“Chickening”

If you visit my house while my children are around, you will almost certainly be introduced to our chickens. We have ten laying hens, three pullets (baby hens), and one cockerel (baby rooster). Chickens are awesome animals to keep in the backyard. So many people are jumping on the backyard chicken bandwagon these days; I’m glad we have done it, too!

The first thing Hula Girl does when she gets up for the day is run outside and check on the chicks. We had a gold-laced Wyandotte hatch out four babies this spring. Two are black copper Marans (one pullet, one cockerel), one is another gold-laced Wyandotte, and the last one is an Old English game bird mix of some sort. All the babies are bantams, and are even smaller than our Silkie hens. When Hula Girl checks on them, she goes out and catches them and snuggles with them. She often tries to smuggle a chicken into the house inside her shirt, but the loud chirping gives her away every time.

After she has checked the chicks, she looks for eggs. The ladies all lay; we find anywhere from 8-10 eggs every day. We don’t use all of them. Jonathan sells dozens of eggs at work, and we bring them to our friends, family, and neighbors frequently. The eggs we get are beautiful. We can tell which hen laid which egg, thanks to Hula Girl’s patient observation of which hen is in which nesting box singing her egg song before each new egg appears.

 

Eggs

Clockwise from top egg, center listed last: eggs from Babette, Arwen, Laura, Prim, Scout, Mary, Molly, and Snowy. There won’t be a pop quiz, so don’t worry if you can’t tell them apart!

 

After the chores have been completed, we generally leave the chickens alone to graze through the backyard all day. I love looking out the kitchen window and watching the baby chicks catching grasshoppers– it is so funny! They will hop all around and try to fly and it just makes me giggle. I also giggle when I see Bella, our curly-feathered Sizzle, waddling all around the yard. She looks just like a mop from Harry Potter.

Hula Girl, of course, spends a lot of her spare time with the chickens. She knows each one’s personality and egg song. She knows which hens are friendly and easy to pick up (here’s looking at you, Scout, Bella, and Snowy!). She can tell Helena and Prim apart, and can distinguish between the buff Orpingtons (quite the feat; I can’t tell them apart save for Babette’s extra-large comb and wattles). The hens all come running when Hula Girl opens the door; they know her presence usually means a treat is coming soon.

We call our interactions with the chickens “chickening” as if it’s a verb. It kind of is. And Hula Girl is great at chickening.

“It’s been 84 Years…”

Not quite that long, but it surely feels like it’s been 84 years since my last post. It’s really only been just over a year. (Can anyone identify the source of that quotation, by the way? Chelsea, are you reading?) My excuse? I forgot my password. I feel really sheepish saying that. Passwords are recoverable. However, I have a separate email account associated with this blog and I forgot the password for that as well… so… Anyway! Now I’m back.

So much has happened over the past year. We’ve added a new family member, our little Sugar Plum, who is five months old today. Monkey Man is almost four years old; Hula Girl just turned six recently. We completed our first year of real homeschooling. We’ve added new chickens to our flock. And all sorts of other things in between.

I wanted to get back to blogging because I don’t really keep track of our lives in any other organized way. All my kids’ baby pictures can be found on Facebook, but nowhere else. I want a place to store all our memories again!

I’m just going to jump right into writing about what happened today. I’ll go back and fill in details as needed, but I don’t really want to try to recap more than I already have.

This week Hula Girl has been taking a ballet class at dance camp. The funny thing is, she has the same ballet teacher she had waaaaay back when she first started dance. She quit dancing back then because she was just too shy to continue on. However, she started back up two years ago, and she has flourished. Hula Girl does so well with dance. She has beautiful feet, she takes corrections well and applies them consistently from the first time they’re given, and she observes her teachers carefully so she rarely misses a step. I know that all moms whose daughters dance think their daughters are just the most beautiful little ballerinas they’ve ever seen. I am no exception. Hula Girl astounds me with her grace and self-assurance when she dances. We plan for her to take separate tap and ballet classes in the fall.

