Snippets

Kids always have a way with words. It’s the combination of tone, expression, and word choice that make their phrases awesome. I have been trying to keep track of sweet things that have escaped my children’s lips over the past few months. I never want to forget their sweet words and thoughts.

Hula Girl’s teacher is of the same mindset. She loves listening to and reporting the words of the students in her care. She delights in them as much as their parents do! Here is a portion of a recent email I received from her:

[Hula Girl] said the cutest thing yesterday, and I actually wrote it down to tell you!  The last word on the spelling pre-assessment was “spoil.”  I used this sentence, “When you go to Grandma’s house, she will spoil you with treats, candy, presents, and staying up late.”  As I walked past [Hula Girl] she looked up at me with the happiest face and said, “Boy, does she EVER!”  It was precious!

Monkey Man has his fair share of intriguing things to say as well. Most of the time, he is quite imaginative and he tries his hardest to impress people.

A couple weekends ago, our town held a fall festival. (By the way, living in a small town that celebrates EVERYTHING is awesome. Downtown streets have been closed down at least three weekends in the past couple months for festivities. That might sound annoying, but there are easy ways around the closures. It’s so much fun to be here and be part of a town that is so focused on families and fun!) We attended the festival in the afternoon once Sugar Plum woke from her final nap of the day. We walked through the booths and roamed through a couple stores downtown. We decided to go to the coffee shop for dinner. We ordered some sandwiches and things and while we were eating, a local band came in and began setting up for an evening performance.

The band was made up of members who have adult children. They had banjos, violins, drums, guitars and keyboards. It was interesting to watch them set up and unpack their instruments; Monkey Man was especially interested in the process of tuning instruments. He was watching the woman with the violin with such interest that she invited him up to watch more closely. She asked him if he liked violins, and he said, “Yes! I am good at playing the violin!” She looked at me as if to ask if this was true. I shrugged. I asked him, “Where did you learn to play?” He said he had learned at school. “I’m the best violin player in my class!”

Ok, first of all, he was only in school for a grand total of 6 days. I’m certain he did not learn to play violin. But perhaps there was an instrument station in his classroom?

The woman then showed him how she tunes the violin and how she plays different notes. He was absolutely enthralled. So much so that her husband came over and said that if they can find their child-sized violin, he will give it to us so Monkey Man can learn to play for real. I think we will be enrolling him in violin lessons soon!

Both kids are very interested in art right now.

Hula Girl gave this paper to me and Jonathan last night. Each side is a different type of sunset.

Monkey Man created this picture for his self portrait for our schoolwork at home. It is him in the sky with a rainbow and clouds; the figures on the ground are looking up at the clouds and finding pictures.

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Introducing Sugar Plum

a.k.a. World’s Easiest Baby.

Our little Sugar Plum is the baby we prayed for the hardest. About nine months before finding out we were expecting her, we lost a baby when I had a missed miscarriage. We were terrified to try again, but our family didn’t feel complete yet. So we prayed and prayed and prayed for a healthy pregnancy.

I knew she was a girl from the start. I was really not wanting her to be a boy, anyway. 😉 I wanted Hula Girl to have a sister so badly.

Halfway through the pregnancy, we found out she had a single umbilical artery, which put her at risk for kidney or heart defects, and also increased her chances of still birth. It was a diagnosis that could have been terrifying, but we remained calm and trusted the Lord  I never actually felt scared for her, but perhaps just slightly uneasy?

Because of her cord abnormality, our midwife decided she needed to induce labor. I went in to the hospital on a Wednesday afternoon, and I WALKED those halls. For two days. Kid was FINALLY born after we started Pitocin at 10:30 on Thursday night. When my girl decided to come out, she CAME OUT. I went from 4cm dilated to baby in under 30 minutes. With Pitocin. With NO epidural or pain meds. Yep, it hurt a lot. Yep, I would do it again 18 more times. The end result is seriously amazing.

The first thing I said to her was, “You’re so beautiful!” She truly was. And she still is. She favors Monkey Man, but she has Hula Girl’s blue eyes. She is in her super chunky baby phase, and there isn’t a baby with fatter cheeks anywhere. She is stumpy and round and just adorable. Her cord issue was a total non-issue, and we feel so incredibly blessed that this is the case.

