A Little about Hula Girl

Just the other day, I asked Hula Girl, “You always have such a sweet, obedient nature. When I tell you to do something, you obey right away, and it is always with a cheerful attitude! What makes you want to obey the way you do?” She pondered a few seconds, and then replied, “The Bible says, ‘Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right,’ and I want to do what is right. I want to please God.” Plain and simple. The way she stated it, as if it was an obvious choice for anyone who knows what the Bible says, just blew me away. Oh, to have the willingness to obey that she displays!

She is changing into a young lady far more quickly than I could imagine. I realize she is truly still a child, but in five months she will be seven, and all the seven-year-olds I’ve ever met have been, like, REAL people! They’re funny and opinionated. They have ideas that aren’t just fantastic or curious- they are problem solvers and their solutions frequently work! They can read and brush their teeth and tie their shoes and make a mean PB&J. Heck, some of them can even converse with adults on topics not related to toys, Santa, or hide-and-seek. You guys, seven-year-olds are second-graders! Second-graders!

Fortunately we are not quite to seven. I will take my very young, innocent, charming, giggly, lanky, emotional six-and-a-half-year-old for as long as I can get her, thankyouverymuch. She is truly a joy, and she has changed so much lately. She brings energy and excitement into every room. Her laugh is contagious and loud, her emotions are fully experienced by anyone in the vicinity. She is getting more and more responsible and interesting, and she has a lot of adorable quirks as well. I just love her and respect her spirit so very much.

Her favorite activity, by far, is reading. She reads for hours every day. She enjoys reading books about fairies, dance, animals, and friendships. She is enjoying the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary. She does not enjoy fantasy tales, unless we read them together. She does like folktales and fairy tales, though. I have her reading Moss Gown, which is a type of Beauty and the Beast story, for her assigned reading for school, and she is loving it.

She just watched The Little Mermaid with me this week. We have held off on most of the Disney classics because our kids are very sensitive to scary material. It was only recently that I decided she was ready for Ursula. Our next film will likely be Beauty and the Beast, but I’m uncertain since she is still quite scared of wolves, and wolves do play a prominent role in the scary scenes in that movie. When we watch things, we tend to stick to older movies, like Mary Poppins, but she is really enjoying getting to learn the stories of some of the Princesses whose images we see everywhere!

Hula Girl loves to dance. She is growing longer and leaner by the day, and her legs and feet are truly beautiful. She spends a lot of time stretching each day, and I recognize the preening beauty from my childhood days in her as she prances around the house and begs me to watch each turn, leap, or pose, whether executed gracefully or not. In her mind, she is the prima ballerina, and no other dancer is quite as beautiful as she. Her eyes shine when she dances- it brings her such joy. It is true that no other dancer is as beautiful as my little Hula Girl as she completes a turn and leaps across the living room, enthusiasm streaming behind her like the shining gold curls of her hair.

She is turning into quite the little seamstress, as well. She received a sewing machine for Christmas (the one from her birthday tragically stopped working!), and since then she has crafted numerous pillows, blankets, and other odds and ends for all of her dolls and Monkey Man’s dragon. She has spend countless hours with her little shoulders bent over her machine, concentrating on every seam as if her life depended on it. For one so young and with very little training aside from being taught how to thread the needle, she turns out work that is surprisingly well-done, which includes details that are of utmost importance to the six-year-old mind. She may not be the next designer on Project Runway: Junior, but she will at least be able to sew enough to create some lovely gifts and decorate her home in the future.

Our family will be joining the YMCA this week, and Hula Girl is beyond excited to get back in the water. She hasn’t been swimming in a pool since August, and she has been craving the sensation! She will likely pass her swim test on the first go-around, so that will be one less worry off my chest when I take all three hooligans over there in the afternoons. Hula Girl is a strong athlete, and she excels in the water. I’m certain that has a lot to do with the way we’ve visited the pool at least once monthly, but usually much more often, since she was 12 months old. She has never had any fear, and she is just so excited because this YMCA has a family pool with water slides that will be available for her use. I can tell she will start sleeping very well in the next week or two!

