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.

Self-Sufficient

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

To My Hula Girl: The Past Seven Months

Dear Hula Girl,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

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

Valentine’s Day Party

This party was much more successful than the Christmas party.

I decided that we’d only invite girls (and one baby brother) to our V-Day fiesta. That was a good move. Girls are just a bit quieter and it was nice to be able to actually have a conversation with the moms while the girls played pretend. 

Two families came (I had invited four, but one grandma broke her foot, and the other mom had her parents come into town). So we had a total of two moms, three girls, and a baby boy as guests. Four girls- totally doable and totally easy. 

When the girls arrived, I brought out the foam cupcake kit that I had purchased at Hobby Lobby. I didn’t go all Pinteresty and have them do any cutesy craft this time. I had the supplies, but I just felt lazy. The girls didn’t seem to mind! They got to put on glittery sprinkle stickers… so that make them giddy. 

While they worked on their “cupcakes” I made up plates of chocolate-dipped strawberries, apple slices, and cheese cut in the shape of hearts. I also poured out some sparkling water and added some homemade strawberry syrup to make strawberry Italian sodas (so good, by the way).

After the craft, the girls munched for a while and then they moved on to playing. I had the water table set up with pink and red water beads; some metallic red, pink, and purple lip-shaped table scatters; some fake red rose petals; and some 3-D sparkly light pink styrofoam hearts.  The youngest girl was just-turned-two and she LOVED the water table. 

We also had Hula Girl’s kitchen out, and the older two girls loved it. They quickly found all the dishes and food and prepared a feast for the ages. I think we ate some cauliflower with corn-and-eggplant cream sauce. And a waffle on the side. Naturally.

The baby boys really enjoyed watching each other. The brother who attended is two months older than Gelato. He sat on the floor and chewed on Gelato’s toy while Gelato laid on his tummy and watched. They just stared at each other until it was time for Gelato’s nap. They were so funny! 

I had a good time with the moms. They are the two moms I have been going to storytime with since the beginning. One mom has the eldest girls, who are five and almost-four. You’ll remember a looooong time ago when I posted about them here and here. Sweet girls! Actually, the older one pushed her sister while they were here, and I called her over to me and told her that I don’t allow pushing in my house. She walked away mortified, and her mom gave me a thumbs-up. Later on she told me, “Yeah, it’s okay to discipline my kid! I know you’re a great mom! Thank you for saying something so I didn’t have to worry about it!” 

The other mom has the just-turned-two-year-old and we have known them since the little girl was nine months old. It’s amazing to watch other peoples’ children grow up! That mom is pregnant now, so we’re all very excited for her!

A favorite moment of mine was when I was reaching under my counter into the cabinet that stores my pots and pans, looking for my camera (don’t judge). I said something like, “Am I the only one who stores everything on the countertops in the cupboards 10 minutes before the guests arrive just so it looks nicer?” They both laughed and said something like, “We don’t ever have anyone over to our house- we don’t want to have to clean it!” 

That made me realize just how badly people need a place to GO to meet up. We’re not going to be invited to their houses until they feel comfortable enough with us to let us see their mess. I think for the next party, I’ll leave some unopened mail on the table by the door or something- make us seem a bit more human! 😉

Our next party will be the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day. You KNOW we’re going to do the Irish theme up right. I am going to invite boys and girls this time. I plan to do a lot of activities with rainbows and potatoes. We’re also going to invite someone (not sure who yet) over on St. Patrick’s Day for a traditional Irish meal. Jonathan hates corned beef and cabbage… but we’re going to have it anyway. He can eat a lot of potatoes. Yahoo!

Christmas Day

Good grief! If I don’t just get this post done, it’ll be July and I will have forgotten everything! I don’t know why I’ve procrastinated on it so far! Life is busy, I guess.

Christmas day started a bit earlier than I would have liked… Gelato woke at 6 instead of 6:30. But that was all fine because that gave me time to come downstairs and fire up the ol’ kitchens to get all the food prepped. I had actually done a majority of the cooking and prepping in the days before Christmas. I even cooked two quiches on Christmas Eve, just so they were ready to go when the family arrived. So Christmas morning was pretty simple- I just had to make the dough for homemade gluten-and-dairy-free cinnamon rolls.

Kay, so the cinnamon rolls. They ended up being super dry. So we had to cut them with a knife and serve them as “cinnamon crumble” accompanied by tea or coffee. But they were tasty! I kind of mixed a few different recipes as I made them since everything online was only GF or dairy-free. I was glad they weren’t a total bust.

I went in and woke Hula Girl while Jonathan held the video camera. She was so very excited to go downstairs and see if “Yan-ta” had come in the night. She came down and gasped and said, “He deed! He deed! Yan-ta came!” And then she had the fever, people.