I knew from before she was born that she was going to be the type to do things in her own time. Just as with her birth, she has taken her time to do a lot of things. She is almost six months old and has not yet shown much interest in rolling over, even though I can tell she could if she wanted to. She smiled on time, but her laughs are few and far between. She saves them for times when she just can’t keep them in. She is a very complacent personality; she is content to sit back and watch her siblings in action (and boy, they are always in action!); she is happy to lie in the grass and watch the clouds float above the trees. She rarely cries. She sleeps well. She nurses like a champ. She is mild and pleasant and just so sweet. I so enjoy her.

And that is pretty much all you need to know about her for now. She is just the sweetest. The cuddliest. The relaxingest. She makes me calm. I like that about her. She’s a born peacemaker.

 

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.

*Kindergartenish, Here we Come!

*Kindergartenish– www.amblesideonline.com lists the academic levels as Year 0, Year 1, Year 2, and so on. There is no kindergarten to speak of. But, by golly, I want my kid to be able to say what grade she’s in! 

Tomorrow is an exciting day for us. Hula Girl is starting Kindergarten!

Yes indeedy, it’s a strange time of year to be starting school. I spoke with several teachers and students who are literally counting down the hours until summer. Haha! However, Hula Girl is dying for some intellectual stimulation, and I’m more than happy to provide it! I’ve been looking at all sorts of homeschooling resources. I’ve learned about different homeschooling styles, made pro/con lists to highlight each curriculum’s features (or lack thereof), and done a bit of soul-searching and praying about what I really want to see out of all of this. In my last post, I described some of the options I considered, and how we ended up going with the Charlotte Mason method.

Most of my posts about school will be written so that I can share our progress with family members, and so that I have records of where we’ve been when I look back on it all. With that said, feel free to keep on reading along! I’d love it if our journey is somehow helpful or enlightening for someone along the way!

So I’ll just jump right in with what we’re going to be doing this year, shall I? Hula Girl and I have been avid readers throughout her entire life. So when I visited Ambleside Online and looked at the Year 0 curriculum guide, I found that we had already read every single book on their guideline, along with all the extra books recommended by the collaborators on the website. So I called my friend who has been doing CM with her daughter for a few years now, and I asked her what she thought of me going ahead and starting with Year 1. She knows where Hula Girl is and she gave me confidence that Hula Girl can handle it. So that’s where we will begin!

The books we will be reading this year are:

History: Early history (55 BC to 1066 AD), and people throughout history.

An Island Story, by H.E. Marshall
Fifty Famous Stories Retold, by James Baldwin, selected chapters
Viking Tales, by Jennie Hall , ch 1-11

American History Biography

Benjamin Franklin, by Ingri D’Aulaire
George Washington, by Ingri D’Aulaire
Buffalo Bill, by Ingri D’Aulaire

Geography

Paddle to the Sea, by Holling C. Holling

Natural History/Science

The Handbook of Nature Study, by Anna Botsford Comstock

James Herriot’s Treasury for Children, by James Herriot
The Burgess Bird Book for Children, by Thornton Burgess

Poetry

A Child’s Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson;

Now We Are Six  and When We Were Very Young, by A.A. Milne

A Child’s Book of Poems, by Gyo Fujikawa

Literature

The Aesop for Children, by Milo Winter
Beautiful Stories from Shakespeareby Edith Nesbit
The Blue Fairy Book, by Andrew Lang selected chapters.
Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling
Parables from Nature, by Margaret Gatty, selections.

Additional Books for Free Reading

Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White
King of the Golden River, by John Ruskin
Peter Pan, by James M. Barrie
Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi
The Red Fairy Book, by Andrew Lang
St. George and the Dragon, by Margaret Hodges
The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams
Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Pocahontas, by Ingri D’Aulaire

Other Stuff We’ll Do:

  • Bible: We do a week-long study of a passage of scripture, and we do fun activities related to the verses.
  • Scripture Memory: Our whole family is working on memorizing scripture together, using this awesome scripture memory system found at www.simplycharlottemason.com
  • Reading: Hula Girl can read, but not well. I’m taking her through Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Then we’ll work on some other reading material.
  • Math: We’re using Math-U-See. I like it. I figure we’ll finish the primary level by September, then we’ll start with the Alpha level. Hula Girl is good at math, even though it’s not her favorite thing to do. The constant struggle here is to make sure I’m not boring her with too much practice but that I’m giving her enough practice to solidify the concepts in her mind.
  • Nature Study: We’re combining this with drawing for now. We go for nature walks every day. We look at what God’s made for us. A couple of days each week, we bring our sketchbooks or clipboards and draw what we see. I plan to start using other media to record God’s wonders soon.
  • Handicrafts: Hula Girl has mastered the art of making pot holders on the loom. This term she will learn to embroider (HA, and I will learn with her!), and we will also be creating some beautiful gifts for family members for Christmas gifts.
  • Copywork: This is what it sounds like. Hula Girl copies sentences to practice her handwriting and to review important passages of scripture, lines from songs, phrases from books, verses of poetry, etc.
  • Composer/Picture Study: Each afternoon we have tea and listen to a specific composer while we look at pictures created by famous artists.
  • Folksongs/Hymns: We listen to and sing these during housework.
  • French: I am going to order the Nallenart “L’Art de Dire” curriculum to use informally. A good friend suggested we do French in a time when we’re just hanging out. I’m thinking we’ll do it in the car. Captive audience. 🙂

So, that’s a lot. What are we actually going to do this week?

Current Memory Verse: Ephesians 4:32

Current Hymn: “All Praise to Thee, My God, This Night”

Current Folksong: “Pick a Bale of Cotton”

Sunday (today):

  • “Sunday Stories” with Daddy- “The Terrible Lie” from the Jesus Storybook Bible
  • Reading lessons 1&2

Monday: (Mondays and Thursdays are the heaviest days as we stay home all day and can accomplish more!)

  • Bible- Read Genesis 1:26-31; 2:7, 20-25
  • Poetry- “Bed in Summer” (Child’s Garden of Verses)
  • Natural History- Chapter 1 from Paddle to the Sea
  • Math- Math-U-See (MUS) Primary level, lesson 12B (dealing with place value)
  • History- “Sword of Damocles” from Fifty Famous Stories
  • Copywork- “Be kind to one another” from Ephesians 4:32
  • History- Chapter 1 from Island Story
  • Nature Walk
  • Reading- Lesson 3
  • Picture Study- Van Gogh’s “Bedroom in Arles”

Tuesday:

  • Bible- Make people and animals from playdough, use to narrate story of God’s creation of Adam and Eve and Adam’s naming the animals
  • Poetry- “A Thought” (Child’s Garden of Verses)
  • Literature- “Wolf and Kid” from Aesop’s Fables
  • Math- Math-U-See (MUS) Primary level, lesson 12D (dealing with place value)
  • Literature-Whale” from Just So Stories
  • Copywork- “tenderhearted, forgiving one another,” from Ephesians 4:32
  • Nature Walk
  • Reading- Lesson 4
  • Picture Study- Van Gogh’s “Bedroom in Arles”

Wednesday: (This day is quite light due to Hula Girl’s dance class in the morning)

  • Bible- Narrate Genesis 1:26-31; 2:7, 20-25
  • Poetry- “At the Sea-Side” (Child’s Garden of Verses)
  • Literature- “Lesson of Faith” from Parables of Nature
  • Nature Walk/Nature Study
  • Reading- Lesson 5
  • Picture Study- Van Gogh’s “Bedroom in Arles”

Thursday: (Mondays and Thursdays are the heaviest days as we stay home all day and can accomplish more!)

  • Bible- Read Genesis 3:1-24
  • Poetry- “Young Night Thought” (Child’s Garden of Verses)
  • Math- Math-U-See (MUS) Primary level, lesson 12E (dealing with place value)
  • History- “Sword of Damocles” from Fifty Famous Stories
  • Copywork- “as God in Christ forgave you.” from Ephesians 4:32
  • History- Chapter 1 from Island Story
  • Nature Walk
  • Reading- Lesson 6
  • Composer Study- Brahms

Friday:

  • Bible- Felt board re-enactment of “The Fall”
  • Poetry- “Whole Duty of Children” (Child’s Garden of Verses)
  • Literature- “Tortoise and Duck” from Aesop’s Fables
  • Math- Math-U-See (MUS) Primary level, lesson 12F&G (dealing with place value)
  • Copywork- “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” from “All Praise to Thee, My God, this Night”
  • Nature Walk/Nature Study
  • Reading- Lesson 7
  • Composer Study- Brahms

Saturday:

  • Bible- Narrate Genesis 3:1-24
  • Nature Walk
  • Reading- Lesson 8

I’ll update tomorrow once we’ve gotten through the day to let y’all know how we fared! 

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!

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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