Hula Girl holds back in one area of life, though: food. Not in quantity or variety; that girl is voracious eater and has a great palate, but in the introduction of new foods. We learned a year and a half ago that she is allergic to cashews, pistachios, and pecans. Mangoes are related to cashews and pistachios, so she can’t eat those, either. She had anaphylactic symptoms to some homemade cashew ice cream, and we had to visit the ER for that. She now has an Epi-Pen, and she is very careful to read all the ingredients of any new food she encounters. It doesn’t pose much of an issue at home because I cook most of our food from scratch, but it was a problem of sorts when she was in school because she wasn’t allowed to have all the treats her classmates brought to school for parties and such. Her classroom was designated as a nut-free room, but even when her teacher would reassure her, she generally stuck to the foods she knew were safe for her rather than venturing out. Her allergist told us to keep peanut butter in her daily diet, as he’s seen many children with tree nut allergies develop peanut allergies later on, but she doesn’t seem to like peanut butter very much and will only rarely eat it. I noticed a rash on her back a couple days ago after eating a PB&J, so I’m keeping a very close eye on that and will only be giving her peanut products under careful supervision from now on.

 

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The Fourth

I just love holidays. Particularly Independence Day and Christmas. We have some solid family traditions. And it’s sure fun to see the kids excited about the same things we get excited about!

Our day started with some red, white, and blue crêpes. I couldn’t have the white part (white chocolate chips) because I’m eating dairy-free while nursing Sugar Plum. But the red (raspberries and strawberries) and blue (blackberries and blueberries) parts were delicious! imageimage

After breakfast, Hula Girl and I made it our goal to get festive! We painted our nails red, white, blue, and silver. Then I did the old Pinterest star-braid hairstyle in her hair. She loved it.

Jonathan took Hula Girl and Monkey Man to our city’s wet parade. Basically, it’s a giant community water fight and some people walk down the middle of it. Everyone gets SOAKED and everyone has a good time.

My mom and grandma came to visit for the day and my mom helped me with some house chores while Sugar Plum napped. We made a delicious lunch and tried to get the kids to nap.

After nap time the kids and I walked  up the street to ask the neighbors for the best location to sit out and see fireworks. We ended up spending the evening eawith almost everyone on our street, just hanging out and chatting. The kids were running wild with the neighbor kids, and they got their first taste of lighting fireworks at home. Monkey Man did not approve, saying, “Fireworks are FIRE! What if something catches fire? We need to make a fire safety plan!” Hula Girl could keep lighting fireworks all day every day and never tire of the sights, sounds, and smells. She was in heaven. Sugar Plum slept through it all.

Our favorite tradition on the fourth is eating saltwater taffy. We get several pieces for each of us to enjoy during the fireworks display. The kids begged for it all day long, and I kept telling them, “You may have one piece now and one piece later, or you may have two pieces later!” After about six times of choosing to have two pieces later, Monkey Man finally asked, “Is it LATER yet?”

We ended the night with glow sticks on our walk home. Just before heading inside, we stopped and looked up at the stars as a family. In a time when our country, which was built upon beautiful principles that we celebrated Monday, has eschewed propriety for laziness, moral depravity, and indulgence, it was a wonderful relief to look up and realize that this isn’t all there is. The best is yet to come. Hallelujah.

I Want to Blog Again.

This morning, my very favorite bloggers, whose blog I’ve followed for the past five years, announced they’re calling it quits on their blog. At least for now. I was pretty sad about it. After five years of almost daily updates, it’s a shock, to say the least. It feels like I’m losing touch with part of my family!

Somehow that experience awakened the beast in my heart again. I want to write about our life. I miss being able to document cute things the kids do, random thoughts, family updates, and my feelings about everything. I know I don’t have a huge following, and likely never will because I don’t plan to specialize in anything outside my own personal interests (i.e., my family). But it was nice to know at least a couple friends and family members could keep up with us.

So. Here we are. Hula Girl is four years and four months old. Gelato is two years and two months old. Jonathan is turning 32 this month, and I’m turning 29 in a few days. We’ve been living in our first house for a year and two months. Riley, our cat, is six years old. Jonathan is working at the same place, but his job is changing in January. I am staying at home with the kids and teaching Sunday school. So much is the same as the last time I posted. And yet so much is different!

Jonathan’s upcoming job is the biggest change in our situation. He’ll still be working for the same company. However, he has recently been trained as a horticultural therapist. Since he has received that training (to be completed in November), the decision-makers at his company have decided to purchase a house for him to use as the location to provide horticultural therapy services. They are remodeling the house right now to include office space, seed storage space, a greenhouse, indoor and outdoor garden areas, storage sheds, etc. Jonathan will be creating the entire program for his company and will serve as the therapist on-site. There will be a recreational therapist on-site as well.

To say Jonathan is excited would be an understatement for sure. Yes, it’s a large undertaking. Oh my, is it. Coordinating with his loan repayment program, current supervisors, the health department, his horticultural therapy instructors, the business office, administrators, and so forth, is a huge endeavor. On top of that, he’s building an entire program! But this is totally up his alley. It’s funny because he never had any gardening inclinations until we were married and I introduced him to it. Better half? You’d better believe it. 😉 I’m just so proud of all he’s learning, and the attitude with which he’s facing this challenge. He just keeps putting one foot in front of the other, without getting overly anxious about things.