She saw her kitchen first, and she proceeded to open all the doors and empty it. So much for me putting her dishes and fruit away nicely on Christmas Eve! Then she played with it for a while as Jonathan and I worked in the kitchen to prepare breakfast. She refused to eat. She gets that whole can’t-eat-because-I’m-too-excited thing from me. After we had tried to force her to eat breakfast, we let her open her stocking gifts and her gift from Santa Mouse.

Santa Mouse is a tradition we’re doing with our kids based on the book with the same name by Michael Brown. There is a follow-up book called Santa Mouse, Where Are You? that adds to the intrigue. In Santa Mouse, we learn that it’s kind to leave a piece of cheese for S.M. And in the sequel, we learn that S.M. leaves small gifts tied with yellow ribbons in the branches of the trees. Hula Girl’s gift from Santa Mouse this year was a slinky.

Then we waited a few minutes until Grammy and Grampy and Great-Grandma arrived. They got here nice and early, at 8:00, so we weren’t waiting long. But during that wait time, Hula Girl lost it. I don’t know if it was because she was hungry (I suspect she has low blood sugar- look for a post on this later) or if it was because her emotions were all willy-nilly from the excitement of the day, or what. But she had her first flat-on-her-tummy-kicking-and-pounding-the-floor-all-out-TANTRUM. It was actually really surprising and we just looked at each other like, “Whoa,” and gave her space. She got over it very soon.

When the fam arrived, we had breakfast breakfast. We made Hula Girl sit with us, and since everyone else was eating, she actually ate some too. That helped. We served quiche and cinnamon crumble with orange juice, egg nog (blech), and coffee. Then it was present time.

Oh, my. The presents. Hula Girl loooooved the presents. She especially liked ripping the bows off the presents. She kept asking anyone who was opening a present, “May I take your bow off?” But that’s not all she liked. She really liked opening presents for herself. I tried to keep an eye on her and make sure she wasn’t getting overloaded, but it still happened. She eventually got to the point (at the very end of the day, after dinner- yes, we were still opening AFTER OUR 5:00 DINNER) where she just tore through the last four or so presents just to finish. But at the beginning of the day she was having such fun.

Every present she opened was torn into with gleeful expressions of, “Oh my! Oh my! Oh my!” She said it with every present she opened. Once, as she was opening her doll house, we asked her what she got and she said, “I don’t know! A PLAYGROUND!!!!” That made us laugh a little.

She really did enjoy taking time to play with her gifts if we let her. There were several gifts that I whisked away very quickly to store away for a rainy day, like her stamp set and a puzzle. Others were gifts she insisted on opening and playing with RIGHT THEN, like her baby doll in its stroller and her doll house. In fact, we took a lunch break right after she opened her doll house, just so we could let her play for a while.

Lunch was fettucini alfredo with salad on the side.

As Hula Girl napped, the adults finished opening our presents. (Can I take a moment here to recognize that even though I’m much closer to 30 than to 20, I despise being referred to as one of the adults? Consider it recognized.) Jonathan raked it in this year. I think that’s good. He deserved it!

We also got a chance to enjoy Gelato while Hula Girl napped. He is just fun all the time anyway. But add a reindeer suit, and you get pure Christmas joy.

Post-nap fun for Hula Girl included jumping on her newly-assembled trampoline. She looooves that thing. Yay!

Dinner was ham, scalloped potatoes, asparagus, sweet potatoes, … and some other foods. I am totally drawing a blank right now. I knew I should have blogged this sooner.

After dinner, we put the kids to bed and then the adults (eeww) enjoyed pie. My mom made a GF and dairy-free cherry pie for me. It was delicious. Best thing I’ve eaten since May.

All in all, it was wonderful. We did everything at toddler pace, which was frantic at times and relaxing at others. It is such a delight to enjoy holidays with children around. I am super excited for 2 Christmases from now, when both Gelato and Hula Girl will really “get it”… what fun we’ll have then!

 

Christmas Eve

I realized today that I’m losing Christmas steam and/or becoming foggy on lots of details from this year’s celebration. So I need to get on this post. I will have a separate post for Christmas day.

Anyway, Christmas Eve seems like a totally separate holiday to me, and always has. I think there is just so much more religious significance and emphasis placed on Christmas Eve: church services, family fireside readings of the Christmas story, no toys to distract from the true meaning of Christmas, etc. This year was no different.

We embraced this holiday season as a time to really hunker down and spend time together in our little house with our little family. It was wonderful. We went out as needed and communicated with our extended family (Skype!) quite a bit, but most days were spent just the four of us (plus Riley). We really slowed our already slow pace and just soaked up the time with our children. They are just growing up so fast. Christmas Eve was a nice relaxing day until the afternoon and evening rolled around; we’ll do things a bit differently next year. You live, you learn.