Another funny thing about Hula Girl’s dance class is her reaction to a new girl in her class who has Down syndrome. Hula Girl loves kids with Down syndrome, especially if they’re of Asian descent. She once told me she wants to be Chinese and have Down syndrome, because she loves her friends who have Down syndrome SO MUCH. (Some of her favorite Sunday school friends have Down syndrome. Two of them are adorable Chinese girls.) The new girl in her ballet class has a darker complexion as well. I was SURE she would come home talking about the new girl with Down syndrome. I was half right. She DID come home talking about the girl. She said the girl is new to dance and that she is excited to see the girl trying so hard when it is something she has never done before. She said she is proud of the girl for doing her best. I asked her if she noticed anything else about the girl, and she thought for a minute before answering, “I really liked the way she had her hair braided!” It is such a rewarding experience for me to see my daughter being so accepting and encouraging of children with all abilities and skin tones. I want to impress on my children that NO ONE is better than anyone else, for any reason. I want them to learn to love and appreciate everyone, and to find ways to encourage everyone. Hula Girl is doing these things, and it makes my heart so thankful.

Monkey Man has a lot of fun at Hula Girl’s dance classes. He stands in the corner and does all the steps along with the dancers. We actually planned to have him take a rhythm and movement class this summer, but he backed out of it. I think it’s so interesting because he loves getting everyone’s attention– he is always walking through stores saying hi to everyone– but he doesn’t want to participate in dance class because he’s afraid people will watch him! We aren’t pushing the issue with him. Jonathan danced and we would love it if Monkey Man wanted to try it out, too, but we will leave it up to him to decide whether he wants to do it, and when. He knows the option is open to him.

Both children are also interested in taking gymnastics classes and joining a soccer team. They are both very athletic, and Jonathan and I are all for them trying out as many different activities as they’d like to try while they’re young.  We are also planning to start music lessons soon. I never learned to read music (I have tried, but it befuddles my mind),  and I feel such a sense of loss over this that I refuse to let my kids feel it too! So we will start piano lessons soon. I am certain that music lessons will be fun for Monkey Man. He is introverted, and he has always had an extra measure of musicality.

And now for a bit about our little Sugar Plum. She is just the easiest, sweetest baby you could imagine. She only ever cries if she is extremely overtired, extremely hungry (has only happened once in her life), or cold. Otherwise, she is just all around mellow. Nothing makes her smile more than seeing someone she loves; eliciting a laugh takes herculean effort. Most of the time she can be seen just gazing around the room and quietly taking it all in. She hasn’t rolled yet, but she is trying very hard. I am certain she will be rolling within a week or two. She looks much more like Monkey Man and Jonathan than she does like Hula Girl and me. However, she has red eyebrows, which leads me to believe she *might* have my red hair. So far she is taking after her siblings by growing superfine, uncertain-colored hair all over her giant head.

Jonathan and I are doing well. Just keepin’ on keepin’ on. I’ll let you know if anything specific happens. Haha.

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! 🙂

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! 🙂

 

 

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!

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. 🙂

Gelato- 14 Months

My little boy just melts my heart.

There is only one thing about him that annoys me right now: he is the world’s messiest eater. It doesn’t help that I feed him messy foods like rice, cottage cheese, yogurt, and the like. But he drops it on the nice, clean, freshly-mopped-tile-and-scrubbed-grout floor! I keep telling Jonathan we need to invest in a splash mat or just an old shower curtain, but I keep forgetting.

Gelato is a climber. He has always been, as long as he could. He will climb anything. Rocks, trees, ladders, people, tables, chairs, desks, bookcases, cribs (we’ll be turning his around when he gets big enough- I have a feeling it will be a struggle to keep him in his crib as long as we did his sister!), couches, dirt piles, fences, cars. His favorite thing to climb right now is the “rock wall” that goes up into their playset. I think I mentioned this in a previous post, but that rock wall is over six feet high, it’s at about an 85° angle, and it has plastic rocks to hold or step onto. And he has been doing this since before he was even 13 months old. Now that he’s a seasoned pro, he’s making some careless mistakes. Just today I had to catch him (my hands were 3 inches from his body, so it more of a “steady” than a “catch”) when he decided to take his hat off mid-climb. Who knows what he’ll climb next?