The kids are great. Challenging, but great.

Hula Girl is taking dance again, and she’s loving it. She has such beautiful straight legs and pointy pointy toes. She picks things up quickly, and she’s still extremely obedient. Dance is one of her favorite things. She also loves playing with her Elsa and Anna dolls, jumping and skipping around, climbing really high up on play structures, and swimming. She can read, but we don’t push it. She’s a baker at heart- she is awesome at measuring out ingredients and mixing them up. She is still not very interested in sitting still and coloring or doing any kids of crafty activities. Therefore, writing is not something we’re stressing at this time in her life. She HAS grown out of putting everything in her mouth. Oh my goodness, people, when she was three and a half, I thought she was going to die because she was putting anything and everything she could find in her mouth. Soap, lotion, toothpicks, rocks, sticks, leaves, bugs, hair ties, etc. You name it, she mouthed it. And then… she stopped. Whew.

Gelato is… two. 🙂 He is the exact age now that Hula Girl was when he was born. Man, I am so glad Gelato is my SECOND child. He is into everything, but not in a destructive way. I frequently find him pulling a chair over to the fridge so he can get himself a glass of ice water or standing up on a chair near the stove so he can see what’s boiling in the pot. He is always so careful not to spill his water or touch the hot stove. I am so glad we’ve followed the RIE principles with him; he knows that I trust him to know his body’s limits, and he rarely tests them except in safe situations. Other than these situations, though, he is really quite rambunctious. He’s the kid tumbling pell-mell to plant his face into the couch cushions. He’s the kid climbing into the swings and trying to pump his own legs (at two). He’s the kid splashing and screaming in the pirate pool… just because he can. He’s also the kid who is mischievous and will try to get away with… everything. He knows the limits, and he tests them. Not the same ones over and over again. Just all of them.

Both children are snuggle bugs. They enjoy sitting on my lap for hours listening to me read. They’ve recently convinced the cat, Riley, that he should actually like them and sit on their laps. He tolerates them well enough, and hasn’t tried to scratch or bite them at all in months! Hula Girl keeps trying to convince us to keep her door open at night so she can cuddle with Riley in her bed. Santa may or may not be bringing her a kitten this year. (Seriously, may or may not. Jury is out. But it is highly likely that Santa will be bringing a kitten.)

I still attend my ladies’ Bible study group on Monday nights. It’s been so much fun to get to know the ladies in my group. One of the ladies even has two little girls and we trade babysitting services every now and then. We tried to get all scheduled about it last month, but then there was sickness and life, and this month I forgot. So we’ll see how that goes. 🙂

We’ve also joined a Bible study with a group of older people from our church. They are all into the grandparent days, so they are willing to travel to our house on Thursday nights. This saves us the hassle (and $$$) of having to hire a babysitter, and we so appreciate it! It also means my house has to be spotless at least one day a week. You win some, you lose some.

So that’s that. Hi. I hope to reconnect with some friends and family, so leave me a comment to let me know you were here! 🙂

He Loves Me!!! (I think)

Today when I was laying Gelato down for his afternoon nap (which he hasn’t started yet…half an hour later… grrr…), I covered him with his blanket, and put his owl next to him. Then he said, “Bunny?” so I laid his bunny next to him as well. Then I said, “I love you!” And he said… wait for it… “Wow-voo!”

Now, “Wow-voo” could mean owl. He might have been wanting me to show him his owl. But since he usually says, “Ow-wool,” and since I had already shown him his owl, I am choosing to think he parroted my “I love you.”

And yes, I know he was just parroting and that a 15-month-old doesn’t really LOVE me yet, in the way that he can express with words. But I know that he loves me, and it’s so sweet to hear him tell me he loves me. Sweet boy.

Wow-voo!

Gelato- 15 Months

We went to Gelato’s 15 month appointment this morning.

He has stayed small: he weighs 22 lbs 2 oz, which puts him in the 25th percentile for weight; he is 30.5 inches tall, which puts him in the 25th percentile for height; and his head circumference is in the 10th percentile.

I find it interesting that he has not gained weight in the past two months. We’ve been a couple times for an ear infection and then another suspected ear infection, and his weight has hovered right around 22 pounds. I know that he eats a lot, but he’s also a very active little guy. He burns it off quickly!

