I’m getting married today. What am I going to have for breakfast? Cereal!

The way my mom tells it, I was totally freaked out, worried over every little thing so much that I was worried about what I was having for breakfast. However, just to set the record straight: I was hoping someone had thought to provide a nice pre-wedding breakfast. Instead I had cereal. And I’m sure it wasn’t tasty cereal like Lucky Charms. No, it was probably bland ol’ shredded wheat. Likely with peanut butter and honey. So that was kind of a downer. 

Ahem. On with the pictures!

Mom zipping up the dress! My thoughts: Thank goodness it still fits perfectly!

 

Ha putting on the garter (we should have done this BEFORE putting on the dress!) My thoughts: Well, this is awkward. But I’m glad Ha is the one doing it! My thoughts now: What kind of a face am I making!? And wow, that dressing room is MESSY!

My dad and I were making jokes about the weather, the attendance, and the fact that I was to be married. As it should be. My dad will never do anything in life without joking. 🙂

Jonathan and I wanted to have a foot-washing ceremony to show our desire to serve one another. Here I was thinking, “I hope the photographer doesn’t get a close-up of my feet.” I hate my feet.

And here, I was thinking, “Who decided to do this ceremony? It’s so hard to bend down really far in a wedding dress! I hope I don’t splash water on my dress and ruin it before pictures!” Side note- we still have that tub and use it to hold various winter articles such as scarves, gloves, hats, etc. It used to sit by our door to collect shoes. Multifunction!

We also decided to include a communion ceremony. We included our parents. I am not sure what I was thinking here, but after looking at Jonathan’s face, one might wonder if he thought I was drinking too slowly!

I was probably thinking something like, “Whoa, this ceremony is going faster than I thought it would!”

You know I was worried that we had to get this right. But I was also thinking about how weird it was to say, “I’m married!” I must have repeated it a thousand times in my head during that one kiss.

Happy anniversary, Jonathan! I love you!

A Great Book and a Really Stupid Pediatrician

… and I am LIVID right about now.

Let me explain some background information before I delve into the tale.

I am kind of a brain-development-research junkie. I love the human brain. I love the way it works. I love reading research and studies and articles that reveal more about the brain. I especially love studies on babies/toddlers/kids because that’s my whole entire life. I am here, raising my own kid(s). When I’m not here, raising my own kids, I will be in a classroom, teaching kids. I even mentioned to Jonathan that I’d like to volunteer in a hospital, rocking the babies in the NICU (do they let you do that anymore?!). It’s what I do, it’s what I’ve done. In fact, the majority of my jobs over my lifetime have been nannying/babysitting/camp counseling. I just can’t get enough of kids.

One of the most recent (and in my opinion, best) books on the topic is Your Brain on Childhood: The Unexpected Side Effects of Classrooms, Ballparks, Family Rooms, and the Minivan by Gabrielle Principe. Her book details the reasons that several things in our modern society are… um… not ideal for babies and kids. I can’t say that I totally agree with her complete reliance on (and numerous references to) our brain’s “evolutionary history,” but the modern-day research she cites (she cites over two hundred studies throughout her book) more than makes up for the lack of credible history.

Her main themes in the book include parents’ affinity for pushing children toward excellence to the point where parents will believe any claims made by toy manufacturers as long as it makes the loud annoying shouting toy sound “educational”; society’s obsession with building proper “self-esteem” rather than allowing kids to realize they’re not actually as great as they think they are (entitled, anyone?); ease with which parents set their children in front of the television either to educate their children further (learn a new language!) or to occupy their children while the parents relax (or work); our country’s educational system, which is one of the worst in the world, which keeps getting worse; perceived “normalcy” of organized sports and activities for kids, beginning in infancy; and the lack of the great outdoors in our kids’ childhoods.

Okay, let me hone in on one of these topics. TV. Here’s a direct quotation from the book that pretty much sums up my own opinions on the topic as well:

We listen to the American Academy of Pediatrics when they tell us to put our babies to sleep on their backs, buckle them into car safety seats, slide them into bicycle helmets, and slather sunscreen on their skin. Yet when they tell us that children under two years should have no exposure to television, we completely ignore their advice.

There are MANY studies that have been performed which prove that any television exposure causes physical changes in an infant’s brain. Now I might be taking this too far- but don’t the words “physical changes in an infant’s brain” seem to be similar to the words “brain damage?” Neural pathways actually form in different parts of the brain, causing permanent physical changes, which short-circuit other pathways which are in charge of necessary functions of the brain. For realz, I am not making this up.