Gelato is a water baby. I have been able to take him to the Y a few times lately, and since he can walk now, the toddler pool is just way more fun. The only issues come when he gets knocked over by a big kid splashing him or a current under the water that pulls his feet out from under him. Then he falls down into the water and doesn’t even try to get back up. So my hands are, again, always within a foot of him. I don’t touch him unless I have to. He needs to learn it on his own. But I have had to several times. Silly boy. He really enjoys getting his face wet, too. He’ll crouch down and bend his neck so his face just barely touches the water, then he jumps up and lets out a little shriek of happiness. So cute.

Gelato is a bookworm. Whereas Hula Girl would just come sit on my lap for hours and hours, Gelato has resisted the sitting for reading time his whole life. The only time he sits still for a book is just before nap, because that’s part of our nap routine and he’s used to it. Otherwise, he will carry a book all the way across the house and cry out, “Read-ee! Read-ee!” until I read the book. He will sit next to me for a page or two, but then he gets up and wanders off, but he still expects me to keep reading. If I stop, he will come back, open the book to the last page I read, hand the book to me while giving me a very convincing eyebrow-raise, and say, “Read-ee!” Aye, aye. His favorite right now is Baby Beluga. He calls it “Goo-gah? Baby Goo-Gah?” He loves the pictures.

Gelato is a dog lover. And a polar bear lover. If we are reading and come across a dog or polar bear picture, he gets quite excited. Our neighbor has a dog who is allowed to roam freely. Her name is Scampers. Gelato calls her “Mamper? Mamper?” He looks out the window for her every few minutes and chases her around with random objects whenever she’s outside and we go on walks. She doesn’t like that part very much, but she does like to come out and sniff us and then she takes off in one direction or another like an unpaid tour guide, and Gelato follows her wherever she leads. He adores her.

Gelato is a BOY. Kid picked up a beetle today. I think he wanted to eat it, but Hula Girl smacked it down out of his hand because she was so terrified of the thing. (You go, Girl!) Instead of letting him pick it up again, I told him he could just look at it. He followed it around for a while, saying, “Beeboh! Beeboh!” Then he forgot about it, played with a stick, and was disappointed when he remembered about it and it was gone. (Aw, shucks.)

Gelato is a Mama’s boy. This one is my favorite. He just loves me. He likes Jonathan and Hula Girl, too, but he loves me. Probably because he likes to nurse. But really, it’s so cute. He’ll just wander into the room and hug my leg. Or he’ll sit on my lap and grab my hand so he can interlock his fingers and hold my hand for a while. He likes to give me kisses all day long (“mmmm-ah! mmmmm-ah!”), and he pats my face so gently while he tells me about my eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and hair.

Gelato is a listener. He obeys really really well. The other day I called both kids into the kitchen and asked them to clean up the kid dishes they’d spilled out of the drawer in their hunt for breakfast utensils. He grabbed some cups, put them away, and said, “All done!” Smartie boy. He also tests quite a bit already, which shows me he understands what I’m saying. For example, I tell him stop before he gets out into the street in front of our house (we live on a very sparsely used dirt road, or else he wouldn’t be getting to the road before me). He stops, turns, grins like a little imp, and takes a few more steps before stopping, turning, and grinning again. Test, test, test. I take his hand and move him back to where he was when I said it first, and reinforce. Repeat. It’s a long process, but he really does listen well.

One more thing I just want to record for posterity: I’m beginning to wean him now. Hula Girl was weaned at 14.5 months, and Gelato will likely be weaned by then as well. We’re putting him on coconut milk and we’re trying to cut out all dairy for both kids as soon as we can. He is really excited to drink milk, because he’s seen his idol (big sis) drinking milk so much and now any time she has it, he wants it, too. Her influence can be so great. 🙂

Just Me and My Boy

Today has been a treat for me! Hula Girl took off after breakfast with Grampy. They were supposed to go camping this weekend, but given the low of 21 degrees and the 25+ mph wind speeds with snow flurries expected overnight, they decided to just set up camp at Grammy and Grampy’s house so they could go in if it gets too cold. I should say when. 🙂

Anyway, with Hula Girl gone, I have gotten to spend a lot of one-on-one time with my Little Man, and it’s been so very fun! We’ve spent a lot of time doing really low-key activities and taking it way slower than we normally do with a rambunctious preschooler around.