According to the (very accurate, I’m sure) development assessment that I complete each well check, he’s on par with a typical 21-month-old as far as cognitive, language, and physical skills are concerned. I found it funny that there was a question related to how many words he can say outside of family members’ names; if he could say more than 3, I was to circle Yes. This would have been indicative of a typical 20-month-old’s language ability. Knowing I was to fill out one of these questionnaires today, I laid in bed this morning counting the words I can think of off-hand that Gelato already uses on his own, and I got over 100 before I stopped counting. He even uses 2-3 word phrases frequently, like “What’s that?” or “Get it!” or “Wear it!” or “Up there!”

I love that Gelato still has a passion for accessorizing. He wears Hula Girl’s necklaces, headbands, bracelets, belts, and purses all around the house. He puts on my shoes, Jonathan’s slippers, and Hula Girl’s boots all the time. He tries to put on his own shoes but since they’re shoes that actually fit him, it’s too hard for him to wrangle them onto his feet.

Gelato loves to talk on the phone. He will carry around the toy phones (he no longer uses the dollhouse sink/mirror as a phone, much to my chagrin!) and talk all day long. He says, “Heddo, doing? Dood!” (Hello, what are you doing? Good!) Then he tells the person on the other end what he’s doing- sliding, climbing on the chairs, eating play fruit, reading a book, throwing a ball, etc. It’s pretty funny.

He still loves to climb. Lately this has taken him on top of the table in the playroom and on the dining room chairs. I don’t like him up on the dining room chairs since the floor in there is tile, so now I have a strict push-in-your-chairs rule at the end of every meal. He also climbs outside, and has gotten really good at climbing up and down the ladders on the playset. He doesn’t let go mid-ladder anymore, which saves me a bit of my sanity.

He has also discovered the joy of sliding. Since the slide from the playset is pretty steep and a bumpy slide, I make sure to be right there slowing his descent. He really enjoys the slide in the playroom and will slide down it over and over all day long.

He is not afraid of anything, which scares me to death. Moms of boys, I totally get you now. He does things that make my heart stop. Literally, I feel it stop momentarily when he does some of the things he does. WHY are boys so daring?!

Gelato certainly has his own opinions about… everything. I am thinking we might be investing in Dr. Dobson’s The New Strong Willed Child somewhere here in our future. I’m not trying to imply he’s a naughty boy; he’s just very determined. This is a great characteristic when he’s trying to learn how to take off his shoes. But when he’s trying to run after the neighbor’s dog and it’s time for us to go inside for dinner, it can be quite ear-splitting. 🙂

Gelato has some loveys that sleep in his crib with him now. He has his blanket with an owl on it, a stuffed owl, and a bunny that’s larger than he is. The bunny was a gift from the Easter bunny, who brought Hula Girl her giant sheep that she slept with for months as well. He will ask for his “Nanket” while I sing to him, then when I lay him down, he says, “Owl? Bunny?” Then he squeezes his little arms around his blanket over his chest and laughs.

Oh, he laughs, and the boy’s laugh is absolutely the best sound in the world. He laughs all day long. He finds delight in what he does and in what his family members do. Hula Girl will be sitting in her chair kicking her feet and he will notice and burst out in a huge belly laugh. Or Jonathan will peek around the corner and he’ll grin and giggle until Daddy pops out, then the chortle ensues. He loves when I say “Alligator, alligator, chomp, chomp, chomp,” and tickle his little collarbone super gently. He just laughs and laughs. He laughs when he succeeds in doing what he wanted to do. He laughs when he’s surprised, like when a ball rolls off the table. He just laughs SO much.

And he sings. All the time. If he’s not talking on the phone or laughing, he’s singing. And dancing. His current favorite is the same as Hula Girl’s was at his age- Abiyoyo. It’s a song from a book based on a South African folk tale about a giant. A boy tames the giant with his ukelele and then the boy’s father makes the giant disappear with his magic wand. Then all the townspeople join the boy in his song, “Abiyoyo, Abiyoyo, Abiyoyo, Abiyoyo…” Pete Seeger wrote it, in case you care. 😉

Gelato decided to try something out this past week- not napping in the afternoon. It’s kind of a bummer deal for him, because then he has to go to bed super early, like 5:30 early. Today is the first day in over a week that he’s actually taken an afternoon nap. I think he got overtired from the time change and then he just hasn’t been able to figure out what to do. I put him down super early this morning for his nap, and he fell asleep quickly, but I wasn’t sure today’s nap would work… yay, it did! I think we’ll stick to slightly early nap times in the next few days to see if he self-corrects. I remember Hula Girl went through a non-afternoon-napping phase at 15 months as well, but then she went back to sleeping twice daily until 17.5 months old. I am holding out hope. Gelato doesn’t get cranky with just one nap, but he DOES sleep really restlessly at night and we are wakened several times per night by him crying out or flopping around. I could do with a good solid night’s sleep again.