When Hula Girl woke up, we spent the first part of the morning cuddling with our kids in our bed. We rarely have them there, so it was a special treat. We read lots of books and giggled a lot. Then Jonathan and Hula Girl played a lot of the morning away outside on a big snow pile he’d made for her while I stayed inside and tidied and took on baby duty. Lunch and naps went on as normal. During the kids’ naps, Jonathan and I got ready for our Christmas Eve service.

Once the kids woke up, it was like a sprint to Christmas. Seriously. We need to spread all these events out next time and not assume we’ll have enough time before bed. After all, Christmas Eve is not just an evening… it’s a full day. Let’s treat it as such!

First, we got the kids up and dressed for church. Hula Girl wore a beautiful red dress and Gelato wore a red plaid shirt. For those of you who are close to me, you’ll likely see the same outfits show up in February when we send out Valentine cards… just sayin’.

Our church service was really nice. I had the Best MOMent of Christmas 2012 during the service, when we were all singing “Away in the Manger”. Hula Girl thought no one could hear her singing because the music was loud, so she was singing along  (if she had any idea that anyone could hear her, she would not have done so). It was just so sweet to hear that little off-key voice singing with such joy. I’m not going to say Jonathan and I didn’t cry. Because that would be a lie.

After the service, we got home and put Gelato down for his nap. Then I started the homemade pizzas and Jonathan and Hula Girl worked on cookies for Santa. In the future, these cookies will be baked Christmas Eve morning. After a rushed dinner of homemade pizza deliciousness (for Jonathan and Hula Girl, anyway; I’m still on my elimination diet and can’t have dairy, wheat, or soy), we did a small family lighting of the advent wreath and the Christ candle. Then we opened our first gifts of the year- our Christmas jammies. At that point, we were rushing to get Gelato in bed on time, so Jonathan gave him his bath while Hula Girl and I arranged cookies, carrots, and cheese (for Santa Mouse, of course) on a plate and wrote out our note for Santa. It read, “Dear Santa, I hope, hope, hope (playing on Ho, Ho, Ho! Clever girl!) you come to my house. I love you. I love Jesus.” Then it was bath time for Hula Girl and both kids were tucked in snug as a bug by 7. Jonathan and I rounded out the evening by putting together some toys that Santa brought and starting our annual Christmas puzzle (which, I can now say, took almost two weeks to complete). Whew.

So. We missed our reading of the Christmas story in Luke. Um, that was lame. But for a 2.5-year-old and a 4.5-month-old, it did not make a difference. Next year. Next year.

Even though it was rushed and we missed the most important part, it was still a wonderful night. I will always remember her sweet little voice and the way her hair tie broke so her little bun came out and she had crazy half-curly hair all through church. And the way I nursed my son in a very peaceful and calm (and warm) room while pondering Mary’s predicament years and years ago. I love holidays because of tradition. But I also love holidays because of memories. My kids will remain 2.5 years and 4.5 months old for as long as I can remember that evening. Wonderful.

 

 

Toddler Cookie Party

Back on December 15, we hosted a party for toddlers. It was actually a covert ploy to get to know several of the moms with toddlers in the area. We sent our guests on their way with mixed feelings about the success-rate of the party.

Our final count included 10 toddlers, 4 infants, and 11 adults. Not including our family. I was kind of freaking out. But freaking out in a good way- in the way that got the entire downstairs portion of our house spotless and all the preparations for the party done well in advance (if you count the night before at 11 o’clock- don’t judge!).

The Entryway featured Hula Girl's hot pink and purple cupcake Christmas tree and favor bags.

The Entryway featured Hula Girl’s hot pink and purple cupcake Christmas tree and favor bags.

I had several stations set up around our house. There was a “Pin the Nose on the Snowman” game, a felt Christmas tree with ornaments, a Christmas sensory table, and the cookie decorating area. First loved by toddlers was the sensory table. I knew it would be a hit- I am SO glad someone from my mom’s group suggested it. They also adored decorating cookies. One little girl decorated at least seven cookies! It was awesome.

Pin the Nose on the Snowman!

Pin the Nose on the Snowman!

Felt Christmas tree for the kids to decorate again and again!

Felt Christmas tree for the kids to decorate again and again!

 

Christmas Sensory Table- we just filled Hula Girl's water table with peppermint-scented rice and Christmasy goodness!

Christmas Sensory Table- we just filled Hula Girl’s water table with peppermint-scented rice and Christmasy goodness!

 

A close-up of Christmas wonderland!