Even before reading this book, I had heard that there were some thoughts that TV viewing is associated with ADHD and such. Gabrielle Principe, however, actually downplays those theories in light of the other research. Sure, she cites the study “…which found that for each additional hour of television watched by a child under the age of three, the likelihood of an attention problem by age seven increased by 10 percent. So a three-year-old who watches three hours of television per day is 30 percent more likely to have attention problems than a child who doesn’t watch television.” But ADHD has not been PROVEN to be caused by television viewing. But she also makes it clear that because of a reflex that is innate in all humans, the orienting reflex, a baby who is near a television will have no choice but to pay attention to it. This will deprive the baby of learning the skill of attention- she will not be able to focus, truly focus, on anything else until the TV is off.

OKAY, so there’s the background- you now understand at least some of my reasoning behind our family’s decision to just sell our TV at a yard sale a last summer. (Don’t get me started on commercialization, violence, and skewed media. I have done my research there, as well.)

But today’s visit to our pediatrician’s office was the trigger. Hula Girl went in for her 2-year checkup. I will do a separate post on that. We have not seen this particular pediatrician before for a number of reasons. First, she’s brand new to the practice. Second, we’ve only visited this particular office twice before- once for Hula Girl’s 18-month checkup, and once for Hula Girl’s ear infections. We saw different doctors/RNs each time. No biggie. Third, we don’t get sick. We have no reason to have a particular doctor. 🙂

So we meet this lady, who is in her sixties, who introduces herself and says she’s living here to be near grandchildren. Great! I thought, She’s going to have a lot of empathy and be really good with Hula Girl!

Um, not so. My first clue was when she wouldn’t let me even talk to Hula Girl to explain what was going to happen. See, I like to prepare Hula Girl before going to the doctor. This morning we talked about how the doctor would be touching her head, tummy, legs, etc., and would be asking Hula Girl to open her mouth and such. Well, the doctor asked… and then when I tried to say, “See, it’s just like we talked about!” she kept talking and talking and raising her voice to talk over me. Back off, lady. I am trying to help you out by allowing MY KID to feel comfortable around you!!!! To no avail. Hula Girl clammed up and would NOT participate. Shocker. She eventually had to pry Hula Girl’s mouth open with a tongue depressor. Um, if she had just given me 3 seconds to speak softly and calmly to my daughter, that would never have happened. I wanted Hula Girl to get a splinter so I could sue for malpractice…

Then it happened. She looked at Hula Girl’s knees and said, “I like seeing knees that are bumped and scratched like this! It shows that the kids aren’t spending too much time in front of the TV.”

To which I responded, “Well, we don’t even have a TV. If the AAP is going to say, ‘No TV under three!’ then we’re going to listen.”

She said something like, “Well, those guidelines aren’t really feasible for anyone anyway.” (Um, hello? I just told you we don’t have a TV. And you’re saying it’s not feasible for anyone. Open your ears.)

She went on. “You know, there are two really good programs that I love for kids this age. Signing Time and My Baby can Read.”

I was trying to be casual and not ruffle any feathers… but I had already lost respect for this woman and her opinions. So I said, “What do you think about the numerous clinical studies that have proven that viewing Signing Time is directly related to speech delays in children?”

Her response (classic, btw), “I don’t really believe in those studies. I mean, my four-year-old grandson, who has a speech delay, has been watching Signing Time since he was a baby. It’s really good, too, because it helped when he was younger and couldn’t talk at all. He could sign things like ‘milk’ and ‘more’ so it cut down on the frustration levels.”

Did you catch that? Her four-year-old grandson, who has a speech delay, has been watching Signing Time since he was a baby. Um, isn’t that what I said the research shows?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!? But she doesn’t believe in the research?!Open your eyes, crazy lady. Your grandson is a statistic!!!!

I chose not to point out that my daughter, who has never seen TV (except in 4-minute clips of Elmo during illnesses and post-surgery), also signed pre-speech. In fact, if we really want to get technical, she signed DURING speech, too. She can do BOTH. And what else?! I taught her. She didn’t have to watch a stupid program (even though the lady’s voice is “so beautiful,” according to the pediatrician we saw today) to learn these things.

Okay, so recap:

1. The pediatrician we saw today thinks the AAP’s guidelines are meaningless.

2. She doesn’t believe in clinical research findings that are replicable and reputable, even though…

3. Her anecdotal evidence PROVES the research.

?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!??!?!!?!?!??!

Needless to say, we will not be visiting that pediatrician EVER again.

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