And you guys, Gelato is so smart. I have said this before about him, but it is more and more apparent to us every day. He learns so quickly, he speaks so clearly (and so abundantly!), and he is so independent! We are so blessed to have two amazingly bright children who love to learn and who pursue knowledge and skills on their own, without me having to direct them at all. It is such a joy to see their little eyes light up and the looks of consternation on their faces while they’re trying to figure something out. The two of them share a look that says, “I’m thinking really hard about this right now!” It’s so cute.

Oh, I should mention that he is fully weaned now, as of a week and a half ago. It’s nice, but bittersweet. Good thing he drinks well from a sippy cup now.

I love my little man.

Venturing Out on her Own

I recently had a friend remind me that she sends her kids out every day to play alone in their backyard. I got to thinking about it, and I realized that I played out in my backyard alone while I was growing up. And so did pretty much everyone I know. I did a poll on Facebook and within the first few minutes, I had several responses; everyone said they let their kids (Hula Girl’s age and even younger) go out in the backyard alone to play. I got to thinking- why haven’t I done this!??!

I guess I’m some kind of crazy overprotective mom. I know I am, actually. I don’t let my kids watch TV (although that’s mainly because of all the research that says it’s bad for kids). I don’t let them do Halloween. I never used the word “scared” or “afraid” until Hula Girl needed that word to describe how she personally felt because I didn’t want to plant ideas in her head. I edit books as I read out loud so that the characters say much nicer things to each other than the author really intended. I keep my kids at home with me 99% of the time, because I am terribly distrustful of the big bad world and I want our schedule and routine to be carefully observed.

Don’t get me wrong- I have a pretty solid plan for how I’m going to loosen up and grant more freedoms and expose my children to the not-so-nice aspects of life. But for now, I have decided that coccooning them away and keeping things positive is the best I can do to give them a strong foundation of security, love, and self-confidence. They are free to have big emotions in their small challenges without a lot of influences from the world around them telling them they’re not good enough, smart enough, big enough, loved enough, or brave enough.

Back to the backyard. I have never let Hula Girl go outside alone. Ever. Any time she’s gone out, I have been there. Part of this is that we have lived in houses with no privacy fence. This especially bothered me at our old house, where the man who lived across the utility easement behind our house was on the registered sex offenders list. We have no registered folks around our new house, but we still have just a wire fence- our neighbors to the right and left and anyone passing on the street behind our house has a full view of everything that’s going on in our yard. On top of that, we live in rattlesnake, tarantula, scorpion, black widow, brown recluse, and wolf spider territory. Oh, and our area does not require dogs to be fenced- we have several neighbors whose dogs roam free. Can you see why I have been worried about sending her out there? That means she’s never gotten to explore completely on her own. She has never been able to just tune completely in to whatever drives her fancy because I have been there talking to her. And I have never been able to just get a bunch of housework done without a “helper.”

My friend Katie sends her kids outside in the backyard, alone, a couple of times each day. And do you know what?! I have always been amazed at Katie’s seemingly remarkable ability to balance so many aspects of her life without DYING of exhaustion. How does she do it!?!?! She sends her kids outside!

Now, you guys all know me, and you know I’m a huge fan of involving the kids in whatever I’m doing in order to instill a good work ethic and to teach them how to do stuff. But I can never find the time to REALLY clean the house or get all the laundry washed, dried, folded, and put away. There are always a million other things to attend to, like helping a certain princess put on her costume or keeping a certain little wild man from destroying his sister’s block tower, all accompanied by higher-pitched-than-you’d-ever-imagined-possible shrieks and whines- some gleeful, others complaining, but always super loud and wow-that-popped-my-eardrums-high. So, I got brave.

Yesterday afternoon and evening, I spent about 45 minutes walking the perimeter of the fence and canvassing the rest of the backyard looking for potential issues with snakes, dogs, or spiders. I kicked away spider webs, I got rid of the giant tumbleweeds in the play area, and I looked for holes in the ground (there were none, thankfully). I also looked for any other kinds of hazards and cleared out some sharp metal things (the people who lived here before us had two little boys who littered the ground with their broken, discarded Matchbox cars).

Then this morning I told Hula Girl that I was going to let her play outside all by herself like a big girl and that she had to stay out five minutes. I brought out her chalk, her shovels and pails, and her bike helmet. I told her she was allowed to do whatever she liked, as long as she stayed in the backyard (like she could even open the fences anyway, but you never know). I reminded her that if she needed me, she needed to come to the patio door and knock. I opened the kitchen window so I could hear her. I set a timer for five minutes.