We started the day a touch later than his normal 6:45, at 6:55. I went in to get him up and nurse him, then he brought me a few books and asked me to read them: “Read-ee? Read-ee?” He is really into dogs and polar bears. When he sees a dog, he will put his little palm down on the page so I can’t turn it yet. Then he puts his other fist down with his pointer finger out and taps his finger on the picture a few times, looks up at me, and says, “Doggie. Woof, woof.” I always affirm him, “Yes, that’s a dog. You found a picture of a dog.” When he finds a polar bear (there are several great illustrations of polar bears in the “Baby Beluga” book), he points to it and says, “Doggie? No. Bay.” Then he taps it several times and says, “Bay. Bay. Bay.”

After reading, I showed him some options of clothes he could wear for the day- a pair of polar bear jammies or a union suit with dogs on it. He smiled really big at both choices, but in the end he settled on the union suit. We went downstairs where it was freezing because my husband is related to polar bears and keeps the windows open until it actually snows. Then Grampy came in and played with Gelato for a while. We ate oatmeal for breakfast, and Gelato asked for more by signing more and then saying, “Eep-meal? Eep-meal?” He also wanted milk and asked for “milt!” When Grampy had a cup of coffee, Gelato asked to “Mell coppee? Mell coppee?” and then wanted to taste it too. We didn’t allow that!

He went down for his nap just before Hula Girl left, so I had some time to catch up on blogging and Facebook. When he woke up, I nursed him; then he said, “Toys!” so I put him in his pack-n-play for roomtime. He played for a while and I got to take a shower. A nice, long, hot shower. Perfect for a windy cold day!

When I went to get him from roomtime, he saw my hair was wet and said, “Peel hay? Peel hay?” I let him feel my hair and told him, “My hair is cold and wet.” The he felt the other side and said, “Ood? Wet? Hay ood wet?”

I brought him down for lunch, which was pizza leftovers from last night. He said, “Peeta? Peeta? Eat! Eat! Hungee! Peeta!” (I wonder if he’ll like the Hunger Games books!) He ate two entire slices of pizza (same as I had). I gave him some pieces that were still quite hot. He felt them and said, “Arm! Bow, bow.” Then he blew on them. He also had a kiwi, which he still doesn’t like. He ate about two bites and then handed the rest to me. When he was all done with lunch, he said, “Down? Walk?” I told him he needed to tell me he was all done, so he did. He just has the sweetest little voice when he says, “All done!”

When I put him down he went and grabbed his shoes and said, “Oos! Out-ide! Walk!” So I bundled him up and took him outside. The first thing he said was, “Ood! Ood!” I told him yes, it was cold and windy. “Eendee,” he replied, as he nodded his head several times to show he understood. Then he walked all around and picked up rocks and sticks and followed the neighbor’s dog. Finally I was too cold, so I brought him back inside.

I decided to bust out the rainbow rice sensory bin, which hasn’t been used since Hula Girl was 2.5. He thought it was great fun to pluck out the kidney beans and place them in the scoop one at a time. Then he thought it was fun to pretend to eat them by putting it up to his mouth and saying, “Mmm, Mummy! Mmmm, Mummy bean!” And then he thought it was hilariously fun to place the scoop on the floor and then tell himself, “Oop on beket,” and then move the scoop back onto the blanket. He giggled at that one for sure.

When it was time to clean up the rainbow rice, I got out the broom, and Gelato insisted on sweeping for me. He did a terrible job, but for a not-even-14-month-old, it was awesome. I left it just the way he did it and cleaned up the rest (aka the bigger mess) when he went down for his nap. After he was done sweeping, it was nap time, so I asked him to go upstairs. He went to his room and pushed the button to turn on his heater, then walked over to the curtains and tried to pull them shut. I thanked him for his help and proceeded to put him down from there.

He really is one independent, helpful, communicative little guy. I am so thankful for the opportunity to spend time with just him this weekend. It really helps to slow down and be able to show him how much I enjoy him!  I can’t wait for this afternoon- we’re going swimming at the Y. I think it will be way more fun since I won’t have to keep an eye on Hula Girl, too. I can just let him walk in the toddler pool and climb all over the pirate ship- I’m sure he’ll want to do the slide, too. But I am not ready for that one yet… at all. No slide today. 🙂

First Real Weekend at our New Home!

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

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

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

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

Still Here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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