A close-up of Christmas wonderland!

 

Ready to decorate!

Ready to decorate!

I got ahead of myself; let’s get back to the preparations. We made spiced cider in the crock pot, we had coffee brewing. I had eggnog for eggnog lattes. I had put some peppermint oil in the sensory table, so our house smelled like a Starbucks with all the mixed aromas! We also had PB&J sandwiches cut out in the shape of gingerbread men, and I made some Christmas-themed fruit skewers (red grapes and honeydew melon skewered on $0.97 Christmas-colored swizzle sticks). Of course the whole house was already decked out for Jesus’ birthday celebration, so decorating was a non-issue.

Christmasy toddler snack food

Christmasy toddler snack food (good thing the formica countertops are hunter green, huh? lol)

On the morning of the party, Hula Girl was just so excited. She kept asking, “Are my friends coming today?” Of course they were coming! She named several friends she was looking forward to seeing.  She didn’t eat breakfast. She is not one to eat when she’s excited. Can’t imagine where she gets that.

Our party was scheduled to begin at 10 and the invitation clearly stated that it would conclude at 11. After all, I have a very excitable toddler on my hands, and I wanted to make sure she got something to eat before her nap!

At 8:45, we received a call saying that one of Hula Girl’s friends was sick and wouldn’t be able to make it. I was very grateful to that mom. Sure, it was lame for her daughter to miss the party, but THANK YOU for not bringing your flu-infected child to my house!

At 10:00, no one had showed.

At 10:05, we began to get nervous that somehow I printed the wrong date on the invitations. I checked. It was correct.

At 10:10, Jonathan started saying things like, “Well, at least we got the house all clean and we don’t have to make lunch for Hula Girl for the next week!”

At 10:15, two toddlers and their families showed up. Sigh. of. relief.

At 10:25, another toddler and his family showed up. Yay! The more the merrier!

BUT NO ONE ELSE CAME.

Yeah, 5 of the families who RSVP’d in the affirmative did not show, call, email, or send smoke signals. That irked me. Moving on.

Two of the guests were little girls right about Hula Girl’s age. One of them loved decorating cookies so very much. The other, much like Hula Girl, was more interested in eating the decorations and the cookies than actually making anything pretty. 🙂 The first one, Sprinkle Girl, ended up making a giant mountain of green sugar crystals on one cookie while her mom was looking the other way. Hah! It was classic. Her mom was so embarrassed and flustered, but we made sure to tell her over and over that it is a TODDLER party, we have a TODDLER too, and we know that TODDLERS do funny things like that.

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The other guest was a three-year-old little boy who is our neighbor. He was not interested, in the slightest, in cookie decorating. Not even to eat one! All he wanted to do was put his action figure in the Christmas sensory table (filled with rice) and make things explode. Boys. 🙂

Once the girls were done with the cookies, they meandered over to the sensory table, where Hula Girl stood back and observed her “friends” playing with HER toy. This was a very new experience for her and at first she wasn’t sure about it. Then she got into the spirit of things and tried to play along, only to be told “NOOOOOOOOOOO!” and “It’s MINE!” by Sprinkle Girl and Action Figure Boy.  She was unsure of what to do. Jonathan and I gently coached her to say, “I want to play, too,” and to ignore the other kids’ complaints. She did fine. She even made sure that the other little girl, Curly-Q, got to play with some toys.

Another big hit on the toddler scene was the Little People Nativity set. This is a set that Hula Girl played with for hours every day all throughout the Christmas season. It really appealed to all the children at the party. I was very glad that there were several wise men- those seemed to be the most desired characters for some reason. Maybe it’s because they are holding presents?

Both Action Figure Boy and Sprinkle Girl have younger siblings. I got to hold both of the babies- a 6-month-old boy and a 4-month-old girl. It was pretty funny to hold someone else’s child. Gelato outweighs both other babies by at least 2 pounds, and he just feels so much more solid compared to them. That’s my chunk!

Our party finally ended sometime around 1:00. Yes, two hours after the invitation said the party was over, people were walking out the door. That’s another story. And most of the reason I don’t call the whole thing a big success.

All in all, it was really good to get to know the other moms better. I will definitely be trying to set up another playdate with Curly-Q. We might try to do something with Sprinkle Girl, too. As for our neighbors, well, Hula Girl was a bit frightened by Action Figure Boy. We might hold off on playdates with them until she’s more used to socializing one-on-one. Otherwise they’d spend a really long time playing hide-and-seek. 😉

Candyland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hmph.

Guess Candyland’s not my game, after all.

Happy New Year! (a day late)

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

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

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

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

On to resolutions.

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

Here are my resolutions:

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

     

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