I thought she’d whine and call for me and ask me to come out. She did. For about thirty seconds.

I thought she’d stay right on the patio and maybe pull out her chalk. She did. For about thirty seconds.

She PLAYED like I have never seen her play. I did dishes as I watched her explore, drag her toys around, bury things in the dirt, and fling rocks all around. When five minutes was up, I opened the door and asked her if she was ready to come in or if she wanted to stay out. She wanted to stay out. 10 minutes later, she wanted to stay out longer. 10 more minutes… 10 more minutes… 10 more minutes… She ended up staying out 45 minutes before I told her we needed to come in so I could read to her before room time. I ended up doing dishes, sweeping the kitchen, planning preschool for the week, calling a friend, and drinking a cup of coffee!

We are planning on putting up a privacy fence around about half of the backyard. We’ll dig it down about a foot so hopefully that will keep most snakes out. Until then, I won’t let Gelato out on his own (especially not with the giant playset he loves to climb) and will be super cautious about letting Hula Girl out. But I do think this will be a wonderful new addition to our daily routine.

Thank you Katie for helping me see the value of outside alone time! 🙂

 

 

Changing Tastes…

I love how fast things change as a young toddler develops. A couple weeks ago, I posted Gelato’s 14-month update. Now that he’s 14.5 months old, so many things are different! In just two weeks!

I want to capture his interests right now so that I can remember him THIS way. He is such a funny little guy!

Gelato does not like Baby Beluga any longer. If I bring it out, he says, “No, Bu-ga! No, Bu-gah!” He pushes the book away. He was really into Margaret Wise Brown’s I Like Stars for about a week and a half. That’s all he wanted to read. He’d say, “Stars? Stars? Read-ee? Stars?” But now he’s so over it. He also had a couple days of being really into “A B C?” Which stands for Dr. Seuss’ ABCs. That book is old hat, so he has moved on to a book called Who’s Hiding? It’s about a mama owl who is looking for her baby, and Gelato LOVES opening all the flaps. He calls it, “Ow-el? Ow-el?”

He loves to wear necklaces. My little guy just adores necklaces. He walks around with about five of Hula Girl’s dress-up necklaces (think pink pearls, sparkly blue beads, purple butterflies, etc.) strung around his neck. Fortunately Hula Girl inherited about a million necklaces from our neighbor before we moved, so there are plenty of necklaces for both children. He will come down the stairs, walk to the dress-up “closet,” and stand there saying, “Neck-iss? Neck-iss?” until I finally get him some. Never just one. If he can’t wear a necklace, he will find his special blue ribbon and drape it across his shoulders, behind his neck. If it falls off, he will stop and pick it up and re-drape it before moving on. I think this is such a silly and cute little phase. I kind of want him to keep it until he’s four or so.

Gelato loves apples. Like, apples are his very favorite food. He will walk around with an apple in his hand and eat the entire thing, down to the core. I bought him an apple in the grocery store a while ago just to keep his tummy from eating itself alive while I rushed around getting last-minute ingredients for our (very late) dinner. The clerk thought I was nuts for buying him an apple, saying, “He’ll never eat that. You should get him chips or something.” When I went back through her lane 15 minutes later, he had eaten about half his apple, and she was pretty much in shock. “He did eat the apple? That’s amazing. I have never seen a kid eat an apple before.” Um, what? Anyway, apples. He also likes applesauce. He calls it, “ap-poh AHS? Ap-poh AHS?” Today he found an applesauce cup in the fridge just before lunch and asked for it. I told him he could eat it at lunch, and let him wander with it a bit. I was surprised when he wasn’t following me and whining about eating it. When I stopped to look at him, I saw he had bitten a hole in the foil and was slurping it through like a smoothie. “Mmmm, Mummy! Mum! Mummmy!!!”

I am currently weaning Gelato. He used to nurse four times a day: 7, 11, 3, and 7. I have slowly dropped one feeding a week, so that now he is only nursing at bedtime. Next Friday will be the last day I nurse him. I am so sad about it, but so happy all at the very same time. I love that I have nursed both my babies until 14.5 months old, but I really feel like that’s about my limit. 🙂

Gelato is a little independent guy. He does not want to be held or pushed in a stroller; he wants to WALK. He doesn’t want to walk with me, though, so he tries to wander. Too bad for him when he tries to wander and I don’t let him. He can also be a bit disobedient at times. ‘Tis the nature of the age, I suppose. He is truly a toddler now- when I tell him to come, he grins, turns, and RUNS the other way. Goober.

All in all, Gelato is just a delight. Still.

Oh, and one more story. The other night Gelato was told a firm, “No, you may not throw your food off your tray.” I removed his dinner. Hula Girl clapped and shouted, “Hooray! [Gelato] got his first consequence!!!!!” It was hilarious.

Playdates, Playdates, Playdates Galore!

Since the end of Hula Girl’s dancing career, I have been working overtime to try to get her engaged in unstructured social events with her peers. We have had three official playdates and we have several more scheduled in the near future. I am determined that she will go back to dance class someday (she keeps telling me she will be ready to go after Christmas) and that when she goes she will interact with the other ballerinas and she will have a good time. So there.

Our first playdate after that fateful day was with a set of twins who attend our library’s storytime. They are about a half-year younger than Hula Girl. They have beautiful names and even more beautiful curly locks. It’s hard to tell them apart because their mom dresses them the same, but one of them is just slightly taller, so that helps. They really enjoyed the dress-up clothes.

Hula Girl has about 25 complete outfits for dress-up, thanks to my mom, Walmart’s post-Halloween sales, and my old across-the-street neighbor, Karen. She absolutely adores dressing up in her tutus, wings, tiaras, and shoes. She also really enjoys princess dresses, wands, and Fancy Nancy slippers. She is usually wearing at least one part of one costume at all times.

I recently put together a “closet” of sorts for her dress-up clothes. I built a PVC frame with a rod across the top for hangers. Then I made curtains for the whole thing out of a shower curtain that I got on sale at Ross. It took me about 2 hours, total. And it’s PERFECT. I will have to post a picture.

Anyway, the twins really loved dressing up! We had three little princesses, some cowgirls, a nurse, a mermaid, fairies, and cheerleaders in our playroom that day. Hula Girl is very excited to have another playdate with them soon.

Our next playdate was with a friend of mine from Bible study. She has two girls who sandwich Hula Girl age-wise; one is turning five soon and one is turning three. (She also has a cutie little three-month-old boy who looks just like a Butterball turkey! I love babies who haven’t lengthened out yet but are chunky and heavy already. So roly-poly and just plain squeezable!) Those girls came over and took over the playroom! They sat right down at the play table and served up a play feast in the kitchen! The elder girl, in particular, was great with Hula Girl. She invited Hula Girl to play, gave Hula Girl the pink plate/cup/silverware, and just interacted so well with her. Hula Girl was absolutely intrigued with this girl who is so brave and so talkative and NOT afraid to just play! There was a good deal of dressing up during this playdate, as well! The girls also got to have a treat of hot chocolate with their snack. I loved their manners, their imaginations, and their mom!

The last playdate we had was this week on Thursday. We went to the home of the same family, and another friend joined us. There were four little girls, one little Gelato, one little Butterball, and a teeny weeny 6-week-old baby girl in the house. Seven children, lots of giggles, and Hula Girl had SUCH a good time. She was afraid to go into the playroom for a while, but once she realized the other girls were very friendly and that Mommy was going to sit and talk and admire the BABIES the whole time, she became braver. I overheard her asking one of the littler girls (who is a full year younger than her) to play with her. That little girl is very similar in temperament to Hula Girl. She is very timid around others she doesn’t know yet, but she is boisterous once she gets to know someone. I have played with her at her own house a couple times, and she is just a sweetheart. (That little girl will be in Hula Girl’s Sunday school class tomorrow, so I am hoping that will help Hula Girl adjust!)

We are scheduled to play again with some other friends next Thursday, and we continue to go to storytime on Tuesday. I also had a babysitter come this morning and watch the kids while I went grocery shopping. My goal right now is to put Hula Girl in situations where she HAS to be social with lots of people besides me. She has been doing really well with it, and she tells me every time, “I want to stay with ______ a long time next time! I had so much fun!” I just wish she’d keep that in her head long enough to be brave from the beginning of every situation!

10-Year Reunion

I have had several friends from outside my high school tell me that their 10-year reunion wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. They said, “It was weird,” “no one showed up,” and “I hope the next one is better!”

I agree on all counts.

Not because of lack of effort by the planning committee. Those guys did a great job. None of them still live where we went to high school, so everything was planned long-distance. They even had a website set up for all the rest of us to register and learn about the event. That was great.

But I think the folks who didn’t show up should have shown up.

We have known each other since at least third grade, on most counts.

There were only 93 people in our graduating class. We missed the rest of you.

Most of us are/were still friends on Facebook and we’ve been able to track almost everyone pretty well since graduation.

And I went to school with a lot of really nice people. They do interesting things, they’re living good lives, and none of them are awful or mean! They just didn’t come, and I was bummed out to see the lack of attendees.

It was really fun to see some of the people who were there. A lot of us have children around the same ages, so meeting everyone’s kids in person was great! (Hula Girl was particularly taken with a pair of sisters- she followed them around and held hands with them. Adorable.) Some others don’t have kids yet but are doing really interesting things with their lives, so it was really fun to get to know their stories a bit more in depth. I thought it was nice that we weren’t all reminiscing about the good ol’ days- we have moved on. I also loved that our spouses are all so sweet and many of the husbands had a fantastic time together playing pool.

I don’t know. It was a mixed bag for me. On one hand, it was great seeing people. On the other, it was sad not seeing some other people. But overall, I was surprised at how little there really was to talk about. The culprit? Facebook.

I think Facebook ruined our reunion. Since we’re all still “friends” we kind of already know what’s going on in each other’s lives. No one really needed to attend the reunion to find out what their high school classmates are up to. We already know. We know who has what job, who lives where, who is married to whom, who has children (and we know the names, ages, and first-time-using-the-potty dates of all the kids as well)!!! There is nothing to discuss. Here’s how an actual conversation went:

Classmate: “So, you just moved into a house.”

Me: “Yep.”

Classmate: “Do you like it?”

Me: “Yep. It’s nice having a house.”

Classmate: “Good.”

End of conversation.

Seriously. That’s the only thing that classmate and I said to each other. After 10 years of not seeing each other.

Thanks, Facebook.

After the reunion I went through Facebook and cut out over 150 people from my “friends” list. I realized that the person I spent the most time talking to that evening was the only one of us there who doesn’t have Facebook. It was nice to have an actual conversation. (Sorry if you were one of the deleted folks. I just figured I’d rather have actual in-person friendships. If you still need to contact me, my phone number hasn’t changed since high school. And you can always re-friend me on Facebook.)

And can I rant about one thing?

There is one girl who, since sixth grade, has not liked me. I don’t know what I ever did to offend her. Seriously. We’ve never been rude to each other, but she has always been cold to me. Like, she has always intentionally turned her back on me and has never once started a conversation. And it did not change at the reunion. From the moment she and her husband walked in to the moment Jonathan and I left, she did not even make eye contact with me at all. Not even a cursory across-the-room “Oh, hey!” Our husbands got along great, by the way. I had nothing to start a conversation with, so I didn’t go and make the first move. I just thought it was so strange and silly that still, after ten years of life experience, she chose to give me the same treatment she did in high school. Guess we’re not meant to be besties!

Anyway. All this to say that if you weren’t there, you WERE missed. I especially missed the soccer girls and KATIE. You would have made the evening 10 million times better, Friendy-Friend. Oh, and BETHANY, where the heck were you? I SO wanted to meet Ella.

My advice? Before attending any high school reunion, un-friend ALL your classmates on Facebook at least a year in advance. At least you’ll be interesting then. 🙂

 

Fall Camping

A couple weekends ago, Hula Girl and my parents were scheduled to go camping. Unfortunately, the first few weeks of October are really hard to predict around here and it ended up being below freezing and snowing. So, they stuck around my parents’ house.

My parents live on 5 acres in a forest. So camping there is basically like camping at any campground in the area anyway! Just nicer amenities- flush toilets, hot water, refrigerator, showers, etc.  And my dad is such a softy for Hula Girl that he set up their pop-up trailer and they all slept in there one night.

They also made s’mores. My dad lit a fire in their little outdoor fire pit and they went out in the freezing cold after Hula Girl’s nap one afternoon and she got to eat her favorite treat. Not just one, either. Like I said, my dad’s a softy for Hula Girl.

Then she got to go kayaking. My parents have a pond that is kind of an old well that overflowed. It has shrunk considerably in recent years due to our drought. However, it was huge when Hula Girl came over because we had a week of rain in September. It was about 90 feet across. My parents each have a kayak- my dad’s is hand-made (took him years) and my mom’s is just a smaller yellow kayak. They sent Hula Girl out onto the pond in my mom’s kayak. She was all bundled up, and she loved rocking it back and forth (she wore her life jacket). My parents would push her to the middle and then run with the rope as fast as they could and float her back to the edge of the pond. Over and over. She just adored it.

She also enjoyed playing with the pond “slime.” It has been growing there since I was a little girl. We always thought it was like some sort of algae, but up close it looked like blades of grass with hundreds of tiny green lentils attached. Hula Girl scooped it up by the handfuls and squished, squeezed, and smooshed it before throwing it back in. Yuck.

And do you know what else? My parents let her stay in the same clothes all weekend long, just like a real camping trip. In fact, she didn’t even bathe. I picked her up on Sunday afternoon and her hair was still in the braids I’d put in on Friday morning. She had such a good time. 🙂

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